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To introduce an active habit, frequency of acts is not sufficient without length of time: the quickest succession of acts in a short time, is not sufficient; nor a slow succession in the longest time. The effect must be produced by a moderate soft action, and a long series of easy touches, removed from each other by short intervals. Nor are these sufficient without regularity in the time, place, and other circumstances of the action: the more uniform any operation is, the sooner it becomes habitual. And this holds equally in a passive habit; variety in any remarkable degree, prevents the effect: thus any particular food will scarce ever become habitual, where the manner of dressing is varied. The circumstances then requisite to augment a moderate pleasure, and at the long run to form a habit, are weak uniform acts, reiterated during a long course of time without any considerable interruption: every agreeable cause that operates in this manner, will grow habitual.
Affection and aversion,) as distinguished from passion on the one hand, and on the other from original disposition, are in reality habits respecting particular objects, acquired in the manner above set forth. The pleasure of social intercourse with any person, must originally be faint, and frequently reiterated, in order to establish the habit of affection. Affection thus generated, whether it be friendship or love, seldom swells into any tumultuous or vi gorous passion; but is however the strongest cement that can bind together two individuals of the human species. In like manner, a slight degree of disgust often reiterated with regularity, grows into the habit of aversion, which commonly subsists for life.
Objects of taste that are delicious, far from tending to become habitual, are apt, by indulgence, to VOL. I. Tt
produce satiety and disgust: no man contracts a habit of sugar, honey, or sweetmeats, as he doth of tobacco :
Is loathsome in its own deliciousness,
And in the taste confounds the appetite;
Romeo and Juliet, Act II. Sc. 6.
The same observation holds with respect to all objects that being extremely agreeable raise violent passions such passions are incompatible with a habit of any sort; and in particular they never produce affection nor aversion: a man who at first sight falls violently in love, has a strong desire of enjoyment, but no affection for the woman :* a man
* Violent love without affection is finely exemplified in the following story. When Constantinople was taken by the Turks, Irene, a young Greek of an illustrious family, fell into the hands of Mahomet II. who was at that time in the prime of youth and glory. His savage heart being subdued by her charms, he shut himself up with her, de, nying access even to his ministers. Love obtained such ascendant, as to make him frequently abandon the army, and fly to his Irene. War relaxed, for victory was no longer the monarch's favourite passion. The soldiers, accustomed to booty, began to murmur; and the infec tion spread even among the commanders. The Basha Mustapha, consulting the fidelity he owed his master, was the first who durst acquaint him of the discourses held publicly to the prejudice of his glory.
The Sultan, after a gloomy silence, formed his resolution. He ordered Mustapha to assemble the troops next morning; and then with precipitation retired to Irene's apartment. Never before did that princess appear so charming; never before did the prince bestow so many warm caresses. To give a new lustre to her beauty, he exhorted
who is surprised with an unexpected favour, burns for an opportunity to exert his gratitude, without having any affection for his benefactor: neither does desire of vengeance for an atrocious injury, involve aversion.
It is perhaps not easy to say why moderate plea- · sures gather strength by custom: but two causes concur to prevent that effect in the more intense pleasures. These, by an original law in our nature, increase quickly to their full growth, and decay with no less precipitation ;* and custom is too slow in its operation to overcome that law. The other cause is no less powerful: exquisite pleasure is extremely fatiguing; occasioning, as a naturalist would say, great expense of animal spirits ;† and of such the mind cannot bear so frequent gratification, as to superinduce a habit: if the thing that raises the pleasure return before the mind have recovered its tone and relish, disgust ensues instead of pleasure.
A habit never fails to admonish us of the wonted time of gratification, by raising a pain for want of the object, and a desire to have it. The pain of
her women, next morning, to bestow their utmost art and care on her dress. He took her by the hand, led her into the middle of the army, and pulling off her veil, demanded of the Bashas with a fierce look, whether they had ever beheld such a beauty? After an awful pause, Mahomet, with one hand laying hold of the young Greek by her beautiful locks, and with the other pulling out his scimitar, severed the head from the body at one stroke. Then turning to his grandees, with eyes wild and furious, "This sword," said he," when it is my will, knows to cut the bands of love." However strange it may appear, we learn from experience, that desire of enjoyment, may consist with the most brutal aversion, directed both to the same woman. Of this we have a noted example in the first book of Sully's Memoirs; to which I choose to refer the reader; for it is too gross to be transcribed.
* See Chapter II. Part iii.
Lady Easy, upon her husband's reformation, expresses to her friend the following sentiment: "Be satisfied; Sir Charles has made me happy, even to a pain of joy."
want is always first felt; the desire naturally follows and upon presenting the object, both vanish instantaneously. Thus a man accustomed to to bacco, feels, at the end of the usual interval, a confused pain of want; which at first points at no, thing in particular, though it soon settles upon its accustomed object: and the same may be observed in persons addicted to drinking, who are often in an uneasy restless state before they think of the bottle. In pleasures indulged regularly, and at equal intervals, the appetite, remarkably obse quious to custom, returns regularly with the usual time of gratification; not sooner, even though the object be presented. This pain of want arising from habit, seems directly opposite to that of satiety; and it must appear singular, that frequency of gratification should produce effects so opposite, as are the pains of excess and of want.
The appetites that respect the preservation and propagation of our species, are attended with a pain of want similar to that occasioned by habit: hunger and thirst are uneasy sensations of want, which always precede the desire of eating or drinking; and a pain for want of carnal enjoyment precedes the desire of an object. The pain being thus felt independent of an object, cannot be cured but by gratification. Very different is an ordinary passion, in which desire precedes the pain of want: such a passion cannot exist but while the object is in view; and therefore, by removing the object out of thought, it vanisheth, with its desire, and pain of want.*
The natural appetites above mentioned differ from habit in the following particular: they have an undetermined direction toward all objects of
*See Chapter II. Part ini.
gratification in general; whereas an habitual appetite is directed to a particular object: the attachment we have by habit to a particular woman, differs widely from the natural passion which comprehends the whole sex; and the habitual relish for a particular dish is far from being the same with a vague appetite for food. That difference notwithstanding, it is still remarkable, that nature hath enforced the gratification of certain natural appetites essential to the species, by a pain of the same sort with that which habit produceth.
The pain of habit is less under our power than any other pain that arises from want of gratification: hunger and thirst are more easily endured, especially at first, than an unusual intermission of any habitual pleasure: persons are often heard declaring, they would forego sleep or food, rather than tobacco. We must not, however, conclude, that the gratification of an habitual appetite affords the same delight with the gratification of one that is natural far from it; the pain of want only is greater.
The slow and reiterated acts that produce a habit, strengthen the mind to enjoy the habitual plea-.. sure in greater quantity and more frequency than originally; and by that means a habit of intemperate gratification is often formed: after unbounded acts of intemperance, the habitual relish is soon restored, and the pain for want of enjoyment returns with fresh vigour.
The causes of the present emotions hitherto in view, are either an individual, such as a companion, a certain dwelling-place, a certain amusement; or a particular species, such as coffee, mutton, or any other food. But habit is not confined to such. A constant train of trifling diversions, may form such a habit in the mind, that it cannot