by John van Wyhe
[Review of] 'The Physiognomical System of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim', Quarterly Review, 13, Apr. 1815, pp. 159-78.
This review of Spurzheim's first book is extremely perceptive as regards Spurzheim's evidence, reasoning and appeals to authority and makes some interesting objections to locating "the mind" in the brain. The article was the first ridiculing obloquy against Spurzheim's system in Britain- soon to be followed by Gordon's review. Jonathan Cutmore suggests the author may have been the clergyman William Rowe Lyall (1788-1857, see DNB). The Tory Quarterly Review was edited at this time by the crippled and sour William Gifford (1756-1826).
1815 ( 159 )
ART. VIII. The Physiognomical System of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim, founded on an Anatomical and Physiological Examination of the Nervous System in general, and of the Brain in particular, arid indicating the Dispositions and Manifestations of the Mind. By J. G. Spurzheim, M. D. London. 1815. Royal 8vo. pp. 571.
THE writer of this volume, as its title-page imports, is a disciple and coadjutor, of the celebrated Dr. Gall of Vienna; and, like his master, is so very equivocal a sort of personage, considered as a literary man, that in some respects we hardly know in what manner he is to be treated. In saying this, we do not particularly allude to the doctrines which he professes ; although these savour not a little of empiricism; but rather to the mode in which they have hitherto been propagated. That a man should publish his opinions upon whatever subject, is natural enough; at least there is nothing in such a circumstance, which in the present times need excite surprize; but why he should travel over Europe for the purpose of preaching them, it is by no means so easy to explain. We do not mean to deny, but that in doing this Dr. Spurzheim may have chosen an honest method of gaining a livelihood; although we believe that to be pretty nearly all that can be said for it; yet it is one, which a person of liberal education and of a liberal profession would not, we should suppose, prefer; and which a man with any feeling of personal dignity about him, would surely disdain. But Dr. Spurzheim is a German, and not an Englishman, and it is possible that the manners of the two 'countries may make all the difference.
Be this as it may, we are inclined to think, that whatever be the cause of Dr. Spurzheim's unsettled plan of life, whether the love of money, or the love of cranioscopy, or the love of fame, in no respect will the success of- the publication before its gratify his views. Our author must not imagine that, because he has been able to find people in this country who would listen to him with patience, he will therefore be able to find readers equally good humoured. His doctrines may possibly have passed off with very good success at a lecture; for, as Dr. Spurzheim's own experience must have informed him, there is ho sort of absurdity but may be safely administered in that shape; but the difficulties which a writer has to encounter, are more considerable To suppose that nonsense may be presented to a reader, as to a hearer, stark naked and without even the decent clothing of a little sophistry, is a -great mistake.
Dr. Spurzheim informs us, that he has been so long associated
160 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr.
with Dr. Gall in the labours of cranioscopy, and so accessory to the improvement and propagation of his system, that the latter has, for many years, been used to talk of his discoveries only as their joint property. Notwithstanding the evil augury of the poet's admonition,
That in your nice affairs of system,
Wise men propose, but fools assist them eve, therefore, took up the volume before us with the expectation of some amusement; for it seemed impossible to suppose that so many of the learned as our author can number among his proselytes should have been persuaded to believe in such wild doctrines as Dr: Gall's, except by a person possessed of more than ordinary talents of some sort or other. There have been instances of people not deficient; generally speaking, in good sense, who, in matters of religion, have sometimes suffered themselves to be imposed upon by poor, feeble-minded enthusiasts ;but such instances are somewhat rarer in matters connected with philosophy. Accordingly, when this volume was put into our hands, it never entered into our minds to doubt for one moment but that the writer of it was some shrewd person who, in conjunction with Dr. Gall,' had availed himself of the disgraceful ignorance which almost universally prevails upon subjects of abstract reasoning, to revive the foolish notions so long unthought of, respecting the seat of the soul and its facilities.- tit in what language to express the surprise and disappointment which its perusal has occasioned us, we really know not, without making use of terms which Dr. Spurzheim might perhaps justly deem offensive.
We would not willingly speak with a foolish emphasis; yet we can safely assure our readers, that front the beginning to the end of this huge volumes containing, we may presume, all the arguments by which so many have been convinced, we have trot met with one single remark which a man of sense would not blush to have made, trot a single inference fairly drawn from the premises to which it is attached. The premises themselves, indeed, are usually of the most incontestable description; consisting either of propositions as incontrovertible as the axioms of geometry, or else of facts which it, would generally be madness to deny. But the peculiarity-of Dr. Spurzheim's logic is, that from these truths, he is perpetually drawing the most sadden acrd unexpected inferences; and then, because his data are irrefragable, he will needs have it that his conclusions must be the same. Accordingly, whatever may be the point which he wishes to establish, he seems to think that all things in heaven and earth may lawfully be put in requisition for the purpose of demonstrating it. If trees grow, or heavy bodies fall to the ground, if a rat watches for a mouse, or :; sparrow falls from tile house-tip, it
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 161,
is all proof of something which proves something else, which proves Dr. Gall's theory of physiognomy. By these means, and apparently without a single idea in his head, he has managed to spin out 57 L royal octavo pages. We shall endeavour to follow him as far its our imperfect eye-sight will permit; but we do not pretend to say that eve have always been able to perceive the points upon which the fragile vet) of his argument is suspended.
According to Doctors Gall and Spurzheim, the brain is the great organ of life, and the scat of all faculties whether animal or intellectual. The intellectual faculties they divide into general, common and special; by which last they seem to understand all those by which the characters of men are distinguished, when compared together as individuals. Thus all men have understanding and all inert have sensation;. main, all men have memories
and imaginations, arid so forth ; but some are fonder of music, or of mathematics, or of painting, than others; the faculties by which these particular propensities are created, they call special faculties, and suppose that they have all separate organs in the brain. Upon the size of the organs, depends the strength of the faculties; and as the general size and shape of the brain must depend upon the relative size and shape of the organs of which it is composed, they argue that the scull, which was intended merely as a covering for the brain, will also receive its particular form from the same circumstance, in such a manner that the most prominent parts of it will necessarily point out the most prominent features of the character. Which positions being granted, they contend that it must be possible by a series Of particular observations, to bring the art of inspecting sculls, or, as they term it, of cranioscopy, to such perfection, that a skilful person, toy merely looking at the forehead and feeling the other parts of the head, shall be able to tell such secrets is it play not always be very peasant to have disclosed. This knowledge they profess to have arrived at. We shall now consider the proof upon which their claim to such extraordinary powers is founded.
After some anatomical observations, in which our author affirms it may be satisfactorily sheen, that the brain is a fibrous substance, and that the nerves have their origin in different parts of the body so that they ascend from the medulla oblongata, and do nary as has been commonly supposed, descend from the brain, he proceeds ' to prove that all the faculties of the mind are innate ;' for, as he observes, ° the first question in anthropology is, whence has roan iris facilities ?' He takes up the argument ab urbe condita, by proving in the first place that matter has properties; and having established this by induction of particulars, in the case of various vegetables, he argues with much probability, that the human body
VOL. XIII. No. XXV.
162 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr.
must be endowed with material properties also. In which case he tells us, it some how or other follows that ' the functions of man must be divided into those which take place without consciousness --automatic life; and those which take place with consciousness--animal life.' --Now with respect to the faculties of automatic life, they must be innate, since man possesses them in common with other animals ; for ' man, being a microcosm, must possess all the properties common to him and to other beings ;' the faculties of automatic life are therefore' innate: He then examines whether the faculties of animal, life, are not the same; these are,, voluntary motion, the five senses, and all the sentiments and powers of the mind in general. Having demonstrated that the two former, viz. voluntary motion and the five senses, are given to man by nature, he next comes to consider the origin of the third, that is, of the moral acrd intellectual faculties
He informs its ' that there are three, modes of explaining this matter :' viz. ' either by external impressions or by internal causes,' which he next proceeds to discuss : 1. As to external causes; he skews in the first place that the powers of the human mind cannot be created by mere ' society,' ' because the faculties which are observed in other social animals are not so produced' ; neither can they take their origin from ' wants,' for external circumstances only ' excite the activity of internal faculties, but do not produce them.' The next opinion which our author refutes, is that of ' several philosophers who have advanced that climate, or even the nurse's milk might be the cause of our faculties ; but if this were so, why might not grown ill) persons who live upon veal, mutton, pork, &c. accuse the ox, the calf, the sheep, or the pig for their want of intelligence ?' Again, there are some people who, ascribe every thing to ' education.' Dr. Spurzheim's refutation-of this opinion is singularly brief and argumentative 'it must be answered,' says he, ' that neither in animals nor in mail does education produce any faculty whatever.'
Having thus satisfactorily proved that the faculties of animal life are not produced by 'external circumstances,' our author proceeds to examine the other alternative, that is, whether-they -ire produced by ' internal causes.' ' Attention,' he informs us, ' is commonly considered as the cause of all internal faculties.' We were not aware that this was the common notion nevertheless the can assure our readers that they will find it fully refuted in the volume before us ; as also another opinion, which ascribes the origin of our faculties to ' pleasure and pain ;' but these our author shews are the result -and not the cause of them. He is equally successful in proving that the faculties are not produced by the ' passions ;' and
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 163
here closes his negative proofs of the innateness of the faculties. But besides these, there are also manly positive proofs.
'the first of these is from ' analogy ; ' every earth,' he says, r every salt, every metal, has its determinate qualities; we never gather figs upon a vine, nor grapes upon a thorn bush ; we can never change a cat into a dog, nor a tiger into a lamb ; why then should man be excepted ?' Man, therefore, it is inferred, has ' his determinate faculties,' and they may be divided into those which he possesses in. common with other animals, and those which are proper to his par-: titular nature. In this part of his work, the Doctor argues that if it be admitted that all the instinctive aptitudes and inclinations of animals are innate, it will follow abut all those qualities which man possesses in common with them, must be the same. In order to give this analogy its fair scope, it is necessary, we are told, to make a fete obvious changes ; such as the nightingale's melody into instrumental harmony, the bird's nest and the beaver's but into gorgeous palaces and solemn temples, the base instinct of propagation into die ennobling sentiment of moral love-and by means of this unexcepitionable principle, all the propensities of the human mind, such as friendship, love of glory, hatreds envy, and so on, may with great simplicity be proved ' common to man and other annuals;' and since all these propensities are innate in the latter, he seems to think that there to no good reason wiry they should not be the same in the case of titan. 'I his being settled, our author proceeds to investigate whether those faculties which are peculiar to human nature are not also innate. For this purpose, he' shews from history in general, and more particularly from the remains of mummies, that then have always hurl rants, legs, heads, and so forth, just as they have at present; that it is physically impossible to change one sex into another; that people excuse their frailties, by saying ' it is my nature, it is stronger than I am, 1 cannot help it;' and he concludes the argument as follows :—' finally, man lad been created as' well as every other being ; consequently it is rational to thick that his facilities are determinate and ordered by creation. We consequently maintain that every faculty of man is innate.'
Such are the opinions of this great and original thinker, upon the subject of the innateness of the human faculties, which the have given at some length, not so much on account of the novelty which they possess as to shew our readers the general powers tit mind with which he is gifted. tale shall now proceed to the next chapter, which. is to shew ' that the manifestations of the faculties depend oil organic conditions ;' and here the must take the liberty of observing, that had our author -shewn this at first, all that he lids hitherto written might perhaps have peen superfluous ; for nobody, "would be so bold as to deny that the thorax, die spinal marrow then
164 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr.
brain, and so on, are innate; consequently if our author can prove that all our sentiments and powers depend upon one or other of these, the conclusion that they do not depend upon ° society,' or ' wants,' or ' pleasure and pain,' seems to be quite obvious. However, as it is not possible to have too much of a good thing, we exceedingly rejoice that this observation escaped our author's penetration : but to the point.
In order to shew that the character of the mind depends upon organization, he notices the well known facts, that there is a difference both between the minds and bodies of the two sees, that some faculties come with our teeth, others with our beards ; that the brains of infants leave not the same distinctness of fibre as those of grown up persons. Moreover he tells its, that were not the faculties dependent upon organization, it is inconceivable how they could be trained and exercised; -again, St. Paul says,
' " O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death !" and " when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child ; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." St. Augustine, St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, Eusebitis, and others, consider the body as the instrument of the soul, and teach distinctly that the soul is regulated according to the state of the body ; consequently cell natural philosophers; all the fathers of the church, and even the Apostles, agree with its in respect to the second principle, that all the manifestations of the mind depend upon; organization.' -119. ,
having thus proved that the various functions of the mind 'cannot take place without bodily organization,' he proceeds to inquire upon what particular part of it they depend. In the first place, he shews that ' they do not depend upon the whole body ;' for, as he, observes, it is certainly not possible to measure the faculties of the mind and understanding in men, according to their size anti Shape ;' neither do they depend upon the viscera of the abdomen anti thorax, neither (to they depend ' on the spinal marrow,' nor upon ',the five external senses.' These opinions he briefly refutes, in about thirty pages ; anal then proceeds to determine upon what part of the bodily organization they really do depend. Our readers will certainly be a good deal surprized at Dr. Spurzheim's very natural decision, which is, that without brains we should be quite incapable either of moral feeling or intellectual exertion. However, he undoubtedly supports tie's extraordinary' opinion by many probable arguments ; and we regret that our limits prevent us from any thing more than merely praising this part of leis volume, which fills tip fifty pages, for its great learning We hasten to the next chapter, which, as it is more intimately connected with leis theory than any of the preceding, we must take the liberty of recommending more particularly to the notice
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 165
tice of our readers. The subject of it is, 'The Plurality of the cerebral Organs.'
What Dr. Spurzheim has hitherto said, must be intended; we presume, for the purpose of obviating the objections of future ages ; because there are few persons in the present times who would feel disposed to differ very widely with him in the conclusions at which he has hitherto arrived. Rut with respect to the position which he is now about to prove, it is quite plain, that unless he should be completely successful in his endeavours, leis system will not leave a foot to stand upon. For unless the brain is really composed of separate organs, each of which is the residence of a particular faculty, it is evident that we might feel a person's head, for months together, without growing at all the wiser, from any thing which the mere protuberances upon it would acquaint us with.
It is no longer since than our last number, that while examining the philosophical opinions of Mr. Stewart, we took occasion to express some doubts respecting the substantial existence of those many simple and elementary faculties with which the mind is commonly considered as being endowed. As the contrary doctrine is the foundation-stone of the admired system which our ingenious author leas assisted to raise, we make no doubt that our readers will peruse, with much pleasure, the very powerful arguments lay which our opinions are combated in the volume before its. Dr. Spurzheim is certainly a wonderful reasoner.
' As soon as philosophers,' says he, ' began to think of the beings of nature, it was necessary to make divisions. Moses speaks of a division into brutes which live and feel, and into those(sc. brutes) which reason. The soul (anima) was not only divided into anima of plants, anima of animal, and into anima of man, but one soul was considered as vegatative, and another as sensitive. All the inclinations were regarded .as the result of animus. Finally, the intellectual part which reasons, was called man. Pythagoras, St. Paul, Galen, Gilbert, Gassendi, Bacon, Van Helmont, Wepfer, Lebnitz, Frederick Hoffman, Miller, Blumenbach, Soemerring, Rist, Barthez, &c. admit different. causes of the different phenomena of men and animals. All those who admit only one soul in man, as Anaxagoras, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Stahl, &c. are obliged to acknowledge at. least several faculties of the single soul. Thus carious principles, or at least various faculties of the sonic principle, have been admitted at all links.'-209.-And, therefore, the are left to infer that they must be admitted now.
We do not doubt that Dr. Spurzheim could have shewn the justness of this inference, had he pleased, because we know he can prove one thing just as easily as another ; however, as he hay overlooked this part of his argument, we shall avail ourselves of the oversight, to retain our former opinion, that there is no more solid reason for dividing the understanding into faculties, than for dividing
166 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr.
Beat or light into faculties, but we must return to Dr. Spurzheim.
' As the principle, or the faculties were divided and subdivided, so different seats were assigned to them. The reasonable soul was commonly placed in the head, the unreasonable soul in the viscera or abdomen. The Arabs placed common sense in the anterior cavity of the brain, imagination in the second, judgment in the third, and memory in the fourth ventricle. Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth century, delineated a head, and indicated upon it the seats of the different faculties of the mind. Peter de Montagnana in 1491, Lodovico Dolci, have, published similar delineations. Serveto,'Charles Bonnet, Hailer, Van Sweeter, Mayor, Prochaska; Platner, Mallacarni, Tiedemann, Wrisberg Soemmerring, in like manner, maintain that the different parts of the brain are destined to different functions. Thus it follows, that the idea of the plurality of the seats or organs is very ancient, and that those who maintain that Gall first invented it, are mistaken. It, is only to he determined which are the faculties and which are the respective organs:—212.
These questions, our author tells us, he will defer for a page or two, until he has brought a few other prop/s to shew that the faculties of the mind must leave different cerebral organs.
With this view he argues that in the same manner as ' every salt, every metal, has its oven crystallization, every plant, and every fruit tree its particular organization, so in the same individual, certain propensities, sentiments, and intellectual faculties manifest themselves with great energy, while others are scarcely perceptible. Hence, (as he most logically concludes,) the mass o, f ' the brain cannot ?fireside over the same functions.' 1214. It is unnecessary to make any remark upon this admirable inference: we shall therefore leave his general reasoning, and proceed to mention two facts which he seems to think are equally in favour of the doctrine he wishes to establish. the first is, that ' study too long protracted produces fatigue, but we can continue to study by changing the object, Now if the brain were, a single organ, performing all the functions of the ,mind, why should not the organ be still snore fatigued by this new form of' study ?'-Q 15.
It may be replied, we apprehend, that unless the point to be proved is taken, for granted, the tact which leas just been adduced, furnishes a much better argument for the enemies of Dr. Gall's system; than for the admirers of it. If we think, as well as walk and see, and hear, by means of material organs, the fatigue which may be felt from the over-exertion of any particular faculty, ought, upon Dr. Gall's principles, to produce a local affection of the brain, and to be perceived in the particular organ in which we suppose it to exist. But since, on the contrary, the sensation which eve experience bears no sort of resemblance to that lassitude which always accompanies bodily fatigue, and is attended with no sort of pain
1815 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 167
either to the brain in general, or to any particular part of it, it is evident that we can have no reason whatever to conclude either that the brain in general, or any particular part of it, is in any way affected ; consequently, as upon the supposition which our author makes, this effect ought to be produced, the fact that it is not, gives a much better right to the adversaries of Dr. Gall to adduce the phenomenon in question as an argument against his system, than he cam possibly have to adduce it in his favour, however much, in other respects, it might suit his convenience to do so.
The next fact which our author adduces, is one which will give great pleasure to all those who love to know the little peculiarities by which illustrious men are distinguished; it is taken from the phenomena of dreaming.
Some somnambulists,' says our author, ' do things of which they are not. capable in a state of watching; and dreaming persons reason sometimes better than they do when awake. This phenomenon is not astonishing. If we wish to reflect upon any object, we avoid the noise of the world, and all external impressions; wt; cover the eyes with our hands, and we put to rest a great number of organs iii order to concentrate all vital power in one or in several. In the state of dreaming send somnambulism, this naturally happens; consequently the manifestations of the active organs are then more perfect and more energetic; the sensations are more lively, and the reflections deeper than in a state of watching.,-218.
Now with all humility, we must take the (liberty of hesitating before we can agree to any general inference being drawn from this argumentum ad idiosyncrasin ; that Dr. Spurzheim may be capable of making ' deeper reflections,' and of ' reasoning better' when asleep than he is. able to do -when awake, we can easily and do most conscientiously believe; indeed we think such a supposition will very rationally account for the many preternatural beauties both of thought and argument with which the volume before its abounds; but surely Dr. Spurzheim is doing us too much honour when he supposes that we are all similarly gifted with himself; on the contrary, we are decidedly of opinion that the generality of persons, whether sleeping or waking, would be equally incapable either of reasoning or of thinking in the way of which he is so great a master.
Having thus shewn so satisfactorily that the human mind is a composition of various independent agents called faculties, each of which is provided with a separate apartment in the brain ; he proceeds, in his fifth chapter, to inquire into the means by which the particular function of each cerebral part may be determined. Dr. Spurzheim has only been laying the solid foundations of his system, but now the superstructure begins to he visible.
That every part of the brain has its appointed office and pecu-
168 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr
liar duty to perform, after the irresistible arguments which we have seen, it is surely no longer possible to doubt. Assuming, therefore, that the question is placed beyond any future controversy, the great object of curiosity is to ascertain the particular duty which each part is destined to fulfil. It is here that the physiognomical department of the system may properly be said to commence, and' we must particularly recommend the manner in which it is conducted to the serious attention of our readers; it is Dr. Spurzheim's chef d'oeuvre. We are informed that ' in every function the may distinguish the energy or quantity, and the modification or quality. p. 241. he last it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to ascertain ; and, consequently, the proper aim of philosophy should be to examine the energy or quantity of the cerebral organs. Now energy and quantity are, by the definition, convertible terms ; it is therefore quite plain that if we know the quantity of 'any particular organ, we know its energy/; but the quantify of any particular organ depends upon its size, consequently its energy must depend upon, the size of it likewise. Moreover; this may be proved by analogy, for 'there is a general laze throughout all nature, that the properties of bodies act with an energy/ proportionate to their size. Why should it not, be the same an respect to the brain ?'-p. 249.
With this irrefragable datum, therefore, to proceed upon, that the energy, that, is to say the quantity of every particular part of the brain depends upon its size, he commences his next chapter; the object of which is to skew that, ' as the brain is the principal cause of the form and size of the head,' and not, as some people might have supposed, the head the principal cause of the form and size of the brain, it is natural to conclude that the shape of the scull must be adapted to the form of the brain, and not the form of the brain to the shape of the scull. This ,reasoning appears to us so extremely obvious and just, that we are quite surprised nature did not perceive it. The fact, however, is, that the internal form of the cranium is so far from coinciding, with the external shape of it, as Dr. Spurzheim shews it ought to do, that if we cast a mould of wax in the inside of the scull,' this mould, instead of presenting the same appearances upon a smaller scale, us the scull itself, exhibits a very striking and obvious difference; which would seem to imply that the shape of the head depends, in respect to some of the details at least, upon more conditions than our author appears to admit.- We trust, however, that this difficulty is not of much importance, because otherwise it will throw a degree of uncertainty upon the science of craniology, which every body would lament.
As it is, this science stands upon a rock ; because, if we only suppose that the energy of an organ's intellectual power and the quantity of its material substance, are equivalent expressions, it must fol-
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 169
low that whenever any intellectual power is remarkably energetic, the organ by which it acts must be proportionably large ; consequently assuming that every such organ must produce a corresponding protuberance upon the scull, it is plain, that the most prominent part of a person's scull will necessarily point out the moot prominent feature iii his character ; and that the most prominent feature in a person's character being known, the organ m which it is situated may also be known by means of the protuberance which it will produce upon the cranium.Now as all this is proved by general reasoning, and founded upon the nature of things, of course one instance is very properly considered just as satisfactory an evidence that the conclusion is conformable to fact, as a hundred would be. ' Accordingly, if we turn to that part of the volume in which the several special faculties and their respective organs are pointed out, we shall find that, whenever any sentiment or propensity is observed as being very generally prevalent in human nature, it is always taken for granted, upon the strength of the excellent reasoning which we have jest been considering, that it must necessarily possess an appropriate organ, although it may not be possible 'at the time to particularise its exact position. In like manner, if the profound persons before us should happen to have had frequent occasion to observe any remarkable protuberance upon a particular part of the head; the existence of a corresponding faculty is supposed as a thing of course and as a necessary consequence of the general principles which we have just been stating. The specification of the unknown organ or faculty is indeed considered by them as belonging to the department of experience, but the business of this department is so extremely simplified and abridged by means of a most beautiful contrivance, which we shall soon have occasion to notice, as to render the duties of it very nearly a sinecure.
We have before observed, that oar author divides the faculties of the mind into general, common, and special. Understanding and sensation are of the first class ; the second consists of such faculties as memory, perception, imagination and so forth. ' These expressions,' Dr. Spurzheim informs us, ' are common, and the respective faculties have no organs, but every peculiar memory, judgment, and imagination, as of space, number, form, colour, tune, &c. have theca particular organs.' 27;. Upon this principle of classification, it might naturally have been expected that the number of these special faculties would be almost without limit; bat as the human scull is large enough to admit only of a very small number of distinct protuberances, Dr. Gall and our author were, it seems, under the necessity of rejecting the claims of all except thirty-three to the honour of an appropriate organ.
These are, in Dr. Spurzheim's exquisite phraseology, amative-
170 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr.
ness or physical love ; philoprogenitiveness (or love of offspring); inhabitiveness, or a 'love (as far as we can understand) of dwelling in elevated situations; adhesiveness or attachment; combativeness; destructiveness; constructiveness (or love of building); covetiveness; secretiveness (or love of stealing); self-love; approbation; cautiousness ; benevolence ; veneration (or religion) ; hope ; ideality (an omnigenous faculty) ; individuality (or of attention to particulars); form; size; weight; colour; space; order; time; number, tune ; language; comparison ; causality ; wit ; imitation.
Now, as we observed before, if we consider the very great variety of ideas besides those of time, weight, number, and so forth, which the mind is capable of apprehending, as well as the many sentiments of which it is susceptible, besides the love of murder, stealing, -building, and so on, it -will certainly appear-that the number of our faculties as stated by .Doctors Gall and Spurzheim is exceedingly small; though if we remember that each faculty has its distinct organ in the brain, and distinct protuberance upon the scull, our surprise may perhaps be excited to find them so numerous. The first of these difficulties, however, exists only in appearance, because by so very obvious a stratagem, as merely loosening the signification of a word, the same organ may be made to serve such a variety of purposes, and to accommodate so many dissimilar qualities, that the limitation of our faculties to the number of thirty, three is simply a matter of convenience.
In order to shew the singular utility of this artifice we shall select., almost at random, two or three examples.
We are informed that one of Dr. Gall's fellow-students possessed so excellent a memory for places, that ' he never forgot the spot where he had found a bird's nest, but always found it again without having made any artificial marks.' Now this wonderful boy had a protuberance towards the middle of the forehead which reached nearly half way on each side of it. 1 t -vas therefore evident that this protuberance indicated the organ of ' local memory.' Subsequently Dr. Gall met an old woman of Munich, who had been all her life haunted with a most violent propensity to travel about; and what is remarkable, this old woman of Munich had a protuberance upon her forehead exactly similar to the one which we have just mentioned. It was therefore evident that the faculty of local memory roust be the same as that of the propensity to travel. Afterwards Dr. Gall found that the same organ, which he calls that of ' space,' (from its being so spacious -we presume,) ' makes the landscape painter judges of symmetry-measures space and distance-gives notions of perspectives-and is strongly manifested in the busts of Newton, Cooke, and Columbus.' Again, we are informed; that to the organ of the propensity to conceal or of secre-
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 171
tiveness, we most ascribe ' cunning, prudence, the savoir faire, the capacity of finding means necessary to succeed, hypocrisy, lies, intrigues, dissimulation, duplicity, falsehood; in. poets the talent of finding out interesting plots for romances and dramatic pieces, and finally, slyness in annuals.' 402. In like manner we are toll that the organ of constructiveness or of a propensity to build, is found in mechanicians, architects, sculptors, painters, milliners, lock-makers, watch-makers, cabinet-makers, joiners, turners, and field mice. ' Adversaries of our doctrine,' says Dr. Spurzheim, ' may ridicule a comparison between Rephael, a milliner, and a field mouse but, as he very appositely remarks, ' does not the field creep by means of organs similar to those by means of which the horse gallops ? does not the ass cry by the same organ by means of which a Catalani sings ?- 391.
This is quite admirable, and in Dr. Spurzheim's very happiest manner; nevertheless, we should not be surprised if some of his ' adversaries' were to observe that, if it be permitted to apply so moveable a rule as is here used to the different characters which, we meet with, the same protuberance may be made a common measure for the most heteroclite qualities, and consequently ceases, practically speaking, to be a criterion with regard to any ; so that even admitting this system of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim to be ever so plausible as an hypothesis, it cannot possibly derive any sort of evidence from experience.
For the sane reason it is equally impossible to contradict it from experience; because, supposing we were to meet with two persona of the most opposite characters, in every respect, having however a similar peculiarity in the shape of some particular part of their head ; yet if it so happened that one was « great mathematical and the other an excellent landscape painter, or one of them a tasteful milliner and the other an ingenious locksmith, or one of them « notorious liar, suet the other «n admirable dramatic writer, Doctors Gall and Spurzheim immediately exclaim that they have al least one faculty as well as one protuberance in common, and that therefore their theory stands good. It is, however, evident, that if these ingenious personages be permitted to define what they mean by this or that faculty, merely according to the convenience of their particular system, and to suppose that the sank cerebral organ enabled Newton to discover the late of gravitation aura Columbus to discover late New World, for to reason except that, upon any other supposition, it is difficult to account for their having .so remarkable a prominence upon the middle part (Y' the , forehead, there can be no end to systems, of physiognomy : since upon the same principles, another person might, with equal facility, demonstrate, that the character of the moot is
172 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr
is manifested by the length of the fingers or the colour of the hair.
Much has been said concerning the mischievous tendency of the doctrines which we have been examining ; upon (Iris subject we shall say but little. To prove-the immorality of a philosophical theory is riot to give a logical proof of its unsoundness ; while weighing the probability of any speculative opinion, such an argument may fairly be thrown into the opposite scale, but properly speaking, it neither increases nor diminishes the abstract weight of those by which the opinion is in itself supported. These last ought always to be examined, in the first instance, by themselves ; in which case, if they should appear to be directly absurd, it is labour lost to prove that they are also collaterally mischievous. The labour, however, which we should lose on the present occasion, would not be very great, because it would not be difficult to make even the disciples of Dr. Spurzheim understand, that a doctrine Which explicitly teaches us to believe that a man may assassinate his wife, and yet be a very good-natured sort of person in other respects, provided he happens to have a bump upon a particular part. of his head, is of a character much too liberal for the present state of society.-p. 565.
We shall therefore not give ourselves the trouble to inquire whether the physiognomical system which we have been examining leads to materialism or, fatalism, or atheism; nor whether it may be made subservient to good or to bad uses: as far as we can judge, it is capable of being applied to no use whatever, except that of putting money into the pockets of the two excellent persons whom we have so often had occasion to name. Before we conclude, however, which we are most heartily desirous of doing,, our abstract of the principal arguments upon which Dr. Gall's theory is founded, it may perhaps be expected that we should make a few remarks upon the support which it is said to derive from the physiology of the nervous system. .
Now, we are perfectly willing to give Dr. Gall hr .Dr. Spurzheim, or both of thorn; every praise for the discoveries which they may hate made in this department we allow them every merit for their manner of dissecting the brain; for having shewn that it is a fibrous substance, that the nerves of the body have their origin in the respective parts of it, and not in the brain or spinal marrow, and for having stated the morbid phenomena of hydrocephalus much more clearly titan has been attempted heretofore : but in what respect these discoveries, however ingenious they may be, can be supposed to throw any light upon the philosophy of the human mind, is, we confess, altogether above our comprehension. It teas undoubtedly very foolish to conclude that the nerves had their origin
1815 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 173
origin (it a particular point in the brain, for no other reason than because the mind was supposed to be a simple and indivisible;. substance ; but surely to conclude that the mind is not a simple and indivisible substance, merely because the nerves do not terminate at a point and have not their origin in the brain, is at least foolish. Physical unity, as is justly observed in the report of the breach Institute, is one thing, and metaphysical simplicity is another; and whether we suppose that the mind is situated m the stomach, with Van Helmont, or in the pineal gland, with Descartes, or with our author that it is distributed through the whole substance of the encephalon, not a single conclusion can be drawn, that we are able to perceive, for the enlargement of our metaphysics which is worth the goose-quill that we are now little light the physiology of the nervous system :;f may throw upon the nature of the human mind, generally speaking, yet there are some facts connected with the morbid appearances of the cerebral parts, which would appear to be quite conclusive against the particular theory of Dr. Gall. In hydrocephalus, for example, are numerous of persons who, with several founds of the brain, (rave lived to considerable age, without any sensible injury either to their understanding or to their character in general. The operation of this disease. upon the brain is so powerful, that the substance of it, judging from appearances, was generally supposed to be actually dissolved arid destroyed by it. Drs. Gall and Spurzheim have however shewn, with a good of probability, that this is not the ease, and so far certainly they have obviated an objection which would otherwise have been quite decisive. But surely, if the mental operations be so identified with the cerebral parts, as they Seem to suppose, such a preternatural distension of the substance on which all the functions of the mind depend, ought at all events to be attended with corresponding effects of some sort or other. If the organs of sight or hearing be impaired, the consequences are well known; how it happens that the organs of thinking and feeling may be afflicted with the most portentous disorders, and yet the operations of drinking and of feeling continue unaltered and undisturbed, Dr. Spurzheim does not think it prudent to explain.
But this is not all ; it is well known drat there is scarcely any part of the encephalon which has not, in cue case or another, been found defective; large masses of the brain may be extracted ; Dr. Spurzheim himself mentions instances in which bullets have beet( found in it; nay, he even tells us of a case which Dr. Gall was witness to, of a clergyman who had lost gnu half of it by suppuration; and yet in none of there cases (and similar ones are innumerable) do the in-
174 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr
tellectual powers appear to have suffered the slightest injury or interruption.
Surely these facts would seem to be conclusive; that whole faculties should he taken out of the head and yet none of them be missed, that a man should lose half his brains, and yet suffer no diminution of mind, would seem to imply that we could do almost as well without brains as with them, and at all events must be allowed to look very unfavourably upon a theory which makes the quantity of a man's brains the measure of his understanding. But it must be no common difficulty that will appal the stout hearts of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim According to them, these facts, instead of subverting their system,. merely prove that nature must have provided us with double sets Y- faculties, one on one side of the tread and' another on the other.
But this is a question of fact which may he partly ascertained by actual examination of the encephalon; does it then appear that the two hemispheres of the brain coincide in all their parts; that the corresponding convolutions are similarly situated on each side of the head ? in short, is there any argument whatever from anatomy in favour of such an hypothesis ? By no means; on the contrary, not only the lobes of different brains are riot similar, but in tire: same brain the cerebral masses of the two hemispheres do not coincide its any one respect. How then is it to be proved that we are provided with a double set of organs? marry, by analogy; we leave two eyes, and two ears, and two arms, and two legs: why then should we not be provided with two sets of faculties ? Now there can be no doubt that we should be so provided, because otherwise it is impossible that the theory of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim can be. true; but whether or not this is a sufficient proof that we really ARE so provided, we shall leave our readers to determine.
We have now, to the best of our power, put our readers in possession of the nature and evidences of this famous ' Physiognomical System' of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim. Whatever arguments seemed to possess any pretensions to the name, we have, as the went along, generally endeavoured to refute; others we have merely stated, because, to enter into a grave discussion of every foolish thing which Dr. Spurzheim may happen to mistake for a piece of reason, would have been an endless, as well as a superfluous labour. It is plain, that almost all the facts which our author adduces, are, for the most part, mere analogies either between mind and matter, or else between the organization of man and other animals. With respect to the first of these; little need be said ; we have no reason, from tiny thing which we know of either, to suppose that mind and muter possess any one property in common; and consequently those who, after till that leas been so often said upon the subject, will
Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 175
will :still persist in instituting analogies between them, are obviously a description of persons utterly ignorant of the first principles of sound reasoning, and who therefore can have no more right to be heard upon a speculative question than a person ignorant of the elements of mathematics, respecting the merits of a theorem of Newton. With respect to comparative anatomy, the case is perhaps not altogether the same ; and supposing it to have been already satisfactorily proved as a general position, that every part Y, the brain lags its distinct intellectual function to perform, we will trot deny but that an acquaintance with the function of the particular parts of the brain m other animals might often assist a skilful observer to determine the function of the particular cerebral parts in the cave of the human subject. We will therefore, for the sake of argument, suppose that the general proposition has been demonstrated ; let us then see in what manner the argument, from comparative anatomy, is conducted by Dr. Gall.
We are informed; by Dr. Spurzheim that
' Dr. Gall observed in animals which have x great propensity to elevated situations, as in the chamois and wild goat, x protuberance which he identifies with the organ that, in mankind, produces pride erred haughtiness. One variety of rats lives in canals, cellars, rend the lower parts of houses, another dwells in hay-lofts. The difference of their organization (credat Judaeus Apella!) is very sensible. Now the place where both organs are situated, viz. the organ of self-love in man, and the instinct of physical height in animals, Dr. Gall thinks are in the same place of the head. He supports his opinion by the natural expressions by which the sentiment of pride is manifested, that is, the mimickry of this faculty is allied with physical elevation. From the earliest infancy peered children are pleased with mounting upon chairs, in order to be upon a level with- adult persons. Adults of little stature often du the same, (that is, mount upon chairs,) in eerier to grab/y their self-love. Proud persons keep their bodies upright, their gait is haughty. 1n general, all expressions of pride and superiority are combined with some physical elevation. Kings and emperors 91t upon elevated thrones, &c. Is it then surprizing that the same organ presides over physical and moral elevations, if there he so many relations between them? Such is the reasoning of Dr. Gall:—365.
We must, however, do Dr. Spurzheim the justice to say, that it appears this was too much even for him to swallow ; and his protest is admirably characteristic.
' It seems to me,' says this last profound person, ' that it is impossible to confound the instinct of physical height with the moral sentiment of self-love and pride. I believe it possible to leave a great opinion of one's own person in all regions and countries. The expressions or manifestations of haughty persons, for instance, their mounting setters chairs ire order to be higher and greater, this behaviour of children, in order to be on a level with adult persons, the haughty gait of proud persons,
176 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Apr
persons, &c. do not at all prove the identity of both mentioned organs. Examine what kind of proud children mount upon chairs and tables iii. order to shew their height. I am sure they are children to whom certain things have been interdicted because they are still little; or ill general, children who have observed the advantages of grown up persons, in whose presence adult age has been praised. Say to such individuals, that those who are placed at the head of the company, or at its lower part, occupy their places by way of distinction, and they will endeavour to occupy the place which is praised. Thus -I separate the instinct which carries animals to physical elevation from the sentiment'. which produces self-love and pride, and I seek for two different origins.'-367, .368.
We have given these quotations, not merely by way of shewing the exquisite absurdity of the method by which Doctors Gall and. Spurzheim reason, but also as a fair specimen of the general style and manner in which the volume before us is written ; and we will ask: Dr. Spurzheim's own admirers, whether such strange nonsense was ever before put to paper. Because proud people get upon chairs and tables, and kings and emperors sit upon elevated thrones, therefore they must be endued with an organ in common with rats who live in hay -lofts
Again; we are told, that
' Dr. Gall observed a distinct protuberance: on the posterior part of the sculls of women, and, in comparing the sculls of his collection, he, found a similar elevation in the sculls of children and on those of monkies ; consequently it was necessary to point out a faculty common to their;. all. During five, years, he was occasionally occupied with this consideration. He was in the habit of suggesting his difficulty relative to this protuberance to his auditors, and a clergyman who attended him observed that monkies have much attachment to their offspring g. Gall examined this idea. In fine, he found that this protuberance, which, is situated immediately above that of physical love, or amativeness, corresponds with the general protuberance of the occiput, and is the, organ of philoprogenitiveness:—361.
Now this, we are inclined to think, far surpasses even the rats: because monkies, women, arid children have a protuberance above. the occiput, it was consequently necessary to point out a faculty. common to them all; and this faculty, which is common to monkies, women, and children, is the love of their offspring! Be it observed, that Dr. Gall does not pretend to say that all grown tip. people possess this faculty, but only women; it must therefore be a faculty which leaves the other sex, when they come to years of maturity ; but why Providence should bestow upon us a faculty at an age when it can be of no possible use, and take it away just at the very time when it would be wanted, is a difficulty which can be explained only upon the principles of cranioscopy.
1815. Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, 177
Enough has been said, we trust, to strew what degree of faith is to be placed on the evidence adduced from comparative anatomy, in favour of Dr. Gall's system. Supposing, however, that this part of the subject had been managed with the greatest prudence and good sense, still, as we said before, it is plain that comparative anatomy furnishes a sort of evidence which cannot be received until the general theory of Dr. Gall, respecting the functions of the cerebral parts, has been fully proved. It is trot necessary to say, that this has not, in any degree, been accomplished; but even allowing that the arguments of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim, instead of being sheer nonsense, had been ever so ingenious and acute, still they could not throw the slightest probability upon the doctrine which they wish to establish ; because that doctrine is matter of fact, snit matter of fact never can be proved by reasoning a priors.
It is always a sufficient refutation of opinions which can be verified only by reference to facts, when it can be shewn that it was not from facts that they were, in the first instance, deduced. Nothing, it is plain, can be more easy than to construct theories upon mere abstract possibilities, in such a manner as that they shall not he manifestly contradicted by experience ; and, when this is the case, it may sometimes be difficult to refute them by general reasoning. But the chances against any such theory being really conformable to truth, are, from the very nature of things, necessarily so great, that a sober mind will seldom require any other evidence than the history of its origin for rejecting it. Thus, in the present instance, whether every protuberance upon the head be or be not the sign of some particular character of the mind, is clearly a question of fact ; let it therefore be proved to be a fact, as all other facts are proved ; it will then be time enough to investigate the theory of it: in such a case, the explanation which Doctors Gall and Spurzheim propose would at least have a fair claim to be heard. But these ingenious personages, instead of founding the theory which they propose, upon the fact in question, actually attempt to prove the existence of the fuel itself by the mere abstract probability of - their theory. What the value of this probability may be, we will -not now inquire ; but the procedure itself is so flagrant a departure from all the rules of just reasoning, and even of common sense, as would be sufficient, independently of all other objections, to justify us not only in refusing to give any credit to their pretended discoveries, but almost in refusing to take the proof of them into .consideration.
Perhaps this is the Klan which we should have adopted ; and but for the disgraceful circumstance that there are some, even of the 'faculty, in this country, who profess the faith of this New Jeru-
VOL. XIII. NO. XXV.
178 Gall and Spurzheim's Physiognomical System. Apr.
salem in philosophy, we should certainly owe some apology to the, more sensible part of our readers, for having so long detained their attention, Upon a book so utterly unworthy of their notice. Possibly Dr. Spurzheim may think that some apology is also due to hint for the freedom -of our remarks: Now we shall be sorry if we have given offence even td Dr. Spurzheim : but misfortunes which have been anticipated fall only with half their force.- Out author tells its, 'that there is a certain description of persons I who become fierce whenever they see an ingenious and penetrating mail, and that therefore he is ' far from expecting. that ignorance and knavery will not attack his doctrine with abuse; but what does not man abuse ?' Now when an ingenious and penetrating man thus roundly accuses his adversaries of ignorance and knavery, he can have no very just right to complain of those who merely charge him with ; folly. This then we sincerely believe to be I the head and front of Dr. Spurzheim's ' offending!' for notwithstanding the sovereign contempt which he seems to entertain for all those who differ from him in opinion, and the very erroneous estimate which he has formed of his own capacity, we take him to be a simple, good-natured man ; and as he is clearly gifted with no greater share of sense than we should suppose indispensable for the common purposes' of life, make no doubt that he devoutly believes in all the amazing absurdities which he preaches : 'a merit, by the bye, which from certain crumb's of information that we have picked up here and there in the volume before us, is a good deal more than we feel disposed to allow Dr. Gall.
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