« AnteriorContinua »
• Moreover, continués Dr SPURZHBIM, 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 fond of natural his
tory,'- 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 observant of events, and inter-, • ested in what takes place around them, '-and both together, as we learn in another place, to our no small surprise, 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-ofbusiness, 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
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
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
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.
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 Morals, we must confess that the doctrines of the Phrenologists supply but scanty materials for such speculation-their whole philosophy con
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 • 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,
any other sense than that of seeing, or any other orgaa 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, 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 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 anticipa• tions—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 defi
cient, 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 littleif 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