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professedly didactic teaching, which yet, nay, beyond this, there is often a meaning for private interests, studiously avoids which they themselves cannot interpretcollision with every prevalent vice of its which it may be for ages long after them day, (and especially with avarice), has to interpret-in what they said, so far as it become equally dead to the intensely ethi- recorded true imaginative vision. For all cal conceptions of a race which habitually the greatest myths have been seen, by the divided all men into two broad classes of men who tell them, involuntarily and pas
worthy or worthless ;—good, and good sively—seen by them with as great dis: for nothing. And even the celebrated tinctness (and in some respects, though
passage of Horace about the Iliad is now not in all, under conditions as far beyond misread or disbelieved, as if it was impos- the control of their will) as a dream sent sible that the Iliad could be instructive to any of us by night when we dream because it is not like a sermon. Horace clearest; and it is this veracity of vision does not say that it is like a sermon, and that could not be refused, and of moral would have been still less likely to say so, that could not be foreseen, which in modif he ever had had the advantage of hear- ern historical inquiry has been left whoily ing a sermon. “I have been reading that out of account: being indeed the thing story of Troy again” (thus he writes to a which no merely historical investigator noble youth of Rome whom he cared for), can understand, or even believe; for it be"quietly at Præneste, while you have been longs exclusively to the creative or artistic busy at Rome; and truly I think that group of men, and can only be interwhat is base and what is noble, and what preted by those of their race, who themuseful and useless, may be better learned selves in some measure also see visions from that, than from all Chrysippus's and and dream dreams. Crantor's talk put together." Which is So that you may obtain a more truthprofoundly true, not of the Iliad only, but ful idea of the nature of Greek religion of all other great art whatsoever; for all and legend from the poems of Keats, and pieces of such art are didactic in the pur- the nearly as beautiful, and, in general est way, indirectly and occultly, so that, grasp of subject, far more powerful, refirst, you shall only be bettered by them cent work of Morris than from frigid if you are already hard at work in better-scholarship, however extensive. Not that ing yourself; and when you are bettered the poet's impressions or renderings of by them, it shall be partly with a general things are wholly true, but their truth is acceptance of their influence, so constant vital, not formal. They are like sketches and subtle that you shall be no more con- from the life by Reynolds or Gainsborscious of it than of the healthy digestion ough, which may be demonstrably inacof food; and partly by a gift of unex- curate or imaginary in many traits, and pected truth, which you shall only find indistinct in others, yet will be in the by slow mining for it;—which is with- deepest sense like, and true; while the held on purpose, and close-locked, that work of historical analysis is too often you may not get it till you have forged the weak with loss, through the very labor of key of it in a furnace of your own heating. its miniature touches, or useless in clumsy And this withholding of their meaning is and vapid veracity of externals, and comcontinual, and confessed, in the great placent security of having done all that is poets. Thus Pindar says of himself: required for the portrait, when it has "There is many an arrow in my quiver, measured the breadth of the forehead, and full of speech to the wise, but, for the the length of the nose. many, they need interpreters.” And nei- 18. The first of requirements, then, for ther Pindar, nor Æschylus, nor Hesiod, the right reading of myths, is the undernor Homer, nor any of the greater poets standing of the nature of all true vision or teachers of any nation or time, ever by noble persons; namely, that it is spoke but with intentional reservation : founded on constant laws common to all human nature; that it perceives, however reverberation of it from minds of the darkly, things which are for all ages true same mirror-temper, in succeeding ages. --that we can only understand it so far | You will understand Homer better by seeas we have some perception of the same ing his reflection in Dante, as you may truth and that its fullness is developed trace new forms and softer colors in a and manifested more and more by the hill-side, redoubled by a lake.
William JAMES Of the brilliant coterie of Harvard philosophers of the past generation, William James (1842-1910), the brother of the novelist, Henry James, was the most original and versatile. In James were united an extraordinary sensitiveness to beauty in art and literature, and a searching mind. His best work lies in the realm of philosophy and psychology. In the former he was the first to offer an adequate exposition of what has been called the American philosophy of pragmatism.
The Principles of Psychology, a monumental work published in 1890, is still of primary intrinsic value-an unusual achievement in so rapidly growing a science. The selection on “Habit,” taken from The Principles, is a classic of both scientific research and literary exposition.
“Habit a second nature! Habit is the duties they have been taught, and givten times nature," the Duke of Welling-ing no sign that the possibility of an alton is said to have exclaimed; and the de- ternative ever suggests itself to their gree to which this is true no one can mind. Men grown old in prison have probably appreciate as well as one who is asked to be readmitted after being once a veteran soldier himself. The daily drill set free. In a railroad accident to and the years of discipline end by fash- traveling menagerie in the United States ioning a man completely over again, as to some time in 1884, a tiger, whose cage most of the possibilities of his conduct. had broken open, is said to have emerged,
“There is a story, which is credible but presently crept back again, as if too enough, though it may not be true, of a much bewildered by his new responsipractical joker, who, seeing a discharged bilities, so that he was without difficulty veteran carrying home his dinner, sud- secured. denly called out, 'Attention!' whereupon Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of the man instantly brought his hands society, its most precious conservative down, and lost his mutton and potatoes agent. It alone is what keeps us all in the gutter. The drill had been thor- within the bounds of ordinance, and saves ough, and its effects had become embodied the children of fortune from the envious in the man's nervous structure.”
uprisings of the poor. It alone prevents Riderless cavalry-horses, at many a bat- the hardest and most repulsive walks of tle, have been seen to come together and life from being deserted by those brought go through their customary evolutions at up to tread therein. It keeps the fisherthe sound of the bugle-call. Most trained man and the deck-hand at sea through the domestic animals, dogs and oxen, and om- winter; it holds the miner in his darknibus- and car-horses, seem to be machines ness, and nails the countryman to his logalmost pure and simple, undoubtingly, un- cabin and his lonely farm through all the hesitatingly doing from minute to minute months of snow; it protects us from inva
sion by the natives of the desert and the Reprinted by permission from Principles
frozen zone. It dooms us all to fight out of Psychology by William James, 2 vols. Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1890.
the battle of life upon the lines of our "Huxley's Elementary Lessons in Physi
nurture or our early choice, and to make ology, Lesson XII.
the best of a pursuit that disagrees, be
cause there is no other for which we are as we can, and guard against the growing fitted, and it is too late to begin again. into ways that are likely to be disadIt keeps different social strata from mix- vantageous to us, as we should guard ing. Already at the age of twenty-five against the plague. The more of the deyou see the professional mannerism set- tails of our daily life we can hand over to tling down on the young co
commercial the effortless custody of automatism, the traveler, on the young doctor, on the more our higher powers of mind will be young minister, on the young counsellor- set free for their own proper work. There at-law. You see the little lines of cleav- is no more miserable human being than age running through the character, the one in whom nothing is habitual but intricks of thought, the prejudices, the ways decision, and for whom the lighting of of the "shop," in a word, from which the every cigar, the drinking of every cup, man can by-and-by no more escape than the time of rising and going to bed his coat-sleeve can suddenly fall into a every day, and the beginning of every bit new set of folds. On the whole, it is best of work, are subjects of express volitional he should not escape. It is well for the deliberation. Full half the time of such world that in most of us, by the age of a man goes to the deciding, or regretting, thirty, the character has set like plaster, of matters which ought to be so inand will never soften again.
grained in him as practically not to exist If the period between twenty and thirty for his consciousness at all. If there be is the critical one in the formation of in- such daily duties not yet ingrained in any tellectual and professional habits, the one of my readers, let him begin this very period below twenty is more important hour to set the matter right. still for the fixing of personal habits, In Professor Bain's chapter on “The properly so called, such as vocalization Moral Habits” there are some admirable and pronunciation, gesture, motion, and practical remarks laid down. Two great address. Hardly ever is a language maxims emerge from his treatment. The i learned after twenty spoken without a first is that in the acquisition of a new foreign accent; hardly ever can a youth habit, or the leaving off of an old one, we transferred to the society of his betters must take care to launch ourselves with as unlearn the nasality and other vices of strong and decided an initiative as possispeech bred in him by the associations of
ble. Accumulate all the possible circumhis growing years. Hardly ever, indeed, stances which shall reënforce the right no matter how much money there be in motives; put yourself assiduously in conhis pocket, can he even learn to dress like ditions that encourage the new way; make a gentleman-born. The merchants offer engagements incompatible with the old; their wares as eagerly to him as to the take a public pledge, if the case allows; veriest "swell," but he simply cannot buy in short, envelop your resolution with the right things. An invisible law, as every aid you know. This will give your strong as gravitation, keeps him within new beginning such a momentum that the his orbit, arrayed this year as he was the temptation to break down will not occur last; and how his better-bred acquaint- as soon as it.otherwise might; and every ances contrive to get the things they wear day during which a breakdown is postwill be for him a mystery till his dying poned adds to the chances of its not ocday.
curring at all. The great thing, in all education, is to The second maxim is: Never suffer make our nervous system our ally instead an exception to occur till the new habit of our enemy. It is to fund and capital- is securely rooted in your life. Each ize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of the interest of the fund. For this we string which one is carefully winding up; must make automatic and habitual, as a single slip undoes more than a great early as possible, as many useful actions | many turns will wind again. Continuity
of training is the great means of making a free time, is the best thing to aim at, the nervous system act infallibly right. whether in giving up a habit like that of As Professor Bain says:
opium, or in simply changing one's hours “The peculiarity of the moral habits, of rising or of work. It is surprising how contradistinguishing them from the intel- soon a desire will die of inanition if it be lectual acquisitions, is the presence of two hostile powers, one to be gradually raised "One must first learn, unmoved, lookinto the ascendant over the other. It is ing neither to the right nor left, to walk necessary, above all things, in such a situ- firmly on the straight and narrow path, ation, never to lose a battle. Every gain before one can begin 'to make one's self on the wrong side undoes the effect of over again. He who every day makes a many conquests on the right. The essen- fresh resolve is like one who, arriving at tial precaution, therefore, is so to regu- the edge of the ditch he is to leap, forlate the two opposing powers that the one ever stops and returns for a fresh run. may have a series of uninterrupted suc- Without unbroken advance there is no cesses, until repetition has fortified it to such thing as accumulation of the ethical such a degree as to enable it to cope with forces possible, and to make this possible, the opposition, under any circumstances. and to exercise us and habituate us in it, This is the theoretically best career of is the sovereign blessing of regular work.” mental progress.
A third maxim may be added to the The need of securing success at the preceding pair: Seize the very first posoutset is imperative. Failure at first is sible opportunity to act on every resoluapt to dampen the energy of all future at- tion you make, and on every emotional tempts, whereas past experience of suc- prompting you may experience in the dicess nerves one to future vigor. Goethe rection of the habits you aspire to gain. says to a man who consulted him about It is not in the moment of their forming, an enterprise but mistrusted his own pow- but in the moment of their producing
“Ach! you need only blow on your motor effects, that resolves and aspirahands!" And the remark illustrates the tions communicate the new “set” to the effect on Goethe's spirits of his own brain. As the author last quoted rehabitually successful career. Professor marks: Baumann, from whom I borrow the anec- "The actual presence of the practical dote, says that the collapse of barbarian opportunity alone furnishes the fulcrum nations when Europeans come among upon which the lever can rest, by means them is due to their despair of ever suc- of which the moral will may multiply its ceeding as the new-comers do in the strength, and raise itself aloft. He who larger tasks of life. Old ways are broken has no solid ground to press against will and new ones not formed.
never get beyond the stage of empty gesThe question of "tapering-off," in ture-making.” abandoning such habits as drink and No matter how full a reservoir of opium-indulgence, comes in here, and is maxims one may possess, and no matter a question about which experts differ how good one's sentiments may be, if one within certain limits, and in regard to have not taken advantage of every conwhat may be best for an individual case. crete opportunity to act, one's character In the main, however, all expert opinion may remain entirely unaffected for the would agree that abrupt acquisition of the better. With mere good intentions, hell new habit is the best way, if there be a is proverbially paved. And this is an real possibility of carrying it out. obvious consequence of the principles we must be careful not to give the will so have laid down. A "character," as J. S. stiff a task as to insure its defeat at the very outset; but, provided one can stand
1J. Bahnsen: Beiträge zu Charakterologie, it, a sharp period of suffering, and then
Vol. I., page 209.
he means it, is an aggregate of tendencies up
Mill says, "is a completely fashioned without prompting to any deed, and so will”; and a will, in the sense in which the inertly sentimental condition is kept
up. The remedy would be, never to to act in a firm and prompt and definite suffer one's self to have an emotion at a way upon all the principal emergencies concert, without expressing it afterward of life. A tendency to act only becomes me active way. Let the expressirn effectively ingrained in us in proportion to be the least thing in the world-speaking the uninterrupted frequency with which genially to one's aunt, or giving up one', the actions actually occur, and the brain seat in a horse-car, if nothing more heroic "grows” to their use. Every time a re- offers—but let it not fail to take place. solve or a fine glow of feeling evaporates These latter cases make us aware that without bearing practical fruit is worse it is not simply particular lines of disthan a chance lost; it works so as posi- charge, but also general forms of distively to hinder future resolutions and charge, that seem to be grooved out by
emotions from taking the normal path of habit in the brain. Just as, if we let our • discharge. There is no more contempti- emotions evaporate, they get into a way ble type of human character than that of of evaporating, so there is reason to supthe nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, pose that if we often Ainch from making who spends his life in a weltering sea of an effort, before we know it the effortsensibility and emotion, but who never making capacity will be gone; and that, does a manly concrete deed. Rousseau, if we suffer the wandering of our atteninfiaming all the mothers of France, by tion, presently it will wander all the time. his eloquence, to follow Nature and nurse Attention and effort are, as we shall see their babies themselves, while he sends his later, but two names for the same psychic own children to the foundling hospital, fact. To what brain-processes they coris the classical example of what I mean. respond we do not know. The strongest But every one of us in his measure, when- reason for believing that they do depend ever, after glowing for an abstractly on brain-processes at all, and are not pure formulated Good, he practically ignores acts of the spirit, is just this fact, that some actual case, among the squalid they seem in some degree subject to the "other particulars" of which that same law of habit, which is a material law. Good lurks disguised, treads straight on As a final practical maxim, relative to Rousseau's path. All Goods are dis- these habits of the will, we may, then, guised by the vulgarity of their con- offer something like this: Keep the faccomitants, in this work-a-day world; but ulty of effort alive in you by a little
, woe to him who can only recognize them gratuitous exercise every day. That is, when he thinks them in their pure and be systematically ascetic or heroic in litabstract form! The habit of excessive tle unnecessary points, do every day or novel-reading and theatre-going will pro- two something for no other reason than duce true monsters in this line. The that you would rather not do it, so that weeping of a Russian lady over the ficti- when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it tious personages in the play, while her may find you not unnerved and untrained coachman is freezing to death on his to stand the test. Asceticism of this sort seat outside, is the sort of thing that is like the insurance which a man pays on everywhere happens on a less glaring his house and goods. The tax does him scale. Even the habit of excessive in- no good at the time, and possibly may dulgence in music, for those who are never bring him a return. But if the fire neither performers themselves nor musi- does come, his having paid it will be his cally gifted enough to take it in a purely salvation from ruin. So with the man intellectual way, has probably a relaxing who has daily inured himself to habits of effect upon the character. One becomes concentrated attention, energetic volition, filled with emotions which habitually pass and self-denial in unnecessary things. He