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real as well as mental effort, the effect of practice wil) be found to extend to both. Not only the acts of the mind are quickened ana strengthened, but all those muscles which are at such times employed, become stronger and more obedient to the will. Indeed, the submission of the muscular effort to the volition is oftentimes rendered so prompt by habit, that we are unable distinctly to recollect any exercise of volition previous to the active or muscular exertion. It is habit which is the basis of those characteristic peculiarities that distinguish one man's handwriting from another's; it is habit which causes that peculiarity of attitude and motion so easily discoverable in most persons, termed their gait; it is habit also which has impressed on the muscles, immediately connected with the organs of speech, that fixed and precise form of action, which, in different individuals, gives rise, in part at least, to characteristics of voice.
The habit, in the cases just mentioned, is both bodily and mental, and has become so strong, that it is hardly possible to counteract it for any length of time.—The great law of Habit is applicable to all the leading divisions of our mental nature, the Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will; and as we advance from one view of the mind to another, we shall have repeated occasion to notice its influence. In the remainder of this chapter we shall limit Dur remarks to Habit, considered in connexion with the Sensations and Perceptions.
Ø 48. Of habit in relation to the smell. We shall consider the application of the principle of Habit to the senses in the same order which has already been observed. In the first place, there are habits of Smell.—This sense, like the others, is susceptible of cultivation. As there are some persons whose power of distinguishing the difference of two or more colours is leeble; so there are some who are doubtful and perplexed in like manner in the discrimination of odours. “And as the inability may be overcome in some measure in the former case, so it may be in the latter. The fact that the powers of which the smell is capable are not more frequently brought out and quickened, is owing to the
circumstance that it is not ordinarily needed. It some. simes happens, however, that men are compelled to make an uncommon use of it, when, by a defect in the other senses, they are left without the ordinary helps to knowlfdge. It is then we see the effects of the law of Habit. It is stated in Mr. Stewart's account of James Mitchell, who was deaf, sightless, and speechless, and, of course, strongly induced by his unfortunate situation to make iauch use of the sense we are considering, that his smell would immediately and in variably inform him of the presence of a stranger, and direct to the place where he might be; and it is repeatedly asserted, that this sense had become in him extremely acute.—“ It is related," says Dr. Abercrombie, “ of the late Dr. Moyse, the wellknown blind philosopher, that he could distinguish a black dress on his friends by its smell.”
In an interesting account of a deaf, dumb, and blind girl in the Hartford Asylum, recently published, statements are made on this subject of a similar purport.“It has been observed,” says the writer, "of persons who are deprived of a particular sense, that additional quickness or vigour seems to be bestowed on those which remain. Thus blind persons are often distinguished by peculiar exquisiteness of touch; and the deaf and dumb, who gain all their knowledge through the eye, concentrate, as it were, their whole
souls in that channel of observation. With her whose eye, ear, and tongue are alike dead, the capabilities both of touch and smell are exceedingly heightened. Especially the latter seems almost to have acquired the properties of a new sense, and to transcend the sagacity even of a spaniel.”—Such is the influence of habit on the intimations of the sense under consideration.
§ 49. Of habit in relation to the taste. The same law is applicable to the Taste. We see the results of the frequent exercise of this sense in the quickness which the dealer in wines discovers in distinguishing the flavour of one wine from that of another. So marked are the results in cases of this kind, that one is almoet disposed to credit the story which Cervantes ce
lates of two pers' ns, who were requested to pass
their 'udgment upon a hogshead which was supposed to be yery old and excellent. One of them tasted the wine,
pronounced it to be very good, with the exception of a slight taste of leather which he perceived m it. The other, after mature reflection and examination, pronounced the same favourable verdict, with the exception of a taste of iron, which he could easily distinguish. On emptying the hogshead, there was found at the bottom an old key with a leathern thong tied to it.
Another practical view of this subject, however, presents itself here. The sensations which we experience in this and other like cases, not only acquire by repetition greater niceness and discrimination, but increased strength ; (and perhaps the increased strength is in all instances the foundation of the greater power of discrimination.) On this topic we have a wide and melancholy source of illustration. The bibber of wine and the drinker of ardent spirits readily acknowledge, that the sensation was at first only moderately pleasing, and perhaps in the very slightest degree. Every time they carried the intoxicating potion to their lips, the sensation grew more pleasing, and the desire for it waxed stronger. Perhaps they were not aware that this process was going on in virtue of a great law of humanity; but they do not pretend to deny the fact. They might, indeed, have suspected at an early period that chains were gathering around them, whatever might be the cause; but what objection had they to be bound with links of flowers; delightful while they lasted, and easily broken when necessary! But here was the mistake. Link was added to link; chain was woven with chain, till he who boasted of his strength was at last made sensible of his weakness, and found himself a prisoner, a captive, a deformed, altered, and degraded slave.
There is a threefold operation. The sensation of taste acquires an enhanced degree of pleasantness; the feeling of uneasiness is increased in a corresponding measure when the sensation is not indu.ged by drinking; and the desire, which is necessarily attendant on the uneasy feeling, becomes in like manner more and more imperative
To alleviate the ineasy feeling and this importunate de sire, the unlıappy man goes again to his cups, and with a shaking hand pours down the delicious poison. What hen? He has added a new link to his chain; at every repetition it grows heavier and heavier, till that, which at first he bore lightly and cheerfully, now presses him like a coat of iron, and galls like fetters of steel. There is a great and fearful law of his nature bearing him down to destruction. Every indulgence is the addition of a new weight to what was before placed upon him, thus lessening the probability of escape, and accelerating his gloomy, fearful
, and interminable sinking. We do not mean to say that he is the subject of an implacable destiny, and cannot help himself. But it would seem that he can help himself only in this way; by a prompt, absolute, and entire suspension of the practice in all its forms, which has led him into this extremity. But few, however, have the resolution to do this; the multitude make a few unwilling and feeble efforts, and resign themselves to the horrors of their fate.
§ 50. Of habit in relation to the hearing. There is undoubtedly a natural difference in the quickness and discrimination of hearing. This sense is more acute in some than in others; but in those who possess it in much natural excellence, it is susceptible of a high degree of cultivation. Musicians are a proof of this, whose sensibility to the melody and concord of sweet sounds continually increases with the practice of their art.
The increase of sensibility in the perceptions of hearing is especially marked and evident, when uncommon causes have operated to secure such practice. And this is the state of things with the Blind. The readers of Sir Walter Scott may not have forgotten the blind fiddler, who figures so conspicuously with verse and harp in Red Gauntlet; a character sufficiently extraordinary, but by no means an improbable exaggeration. The blind necessarily rely much more than others on the sense of hearing. By constant practice they increase the accuracy and power of its perceptions. Shut out from the beauties that are seen, they please themselves with what is
neard, and greedily drink in the melodies of song. Ac cordingly, music is made by them not only a solace, but a business and a means of support; and in the Iristitutions for the Blind this is considered an important department of instruction.
Níany particular instances on record, and well authenticated, confirm the general statement, that the ear may be trained to habits, and that thus the sensations of sound may come to us with new power and meaning. It is related of a celebrated blind man of Puiseaux in France, that he could determine the quantity of fluid in vessels by the sound it produced while running from one vessel into another. “ Dr. Rush,” as the statement is given in Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers, “relates of two blind young men, brothers, of the city of Philadelphia, that they knew when they approached a post in walking across a street by a peculiar sound which the ground under their feet emitted in the neighbourhood of the post; and that they could tell the names of a number of tame pigeons, with which they amused themselves in a little garden, by only hearing them fly over their heads.” Dr. Saunderson, who became blind so early as not to remember having seen, when happening in any new place, as a room, piazza, pavement, court, and the like, gave it a character by means of the sound and echo from his feet; and in that way was able to identify pretty exactly the place, and assure himself of his position afterward. A writer in the First Volume of the Manchester Philosophical Memoirs, who is our authority also for the statement just made, speaks of a certain blind man in that city as follows: “I had an opportunity of repeatedly observing the peculiar manner in which he arranged his ideas and acquired his information. Whenever he was introduced into company, I remarked that he continued some time silent. The sound directed him to judge of the dimensions of the room, and the different voices of the number of persons that were present. His distinction in these respects was very accurate, and his memory so retentive that he was seldom mistaken. I have known him instantly recognise a person on first hearing him, though more than two years had elapsed since the time of their last meeting. He