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judgment ? Were the same pains taken to impress truth on the mind in early infancy, that is often taken to inculcate error, the great principles of our conduct would not only be juster than they are, but, in consequence of the aid which they would receive from the imagination and the heart, trained to conspire with them in the same direction, they would render us happier in ourselves, and would influence our practice more powerfully and more habitually. There is surely nothing in error which is more congenial to the mind than truth. On the contrary, when exbibited separately and alone to the understanding, it shocks our reason and provokes our ridicule; and it is only (as I had occasion already to remark) by an alliance with truths which we find it difficult to renounce, that it can obtain our assent, or command our reverence. What advantages, then, might be derived from a proper attention to early impressions and associations, in giving support to those principles which are connected with human happiness ? The long reign of error in the world, and the influence it maintains, even in an age of liberal inquiry, far from being favourable to the supposition that human reason is destined to be for ever the sport of prejudice and absurdity, demonstrates the tendency which there is to permanence in established opinions, and in established institutions, and promises an eternal stability to true philosophy, when it shall once have acquired the ascendant, and when proper means shall be employed to support it, by a more perfect system of education.
Let us suppose, for a moment, that this happy era were arrived, and that all the prepossessions of childhood and youth were directed to support the pure and sublime truths of an enlightened morality. With what ardour, and with what transport, would the understanding, when arrived at maturity, proceed in the search of truth ; when, instead of being obliged to struggle at every step with early prejudices, its office was merely to add the force of philosophical conviction to impressions which are equally delightful to the imagination, and dear to the heart! The prepossessions of childhood would, through the whole of life, be gradually acquiring strength from the enlargement of our knowledge; and, in their turn, would fortify the conclusions of our reason against the sceptical suggestions of disappointment or melancholy.
Our daily experience may convince us, how susceptible the tender mind is of deep impressions; and what important and permanent effects are produced on the characters and the happiness of individuals, by the casual associations formed in childhood among the various ideas, feelings, and affections, with which they were habitually occupied. It is the business of education not to counteract this constitution of nature, but to give it a proper direction; and the miserable consequences to which it leads, when under an improper regulation, only shew what an important instrument of human improvement it might be rendered, in more skilful hands. If it be possible to interest the imagination and the heart in favour of error, it is, at least, no less possible to interest them in favour of truth. If it be possible to extinguish all the most generous and heroic feelings of our nature, by teaching us to connect the idea of them with those of guilt and impiety; it is surely equally possible to cherish and strengthen them, by establishing the natural alliance between our duty and our happiness. If it be possible for the influence of fashion to veil the native deformity of vice, and to give to low and criminal indulgences the appearance of spirit, of elegance, and of gaiety; can we doubt of the possibility of connecting, in the tender mind, these pleasing associations with pursuits that are truly worthy and honourable ?- There are few men to be found, among those who have received the advantages of a liberal education, who do not retain through life that admiration of the heroic ages of Greece and Rome, with which the classical authors once inspired them. It is, in truth, a fortunate prepossession on the whole, and one of which I should be sorry to counteract the influence. But are there not others of equal importance to morality and to happiness, with which the mind might, at the same period of life, be inspired ? If the first conceptions, for example, which an infant formed of the Deity, and its first moral perceptions, were associated with the early impressions
produced on the heart by the beauties of nature, or the charms of poetical description, those serious thoughts which are resorted to by most men merely as a source of consolation in adversity, and which, on that very account, are frequently tinctured with some degree of gloom, would recur spontaneously to the mind, in its best and happiest hours, and would insensibly blend themselves with all its purest and most refined enjoyments.
In those parts of Europe where the prevailing opinions involve the greatest variety of errors and corruptions, it is, I believe, a common idea with many respectable and enlightened men, that, in every country, it is most prudent to conduct the religious instruction of youth upon the plan which is prescribed by the national establishment, in order that the pupil, according to the vigour or feebleness of his mind, may either shake off, in future life, the prejudices of the nursery, or die in the popular persuasion. This idea, I own, appears to me to be equally ill-founded and dangerous. If religious opinions have, as will not be disputed, a powerful influence on the happiness and on the conduct of mankind, does not humanity require of us to rescue as many victims as possible from the hands of bigotry, and to save them from the cruel alternative of remaining under the gloom of a depressing superstition, or of being distracted by a perpetual conflict between the heart and the understanding ? It is an enlightened education alone that, in most countries of Europe, can save the young philosopher from that anxiety and despondence, which every man of sensibility, who in his childhood has imbibed the popular opinions, must necessarily experience, when he first begins to examine their foundation; and, what is of still greater importance, which can save him during life from that occasional scepticism to which all men are liable, whose systems fluctuate with the inequalities of their spirits, and the variations of the atmosphere.
I shall conclude this subject with remarking, that, although in all moral and religious systems, there is a great mixture of important truth ; and although it is, in consequence of this
alliance, that errors and absurdities are enabled to preserve their hold of the belief, yet it is commonly found, that in proportion as an established creed is complicated in its dogmas and in its ceremonies, and in proportion to the number of accessory ideas which it has grafted upon the truth, the more difficult is it, for those who have adopted it in childhood, to emancipate themselves completely from its influence; and, in those cases in which they at last succeed, the greater is their danger of abandoning, along with their errors, all the truths which they had been taught to connect with them. The Roman Catholic system is shaken off with much greater difficulty than those which are taught in the Reformed churches; but when it loses its hold of the mind, it much more frequently prepares the way for unlimited scepticism. The causes of this I may perhaps have an opportunity of pointing out, in treating of the association of ideas.
I have now finished all that I think necessary to offer, at present, on the application of the philosophy of mind to the subject of education. To some readers, I am afraid that what I have advanced on the subject will appear to border upon enthusiasm ; and I will not attempt to justify myself against
; the charge. I am well aware of the tendency, which speculative men sometimes have, to magnify the effects of education, as well as to entertain too sanguine views of the improvement of the world; and I am ready to acknowledge, that there are instances of individuals whose vigour of mind is sufficient to overcome every thing that is pernicious in their early habits; but I am fully persuaded, that these instances are rare, and that by far the greater part of mankind continue, through life, to pursue the same track into which they have been thrown, by the accidental circumstances of situation, instruction, and example.
SECT. II.-CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUBJECT.
The remarks which have been hitherto made on the utility of the philosophy of the human mind, are of a very general
nature, and apply equally to all descriptions of men. Besides, however, these more obvious advantages of the study, there are others which, though less striking, and less extensive in their application, are nevertheless, to some particular classes of individuals, of the highest importance. Without pretending to exhaust the subject, I shall offer a few detached observations upon it in this section.
I already took notice, in general terms, of the common relation which all the different branches of our knowledge bear to the philosophy of the human mind. In consequence of this relation, it not only forms an interesting object of curiosity to literary men of every denomination, but, if successfully prosecuted, it cannot fail to furnish useful lights for directing their inquiries, whatever the nature of the subjects may be which happen to engage their attention.
In order to be satisfied of the justness of this observation, it is sufficient to recollect, that to the philosophy of the mind are to be referred all our inquiries concerning the divisions and the classifications of the objects of human knowledge ; and also, all the various rules, both for the investigation and the communication of truth. These general views of science, and these general rules of method, ought to form the subjects of a rational and useful logic; a study, undoubtedly, in itself of the greatest importance and dignity, but in which less progress has hitherto been made than is commonly imagined.
I shall endeavour to illustrate, very briefly, a few of the advantages which might be expected to result from such a system of logic, if properly executed.
I. And, in the first place, it is evident that it would be of the highest importance in all the sciences, (in some of them, indeed, much more than in others,) to exhibit a precise and steady idea of the objects which they present to our inquiry.What was the principal circumstance which contributed to mislead the ancients in their physical researches ? Was it not their confused and wavering notions about the particular class of truths which it was their business to investigate? It was owing to this that they were led to neglect the obvious pheno