Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/320

This page has been validated.

duce fear; the more so that the subject does not know how severe it is to be.

In the higher moral education, the management of the passion of fear is of the greatest consequence. The evils of operating by means of it are so great that it should be reserved for the last resort. The waste of energy and the scattering of the thoughts are ruinous to the interests of mental progress. The one certain result is to paralyze and arrest action, or else to concentrate force in some single point, at the cost of general debility. The tyrant, working by terror, disarms rebelliousness, but fails to procure energetic service, while engendering hatred and preparing for his overthrow.

The worst of all modes and instruments of discipline is the employment of spiritual, ghostly, or superstitious terrors. Unless it were to scourge and thwart the greatest of criminals—the disturbers of the peace of mankind—hardly anything justifies the terrors of superstition. On a small scale, we know what it is to frighten children with ghosts; on a larger scale is the influence of religions dealing almost exclusively in the fear of another life.

Like the other gross passions, terror admits of being refined upon and toned down, till it becomes simply a gentle stimulation; and the reaction more than makes up for the misery. The greatest efforts in this direction are found in the artistic handling of fear, as in the sympathetic fears of tragedy, and in the passing terrors of a well-constructed plot. In the moral bearings of the emotions, its refined modes are shown in the fear of giving pain or offense to one that we love, respect, or venerate. There may be a considerable degree of the depressing element even in this situation; yet the effect is altogether wholesome and ennobling. All superiors should aspire to be feared in this manner.

Timidity, or susceptibility to fear, is one of the noted differences of character; and this difference is to be taken into account in discipline. The absence of general vigor, bodily and mental, is marked by timidity; and the state may also be the result of long bad usage, and of perverted views of the world. In the way of culture, or of high exertion in any form, little is to be expected from thoroughly timid natures; they can be easily governed, so far as concerns sins of commission, but their omissions are not equally remediable.

The conquest of superstitious fears is one of the grandest objects of education taken in its widest compass. It cannot be accomplished by any direct inculcation; it is one of the incidental and most beneficial results of the exact study of Nature—in other words, science.

4. The Social Motives.—This is perhaps the most extensive and the least involved of all the emotional influences at work in education.

The pleasures of love, affection, mutual regard, sympathy, or sociability, make up the foremost satisfaction of human life; and as such are a standing object of desire, pursuit, and fruition. Sociability is a