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cowardly miscreant that ever disgraced the human form.
Turning from Hamlet, as the perpetrator of acts of aggression, brutality, and cowardice, for which he would be justly execrated, if in pos
session of his reason at the time he
committed them, and contemplating poor Hamlet "from himself ta'en away," acting under the influence of a masterless infirmity, we see in him, all the noble qualities with which Ophelia decks him:
Look here, upon this picture, and on this. Hamlet, gay and volatile before his father's death, becomes doubly estimable in the eyes of his observers by the depression he suffers from the loss of such a parent-his occasional aberrations from reason, springing from his melancholy, strongly excite our sympathies-his flattering himself that he can feign a malady which has already made a sad impression on his mind, is a natural shoot from the malady itself. In the aggressions he commits and the imbecility he displays in prosecuting his design against the King, we see, with grief, that he is hurried forward and swayed by resistless paroxysms of mental disorder his declaration to Laertes, when the paroxysm is over, displays all the nobleness of a mind conscious of its own infirmity, and anxious to atone for the injuries it may have inflicted in its wanderings; and when he finally falls a victim to the frankness of his nature and an ingenuous display of his feelings in a lucid interval, we exclaim with Ophelia
O what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye,
Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion, and the mould of
Th' observed of all observers, quite, quite
What he spake, though it lack'd form a little,
Was not like madness.
He first addresses Ophelia with an easy and familiar air, until the mention of past remembrances seems to raise in his mind suspicions that his known regard for her is about to be made the touchstone to try the nature of his mystery-that Ophelia is but another, though innocent, instrument in the hands of her father to accomplish the purpose for which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had been sent to him in vain, and he instantly assumes his fantastic character, the more strongly to impress her mind, and through her report, the King himself, with a notion of his madness. There is no unkindness, no coarseness of manner unworthy of a prince or a gentleman, towards Ophelia-he merely acts insanity before her, but with so much method, that he wraps in deeper mystery the secret endeavoured, through her means, to be extracted from him.
Having collected the evidence of Hamlet's madness, afforded by his discourse and conduct in the play, it remains to be shown by medical testimony that he ought to be pronounced insane. Dr. Mason Good, Medicine," treating of Ecphronia Mein his clever work, "The Study of lancholia, says,
tal alienation, the symptoms are in every Whatever be the existing cause of meninstance greatly modified by the prevailing idiosyncrasy, and hence though a love of solitude, gloom, fear, suspicion, and taci turnity are the ordinary signs of this species of disease, these signs often yield to symptoms widely different, and sometimes even of an opposite character.
In Hamlet's celebrated scene with Ophelia, which, from the manner in which it has generally been acted, has provoked censure on his conduct for barbarity towards the object of his affection-the poet, with nice discrimination, has distinctly marked the three estates of Hamlet-In the celebrated soliloquy, he displays a morbid sensibility, which is his disease. On the sight of Ophelia, he The disease shows itself, sometimes sud
denly, but more generally by slow and imperceptible degrees. There is a desire of doing well, but the will is wayward and unsteady, and produces an inability of firmly pursuing any laudable exertion or even purpose, on account of some painful internal sensation, or the perverseness of the judgment, led astray by false or erroneous ideas, which command a firm conviction on the mind. (Study of Medicine, vol. iii. p. 81.)
Dr. Johnson, in his Commentary on this play, says:
Hamlet is through the whole piece rather an instrument than an agent. After he has by the stratagem of the play convicted the king, he makes no attempt to punish him, and his death is at last effected by an accident which Hamlet had no part in producing.
Melancholia Attonita, the FIRST VARIETY (says the Author of the Study of Medicine), most commonly commences with this character, and creeps on so gradually, that it is for some time mistaken for a mere attack of hypochondrism, or lowness of spirits, till the mental alienation is at length decided by the wildness of the patient's eyes, &c. The first stage of the discase (adds Dr. Good) is thus admirably expressed by HAMLET:
I have of late, but wherefore I know not, Lost all my mirth, &c. &c.
Grief (and particularly the loss of friends) or long exposure to the direct rays of the sun, we are told by the same author, have frequently pro
No traveller returns, puzzles the will.
The unhappy individuals are, at the same time, not only sensible of what they say or do, but occasionally sensible of its being wrong, will express their sorrow for it immediately afterwards, and say they will not do so again, but the waywardness of the will and its want of control by the judgment urges them forward in spite of their desire, and they relapse into the same state almost as soon as they have expressed their regret.
The Study of Medicine, vol. iii, p. 86.
Hamlet's momentary regret for having killed Polonius, the expression of his sorrow that to Laertes he
did forget himself, and his more explicit declaration of repentance before the King, are striking instances
opinions of Dr. Good.
of the correctness of the medical Mr. Locke
has with great ability pointed out the proper distinction between the two faculties of the desire and the
will, and the disease under consideration is pregnant with examples of the kind.
The medical explanations or definition of the first symptoms of Melancholia Attonita, and their progression to, and ultimate determination in confirmed madness, are illustrated with singular exactness in the character of Hamlet; and, it is a remarkable coincidence that every predisposing and exciting cause by which the author, consistently with the story of his play, could denote an intention of making his hero subject to paroxyms of insanity, has been clearly developed in the course of the five acts. Indeed, the stages of the disease are distinctly marked in regular progression, from the first scene of Hamlet's appearance, when
"TAKE ye the world! I give it ye for ever;
The earth like brothers, as ye please, between ye!"
All who had hands took what they could: the needy,
To fill his stores the tradesman took all sly ways;
Long after the division was completed,
In came the absent Poet, from a distance;
"Ah woe is me! 'mid bounty so unbounded,
"If in the land of visions you resided
(Said Jove) and anger feel, to me do'nt show it: Where were you when the world was first divided? "I was near thee," replied the lack-land Poet.
"With glory of thy face mine eyes were aching,
And music fill'd mine ears while gifts were squander'd ;
"What's to be done? (cried Jove,) The world is given,
If you're content to dwell with me in heaven,
J. P. C.
KANT ON NATIONAL CHARACTER,
IN RELATION TO
THE SENSE OF THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL.
["My purpose,' says Kant, "is not to pourtray the characters of different nations in detail: I sketch only a few features, which may express the feeling, in those characters, for the Sublime and the Beautiful. In such a portraiture it is evident that only a tolerable accuracy can be demanded; that the prototypes of the features selected are prominent only in the great crowd of those that make pretensions to refined feelings; and that no nation is entirely wanting in minds which unite the best qualities of both feelings. Any blame, therefore, which may touch the character of a nation in the course of these strictures, ought not to offend any one, the blame being of such a nature that every man may toss off the ball to his neighbour. Whether these national distinctions are contingently dependent on the colour of the times and the quality of the government, or are bound to the climate by a certain necessity, I do not here inquire."
Among the nations of our quarter of the globe, the Italians and the French are in my opinion those who are most distinguished for the sense of the Beautiful-the Germans, the English, and the Spaniards, for the sense of the Sublime. Holland may be set down as a country in which neither feeling is very observable.The Beautiful is either fascinating and affecting, or gay and enlivening. The first contains something of the Sublime; and the mind, whilst under the influence of this class of beauty, is meditative and enraptured; but under the influence of the other, laughing and joyous. The first kind of beauty seems to be most congenial to the Italian taste; the second to the French. The Sublime, where it is expressed by the national character, takes either a more terrific character, which verges a little to the Adventurous and Romantic; or secondly, it is a feeling for the Noble; or thirdly for the Magnificent. Upon certain grounds I feel warranted in ascribing the first style of feeling to the Spaniard, the second to the Englishman, and the third to the German. The feeling for the Magnificent is not natively so original as the rest: and, although a spirit of imitation may easily be connected with any other feeling, yet it is more peculiarly con
nected with the glittering sublime: for this is a mixed feeling composed of the sense for the Beautiful and the Sublime, in which each considered separately is colder-and the mind more at leisure to attend to examples, and stands more in need of examples to excite and support it. The German, therefore, has less feeling for the Beautiful than the Frenchman, and less for the Sublime than the Englishman: but in those cases, where it is necessary that both should appear united, the result will be more congenial to his mind; and he will also more readily avoid those errors into which an extravagant degree of either feeling exclusively is apt to fall.The taste which I have attributed to different nations is confirmed by the choice which they severally make amongst the arts and sciences. The Italian genius has distinguished itself especially in Music, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. All these fine arts meet with an equally* refined culture in France, although their beauty is here less touching. Taste, in reference to the poetic or rhetoric ideal, tends in France more to the Beautiful, in England more to the Sublime. Elegant playfulness, comedy, laughing satire, amorous trifling, and the light, cursory, and fugitive style of writing are in France
*To the judicious reader it needs not be said how strikingly in opposition to facts is Kant's judgment on the French taste in the Fine Arts. What the French poetry is most men know the French music is the jest of Europe: and, if we except the single name of Poussin, there is no other in any of the Fine Arts which can impress any ear with much reverence.
native and original. In England, on the contrary, the natural product of the national mind are thoughts of profound meaning, tragedy, epic poetry, and generally the massy gold of wit, which under the French hammer is beat out_to_thin leaves of greater surface. In Germany the fine thinking of the nation even yet gleams through a covering of false tinsel. Formerly this reproach existed to a shocking degree: but latterly, by better models, and the good sense of the people, the national style has been raised to a character of higher grace and nobility; but the grace has less naïveté than it has amongst the French, and the nobility not so firm and confident a movement as it has amongst the English. The tendency of the Dutch taste to a painful elaborateness of arrangement and to a prettiness, which is apt to settle into heaviness and distraction, does not allow us to presume much sensibility for the artless and freer movements of the genius, the products of which are only disfigured by too anxious a fear of faults. To all the arts and sciences nothing can be more hostile than the romantic or barbaresque taste; for this distorts nature itself, which is the universal prototype of the noble and the beautiful: and hence it is that the Spanish nation has shown little feeling for the fine arts or the sciences.
The national mind is in any case best expounded by the direction of its moral feelings: I shall therefore next consider the feelings of different nations in relation to the Sublime and Beautiful from this point of view. The Spaniard is serious, reserved, and punctiliously faithful to his word. There are few more upright merchants in the world than the Spanish. The Spaniard has a proud soul, and more sympathy with grandeur in actions than with those qualities of action which come more under the title of the beautiful. Not much of benignity or gentleness is to be found in his composition; and hence he is often harsh and even cruel. The Auto da Fe keeps its ground in Spain not so much through superstition as through the national passion for a barbaresque grandeur, which is affected by the solemnities of a dreadful procession, in the course of which the San Benito, painted over with
devilish forms, is delivered up to the flames which a hideous bigotry has lit. It cannot be so properly said that the Spaniard is prouder or more amorous than those of other nations, as that he displays both passions in a more barbaresque manner. To leave the plow standing still, and to strut about in a long sword and cloak, until the traveller is past; or in a bullfight, where the beauties of the land are for once seen unveiled, to proclaim the lady of his affections by a special salute-and then to seek to do honour to this lady by precipitating himself into a dangerous contest with a savage animal, are strange acts, and far remote from nature. The Italian seems to have a mixed temperament, composed partly of the French and partly of the Spanish: he has more sensibility to the Beautiful than the Spaniard, and to the Sublime than the Frenchman: and by this clue, I am of opinion that the other features of his moral character may be explained-The Frenchman, in regard to all moral feelings, has a domineering sense of the Beautiful. He has a fine address, is courteous, and obliging. He readily assumes a confidential tone; is playful and unconstrained in conversation; and he only, who has the polite feelings of a Frenchman, can enter into the full meaning of the expression→→ a man or a lady of good tone. Even the sublimer feelings of a Frenchman, and he has many such, are subordi nated to his sense of the Beautiful,— and derive their strength from their fusion with these. He is passionately fond of wit, and will make no scruple of sacrificing a little truth to a happy conceit. On the other hand, where there is no opportunity for wit, a Frenchman displays a spirit of as radical and profound investigation as men of any nation whatever: for instance in mathematics, and in the other profound and austere sciences. In the metaphysics, however, the ethics, and the theology of this nation, it is impossible to be too much upon one's guard. A delusive glitter commonly prevails in such works, which cannot stand the test of sober examination. A Frenchman loves the audacious in all his opinions: but he, who would arrive at the truth, had need to be not audacious, but cautious. French history tends na