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dignity of a moralist, may be extended to the most serious concerns of human life. “It is a wonderful thing to see the semblable coherence of his men's spirits and his: they, by observing of him, do bear themselves like foolish justices; he, by conversing with them, is turned into a justice-like serving-man. Their spirits are so married in conjunction, with the participation of society, that they flock together in concert, like so many wild geese. It is certain, that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught, as men take diseases, one of another ; therefore let men take heed to their company.
Of this principle of our nature, Count Rumford appears to have availed himself, with much address, in his House of Industry at Munich. “In order to inspire the rising generation with an early bias towards labor, he invited parents to send their children to the establishment, before they were old enough to do any kind of work, and actually paid them for doing nothing, but merely being present, when others were busy around them. These children (he tells us) were placed upon seats built around the halls where other children worked, while they were obliged to remain idle spectators ; and in this situation, they soon became so uneasy at their own inactivity, that they frequently solicited, with great importunity, to be employed; and often cried bitterly if this favor was not instantly granted.” A variety of motives, it is true, were, in all probability, here concerned ; but much, I think, must be ascribed to sympathy, and to imitation.
It is, in consequence of this imitative propensity, that children learn, insensibly, to model their habits on the appearance and manners of those with whom they are familiarly conversant. It is thus too that, with little or no aid on the part of their instructors, they acquire the use of speech; and form their pliable organs to the articulation of whatever sounds they are accustomed to hear. *
• This branch of the subject well deserves a more particular examination. In learning to articulate words, children, it is not to be doubted, avail themselves both of the eye and of the ear. But I am inclined to think they avail themselves chiefly of the latter. For blind children, I understand, articulate distinctly, as early, at least, as
As we advance to maturity, the propensity to imitation grows weaker, -our improving faculties gradually diverting our attention from the models around us, to ideal standards more conformable to our own taste; whilst, at the same time, in consequence of some physical change in the body, that flexibility of the muscular system, by which this propensity is enabled to accomplish its end, is impaired or lost. The same combinations of letters, which a child of three or four years of age utters without any apparent effort, would, twenty years afterwards, present to him a difficulty not to be surmounted by the most persevering industry. A similar inflexibility, it may be reasonably presumed from analogy, is acquired by those muscles on which depend the imitative powers of the face, and of all the other parts of our material frame.
If this observation be well founded, it is by no means a fair experiment, to attempt the education of a savage child of seven or eight years old, with the view of ascertaining how far it is possible to assimilate his air and manner to those of a polished European or Anglo-American. Long before this age, many of his most important habits are fixed, and much is lost of that mobility of his system, by which the principle of imitation operates. Such an individual, therefore, will retain through life that characteristical expression of the savage state, which is so apt to shock our feelings at the supposition of his common origin with ourselves. Nor is this all. Such an individual will, through life, find himself out of his element, in a society of which he can so imperfectly acquire the manners; and if, by accident, in maturer years, he should visit the scenes to which he was accustomed in early infancy, it is not improbable, that he may willingly reassume habits, of which he has lost the recollection ; but which are to him a second nature, by being coëval with his existence.
those who see; perhaps, in general, they will be found to do so still earlier. Deaf children, on the other hand, are invariably dumb. Indeed I cannot imagine how the eye should assist infants in imitating any sounds, excepting the vowels and the labial consonants ; and hence, perhaps, the first names by which they distinguish their parents, in most, if not in all languages. In all the other letters the different conformations of the organs of speech must be concealed from their observation. VOL. III.
In speculations concerning the varieties of the Human Race, too little attention has been, in general, bestowed on the influence exercised by the mind over the external expression. In consequence of this influence, it will be found, that no inconsiderable diversities in the form and aspect of man, arise from the different degrees of cultivation which his intellectual and moral powers receive in the different stages of society.*
The savage, having neither occasion nor inclination to exert his intellectual faculties, excepting to remove the present inconveniences of his situation, or to procure the objects which minister to his necessities, spends the greater part of his time in a state of stupid and thoughtless repose. It is impossible, therefore, that his features should acquire that spirit and that mobility, which indicate an informed and an active mind. Supposing two individuals to possess originally the same physical formto be cast, if I may use the expression, in the same mould; and the one to be educated from infancy in the habits of savage life, while the other has been trained to the manners of cultivated society ; I have no doubt, but that, abstracting entirely from the influence of climate and of other physical circumstances, their countenances would, in time, exhibit a very striking contrast. Nothing, indeed, can place this in a stronger light, than the rapid change which a few months' education produces on the physiognomy of those dumb children, to whom the ingenuity of the present age furnishes the means of mental culture—a change from listlessness, vacancy, and seeming fatuity, to the expressive and animated look of selfenjoyment and conscious intelligence. It is true that, in such a state of society as ours, a great proportion of the community are as incapable of reflection as sava es; but the principle of imitation, which, in some measure, assimilates to each other all the members of the same group or circle, communicates the external aspect of intelligence and of refinement, to those who are the least
* For some ingenious and important remarks upon this subject, see an Essay on the Causes of the Variety in the Complexion and Figure of the Human Species, by the Reverend Samuel Stanhope Smith, D. D. Vice-President and Professor of Moral Philosophy in the College of New Jersey.
entitled to assume it: And it is thus we frequently see the most complete mental imbecility accompanied with what is called a plausible or imposing appearance; or, in other words a countenance which has caught, from imitation, the expression of sagacity..
I have already said, that, in the case of most persons, the power of imitation decays as the period of childhood draws to a close. To this cause it is probably owing that the strong resemblance which often renders twins scarcely distinguishable from each other in infancy, in most cases disappears gradually, in proportion as their countenances are rendered more expressive by the developement of their respective characters. Like other powers, however, exercised by the infant mind, this faculty may be easily continued through the whole of life by a perseverance in the habits of our early years. By a course of systematical culture, it may even be strengthened to a degree far exceeding what is ever attained by the unassisted capacities of our natures. It is thus that the powers of the mimic are formed,-powers which almost all children have a disposition to indulge, and of which it is sometimes difficult to restrain the exercise. The strength of the propensity seems to vary a good deal, according to the physical temperament of the individual; but herever it meets with any encouragement, it is well known that no faculty whatever is more susceptible of improvement: And, accordingly, when, at any time, the possession of it happens to be at all fashionable in the higher circles, it very soon ceases to be a rare accomplishment. In the other sex, the power of imitation is, I think, in general, greater than in ours.
A frequent reiteration of any act, it has been often remarked, communicates to the mind, not only a facility in performing it, but an increased proneness or disposition to repeat it. This observation is remarkably verified in those who accustom themselves to the exercise of mini
*" Tout en elles est plus expressif; des fibres plus délicates, une physionomie plus mobile, un accent plus flexible, un maintien plus naïf; tout parle plus clairement à nos regards ; tout porte mieux l'empreinte de leurs caractères, de leurs affections, et de leurs pensées ; leur âme enfin semble moins invisible : et par ce qu'elles paroissent, on juge mieux de ce qu'elles sont.-Discours de M. de Boufflers, lors de sų réception à l'Académie, Française.
ickry. Their propensity to imitation gains new strength from its habitual indulgence, and sometimes becomes so powerful as to be hardly subject to the control of the will. Instances of this have, more than once, fallen under my own observation; and, in a few well authenticated cases, the propensity is said to have become so irresistible, as to constitute a species of disease. A very memorable fact of this kind is recorded by a Mr. George Garden, (who seems to have been a medical practitioner in Aberdeenshire,) in one of the early volumes of the Philosophical Transactions.*
As we have a faculty of imitating the peculiarities of our acquaintances, so we are able to fashion, in some degree, our own exterior, according to the ideal forms which imagination creates. The same powers of embellishing nature, which are exercised by the poet and the painter, may, in this manner, be rendered subservient to the personal improvement of the individual. By a careful study of the best models which the circle of his acquaintance presents to him, an outline may be conceived of their common excellencies, excluding every peculiarity of feature which might designate the particular objects of his imitation ; and this imaginary original
* See Philosophical Transactions, Vol. XII. for an extract of a letter from Aberdeen, 1676-7, concerning a man of a strange imitating nature. It may suffice here to transcribe the most interesting particulars.
“ This Donald Monro (for that is his name) being a little old and very plain man, of a thin slender body, hath been subject to this infirmity, as he told us, from his very infancy. He is very loath to have it observed, and, therefore, casts down his eyes as he walks in the streets, and turns them aside when he is in company. We had made several trials before he perceived our design ; and we afterwards had much ado to make him stay. We caressed him as much as we could, and had then the opportunity to observe, that he imitated not only the scratching of the head, but also the wringing of the hands, wiping of the nose, stretching forth of the arms, &c. And we needed not strain compliment to persuade him to be covered; for he still put off and on as he saw us do, and all this with so much exactness, and yet with such a natural and unaffected air, that we could not so much as suspect he did it on design. When we held both his hands, and caused another to make such motions, he pressed to get free: but when we would have known niore particularly, how he found himself affected, he could only give this simple answer, that it vered his heart and his brain.”
“ I shall leave to your consideration what peculiar crasis of spirits, or distemper of imagination, may cause these effects, and wþat analogy they bear to the involuntary motion of yawning after others, and laughing when men are tickled, (which some will do, if any body do make that titillating motion with their fingers, though it be at a distance from them,) and whether if his nurse have accustomed him to the frequent imitation of little motions and gestures in his infancy, this may not have had some influence to mould the texture of his brain and spirits, and to dispose him to this ridiculous apishness."