by John van Wyhe
[Jeffrey, Francis,] '[review of George Combe's] A System of Phrenology', Edinburgh Review, 44, Sept 1826, pp. 253-318.
Francis Jeffrey's review of Combe's System of phrenology was widely seen as a severe blow to the phrenologists. Jeffrey amassed almost all of the previously applied logical, theological/ethical and anatomical arguments for his review. Jeffrey found particular fault with the phrenologists' divisions of the mind into distinct faculties. Mind was instead indivisible and immaterial. Hence the phrenological organs must be imaginary. Mind could not be related to the brain since the dependence of an immaterial substance on a material one was, according to Jeffrey, illogical. Perhaps the most biting criticism was that the phrenologists explained away contradictions and inconsistencies and took no critical account of phrenological evidence. It is well known that Jeffrey had a strong aversion to populist appeals to knowledge. True knowledge was not equally available to all in Jeffrey's view, rather it was differentially available to those whose superior intelligence and training gave them privileged access.
ART I. A System of Phrenology. By GEORGE COMBE, late President of the Phrenological Society. Second Edition.
8vo. pp. 566. Edinburgh, 1825.
This is a long, sober, argumentative exposition of a very fantastical, and, in our humble judgment, most absurd hypothesis. The author, however, is undoubtedly a man of talent as well as industry;—and while many of his remarks indicate no ordinary acuteness, it is impossible not to admire the dexterity with which he has occasionally evaded the weak, and improved the plausible parts of his argument—and the skill and perseverance he has employed in working up his scanty and intractable materials into a semblance of strength and consistency. Phrenology, in his hands, has assumed, for the first time, an aspect not absolutely ludicrous;—and, by retrenching many of the ridiculous illustrations and inconsistent assumptions of its inventors, as well as by correcting its terminology, and tempering its extravagance, he has so far succeeded in disguising its inherent absurdity as to afford a decent apology for those who are determined, or at least very willing, to believe. After all, however, that radical absurdity is so glaring, that in spite of his zeal and earnestness, we really have great difficulty in believing the author to be in good faith with us; and suspect that few reflecting readers will be able to get through the work without many starts of impatient surprise, and a general uneasy surmise that it is a mere exercise of intellectual ingenuity, or an elaborate experiment upon public credulity.
Every one, of course, has heard of Dr Gall's Craniology—and seen his plaster heads, mapped out into the territories of some
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thirty or forty independent faculties. Long before this time, we confess, we expected to have seen them turned into toys for children; and this folly consigned to that great Limbo of vanity to which the dreams of Alchymy, Sympathetic Medicine, and Animal Magnetism, had passed before it. But it seems we had underrated the taste for the marvellous which still prevails in the world: For the science, we find, still flourishes in certain circles—and most of all, it would appear, in this intellectual city—where there is not only a regular Lecture on the subject, but a Quarterly Journal devoted exclusively to its discussion, and where, besides several smaller elementary works, this erudite and massive System, of 566 very close printed pages, has come to a second edition in the course of the present year. We do not hear that it makes much way in London or Paris —or even at Vienna or Weimar, where wonders have better fortune :—and as our Northern race has not hitherto been supposed to sin on the side of over credulity, we are really something at a loss, and, to say the truth, less proud than surprised, to find that Edinburgh should be the great nursing mother of this brood of Germany. The phenomenon, we think, can only be solved by the circumstance of a person of Mr Combe's sense and energy having been led, by some extraordinary accident, first to conceive a partiality for it and then induced, with the natural ambition of a man of talent, to make it a point of honour to justify his partiality. We cannot but wish that it had been directed to a worthier object.
In the very outset of this manifesto, the wonders of Phrenology are gravely and deliberately announced as 'the greatest and most important discovery ever communicated to mankind!' and then follows a very terrible intimation, of the original purpose of its advocates 'to hand down to posterity the names of those who have distinguished themselves by their opposition to it.' In these circumstances, we felt ourselves called on, both by our curiosity, and our gallantry, to look again into the grounds of these lofty pretensions ;—and having now done this, very dispassionately, we propose, in spite of the denunciation of immortal infamy, to put briefly on record, a part at least, of our reasons for withholding our assent from them. We do not propose, however, by any means to dissect the huge volume before us, or to enter into any detailed examination of the interminable reasonings it contains. It is filled with elaborate wranglings upon assumptions which we entirely reject, and long statements and explanations addressed only to those who concur in its fundamental positions. Nay, no inconsiderable portion of it is dedicated to the exposition or reconcilement of the schisms which seem already to threaten this in-
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fant and infallible church—in balancing the opinions of Gall against those of Spurzheim, or compounding out of them a tertium quid, recommended by the authority of Scott or of Combe. All this may be very edifying to the true believers; but to us, who reject the whole revelation in the lump, it is of no interest or importance whatever—and all we have to do is to explain the grounds of our incredulity.
'The proposition of the Phrenologists is, as most of our readers probably know, that the degree in which any man possesses any intellectual faculty—moral virtue, vice, or propensity—nay, any animal emotion or power of external sense or perception, or even, as we take it, any acquired habit, infirmity, or accomplishment—may be certainly known by the size of certain protuberances on his Skull: While the only explanation that is afforded of this startling assertion, is contained in the statement, that these bony excrescences indicate and correspond with certain other protuberances on the Brain, which are the natural terminations of the organs of the said powers and faculties—and that the powers and faculties themselves exist in a degree of force and perfection exactly corresponding to the size, of the said organs.
The science which professes to elucidate this 'great and important discovery,' is said to be a Science of Observation and so it is, in an emphatic sense :—seeing that all that is doctrinal about it consists in the foregoing bold asseveration of matter of fact—and that all that cane required to establish it, is sufficient evidence of the truth of these asseverations. It might seem easy then at once to determine its claims to our attention, by an examination of that evidence;—and to that issue, no doubt, in one sense, the question must ultimately come. But in almost all such cases, some preliminary inquiries are necessary—and the result of these is often sufficient to supersede any thing else, and to settle the whole controversy. A proposition, in point of fact, may be ambiguous or unintelligible —and, before inquiring how it is proved, we must ascertain whether it has any meaning, and what that meaning truly is. When it is affirmed that certain projections on the skull, or the brain, are the Organs of all the Facultiesand dispositions of the mind, it will not do to proceed at once to the alleged proofs of this assertion; we must first determine what is meant by organs, and what by faculties, and in what sense these terms are here to be understood. In the same way, an assertion which, when generally stated, may appear susceptible of proof, may turn out, when pursued into its details, to involve contradictions and inconsistencies which render all proof impossible:
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Or, though in itself intelligible, and not absolutely contradictory, it may yet be so extremely improbable, as scarcely to justify a serious inquiry—more especially if the proofs by which it is proposed to establish it, are admitted to be of a very slippery and delicate nature, liable to be overlooked or mistaken by unpractised observers, and only to be duly appreciated by those who have studied the subject with the zeal and partiality of devotees. If it were asserted, for example, that every man detected cheating at play would be found to have the figure of a nine of diamonds in the transverse section of the nail of his great toe, we suspect there are not many people who would think it worth while to verify the fact by experiment: But if it were added, that the said figure, though perfectly formed, was to be sure exceedingly small, and not to be discerned but with the aid of a particular glass—and when the section had been made at a particular angle, and the sun was in a certain position—we fancy that the discoverer would be left in the exclusive enjoyment of his creed, and that this 'science of observation' would not attract the curiosity even of a single observer. Now, in our view of the matter, this is nearly the case with the kindred science of Phrenology; and these few observations will sufficiently prepare the reader for the leading objections we have now to state against it.
In what sense then, is it said, or how is it proposed to prove, that certain portions of the brain, terminating in bumps on its surface, are the organs of different powers or faculties of the mind? The only organs of the mind of which we have hitherto had any knowledge, are those of the external Senses;—and most certainly those now brought to light by the Phrenologists bear no resemblance, or even analogy, to organs of this description; and can never stand in the same relation to any of our mental powers. The truth however is, not so much that the word is used in a new sense by the Phrenologists, as that it is used without any meaning at all,—and that the familiarity of the term is made to cover and disguise a series of the most extravagant assumptions. It is assumed, first, that the mind is made up of a number of distinct faculties, of the greater part of which no one has any consciousness or perception, and some of them indeed not very conceivable,—then, that these several faculties can only operate through the instrumentality of certain material organs;—next, that though all this is quite certain, and not to be questioned, the mind is all the while utterly unconscious of being obliged to act by organs—then, that it is nevertheless indisputable that all these organs are parts of the brain, and nothing else,—and, finally, that the force or perfection of every faculty depends entirely on the size of its peculiar organ.
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Now, the only organs of which we really know any thing and the only ones, we humbly conceive, which there is the least reason for supposing to exist in subservience to our mental operations—are, first of all, organs of faculties of the precise nature of which every one is constantly and intensely conscious—they are all exclusively organs of external perceptions, and of the sensations immediately connected with them: The mind is perfectly and continually aware of their agency—they are none of them merely harts of the brain—and the strength or perfection of the faculties to which they minister have no dependence on the size of these organs. Not only are all these things quite certain, but it is solely on account of some of them, that our external senses have been recognised as organs of perception, sensation, or any other mental affection.
Upon what grounds then can the name of organs be applied to the bumps of the Phrenologists? or in what sense is it really intended that this name should be received in their science? The truth, we do not scruple to say it, is, that there is not the smallest reason for supposing that the mind ever operates through the agency of any material organs, except in its perception of material objects, or in the spontaneous movements of the body which it inhabits;—and that this whole science rests upon a postulate or assumption, for which there is neither any shadow of evidence or any show of reasoning. It is very true, that in our present state of existence, the mind is unite in same mysterious way, to a living and organized body—and that, when the vitality of this body ceases or is suspended, all the functions of the mind, and indeed all indications of its existence, cease and disappear also. Certain actions of the brain, too, we find, are necessary for the maintenance of this vitality—and not of the brain only, but of the heart and of the lungs also; and if any of these actions are stopped or disturbed, even for a moment, the vitality of the body, and along with it, in so far as we can judge, sensation, consciousness, and all other mental operations, are extinguished or suspended. But this, we humbly conceive, affords no sort of proof that the mind, when it is not percipient of matter, acts or is affected by material organs of any sort; and certainly no proof that those organs are in the brain, any more than in the heart or the lungs. If the brain be greatly injured, or strongly compressed, all the faculties and functions will, no doubt, be destroyed. But the same effect will follow, and even more suddenly and completely, if the motion of the heart be stopped—or the cavity of the lungs be filled with unrespirable matter—although the brain remains perfectly sound and unaltered. Insects continue to perform all their functions after their heads are off; and cold-blooded
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animals live and move in the same predicament. But let us come back for a moment to the only organs of which we really know any thing—the organs of the five external sense.
If the theory of the Phrenologists be right, it would seem to follow, a fortiori, first, that all these senses must have organs in the brain, as well as a connected apparatus or machinery beyond it: And, secondly, it is, at all events, a fundamental point in their creed that the mind is not in any way conscious, or aware, even as to them, that it acts by means of organs having any locality at all. Now the first and most plausible of these propositions they have themselves have forced to abandon;—and both, we humbly conceive, are not gratuitous, but, in any sound sense, entirely unfounded and erroneous.
We see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, or the surface of our whole body. These are facts, we think, which may be assumed without argument or explanation. Anatomy and experiment show farther, that the sensibility of these organs depends on the nerves which belong to them—on the optic and auditory nerves, for example, as to seeing and hearing, or on the nerves of touch for many other sensations: And it also appears, from the same experiments, that all these nerves terminate or originate in the brain, * and that if their connexion with the brain be cut off, they no longer perform their functions. This last fact proves, then, that a connexion with the brain is necessary to preserve these nerves in a proper state of vitality; but it does not prove that there is any particular part of the brain which is appropriated for this purpose; and still less that such a portion of brain is, either with or without the connected nerves, the material organ of sight, hearing, or touch. The nerves belonging to each of these senses seem, on the contrary, to form its only material organ; since, without them, whatever be the state of the brain,
* The nerves of touch originate, partly at least, in the spinal marrow, which is in some sense an elongation of the brain, and performs similar functions. The very ingenious experiments and speculations of Mr Charles Bell, followed up as they have been by those of Messrs Magendie and Flourens, have thrown a new and interesting light on the whole theory of the nervous system. They seem to render it at least highly probable, that each nerve, or set of nerves, performs only a single function—that those which minister to Sensation, for example, are different from those which produce voluntary Motion—and that the involuntary motions attending such functions, as respiration, &c. are performed by the instrumentality of a third set. There is nothing, however, in these speculations which at all interferes with the argument in the text, or affords any countenance to the strange attempt to assign material organs for such purely mental operations as have no immediate reference to matter.
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we can neither see, hear, or feel—and it is upon their peculiar structure or action that our sensations depend, though a connexion with the brain be necessary to maintain their capacity of action. Accordingly, it is very remarkable, that even Mr Combe has assigned no cerebral organ to any of the five senses!—and Spurzheim, as he quotes him (p. 268), has said distinctly, that he 'sees no reason to suppose that the functions of the external senses require a particular portion of brain for their determinate sensations'—a concession which we must own surprises us not a little, in a philosopher of this school—since, if the mind really performs all its other functions by means of portions of the brain, there was still stronger ground for supposing that its external perceptions depended on parts of that substance, in which the nerves of the senses originate. The true phrenologist, however, seems to disdain all approach to ordinary probabilities in his doctrine; and accordingly, though there are organs relating to the objects of sight and of hearing in their arrangement, they are ingeniously placed at a distance from the terminations of the optic or auditory nerves,—the organ of colour being in the forehead, and that of tune on the eyebrow!
But they are all agreed, it seems, 'that the mind has no knowledge either of the existence of the organs of sense, or of the functions performed by them,' (p. 267.) This, to most people, will probably appear more surprising still. Is it meant to be said that we do not know, certainly, naturally, and immediately, that we see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and feel with that part of our bodies on which an external impression is made? Is it by a course of experiments and observations that those recondite truths have been discovered? Did they remain hidden from mankind daring the lapse of many ages, till some former Gall or Spurzheim, by a gigantic effort of intellect, revealed the wonderful secret to has admiring contemporaries? When a man is struck hard on the hand, does he not instantly refer his sensation to that part of his body? When he is dazzled with excessive light, does he, in any state of his reasoning or experience, stop his ears instead of closing his eyelids? When stunned with noise, does he, in his most infantine condition, ever take his chance of excluding it by turning away his eyes? We know there is a metaphysical subtlety as to the proper province of consciousness, and the want of localityin the notion of mere sensation, by which the language at least of this part of the discussion may be perplexed.' But it can never touch, or at all affect, the palpable fallacy of the allegation we are now considering, with reference to its intended application. We will not dispute about words. If there be any objection to saying that we are conscious that our
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perceptions of external objects are derived through our five external senses, we shall be contented to say that we universally, naturally, and immediately know and feel that they are so derived. Whether this knowledge be obtained by an observation and comparison of the intimations of the different senses, or be directly involved in the operation of each, is really of no consequence to the argument before us. The true question upon either supposition is, whether, knowing and feeling, as in one way or other we do with the most perfect distinctness, that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, and that it is by those organs alone that the mind performs those functions, it can be truly, or even intelligibly said, that we are as little aware of acting by material organs when we so see or hear, as we are that we love our children by a bump on the back of the head, or perceive the beauty of music by a small protuberance in the middle of the eyebrow? Can any experience or observation, any comparison or combination of the intimations of different faculties, give us such an assurance of those latter facts, as we all have, without experience, thought, or observation at all,—that we do see with our eyes, and hear with our ears—and that when we are wounded on the right arm, it is there, and not on the left leg, that the blow has been inflicted?
In this most material and decisive particular, then, the supposed organs of the Phrenologists differ entirely from the actual and acknowledged organs of the external senses. All mankind know and feel that the latter are the material instruments by which external objects operate on the mind; but nobody knows or feels—and not many people can even fancy—that the mind makes any use of the others. And indeed, while it is natural, and perhaps necessary, to suppose that there should be material organs to connect the mind with material objects, there is plainly no such probability or necessity, that these faculties and sentiments which do not relate to matter at all, should yet act only by the instrumentality of local and material organs. There is another distinction, too, between the actual and the supposed organs, to which we have already alluded, which seems to be equally conclusive against the peculiar theory of the Phrenologists. The organs of the external senses, the only material organs which the mind is known to employ, are admitted not to be parts of the brain; although all the nerves through which they act may be traced into that substance, and depend on their immediate connexion with it for their vitality. The whole of the faculties to which they are subservient therefore may be said, in one sense, to be connected with the brain, and to depend on it for the means of their exercise. But the faculties to which the phre-
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nological organs are supposed to minister, have no perceptible or intelligible connection with the brain, more than with any other part of the living body. They are, many of them, mere sentiments or contemplative faculties, that have no relation to any thing extrinsic or material—such as, Veneration, Concentrativeness, Adhesiveness, and others; while those that have a reference to external objects, are of a nature that would lead us to look for their physical organs any where but in the brain —the appetite, for instance, of the sexes—those of thirst and hunger, or the capacity of being hot or cold. Nay, even as to those that are conversant about the immediate and appropriate objects of the five external senses, it is pretty plain, that if the senses themselves, the nerves of which terminate in the brain, are yet without organs in any part of it, those related faculties, if indeed they have any existence, are still less likely to be so provided. If the sense of seeing have no cerebral organ, is it at all to be presumed that the faculty of distinguishing colours, which the Phrenologists assure us is quite a different thing, should have such an organ—and that too quite apart from the region of the optic nerve? If it be admitted that we do not hear by means of an organ in the brain, is it a probable surmise that we distinguish tunes by one that projects over the middle of the eye?
These last considerations lead us naturally to another class of objections, which, we confess, have always appeared to us of themselves conclusive against this new philosophy—those we mean which apply to the strange apparatus of separate faculties and sentiments into which it has parcelled out and divided the mind.
We are a little jealous of the word faculties in any philosophical discussion. The mind, we take it, is one and indivisible:—and if, by faculties, is meant parts, portions or members, by the aggregation of which the mind is made up, we must not only deny their existence, but confess that we have no great favour for a term which tends naturally to familiarise us with such an assumption. What are called faculties of the mind, we would consider as different acts, or rather states of it. But if this be the just view of the matter, it is plain that it renders it in the highest degree improbable, if not truly inconceivable, that those supposed faculties should each have a separate material organ. The whole body may, in a certain loose sense, be called the organ of the whole mind; nay, if any one, in consideration of its peculiar importance to vitality, and of its necessary connexion with all the nerves of sensation, should insist on giving this name to the whole brain, we do not see that it would be worth any body's while to gainsay him. But it really is
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not very easy to understand how there should be an external organ for every particular act or state of the mind—or rather for an arbitrary member of these states: And when the question is about the existence of some thirty or forty separate organs in distinct regions of the brain, it is absolutely necessary to inquire what proof there is of the existence of the thirty or forty separate faculties to which they are said to minister,—or rather, we think, which they are held to create—or upon what grounds they have been limited to that precise number: And here again we must refer, as to the only fixed or certain point in the discussion, to the functions of our external senses, and their known organs.
By that example it is no doubt proved, that certain faculties or states of the mind have material organs; and why, it may be asked, should it not be inferred that other faculties may have them also? We answer, 1st, That we believe the functions of seeing and hearing, &,c. to be carried on by material organs, only because we know and feel that they are so—and that we do not believe that the mind performs its other functions by a like machinery, because we do not know or feel any thing analogous in their operations. If the mind, in comparing or resenting, made use of certain organs in the head, just as it does in hearing and seeing, we cannot but think that the fact would be equally certain and notorious; but, as we know or feel nothing at all analogous, we cannot believe that any thing of the kind takes place. 2d, All the organs which we actually know to be used by the mind, are used to connect it with material and external objects; and indeed it is difficult for us to conceive how we could ever have become acquainted with such objects, except by means of a material apparatus in our living bodies. But the other functions of mind do not so connect us with matter—and therefore, there is not only no such reason for supposing their existence, but there is a corresponding difficulty in the conception. 3dly, And this is what chiefly concerns our immediate argument, all those functions which operate through the organs of sense, are of a definite and peculiar nature, and so totally unlike those which the Phrenologists would furnish with like instruments, as to make the inference of their being actually so furnished in the highest degree improbable and extravagant. By the eye we receive sensations or ideas of light only—by the ear of sound exclusively—by the palate of tastes, and so on. Each of these classes of ideas or sensations is completely original, and perfectly distinct from the others—incapable of being mixed up, or in any way compounded with them, and in truth completely independent either of their existence, or of any other existence whatsoever. Our perception of sounds, for example, is quite
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independent of our perception of colours, odours, or tastes, and would be precisely what it is, though none of these perceptions, or the objects of them, existed in the universe. It is in truth this palpable separation and independence of these different classes of sensations, which leads us to describe the capacity of receiving them as a separate function or faculty of the mind; and in this way it is obvious, that our knowledge of the organ is antecedent to our knowledge of the faculty, and that it is truly by reference to the former, that the latter is recognised and determined. The best definition of the faculty of seeing is, that it is that faculty which takes cognisance of the impressions transmitted by the eye, or that state of the mind which is induced by the reception of such impressions; and parallel definitions will be found to comprise all that we really know of all the other faculties that work by external organs.
In all these respects, however, the case of the imaginary faculties of the Phrenologists is not only in no degree analogous, but directly the reverse. As to these, it must be admitted that we have no antecedent knowledge of the existence of any material organs, —and the existence of the faculties therefore must be assumed on quite different data, if it is not rather imagined without any reason at all,—while, so fir from supplying original, definite, and independent impressions, the greater part of those phrenological faculties presuppose the existence of such impressions, and seem to have little other function than to modify or direct the functions of other faculties. Thus, love of Approbation presupposes an habitual communication of sentiments with other men,—Veneration, a custom of observing and comparing the powers and qualities of different beings,—Acquisitiveness, the general development of the idea of property—and Cautiousness, an experience of the occasions and consequences of many forms of danger:—and all of them, in short, are so far from resembling primitive and independent faculties, operating through separate organs, and provided each with its own material apparatus in the brain, that we cannot even conceive of their existence till society has made a considerable progress, various tastes and habits been cultivated, and much knowledge been accumulated and diffused. How, then, is it possible to say that any of these is a primitive and independent faculty like seeing or hearing, or any of these that work through outward organs? What primitive or independent sensations or ideas, for example, are supplied by Acquisitiveness? Can they be conceived to exist, although all other faculties were annihilated? Are they, in this respect, or indeed in any other, on a par with the ideas supplied by sight or hearing?—they, that plainly could not come into existence till men had entered into all the competitions of
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society, and become familiar, not only with innumerable external objects, but with their several utilities and values!
It is, if possible, still worse with such pretended faculties as Concentrativeness, Adhesiveness, or Ideality,—which seem, in so far as we can at all comprehend their definition, to be little more than intensatives of other faculties or capacities from which however, they are here totally disjoined. Concentrativeness, it seems, is that power or propensity by which we are led to persist in any methodical or intellectual effort in which we take an interest; and it has two distinct organs of an angular shape on the sides of the cranium. This we think is like saying, that besides the simple faculty of seeing, no right thinking man can doubt that we are also provided with an entirely separate and independent one, without which we should never be able to look long or steadily on the objects which are presented to our sight, —and that it is quite reasonable to believe that this faculty acts by a material organ, somewhere on the outside of the brain, but totally apart from the eye! Adhesiveness is a still stronger case, we think, of absurdity. It also is a separate and independent faculty,—and its function is to make us constant and pertinacious in our attachments. Our love, considered simply as love, may be strong or weak, sober or frantic, grave or gay. All that depends of course on the shape and size of its own peculiar organs; but its constancy is the concern of an entirely different faculty, which has a goodly organ of its own in another region of the skull, and has no more connection with it, physically or metaphysically, than smelling has with seeing. Ideality, again, is something still more mystical and hard to be defined. It is the faculty by which we make metaphors, and endite poetry, and feel enthusiastic,—of course, beyond all question, a separate, primitive, and simple faculty of the mind—working necessarily by two large protuberances at the outer angle of the temples, and no way affected by education, ambition, or the habits or history of the individual or the age!
To the intelligent, these suggestions will probably be more than enough. But to enable our less studious readers to judge correctly of this fundamental part of the phrenological system, the fairest and best way is to compare, in one or two particular points, their new theory and distribution of the faculties, with that which has hitherto prevailed among our metaphysical and popular writers, and which it has pleased these grand discoverers to pursue throughout with the most unmeasured contempt. We are ourselves no great sticklers for the value or the soundness of most metaphysical dogmas. But there is a difference, after all, between subtlety and mere nonsense—between ingenious suppositions, and impossible or unintelligible asseverations.
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There is for example a principle, or at all events an occasional feeling, which is called Benevolence—a sympathy with the happiness of others—which some of our old philosophers considered as an ultimate fact or law of our constitution, and others sought to resolve into a complacent recollection of our own happiness, and an habitual conviction that it was best promoted when linked to that of all around us. But however that might be, they were all pretty well agreed that it was this same principle that was in every case at the bottom of our regard and affection for sentient beings of all descriptions; though it was variously modified by a consideration of the different qualities of the objects to which it was directed, and the different relations in which they might happen to stand to us:—And when their attention was called to the distinctions that might be pointed out between the kind of love they bore to their children and that they felt for their parents—or the attachment they cherished to their young female friends, as compared with their antient male ones—or to the worthies of their own country, and those of foreign lands—or to inferiors and superiors, of their own or of other races, they thought all this pretty well explained by saying, that it was the general benevolent feeling—modified, in the case of children, by a sense of the weakness, innocence, and dependence of their condition; in the case of parents by respect for their experience and authority, and gratitude for the obligations they had conferred; in the case of young women, by emotions of sex; of our own countrymen, by the associations of patriotic partiality; and, in all cases, by the peculiar habits, tastes, and opinions to which the individual had been trained, by the education either of his preceptors or his society. With regard to the Constancy of these attachments, again, that was generally supposed to depend partly on the judgment or deliberation with which they had been formed, and partly on what might be called the firmness or gravity of the character to which they belonged. A man who was steady in his other pursuits was bought likely to be steady in his friendships, and one who was constant in his principles and opinions, to be constant also in his loves.
We do not mean to say that there was any thing very oracular or profound in this plain exposition of very familiar phenomena. On the contrary, its chief merit is, that it amounts to little more than a verbal statement of what every one must feel to be true. The Philosophy of Mind, we cannot help thinking, should be confined very much to its Natural History; and, instead of attempting to explain facts, which must ultimately be left inexplicable, our ambition might be advantageously limited to their clear enumeration. The old theory, to which we have
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alluded, trespassed little on this maxim. In referring the common feeling of love or affection to one principle or capacity of our nature, it follows the great rule of philosophizing without unnecessary multiplication of suppositions, as correctly, as it adheres cautiously to observation and common sense, in explaining its subordinate variations by causes which cannot be overlooked.
In the eye of the Phrenologist, however, all this is mere drivelling and childishness. Benevolence, in general, is with him quite a different faculty or sentiment from love of women, or love of children —as different as seeing is from hearing or smelling. It is ascertained accordingly, he tells you, that they have separate and distinct organs in the brain;—benevolence operating through a triangular bump on the upper part of the forehead—the love of children through a large roundish swelling on the hinder part of the skull—and love proper having its seat just above the nape of the neck! The constancy of these attachments, again, is a thing, we are assured, quite distinct from the attachments themselves. It is a separate and independent faculty of itself, to be known hereafter by the name of Adhesiveness; and maybe found operating at anytime through two oval protuberances on the posterior part of the cranium. We must take great care, however, not to imagine, that this adhesiveness has any thing to do with firmness of character in general—with perseverance in intellectual pursuits, or constancy to party or principle. Such an approximation to common sense would be a sad dereliction of phrenological originality. Adhesiveness is a faculty created expressly for keeping us steady in our personal attachments. Firmness, in general, is a totally distinct faculty; and has its organ, accordingly, on the very apex of the skull—while there is still another primitive faculty which helps to give intensity and vigour to the acts of the understanding, under the name of Concentrativeness—working by a large organ placed on the back of the head, between maternal love and vanity.
In like manner, Memory, upon the old system, was always regarded as one of the most distinct and observable faculties of our nature. In particular instances, it was held to depend very much on the degree of attention that had been given to the original impression; and as a general faculty, though different individuals were thought to possess it in different degrees, it was allowed to be capable in all cases of great improvement by exercise, and seldom to fail remarkably, upon subjects that had excited a great and habitual interest. It was supposed, in short, that there was such a thing as a good memory in general, depending for the most part or habits of attention and animated observation; and although it was no doubt observed, that some per-
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sons had a memory for dates, and others for stories, and others, again, for places, aces, or theories, it certainly did not occur to any one, that these were all separate and distinct faculties—and still less that there was no such power or faculty as memory at all, but that our recollection of past impressions was just a part of the same function by which we received them, or were led to take pleasure in them. Our old observers, speculating with a timid adherence to facts and common sense, were weak enough to suppose that they had explained the varieties of memory that were found to occur among men, by referring them to the obvious circumstances in the history or condition of each individual, which had recommended particular subjects to his notice and consideration. Sovereigns, who held levees and distributed notices in the circle, were found to have a singularly accurate recollection of faces and proper names—just as shepherds who had to separate their flocks on the mountains, had a miraculous memory for the countenances of the sheep that composed them—while savages, who pursued their sport or warfare through trackless forests, had a strange memory for paths and places—and idle and opulent old gentlemen, for long stories and tiresome anecdotes of individuals.
This was homely enough philosophy, it might be—and did not give any very deep insight into the nature of memory in general. But it was sound so far as it went; and was commonly thought to go almost as far as the nature of the subject, and our wants and faculties admitted. In the fulness of time, however, comes Phrenology, with a new and marvellous revelation; and it is curious to observe by what fine gradations the mighty truth was at last evolved. The first discovery was—not that memory was no faculty at all—but that it was several separate and distinct faculties! that there was a memory for places, and a memory for words, and a memory for things in general; and that each of these was an independent and original faculty, and had a material organ, and several section of the brain set apart for its peculiar use;—a discovery no less wonderful, we think, than it would be to announce that the faculty of seeing flowers was quite a different thing from that of seeing stones or stars; and that the organ of the one kind of sight was in the forehead, and of the other in the palm of the hand. Such, however, was the state of the science, when we first approached its mysteries, some twenty years ago, in the publications of Dr Spurzheim. All this, however, we are happy to find from Mr Combe, has now been discarded. The organs of local memory and verbal memory have been discovered to be the organs of Locality—whatever that may mean-and of Language respectively; and it has been ascertained, that there is no such facul-
268 Phrenology. Sept.
ty as Memory at all, and, of course, no part of the brain, or even of the skull, appropriated to the use of that imaginary function. It is merely, it seems, 'a certain state of activity' of certain other faculties : and the nature of it is oracularly explained by Mr Combe, when he assures us, that 'the organ of Tune will recall notes formerly heard, and give the memory of music. Form will recall figures formerly observed, and give the memory of persons, pictures, and crystals; and Individuality will give the memory for facts, and render a person well skilled in History, both natural and civil!' This is perfect; and, of course, leaves nothing to be desired;—and it follows by necessary consequence, that it is by the nose we remember smells, and by the eye that we have memory of colours.
Can it really be thought necessary to inquire into the alleged proofs of propositions so manifestly preposterous? And is net the absurdity of their Metaphysics sufficient to excuse us from any examination of the Evidence relied on by the Phrenologists? If any man can believe that there are, or can be, so many distinct powers and faculties as we have now referred to, he may possibly be justified in seeking to be satisfied as to the existence and locality of their material organs. For ourselves, we see no occasion to go farther.
But in reality, this inconceivable multiplication of original and separate faculties, affords, after all perhaps, a weaker argument against the truth of the phrenological system, than their unaccountable limitation does against its consistency. If their principles are right, the number of our faculties and organs ought truly to be infinite. The great boast of their philosophy is, that it does not rest on fantastical and arbitrary abstractions, but on a correct observation of the varieties of actual character—and is applied, not to a mere speculative and shadowy analysis of supposed qualities, but to the undeniable realities by which men are distinguished in common life. It takes no cognizance of such questionable existences as perception, memory, imagination, or judgment; but looks at once to the peculiarities by which the conduct and characters of men in society are marked to ordinary observation; and, referring them as far as possible to primitive and original differences, endeavours to discover whether they are indicated by any external peculiarity of organization. Thus, it finds one man actuated in all his conduct by a strong desire of fame—and immediately it sets down 'Love of Approbation,' as an original principle in our nature, and looks about for a bump on some vacant part of the skull, by the size of which the strength of this propensity may be measured. Another is distinguished by his love of money—and so Acquisitiveness is established as a primitive and inherent pro-
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pensity! Another is a great talker—and forthwith Language is made a distinct and independent faculty; another has a turn for making nut-crackers and mouse-traps—and what can be so natural as to refer this to the bulk of his organ of Constructiveness? another shows a great love for children—without indicating much benevolence to any grown creature; and nothing consequently can be plainer than that Philoprogenitiveness is an original sentiment. Some are quick at arithmetical operations and what explanation can be so satisfactory, as that they have the faculty of Number very prominent? others remember all the cross-roads they have ever come through—and who can deny, therefore, that they are distinguished for their Locality? some keep their papers, clothes and furniture, very nicely arranged—which can be attributed only to the degree in which they possess the faculty of Order; while there are others again, at least so Mr Combe assures us, whose genius consists in a peculiarly quick observation of the Size and Weightof external substances—for whose sake accordingly it has been thought reasonable to create the special original faculties—of Size and Weight!
This, we must admit, is sufficiently simple and bold. But where is it to stop? If we are thus to take all the tastes, habits, accomplishments, and propensities by which grown men are distinguished, in the concrete, and forthwith to refer them to some peculiar original faculty or principle, imagined for the mere purpose of accounting for them, the 36 original faculties of the phrenologists may at once be multiplied to 360 or 36000—and room must be made upon the skull for as many new organs. Some men have a remarkable love for their children—and therefore we have a separate principle of Philoprogenitiveness. But other men have as remarkable a love for their parents—and why therefore should we not have a faculty of Philoprogenitorness, with a corresponding bump on some suitable place of the cranium? The affections of others, again, are less remarkable in the ascending and descending lines, and spread most kindly in the collateral;—Can it be doubted, then, that we should have a Philadelphic principle, to attach us to our brothers and sisters,—and another to keep us in charity with our first cousins? If the fact, that some men are distinguished for their love of Wealth, is a sufficient ground for assuming that Acquisitiveness is an independent and original principle of our nature, should not the fact of other men being distinguished for their love of Dogs and Horses justify us in referring this also to an inheren principle?—or upon what grounds can we refuse the same ho-
270 Phrenology. Sept.
nour to the love of card-playing, gossiping, or agriculture? Some men—nay some whole families, are notorious for lying—though addicted to no other immorality; some—the natural prey of the former—are proverbial for credulity—some for inordinate merriment and laughter—some for envy—some for love of society—some for telling long stories—some for love of noise—some for their horror of it. Most of these, it appears to us, are quite as well entitled to the rank of primitive faculties or propensities, as any on the list of the Phrenologists. Undoubtedly they mark as conspicuously the character and manners of the persons to whom they belong, and are not in general so easily resolved into more general principles. Why then should they be excluded from the scheme of the Phrenologists, and left without any organs, in their improvident distribution of the skull? Nay, upon these principles, why should there not be a separate original faculty prompting us to the practice of skating, sailing, or planting?—or towards the study of botany, mineralogy, anatomy, bookbinding, chemistry, gymnastics—or any of the other five hundred pursuits to which idle men are found to betake themselves with an engrossing and often passionate partiality?
It is quite as true of all these, as of the love of money, or of order, or of children, or of mechanics, that they are what practically distinguish the habits and character of men in society; and if we are not allowed to analyze or explain these propensities, either by resolving them into more general principles, or tracing them back to such accidental causes, as imitation, fashion, or education, they seem quite as well entitled to the honour of original principles of our nature, as most of those to which we are now required to concede it. It is no less true of them, too, that, when the habit, taste, or propensity is once acquired, it does indicate a certain state of mind, by which the individual is truly characterized; and, for any thing we can tell, some peculiar original aptitude for its acquisition. But then, this is as obviously true of the most insignificant, recent, and transitory, taste, trick, or habit, by which any one ever rendered himself ridiculous or remarkable. A taste for French wines, or black tea—for puns or charades—for pugilism, genealogy, prosody, whizgigs, or fish sauces—all mark a man's character and manners, while they last—and may all be said, in one sense, to proceed from a certain state of his mind, or balance of his powers and faculties. But is this a reason for assuming the existence of a primitive and separate faculty, common to all mankind, for every such trick or propensity? Or is it not quite manifest, that such a supposition is as much op-
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posed to the first rules of philosophizing as to the plainest dictates of common sense.
It is the peculiar business of philosophy, as it has hitherto been understood, to explain detached phenomena, by referring them to general laws; and then, if possible, to resolve the first laws so determined, into others still more simple and comprehensive. In metaphysical inquiries this is not perhaps so easy as in the sciences conversant with matter; but the course to be pursued is, at all events, indicated with sufficient clearness; and, till the advent of the Phrenologists, no one ventured openly to desert it. The problem always has been, with how few primitive faculties intellectual phenomena could be explained. Some bolder spirits were of Opinion, that the work might very well be done with the Perception of external objects, sensations of Pleasure and Pain, and the Memory of them; while others required the instrumentality of several other agents. But it certainly never occurred to any body, till the late revelation, that the primitive faculties might be multiplied on the principle of the Phrenologists, and that the consummation of philosophy was to account for every separate propensity, taste or talent, that a man had acquired, by setting it down to the predominance of some imaginary original faculty—created for the express purpose of accounting for it?
To what absurd and extravagant multiplication of the faculties this principle unavoidably leads, we have already endeavoured to show; and it is not necessary to go beyond some of those we have been led incidentally to mention, to prove on what shallow and preposterous grounds they have been assumed as primitive qualities of our nature. Because avarice is a vice of pretty common occurrence, it is raised into an original attribute of our nature, by the name of Acquisitiveness—which all men have in some degree, and the avaricious in excess. Now, as this acquisitiveness is merely the desire of possessing things useful or agreeable, what necessity can there be to suppose any other faculty than that of perceiving what is useful and agreeable, to account for such a desire? A man who has suffered from the want of food or clothing, or enjoyed the timely supply of them, cannot well recall either of those sensations, without wishing at all times to possess a sufficiency of those valuable articles,—and to provide a separate sense or faculty merely to enable him to form such a wish, really seems to us as wasteful an exercise of creative power as we recollect ever to have met with, even in the prodigalities of poetry. Can any one really doubt that wealth is desired as the means to an end?—and if the end—which is comfort, influence, and security—is undeni-
272 Phrenology. Sept.
ably desirable, is it not utterly preposterous to invent a separate principle to explain how the means should be desirable also? At this rate, we should have one faculty in our nature which led us to wish for warmth in cold weather—and another, quite separate and independent, which taught us to set a due value on coals!
If the principle itself be plainly a necessary result of experience and observation, the cases of its excess can of course occasion no difficulty—although nothing can illustrate more strikingly the dull dogmatism which the Phrenologists would substitute for philosophy, than to contrast the usual and rational explanations that are given of this particular phenomenon with their summary exposition of it. A man is avaricious, with them, whenever the organ of acquisitiveness is largely developed in him! and this is all they can tell of the matter: And they have the modesty to hold up this notable truism as rendering quite unnecessary or ridiculous the explanations which the uninitiated had previously attempted of this common propensity—as, by referring it, in particular instances, to early habits of necessary frugality—to distaste or alarm at the spectacle or experience of great profusion—to long continued precept and example—to the union of timidity and love of power—and, in almost all cases, to the gradual strengthening of the association between the actual gratifications which wealth may procure, and the wealth itself which represents them—till the two things are actually confounded to the apprehension. That the avarice of particular persons may often be traced to such causes, we apprehend to be matter of plain fact and observation; and that such causes have always a tendency to produce that propensity, we conceive to be quite undeniable; and, without saying much in exaltation of the sense or philosophy which furnished those plain suggestions, we really must be allowed to prefer them to the flat stupidity of the assertion, that men are avaricious, because they have an unusually large bump, of a rectangular form, a little above the ear,—and that this bump is the organ of a peculiar sense or faculty by which we get a notion of the value of property!
Take, again, the pretended sense or faculty of Order, or that principle of our nature by which we delight in the symmetrical arrangement and nice distribution of things around us—Might it not suffice to account for such a phenomenon, that such orderly arrangements were found to be extremely convenient, in one set of cases—and that they suggested agreeable impressions of human power and ingenuity, in another? If a man keep his books, papers, and clothes, in a state of confusion, he will in-
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fallibly have a great deal of trouble whenever he wishes to make use of them; and if he does not like trouble, he must come to regard that mood order by which alone he can be saved from it, with some degree of pleasure and approbation. To suppose, therefore, that he must have a peculiar, independent faculty, to give him a sense of the value of order, is about as rational, as to say, that a man who had been cured of colic by laudanum, could not have a proper esteem for the virtues of that drug, unless, in addition to his memory and common sense, he had been endowed with a separate, original faculty, to be entitled Laudanum—or perchance Philanodyneness!
As to the degree in which different individuals are found to possess this love of order, we willingly leave it to our readers to determine, whether it is most rationally accounted for by the Phrenologists, who say it depends entirely on the relative size of a small protuberance near the outer angle of the eyebrow, or by the less gifted observers who refer it to the habits in which the said individuals have been trained; the irrisistability or easiness of temper which make small annoyances of more or less importance to them; and the nature of their pursuits and occupations, as more or less consistent with the recurrence of such annoyances. As to the taste for symmetry, in buildings, furniture, &c., which is quite a different thing from the love of order in things about one's person, we humbly conceive that this is sufficiently explained by its being plainly indicative of art and successful ingenuity, and being associated with the established models of taste, fitness, or magnificence. That we have no absolute or inherent relish for mere order or uniformity, is apparent, accordingly; from the obvious fact, that it ceases to be agreeable whenever it is disjoined from those suggestions of ingenuity or fitness. The uniformity that is pleasing in the two sides of a room or a building, would be monstrous in the two sides of a landscape. What we require in the pillars of a collonade, would not be endured in the trees of a grove, or even of an avenue. It is merely in works of Art in short, and only in such of them as ostentatiously claim this character, that methodical or symmetrical dispositions are pleasing. They would be quite the reverse in the far greater number of beautiful and sublime objects with, which we are surrounded. What should we think of mountains in regular cubes, lakes in parallelograms, and clouds, forests, or constellations in correct mathematical forms, and relative positions? And yet we have a primitive and inherent faculty for admiring these things! and it is one and the same faculty which leads an orderly man of business to tie up his papers in well doc-
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quetted bundles, and a notable housewife to arrange her linen in nice wardrobes and accurate inventaries!
It would be easy to deal, in this way, with almost all of the primitive faculties of the Phrenologists; and to show, not only that they may be resolved into more general and familiar principles, but that they must be multiplied an hundred fold, if the views are sound on which we are now required to admit them. We are rather inclined, however, to think, that this is unnecessary; and really cannot help feeling, that this serious and systematic way of treating their pretensions is somewhat unsuitable to their character,—and is not well calculated to give the uninstructed reader an adequate idea of the excessive crudity, shallowness, and puerility of their metaphysical theory. To do full justice to this, it is necessary to recur to their own exposition of it; and we cannot begin more auspiciously, than by a few extracts from Mr Combe's chapter on 'Concentrativeness,'—a faculty of much note and importance in his scheme, having a goodly organ in the back part of the head, just above love of children, and below self-esteem. The oracles of Phrenology are unluckily divided as to the true nature of the faculty which acts by this posterior protuberance:—and it may help to give some idea of the certainty and maturity which this science of observation has attained, just to mention, that Dr Gall opines it to indicate pride in men, and a love of high situations in the inferior animals!—while Dr Spurzheim is confident that, in both, it merely marks what he is pleased, very luminously, to denominate 'a particular disposition with regard to their dwelling places;'—and Mr Combe thinks it clear, that it points out only 'the power of concentrating our thoughts.' This, to be sure, is very edifying; but it is well worth while to see how these sages dispute the matter with each other. After observing that the existence and locality of the organs are I well ascertained,' Mr Combe informs us, that
' Dr GALL conceives it to be connected in animals with the love of physical elevation, and in man with pride or Self-Esteem. Dr SPURZHEIM observed it to be large in those animals and persons who seemed attached to particular places. "I consider," says he, "in animals, the cerebral part immediately above the organ of Philoprogenitiveness; as the organ of the instinct that prompts them to select a peculiar dwelling, and call it the organ of Inhabitiveness. My attention has been, and is, still directed to such individuals of the human kind as shew a particular disposition in regard to their dwelling place. Some nations are extremely attached to their country, while others are readily induced to migrate. Some tribes wander about without fixed habitations, while others have a settled home. Mountaineers are commonly much attached to their native soil, and those of them who visit capitals or foreign countries,
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seem chiefly led by the hope of gaining money enough to return home, and buy a little property, even though the land should be dearer there, than elsewhere! I therefore invite the phrenologists, who have an opportunity of visiting various nations, particularly fond of their country, to examine the development of the organ marked No. III., and situated, immediately above Philoprogenitiveness. In all civilized nations, some individuals have a great predilection for residing in the country. If professional pursuits oblige thorn to live in town, their endeavour is to collect a fortune as speedily as possible, that they may indulge their leading propensity. I have examined the heads of several individuals of this description, and found the parts in question much developed.&qout;—Phrenology, p. 126. The function, however, is stated by him as only conjectural. From a number of observations, the faculty appears to me to have a more extensive sphere of action, than that assigned to, it by Dr SPURZHEIM.
'I have noticed that some persons possess a natural facility of concentrating their feelings and thoughts, without the tendency to be distracted by the intrusion of emotions or ideas foreign to the main point under consideration. Such persons possess a command over their feelings and intellectual powers, so as to be able to direct them in their whole vigour to the pursuit which forms the object of their study for the time; and hence they produce the greatest possible results from the particular endowment which nature has bestowed on them. Other individuals, on the other hand, have been observed, whose feelings do not act in combination, who find their thoughts lost in dissipation, who are unable to keep the leading idea in its situation of becoming prominence, are distracted by accessaries; and, in short, experience great difficulty in combining their whole powers to a single object. The organ was perceived to be large in the former, and small in the latter.' pp. 77-78.
As a farther proof of the minuteness and accuracy of his observations, the learned author is afterwards pleased to tell us that 'he has remarked, that individuals in whom the organ is small, although acute and steady in their general habits, have great difficulty in transcribing or engrossing papers correctly,'—and then proceeds with much naïveté to record, that
'The first idea that led me to the conclusion, that it is the tendency to concentrate the mind within itself, and to direct its powers in a combined effort to one object, was suggested by a lady, who had remarked this quality in individuals in whom the organ was large. The Reverend DAVID WELSH and Dr HOPPE of Copenhagen, having been informed of these views, unknown to each other, communicated to me, the inference, that the faculty gives a tendency to dwell in a place, or on feelings and ideas for a length of time! till all, or the majority, of the other, faculties, are satisfied in regard to them. Dr SPURZHEIM, however, objects to these ideas; and states, that his experience is in contradiction to them. Facts alone must determine between us.' pp. 79-81.
The most profound and original part of the speculation, how-
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ever, certainly consists in the following objection of Dr Spurzheim, and our author's answer.
'Dr SPURZHEIM objects farther, that "no one, in concentrating his mind, and directing his powers to one object, exhibits gestures and motions indicating activity in the back part of the head! the whole of the natural language shows, that concentration takes place in the forehead." With the greatest deference to Dr SPURZHEIM's superior skill and accuracy, I take the liberty of stating, that, so far as my own observation goes, those persons who really possess the power of concentration, while preparing to make a powerful and combined exertion of all their powers, naturally draw the head and body backwards in the line of this organ! Preachers and advocates in whom it is large, while speaking with animation, move the head in the line of Concentrativeness and Individuality! or straight backwards and forwards,—as if Concentrativeness supplied the impetus, and the organs in the forehead served as the instruments to give it form and utterance.' pp. 83.
These passages, we really think, decisive as to the merits of the system which they are meant to illustrate. That three men, all of more than common acuteness, should thus write nonsense, as it were in competition with each other, can only be explained, we think, by the extreme and incurable absurdity of the theory they had undertaken to support. That theory made it necessary for them to find out some primitive faculty of the mind, to give employment to a large bump on the skull, which it obliged them to consider as an organ of the intellect; and, to such extremities are they reduced in devising such a faculty, that one of them actually gives that denomination to a supposed propensity to inhabit high places, which he poetically identifies with pride; another to some undefined, and undefinable, peculiarity of disposition with regard to dwelling places—which, it seems, may take the shape either of a love for one's native country, or a taste for rural situations—or, for any thing we can see, a preference of brick houses to buildings of stone; and the third to the power, generally, of concentrating our thoughts on any given subject—which is much the same thing as if any one were to tell us that, besides the faculty of seeing, he had ascertained that we had another, which enabled us to look fixedly on the things before us—and that this faculty had an organ of its own, quite away from the eye, and somewhere below the ear.
We shall say nothing of the reasonings and observations on which this notable discovery is said to be founded—except merely to recall to our reader's recollection that admirable test to which both Dr Spurzheim and our author concur in referring—though they unfortunately differ in an extraordinary way as to the result of its application. When a
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faculty is in a state of activity, they seem both to take it for granted, that the individual must 'make motions and gestures,' in the line or direction of its external organ; and while Dr S. objects that men who are merely concentrating their thoughts, do not indicate airy activity in the back part of the head, where the organ of this faculty is situated, Mr Combe, admitting both the fact and the principle, ingeniously evades the conclusion, by suggesting that the operation of this faculty is generally conjoined—though heaven knows how or why—with that of Individuality—which has its seat in the anterior part of the skull; and that the two together consequently draw the unhappy patient alternately in both directions—which is his most recondite solution of the fact, that preachers and other orators are apt, when speaking with animation, to move their heads both backwards and forwards alternately!—which we should humbly conceive they must necessarily do, if they move them oftener than once in either of the opposed directions. The great practical truth however is, that when any faculty is in a state of activity, the head at least, if not the whole body, is moved in the direction of the external organ of that faculty. The test, it is obvious, cannot be well applied to the organs which happen to be placed in the anterior parts of the head; because, as we naturally see and speak, and walk and bend, in that direction, it would plainly be impossible to distinguish what part of our forward movements were to be ascribed to these causes, and what to the mere activity of the intellectual organs. With regard, again, to those that are placed laterally, as they are always in pairs, one on each side, it might perhaps be expected that, when in full activity, they should produce a regular swing or oscillation of the head, in that direction; but as it is possible that they may, in this respect, exactly balance and neutralize each other, we shall not insist much on the want of the side shake which should accompany their many operations,—but admit that the experimentum crucis can only be made as to those which have their seat in the back part of the head, and which, very fortunately, are of too prominent and important a description to have any thing doubtful or obscure in their manifestations. In that quarter are situated, 1. Love of Children; 2. Love of Women; 3. Love of Fame; 4. Pride; 5. Constancy of Affection; and, 6. Caution or Cowardice. Now, has it ever been observed that, when any of these sentiments are excited, the head is moved backwards, and the organs propelled towards their appropriate objects? When a man fondles his children, does he project towards them the nape of his neck? When he gazes amorously on a beautiful girl, does he forthwith turn
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his back on her, and present the upper part of his spine? When he seeks the applause of assembled multitudes, in the senate, on the battle-field, on the stage, is he irresistibly moved to go to the left about, and advance the posterior curves of his cranium? Has a proud man a natural tendency to move backwards? Are constant friends and lovers generally to be found drifting down, stern foremost, on the objects of their affections? In the case of Cowardice, indeed, we must admit that turning the back is natural: But we cannot but think that it is better accounted for by the aversion the party has, in such cases, to face danger, and the facility which that judicious movement gives him to run away from it, than by the accidental position of the organ of Cautiousness on the hinder disk of the skull.
The chapter of 'Individuality' is scarcely less characteristic. This also is a very important faculty with the phrenologists; and has its organ—or its two organs—in the very middle of the brow, immediately above the root of the nose. They are large organs—and have, beyond all doubt, a great effect on the character; but how they affect it, or what they denote, the great Doctors of the school, it seems, are not yet agreed—and few of their pupils, we suppose, will pretend to understand. Dr Gall, the great founder of the sect, at first mistook this central protuberance for the organ of the 'Memory of Things;' but afterwards came to be satisfied that it was truly the organ of a very simple and conceiveable faculty, which he has ingeniously denominated 'The Sense of Things—or the capacity of being Educated—or of perfectabibility!' Dr Spurzheim, again, has ascertained that there are two organs, and consequently two distinct faculties—one placed exactly above the other;—that the undermost, which is properly called Individuality, 'recognises the existence of individual beings'—and that the uppermost, which it seems must be called Eventuality, gives us the capacity of 'attending to phenomena, facts, events, natural history, and anecdotes.' Mr Combe concurs with Dr Spurzheim in thinking, that there are clearly two faculties; but being more stingy in his onomatopeia, he will only afford one name for both—and calls the one 'upper, and the other lower Individuality'—the upper being that which gives 'a fondness for natural history, and for remembering facts recorded in books, or narrated by men,' while the lower only predisposes us to 'observe what occurs around us, and to take an interest in Events!'—And, finally, the Reverend Mr Welsh, who is a great authority, we find, among the initiated, is decidedly of opinion that one of the Individualities is
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merely the organ of our perception of Motion, and the other of something else—we really forget what.
It cannot be necessary, we suppose, to point out how admirably these definitions agree with all preexisting ideas of the nature of a simple and independent faculty—or with each other. But it may be necessary to satisfy our readers, that they really have been advisedly put forth by men pretending to have effected a prodigious reformation in philosophy; and, indeed, without perusing the very words of their authors, we are quite sensible that no just conception of-their folly and extravagance could be obtained. Of Dr Gall, then, it is here recorded, that
'At first he regarded this as the organ of the "memory of things;" but, on farther reflection, he perceived, that the name "memory of things" does not include the whole sphere of activity of the organ now under consideration. He observed, that persons who had this part of the brain large, possessed not only a great memory for facts, but were distinguished by prompt conception in general, and an extreme facility of apprehension; a strong desire for information, and instruction; a disposition to study all branches of knowledge, and to teach these to others; and also, that, if not restrained by the higher faculties, such persons were naturally prone to adopt the opinions of others, to embrace new doctrines, and to modify their own minds apcording to the manners, customs, and circumstances with which they were surrounded. He therefore rejected the name, "memory of things," and he now uses the appellations "Sens des choses, sens d'educabilité, de perfectibilité," to distinguish this faculty.' p. 275.
Here this simple and original faculty is distinctly stated to consist of at least seven separate, and not very congruous, faculties—some of which have been long familiar to all observers—and of every one of which it is much easier to conceive as an independent faculty, than of the far greater part of the 36 which have been admitted to that honour by the phrenologists. There is, 1st, great Memory for facts; 2. prompt Conception in general—that is, of course, of reasonings as well as facts; 3. strong Desire for information; 4. Disposition to study all branches of knowledge—speculative therefore as well as empirical; 5. Disposition to teach all these to others; 6. Proneness to adopt the opinions of others; 7. Inclination to new doctrines of all sorts. —And we are seriously required to believe, that all these diversified powers, faculties and dispositions, constitute but one distinct, universal sense or function of the human mind,—primitive, essential, independent, and acting by an established material organ, like the function of seeing or hearing! Absurd as this is, however, we rather think it is overmatched by the absurdity of Dr Spurzheim, who is here reported to have delivered his oracle as follows:—
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Moreover, continues Dr Spurzheim, it seems to me that this faculty recognises the activity of every other, whether external or internal, and acts in its turn upon all of them! It desires to know every thing by experience, and consequently excites all the other organs to activity; it would hear, see, smell, taste, and touch; is fond of general instruction, and inclines to the pursuit of practical knowledge. It is essential to editors, secretaries, historians, and teachers. By knowing the functions of the other powers, this faculty contributes essentially to the unity of Consciousness. It seems to perceive the impressions, which are the immediate functions of the external senses, and to change these into notions or ideas! Moreover, it appears to be essential to attention in general, and to the recognition of the entity myself, in philosophy.' p. 281.
We really cannot presume to comment upon any thing so transcendental as this. Mr Combe, of course, is not so rash or mystical as his two great originals; but in substance adopts the extravagances of both. He holds, as we have already seen, that the upper individuality makes men I fond of natural history','—and also constitutes 'a good memory for facts (of course of all kinds) recorded in books or narrated by men'—while the under makes them I observant of events, and interested in what takes place around them,'—and both together, as we learn in another place, to our no small surprise, I give the tendency to personification, or to invest abstract or inanimate objects with personality;'—and finally, we are told,
'These organs confer on the merchant, banker, and practical man-of-business, that talent for detail and readiness of observation, which are essential to the advantageous management of affairs. To a shopman or warehouseman they are highly useful; and contribute to that ready smartness which is necessary in retail trade.—Persons who excel at whist, generally possess the lower Individuality large; and if both of the organs be deficient, eminence will not easily be attained in this game!' p. 278.
Mr Combe says somewhere; that a single well-attested instance of a large bump without the corresponding faculty, or of a remarkable development of a faculty without the corresponding bump, would be conclusive against his whole theory. But have we not this refutation of it, in the passages to which we have just referred? Four learned Phrenologists, each of course proceeding upon careful and repeated observation, give four separate and irreconcileable accounts of the nature of the faculty indicated by a protuberance above the nose—that is, they each testify that, according to his experience, it is not accompanied by the faculty with which the others say it is accompanied! Dr Gall says he has found it accompanied only by a capacity of being educated, or of becoming perfect. Dr Spurzheim says it denotes merely the power of distinguishing individuals, or attending to Natural History. Mr Combe has
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found it conjoined with a turn for personification; and Mr Welsh, after long observation, has ascertained that, according to his experience, it is merely the organ by which we get the idea of Motion! The result of the whole we think is, undeniably, that, by the observation of four persons of the most undisputed competency, it is proved not to be uniformly or generally indicative of any one quality or propensity whatever —but to be occasionally found in persons of all different characters—as we have no doubt indeed that all the other bumps may be 'And all these contradictory and self-refuting statements are composedly placed, side by side, in a volume intended to afford a rigorous demonstration of the Science, on the principles now referred to, and in the style of which we have given some feeble specimens!
Such are the philosophers who talk with contempt and compassion of the shallow distinctions and puerile speculations of Locke, Hume, Berkley, Hartley, Reid, and Stewart,—who modestly tell us, that up to their time, 'the philosophy of man was a perfect waste, with not one inch of ground in it cultivated or improved,'—and, distinctly stating the discoveries of Newton himself to have been comparatively insignificant, very composedly announce their own as by far the greatest and most important EVER communicated to mankind!'
'The discoveries,' says Mr COMBE, 'of the revolution of the globe, and the circulation of the blood, were splendid displays of genius in their authors, and interesting and beneficial to mankind; but their results, compared with the consequences which must inevitably follow from Dr GALL's discovery of the functions of the brain, (embracing, as it does, the true theory of the animal, moral, and intellectual constitution of man), sink into relative insignificance. Looking forward to the time when the real nature and ultimate effects of Dr GALL's discovery shall be fully recognised, I cannot entertain a doubt that posterity will manifest as eager a desire to render homage and honour to his memory,' &c. &c. p. 548.
We had really imagined that this style had been for some time abandoned to Messrs Cobbett and Owen—and to the venders of blacking, kalydor, and panaceas.
We have been sorely tempted to say a few words on the choice phrenological faculties of Conscientiousness and Ideality, but our limits will no longer admit of it; and, though we are always glad to have an apology for speculating a little on the interesting and difficult subjects of Taste and Fiorals, we must confess that the doctrines of the Phrenologists supply but scanty materials for such speculation—their whole philosophy con-
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sisting of a mere dogmatical assertion, that our sense of right and wrong, as to all duties and virtues whatsoever, and all moral principle and sensibility, are referable to a primitive independent faculty, the vigour and delicacy of which is in exact proportion to the size of two quadrangular swellings on the upper part of the skull! And in like manner, that all taste and genius—and in an especial manner all talent for poetry in all its branches, and all tendency to metaphorical language—and all admiration of natural scenery—together with all love of flowers, figures, and fantasies, are the symptoms and gifts of one simple, uncompounded, original faculty—which has its organ near the temples, and has had its place and functions, we are gravely assured, all 'fully established.'
We must think however of making an end of this. We have now said enough, we suppose, to make our readers understand the nature both of the phrenological metaphysics, and of our objections to them; and shall therefore conclude this branch of the subject with a brief notice of two or three other faculties, which seem to afford a compendious illustration of all we have been endeavouring to establish. There is, for example, a faculty of Hope,—a distinct, primitive faculty—as Dr Spurzheim is said to have I ascertained by analysis,'—and accommodated, accordingly, with two organs in the upper part of the skull. Now, can any person, with the least capacity of reflection, really suppose that Hope is a primitive independent faculty—that it is any thing else, in short, than the apprehension of probable, but uncertain good—or that any being, capable of apprehending good, and of calculating, in some degree, the probability of its occurrence, could be without this sentiment,—or could possibly require a separate faculty, and a separate organ to make him capable of it? If we look through two pieces of glass, one stained red, and the other blue, we necessarily receive the impression of purple—if we mix up lemon juice with sugar, we necessarily receive the impression of a mixed or compound taste, of sweet and sour—and if we contemplate the idea of happiness, or good fortune, mixed up or combined with that of uncertainty, we necessarily receive the impression or sentiment of hope. But if it would be absurd to suppose, that any other sense than that of seeing, or any other organ than the eye, was necessary to perceive the purple colour (and it is the same as to the instance of taste), can it be less absurd to suppose any other faculty necessary to give us the sentiment of hope, than those of recollecting or conceiving pleasurable sensations—and of estimating, however loosely, the probabilities of their recurrence? It is a distinct sentiment, no doubt,
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just as the perception of purple, or of mingled sweet and sour, is, and as all compound or modified sentiments necessarily are; but to erect it, on this account, into an original and primitive faculty of our nature—and, above all, to represent it as acting through a peculiar and separate external organ, really does appear to us the very height of absurdity.
If it be once ascertained, however, that the sentiment itself is a necessary result of certain known and familiar impressions, the varieties which may occur in the degree in which it is indicated in different individuals, can plainly afford no ground for questioning the soundness of this analysis, or referring it to the operation of a separate and peculiar faculty. If the faculty of walking has been once proved to result from the joint action of certain nerves and muscles, the fact that some persons walk faster and better than others, can never bring this truth into doubt; or lend the least probability to the suggestion, that it may perchance depend, not upon the known nerves and muscles, which fully account for it, but on some other peculiar nerve or muscle, of which nobody knows any thing, but which may possibly exist—and by the size, or some other quality of which, it is also possible that the strength of the walking power may be determined. It is of no great consequence, therefore, whether the different tendencies to hope or to fear, by which individuals may be distinguished, can be satisfactorily explained or not. . It is, with great submission, no explanation at all, to say that they depend on the size of one, or of the sets of bumps on the skull : For that is merely saying, that they exist—and that the bumps exist also. It is quite plain, we take it, that the preponderance of hope or of fear depends upon the estimate that is actually formed of the comparative likelihood of the occurrence of contingent good or evil; and that, whatever the circumstances are which determine an individual to look for one result rather than the other, they must be circumstances which affect this calculation of chances, as an intellectual operation, and cannot possibly be referred to the activity of some inconceivable organ, of a separate faculty still more inconceivable. It would not be difficult, we think, to indicate generally what those circumstances commonly are, in the intellectual and moral training of different individuals; but the speculation, we conceive, is quite foreign to the present argument, and we cannot now afford to enter on it.
But there is another notable doctrine in this short chapter of Hope, which recurs also in several other parts of the phrenological hypothesis. Not only is Hope a faculty by itself, but it has an antagonist faculty, with a separate organ of course, called
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Cautiousness, which gives tendencies precisely opposite to those given by Hope;—the one leading us to expect good, in a state of uncertainty—the other to expect evil. 'Hence,' says Mr Combe, with much naïveté, 'he who has Hope more powerful than Cautiousness, lives in the enjoyment of brilliant anticipations—while he who has Cautiousness more powerful than Hope, lives under the painful apprehension of evils which rarely exist.' And again, 'when this organ is very deficient, and that of Cautiousness large, a gloomy despondency is apt to invade the mind;' and a similar doctrine is elsewhere delivered as to Benevolence and its opposites, and we believe some other faculties. Now, this really seems to us a very wasteful way of providing the mind with its faculties,—and not a very philosophical, nor, even on phrenological principles, a very consistent way. If Hope and Cautiousness are exactly opposed to each other, why should there be two faculties? It would seem easier certainly, to bring down Hope to the requisite standard, simply by diminishing its peculiar organ, than by leaving it large, and adding to the bulk of Cautiousness. But the truth is, that the two principles are substantially one and the same, and necessarily imply each other—as much as heat and cold do. The increment of the one is necessarily the decrement of the other. If, in the contemplation of danger, a man fears much, he, by necessary consequence, hopes little if he hopes much, he fears little. It is no matter which form of expression is used, since they both obviously mean the same thing; and indicate exactly the same state of mind or feeling. They are the two buckets in the well:—and it is not less absurd to ascribe them to different principles, than it would be to maintain, that the descent of the one bucket depends on causes quite separate from that which occasion the ascent of the other:—and the superfluity of the Phrenologists in these instances, is but faintly typified by that of the wiseacre who made two holes in his barn-door; one—to let his cat in to kill the mice, and the other—to let her out! They might as well maintain, that besides the eye to give us intimations of light, we must have another sense and another organ, to give us the impression of darkness.
But even if we could swallow all this, the concession, we think, would only involve the theory in more glaring contradictions. All the phrenological faculties are necessarily distinct and independent. It is a part of their definition that they may all act, or cease from acting, singly. They act accordingly by separate organs, and in no instance control or interfere with the operations of each other. A man with a large organ
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of hope, therefore, must, we should think, at all events, and in all cases, hope resolutely—whatever was the state of his organ of Cautiousness, or of any other faculty. How he could also, and at the same time, fear vehemently, we must leave the Phrenologists to explain: But that he must do both, just as absolutely as if he did but one, seems to be a necessary consequence of the fundamental principles of the science. It is plainly impossible, upon these principles, that the operations of the two faculties should modify or mutually check each other. They are separate and independent powers,—acting through separate and independent organs; and to suppose that the one affected the other, would not be less inconsistent than to suppose, that the movements of one watch, shut up in its own case, and in the pocket of its owner, should affect the movements of another, in his neighbour's pocket—so that if the one had a tendency to go too fast, this might be corrected by the other having a tendency to go too slow! If it be said that the two faculties must affect each other, in such cases as those of hope and fear, because they act upon the same mind and under the same circumstances, in opposite directions—we answer, that the conclusion is no doubt unavoidable; but that it is not the less contradictory to the phrenological theory—and that the result therefore is, that the theory must be false, and that there can be but one faculty in operation, and not two,—if indeed we had not already shown that it is utterly absurd, in this particular instance, to suppose that there is any separate or original faculty at all.
It is scarcely worth while perhaps, to add, that this theory of antagonist principles is not followed out in the system, in the way in which consistency would require, if there were any ground for assuming it in those particular instances. If we are to account for the diminution of Hope by a positive increment of Fear, why should we not explain the weakness of maternal Affection in some cases, by the large development of an organ of maternal Hatred the lowness of self-esteem by the magnitude of self-Contempt? or the indifference to Fame by the extraordinary operation of the love of Infamy and disgrace? All the propensities at least should be accommodated with a counterpoise of this kind; or rather, this balancing system ought to be extended into all the departments of intellect. Destructiveness already forms a very pretty pendant to Constructiveness, But there should plainly be a principle of Prodigality to match that of Hoarding—a faculty of Scoffing to set off against Veneration—and a talent for Silence to compensate that of Language: Without these additions, the system is plainly not only incom-
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plete, but incoherent; and we have no doubt that all true phrenologists will be thankful to us for their suggestion.
But there is an organ, and, of course, a faculty, of form, it seems,—and an organ of Colour—and one of Size, and a separate and independent one, even of Weight! The old notion was, that the functions of all these new faculties were performed by those of Sight and of Touch. But this, we learn, has been found to be mere childishness—and that, upon principles which go a little farther perhaps than the Phrenologists themselves are aware o£ But first let us hear the oracle.
'The nerves of touch, and the organ of sight, do not form ideas of any kind; so that the power of conceiving size cannot be in proportion to the endowment of them. Dr SPURZHEIM, therefore, inferred by reasoning, that there would be a faculty, the function of which is to perceive size; and observation has proved the soundness of this conclusion;'—and the same thing nearly is said of the other faculties we have mentioned.
Now, assuming all this to be true, and that we really do not perceive form, size, colour or weight, by our sight or touch, why, we would ask, are the new auxiliary faculties to be limited to these four? Why have we not a faculty and an organ for distinguishing Solids from Fluids—another for perceiving Hardness and Softness—end another and another for Roughness and Smoothness—Rest and Motion, Wetness and Dryness, Elasticity and the want of it, &c. &c.? All these are qualities or states of bodies quite as prominent and perceptible as their size, form, or colour and of which it is just as necessary that we should have the means of I forming ideas.' Nay, this is equally true of every quality, and every shade and degree of every quality, which we are capable of perceiving in them. The red of a rose, for example, is a quality in the object, and a sensation or idea in us, just as distinct from the blue of the sky, as either is from the shape of a billiard ball, or the size of a table: If it is not by the sight that we perceive colour at all, we see no reason for supposing that we can perceive more than one colour by one faculty. The different colours are in themselves totally distinct qualities, and the causes of distinct sensations and ideas in the observer. The only good reason that can be given, as we intimated in the outset, for classing them under one name or category (viz. Colour), is, that they were supposed to be all perceived by the Eye. But if this is denied, and a separate faculty and organ is insisted on for every separate and distinct perception or idea, eve really see no reason for not having an organ not only for every shade of colour, but for every diversity of quality by which external objects are distinguished—for the
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smoothness of. oil as distinguished from the smoothness of water—the softness of silk as different from the softness of wool or the roughness of a second day's beard from the roughness of a rough-cast wall. Our thoughtful readers will see at once how deep this .goes into the whole theory. But, at all events, we defy any mortal man to show how, if our sight and touch cannot give us ideas of form, size or colour, without the help of other separate faculties and organs, we should have any perception or idea of softness and hardness, motion and rest, and the other qualities we have enumerated, without additional special faculties and organs for the purpose—of all which, however, the Phrenologists have left us shamefully unprovided. It will not do to suggest here, or in other cases where the allowance of faculties is plainly insufficient, that these are mere omissions, which may still be supplied, if necessary, and do not affect the principle of the system. The system, it must be remembered, rests, not on principle, but on Observation alone. Its advocates peril their cause on the assertion that it is proved by observation, and as matter of fact, that their thirty-six bumps are the organs of thirty-six particular faculties, and no other—that these organs have a certain definite shape, and relative place and size—and that among them they cover the whole skull, and occupy the whole surface of the brain. If they are wrong in any of these assertions, there is an end of the whole system; for they are wrong in the facts and observations on which alone it professes to rest. They must stand or fill, therefore, on the ground they have chosen. There is no room for them to extend their position, or even to vary it in any considerable degree; and they are as effectually ruined by the suggestion of faculties which they have omitted, as by disproving the existence or possibility of those which they have assumed.
But is it indeed true, as Mr Combe so confidently alleges, that we cannot perceive colour, form or size, by the eye, or form, size and weight, by the touch? and that we really perceive all those qualities only by means of certain little bumps or knobs scattered along the line of the eyebrows?
Let us begin with Colour. So far is it from being trite, that we do not perceive colour by the eye (though Mr COMBE. distinctly tells us that I there are persons who have the sense of vision 'acute, and yet are almost destitute of the power of perceiving colours'), that in reality it is colour, and colour alone, that is the primary object of its perceptions. What 'We see indeed is only light: but light is always coloured (if we include white as a colour); and the different colours are in reality but so many kinds of light. If we never saw any thing but green, for example,
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our idea of light and of green would be identical. If we were fixed, from our birth, in such a position as to have no other object of vision but the blue vault of heaven, our perceptions of light and of blue would be one and the same. Colour, in short, is the only quality of light by which we are ever made aware of its existence; and to say that we do not see colour by the eye, is in reality to say that we do not see at all: for the strict and ultimate fact is, that we never see any thing else.* As to the trash which Mr Combe has condescended to insert about the necessity of our having a peculiar sense and organ of colouring, to enable us I to conceive the relations of different colours to 'each other, or to enjoy their harmony or discord,' we really have nothing to answer—except that some of these notions are evidently the results of study and observation, and not objects of perception at all—and that the rest seem to fall directly within the province of Ideality, as described by himself.
As to Form, again, there is the same confusion of the simple power of distinguishing the figures of objects, and that of receiving pleasure from the contemplation of their proportions or relations, as we have just noticed in the instance of Colour. It is the last only which we contend belongs to the old and familiar faculties of sight and touch. The latter must be referred to the chapter of taste and beauty; and it may be observed, is already provided for, on the lavish system of the Phrenologists, by no less than two other faculties and organs,
* It is worth while perhaps to observe, that in treating of this faculty, Mr Combe is pleased (at page 301) to notice the case of an individual, with whose speculations on the beauty of colours he does not agree, and whose errors upon the subject he triumphantly accounts for, by recording it as 'a curious fact, that in his head the Organ of Colouring is absolutely depressed!' A more complete case of destitution of the faculty could not of course be imagined; and accordingly, the learned author proceeds most reasonably to infer, that he must be in the condition of those unfortunate persons 'who cannot distinguish dark brown from scarlet, or buff from orange.' Now, without meaning to call in question the fact of the depression in his skull, we happen to know that the individual here mentioned has a remarkably fine and exact perception of colours—so as to be able to match them from memory, with a precision which has been the admiration of many ladies and dressmakers. He has also an uncommon sensibility to their beauty:and spends more time than most people in gazing on bright flowers and peacocks' necks—and wondering, he hopes innocently, what can be the cause of his enjoyment. Even the Phrenologists we think must admit, that, in his case, it cannot be the predominance of the appropriate faculty—since they have ascertained that he is totally destitute of the organ. But this belongs properly to the chapter of Evidence.
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—that of Ideality namely, and that of Order. But as to the mere power of distinguishing forms, is it possible, we would ask, to separate this from the powers of sight and touch? or to conceive that these should exist in us, as they now do, without the perception of form? Take the case of sight first. It is true, as we have already observed, that we see nothing but colour: and accordingly, if all objects were of the same colour, both as to shade and intensity, we certainly should never perceive their forms by the eye. But where their colours differ, it is, for the very same reason, impossible that we should not see their forms. If we see different colours—we must see the lines by which they are respectively bounded; and these of course are the, outlines of their forms. If, on a dark blue wall, there be painted a circle of bright yellow, is it possible to conceive that any being, with the faculty of sight only, should look on it without seeing the difference of the colours, and, by necessary consequence, the form of the line by which they are bounded, or, in other words, the shape of that which is included? and if, by the side of the circle, there be farther drawn a triangle and a square, can it be doubted that he will perceive the difference of these forms from each other? We maintain, that these perceptions are included in the narrowest conception of the faculty of seeing—and that it amounts to an absolute contradiction to say, that a man may see perfectly well, and yet have no idea of the figure of the objects he beholds. The power of remembering the forms thus beheld, or of recalling them when absent, is altogether a different matter; but, as the Phrenologists have now given up all their faculties of memory, we need not give ourselves any farther trouble with regard to it.
The perception of form by Touch, again, sometimes requires the aid of recollection, and is sometimes independent of it. Where the parts are complicated and minute, or the object large, so as to require a succession of touches before the whole can be gone over, some degree of memory is of course implied. But where the form is simple, and admits of being grasped or felt at once, the perception of form is as immediate as in the case of sight; and is obviously inseparable from the sensation of touch by which it is suggested. If a man grasp a billiard ball in his hand, it is plainly impossible that he should have any feeling of an included solid at all, without feeling also that it was smooth, spherical, and hard; and if, in his other hand, he grasped a flat ruler, he could not possibly have the sense of touch, if he was not at once aware both of the difference of the two forms, and of the general character of each. To suppose that, in addition to this sense and that of sight, we
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must have another, with a separate organ, to perceive form, is really not less extravagant than to suppose —that, though we have already one sense by which we perceive squares, we must have another separate one, to enable us to perceive circles.
If we do not perceive colour by the sight, nor form by the sight and touch, what is it, we should like to know, that we do perceive by the help of these senses, or what functions are left them to perform? If we have two separate senses, each accommodated with its appropriate material organ expressly for giving these penceptions, what use have we for the sense of seeing, or the eye The ambition of the phrenological adventurers, it must be confessed, is sufficiently comprehensive. They not only discover new faculties and organs—but they supersede and disable all that were known before. It is as if they were to maintain, that the light in a sunny parlour exsuded through certain little holes in the carpet and the wall, and that, the windows, and the sun which shone through them, had nothing at all to do with it. The deep observation that I the external senses cannot form ideas, ' is rather beyond our capacity. We really do not know what is meant here by ideas., Is it meant to be said that, by these senses, we have no perceptions? If this was meant, it should have been plainly stated—and we would then ask again, if they do not furnish us with perceptions, what is it that they do furnish us with? It was never supposed, we believe, that they furnished any thing else. That we are enabled to recal these perceptions, is a fact no doubt—and this was commonly thought to be effected by a power or faculty called Memory; but, as the operation was purely mental, it did not occur to any one that it must be provided with a special material organ, or three or four organs, on the surface of the skull—which was the first discovery of the Phrenologists; and still less that it was a part of the business of the separate and newly imagined faculties, apart from sight and touch, by which we perceived colour, form, and other material qualities.
All that we have now said applies equally well to the supposed faculty of perceiving— Size. No man who can clearly see a small wafer lying in a china plate, on a circular grass plot, can fail to perceive a difference in the sizes of these three circles. No man can embrace a goodly column, and then take up a slender wand, and not know, by his touch, the same difference. It is needless to dwell upon this. But the lucubrations of the Phrenologists on this original faculty are more than usually edifying. 'A lady,' says Mr Combe, 'with whom I am acquainted, has Form large, and Size deficient; and in
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drawing, she copies the form of an animal or the human fire easily and precisely, but is always at fault in the Size. She felt this as a natural defect, and complained of it before she heard of 'phrenology.' Now the mystery of this is admirable. Here is a lady who in drawing is always at fault as to size, and yet can make the figure of a man or animal perfectly! that is, she makes no fault at all in the relative size of the feet, hands, head, tail, ears, or horns of any one figure—but cannot observe proportion or uniformity in the total size of different figures! There mad be such a case; for we make no question either of Mr Combe's veracity, or that of the fair artist. But the defect plainly is not that of the organ of size—for, upon the statement, she judges perfectly of sizes, in by far the incest and most difficult of their combinations. We would suggest as a very humble acid vulgar solution of the specialty, that she has probably been more accustomed to draw single figures, than to group or combine them, and that a little practice in the latter bran of the art may go far to remove this supposed defect in her natural endowments. If Mr Combe disdains this suggestion, we think he has nothing for it but to make two organs and faculties of size,—one to take cognizance of the size of the different parts or members of a single body—and the ether al the sizes of such bodies viewed complexly.
Last of all comes Weight: A more unlucky subject for an original faculty could not well, we think, have been selected; nor can any thing well be wilder than the work the Phrenologists have made of it. The perception of weight, we take it, is the perception of the tendency of all bodies to move, with more or less force, towards the centre of the earth; and it involves in it, as we think, the perception of three different phenomena: 1. The perception of downward motion, when heavy bodies are actually in a course of descent; 2. The perception of ensure, when the heavy body rests on the percipient; and, 3. The perception of resistance, when we raise or try to raise it. Now, it is very plaint by reasoning and observation, and not by the perception of any peculiar sense or faculty, that we refer all these phenomena to the operation of one cause—while the phenomena themselves are confessedly perceived by the senses of sight and touch, or the general sensibility of the body. That they do not of themselves suggest the idea of weight or gravitation, but that this is the result of experience and observation merely, and is in fact the discovery of a,very important general law of matter, we conceive to be obvious upon a very slight consideration. First of all, it would be rather strange if there was a faculty by which we directly recognised and distin-
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guished the motions produced by gravitation, from those produced by impulse or any other cause; and the fact is, that anterior to observation, we certainly do not so distinguish them. The motions themselves are in all cases perceived by sight or touch. Then, again, as to pressure, is it meant to be said that we have a special faculty by which we can certainly tell whether a pressure on our finger, or our whole body, is produced by the mere weight of the incumbent substance, or by force of a screw, or by muscular exertion applied to it? If our sensation is indistinguishable in all these cases, there can be no sense of weight—but only of pain or pressure, for which Mr Combe has not thought it necessary to provide any new faculty—and which is manifestly quite different from the perception of motion. Finally, as to resistance, if we vainly endeavour to pull up a plank from the ground, is there really any faculty which will at once inform us whether the resistance is owing to its great weight—or to our happening ourselves to stand upon it, and, consequently, to the equal balance of the action and reaction? If there be, as there confessedly is, no such faculty, then it is quite plain that we do not get the notion of weight by the direct intimation of any separate sense, but by reasoning and inference from repeated observation of the common phenomena of motion pressure, and resistance, under certain circumstances;—and of these diverse phenomena, it seems utterly extravagant to say, either that we are only percipient by this new faculty of Weight, or that we are not percipient of them exactly as in cases where they occur from other causes than gravitation, by our old vulgar endowments of seeing and touch.
But there are other and higher functions, it seems, to which this sense of weight is destined by the Phrenologist, It enable men to play at quoits, and to be expert at archery—but, above all, it confers eminence in mechanical science, and leads to useful discoveries in engineering!—besides giving a man a prompt knowledge of his own centre of gravity! This, we confess, is rather too puerile. There is no human occupation, sportive or serious—from ascending in balloons to working in stone quarries—in which we are permitted for a moment to forget the power of gravitation; and we really think that, in all, it is intensely and equally remembered. But what has this to do with mechanical Philosophy or contrivances? Every man is equally aware that bodies have weight—and, in machinery, and mechanical philosophy, it is indisputably not by any tact, or the vague intimations of any sense or faculty, but by calculating according to fixed principles, that they proceed either to employ or to overcome it. One man may have a bet-
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ter guess than another of the probable weight of a body that is to be moved: But did any body ever hear, or even imagine, that he would proceed to make a machine to move it, in any reliance on the accuracy of this estimation? or still less, that he would, in consequence of this, be more likely than another to devise a good machine for the purpose? We are told indeed that Newton had the organ of this faculty very large—and that Professor Farish and Mr Whewell of Cambridge, I who have both 'given great proofs of mechanical skill,' have it also large;—and again, that it is large in a weaver of Saltcoats, who has spent much time in regulating the working of pumps—and, finally, that 'several persons have been met with, in whom it was small—and 'who at once acknowledged deficiency in mechanical talent, and awkwardness in their actions and movements!' It cannot be necessary, we should think, to make any observation on matter like this. It is not even alleged, it will be observed, that any of the great mechanical philosophers here mentioned, had, in point of fact, any different or more exact perceptions of weight, or of the ordinary phenomena from which the notion is derived, than the awkward individuals who acknowledged their deficiency in these branches of science. All that is alleged is, that the former had a small protuberance above the middle of the eyebrow, which was not observed in the latter. If it was necessary to make this out to be the organ of a particular faculty, we think it would have been a more likely guess to have construed it into the organ of Algebra, or of the Fluxionary faculty, than the organ of Weight. But we are tired of this—and leave the rest of the speculation about reeling drunkards and Dr Hunter's fits of giddiness, together indeed with the whole remaining assortment of phrenological faculties, including Wit, Wonder and Causality, among many others, to the unassisted judgment of such readers as wish for farther acquaintance with them.
We have dwelt too long, we fear, on this branch of the inquiry: But, though in one sense it may be regarded as preliminary only, we confess it has always appeared to us substantially to exhaust the whole question, and to render it unnecessary to go farther. The question being, whether it be really true, that certain bumps on the head are the Organs of certain primitive, distinct and universal Faculties,—we cannot but think that it is pretty well settled, if it be made out, 1st, that there is not the least reason to suppose that any of our faculties, but those which connect us with external objects, or direct the movements of our bodies, act by material organs at all, and that the Phrenological organs have no analogy whatever with
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those of the external senses; 2d, that it is quite plain that there neither are, nor can be, any such primitive and original Faculties as the greater part of those to which such organs are assigned by the Phrenologists; and, 3d, that if the 36, with the organs of which they have covered the whole skull, are admitted to exist, it seems impossible to refuse a similar existence to many hundreds or thousands of the same kind, for the organs and operations of which they have however left no room.
If these things be, as we humbly conceive them to be, it is plain enough that the Phrenological theory cannot possibly be true, as it has been hitherto maintained, And yet it does not follow, of absolute necessity, that the facts on which it is said to be grounded are consequently false. If there be no such primitive faculties as they allege, the bumps they have observed cannot indeed be the organs of such faculties; and there is an end, therefore, of the theory. Yet it may possibly be true, that the particular habits, accomplishments and propensities, to which they have given the name of faculties, may be found in conjunction with these bumps. If the theory be once destroyed, the mere fact of such a conjunction must be allowed indeed to be in the highest degree improbable. But as the supposition of it implies no contradiction, it may possibly be true—and we are bound therefore, even after demolishing the theory, to look a little at the evidence by which it is said to be established. It is possible that every man who is hanged for forgery would be found to have been born with a peculiar protuberance in the joints of his middle fingers—that every man who publishes a quarto volume, must always have had a tumour on the inside of his knees—and that every profound Greek scholar must have come into the world with a small wen on his tongue. We admit most readily, that all rational probability is against such apparently capricious coincidences—and we imagine that most people would think themselves justified in laughing at those who maintained them, and in refusing to look into their proofs. But still the thins are possible—and if the proofs were perfectly clear, unequivocal and abundant, we could not but believe in their reality. Now, this we think is the true state of the case as to Phrenology. As its advocates appeal loudly to fact and observation, we are bound to look to their evidence;—and though we certainly think it altogether as improbable that every witty man must have been born with two triangular projections in front of his temples, and every kind mother with a large oval one on the back of her head, as that every skilful cook must have had particularly long heels, or every rich banker a very short nose—we certainly cannot take upon us to say that the facts are absolutely impossible, or that,
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by very full and decisive evidence, such a pre-established harmony may not be ascertained. If the matter be taken up however on this footing, or indeed on any other footing than that of a superstitious credulity, and gaping propensity to wonder, the Phrenologists must be aware that it will not bear handling.
Suppose that we were merely to allege that, so far as our observation went, their facts seemed all to be imaginary—that it was matter of notoriety that men with large heads were not generally of superior endowments, nor those with small, deficient in understanding—that in the circle of our acquaintance there were many kind mothers without any protuberance on the lower part of their skulls, many men of wit with no triangular prominences beyond the temples, and many eloquent and loquacious persons of both sees, with no unusual projection of the eyes—that in fact we had never happened to meet with any one individual in whom a marked peculiarity of character or disposition was accompanied by any of their external indications, and that we daily saw remarkable enough bumps on the heads of very ordinary people—that most of those with whom we conversed had made the wine observations, and concurred in the same results; and that several who had been at first rather taken with the new doctrines, had, by more careful observation, been thoroughly convinced of their fallacy—that we had ourselves known some, and heard from good authority of many, cases of flagrant and ridiculous blunders committed by Phrenologists of the greatest eminence, which they had neither the candour to acknowledge, nor the confidence to deny—that we had met with very few persons of judgment who did not treat the whole matter as a ridiculous fancy, or imposture—and that very many of its most zealous advocates were persons who seemed to have been seduced into the belief, by having had organs discovered on their heads for talents and virtues which they had never been suspected of possessing—so that impartial observers generally required no other proof of the falsehood of their doctrines, than an exhibition of the crania of those very individuals who were warmest in asserting their truth.
Suppose we were merely to say these things—as we might certainly say them with the most perfect conscientiousness and good faith-what would be the reply of the Phrenologists? Why, that their experience and observations were inconsistent with ours, and that the world must judge between us. To this of course we could have no objection, But our Phrenologists, we suspect, would not stop there. They would call on us to name our instances, and. would cavil at them when they were named; or, because we declined submitting the
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heads of respectable ladies and gentlemen to an impertinent palpation,—and their characters, temper and manners, to a still more impertinent discussion—because we did not choose to offend many worthy people by pointing them out as the owners of bumps, without the corresponding faculties—or to engage in a quarterly wrangle about the ideality of Dr Chalmers or the adhesiveness of Mrs M'Kinnon, they would complain that we made allegations which we refused to verify, and contend that nothing but a fair scrutiny was wanting to their success. We certainly shall not gratify them, therefore, by any such specification;—and we make them heartily welcome to any advantage they can derive from our declinature: All we propose, by making these general allegations, in which they know well enough that the great body of the public concur with us, is to show, in the beginning, that the proofs upon which they rely cannot possibly be of the clear and conclusive nature which the case so obviously requires: Since, in a matter in itself abundantly simple, and open to the observation of all mankind, so many persons of unquestioned veracity and candour have come to conclusions so directly opposed to them. If it were really true, that certain very visible and well defined bumps on the skull were the necessary organs of all our faculties and propensities,—just as our eyes are of sight, and our ears of bearing,—it is, in the first place, inconceiveable that the discovery should have remained to be made in the beginning of the 19th century;—and, in the second place, still more inconceiveable, that after it was made, there should be any body who could pretend to doubt of its reality. The means of verifying it, one would think, must have been such as not to leave a pretext for the slightest hesitation ; and the fact that, after twenty years preaching in its favour, it is far more generally rejected than believed, might seem to afford pretty conclusive evidence against the possibility of its truth.
The fact, however, not only is so—but, from the very nature of the case, it could not well have been otherwise. Their pretended Organs, unfortunately, are not such as can ever be proved to be organs, by any decisive, or even intelligible test; and the presence or absence, the strength or weakness, of their pretended Faculties, are equally incapable of being determined by any precise observation or experiment.
It is very material to remark here, that the Phrenologists do not even pretend to have been guided to the discovery of their organs by any direct observation of their being actually used, when the faculties which they serve are exerted. The only way they find them out is, by comparing the size of the organ, in persons who have the faculty in un-
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usual strength, with its size in other cases. If all men had their faculties therefore nearly in an equal decree, it could never have been known or suspected that they had any such organs at all: and, as their observations must have been made on men, whose unusual strength of endowment may have been derived from culture and education, what assurance could they possibly have that the bumps on their heads had any thing to do with it? This is obviously a most fatal weakness in their case—and amounts, of itself, to an exclusion of all good evidence. Where should we be, for example, as to any proof of the locality of our organs of sense, if our only ground for inferring their existence was a conjecture, that some particular part of the body was larger in those who had any particular sense in unusual perfection?—and what a contrast would this present to the state of our actual knowledge? Take, for instance, the Eye, the organ of sight. How prominently and conspicuously is it pointed out, by its form, structure, and distinct apparatus, as an organ of perception!—and how immediately and unerringly are its exclusive functions ascertained, either by placing the band upon it, and finding vision instantaneously impeded, or by observing that light may be directed to all the other parts of the body, without being in the least perceptible! But suppose that, instead of such a conspicuous and unequivocal organ, it had been merely conjectured that our perceptions of sight were transmitted by the instrumentality of a small excrescence on the solid and continuous bone of the skull, though it had never been observed that these perceptions ceased when that excrescence was touched or covered,—upon what possible ground could it be said to be proved, that this was the organ of sight, or had any thing to do with its perception? A vague surmise might be raised on an allegation, that where this excrescence was unusually large, the sight had been frequently found more than usually clear or strong—but as to any thing like proof of its being the proper organ of the faculty, there would plainly be none.
If this, however, would be the case, even with so peculiar and distinct a faculty as that of Seeing, how infinitely must the difficulty increase as to those that go by that name among the Phrenologists? If there be no sight, there can be no substitute for it—and no doubt or mistake, therefore, can ever exist as to the fact. If the eyes be once closed or obstructed, there is indisputably an end of Seeing for the time; and there is no other faculty whose intimations can be mistaken for it, or supply its peculiar perceptions; while, if the eyes are open, and in a sound state, their perceptions cannot be affected by the operations of any other faculty. The phrenolo-
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gical faculties, however, almost all play into each other's hands; and can in most cases either supply each other's places, or counterfeit their functions; while in other cases they are controlled, impeded, and rendered indistinguishable by the action of other faculties. Thus, the functions of Combativeness and Destructiveness coincide so nearly, that the extinction of one would scarcely be missed, if the other was in great vigour. Amativeness and Benevolence together, might, for a time at least, entirely supply the want of Adhesiveness. In many situations Cautiousness might do the work of Veneration, and, joined with Imitation, or love of Approbation, might make a very tolerable substitute for Conscientiousness itself,—while Individuality, according to the description, might occasionally sustain the part either of Causality, Size, or Figure.
Still farther, there is nothing, it must always be remembered, but the size of the organ, by which the vigour of the faculty is to be determined. But the phrenologists admit, first of all, that the vigour of the faculty may be increased by culture and education, without any increase of the organ; 2. that it may be also increased by morbid or occasional excitement; and, 3. that all its manifestations may be suppressed or neutralized by the operation of some other antagonist or inconsistent faculty, whose organ is more predominant. It is quite plain, we think, that these admissions render all proper proof impossible, exclude the application of any decisive rule or experiment, and in fact reduce this whole 'science of observation,' to a series of mere evasions and gratuitous suppositions.
We produce, for example, a person whose whole conduct indicates great Benevolence, but who happens to have a very small bump in the place where the organ of that propensity is said to be situated. Is not this a proof of the fallacy of the system? Oh no—by no means. The individual has had the good luck to be trained up among very benevolent people, and has had his small original stock prodigiously increased by their precepts and example, aided perhaps' by his own large endowment of the faculty of Imitation!—or, his organ of benevolence has perhaps been excited to a diseased activity by some internal inflammation,—or at all events, as he has Love of Approbation and Cautiousness very large, nothing is so probable as that his apparent benevolence is merely put on, to gain the good opinion of the world, or to secure some advantage to himself! We next produce another person with an enormous bump of Benevolence on his forehead; and, offering to prove that he is, notwithstanding, notoriously cruel, oppressive, and uncharitable, we ask, again, how this is to be reconciled with the truth of the sys-
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tem? O, nothing in the world so easy! First of all, he has probably had no training in the paths of benevolence, and the field, though naturally fertile, has therefore been actually barren; But besides, you have only to look, and you will most probably find the organs of Combativeness, and Destructiveness, and Acquisitiveness, still larger than that of Benevolence. These, of course, make him quarrelsome, and cruel, and avaricious: and how then can his poor benevolence find means to display itself?—though, after all, if you attend carefully to his proceedings, you will find certain stifled traits of benevolence, even in his cruelty certain indications that there are kind propensities in his nature, though unluckily overborne, and obscured to common observation, by opposite propensities! It is thus apparent that the phrenological theory, though absolutely incapable of any clear or satisfactory proof, abounds in those equivocations and means of retreat, by which it may often escape from. direct refutation: And accordingly, whenever we come to actual proof and experiment, we find that the truth of the theory is very quietly assumed as a fundamental principle—all contradictory instances, however conclusive, explained on that assumption—and no case, in short, allowed to have any application which does not make in its favour. When we add to this, that the art of correct observation is stated to be extremely difficult—and indeed that no person should be allowed to exercise it, whose head is not of a certain conformation, we may have some idea of the sort of evidence on which its gifted disciples now pretend that it is established.
'After becoming familiar,' says Mr Combe, 'with the general size and configuration of beads, the student may proceed to the observation of individual organs; and, in studying them, the real dimensions, and not, the mere prominence of each organ, should be looked for. The whole organs in a bead should be examined, and their relative proportions noted. Errors may be committed at first; but, without practice, there is no expertness. Practice, with at least an average endowment of the organs of Form, Size, and Locality, are necessary to qualify a person to make observations with success. Individuals whose heads are very narrow between the eyes, and little developed at the top of the nose, where these organs are placed, experience great difficulty in distinguishing the situations and minute shades in the proportions of different organs.' p. 41.
This is alarming enough. But what follows shows, we think, that even persons with great breadth between the eyes must now and then be in imminent hazard of mistakes.
'If one organ,' proceeds the oracular author, 'be much developed, and the neighbouring organ very little, the developed organ presents an elevation or protuberance; but if the neighbouring organs be developed in proportion, no protuberance can be perceived, arid the surface is
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smooth:' and a little after it is added, 'that, when one organ is very largely developed, it sometimes pushes a neighbouring organ a little out of its place.'
Now, considering that there are no fewer than five organs of great importance in the line of each eyebrow, it is easy to see in what perplexity an anxious observer may often be placed. If there be no distinct protuberance in this region, how is the smooth surface to be interpreted? It is plain, we suppose, that all the faculties inhabiting it must be held to be in an equal degree of vigour: But how are we to determine whether they are all deficient, or all redundant—of an inferior, an average, or an extraordinary development? Suppose, by a happy balance of its faculties, a head should be without any protuberances, and all over as smooth as a barber's block—what are we to infer as to the condition of these equal faculties? Are we to rate them according to its total calibre? and are all sizes to be valued according to actual dimensions?—or with any, and what reference to the general bulk of the body, the stature, weight or form, of the individual? Again, if the organ of Size, being very largely developed, should push the organ of Weight, which stands nextit, a little out of its place, and into that of Colouring or of Tune, which immediately adjoin, what terrible errors would ensue? Or if one small organ should unluckily be surrounded by three in a state of great development, would there not be imminent hazard either of its being entirely obliterated by their expansion, or of having its portion of the skull heaved up along with theirs, to a most deceptive and fatal elevation? This, however, is trifling. It is enough, to complete our view of the kind of evidence by which this system is supported, that the observations from which it is to be derived are admitted to be attended with great difficulty and hazard of mistake, and indeed not at all to be trusted to, except in the hands of the initiated!
In what respect, then, do the pretences of Phrenology differ, as to their evidence, from the ordinary cases of pretended Miracles, pretended infallible medicines, pretended expositions of dreams, or of any of the other fancies and impostures by which the credulity of men has been amused, and their love of the marvellous excited, from the beginning of the world? In all these cases there are niceties of operation to be observed, to the neglect of which the failures are in part to be ascribed. There is a determination to count only the few cases that succeed, and to keep out of view the many that fail—there are imputations of prejudice and unfairness to be cast on the unbelievers—and a very strong disposition to make the most of the slightest advantages, to construe a very partial success into a decisive one—and to celebrate a mere mitigation of defeat as a
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signal and triumphant victory. A sick man takes an infallible medicine, and is no better—and then, what says the quack for his nostrum?—O, it has been prepared by an unskilful apothecary, and taken in a wrong dose, or at an unfit period—or, it has been counterworked by some improper food or exercise taken along with it—or by some preposterous prescription administered the year before. The medicine itself could not possibly fail—here are fifty attestations of its efficacy, in far worse cases, in as many newspapers! Besides, the patient is quite mistaken in supposing himself no better!—his eye is much brighter, and his pulse more calm. If it had not been for the drug, he would probably have been dead by this time! in fact, it is one of the most surprising of the many cures it has effected! It is needless to say how exactly parallel to this are the reasonings and perversions of the Phrenologists!
But we have something still more decisive to say to them. Their proposition is, that their thirty-six bumps are the organs of so many separate faculties—and that the strength of the endowment is in exact proportion to the size of the bump. Now, independent of all flaws in the theory, we think it can be proved, by facts that admit of no denial, that this proposition neither is, nor can, by possibility, be true.
In the first place, let us say a word about Size. That the mere bulk or quantity of matter, in such wonderful and delicate structures, should be the exclusive measure of their value, without any regard to their quality or condition, certainly must appear, on the first statement, to be a very improbable allegation;—and we cannot help suspecting, that it was nothing but the plain impossibility of ascertaining any thing as to their structure and quality, that drove our dogmatic theorists upon that bold proposition. Their assumed organs, however, are all buried deep under skin and bone of an uniform appearance; and having nothing, therefore, but size left to go upon, (at least in the living subject), they seem to have even made up their minds to say that that was quite enough-and that nothing else was to be regarded. In the next place, however, the proposition is no less contrary to the analogy of all our known organs than to general probability. The grandmamma Wolf, in the fairy tale, does indeed lean a little to the phrenological heresy, when she tells little Riding-hood that she has large eyes, to see her the better—and large ears, to hear her the better:—But, with this one venerable exception, we rather think it has never been held before, that the strength of vision depended on the size of the eye, the perfection of hearing on the magnitude of the ear—or the nicety of taste on the
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breadth of the tongue or palate. It might also be mentioned as a third circumstance of strong improbability in this theory, that if mere size be the criterion of mental endowment, the most important and purely intellectual of the faculties should have on the whole such very small organs assigned to them. All the reasoning and reflecting powers are crowded into a small area on the forehead and temples—while by far the largest space is allotted to love of progeny, self-conceit, and cowardice. As the masses of the brain seem on the whole to be nearly of one quality, and the very basis of the phrenological system is to take no account of any thing but quantity, it is certainly a little startling to find the least amiable or exalted of our endowments so much more amply provided for than those of a higher order. These, however, we allow, are probabilities only-let us come at length to the facts.
All the world knows, and the Phrenologists themselves admit, that the vigour of any faculty may be improved by exercise and education—and the strength of any propensity by habitual indulgence, though these changes are not accompanied by any increase in the size of the organ. But is not this admitted and most familiar fact in absolute and glaring contradiction to the fundamental assumption of the system? The strength of the faculty is always in exact proportion to the size of its organ. This is their proposition, and, in fact, the whole of their doctrine. But here are two men, with organs of precisely the same size, in one of whom the faculty is, in point of fact, of double the strength as in the other. Is not this a conclusive refutation of their statement? It is nothing to the purpose to say, that the other might have been improved too, and that neither could have been so much improved as if their organs had been larger. These, in the first place, are mere gratis dicta, without the least vestige of proof; and, secondly, they do not touch the decisive fact, that it is thus proved and admitted that the vigour of the faculty does not depend, at least solely, on the size of the organ, but in a great measure on the quality either of that organ, or of the mind itself, to which it is supposed to be subservient: And the consequences of that fact are inevitable. If a man, by exercise and education, may have double the talent or energy of another with organs of the same size,how can it be assumed that size alone is, in any given case, the mark of talent or energy?—or that other causes besides exercise and education may not produce those variations, in spite of the equal bulk of the organs? The only safe proposition is, that the size of the organs absolutely determines the quantity of talent and energy, as the diameter of a
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pipe determines the quantity of water that can be conveyed by it. But if this be given up-if it be admitted that, in many most common cases, the size of the organ is no measure at all of the actual quantity of talent or energy which acts by it, it is plain that the whole game is up; and it is quite impossible to give any reason, why there should not be primitive differences of talent, as well as acquired differences, with organs of equal size. It is still undeniably true, that, with organs of a certain size, there is a capacity of having a great deal more of all the faculties, than actually belong to many people with that very size of organ; and this, we conceive, at once extinguishes the whole science of phrenology.
But even if there were any grounds for maintaining so strange a distinction, how, we should like to know, are we to discriminate the increments of faculty that have been derived from culture and education, from those that have been developed spontaneously, and should therefore be referred to the native energy of the organs? Education, in this question, plainly cannot be restrained to what is taught in lessons, or inculcated by preceptors. The education by which our faculties are exercised and strengthened, is the education of society, of reflection, of events, of suffering, enjoyment, and experience It is the education, in short, which is necessarily implied in living,—which all men receive, more or less favourably in kind and degree; and to which we ascribe almost all that ultimately distinguishes them from each other, in talents, disposition, manners, morals, and character. If it is according to this training and education, that the Phrenologists allow that all our faculties and propensities may be indefinitely strengthened or repressed, what room, we again ask, can be left for their theory? In what sense; or at what period, can it be alleged, that the strength of the faculty is in proportion to the size of its supposed organ? Or of what practical use would it be (even if it were possible) to ascertain, that, before his birth, every man had a certain original peculiarity, when that was to be so soon superseded, and so totally deranged, by the innumerable and untraceable variations in the training to which each was severally to be exposed? The education of which we are now speaking begins long before we are conscious of it, and continues to the last moment of our existence; and, during all that time, it is continually altering, modifying, and new-modelling our character, capacities, and habits. It is impossible to trace its earliest and most important rudiments; and neither these, nor its after course, are the same, we believe, for any two individuals. The Phrenologists seem to us distinctly to admit this generally; and
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we do not know that they deny any part of the statement. But if it be admitted, what scope, what field, or materials, can possibly remain for their science? In this view, there is no such thing as a spontaneous development; and every intellect and disposition must be regarded as formed and modified by the accidents to which it is exposed. We too, perhaps, believe that men are born with some differences of mental capacity and disposition—though we have no idea that they are indicated by bumps on the skull. But, believing as we do, that these are utterly insignificant, compared with the far greater differences which time and events afterwards impress on them, we are convinced it is impossible, and would be idle if it were possible, to ascertain what may have been their original indications. We think it probable, that some have originally a greater excitability or general vivacity of mind than others-and that this is the chief difference. But, considering how variously this may be developed or directed in after life, it seems to us of no sort of importance, whether we call it a temperament, and say it is marked by the colour of the hair and the eyes—or maintain that it is a balance of certain powers and propensities, the organs of which are on the skull. If education—that education which no man can either regulate or avoid—is to change all this, and to change it to an indefinite extent, it certainly is not true, that the characters or faculties of grown men are in accordance with these supposed organs—or that the dreams of phrenology can receive any proof from observation—though they may be, as they are, effectually disproved, by the admissions thus extorted from their advocates.
Another means of refutation is supplied by another admission, or rather postulate and principle of the Phrenologists. The energy of any faculty or propensity may be increased, it seems, by any Disease or morbid affection of its organ, without any augmentation of its size. This is a very favourite resource, we find, of these learned authors; and seems to us admirably to illustrate their hostility to common sense. Very many of Dr Gall's discoveries were made it seems in madhouses. He found an insane person under the ungoverned influence of some strong propensity; and almost always found that he had the organ of that propensity enormously large! Now, if the patient had been mad, and in the same key, from his birth up, there might have been something in this reasoning—but as there is no example, we believe, of such a case, it seems to us very plain, that madness of a particular character, supervening in mature life, in a person who had lived many years with a remarkably large organ of some propensity, could not, in common sense, be re-
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ferred to the size of that organ. The man had the organ of that size for forty years, and was not at all mad, or in any way over-mastered by the propensity it denoted. The natural conclusion then would be, that the size of the organ had nothing to do with the excessive force ultimately developed in the propensity; and the cases would be all cases against the phrenological assumption.
But the organs are sometimes diseased or morbidly excited, where there is no madness—and then, though they do not increase in size, the powers and faculties to which they minister become vastly more vigorous. This does savour a little, we think, of materialism—but little enough of common sense. The diseased or morbid state of an organ, it seems, does not disturb or impede, but increases and improves the action of the faculty to which it ministers! This is as if we were to see better for an inflammation in the eye, or to smell or taste more acutely for having ulcerations in our mouths and noses! There are some rare instances, we believe, of a morbid and excessive sensibility in these organs; but by far the most common case is undoubtedly the reverse. With the phrenological organs, however, it is quite opposite. A diseased state of the organ always makes its operations more vigorous and energetic; and no instance is mentioned in which the occasional obscuration of any faculty is referred to such a cause. This, we think, is tolerably ridiculous. But the main thing is, that, in anyway of taking it, the fact proves the very foundation of the system to be false. If a faculty is doubled in vigour by a mere disease of the organ, without any increase of its bulk, then it cannot be true that there is any necessary connection between its bulk and the vigour of the faculty. The imaginary disease has often no other local indication but this increase of mental vigour—and is indeed in most cases plainly imagined or assumed merely to account for that phenomenon. It proves, at all events, that faculties may have a vigour quite incommensurate with the size of their organs-which is precisely the reverse of what Phrenology teaches. It proves that the state or quality of the organ, or of something else, quite independent of its size, may determine the state of the faculty,—and that size therefore is no criterion whatever. If we find a man with a very small organ, and a very vigorous manifestation of its supposed faulty, it is to be sure very easy to say, that this is owing, not to the size, but the condition of the organ; but it is saying what fundamentally contradicts the whole phrenological doctrine; and though it introduces another, pretty nearly as absurd, it completely puts an end to the former. A disease in the organ is, after all, but a particular state of
306 Phrenology. Sept.
that organ; and if its only effect upon it is to increase its power and activity as an organ, most people, we should think, would rather describe that state as one of uncommon healthiness and vigour, than one of disease. But whatever it may be called, the fact is, that a certain state of the organ may thus indicate a great improvement of its associated faculty, while its bulk remains as before. But if this be admitted in certain cases, how can it be known that it does not hold in all? What is called a diseased state of the organ, may be only its most healthy and natural state—and all inferior manifestations of the faculty may be owing to organic ineptitude or disease. And, at all events, assuming that there is a correspondence between the organ and the faculty, is there not much more reason for holding that, in all cases, it is the state, and not the size of the organ, which determines the force of the faculty, than the reverse? The cases of education and alleged disease demonstrate, that it is not always the size; But there is no such evidence against the supposition that it is always the state or condition exclusively, and that the size, of which alone however phrenology takes cognisance, is purely indifferent.
In some cases our author represents the faculty as inordidinately excited by disease in persons who have the organ of very small dimensions; in others, he is guilty of the double absurdity of leaving it to disease to produce any manifestation of the faculty, although the organ has all along been unusually large—as in the following admirable illustration of Destructiveness.
'When excited by intoxication, the organ sometimes becomes ungovernable; and hence arises the destruction of glasses, mirrors, chairs, and every frangible object at the close of many a feast. Hence also the temptation, often almost irresistible, experienced by many a worthy citizen, when inebriated, to smash a lamp in his progress home. One gentleman assured me that the lamps have appeared to him, when in this state, as it were twinkling on his path with a wicked and scornful gleam, and that he has frequently lifted his stick to punish their impertinence, when a remnant of reason restrained the meditated blow. In him Destructiveness is decidedly large, but, when sober, there is not a more excellent person.' p. 109.
Now, here we have, first of all, a man with a decidedly large organ, who yet, in his sound and natural state, gives no manifestation whatever of the connected propensity—in itself a complete falsification of the theory. But then, when disordered with drink, this naturally quiet person becomes mischievous—that is to say, he comes into the state to which drink and disorder might bring a man with a decidedly small organ—and which state, accordingly, is constantly referred to as explaining
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how men with small organs have occasionally strong propensities! We think it would, be difficult to devise a more perfect refutation of the whole system.
A third and separate refutation, however, is suggested by another concession, or necessary distinction, of its supporters. There is a difference, they have been obliged to admit, between the Activity and the Power of their faculties and propensities: and size is the measure of power only—activity not manifesting itself by any peculiarity of outward configuration. This is, no doubt, very candid and plausible; but, at the same time, it takes away at once one half of their territory: Since it admits that there is one most material element of character, and that extending to all the faculties, sentiments and propensities that go to its formation, as to which this infallible 'Science of observation' gives no light whatever. It observes size only:—And it is here admitted, that though the size be the same, the activity of the faculties may be exceedingly different, and the intellectual endowment of the individuals, therefore, as to one and all of these faculties, exceedingly different, while Phrenology would pronounce them identical.
But, in the second place, is there in reality any distinction between what is here called power, and what is called activity, as applied to the 36 phrenological faculties? Mr Combe is more than usually eloquent on this subject; and it is but fair, therefore, to let him speak for himself.
'There is a great distinction between power and activity of mind; and, as size in the organs is an indication of the former only, it is proper to keep this difference in view. In physics, power is quite distinguishable from activity. The balance-wheel of a watch moves with much rapidity, but so slight is its impetus, that a hair would suffice to stop it; the beam of a steam-engine traverses slow and ponderously through space, but its power is prodigiously great.
'In muscular action, these qualities are recognised with equal facility as different. The greyhound bounds over hill and dale with animated agility but a slight obstacle would counterbalance his momentum, and arrest his progress. The elephant, on the other hand, rolls slowly and heavily along; but the impetus of his motion would sweep away an impediment. sufficient to resist fifty greyhounds at the summit of their speed.
'In mental manifestations (considered apart from organization), the distinction between power and activity is equally palpable. Many members of the learned professions display great felicity of illustration and fluency of elocution, surprising us with the quickness of their parts, who, nevertheless, are felt to be neither impressive nor profound. They possess acuteness without power, and ingenuity without comprehensiveness and depth or understanding. This also pro-
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ceeds from activity with little vigour. There are other public speakers, again, who open heavily in debate, their faculties acting slowly, but deeply, like the first heave of a mountain wave. Their words fall like minute-guns upon the ear, and to the superficial they appear about to terminate, ere they have begun their efforts. But even their first accent is one of power, it rouses and arrests attention; their very pauses are expressive, and indicate gathering energy to be embodied in the sentence that is to come. When fairly animated, they are impetuous as the torrent, brilliant as the lightning's beam, and overwhelm and take possession of feebler minds, impressing them irresistibly with a feeling of gigantic power.' pp. 36-38.
Now, these are very well drawn pictures; and do credit to the author's powers of observation, as well as of writing-being very nearly as true as rhetorical descriptions can ever be: But the rhetoric is better than the logic, if the author really means to assert, that the slowness with which great energies are sometimes developed is to be regarded as their necessary attendant. If a steam-engine or elephant moves slow, a cannon-shot, a war-horse, a thunderbolt, a comet, move fast: And, beyond all doubt, the most fervid orators, the most sublime poets, the most famous warriors, and the most commanding geniuses in all departments, have been remarkable for the combined depth and rapidity of their conceptions: The slowness, when it does occur, is not a symptom of greatness, but a defect or an accident. It arises sometimes from diffidence, sometimes from want of preparation, sometimes from general indolence of temper, sometimes from affectation. This, however, is of little consequence to the present argument. The question we would now ask is, whether it is not plain that these emphatic distinctions are really without meaning as applicable to different conditions of the 36 phrenological faculties ; and whether, with regard to the far greater part of them, activity and power, are not perfectly synonymous and undistinguishable? In all the instances quoted, activity seems to mean rapidity of outward motion, and nothing else; and accordingly, it is afterwards (p. 49) expressly defined as denoting 'the rapidity or readiness with which the faculties may be manifested.' Now, let us see whether this does not coincide in almost every instance with any conception that can be framed of their Power, and whether the remainder are not of a nature to which it is impossible intelligibly to ascribe this attribute? When we say, for example, that a man has Destructiveness unusually powerful, what do we mean but that he is unusually ready to injure and destroy! All men have something, it seems, of this amiable propensity; and the only difference is, that those who have it least are the slowest to give way to it—and those who have it most, the quick-
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est. The whole difference, therefore, is in what is here called its activity. A difference in power must belong to the muscles of the hand or arm, and not to the brain at all. Combativeness is manifestly in the very same predicament. Can a man be very irascible who is 'slow to anger?' or did Shakespeare ignorantly depict his Combative Youth, only as 'sudden and quick in quarrel?' In what other sense can we conceive of the faculties of Colour, Form, Size, and all the others that are supposed to minister to our perceptions of external objects? How is a man, with a powerful endowment of Colour, to be distinguished from one who has it moderate, but by his having a more quick, fine, and ready perception of the differences and harmonies of tints and shades? Is there any possibility, as to these faculties, of applying the poetical similitudes of Mr Combe as to elephants and steam-engines, and the slow but resistless movements of giants? or how should we picture to ourselves a mighty colourist, bringing his tardy energies to act in a flower-garden, and labouring towards a tremendous manifestation of his faculty, while another, with a small but active organ, is flitting over the mingled hues, like a sunbeam or a butterfly? But the absurdity is not less conspicuous as to most of the other faculties. If a man has a large organ of Hope, what can that indicate, but that he hopes promptly, rapidly, and frequently? If he have much Wit, does not that imply that sparkling thoughts and apt allusions come to him rapidly, copiously, and easily? Does not a large endowment of Language necessarily mean, that there is a ready flow of words, a prompt recollection, a copious and rapid elocution? What is Imitation, but a quick perception and ready faculty of copying the peculiarities that are set before us? What Individuality, higher or lower, but an instant and rapid observation and disentanglement of fleeting events or complicated appearances? What Locality, but a swift conception and ready recollection of places transiently seen? What Cautiousness, but a quick sense of danger—a most prompt and vigilant circumspection for security? What Ideality itself, but an aptitude to catch fire from the common presentments of nature and society,—and, 'with an eye glancing from heaven to earth-from earth to heaven'—to body forth its swift creations, and irradiate the dull realities of life with the visitations of its lightnings?
In all these cases, and in many more, we can have no other idea of the powerof any faculty, than one which answers exactly to Mr Combe's definition of its activity. It is in its extraordinary activity, in short, and nothing else, that its extraordinary power consists; and since it is admitted that activity is not indicated either by bumps on the skull, or any other visible pecu-
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liarity, there is an end, we must think, to the whole science of Phrenology.
This is plainly the case with the far greater part of the phrenological faculties. But there are some, as to which it seems impossible to speak intelligibly of their tendency to 'rapid manifestation.' Adhesiveness, for instance, is the faculty by which we continue constant and devoted in our attachments—and Concentrativeness that which makes us vigorous and persevering in intellectual pursuits. It is possible, perhaps, to conceive of such faculties,—and of their existing more powerfully in some individuals than in others. But we strive in vain to form an idea of their comparative activity,—or as our author defines it, their tendency to 'rapid manifestation.' They are quiescent, constant, and unvarying propensities. They have no separate or proper action of their own—but merely urge forward, or preserve steady, by their weight and pressure, the other faculties, of loving or reasoning, to which they are auxiliary. The case is nearly the same with Firmness, Secretiveness, Self-esteem, and Conscientiousness. They do not express mental actions, in any intelligible sense of the word—and there is no meaning therefore in talking of flee rapidity with which they may operate. They are qualities perhaps of the understanding—But they are necessarily constant and permanent qualities—and cannot be imagined to vary according to the rapidity, but only according to the strength, of their manifestations.
It is needless, however, to go farther into this part of the criticism—which is intended only to show the extreme looseness of the phrenological philosophy, even on points tire most fundamental and elementary. The thing to be attended to is, that the activity of the faculties is confessedly independent of the size of their organs, or any other external indication; while, in almost all cases, it is impossible to distinguish between the effect of their activity, and what is called their power. If this be made out to the reader's satisfaction, he can require, we should think, no other refutation of the whole system.
There is a fourth, however, and that totally independent of admissions, to be derived from the changes that are so familiarly observed to take place in the characters and propensities of men, in the course of their lives—while the elevations on their skulls remain as they were from the beginning. According to the Phrenologists, character should always be indelible, or affected only by physical accidents on the tread. According to fact and observation, it is liable to tire greatest revolutions, in consequence merely of events and moral experience—the head, as a physical mass, continuing of its original form and dimen-
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sions: And those alterations are most commonly observed to take place in the propensities which make the most conspicuous figure in the phrenological arrangement. Is there any thing so common, for instance, as to see a young spendthrift turned into an old miser?—a man who was scandalously prodigal from 20 to 40, becoming extravagantly avaricious from 50 to 80? But how is this to be reconciled with the stationary condition of his organ of Acquisitiveness, through both these opposite stages? Is it at all unusual for one who was a scoffer in his youth, to become most humbly and zealously devout in his maturer age? And as even the Phrenologists do not allege that there is in these cases any sudden development of the organ of Veneration, may we not be allowed to explain them by their obvious moral causes? That reflection has been suddenly awakened by danger or affliction—that attention has been roused by the impassioned eloquence of some great preacher, or that errors of opinion have been detected by more careful reasoning. What, again, is more ordinary, than to see a generous confiding disposition soured into misanthropy and distrust,not by any subsidence of the bump of Benevolence, but by tire experience of some signal perfidy and ingratitude? What more familiar than the change from the gay, social spirit of early youth, to the despondency of the melancholy recluse?—and this produced by no change certainly in tire organs of the head, but by sudden accidental calamity—by the loss of beloved objects—by the harsh closing of the avenues of ambition? Are there not many amorous youths who degenerate into absolute woman-haters in their middle age?—many abstemious lads who ripen speedily into luxurious sensualists?—many who enter life bashful and diffident, and in no long time become patterns of assurance?—nay, many who have long conducted themselves with the most scrupulous integrity, who are at last corrupted into abominable knaves? There is no end to tire detail of these revolutions. They are the story of every family, the gossip of every one who has lived with observation in the world. But they are absolutely irreconcilable with tyre truth of the Phrenological theory—and, therefore, we must conclude that that theory cannot be true.
The last and most effectual, or at least most tangible refutation of it, is deduced from the actual want of any tiring like distinct organs in the brain—as well as from observation of the effects produced, or not produced, on the faculties, by injuries to those parts which that theory holds to be their necessary organs.
The followers of Gall and Spurzheim talk much, we know, of their discoveries in anatomy. We have no great faith, we
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confess, in those discoveries: But the writer of these observations is not learned in anatomy;—and although he has been assured by those who are, that all that is true in their account of the brain, had been previously established by Reil and others, it is really of no consequence to the present argument to come to any decision on this part of their pretensions. Let the white part of the brain be as exclusively fibrous, and the grey part as plainly its aliment as they please to represent it,—and let them have as much credit as they choose to take, for these and other discoveries: The important, and the only important anatomical fact, in this controversy, is a fact unequivocally against them and of itself, we think, conclusive upon the question of evidence. They say they have discovered 36 bumps on the skull, and that these correspond with as many elevations on the exterior surface of the brain. But they do not say, and cannot pretend that they find any thing in the interior structure or arrangement of that substance, corresponding with those 36 organs. They are pleased, indeed, to imagine that they are continued back, in a tapering or conical form, from these their projecting terminations on the surface, till they converge somewhere at the top of the spinal marrow; But they do not pretend that the brain itself is actually divided into 36 such cones—that they can dissect them out as such, or demonstrate their course and separation by any sort of perceptible boundary. The whole of their organs, in short, are substantially admitted to be imaginary—the only indications of their separate existence being certain obscure protuberances on the mere surface of a body that is virtually homogeneous—and through the substance of which it is impossible to trace them to any extent whatever. There are convolutions in the brain, familiarly known to anatomists, and a white and a grey matter distributed in unequal masses. The phrenological Doctors pretend to have made discoveries as to the structure of these two kinds of matter, and the subserviency of the one to the other, and also as to the possibility of unfolding the convolved masses, and the decussation of the fibrous parts. But they do not pretend that they have found the brain actually divided into 36 cones, or organs of any other shape; that there is any kind of inward separation or distinction of structure corresponding with the superficial boundaries of their supposed organs; or that they are disjoined in short, or disconnected from each other, by any kind of membrane, fibre, or variety of texture or colour. * In short, though they are
* Even if there were 36 cones in the brain, it would be rather strange if they turned out to be the organs of 36 different faculties—considering that they are assumed to be all of one and the same structure and form, and differing only in the size and shape of their superficial terminations. They are all cones, we are told, of the same fibrous and pulpy white and grey matter, without any variety of inward structure and arrangement. Now, certainly, in the only organs of which we know any thing, there is no such wondrous uniformity. The eye is a machine of a very different structure from the ear—the olfactory apparatus radically distinct from the gustatory. It would be strange, therefore, if we Venerated the Deity, and were impelled to break lamps, by the state of two cones, of the same substance, lying under one bone! But there are no such cones; nor any traces of the 36 organs, except the elevations at the surface. The convolutions are mere foldings of a continuous mass, and do not correspond at all, either in shape, number, size or place, with the phrenological organs. In Spurzheim's last edition of his Anatomy of the Brain, accordingly, which we have only seen since writing the above, we find him stating (Edition 1826, p. 206,) that I the nervous energy depends in a great measure on I the quantity of surface, far more indeed than on the quantity of nervous matter. It is edifying to find it recorded in the same work, that Gall substantially admitted that, I if he were shown the alleged organs of Acquisitiveness, Destructiveness, or Veneration, (meanning plainly their superficial protuberances) 'apart from the rest of the brain, he certainly would not know them!' What should the think of a physiologist who would not ow an eye from an ear, if separated from the head? It farther appears, from the same valuable document, that a new organ, entitled Mirthfulness, has been discovered since Mr Combe's book was written—though we cannot exactly ascertain which of the old ones has been suppressed to make room for it.
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here assumed and boldly represented as separate cerebral organs, the superficial projections of which are merely the croppings out of their internal organization, the fact is, that these superficial projections are all they have to show for their existence,—that they have no separate internal organization that can be traced or exhibited,—and that their description, as 36 distinct portions of the brain, reaching back in separate cones to the medulla oblongata, is a mere fiction or fancy,—in support of which the most keen and partial observation has been able to elicit no particle of evidence. We doubt whether an extravagant hypothesis was ever propounded before, with such a glaring deficiency, even of probable or preliminary evidence. If no skull had ever been looked into, it might or might not have been a plausible conjecture, that the bumps observed on the living head, were the terminations of certain interior organs; But when the head was laid open after death, and no such organs were found, the conjecture, one would think, must at once have been retracted as erroneous. The refutation could hardly have been more complete, if the skull had been found full of pure water: For the supposition of there being 36 separate organs in a continuous
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and homogeneous mass, must be allowed to be equally extravagant, whether that mass be wholly or only partially fluid.
The next set of facts, however, appear to us still more conclusive. If these 36 protuberances be really the necessary organs of as many separate faculties, it must follow, that when any one of them is inured or destroyed, the corresponding faculty must be impaired, or its exercise for the time suspended. Now, in all the woundings, knockings and trepanings, to which human heads have been subjected for the last 4000 years, though a general stupor, or suspension of all the faculties, has been often enough observed to accompany those inflictions, we are not aware that they have ever been known to produce the extinction of particular faculties, according to the part of the head on which they occurred.* Nay, we learn from Dr Ferriar's papers in the Manchester Transactions, and from Mr Rennel's late publication, that a prodigious variety of cases have been recorded, in which large portions of the brain have been actually destroyed, and that in so many different parts of the head, as successively to dispose of all the phrenological organs, without affording a single instance of such a partial destruction of intellect, as must have followed, if their system were true, from this partial destruction of its organs. There is a long, cavilling, pertinacious argument in the volume before us, upon these truly alarming facts:—into the details of which we have no longer room to enter. The substance of it seems to be, that the cases are not exactly in point—that the dull surgical observers may not have been aware of the loss of the injured faculty—and in par-
* There ought, perhaps, to be an exception for Amativeness—at least to this extent, that injuries on the cerebellum generally seem to affect this propensity. This, however, makes nothing for the Phrenological system. Amativeness is an affection or sensation of the body only—and prompts to mere bodily movements. It seems probable, from the experiments alluded to, that the nerves upon which these sensations depend, are derived from this part of the brain. It is certain, however, that the same effects are produced by any interception of their course to the parts of the body more immediately concerned in these sensations, or by the mutilation of their more immediate organs. All bodily sensations depend on a bodily apparatus. Hunger and thirst are rightly referred, we think, to uneasy sensations in the stomach and fauces; and though the nerves which minister to these sensations originate in the brain or spinal marrow, there is no more sense in saying that they have an Organ in the brain, then if we were to say that there was an organ there for gout, toothach, or whitlow. According to the experiments of M. Fleurens, the cerebellum is much more like the organ of voluntary Motion, than of Amativeness, or Love of Offspring.
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ticular, that they may not have attended to the fact that, each faculty having a double set of organs—one in each hemisphere of the brain, the injuries may not have extended to both, and the faculty may therefore have operated by the side that remained sound. In a matter so plain, we really do not think it necessary to go very minutely or elaborately to work. A man's head, according to the Phrenologists, is embossed all over with the protuberant organs of his different faculties—and other people admit, that it exhibits the organs of at least four such faculties. If, in a common boxing-match, he gets a closer on the eyes, it requires no nice medical skill to know that the sight will be injured, or that a good blow on the ear will make him deaf for a longer or shorter time. Accordingly, from the beginning of time, these effects have been universally known to follow from these injuries. But blows light at least as often on other parts of the head as on the eye or ear. They must light, therefore, according to the Phrenologists, on the organ of some other faculties;—and the question is, how—if the phrenological system were true—it could at this time of day be doubted, whether other specific faculties were injured by such blows—or how there should possibly be any need, and still less any difficulty, in producing evidence of that plain proposition? So far from being a matter of rare occurrence, or as to which there could be any room for cavilling about cases in point—it is obvious that cases in point must have been occurring every day, in the sight of almost every man in existence. To say nothing of battles—and the hacking of troopers' heads with sabres and broad swords—there is not a Wake or Fair in Ireland, at which cases of injury on all the thirty-six bumps may not be obtained in multitudes: And yet nobody has ever observed the disturbance of any special faculty, but those of seeing and hearing—nor have either patients or lookers—on been the least aware of any difference in the mental effects of the blows, according to the quarter of the head on which they descended. If they struck the eye or ear, to be sure, the man grew blind or deaf. But if they fell any where else, he merely reeled, or fell, or vomited; but was conscious of no cessation in the functions of any particular mental power or propensity. A soldier shot or struck on the eyes, may cry out, 'I am dark for life! my precious eye-sight!—But if hit hard on the organ of Veneration, is never heard to exclaim, 'There! my religion is clean gone
I care nothing now for God, or the Captain.' A tender father wounded on the organ of Philoprogenitiveness, feels no sudden disregard for his children. A miser, well banged on the organ of Acquisitiveness, does not instantly become careless of his money bags; nor is a coward, whose large bump of Cautious-
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ness has been half beaten in by ruffians, in any degree cured of his timidity.
The double sets of organs are of very little consequence in the argument. Though a man has two eyes, he knows very well when one of them is knocked out; and a man deaf on one side, is perfectly conscious of a defect in his hearing. Something analogous, therefore, should at all events take place, when one member of a phrenological pair is disabled; and it should be just as common to hear a friend complaining, that he had not been able to reason on the left side, or to make a joke with the right, the whole winter, as it now is to hear him say, that he cannot smell with the right nostril, or see with the left eye.* But besides that, in very many cases, the injuries extend to parts of both hemispheres, it happens that there is a range of very conspicuous faculties at their conjunction, the organs of which, though nominally double, are quite contiguous, and therefore substantially single; so that every injury must necessarily affect the whole. Of this class are the two Individualities, Comparison, Benevolence, Veneration, Firmness, and Love of Offspring; while the double organs of Locality, Causality, Time, and Imitation, though not absolutely in contact, are yet so near each other, as to make it very unlikely that they should not both be involved in any misfortune that befel either. It is obvious, too, that these, as occupying the front, top, and centre of the head, are more liable to blows and accidents than any of the others; and as the casualties, to which we have referred, are of so very common occurrence, the tests which we would apply could never be wanting, even if they alone had the means of supplying them.
As to the cases in which large parts of the brain have been actually destroyed or removed, and from all places of the head, without the perceptible loss of any particular faculty, we cannot see that any answer either is or can be made to them—and conceive that they settle, by redundant evidence, a question which can no longer be considered as doubtful. Here, however, is a specimen of the facts which are pressed into the service of Phrenology.
* It is rather remarkable, that our Phrenologists take no notice of this duplication of the organs, when treating of the vigour which the faculties may receive from their morbid excitement. Yet it would perplex that argument, if otherwise available to them, far more than the present. If the faculty of Destructiveness is excited by a local inflammation above one ear, while that on the other side is not so affected, what will be the condition of the mental faculty? Will it have fits of morbid manifestation and remission, as the party brings one or the other organ into play? Or will it compromise the matter by a permanent half excitement?
1826. Phrenology. 317
'A man was brought into an hospital, who had received a considerable injury of the head, but from which he ultimately recovered. When he became convalescent, he spoke a language which no one about him could comprehend. However, a Welsh milk-woman came one day into the ward, and immediately understood what he said. It appeared that this poor fellow was a Welshman, and had been from his native country about thirty years. In the course of that period, he had entirely forgotten his native tongue, and acquired the English language. But when he recovered from his accident, he forgot the language he had been so recently in the habit of speaking, and acquired the knowledge of that which he had originally acquired and lost! Such a fact as this is totally inexplicable on any principle except that of the existence of organs by which the faculties are manifested; for it could not be the mind itself which was affected; and its faculties impaired by the fever, or which recovered long lost knowledge, by the influence of this disease.' pp. 395.
We shall not attempt certainly to explain this, and some similar cases, which seem respectably attested. But we must say, that we find it much easier to let them pass for the present as inexplicable, than to acquiesce in the phrenological solution. It will be remembered, that they have now left us no organ of Memory, and therefore the injury in question must have affected some part of the organ of Language—to which the recollection of words is committed, on their present scheme. This organ, to be sure, is situated behind the eye-and we have no hint that the Welshman's eyes were affected. But let that pass—The phenomenon is explained by supposing that a part of the organ of language was injured—and that the effects of this injury were, 1st, to destroy for the time that part of the machinery which served for the recollection of English words—and, 2d, to restore to a serviceable state that part which had been originally used for recollecting Welsh ones, but had long been so much rusted and decayed, as to be quite unfit for service. These are not metaphors employed to assist our conception of an obscure fact, or to give a sort of coherence to a strange statement. They are alleged by the Phrenologists as serious and literal truths, affording a plain and satisfactory explanation of a very extraordinary occurrence. It is difficult for any one else to be serious in speaking of such an explanation. For it substantially amounts to this, that there is an actual part or portion of the brain, whose function it is to suggest Welsh words and their meaning—and another to suggest English words—and that, by a knock on the head, one of these organs (for they are separate organs to all intents and purposes) may be made incapable of working-and the other re-enabled to work, after a long period of incapacity. If there be any truth in this, the 36 organs should be multiplied,
VOL. XLIV. NO. 88. X
318 Phrenology. Sept.
not by hundreds but thousands. There must be an actual material polyglott in every man's head—a separate 'volume in the brain' for every language that be learns—and a reserve, of course, of blank ones for every language he is capable of learning—nay, there must be a distinct line, of a few actual fibres, for every separate word—and not for every word only, but for every thing and idea of every sort-for all, to short, that may be either learned or forgotten! An old musician, by a lucky blow on the head, may have the sealed volume thrown open, where tunes, forgotten since infancy, are fairly pricked down-a mathematician may stumble on his lost equations—a gourmand recover his perished ragouts! For every separate conception, in short, of which the mind is capable, we have only to assume that there is a certain material receptacle in the brain, and all the phenomena of thought are explained in the simplest and most satisfactory manner—taking care always to assume, at the same time, just such accidents and changes in those material organs as will exactly account for the phenomena in question.
We must absolutely end here, we find;—though there is much goodly matter behind. There is a great deal about 'the modes of activity of the organs,' which we confess passes our understanding; and we must bear the same testimony to the dissertations on the Harmony of the Faculties, and the practical applications of the science, to the treatment of Insanity, and to Criminal Legislation. But we must hurry away at once from all these seductions; and leave the book and the science at length to their fate. We have already given more attention to them, than many of our readers will probably approve, or indeed than we ourselves think they deserve—though probably not enough to have avoided some errors, and many imperfections, in our hasty statement. We have left room enough, we dare say, for cavil and misrepresentation, on the part of those who think these the best weapons of controversy. It is not, however, to them that we address ourselves—and we care nothing at all for their hostility. We have no objections to Phrenology, as an amusement for idle people, and as a means, perhaps, of tempting them into a taste for reflection; and to those good ends this free exposition of its fallacy is likely, we think, to contribute. But the dogmatism and arrogance of its advocates were really beginning to be tiresome—and the folly had lasted rather too long. It would no doubt have declined of itself in no very long time; and in supposing that we may have now done something to accelerate its cessation, we are probably vainly arrogating to ourselves an honour that will belong entirely to the progress of reason—or the fortunate distraction of some newer delusion.
See also: Review of Spurzheim's Physiognomical System from the Quarterly Review, 13, Apr. 1815, pp. 159-78. The first major anti-phrenological publication in Britain. [html]
I am grateful to Jim & Anne Secord for providing me with the original Edinburgh Reviews to make this etext.
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