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to swallow, to walk, &c. and the very complex machinery of nerves and muscles necessary to those actions is set agoing by instinct, and instantly produces them. There are actions too, as the notion of our eye-lids, which must be done so frequently, that, if we were obliged to intend and will them every time, they are done, we could do nothing else: these, therefore, are generally instinctive. And sometimes, for our preservation, we must act so suddenly, that there is no time for determination and willing; as when we pull away our hand from any thing that burns it, shut our eyes against a stroke that seems to be aimed at them, or throw out our arm to recover the balance of our body when in danger of falling. Such motions may also be ascribed to instinct; as well as those efforts which animals, in immediate danger of death by drowning, strangling, &c. make to preserve themselves.
269. Our proneness to imitation is also, in some degree, instinctive. In the arts indeed, as painting and poetry, imitation is the effect of will and design. But a child who lives in society learns of himself to speak, though no particular pains be taken to teach him; and acquires at the same time the accent, and frequently the sound of voice, of those with whom he lives, as well as their modes of thinking and acting. What a happiness, then, is it for a young person to be brought up in the company of the wise and the good!
who in their younger years lived savage, solitary, and dumb, and were afterwards brought into civilized society (a few instances there have been of such), were found incapable of acquiring either speech or a right use of reason, though pains were taken to teach them both. In many cases children, and in some cases grown men, may be said to believe by instinct. Thus an infant believes what a man seriously tells him is true ; and that what has once or twice happened in certain circumstances, will, in the same circumstances, happen again-as in the case of his finger having been burned by the candle. And thus we all believe, that things are as they appear to our senses, and that things were what we remember them to have been.
270. The word habit is used in two different significations, which frequently are, and
without inconvenience be, confounded in common language. It denotes a facility of doing a thing acquired by having frequently done it; in this sense of the word, habit can hardly be called a principle of action. See § 265. Habit is a principle of action, when, in consequence of having frequently done a thing, we acquire an inclination to do it. A man, who is accustomed to walk every day at a certain hour, is uneasy if he be kept from walking : and they who read much are never happy at
a distance from books. Choose the best course of life, said an ancient moralist, and custom will make it the most pleasant. If frequency of performance did not produce facility, art would be impossible ; but why the one should produce the other we cannot explain ; we can only say that such is the law of our nature. And if doing a thing frequently did not breed an inclination to do it, the improvement of our nature would be impossible, and we could hardly be said to be moral beings. Without instinct an infant could not live to be a man, and without habit a man would al. ways continue as helpless as an infant.
271. Habit, in both senses of the word, is observable in the more sagacious brutes, and in none more than in dogs trained to hunting, and horses inured to the discipline of war.
The war-horse not only learns to obey command, but is impetuous to obey it; and the beagle seems to take as much delight as his master in the sports of the field. The power of habit in forming rational beings to vice or virtue, to elegant or rustic manners, to attention or inattention, to industry or idleness, to temperance or sensuality, to passionateness or forbearance, to manual dexterity or the want of it, is universally acknowledged: something, no doubt, depends on the peculiar constitution of different minds; and something too, perhaps, on the structure and temperament of different bodies: but in fashioning the character, and in giving impulse and direction to genius, the influence of habit is certainly very great.
272. As in early life our powers of imitation are strongest, our minds most docile, and our bodily organs most flexible, so good or bad habits, both mental and corporeal, are then most easily acquired. Hence the necessity of early discipline, the unspeakable advantages of a good education, and the innumerable evils consequent upon a bad one. It amazes one to consider what progress, in the most difficult arts, may be made, when our faculties of mind and body are properly directed in the beginning of life ; and how easy an action, which at first seemed impracticable, comes to be when it has grown habitual. Performances in music and painting, and many other sorts of manual dexterity, might be mentioned as examples : to say nothing of those barbarous arts of balancing, tumbling, and legerdemain, which in all ages have been deemed so wonderful, that the clown is inclined to impute them to magic, and even the more considerate spectator, when he first sees them, can hardly believe his own eyes.
273. But nothing in a more astonishing manner displays the power of habit, or rather of habit and genius united, in facilitating the performance of the most complex and most difficult exertions of the human mind, than the eloquent and unstudied harangue of a graceful speaker, in a great political assembly. It is long before we learn to articulate words ; long before we can deliver them with exact propriety ; and longer still before we can recollect a sufficient variety of them, and, out of many that may occur at once, select instantly the most proper. Then, the rules of grammar, of logic, of rhetoric, and of good breeding, which can on no account be dispensed with, are so numerous, that volumes might be filled with them, and years employed in acquiring the ready use of them. Yet, to the accomplished orator all this is so familiar, in consequence of being habitual, that, without thinking of his rules, or violating any one of them, he applies them all; and has, at the same time, present to his mind whatever he may have heard of importance in the course of the debate, and whatever in the laws or customs of his country may relate to the business in hand : which, as a very acute and ingenious author observes, ' if it were not . more common, would appear more wonderful, • than that a man should dance blindfold, with,