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TALKS TO TEACHERS

ON PSYCHOLOGY: AND TO
STUDENTS ON SOME OF LIFE'S
IDEALS. By WILLIAM JAMES

Boston
Medical Library
8

The Fenway

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Works by

WILLIAM JAMES,

Litt.D.y
tute

et

of France ; Professor of Philosophy at

Harvard

The

M.D., Ph.

LL.D. ; Correspondent of tJie InstiUniversity.

Principles of Psychology.
Holt & Co.

New York: Henry


Psychology

The Will

& Co.

8vo.

1890.

New

nrao,

Course.

Briefer

York: Henry Holt

2 vols.

1892.

to Believe, and Other Essays In


New York: Long-

Popular Philosophy.
mans, Green

& Co.

1897.

Worth Living ? i8mo. Philadelphia:


B. Weston, 1305 Arch Street. 1896.

Is Life
S.

Human

Immortality

Two Supposed

i6mo.
tions to the Doctrine.
Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1898.

The Literary Remains


Edited, with an

Jambs.

With

of

Henry James.

Introduction,

Portrait.

Objec-

Boston:

Crown

by William
8vo.

1885.

TALKS TO TEACHERS
ON PSYCHOLOGY: AND TO
STUDENTS ON SOME OF LIFE'S
IDEALS. By WILLIAM JAMES

NEW YORK
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
J899

E>-

COPYRIGHT
1899

EY WILLIAM JAMBS

/?.jf67b.

GEO. H.ELLIS, PRINTER, 272 CONGRESS

ST.,

BOSTON.

PREFACE.
In 1892

was asked by the Harvard Corporation

few public lectures on psychology to the

to give a

Cambridge teachers.

The

now

talks

printed form the

substance of that course, which has since then been


delivered at various places to various teacher-audiences.

I have found

by experience that what

hearers seem least to relish

is

and what they most care

for

analytical technicality,
is

concrete practical

So I have gradually weeded out the

application.

former, and left the latter unreduced


I

have at

my

last

minimum

of

now

and,

that

written out the lectures, they contain

what

is

deemed

'scientific'

in

psy-

chology, and are practical and popular in the ex-

treme.

Some

of

my

colleagues

may

heads at this; but in taking

my

seemed to me to be the feeling


lieve that I

am

shaping

my

possibly shake their

cue from what has

of the audiences I be-

book

so as to satisfy the

more genuine public need.


Teachers, of course, will miss the minute divisions,
subdivisions,

and

definitions, the lettered

and num-

bered headings, the variations of type, and

all

the

PREFACE

IV

other mechanical artifices on which they are accus-

tomed

But

to prop their minds.

my

main

been to make them conceive, and,

life

feels

it

He

to be.

himself into distinct processes and

would have frustrated

and

it

my

book to make

handbook

So

tic.

it

look,

printed, like a Bae-

far as books printed like this

tion, so far I

am

grounds)

for

atten-

sure they tend to do his intellect

altogether

(not

book force the

upon the young teacher's

may

a service, even though they

craving

compartments;

deeper purpose of

this

when

doesn't chop

of travel or a text-book of arithme-

fluidity of the facts

the

of their pupil as the sort of active unity

which he himself

deker's

possible, re-

if

imagination,

produce sympathetically in their

mental

desire has

more

leave

without

nomenclature,

its

unsatisfied

legitimate

head-lines,

and

subdivisions.

Readers acquainted with


chology

will

talks to students,

addresses

first

but

'

in

to

In the

have even copied

do not

needed for such plagiarism

is

were written
1

memory

verbatim,

several pages

The

larger books on Psy-

meet much familiar phraseology.

chapters on habit and

apology

my

know

that

as this.

which conclude the volume,

response to invitations to deliver

students at women's colleges.

The

one was to the graduating class of the Boston

Normal School

of Gymnastics.

Properly,

it

contin-

PREFACE

The second and

ues the series of talks to teachers.

the third address belong together, and continue another line of thought.

tain Blindness in
It

make

wish I were able to

which

it

may seem

a Cer-

It connects

with a definite view of the world and of our

Those who have done

moral relations to the same.

me

On

of sentimentalism

some readers.

to

'

more impressive.

Beings,'

more than the mere piece

is

itself

Human

the second,

the honor of reading

my

essays will recognize that I


individualistic philosophy.

ophy, the truth

is

volume

mean

the pluralistic or

According to that philos-

too great for any one actual mind,

even though that mind be dubbed

know

of philosophic

the whole of

The

it.

facts

the Absolute,' to

and worths

need many cognizers to take them

There

in.

point of view absolutely public and universal.

of life
is

no

Pri-

vate and uncommunicable perceptions always remain


over,

and the worst of

them from

The

it is

that those

the outside never

know

who

look for

where.

practical consequence of such a philosophy

is

the well-known democratic respect for the sacredness


of individuality,

of whatever

is

is,

not

at

any

itself

rate, the

intolerant.

These phrases

now

rather dead in

are so familiar that they sound

our

ears.

outward tolerance

Once they had a passionate inner meaning.

Such a passionate inner meaning they may

easily

PREFACE

VI
acquire again
its

own

if

the pretension of our nation to

inner ideals and institutions vi

et

inflict

armis upon

Orientals should meet with a resistance as obdurate as


so far

it

has been gallant and spirited.

Religiously

and philosophically, our ancient national doctrine of


live

and

let live

may

prove to have a far deeper

meaning than our people now seem


possess.

Cambridge, Mass., March,

1899.

to imagine

it

to

CONTENTS.
TALKS TO TEACHERS.
I.

Psychology and the Teaching Art

PAGE
3

What teachers may expect from psychology, 5


Teaching methods must agree with psychology,
but cannot be immediately deduced therefrom, 7
The American educational

The

organization,

science of teaching and the science of war,

The educational uses of psychology defined,


The teacher's duty toward child-study,

12.

10

II.

...

The Stream op Consciousness

15

Our mental life is a succession of conscious


They have a focus and a margin,
fields,' 15

18 This

description contrasted with the theory

of 'ideas,' 20

III.

The Child
Mind

as

Wundt's conclusions,

20, note.

as a Behaving Organism

pure reason and

mind

as

22

practical

view the more fashionable


guide, 22 The
work,
be adopted in
one to-day, 23

to
The teacher's function
24 Why so? 25
latter

this

It will

is

train pupils to behavior, 28.

IV. Education and Behavior

29

Conduct

Different national ideals


outcome, 30
Education defined, 29

and England, 31.

always

is

its

Germany

CONTENTS

Viii

....

V. The Necessity of Reactions


No impression without expression, 33
reproduction,

should

know

34

Manual

their

Verbal
35 Pupils

training,

marks,' 37.

VI. Native and Acquired Reactions


The acquired

reactions

ask instead of
stincts than other mammals, 43.

VII.

What

38

must be preceded by

Illustration teaching child


snatching, 39 Man has more

ones, 38

native

PAGB
33

the Native Reactions are

to
in-

45

Curiosity, 45 Imitation,

Forbidden by Kousseau, 51
His error, 52 Ambition, pugnacity, and pride.
Soft pedagogics and the fighting impulse, 54
educational uses, 56 ConOwnership, 55

Manual teaching, 59 Transistructiveness, 58


60 Their order of succestoriness in
Fear and love, 45
Emulation, 49
48

Its

instincts,

sion, 61.

VIII.

The Laws of Habit


Good and bad

Habit due
The aim of education
automatic, 6Q Maxims

habits, 64

city of organic tissues, 65


is

to

make

64

useful habits

relative to habit-forming:

to plasti-

1.

Strong

initiative,

67

No exception, 68 Seize opportunity


Don't preach, 71 Darwin and
69
to
3.

2.

poetry

first

4.

act,

without exercise our capacities decay, 71

The habit of mental and muscular relaxation,


74 Fifth maxim, keep the faculty of
trained, 75 Sudden conversions compatible with
laws of habit, 76 Momentous influence of habits
effort

on character, 77.

CONTENTS

PAGE

IX.

The Association of Ideas


A case of habit, 79 The two
and

similarity,

80

The

79

laws, contiguity
teacher has to build up

useful systems of association, 83


ciations determine character, 84

Habitual

ness of our trains of association, 85

them backward, but not

trace

We

can

foretell them, 86

Prepotent parts of the


In teaching, multiply cues, 89.

Interest deflects, 87

88

asso-

Indeterminatefield,

X. Interest
The

91

child's native interests,

ing things acquire an interest,


teacher, 95

'Preparation'

How uninterest94 Rules for the

91

of the mind for the


must have something to attend
All later interests are borrowed from

lesson: the pupil

with, 97

original ones, 99.

XI. Attention

100

Interest and attention are two aspects of


fact,

100

Voluntary

attention

comes in

one

beats,

101
Genius and attention, 102
The subject
must change to win attention, 103
Mechanical
aids, 104
The physiological process, 106
The
new in the old is what excites interest, 108
Interest and effort are compatible, 110
Mind-wandering, 112
Not fatal to mental efficiency, 114.

XII.

Memory
Due

116

to association, 116

cue, 118

Memory

is

due to

Native retentiveness,
tions

may

120

recall

without a

brain-plasticity, 119

Number of associa Re-

practically be its equivalent, 122

tentiveness

123

No

is

a fixed property of the individual,

Memory

versus memories, 124

Scientific

CONTENTS
system as help to memory, 126

Technical mem-

PAGE

Cramming, 129 Elementary memory


Utility of verbal memorizing,
131 Measurements of immediate memory, 133
They throw
134 Passion
the important factor in human
137 Eyememory, ear-memory,
137 The rate of
forgetting, Ebbinghaus's
139 Influence
ories,

127

unimprovable, 130
little

light,

is

efficiency,

etc.,

results,

of the unreproducible, 142-

must think and connect,

XIII.

To

remember, one

143.

The Acquisition of Ideas

144

Education gives a stock of conceptions, 144


The order of their acquisition, 146
Value of
verbal material,
orders:

when

149

Abstractions

of

are they assimilable,

151

different

False

conceptions of children, 152.

XIV. Apperception

155

fogyism, 160 How many types of apperception


161 New heads of
must continually
be invented, 163 Alteration of the apperceiving
mass, 165 Class-names are what we work by,
166 Few new fundamental conceptions acquired
Of ten a mystifying idea, 155
The process de157
The law of economy, 159
Old-

fined,

classification

after twenty-five, 167.

XV. The Will

169

All consciousness tends


Ideo-motor action, 171 Inhibi172 The process of deliberation, 174
Why so few of our ideas result in
176
The associationist account of the
177 A
balance of impulses and inhibitions, 178 The
The word

defined, 169

to action, 170
tion,

acts,

will,

CONTENTS

Xi

PAGE
over-impulsive and the over-obstructed type, 179

The
What

perfect type,

action depends

185

180 The

balky

Effort

on

181
Right

will,

character-building consists in, 184

right apperception of the case,

of will

drunkard's dilemma,

effort

is

187

voluntary attention, 189

of attention: the

Vital

Its

importance

of

amount maybe

in-

Affirmation of
192
Spinoza on
tion by a higher good, 194 Conclusion, 195
determinate, 191

Two

free-will,

types of inhibition, 193

inhibi-

TALKS TO STUDENTS.
I.

THE GOSPEL OF RELAXATION

....

199

II.

ON A CERTAIN BLINDNESS IN HUMAN BEINGS

229

III.

WHAT MAKES A

LIFE SIGNIFICANT?

....

265

TALKS TO TEACHERS

I.

PSYCHOLOGY AND THE TEACHING ART


In the general

activity

and uprising of

which every one with an eye

terests

discern

all

about us in American

ideal in-

for fact can

life,

there

is

per-

haps no more promising feature than the fermentation

which

for a

dozen years or more has been

going on among the teachers.

In whatever sphere

of education their functions

may

lie,

there

is

to

be seen among them a really inspiring amount of


searching of the heart about the highest concerns
of their profession.

The renovation

begins always at the top,

members

of the State,

and downward.
one

may

say,

have

The
its

among

teachers of this

tion

country,

The

future in their hands.

show in

and strengthen themselves

of the nation's probabilities of


directions.

the reflective

and spreads slowly outward

earnestness which they at present


to enlighten

of nations

The outward

striving

is

an index

advance in

all ideal

organization of educa-

which we have in our United States

is

per-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

on the whole, the best organization that

haps,

exists in

any country.

The

State school systems

give a diversity and flexibility, an opportunity for

experiment and keenness of competition, nowhere


else to

be found on such an important

many

independence of so

their

and uni-

of the colleges

give and take of students and in-

versities; the

between them

structors

The

scale.

happy organic

all; their

emulation, and

relations to the lower schools

the traditions of instruction in them, evolved from


the

older

American recitation-method (and

so

avoiding on the one hand the pure lecture-sys-

tem prevalent in Germany and Scotland, which


considers too

little

the individual student, and yet

not involving the sacrifice of the instructor to the


individual student, which the English tutorial sys-

tem would seem too often

to entail),

all

these

things (to say nothing of that coeducation of the


sexes in whose benefits so

many

of us heartily

believe), all these things, I say, are

features of our scholastic

life,

most happy

and from them the

most sanguine auguries may be drawn.

Having
need

is

superior

to

so

favorable an

impregnate

it

organization,

all

we

with geniuses, to get

men and women working more and more

abundantly in

it

and for

it

and at

it,

and in a

PSYCHOLOGY AND THE TEACHING ART

may

generation or two America

education of the world.

forward with no

well lead the

must say that

I look

confidence to the day

little

when

that shall be an accomplished fact.

No
of

one has profited more by the fermentation

which

I speak, in pedagogical circles, than

The

psychologists.

we

desire of the schoolteachers

for a completer professional

aspiration toward the

training,

professional

and

their

spirit in their

'

work, have led them more and more to turn to us

And

on fundamental principles.

for light

in these

few hours which we are to spend together you


look to me, I

am

sure, for information concerning

the mind's operations, which

may

enable you to

labor more easily and effectively in the several

schoolrooms over which you preside.

me

to disclaim for psychology all

such hopes.

Psychology ought certainly

Far be
title to

it

from

to give the teacher radical help.


fess that,

some

your expectations,

of

lest, at

few

acquainted as I

yet I con-

with the height of

I feel a little

anxious

the end of these simple talks of mine, not

of

you may experience some disappointment

at the net results.

that you
just

am

And

may

a shade

In other words, I

am

not sure

not be indulging fancies that are


exaggerated.

That wjuld not be

TALKS TO TEACHERS

altogether astonishing, for

something

like

boom

in psychology in this

and professorships have

Laboratories

country.

'

we have been having

been founded, and reviews established.

The

has been full of rumors.


tional journals

The

air

editors of educa-

and the arrangers of conventions

have had to show themselves enterprising and on a


level with the novelties of the day.

Some

of the

professors have not been unwilling to co-operate,

and

am

not sure even that the publishers have

been entirely

inert.

'The new psychology' has

thus become a term to conjure up portentous ideas

and you teachers, docile and receptive

withal;

and aspiring

as

many

of

you

are,

have been

plunged in an atmosphere of vague talk about our


science,

which

to a great extent has

mystifying than enlightening.

seem

as

been more

Altogether

it

there were a certain fatality of mystifi-

if

upon the teachers of our day.

cation laid

ter of their profession,

The mat-

compact enough in

itself,

has to be frothed up for them in journals and


tutes,

till

does

its

insti-

outlines often threaten to be lost in

a kind of vast uncertainty.

Where

the disciples

are not independent

and critical-minded enough

(and I think that,

you teachers in the

if

grades have any defect

the

earlier

slightest touch of a

THE 'NEW"' PSYCHOLOGY

defect in the world

we

docile),

it is

you

that

are a mite too

are pretty sure to miss accuracy

who

balance and measure in those

and

get a license to

down the law to them from above.


As regards this subject of psychology, now,

lay

wish at the very threshold to do what I can to

So

pel the mystification.

my humble
worthy

opinion there

of the

old psychology

little

I say at
is

which began

dis-

once that in

no 'new psychology

There

name.

is

'

nothing but the

in Locke's time, plus

physiology of the brain and senses and

theory of evolution, and a few refinements of introspective detail, for the most part without adaptation to the teacher's use.

It is only the funda-

mental conceptions of psychology which are of


real value to the teacher

and they, apart from the

aforesaid theory of evolution, are very far

being new.
I

I trust that

mean by this
I say

at the

you

end of

will see better

all

from

what

these talks.

moreover that you make a great, a very

great mistake,

if

you think that psychology, being

the science of the mind's laws,

which you can deduce

is

definite

something from

programmes and

schemes and methods of instruction for immediate

Psychology

schoolroom

use.

teaching

an art

is

is

science,

and

and sciences never generate

TALKS TO TEACHERS

An

arts directly out of themselves.

inventive

using

mind must make the

intermediary

application,

its originality.

The

made

science of logic never

rightly,

and the science of ethics

a thing) never

made

ourselves

up and check

is

more

takes.

and

The

rightly.

if

we

start to

to criticise our-

we have made misdown lines within

science only lays


of the art

reason

to help us to catch

articulately after

which the rules

man

there be such

(if

ourselves,

reason or to behave wrongly


selves

man behave

most such sciences can do

must

fall,

laws which

the follower of the art must not transgress

what

by

but

particular thing he shall positively do within

those lines

is left

One genius

will

exclusively to his

own

genius.

do his work well and succeed in

one way, while another succeeds as well quite


ferently

The

dif-

yet neither will transgress the lines.

art of teaching

grew up

in the schoolroom,

out of inventiveness and sympathetic concrete observation.

Even where

(as in

the case of Herbart)

the advancer of the art was also a psychologist,


the pedagogics and the psychology ran side by
side,

and the former was not derived

from the

latter.

in

any sense

The two were congruent, but

neither was subordinate.

And

so everywhere the

AND ABTS

SCIENCES

teaching must agree with the psychology, but need

not necessarily be the only kind of teaching that

would

agree

so

may

teaching

many

for

diverse methods

of

equally well agree with psychologi-

cal laws.

To know

psychology, therefore,

guarantee that

we

shall be

vance to that result,

is

situation,

and ingenuity

things to say and do

when

pupil, that tact for the concrete

things to which psychology

art, are

cannot help us in the

least.

and whatever science

science of psychology,

of general pedagogics

much

fact

tact

additional

though they are the alpha and omega of

the teacher's

The

happy

ad-

That ingenuity in meeting

before us.

and pursuing the

To

teachers.

we must have an

endowment altogether,
to tell us what definite
the pupil

good

absolutely no

is

like the

may

be based on

science of

it,

are in

Nothing

war.

is

simpler or more definite than the principles of

In war,

either.

enemy

then to

you

you have

into a position from

stacles prevent

own,

all

fall

to

do

is

to

work your

which the natural

him from escaping

if

he

ob-

tries to

on him in numbers superior

to his

moment when you have led him to think


away and so, with a minimum of expos-

at a

far

ure of your

own

troops, to

hack his force

to pieces,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

10

and take the remainder


teaching,

Just

prisoners.

so,

you must simply work your pupil

in

into

such a state of interest in what you are going to


teach him that every other object of attention

banished from his mind

impressively that he will


to his dying

day

ing curiosity to

and

then reveal

to

him

so

remember the occasion

finally

know what

nection with the subject are.


so plain, there

it

is

fill

him with devour-

the next steps in con-

The

principles being

would be nothing but

victories for

the masters of the science, either on the battlefield


or in the schoolroom, if they did not both have to

make

their application to

in the shape of the

mind

of

mind

an incalculable quantity
of their opponent.

your own enemy, the pupil,

is

The

working

away from you as keenly and eagerly as is the


mind of the commander on the other side from the
scientific general.
Just what the respective enemies want and think, and what they

know and do

not know, are as hard things for the teacher as


for the general to find out.

Divination and per-

ception, not psychological pedagogics or theoretic


strategy, are the only helpers here.

But,

if

the use of psychological principles thus

be negative rather than positive,


that

it

may not be

a great use,

it

all

does not follow


the same.

It

HOW PSYCHOLOGY

SHEDS LIGHT

11

and

certainly narrows the path for experiments


trials.

gists,

We

know

in advance,

if

we

are psycholo-

that certain methods will be wrong, so our

psychology saves us from mistakes.

we

moreover, more clear as to what

We

gain

it

of

us,

are about.

any method

we

believe that

has theory as well as

Most

makes

confidence in respect to

which we are using as soon


it

It

all,

fructifies

it

as

practice

back.

at its

our independence, and

reanimates our interest, to see our subject at

two

different angles,

to get a stereoscopic view,

so to speak, of the youthful organism

enemy, and, while handling him with


crete tact

and divination, to be

who

all

is

our

our con-

able, at the

same

time, to represent to ourselves the curious inner

Such

elements of his mental machine.

knowledge as

this of the pupil, at

and

is

analytic,

a complete

once intuitive

surely the knowledge at which

every teacher ought to aim.

Fortunately for you teachers, the elements of


the mental machine can be clearly apprehended,

and

their

workings easily grasped.

And,

as the

most general elements and workings are just those


parts of psychology
directly useful,

science which

is

it

which the teacher

follows that the

necessary to

all

finds

amount

most

of this

teachers need not

TALKS TO TEACHERS

12

Those who find themselves loving

be very great.
the subject

come

may go

as far as they please,

and

be-

possibly none the worse teachers for the fact,

even though in some of them one might appre-

hend a

from the tendency

loss of balance

little

observable in

all of

us to overemphasize certain

when we are studying


and abstractly. But for the great

special parts of a subject


it

intensely

majority of you a general view

vided

one

it

may

be a true one
say,

enough, pro-

is

and such a general view,

might almost be written on the palm

of one's hand.

Least of
it

all

need you, merely as

part of your duty to

deem

teachers,

become contributors

psychological science or to

make

to

psychological

observations in a methodical or responsible manI fear that

ner.

some of the enthusiasts

for child-

study have thrown a certain burden on you in this

By

all

means

refreshing

all

our sense of the child's

way.

are teachers

who

let child-study

go on,
life.

statistics,

and computing the per

study will certainly enrich their


results, as treated statistically,

whole to have but

it is

There

take a spontaneous delight in

filling syllabuses, inscribing observations,

ing

cent.

lives.

compilChild-

And,

if its

would seem on the

trifling value,

yet the anecdotes


CHILD-STUDY
and observations of which

Our

in part consists do

more intimately with our

certainly acquaint us
pupils.

it

13

and ears grow quickened to

eyes

discern in the child before us processes similar to

those

we have read

processes of which

of as noted in the children,

we might

mained inobservant.
the rank and

otherwise have re-

But, for Heaven's sake, let

of teachers be passive readers

file

if

they so prefer, and feel free not to contribute to

Let not the prosecution of

the accumulation.

it

be preached as an imperative duty or imposed by


regulation on those to

who

minating bore, or

whom
in

it

proves an exter-

any way whatever miss

in themselves the appropriate vocation for

cannot

too

strongly agree with

Professor Miinsterberg,
teacher's attitude

and

when he

toward the

ethical, is positively

logical observer's,

which

child,

my
says

it.

colleague,

that the

being concrete

opposed to the psychois

abstract

and

analytic.

Although some of us may conjoin the attitudes


successfully, in

most of us they must

The worst thing


teacher

is

to get a

conflict.

that can happen to a good

bad conscience about her pro-

fession because she feels herself hopeless as a psy-

Our teachers are overworked already.


Every one who adds a jot or tittle of unnecessary
chologist.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

14

weight to their burden

a foe of education.

is

bad conscience increases the weight of every other


burden; yet

know

that child-study, and other

pieces of psychology as well, have been productive

of

bad conscience

many

I should

agogic breast.

passing word from

a bad conscience,
is

in

a really innocent ped-

indeed be glad

me might
if

if

this

tend to dispel such

any of you have

certainly one of those fruits of

it;

for it

more or

less

systematic mystification of which I have already

complained.

The

best teacher

may

be the poorest

contributor of child-study material, and the best


contributor
is

may

be the poorest teacher.

more palpable than

No

fact

this.

So much for what seems the most reasonable


general attitude of the teacher toward the subject

which

is

to

occupy our attention.

II.

THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS


I

said a few minutes ago that the most general

elements and workings of the mind are

all

that

the teacher absolutely needs to be acquainted with


for his purposes.

Now

the immediate fact which psychology, the

science

of mind, has

general

fact.

to study

It is the fact that in

when awake (and


of consciousness

is

often

when

most

also the

is

each of us,

asleep), some hind

There

always going on.

is

stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields


(or of

whatever you please to

knowledge, of feeling, of
etc.,

that constantly pass

stitute
is

our inner

life.

them), of

desire, of deliberation,

and

The

call

repass,

and that con-

existence of this stream

the primal fact, the nature and origin of

the essential problem, of our science.

we class the states


down their several

So

it

form

far as

or fields of consciousness, write


natures, analyze their contents

into elements, or trace their habits of succession,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

16

we

are on the descriptive or analytic level.

So

why

they

far as

we

ask where they come from or

what they

are just

we

are,

are on the explanatory

level.

In these talks with you, I shall entirely neglect

up on the explanatory

the questions that come

must be frankly confessed that in no

It

level.

know where

fundamental sense do we
sive

fields

our succes-

consciousness come from, or

of

why

they have the precise inner constitution which

they do have.

They

certainly follow or

pany our brain

states,

and of course

accom-

their special

forms are determined by our past experiences and


But,

education.

ditions them,

an answer

we ask

if

just

we have not

how the brain con-

the remotest inkling of

we ask just how the


brain, we can speak but in

to give; and, if

education moulds the

the most abstract, general, and conjectural terms.

On

the other hand,

due to a
reacts

if

we should

being called our Soul, which

spiritual

on our brain

states

of spiritual energy, our

enough,

it is

true

they would offer


ing.

The truth

but

little

is

say that they are

that

by these peculiar forms

words would be familiar

I think

you

will agree that

genuine explanatory mean-

we

really do not

know the

answers to the problems on the explanatory

level,

OUR STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

17

even though in some directions of inquiry there

may

For

be promising speculations to be found.

our present purposes I shall therefore dismiss them


entirely,

and turn

of things was

to

what

mere

This state

description.

had in mind when, a moment

was no new psychology worthy

ago, I said there

'

'

of the name.

We

have thus fields of consciousness,

that

is

the

and the second general

fact is

that the concrete fields are always complex.

They

general fact

first

contain sensations of our bodies and of the objects

around

us,

memories of past experiences and

thoughts of distant things, feelings of satisfaction

and

dissatisfaction, desires

and

aversions,

and other

emotional conditions, together with determinations


of the will, in every variety of permutation and

combination.

In most of our concrete states of consciousness


all

these different classes of ingredients are found

simultaneously present to some degree, though the


relative

proportion they bear to one another

One

very shifting.

state

will

seem

is

to be com-

posed of hardly anything but sensations, another


of hardly anything but memories, etc.

the sensation,

if

But around

one consider carefully, there will

always be some fringe of thought or

will,

and

TALKS TO TEACHERS

18

around the memory some margin or penumbra of


emotion or sensation.
In most of our

fields of

core of sensation that


for example,

and

is

my

sensations

very pronounced.

now, although you are

and

face

my

of

figure,

On

also thinking

voice.

The

ears

sensations are the

and feelings the mar-

your actually present conscious


the

You,

and through your

centre or focus, the thoughts


gin, of

is

through your eyes sensa-

feeling, are getting

tions of

consciousness there

field.

other hand, some object of thought,

some distant image, may have become the focus


of

your mental attention even while I

ing,

your

mind, in short,

from the lecture


of

my

face

and

am

speak-

may have wandered

and, in that case, the sensations


voice,

although not absolutely

vanishing from your conscious

field,

may have

taken up there a very faint and marginal place.


Again, to take another sort of variation, some
feeling connected with your

own body may have

passed from a marginal to a focal place, even


while I speak.

The expressions
object,'

'

focal object

which we owe

quire, I think,

tinction they

to Mr.

'

and

is

marginal

Lloyd Morgan,

re-

The

dis-

a very important one,

and

no further explanation.

embody

'

THE FIELDS OF CONSCIOUSNESS


they are the

you

to

technical terms

first

which

19

I shall

remember.

In the successive mutations of our


sciousness, the process

another

is

by which one
and

often very gradual,

fields of con-

dissolves into

times the focus remains but

margin

alters,

Some-

and the margin

alterations

Sometimes focus

stays.

Sometimes, again,

places.

of

changed, while

Sometimes the focus

alters rapidly.

and margin change


abrupt

little

whole

the

occur.

field

There can seldom be a sharp description.

we know

is

that, for the

most

a sort of practical unity for

from
field

All

part, each field has

its

and that

possessor,

view we can

this practical point of

with other

of

sorts

all

inner rearrangements of contents occur.

the

ask

fields similar to

it,

by

class a

calling

it

a state of emotion, of perplexity, of sensation, of

abstract thought, of volition, and the like.

Vague and hazy

as

stream of consciousness

such an account of our

may

be, it is at least se-

cure from positive error and free from admixture


of conjecture or hypothesis.

An

influential school

of psychology, seeking to avoid haziness of outline,

and

has tried to
scientific

make

things appear more exact

by making the analysis more sharp.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

20

The various

fields of consciousness,

from a

this school, result

definite

according to

number

of per-

fectly definite elementary mental states, mechanically associated into a mosaic or chemically

According

bined.

for example, or Taine,

atoms of mind-stun
'

these

and

is

built up.

of

Whether

it

be

theory in a

Simple 'ideas' of sensa-

have to refer to

If I ever

try to

shall

the more

were for

which our mental architecture

again, I shall refer to

But

this

as he called them,

reflection,

him the bricks

all

states are said to

introduced

somewhat vague form.


tion

Spencer,

resolve themselves

out of which

,'

known mental

Locke

up.

built

thinkers,

elementary psychic particles or

at last into little

immediately

some

to

com-

it

as the theory of

steer

be true or

this theory

clear of

false, it is at

it

'

ideas.'

altogether.

any rate only

conjectural;

and, for your practical purposes as

teachers, the

more unpretending conception

stream of consciousness, with


fields incessantly

* In the light of

ing the

'

some

its

total

waves or

changing, will amply suffice.*


of the expectations that are abroad concern-

new psychology/ it

did confession of

its

of the

is

instructive to read the unusually can-

founder Y/undt, after his thirty years of labora-

tory-experienee

" The service which

it

[the experimental method] can yield consists

essentially in perfecting our inner observation, or rather, as I believe,

'

PROFESSOR WUNDT'S VIEWS

21

in making this really possible, in any exact sense. "Well, has our
experimental self-observation, so understood, already accomplished

No

aught of importance ?

general answer to this question can be

given, because in the unfinished state of our science, there


inside of the experimental lines of inquiry,

body of psychologic doctrine.

is,

even

no universally accepted

" In such a discord of opinions (comprehensible enough at a time


of uncertain and groping development), the individual inquirer can

only

what views and insights he himself has to thank the


And if I were asked in what for me the worth of ex-

for

tell

newer methods.

perimental observation in psychology has consisted, and


I

should say that

it

me an

has given

entirely

and connection of our inner processes.

new

consists,

still

idea of the nature

learned in the achievements

of the sense of sight to apprehend the fact of creative mental synthesis.

From my

inquiry into time-relations,

insight into the close union of

all

etc., ... I

attained an

those psychic functions usually sepa-

rated by artificial abstractions and names, such as ideation, feeling,


will

and

saw the

and inner homogeneity, in all its


The chronometric study of association-

indivisibility

phases, of the mental

life.

processes finally showed

me that the notion of

distinct mental

'

images

[reproducirten Vorstellungen] was one of those numerous self-decep-

which are no sooner stamped

tions

in a verbal

term than they forth-

with thrust non-existent fictions into the place of the


learned to understand an

idea

'

as a process

ing than an act of feeling or of


doctrine of association of
all this,

'

ideas

will,
'

and

to be

no

less

fleet-

comprehended the older

no longer tenable.

experimental observation yielded

reality.

melting and

much

Besides

other information

about the span of consciousness, the rapidity of certain processes, the


exact numerical value of certain psycho-physical data, and the

But

hold

all

these

more

by-products, and by no
Studien, x. 121-124.
it, it

amounts

like.

special results to be relatively insignificant

means the important thing. " Philosophische

The whole passage should be read.

to a complete espousal of the

As

interpret

vaguer conception of the

stream of thought, and a complete renunciation of the whole business,


so industriously carried on in text-books, of chopping

still

mind
off,

'

into distinct units of composition or function,

and labelling them by technical names.

up

'

the

numbering these

III.

THE CHILD AS A BEHAVING ORGANISM


I

wish now

to continue the description of the

stream of consciousness by

peculiarities of the

asking whether
assign

its

It has
to

we can

in

any

way

intelligible

functions.

two functions that

knowledge, and

it

are obvious

leads

it

leads to action.

Can we say which

of

these

functions

is

the

more essential?

An
here.

old historic divergence of opinion comes in

Popular belief has always tended to

esti-

mate the worth of a man's mental processes by


their effects

upon

his practical life.

But

philo-

sophers have usually cherished a different view.


" Man's supreme glory," they have said, "
a rational being, to

know

universal truth.

The

is

to be

absolute and eternal and

uses

of

his

intellect

for

practical affairs are therefore subordinate matters.


'

The

theoretic life

'

is

his soul's genuine concern."

Nothing can be more different in

its results for

our personal attitude than to take sides with one

THE TWO VIEWS OF OUR MIND

and emphasize the

or the other of these views,

In the latter

practical or the theoretical ideal.


case, abstraction

23

from the emotions and passions

and withdrawal from the

strife of

human

affairs

would be not only pardonable, but praiseworthy


and

all

that

makes

and contemplation

for quiet

should be regarded as conducive to the highest

human

man

of con-

templation would be treated as only half a

human

In the former, the

perfection.

being, passion and practical resource

come once more

glories

would

of our race, a

be-

concrete

victory over this earth's outward powers of darkness

would appear an equivalent

for

any amount

of passive spiritual culture, and conduct

remain as the

test of

would

every education worthy of

the name.
It is impossible to disguise the fact that in the

psychology of our

own day

the emphasis

is

trans-

ferred from the mind's purely rational function,

where Plato and Aristotle, and what one may


the

whole

placed

it,

tradition

in

philosophy had

to the so long neglected practical side.

The theory
this.

classic

call

of evolution

is

mainly responsible for

Man, we now have reason

to believe, has

been evolved from infra-human ancestors, in


pure reason hardly existed,

if

at

all,

whom

and whose

TALKS TO TEACHERS

24

mind, so far as

would appear
their

can have had any function,

it

to have

movements

been an organ

for adapting

to the impressions received

from

the environment, so as to escape the better from


destruction.

the

Consciousness would thus seem in

instance to be nothing but a sort of super-

first

added biological perfection,

prompted

unless

it

and inexplicable

conduct,

useful

to

useless

apart from that consideration.

Deep

own

in our

nature the biological founda-

tions of our consciousness persist, undisguised

Our

undiminished.

and

sensations are here to attract

us or to deter us, our memories to warn or encourage us, our feelings to impel, and our thoughts to
restrain our behavior, so that

may

on the whole we

prosper and our days be long in the land.

Whatever

of

transmundane metaphysical insight

or of practically inapplicable aesthetic perception


or ethical sentiment

might at

we may

carry in our interiors

this rate be regarded as only part of the

incidental excess of function that necessarily ac-

companies the working of every complex machine.


I

shall

ask

you now

not

meaning

at

all

thereby to close the theoretic question, but merely


because

it

seems to

me

the point of view likely to

be of greatest practical use to you as teachers

THE BIOLOGICAL VIEW

25

to adopt with me, in this course of lectures, the


biological conception, as thus expressed,

own emphasis on
whatever else he may be, is
lay your

being, whose

him

mind

to

the fact that man,

primarily a practical

given him to aid in adapting

is

to this world's

and

life.

In the learning of

all

matters,

we have

to start

with some one deep aspect of the question, abstracting

it

as if it

we gradually

were the only aspect

correct ourselves

and then

by adding those

neglected other features which complete the case.

No

one believes more strongly than I do that

what our senses know

as

this

world

'

is

only one

portion of our mind's total environment and ob-

Yet, because

ject.

the sine qua non of

it is

all

facts about it firmly,

together,

the rest.

If

prefer being

hold fast to the

to

you grasp the

you may proceed

to higher

so

elementary and

fundamental to being complete, so

you

it is

As our time must be

regions undisturbed.
short

the primal portion,

propose to

ultra-simple

point

of

view.

The

reasons

why

call it so

fundamental can

be easily told.

human and animal psychology


become less discontinuous. I know that
First,

thereby
to

some

TALKS TO TEACHERS

26
of

you

hardly seem an attractive reason,

this will

but there are others

whom

Second, mental action


action,

and runs

brain, so far as

conditioned by brain

is

But the

therewith.

parallel

we understand

practical behavior.
it

will affect.

it

it,

is

given us for

Every current that runs

into

from skin or eye or ear runs out again into

muscles, glands, or viscera, and helps to adapt the

animal to the environment from which the current


came.

It therefore generalizes

view to treat the brain

and

and the mental

life

our

simplifies

life as

having one fundamental kind of purpose.


Third, those very functions of the

mind that do

not refer directly to this world's environment, the


ethical

Utopias,

visions,

aesthetic

eternal truth, and

him were

also

useful products.

mind

all

by a human

that produced

able to produce

The

essential, or at least the

latter

more

'

them

in

the more

are thus

unpractical

indi-

practically

more primordial

Fourth, the inessential


are themselves far

into

fanciful logical combinations,

could never be carried on at


vidual, unless the

insights

'

results.

activities

more connected with our

be-

havior and our adaptation to the environment than


at first sight

might appear.

No

truth,

however

abstract, is ever perceived, that will not probably

ALL CONSCIOUSNESS LEADS TO ACTION


at

some time influence our earthly

must remember

when

that,

mean

action in the widest sense.

mean

writing, I

things,

them

as

if

talk here,

result.

But

process,

cannot take place at


unaffected.

day,

you

If

will

mean

You might

call it

no

with

all

practical
It

result.

and leave your conduct

not to-day, then on some far future

answer some question differently by

reason of what you are thinking now.

you

might

must have a practical

it

and

listen, it

and you

no action followed.

purely theoretic

'toward'

well as in the immediate

in the future as

As I

speech,

yeses and noes, and ten-

and emotional determinations

present.

seem

mean

things and tendencies

dencies 'from'

You

action.

I talk of action here,

mean

27

will be led

by

my

inquiry, into reading

develop your

That opinion

books.

whether

for

These will
or

against.

will in turn be expressed, will re-

your environment,

ceive criticism

from others

and

your standing in their eyes.

will affect

in

cannot escape our destiny, which

is

practical

We
;

and

even our most theoretic faculties contribute to

working

out.

of

words into new veins of

special

opinion,

Some

its

TALKS TO TEACHERS

28

These few reasons will perhaps smooth the way

you

for

my

acquiescence in

to

As

proposal.

teachers, I sincerely think it will be a sufficient

conception for you to adopt of the youthful psychological

to

your inspec-

you consider them from the point

tion if
of

phenomena handed over

their relation to the future conduct

possessor.

Sufficient at

any rate

of

of their

as a first

ception and as a main conception.

You

regard your professional task as

it

chiefly

and essentially in training

if

view

con-

should

consisted

the pupil to be-

havior ; taking behavior, not in the narrow sense


of

his manners,

but in the very widest possible

sense, as including every possible sort of

fit

action on the circumstances into which he


find himself brought

The

Not

to speak, not to

most important
emergencies.
!

vicissitudes of

may
life.

reaction may, indeed, often be a negative

reaction.

stain

by the

re-

"

"

move,

is

one of the

of our duties, in certain practical

Thou

shalt refrain, renounce, ab-

This often requires a great effort of will

power, and, physiologically considered,


positive a nerve function as

is

is

just as

motor discharge.

IV.

EDUCATION AND BEHAVIOR


In our foregoing talk we were led
a very simple conception of

means.

In the

last

what an education

analysis

human

powers of conduct which shall

him

one

who

is

nonplussed by

On

situations.
is

An

'

fit

'

the contrary, one

of the examples with which his


of

the

abstract

person

is

but the most habitual

who

is

able practically to extricate himself,

and

being, of

to his social

uneducated

all

in the

consists

it

organizing of resources in the

and physical world.

frame

to

memory

educated

by means
is

stored

conceptions which he has

acquired, from circumstances in which he never

was placed

before.

Education, in short, cannot

be better described than by calling


tion of acquired habits of conduct
to

it

the organiza-

and tendencies

behavior.

To

illustrate.

You and

I are

educated, in our several ways

education at this present


conduct.

It

each and

all

of us

and we show our

moment by

would be quite impossible

different
for me,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

30

with

my mind

ganized as

it

technically
is,

and with the

which your presence


and

entirely silent

am

that I

and professionally

optical stimulus

remain sitting here

affords, to

Something

inactive.

or-

tells

me

expected to speak, and must speak;

something forces

me

to

keep on speaking.

My

organs of articulation are continuously innervated

by outgoing currents, which the currents passing


inward at

my eyes

have set in motion

and through
;

my educated

brain

and the particular movements

which they make have

their

form and order deter-

mined altogether by the training

of all

my

past

years of lecturing and reading.

Your conduct, on

the other hand, might seem at

first

receptive and inactive,

you who happen

leaving out

to be

sight purely

those

taking notes.

But the

very listening which you are carrying on


a determinate

kind of conduct.

tensions of your

way

as

you

over,

it

itself

in a peculiar

Your head, your

fixed characteristically.

is

All the muscular

body are distributed

listen.

among

eyes, are

And, when the lecture

will inevitably eventuate in

is

some stroke

of behavior, as I said on the previous occasion:

you may be guided


emergency
I

now

in

let fall.

the

So

differently in

some

special

schoolroom by words which


it is

with the impressions you

GEKMAN AND ENGLISH IDEALS


make

will

into the habit of regarding

the acquisition

emotional,
what
to

by him
social,

And,

not.

feel

You

there on your pupil.

them

31

should get

all as

leading to

of capacities for behavior,

bodily, yocal, technical, or

this

willing, in a

being the case, you ought


general way, and

hair-splitting or farther ado, to take

without

up

for the

purposes of these lectures with the biological conception of the mind, as of something given us for

That conception will certainly cover

practical use.

the greater part of your


If

we

reflect

own

educational work.

upon the various

ideals of educa-

tion that are prevalent in the different countries,

we

see that

what they

capacities for conduct.

all

aim at

This

is

is

to organize

most immediately

obvious in Germany, where the explicitly avowed

aim of the higher education


into
ery.

to turn the student

an instrument for advancing

The German

number

of

every year,

when

scientific discov-

universities are

young

specialists

whom

not

necessarily

men

force of intellect, but

that

is

men

proud

of the

they turn out


of

any original

so trained to research

their professor gives

them an

historical

or philological thesis to prepare, or a bit of labora-

tory

work

to do, with a general indication as to

the best method, they can go off by themselves

TALKS TO TEACHERS

32

and use apparatus and consult sources in such


a

way

of

as to grind out

months some

worthy

man

of being

added to the store

information on that subject.

recognized in

Germany

advancement than
an

pepper-corn of

little

efficient

number

in the requisite

new

truth

of extant huelse is

Little

as a man's title to academic

his ability thus to

show himself

instrument of research.

In England,

might seem

it

at first sight as

if

the higher education of the universities aimed at


the production of certain static types of character

rather than at the development of


call

this

Jowett,

dynamic

what one may

when asked what Oxford could do

students,

said

is

to

gentleman.''

But,

if

how

to be

an English

you ask what it means

an English gentleman, the only reply

and behavior.

of conduct

for its

have replied, " Oxford can

teach an English gentleman

is

Professor

scientific efficiency.

An

is

to

'

be

in terms

English gentleman

a bundle of specifically qualified reactions, a

creature

who

for all the emergencies of life has

his line of behavior distinctly

in advance.

every

man

to

marked out

for

him

Here, as elsewhere, England expects

do

his duty.

V.

THE NECESSITY OF REACTIONS


If

all this

be true, then immediately one general

aphorism emerges which ought by logical right to

dominate the entire conduct of the teacher in the


classroom.

No

reception without reaction, no impression with-

out correlative expression,

this is the great

which the teacher ought never

An
active

life, is

behind

it

and in no way modifies

his

an impression gone to waste.

It is

leaves no

fruits

physiologically
in the

incomplete.

way

mere impression,

fect

to forget.

impression which simply flows in at the

pupil's eyes or ears,

as

maxim

It

of capacity acquired.

it fails

upon the memory

to

produce

for, to

its

Even

proper

ef-

remain fully among

the acquisitions of this latter faculty,

it

must be

wrought into the whole cycle of our operations.


Its

motor consequences are what clinch

effect

due

to it in the

way

it.

of an activity

Some

must

re-

turn to the mind in the form of the sensation of


having acted, and connect itself with the impression.

The most durable impressions

are those on

TALKS TO TEACHERS

34

account of which

we speak

or act, or else are in-

wardly convulsed.

The
by

older pedagogic

rote,

method

and reciting them

schoolroom,

rested

on

the

of learning things
parrot-like

truth

in

the

thing

that a

merely read or heard, and never verbally reproduced, contracts the weakest possible adhesion in
the mind.

Verbal recitation or reproduction

is

thus a highly important kind of reactive behavior

on our impressions

and

it is

to be feared that, in

the reaction against the old parrot-recitations as

the beginning and end of instruction, the extreme

value of verbal recitation as an element of complete training

may nowadays be

too

much

for-

gotten.

When we

turn to modern pedagogics,

how enormously

we

see

the field of reactive conduct has

been extended by the introduction of

all

those

methods of concrete object teaching which are the


glory of our contemporary schools.
tions,

pupil's

Verbal reac-

useful as they are, are insufficient.

words may be

right,

The

but the conceptions

corresponding to them are often direfully wrong.

In a modern school, therefore, they form only a


small part of what the pupil

He must

is

required to do.

keep notebooks, make drawings, plans,

THE MANUAL TKAINING METHODS

35

and maps, take measurements, enter the laboratory and perform experiments, consult authorities,

and write

what

is

essays.

He must

often laughed at

do in his fashion

by outsiders when

pears in prospectuses under the


work,' but what

ing for the

The most

is

title

of

it

ap-

original

'

really the only possible train-

doing of original work thereafter.

colossal

improvement which recent years

have seen in secondary education

the in-

lies in

troduction of the manual training schools; not

because they will give us a people more handy

and

practical for domestic life

and better

skilled

in trades, but because they will give us citizens

with an entirely different intellectual


boratory work and shop
of observation, a

fibre.

work engender

knowledge

La-

a habit

of the difference be-

tween accuracy and vagueness, and an insight into


nature's complexity and into the inadequacy of
all

abstract verbal accounts of real phenomena,

which, once wrought into the mind, remain there


as lifelong possessions.

because,

if

you

They

confer precision

are doing a thing,

you must do

definitely right or definitely wrong.

honesty;

for,

when you

it

They give

express yourself hj mak-

ing things, and not by using words,

it

becomes

impossible to dissimulate your vagueness or igno-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

36

They beget

ranee by ambiguity.
reliance

a habit of self-

they keep the interest and attention

always cheerfully engaged, and reduce the teacher's disciplinary

Of
far as

functions to a

minimum.

the various systems of manual training, so

woodwork

system,

if

is

concerned, the Swedish Sloyd

may have

seems to

me by

sidered.

Manual

an opinion on such matters,

far the best, psychologically con-

training methods,

fortunately,

are being slowly but surely introduced into all

our large

cities.

But there

still

is

an immense

distance to traverse before they shall have gained

the extension which they are destined ultimately


to possess.

No
the

is

impression without expression, then,


first

that

pedagogic fruit of our evolutionary

conception of the mind as something instrumental

But

to adaptive behavior.

in continuation.

still

of

moment

farther impression,

what we have done.

we give

We

we have spoken,

it,

itself

said

comes back

ago, in the form of

the impression, namely,

news of our behavior and


the words

word may be

The expression

to us, as I intimated a

thus receive sensible

its

results.

feel

our

We

hear

own blow

as

or read in the bystander's eyes the

success or failure of our conduct.

Now

this re-

MARKS AND STANDING

37

turn wave of impression pertains to the completeness of the whole experience, and a
its

importance in the schoolroom

may

word about
not be out

of place.
It

would seem only natural

after acting

we normally

sion of result,

it

to say that, since

get some return impres-

must be well

to let the pupil get

such a return impression in every possible case.


Nevertheless, in schools where examination marks

and

'

standing

'

and other returns

concealed, the pupil

of result are

frustrated of this natural

is

termination of the cycle of his activities, and often


suffers

from the sense of incompleteness and un-

certainty

and there

are persons

who defend

this

system as encouraging the pupil to work for the

Of

work's sake, and not for extraneous reward.


course,

here

as

elsewhere,

concrete

experience

must prevail over psychological deduction.


so

far

as

our psychological

would suggest that the

how

well he does

is

But,

deduction goes,

pupil's eagerness to

in the line of his

it

know

normal

completeness of function, and should never be

balked except for very definite reasons indeed.

Acquaint them, therefore, with their marks and


standing and prospects, unless in the individual
case

you have some

not so doing.

special practical reason for

VI.

NATIVE REACTIONS AND ACQUIRED REACTIONS

We

are

by

this time fully

conception.

biological

Man

reacting on impressions

launched upon the


is

his

an organism for

mind

is

there to

help determine his reactions, and the purpose of

make them numerous and

his education is to
fect.

Our education means, in

short,

little

per-

more

than a mass of possibilities of reaction, acquired at

home,

at school, or in the training of affairs.

teacher's task

is

The

that of supervising the acquiring

process.

This being the case, I will immediately state a


principle

which underlies the whole process

acquisition
teacher.

and governs the

It

is

this

of

entire activity of the

Every acquired reaction

is,

as a rule, either a

complication grafted on a native reaction, or a substitute

for a native reaction, which the same object

originally tended to provoke.

The teacher's art

consists in bringing about the

NATIVE AND ACQUIRED REACTIONS


and

substitution or complication,

39

success in the art

presupposes a sympathetic acquaintance with the


reactive tendencies natively there.

Without an equipment of native reactions on


the child's part, the teacher

whatever upon the

child's attention or conduct.

You may take a horse to


not make him drink and

the water, but


so

new

soliciting

first

you may take a

him

in the first instance

child

step

He must

react.

He must

himself.

by something
take

do something

you can get your purchase on him.

before

can-

things you wish to impart, except by

which natively makes him


the

you

you cannot make him learn

to the schoolroom, but

the

would have no hold

That

something may be something good or something

bad.
at all

bad reaction

for, if

is

better than no reaction

you can couple

bad,

quences which awake him to


imagine a child so

To make
crete,

in

this

with conse-

first

The

conception more conchild's training

child has a native ten-

dency to snatch with his hands


;

way

and how can you

assume the case of a young

attracts his curiosity

no

step in his education?

abstract

good manners.

But

badness.

its

lifeless as to react in

to the teacher's first appeals,

possibly take the

it

also to

at

anything that

draw back

his

hands

TALKS TO TEACHERS

40

when

slapped, to cry under these latter conditions,

when gently spoken

to smile

to,

and to imitate

one's gestures.

Suppose now you appear before the child with


a

new

No

toy intended as a present for him.

sooner does he see the toy than he seeks to snatch

You

it.

slap the

child cries.

and saying,

hand

You then
" Beg for it

withdrawn, and the

it is

hold up the toy, smiling


nicely,

so

"

The

child

and

stops crying, imitates you, receives the toy,

crows with pleasure


ing

is

You have

complete.

reaction of

snatching,

Now,

if

'

and that

begging

when

own

impression

matter

same

how

snatch

see,

But, with

often

series of reac-

fatally occur, each called forth

ask; receive, smile


child, at the

new

memory, the process

No

in with a toy, the

would

substituted the

that kind of impression comes.

the child had no

tions

cycle of train-

for the native reaction of

'

would not be educative.

you came

little

slap,

cry

memory

by

its

hear,

there, the

very instant of snatching, recalls the

rest of the earlier experience, thinks of the slap

and the

frustration, recollects the begging

and the

reward, inhibits the snatching impulse, substitutes


the

nice

ately,

'

reaction for

by eliminating

it,

all

and gets the toy immedi-

the intermediary steps.

If

NATIVE AND ACQUIRED REACTIONS


a child's

first

41

snatching impulse be excessive or his

memory poor, many repetitions of the discipline


may be needed before the acquired reaction comes
to be

an ingrained habit

but in an eminently

educable child a single experience will

One can

suffice.

easily represent the whole process

by a

Such a diagram can be

more

brain-diagram.

little

than a symbolic translation of the immediate experience into spatial terms


so I subjoin

yet

may

it

be useful,

it.

CENTRES OF MEMORY AND WILL.

See

snatch

FIGURE

1.

Slap

cry

Listen

beg

Get

smile

THE BRAIN-PROCESSES BEFORE EDUCATION.

Figure 1 shows the paths of the four successive


reflexes

centres.

the

executed by the

The dotted

lower

lines that lead

higher centres and

or

instinctive

from them to

connect the

latter

to-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

42

gether, represent the processes of


sociation

memory and

as-

which the reactions impress upon the

higher centres as they take place.

CENTRES OF MEMORY AND WILL.

beg

See

FIGURE

2.

THE BRAIN-PROCESS AFTER EDUCATION.

In Figure 2 we have the


pression see

smile

The im-

final result.

awakens the chain of memories, and

the only reactions that take place are the beg and
smile.

The thought

of the slap, connected with

the activity of Centre

makes

it

abortive,

2, inhibits

the snatch, and

so it is represented only

by

a dotted line of discharge not reaching the termi-

nus.
it

Ditto of the cry reaction.

These

are,

as

were, short-circuited by the current sweeping

through the

Beg and

higher

smile,

centres

from

see

to smile.

thus substituted for the original

man's numerous instincts


reaction snatch,

when

sponses

some

become

at last the

43

immediate

the child sees a snatchable object in

one's hands.

The
stand

first
is

thing, then, for the teacher to under-

the native reactive tendencies,

pulses and instincts of childhood,

the im-

so

as to

able to substitute one for another, and turn

on

re-

be

them

to artificial objects.

It is often said that

man

is

distinguished from

by having a much smaller

the lower animals

as-

sortment of native instincts and impulses than


they, but this is a great mistake.

Man,

of course,

has not the marvellous egg-laying instincts which

some

articulates have;

but, if

we are
by a much

we compare him

with the mammalia,

forced to confess that

he

larger array of objects

is

appealed to

than any other mammal, that his reactions on


these objects are characteristic and determinate in
a very high degree.

The monkeys, and

especially

the anthropoids, are the only beings that approach

him

in their analytic curiosity

and width of imi-

tativeness.

His instinctive impulses,

is

true,

get overlaid

by the secondary reactions due

to his

superior reasoning

power

it

and thus man

simply instinctive demeanor.

But

the

loses the

life

of in-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

44
stinct

when
as

is

only disguised in him, not lost;

and

the higher brain-functions are in abeyance,

happens in imbecility or dementia, his instincts

sometimes show their presence in truly brutish


ways.
I

will

therefore say a few words about those

instinctive tendencies

which are the most impor-

tant from the teacher's point of view.

VII.

WHAT THE NATIVE REACTIONS ARE


First of

all,

Fear of punishment has

Fear.

always been the great weapon of the teacher, and


will always, of course, retain

some place

The

conditions of the schoolroom.


familiar that nothing

The same

is

subject

said about

in

whom we

getting

love.

The

herself loved

pupils will obtain results which one

temperament

forbidding

so

is

it.

true of Love, and the instinctive

desire to please those

who succeeds

more need be

in the

finds

it

teacher

by the

of a

more

impossible to

secure.

Next, a word might be said about Curiosity.


This

is

perhaps a rather poor term by which to

designate the impulse toward better cognition in


full

extent

mean.

especially

but you will readily understand what

Novelties in the
if

its

their

way

sensational

of sensible objects,

quality

is

bright,

vivid, startling, invariably arrest the attention of

the

young and hold

more about the object

it

until the desire to

is

assuaged.

In

its

know

higher,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

46

more

intellectual form, the impulse

knowledge takes the character of

pleter

or philosophic curiosity.
its

toward com-

intellectual

scientific

In both its sensational and

form the instinct

is

more vivacious

during childhood and youth than in after

life.

Young children are possessed by curiosity about


every new impression that assails them. It would
be quite impossible for a young child to listen to
a lecture for

now

more than a few minutes,


me.

listening to

The

outside

as

you are

sights

sounds would inevitably carry his attention

And,

for

most people in middle

life,

and
off.

the sort of

intellectual effort required of the average school-

boy in mastering

his

Greek or Latin

lesson, his

algebra or physics, would be out of the question.

The middle-aged

citizen attends exclusively to the

routine details of his business


especially

when they

close reasoning, are

and new

truths,

require involved trains of

no longer within the scope of

his capacity.

The

sensational

curiosity of childhood

is

ap-

pealed to more particularly by certain determinate

kinds of objects.

Material things, things that

move, living things, human actions and accounts


of

human

action, will

anything that

is

more

win the attention better than


abstract.

Here again comes

CURIOSITY
in the

47

advantage of the object-teaching and manual-

The

training methods.

pupil's attention

spon-

is

taneously held by any problem that involves the


presentation of a

new

on any one's

activity

appeals, therefore,

material object or of an

part.

The

must be through

objects

about the rational relations between

can hardly be said to awake at

things,

adolescence

shown

Theoretic curios-

or acts performed or described.


ity, curiosity

teacher's earliest

is

all until

The sporadic metaphysical


as to who made God, and why

reached.

inquiries of children

they have five fingers, need hardly be counted


here.

But,

when

the

theoretic

once

is

an entirely new order of peda-

alive in the pupil,

gogic relations begins for him.


abstract conceptions, suddenly
fact with

which

both in

sensible

its

instinct

all

Reasons, causes,

grow

full of zest, a

teachers are familiar.

and in

its

And,

rational developments,

may be successfully appealed


with much more certainty than in

disinterested curiosity
to in the child

the adult, in

grown
it

whom

this intellectual instinct

so torpid as usually never to

enters into association with

interest.

anon.

Of

this

some

latter point

has

awake unless

selfish

personal

will say

more

TALKS TO TEACHERS

48

Man

Imitation.

has always been recognized as

And

the imitative animal par excellence.

there

is

hardly a book on psychology, however old, which


has not devoted at least one paragraph to this

however, that the

It is strange,

fact.

full

scope

and pregnancy of the imitative impulse in man


has had to wait

till

the last dozen years to become

adequately recognized.
his

M. Tarde led the way

in

admirably original work, " Les Lois de l'lmita-

tion "

and in our own country Professors Royce

and Baldwin have kept the

ball rolling with all

Each

the energy that could be desired.


in fact

what he

is

his imitativeness.

we

almost exclusively by virtue of

We

become conscious

of

what

the conprecedes the

ourselves are by imitating others

sciousness of

sense

The

of us is

of

what the others are

self

entire

languages,

grows by the sense of

pattern.

sciences

accumulated wealth of mankind


arts,

institutions,

and

is

passed on from one generation to another by what

Baldwin has called

social heredity,

tion simply imitating the


lars of this
I

last.

Into the particu-

most fascinating chapter

have no time to go.

each genera-

of

psychology

The moment one hears

Tarde's proposition uttered, however, one feels

how supremely

true

it is.

Invention, using the

IMITATION

AND EMULATION

49

term most broadly, and imitation, are the two


legs, so to call

human

them, on which the

race

historically has walked.

Imitation shades imperceptibly into Emulation.

Emulation

is

what you

the impulse to imitate

see

another doing, in order not to appear inferior; and


it is

hard to draw a sharp line between the mani-

two impulses,

festations of the

they mix their

nerve of

human

ers, sitting

so inextricably do

effects.

Emulation

society.

Why

here before

me ?

If

ever heard of had attended a


teachers' institute,

would

it

very

the

is

my hearwhom you

are you,

no one

summer

school

have occurred

to

'

or

any

one of you to break out independently and do a


thing so unprescribed by fashion

Nor would your

pupils

come

to

Probably not.

you unless the

children of their parents' neighbors were

taneously being sent to school.


be lonely or eccentric, and
off

We

we wish

from our share in things which

all

simul-

wish not to

not to be cut
to our neigh-

bors seem desirable privileges.

In the schoolroom, imitation and emulation play


absolutely vital parts.

Every teacher knows the

advantage of having certain things performed by

whole bands of children at a time.

who meets with most

success

is

The teacher

the teacher whose

TALKS TO TEACHERS

50

own ways

the

most

should never try to

make

which she cannot do

herself.

are

show you how "


than "

lus

is

imitable.

teacher

the pupils do a thing


"

Come and

me

let

an incomparably better stimu-

Go and do

it

Children admire a teacher

the book directs.'*

as

who

has

What

skill.

he does seems easy, and they wish to emulate


It is useless for a dull

it.

and devitalized teacher to

exhort her pupils to wake up and take an interest.

She must
is

take one herself; then her example

first

effective as

no exhortation can possibly

Every school has

And

ual.

its

this tone is a

tone, moral

and

intellect-

mere tradition kept up by

imitation, due in the first instance to the


set

by teachers and by previous pupils


and

gressive
others,

the

dominating

type,

and passed on from year

new

be.

copied

example

of an ag-

by

the

to year, so that

pupils take the cue almost immediately.

Such a tone changes very slowly,

and

then always under the modifying influence of

new

personalities aggressive

new
The

patterns
classic

enough

and not merely

example of

this

if

at all

in character to set
to

copy the

old.

sort of tone is the

Rugby under Dr. Arnold's


He impressed his own character

often quoted case of


administration.
as a

model on the imagination

of the oldest boys,

EMULATION

who

in turn

press theirs

51

were expected and required to im-

upon the younger

through

life

said

as such

As

detail.

recognizable

all

by a peculiar turn of character which

he acquired at school.

ogy

be

to

conta-

was such that a

giousness of Arnold's genius

Rugby man was

The

set.

It is obvious that psychol-

can give in this


in so

many

field

no precepts of

other fields of teaching,

success depends mainly on the native genius of


the teacher, the sympathy, tact, and perception

which enable him

to seize the right

moment and

to set the right example.

Among

the recent modern reforms of teaching

methods, a certain disparagement of emulation, as


a laudable spring of action in the schoolroom, has

often

made

itself

heard.

ago, Rousseau, in his

'

More than

a century

Emile,' branded rivalry be-

tween one pupil and another as too base a


sion to play a part in an ideal education.

pas-

" Let

Emile," he said, " never be led to compare himself


to other children.

No

rivalries,

not even in run-

ning, as soon as he begins to have the


reason.

It

power of

were a hundred times better that he

should not learn at

all

what he could only learn

through jealousy or vanity.

But

out every year the progress he

would mark

may have made,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

52

and

would compare

following years.

now grown
ditch which

which you

so

it

would say

many

to

him

'

You

inches taller; there

you jumped

raised.

with the progress of the

over, there

There

are

the

is

the burden

is

the distance to which

is

you could throw a pebble, there the distance you


could run over without losing breath.

much more you can do now


cite

Thus

'

him without making him

He would

should ex-

jealous of

wish to surpass himself.

how

See

any one.

can see no

inconvenience in this emulation with his former


self."

Unquestionably, emulation with one's former


self is a

noble form of the passion of rivalry, and

has a wide scope in the training of the young.

But

and taboo

to veto

all possible rivalry of

one

youth with another, because such rivalry may


degenerate into greedy and selfish excess, does

seem

to savor

of fanaticism.

somewhat

The

of sentimentality, or

of rivalry lies at the

feeling

very basis of our being,


being largely due to

it.

even

all

social

There

improvement

is

a noble

and

generous kind of rivalry, as well as a spiteful and

greedy kind
particularly

and the noble and generous form

common

in childhood.

the zest which they bring with

is

All games owe

them

to the fact

ITS

USEFULNESS IN THE SCHOOLROOM

53

that they are rooted in the emulous passion, yet

they are the chief means of training in fairness and

magnanimity.
such an ally

Can
away ?

the teacher afford to

Ought we

throw

seriously to hope

that marks, distinctions, prizes, and other goals of


effort,

based on the pursuit of recognized superior-

ity,

should be forever banished from our schools

As

a psychologist, obliged to notice the deep and

pervasive character of the emulous passion, I must


confess

my

doubts.

The wise teacher


uses others, reaping
to

it

its

advantages, and appealing

way as to reap
minimum of harm

in such a

benefit with a

must

will use this instinct as he

confess, with a

French

maximum

for, after all,

critic of

of

we

Rousseau's

doctrine, that the deepest spring of action in us

the sight of action in another.


effort is
fort.

will

The

which

spectacle of

what awakens and sustains our own

No runner running all alone on


find in his own will the power of
his rivalry

with other runners

is

stimulation

incites,

when

When

'speeded,' a running horse

go beside him to keep him to the pace.

ef-

a race-track

he feels them at his heels, about to pass.


trotting horse

is

must

'

TALKS TO TEACHERS

54

As

imitation slides into emulation, so emulation

slides into

Ambition ; and ambition connects

closely with Pugnacity

these

five

instinctive

and Pride.

itself

Consequently,

tendencies form an inter-

connected group of factors, hard to separate in the


determination of a great deal of our conduct.

The Ambitious Impulses would perhaps be


best name for the whole group.

the

Pride and pugnacity have often been considered

unworthy passions

But

in their

appeal to in the young.

to

more refined and noble forms they

play a great part in the schoolroom and in education generally, being in

some characters most po-

tent spurs

Pugnacity need not be

to

effort.

thought of merely in the form of physical combativeness.

It

can be taken in the sense of a gen-

eral unwillingness to
difficulty.

It is

be beaten by any kind of

what makes us

'stumped'

feel

and challenged by arduous achievements, and


essential to a spirited

We

have of

late

and enterprising character.

been

hearing

much

philosophy of tenderness in education

must be assiduously awakened


culties

is

l
;

of

interest

in everything,

must be smoothed away.

the

diffi-

Soft pedagogics

have taken the place of the old steep and rocky


path to learning.

But from

this

lukewarm

air the

OWNERSHIP
bracing oxygen of effort

55
It is

out.

is left

nonsense

to suppose that every step in education can be interesting.

The

pealed

Make

to.

fighting impulse

and he

downed by the law


'

rouse his pugnacity and pride,

wrath at himself that

faculties.

ditions

'

will rush at the difficult places with a sort

of inner

moral

ap-

the pupil feel ashamed of being

scared at fractions, of being


of falling bodies

must often be

is

A victory scored

one of his best

under such con-

becomes a turning-point and

crisis of his

character.

It represents the high-water

his powers,

and serves thereafter

as

mark

of

an ideal pat-

The teacher who never

tern for his self-imitation.

rouses this sort of pugnacious excitement in his


pupils falls short of one of his best forms of usefulness.

The next

instinct

which

I shall

mention

of Ownership, also one of the radical


of the race.

that

endowments

It often is the antagonist of imita-

Whether

tion.

is

social

progress

is

due more

to

the passion for keeping old things and habits or to


the passion of imitating and acquiring

new ones

may

in

The

sense of ownership begins in the second year

of

life.

some cases be a

Among

the

difficult

first

thing to decide.

words which an infant

TALKS TO TEACHERS

56

learns to utter are the

and woe to the parents


vide their gifts in

words 'my' and 'mine,'

who

of twins

fail to

pro-

The depth and

duplicate.

primitiveness of this instinct would seem to cast

upon

a sort of psychological discredit in advance


radical forms of communistic Utopia.

all

Private

proprietorship cannot be practically abolished until

human

to

mental health that the individual should have

nature

is

changed.

It

seems essential

something beyond the bare clothes on his back to

which he can

assert

exclusive possession,

and

which he may defend adversely against the world.

Even

those religious orders

stringent

vows

of poverty

who make

have found

it

the most

necessary

to relax the rule a little in favor of the

heart

made unhappy by reduction

ested terms.

the

to too disinter-

The monk must have

nun must have her

little

human

his books:

garden, and the

images and pictures in her room.


In education, the instinct of ownership
damental, and can be appealed to in

is

many

fun-

ways.

In the house, training in order and neatness begins

with the arrangement of the child's

personal possessions.
is

own

In the school, ownership

particularly important in connection with one

of its special forms of activity, the collecting im-

UTILITY OF THE COLLECTING IMPULSE

An

pulse.

57

not very interesting

object possibly

in itself, like a shell, a postage stamp, or a single

map
a

or drawing, will acquire an interest

gap in a collection or helps

Much

of the scholarly

as it is

way

lies at

the basis of

would seem

in

work

which

it

to

owe

makes

man

series.

of the world, so far

to

all

its

our

human

scholar-

interest rather to the

accumulating and

gratifies the

col-

any special appeal which

lecting instinct than to


it

complete a

mere bibliography, memory, and erudition

(and this
ship),

to

if it fills

our cravings after rationality.

wishes a complete collection of information,

know more about a subject than anybody else, much as another may wish to own
wishes to

more

dollars or

more early

editions or

gravings before the letter than anybody

The teacher who can work


the school tasks

tactful

take pleasure in

to

else.

all

teacher

children

may

collecting books

keeping a neat and orderly collection of notes

when they

starting,

catalogue

which they

method

are

in preserving

may make.

en-

impulse into

Almost

fortunate.

something.

collect

them

is

this

more

get
in

in

mature enough, a card


every drawing or
Neatness,

order,

map
and

are thus instinctively gained, along with

the other benefits

which the possession of the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

58

Even such

collection entails.

a collection of postage stamps

a noisome thing as

may be used by

the

teacher as an inciter of interest in the geographical

and

historical information

which she desires

Sloyd successfully avails

impart.

make
his own

instinct in causing the pupil to


of

wooden implements

at

home.

Collecting

fit

is,

for

itself

to

of this

a collection
private use

of course, the basis of all

natural history study; and probably nobody ever

became a good

naturalist

ally active collector

Oonstructiveness

when

is

who was not an unusua boy.

another great instinctive ten-

dency with which the schoolroom has to contract

an

Up

alliance.

childhood one

to the eighth or ninth year of

may

say that the child does hardly

anything else than handle objects, explore things

with his hands, doing and

undoing, setting up

and knocking down, putting together and pulling


apart

for,

from the psychological point of view,

construction and destruction are two names for


the same manual activity.

Both signify the

duction of change, and the working of

outward things.

The

result of all this

pro-

effects, in
is

that in-

timate familiarity with the physical environment,


that acquaintance with the properties of material

CONSTHUCTIYENESS
things,

which

really the foundation of

is

To

consciousness.

human

the very last, in most of us,

conceptions of objects and their properties

the

are limited to the notion of

them.

upon
or

59

stick

'

means something we can lean

or strike with

warm

what we can do with

ourselves,

'

fire,'

something to cook,

burn things up withal

or

'string,'

something with which

gether.

For most people these objects have no

other meaning.
sphere,

things to-

In geometry, the cylinder,

defined as

are

to tie

circle,

what you get by going

through certain processes of construction, revolving a parallelogram upon

The more
gets to

one of

its

sides,

etc.

different kinds of things a child thus

know by

treating and handling them, the

more confident grows

his sense of kinship with

the world in which he lives.

An

unsympathetic

adult will wonder at the fascinated hours which


a child will spend in putting his blocks together

and rearranging them.

But the wise education

takes the tide at the flood, and from the kinder-

garten upward devotes the


tion

to

teaching.
said

years of educa-

training in construction and to


I

awhile

objective

first

object-

need not recapitulate here what


back

about the superiority of the

and experimental methods.

They

oc-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

60

way most congruous with the


spontaneous interests of his age. They absorb
cupy the pupil

in a

him, and leave impressions durable and profound.

Compared with
one

brought

through

life

he stands, as
that he

the youth taught by these methods,

up

exclusively

by books

carries

a certain remoteness from

were, out of the pale, and feels

it

stands

reality

so

and often

suffers a

kind of

melancholy from which he might have been

res-

cued by a more real education.

There are other impulses, such as love of approshyness and secretiveness, of

bation or vanity,

which a word might be said; but they are too


familiar

to

need

subject by your

You

it.

own

can easily pursue the

reflection.

There

general law, however, that relates to


instinctive tendencies,

tance in education

and that has no

and

before I leave the subject.

law of transitoriness in

must

is

one

many

of our

little

impor-

refer to it briefly

It has

instincts.

been called the

Many

of our

impulsive tendencies ripen at a certain period;


and,

if

the appropriate objects be then and there

provided, habits of conduct toward them are ac-

quired which

last.

But,

if

the objects be not forth-

coming then, the impulse may

die out before a

THE TRANSITORINESS OF INSTINCTS


habit

is

formed

and

later it

may

61

be hard to teach

the creature to react appropriately in those direc-

The sucking

tions.

mammals, the

in

instincts

following instinct in certain birds and quadrupeds,

examples of

are

this

they fade away shortly after

birth.

In children

and

in

interests

Creeping,
sounds,
sess

we

observe a ripening of impulses


certain

walking,

est in

vocal

succession; and in some chil-

and exclusive

it

lasts,

sort.

may

be of a

Later, the inter-

any one of these things may wholly fade

away.
to

imitating

drawing, calculating, pos-

dren the possession, while


semi-frantic

order.

climbing,

constructing,

the child in

determinate

work

Of

course, the proper pedagogic

skill in,

and

moment

to clench the useful habit, is

when the native impulse is most acutely present.


Crowd on the athletic opportunities, the mental
arithmetic, the

verse-learning, the

drawing, the

moment you have reason


The hour may not last
to think the hour is ripe.
long, and while it continues you may safely let
botany, or what not, the

all

the child's other occupations take a second

way you economize time and


for many an infant prodigy, artis-

place.

In this

deepen

skill;

tic

or mathematical, has a flowering epoch of but

a few months.

TALKS TO TEACHEKS

62

One can draw no

specific rules for all this.

It

depends on close observation in the particular


case,

and parents here have a great advantage


In

over teachers.
has

fact, the

law

of transitoriness

chance of individualized application in

little

the schools.

Such

the

is

little

interested and impulsive psy-

chophysical organism whose springs of action the


teacher

must

divine,

become accustomed.
tive tendencies,
sive

and

to

whose ways he must

He must

start

and enlarge the

and active experience.

with the na-

pupil's entire pas-

He must

ply him

with new objects and stimuli, and make him taste


the fruits of his behavior, so that

now

context of remembered experience

is

that whole

what

shall

determine his conduct when he gets the stimulus,

and not the bare immediate impression.


pupil's life thus enlarges,

of all sorts of memories


stitutions

it

As

the

gets fuller and fuller

and associations and sub-

but the eye accustomed to psychologi-

cal analysis will

discern,

underneath

it

all,

the

outlines of our simple psychophysical scheme.

Respect then, I beg you, always the original


reactions, even

when you

are seeking to overcome

their connection with certain objects,

and

to sup-

BAD AND GOOD BEHAVIOR


plant

them with others that you wish

rule.

Bad

to

63

make

the

behavior, from the point of view of

the teacher's

art,

good behavior.
sound to say

is

In

so, it is

as

good a starting-point as

fact,

paradoxical as

it

may

often a better starting-point

than good behavior would be.

The acquired

reactions

must be made habitual

whenever they are appropriate.


is

the

invited.

Therefore Habit

next subject to which your attention

is

VIII.

THE LAWS OF HABIT


It

very important that teachers should realize

is

the importance of habit,

and psychology helps

We

us greatly at this point.

good habits and of bad habits


use the word

'

habit,' in the

a bad habit

is

speak,
;

but,

it is true,

when

of

people

majority of instances

it

They

which they have in mind.

talk of the smoking-habit and the swearing-habit

and the drinking-habit, but not


habit

But the

much

as

the moderation-habit

or

habit.

or

the

courage-

fact is that our virtues are habits

as our vices.

has definite form,


tical,

of the abstention-

is

All our

life,

so far as

but a mass of habits,

emotional, and intellectual,

it

prac-

systematically

organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us


irresistibly

ter

may

toward our destiny, whatever the

lat-

be.

Since pupils can understand this at a comparatively early age,


tributes in

and since

to

no small measure

responsibility, it

would be well

understand

it

con-

to their feeling of
if

the teacher were

HABIT A SECOND NATURE


able himself to talk to

habit in some such

about to talk of
I believe that

it

them of the philosophy

abstract terms as I

The

we

with

we have

do

tice,

easily,

and

finally,

but soon do
with

bodies.

our nervous

why we do

the reason

is

difficulty the first time,

and more

am now

are subject to the law of habit

plasticity of the living matter of

system, in short,

of

to you.

consequence of the fact that

in

65

a thing
it

more

sufficient prac-

semi-mechanically, or with hardly any

it

consciousness at

all.

(in Dr. Carpenter's

Our nervous systems have


words) grown to the way in

which they have been exercised,

just as a sheet of

paper or a coat, once creased or folded, tends to


forever

fall

afterward

the

into

same identical

folds.

Habit

thus a second nature, or rather, as the

is

Duke

of Wellington said,

any rate as regards

at

life

it is

its

'

ten times nature,'

importance in adult

for the acquired habits of our training have

by that time inhibited


natural impulsive
nally there.

or strangled

most of the

tendencies which were

Ninety-nine hundredths

origi-

or, possibly,

nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of our


activity
rising

is

in

purely automatic and habitual, from our


the

morning

to our

lying

down each

TALKS TO TEACHERS

66

Our

night.

dressing and undressing, our eating

and drinking, our greetings and


raisings

and giving way

partings, our hat-

for ladies to precede, nay,

common

even most of the forms of our

speech, are

things of a type so fixed by repetition as almost to

be classed as reflex actions.


pression

we have an

sponse.

My very

ple of

what

to

you now

are an exam-

having already lectured

for

sort of im-

automatic, ready-made re-

words

mean

To each

upon habit and printed

a chapter about

book, and read the latter

when

tongue inevitably falling into

in a

it

in print, I find

my

old phrases and

its

repeating almost literally what I said before.

So

far as

we

mere bundles of

are thus

are stereotyped creatures, imitators

And

our past selves.


cumstances,
it

follows

is

we

and copiers of

since this, under

what we always tend

first of all

habit,

any

cir-

to become,

that the teacher's prime con-

cern should be to ingrain into the pupil that as-

sortment of habits that shall be most useful to

him throughout

life.

and habits are the

To quote my
thing in

all

Education

stuff of
earlier

education

is

which behavior

book
to

consists.

directly, the great

make our nervous

tem our ally instead of our enemy.

and

for behavior,

is

capitalize our acquisitions,

It is to

and

live

sys-

fund

at ease

VALUE OF GOOD HABITS


upon the

make automatic and

many

as

For

interest of the fund.

67
this

we must

habitual, as early as possible,

useful actions as we can,

and

as carefully

guard against the growing into ways that are


likely to be disadvantageous.
details of our daily life

The more

we can hand over

of the
to the

custody of automatism, the more our

effortless

higher powers of mind will be set free for their

own proper work. There is no more miserable


human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for

whom

the lighting of

every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time


of rising

and going

to

bed every day, and the

beginning of every bit of work are subjects of


express volitional deliberation.
of such a

man

of matters

Full half the time

goes to the deciding or regretting

which ought

to be so ingrained in

him

as practically not to exist for his consciousness at


If there be

all.

such daily duties not yet

grained in any one of


this

my

hearers, let

in-

him begin

very hour to set the matter right.

In Professor Bain's chapter on

Habits

marks

'

there

laid

some admirable

are

down.

from the treatment.


quisition of a

new

'The

Moral

practical re-

Two

great

maxims emerge

The

first is

that in the ac-

habit, or the leaving off of

an

TALKS TO TEACHERS

68
old one,

we must take

care to launch ourselves

with as strong and decided an initiative as possible.

Accumulate

all

reinforce

shall

the possible circumstances which


the

right

motives; put yourself

assiduously in conditions that encourage the

new

way; make engagements incompatible with the


old; take a public pledge,
short, envelope

you know.
such a

down

if

the case allows; in

your resolution with every aid

new beginning

This will give your

momentum

that the temptation to break

might

will not occur as soon as it otherwise

and every day during which a breakdown


poned adds
at

to the

chances of

is

post-

not occurring

its

all.

remember long ago reading

an Austrian

in

paper the advertisement of a certain

Somebody, who promised


any one who

fifty

Rudolph

gulden reward to

the wine-shop of Ambrosius So-and-so.


do,'

the advertisement continued,

of a promise

him

after that date should find

which

have made

'

This I

consequence

in

my

'

at

wife/

With

such a wife, and such an understanding of the

way

in

which

new habits, it would be


money on Rudolph's ultimate

to start

safe to stake one's

success.

The second maxim

is,

Never

suffer

an exception

MAXIMS FOR HABIT-FORMING


to

occur

the

till

new

69

habit is securely rooted in your

life.

Each

lapse

is

like the letting fall of a ball of

string

which one

is

carefully winding

undoes more than a great

slip

wind

of

making the nervous system


:

them from the

tinguishing

tions, is the presence of

turns will

is

the great

act infallibly

habits, contradis-

intellectual

two

a single

As Professor Bain says


The peculiarity of the moral

right.

"

many

Continuity of training

again.

means

up

acquisi-

hostile powers,

one

to be gradually raised into the ascendant over the


other.

It is necessary

situation,

the

above

all things, in

Every gain on

never to lose a battle.

wrong

side

undoes the

The

quests on the right.

such a

of

effect

essential

many

con-

precaution,

the

two opposing

powers that the one may have a

series of unin-

therefore,

is

so

to

regulate

terrupted successes, until repetition has fortified


to such a degree as to enable

opposition, under

it

it

to cope with the

any circumstances.

This

is

the

theoretically best career of mental progress."

A
pair

third
:

maxim may

be added to the preceding

Seize the very first possible opportunity to act

on every resolution you make, and on every emotional

prompting you

tion of the habits

may

experience in the direc-

you aspire

to

gain.

It is

not in

TALKS TO TEACHERS

70

moment

the

of their forming, but in the

moment
and

of their producing motor effects, that resolves


aspirations

communicate

new

the

'set'

the

to

brain.

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one


may possess, and no matter how good one's sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of
every concrete opportunity to

may remain entirely


With good intentions,
This
I
'

is

unaffected for the better.


hell proverbially is paved.

an obvious consequence of the principles

have laid down.


is

act, one's character

character,' as J. S. Mill says,

a completely fashioned will

sense in which he

means

it,

'

and a

is

will, in

the

an aggregate of

tendencies to act in a firm and prompt and definite


life.

way upon

all

emergencies of

the principal

tendency to act only becomes effectively

ingrained in us in proportion to the uninterrupted

frequency with which the actions actually occur,

and the brain grows


4

solve or a fine

glow

'

to their use.

of feeling

is

it

a re-

allowed to evap-

orate without bearing practical fruit,

than a chance lost:

When

works so

it

is

worse

as positively to

hinder future resolutions and emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.

more contemptible type

of

human

There

is

no

character than

MAXIMS FOR HABIT-FOKMING

and dreamer,

that of the nerveless sentimentalist

who spends
ity,

his life in a weltering sea of sensibil-

but never does a concrete manly deed.

This leads to a fourth maxim.


too

much

Don't preach

your pupils or abound in good talk in

to

Lie in wait rather for the practical

the abstract.

opportunities, be

prompt

to seize those as they

and thus at one operation get your pupils

pass,

both to think, to
behavior are
ter,

71

feel,

and

The

to do.

what give the new

strokes of

set to the charac-

and work the good habits into

its

organic

Preaching and talking too soon become

tissue.

an ineffectual bore.

There

is

biography

passage

which

of habit, I
"

Up

many

been often quoted,

has

which, for the sake of

Darwin's short auto-

in

its

bearing on our subject

must now quote

me

Darwin says

again.

to the age of thirty or

kinds gave

and

beyond

great pleasure

it,
;

poetry of

and even as

a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare,


especially in the historical plays.

have also said

me considerable, and
But now for many years

that pictures formerly gave

music very great delight.


I

cannot endure to read a line of poetry.

tried lately to read Shakespeare,

and found

have
it

so

TALKS TO TEACHERS

72

intolerably dull that

almost lost

my

mind seems

to

it

nauseated me.

have also

taste for pictures or music.

My

have become a kind of machine for

grinding general laws out of large collections of


facts

but

why this should have

of that part of the brain alone,

caused the atrophy

on which the higher

tastes depend, I cannot conceive. ... If I

my

live

life

again, I

would have made a rule to

read some poetry and listen

week;

least once every

my

brain

now

had to

to

some music

at

for perhaps the parts of

atrophied would thus have been

The loss of these tastes is


and may possibly be injurious

kept alive through use.


a loss of happiness,

and more probably

to the

moral

by enfeebling the emotional part

of our

to the intellect,
character,

nature."

We

all

intend

when young

to be all that

may

become a man, before the destroyer cuts us down.

We

wish and expect to enjoy poetry always, to

grow more and more


and music,

to

intelligent

keep in touch with

religious ideas,

and even not

and yet

women

is

in

and

the greater

develop quite

We

mean all this in youth, I


how many middle-aged men and

beyond our view.


;

spiritual

to let

philosophic thoughts of our time

say

about pictures

such an honest and sanguine expectation

darwin's case as a warning


Surely, in comparatively few

fulfilled ?

laws of habit show us why.

Some

73

and the

interest in each

of these things arises in everybody at the proper

age

but,

if

not persistently fed with the appropri-

ate matter, instead of

necessary habit,

it

the rival interests

We

given.

make

growing into a powerful and

atrophies and dies, choked


to

by

which the daily food

is

ourselves into Darwins in this

negative respect by persistently ignoring the

es-

We

say

sential practical conditions of our case.

abstractly:

sorb a lot of

up

my

give

my

"I mean
it,

to enjoy poetry,

of course.

and

to ab-

I fully intend to

keep

love of music, to read the books that shall

my

time, to keep

higher spiritual side alive, etc."

But we do

new

turns to the thought of

not attack these things concretely, and


begin to-day.

We

forget that every

worth possessing must be paid


daily effort.

We

for

we do not

good that

is

in strokes of

postpone and postpone, until

Whereas ten

those smiling possibilities are dead.

minutes a day of poetry, of spiritual reading or


meditation, and an hour or

two

week

at music,

philosophy, provided

we began now

and suffered no remission, would

infallibly give

pictures,

or

us in due time the fulness of

all

we

desire.

By

neglecting the necessary concrete labor, by sparing

74

TALKS TO TEACHERS

ourselves the

little

is

are positively

our higher

digging the graves of

This

we

daily tax,

possibilities.

concerning which you teachers

a point

might well give a

little

timely information to your

older and more aspiring pupils.

According as a function receives daily exercise


or not, the
in later

man becomes

life.

We

a different

kind of being

have lately had a number of

accomplished Hindoo visitors at Cambridge,


talked freely of

life

and philosophy.

one of them has confided to


our faces,

all

me

who

More than

that the sight of

contracted as they are with the habit-

ual American over-intensity and anxiety of expression,

and our ungraceful and distorted attitudes

when

sitting,

sion.

for
in

made on him

a very painful impres-

" I do not see," said one, "

you

to live as

you

do,

how

it is

possible

without a single minute

your day deliberately given to tranquillity and

meditation.

It is

an invariable part of our Hindoo

life to retire for at

silence, to relax

least half

our muscles, govern our breathing,

and meditate on eternal


child

is

an hour daily into

things.

Every Hindoo

trained to this from a very early age."

The good

fruits of

such a discipline were obvious

in the physical repose and lack of tension, and

the wonderful smoothness and calmness of facial

THE HABIT OP BELAXATION


expression,

75

and imperturbability of manner of


I felt that

these Orientals.

my

countrymen were

depriving themselves of an essential grace of char-

How many

acter.
said,

American children ever hear

it

by parent or teacher, that they should moder-

ate their piercing voices, that they should relax


their

unused muscles, and

sitting, sit quite still?

as far as possible,

Not one

not one in five thousand

when

in a thousand,

Yet, from

its reflex

influence on the inner mental states, this ceaseless


over-tension, over-motion,

and over-expression are

working on us grievous national harm.


I

beg you teachers to think a

little

seriously of

Perhaps you can help our rising gen-

this matter.

eration of Americans toward the beginning of a


better set of personal ideals.*

To go back now
at last, as a fifth

habits, offer

to our general

and

final practical

little

That

is,

little

the faculty

gratuitous exercise

be systematically heroic in

unnecessary points, do every day or two

something for no other reason than


so that,
*

maxim about

something like this: Keep

of effort alive in you by a


every day.

maxims, I may

when

its

difficulty,

the hour of dire need draws nigh,

it

See the Address on the Gospel of Relaxation, later in this volume.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

76

may
the

you not unnerved and untrained

find

Asceticism of this sort

test.

ance which a

man pays on

is

return.

does come, his having paid

it

from

ruin.

like the insur-

and goods.

his house

The tax does him no good


bly may never bring him a

to stand

at the time,

and

But,

if

possi-

the

fire

will be his salvation

So with the man who has daily inured

himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition,

He

and

self-denial in

will stand like a

unnecessary things.

tower when everything rocks

around him, and his softer fellow-mortals are win-

nowed

like chaff in the blast.

have been accused, when talking of the sub-

of habit,

ject

making old habits appear

of

strong that the acquiring of

new

ones,

and

so

partic-

ularly anything like a sudden reform or conversion,

Of

would be made impossible by

course, this

ter; for

they
is

would

suffice to

my

doctrine.

condemn the

lat-

sudden conversions, however infrequent

may

be,

unquestionably do occur.

But there

no incompatibility between the general laws

have laid down and the most startling sudden


alterations in the

way

of character.

New

habits

can be launched, I have expressly said, on condition of there being

new

stimuli

and new

excite-

THE SCOPE OF HABIT'S EFFECTS


ments.

Now

abounds in these, and sometimes

life

they are such

77

and revolutionary

critical

experi-

ences that they change a man's whole scale of


values and system of ideas.

In such

cases, the

old order of his habits will be ruptured


the

new motives

and,

if

new habits will be


him a new or regener-

are lasting,

formed, and build up in


ate 'nature.'

All this kind of fact I fully allow.

But the

general laws of habit are no wise altered thereby,

and the physiological study


still

remains on the whole the most powerful ally

of hortatory ethics.
after, of

hell

of mental conditions

The

which theology

we make

hell to be

tells, is

endured here-

no worse than the

for ourselves in this

world by habit-

ually fashioning our characters in the

Could the young but

become mere

how

realize

wrong way.

soon they will

walking

bundles of habits, they

would give more heed

to their conduct while in

We

the plastic state.

good or

evil,

are spinning our

and never

smallest stroke

of virtue

never-so-little scar.

time "

Heaven

or of vice

Every

leaves

its

excuses himself for every

by saying, "I won't count

Well, he

may

be undone.

fates,

The drunken Rip Van Win-

kle, in Jefferson's play,

fresh dereliction

to

own

may

not count

not count
it

but

it,

it is

this

and a kind

being counted

TALKS TO TEACHERS

78

none the

and storing

it

up

it,

and

registering

used against him when the

to be

next temptation comes.

Nothing we ever do

wiped

in strict scientific literalness,

Of

his nerve-cells

molecules are counting

the

fibres

Down among

less.

course, this has its

good

is,

out.

side as well as its

As we become permanent drunkards by


many separate drinks, so we become saints in

bad one.
so

and authorities and experts in the

the moral,
practical

and

rate acts

and hours of work.

scientific spheres,

by so many sepa-

Let no youth have

any anxiety about the upshot of his education,


whatever the
fully

line of it

busy each hour

may

of the

If

be.

morning

to

find

faith-

working day, he may

safely leave the final result to itself.

perfect certainty count on

he keep

He

can with

waking up some

himself one

of the

fine

competent

ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he

may have

singled out.

details of his business,


all

Silently,

between

the power

all

the

of judging in

that class of matter will have built itself

up

within him as a possession that will never pass

Young people should know this truth in


advance. The ignorance of it has probably enaway.

gendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youths

than

all

embarking

on

arduous

other causes put together.

careers

IX.

THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS

my

In
had

in

last talk, in treating of Habit, I chiefly

mind our motor

habits,

habits

But our thinking and

conduct.

know under

is

feeling processes

law of habit, and

are also largely subject to the

one result of this

of external

phenomenon which you

all

name of the association of ideas.'


To that phenomenon I ask you now to turn.
You remember that consciousness is an everthe

'

flowing stream of objects, feelings, and impulsive

We

tendencies.

pulses

are

saw already that


so

like

many

fields

wave having usually

field or

liveliest attention, in the

its

or waves,

with

the

active tendencies

scribing the

margin

around

all

if,

entails.

At

we

this

realized,

emotional

in fluid terms,

close as possible to nature.


as

of

which the whole

mind thus

each

central point of

margin of other objects more dimly

together

seem

phases or

shape of the most promi-

nent object in our thought, while


lies a

its

and
De-

cling as

first sight, it

might

in the fluidity of these successive waves,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

80
everything

But

indeterminate.

is

inspection

shows that each wave has a constitution which


can be to some degree explained by the constitution of the

waves

relation of the

wave

And

passed away.

just

to its predecessors

is

this

expressed

by the two fundamental laws of association,' socalled, of which the first is named the Law of
i

Contiguity, the second that of Similarity.

The Law

of

Contiguity tells

us that objects

thought of in the coming wave are such as in some


previous experience were next to the objects repre-

sented in the wave that

is

passing away.

The

vanishing objects were once formerly their neigh-

When you

bors in the mind.


or your prayers, or

reminds you of
of the object,

the sight of an object

name, or the name reminds you

its
it

when

recite the alphabet

is

through the law of contiguity

that the terms are suggested to the mind.

The Law
ity

fails

of Similarity says that,

to

describe

when

what happens, the coming

objects will prove to resemble the going

even though

the

together before.

contigu-

objects,

two were never experienced

In our

'

flights of fancy,' this is

frequently the case.


If,

arresting ourselves in the flow of reverie,

we ask

the question, "

How came we

to be think-


THE TWO LAWS OF ASSOCIATION
now ? " we

ing of just this object

ways trace

which has introduced

it

to the

The

memorized

The words

entire rou-

acquisitions, for example,

a consequence of nothing but the

tiguity.

al-

mind, according to

one or the other of these laws.

is

can almost

presence to some previous object

its

tine of our

81

Law

of Con-

of a poem, the formulas of

trigonometry, the facts of history, the properties

known

of material things, are all

to us as definite

systems or groups of objects which cohere in an


order

by

fixed

innumerable

iterations,

which any one part reminds us of the


dry and prosaic minds, almost

all

and

of

In

others.

the mental se-

quences flow along these lines of habitual routine repetition

and suggestion.

In witty, imaginative minds, on the other hand,


the routine

moment

is

broken through with ease at any

and one

field of

mental objects will sug-

gest another with which perhaps in the whole his-

tory of

human

been coupled.

thinking

The

it

had never once before

link here

is

usually some anal-

ogy between the objects successively thought

of,

an analogy often so subtle that, although we


it,

we can with

difficulty analyze its

where, for example,


in

the

color red

we

ground

feel
;

as

find something masculine

and something feminine

in the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

82

human

color pale blue, or where, of three

remind us of a

characters, one will

beings'

another

cat,

of a dog, the third perhaps of a cow.

Psychologists have of course gone very deeply

what the causes of association

into the question of

may be and some


;

of

them have

tried to

show that

contiguity and similarity are not two radically


diverse laws, but that either presupposes the presI myself

ence of the other.


that the

phenomena

am

disposed to think

of association

cerebral constitution,

depend on our

and are not immediate con-

sequences of our being rational beings.


words,
spirits,

when we
it may be

shall

In other

have become disembodied

that our trains of consciousness

will follow different

laws.

These questions are

discussed in the books on psychology, and I hope


that

some

them

of

there.

you

will be interested in following

But

I will,

ignore them entirely

on the present occasion,

for, as teachers, it is

the fact

of association that practically concerns you, let


its

grounds be

may, and

spiritual or cerebral or

let its

ble, to one.

what they

laws be reducible, or non-reduci-

Your

pupils,

whatever

else

they

are,

are at

any rate

ery.

Their education consists in the organizing

little

pieces of associating machin-

THEIR GREAT SCOPE

83

within them of determinate tendencies to associate

one thing with another,

impressions with

conse-

quences, these with reactions, those with results,

and

so

The more copious

on indefinitely.

the

associative systems, the completer the individual's

adaptations to the world.

The

teacher can formulate his function to himin terms of

self therefore

in terms of

association

as well as

'

native and acquired reaction.'

mainly that of building up useful systems of


ciation

the

in

pupil's

mind.

This

It is
asso-

description

sounds wider than the one I began by giving.


But,

when one

tion,

whatever they may

thinks that our trains of associabe,

normally issue in ac-

quired reactions or behavior, one sees that in a


general

way

the same mass of facts

covered by

is

both formulas.

how many mental operations


when we have once grasped the

It is astonishing

we can

explain

principles of association.

The great problem which

association undertakes to solve

is,

Why

does just

this particular field of consciousness, constituted in


this

It

particular tvay,

may

before

be a field of objects imagined

of objects

may

now appear

remembered or

my mind?
it may be

of objects perceived:

include an action resolved on.

it

In either case,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

84

when

the field

parts can be

analyzed into

is

shown

to

its

parts, those

have proceeded from parts

of fields previously before consciousness, in con-

sequence of one or other of the laws of association

est,

shifting hither

attention, as
it

Those laws run the mind

down.

just laid

we

and

inter-

thither, deflects it;

shall later see, steers it

and

and keeps

from too zigzag a course.

To

grasp these factors clearly gives one a solid

and simple understanding

The

machinery.

means

individual

form

wrong

the psychological

'nature,' the 'character,' of

an

really nothing but the habitual

of his associations.

tions or

of

To break up bad

associa-

ones, to build others in, to guide

the associative tendencies into the most fruitful


channels,

the educator's principal

is

task.

But

here, as with all other simple principles, the difficulty lies

state the laws

work them

the

in
:

concrete tact and talent alone can

to useful results.

Meanwhile

it is

rience that our

a matter of the

commonest expe-

minds may pass from one object

another by various intermediary


ness.

Psychology can

application.

The indeterminateness

ciation in concreto

is

to

fields of conscious-

of our paths of asso-

thus almost as striking a feat-

ure of them as the uniformity of their abstract

INDETERMINATENESS OF ASSOCIATIONS
form.

Start

from any idea whatever, and the


your ideas

entire range of
If

disposal.

point, or cue,

we

potentially at your

some simple word which


is

sity of suggestions

of

is

take as the associative starting-

before you, there

you may think

pronounce

no limit to the possible diver-

which

Suppose I say

minds.

85

it

may

'blue,' for

of the blue

from which we now are

set

up

in

example

your

some

sky and hot weather

suffering,

then go

off

on

thoughts of summer clothing, or possibly of meteorology at large

others

and -the physiology of

may

think of the spectrum

color-vision,

and glide into

X-rays and recent physical speculations; others

may

think of blue ribbons, or of the blue flowers

on a

friend's hat,

reminiscence.
linguistic

may be
choly,

'

and proceed on

To

thoughts

others,

may

apperceived

and a

'

as

lines of personal

again,

etymology and

be suggested
a

synonym

or

blue

for melan-

train of associates connected with

morbid psychology may proceed to unroll themselves.

In the same person, the same word heard at


different

times will provoke, in consequence of

the varying marginal preoccupations, either one of


a

number

of diverse possible associative sequences.

Professor Miinsterberg performed this experiment

TALKS TO TEACHERS

86

methodically, using

same words four times

the

over, at three-month intervals, as

different persons

He

vation.

who were

cues

'

'

for four

the subjects of obser-

found almost no constancy in their


In

associations taken at these different times.

short, the entire potential content of one's con-

sciousness

This

is

is

accessible

why we

will

cipher out in advance just

be thinking of

five

minutes

The elements which may become

later.

points.

starting from the present field

we can never

what the person

its

can never work the laws of asso-

ciation forward:

as a cue,

from any one of

prepo-

tent in the process, the parts of each successive

round which the associations

field

shall

chiefly

turn, the possible bifurcations of suggestion, are


so

numerous and ambiguous

ble

before

the

work the laws

as to be indetermina-

of association

always work them backwards.

now what we
five

shall

but,

then be able to trace

We

whatever
it

it

may

we

be,

through intermediary

links of contiguity or similarity to

What

cannot say
thinking of

ourselves

find

shall

minutes hence

we cannot
forward, we can

But, although

fact.

what we

are

so bafiies our prevision

is

the shifting part played by the margin and focus

thinking now.

in fact,

focus

by each element by

itself of the

in calling up the next ideas.

margin or

SOME CUES ARE PREPOTENT


For example,
order to divert

am

that I

The

background

my mind
will

as

poem

come

'

Locksley Hall,' in

from a state of suspense

fairly

still

remains in the mental

an extremely marginal or ultra-

marginal portion of
the

reciting

in concerning the will of a relative that

dead.

is

am

87

my

field of

my

keeps

consciousness

attention from

it,

but

until

to the line, " I, the heir of all the ages, in

the foremost

files

of

The words

time."

'I,

the

immediately make an electric connection

heir,'

with the marginal thought of the will; that, in


turn,

my

makes

my possible

heart beat with anticipation of

legacy, so that I throw

and pace the

floor excitedly

down

the book

with visions of

future fortune pouring through

my

mind.

my
Any

portion of the field of consciousness that has more


potentialities

other
ity

may

now

all sorts of

ning

excitement than an-

thus be roused to predominant activ-

and the

portion,

of emotional

hither

shifting play of interest

now

in one

in another, deflects the currents in

zigzag ways, the mental activity run-

and thither

as

the

sparks run in

burnt-up paper.

One more
to

you

as

association.

point,

and

I shall

have said as much

seems necessary about the process of

TALKS TO TEACHERS

88

You
call

up

just
its

saw how a single exciting word may

own

and

associates prepotently,

deflect

our whole train of thinking from the previous

The

track.

fact

is

up

its

tends to call

that every portion of the field

own

associates

but,

associates be severally different, there

and

is

the others seem to get siphoned out, as

were,

it

Seldom, however, as in our ex-

behind.

left

rivalry,

one or a few begin to be effective

as soon as

and

these

if

ample, does the process seem to turn round a


single item in the mental field, or even
entire field that
It is a

ing.

is

round the

immediately in the act of pass-

matter of constellation, into which

portions of fields that are already past especially

seem

to enter

back to
in

its

'

and have

Thus, to go

their say.

Locksley Hall,' each word as I recite

due order

previous word

suggested not solely by the

is

now

it

expiring on

my

lips,

but

it is

rather the effect of all the previous words, taken


together, of the verse.

up " in the foremost


by " I, the heir of

" Ages," for example, calls

files

all

by, "for I doubt not

the

of time,"
"

but,

through the,"

"one increasing purpose runs."


write on the
F,

when preceded
when preceded

Similarly,

blackboard the letters

they probably suggest to you

up

it calls

if

ABODE
G H

I.

THE PUPIL AN ASSOCIATING MACHINE


But,

if

I write

A B A D D E

F,

if

they suggest

anything, they suggest as their complement


or

EF

ENC

The

Y.

89

ECT

depending on

result

the total constellation, even though most of the


single items be the same.

My
this,

practical reason for mentioning this

that

it

ciations into

follows from

it

that, in

law

working

is

asso-

your pupils' minds, you must not rely

on single cues, but multiply the cues as much as


Couple the desired reaction with numer-

possible.

ous constellations of antecedents,

don't

always

ask the question, for example, in the same

way

don't use

the same kind of data in numerical

problems

vary your illustrations,

you

can.

ory,

we

When we come

shall learn still

etc., as

to the subject

more about

much as
of mem-

this.

So much, then, for the general subject of


ciation.

In leaving

it

asso-

for other topics (in which,

however, we shall abundantly find


again), I cannot too strongly urge

it

you

involved
to acquire

a habit of thinking of your pupils in associative


terms.

All governors of mankind, from doctors

and jail-wardens
instinctively
If

to

come

demagogues and statesmen,


so to conceive

their charges.

you do the same, thinking of them (however

else

you may think of them besides)

as so

many

TALKS TO TEACHERS

90
little

systems of associating machinery, you will

be astonished at the intimacy of insight into their


operations and at the practicality of the results

which you will gain.


tances, for

We

think of our acquain-

example, as characterized by certain

These

'tendencies.'

tendencies will in almost

every instance prove to be tendencies to


tion.

associa-,

Certain ideas in them are always followed

by

by certain other

ideas, these

and impulses

approve or disapprove, assent

If the topic arouse

or decline.
ideas,

to

the practical outcome

foreseen.

'

Types

largely types

of

of

one of those

first

can be pretty well

character

association.

certain feelings

'

in

short

are

X.

INTEREST

At

our last meeting I treated of the native ten-

dencies of the pupil to react in characteristically-

ways upon

definite

In

circumstances.

different

stimuli

or exciting

fact, I treated of the pupil's in-

stincts.

Now

instincts

from the very outset, and others

some situations appeal

to

special
fail to

do so until the proper connections have been


ganized in the

We

or-

course of the person's training.

say of the former set of objects or situations

that they are interesting in themselves

Of the

nally.

latter

we

and

origi-

say that they are natively

uninteresting, and that interest in

them has

first

to be acquired.

No

topic has received

gogical writers

more attention from peda-

than that of interest.

natural sequel to the instincts


cussed,

and

it

is

we

It is the

so lately dis-

therefore well fitted to

be the

next subject which we take up.


Since some objects are natively interesting and
in

others

interest

is

artificially

acquired,

the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

92

must know which the natively interesting

teacher

ones are

for, as

can

objects

through

first

we

shall see immediately, other

artificially

acquire an interest only

becoming associated with some

of

these natively interesting things.

The

native interests of children

lie

altogether in

Novel things

the sphere of sensation.

to look at

when they

or novel sounds to hear, especially

in-

volve the spectacle of action of a violent sort, will

always divert the attention from abstract concep-

The grimace

tions of objects verbally taken in.

that
is

Johnny

is

making, the spitballs that

ready to throw, the dog-fight in the

the distant firebells ringing,

Tommy

street, or

these are the

with which the teacher's powers of being


esting have incessantly to cope.

The

rivals
inter-

child will

always attend more to what a teacher does than


to

what the same teacher

says.

During the

per-

formance of experiments or while the teacher

is

drawing on the blackboard, the children are tranquil

and absorbed.

have seen a roomful of

lege students suddenly

become perfectly

look at their professor of physics


string
in

tie

an experiment, but immediately grow


to

explain

the

still,

to

a piece of

around a stick which he was going

when he began

col-

to use
restless

experiment.

NATIVELY INTERESTING THINGS

me

lady told

that one day, during a lesson, she

was delighted at having captured

so

completely

did not remove his eyes from her face


said to her after the lesson
all

the

move once
taken

time,

"

He

one of her young charges.

the attention of

you

93

was over, "

but he

looked at

and your upper jaw did not

That was the only

had

fact that he

in.

Living things, then, moving things, or things


that savor of danger or of blood, that have a dra-

matic quality,

these

are the objects natively in-

teresting to childhood, to the exclusion of almost

everything else
dren, until

and the teacher of young

more

artificial interests

have grown up,

keep in touch with her pupils by constant

will

appeal to such matters as these.


be

chil-

carried

Instruction must

on objectively, experimentally, anec-

The blackboard-drawing and story-telling must constantly come in. But of course these
do tally.

methods cover only the


but a

little

first steps,

and carry one

way.

Can we now formulate any general


which the later and more
nect themselves
child brings with

Fortunately,

principle

artificial interests

by

con-

with these early ones that the

him

we can

to the school?
:

there

is

a very simple law

TALKS TO TEACHERS

94

that relates the acquired and the native interests

with each other.

Any

object not interesting in itself

interesting

through becoming associated

which an interest already

object in

objects grow, as

associated

interesting portion sheds

and thus

may

its

exists.

become

with

The two

were, together

it

an

the

quality over the whole ;

own

things not interesting in their

right

borrow an interest vjhich becomes as real and as


strong as that of

any natively

The odd circumstance

is

interesting

thing.

that the borrowing does

not impoverish the source, the objects taken

to-

gether being more interesting, perhaps, than the


originally interesting portion

This

is

was by

itself.

one of the most striking proofs of the

range of application of the principle of association


of ideas in psychology.

other with

its

An

idea will infect an-

own emotional

interest

when they

have become both associated together into any


sort of a mental total.

As

there

is

no limit to

the various associations into

which an

may enter, one sees


an interest may be derived.
You will understand this

in

ing idea

easily if I take the

amples,

the

interest-

how many ways

abstract statement

most frequent of concrete ex-

interest

which things borrow from

HOW" INTEREST

The most natively

own

personal self and

its

moment

self, it

new

He

new kind

takes a

In mature

gether.

forthwith

then give

own, and notice the

which they instantly shine

light with

eyes.

his

life,

the

all

alto-

drudgery of a
itself,

shot through with engrossing significance be-

cause he

knows

it

to

be associated with his per-

What more

sonal fortunes.

object can there be than

Yet where
if

in his

them

of care of

man's business or profession, intolerable in


is

ac-

the child his

books, pencils, and other apparatus:

make them

is

thing becomes

Lend

becomes an interesting thing.

We

fortunes.

connected with the fortunes of the

to him,

man

interesting object to a

cordingly see that the

them

95

with our own personal welfare.

their connection

his

ACQUIRED

IS

you

will

are going

you

life.

time-table

all

its

its

means

times the time-table

man's entire attention,

From

more interesting object

At such

being borrowed solely from


sonal

railroad

on a journey, and by

can find your train


will absorb a

find a

deadly uninteresting

its

interest

relation to his per-

these facts there emerges a

very simple abstract programme for the teacher

follow in keeping the attention of the child

to

Begin

with the line of his native interests, and offer him


objects

that

have some immediate connection with

TALKS TO TEACHERS

96

The kindergarten methods,

these.

the

object-

teaching routine, the blackboard and manual-training work,


in

all

recognize

this

Schools

feature.

which these methods preponderate are schools

where discipline

and where the voice

easy,

is

the master claiming order

and attention

of

in threat-

ening tones need never be heard.


Next, step by step, connect with these first objects

and experiences
you

and

telling

being shed along from point

way,
to

ideas which

new with

Associate the

vrish to instill.

in some natural

and

the later objects

the old

so that the interest,

point, finally suffuses

the entire system of objects of thought.

This

is

the abstract statement

and, abstractly,

nothing can be easier to understand.

It is in the

fulfilment of the rule that the difficulty lies

for

the difference between an interesting and a tedious

teacher consists in
ness by which
associations

little

the one

more than the inventiveis

able to mediate these

and connections, and

in the dulness in

discovering such transitions which the other shows.

One

teacher's

mind

will

fairly

points of connection between the

coruscate

new

with

lesson and

the circumstances of the children's other experience.

Anecdotes and reminiscences will abound

in her talk

and the shuttle of

interest will shoot

SOMETHING TO ATTEND WITH

97

backward and forward, weaving the new and the


old together in

lively

and entertaining way.

Another teacher has no such inventive


and

his lesson will always be a

This

thing.

Herbartian

It

the

is

method

dead and heavy

the psychological meaning of the


of

principle

and

lesson,

is

fertility,

'

preparation

of correlating the

each

for

'

new with

the old.

psychological meaning of that whole

of concentration in studies of

which you

When

have been recently hearing so much.

the

geography and English and history and arithmetic


simultaneously

cross-references to one an-

you get an interesting

other,

along the

If,

make

line.

then, you wish to insure the interest of your

pupils, there is only one


to

set of processes all

make

minds

way

to do

it

and that

is

certain that they have something in their

to

attend with,

That something can

when you begin


consist

in

nothing

to

talk.

but

previous lot of ideas already interesting in themselves,

and of such

a nature

that the incoming

novel objects which you present can dovetail into

them and form with them some kind


associated or systematic whole.

most any kind

of

connection

of a logically

Fortunately,
is

al-

sufficient to

;!

TALKS TO TEACHERS

98
carry

the

What

along.

interest

help

our

is

Philippine war at present in teaching geography

But before

the

war you could ask the children

if

they ate pepper with their eggs, and where they

Or ask them

supposed the pepper came from.


glass

is

a stone, and,

if

them know how stones


factured.

not,

are

why

not

and then

External links will serve as well as

once shed upon a subject,

main always with that

become
and

in a

little

and habits

subject.

is

Our

But

by

little,

acquisitions

it

self;

as cross-associations multiply

of familiarity

most of

in-

liable to re-

measure portions of our personal

and practice grow, the

entire system of our objects of


dates,

let

formed and glass manu-

those that are deeper and more logical.


terest,

if

thought consoli-

becoming interesting

for

some

purposes and in some degree.

An

adult man's interests are almost every one of

them intensely
built up.

The

most of them,

artificial

they have slowly been

objects of professional interest are

in their original nature, repulsive

but by their connection with such natively exciting objects as one's personal fortune, one's social
responsibilities,

and especially by the force of

veterate habit, they

which

in

middle

grow

life

in-

to be the only things for

man profoundly

cares.

THE SYSTEM OF OUR INTERESTS


But

in

all

these

spread and consolidation

the

have followed nothing but the principles

down.

If

we could

individual history,
fessional ideals

99

first laid

recall for a

moment our whole

we should

see

and the

that our pro-

zeal they inspire are

mental

to nothing but the slow accretion of one

object to another, traceable


to point

till

we reach

the

backward from point

moment when,

nursery or in the schoolroom, some

some

told,

little

object shown,

interest within our

some one

object

ken by associating

The

now

suffusing the whole system took

that

little

event, so insignificant to us

be entirely forgotten.

As

story

opera-

little

new

of those primitively there.

in the

little

some

tion witnessed, brought the first

new

due

its

it

and
with

interest
rise in

now

as to

the bees in swarming

cling to one another in layers

till

the few are

reached whose feet grapple the bough from which


the

swarm depends:

thinking,

they hang

so with the objects of our


to each other

by associated

links,

but the original source of interest in

them

is

all

of

the native interest which the earliest one

once possessed.

XL
ATTENTION

Whoever

treats of interest inevitably treats of

attention, for to say that an object is interesting


is

only another

But

tion.

way

of saying that

addition

in

any object already interesting or


interesting

claims

passive

neous attention, we
deliberate attention,
tion with effort, as

may

excites atten-

attention which

the

to

it

just

becoming

attention or sponta-

call it

there

is

voluntary attention or atten which we can give

it is

called,

to objects less interesting or uninteresting in


selves.

The

distinction

sive attention

and connects
topic.

is

made

itself

From our

view, however,

sion.

the

between active and pas-

in all

books on psychology,

present purely practical point of

it is

not necessary to be intricate


to natively interesting

no further elucidation on

All that

them-

with the deeper aspects of the

and passive attention


terial requires

more

we need

this occa-

explicitly to note

more the passive attention

keeping the material interesting

is

ma-

is

that,

relied on,

and the

by

less the

ATTENTION AND GENIUS


kind of attention requiring

effort is

101
appealed to

the more smoothly and pleasantly the class-room

work goes

on.

must say a few more words,

however, about this latter process of voluntary

and deliberate attention.

One

often hears

it

said that genius

nothing

is

but a power of sustained attention, and the popular

impression probably prevails

men

that

of

genius are remarkable for their voluntary powers


in this direction.

But a

vation will shoiv

any one

little

that voluntary attention

cannot be continuously sustained,

When we

beats.

subject,

that

comes in

it

are studying an uninteresting

our mind tends to wander,

if

obser-

introspective

bring back our attention every

we have

to

now and then by

using distinct pulses of effort, which revivify the


topic for a

moment, the mind then running on

a certain

number

taneous

interest,

idea captures
esses

of

more.

until

and takes

exhausts
is

itself

The

Then

it off.

the proc-

must be repeated once

Voluntary attention,
affair.

minutes with spon-

again some intercurrent

volitional recall

momentary
matter

it

of seconds or

for

in

short,

only a

whatever

process,

in the single act

is

it

is,

and, unless the

then taken in hand by some trace of

interest inherent in the subject, the

mind

fails to

TALKS TO TEACHERS

102
follow

it

at

The sustained

all.

attention of the

genius, sticking to his subject for hours together,


is

for

most part

the

minds of geniuses are

The

associations.

develops
attention

all sorts

of

The

the passive sort.

and original

full of copious

subject of thought, once started,

The

of fascinating consequences.

led along one of these to another in

is

the most interesting manner, and the

attention

never once tends to stray away.


In a commonplace mind, on the other hand, a

much

subject develops
it

less

dies out then quickly

keep up thinking of
attention back to

it

it

at

numerous

and,
all,

if

the

associates

man

to

is

he must bring his

by a violent wrench.

In him,

therefore, the faculty of voluntary attention re-

ceives
daily

abundant opportunity
It is

life.

common man
is

cultivation

in

your despised business man, your

of affairs, (so looked

literary awarders

regard

for

of

likely to be

down on by

fame) whose virtue

most developed

in

the
this

for he has

many uninteresting
much drudging detail,

to listen to the concerns of so

people,

and

to transact so

that the faculty in question


training.
in

whom you

attending to

is

always kept in

genius on the contrary,

is

are least likely to find the

the

man

power

of

anything insipid or distasteful in

CONDITIONS OF YOLUNTAPwY ATTENTION

He

itself.

103

breaks his engagements, leaves his

unanswered, neglects his family duties

letters

in-

corrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his at-

tention

down and back from

those more interest-

ing trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.

Voluntary attention
stantaneous

You can claim it, for your


schoolroom, by commanding it in

affair.

purposes in the

loud, imperious tones

way.

in this

thus an essentially in-

is

and you can

easily get

it

But, unless the subject to which you

thus recall their attention has inherent power to


interest the pupils,

a brief

moment

you

and

will

have got

minds

their

it

will

for only

soon be

To keep them where you have


them, you must make the subject too inter-

wandering again.
called

esting for

there

is

like all

them

to

wander

again.

one prescription;
our prescriptions,

practical results

from

it,

And

for that

but the prescription,


is

abstract, and, to get

you must couple

it

with

mother-wit.

The prescription
to

is

that the subject must be

show new aspects of

tions

subject

You

itself ; to

in a word, to change.

the

prompt new

made
ques-

From an unchanging

attention inevitably

wanders away.

can test this by the simplest possible case of

TALKS TO TEACHERS

104

Try

sensorial attention.

to attend steadfastly to

You

on the paper or on the wall.

Clot

pres-

ently find that one or the other of two things has

happened: either your


blurred, so that
all,

you now

at the dot in question,

see nothing distinct at

But,

else.

if

and are looking

how big

what shape, what shade of

words,

if

you turn

to look
at some-

you ask yourself successive

questions about the dot,


of

has become

you have involuntarily ceased

or else

thing

field of vision

it

it is,

color, etc.

over, if

you think

how

far,

in other

of

it

in

various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,

you can

keep your mind on

paratively long time.

This

does, in

whose hands a given

grows.

And

every topic

this is

if

is

it

for a

com-

what the genius

topic coruscates

and

what the teacher must do

for

he wishes to avoid too frequent ap-

peals to voluntary attention of the coerced sort.

In

respects, reliance

all

this is a wasteful

upon such attention

method, bringing bad temper

and nervous wear and tear


results.

as

as well as imperfect

The teacher who can get along by keep-

ing spontaneous interest excited must be regarded


as the teacher with the greatest skill.

There
large

is,

however, in

all

schoolroom work a

mass of material that must be dull and un-

MECHANICAL AIDS TO ATTENTION


exciting,

tinons

and

way

to

it is

impossible in any con-

an interest associatively

to contribute

There

derived.

which

external

certain

therefore,

are,

105

methods, which every teacher knows, of voluntarily arousing the

and keeping
a lecture

it

attention from

upon the

time to time

Mr. Fitch has

subject.

on the art of securing attention, and he

briefly passes these

ure must be

methods

changed

in review

places

may

tions

ing word.

most

the post-

can be changed.

Questions, after being answered singly,


sionally be

answered in concert.

may

occa-

Elliptical ques-

be asked, the pupil supplying the miss-

The

teacher must pounce

listless child,

upon the

The

and wake him up.

habit

prompt and ready response must be kept up.

of

Recapitulations, illustrations, examples, novelty of


order,

and

means

for

tributing a
all,

ruptures of

routine,

all

these

are

keeping the attention alive and conlittle interest

to a dull subject.

Above

the teacher must himself be alive and ready,

and must use the contagion of


But,
that

when

all is said

his

own example.

and done, the

fact remains

some teachers have a naturally inspiring

ence and can

make

their

while others simply cannot.

pres-

exercises interesting,

And

psychology and

general pedagogy here confess their failure, and

TALKS TO TEACHERS

106

hand things over

human

to the deeper springs of

personality to conduct the task.

brief reference to the physiological theory of

the attentive process

serve

further to

still

remarks, and

practical

these

elucidate

may

them by showing them from

confirm

a slightly different

point of view.

What

the attentive process, psychologically

is

considered ?

Attention to an object

what takes

is

place whenever that object most completely oc-

For simplicity's sake suppose

cupies the mind.

figure

approaching us at a distance on the road.

It is

the object to be an object of sensation,

far off, barely perceptible,

do not

know with

or not.
at,

certainty whether

Such an object

may hardly

and hardly moving

as this, if carelessly looked

catch our attention at

may

cal impression

affect solely the

The

all.

We may

till

some one points

he point
its

it

out ?

appearance,

By

it

out.

indeed not
But,

his finger,

opti-

marginal con-

sciousness, while the mental focus keeps

with rival things.

it is

we
man

if so,

engaged
'

see

how

'

it

does

and by describing

by creating a premonitory image

of where to look

and

of ivhat to expect to see.

This premonitory image

is

already an excitement

ATTENTION, PHYSIOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED 107


of the same nerve-centres that are to be concerned

The impression comes, and

with the impression.

them

excites

still

further

and now the object en-

ters the focus of the field, consciousness being sus-

tained both by impression and

But the maximum

of attention to

reached.

Although we see

for it;

may

it

and a

by preliminary

companion defines
from

it,

it

names

it

now

become

its

it

attends to

The

may

apprehended

an enemy or as a messenger

the

residual

and marginal

aroused, so far from being


associates

they keep

however, our

If,

in a significant way, arouses

and

it

with

it

it

rivals,

to-

they converge

steadily in focus

maximum

its

They shoot

allies.

gether into one system with

upon

may

thoughts

a set of experiences to be

of important tidings,
ideas

care

suggest nothing important to us;

quickly take our mind away.

mind

not yet

we may not

it,

rival stream of objects or of

in the

it is

idea.

the

mind

power.

attentive process, therefore, at its

maximum

be physiologically symbolized by a brain-cell

played on in two ways, from without and from

Incoming currents from the periphery

within.

arouse
of

it,

and

collateral currents

memory and imagination

from the centres

re-enforce these.

In this process the incoming impression

is

the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

108

newer element
tain

it'

mind,

the ideas which re-enforce and sus-

among

are

the older possessions of the

maximum

i^nd the

of attention

we have

be said to be found whenever


tic

harmony

the old.

an odd circumstance that neither

by

the old nor the new,


old

what claims the


turn.

No

at

interesting

itself, is

insipid;

is

makes no appeal

new

a systema-

or unification between the novel and

It is

absolutely

may then

attention,

the

new
new is

absolutely

the

The

all.

old in the

the old with a slightly

one wants to hear a lecture on a

subject completely disconnected with his previous

knowledge, but we

all

which we know a

little

fashions, every year

like lectures

just as, in the

already,

must bring

on subjects of

its

slight modifi-

cation of last year's suit, but an abrupt

jump from

the fashion of one decade into another would be


distasteful to the eye.

The genius

of the interesting teacher consists

in sympathetic divination of the sort of material

with which the pupil's mind

is

likely to be already

spontaneously engaged, and in the ingenuity which


discovers paths of connection from that material
to the matters to

easy

to

difficult

in

is

be newly learned.

grasp,

the

but

extreme.

the

The

principle

accomplishment

And

knowledge

is

of

INTEREST AND EFFORT ARE COMPATIBLES 109


such psychology as this which

am

recalling can

no more make a good teacher than a knowledge


of the laws of perspective can

painter of effective

a landscape

skill.

certain doubt

you.

make

may now

occur to some of

while ago, apropos of the pugnacious

instinct, I

spoke of our modern pedagogy as being

possibly too

'

soft.'

me with my own

You may perhaps

here face

words, and ask whether the

exclusive effort on the teacher's part to keep the

and

pupil's spontaneous interest going,

to

avoid

the more strenuous path of voluntary attention to


repulsive work, does not savor also of sentimen-

The

talism.

greater part of schoolroom work,

say, must, in the nature of things,

To

sive.

part of

life's

work.

Why

always be repul-

drudgery

face uninteresting

you

is

good

seek to eliminate

it

from the school-room or minimize the sterner law ?

word

or

two

will obviate

what might perhaps

become a serious misunderstanding


It is certain that

here.

most schoolroom work,

has become habitual and automatic,

is

till it

repulsive,

and cannot be done without voluntarily jerking


back the attention
This

is

to

it

every

now and

inevitable, let the teacher do

what he

then.
will.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

110
It flows

from the inherent nature of the subjects

and

the learning mind.

of

The

repulsive proc-

esses of verbal memorizing, of discovering steps

of mathematical identity,

and

borrow their interest at

from purely external

first

the

must

like,

sources, mainly from the personal interests with

which success in mastering them

associated,

is

such as gaining of rank, avoiding punishment, not


being beaten by a

difficulty,

and the

With-

like.

out such borrowed interest, the child could not


attend to them at

But

all.

in these processes

what becomes interesting enough


to

thereby attended

not

is

to

to be attended

without

effort.

Effort always has to go on, derived interest, for

the
easy,

most

part,

not awakening attention that

however spontaneous

The

called.

utmost

skill,

interest

may now have

to be

which the teacher, by

his

can lend to the subject, proves over

and over again


let loose

it

is

to be only

the effort.

The

an interest

sufficient to

teacher, therefore,

need

never concern himself about inventing occasions

where
still

effort

must be

called into play.

awaken whatever sources

subject he can by stirring


it

and the

pupil's nature,

Let him

of interest in the

up connections between
whether in the

line of

theoretic curiosity, of personal interest, or of pug-

INTEREST AND EFFORT ARE COMPATIBLES

The laws

nacious impulse.

mind

of

will

111
then

bring enough pulses of effort into play to keep the

There

is,

in fact,

of the subject.

direction

pupil exercised in the

no greater school of

effort

than

the steady struggle to attend to immediately re-

pulsive or difficult objects of thought which have

grown

to interest us

through their association as

means, with some remote ideal end.

The Herbartian

doctrine of interest ought not,

therefore, in principle to be reproached with

ing pedagogy

soft.

do

If it

mere sake of

discipline,

because

so, it is

Do

unintelligently carried on.

it

from them

command

attention from

Do
it

ing the importance of the subject.

you must do these things

you have
will

to

do them, the

show yourself

within, by the

the topic

to

it

Sometimes,

but, the

more

you

less skilful teacher

be.

Elicit

as

by preach-

interest

warmth with which you

yourself,

not too

as a favor, nor claim

a right, nor try habitually to excite

indeed,

it is

not, then, for the

your pupils in thundering tones.


often beg

mak-

from

care for

and by following the laws

have laid down.


If the topic be highly abstract,

by concrete examples.
some point of analogy

show

its

nature

If it be unfamiliar, trace

in

it

with the known.

If

TALKS TO TEACHERS

112
it

be inhuman,

If

it

be

make

difficult,

figure as part of a story.

it

couple

Above

prospect of personal gain.


sure

that

run

shall

it

acquisition with

its

all things,

some

make

through certain inner

changes, since no unvarying object can possibly

hold the mental

field for long.

wander from one aspect


ject, if

Let your pupil

to another of

you do not wish him

to

your sub-

wander from

it

altogether to something else, variety in unity be-

ing the secret of

The

of

comment

interesting talk

of all

relation

genius

all

these

the instructor

is

and thought.

things to the native


too obvious

to

need

again.

One more

point,

and

There

of attention.

is

am done

with the subject

unquestionably a great

among individuals in the type of


Some of us are naturally scatterattention.

native variety
their

brained,

and others follow

easily a train of con-

nected thoughts without temptation to swerve


aside to other subjects.

difference

This seems to depend on

between individuals in the type of

their field of consciousness.


is

In some persons this

highly focalized and concentrated, and the focal

ideas predominate in determining association.

others

we must suppose

In

the margin to be brighter,

CAN MIND-WANDERING BE CURED


and

to

be

113

with something like meteoric

filled

showers of images, which strike into

it

at

random,

displacing the focal ideas, and carrying association


in their

own

wandering every minute, and

find their attention

must bring

Persons of the latter type

direction.

it

back by a voluntary

The

pull.

others sink into a subject of meditation deeply,

and,

when

interrupted, are

come back

before they

The
tention

'

lost

moment

to the outer world.

possession of such a steady faculty of atis

who have

Those

unquestionably a great boon.


it

can work more rapidly, and with less

nervous wear and


that no one

who

any amount of
high degree.

tear.

am

without

is

Its

amount

remark here which

make again

it

inclined to think

naturally can by

drill or discipline attain it in a


is

But

shall

very

probably a fixed char-

acteristic of the individual.

for a

'

wish to make

have occasion to

in other connections.

It is

that no

one need deplore unduly the inferiority in himself


of

any one elementary faculty.

type of attention

is

This concentrated

an elementary faculty

it

is

one of the things that might be ascertained and

measured

by exercises

having ascertained

it

in

in a

the laborator}^.

number

But,

of persons,

we

could never rank them in a scale of actual and

TALKS TO TEACHERS

114

practical mental efficiency based

The

total

mental efficiency of a

man

ant of the working together of

He

is

on

its

is

the result-

all his faculties.

too complex a being for any one of

have the casting vote.


have the casting vote,

degrees.

them

to

any one of them do

If

more

it is

likely to be the

strength of his desire and passion, the strength of


the interest he takes in what
centration,

is

memory, reasoning power, inventive-

ness, excellence of the senses,

to this.

Con-

proposed.

No

matter

how

all

are subsidiary

scatter-brained the type

may

of a man's successive fields of consciousness


be, if
it

he really care for a subject, he will return to

incessantly from his incessant wanderings, and

first

and

from

it,

last

do more with

it,

and get more

results

may

than another person whose attention

be more continuous during a given interval, but

whose passion

and

less

cient

for the subject is of a

permanent

workers

brained type.

sort.

Some

know are of
One friend, who

more languid

of the

the

effi-

ultra-scatter-

does a prodigious

quantity of work, has in fact confessed to


if

most

me

that,

he wants to get ideas on any subject, he

down

to

work

at

coming through

something
his

else, his

sits

best results

mind-wanderings.

This

is

perhaps an epigrammatic exaggeration on his part

ATTENTION, CONCLUDED

115

but I seriously think that no one of us need be too

much

regard.

may

own shortcomings in this


Our mind may enjoy but little comfort,
restless and feel confused
but it may be

distressed at his

be

extremely

efficient all the

same.

XII.

MEMORY

We

are following a

somewhat

Since each and every faculty

whole or

in

we

arbitrary order.

possess

in part a resultant of the

associations,

would have been

it

we

interest

play of our

as natural, after

treating of association, to treat of


treat of

either

is

memory

and attention next.

did take the latter operations

But, since

we must

first,

memory now without farther delay


phenomena of memory are among the
take

as to

for the

simplest

and most immediate consequences of the fact that


our mind

There
iting

essentially an associating machine.

is

no more pre-eminent example for exhib-

is

the fertility of the laws of association as

principles

moreover,

psychological

of
is

about

it

for

are

probably waiting with some

know what psychology

has to say

your help.

In old times,

why he came

Memory,

so important a faculty in the school-

room that you


eagerness to

analysis.

to

if

you asked a person

to explain

be remembering at that moment

SHALL

WE

CALL MEMORY A FACULTY

gome particular incident

in his previous

117
the

life,

only reply he could make was that his soul

endowed with a faculty

called

memory

that

is

it is

the inalienable function of this faculty to recollect

and

he necessarily at that

that, therefore,

moment must have

a cognition of that portion of

This explanation by a

the past.

faculty

'

is

one

thing which explanation by association has super-

seded altogether.
of

If,

by saying we have a faculty

memory, you mean nothing more than the

fact

we can remember, nothing more than an


abstract name for our power inwardly to recall
the past, there is no harm done we do have the
faculty for we unquestionably have such a power.
But if, by faculty, you mean a principle of explathat

nation of our general poiver

ogy

is

empty.

The

to recall,

your psychol-

associationist psychology,

on

the other hand, gives an explanation of each particular fact of recollection

'

it

an explanation of the general faculty.

also gives

The

and, in so doing,

faculty

'

of

mate explanation

memory

is

thus no or real

for

is

itself

it

ulti-

explained as a

result of the association of ideas.

Nothing

mean by
and then

is

this.

easier than to

Suppose

say, in

show you

am

just

silent for a

commanding accents

"

what

moment,

Remem-

'

TALKS TO TEACHERS

118
ber

Recollect "

Does your faculty of memory

obey the order, and reproduce any definite image

from your past?

Certainly not.

ing into vacancy, and asking, "

thing do you wish

But,

in short, a cue.

of your birth, or
breakfast, or

me

It stands star-

What kind

remember ? "

to

remember the date

if I say,

remember what you had


then your faculty of

memory im-

this happens,

the

cue

vast set of potentialities toward a

its

And

particular point.

is

for

of notes in

mediately produces the required result

cue

It needs,

remember the succession

the musical scale

determines

of a

if

you now look

to see

you immediately perceive

how

that the

something contiguously associated with the

thing recalled.

The words,

'

date of

my

birth,'

have an ingrained association with a particular

number, month, and year; the words, 'breakfast


this morning,' cut off all other lines of recall ex-

cept those which lead to coffee

eggs;

the words, 'musical scale,'

mental neighbors of do,

re,

mi,

laws of association govern, in


of our thinking
sations breaking

and bacon and


are

inveterate

fa, sol, la, etc.

The

fact, all the trains

which are not interrupted by


on us from without.

sen-

Whatever

appears in the mind must be introduced ; and,

when

introduced,

it is

as the associate of some-

PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEMORY


This

thing already there.


are recollecting

think

as

it

is

is

you

of everything else

show you that

whimsical and unaccountable


to regard

them

faculty.

as the

Were memory such

remember

needed to remember
tion, recency,

in the matter.

we were

if

and the

practical

its

easiest
;

forced

product of a purely

granted to us solely for


to

there are peculi-

your memory which would be quite

in

arities

ought

what you

as true of

of.

Reflection will

itual

119

like,

faculty,
use,

whatever we

and frequency

spir-

of

we

most
repeti-

would play no part

That we should best remember

frequent things and

and

recent things,

forget

things that are ancient or were experienced only


once, could only be regarded as an incomprehensible

anomaly on such a view.

But

if

ber because of our associations, and


(as

we remem-

if

these are,

the physiological psychologists believe) due to

our organized brain-paths, we easily see

law of recency and

should

repetition

how

the

prevail.

Paths frequently and recently ploughed are those


that

most

lie

most open, those which may be expected

easily to lead to results.

memory,

as

we

The laws

of our

find them, therefore, are incidents

of our associational constitution

and,

when we

TALKS TO TEACHERS

120

are emancipated from the flesh,

it

conceivable

is

may no longer continue to obtain.


may assume, then, that recollection

that they

We

is

resultant of our associative processes, these them-

most probably due

selves in the last analysis being


to the

workings of our brain.

Descending more particularly into the faculty

memory, we have

of

to

distinguish between its

and

potential aspect as a magazine or storehouse

actual aspect as recollection

its

now

of a partic-

Our memory

contains

items which

we do not now

recall,

may

provided a sufficient cue be offered.

ular

event.

recall,

by

association.

An

sorts

of

but which we

Both the general retention and the


are explained

all

special recall

educated mem-

ory depends on an organized system of associations

and

its

peculiarities

ciations

goodness depends on two of their


first,

on the persistency of the

asso-

and, second, on their number.

Let us consider each of these points in turn.


First, the persistency of the associations.

gives

what may be

retentiveness

we

to

the

are forced to,

we

called

the

individual.

This

quality of native
If,

as

think

consider the brain to be the

organic condition by which the vestiges of our

THE GTFT OF ORGANIC RETENTIVENESS 121


experience

associated

are

may suppose
and marble

that some brains are

made on them
ecdotes,

The

to retain.'

wax

to receive

slightest impressions

Names,

abide.

we

with each other,

dates, prices, an-

quotations, are indelibly retained, their

several elements fixedly cohering together, so that

the individual soon becomes a walking cyclopaedia


of information.

may

All this

occur with no philo-

sophic tendency in the mind, no impulse to weave


the materials acquired into anything like a logical

In the books of anecdotes, and, more

system.

re-

we find recorded
we may call them, of

cently, in the psychology-books,

instances of monstrosities, as
this desultory

memory

and they are often otherof course, by no

wise very stupid men.

It

means incompatible with

a philosophic

mental characteristics have


permutation.

is,

mind

for

infinite capacities for

And, when both memory and

phi-

losophy combine together in one person, then

deed we have the


efficiency.

highest

Your Walter

sort

Scotts,

of

of

mankind, belong

to

intellectual

your Leibnitzes,

your Gladstones, and your Goethes,


copies

in-

this

all

your

type.

folio
Effi-

ciency on a colossal scale would indeed seem to


require

it.

systematic

For,

although

your philosophic or

mind without good desultory memory

TALKS TO TEACHERS

122

may know how


where

work out

to

books

in the

to

results

and

recollect

find them, the time lost

searching process handicaps the thinker,

in the

and gives

more ready type

to the

of individual

the economical advantage.

The extreme

of the contrasted type, the type

with associations of small persistency,

who have almost no

those
all.

desultory

is

memory

If they are also deficient in logical

we

tematizing power,
tellects

here.

them simply

call

and no more need

Their brain-matter,

a fluid jelly, in

found in

and

sys-

feeble in-

to be said about

we may

at

imagine,

which impressions may be

them

is

like

easily

made, but are soon closed over again, so that the


brain reverts to

But

it

may

its

original indifferent state.

occur here, just as in other gelati-

nous substances, that an impression will vibrate

throughout the brain, and send waves into other


parts of

it.

In cases of this

immediate impression

may

sort,

fade

does modify the cerebral mass

although the

out quickly,

for the paths it

makes there may remain, and become


avenues through which the impression

produced
liability

if

to

it

so

many

may

be re-

they ever get excited again.

And

its

reproduction will depend of course

upon the variety

of these paths

and upon the

fre-

THE SECRET OF A GOOD MEMORY

123

Each path

quency with which they are used.

is

an associated process, the number of these

in fact

associates

becoming thus

stitute for the

independent tenacity of the original

As

impression.

of the associates

means

to fish

to a great degree a sub-

it

have elsewhere written: Each


a

is

hook

which

to

it

hangs, a

up when sunk below the

surface.

Together they form a network of attachments by

which

is

it

woven

The

thought.

'

into the entire

secret of a

our

tissue of

good memory

'

thus

is

the secret of forming diverse and multiple associations with every fact

we

care to retain.

what

forming of associations with a

fact,

but thinking about the fact as

much

Briefly, then, of

But

this

is

it

as possible

two men with the same outward

experiences, the one who thinks over his experiences


most,

and weaves them into the most systematic

relations with each other, will be the one with the

best

memory.

But,

if

largely a

our ability to recollect a thing be so


matter of

its

associations with

things which thus becomes

its

cues,

psedagogic consequence follows.

other

an important

There can be no

improvement of the general or elementary faculty of

memory

there can only be

improvement of our mem-

ory for special systems of associated things

and

TALKS TO TEACHERS

124
this

improvement

latter

is

due

way

the

to

which the things in question are woven into


ciation with each other in the mind.

or profoundly woven, they are held

in

asso-

Intricately

disconnected,

they tend to drop out just in proportion as the

amount
citing

of

retentiveness

brain

native

is

employed upon the matter

least

improve either the

durability with

which

objects

for

re-

system

of one

example, will
or

facility

belonging

the system of
instance tend
be

wholly disparate system


chemistry,

and

training, drilling, repeating,

of

objects, the history-system, for

in the

And no

poor.

to

the

to

facts of

retained.

That system must be separately worked into the

mind by

itself,

a chemical fact which

is

thought

about in connection with the other chemical

facts,

tending then to stay, but otherwise easily drop-

ping out.

We

have, then, not so

much

a faculty of

mem-

many faculties of memory. We have as


many as we have systems of objects habitually
ory as

thought of in connection with each other.

has acquired

memory by the
within its own system

Learning the

facts

object

is

held in the

wise help

it

A given

associates it

exclusively.

of another system will in no

to stay in the mind, for the simple

MEMORIES RATHER THAN MEMORY


reason that

it

has no

cues

125

within that other

'

system.

We

see

examples

Most men have

who remains

own

you by
feats

his

on

this

good memory

nected with their


lete,

of

dunce

knowledge

for

pursuits.

'

records

may amaze
'

and games, and prove himself

is

at various

walking

The reason

dictionary of sporting statistics.


that he

con-

facts

college ath-

at his books,

of the

hand.

every

is

constantly going over these things in his

mind, and comparing and making series of them.

They form

for him, not so

many odd

So the merchant

a concept-system, so they stick.

remembers

prices, the politician other politicians'

speeches and votes,

thinking

with a copiousness which

outsiders, but

astonishes

but

facts,

which the amount of

they bestow on these subjects easily

explains.

The great memory


a

for facts

Spencer reveal in their books

which a Darwin or
is

not incompati-

ble with the possession on their part of a

mind

with only a middling degree of physiological


tentiveness.

Let a

man

re-

early in life set himself

the task of verifying such a theory as that of evolution,

and

facts will soon cluster

like grapes to their stem.

and cling

to

him

Their relations to the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

126

theory will hold them fast


the

mind

Meanwhile the

may

An

ignorance almost as ency-

clopedic as his erudition

and

Unutiliza-

be unnoted by him, and forgotten

as soon as heard.

latter,

may

theorist

any, desultory memory.

little, if

ble facts

and, the more of these

able to discern, the greater the erudi-

is

tion will become.

have

hide, as

it

may

coexist with the

were, within the interstices

Those of you who have had much to

of its web.

do with scholars and savants will readily think of


examples of the

The

mind

mean.

best possible sort of system into which to

weave an

what

class of

is

object, mentally,

called a

'

a rational system, or

is

science.'

Place the thing in

its

explain

it

pigeon-hole in a classificatory series


logically

by

necessary effects
is

causes,

its

an instance,

and deduce from

find out of

'

science

it
'

memory

placing, as

of

it

an immense number of

If

it

thus

the

It relieves
details, re-

does, merely contiguous associations

by the logical ones


ogy.

its

in the best

is

greatest of labor-saving contrivances.

the

it

what natural law

and you then know

of all possible ways.

of identity, similarity, or anal-

you know a

'law,'

you may discharge

your memory of masses of particular instances,


for the

law

will reproduce

them

for

you whenever

TECHNICAL MNEMONICS
The law

you require them.


ample

you know

If

and

a bit of paper

vex

lens, a

127

of refraction, for ex-

you can with a pencil

that,

immediately discern

how

a con-

concave lens, or a prism, must sever-

ally alter the

appearance of an object.

But,

if

you don't know the general law, you must charge


your memory separately with each of the three
kinds of

'

effect.

philosophic

system,

'

in

which

things

all

found their rational explanation and were connected together as causes and
the perfect

mnemonic system,

economy

est

of

in

which the great-

means would bring about the

greatest richness of results.

So

that, if

we can

poor desultory memories,

by cultivating the philosophic turn


There are many

some
so

public,

many

would be

effects,

artificial

some sold

we have

save ourselves
of mind.

systems of mnemonics,

as secrets.

They

are all

devices for training us into certain me-

thodical and stereotyped ivays of thinking about the


facts
I

we

seek to retain.

Even were

competent,

could not here go into these systems in any de-

tail.

But

tem, will

a single example,

show what

alphabet, the great

mean.

from a popular
I take the

mnemonic device

ing numbers and dates.

sys-

number-

for recollect-

In this system each digit

TALKS TO TEACHERS

128
is

represented by a consonant, thus: 1

2,

n;

or

<??<;

3,

m;
8,

4,

r ; 5, I; 6, sh,j, eh, or

/or u;

now, you wish

9, J

?'un,

and

t,

t,

or

d;

g;

7, #, &, g,

g.

Suppose,

velocity of sound,

you

the consonants of tight

would be a

it

<?,

or

are the letters

n,

r,

They make

use.

0, 8,

remember the

to

1,142 feet a second:

must

or^;

is t

'

keep up such a speed.


the execution of Charles

tight run

'

for

So 1649, the
I.,

by the word sharp, which

may

you

to

date

of

be remembered

recalls the

headsman's

axe.

Apart from the extreme

difficulty

words that are appropriate in

'

thinking

historian

'

about dates

much

is

better.

He

table,
it

by thinking

of

silly

way

has a lot of land-

historic concatenation of events,


its

and

and the way of the

mark-dates already in his mind.

place an event at

rinding

this exercise, it is

clearly an excessively poor, trivial,

of

of

He knows

the

and can usually

right date in the chronologyit

in a rational way, referring

and

to its antecedents, tracing its concomitants

consequences, and thus ciphering out

connecting

it

with

theirs.

The

its

artificial

date

by

memory-

systems, recommending, as they do, such irrational

methods of thinking, are only


for the first

to be

recommended

landmarks in a system, or

for

such

WHY CRAMMING

BAD

IS

129

purely detached facts as enjoy no rational connec-

Thus the student

tion with the rest of our ideas.


of physics

order of the spectral

by the word vibgyor which

colours
letters

may remember the


The student

make.

member

their initial

anatomy may

of

re-

the position of the Mitral valve on the

stands also for

'

M.

heart by thinking that L.

Left side of the

long meter

'

hymn-books.

in the

You now see why cramming must be so poor


a mode of study. Cramming seeks to stamp things
'

'

by intense application immediately before the

in

But

ordeal.

few

form but

a thing thus learned can

On

associations.

the other

hand, the same

thing recurring on different days, in different con-

and again,

texts, read, recited on, referred to again

related to other things

wrought

and reviewed, gets well

into the mental structure.

reason

why you

habits

of

There

continuous application.

best, because the

is

the

should enforce on your pupils

moral turpitude in cramming.

if it

This

It

no

would be the

most economical, mode

led to the results desired.

is

But

it

of study

does not,

and your older pupils can readily be made

to see

the reason why.


It follows also,
the

from what has been

popular idea that

'

the

Memory J

said, that

in the sense of

TALKS TO TEACHERS

130

a general elementary faculty, can be improved by

in that class of facts, because the in-

coming new

fact will then find all sorts of ana-

logues and associates


will

keep

already there,

none of that

benefit, and, unless

have been also trained and versed in


will be at the

often hears people say

mitted against

me

in

"

my

to exercise

entirely failed

had only made me learn a

else

seen, is

one

my

teachers

memory.

If they

lot of things

by heart

am now,

forgetful

youth:

my

and hear."

This

is

learning poetry by heart will

easier to learn

nothing

we have

great sin was com-

at school, I should not be, as I


of everything I read

one

retentive-

Nevertheless,

quantity.

fixed

of

their class,

mercy of the mere crude

ness of the individual, which, as


practically a

and these

But other kinds

to recall.

it liable

fact will reap

mistake

for

improved very much

facts of a certain class can be

by training

Your memory

a great mistake.

training, is

a great

make

it

and remember other poetry, but

and so of dates

and

so of chemis-

try and geography.

But, after what

have

said, I

need no farther argument on


therefore pass

it

by.

am

sure

you

this point;

will

and I

VERBAL MEMORIZING
But, since

it

has brought

me

131

to speak of learn-

ing things by heart, I think that a general prac-

remark about verbal memorizing may now

tical

The

not be out of place.

excesses

of old-fash-

ioned verbal memorizing, and the immense ad-

vantages of object-teaching in the earlier stages


of culture, have perhaps led those

who

philoso-

phize about teaching to an unduly strong reaction

and learning things by heart

somewhat too much


said

and done, the

terial

despised.

now probably
For, when all is

is

fact remains that verbal

ma-

on the whole, the handiest and most use-

is,

ful material in

which thinking can be carried on.

Abstract conceptions are far and away the most

economical instruments of thought, and abstract


conceptions are fixed and incarnated for us in
Statistical inquiry

words.

men advance

that, as
less

and

more use

in

would seem

life,

to

show

they tend to

make

less use of visual images,

of words.

One

and more and

of the first things that

Mr. Galton discovered was that

this

appeared to

be the case with the members of the Royal Society

whom

he questioned as to their mental images.

1 should say, therefore, that constant exercise in

verbal memorizing

must

still

be an indispensable

feature in all sound education.

Nothing

is

more

TALKS TO TEACHERS

132

deplorable than that inarticulate and helpless sort


of

mind

that

reminded by everything of some

is

quotation, case, or anecdote, which

exactly recollect.

more convenient

it

now

cannot

Nothing, on the other hand,


to its possessor, or

ful to his comrades,

than a mind

more

is

delight-

able, in telling

a story, to give the exact words of the dialogue


or to furnish a quotation accurate

and complete.

In every branch of study there are happily turned,


concise,

and handy formulas which

parable

way sum up

retain such formulas

an incom-

The mind

results.
is

in

that can

in so far a superior mind,

and the communication

them

of

to

the

pupil

ought always to be one of the teacher's favorite


tasks.

In

learning

efficient

and

by

heart,'

inefficient

there

methods

are,

however,

and, by

making

the pupil skilful in the best method, the teacher

The

can both interest him and abridge the task.


best

method

sentences,

and think.

is

of course not to

by mere reiteration, but


For example,

if

is

hammer

in

'

the

to analyze them,

the pupil should have

to learn this last sentence, let


its

'

him

first strip

out

grammatical core, and learn, " The best method


not to

hammer

the amplificative

in,

and

but to analyze," and then add


restrictive clauses, bit

by

bit,

SCIENTIFIC

thus

mer

"

The

in

the

best

method

sentences^

Then

think."

MEASUREMENTS OF MEMORY 133

'

is

of course not to

but to analyze them and

finally insert the

and the sentence

reiteration?

ham-

words

is

'

by mere

complete,

and

both better understood and quicker remembered


than by a more purely mechanical method.

In conclusion, I must say a word about the contributions to our

knowledge of memory which have

recently come from the laboratory-psychologists.

Many

of the enthusiasts for scientific or brass-in-

strument child-study are taking accurate measure-

ments

of

among

these

elementary

children's

what we may

call

admits of easy measurement.

faculties,

and

immediate memory

All

we need do

is

to exhibit to the child a series of letters, syllables,


figures, pictures, or what-not, at intervals of one,

two, three, or more seconds, or to sound a similar


series of

names

at the

hearing, and then see

produce the

list,

same

how

intervals, within his

completely he can

either directly, or after an inter-

val of ten, twenty, or sixty seconds, or

space of time.

the

some longer

According to the results of

exercise, the pupils

scale

re-

may

this

be rated in a memory-

and some persons go

so far as to think that

teacher should modify her treatment of the

TALKS TO TEACHERS

134

child according to the strength or feebleness of

faculty as thus

its

Now
when

made known.

can only repeat here what I said to you

treating of attention

man

is

too complex a

being for light to be thrown on his real efficiency

by measuring any one mental faculty taken apart


from

consensus in the working whole.

its

an exercise as

this,

Such

dealing with incoherent and

insipid objects, with no

logical

connection with

each other, or practical significance outside of the


4

test,'

life

we

In real
vice of

we
we

is

an exercise the like of which in real

are hardly ever called

upon

to

perform.

memory is always used in the sersome interest we remember things which


our

life,

care for or
care for

tom of the

which are associated with things

and the child who stands

at the bot-

scale thus experimentally established

might, by dint of the strength of his passion for


a subject, and in consequence of the logical association into

of

which he weaves the actual materials

his experience, be a

very effective memorizer

indeed, and do his school-tasks on the whole

much

who might

stand

better than an immediate parrot


at the top of the

scientifically accurate

'

list.

This preponderance of interest, of passion, in

determining the results of a

human

being's work-

ELEMENTARY DEFECTS NOT FATAL


ing

No

throughout.

obtains

life,

135

elementary

measurement, capable of being performed in a


can throw any light on the actual

laboratory,

efficiency of the subject

for the vital thing about

him, his emotional and moral energy and dogged-

measured by no single experiment,

ness, can be

and becomes known only by the

long run.

man

blind

total results in the

Huber, with his pas-

like

sion for bees and ants, can observe

them through

other people's eyes better than these can through

their own.

man born with

legs, like the late

an icy heart
in his

his

Kavanagh, M. P.

how

'

laboratory-measurements of
!

negative
his

can be an adventurous

life.

what

'

would the

motor-functions

equestrian and sportsman, and lead

outdoor

and

mother must have had about him

babyhood, and

have been

neither arms nor

traveller,

an

an athletic

Mr. Romanes studied the element-

ary rate of apperception in a large number of


persons by making them read a paragraph as fast
as

they could take

write
tents.

down

all

in,

and then immediately

they could reproduce of

He found

rapidity,

it

astonishing

differences

some taking four times

to absorb the paragraph,

its

in

con-

the

as long as others

and the swiftest readers

being, as a rule, the best immediate recollecters,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

136

and

too.

But

most

intellectually

not,

the results of
4

genuine

'

my

this is

capable

point,

not the

subjects, as tested

what Mr. Romanes

intellectual

work

rightly

names

for he tried the ex-

periment with several highly distinguished


in science

and

literature,

by

men

and most of them turned

out to be slow readers.


In the light of

all

such facts one

lieve that the total impression

may

well be-

which a perceptive

teacher will get of the pupil's condition, as indi-

cated by his general temper and manner, by the


listlessness or alertness,

by the ease or painfulness

with which his school work

much more
tests,

done, will be of

is

value than those unreal experimental

those pedantic elementary measurements of

fatigue,

memory,

association,

which are urged upon us


genuinely

scientific

and attention,

etc.,

as the only basis of a

Such measure-

pedagogy.

ments can give us useful information only when

we combine them with


brass instruments,

observations

upon the

total

made without

demeanor

of the

measured individual, by teachers with eyes in


their heads

and common

for the concrete facts of

sense,

and some feeling

human

nature in their

hearts.

Depend upon

it,

no one need be too much cast

VARIOUS TYPES OF IMAGINATION

down by

the discovery of his deficiency in any ele-

What

mentary faculty of the mind.


is

the whole

mind working

together,

tells in life

and the

de-

any one faculty can be compensated

ficiencies of

by the

137

You

efforts of the rest.

can be an artist

without visual images, a reader without eyes, a

mass of erudition with

bad elementary memory.

In almost any subject your passion for the subject


you.

will save
result,

you

wish to be

you only care enough

If

will almost certainly attain


rich,

you

will be rich

be learned, you will be learned


good, you will be good.
really

if

if

it.

for a
If

you

you wish

you wish

to

to be

Only you must, then,

wish these things, and wish them with ex-

clusiveness,

and not wish

at the

same time a hun-

dred other incompatible things just as strongly.

One
1

of the most important discoveries of the

scientific

'

psychology

sort that
is

have recently been made in

that of Mr. Galton and others con-

cerning the great variations

among

the type of their imagination.


familiar with the

fact

that

individuals in

Every one

human

is

beings vary

enormously in the brilliancy, completeness,


niteness,

and extent of

their visual images.

are singularly perfect in a large


viduals,

now

number

defi-

These
of indi-

and in a few are so rudimentary as hardly

TALKS TO TEACHERS

138

The same

to exist.

true of the auditory and

is

motor images, and probably of those of every


kind

and the recent discovery of

distinct brain-

areas for the various orders of sensation

seem

to provide a physical basis for

tions

and discrepancies.

nowadays

you

remind

seem

of

known

that I need only

importance to the

and, indeed, teachers have been recom-

mended

to sort their pupils in this

rogate them as to
lists

their

of written

then sound similar

imagery,

words

lists in

way, and treat

You

as the result falls out.

exhibit

They might

existence.

their

such varia-

facts, as I said, are

at first sight of practical

teacher

them

so popularly

The

should interit

to their eyes,

their ears,

in dealing with

predominantly

that

child,

through

that

or

said,

is

and

and see by

which channel a child retains most words.

class

would

Then,

make your appeals


channel.

were very small, results of some

If

the

distinct-

ness might doubtless thus be obtained by a pains-

taking teacher.

But

it is

obvious that in the usual

school-room no such differentiation of appeal


possible

and

the

only really useful

is

practical

lesson that emerges from this analytic psychology


in the conduct of large schools

is

the lesson

al-

ready reached in a purely empirical way, that

SENSE-IMPRESSIONS SHOULD BE VARIED


teacher ought always

the

to

139

impress the class

through as many sensible channels as he can.

Talk and write and draw on blackboard, permit


the pupils to talk, and

make them write and draw,

exhibit pictures, plans, and curves, have your dia-

grams colored differently in


etc.

their different parts,

and out of the whole variety of impressions

the individual child will

ones for himself.

In

principle of multiple
nized, so I

This

all

most lasting

rind the

primary school work

impressions

well recog-

is

need say no more about

principle

of

varying associations

this

it

here.

channels and

multiplying

and appeals

important,

is

not only for teaching pupils to remember, but


for
fact,

teaching them to understand.

through the whole teaching

One word about

It

runs,

in

art.

the unconscious and unrepro-

ducible part of our acquisitions, and I shall have

done with the topic of memory.


Professor Ebbinghaus, in a heroic
gation into the laws of

little investi-

memory which he

per-

formed a dozen or more years ago by the method


of learning lists of nonsense syllables, devised a

method

of

measuring the rate of our forgetfulness,

which lays bare an important law of the mind.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

140

His method was to read over his


could

repeat

The number

by heart

once

it

list

until he

unhesitatingly.

of repetitions required for this

was

a measure of the difficulty of the learning in each

Now,

particular case.

piece in this way,


it

if

we wait

impossible to repeat

We

itating manner.

after

it

having once learned a


five minutes,

we

find

again in the same unhes-

must read

it

over again to

revive some of the syllables, which have already

Ebbinghaus now

dropped out or got transposed.


systematically

studied the

number

of readings-

over which were necessary to revive the unhesitating recollection of the piece after five minutes,
half an hour, an hour, a day, a week, a month,

The number

had elapsed.

of rereadings requir-

ed he took to be a measure of the amount of forgetting that

And

had occurred

in the elapsed interval.

he found some remarkable

ess of forgetting,

namely,

at first than later on.

Thus

is

vastly more

it

proc-

rapid

full half of the piece

seems to be forgotten within the


two-thirds of

The

facts.

first

are forgotten at the

half-hour,

end

of eight

hours, but only four-fifths at the end of a month.

He made
but,

if

no

we

trials

beyond one month

of interval

ourselves prolong ideally the curve of

remembrance, whose beginning

his

experiments

THE RATE OF FORGETTING


thus obtain,

matter

it

is

how long

natural
a time

ago we

suppose that, no

to

might elapse, the curve

would never descend quite


zero-line.

141

so

low

as to touch the

how

In other words, no matter

may have

long

learned a poem, and no matter

how complete our inability to reproduce it now


may be, yet the first learning will still show its
lingering effects in the abridgment of the time

required for learning

it

again.

fessor Ebbinghaus's experiments

In short,

Pro-

show that things

which we are quite unable definitely to

recall

have

nevertheless impressed themselves, in some way,

upon the structure

of the mind.

for having once learned them.

We

are different

The

resistances

in our systems of brain-paths are altered.

prehensions are quickened.

Our

The

if

ap-

conclusions from

certain premises are probably not just

would be

Our

what they

those modifications were not there.

latter influence the

sciousness, even

whole margin of our con-

though their products, not being

distinctly reproducible, do not directly figure at

the focus of the

field.

The teacher should draw


facts.

We

a lesson

from these

are all too apt to measure the gains of

our pupils by their proficiency in directly repro-

ducing in a recitation or an examination

such

TALKS TO TEACHERS

142

matters as they

may have

power in them

late

learned, and inarticu-

something of which we

is

The boy who

always underestimate the value.

it is,"

know

"I

tells us,

we

But

all.

ever able

this is a great mistake.

articulately
it

has had

to

its

character and defining

and

what

can't say

him

absolutely nothing about the answer

small part of our experience in

whole of

treat as practically identical with

who knows
at

the answer, but

act.

life

recall.

we

that

And

are

yet the

influence in shaping our

our tendencies to judge

Although the ready memory

blessing to its possessor, the vaguer


subject, of naving once

but a

It is

had

to

is

a great

memory

do with

it,

of a

of its

we may go to recover
most men and women the

neighborhood, and of where


it

again, constitutes in

chief fruit of their education.

in professional education.
are

The

This

is

true even

doctor, the lawyer,

seldom able to decide upon a case off-hand.

They

differ

that they

from other men only through the

know how

to get at the materials for

decision in five minutes or half an hour

the layman

is

fact

whereas

unable to get at the materials at

all,

not knowing in what books and indexes to look


or not understanding the technical terms.

Be

patient, then,

and sympathetic with the type

THE FORGOTTEN MAY STILL COUNT


of

mind

It

may, in the long examination which

us,

143

that cuts a poor figure in examinations.

come out

end in better shape than

the

in

the glib and ready reproducer,

passions being

its

purposes more worthy,

deeper,

its

power

less

sets

life

commonplace, and

its

combining

total

its

mental

output consequently more important.

Such are the


worth while

chief points

me

for

We

purposes by saying that the art of

re-

is

can

the art of thinking

thing in either our

press and retain

it

as

to

if

connect

much
it

we attend

new

to im-

with some-

The connecting

is

the

clearly to the con-

nection,

the

connected

thing

likely to

remain within

recall.

will

certainly be

next ask you to consider the process by

which we acquire new knowledge,


Apperception,' as

ceive

to fix a

or a pupil's, our

not be so

thing else already there.


and,

and by adding,

we wish

own mind

conscious effort should

'

under
for

with Dr. Pick, that, when

I shall

has seemed

sum them up

membering

thinking;

it

to call to your notice

the head of memory.


practical

which

it is

called,

the process of

by which we

and deal with new experiences, and

our stock of ideas so as to form


conceptions.

new

re-

revise

or improved

XIII.

THE ACQUISITION OF IDEAS

The

images of our past experiences, of what-

ever nature they

may

and dim, vivid and

be, visual or verbal, blurred

distinct, abstract or concrete,

need not be memory images, in the

That

the word.

mind

is,

strict sense of

they need not rise before the

in a marginal fringe or context of concomi-

tant circumstances, which

They may be mere

mean

for us their date.

conceptions, floating pictures

of an object, or of its type or class.

we

dated condition,
agination

'

or

call

In this un-

them products

conception.'

of 'im-

Imagination

is

the

term commonly used where the object represent-

ed

is

tion

thought of as an individual thing.


is

not important

either the

word

'

word

think of

it

as a type or

and

I will

permit myself to use

'conception,' or the

still

vaguer

designate the inner objects of con-

idea,' to

templation,
like

we

For our present purpose the distinction

class.
is

the term where

Concep-

whether these be individual things,

the sun

'

or

'

Julius Caesar,' or classes of

THE STOCK OF IDEAS


things, like

abstract

animal kingdom,'

attributes,

like

145

or, finally, entirely

rationality

or

'

rect-

itude.'

The

result of our education is to

by

fill

mind

the

little,

as experiences accrete, with a stock

of such ideas.

In the illustration I used at our

little

first

meeting, of the child snatching the toy and

getting slapped, the vestiges left by the

ence answered to so
thereby,

ideas

many

ideas

first

experi-

which he acquired

that remained with

him

associ-

ated in a certain order, and from the last one of


act.

The

of logic are little

more

which the child eventually proceeded to


sciences of

grammar and

than attempts methodically to classify

such

all

acquired ideas and to trace certain laws of relationship

among them.

The forms

of relation

between

them, becoming themselves in turn noticed by the

mind, are treated as conceptions of a higher and

more abstract

order, as

logistic relation

'

of

of a

between propositions, or

making a

quantities

sistency

'

when we speak

proportion,' or of the

'

syl-

of four
4

incon-

two conceptions, or the implication

'

'

of one in the other.

So you see that the process of education, taken


in a large

the

way,

process

of

may

be described as nothing but

acquiring ideas or conceptions,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

146

the best educated

mind being

the

mind which

has the largest stock of them, ready to meet the


largest possible variety of the emergencies of

The

life.

lack of education means only the failure to

have acquired them, and the consequent

and 'rattled'

to be 'floored'

liability

the vicissitudes

in

of experience.

In

all

this process of acquiring conceptions, a

certain instinctive order

is

followed.

There

is

native tendency to assimilate certain kinds of con-

ception at one age, and other kinds of conception

During the

at a later age.

years of childhood the


in

the sensible

Constructiveness

mind

properties
is

first
is

of

seven or eight

most interested
material

things.

the instinct most active

by the incessant hammering

and

and sawing, and

dressing and undressing dolls, putting of things

together and taking them apart, the

child

not

only trains the muscles to co-ordinate action, but

accumulates a store of physical conceptions which


are the basis of his

knowledge of the material

world through

Object-teaching and manual

life.

training wisely extend the sphere of this order

of acquisition.

Clay, wood, metals, and the vari-

ous kinds of tools are made to contribute to the


store.

youth brought up with a

sufficiently

IDEAS OF PHYSICAL THINGS


broad basis of this kind

He

world.

stands

is

147

always at home in the

He

within the pale.

is

ac-

quainted with Nature, and Nature in a certain


sense

is

with

acquainted

Whereas the

him.

youth brought up alone at home, with no

ac-

quaintance with anything but the printed page,


is

always

afflicted

with a certain remoteness from

the material facts of

life,

and a correlative

curity of consciousness which

make

of

him

inse-

a kind

of alien on the earth in which he ought to feel

himself perfectly at home.

already said something of this in speaking

of

the constructive impulse, and I

peat myself.

how important

sure,

tone of
suits,

Moreover, you fully

life,
is

for

life,

must not

re-

realize, I

am

for

the

moral

quite apart from definite practical pur-

this sense of readiness for

emergencies

which a man gains through early familiarity and


acquaintance with the world of material things.

To have grown up on
a

carpenter's

and

a farm, to have

blacksmith's

shop,

haunted
to

have

handled horses and cows and boats and guns, and


to

have ideas and

objects

get

connected with such

are an inestimable part of youthful

quisition.

to

abilities

After adolescence

into

familiar

it is

ac-

rare to be able

touch with any of these

'

TALKS TO TEACHERS

148
primitive

The

things.

instinctive

propensions

have faded, and the habits are hard to acquire.


Accordingly, one of the best fruits of the

study

movement has been

'

child-

to reinstate all these

activities to their proper place in a

of education.

'

sound system

Feed the growing human being,

feed him with the sort of experience for which from

year to year he shows a natural craving, and he


will develop in adult life a sounder sort of mental
tissue,

even though he

may seem

to be

'

wasting

a great deal of his growing time, in the eyes of

those for

whom

the only channels of learning are

books and verbally communicated information.


It is

not

mind grows

till

adolescence

more abstract

able to take in the

as-

hidden similarities and

pects of experience, the


distinctions

reached that the

is

between things, and especially their


Rational knowledge of such

causal sequences.

things as mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, and


biology,

is

now

possible

and the acquisition of

conceptions of this order form the next phase of


education.

Later

still,

not

till

adolescence

is

well

advanced, does the mind awaken to a systematic


interest in abstract

human

tions, properly

called,

and

so

relations

to

moral

sociological

to metaphysical abstractions.

rela-

ideas

NATURAL ORDER OF ACQUISITION


This general order of sequence

is

followed tra-

ditionally of course in the schoolroom.

my

eign to

149

It is for-

purpose to do more than indicate that

general psychological principle of the successive

order of awakening of the faculties on which the

whole thing

rests.

have spoken of

it

already,

apropos of the transitoriness of instincts.

many

Just as

a youth has to go permanently without an

adequate stock of conceptions of a certain order,


because experiences of that order were not yielded

when new

at the time

so

will conversely

it

youth

spoiled

is

curiosity

was most

happen that many another

for a certain subject of study

(although he would have enjoyed


into

at a

it

thrust

later

upon him

created, and the

ure

trials.

unfitted

it

well

led

if

age) through having had

it

so prematurely that disgust

was

bloom quite taken

fut-

I think I

forever

acute,

for

from

off

have seen college students


'

philosophy

'

from

having

taken that study up a year too soon.


In

all

vehicle

these later studies, verbal material

by which the mind

conceptions
true, be

thinks.

of physics and

embodied

in visual

The

is

the

abstract

sociology may,

it is

or other images of

phenomena, but they need not be so

and the

truth remains that, after adolescence has begun,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

150

" words, words, words,"


part,

of

must constitute

and an always larger part

what the human being has

a large

as life advances,

This

to learn.

is

so even in the natural sciences, so far as these are

causal and rational, and

So

description.

not merely confined to

go back to what

ago apropos of verbal memorizing.

I said

The more

curately words are learned, the better,

make

teacher

understood.
tion, in so

what they

sure that

if

is

much

the old-fashioned recitation,

of

'

we

that

examine a young

class in

at the book, she said

parrot-like

are so familiar with to-day.

friend of mine, visiting a school,

"

was asked

geography.

should you find

Suppose you should dig a

colder than on

at the

it

top ? "

the teacher said

"

None

bottom,

how

warmer

or

of the class replying,

I'm sure they know, but I think

you don't ask the question quite

rightly.

So, taking the book, she asked:


is

to

Glancing

hole in the ground, hundreds of feet deep,

condition

also

It is the failure of this latter condi-

reproduction

try."

ac-

only the

signify

that has caused that reaction against

awhile

Let

me

"In what

the interior of the globe?" and re-

ceived the immediate answer from half the class at

once

"

The

interior of the globe is in a condition

of igneous fusion ."

Better exclusive object-teach-

EACH AGE CAN APPREHEND ABSTRACTIONS 151


ing than such verbal recitations as that

and yet

verbal reproduction, intelligently connected with

more objective work, must always play


and surely

modem

the

a leading,

Our

leading, part in education.

reformers, in their books, write too ex-

clusively of the earliest years of the pupil.

These

lend themselves better to explicit treatment


myself, in

dwelling so

much upon

and

the native

impulses, and object-teaching, and anecdotes, and


that,

all

have paid

my

tribute

we

The

line

of

find the beginnings of purely intel-

lectual curiosity,

terms.

the

Yet away back in

least resistance in describing.

childhood

to

and the intelligence

object-teaching

is

of abstract

mainly to launch

the pupils, with

some concrete conceptions of the

facts concerned,

upon the more abstract

To hear some

ideas.

authorities on teaching, however,

you would suppose that geography not only began,


but ended with the school-yard and neighboring
hill,

that physics was one endless round of repeat-

ing the same sort of tedious weighing and meas-

uring operation

whereas a very few examples

are usually sufficient to set the imagination free

on genuine
is

more

lines,

and then what the mind craves

rapid, general,

and abstract treatment.

heard a lady say that she had taken her child to

TALKS TO TEACHERS

152

"but he

the kindergarten,

saw through
4

children

it

see

so bright

is

Too many

immediately."

immediately

as

'

namby-pamby attempts

of the

to lubricate things for them,

in-

and

it is

a poor

to their rational appetite to think that

anecdotes about

little

Tommies and

are the only kind of things their

But

pedagogy

abstractions, pro-

vided they be of the proper order

compliment

the

'

and make them

Even they can enjoy

teresting.

school

through

softer

he

that

here, as elsewhere,

it is

little

Jennies

minds can

digest.

a matter of

and, in the last resort, the teacher's

more

own

or less

tact

the only thing that can bring out the right

is

The

effect.

that of

knowing

all

child's

that

meant by
you

The words may

insisted on, to bring the secret out.

mine was trying

was

uses.

kill

at-

So varied forms of words

secret.

a strange secret does


of

what meaning the pupil

is

but the meaning remains the

right,

own

must be

just

the terms he

taches to

sound

great difficulty with abstractions

'

it

often prove.

relative

to explain to a little girl

the passive

me you who do
:

voice

'

And
what

" Suppose

the killing are in

who am killed, am in
"But how can you speak
the passive voice."
if you're killed?" said the child.
"Oh, well,

the

active

voice,

and

I,

"

AMBIGUITY OF VERBAL ABSTRACTIONS


you may suppose that

The next day the

am

and

plain the passive voice,

voice you speak with

not yet quite dead

was asked,

child

153

in class, to ex-

said, " It's the

when you

kind of

ain't quite dead."

In such a case as this the illustration ought to

Every one's memory

have been more varied.

will

probably furnish examples of the fantastic meaning which their childhood


verbal statements

attached to

poetry often), and

(in

certain

which

their elders, not

having any reason to suspect,

never corrected.

remember being greatly moved

emotionally at the age of eight by the ballad of

Lord

Yet

Ullin's Daughter.

thought that the

staining of the heather by the blood was the evil

and

chiefly dreaded,
"

I'll

that,

row you

when

the boatman said,

o'er tbe ferry.

It is

not for your silver bright,

But

for your

winsome lady,"

he was to receive the lady for his pay.


I recently

found that one of

my own

Similarly,

children

was

reading (and accepting) a verse of Tennyson's

In

Memoriam
"

as

Ring out the food

Ring

of rich

in redness to all

and finding no inward

and poor,

mankind,"

difficulty.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

154

The only safeguard


ceiving

is

to insist

against this sort of miscon-

on varied statement, and to

bring the child's conceptions, wherever


sible, to

some

it

be pos-

sort of practical test.

Let us next pass to the subject of Apperception.

XIV.

APPERCEPTION
;

Apperception

figure

the

in

'

is

word which

pedagogics of

the

cuts a great

present day.

Read, for example, this advertisement of a certain

which

text-book,

journal

from

take

an educational

WHAT

APPERCEPTION?

IS

For an explanation of Apperception

PSYCHOLOGY,

Blank's

see

Vol.

of the
Education Series, just published.

The

difference between Perception

Apperception

and

explained for the teacher in


the preface to Blank's PSYCHOLOGY.
Many teachers are inquiring, "What is
the meaning of Apperception in educational

psychology?"
Blank's

was

first

is

Just the book for them

PSYCHOLOGY,
expounded

The most important


psychology

may

is

in which the idea

is

find this

idea in educational

Apperception.

The teacher

expounded in Blank's PSY-

CHOLOGY.

The idea of Apperception is


making a revolution in educational methods
in Germany.
It is explained in Blank's

PSYCHOLOGY,
Education Series,

Vol.

of

the

just published.

PSYCHOLOGY

Blank's
will be mailed
prepaid to any address on receipt of $1.00.

TALKS TO TEACHERS

156

Such an advertisement

is

when

sober earnest a

and such talk

disgrace to all concerned;


indulges-in

in

as

the sort of thing I had in

is

I said at

our

first

it

view

meeting that the teachers

were suffering at the present day from a certain


industrious mystification on the

and

publishers.

tion,'

often

mystification

conscientious

as

is,

word

the

eyes

their

flourished in

nowadays

it

Perhaps

part of editors
'

and

appercep-

ears

as

embodies as much of

any other single

young teacher

is

thing.

it

this

The

led to believe that

contains a recondite and portentous secret,

by

losing the true inwardness of which her whole


career

may be

shattered.

And

turns to the books and reads about


so trivial

when she

yet,

it,

and commonplace a matter,

meaning

nothing more than the manner in which


ceive a thing into our minds,

that

seems

it

we

re-

she fears she

must have missed the point through the shallowness of her intelligence, and goes about thereafter
afflicted

with a sense either of uncertainty or of

stupidity,

and

in each

case remaining mortified

at being so inadequate to her mission.

Now

apperception

in pedagogics,

and

is

an extremely useful word

offers a

convenient

process to which every teacher

name

for a

must frequently

APPERCEPTION DEFINED
But

refer.

verily

it

157

means nothing more than the

act of taking a thing into the mind.

It corre-

sponds to nothing peculiar or elementary in psychology, being only one of the innumerable results of the psychological process of association of

ideas

and psychology

with the word, useful as

The

gist of the

can easily dispense

itself

matter

it

may

this

is

that comes in from without, be

we

Every impression

a sentence

which

hear, an object of vision, or an effluvium

which

assails

it is

drafted off in some determinate direc-

tion or other,

making connection with the other

materials already there,

we

call

our reaction.

strikes into are

ences and the

'

me

call

will react

and finally producing what

The

particular connections

determined by our past experi-

associations

of impression with

hear

it

our nose, no sooner enters our conscious-

ness than

it

be in pedagogics.

them.

out A, B, C,

of the present sort

'

If,

it is

for instance,

ten to one that you

on the impression by inwardly or out-

wardly articulating D, E, F.
arouses
it is
1

its

you

old associates

The impression

they go out to meet

received by them, recognized by the

the beginning of the alphabet.'

every impression thus to

fall

mind

it

as

It is the fate of

into a

mind

pre-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

158

occupied with memories, ideas, and interests, and

by these

taken

it is

we never

are,

Educated

in.

we

as

already

get an experience that remains for

us completely nondescript

always reminds of

it

something similar in quality, or of some context


that might have surrounded
it

now

in

some way suggests.

mind

which the

supplies

before,

it

This mental escort

drawn, of course,

is

from the mind's ready-made stock.


the impression in some definite way.
of

it

according to our acquired

they few or many, in the

way

way

of taking in the object

assimilate

ing mass.'
gulfed in

it

is

We conceive
We dispose

possibilities,

of 'ideas.'

be

This

the process of ap-

conceptions which meet and

The

perception.

and which

are called

by Herbart the

'

apperceiv-

The apperceived impression is enthis, and the result is a new field of

consciousness, of which one part (and often a very

small

part)

comes

from the outer world, and

another part (sometimes by far the largest) comes

from the previous contents of the mind.


I

think that you see plainly enough

the process of apperception

is

what

now

that

I called it a

moment ago, a resultant of the association of


The product is a sort of fusion of the new
ideas.
with the

old, in

which

it is

often impossible to

THE LAW OF LEAST DISTURBANCE


distinguish the

example,

when we

two

of the

share

much

see or hear is supplied

what we think we

of

though we see the wrong ones

when we

and how

listen to speech,

when we go

to a foreign theatre

troubles us

is

not so

much

stand what the actors say

The

fact

We

from our memory.

overlook misprints, imagining the right

their words.

For

factors.

listen to a person speaking or

read a page of print,

actually hear,

159

is

letters,

little

we

we

realize

for there

what

we cannot underas that we cannot hear


that we hear quite as
that

under similar conditions at home, only our

little

mind, being fuller of English verbal associations,


supplies the requisite material for comprehension

upon a much
In

all

slighter auditory hint.

the apperceptive operations of the mind,

a certain general law


of

economy.

rience,

we

makes

itself felt,

the law

In admitting a new body of expe-

instinctively seek to disturb as little

as possible our pre-existing stock of ideas.

We

always try to name a new experience in some

way which
know.

will assimilate

We

it

to

what we already

hate anything absolutely new, any-

thing without any name, and for which a

name must be

forged.

name, even though

it

new

So we take the nearest

be inappropriate.

child

TALKS TO TEACHEPwS

160

will call snow,

when he

sees it for the first time,

sugar or white butterflies.


;

sail

of a boat he

its

shell,

seen for the

an egg in

time, he calls a pretty potato

first

ball

curtain

calls

The

a folding corkscrew, a pair of

Caspar Hauser called the


horses,

geese

first

Mr. Rooper has written a

on apperception,

bad

scissors.

saw

he

and the Polynesians called Captain Cook's

horses pigs.

"

an orange, a

little

which he gives the

to

book

title

of

Pot of Green Feathers," that being the name

applied to a pot of ferns

by a

child

who had never

seen ferns before.

In later
the
'old

life

this

economical tendency to leave

what we know

old undisturbed leads to

fogy ism.'

would

new

entail extensive

vious system of beliefs

idea

or

is

always ignored or exit

cannot be sophis-

tically reinterpreted so as to tally

We

which

a fact

rearrangement of the pre-

truded from the mind in case

with the system.

as

have

all

harmoniously

conducted discus-

sions with middle-aged people, overpowered

them

with our reasons, forced them to admit our contention,

and a week

later

found them back as

secure and constant in their old opinion as

had never conversed with us


old fogies

at

they

We call

them

fogies, too.

Old

all.

but there are young

if

NUMBERLESS TYPES OF APPERCEPTION


fogy ism begins at a younger age than
I

am

almost afraid to say


majority of

in the

think.

but I believe that

so,

human

we

161

beings

it

begins at

about twenty-five.
In some of the books we find the various forms
of apperception

and

codified,

numbered and ticketed

their

in tabular

form in the way

so delightful to the pedagogic eye.

which

subdivisions

In one book

remember reading there were sixteen

dif-

apperception discriminated from

ferent types of

There was associative apperception,

each other.

subsumptive apperception, assimilative apperception,

and others up

say that this

is

It is needless to

to sixteen.

nothing but an exhibition of the

crass artificiality

which has always haunted psy-

chology, and which perpetuates itself by lingering


along, especially in these
tised

as

flowing
suitable

works which are adver-

The

written for the use of teachers.'


of the

life

for

mind

is

sorted

into parcels

presentation in the recitation-room,

and chopped up into supposed

processes

'

with

long Greek and Latin names, which in real

life

have no distinct existence.

There

is

no reason,

if

we

ferent types of apperception,


at sixteen

are classing the dif-

why we

rather than sixteen

should stop

hundred.

There

TALKS TO TEACHERS

162

many types

are as

ways

sible

in

of apperception as there are pos-

which an incoming experience may

be reacted on by an individual mind.

little

while ago, at Buffalo, I was the guest of a lady

who, a fortnight before, had taken her seven-year


old boy for the

time to Niagara Falls.

first

phenomenon

child silently glared at the

The

until his

mother, supposing him struck speechless by


sublimity,

think of

it ? "

spray I spray

my

and

call it

are

kind of

the

of apperceiving the

claim this as a particular

by the greek name

will hardly be

you

if

more

some of the authors

M. Perez,

" Is that

mode

his

peutical apperception,

you

what do you

boy,

nose with ? " was the boy's only

You may

spectacle.

type,

to which,

That was

reply.

my

"Well,

said,

its

like

and,

if

you

trivial or artificial

do,

than

of the books.

in one of his

books on childhood, gives

a good example of the different

ception of the same

of rhinothera-

modes

of apper-

phenomenon which

are pos-

sible at different stages of individual experience.

dwelling-house took

family,

arms of

witnessing
his

nurse,

nothing but the


But,

when

the

fire,

and an infant in the

conflagration

standing

outside,

from

the

expressed

liveliest delight at its brilliancy.

the bell of the fire-engine was heard

TOO

FEW HEADS OF

CLASSIFICATION

163

approaching, the child was thrown by the sound

paroxysm of

into a

fear,

you know, very alarming

strange sounds being, as


to

young

what opposite ways must the

In

children.

child's parents

have

apperceived the burning house and the engine


spectively

The

self-same person, according to the line of

thought he
will

re-

may

be in or to his emotional mood,

apperceive the same impression quite

ferently on different occasions.

dif-

medical or en-

gineering expert retained on one side of a case


will not apperceive the facts in the
if

same way

When

the other side had retained him.

as

people

are at loggerheads about the interpretation of a


fact, it

usually shows that they have too few heads

by;

of classification to apperceive
eral thing, the fact of

to

show

tions

is

for, as a

such a dispute

enough

that neither one of their rival interpretaa perfect

fit.

Both

sides deal with the

matter by approximation, squeezing

it

handiest or least disturbing conception


it

is

gen-

under the
:

whereas

would, nine times out of ten, be better to en-

large their stock of ideas or invent

new

title for

some altogether

the phenomenon.

Thus, in biology, we used to have interminable


discussion as to whether certain single-celled or-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

164

ganisms were animals or vegetables, until Haeckel

new apperceptive name

introduced the

ended

which

tertium quid
If

sanity.

acquitted

the
is

In law courts no

disputes.

recognized between insanity and

sane, a

man

and

is

who

experts

it

punished:

light absolutely, but

insane,

views of

opposite
is

Just as a room

our doctors.

if

seldom hard to find two

take

will

is

All the while, nature

case.

of Protista,

his

more subtle than

is

neither dark nor

might be dark

for a

watch-

maker's uses, and yet light enough to eat in or


play

in, so

and insane
large, yet

financial

came
filled

terms

man may be
for others,

sane for some purposes

sane enough

to be left at

not sane enough to take care of his


affairs.

The word

'

crank,'

which be-

familiar at the time of Guiteau's trial, ful-

the
'

need of a tertium quid.

d6se*quilibre,'

'

The

foreign

hereditary degenerate,' and

'psychopathic' subject, have arisen in response


to the

same need.

The whole
the

by

invention of newly forged technical names

whereby
of

progress of our sciences goes on

to designate the

phenomena,

newly remarked aspects

phenomena which

could only be

squeezed with violence into the pigeonholes of


the earlier stock of

conceptions.

As time

goes

THE APPERCEIVING IDEA


on, our vocabulary

165

becomes thus ever more and

more voluminous, having

to

keep up with the

ever-growing multitude of our stock of apperceiving ideas.

In this gradual process of interaction between


the

new and

the old, not only

is

the

new

and determined by the particular

which apperceives
the old

itself, is

it,

modified

sort

of

old

but the apperceiving mass,

modified by the particular kind

new which it assimilates.


stock German example of the

Thus, to take the

of

child brought

up

in

a house where there are no tables but square ones,


i

table

means

him

for

corners are essential.

thing in which square

But,

if

he goes to a house

where there are round tables and


tables, his apperceiving

notion

calls

still
4

table

'

acquires

immediately a wider inward content.

way, our conceptions are

constantly

them

In

this

dropping

characters once supposed essential, and including


others

once supposed inadmissible.

sion of the notion

of the notion

'

beast

organism

examples of what

to porpoises

'

'

The extenand whales,

to society, are familiar

mean.

But be our conceptions adequate

or inadequate,

and be our stock of them large or small, they are


all

we have

to

work with.

If

an educated

man

is,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

166
as I said, a

group

of organized tendencies to con-

what prompts the conduct

duct,

the man's conception of the

and

classify

the

actual

is

way

in every case

which

in

'

able

man, the more uniformly appropriate

When

havior likely to be.


subject of the will,

we

later

which

is

is

his be-

take up the

the proposed

to class

has few names

The

in so far forth an incompetent deliberator.

and each
idea are our

the

the finding of the

He who

alternatives of conduct.
is

is

'

shall see that the essential

preliminary to every decision


right names under

we

name

The more

emergency.

adequate the stock of ideas, the more

to

names

name

or

instruments for handling our

stands for a conception

Now, when

problems and solving our dilemmas.

we think

of this,

we

portant fact, which


the stock

of

are too apt to forget an imis

that in most

names and concepts

human
is

beings

mostly

ac-

quired during the years of adolescence and the


earliest years of adult life.

probably shocked

men

begin

to be old fogies at the age of twenty-five.

It is

you

true

moment ago by
that a

saying that most

grown-up adult keeps gaining well

into middle age a great

knowledge

a great acquaintance with

of details,

individual cases

nected with his profession or business

life.

and
con-

In

OLD FOGYISM SETS IN EARLY

during a very

this sense, his conceptions increase

long period

for his

knowledge grows more exten-

But the

and minute.

sive

167

larger

categories of

conception, the sorts of thing, and wider classes


of relation between things, of

which we take cog-

nizance, are all got into the

mind

tively youthful date.

Few men

at a compara-

ever do acquaint

themselves with the principles of a


after even twenty-five.

economy

cal

that

you through

to

it

main conceptions

its

similarly

with

now

persons

electricity.
fifty

is

will

are

with

What

to

fraction of one per cent.

run?

biology,

percentage of

years old have

made

one

remain unknown

any

conception whatever of a dynamo, or


trolley-cars

politi-

a thousand to

Similarly

life.

science

you do not study

If

in college,

new

definite

how

Surely, a

But the boys

the

small

in colleges

are all acquiring these conceptions.

There

is

a sense of infinite potentiality in us

when young, which makes some


of

lists

of us think that

quaint ourselves with


are

draw up

books we intend to read hereafter, and

makes most

we

of us

all,

now

all sorts

we can
of

easily ac-

things

which

neglecting by studying them out

hereafter in the intervals of leisure of our business


lives.

Such good intentions are hardly ever

car-

TALKS TO TEACHEHS

168
ried out.

The conceptions acquired

before thirty

remain usually the only ones we ever gain.


exceptional

youth

as

cases

of

perpetually

Such

self-renovating

Mr. Gladstone's only prove, by the

admiration they awaken, the universality of the


rule.

And

it

may

well solemnize a teacher, and

confirm in him a healthy sense of the importance


of his mission, to feel

upon

how

exclusively dependent

his present ministrations in the

parting conceptions the pupil's future

bably bound to be.

way

of im-

life is

pro-

XV.

THE WILL
Since mentality terminates naturally

ward conduct, the


to
1

final

'

out-

chapter in psychology has

But the word

be the chapter on the will.

will

in

can be used in a broader and in a narrower

sense.

entire

In the broader sense,


capacity

our

including

impulsive

for

instinctive

it

designates

and

active

reactions

and

our
life,

those

forms of behavior that have become secondarily


automatic and semi-unconscious through frequent
repetition.

In the narrower sense, acts of will are

such acts only as cannot be inattentively performed.

distinct idea of

what they

a deliberate fiat on the mind's part,

are,

and

must precede

their execution.

Such

acts are often characterized

and accompanied by a

it

may

or

a further feeling of effort.

talks, I said so

much

hesitation,

feeling, altogether peculiar,

of resolve, a feeling which

with

by

may
In

not carry

my

earlier

of our impulsive tendencies

that I will restrict myself in

what follows

tion in this narrower sense of the term.

to voli-

TALKS TO TEACHERS

170

considered by the early

All our deeds were

psychologists to be due to a peculiar faculty called

the

without whose

will,

occur.

fiat

action

could not

Thoughts and impressions, being

intrinsi-

cally inactive, were supposed to produce conduct

onty through the intermediation of this superior


Until they twitched

agent.

outward behavior could occur.

speak, no

doctrine was long ago exploded


of the

phenomena

This

which sen-

you know, produce movement

immediately and of
also

to

by the discovery

of reflex action, in

sible impressions, as

may

so

its coat-tails,

themselves.

The

doctrine

be considered exploded as far as ideas

go.

The

fact

is

whatever, be

that there
it

sensation, feeling, or idea,

does not directly and of


into

no sort of consciousness

is

some motor

itself

tend to discharge

The motor

effect.

which

effect

need

not always be an outward stroke of behavior.

may

It

be only an alteration of the heart-beats or

breathing, or a modification in the distribution of


blood, such as blushing or turning pale
secretion of tears, or
it is

is

in

what

there in some shape

there

and a

not.

modern psychology

is

or else a

But, in any case,

when any

belief as

consciousness

fundamental as any

the belief at last attained

IDEO-MOTOR ACTION
that

conscious

any

of

processes

sort,

conscious

must pass over into

merely as such,

processes

171

motion, open or concealed.

The

least

the case of a
If

complicated case of this tendency

mind possessed by only

that idea

is

a single idea.

be of an object connected with a

native impulse, the impulse will immediately pro-

ceed to discharge.

If

be the idea of a move-

it

ment, the movement will occur.


of action

Such

case

from a single idea has been distinguished

from more complex cases by the name of 'ideomotor

'

meaning action without express

action,

Most

decision or effort.
to

which we

We

sort.

are

of the habitual actions

trained are of this ideo-motor

perceive, for instance, that the door

open, and

we

raisins in

a dish before us,

rise

and shut

and carry one of them

it

we suddenly think

breakfast,
ticular

we perceive some

and extend our hand

to our

terrupting the conversation


bed,

is

that

mouth without
or,

we

when

in-

lying in

shall be late for

and instantly we get up with no par-

exertion

or

procedures by which

resolve.
life is

All

the

carried on

ingrained

the man-

ners and customs, dressing and undressing, acts


of salutation, etc.

matic

are executed

way unhesitatingly and

in this semi-auto-

efficiently, the

very

TALKS TO TEACHERS

172

outermost margin of consciousness seeming to be

concerned in them, while the focus

may

be occu-

pied with widely different things.

But now turn

to

more complicated

case.

Suppose two thoughts to be in the mind together,


of which one, A, taken alone,

would discharge

but of which the other,

itself in a certain action,

B, suggests an action of a different

consequence of the

first

sort,

or a

action calculated to

make

The psychologists now say

us shrink.

that the

second idea, B, will probably arrest or inhibit the

motor

of

effects

then, about

'

of the

first

inhibition

particular case

One

the

more

'

idea,

A.

in general,

One word,
to make this

clear.

most interesting discoveries of phys-

iology was the discovery,

France and Germany

made simultaneously

fifty

in

years ago, that nerve

currents do not only start muscles into action, but

may check

action already going on or keep

occurring as

it

otherwise might.

from

it

Nerves of arrest

were thus distinguished alongside of motor nerves.

The pneumogastric nerve, for example, if stimuthe


lated, arrests the movements of the heart
:

splanchnic nerve arrests those of the intestines,


already begun.

But

it

if

soon appeared that this

THE FUNCTION OF INHIBITION


was too narrow a way of looking
and that arrest

much

not so

is

173

at the matter,

the specific function

of certain nerves as a general function which any


part of the nervous system

under

parts

the

may

appropriate

exert upon other

The

conditions.

higher centres, for example, seem to exert a constant inhibitive influence

The

those below.

on the excitability

of

an animal with

its

reflexes of

hemispheres wholly or in part removed become

You

exaggerated.

all

in dogs, whereby, if

the

know

that

common

you scratch the animal's

reflex
side,

corresponding hind leg will begin to make

scratching movements, usually in the

Now

air.

in dogs with mutilated hemispheres this scratch-

ing reflex
scribed
sides.

is

so incessant that, as Goltz first de-

them, the hair gets


In

all

worn

idiots, the functions of the

off

their

hemispheres

being largely in abeyance, the lower impulses,


not inhibited, as they would be in normal
beings, often express themselves in

ways.

You know

how any

also

human

most odious

higher emotional

tendency will quench a lower one.

Fear arrests

appetite, maternal love annuls fear, respect checks


sensuality,

and the

manifestations
ideal stirring

of
is

like

the

and

moral

in the
life,

more

subtile

whenever an

suddenly quickened into inten-

TALKS TO TEACHEKS

174

sity, it is as if the

motives changed

whole scale of values of our

its

ago was impossible

is

force of

and what a moment

vanishes,

old temptations

The

equilibrium.

now

not only possible, but

This has been

easy, because of their inhibition.

power

well called the 'expulsive

higher

of the

emotion.'
It is easy to apply this notion of inhibition to

the case of our ideational processes.


in bed, for example,

up
to

and think

it is

lying

time to get

but alongside of this thought there

my mind

am
is

present

a realization of the extreme coldness

warm

of the

morning and the pleasantness

bed.

In such a situation the motor consequences

of the

first

idea are blocked

and

of the

may remain

for

half an hour or more with the two ideas oscillat-

ing before

what we

me

in a kind

of

deadlock, which

is

the state of hesitation or delibera-

call

In a case like this the deliberation can be

tion.

resolved and the decision reached in either of two

ways

(1) I

may

forget for a

ric conditions,

moment

and then the idea

the thermometof getting

will immediately discharge into act

denly find that


(2)

Still

have got up

up

I shall sud-

or

mindful of the freezing temperature,

ANY IDEA MAY BE INHIBITORY


the thought of the duty of rising

pungent that

may become

determines action in spite of

it

In the latter case,

hibition.

175

energetic moral

effort,

done a virtuous

act.

so
in-

have a sense of

and consider that

have

All cases of wilful action properly so called, of


choice

after hesitation

and

deliberation,

may be

conceived after one of these latter patterns.

you

So

see that volition, in the narrower sense, takes

place only

when

there are a

number

of conflicting

systems of ideas, and depends on our having a

complex

thing to note

is

tive

may

strong and urgent motor idea

be neutralized and made inopera-

by the presence of the very

tory idea in the margin.

my

forefinger,

interesting

the extreme delicacy of the inhibi-

tive machinery.
in the focus

The

of consciousness.

field

faintest contradic-

For instance,

and with closed eyes try

hold out

to realize

my

as vividly as possible that I hold a revolver in

hand and am pulling the


fairly feel

my

to contract

apparatus,

it

tension
it

by

trigger.

can even

now

finger quivering with the tendency

and,

if it

were hitched to a recording

would certainly betray

its state

registering incipient movements.

does not actually crook, and the

pulling the trigger

is

Yet

movement

not performed.

Why

of

of

not

TALKS TO TEACHERS

176

Simply because,

upon the idea

am

concentrated though I

all

of the

movement,

nevertheless

also realize the total conditions of the experiment,

and in the back

my

mind, so to speak, or in

its

and margin, have the simultaneous idea

fringe

movement

that the

is

The

not to take place.

of that marginal intention, without

mere presence
effort,

of

urgency, or emphasis, or any special rein-

forcement from

my

attention, suffices to the in-

hibitive effect.

And

this is

why

so few of the ideas that

through our minds do, in point of


their

motor consequences.

and a care
do
is

produce

would be

for us if every fleeting fancy

a curse

were to

Abstractly, the law of ideo-motor action

so.

true

Life

fact,

flit

but

in the concrete oar

fields

of

con-

sciousness are always so complex that the inhibit-

ing margin keeps the centre inoperative most of


the time.

In

all this,

you

see, I

speak as

if

ideas

by their mere presence or absence determined behavior,

and

as

if

between the ideas themselves on

the one hand and the conduct on the other there

were no room

for

any third intermediate principle

of activity, like that called

'

the will.'

man's conduct as a resultant


you are struck by the

If

177

materialistic or fatal-

doctrines which seem to follow this concep-

istic

beg you to suspend your judgment for a

tion, I

moment,

But, meanwhile yielding

say about the matter.


one's

have something more to

as I shall soon

to

self

mechanical conception of the

the

psychophysical organism, nothing

is

easier than

to indulge in a picture of the fatalistic character


of

human

Man's conduct appears

as

the

of all his various impulsions

and

life.

mere resultant

One

by

presence,

makes

us act: another object checks our action.

Feel-

inhibitions.

object,

its

ings aroused and ideas suggested

way and another


game by their mutual

us one
the

by objects sway

emotions complicate

inhibitive effects, the

higher abolishing the lower or perhaps being


self

The

swept away.

dential and moral

the

drama may be

life in all this

described,

system of which what we


'

or

will

'

'

you

see, as

ideas

call the

of the person

name.

collective

becomes pru-

but the psychologic agents in

but the 'ideas' themselves,

acter

it-

As Hume

'

is

nothing

for the

soul

'

or

whole
'

char-

nothing but a

said, the ideas

are

themselves the actors, the stage, the theatre, the


spectators,

and the

sociationist

'

play.

This

is

psychology, brought

the so-called 'as

down

to its rad

TALKS TO TEACHERS

178
ical

expression

it is

Like

as a conception.

become

and

clear

useless to ignore its


all

conceptions,

when they

lively enough, this conception

has a strong tendency to impose


lief;

power

itself

upon

and psychologists trained on biological

usually adopt
subject.

modern

No

it

as the last

word

of science

be-

lines

on the

one can have an adequate notion of


theory unless he has at

psychological

some time apprehended

this

view in the

full force

of its simplicity.

Let us humor
tages in the

way

for a while, for it has advan-

it

of exposition.

Voluntary action, then,

is

at all times a resultant

of the compounding of our impulsions with our inhibitions.

From

this it

immediately follows that there will

be two types of will, in one of which impulsions


will predominate, in

may speak

of them,

and the obstructed

if

the other

you

inhibitions.

like, as the precipitate

When fully

will, respectively.

The

pronounced, they are familiar to everybody.

extreme example of the precipitate will


maniac:

his ideas discharge

into

idly, his associative processes are so


lively, that inhibitions

We

is

the

action so rap-

extravagantly

have no time to

arrive,

and

THE TWO EXTREME TYPES OF WILL

179

he says and does whatever pops into his head

moment

without a

of hesitation.

Certain melancholiacs furnish the extreme ex-

ample
are

the over-inhibited

of

cramped

type.

in a fixed emotion of fear or helpless-

ness, their ideas confined to the


for

them

Their minds

life is

one thought that

So they show a con-

impossible.

dition of perfect 'abulia,' or inability to will or

They cannot change

act.

or execute the simplest

The
are

command.

different races of

peraments in

men show

different tem-

The southern

regard.

this

commonly accounted

precipitate

their posture or speech

the more impulsive and

the English race, especially our

England branch of

it, is

races

supposed to be

New

all sicklied

over with repressive forms of self-consciousness,

and condemned
of scruples

to express itself

and checks.

The highest form


stractly considered,
inhibitions.

through a jungle

But

of character,

must be

action, in

however, ab-

full of scruples

and

such a character, far

from being paralyzed, will succeed in energetically

keeping on

its

way, sometimes overpowering

the resistances, sometimes steering along the line

where they

lie

thinnest.

Just as our flexor muscles act most firmly

when

TALKS TO TEACHERS

180
a simultaneous

contraction of the flexors guides

him whose

and steadies them so the mind

of

of consciousness are complex,

and who, with the

fields

reasons for the action, sees the reasons against

and

yet, instead of

that

takes

so, I

say,

that

is

the

it,

being palsied, acts in the way

whole

field into

consideration,

such a mind the ideal sort of mind

we should seek

to

reproduce in our pupils.

Purely impulsive action, or action that proceeds


to extremities regardless of consequences,

other hand,

is

the easiest action in the world, and

the lowest in type.

when made

Any

one can show energy,

An

quite reckless.

requires but little ability

Oriental despot

as long as

succeeds, for he has absolutely his

when

he

lives,

own way

he

and,

the world can no longer endure the horror

of him, he

assassinated.

is

immediately

to

But not

extremities, to be

still

to proceed

able to act

energetically under an array of inhibitions,

indeed

is

rare

and

difficult.

to proclaim martial

saying
be

on the

"

Any one

constitutional."

that

Cavour, when urged

law in 1859, refused to do

so,

can govern in that way.

I will

Your parliamentary

rulers,

your Lincoln, your Gladstone, are the strongest


type of man, because

they

accomplish

results

under the most intricate possible conditions.

We

THE BALKY WILL

181

think of Napoleon Bonaparte as a colossal monster


of will-power, and truly

enough he was

But,

so.

from the point of view of the psychological machinery,

would be hard

it

to say

whether he or

Gladstone was the larger volitional quantity

Napoleon disregarded

the

all

and Gladstone, passionate

for

usual inhibitions,

as he was, scrupulously

considered them in his statesmanship.

example of the paralyzing power of

familiar

scruples

is

the inhibitive effect of conscientious-

ness

upon conversation.

tion

seem

have flourished as brilliantly as in

to

France during the


old

Nowhere does conversa-

last century.

French memoirs, we see

we read
how many brakes
But,

if

of scrupulosity which tie our tongues to-day were

then removed.
scenity,

Where mendacity,

treachery, ob-

and malignity find unhampered expression,

talk can be brilliant indeed.

dim where the mind

is

But

its

flame waxes

stitched all over with con-

scientious fear of violating the moral

and

social

proprieties.

The teacher

often

is

confronted in the school-

room with an abnormal type

may

call the

'

balky

do not succeed

in

will.'

of will,

which we

Certain children,

if

they

doing a thing immediately,

TALKS TO TEACHERS

182

remain completely inhibited in regard to

becomes
stand
if it

literally

it if it

impossible

for

them

to under-

be an intellectual problem, or to do

inhibited condition

it

else the teacher pits his or

Such children

lasts.

are usually treated as sinful,

and are punished

"Break your

'broken.'

may

before

do as

must be

child's will, in order that

" Break

not perish," wrote John Wesley.

soon as

its will as

it

can speak plainly

can speak at

it

it

is

told,

times running.

may

live."

even

Break

or

her will against the

child's will, considering that the latter

soul

it

be an outward operation, as long as this par-

ticular

it

it

all.

if

its

It

or even

should be forced to

you have

to

whip

it

ten

order that

will, in

Such will-breaking

is

its

always a

scene with a great deal of nervous wear and tear

on both

sides, a

bad

state of feeling left

behind

it,

and the victory not always with the would-be


will-breaker.

When

a situation of the kind

veloped, and the child

is

all

is

once fairly de-

tense

and excited

inwardly, nineteen times out of twenty

it

is

best

for the teacher to apperceive the case as one of

neural pathology rather than


culpability.

as

one of moral

So long as the inhibiting sense

of

impossibility remains in the child's mind, he will

THE TEACHERS' IDEAL

183

The

continue unable to get beyond the obstacle.

aim

of the teacher should then be to

Drop

simply forget.
divert the

mind

to

the subject

something

make him

for

else

the

time,

then, leading

the pupil back by some circuitous line of association, spring it

recognize

it,

on him again before he has time

and

as likely as not

to

he will go over

now without any difficulty- It is


way that we overcome balkiness in

no other

in

it

a horse

we

divert his attention, do something to his nose or

him round

ear, lead

in a circle,

and thus get him

over a place where flogging would only have

made him more


never

invincible.

tactful teacher will

come up

let these strained situations

You
eral or

perceive now,

my

abstract duty

you have

friends,

is

to generate in

also see to

it

all.

what your gen-

as teachers.

Although

your pupils a large stock

of ideas, any one of which

you must

at

may

be inhibitory, yet

that no habitual hesitancy

or paralysis of the will ensues, and that the pupil


still

retains his

power

of

vigorous action.

Psy-

chology can state your problem in these terms,

but you see

how impotent

elements of

its

said

she

is

practical solution.

and done, and your best

to furnish the

When

efforts are

all is

made,

it

TALKS TO TEACHERS

184

probably remain true

will

that

the

will

result

depend more on a certain native tone or temper


than on

in the pupil's psychological constitution

anything

Some persons appear

else.

naturally poor localization

and

sciousness;

in

such

to

con-

of

field

persons

and inhibitions seem

slack,

the

of

have a

to

hang

actions

exert peculiarly

easy sway.

But

let

now

us

more

close in a little

this

matter of the education of the

task

is

up a character

to build

in

closely

on

Your

will.

your pupils

and

a character, as I have so often said, consists in an

Now

organized set of habits of reaction.

what

of

do such habits of reaction themselves consist?

They

consist

tically

when

of

tendencies

certain

ideas

to

characteris-

act

possess

us,

and

to

when possessed by other

refrain characteristically
ideas.

Our

volitional

depend, then,

habits

first,

which we have

on

what the stock

of ideas

second, on

habitual coupling of the several

the

is

ideas with action or inaction respectively.


is it

when an

choice,

do?

And

is

How

presented to you for

and you are uncertain what you ought

You
in

alternative

and,

first hesitate,

and then you

what does your deliberation

to

deliberate.

consist

It

CHARACTER-BUILDING

185

consists in trying to apperceive the case succes-

sively
to

by a number

fit it

more or

which seems to

which

which seem

of different ideas,

less, until at last

fit it

you

an idea

If that be

exactly.

on one

hit

a customary forerunner of action in you,

is

which enters into one of your maxims of positive

you

behavior, your hesitation ceases, and

mediately.

which
ally

If,

on the other hand,

act im-

be an idea

it

carries inaction as its habitual result, if

it

with prohibition, then you unhesitat-

itself

The problem

ingly refrain.

is,

you

see, to find

the right idea or conception for the case.

search for the right conception

may

This

take days or

weeks.
I

spoke as

if

conception once

may be

the action were easy


is

found.

Often

when

when

it is

so,

the

but

it

otherwise,

we

find ourselves at the very centre of a moral

sit-

otherwise

uation, into

with

me

which

and,

should

it

now

is

like

to look

a little nearer.

The proper conception,

the true head of clas-

may be hard to attain or


with which we have contracted no
sification,

of action.

it

may

may appear deadly

difficult

cold

be one

settled habits

Or, again, the action to which

prompt may be dangerous and


inaction

you

it
;

would
or else

and negative

TALKS TO TEACHERS

186

when our impulsive


these latter cases
steadily

it

is

Whether

to let it exert

be stimulative

it

reasonable for us

too

and the

instinctive passional propensity then tends

We

from our consideration.

to extrude

it

away from

the thought of

moment

goes out the

our consciousness

it

shy

twinkles and

appears in the margin of

and we need a resolute

of the field, and to keep


associative

It

it.

of voluntary attention to drag

its

In either of

hot.

hard to hold the right idea

effects.

or inhibitive,

more

it is

is

enough before the attention

adequate

its

feeling

it

and motor

it

into the focus

enough

there long
effects

effort

to

for

be exerted.

Every one knows only too well how the mind


flinches

from looking

the reigning

mood

at considerations hostile to

of feeling.

Once brought, however,

in this

tre of the field of consciousness,

way

to the cen-

and held

there,

the reasonable idea will exert these effects inevitably;

for

the

laws of connection between our

consciousness and our nervous system provide for

the action then taking place.

Our moral

effort,

properly so called, terminates in our holding fast


to the appropriate idea.
If,

then,

act consist

you

are asked, "In what does a moral

when reduced

to its simplest

and most

TO THINK

THE MORAL ACT

IS

187

elementary form?*' you can make only one reply.

You

can say that

tion by ivhich

consists in the effort of atten-

it

we hold fast

that effort of attention

mind by

an idea which but

to

would be driven out

for

of the

the other psychological tendencies that

are there.

To think, in short,

just as

the secret of

it is

is

the secret of will,

memory.

This comes out very clearly in the kind of


-excuse which

sons

who

behavior.

thought

per-

by the

sin-

find themselves confronted

harmfulness

or

fulness

we most frequently hear from


of

some part

"I never thought" they

how mean

the action was, I never thought

do we retort when they say

to

you think

think?"

on their

this ?

We

What were you

And we

And what
say

"

Why

there for but

read them a moral lecture

irreflectiveness.

The hackneyed example


is

their

"I never

say.

of these abominable consequences."

didn't

of

of moral deliberation

the case of an habitual drunkard under tempta-

tion.

He

has

made

a resolve to reform,

but he

is

now solicited again by the bottle. His moral triumph or failure literally consists in his finding
the right

name

for the case.

a case of not wasting

If

he says that

it is

good liquor already poured

out, or a case of not being churlish

and unsociable

TALKS TO TEACHERS

188

when

in the midst of friends, or a case of learning

something at

about a brand of whiskey which

last

he never met before, or a case of celebrating a


public holiday, or a case of stimulating himself
to a

more energetic resolve

in favor of abstinence

than any he has ever yet made, then he

His choice of the wrong name

But

if,

seals his

lost.

is

doom.

good names

in spite of all the plausible

with which his thirsty fancy so copiously furnishes


him, he unwaveringly

clings

to

truer bad

the

name, and apperceives the case as that of "being


a drunkard, being a drunkard, being a drunkard,"
his feet are planted

on the road

He

to salvation.

saves himself by thinking rightly.

Thus

are

your pupils to be saved:

first,

by the

stock of ideas with which you furnish them

ond, by the

amount

sec-

of voluntary attention that

they can exert in holding to the right ones, however unpalatable

and, third,

by the

several habits

of acting definitely on these latter to

which they

have been successfully trained.


In
is

all this

the power of voluntarily attending

the point of the whole

balance turns on
destiny turns.

its

Just as a

procedure.

knife-edges, so on

You remember

that,

talking of the subject of attention,

it

our moral

when we were

we

discovered

WILL

ATTENTION TO AN IDEA

IS

how much more

intermittent and brief our acts

of voluntary attention are than


posed.

were

If they

all

summed

commonly

is

sup-

together, the time

would cover an almost incredibly

that they occupy

But

small portion of our lives.


will

189

I also said,

remember, that their brevity was not

you

in pro-

portion to their significance, and that I should re-

turn to the subject again.


It is

to

return to

it

now.

not the mere size of a thing which constitutes

importance

its

So

which

it

tion, brief

is

it

belongs.

and

its

Our

fitful as

momentous and

position in the organism

critical,

acts of voluntary atten-

they

are, are nevertheless

determining

The

do, to higher or lower destinies.

us, as

they

exercise of

voluntary attention in the schoolroom must therefore be

counted one of the most important points

of training that take place there


rate teacher,
terests

and the

first-

by the keenness of the remoter

which he

is

you appreciate

in-

able to awaken, will provide

abundant opportunities for


that

this

its

occurrence.

now without any

hope

further

explanation.

in

have been accused of holding up before you,


the

course

of

these talks, a mechanical and

even a materialistic view of the mind.

have

TALKS TO TEACHERS

190
called

an organism and a machine.

it

spoken of

have

reaction on the environment as the

its

essential thing about

it

and

have referred

this,

either openly or implicitly, to the construction of

the nervous system.

I have, in

consequence,

me

ceived notes from some of you, begging

more

on

explicit

this point

am

frankly whether I

and

re-

to be

you know

to let

complete

materialist,

wish to be

strictly prac-

or not.

Now
tical

in these lectures I

and

useful,

and to keep free from

lative complications.

to leave

and

all

specu-

Nevertheless, I do not wish

any ambiguity about

I will therefore say, in

my own

position

order to avoid

all mis-

understanding, that in no sense do I count myself


a materialist.

cannot see

how such

a thing as

our consciousness can possibly be produced by a


nervous machinery, though
see

how,

if

'

ideas

'

can perfectly well

do accompany the workings

of the machinery, the order

of the ideas

might

very well follow exactly the order of the machine's operations.

Our

ideas, trains of thought,

habitual associations of

and sequences of

action,

might thus be consequences of the succession of


currents in our

nervous systems.

sible stock of ideas

which a man's

And

the pos-

free spirit

would

THE 'FREEDOM' OF THE WILL


have

191

from might depend exclusively on

to choose

the native and acquired powers of his brain.


this

were

all,

we might indeed adopt

If

the fatalist

conception which I sketched for you but a short

Our

while ago.

ideas

would be determined by

brain currents, and these by purely mechanical


laws.

we have

But, after what


part played

still

open to

this attention

and purely

more or

in volition,

spiritual causation

The duration and amount

us.

of

seem within certain limits indeter-

We

feel as

if

less,

and as

if

minate.

namely, the

by voluntary attention

a belief in free will


is

just seen,

gard were a genuine

we could make

it

really

our free action in this

critical

re-

point in nature,

a point on which our destiny and that of others

The whole question

might hinge.
concentrates

"Is or

is

then, at this

itself,

of free will

same small point

not the appearance of indetermination

at this point

an illusion ?"

It is plain that

such a question can be decided

only by general analogies, and not by accurate


observations.

The

ance to be a reality
it is

ists,

an

illusion.

not

because

free-willist believes the appear:

the determinist believes that

myself hold with the


I

free-will-

cannot conceive the

fatalist

TALKS TO TEACHERS

192

theory clearly, or because I

but simply because,

plausibility,

true, it

would be absurd

fatally forced

understand

fail to

to

its

free will ivere

if

have the belief in

on our acceptance.

it

Considering the

inner fitness of things, one would rather think


that the very

first

endowed with

act of a will

freedom should be to sustain the belief in the

freedom

itself.

freedom

sciences,

do so with the best of

of

my

my

scientific con-

knowing that the predetermination

amount

the

I accordingly believe freely in

effort of attention

of

can never

receive objective proof, and hoping that, whether

you follow

my

example

make you

will at least

in this respect or not, it

see that such psychological

and psychophysical theories


necessarily

force a

man

as

hold

become a

to

do not

fatalist

or

a materialist.

Let me say one more


the

will,

word now about

final

and therewith conclude both that im-

portant subject and these lectures.

There are two types of

two types
tion

by

of inhibition.

We

will.

may

There are also


call

them

by repression or by negation, and

substitution, respectively.

tween them

is

The

inhibi-

inhibition

difference be-

that, in the case of inhibition

by

TWO TYPES OF

repression, both the inhibited idea

it,

and the

inhi-

and the idea that

biting idea, the impulsive idea

negates

193

INHIBITION

remain along with each other in con-

sciousness, producing a certain

tension there

inward strain or

whereas, in inhibition by substitu-

tion, the inhibiting idea supersedes altogether the

idea

which

and

inhibits,

it

vanishes from the

the

latter

quickly

field.

For instance, your

pupils are

wandering

in

mind, are listening to a sound outside the win-

dow, which presently grows interesting enough

You can

to claim all their attention.

ter

call the lat-

back again by bellowing at them not to

to those sounds,

but to keep their minds on their

books or on what you are saying.

And, by thus

keeping them conscious that your eye


on them, you

may produce

will be a wasteful effect

the

listen

mment you

good

and an

is

effect.

sternly

But

inferior effect

relax your supervision

it

for

the

at-

tractive disturbance, always there soliciting their


curiosity, will

just as they

overpower them, and they will be

were before

whereas,

if,

without say-

ing anything about the street disturbances, you

open a counter-attraction by starting some very


interesting

talk

or demonstration yourself, they

will altogether forget the distracting incident,

and

TALKS TO TEACHERS

194
without any

you

effort follow

along.

There are

many interests that can never be inhibited by the


way of negation. To a man in love, for example,
it

literally impossible,

is

But

annul his passion.


into his ken,'

by any

let

effort of will, to

some new planet swim

and the former

idol will immediately

cease to engross his mind.

we
method

It is clear that in general

we

can, to

employ the

He whose

substitution.

who
wicked, and who
word

no,'

his envious
is

in

tells

life

by

based upon the

the truth because a

lie is

has constantly to grapple with

and cowardly and mean propensities,

if

the love of truth and magnanimity

positively possessed

him from the

no inferior temptations.

man

of inhibition

an inferior situation in every respect to what

he would be

felt

is

ought, whenever

is

outset,

and he

Your born

gentle-

certainly, for this world's purposes, a

more

valuable being than your " Crump, with his grunt-

ing resistance to his native devils," even though


in

God's sight the latter may, as the Catholic

theologians
'

say,

be rolling

up great

stores

of

merit.'

Spinoza long ago wrote in his Ethics that anything that a


it is

bad he

man
may

can avoid under the notion that


also avoid

under the notion that

SPINOZA ON SLAVES AND FREEMEN


something

He who

else is good.

195

habitually acta

sub specie mail, under the negative notion, the notion of the bad,

him who

is

acts habitually

under the notion of good

he gives the name of freeman.

See to

beg you, that you make freemen

by habituating them

to

act,

under the notion of a good.


to tell the truth, not so

them the wickedness

of

now,

it

your pupils

whenever

possible,

Get them habitually

much through showing

of lying as

by arousing

their

Wean them

enthusiasm for honor and veracity.

from their native cruelty by imparting

some of your own

To

by Spinoza.

called a slave

to

them

sympathy with an

positive

mal's inner springs of joy.

And,

which you may be legally obliged

to

ani-

in the lessons

conduct upon

the bad effects of alcohol, lay less stress than the

books do on the

drunkard's stomach, kidneys,

and

and more on the

nerves,

social miseries,

bless-

ings of having an organism kept in lifelong possession of its full youthful elasticity

sound blood,

to

a sweet,

which stimulants and narcotics

are

unknown, and

air

and dew

to

which the morning sun and

will daily

ful intoxicants.

by

come

as sufficiently

power-

CONCLUSION

196
I

have

now ended

yon the things


it

is

these talks.

may

noticing and apperceiving

clear.

you

find yourselves

events in the school-

differently, in

of the conceptions

trivial,

appear less so when,

in the course of a year or two,

little

some of

have said seem obvious or

possible that they

room a

If to

consequence of some

have tried

to

make more

cannot but think that to apperceive your

pupil as a

little

sensitive, impulsive, associative,

and reactive organism, partly fated and partly


free, will

ways.
little

lead to a better intelligence of

Understand him, then,


piece of machinery.

And

as
if,

all

his

such a subtle
in addition,

you

can also see him sub specie boni, and love him as
well,

you

will be in the best possible position for

becoming perfect teachers.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

I.

THE GOSPEL OF RELAXATION


I

wish

hour

in the following

to take certain

psychological doctrines and show their practical


applications to mental hygiene,

our

of

American

life

more

to

the hygiene

particularly.

Our

people, especially in academic circles, are turn-

ing towards psychology nowadays with great expectations


it

and,

if

psychology

must be by showing

is

tc justify

them,

pedagogic and

fruits in the

therapeutic lines.

The reader may


liar

in

possibly have heard of a pecu-

theory of the emotions, commonly referred to


psychological literature

theory.

According to

are mainly

due

this

the

as

theory, our emotions

to those organic stirrings that are

aroused in us in a reflex

way by

the exciting object or situation.


fear, for

Lange-James

example, or surprise,

is

the stimulus of

An

emotion of

not a direct effect

of the object's presence on the mind, but an effect


of that

still

earlier effect, the bodily

which the object suddenly excites

commotion

so that,

were

TALKS TO STUDENTS

200
this bodily

so

commotion suppressed, we should not

much feel

should not

fear as call the situation fearful

feel surprise,

we

but coldly recognize that

the object was indeed astonishing.

One

enthusi-

when we
feel sorry it is because we weep, when we feel
afraid it is because we run away, and not conSome of you may perhaps be acquainted
versely.
with the paradoxical formula. Now, whatever
ast has

even gone so

exaggeration

may

our emotions (and

far as to say that

possibly lurk in this account of

doubt myself whether the ex-

aggeration be very great),

main

way

core of

it is

true,

it

is

certain that the

and that the mere giving

to tears, for example, or to the

outward ex-

pression of an anger-fit, will result for the


in

making the inner


There

felt.

is,

grief or anger

more acutely

accordingly, no better

more generally useful precept

moment

known

or

in the moral train-

ing of youth, or in one's personal self-discipline,

than that which bids us pay primary attention to

what we do and express, and not


for

what we

insulting
live,

blow or

word

much

we only check a cowardly


example, or if we only don't

If

feel.

impulse in time, for


strike the

to care too

rip out

that

we

with the complaining or

shall regret as long as

we

our feelings themselves will presently be the

REFLEX-THEORY OF EMOTION

201

calmer and better, with no particular guidance

from us on their own account.

Action seems to

follow feeling, but really action and feeling go

together

and by regulating the

under the more direct control of the

will,

which

indirectly regulate the feeling,

cheerfully,

to act

and speak

there.

If

lost, is to

round cheerfully, and

as if cheerfulness

were already

such conduct does not make you soon

feel cheerful,

So to

to look

we can

to cheerful-

spontaneous cheerfulness be

up

sit

is

not.

is

Thus the sovereign voluntary path


ness, if our

which

action,

nothing

else

feel brave, act as if

on that occasion can.

we were

brave, use

all

our will to that end, and a courage-fit will very


likely replace the
feel

fit

Again, in order to

of fear.

whom we

kindly toward a person to

been inimical, the only way


liberately to smile, to

and to force ourselves

is

more or

make sympathetic

have

less de-

inquiries,

One

to say genial things.

hearty laugh together will bring enemies into a

communion

closer

of heart than hours spent on

both sides in inward wrestling with the mental

demon
a

bad

of uncharitable feeling.

To

wrestle with

feeling only pins our attention

keeps

it still

act as

if

fastened in the

mind

on

and

it,

whereas,

if

from some better feeling, the old bad

we

feel-

TALKS TO STUDENTS

202
ing soon folds

its

tent like an Arab, and silently

away.

steals

The

best manuals of religious devotion accord-

maxim

ingly reiterate the


feelings go,

that

and pay no regard

we must
to

The Christian's Secret of


by Mrs. Hannah Whitall Smith, I
'

Act

on almost every page.


have

really

how
God

faith,

dubious you

may

" It

about that purpose

will, is therefore
.

Happy

book
Life,'

find this lesson

cold
is

and you

and even

your purpose

looks at," writes Mrs. Smith, " not your feel-

ings

to.

how

feel.

little

faithfully,

no matter

our

them whatever.

In an admirable and widely successful


called

let

just as

and your purpose, or

the only thing you need attend

Let your emotions come or

God

pleases,

either way.

your spiritual
of your

really have nothing to

They

state,

them

go,

and make no account of them

They

with the matter.

let

do

are not the indicators of

but are merely the indicators

temperament or of your present physical

condition."

But you

all

know

these facts already, so I need

no longer press them on your attention.

From

our acts and from our attitudes ceaseless inpouring currents of sensation come, which help to de-

termine from

moment

to

moment what our

inner

THE INNER LIFE OF INVALIDS


states shall be

that

203

a fundamental law of psy-

is

chology which I will therefore proceed to assume.

Viennese neurologist of considerable reputa-

tion has recently written about the Binnenleben,


as he

No

terms

or buried

it,

of

human

beings.

says, can get into

doctor, this writer

profitable

life

really

relations with a nervous patient until

he gets some sense of what the patient's Binnenleben

is,

of the sort of unuttered inner atmos-

phere in which

with the secrets of


personal tone
describe

it,

what we

quality.

from

all

to

can't

others

communicate or
but the wraith

so to speak, are often

and intimates

istic

This inner

prison-house.

its

articulately

and ghost of
friends

is

consciousness dwells alone

his

In

sorts of

feel as

the

what our

our most character

unhealthy-minded, apart

old regrets, ambitions checked

by shames and aspirations obstructed by


ties, it

timidi-

consists mainly of bodily discomforts not

distinctly localized

by the

a general self-mistrust

sufferer,

but breeding

and sense that things are

not as they should be with him.


for alcohol that exists in the

Half the

thirst

world exists simply

because alcohol acts as a temporary anesthetic

and

effacer to all these

morbid feelings that never

TALKS TO STUDENTS

204

ought to be in a human being at


healthy-minded, on

the

contrary,

or shames to discover

fears

In the

all.

there

are

no

and the sensations

that pour in from the organism only help to swell

the general vital sense of security and readiness


for

may

anything that

turn up.

Consider, for example,

the

effects

of a well-

toned motor-apparatus, nervous and muscular, on


our general personal self-consciousness, the sense
of
tell

and

elasticity

us that in

lately

efficiency

Norway

the

that

life

They

results.

of the

women

has

been entirely revolutionized by the new

order of muscular feelings with which the use of


the

ski,

or long snow-shoes, as a sport for both

sexes, has

years ago

than the

women acquainted. Fifteen


the Norwegian women were even more
women of other lands votaries of the
made

the

old-fashioned ideal
angel,' the

thing.

of

of

femininity, 'the

domestic

gentle and refining influence

Now

these

'

sort of

sedentary fireside tabby-cats

Norway have been

trained, they say,

by the

snow-shoes into lithe and audacious creatures, for

whom

no night

is

too dark or height too giddy,

and who are not only saying good-bye


tional feminine pallor

and delicacy

to the tradi-

of constitution,

but actually taking the lead in every educational

MUSCULAR TONE AND INNER MOOD


and

social reform.

cannot but think that the

tennis and tramping and skating habits

which

bicycle-craze

among our dear

205

are

sisters

extending

rapidly

so

and the

and daughters

in

this

country are going also to lead to a sounder and

moral tone, which will

heartier

breath through
I

send

our American

all

tonic

its

life.

hope that here in America more and more the

ideal of the well-trained

and vigorous body

will

be maintained neck by neck with that of the welltrained and vigorous

mind

as

halves of the higher education for

The strength

alike.

two coequal

the

men and women

of the British

Empire

lies in

the strength of character of the individual Englishman, taken


strength, I

am

persuaded,

is

letic

outdoor

life

which

and

recollect, years

that

perennially nourished

and kept up by nothing so much


tional worship, in

And

alone by himself.

all

all classes

as

by the na-

meet, of ath-

sport.

ago, reading a certain

work

by an American doctor on hygiene and the laws


of life

and the type of future humanity.

forgotten

member

its

author's

name and

its title,

well an awful prophecy that

it

about the future of our muscular system.


perfection, the writer said,

means

have

but I

re-

contained

Human

ability to cope

TALKS TO STUDENTS

206

with the environment; but the environment will

more and more require mental power from


less

and

less

will

us,

and

ask for bare brute strength.

our heavy

Wars

will cease,

machines will do

work,

man

become more and more a mere

will

and

director of nature's energies,

exerter of energy on his

own

all

less

and

account.

less

So

an

that, if

the homo sapiens of the future can only digest his

food and think, what need will he have of well-

And

developed muscles at all?


this writer,

should

why, pursued

we not even now be


and

with a more delicate

satisfied

type of

intellectual

beauty than that which pleased our ancestors?

Nay,

have heard a fanciful friend make a

further

advance

With our
in liquid

in

this

future food, he

'new-man'
says,

itself

direction.

prepared

form from the chemical elements

atmosphere, pepsinated

or

still

half-digested

of the

in

ad-

vance, and sucked up through a glass tube from

we have of teeth, or
They may go, along with our

a tin can, what need shall

stomachs even?

muscles and our physical courage, while, challenging ever more and more our proper admiration,
will

grow the gigantic domes

of oar crania, arch-

ing over our spectacled eyes, and animating our


flexible little lips to those floods of learned

and

MUSCULAR TONE AND INNEB MOOD


ingenious

talk

which

207

most

will constitute our

congenial occupation.
I

am

sure that your flesh creeps at this apoca-

Mine

lyptic vision.

certainly did so

and

I can-

not believe that our muscular vigor will ever be a

Even

superfluity.
it

will not be

against

battles

needed
ity,

if

needed

and cheerfulness

ity to

which

for fighting the old

heavy

Nature,

to furnish the

it

will

to

life,

moral

to give

off the

Weakness

call irritable

that blessed internal peace


acquiescentia in seipso,

that wells

sanity, serenelastic-

wiry edge

and make us good-humored

and easy of approach.


be what the doctors

always be

still

background of

our disposition, to round

of our fretfulness,

dawns

in

the day ever

is

too apt to

And

weakness.

and confidence, that

as Spinoza

up from every part

used to

of the

muscularly well-trained

human

the indwelling soul of

him with

call

body

it,

of a

being, and soaks


satisfaction,

quite apart from every consideration of

its

is,

me-

chanical utility, an element of spiritual hygiene


of supreme significance.

And now

let

me go

a step deeper into mental

hygiene, and try to enlist your insight and sym-

pathy in a cause which

mount

I believe is

one of para-

patriotic importance to us Yankees.

Many

TALKS TO STUDENTS

208
years ago

man, Dr. Clouston,

a Scottish medical

a mad-doctor as they call

him

call

one

Scotland), visited this

country, and said

my memory

something that has remained in


since.

much
like

"

You Americans," he

an army with

The

all

its

"

said,

You

expression on your faces.

action.

what we

an asylum physician (the most eminent

should
in

there, or

wear too

are living

engaged

reserves

duller countenances

life.

They

suggest stores of reserved nervous force to

quires
all

Dr.

it.

if

any occasion should

in

the British

of

population betoken a better scheme of

back upon,

ever

fall

arise that re-

This inexcitability, this presence at

times of power not used,


Clouston,

British people.

regard," continued

"as the great safeguard of

The other

our

thing in you gives

me a sense of insecurity, and you ought somehow to tone yourselves down. You really do
carry too much expression, you take too intensely
the trivial

Now

moments

of life."

Dr. Clouston

is

a trained reader of the

secrets of the soul as expressed

upon the counte-

nance, and the observation of his which I quote

me to mean a great
Americans who stay in Europe

seems to

deal.

And

all

long enough to

get accustomed to the spirit that reigns and ex-

THE OVER-EXPRESSION OF AMERICANS


presses itself there, so unexcitable as

with ours, make a similar observation

They

return to their native shores.

eyed look upon their compatriots'

compared

when they

find a wild-

faces, either of

and anxiety or

too desperate eagerness

209

tense responsiveness and good-will.

of too in-

It is

hard to

men or the women show it most.


It is true that we do not all feel about it as Dr.
Clous ton felt. Many of us, far from deploring it,
admire it. We say " What intelligence it shows
say whether the

How

from the

stolid cheeks, the codfish

eyes, the slow, inanimate

demeanor we have been

different

seeing in the British Isles

"

Intensity, rapidity,

vivacity of appearance, are indeed with us some-

thing of a nationally accepted ideal


cal notion of

irritable

weakness

'

is

and the medinot the

thing suggested by them to our mind, as


to Dr. Clouston's.

it

first

was

In a weekly paper not very

long ago I remember reading a story in which,


after describing the

beauty and interest of the

summed up her
who looked upon

heroine's personality, the author

charms by saying that


her an impression as of
irresistibly

to all
'

bottled lightning

'

was

conveyed.

Bottled lightning, in truth,


ican ideals, even of a

young

is

one of our Amer-

girl's

character

Now

TALKS TO STUDENTS

210

most ungracious, and

it is

it

may seem

some

to

persons unpatriotic, to criticise in public the physical peculiarities of one's

own

people, of one's

Besides,

family, so to speak.

may be

it

own
and

said,

said with justice, that there are plenty of bottled-

lightning

when

all is said

other countries, and

in

temperaments

of phlegmatic

plenty
that,

temperaments

and done, the more or

am making

tension about which I

and

here;

less of

such a fuss

is

very small item in the sum total of a nation's

and not worth solemn treatment

at a time

life,

when

agreeable rather than disagreeable things should

Well, in one sense the more or

be talked about.

our faces and in our unused

less of tension in

muscles

work

is

is

done by these contractions.

always the material


its

importance

One

of

much mechanical

thing: not

a small

the most

it is

not

thing that measures

size of a

often

But

it is its

place and function.

remarks

philosophical

ever

heard made was by an unlettered workman who

was doing some


ago.

one

"

There

man and

the bottom of

important."
to this case.

repairs at

is

very

my

little

house many years

difference

another," he said, "


it.

And

But what
the

little

remark

The general

between

when you go
there

is, is

to

very

certainly applies

over-contraction

may

THE OVER-CONTRACTED PERSON

211

be small when estimated in foot-pounds, but


importance

immense on account

is

on the over-contracted person

of its effects

spiritual

its

This

life.

follows as a necessary consequence from the the-

ory of our emotions to which I


the beginning of this article.

made

For by the

excited body the over-tense

mind

habit of

kept up

is

and the

sensa-

from the over-

tions that so incessantly pour in

tense

reference at

and excited
sultry, threat-

ening, exhausting, thunderous inner atmosphere

never quite clears away.


give yourself

up

to the chair

ways keep your


tracted for a rise

If

leg;

if

you never wholly


you

sit in,

but

al-

and body-muscles half con-

you breathe eighteen or nine-

teen instead of sixteen times a minute, and never


quite

breathe out at that,

what

mental mood

can you be in but one of inner panting and expectancy, and

how can

possibly forsake your

the future and

mind ?

On

its

the other hand,

how can

they gain admission to your mind

brow be

unruffled,

plete,

what

is

the

all

is

that

cause of this absence of re-

The explanation
it

your

relaxed ?

pose, this bottled-lightning quality in us

cans

if

your respiration calm and com-

and your muscles

Now

worries

of

it

that

is

Ameri-

usually given

comes from the extreme dryness of our

TALKS TO STUDENTS

212

climate and the acrobatic performances of our

thermometer, coupled with the extraordinary progressiveness of our

the hard work, the

life,

road speed, the rapid success, and

we know

things

mate

is

the

by

many

cli-

hardly more so

parts of Europe, where never-

no bottled-lightning

work done and the pace

in every great capital of

To me both

the other

Well, our

heart.

certainly exciting, but

than that of
theless

so well

all

rail-

girls are

found.

of life are as

Europe

And

extreme

as they are here.

of these pretended causes are utterly

insufficient to explain the facts.

To

explain them,

we must go not

to physical

geography, but to psychology and sociology.


latest chapter

both in sociology and in psychology

to be developed in a

quacy

is

manner that approaches ade-

the chapter

on the imitative impulse.

First Bagehot, then Tarde, then

win
tion,

here,

Royce and Bald-

have shown that invention and imita-

taken together, form, one

warp and woof of human


cial.

The

The American

life,

may

say, the entire

in so far as

it is so-

over-tension and jerkiness

and breathlessness and intensity and agony

of ex-

pression are primarily social, and only secondarily


physiological,

phenomena.

nothing more or

less,

They

are bad

habits,

bred of custom and example,

AMERICAN TENSION ONLY A BAD HABIT

213

born of the imitation of bad models and the

culti-

How

vation of false personal ideals.

how do

acquired,

local peculiarities of phrase

accent come about

ample

set

others,

are idioms

and

Through an accidental

ex-

by some one, which struck the ears

and was quoted and copied

every one in the locality chimed

till

at last

Just so

in.

of

it is

with national tricks of vocalization or intonation,

with national manners, fashions of movement and


gesture,

and habitual expressions of

face.

We,

here in America, through following a succession


of pattern-setters
trace,

whom

it

now

is

impossible to

and through influencing each other in a bad

direction,

have

at

last settled

into what, for better or worse,


teristic national type,

down

is

our

collectively

own

charac-

type with the produc-

tion of which, so far as these habits go, the

cli-

mate and conditions have had practically nothing


at all to do.

we have thus reached by our


we now have fixed upon us, for bet-

This type, which


imitativeness,
ter or worse.

vantageous

Now

no type can be wholly disad-

but, so far as our type follows the

bottled-lightning fashion,

it

cannot be wholly good.

Dr. Clouston was certainly right in thinking that


eagerness, breathlessness,

and anxiety are not signs

TALKS TO STUDENTS

214
of strength

they are signs of weakness and of bad

co-ordination.

The even

may

cheek, the codfish eye,


the

forehead, the slab-like

moment; but they

than intense expression

are
is

be

less interesting for

more promising signs

of

what we may expect

Your

of their possessor in the long run.

dull, un-

hurried worker gets over a great deal of ground,

because he never goes backward or breaks down.

Your

intense, convulsive

worker breaks down and

has bad moods so often that you never

where he may be when you most need

he

may

be having one of his

say that so
lapse,

many

and have

nerves,

'

bad

is

his help,

We

days.'

of our fellow-countrymen col-

to

be sent abroad to rest their

because they work so hard.

that this

know

an immense mistake.

neither the nature nor the

amount

suspect

I suspect that

of our

work

is

accountable for the frequency and severity of our

breakdowns, but that their cause

lies

rather in

those absurd feelings of hurry and having no time,


in that breathlessness

feature
of inner

and that

and tension, that anxiety of

solicitude for results, that lack

harmony and

with us the work

is

ease, in short,

by which

so apt to be accompanied,

and

from which a European who should do the same

work would nine times out

of ten be free.

These

perfectly
attitude

AMERICAN FATIGUE

215

wanton and unnecessary

tricks of inner

and outer manner in

social atmosphere,

ized

by many

caught from the

kept up by tradition, and ideal-

as the admirable

last straws that

us,

way

of

life,

are the

break the American camel's back,

the final overnowers of our measure of wear and


tear

and

The

voice, for example, in a surprisingly large

number

Some

fatigue.

of us has

a tired and plaintive sound.

of us are really tired (for I do not

mean

absolutely to deny that our climate has a tiring


quality)

but far more of us are not tired at

would not be

tired at all unless

wretched trick of feeling

we had

tired,

all,

or

got into a

by following the

prevalent habits of vocalization and expression.

And

if

talking high and tired, and living excitedly

and hurriedly, would only enable us


the way, even while breaking us
it

would be

pensation,

some excuse,

easy worker,
less

your

is

for

is

in the end,

going on

so.

But

the

It is

your relaxed and

in no hurry,

and quite thought-

the case.

who

down

more by

There would be some com-

different.

exact reverse

to do

most of the while of consequences, who


efficient

worker

and present and

is

and tension and anxiety,

future, all

mixed up together

in

our mind at once, are the surest drags upon steady

TALKS TO STUDENTS

216

My

progress and hindrances to our success.

col-

league, Professor Miinsterberg, an excellent ob-

here recently, has written some

who came

server,

notes on America to

German

He

papers.

says in

substance that the appearance of unusual energy


in

America

due

to

is

and

superficial

illusory,

being really

nothing but the habits of jerkiness and bad

co-ordination for which

we have

to

thank the de-

fective training of our

people.

think myself

that

it is

high time for old legends and traditional

opinions to be changed

and

that, if

any one should

begin to write about Yankee inefficiency and


bleness,

and

inability to

except to waste
paradoxical

many

it,

ence to appeal to in

acter

is

I think,

you
the

he would have a very pretty

my

its

all this

main

will agree as to the

taste

blame

and

may make,

that

where

does

facts,

It lies, of course,

where lay the

If a vicious fashion

and

for the thing, the fashion

and

origins of the disease.


taste are to

American char-

over-tension,

whatever reserves you

lie ?

of experi-

proof.

friends, if our dear

weakened by

remedy

with a great

and a great deal

facts to quote,

"Well,

do anything with time

thesis to sustain,

little

fee-

must be changed.

And, though

it

is

no

small thing to inoculate seventy millions of people

WE MUST

IMITATE

with new standards, yet,

NEW PATTERNS

if

there

to he

is

We

that will have to be done.

lief,

217

any

re-

must change

ourselves from a race that admires jerk and snap


for their

own

and looks down upon low

sakes,

and quiet ways

voices

one

as dull, to

contrary, has calm for

and

its ideal,

that,

on the

for their

own

sakes loves harmony, dignity, and ease.

So we go back to the psychology of imitation


again.

There

selves,

and that

way

only one

is
is

by some

improve our-

to

of us setting

an ex-

ample which the others may pick up and imitate


the

till

Some

new

fashion spreads from east to west.

of us are in

others to set

new

more favorable positions than

striking personally

and

no living person

sunk

tated

Some

fashions.

is

are

so

low

as not to be imi-

Thackeray somewhere says

by somebody.

so poor that he didn't have

Irishman living at his expense


is

was an

still

Irish-

poorer

and, surely, there

no human being whose example doesn't work

The very

contagiously in some particular.


at

But

imitable, so to speak.

of the Irish nation that there never

man

much more

our public institutions

peculiarities.

And,

if

achieve calmness and


son,

you

imitate

each other's

should individually

harmony

you may depend upon

idiots

it

in

your own per-

that

wave of

TALKS TO STUDENTS

218

imitation will spread from you, as surely as the

outward when a stone

circles spread

dropped

is

into a lake.

we shall not have to be absolute


Even now in New York they have form-

Fortunately,
pioneers.

ed a society for the improvement of our national vocalization,

and one perceives

machina-

its

tions already in the shape of various newspaper

paragraphs intended to
the awful thing that
that, because

more

stir

Miss Annie Payson


rable

little

volume

and general,

may

pel of relaxation, as one

dissatisfaction with

And, better

it is.

radical

up

call

is

the gos-

preached by

it,

Call, of Boston, in her

called

'

than

still

Power through

admi-

Repose,'

a book that ought to be in the hands of every

America of

teacher and student in

You need

And

others

still

this brings

But

me

to

and calm ways

rily

by

of one thing be

one more application of

life,

to

attention briefly, and then close.

gious, one feels

al-

will follow you.

psychology to practical

of easy

sex.

only be followers, then, on a path

ready opened up by others.


confident

either

is

which

I will call

If one's

example

to be effectively conta-

instinct that the less volunta-

one aims at getting imitated, the more uncon-

scious one keeps in the matter, the

more

likely

EGOISTIC PREOCCUPATIONS IMPEDE ACTION

219

Become

and

one

is

to succeed.

the imitable thing,

you may then discharge your minds

The laws

sibility for the imitation.

ture will take care of that result.


logical principle

of all respon-

on which

of social na-

Now the psycho-

this precept reposes is

law of very deep and wide-spread importance in

the conduct of our lives, and at the same time a

law which we Americans most grievously neglect.


Stated technically, the law
ing about one's self tends

is

this: that strong feel-

to arrest the

free associa-

tion

of one's objective ideas and motor processes.

We

get the extreme example of this in the men-

tal disease called

melancholic

through with
himself.

He

doomed, he
is

fixed as

own

melancholia.

is
if

situation,

patient

filled

is

emotion about

intensely painful
is

threatened,

he

annihilated, he
in a

and

is

is

guilty,

lost.

cramp on these
in all

through and

is

His mind

feelings of his

books on insanity

the

you may read that the usual varied flow


thoughts has ceased.

he

of his

His associative processes,

to use the technical phrase, are inhibited

ideas stand stock-still, shut

up

to their

and

his

one monot-

onous function of reiterating inwardly the fact of


the man's desperate estate.
influence

is

And

this inhibitive

not due to the mere fact that his emo-

TALKS TO STUDENTS

220

Joyous emotions about the

tion is painful.

A saint in

also stop the association of our ideas.

ecstasy

is

as motionless

self

and irresponsive and one-

And, without going

idea'd as a melancholiac.

as

we know how in every one


a great or sudden pleasure may paralyze the flow
Ask young people returning from a
of thought.

far as ecstatic saints,

party or a spectacle, and


it

was.

is

all

" Oh,

it

all

was fine !

it

you

the information

excited about

was fine !

my

what

was fine ! n

are likely to receive

until the excitement has calmed

every one of

it

it,

hearers has

down.

Probably

been made tempo-

rarily half-idiotic

by some great success or piece

of good fortune.

" Good !

we can

good

"

is all

at such times say to ourselves until

own very

smile at our

Now

good

from

practical

all this

conclusion.

trains of ideation

foolishness.

we can draw an extremely


our
If, namely, we wish

and

varied and effective,

them from the

flection

upon them,

be formed.

volition to be copious

we must form

freeing

their results.

we

and

the habit of

inhibitive influence of re-

of egoistic preoccupation about

Such a

habit, like other habits,

Prudence and duty and

can

self-regard,

emotions of ambition and emotions of anxiety,


have, of course, a needful part to play in our lives.

LET YOUR MACHINERY RUN FREE

But

confine

them

221

as far as possible to the occa-

sions

when you

tions

and deciding on your plans of campaign, and

making your general

are

keep them out of the

and execution

cision is reached

the day, dismiss absolutely

about the outcome.

care

When

details.

resolu-

once a de-

the order of

is

and

responsibility

all

Unci amp, in a word,

your intellectual and practical machinery, and


it

run free

and the service

Who

twice as good.
4

rattled

'

it

of failure

importance of the

act.

well?

recite

who get
Those who think

scholars

in the recitation-room ?

of the possibilities

Often

Who

those

do you will be

will

are the

let

and

are those

who

great

feel the

who do

most

are

indif-

ferent.

Their ideas reel themselves out of their

memory

of their

own

accord.

Why

the complaint so often that social

land

is

either less rich

fatiguing than

world?

it

To what

is

is

in

life

do we hear
in

New Eng-

and expressive or more

some other parts

the fact,

if

fact

it

of

the

be,

due

unless to the over-active conscience of the people,


afraid of either saying

something too

trivial

and

obvious, or something insincere, or something un-

worthy of one's interlocutor, or something in some

way

or other not adequate to the occasion

can conversation possibly steer

itself

How

through such

TALKS TO STUDENTS

222

a sea of responsibilities and inhibitions as this?

On

the other hand, conversation does flourish and

society

is

refreshing,

and neither dull on the one

hand nor exhausting from

its effort

on the other,

wherever people forget their scruples and take


the brakes off their hearts, and let their tongues

wag

automatically and irresponsibly as they

as

will.

They

talk

much

in

pedagogic circles to-day

about the duty of the teacher to prepare for every

To some extent

lesson in advance.

But we Yankees

this is useful.

whom

are assuredly not those to

such a general doctrine should be preached.


are only too careful as

The advice

it is.

We

I should

give to most teachers would be in the words of

one who

is

an admirable teacher.

herself

yourself in the subject so well that

it

Prepare

shall be

always

on tap: then in the class-room trust your spontaneity and fling

My
dents,

advice to

away

all

students, especially to girl-stu-

would be somewhat

cycle-chain

further care.

may be

similar.

too tight, so

may

Just as a

bi-

one's careful-

ness and conscientiousness be so tense as to hinder

the running of one's mind.

Take, for example,

many successive days of


examination impending. One ounce of good nerv-

periods

when

there are

MOBAL OVER-TENSION
ous tone in an examination
of anxious study for
really to do

is

worth many pounds

in advance.

it

223

If

you want

your best at an examination,

away the book the day

fling

before, say to yourself, " I

won't waste another minute on this miserable thing,

and

I don't care

Say

this sincerely,

play, or go to
results

an iota whether I succeed or not."

and

feel it;

bed and

sleep,

and go out and

and

am

sure the

next day will encourage you to use the

method permanently.

I have heard this advice

given to a student by Miss Call, whose book on

muscular relaxation

quoted a moment ago.

her later book, entitled

As

In

a Matter of Course,'

the gospel of moral relaxation, of dropping things

from the mind, and not


equal success.

And

sects

caring

',

is

preached with

Not only our preachers, but our

friends the theosophists


religious

'

are

and mind-curers of various

also

harping on this string.

with the doctors, the Delsarteans, the vari-

ous mind curing sects, and such writers as Mr.


Dresser, Prentice Mulford, Mr. Horace Fletcher,

and Mr. Trine

to

help,

and the whole band of

schoolteachers and magazine-readers chiming in,


it

really looks as

if

a good start might be

the direction of changing

made

in

our American mental

habit into something more indifferent and strong.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

224

Worry means always and


of associations

and

loss

invariably inhibition

course, the sovereign cure for

and

faith;

this, of course,

Of

effective power.

of

worry

you

also

is

religious

The

know.

turbulent billows of the fretful surface leave the

deep parts of the ocean undisturbed, and to him

who

has a hold on vaster and more permanent

hourly vicissitudes of his personal

realities the

The

destiny seem relatively insignificant things.

really religious person is accordingly unshakable

and

full of

equanimity, and calmly ready for any

day may bring

duty that the

charmingly illustrated by a
I recently

little

forth.

This

is

work with which

became acquainted, " The Practice

the Presence of God, the Best Ruler of a

of

Holy

Life,

by Brother Lawrence, being Conversations

and

Letters

of

Nicholas

Herman

Translated from the French." *


passages,

the

conversations

direct

discourse.

melite

friar,

said that

the

ward

Brother

converted

at

of Lorraine,

few

I extract a

being given in

in-

Lawrence was a CarParis in 1666.

"He

he had been footman to M. Fieubert,

Treasurer, and that


fellow,

who broke

he was

a great awk-

everything.

That he had

desired to be received into a monastery, thinking


Fleming

H. Re veil Company,

New York.

BROTHER LAWRENCE
that

lie

would there be made

225

awk-

to smart for his

wardness and the faults he should commit, and so


he should
ures

God

sacrifice to

but that

God had

his life,

"

satisfaction

That he had long been troubled

the

men

in the

damned

it

me, whether

only for

I engaged

Him ;

whatever becomes of

be lost or saved,

will always con-

tinue to act purely for the love of Grod.

have this good at

least, that till

all that is in

me

to love

then he had passed his

in a re-

God, and I have en-

ligious life only for the love of


to act

that

but that he had thus

reasoned with himself about

deavored

mind from

in

world could not have per-

suaded him to the contrary

done

in that

a certain belief that he should be


all

its pleas-

disappointed him, he hav-

ing met with nothing but


state.

with

death

Him.

life in

I
.

shall

shall have

That

since

perfect liberty

and

continual joy.
"

That when an occasion of practising some

virtue offered, he addressed himself to God, saying,

me

'

than

Lord, I cannot do this unless thou enablest

and that then he received strength more


sufficient.

That,

when he had

failed in his

duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God,


'I shall never

do otherwise,

if

You

leave

me

to

TALKS TO STUDENTS

226
myself:

it

You who must

is

and mend what

is

amiss.'

my

failing,

after this

he gave

hinder

That

himself no further uneasiness about

it.

" That he had been lately sent into


to

buy the provision

of wine for the society,

was a very unwelcome task


had no turn

for

Burgundy

business,

which

for him, because

and because he was

lame, and could not go about the boat but

gave himself no uneasiness about

was

his business

ward found

it

That he

it,

nor about the

said to God, 'It

he was about,' and that he

ter passed,

that he could not tell

but that

it

after-

That he had been

well performed.

sent into Auvergne, the year before,

same account

by

That, however, he

rolling himself over the casks.

purchase of the wine.

he

upon the

how

the mat-

proved very well.

" So, likewise, in his business in the kitchen

which he had naturally a great

(to

aversion), having

accustomed himself to do everything there for the


love of God, and with prayer
for his grace to

upon

all

occasions,

do his work well, he had found

everything easy during fifteen years that he had

been employed there.


"

That he was very well pleased with the post

he was

now

in,

but that he was as ready to quit

that as the former, since he

was always pleasing

CONCLUSION

227

himself in every condition, by doing


for the love of

"

little

things

God.

That the goodness of God assured him he

would not forsake him

and that he would

utterly,

give him strength to bear whatever evil he per-

mitted to happen to him

had no occasion

feared nothing, and

to

do

it,

to consult

when he
he had always come away

with anybody about his

had attempted

and, therefore, that he

That,

state.

more perplexed."

The simple-heartedness

of

Lawrence, and the relaxation of

and anxieties

solicitudes

good Brother

the

all

unnecessary

is

a refreshing

in him,

spectacle.

The need

of feeling responsible all the livelong

day has been preached long enough in our

Long enough

England.

and
adays

exclusively, at any rate,

long enough to the female sex.

girl-students
is

New

What

our

and woman-teachers most need now-

not the exacerbation, but rather the ton-

Even now I
hearers may be mak-

ing-down of their moral tensions.


fear that

some one

of

my

fair

ing an undying resolve to become strenuously relaxed, cost


life.

It

is

what

it will,

for the

remainder of her

needless to say that that

is

not the

way

TALKS TO STUDENTS

228
do

it.

seem,

is

doing

it

to

The way

do

it,

paradoxical as

it

may

genuinely not to care whether you are


or not.

God, you may


it,

to

Then, possibly, by the grace of

all at

once find that you are doing

and, having learned

what the

trick feels like,

you may (again by the grace of God) be enabled


to

go on.

And

that something like this

experience of

all

most earnest wish.

my

hearers

may
is,

be the happy

in closing,

my

II.

ON A CERTAIN BLINDNESS

HUMAN

IN

BEINGS
Our
big or

judgments concerning the worth of things,

depend on the feelings the things

little,

arouse in

Where we judge

us.

precious in consequence of the idea

thing to be

we frame

of

it,

this is only because the idea is itself associated

already with a feeling.


ingless,

and

mind could
and

if

we were

If

were the "only things our

ideas

entertain,

we should

dislikes at a stroke,

lose all our likes

and be unable to point

any one situation or experience in


able or significant than

Now

which we

human

treat,

is

all are afflicted in

of creatures

We

will

and people

to

more valu-

life

any other.

the blindness in

this discourse

radically feel-

beings, of

which

the blindness with

regard to the feelings

different

from ourselves.

are practical beings, each of us with limited

functions and duties to perform.


feel intensely the

Each

importance of his

is

own

bound

to

duties and

the significance of the situations that call these

TALKS TO STUDENTS

230

But this feeling is in each of us a vital


for sympathy with which we vainly look

forth.
secret,

The

to others.

their

own

much absorbed

others are too

vital secrets to take

Hence the stupidity and

in

an interest in ours.

injustice of our opinions,

so far as they deal with the significance of alien


lives-

Hence the

as they

presume

falsity of our

to decide in

judgments, so far

an absolute way on

the value of other persons' conditions or ideals.

Take our dogs and


by a

are

world
ness,

tie

ourselves, connected as

more intimate than most,

and yet, outside

how

in this

ties

of that tie of friendly fond-

insensible, each of us, to all that

life significant for

we

the other

makes

we to the rapture

of bones under hedges, or smells of

trees

and

lamp-posts, they to the delights of literature and

As you

art.

you ever

fell

fox-terrier of

will

sit

reading the most moving romance

upon, what sort of a judge

your behavior?

With

all

is

your

his

good

toward you, the nature of your conduct

absolutely excluded from his comprehension.


sit

there like a senseless statue, when

is

To

you might be

taking him to walk and throwing sticks for him


to catch

What

queer disease

is

this that

comes

over you every day, of holding things and staring


at

them

like that for

hours together, paralyzed of

WHAT THE

BLINDNESS

motion and vacant of

conscious

all

African savages came nearer the truth


too,

missed

it,

had

copy of the

come

just

New York

was devouring

The

life?
;

but they,

when they gathered wonderingly

round one of our American


interior,

231

IS

travellers

who, in the

into possession of a stray

Commercial Advertiser, and

When

column by column.

it

he

got through, they offered him a high price for the

mysterious object

wanted

it,

and, being asked for

they said

what they

" For an eye medicine,"

that being the only reason they could conceive of


for the protracted bath

eyes upon

The

which he had given

its surface.

spectator's

judgment

is

sure to miss

root of the matter, and to possess no truth.

subject judged

knows

fails

more while the spectator knows

vision,
is

we

is

conflict of opinion

are

bound

the

The

a part of the world of reality

which the judging spectator

ever there

his

to see,

less

knows

and, where-

and difference

of

to believe that the truer side

the side that feels the more, and not the side

that feels the

Let

me

take a personal example of the kind that

befalls each

Some
tains of

less.

one of us daily

years ago, while journeying in the

North Carolina,

moun-

passed by a large num-

TALKS TO STUDENTS

232
ber of

coves/ as they

'

of small valleys

call

between the

them

there, or

heads

which had been

hills,

The impression on my
unmitigated squalor. The settler

newly cleared and planted.

mind was one of


had

every case cut

in

and

able trees,

The

left their

down

the more manage-

charred stumps standing.

had girdled and

larger trees he

killed, in

order that their foliage should not cast a shade.

He had

then built a

log cabin, plastering

chinks with clay, and had set up a

tall

its

zigzag rail

fence around the scene of his havoc, to keep the


pigs

and

cattle out.

had irregularly

Finally, he

planted the intervals between the stumps and

with Indian corn, which grew among the

trees

chips;

babes
pigs

and there he dwelt with

an

axe, a gun, a

and chickens feeding

few

his

wife and

utensils,

and some

in the woods, being the

sum total of his possessions.


The forest had been destroyed
4

improved

of ulcer,

grace to

'

it

and what had

out of existence was hideous, a sort

without a single element of

make up for

artificial

the loss of Nature's beauty.

Ugly, indeed, seemed the

life

of

the squatter,

scudding, as the sailors say, under bare poles, be-

ginning again away back where our


started,

first

ancestors

and by hardly a single item the better

off

THE

'COVES' IN

THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS

233

for all the achievements of the intervening generations.

Talk about going back

by the

myself, oppressed
by.

Talk of a country

for one's children

to nature

I said to

dreariness, as I drove

life

for one's old age

and

Never thus, with nothing but

the bare ground and one's bare hands to fight the


battle

Never, without the best spoils of culture

woven

in

The

beauties and commodities gained

by the centuries are

sacred.

They

No modern

tage and birthright.

are our heri-

person ought to

be willing to live a day in such a state of rudimentariness and denudation.

Then

I said to the mountaineer

who was drivthey who have

What sort of people are


" All of us," he
to make these new clearings ? "
replied. " Why, we ain't happy here, unless we are
ing me, "

getting one of these coves under cultivation."

had been losing the whole

in-

Because to

me

instantly felt that I

ward

significance of the situation.

the olearings spoke of naught but denudation, I

thought that to those whose sturdy arms and


obedient axes had made them they

no other

story.

But,

when

could

tell

they looked on the

hideous stumps, what they thought of was personal


victory.

The

chips, the girdled trees,

and the

vile

TALKS TO STUDENTS

234
split rails

spoke of honest sweat, persistent

The cabin was

reward.

final

for self
ing,

and wife and babes.

toil

and

a warrant of safety

In short, the clear-

which

to

me was

was

to

them a symbol redolent with moral

retina,

mere ugly picture on the

memories and sang a very paean of duty, struggle,

and
I

success.

had been

as blind to the peculiar ideality of

would

their conditions as they certainly

been
at

to the ideality of mine,

my

also

have

had they had a peep

strange indoor academic

ways of

life

at

Cambridge.

Wherever

a process of

who

eagerness to him

becomes genuinely
eagerness
ties,

is

communicates an

life

lives

it,

significant.

there

the

life

Sometimes

the

more knit up with the motor

activi-

sometimes with the perceptions, sometimes

with the imagination, sometimes with reflective


But, wherever

thought.
zest,

the

there

is

tingle,
i

tive sense

found, there

is

the

the excitement of reality; and

importance
in

it is

'

in the only real

and

posi-

which importance ever anywhere

can be.

Robert Louis Stevenson has illustrated this by


a case, drawn from the sphere of the imagination,

THE LANTERN BEAKERS


in

an essay which

really think deserves to be-

come immortal, both


and the excellence
"

Toward

writes, "

of its form.

September," Stevenson

of

school-time was drawing near, and

the nights were already black,


sally

from our respective

known

that

it

we would

The thing was

had worn a rut

merce of Great Britain

begin to

each equipped

villas,

with a tin bull's-eye lantern.


well

matter

for the truth of its

the end

when

235

and the

in the

com-

grocers, about

windows with

the due time, began to garnish their

We

our particular brand of luminary.

so

buckled to the waist upon a cricket

wore them

belt,

and over

them, such was the rigor of the game, a buttoned

They smelled noisomely

top-coat.

They never burned

aright,

always burn our fingers.


the pleasure of

boy with a

we had

and

it

them

them

lanterns about

I suppose, that

bull's-

at being fishermen.

at their belts,

in that

tend to be policemen.

asked for

but theirs were not

we ever play

police carried

plainly copied

his top-coat

was from them,

got the hint

eyes, nor did

The

under

and yet a

fanciful,

The fishermen used

nothing more.
their boats,

though they would

Their use was naught,

them merely

bull's-eye

of blistered tin.

yet

we

and we had

did not pre-

Burglars, indeed,

we may


TALKS TO STUDENTS

236

have had some haunting thought of


certainly an eye to past ages

more common, and

it

for all in

when

lanterns were

to certain story-books in

all,

But

the pleasure of the thing

was

substantive; and to

be a boy with a bull's-eye

under his top-coat was good enough for


"

When

two

which

to figure very largely.

we had found them


take

and we had

us.

of these asses met, there

would be

an anxious 'Have you got your lantern?' and


a gratified

Yes

very needful, too

'

That was the shibboleth, and


for, as it

was the rule

keep

to

our glory contained, none could recognize a lantern-bearer unless (like the polecat)

Four or

would sometimes climb

five

by the

smell.

into the belly

of a ten-man lugger, with nothing but the thwarts

above them,

or chose out

for the cabin

some hollow

wind might whistle

was usually locked,

of the links

where the

Then

the coats

overhead.

unbuttoned, and the bull's-eyes

would be

dis-

covered; and in the chequering glimmer, under


the huge,

windy

hall of the night,

and cheered by

a rich steam of toasting tinware, these fortunate

young gentlemen would crouch together

in the

cold sand of the links, or on the scaly bilges of the


fishing-boat,
talk.

Woe

and delight them with inappropriate


is

me

that I cannot give

some

speci-

STEVENSON QUOTED
mens

But the

talk

237

was but a condiment, and

these gatherings themselves only accidents in the

The

career of the lantern-bearer.


bliss

was

to

walk by yourself

essence of this

in the black night,

the slide shut, the top-coat buttoned, not a ray escaping, whether to conduct your footsteps or to

make your glory


ness in the dark

public,

and

mere

pillar

the while, deep

all

the privacy of your fool's heart, to

of dark-

down

in

know you had

a bull's-eye at your belt, and to exult and sing

over the knowledge.

"It

said that a poet has died

is

breast of the most stolid.

may

in the

be contended

(somewhat minor) bard in almost

rather that a

every case survives, and


possessor.

It

young

Justice

is

the spice of

life

to his

not done to the versatility

is

and the unplumbed childishness of man's imagiHis

nation.

rude

mound

chamber
lighted

from without may seem but a

life

of

mud

there will be some golden

at the heart of

and

for as

in

which he dwells de-

dark as his pathway seems

to the observer, he will

eye at his

it,

have some kind of

bull's-

belt.

..." There
the quick of

is

one fable that touches very near

life,

the

fable of the

monk who

passed into the woods, heard a bird break into

TALKS TO STUDENTS

238

song, hearkened for a

and found him-

or two,

trill

self at his return a stranger at his

had been absent

for he

convent gates

and of

fifty years,

all his

comrades there survived but one to recognize him.


It is not only in the

woods that

though perhaps he

carols,

most doleful

sings in the

his

enchanter

He

native there.

is

places.

him and chuckles, and

this

The miser

hears

days are moments.

With no more apparatus than an evil-smelling


lantern, I have evoked him on the naked links.
All
of

that

life

two

him.

strands,

And

to value,

nicable.

is

not merely mechanical

it is

just this that

makes

And

just a

it is

There, to be sure,

sires

so hard

and the delight of each so incommu-

wonder when we turn

to

life

knowledge

of this,

remembrance of those fortunate hours

it

spun out

seeking for that bird and hearing

the bird has sung to us, that

as

is

consists of

and cheap

we

fills

in

and

which

us with such

to the pages of the realist.

find a picture of life in so far

mud and

of old iron, cheap de-

fears, that

which we are ashamed

remember and that which we

whether we forget

are

careless

but of the note of that time-

devouring nightingale we hear no news.

..." Say

that

we came

[in such a realistic ro-

mance] on some such business

as that of

my

Ian-

STEVENSON QUOTED
tern-bearers on the links,

and described the boys

upon by

as yery cold, spat

drearily surrounded, all of


their talk as silly

To

was.

flurries of rain,

which they were

and indecent, which

and
and

certainly

it

the eye of the observer they are wet

and cold and drearily surrounded


selves,

239

and they are

pleasure, the

in the

but ask them-

heaven of a recondite

ground of which

an ill-smelling

is

lantern.

u For, to repeat, the ground of a man's joy


often hard to hit.

mere accessory,

It

may

is

hinge at times upon a

like the lantern

may

it

reside in

the mysterious inwards of psychology. ... It has


so little

bond with externals

that

touch them not, and the man's true


he consents to

live, lie

may even

it

life,

for

which

altogether in the field of

fancy. ... In such a case the poetry runs under-

The observer (poor

ground.

ments

!)

is

all

abroad.

but to court deception.

soul,

with his docu-

For to look at the man

We

shall see the

from which he draws his nourishment


himself

is

is

trunk
but he

above and abroad in the green dome

hummed through by winds and nested


by nightingales. And the true realism were

of foliage,
in

that of the poets, to climb after


rel,

and catch some glimpse

him

of

like a squir-

the

heaven in

TALKS TO STUDENTS

240

which he

And

lives.

everywhere,

is

the true realism, always and

that of the poets

joy resides, and give

to find out

where

a voice far beyond singing.

it

" For to miss the joy

is

to miss

In the joy

all.

of the actors lies the sense of any action.

That

is

To one who

the explanation, that the excuse.

has not the secret of the lanterns the scene upon


the links

meaningless.

is

And

hence the haunt-

ing and truly spectral unreality of realistic books.

we

... In each

miss the personal poetry, the en-

chanted atmosphere, that rainbow work of fancy

what

that clothes

what

base

is

is

naked and seems

instead of soaring

away

among

for

salts

no man

and

like

dough,

like a balloon into the

each

colors of the sunset;

ceivable

dead

in each, life falls

to ennoble

is

true,

each incon-

lives in the external truth

acids,

but in the warm, phantas-

magoric chamber of his brain, with the painted

windows and the

storied wall." *

These paragraphs are the best thing I know in


Stevenson.

all

Indeed,

it is.

of us has

own.

joy

is

to miss all."

finite,

and each one

some single specialized vocation of

And

it

seems as

if

The Lantern-bearers,' in the volume

Abridged in the quotation.

his

energy in the service of

particular duties might be got only

its
*

To miss the
Yet we are but
"

entitled

by harden-

Across the Plains.'

KOYCE QUOTED

241

ing the heart toward everything

Our deadness toward


of joy

but one particular kind

all

would thus be the

unlike them.

we

price

inevitably have

Only

pay for being practical creatures.

to

some

dreamer, some philosopher, poet, or

pitiful

when

romancer, or

becomes a

in

the

common

man

practical

hard externality give

lover, does the

way, and a gleam of insight into the ejective


world, as Clifford called

beyond

life

the vast world of inner

different

so

us,

it,

from that of outer

Then

seeming, illuminate our mind.

the whole

scheme of our customary values gets confounded,


then our

self is riven

new

to pieces, then a

and

its

centre

narrow interests

fly

and a new perspective

must be found.

The change
Josiah Royce

"What,

is

then,

is

our neighbor?

Thou

ent from thine.

colleague,

feeling, as
4

hast said,

Thou hast resomehow differA pain in him

not like a pain in me, but something far easier

to bear.'

He

than thou ; his

seems to thee a
life is

dim,

it is

little

less living

cold, it is a pale fire

own burning desires.

So, dimly

and

instinct hast thou lived with thy neighbor,

and

beside thy

by

my

garded his thought, his

is

by

well described

hast

known him

not, being blind.

Thou

hast

made

TALKS TO STUDENTS

242

him] a thing, no Self

[of
this

illusion,

Pain

is

In

is joy,

to learn the truth.

everywhere, even as in thee.

the songs of the forest birds

all

wounded and

of the
tor's

and simply try

pain, joy

power

iads of

in all the cries

dying, struggling in the cap-

in the boundless sea

where the myr-

water-creatures strive and die

and sorrow;

in

all

amid

all

men;

in all sick-

exultation

and hope,

the countless hordes of savage


ness

Have done with

at all.

everywhere, from the lowest to the noblest, the

same conscious, burning, wilful


lessly

found, end-

manifold as the forms of the living creatures,

unquenchable as the
impulses that even
selfish heart.

fires

now

Lift

of the sun, real as these

throb in thine

up thy

if

own

little

eyes, behold that life,

and then turn away, and forget


but,

life is

it as

thou canst

thou hast known that, thou hast begun to

know thy duty."*


This higher vision of an inner significance in
what, until then,

we had

realized only in the

dead

external way, often comes over a person suddenly

when it does so, it makes an epoch in his history.


As Emerson says, there is a depth in those
moments that constrains us to ascribe more reality
and,

The Religious Aspect

of Philosophy, pp. 157-162 (abridged).

OBERMANN QUOTED
them than

to

243

The

to all other experiences.

pas-

sion of love will shake one like an explosion, or

some act

will

awaken a remorseful compunction

that hangs like a cloud over

This

one's later day.

all

meaning

mystic sense of hidden

upon us often from non-human natural


I

take

Obermann,

passage from

this

novel that had some vogue in

March

7.

It

was dark and rather

gloomy, and walked because

things.

French

day

its

starts

" Paris,

cold.

had nothing

was

to do.

I passed

by some flowers placed breast-high upon

a wall.

A jonquil in

bloom was

strongest expression of desire

fume
for

of the year.

I felt all the

was the

first per-

happiness destined

This unutterable harmony of souls, the

man.

phantom

it

It is the

there.

of the ideal world, arose in

me

complete.

anything so great or so instantaneous.

never

felt

know

not what shape, what analogy, what secret

of relation

it

was that made me

see in this flower

a limitless beauty. ... I shall never enclose in


a conception this power, this immensity that noth-

ing will express


tain

form that nothing will con-

this

this ideal of a better

but which

made."

it

world which one

would seem that nature has not

feels,

De Senancour Obermann,
:

Lettre

XXX.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

244

Wordsworth and Shelley

sense of a limitless significance in natural

this

things.
tere

are similarly full of

Wordsworth

In

and moral
"

was a somewhat aus-

it

significance,

'lonely cheer.'

To every natural form, rock, fruit, or flower,


Even the loose stones that cover the highway,
I gave a

moral

life

Or linked them
Lay bedded
That

in

to

saw them

some

feeling

feel
:

some quickening

the great mass


soul,

and

all

beheld respired with inward meaning." *

" Authentic tidings of invisible things

what

this

"

Just

hidden presence in nature was, which

Wordsworth

so rapturously felt,

and

in the light

of which he lived, tramping the hills for days


together, the poet never could explain logically or

Yet

in articulate conceptions.

may

to the reader

who

himself have had gleaming moments of a

similar

sort

the verses

in

which Wordsworth

simply proclaims the fact of them come with a


heart-satisfying authority

" Magnificent

The morning

rose, in

memorable pomp,

Glorious as ere I had beheld.

The

In front

sea lay laughing at a distance


*

The Prelude, Book

III.

near

Wordsworth's inner life


The

solid

mountains shone, bright as the clouds,

empyrean

Grain-tinctured, drenched in

And
Was

in the
all

245

meadows and

light

the lower grounds

the sweetness of a

common dawn,

Dews, vapors, and the melody of birds,

And
"

laborers going forth to

Ah

need I say, dear Friend, that to the brim

My heart

was

full

Were then made

Was

the fields."

till

for

made no vows, but vows


me bond unknown to me
;

given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,

A dedicated

Spirit.

On

walked,

In thankful blessedness, which yet survives." *

As Wordsworth

walked,

with his strange

filled

inner joy, responsive thus to the secret

nature round
tightly
their

about

him, his

and narrowly intent upon

crops and

lambs and

rural
their

fences,

life

of

neighbors,

own

affairs,

must have

thought him a very insignificant and foolish personage.

them
or

to

what

life

It surely

never occurred to any one of

wonder what was going on


it

might be worth.

of his carried the

And

him

yet that inner

burden of a significance that

has fed the souls of others, and

day with inner

inside of

fills

them

to this

joy.

Richard Jefferies has written a remarkable auto*The Prelude, Book

IV.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

246

The Story

biographic document entitled

many

It tells, in

Heart.

pages, of the rapture

with which in youth the sense of the

On

him.

filled

my

of

of nature

life

a certain hill-top, he says

" I was utterly alone with the sun and the earth.

Lying down on the

my

soul to

and the distant

sea, far

grass, I spoke in

the earth, the sun, the

air,

With

beyond

sight.

which

exalted

I held

with the earth, the sun and sky, the stars

hidden by the

me,

light,

all

the intensity of feeling

communion

the intense

all

in no man-

with the ocean,

ner can the thrilling depth of these feelings be


written,

with these

prayed as

keys of an instrument.

with

light,

warm
the

the strong

pure

sky, the

inexpressible

The

earth,

they were the

if

great sun, burning

dear

beauty of

prayed.

emotion, was in
a passion.

itself,

hid

my

the

of

ocean,

the thought

air,

filled

all

The

me with

With

a rapture, an ecstasy, an inflatus.


flatus, too,

earth,

prayer, this soul-

not for an object


face

this in-

the

in

grass.

it

was

was

wholly prostrated, I lost myself in the wrestle,


I

was rapt and

carried away.

herd accidently seen

me

would only have thought


minutes.

Had any

shep-

lying on the turf, he


I

was resting a few

made no outward show.

Who

could

RICHARD JEFFERIES QUOTED

247

have imagined the whirlwind of passion that was


going on in

me

as I reclined there

Surely, a worthless hour of

by the usual standards


in

of

life,

"*

when measured

commercial value.

of

Yet

what other kind of value can the preciousness


any

made

hour,

consist, if

it

precious

by any standard,

consist not in feelings of excited sig-

nificance like these, engendered in

some one, by

what the hour contains ?


Yet

so blind

and dead does the clamor of our

own

practical interests

that

it

seems almost as

come worthless

make
if it

us to

all

other things,

were necessary to be-

as a practical being,

if

one

is

to

hope to attain to any breadth of insight into the


impersonal world of worths as such, to have any
perception of
scale.

life's

meaning on a large objective

Only your mystic, your dreamer, or your

insolvent tramp or loafer, can afford so sympathetic

an occupation, an occupation which will

change the usual standards of human value in the


twinkling of an eye, giving to foolishness a place

ahead of power, and laying low in a minute the


distinctions

ventional

which

man

it

takes a hard-working con-

a lifetime to build up.

be a prophet, at this rate

but you cannot be a

worldly success.
*

You may

Op. cit, Boston, Roberts, 1883, pp.

5, 6.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

248

Walt Whitman,

many of

accounted by

is

us a contemporary prophet.

human

usual

the

instance,

for

He

abolishes

brings

distinctions,

con-

all

ventionalisms into solution, and loves and cele-

human
common

brates hardly any

elementary ones
race.

For

this

save those

members

to all

of the

he becomes a sort of ideal tramp,

on omnibus-tops

rider

attributes

and

and,

ferry-boats,

considered either practically or academically, a

His verses are

unproductive being.

worthless,

but ejaculations

things

mostly without subject

or verb, a succession of interjections on an im-

mense

scale.

ously as

He

felt the

Wordsworth

human crowd

felt the

as raptur-

mountains,

felt it as

an overpoweringly significant presence, simply to


absorb one's mind in which should be business
sufficient

man.

and worthy to

As he

he feels:

fill

the days of a serious

Brooklyn

crosses

ferry, this is

what

Flood-tide below

me

watch you, face to face

Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high!

you

also face to face.

Crowds of men and women

how

On

I see

curious you are to

attired in the usual costumes

me

the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross,

returning home, are more curious to


pose;

me than you

sup-

;; ;

WALT WHITMAN QUOTED


And you
are

249

that shall cross from shore to shore years hence,

more

to me,

and more

in

my

meditations, than you

might suppose.
Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from
shore to shore

Others will watch the run of the flood-tide


Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west,

and the heights of Brooklyn

to the south

and

east

Others will see the islands large and small


Fifty years hence, others will see

them

as they cross, the

sun

half an hour high.

hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years


hence, others will see them,

Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the


falling

back

to the sea of the ebb-tide.

It avails not, neither

Just as you feel

time or place

distance avails not.

when you look on

the river and sky, so I

felt;

Just as any of you

is

one of a living crowd, I was one of a

crowd
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and
the bright flow, I was refresh'd

Just as you stand and lean on the


swift current, I stood, yet

rail,

yet hurry with the

was hurried

Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the

thick-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I looked.


I too

many and many

an hour high
I

a time cross'd the river, the sun half

watched the Twelfth-month


the

air,

sea-gulls

saw them high in

with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,

TALKS TO STUDENTS

250
I

saw how the glistening yellow


and

up parts

lit

of their bodies,

in strong shadow,

left the rest

saw the slow-wheeling

circles,

and the gradual edging

toward the south.

Saw

the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at


anchor,

work

The

sailors at

The

scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the

in the rigging, or out astride the spars

frolicsome crests and glistening

The

afar growing

stretch

dimmer and dimmer,

walls of the granite store-houses

On

by the docks

the gray
;

the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chim-

neys burning high .... into the night,


Casting their nicker of black .... into the clefts of streets.
These, and

And
tiful

all else,

were to

me

the same as they are to you.*

so on, through the rest of a divinely beau-

And,

poem.

if

you wish

to see

what

this

hoary loafer considered the most worthy way of


profiting

by

life's

heaven-sent opportunities, read

the delicious volume of his letters to a young car-

conductor

who had become

his friend

"New York,
"

Dear Pete,

bright and

'

Oct.

It is splendid here this

cool.

9,

1868.

forenoon

was out early taking a short

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (abridged).


'

WALT WHITMAN QUOTED

251

walk by the river only two squares from where


live.
fill

Shall I

up?

room

tell

you about [my

I generally

writing,

etc.,

just to

life]

spend the forenoon in

then take a bath

go out about twelve and

fix

my

up and

somewhere

loafe

or call

on someone down town or on business, or perhaps

if it is

very pleasant and I feel like

a trip with some driver friend on

it

ride

Broadway from

28rd Street to Bowling Green, three miles each

(Every day

way.

every hour

know

and recreation

You

occupied with something.)

is

a never ending

it is

have plenty to do,

I find I

for

me

amusement and study

to ride a couple of hours

on a pleasant afternoon on a Broadway stage in


this

You

way.

see everything as

of living, endless panorama

shops

buildings and great windows

walks crowds of

women

you

pass, a sort

and splendid

on the broad

side-

richly dressed continually

passing, altogether different, superior in style

and

in

fact

looks from any to be seen anywhere else


a perfect stream of people

high

and plenty

style,

men

of foreigners

too dressed in

and then in

the streets the thick crowd of carriages, stages,


carts, hotel

and private coaches, and

sorts of vehicles
after mile,

and many

first

in fact all

class teams, mile

and the splendor of such a great

street

'

TALKS TO STUDENTS

252

and so many

many

of

ornamental, noble buildings

tall,

them of white marble, and the gayety and

motion on every side

much

you

attraction all this

is

will not

on a

wonder how

fine day, to a great

who enjoys so much seeing the


busy world move by him, and exhibiting itself for
loafer like

his

me,

amusement, while he takes

it

easy and just

looks on and observes." *

Truly a

you may

futile

say,

way

of passing the time,

and not altogether

grown-up man.

And

yet,

some of

creditable to a

from the deepest point

who knows the more of truth, and who


knows the less, Whitman on his omnibus-top,
of view,

full of the

inner joy with which the spectacle in-

which the

spires him, or you, full of the disdain


futility of his

occupation excites ?

When your ordinary Brooklynite or New Yorker,


leading a

life

replete with too

and careworn about


the ferry or goes

not thus
as did
all

'

soar

much luxury, or

his personal affairs, crosses

up Broadway,

away

tired

his

fancy does

into the colors of the sunset

Whitman's, nor does he inwardly

realize at

the indisputable fact that this world never did

anywhere or at any time contain more


divinity, or of eternal meaning, than
* Calamus, Boston, 1897, pp.

41, 42.

of essential
is

embodied

CARLYLE AND SCHOPENHAUER


in the fields of vision over

There

lessly pass.
is

There

death.

its fruits

together.

mon, the

real

and

is

There

and the

is

the text and the ser-

it

is

it

all

is

dead and

and

flatness,

to the

disgust.

a sad sight " says Carlyle, walking

some one who appeals

the splendor of the stars.

new

tion of the scene to

And

to

him

to note

that very repeti-

men

generations of

in

seculorum, that eternal recurrence of the

secula

common

order,

which so

mystic satisfaction,

is

fills

Whitman with

to a Schopenhauer,

emotional anaesthesia, the feeling of

emptiness

'

on the largest

recurrent
fly

inanities,

scale,

it all,

the

What

is

he asks, but the same

buzzing, forevermore

woven

with the

awful inner

it instils.

dog barking, the

the same

of fibre of which such

material

from out of which he views

chief ingredient of the tedium

same

But

at night with

life

struggle and

ideal in one.

common, pure vulgarism,

Hech

there, a step away,

human

the old

jaded and unquickened eye

"

his eyes so care-

the only kind of beauty there

is

There

ever was.

is life

which

253

Y"et of

the kind
is

the

of all the excitements, joys,

and

inanities

meanings that ever were, or ever

consist

shall be, in this

world.

To be

rapt with satisfied attention, like Whit-

TALKS TO STUDENTS

254

man, to the mere spectacle of the world's presence,


is

one way, and the most fundamental way, of

confessing one's sense of

its

unfathomable

But how can one

cance and importance.

to the feeling of the vital significance of

perience,

if

one have

it

secret

and a mystery,

attain

an ex-

There

not to begin with ?

no receipt which one can

is

signifi-

follow.

Being a

often comes in mysteri-

it

ously unexpected ways.

sometimes

It blossoms

from out of the very grave wherein we imagined

was buried.

that our happiness


lini,

after a life all in the outer sunshine,

of adventures

and

San Angelo.

The

dungeon

place

wet and mould possess

it.

is

thoughts turn to

turned before.

He

God

in the Castle

Rats and

horrible.

His leg

his teeth fall out, apparently


his

made

excitements, suddenly

artistic

finds himself cast into a

of

Benvenuto Cel-

is

broken and

with scurvy.

as

But

they have never

gets a Bible, which he reads

during the one hour in the twenty-four

which

in

a wandering ray of daylight penetrates his cavern.

He

He sings psalms to himhymns. And thinking, on the

has religious visions.

self,

and composes

last

day of July, of the

the

morrow

in

festivities

Rome, he says

to

customary on
himself

" All

these past years I celebrated this holiday with the

BENVENUTO CELLINI AND TOLSTOI


vanities of

the

ward

do

I will

world: from this year hencefor-

it

how much more happy

'

am

mine than

for this present life of

things

remembered

'

ebbs and flows is Tolstoi.

In his

Peter,

They throb

War and

Peace,' the hero,

man

form of misery
lation to

him

the

in

During the French invasion he

Cold, vermin,

retreat.

through

all

taken prisoner, and dragged through

the

"

these mysterious

supposed to be the richest

is

Russian empire.
is

'

for all those

"*

But the great understander of


his novels.

And

with the divinity of God.

then I said to myself, Oh,


I

255

assail

of the

Here only, and

much

hunger, and

of

every

him, the result being a revescale of life's

real

values.

for the first time, he appreciated,

because he was deprived of

it,

the happiness

of

when he was hungry, of drinking when


he was thirsty, of sleeping when he was sleepy,
and of talking when he felt the desire to exchange
eating

some words.

Later in

life

he always recurred

with joy to this month of captivity, and never


failed to

speak with enthusiasm of the powerful

and ineffaceable sensations, and especially of the


moral calm which he had experienced at
epoch.

When

at daybreak,
* Vita, lib. 2,

this

on the morrow of his

chap. iv.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

256

imprisonment, he saw

mountains

the

description]

slopes disappearing

he

the

felt

saw the
sun

breeze

cool

light drive

and the

with

wooded

their

when
him; when he

the grayish mist

in

rise majestically

polas,

abridge here Tolstoi" s

[I

caress

away the

and the

vapors,

behind the clouds and cudew, the distance, the

crosses, the

river, sparkle in the splendid, cheerful rays,

with

heart overflowed

his

This emotion

emotion.

kept continually with him, and increased a hundred-fold as the difficulties of his situation

graver.

He

learnt

man

that

is

happiness, and that this happiness

is

grew

meant
in

for

him, in

the satisfaction of the daily needs of existence,

and that unhappiness

is

the fatal result, not of

our need, but of our abundance.

When

calm

reigned in the camp, and the embers paled, and


little

by

little

went

The woods and

the zenith.

lay clearly visible


light

out, the full

which

filled

moon had reached

the fields roundabout

and, beyond the inundation of

them, the view plunged into the

Then Peter

limitless horizon.

cast his eyes

upon

the firmament, filled at that hour with myriads of


stars.
is

'

in me,

All that
is

me

is

mine,' he thought.

And

have taken prisoner!

that

is

That

'

All that

what they think they


is

what they have

EMERSON AND NATURE


shut up in a cabin

among

to sleep

!
'

So he smiled, and turned in

his comrades." *

The occasion and the


nothing.

experience,

then,

are

depends on the capacity of the

It all

soul to be grasped, to have

sorbed by what

257

" Crossing a bare com-

given.

is

life-currents ab-

its

mon," says Emerson, "in snow puddles, at


light,

twi-

under a clouded sky, without having in

my

thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune,


I

have enjoyed

perfect

exhilaration.

am

glad to the brink of fear."


Life

is

always worth living,

if

But we

responsive sensibilities.

one have such


the highly

of

educated classes (so called) have most of us got

away from Nature.

far, far

seek the
sively,

choice,

and

to

We

the rare, the

exquisite exclu-

and

We

overlook the common.

stuffed with abstract conceptions,


verbalities

are trained to

verbosities

and

and

are

glib with

in the culture of

these higher functions the peculiar sources of joy

connected with our simpler functions often dry up,

and we grow stone-blind and insensible to

more elementary and general goods and

The remedy under such


to a

conditions

more profound and primitive


La

Guerre et la Paix, Paris,

is

life's

joys.

to descend

level.

To be

1884, vol. iii. pp. 268, 275, 316.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

258

imprisoned or shipwrecked or forced

army would permanently show the good


to

many an

the

into

of

life

Living in

over-educated pessimist.

the open air and on the ground, the lop-sided

beam

of the balance slowly rises to the level line

and the

over-sensibilities

and

The good

themselves out.

insensibilities

the

of all

even

artificial

schemes and fevers fades and pales; and that of


seeing, smelling, tasting, sleeping,

and daring and

doing with one's body, grows and grows.


savages and children of nature, to

much

ourselves so

whom we deem

certainly

superior,

where we are often dead, along these


could they write as glibly as

we

The

are alive

lines; and,

do, they

would

read us impressive lectures on our impatience for

improvement and on our blindness


mental
said

static

goods of

life.

"Ah! my

a chieftain to his white guest,

know

never

the happiness of both

the most enchanting of

were before our


death.

Thy

reaping one
and,

if

birth,

people,
field,

all

"thou wilt
thinking of

Thus we

things.

and thus we
.

brother,"

This, next to sleep,

nothing and doing nothing.


is

to the funda-

shall

when they have

be after
finished

they begin to plough another;

the day were not enough, I have seen

them plough by moonlight.

What

is

their life to

THE NON-THINKING LEVEL


ours,

the

life

that

naught

is as

that they are, they lose

it all

to

them ?

But we

259

Blind

live in the

present." *

The

intense interest that

brought

down

the

to

life

non-thinking

level of pure sensorial perception, has

level,

by a man who can write,

W.

in

his

the

been beau-

tifully described

H. Hudson,

when

can assume

Mr.

volume, "Idle Days in

Patagonia."
" I spent the greater part of one winter," says
this admirable author, a at a point on the Rio

Negro, seventy or eighty miles from the


... "It was

my

sea.

custom to go out every morn-

ing on horseback with

my

gun, and, followed by

one dog, to ride away from the valley; and no


sooner would I climb the terrace, and plunge into
the gray, universal thicket, than I would find

myself as completely alone as

stead of only five miles separated


valley

and

hundred

if five

me from

So wild and solitary and

river.

in-

the
re-

mote seemed that gray waste, stretching away


into infinitude, a waste untrodden

by man, and

where the wild animals are so few that they


have made no discoverable path in the wilderness

of

thorns.

Not

once

Quoted by Lotze, Microcosmus, English

nor

twice

translation, vol.

ii.

nor

p. 240.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

260
thrice,

but day after day I returned to this

tude, going to

it

a festival, and leaving

and

thirst

And

yet

the

morning

in the

only

it

had no object

compelled

in going,

which could be put into words


carried a gun, there

to attend

if

when hunger and

sun

westering

as

soli-

was nothing

no

me.

motive

although I

for,

to shoot,

the

shooting was

all

Sometimes

would pass a whole day without

seeing one

mammal, and perhaps not more than

left

behind in the valley.

The weather

a dozen birds of any size.

at that

time was cheerless, generally with a gray film of

cloud spread over the sky, and a bleak wind,


often cold enough to

numb. ... At

make my

a slow pace,

bridle-hand quite

which would have

seemed intolerable under other circumstances,

would

On

ride about for hours together at a stretch.

arriving at a

hill, I

would slowly

ride to its

summit, and stand there to survey the prospect.

On

every side

lations,

was

it

away

stretched

wild and irregular.

Hardly

less so

How

and the outline obscured by

less

my

gray

unduit

all

near at hand than on the


hills

were dim

distance.

Descend-

haze-wrapped horizon where the

ing from

in great

outlook, I

would take up

wanderings again, and

visit

my

aim-

other elevations

THE PATAGONIAN WILDERNESS


on the same

gaze

to

would dismount, and

And

or

sit

noon

at

my

on

lie

One day

poncho for an hour or longer.


rambles

from another

landscape

and so on for hours.

point;

261

folded

in these

discovered a small grove composed of

twenty or thirty

growing

trees,

at a convenient

distance apart, that had evidently been resorted


to

by a herd

of deer or other wild animals.

grove was on a
hills

in

made

hill differing in

and using

a point of finding

every day at

why

myself

made

noon.

choice

sometimes going out of


instead of sitting
ions of trees
I

of

as a rest-

it

not

did

that one
to

down under any one

Only afterward

but

it,

it

there

there,

of the millhillside.

uncon-

acted

seemed to me
once,

ask
spot,

sit

and bushes on any other

having rested

after

my way

thought nothing about

sciously.

shape from other

neighborhood; and, after a time, I

its

ing-place

This

each

that,

time

wished to rest again, the wish came associated


with the image of that particular clump of

trees,

with polished stems and clean bed of sand beneath

and

returning,

in a short time I

animal

like,

to

formed a habit of

repose

at

that same

spot.

" It was, perhaps, a mistake to say that I

would

TALKS TO STUDENTS

262
sit

down and

yet,

rest, since

was never

tired, that

without being

and

tired;

noon-day pause, dur-

ing which I sat for an hour without moving, was


All day there would be no

strangely grateful.

sound, not even the rustling of a

while listening to the silence,

mind

to

wonder what the

were to shout aloud.

effect

My

possible.

fulness

The

if

in,

my

it

was a

mind.

rare

In the

thought had become im-

was one

of suspense

and watch-

yet I had no expectation of meeting an

adventure, and
I feel

was

state

would be

solitary days

thing for any thought to cross

mind

my

occurred to

This seemed at the time a

But during those

state of

day,

which almost made me shud-

horrible suggestion,
der.

it

One

leaf.

now

state

felt as free

from apprehension as

while sitting in

room

in

London.

seemed familiar rather than strange,

and accompanied by a strong feeling of elation


and

know

I did not

tween me and
former

self,

my

come

be-

intellect until I returned to

my

that something had

to thinking,

and the old insipid ex-

istence [again].

" I had undoubtedly gone hack ; and that state


of intense watchfulness or alertness, rather, with

suspension of the higher intellectual faculties,

re-

presented the mental state of the pure savage.

He

FELICITY OF THE SENSORIAL LIFE


thinks

reasons

little,

little,

having a surer guide

He

in his [mere sensory perceptions].

harmony with

and

nature,

263

is

is

in perfect

nearly on a level,

mentally, with the wild animals he preys on, and


their turn sometimes prey on him." *

which in

For the spectator, such hours

Mr. Hudson

as

writes of form a mere tale of emptiness, in which

nothing happens, nothing

is

gained, and there

is

They are meaningless and


time.
To him who feels their

nothing to describe.
vacant tracts of

inner secret, they tingle with an importance that

unutterably vouches for

boy or

girl,

or

man

touched by the
life,

with

but

its

or

itself.

am

sorry for the

woman, who has never been

spell of this mysterious sensorial

its irrationality, if

vigilance and

holidays of

life

its

are its

so

you

supreme

most

like to call
felicity.

vitally

it,

The

significant

portions, because they are, or at least should be,

covered with just this kind of magically irresponsible spell.

And now what


erations

is

the result of all these consid-

and quotations?

It is negative in

sense, but positive in another.

bids

us

to

one

It absolutely for-

be forward in pronouncing on the

Op.

cit.,

pp. 210-222 (abridged).

TALKS TO STUDENTS

264

meaninglessness of forms of existence other than

our

own

and

it

commands us

and indulge those


ested and

happy

telligible these

whom we

in their

may

own

to tolerate, respect,

see harmlessly inter-

ways, however unin-

be to us.

Hands

off: neither

the whole of truth nor the whole of good

is re-

vealed to any single observer, although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from

the peculiar position in which he stands.

Even

prisons and sick-rooms have their special revelaIt is

tions.

enough

to ask of each of us that he

should be faithful to his

make

the most of his

suming

own

own

opportunities and

blessings, without pre-

to regulate the rest of the vast field.

III.

WHAT MAKES A
In

my

previous talk, 'On a Certain Blindness,'

I tried to

through

we

make you

life is

feel

fail to realize

the

There

others,

lies

how soaked and

because of our external and

The meanings

more than a mere

has the

It

this.

that I could convince

you

It is the basis of all

our tolerance,

and

political.

The

us.

interest of curious

most tremendous practical importance.


of

in-

are there

but they are not there for

speculation in understanding

ious,

shot-

with values and meanings which

sensible point of view.


for

LIFE SIGNIFICANT

it

as I feel

I
it

wish

myself.

social, relig-

forgetting of

it lies

at

the root of every stupid and sanguinary mistake


that rulers over subject-peoples make.

The

thing to learn in intercourse with others


interference with their

own

peculiar

ways

is

first

non-

of being

happy, provided those ways do not assume to


interfere

by violence with

ours.

No one

has

in-

TALKS TO STUDENTS

266
sight into
to judge

No

the ideals.

all

them

one should presume

The pretension

off-hand.

matize about them in each other

most human

human

in

character

the root of

is

and the

trait

make

the

particular

Jill

and

cruelties,

most

likely

injustices

to dog-

to

angels weep.

Every Jack

in

sees

his

own

enchantment of

charms and perfections to the

which we

which has the superior view of the


truth, he or

And

onlookers are stone-cold.

stolid

Which

we?

absolute

has the more vital in-

sight into the nature of Jill's existence, as a fact ?


Is

he in excess, being in this matter a maniac?

we

or are
cal

in defect, being victims of a pathologi-

anaesthesia

tance?
the
Jill's

as

Surely the latter;

profounder

of

and

it

is

worthy of
to our

and we do

poor

surely

are

among

the

sympa-

this

shame that the


For Jack

rest of us cannot feel like Jack.

concretely,

Jack are

surely to

little life-throbs

creation, are

thetic interest

magical impor-

Jill's

revealed;

truths

palpitating

wonders

regards

not.

izes

Jill

gles

toward a union with her inner

He

life,

real-

strug-

divining

her feelings, anticipating her desires, understanding her limits as manfully as he can, and yet
inadequately, too; for he also

is

afflicted

with

LOVE DISPELS BLINDNESS


some blindness,
clods that

we

things, but

eternal

fact

even

are,

are

here.

267

Whilst we,

dead

do not even seek after these

contented that that portion of

named

should

Jill

be

for us

as

who knows her inner life,


knows that Jack's way of taking it
so importantly
is the true and serious way
and she
were not.

if it

Jill,

responds to the truth in him by taking him truly

and

May

seriously, too.

wrap

never

its

clouds

the

about

Where would any


no one willing to know
again

ancient

either

as

of

we

really

or ready to repay us for our insight by

recognizant return?

We

ought,

them

were there

of us be,

us

blindness

all

are

making

of

us,

to

each other in this intense, pathetic, and

realize

important way.
If

you say that

this is absurd,

and that we can-

not be in love with everyone at once, I merely


point out to you that, as a matter of fact, certain

do exist with an enormous capacity for

persons

friendship and for taking delight in other people's


lives

than

if

and that such persons know more of truth


their hearts

were not so big.

ordinary Jack and

Jill affection is

sity,

but

its

exclusions and

The
not

vice of

its

inten-

its jealousies.

Leave

am

holding

those out, and you see that the ideal I

TALKS TO STUDENTS

268

up before you, however impracticable

to-day, yet

contains nothing intrinsically absurd.

We

have unquestionably a great cloud-bank of

ancestral blindness weighing

and there by

transiently riven here

state of things to alter

for the

much.

us,

only

fitful revela-

hope for

It is vain to

tions of the truth.

must remain

down upon

Our

this

inner secrets

most part impenetrable by

others, for beings as essentially practical as

are necessarily short of sight.

But,

if

we

are

we cannot

much positive insight into one another, cannot we at least use our sense of our own blindness
to make us more cautious in going over the dark
places? Cannot we escape some of those hide-

gain

ous ancestral intolerances and cruelties, and positive reversals of the truth ?

For the remainder of


seek with

me some

ance less chaotic.


lecture

this

hour I invite you to

principle to

And,

as I

make our

began

by a personal reminiscence,

toler-

my

previous

am

going to

ask your indulgence for a similar bit of egotism

now.

happy week

at

Assembly Grounds on the borders

of

few summers ago

the famous

Chautauqua Lake.

I spent a

The moment one

treads that

sacred enclosure, one feels one's self in an atmos-

CHAUTAUQUA

269

Sobriety and industry,

phere of success.

gence and goodness, orderliness and

ideality, pros-

and cheerfulness, pervade the

perity
serious

intelli-

It is a

air.

and studious picnic on a gigantic

scale.

Here you have a town of many thousands of


habitants, beautifully laid out in the forest

drained,

and equipped with means

in-

and

for satisfying

the necessary lower and most of the super-

all

fluous higher wants of man.


class college in full blast.

music

You have

You have

first-

magnificent

chorus of seven hundred voices, with

possibly the most perfect open-air auditorium

the world.
cise

from

You have
sailing,

in.

every sort of athletic exer-

rowing, swimming, bicycling, to

the ball-field and the more artificial doings which

and model secondary

You have kindergartens


schools.
You have general

and

special club-houses for the

the

gymnasium

affords.

religious services

several sects.

You have

perpetually running soda-

water fountains, and daily popular lectures by

You have the best of comno effort. You have no zymotic

distinguished men.

pany, and yet


diseases,

no

police.

no poverty, no drunkenness, no crime,

You have

culture,

you have cheapness, you have


the best fruits of what

you have kindness,


equality,

you have

mankind has fought and

TALKS TO STUDENTS

270

name

bled and striven for under the

of civiliza-

You have, in short, a forewhat human society might be, were it

tion for centuries.


taste of

in the light,

all

with no suffering and no dark

corners.
I

went

I stayed for a

in curiosity for a day.

week, held spell-bound by the charm and ease of


everything, by the middle-class paradise, without
a sin, without a victim, without a blot, without a
tear.

And

my own

yet what was

astonishment, on

emerging into the dark and wicked world again,

and involunta-

to catch myself quite unexpectedly


rily

saying

"

Ouf

what

a relief

Now

for some-

thing primordial and savage, even though


as

bad

as

an Armenian massacre,

ance straight again.

This order

it

were

to set the bal-

too tame, this

is

culture too second-rate, this goodness too uninspir-

This

ing.

pang

this

soda-water

human drama without


community
is

the tepid lakeside sun


of all things,

take

my

so refined that ice-cream


it

can make to

this city

simmering in

the utmost offering

the brute animal in

man
;

a villain or a

this atrocious harmlessness

cannot abide with them.

Let

me

chances again in the big outside worldly

wilderness with

all its sins

and

sufferings.

There


CHAUTAUQUA
are the heights

271

and depths, tne precipices and the

steep ideals, the gleams of the awful and the infinite

and there

is

more hope and help

a thousand

times than in this dead level and quintessence of

every mediocrity."

Such was the sudden right-about-face performed


for

me by my

spread before

lawless fancy

me

There had been

the realization

sample scale of course

on

of all the ideals for

small,

which

our civilization has been striving: security,


telligence,

humanity, and order;

in-

and here was

the instinctive hostile reaction, not of the natural

man, but of a so-called cultivated man upon such


a Utopia.

There seemed thus to be a

diction and paradox somewhere,


fessor

drawing a

full salary,

unravel and explain,

So

I meditated.

if

was

which

self-contraI,

as a pro-

in

duty bound to

all,

I asked myself

I could.

And,

first

of

what the thing was that was

so lacking in this

Sabbatical city, and the lack of which kept one


forever falling short of the higher sort of content-

ment.

ment
moral

And

soon recognized that

it

was the

ele-

that gives to the wicked outer world all


style, expressiveness

its

and picturesqueness,

the element of precipitousness, so

to

call

it,

of

strength and strenuousness, intensity and danger.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

272

What

excites

and

interests the looker-on at

life,

what the romances and the statues celebrate and


the grim civic

monuments remind us
of the powers

everlasting battle

those of darkness

of

the

of, is

with

light

with heroism, reduced to

its

bare chance, yet ever and anon snatching victory

But

from the jaws of death.

in this

unspeakable

Chautauqua there was no potentiality


anywhere, and no point of

sight
visible

The

of death in

compass

the

from which danger might possibly appear.

was

ideal

that no

completely victorious already

so

sign of

any previous battle remained,

the place just resting on

human emotions seem

require

to

are being merely eaten, things

human

effort,

is

the sight

The moment the

of the struggle going on.

Sweat and

But what our

its oars.

become

fruits

ignoble.

nature strained to

its

uttermost and on the rack, yet getting through


alive,

and then turning

its

back on

its

pursue another more rare and arduous

success to

still

this is

the sort of thing the presence of which inspires us,

and the

which

reality of

it

seems to be the func-

tion of all the higher forms of literature


art to bring

home

to us

and suggest.

and

fine

At Chau-

tauqua there were no racks, even in the place's


historical

museum

and no sweat, except possibly

GROWING TAMENESS OF THE WORLD


brow

the gentle moisture on the

of

some

273

lecturer,

or on the sides of some player in the ball-field.

Such absence

human

of

where seemed, then, a

nature in extremis any-

sufficient explanation for

Chautauqua's flatness and lack of

But was not

this a

fill

one with dismay ?

as

if

paradox well calculated to


It looks indeed,

thought

I,

the romantic idealists with their pessimism

about our civilization were, after

An

zest.

irremediable flatness

is

all,

quite right.

coming over the world.

Bourgeoisie and mediocrity, church sociables and


teachers' conventions, are taking the place of the

old heights and depths and romantic chiaroscuro.

human

And,

to get

must

in future turn

actual,

and

sinful as

in its wild intensity,

we

more and more away from the

we can, in the romancer's


The whole world, delightful
pages.
it may still appear for a moment to

and forget

or the poet's

life

it, if

one just escaped from the Chautauquan enclosure,


is

nevertheless obeying more and more just those

ideals that are sure to

Chautauqua

make

Assembly on

of

it

an

in the

end a mere

enormous

scale.

Was im G-esang soil leben muss im Leben untergehn.


Even now, in our own country, correctness, fairness,

and compromise

for every small

are crowding out all other qualities.

advantage

The higher

TALKS TO STUDENTS

274

heroisms and the old rare flavors are passing out


of life.*

With

these thoughts in

my

mind,

was speed-

ing with the train toward Buffalo, when, near


that city, the

sight

of a

workman doing some-

thing on the dizzy edge of a sky-scaling iron construction brought

And now
I

me

my

senses very suddenly.

by a

flash of insight, that

to

I perceived,

had been steeping myself

blindness,

and looking

remote spectator.
spectacle of

human

at life

Wishing

in

pure

ancestral

with the eyes of a

for

heroism and the

nature on the rack, I had never

noticed the great fields of heroism lying round

about me,

had

failed to see it present

I could only think of


labelled

romance.

it

and costumed,

And

yet there

as
as
it

it

is

in the pages of

was before me

Not

ing fights and desperate marches only

is

in the

in clang-

heroism

but on every railway bridge and

fire-proof building that is


freight-trains,

alive.

dead and embalmed,

daily lives of the laboring classes.

to be looked for,

and

going up to-day.

on the decks of vessels, in

yards and mines, on lumber-rafts,

among

On

cattle-

the

fire-

*This address was composed before the Cuban and Philippine


Such outbursts of the passion of mastery are, however, only
episodes in a social process which in the long run seems everywhere
wars.

tending towards the Chautauquan ideals.

THE HEROIC ASPECT OF COMMON LABOR

men and

demand

the policemen, the

incessant: and the supply never

is

every day of the year somewhere,


ure in extremis for you.

And

an axe, a pick, or a shovel

There,

human

nat-

wherever a scythe,
wielded, you have

is

sweating and aching and with

it

for courage

fails.
is

275

patient endurance racked to

the

its

powers of

utmost under

the length of hours of the strain.

As

awoke

around me, the

to all this unidealized heroic life


scales

seemed

to fall

from

my eyes

and a wave of sympathy greater than anything


had ever before

common men began


seem as

virtue

enough

fill

my

none

is

common

soul.

It

life

of

began to

with horny hands and dirty

to take account of.

genuine and

vital

Every other virtue

absolutely unconscious and simple,

and unexpectant
this.

to

were the only virtue

skin

poses

if

with the

felt

of decoration or recognition, like

These are our

our sustainers, these

soldiers,

the

thought

very parents

I,

these

of

our

had

life.

Many

years

ago,

when

in

Vienna,

had a similar feeling of awe and reverence in


looking at the peasant-women, in from the country

on their business

Old hags many

of

at the

market

for the day.

them were, dried and brown

TALKS TO STUDENTS

276

and wrinkled, kerchiefed and

short-petticoated,

with thick wool stockings on their bony shanks,

stumping through the

thoroughfares,

glittering

looking neither to the right nor the

bent

left,

on duty, envying nothing, humble-hearted,


mote;

and

think of

it,

yet at bottom,

re-

when you came

to

bearing the whole fabric of the splen-

dors and corruptions of that city on their labori-

For where would any of

ous backs.

it

have been

without their unremitting, unrewarded labor in


the fields
erals

and

And

so

poets, I thought,

Hungarian laborers
the

with us

monuments

of

in the

but

not to our gen-

to the Italian

Subway,

gratitude and

rather,

and

ought

reverence

of

a city like Boston to be reared.

If

any of you have been readers

of Tolstoi,

you

will see that I passed into a vein of feeling simi-

with

lar to his,

abhorrence of

its

tionally passes for distinguished,


deification

of

the

all

and

that convenits

exclusive

bravery, patience, kindliness,

and dumbness of the unconscious natural man.

Where now
truth of
fill

is

all this

our Tolstoi, I said, to bring the

home

to our

American bosoms,

us with a better insight, and

from that spurious

wean us away

literary romanticism

on which

THE DIVINE
our wretched culture
Divinity

bound

lies all

about

THE COMMON

IS

as it calls itself

us,

and culture

even suspect the

to

277

is

fed ?

too hide-

is

Could a Howells

fact.

or a Kipling be enlisted in this mission? or are

they

still

too deep in the ancestral blindness, and

not humane enough for the inner joy and meaning


of the laborer's existence to be really revealed?

Must we wait

some one born and bred and

for

living as a laborer himself, but who,

by grace

Heaven,

And

shall also find a literary voice

of

there I rested on that day, with a sense of

widening of

vision,

and with what

it is

surely fair

an increase of religious insight into

to call

life.

In God's eyes, the differences of social position,


of intellect, of

culture, of cleanliness, of

which different men exhibit, and


rarities

and exceptions on which they

must be

cally pin their pride,


cally, quite to
is

the

vanish

common

and

peculiar

difficulties,

struggle

all

fact that here

multitude of vessels of

erally

life,

other

so fantasti-

that should remain

we

are, a countless

each of us pent in to

which we must

with

sev-

by using whatever of fortitude

of the courage, patience,

significant

the

so small as practi-

and goodness we can summon

the

all

dress,

portion

up.

The

exercise

and kindness, must be

of

the

whole business;

TALKS TO STUDENTS

278

and the distinctions of position can only be a

manner

the phenomenal surface

diversifying

of

may maniAt this rate, the deepest human


And, if any human
is eternal.

upon which these underground


fest their effects.
life is

everywhere,

attributes

exist

virtues

only in particular

individuals,

they must belong to the mere trapping and decoration of the surface-show.

Thus

are

men's lives levelled up as well as

levelled down,

levelled up

common

in their

inner

meaning, levelled down in their outer gloriousness

and show.

Yet always, we must

confess,

levelling insight tends to be obscured again

this
;

and

always the ancestral blindness returns and wraps


us up, so that
creation

we end once more by

thinking that

can be for no other purpose than to

develop remarkable situations and conventional


distinctions

new

And

and merits.

then always some

leveller in the shape of a religious prophet

has to arise
Saint

the

Francis,

Buddha, the Christ, or some

some

redispel our blindness.

Rousseau
Yet,

Tolstoi

or

by

little

comes some stable gain;

for the

more humane, and the

religion

little,

to

there

world does get

tends toward permanent increase.

of

democracy


TOLSTOI ON

became

This, as I said,
tion,

COMMON PEOPLE

my

for a time

and gave me great content.

279
convic-

have put the

matter into the form of a personal reminiscence, so

you

that I might lead

completely,

and

into

so save

it

more directly and

But now

time.

going to discuss the rest of

it

am

with you in a more

impersonal way.
Tolstoi's levelling philosophy

he had the

crisis of

that wonderful
fession,'

Peace,'

melancholy commemorated in

document

of his entitled

which led the way to

religious

works.

began long before

his

more

In his masterpiece

'

My

Con-

specifically
'

War and

assuredly the greatest of human novels,

the r61e of the spiritual hero

is

given to a poor

little

soldier

named

Karata'ieff, so helpful, so cheerful,

and

devout

that, in spite of his ignorance

so

filthiness,

the sight of

which have been

dently

is

him opens the heavens,

closed, to the

cipal character of the

book

meant by Tolstoi

world again for the reader.


is

and

mind

and

his

to let

Poor

of the prin-

example

God

evi-

into the

little Karata'ieff

taken prisoner by the French; and when too ex-

hausted by hardship and fever to march,

is

shot as

other prisoners were in the famous retreat from

Moscow.
little

The

view one gets

of

him

is

his

figure leaning against a white birch-tree,

and

last

uncomplainingly awaiting the end.

TALKS TO STUDENTS

280

"The more,"

more

Confession,' "the

life.

who
at

alone

it
.

life

more persuaded

they veritably have

that

from

examined the

these laboring folks, the

came

the

faith,

and the

sense

rigor, these

of
be-

and get

possibility

Contrariwise to those of our

own

class,

people receive maladies and

misfortunes without revolt, without

opposition,

and with a firm and tranquil confidence that

had

to

be like

that,

and that

it

by

intellect,

our

meaning of
fering

the

We

life.

not

could

right so.

all

is

less

be

to

all

otherwise,

The more we

live

we understand

the

see only a cruel jest in suf-

and death, whereas these people

and draw near

of

and grow indignant

protest against destiny

its

work 'My

writes Tolstoi in the

live, suffer,

death with tranquillity, and

tener than not with joy.

of-

There are enormous

multitudes of them happy with the most perfect


happiness, although deprived of
sole

good

of life.

meaning, and

for us is the

Those who understand

know how

to be counted not

what

by twos,

to live

and

threes, tens,

dreds, thousands, millions.

They

life's

die thus, are

but by hun-

labor quietly,
die,

and

throughout everything see the good without

see-

endure privations and pains, live and

ing the vanity.

had

to love these people.

The

STEVENSON ON COMMON PEOPLE


more
them;

and the more

rich,

of our

more

me

all

than that,

my

semblance of meaning in
tions,

for

it

lost all

All our ac-

eyes.

our deliberations, our sciences, our

appeared

me

the learned and of the

of

society,

disgusted

became possible

it

loved

came about not only that the

It

to live, too.
life

more

I entered into their life, the

281

me

to

with

new

arts,

significance.

might be charm-

I understood that these things

ing pastimes, but that one need seek in them

no depth,

whereas

ing populace,

who

ings

really

me

peared to

of

the

life

that multitude

contribute

to

in its true light.

there veritably
there receives

In a similar

the truth

way

of

human

existence,

be-

ap-

understood that

that the meaning which life

is life,

is

the hard-work-

of

and

it." *

accepted

does Stevenson appeal to our

piety toward the elemental virtue of mankind.

"What a wonderful thing," he writes,! "is this


Man How surprising are his attributes Poor
!

soul,

here

hardships,

for

so

little,

cast

among

surrounded,

savagely

so

savagely

many
de-

scended, irremediably condemned to prey upon


his fellow-lives,
*
t

who

My Confession, X.
Across the Plains

should have blamed him,


(condensed).

"Pulvis et

Umbra "

(abridged).

TALKS TO STUDENTS

282

had

been of a piece with his destiny and a

lie

being merely barbarous?

[Yet]

it

matters not

where we look, under what climate we observe


him, in what stage

of

society,

what erroneous mo-

of ignorance, burdened with

and

ship
fiddle

a tavern, and

in

constant to

that,

all

like

cities,

moving among

mechanical

who

bedizened trull

child,

brave to drown, for others;

toil,

ent millions to

hope

brightest

cheerful, kindly

slums of

the

his

inured to hard

rob him, and he, for

to

innocent,

simple,

in

pleasures,

vile

herself

sells

man

ships at sea, a

rality; in

what depth

in

indiffer-

employments, with-

out hope of change in the future, with scarce a


pleasure
virtues,

the

in

present,

up

honest

to

and yet true

to

his

kind

to

his

his

lights,

neighbors, tempted perhaps in vain


gin-palace,

with
.

by the bright

often repaying the world's scorn

service, often standing firm

upon a scruple

everywhere some virtue cherished or

everywhere some decency


age, everywhere

goodness,

ah!

over,

in

affected,

thought and cour-

the ensign of man's ineffectual


if

I could

could show you these

world

of

show you

this!

men and women

every stage

of

history,

If I

all

the

under

every abuse of error, under every circumstance

TOLSTOI'S ONE-SIDEDNESS
of failure, without hope,

thanks,

without help, without

obscurely fighting the lost fight of

still

some rag of honor, the

clinging to

virtue, still

283

poor jewel of their souls."

All this

is

as true as

and

splendid,

it is

terribly

do we need our Tolstois and Stevensons to keep


our sense for

Yet you remember the

alive.

it

Irishman who, when asked, "Is not one

good

deal better,

does

Tolstoi'

too

cated
at

"

seems to me)

(it

our social

prejudices,

love of the peasant so ex-

his

and hardens

man

Similarly

overcorrect

when he makes
clusive,

as

"Yes; and a great

another?" replied:

as

man

his

heart toward the edu-

as absolutely as

Chautauqua there was

Grant that

he does.

little

moral

effort, little

sweat or muscular strain in view.

Still,

down

we may be

in the souls of the participants

sure that something of the

sort

was

hid,

deep

some

inner stress, some vital virtue not found wanting

when
curs,

required.

and

And,

forces itself

after all, the

upon

us, Is

question reit

so certain

that the surroundings and circumstances of the


virtue do

make

so little difference in the impor-

tance of the result?

worth

Is the functional utility, the

to the universe of a certain definite

amount

of courage, kindliness, and patience, no greater

if

TALKS TO STUDENTS

284

the possessor of these virtues


situation,

he

an educated

in

working out far-reaching

an

be

is

tasks, than if

nobody, hewing wood and

illiterate

drawing water, just

keep himself alive?

to

Tol-

philosophy, deeply enlightening though

stoi's

remains a

certainly

is,

vors too

much

of

false abstraction.

It

it

sa-

that oriental pessimism and

which declares the whole phenom-

nihilism of his,

enal world and

its

facts

and

their distinctions to

be a cunning fraud.

mere bare fraud

common

be.

and virtues
it is

what our Western

just

sense will never believe the phenomenal

world to

but

is

It

admits fully that the inner joys

are the essential part of life's business,

sure that some positive part

by the adjuncts

of the show.

is

also played

If it is idiotic in

romanticism to recognize the heroic only when


sees

it

labelled

and dressed-up

in books, it is really

just as idiotic to see it only in the dirty boots

sweaty shirt of some one in the


us really under every disguise
here in your college

in

of

But, instinctively,

two things

It

fields.
:

is

and
with

Chautauqua

at

the stock-yards and on

the freight-trains; and in the


court.

it

czar

we make

of

Russia's

a combination

in judging the total significance of


WALTER WYCKOFF QUOTED
a

human

product

We

being.

285

be some sort of a

feel it to

such a product only could be calcu-

(if

lated) of his inner virtue

and

his outer place,

neither singly taken, but both conjoined.

outer differences had no meaning for

deed should

this

all

They must be

exist ?

If the

life,

immense variety

why

in-

them

of

significant elements of the

world as well.
Just test Tolstoi's deification of the mere manual laborer

by the

This

facts.

is

what Mr. Walter

Wyckoff, after working as an unskilled laborer in


the demolition of some buildings at

West

Point,

writes of the spiritual condition of the class of

men
"

which he temporarily chose

to

The

We

are

grown men, and

many

We

And,

are thus in the

selling our

muscular

strength in the open market for what

all

we

sell it

means

it

under peculiar conditions.

the capital that

we

of subsistence,

will
It is

We

have no reserve

and cannot,

therefore, stand

have.

off for a 'reserve price.'

cessity of satisfying

sell

mere muscular strength

hours each day.

lowest grade of labor.

bring,

are without a

In the labor-market we stand ready to

to the highest bidder our


for so

salient features of our condition are plain

enough.
trade.

to belong

We

sell

under the ne-

imminent hunger.

Broadly

TALKS TO STUDENTS

286
speaking,
as

hunger

we must
is

our labor or starve

sell

a matter of a few hours, and

no other way of meeting


at once for

"

this need,

what the market

Our employer is buying

and he

will certainly get

sell

our labor.

labor in a dear market,

from us as much work as


secured for

is

and thoroughly does he know

this purpose,

his

He

has sole

command

He

never

before,

and he

will discharge us all

when

business.

saw us

we have

we must

offers for

The gang-boss

he can at the price.

and,

the de*bris

cleared away.

is

must get from

us, if

of us.

In the mean time he

he can, the utmost of physical

labor which we, individually and collectively, are

capable

of.

If he should drive

haustion, and

we should

some of us

to ex-

not be able to continue at

work, he would not be the loser

for the

would soon supply him with others

market

to take our

places.

"
see,
sell

We

that
it

we have

dearest,

sold

and our employer has bought

where he could buy


high,

much we clearly
our labor where we could

are ignorant men, but so

and he must get

it

cheapest.

all

He

it

has paid

the labor that he can;

and, by a strong instinct which possesses us,

we

we

From work

shall part

with as

like ours

there seems to us to have been elimi-

little

as

can.

WALTER WYCKOFF QUOTED

287

nated every element which constitutes the nobility

We

of labor.

feel

no personal pride in

and no community

ress,

There

ployer.

of interest

none of the joy

is

its

prog-

with our em-

of responsibility,

none of the sense of achievement, only the dull

monotony

of grinding

signal to quit work,

"

And

being what

toil,

and

we

with the longing for the

for our
are, the

wages

at the end.

dregs of the labor

market, and having no certainty of permanent em-

ployment, and no organization among ourselves,

we must

expect to work under the watchful eye

of a gang-boss, and be driven, like the wage-slaves


that

we

are,

" All this

through our tasks.


is

to tell us, in effect, that our lives

are hard, barren, hopeless lives."

And

such hard, barren, hopeless

lives, surely,

are not lives in which one ought to be willing

permanently
it

to remain.

And why

because they are so dirty ?

is

this so ?

Well, Nansen grew

a great deal dirtier on his polar expedition

think none the worse of his


insensibility?

more

Our

insensible,

Is it the

poverty

life for that.

soldiers

and we

Is it the

have to grow vastly

and we extol them


?

Is

to the skies.

Poverty has been reckoned the

crowning beauty of many a heroic

career.

Is it

the slavery to a task, the loss of finer pleasures ?

TALKS TO STUDENTS

288

Such slavery and

very essence of

loss are of the

the higher fortitude, and are always counted to


credit,
all

read

the records of missionary devotion

things, then, taken

that

man might

by

itself,

make such

in truth live like

and do the work

any one of these

It is not

over the world.

together,

its

of one,

no, nor

a life undesirable.

an unskilled laborer,

and yet count

noblest of God's creatures.

them

all of

as one of the

Quite possibly there

were some such persons in the gang that our author


but the current of their souls ran under-

describes

ground

and he was too steeped

blindness to discern
If there were

souls

it.

any such morally exceptional

viduals, however,

the rest

in the ancestral

what made them

It can only

different

from

that

their

in obedience to

some

have been

worked and endured

indi-

this,

inner ideal, while their comrades were not actu-

ated by anything worthy of that name.


ideals of other lives are

among

These

those secrets that

we can almost never penetrate, although something about the man may often tell us when they
are there. In Mr. Wyckoff's own case we know
exactly what the self-imposed ideal was.

Partly

he had stumped himself, as the boys say, to carry

through a strenuous achievement

but mainly he

PHILLIPS BROOKS ON POVERTY

289

wished to enlarge his sympathetic insight into

For

low-lives.

sweat and

this his

certain heroic significance,

his fellows

with various other

ing of wives and babies, one


vert of the Salvation

acquire a

toil

and make ns accord

But

him exceptional esteem.

fel-

it is

to

easy to imagine

To

ideals.

say noth-

may have been

Army, and had

a con-

a nightingale

singing of expiation and forgiveness in his heart


all

Or

the while he labored.

there might have

been an apostle like Tolstoi himself, or his compatriot Bondareff, in the

gang, voluntarily embrac-

ing labor as their religious mission.

was undoubtedly an

knows how much


erty, of

And who

many.

of that higher manliness of pov-

which Phillips Brooks has spoken so pene-

tratingly,

"

ideal with

Class-loyalty

was or was not present

A rugged,

in that

gang ?

barren land," says Phillips Brooks,

" is poverty to live in,

a land where

am

thank-

ful very often if I can get a berry or a root to eat.

But

me

living in

of

itself,

judging

it

letting

it really,

not dishonoring

like this barren

erty could

See

how

it

bear witness to
all

the time by

after the standard of the other lands,

gradually there come out

no land

it

its

qualities.

and naked land of pov-

show the moral geology

the hard ribs

Behold

of the world.

stand out strong and

TALKS TO STUDENTS

290

No

solid.

poverty could so get one to

like

life

make men know

the heart of things and

meaning, could so

with

us feel

life

and the world

the soft cushions stripped off and thrown

all

away.

let

their

Poverty makes men come very near

each other, and recognize each other's

human

hearts; and poverty, highest and best of

all,

mands and

how

cries

out for faith in God. ... I

and

superficial

am

know

how like mere


poverty may seem.

unfeeling,

mockery, words in praise of

But

de-

sure that the poor man's dignity

and

freedom, his self-respect and energy, depend upon


his cordial

knowledge that

region and kind of


character, its
lations of

own

ness which often


insist

its

own

chances of

springs of happiness and reveresist the characterless-

come with being

poor.

Let him

on respecting the condition where he

Let him learn to love


grows

with

life,

Let him

God.

his poverty is a true

rich,

it,

so that

by and by,

lives.

[if]

he

he shall go out of the low door of the

old familiar poverty with a true

and with a true honor

for the

pang

of regret,

narrow home

in

which he has lived so long." *

The barrenness and ignobleness


usual laborer's
Sermons,

life

of the

consist in the fact that

5th Series,

New York,

1893, pp. 166, 167.

more
it

is

THE NEED OF AN IDEAL


moved by no such

The back-

ideal inner springs.

long hours, the danger, are patiently

ache, the

endured

291

for what

To gain

a quid of tobacco,

a glass of beer, a cup of coffee, a meal, and a bed,

and

day and shirk as much

to begin again the next

as one can.

ment

This really

why we

is

to the laborers in the

raise

no monu-

Subway, even though

they be our conscripts, and even though after a


fashion our city

is

indeed based upon their patient

And

hearts and enduring backs and shoulders.


this is
diers,

why we do

raise

monuments

to our

sol-

whose outward conditions were even brutal-

ler still.

The

lowed an

ideal,

soldiers are

supposed to have

fol-

and the laborers are supposed

to

have followed none.

You see, my friends, how the plot now thickens


and how strangely the complexities of this wonderful human nature of ours begin to develop under
our hands.

We

have seen the blindness and dead-

ness to each other which are our natural inheri-

tance

and, in spite of them,

acknowledge an

inner

show, and which

may

others where

we

least

we have been

meaning

which passeth

be present in the lives of


descry

it.

are led to say that such inner

complete,

led to

and valid for us

also,

And now we

meaning can be
only

when

the

TALKS TO STUDENTS

292

inner joy, courage, and endurance are joined with

an

ideal.

we mean by an

ideal?

give no definite account of such a

word?

But what,

Can we

To

exactly, do

a certain extent

stance,

must be

ceived, something
scious,

if

we have

we

something

ideal, for in-

intellectually

con-

which we are not uncon-

of
it

An

can.

and

it

must carry with

it

that sort of outlook, uplift, and brightness that

go with

intellectual

all

must be novelty

him

whom

Secondly, there

facts.

in an ideal,

novelty

at least for

Sodden routine

the ideal grasps.

incompatible with ideality, although what

is

is

sod-

den routine for one person may be ideal novelty


This shows that there

for another.

is

nothing

absolutely ideal: ideals are relative to the lives


that entertain them.
is

for us here

for

many

To keep

out of the gutter

no part of consciousness at

of our brethren

mately engrossing of

it

is

all,

yet

the most legiti-

ideals.

Now, taken nakedly, abstractly, and immediately, you see that mere ideals are the cheapest
things in life. Everybody has them in some shape
or other, personal or general, sound or mistaken,

low or high

and the most worthless sentimental-

MERE IDEALS ARE INSUFFICIENT


and dreamers, drunkards, shirks and

ists

who never show

makers,

them on the most

Education, enlarging as

pious scale.

horizon and perspective,


ideals, of

would,

does our

it

alone by itself enough to render a

and

shirt

a stock of ideals

if

And

ones into view.

your college professor, with a starched


spectacles,

co-

a means of multiplying

is

new

bringing

verse-

a grain of effort, courage,

or endurance, possibly have

our

293

were

all

life significant,

be the most absolutely and deeply significant of

men.

Tolstoi

spising

him

all

our

would be completely blind

for a prig, a pedant

new

But such consequences


feel, are

and a parody

and

insight into the divinity of muscular

would be altogether

labor

in de-

off the track of truth.

as this,

The more

erroneous.

you

instinctively

ideals a

man

has,

the more contemptible, on the whole, do you con-

deem him,

tinue to

him, and

if

are called

if

the matter ends there for

none of the laboring man's virtues

into

action on his part,

no

courage

shown, no privations undergone, no dirt or scars


contracted in the attempt to get them realized.
It

the

quite

is

mere

make
the

obvious that something more

possession

life

significant

spectator's

of
in

ideals

is

than

required

to

any sense that claims

admiration.

Inner

joy,

to

be

TALKS TO STUDENTS

294

may

sure, it
its

own

from

have,

private

with

ideals

its

To
with our own

sentimental matter.

we

us, outsiders as

are,

the

must back

laborers

virtue

it

have, the

by the dimension

face

sterner

must multiply

their

extort
ideals

with what

ideal visions

its

is

grudging recog-

to look after, the tribute of our


nition, it

but that

manly

of

stuff

sentimental sur-

of the active will, if

we

we are to have anything


cubical and solid in the way of character.
The significance of a human life for communihave depth,

are to

if

cable and publicly recognizable purposes

thus

is

the offspring of a marriage of two different parents,

either

ideals

of

whom

by themselves no novelty.

orientalists

the thing

its

The

barren.

reality, the

And

let

and pessimists say what they


of deepest

paratively deepest

be

is

taken by themselves give no

virtues

to

alone

or,

at

any

significance in

rate,
life

does seem

character of progress, or that strange

tinues from one

can

moment

call intelligence.

is

Not every

which novelties are

ideal thing will always

it

con-

to another to present.

recognize ideal novelty

tell

will,

of com-

union of reality with ideal novelty which

To
we

the

the task of

one's intelligence

ideal.

seem

what

For many the

to cling

still

to the

THE COMPLETELY SIGNIFICANT LIFE


older

more familiar good.

though not significant


cant pathetically.
is

In this case character,

may be

totally,

So,

295

we

if

still

signifi-

are to choose

the more essential factor of

human

which

character,

the fighting virtue or the intellectual breadth,

must

with

side

common

man

all this

fused result.

seem

to be just taking things

First I took

tauqua, and dropped that

common

of

finally, I

took up

dropping those.
sense

is

it

Culture and refinement


to do so.

and dropped

please

them.

pretend singly to redeem

life

all

sensibility

alone.

observe

to

will,

danger

what

when they

It is

from

in

insignificance.

Ideal aspirations are not enough,

pluck and

them;

alone are not enough

uncombined with pluck and


are

up Chau-

and seem now almost

ideals,

that I drop

up

then Tolstoi' and the

toil,

But

my

to be reaching a con-

and dropping them again.


heroism

can show.

beating and tacking on

you take me

part, I fear

which any

light or darkness

unintellectual

But, with

and choose that simple

Tolstoi',

faithfulness to his

we

will.

when

But neither

dogged endurance and


enough, when

taken

inall

There must be some sort of fusion, some

chemical combination

among

these principles, for

TAXKS TO STUDENTS

296

objectively

a life

and thoroughly

significant

to

result.

Of
sion.

course, this

But

somewhat vague conclu-

is

in a question of significance, of worth,

can never be precise.

like this, conclusions

answer of appreciation, of sentiment,


a

more or a

less,

and good

insight,

a balance struck

But

will.

the same, a real conclusion.


of getting

it, it

been opened to

you

seems to

it

And,

me

more

always

by sympathy,
an answer,

in the course

Some

things.

livingly aware than

ask

is,

on your own

of ideal

lie

And, when you

lives.

how much sympathy you ought

although the amount

of

you

were an hour ago of the depths of worth that


around you, hid in alien

all

that our eyes have

many important

are, perhaps,

is

is

The

to bestow,

truly enough, a matter

part, yet in this notion of

the combination of ideals with active virtues

you

have a rough standard for shaping your decision.


In any

case,

your imagination

divine in the world about

and love

for

extended.

you matter

more humility on your own


reverence,

is

part,

others

You

for a little

and tolerance,
and

you gain

a certain inner joyfulness at the increased impor-

tance of our
religious

common

inspiration

life.

Such joyfulness

and an element of

is

spiritual

THE LABOR-QUESTION

and worth more than large amounts of that

health,

and accurate information which

sort of technical

we

professors are supposed to be able to impart.

To show
tration,

We

mean by

the sort of thing I

words, I will just

is

297

and then

make one

brief practical illus-

close.

are suffering to-day in

called the labor-question

into the world,

caught up in

these

you

America from what

and,

will each

and

all

of

you be

I use the brief

its perplexities.

labor-question to cover

when you go out

all sorts of

term

anarchistic dis-

contents and socialistic projects, and the conservative resistances


this conflict is

think

it is

which they provoke.

So far as

and
limited extent, the un-

unhealthy and regrettable,

so only to a

healthiness consists solely in the fact that one-half


of our fellow-countrymen remain entirely blind
to the internal significance of the lives of the other
half.

They miss

feel the

the joys and sorrows, they

fail to

moral virtue, and they do not guess the

presence of the intellectual ideals.

They

are at

cross-purposes all along the line, regarding each

other as they might regard a set of dangerously


gesticulating automata, or,

if

they seek to get at

the inner motivation, making the most horrible

TALKS TO STUDENTS

298

Often

mistakes.

all

man

that the poor

can think

of in the rich

man

safety, luxury,

and effeminacy, and a boundless

is

a cowardly greediness for


af-

What he is, is not a human being, but a


pocket-book, a bank-account. And a similar greedifectation.

ness,

turned by disappointment into envy,

that

many

of the

men can

rich

poor.

dissatisfied

see in the state of

And,

if

the rich

is

all

mind

man

begins to do the sentimental act over the poor

man, what senseless blunders does he make,


ing him for just those

very immunities

pity-

very duties and those

which, rightly taken, are the

condition of his most abiding and characteristic


joys

Each, in short, ignores the fact that happi-

ness and unhappiness and significance are a vital

mystery

each pins them absolutely on some

ulous feature of the external situation

body remains outside of everybody


Society has, with
pass toward

all this,

ridic-

and every-

else's sight.

undoubtedly got to

some newer and better equilibrium,

and the distribution of wealth has doubtless slowly


got to change

such changes have always hap-

pened, and will happen to the end of time.


if,

after all that I

that they will

on a large

have

said,

any

make any genuine

scale, to the lives of

of

But

you expect

vital difference,

our descendants,

FITZ-JAMES STEPHEN QUOTED

you

have missed the significance of

will

The

lecture.

same eternal

thing,

some unhabitual
fidelity,

life

the

ideal,

may

pains.

however

And,

be, there will

my

entire

always the

life is

marriage, namely,

courage, and endurance

woman's

or

meaning of

solid

299

special,
;

of

with some

with some man's

whatever or wherever

always be the chance for

that marriage to take place.


Fitz- James

words

to

can speak

Stephen

this

effect

"

'

wrote

many

years

ago

more eloquent than any

The Great

Eastern,' or

some

of her

successors," he said, " will perhaps defy the roll of

the Atlantic, and cross the seas without allowing


their

passengers

to feel that they

have

left the

The voyage from the cradle


grave may come to be performed with
firm land.

facility.

Progress and science

able untold
care,

will

millions

to live

may

to the

similar

perhaps en-

and die without a

They

without a pang, without an anxiety.

have a pleasant passage and plenty of brilliant

They

conversation.

believed at

all

in

will

wonder that men ever

clanging

fights

and

blazing

towns and sinking ships and praying hands

when they come

to the

will go their way,

them no more.

end

it

and,

of their course, they

and the place thereof

But

will

know

seems unlikely that they

TALKS TO STUDENTS

300

will have such a

knowledge of the great ocean on

which they

with

sail,

currents and icebergs,

winds, as those

gether in the

who

storms and wrecks,

its
its

its

huge waves and mighty

battled with

which,

little craft,

other merits, brought those

it for
if

years to-

they had few

who navigated them

time and eternity, their

full into the presence of

maker and themselves, and forced them to have


some definite view of their relations to them and
to each other." *

In this solid and tridimensional sense, so to


it,

those philosophers are right

the world

who contend

call

that

a standing thing, with no progress, no

is

real history.

The changing

conditions of history

touch only the surface of the show.

The

altered

equilibriums and redistributions only diversify our


opportunities

But, with each

ideals.
life,

and open chances

the chance for a

will vanish

ous calculator
the total

sum

new

life

to

us for

ideal that

new

comes into

based on some old ideal

and he would needs be a presumptu-

who should with


of significances

is

confidence say that


positively

solutely greater at any one epoch than at

and

ab-

any other

of the world.
I

am

speaking broadly, I know, and omitting to


* Essays

by a

Barrister,

London,

1862, p. 318.

CONCLUSION

301

consider certain qualifications in which I myself

But one can only make one point

believe.
lecture,

and

brought

my

shall be well

point

home

even a slight degree.

content

you

to

this

if

different

men's hearts.

That

the main fact to remember.

not only admit

it

truly believe

how

how

it,

can

meaning from

in

of

life

eternal

its

singing
is

have

There are compensations:

keep the nightingale of


sorts

evening in

and no outward changes of condition in

all

in one

with our

lips,

If

we could

but really and

our convulsive insistences,

our antipathies and dreads of each other,

would soften down

If

the poor and the rich

could look at each other in this way, sub specie


ceternatis,

how

gentle

would grow

their disputes

what tolerance and good humor, what willingness


to live

and

let live,

would come

THE END.

into the

world

By Professor William James


Psychology,

Principles of

vow*. Psychology.
H93pp., 8vo.

Briefer Coarse.
478

$4.80 net.

John Dewey, Professor

pp.,

J2mo.

$1.60 net.

University of Chicago.

in the

"A

remarkable union of wide learning, originality of treatment, and,

above

ment

all,

of never-failing suggestions.

To me

the best treat-

advanced psychology in existence.


It does more to put psychology in scientific position, both as to
the statement of established results and as stimulating to further
problems and their treatment, than any other book of which I
of the whole matter of

know."

James Sully,
thing

else,

Mind.

in

original,

" Professor James

is,

energetically, aggressively

before everyoriginal.

He

must see things with his own eyes and woe to the man who
comes between those eyes and their object! This, I take it, is
The freshness,
the deepest source of charm in all his writings.
when
the force, the wholesome contempt for other men's work,
all this is very admithis takes on the aspect of mere lumber,
;

Our author has the magical power, given to the very few,
The much-tormented human mind
of re-creating his subject.
loses its dull, worn look in his hands, and becomes alive again.
if only through the charm of its literary
His work will live
when most text-books lie dusty and forgotten."
expression

rable.

Professor Victor Brochard, in the article "James {William)"

of the Grande Encyclopedie, vol. xx. "This book of Mr. James's


Adis certainly one of the most important works of the time.
all the work accomplished in physiological
and psychological research in France, Germany, England, and
Italy, Mr. James has produced a very exact and complete picture

mirably informed on

(J 3 )