« PreviousContinue »
upon a proof of his skill blindfolded. And, with his
eyes once covered, they have used various means to mislead and entrap him, and have practised the most unjustifiable and contemptible deception. Imposture and quackery on the one hand, and trickery on the other, make neither for nor against phrenology. All that can be said about it, is, that it is setting a rogue to catch a rogue;' and both are regarded in the same light, by every honest inquirer after truth. Suppose, for an instant, that the arts of deception are successful, and that the empyrical phrenologist, who deals out doses to suit his customers, is made to believe that, instead of examining a squash, or a block, he is examining a block-head, what is gained by it in reality? Just as much, I conceive, as when a bank-note is counterfeited, and passed as genuine. The bank is just as good as before its notes were counterfeited; so is phrenology just as true, as before the block of wood was substituted for the real or before the head of a judge was substituted for that of a criminal. All the fancied triumphs, obtained by deception of this kind, prove one fact only; and that is, that a man must be really ignorant of what he professes to teach, or be would not allow himself to become an experimenter under such circumstances. When a professed phrenologist has been unwise enough to allow himself to be thus entrapped, the editors of newspapers, who are in the ranks of the opposition, trumpet forth the experiment as conclusive proof against a system, of which they are most profoundly ignorant. Never had men more reason, than phrenologists, to cry out, “Save us from our friends !'
Phrenology, however, is not alone in having been brought into disrepute by its professed friends and disciples. Who has not heard doctrines taught by one who 'spake as never man spake,' bitterly denounced, and utterly rejected, and treated as a fable, because those who professed to obey their precepts acted unwisely or wickedly? But, say some, We know nothing of phrenology, except as it is taught us by those who profess to understand it; we must judge of the tree by its fruits.' To such we reply, that, as phrenologists, we utterly repudiate any thing taught as phrenology, which wears, in the least
respect, the air of quackery; and we advise those who are yet unacquainted with this science, to learn what are its fundamental principles, before judging of its merits.
By a manipulation of the head, many are led to believe that phrenology is nothing more or less than bumpology. It is considered a species of fortune-telling, like that by an inspection of the hand, or shuffling a pack of cards. But it is neither the one nor the other. Let us see what it claims to be.
The first claim that phrenology makes upon our belief is, that the brain is the organ by which the mind manifests itself; consequently, where there is no brain, there is no mind, or intellect. Secondly, that instead of being a single organ, it is a congeries of organs; or, in other words, different portions of the brain manifest different features of the mind; thus, one portion of the brain is called the organ benevolence; another, firmness; another, self-esteem, and so on; and that these organs are larger in some persons than in others; making the differences which we see in the characters of different persons. Phrenology teaches, that these differences are the result of the natural
organization, and not of education; and they are what are called natural talents, or natural tastes. Thus some are poets, some mathematicians, some musicians, from their early childhood. Phrenology also teaches, that these natural faculties can be improved by education, when they are deficient, and repressed, when in excess. Phrenology also claims, in the third place, that as the brain is formed before the skull which covers it, and as the brain completely fills the cavity of the skull, so the skull generally, if not always, takes the form of the brain, indicating the size of the different organs.
We who are phrenologists, believe that we have sufficient proofs to warrant us in the conclusions at which we have arrived, and in acknowledging the claims of phrenology. Some of us strove long, and vigorously, in resisting the arguments brought forward in support of this new science; but were at last forced to confess ourselves convinced. Doubtless we made the same objections which have been often made, and as often refuted, but which are still made.
An objection, which is becoming rather stale, to the very first principle of our science is, that if we admit there is no manifestation of the mind, except through the brain, we plunge at once into materialism. The weight of this objection consists in our using the words mind and soul synonymously. Allow this, for the sake of the argument, to be so. We pretend to know nothing of the soul, or of the manner of its connection with the body, nor how it influences the corporeal organs. It is invisible, and not recognizable by any of our
All that we claim to know is, that the inmaterial and immortal part of man is somehow connected with his frail body; and that it manifests itself only through material organs. We contend, therefore, that it is no more materialism to say that the brain is the organ of the mind, than to say that any other part of the body is the instrument by which the Almighty has chosen to exhibit that part of us which He has likened to Himself.
As it is my design rather to reply to popular objections, than to prove our science, step by step, we will now attempt to satisfy our friends, who are yet disbelievers, that bumpology,' as they choose to term it, is by no means necessary to the existence or practical utility of phrenology. Suppose a parent designs to educate a son with strict reference to his phrenological character, and suppose this parent wholly unacquainted with the location of the organs, and consequently, incapable of forming a judgment from the examination of his boy's head. Is there no other way by which to ascertain his mental peculiarities ? Most certainly there are. And all parents, whether phrenologists or not, who would closely observe their children, would see for what purpose nature had fitted them, and if they followed her dictates, would not, as is too often the case, place their sons in the pulpit when they should be at the plough, or compel one to waste his time and fortune in commercial pursuits, when he is longing to be engaged in a different occupation. Let parents early observe their children, and take pains to place them in circumstances which shall elicit their peculiar traits of character, and they will seldom fail to see such manifestations as will be a safe and sure guide in directing their course. Here we see, at once, that there is no necessity of bumps ; and, if this common-sense course had been always pursued,
we should not so often have seen parents called to mournover •blighted hopes, and ruined prospects. I could detail to the reader, were it necessary, many cases, where boys have been forced into occupations contrary to their inclinations, and contrary to their nature, to gratify the prejudice of a doating parent; some of these have been led astray by temptations, and ended their course by dissipation; others have become indolent, and improvident, and squandered fortunes, and died in absolute penury. A case occurred within my observation, long before phrenology engaged my attention, which may serve as an illustration of our position, and a warning to those who disregard the dictates of nature. A lad, about fifteen or sixteen years of age, the son of wealthy parents, was placed at an academy, with the design of being prepared for college. This young man possessed great sprightliness of general character, was kind, affectionate, and manifested toward all his companions great amiability, and sweetness of disposition. Withal, he was a good scholar, a favorite of his preceptor, and beloved by all who knew him. With all his excellencies, he was disinclined to the life of a scholar, and could never entertain the idea of following a professional life. As the time drew near for him to enter college, he was more and more resolved to become a merchant, and besought his father, with entreaty and argument, not to force him into a profession. But in vain. The father had set his heart upon seeing the son distinguished in the scientific or literary world, and nothing could divert him from his purpose. The youth entered college, but his repugnance to a collegiate life increased daily. Again he begged to be allowed to abandon his studies; and again was he compelled to submit to parental authority.
In utter despair, he plunged at once into the most reckless dissipation, and before another year had passed, he filled an untimely grave.
We often see children who are called dolts, who are to appearance stupid, and incapable of learning any thing, during the first few years of their lives, and who, nevertheless, eventually become as distinguished for their capacity, in some respect, as they were before for their dullness. The reader may ask how we account for this ? Let us take a single instance for illustration. A boy goes to school till he is ten years of age, and with all the drilling of the teacher, and entreaty of his parents, he only learns to read and write but little. During the next five years of his life, he may acquire a superficial knowledge of Latin, and make himself tolerably well acquainted with mathematics; showing, all this time, a decided dislike to all kinds of study, and a passionate fondness for field sports and idleness. At the age of sixteen, he
may be placed by his father at the head of a small mercantile establishment, which in one year may go to wreck and ruin, from sheer inattention. Two years more may be spent in closing the concern, and then, this improvident youth may, at the early age of eighteen, form a partnership of another character, and not as readily dissolved. He gets married. By the joint assistance of the parents of the newly-married pair, they are settled on a farm, which, in two years more, they are compelled to abandon for want of skill in this head of a family. A second time he turns his attention to merchandise, not, however, forgetting his violin, his dogs, and his gun; and this second mercantile experiment makes him a bankrupt. A fond
ness for reading history may now have shown itself; and may have excited those dormant faculties, which, of a sudden, are to make the man blaze like a meteor, or rather like a meridian sun, astounding and dazzling all beholders ; electrifying and arousing a whole nation with his eloquence. Such a case as I have here supposed, I need not say, was PATRICK Henry. He was never distinguished, except for his incapacity in the management of business, and for idleness, until his eloquence made him conspicuous, after he had studied law. I will not pretend to say that cultivation might not have made Patrick Henry a respectable business man; it could not have made him more. But I will say that nature placed her stamp upon him; and all his own efforts could not erase it. She had made him a great orator; a great statesman; and, when the occasion offered, he exhibited his true character.
Well,' says one, it is the occasion, the circumstance, that made Patrick Henry, and it is the same that makes others; and here your phrenology is at fault.' We do not so consider it. We say, that a man's faculties are the same, although he has not developed them, in their effects, to the world. If circumstance alone makes the man, why are not all equally great, when all are equally affected by circumstances? If there is not a difference in men, why does a circumstance that excites one to encounter, frighten another so that he runs to escape, danger? The eye has the power to see, although light be entirely excluded; the ear has the power to hear, though no cause of sound may call it into action. The light, though a circumstance necessary to vision, does not render the instrument of vision more perfect; and without this circumstance, the instrument could not perform its office. Light does not make the eye nor its powers ; neither do circumstances make the man or his powers; but light developes the faculty of the eye, and so do the varied circumstances by which we are surrounded, develope the faculties of man ; they call into exercise the powers which previously existed. This is the doctrine of phrenology; and our science also teaches, that the powers of the mind, as those of the body, can be augmented by education, and by continued exercise.
There is another point of view, in which the reader is desired to regard the character of Patrick Henry, to the end that we may prove,
that an examination of the 'bumps' is by no means necessary, in the direction of the education of children. It is a peculiar fact in the life of Patrick Henry, that when quite a youth, he showed an exceeding fondness for not only studying the character of men, but also for influencing their feelings; for exciting their passions and sympathies, and then allaying them. Accordingly he was in the habit, when a company of his neighbors were assembled at his store, to relate some pathetic tale, for which he not unfrequently drew upon his imagination ; or he would, occasionally, cause them to kindle into anger until, his own curiosity gratified, he would soothe the troubled spirit. Thus, with little exertion, he could raise a whirlwind of passion, and when the tempest was at its height, could as easily quell its fury, and hush it into the stillness of midnight.
Now then what practical inference, do you ask, may be deduced from such a character? If the father of this young man had looked
with the eye of a phrenologist, he would have found no need for * bumps ;' but the same principle which teaches that there may be
bumps,' or as we call them, developments, would have taught him, what he afterward learned, that nature had fitted his son, not for the plough, or counting-room, but for the pulpit or forum ; that he possessed the magic power, which few have, of controlling and swaying the minds of men, at his own pleasure.
I have ventured to say, what I now repeat, that the mind of the public in this country has been abused in regard to the examination of heads; and that the propriety of the practice of giving a man his written character is, at least, questionable; at any rate, it comes to me ‘in such a questionable shape,' that I will speak of it; and that I may not be deemed heterodox in my views, I will proceed to give my reasons for entertaining such views. Let it be granted, in the first place, that the brain is the material instrument of thought; without organs to carry the thoughts into execution, man would be very incomplete; it must therefore be granted, in the second place, that there must be these organs, which are the immediate executive agents, and that they must be adapted to the offices which they are to perform. There must be the harmony of proportion, in the development of all the organs; in other words, in any given case, where the mental faculties are well developed, and equably and nicely balanced, the whole body must be in harmony. The nerves, as the reader is aware, are the white cords, extending from the brain to the minutest parts of the body; and their office is to communicate to the different parts to which they are distributed, the commands of the will, or the dictates of the propensities and sentiments; they also give to the whole body the power of receiving and conveying impressions to the common centre of perception, which is lodged within the head. In some persons, who are to appearance well constituted, there is a marked and wonderful predominance of development of the nervous system. This is, in my opinion, quite a different thing from what is called by phrenologists the nervous tenperament. There is no judging of this peculiar state of the system, by any external evidence; for there is nothing which indicates it: it is known only by remarking the great disproportion between impressions upon the senses, and their effects upon the system. A slight moral cause, which would in one person produce an effect corresponding in degree to its cause, would, in an individual with this predominance of nerves, exhibit an effect many fold increased. We see the exhibition of this peculiarity in various ways, and on a variety of occasions, and in both the sexes; but probably most often among females. Medical men more frequently see this than others; and hence we often find patients who are unable to bear the irritation of a small blister, or the application, for a few minutes, of a mustard-plaster ; either of these exciting so great a disturbance in the system, as to cause no small degree of fever. In such patients, mental impressions produce the same phenomena; they are alive to every breeze; subject to great elevations and depressions of spirits, and the victims of their own susceptible organization. Such persons may have the cranial developments which would indicate a character for firmness, and endurance under trial, adversity, and danger; while the real character would show itself in actions