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have remarked, in particular, with what facility they are led, by means of it, to acquire the use of speech. Of its efficacy, in this instance, we have obvious and irresistible proofs, in the extreme difficulty of teaching those to articulate who, in consequence of the want of hearing, have grown up to maturity without the use of oral language; and in the impossibility which even They who hear frequently experience, of uttering sounds borrowed from a tongue to which they have not been accustomed in early life.
How many are the other accomplishments which children. might acquire insensibly in a similar way, merely from the habitual sight of good models, and which might thus be rendered to them a second nature, instead of consuming their time afterwards as arts which are to be systematically studied! Of this kind, manifestly, is every thing connected with grace, both in utterance and in gesture; attainments which become altogether impossible, when their place has once been occupied by perverse habits caught from the contagion of early example, and too deeply rooted in the frame to be eradicated afterwards by any speculative conviction of the ridicule attending them.
It was also observed, that, from the principle of imitation, arises a general similarity in external appearance and in external manners, among all who are in the daily practise of associating with each other, as members of the same family, or of the same community. Husbands and wives have been supposed to acquire, in this manner, a certain similarity even in features and expression; nor do I think this idea altogether unfounded. In proportion as the habits of intimacy become looser, the resemblance may be expected to be less and less striking; but nothing can be more certain than this, that, in the largest nation which has ever yet been united together, for a course of ages, by the same language, religion, and laws, there arises a resemblance in point of aspect, air, and carriage, which, however overlooked by those to whom they are familíar, catches, in an instant, the eye of every foreigner.
Is it not probable, that this similarity of external appearance has some reciprocal effect on the mind, tending, so far as it goes, to facilitate the operation of the principle of sympa thetic imitation, and to strengthen the moral ties by which fellow-citizens are united? Is it not owing, in part, to this, that we enter so much more easily into the feelings, temper, and character of one of our own countrymen, than into those of a foreigner, how perfectly soever we may be acquainted with the language which he speaks?
Might not an argument in favour of public education be de
duced from these considerations? It was well said by a distinguished character of antiquity, when he was asked what things he had made his children be taught ;" those things" (he replied)" which they may be able to turn to use when "they become men."*
Applying the maxim to such of the rising generation as are destined for the active duties of society,-what accomplishments (we may ask) can be put in competition with that early discipline which is to train them to the interpretation of human nature; to a quick perception of the temper and feelings of their associates; and to an artless and unstudied sympathy with these in the ordinary scenes of familiar intercourse ;— qualities which are much more nearly allied than is commonly suspected, to firmness and decision of character in the more serious concerns of human life. It is of no moment for us to inquire how far, in communicating these qualities, education operates upon the mind, and how far upon the body. My own opinion is, that it operates very powerfully upon both; and that one of its most efficacious instruments is that principle of Assimilation, or of Sympathetic Imitation, which led me at present to introduce the subject. Whatever opinion we may adopt on this theoretical point, the practical lesson is the same; provided it be granted, on the one hand, that the attainments I have mentioned really possess the value which I have ascribed to them; and, on the other, that it is by very early culture only, that they are to be acquired in full perfection.
Nor is it in this respect alone that the principle of Imitation affords an argument for public education. As the imitation of any expression, strongly marked in the countenance and gestures of another person, has a tendency to excite, in some degree, the corresponding passion in our own minds, so, on the contrary, the suppression of the external sign has a tendency to compose the passion which it indicates. it indicates. It is said of Socrates, that whenever he felt the passion of anger beginning to rise, he became instantly silent; and I have no doubt, that by observing this rule, he not only avoided many an occasion of giving offence to others, but actually killed many of the seeds of those malignant affections which are the great bane of human happiness. Something of the same kind, though proceeding from a less worthy motive, we may see daily exemplified in the case of those men who are fretful and unhappy in their own families, while, in the company of strangers, they are good-humoured and cheerful. At home, they give vent to all
* Taur”, ois xui avdges Javorevor Henσcita. (Plutarch Apothegm. Lacon.)
their passions without restraint, and exasperate their original irritability by the reaction of that bodily agitation which it occasions. In promiscuous society, the restraints of ceremony rendering this impossible, they find themselves obliged studiously to conceal whatever emotions of dissatisfaction they may feel; and soon come to experience, in reality, that gentle and accommodating disposition of which they have been striving to counterfeit the semblance.
The application of these remarks to Education is so obvious, that I shall not enlarge upon it. By what means, but by the society of their fellows, is it possible for Youth to acquire that command over the external expressions of their capricious humours, which is to furnish them, in future life, with one of the most powerful restraints that reason can call to its assistance in mastering and subduing the passions?
The following observations of Lord Bacon evidently bear upon the same argument. "If the force of custom, simple "and separate, be great, the force of custom, copulate and con"joined and collegiate, is far greater. For their example "teacheth, company comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory, "raiseth; so as in such places the force of custom is in its ex"altation. Certainly the great multiplication of virtues upon "human nature resteth upon societies well ordained and dis"ciplined."*
In suggesting these hints in favour of public education, as more conformable to the general laws of human nature than private, I would not be understood to plead the cause of our existing seminaries. Of some radical faults in these establishments, I have been fully persuaded, ever since I was able to bestow a thought on the subject. But, surely, when we consider the state of Europe in those times which gave them birth, and the very limited, not to say erroneous views of their founders, it cannot be deemed a presumptuous partiality to our own age, to suppose it possible so to new model them, as to obviate their defects, without impairing their advantages.
The same train of thinking which gave rise to the foregoing reflections, has sometimes led me to suspect, that many of those national peculiarities of manners and character which are commonly ascribed to the physical influence of climate, are the physical effects of the principle of Imitation, assimilating, more or less, the bodily frame of every individual to that which prevails in the circle of his associates. A person, although totally ignorant of the French language, could scarcely
* Bacon's Essays Of Custom and Education.
see a company of Frenchmen together, without catching somewhat of their disposition to briskness and vivacity. He would unintentionally, and probably, unconsciously, display a propensity to copy, in his own movements, the most expressive peculiarities in theirs; and in doing so, would experience a state of spirits very different from what is inspired by the sight of a Dutch coffee-house. It is scarcely possible, while we carry on a conversation in the French tongue, to avoid altogether the gestures with which we have been accustomed to see it associated, when spoken by the natives of France; and it is still more difficult to mimic the looks and gait which are characteristical of that country, without experiencing, for the moment, a little of the national character. Admitting that the alertness of these looks, and the elasticity of that gait, were, in the first instance, the effect of moral circumstances operating on the public mind, it is not the less certain that these, in their turn, must, by their reaction, confirm the influence of the causes by which they were produced.
"The Gascons" (says Hume) "are the liveliest people in "France; but the moment you cross the Pyrenees, you are "among Spaniards." Hence Mr. Hume concludes, that a change so sudden must be the effect of moral, not of physical causes. The inference I believe to be just, according to the sense in which he employs these phrases; but still it may be questioned, whether moral causes, where they operate constantly, and for a length of time, may not themselves produce physical effects on our frame; which physical effects may, eventually, become causes of as general efficacy, as those which are commonly supposed to be connected with the climate. Even on the mind of an Englishman who has been at all accustomed to attend to the state of his own feelings, as soon as he passes from France into Spain, or from Spain into France, and become's a little naturalized in the new country to which he removes, the contagious influence of national character is sufficiently perceptible, to enable him to judge of the truth of these observations from his own experience.
Among all the phenomena, however, to which the subject of Imitation has led our attention, none are perhaps so wonderful as those which have been recently brought to light, in consequence of the philosophical inquiries occasioned by the medical pretensions of Mesmer and his associates. That these pretensions involved much of ignorance, or of imposture, or of both, in their authors, has, I think, been fully demonstrated in the very able report of the French Academicians; but does it follow from this, that the facts witnessed and authenticated by
these Academicians should share in the disgrace incurred by the empirics who disguised or misrepresented them? For my own part, it appears to me, that the general conclusions established by Mesmer's practice, with respect to the physical effects of the principle of Imitation and of the faculty of Imagination, (more particularly in cases where they co-operate together,) are incomparably more curious, than if he had actually succeeded in ascertaining the existence of his boasted fluid: Nor can I see any good reason why a physician, who admits the efficacy of the moral agents employed by Mesmer, should, in the exercise of his profession, scruple to copy whatever processes are necessary for subjecting them to his command, any more than he would hesitate about employing a new physical agent, such as electricity or galvanism. The arguments to the contrary, alleged by the Commissioners, only show, that the influence of imagination and of imitation is susceptible of a great abuse in ignorant or in wicked hands;—and may not the same thing be said of all the most valuable remedies we possess? Nay, are not the mischievous consequences which have actually been occasioned by the pretenders to animal magnetism, the strongest of all encouragements to attempt such an examination of the principles upon which the effects really depend, as may give to scientific practitioners the management of agents so peculiarly efficacious and overbearing? Is not this mode of reasoning perfectly analogous to that upon which medical inquirers are accustomed to proceed, when they discover any new substance possessed of poisonous qualities? Is not this considered as a strong presumption, at least, that it is capable of being converted into a vigorous remedy, if its appropriate and specific disorder could only be traced; and has it not often happened, that the prosecution of this idea bas multiplied the resources of the healing art?
The well-imagined and satisfactory experiment upon Tractors, published by that eminent physician the late Dr, Haygarth, lead manifestly to the same conclusion; and, wh'e they expose the futility of the theoretical views connected with the supposed virtues of these material instruments, evince the medical importance of the intellectual principles, which they point out as the real causes of the phenomena in question.
* Upon this head, the Commissioners make a just and most important distinction. It remains for us to inquire, whether the crises or convulsions, excited by "the methods of the pretended magnetism in the assemblies round the bucket, "be capable of any utility, or be calculated to cure or relieve the patients. The "imagination of sick persons has unquestionably a very frequent and considera"able share in the cure of their diseases. With the effect of it we are unacquaint