« AnteriorContinua »
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 ma
nifestation.' 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 the 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 the 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 head. According to fact and observation, it is liable to the greatest revolutions, in consequence merely of events and moral experience--the head, as a physical mass, continuing of its original form and dimen
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 the 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 thing 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
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 themand 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 pos. sibility 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,
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
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 the nervous energy depends in a great measure on • 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, “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 we think of a physiologist who would not know 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.
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 86 protuberances be really the necessary organs of as many separate faculties, it must follow, that when any one of them is injured 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 Amativenessat 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 pro. bable, 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.