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the imagination, and makes us, with avidity, search for the same gratification in whatever other subject it can be found. And thus uniform frequency in gratifying the same passion upon different objects, produceth at length a generic habit. In this manner, one acquires an habitual delight in high and poignant sauces, rich dress, fine equipages, crowds of company, and in whatever is commonly termed pleasure. There concurs, at the same time, to introduce this habit, a peculiarity observed above, that reiteration of acts enlarges the capacity of the mind, to admit a more plentiful gratification than originally, with regard to frequency as well as quantity.
Hence it appears, that though a specific habit cannot be formed but upon a moderate pleasure, a generic habit may be formed upon any sort of pleasure, moderate or immoderate, that hath variety of objects. The only difference is, that a weak pleasure runs naturally into a specific habit; whereas an intense pleasure is altogether averse to such a habit. In a word, it is only in singular cases that a moderate pleasure produces a generic habit; but an intense pleasure cannot produce any other habit.
The appetites that respect the preservation and propagation of the species, are formed into habit in a peculiar manner: the time as well as measure of their gratification are much under the power of custom; which, by introducing a change upon the body, occasions a proportional change in the appetites. Thus, if the body be gradually formed to a certain quantity of food at stated times, the appetite is regulated accordingly; and the appetite is again changed, when a different habit of body is introduced by a different practice. Here it would seem, that the change is not made upon the
mind, which is commonly the case in passive habits, but upon the body.
When rich food is brought down by ingredients of a plainer taste, the composition is susceptible of a specific habit. Thus the sweet taste of sugar, rendered less poignant in a mixture, may, in course of time, produce a specific habit for such mixture. As moderate pleasures, by becoming more intense, tend to generic habits; so intense pleasures, by becoming more moderate, tend to specific habits.
The beauty of the human figure, by a special recommendation of nature appears to us supreme, amid the great variety of beauteous forms bestowed upon animals. The various degrees in which individuals enjoy that property, render it an object, sometimes of a moderate, sometimes of an intense passion. The moderate passion admitting frequent reiteration without diminution, and occupying the mind without exhausting it, turns gradually stronger till it becomes a habit. Nay, instances are not wanting, of a face, at first disagreeable, afterward rendered indifferent by familiarity, and at length agreeable by custom. On the other hand, consummate beauty, at the very first glance, fills the mind so as to admit no increase. Enjoyment lessens the pleasure ;* and if often repeated, ends commonly in satiety and disgust. The impressions made by consummate beauty, in a gradual succession from lively to faint, constitute a series opposite to that of faint impressions waxing gradually more lively, till they produce a specific habit. But the mind, when accustomed to beauty, contracts a relish for it in general, though often repelled from particular objects by the pain of satiety and thus a generic habit is formed, of which
* See Chapter II. Part iii.
inconstancy in love is the necessary consequence; for a generic habit, comprehending every beautiful object, is an invincible obstruction to a specific habit, which is confined to one.
But a matter which is of great importance to the youth of both sexes, deserves more than a cursory view. Though the pleasant emotion of beauty differs widely from the corporeal appetite, yet when both are directed to the same object, they produce a very strong complex passion:* enjoyment in that case must be exquisite; and therefore more apt to produce satiety, than in any other case whatever. This is a never-failing effect, where consummate beauty in the one party, meets with a warm imagination and great sensibility in the other. What I am here explaining, is true without exaggeration; and they must be insensible upon whom it makes no impression: it deserves well to be pondered by the young and the amorous, who, in forming the matrimonial society, are too often blindly impelled by the animal pleasure merely, inflamed by beauty. It may indeed happen, after the pleasure is gone, and go it must with a swift pace, that a new connexion is formed upon more dignified and more lasting principles: but this is a dangerous experiment; for even supposing good sense, good temper, and internal merit of every sort, yet a new connexion upon such qualifications is rarely formed: it commonly, or rather always happens, that such qualifications, the only solid foundation of an indissoluble connexion, are rendered altogether invisible by satiety of enjoyment creating disgust.
One effect of custom, different from any that have been explained, must not be omitted, because
it makes a great figure in human nature: Though custom augments moderate pleasures, and lessens those that are intense, it has a different effect with respect to pain: for it blunts the edge of every sort of pain and distress, faint or acute. Uninterrupted misery, therefore, is attended with one good effect if its torments be incessant, custom hardens us to bear them.
The changes made in forming habits, are curious. Moderate pleasures are augmented gradually by reiteration, till they become habitual; and then are at their height: but they are not long stationary; for from that point they gradually decay, till they vanish altogether. The pain occasioned by want of gratification, runs a different course it increases uniformly; and at last becomes extreme, when the pleasure of gratification is reduced to nothing:
-It so falls out,
That what we have we prize not to the worth,
Much ado about Nothing, Act IV. Sc. 2. The effect of custom with relation to a specific habit, is displayed through all its varieties in the use of tobacco. The taste of that plant is at first extremely unpleasant: our disgust lessens gradually, till it vanish altogether; at which period the taste is neither agreeable nor disagreeable: continuing the use of the plant, we begin to relish it; and our relish improves by use, till it arrive at perfection : from that period it gradually decays, while the habit is in a state of increment, and consequently the pain of want. The result is, that when the habit has acquired its greatest vigour, the relish is gone;
and accordingly, we often smoke and take snuff habitually, without so much as being conscious of the operation. We must except gratification after the pain of want; the pleasure of which gratification is the greatest when the habit is the most vigorous; it is of the same kind with the pleasure one feels upon being delivered from the rack, the cause of which is explained above.* This pleasure, however, is but occasionally the effect of habit; and however exquisite, is avoided as much as possible because of the pain that precedes it.
With regard to the pain of want, I can discover no difference between a generic and a specific habit. But these habits differ widely with respect to the positive pleasure: I have had occasion to observe, that the pleasure of a specific habit decays gradually till it turn imperceptible; the pleasure of a generic habit, on the contrary, being supported by variety of gratification, suffers little or no decay after it comes to its height. However it may be with other generic habits, the observation, I am certain, holds with respect to the pleasures of virtue and of knowledge the pleasure of doing good has an unbounded scope, and may be so variously gratified, that it can never decay; science is equally unbounded; our appetite for knowledge having an ample range of gratification, where discoveries are recommended by novelty, by variety, by utility, or by all of them.
In this intricate inquiry, I have endeavoured, but without success, to discover by what particular means it is that custom hath influence upon us : and now nothing seems left, but to hold our nature to be so framed, as to be susceptible of such influence. And supposing it purposely so framed, it
* Chapter II. Part i. Sect. S