Phrenological bust by LN FowlerPhrenological bust by LN FowlerThe History of Phrenology on the Web

by John van Wyhe

George Combe's A System of Phrenology, 5th edn, 2 vols. 1853.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].






THESE faculties communicate to man and animals knowledge of their own internal sensations, and also of the external world ; their object is to know existence, and to perceive qualities and relations. Dr Spurzheim's latest division of them is into three genera :

"I. The External Senses.

" II. The Internal Senses, or perceptive faculties which procure knowledge of external objects, their physical qualities, and various relations.

" III. The reflective faculties."1

For the sake of uniformity, I here adopt the same classification ; although, as noticed in the Appendix, No. II., it is far from being unexceptionable. But until the analysis of the faculties themselves shall be more complete than at present, an accurate arrangement of them cannot be attained.

1 Philosophical Principles of Phrenology. Boston, United States, 1832, p. 52.


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by means of the senses, man and animals are brought into communication with the external world. Dr Spurzheim, in his Physiognomical System, and, in his more recent work Phrenology, gives admirable treatises on the senses ; of which I shall avail myself largely in the following pages.

The opinions entertained by philosophers in regard to the functions of the senses, have in many instances been whimsical, extravagant, and contradictory.

Since the time of Bacon and Locke, the greater number of philosophical systems rest on the axiom of Aristotle, that all ideas come into the mind by means of the external senses. According to this notion, he who possesses them in the highest state of perfection, is able to manifest most powerfully the intellectual faculties of the mind ; or, in other words, the faculties, both of man and animals, ought to be proportionate to the perfection of the senses, and to the education bestowed upon them. Daily experience, however, contradicts this hypothesis. Dr Thomas Brown's doctrine is, that in the sensations " we find the rude elements of all our knowledge, the materials on which the mind is ever operating, and without which it seems to us almost impossible that it could have operated at all, or could, even in its absolute inactivity, have been conscious of its own inert existence. "1

Philosophers of another class maintain, that the mind acts independently of all organization, and that the senses, instead of being instruments of action, are rather impediments to it. They complain much of the illusions of the senses ; and despise all testimony, and all conclusions grounded upon sensation. Such notions are unworthy of being refuted.

1 Lectures, vol. i. p. 398.


Other philosophers, again, have attributed to the external senses many acts which are performed by the internal faculties alone. For instance, Helvetius has said, that man owes his arts to the structure of his hands ; and that, if the hoof of the horse had been joined to the human arm, he would have been still wandering wild in the woods. But many animals have instruments equally curious, and perfect in structure with those to "which peculiar capacities of mind have been attributed in man ; and yet these instruments do not produce in them the corresponding functions. Monkeys have hands almost as nicely formed as those which are attached to the human arm ; but do monkeys put wood upon the fire to support combustion ? or do they construct works of art ? According to this theory, also, insects, crawfish, lobsters, and still more the cuttle-fish, ought to have exact ideas of extension, of size, and of the theorems of geometry, in consequence of their numerous and perfect organs of touch.

In point of fact, however, the external instruments are often similar, while the functions performed by them are quite different. The hare and rabbit have similar feet ; yet the hare lies on the surface of the fields, while the rabbit burrows under ground. We have also examples of similar functions observed in animals which have instruments quite different. The proboscis is to the elephant what the hand is to man and to the monkey. The hands of monkeys and the feet of parrots and squirrels, are certainly different ; yet, by means of these instruments, they all move their food to their mouths in eating. In order to dig up truffles, the hog ploughs the earth with his snout, and the dog scratches it with his feet.

Some have taught, that the functions of the senses are not ordained by nature, but acquired by experience. Much, for example, has been written about the rectification of the sense of sight, by means of touch ; and about what they call the acquired perceptions of sight.

Each sense, however, performs its functions in conse-


quence of its own innate constitution alone; and the relations of every sense to external impressions are determinate, and subjected to positive laws. If an odour make an impression upon the olfactory nerve, the impression is immediately found to be agreeable or disagreeable ; and this feeling arises from the constitution of the sense, and the relation established between it and the odorous particles which excite it to activity. The functions of every sense depend only on its peculiar organization ; and hence no preceding exercise or habit is necessary, in order to acquire the special power of any sense. If the organization be perfect, the functions are perfect also ; and if the organization be diseased, the functions are deranged, notwithstanding all preceding exercise. If the optic apparatus be perfect in newly hatched birds, their sight is perfect ; as is the case with chickens, ducks, partridges, and quails. If, on the contrary, at the first entrance into life, the organization of the eyes or the ears be imperfect, the power of the animal to see or hear is proportionally deficient. In adult persons, vision is deranged if the eyes be diseased. In old persons, the functions of the five senses lose their energy, because the vital power of the organs is diminished.

It is indeed ridiculous to suppose that Nature should have produced any sense which could not perform its functions without being supported by another and a different sense ;- that, for example, we should not be able to see without feeling, or to hear without seeing. Hence the propositions appear self-evident,-that no sense acquires its functions by means of any other sense, and that any one sense cannot be the instrument of producing the sensations experienced by means of all the senses collectively. But we must observe, that different senses may enable us to perceive the same object ; and that one sense is more fitted than another to make us acquainted with certain objects, and their qualities. For example, we may obtain a conception of the figure of a book by means of the sense of touch, and also by means of the sense of sight,


Each, sense, as already observed, is subject to its own positive laws. For example, we see according to the laws of the refraction of light ; and hence, a straight rod half plunged in water appears crooked, although touch proves that, in this situation, the rod continues straight.

This is a kind of rectification ; but it must not be confounded with the doctrine which maintains that one sense acquires its functions by means of the rectification of another sense. Touch may shew that a rod which is plunged in water, and looks crooked, is straight ; but the eyes will see it crooked as before. The rectifications thus effected by the senses, are reciprocal, and not the prerogative of one sense. In this view, the eyes may rectify the sense of touch. If, without our knowledge, a piece of thin paper be placed between one of our fingers and the thumb, we may not feel but we may see it. Even smell and taste may rectify the senses of seeing and of touch. Thus, many fluids look like water, and it would be impossible to discover them to be different substances by the sense of touch ; but it is easy to do so by smell and taste. Thus each sense has its peculiar and independent functions, and each is subject to positive laws. But every sense also perceives impressions of which another is not susceptible ; and it is in consequence of this circumstance that the external senses rectify one another ; or rather produce, by their co-operation, an extent of accurate conception, which, in an unconnected state, they would have been incapable of affording.

It is a task of considerable difficulty to point out accurately the precise limits of the functions of the senses ; because, in every act of perception, their instrumentality is combined with that of the internal faculties of the mind ; and it is not easy to discriminate to what extent the act depends upon the one, and to what extent upon the other. For the elucidation of this point, I submit the following considerations to the reader.

The external organs of the senses do not form ideas. For example, when an impression is made upon the hand, it is


not the nerves of touch which form the conception of the object making the impression ; they merely receive that impression, and communicate it to the brain, and an internal faculty of the mind perceives, or forms an idea of the object by which the impression is caused. Without the nerves of feeling, the internal faculty could not experience the perception ; because the medium of communication between it and the object would be wanting.

Hence, previously to every perception, there must be an impression on the external organs of sense ; and the function if these organs appears to consist in receiving and transmitting this impression to the brain and internal faculties. The nature of the impressions depends on the constitution of the organs of sense, and on the relations established between them and external objects ; and, as it is absolutely impossible for the human will to change either the constitution of the senses, or the relations between them and the external world, it is clearly absurd to speak of acquired impressions.

But, as the senses are constituted with a determinate relation to external objects, so the brain and internal faculties are constituted with a determinate relation to the organs of sense. In virtue of the first relation, a certain object makes a certain impression ; and in virtue of the second, a certain impression gives rise to a certain perception : and both depend on nature, and not on the will, nor on exercise or habit.

But we must distinguish between the perceptions we experience of external objects, and the inferences concerning their qualities which we draw by reasoning from these perceptions. All those ideas which are pure perceptions are formed intuitively, on the presentation of objects fitted to excite them. Inferences from these, on the other hand, are the result of our reasoning powers. What are sometimes called " acquired perceptions," are merely habits of reasoning from the impressions naturally made on the senses ; and these habits are just as much a part of our nature as the original perceptions. It appears to me, that the visible and


tangible appearances of bodies are simple perceptions, because, after the amplest experience of some of these being deceitful, we cannot, in the slightest degree, alter our perceptions of them. For example, a rod half immersed in water appears crooked, in defiance of every endeavour to see it straight. When we stand three or four yards distant from a mirror, and perceive our image in it, we cannot, by any efforts, succeed in perceiving the image as if formed on the surface of the mirror, although we know perfectly that it is so. It appears always at the same distance behind the surface as we are before it. If a picture be painted according to the rules of perspective, so as to represent a vista in the country, or a long street in a city, we are altogether incapable, when in the proper position for viewing it, of perceiving the surface to be plain. The picture appears to us to represent objects at different distances, and the most determined resolution to see them all equally near is of no avail, although we know that, in point of fact, they are so.1

If, previously to experience, all objects seen by the eye appear only as of different colours arid shades, and all equally near although really at different distances ; and if we learn by experience only, that this natural appearance is deceitful, and that, in point of fact, one object is near and another distant ; I cannot perceive a reason why we might not learn, by experience, also to perceive pictures as plain surfaces, and images as if formed on the surfaces of mirrors-in short, to get quit altogether of the illusions of optics. If it be easy to acquire, by habit, the power of perceiving objects as at different distances, which naturally appear to the eye as all equally near, it ought to be no difficult matter to learn by experience to perceive a surface to be plain which really is

I am informed that there are individuals, enjoying perfect vision, who see their own image always on the surface of a mirror, at whatever distance they stand from it ; who naturally see paintings (a diorama of a valley, for instance) as plain surfaces, and who find it necessary to make a mental effort to perceive perspective ; but this is not the general case. The organ of size was deficient in the only two individuals thus constituted whom I have seen. See " Organ of Size," in a subsequent page.


so, after we are certain of the fact ; and yet I have never been able to do so. Colour, form, magnitude, and distance, appear to be objects of intuitive perception, when the organs which take cognizance of them are adequately possessed ; and, accordingly, no experience, and no repetition of acts of volition, can alter such appearances, if the refraction of light, the state of the eye, and the internal faculties, continue the same.

The following appears to me to be a correct mode of ascertaining the limits of the functions of the senses. Whatever perceptions or impressions received from external objects can be fully renewed by an act of recollection, cannot depend exclusively upon the senses ; because the organs of sense are not subject to the will, and in the healthy state never produce the impressions which depend upon their constitution, unless excited by an external cause. On the other hand, whatever impressions we are unable to recall, must, for the same reason, depend on the senses alone.

These principles will be best elucidated by examples. In hearing, I call that part of the impression which is occasioned by the vibrations of the air, and of the tympanum, simply noise ; and that part which is dependent on the activity of the brain, a note. When a noise has been made by striking a table with a hammer in our presence, and the sound has ceased, the noise cannot be reproduced by an effort of the will ; because its existence depended on the apparatus of the ear being in a certain state of excitation, which cannot be reproduced by an act of volition. But if an individual is endowed with the internal faculty of Tune, and if a piece of music be played over in his presence, then, after the noise of the instrument has ceased, although he cannot recall that noise, he can with facility reproduce the internal impressions which the notes made upon his mind ; in short, he can enjoy the tune internally anew, by an act of recollection. And as most sounds have something musical in them, he may also recall the note made by the hammer in striking the table, but not the noise. The power of experiencing the perception


of melody, and of enjoying the impressions which it makes, appears, therefore, to depend on the internal faculty of Tune, while the noise alone depends upon the ear. Hence the perfection of the power of perceiving melody in any individual, is not in proportion to the perfection of the external ear alone, but in proportion to the joint perfection of that organ, and the internal faculty of Tune. Without the auditory apparatus the internal faculty could not receive the impressions ; but that apparatus could never of itself produce the perception of melody. Accordingly, we see every day that many individuals enjoy the sense of hearing unimpaired, who have no perception of melody. The same principles applied to the other senses will point out distinctly the precise limit of their functions. We may take an example from the sense of touch. If we embrace a square body with the hands, certain impressions are made on the nerve of touch, called sensations, in consequence of which the mind forms an idea of the figure of the body. Now, we can recall the conception of the figure ; but not the sensation which excited it. The conception, therefore, depends on an internal faculty; the sensation on the nerves of touch. The perception, however, depends as entirely on nature as the sensation; and the power of perceiving the form of the body is not acquired by experience.

Dr Spurzheim observes on this head, that, where the same ideas are acquired by the instrumentality of two or more senses, the ideas cannot possibly be formed by the senses ; because Nature, so far as man has discovered, never endows different instruments with the same functions, in the same individual. For example, we can acquire ideas of form by the instrumentality of the sense of Sight, and likewise by means of Touch. Now, from this circumstance alone it is evident, that the conception of figure is formed, not by the eyes, or by the nerves of Touch, because this would be an instance of two separate senses performing the same function ; but by an internal faculty, which perceives figure, in consequence of impressions made on either of these two different senses. The impressions made upon the eye are to-


tally different from those made upon the nerves of Touch, but the internal faculty is adapted by nature to both ; and hence the same perceptions are experienced by means of the same faculty, although through the instrumentality of different media. The same function, however, is not performed by distinct senses.

These views of the functions of the senses are illustrated and confirmed by the phenomena which take place when the organs of sense are diseased. For example, when the ear becomes inflamed, it often happens that noises having no external causes are heard ; when too much blood flows into the eye, impressions like those of light are perceived ; when the nerves of Taste become diseased, there is a consciousness of disagreeable savours ; when the nerves of Touch are excited by internal causes, a tickling or disagreeable sensation is felt ; when the muscular system is relaxed by nervous diseases, and flying spasms occur over the body, impressions occasionally arise from these spasmodic affections, so precisely resembling those of touch, that the individual is at a loss to distinguish them.

There is reason to conjecture, that particular parts of the brain receive the impressions transmitted by the different external senses, and that it is by their instrumentality that the gourmand, for instance, recalls the flavour of a particular dish. He cannot reproduce the sensation, which depends on the activity of the nerves of taste ; but he can recall all that is mental in the perception, or that depends on the activity of any part of the brain.

Every one is acquainted with the ridiculous theories which have been framed by philosophers, to account for the phenomena of perception. Aristotle taught, says Dr Reid, " that, as our senses cannot receive external material objects themselves, they receive their species, that is, their images or forms without the matter, as wax receives the form of the seal, without any of the matter of it."1 The Plato-

1 Essay on the Intellectual Powers, p. 25.


nists differed from Aristotle in maintaining, " that there exist eternal and immutable ideas, which were prior to the objects of sense, and about which all science was employed." They agreed with him, however, as to the manner in which these ideas are perceived. Two thousand years after Plato, Mr Locke represented our manner of perceiving external objects, by comparing the understanding to a " closet, wholly shut from light, with only some little opening left, to let in external visible resemblances or ideas of things without." The notion of all these philosophers was, that, from the existence of these images or ideas, the mind inferred, by a process of reasoning, the existence of the external objects themselves.

Dr Reid refuted, by a very simple process, these doctrines. He pointed out merely the fact, that the mind is so formed, that certain impressions, produced by external objects on our organs of sense, are followed by certain sensations ; that these' sensations are followed by perceptions of the existence and qualities of the bodies by which the impressions are made ; and that all the steps of this process are equally involuntary and incomprehensible to us.

It will be perceived, that the doctrine above laid down regarding the functions of the senses, corresponds precisely with the philosophy of Dr Reid.

The organs of each sense are double ; and yet the consciousness of all impressions experienced by the mind is single. Various theories have been propounded to account for this fact ; but none of them is satisfactory. Dr Gall ventured to give an explanation different from them all. " He distinguishes two states of activity in the organs of the senses, calling one active, the other passive. The functions are passive, if performed independently of the will ; the eye, for instance, necessarily perceives the light which falls upon it, and the ear the vibrations propagated to it. Now, we perceive passively with both organs, says he ; we see with both eyes, hear with both ears, but the active state is confined to one organ, and commonly to the strongest. We see with both


eyes at the same time, but we look with one only ; we hear with both ears, we listen only with one ; we feel with both hands, we touch with but one, &c,

" There is no doubt that we look with one eye only. In placing a pencil or any other thin body between us and a light, keeping both eyes open, and throwing the axis of vision, the stick, and the light, into a right line, did we look with both eyes, the pencil should occupy the diagonal, and' its shadow fall on the nose. But this always falls on one eye, on that which the person, who makes the experiment, ordinarily uses in looking with attention. If the pencil be kept in the same position, and the eye not employed in looking be shut, the relative direction of the objects will seem to remain the same ; but if he shut the eye with which he looked, it will be altered, and the pencil will appear removed far from its former place. Again, let any one look at a point but a little way distant, both eyes will seem directed towards it ; let him then shut his eyes alternately. If he close the one with which he did not look, the other remains motionless ; but if he shut that with which he looked, the other turns immediately a little inwards, in order to fix the point. Moreover, the eyes of many animals are placed laterally, and cannot both be directed at once to the same object. Finally, the gestures of man and animals prove that they look with one eye, and listen with one ear ; for they direct one eye or one ear towards the object to be seen or heard."1

" Notwithstanding what has been said, Dr Gall's explanation seems to me," says Dr Spurzheim, " little satisfactory. Indeed it is very remarkable, that, passively, we perceive, at the same time, the impressions of both organs of any sense, not only if one, but also if different objects impress the two. Even different impressions of different objects may be perceived by both organs of two senses at once. We may, for instance, with both eyes see different objects at the moment that with both ears we hear different sounds. As soon as we

1 Dr Spurzheim's Phrenology, p. 221.


are attentive, however, as soon as we look or listen, we perceive but one impression. It is impossible, therefore, to attend to two different discourses at once. The leader of an orchestra hears passively all the instruments, but he cannot be attentive except to one. The rapidity of mental action deceives several, and makes them think it possible to attend to different objects at the same moment. It follows, that there is a difference between the active and passive state of the senses ; but whether this difference suffices to explain the single consciousness of every sense, is another question; I think that it does not.

" First, this explanation would apply only to functions in their active, not at all in their passive state ; and the cause of single consciousness must be the same in both. Further, the active state is not produced by the external senses themselves, any more than voluntary motion by the mere muscles. Some internal power renders the senses active ; they themselves are always passive, and merely propagate external impressions ; they appear active only when something internal employs them to receive and to transmit impressions to the brain. It is therefore probable, that the internal cause which excites only a single organ of the external senses to activity, is also the cause of the single consciousness of different impressions. Dr Gall's explanation of single consciousness is consequently not only grounded upon an inaccurate notion, but would be far from satisfactory, were the supposition even true."1

The mind has no consciousness either of the existence of the organs of sense, or of the functions performed by them. When the table is struck, and we attend to the subject of our own consciousness, we perceive the impression of a sound ; but by this attention we do not discover that the impression has been experienced by the instrumentality of any organ whatever. Hence the perceptions of the mind are always directed to the objects which make the impres-

1 Lib. at., p. 222.


sions, and not to the instruments by means of which they are experienced. The instruments perform their functions under Nature's care, and, as already observed, are not subject to the will. We should have been distracted, not benefited, by a consciousness of their action. When they become diseased we obtain this consciousness, and it is painful. Every one must be sensible of this fact, whose eyes or ears have been inflamed.

Dr Spurzheim observes, that " the brain seems to be necessary to every kind of perception, even to that of the immediate functions of the external senses ; but it is not yet ascertained, though it is probable, that one fundamental power, inherent in a particular part of the brain, knows and conceives as sensations, all the varied impressions made on the external senses. Some phrenologists think that each external sense has a peculiar portion of brain for this end, and that the combined action of its nerve and of this cerebral part, is necessary to the accomplishment of its functions-that the nerve of taste and a portion of brain, for instance, are necessary to perceive savours ; the olfactory nerve and a cerebral part, to distinguish colours, &c. I do not believe that consciousness happens without brain, but I see no reason to surmise that the immediate functions of each external sense require a particular portion of the brain, in order to be recognised as determinate sensations."1 Dr Caldwell, on the other hand, I think with justice, regards the opinion here expressed by Dr Spurzheim, as at variance with sound physiology,2 and the facts which I shall adduce on p. 25, will shew, that, in the case of the sense of sight; there is an internal organ in the brain which is connected with vision.

After these general considerations, which apply to all the external senses, a few words may be added on the specific functions of each sense in particular.

1 Spurzheim's Phrenology, p. 257.

2 Caldwell's Elements of Phrenology, 2d edit, p. 21.

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Dr Spurzheim, and many authors before his day, inferred from pathological facts, that the nerves of motion must be distinct from the nerves of feeling;1 and subsequent experiments have proved this inference to be well founded. This subject has been treated of on page 91, vol. i. The sense of feeling is continued, not only over the whole external surface of the body, but even over the intestinal canal. It gives rise to the sensations of pain and pleasure ; of the variations of temperature ; and of dryness and moisture. These cannot be recalled by the will ; and I therefore consider them as depending on the sense alone.

This sense is usually supposed to convey to us impressions not merely of heat and cold, pain and pleasure, but also of the resistance met with by the body when in contact with external objects. This, however, is disputed by some authors, who maintain that there is a sense altogether distinct from that of feeling properly so called, and which conveys to the brain a knowledge of the state of the muscles,-in other words, of the degree of contraction or force which they are exerting at the time. The existence of such a sense is distinctly maintained by Dr Thomas Brown. " The feeling of resistance,'' says he, " is, I conceive, to be ascribed, not to our organ of touch, but to our muscular frame, to which I have already more than once directed your attention, as forming a distinct organ of sense ; the affections of which, particularly as existing in combination with other feelings, and modifying our judgments concerning these (as in the case of distant vision, for example), are not less important than those of our other sensitive organs."3 Mr Simpson, in a very ingenious and elaborate essay on this subject, pub-

1 See Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 1815, p. 23, and Phrénologie, 1818, p. 236. Also his Anatomy of the Brain, sect. iii. p. 37, et seq. 1 Lectures, vol. i. p. 496.


lished in The Phrenological Journal,1 has adduced many facts and arguments confirmatory of Dr Brown's opinion. One case communicated to the Journal2 by a medical gentleman of Edinburgh, seems to him quite decisive. "I was consulted," says he, " by the son of a gentleman in the country, who has had a singular paralytic affection. He lost the power of motion in his arms, but retained sensation acutely, and felt another person's hand cold or warm, as the case might be. [This indicated the nerves of feeling, distributed to the skin, to be uninjured, while the motor nerves, which convey the mandates of the will to the muscles and cause them to contract, were impaired.] Now, at the distance of three weeks, he has regained the power of motion, but has lost the sense of the state of the muscles so completely, that he cannot adapt his muscular contractions to the purpose he has in view. [The motor nerve had recovered its health, but the nerve of the sense of resistance continued powerless.] In seizing a small object, he bears down upon it with his extended hand, gathers it in, and grasps it like a vice, not aware of the disproportion of his effort. He has at the same time the complete command of his muscles as to contraction and relaxation, but wants only the sense of their state." Mr Simpson appears to me to mistake Sir Charles Bell's meaning in regard to the existence of a set of nervous fibres conveying to the brain a knowledge of the state of the muscles. The language of Sir C. Bell is obscure, but physiologists do not admit that he has discovered the functions of more nerves than those of motion and sensation. Mr Noble accounts for the phenomena of the case here cited by Mr Simpson, by the supposition, that "feeling was defective in the muscles, and perfect in the skin ;" a result not unfrequent in cases of partial paralysis of the sentient nervous filaments. See Phren. Journ., vol. xii. p. 206.

1 Vol. ix. p. 193 ; see also his other papers there referred to, particularly that on the sense of equilibrium, vol. iv. p. 266. Sir George Mackenzie has commented on Mr Simpson's essay mentioned in the text, in vol. ix. p. 349.

s Vol. iv. p. 315. 6


Hunger and thirst seem to constitute a peculiar sense, of which the stomach and throat, and nerves connecting them with the brain, are the external organs, and the organ of Alimentiveness the cerebral part in which the sensations are experienced.1


the function of this sense is to produce sensations of taste alone ; and these cannot be recalled by the will. The tongue is endowed with three functions, Motion, Feeling, and Taste, one of which may be lost, and the other two be retained. It is not well ascertained which is the proper gustatory nerve. Mr Daniel Noble of Manchester has observed a striking case in which, " whilst the common sensation of one half of the tongue was annihilated, the sense of taste was unimpaired." See London Medical Gazette, vol. xv. p. 120, and vol. xvii. p. 257. In the Medical Gazette for December 1835, there is a paper by Mr Bishops, detailing the history of a case of facial paralysis, wherein a post mortem examination exhibited " the whole of the fifth nerve completely destroyed, whilst both the eye and nostril of that side had lost their sense of touch, retaining the faculties of vision and smell.'' We may judge of the qualities of external bodies by means of the impressions made on this sense ; but to form ideas of such qualities is the province of the internal faculties. Some phrenologists say that the lips, the interior of the cheeks, and the palate also, are sensible to the savours of bodies ; but Dr Vimont denies this on the authority of experiments performed in his own person.

1 See vol. i. p. 278 of this work ; and a paper on Alimentiveness, by Mr Robert Cox, in The Phrenological Journal, vol. x.


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by means of smell the external world acts upon man and animals from a distance. Odorous particles are conveyed from bodies, and inform sentient beings of the existence of the substances from which they emanate. The chief organ of smell is the olfactory nerve. It is ramified on the upper and middle spongy bones of the nose. It is not ramified on the inner surface of the sinuses. A branch of the fifth pair, or sensitive nerve, is ramified also on the spongy bones and inner surface of the nostrils, and gives the sensation of pain from irritants. Magendie cut the olfactory nerve, and held ammonia to the nose of the animal, and because it sneezed, he thought that the fifth pair, and not the olfactory nerve,was the essential nerve in smell ; but the ammonia acted as an irritant to the nerve of feeling, and not as a smell. When the fifth pair is cut, smell after a time is lost, because the loss of sensation is followed by inflammation of the mucous membrane, the integrity of which is necessary to smell. The functions of smell are confined to the producing of agreeable or disagreeable sensations, when the organ is affected. These cannot be reproduced by an effort of the will. Various ideas are formed of the qualities of external bodies, by the impressions which they make upon this sense ; but these ideas are formed by the internal faculties of the mind.


in new-born children, this sense is not yet active ; but it improves by degrees, and in proportion as the vigour of the organ increases. It is a very common opinion, that music, and the faculty of speech, are the result of the sense of hearing ; but this notion is erroneous.

As already mentioned, the auditory apparatus, being excited to activity by an external cause, produces only the im-


pression of noise ; and here its functions terminate. If, besides, the faculty of Tune be possessed by any individual, melody in sounds is perceived by that faculty. If the faculty be not possessed, such perception cannot exist. Hence, among birds, although the female hears as well as the male, yet the song of the male is very much superior to that of the female, and in him the organ of Tune is larger. Among mankind, also, many individuals hear, and yet are insensible to melody. Thus, both in man and other animals, there is no proportion between the perfection of hearing, and the perfection of the power of perceiving melody. If it be part of the function of the auditory apparatus to give the perception of melody, how can it happen that, in one individual, the apparatus can perform only one-half of its function, while in others it performs the whole ? This is not like Nature's work. Farther, hearing cannot produce music ; because the auditory apparatus is excited only by sounds which are already produced ; while the first musician must have begun to produce music before he had heard it, and therefore he must have done so from an internal impulse of the mind. Singing-birds also, which have been hatched by strange females, sing naturally, and without any instruction, the song of their species, as soon as their internal organization is active. Hence the males of every species preserve their natural song, though they have been brought up in the society of individuals of a different kind. Hence also, musicians who have lost their hearing, continue to compose. They possess the internal faculty ; and it being independent of the auditory apparatus, conceives the impressions which different sounds naturally produce, long after the ear has ceased to be capable of allowing these sounds to be heard anew. Hence likewise, deaf and dumb persons have an innate feeling of measure and cadence. Though, however, hearing does not produce music, yet, without an auditory apparatus fitted to receive the impressions made by tones, melody could not be perceived ; and, unless that apparatus had been once possessed, neither could melody be


produced, because the individual could not judge of the impressions which the sounds he made were fitted to make upon those who hear.

Another common opinion is, that hearing alone, or hearing and voice jointly, produce the faculty of speech. This error will be refuted, by considering in what any language consists, and how every language is produced. Language has been divided into two kinds, natural and artificial. In both kinds, a certain sign is used to indicate to others certain feelings or ideas of the mind. Various motions of the body, and expressions of the countenance, the moment they are beheld, indicate certain emotions and sentiments. In this case, the expression of the countenance, or the motion of the body, is a sign fitted by nature to excite in us the perception of the feeling. The meaning of the sign is understood by all men, without instruction or experience. It is obvious that its power, in this case, to excite the perception, does not depend either upon hearing or voice ; for neither is employed in producing it : but that the effect is an ultimate fact of our constitution, which must be referred to the will of the Creator. Besides these signs, however, we make use of many others to communicate our thoughts, which have no original connexion with the things signified. For example, the word table has no necessary connexion with the thing upon which I now write. How, then, does the word happen to indicate the thing ? The internal faculties first conceive the object : having done so, they wish to fix upon a sign by which that conception may be recalled or communicated. They, therefore, employ the organs of voice to make the sound which we express when we utter the word table. The thing itself being pointed out, and the sound being uttered at the same time, the meaning of the sound becomes understood ; and hence every time it is pronounced, the idea of the thing is suggested. But we are not to suppose that the auditory apparatus, or the organs of voice, conceive the idea of the table. This is done by the internal faculties alone ; and these merely make use of the organs of voice as instruments for producing


a sign. Hence the reason why monkeys do not speak is, not that they want the sense of hearing and organs of voice, but that they have not the internal faculty which fixes upon artificial signs to indicate the conceptions formed by the mind.

The proper function, then, of the sense of hearing, is confined to the production of the impressions which we call sounds : yet it assists a great number of internal faculties.

The auditory nerve has a more intimate connexion with the organs of the moral sentiments, than with those of the intellectual faculties.


this last of the senses, is the third of those which inform man and other animals of the existence of remote objects by means of an intermedium ; and the intermedium, in this instance, is light.

This sense has been said to acquire its functions by touch or by habit. Bishop Berkeley is supposed by the metaphysicians to have discovered the true theory of vision, and the result of his investigation is, " that a man born blind, being made to see, would not at first have any idea of distance by sight. The sun and stars, the remotest objects as well as the nearest, would all seem to be in his eye, or rather in his mind."1 Dr Reid, and some other philosophers, have written ingenious disquisitions, to shew that our perceptions of distance, figure, and motion, are acquired. " Philosophy," says Mr James Mill, " has ascertained that we derive nothing from the eye whatever but sensations of colour ; that the idea of extension, in which size, and form, and distance are included, is derived from sensations, not in the eye, but in the muscular part of our frame. How, then, is it that we receive accurate information by the eye, of size, and shape, and distance ? By association merely."2 These speculations pro-

Stewart's Dissertation, p. ii. 109. 3 Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind., vol. i. ch. iii. p. 73,


ceed on the principle, that Nature has done little for man, and that he does a great deal for himself, in endowing himself with perceptive powers. But vision depends on the organization of the eye ; and is energetic or weak, as the organization is perfect or imperfect. Some animals come into the world with perfect eyes ; and these see perfectly from the first. The butterfly and honeybee fly at the first attempt, through fields and flowery meadows ; and the young partridge and chicken run through stubble and corn-fields. The sparrow, in taking its first flight from the nest, does not strike its head against a wall, or mistake the root of a tree for its branches ; and yet, previously to its first attempt at flight, it can have no experience of distance.

On the other hand, animals which come into the world with eyes in an imperfect state, distinguish size, shape, and distance, only by degrees. This last is the case with newborn children. During the first six weeks after birth, their eyes are almost insensible to light ; and it is only by degrees that they become fit to perform their natural functions. When the organs are sufficiently matured, however, children see, without habit or education, as well and as accurately as the greatest philosopher.

Indeed, as has been formerly mentioned, the kind of perception which we enjoy by means of the eyes, is dependent solely on the constitution of the eyes, and the relation established between them and the refraction of light. So little power has experience to alter the nature of our perceptions, that even in some cases where we discover, by other senses, that the visible appearance of objects is illusive, we still continue to see that appearance the same as before. The greatest philosopher, standing at one end of a long alley of trees, cannot see the opposite rows equally distant from one another at the farther end, as they appear to be at the end nearest to him, even after experience has satisfied him that the fact really is so. He must see according to the laws of perspective, which make the receding rows appear to approach ; and there is no difference in this respect between his percep-


tions and those of the most untutored infant. In like manner, a philosopher, on looking into a concave spoon, cannot see his right hand upon the right side, and his left upon the left, even after he has learned, by the study of the laws of optics, that the image of himself, which he sees in the spoon, is reversed.

So confident, however, is Mr Stewart in the opinion that we learn to see, and do not see by nature, that, after remarking that " Condillac first thought that the eye judges naturally of figures, of magnitudes, of situations, and of distances : he afterwards was convinced that this was an error, and retracted it,"-he adds, " Nothing short of his own explicit avowal could have convinced me, that a writer of such high pretensions, and of such unquestionable ingenuity as Condillac, had really commenced his metaphysical career under so gross and unaccountable a delusion." Mr Stewart also expresses his surprise, that Aristotle should maintain " that it is not from seeing often or from hearing often, that we get these senses ; but, on the contrary, instead of getting them by using them, we use them because we have got them."

It is worth while to inquire into the grounds on which the metaphysicians maintain such extraordinary opinions. They are two : first, The fact that new-born children miss the object they mean to seize, and shew clearly that they do not accurately appreciate size, distance, and relative position ; and secondly, The fact that a blind man couched by Chesselden, on the first influx of light to the retina, saw all external objects as situated in his eye, and after a few weeks perceived distance and magnitude like ordinary persons. From these facts the metaphysicians infer that the human being does not naturally perceive distance, size, and form, but learns to do so by experience. The answers are obvious. The eye in the child is not perfect till six weeks after birth. The eye newly couched is not a sound eye instantly, nor do the muscles and various parts which had lain dormant for thirty years, act with perfect effect at the first attempt, after the


irritation of a painful operation ; and, even admitting that the eye was perfectly sound, the internal organs which perceive distance are not so. By disuse, every organ of the body becomes unfitted for the due performance of its functions. In civilized nations, the muscles of the external ear, being prevented, by the head-dress, from acting during childhood, not only lose all contractile power, but almost dwindle into nothing. In the savage state, the power of moving the ear is often as perfect in man as in the lower animals. After long confinement of a limb for the cure of fracture, the muscles diminish in size, and unfitness for action is observed. In the same way, during blindness, the organs which judge of colour and distance, are never called into action, and therefore become, to a certain extent, unable to execute their functions, and it is only by degrees that they acquire sufficient energy to do so. In visiting several asylums for the blind, I observed that the organ of Colouring was imperfectly developed in those patients who had lost their sight in infancy. If in middle life their vision had been restored by an operation, the organ of Colouring would not have become at once as perfect in size and activity as if no previous impediment to the exercise of its function had existed.

Dr Thomas Brown, whose acuteness I have repeatedly had occasion to praise, admits that the lower animals perceive distance intuitively ; and although, on the whole, he agrees in the opinions of Berkeley, Reid, and Stewart, yet he considers the opposite opinion, which the phrenologists maintain, as far from ridiculous. " It is," says he, not more wonderful, à priori, that a sensation of colour should be immediately followed by the notion of a mile of distance, than that the irritation of the nostril, by any very stimulant odour, should be immediately and involuntarily followed by the sudden contraction of a distant muscular organ, like the diaphragm, which produces, in sneezing, the violent expiration necessary for expelling the acrid matter.1

1 Lectures, vol. ii. p. 69.


It is very true that Nature does not give us intuitive perceptions of the number of feet or inches which any object is distant from us ; because these are artificial measures, with which nature has nothing to do. But when two objects, equal in size, are presented to the eye, the one being twice as far distant as the other, the mind has an intuitive perception that they are not equally near, unless the external or internal organs, or both, be deficient or deranged.

What, then, are the true functions of the eye ? No external organ of sense forms ideas, The eye, therefore, only receives, modifies, and transmits the impressions of light ; and here its functions cease. Internal faculties form conceptions of the figure, colour, distance, and other attributes and relations of the objects making the impression : and the power of forming these conceptions is in proportion to the perfection of the eyes and the internal faculties jointly, and not in proportion to the perfection of the eyes alone.l

The anterior pair of the corpora quadrigemina seem to have an intimate connection with the sense of sight, and indeed to form part of its organic apparatus. Soemmering states that he found them atrophied in blind horses, and Dr Gall made similar observations. Flourens found " that the removal of one of the two quadrigeminal tubercles, after a convulsive action which immediately ceases, produces blindness of the opposite eye, and an involuntary whirling round ; that of the two tubercles renders the cecity complete, and the whirling more violent and more prolonged. Yet the animal retains all its faculties, and the iris is still contractile. The entire extirpation or section of the optic nerve alone paralyses the iris, from which circumstance he concludes that extirpation of the tubercle produces the same results as a section of the nerve ; that this tubercle is, as regards vision, only a conductor ; and that the cerebral lobe alone is the

1 See two papers by Dr A. Combe, " On the Functions of the sense of Sight, considered chiefly in its relations to ideas of Form, Colour, Magnitude, and Distance ;" Phen. Journ. vol. iv. p. 608, and vol. v. p. 286.


limit of the sensation, and the place where it is. consummated by becoming converted into perception.1'-Cuvier's Report to the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Institute on Flourerfs Memoir, 1822. " In regard to ocular spectra," says Dr Abercromby, " another fact of a very singular nature appears to have been first observed by Sir Isaac Newton ; namely, that when he produced a spectrum of the sun by looking at it with the right eye, the left being covered, upon uncovering the left, and looking upon a .white ground, a spectrum of the sun was seen with it also. He likewise acquired the power of recalling the spectra after they had ceased, when he went into the dark, and directed his mind intensely, ' as when a man looks earnestly to see a thing which is difficult to be seen? By repeating these experiments frequently, such an effect was produced upon his eyes, ' that, for some months after,' he says, ' the spectrum of the sun began to return, as often as I began to meditate upon the phenomena, even though I lay in bed at midnight with my curtains drawn.' " These facts seem to shew that it is not in the retina that visual impressions become perceptions, but in the brain itself. Dr Vimont found in fourteen old horses which were one-eyed, a diminution of the anterior corpus quadrigeminum opposite to the lost eye ; in two of them the atrophy was complete. To obtain farther light on this subject, he put out the left eyes of four rabbits, and the right eyes of other four ; and deprived another of both eyes. Ten months afterwards they were all put to death. In the four deprived of the left eye, he found the anterior corpus quadrigeminum on the right side much smaller than that on the left, while the opposite appearance presented itself in those which had lost the right eye. In the blind rabbit both of the anterior corpora were much smaller than the sound one in any of the other rabbits. Compared with the corresponding parts in a rabbit of the same litter, whose eyes were sound, they presented a very perceptible difference of volume. Dr Vimont adds : " M. Magendie has told me, that he had observed a diminution of



a bigeminal body in birds, a short time after having put out one of their eyes. I have repeated the experiment ; it is exact ; the diminution even takes place a great deal sooner than in quadrupeds."l He mentions farther, that, according to the observations of Wenzel,2 there is atrophy of the optic thalami in blindness, and when that state is of long continuance the thalami become narrower and flatter. These facts account satisfactorily for Chesselden's patient not being able to see perfectly, immediately after being couched.

Dr Vimont mentions also that in the nocturnal birds whose brains he had dissected, he found the bigeminal tubercles small in proportion to the brain, while they were large in proportion to the brain in diurnal birds and in herbivorous animals. See Vimont, tome ii., voce, de la vue?

The senses may be exercised, and their powers greatly improved, by exercise. The taste of the gourmand is more acute than that of the peasant, and the touch of the artisan than that of the ploughman.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].

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