chapter  Chapter VI
6 Pages

The Effect which an Early Association of Ideas has upon the Character

ByJanet Todd, Marilyn Butler, Emma Rees-Mogg

The great advantages which naturally result from storing the mind with knowledge, are obvious from the following considerations. The association of our ideas is either habitual or instantaneous; and the latter mode seems rather to depend on the original temperature of the mind than on the will. Education thus only supplies the man of genius with knowledge to give variety and contrast to his associations; but there is a habitual association of ideas, that grows ‘with our growth,’ which has a great effect on the moral character of mankind; and by which a turn is given to the mind that commonly remains throughout life. For instance, the severest sarcasms have been levelled against the sex, and they have been ridiculed for repeating ‘a set of phrases learnt by rote,’ when nothing could be more natural, considering the education they receive, and that their ‘highest praise is to obey, unargued’—the will of man.