« ZurückWeiter »
unless in so far as other passions of a violent and unpleasing character have assumed a temporary influence. His affection is permanent. Nor ought the pretended rudeness, and seeming inconsistency of his behaviour, to be at all attributed to inconstancy or an intention to insult. Engaged in a dangerous enterprize, agitated by impetuous emotions, desirous of concealing them, and, for that reason, feigning his understanding disordered; to confirm and publish this report, seemingly so hurtful to his reputation, he would act in direct opposition to his former conduct, and inconsistently with the genuine sentiments and affections of his soul. He would seem frivolous when the occasion required him to be sedate: and, celebrated for the wisdom and propriety of his conduct, he would assume appearances of impropriety. Full of honour and affection, he would seem inconsistent: of elegant and agreeable manners, and possessing a complacent temper, he would put on the semblance of rudeness. To Ophelia he would shew dislike and indifference; because a change of this nature would be, of all others, the most remarkable, and because his affection for her was passionate and sincere. Of the sincerity and ardour of his regard he gives undoubted evidence.
I lov'd Ophelia ; forty thousand brothers Could not, with all their quantity of love, Make
up my sum.
At any rate, Hamlet's treatment of Ophe, lia, who however had “ repelled his letters, and denied his access to her;" and who was employed as a spy on his conduct; has been greatly exaggerated. The spirit of that remarkable scene in particular, where he tells
get thee to a nunnery," is frequently misunderstood, and especially by the play
At least it does not appear to me, that the Poet's intention was, that the air and manner of Hamlet in this scene should be perfectly grave and serious. Nor is there any thing in the dialogue to justify the tragic tone with which it is frequently spoken. Let Hamlet be represented as delivering himself in a light, airy, unconcerned, and thoughtless manner, and the rudeness, so much complained of, will disappear.
The tendency of indignation, and of furious, and inflamed resentment, is to inflict punishment on the offender. But, if resentment is ingrafted on the moral faculty, and grows from it, its tenor and conduct will be different. In its first emotion it may breathe excessive and immediate vengeance : but sentiments of justice and propriety interposing, will arrest and suspend its violence, An ingenuous mind, thus agitated by powerful and contending principles, exceedingly tortured and perplexed, will appear hesitating and undetermined. Thus, the vehemence of the vindictive passion will, by delay, suffer abatement; by its own ardour it will be exhausted ; and our natural and habituated propensities will resume their influence. These contínue in possession of the heart till the mind reposes and recovers vigour: then, if the conviction of injury still remains, and if our resentment seems justified by every amiable principle, by reason and the sentiments of mankind, it will return with power and authority. Should any unintended incident awaken our sensibility, and dispose us to a state of mind fa
vourable to the influence and operation of ardent and impetuous passions, our resentment will revisit us at that precise period, and turn in its favour, and avail itself of every other sentiment and affection. The mind of Hamlet, weary and exhausted by violent agitation, continues doubtsul and undecided, till his sensibility, excited by a theatrical exhibition, restores to their authority his indignation and desire of vengeance. Still, however, his moral principles, the supreme and governing powers of his constitution, conducting those passions which they seem to justify and excite, determine him again to examine his evidence, or endeavour, by additional circumstances, to have it strengthened.
and peasant slave ain I!
That he should weep for her ? What would he do,
; no, not for a king,
Resolving to carry his project into execu,
. tion, he conducts himself with his usual candour and understanding.
In an affair