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I shall not dwell any longer on this subject, much less run over all the particulars that would shew what pains are used to corrupt children, and instil principles of vice into them; but I desire parents soberly to consider, what irregularity, or vice there is, which children are not visibly taught, and whether it be not their duty and wisdom to provide them other instructions.
a) Op THB - AssociaTION OF IDEA3. *). There
here is scarce any one that does not observe something that seems odd to him, and is in itself really extravagant in the opinions, reasonings, and actions of other men. The least flaw of this kind if at all different from his own, every one is quick-sighted enough to espy in another, and will by the authority of reason forwardly condemn, though he be guilty of much greater unreasonableness in his own tenets and conduct, which he never perceives, and will hardly, it at all, be convinced of.
This proceeds not only from self-love, though that has often a great band in it. Men of fair minds, and not given up to the over-weening of self-flattery, are frequently guilty of it;, and in many cases 'one with amazement hears the arguings, and is astonished at the obstinacy of a worthy man, who yields not to the evidence of reason, though lạid before him as clear as day - light.
This sort of unreasonableness is usually imputed to education and prejudice, and for, the most part truly enough, though that reaches not the bottom of the disease, nor shews distinctly enough whence it rises, or wherein it lies. Education is often rightly assigned the cause, and prejudice is a good general name for the thing itself: but yet, I think, he ought to look a little farther, who would trace this sort of madness to the root iş springs from, and so explain it, as to shew whence this flaw has its original in very sober and rational minds, and wherein it consists.
I shall be pardoned for calling it by so harsh a name as madness, when it is considered, that opposition to rcason deserves that name, and is really madness; and there is scarce a man so free from it, but that if he should always, on all occasions, argue or do as in some cases be constantly does,
*) Essay on human Understanding, Book II. Chap. 33.
yould not be thought fitter for Bedlam "), than civil coor versation. I do not here mean when he is under the
power of an unruly, passion, but in the steady calm course of his life. That which will get more apologize for this harsh name, and ungrateful imputation on the greatest part of man, kind, is, that enquiring a little by the bye into the nature of madness, (Book II. c. 11.) I found it to spring from the very same root, and to depend on the very same cause we are bere speaking of. This consideration of the thing itself, at a time wben I thought not the least on the subject which I am now , irealing, of, suggested it to me. And if this be a weakness to which all men are so liable; if this be a taint which so universally infects mankind, the greater care should be taken to lay it open under its due name, thereby to ex cite the greater care in its preyention and cure.
Some of our ideas have a natural correspondence and connexion with one another: it is the office and excellency of our reason to trace these, and hold them together in that union and correspondence which is founded in their peculiar beings, Besides this, there is another connexion of ideas, wholly owing to chance or custom; ideas that in themselves are not all of kin, come to be so united in some mens! minds, that it is very hard to separate them; they always keep in company, and the one ng sooner at any time comes into the understanding, but its associate appears with it; and if they are more, than two, which are thus united, the whole gang, always inseparable, shew themselves together.
This strong combination of ideas, not allied by nature, the mind makes in itself either voluntarily, or by chance; and hence it comes in different men to be
different according to their different inclinations, educations, interests, etc. Custom settles habits of thinking in the understanding, as well as of determining in the will, and of motions in the body; all which seems to be but trains of motion in the animal spirits, which once set a going, continue in the same steps they have been used to, which by often treading, are worn into a smooth path, and the motion in it becomes easy, and as it were natural, As far as we can comprehend thinking thus ideas seem to be produced in our minds; or if they are
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not, this may serve to explain their following one another in an habitual train, when once they are put into that traet, as well as it does to explain such motions of the body. A musician used to any tune, will find, that let it but once begin in his head, the ideas of the several notes of it will follow one another orderly in his understanding, without any care or attention, as regularly as his fingers move orderly over the keys of the organ to play out the tune he has begun, though his unattentive thoughts be elsewhere a wandering. Whether the natural cause of these ideas, as well as of that regular dancing of his fingers, be the motion of his animal spirits, I will not determine; how probable soever, by this instance, it appears to be so: but this may help us a little to conceive of intellectual habits, and of the tying together of ideas.
That there are such associations of them made by custom in the minds of most men, I think no body will question, who as well considered himself or others; and to this, perhaps, might be justly attributed most of the sympathies and antipathies observable in men, which work as strongly, and produce as regular effects as if they were natural, and are therefore called so, though they at first had no other original but the accidental connexion of two ideas, which either the strength of the first impression, or future indulgence so united, that they always afterwards kept company together in that man's mind, as if they were but one idea. I say, most of the antipathies, I do not say, all, for some of them are truly natural, depend upon our original constitution, and are born with us; but a great part of those which are counted natural, would have been known to be from unheeded, though, perhaps, early impressions, or wanton fancies at first, which would have been acknowledged the original of them, if they had been warily observed. A grown person surfeiting with honey, no sooner hears the name of it, but his fancy immediately carries sickness, and qualms to his stomach, and he cannot bear the very idea of it; other ideas of dislike and sickness, and vomiting presently accompany it, and he is disturbed; but he knows from whence to date this weakness, and can tell how he got this indisposition; had this happened to him by an over-dose of honey, when a child, all the same effects would have followed, but the cause would hare been mistaken, and the antipathy counted natural.
I mention this not out of any great necessity there is in this present argument; to distinguish nicely between natural and acquired antipathies, but I take notice of it for another purpose, viz, that those who have children, or the charge of their education, would think it worth their while diligently to watch, and carefully to prevent the undue connexion of ideas in the minds of young people. This is the time most susceptible of lasting impressions; and though those relating to the health of the body, are by discreet people minded and fenced against; yet I am apt to doubt, that those which relate more peculiarly to the mind, and terminate in the understanding, or passions, have been much less heeded than the thing deserves ; nay, those relating purely to the under standing, have, as I suspect, been by most men wholly over looked.
This wrong connexion in our minds of ideas, in them selves loose and independent one of another, has such an influence, and is of so great force to set us awry in our actions, as well moral as natural, passions, reasonings, and notions themselves, that perhaps there is not any one thing that do serves more to be looked after.
The ideas of goblins and sprights have really no more to do with darkness, than light; yet let but a foolish maid inculcate these often on the mind of a child, and raise them there together, possibly he shall never be able to separate them again so long as he lives; but darkness shall ever after, wards bring with it those frightful ideas, and they shall be so joined, that he can no more bear the one than the other.
A man receives a sensible injury from another, thinks on the man and that action over and over, and by ruminating on them strongly, or much in "his mind, so cements tho.se two ideas together, that he makes them almost one; never thinks on the man, hut the pain and displeasure he suffered comes into his mind with it, so that he scarce distinguishes them, but has as much an aversion for the one as the other. Thus batreds are often begotten from slight and almost innocent occasions, and quarrels propagated and continued in the world.
A man has suffered pain or sickness in any place, hic saw his friend die in such a room; though these have ifa nature nothing to do with another, yet when the idea of the place occurs to his mind, it brings (the impression being
once made) that of the pain and displeasure with it, be confounds them in his mind, and can as little bear the one as the other.
When this combination is settled; and whilst it lasts, it is not in the power of reason to help us, and relieve us from the effects of it. Ideas in our minds, 'when they are there, will operate according to their natures and circumstances; and here we see the cause why time curės certain affections, which reason, though in the right, and allowed to be so, has not power over, nor is able against them to prevail with those wbo are apt to hearken to it in other cases. The death of a child, that was the daily delight of his mother's eyes, and joy of her soul; rends from her heart the whole comfort of her life, and gives her all the torment imaginable: use the iconsolation of reason in this case, and you were as good preach ease to one on the rack, and hope to allay, by raitional discourses, the pain of his joints tearing asunder : til t'ime has by disuse separated the 'sense of that enjoymient, żind its loss, from the idea of the child returning to her mes Inory, all representations, though never so reasonable, are in
and therefore some, in whom the union between these iileas is never dissolved, spend their lives in mourning, and carry an incurable sorrow'to their graves.
A friend of mine knew one perfectly cured of madness bös a very barsh and offensive operation. The gentlenian, who was thus recovered, with great sense of gratitude and acknowledgment, owned the care all his life after, as the greatest obligation he could bave received; but whatever gratitude and reason suggested to him, he could never bear the sight of the operator: that image brought back with it the idea of that agony which he suffered from his hands, which was too mighty and intolerable for him to endure.
Many children iniputing the pain they endured at school to their books they were corrected for, so join those ideas together, that a book becomes their aversion, and they are never reconciled to the study and use of them all their lives af'ter, and thus reading becomes a torment to them, which oi herwise possibly they might have made the great pleasure of their lives. There are rooms convenient enough, that some men cannot study in, and fashions of vessels, which though never so clean and commodious, they cannot drink out of, and that by reason of some accidental ideas which