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98
FIRESIDE EDUCATION.
and then chide the latter for impolite behavior towards strangers.
" The same principle of repetition, being ne­cessary to make a durable impression on the brain and constitute a mental habit, also ex­plains the manner in which natural endowments are modified by external situation. Taking the average of mankind, the limits to which this modification may be carried are not narrow. Place a child, for example, of average propen­sities, sentiments, and intellect, among a class of people—thieves—in whom the selfish facul­ties are exclusively exercised; by whom gain is worshipped as the end of life, and cunning and cheating as the means, and among whom it never hears one word of disapprobation or moral indignation against either crime or senti­ment ; and its lower faculties will be exclusively exercised and increase in strength, while the higher will be left unemployed and become weak. A child so situated will consequently not only act as those around do, but insensibly grow up resembling them in disposition and character, because, by the law of repetition, the organs of the selfish faculties will have acquired propor­tionally greater aptitude and vigor, just as the muscles of the fencer or dancer. But suppose the same individual placed from infancy in the
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