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from the features of her person, but from the subject of her song, the
Let us try another description from the same captivating production. The mellow horn having just been sounded and laid down by MELANCHOLY, the poet proceeds as follows:
But O how alter'd was its sprightlier tone
When CHEERFULNESS, a nymph of healthiest hue,
The oak-crown'd sisters and their chaste-eyed queen;
Satyrs and sylvan boys were seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
And Sport leap'd up, and seized his beechen spear.
The remark I have just made will apply to the whole of this admirable group, than which a finer or more correct and accordant was never offered to the world. The passion of CHEERFULNESS gives, indeed, a specific expression and character to the countenance that sufficiently identifies it to the beholder, and is sufficiently capable of being seized and fixed by the painter; but it is not calculated for poetry, and the only feature Mr. Collins has copied into his description is that of a healthy hue. But he has admirably atoned for this poverty of his art by the picturesque scenery and associates with which he has surrounded her, and in which the province of poetry has an inexhaustible mine of wealth; and as much exceeds that of painting as painting exceeds poetry in the delineation of specific features and attitudes. Cheerfulness, though not distinguishable by the features of her person, is sufficiently made known to us by the company she keeps, by her attire, her manner, and her accoutrements.
One of the finest pictures and sweetest groupings of this allegorical kind to be met with in our own language, is contained in the following verses of Dr. Darwin's ode to May in his Botanic Garden. They are worthy of Anacreon or Pindar.
The subject is a pleasing one; but it swells before me to infinity, and I must drop it. In the lecture for next week, we shall enter upon the doctrine of physiognomy, or the permanent influence of the mind upon the exterior of the body.
ON PHYSIOGNOMY AND CRANIOGNOMY, OR THE EXPRESSION OF THE TEMPER AND TALENTS.
THE ingenuity of man is never satisfied with research. In tracing out the disposition of the mind by the variable features of the face, it has been discovered that this last, though a general criterion, is not always an infallible sign. It does not in every instance, it is said, disclose even the present and acting emotion; for, in some persons, the symbols are naturally slight and evanescent; while in others, from a long and skilful course of hypocrisy and dissimulation, they are repressed, or even fraudulently exchanged for symbols, representative of affections which have no real existence. But still less do they manifest the fixed and permanent propensity of the mind, which is ever pursuing its specific drift, whatever be the transition of the passions or of the features from one character to another. And it has hence been inquired whether there may not be some soberer and less variable index by which the natural bent and tendency of the mind may be detected; a something that no art can imitate, no dissimulation conceal, enwoven in the toughest and hardest, as well as in the softer and more flexible parts of the body-in the very tissue and figure of the bones; and consequently which
Grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength.
• From such inquiries has arisen the study, for it can scarcely be called the science, of PHYSIOGNOMY,-Temper indication, or Temper-dialling, -for such is the meaning of physiognomy, when strictly translated. It is a figurative term, which supposes the body to be a dial-plate on which the habitual turn or bearing of the mind is shadowed by means of the index or gnomon of some fixed and prominent external distinction, which retains its power and purpose amidst all the fleeting changes of the passions, and the mask of made-up smiles and serenity.
This study is of early date, and in its descent to our own day, has met with a perpetual alternation of evil report and good report, in proportion as it has acquired the favouritism or encountered the rejection of public opinion. Aristotle appears to have been the first philosopher who attempted to reduce it to any thing like a scientific pursuit, and to fix it upon any thing like permanent and undeniable principles. His definition of it is excellent. It is the science," says he, "by which the dispositions of mankind are discoverable by the features of the body, and especially by those of the countenance." And in the development of this pursuit, he advanced it as a leading doctrine, that a peculiar form of body is invariably accompanied by a peculiar disposition of mind; that a human intellect is never found in the corporeal form of a beast; and that the mind and body exercise a reciprocal influence over each other: referring us for examples of the former to delirium and intoxication, in which the mental follows upon the corporeal derangement; and for examples of the latter.
to the passions of fear and joy, in which the body universally displays the affections of the mind.
As the result of this principle and illustration, he argues, and no modern writer upon the subject has ever argued more clearly, that whenever among mankind a certain bodily character appears, which by prior experience and observation has been found uniformly accompanied by a certain mental disposition, we have a right to infer that it is necessarily connected with it; and we may fairly and legitimately ascribe it to the individual that exhibits such character. And, pursuing this line of application, he tells us further, that our observations may be drawn from other animals as well as from men; for, as a lion possesses one bodily form and mental character, and a hare another, the corporeal characteristics of the lion, such as strong hair, deep voice, large extremities, when discernible in a human being, cannot fail to raise in the mind an idea of the strength and courage of that noble animal; while the slender limbs, soft down, and other features of the hare, whenever visible or approximated among mankind, betray the mental character of that pusillanimous quadruped.
It is impossible to refuse our assent to sentiments so just and obvious; and to this extent almost every one is a physiognomist by nature; for no man can walk the streets without noticing, in the first place, a marked and striking difference between one face and another face, one form and another form; and, in the second place, without ascribing, in consequence of such difference, the possession of vigour to one person that passes by, wisdom to a second, magnanimity to a third, folly to a fourth, debility to a fifth, and meanness to a sixth.
Physiognomy, therefore, as to its general principles, has perhaps never been altogether neglected; it seems in almost every age to have influenced men's opinion and conduct in first associating with strangers; and has not unfrequently excited a favourable or an unfavourable prepossession before a word has been spoken or an action performed. As a science, though an imperfect one, it was pursued upon the general doctrines of Aristotle, among the Greeks and Romans, till the downfal of all the sciences upon the eruption of the northern barbarians into Europe, towards the close of the fifth century; and was for a long time so systematically cultivated at Rome, that Cicero was in the habit of publicly availing himself of its force whenever, by employing it so as to excite contempt or hatred, it could be turned to the advantage of his client; of which we have striking examples in his orations against Piso, and in favour of Roscius; while we learn from Suetonius, that the emperor Titus engaged a professed physiognomist, of the name of Narcissus, to examine the features of Britannicus as to his character and chance of success in his claims upon the empire against himself; who, it appears, gave an opinion in favour of Titus, and declared, and according to the event, declared truly, that Brittanicus would never live to assume the imperial purple.
In this curious fact of history we find Physiognomy united at an early period of the Roman empire, with magic or judicial astrology; and we also find, that upon its revival, on the general resurrection of science, about the middle of the fifteenth century, one of its first and most unfortunate occurrences was a connexion of the same kind; from which it only separated to form other and successive alliances with metaphysical theology, alchemy, the doctrine of signatures and sympathies, and the theosophy of the Mystics and Rosicrucians. So that it again fell into contempt with the most liberal and enlightened part of mankind: who, however, did
hot give themselves the trouble to sift the wheat from the chaff. And though occasionally started afresh in literary journals, and other publications of considerable merit and authority, as, for example, by Dr. Gwyther and Dr. Parsons in our Philosophical Transactions; by Pernetti and Le Cat, in the Transactions of the Berlin Academy; and in the separate writings of Lancisi, Haller, and Buffon; it was not till the appearance of the elegant and popular work of M. Lavater, the well-known Dean of Zurich, that physiognomy was again able to establish itself as a scientific pursuit in the good opinion of mankind.
The two grand objects of M. Lavater were to clear physiognomy of its mystical and other adventitious connexions, and to advance it to the rank of an exact and demonstrable science. The first of these was as judicious as the second was absurd: for he himself was at the time in possession of nothing more than a certain number of detached facts or fragments, which he did not venture to communicate to the world in any higher form than that of essays. His work is chiefly distinguished by a spirit of analysis, and at times of anatomy, to which no other work on the subject had hitherto pretended. Instead of generalizing the human form, and taking the features by the group, as was the case with Aristotle, and is the case with mankind at large, he aimed at separating the features from each other, and endeavoured to assign to each its peculiar bearing. And, fully believing that the general character of the mental disposition runs with an uniform and uninterrupted harmony through every feature and every organ, he frequently trusted to a single feature or a single organ for its developement. In doing which, he usually selected such as were least flexible, and by the mass of mankind least suspected; as the form of the bones, particularly those of the head or face; the shape of the ears, hands, feet, or even of the nails; and he hereby endeavoured to baffle all dissimulation, and to avoid confounding the permanent temper with those occasional flights of passion by which the flexible features are disturbed and varied.
We have not time to follow up M. Lavater's hypothesis into these points of detail, nor would it be altogether worth our while if we had. The author was a learned and most excellent man, but at the same time a man of a warm and enthusiastic imagination; and, notwithstanding that his remarks are in many respects precise, and his distinctions acute, and afford evident proof of their being the result of actual observations: and notwithstanding, moreover, that they are richly illustrated, after the laudable example of Baptista Porta, by expressive and elegant engravingsthe declamatory tenour of his style, the singularity and extravagance of many of his opinions, his peremptory and decisive tone upon the most vague and disputable topics, his puffing up trifles into matters of magnitude, and the absurd extremes to which he pushed his hypothesis, so as to make it embrace and exemplify the face and features of all nature as well as those of man and the higher ranks of quadrupeds; these and various other sproutings of the warm and luxuriant fancy I have just referred to, prevented his work from obtaining more than a transient popularity; and it sunk beneath the attacks of M. Formey and other Continental writers, who laboured, and some of them perhaps disingenuously, to point out its defects and extravagancies.
Perhaps one of the most whimsical of M. Lavater's opinions is, that no person can make a good physiognomist unless he is a well-proportioned and handsome man ; a position which seems to be altogether at variance with his own progress in the study, for the Dean of Zurich had few pre
tensions to such a figure. Another singularity of opinion was that of his extending his physiognomic characters to the peculiarity of the handwriting; and in this instance reviving the reveries of many of the ancient mystics, who pretended to confide in the same mark; whilst, by inter weaving into the body of this science a belief in apparitions, and this, too, upon very peculiar and fanciful principles, he has indirectly connected it with the dark and exploded study of divination, from which it was one of his first and most prominent objects to separate it.
I will only farther observe, that in the wide extent to which he carried this favourite and fascinating science of his heart, he describes the whole material world as subject to its dominion; amuses us with a developement of the propensities, partialities, and ruling passions, not only of men and quadrupeds, but of birds, fishes, reptiles, and insects, from the unequivocal language of their external expression; and makes the reputable class of tradesmen, probably without their knowledge, the deepest physiognomists in the world; for the trader, says he, when in the act of dealing, not only at once decides that his customer has an honest look, a pleasing or forbidding countenance, and trusts or forbears to trust him accordingly; but determines by its colour, its fineness, its exterior, the physiognomy of every article of traffic. How far the former part of this last remark may apply to M. Lavater's own countrymen, the honest and enlightened traders of Zurich, I will not pretend to say; but it is highly probable that there are some before me who have not always felt themselves able to read the characters of the countenance quite so well as is here supposed of them, and to whom a few additional lessons from the Zurich counting-house, or the Zurich professor, might have been every now and then of no small service in the transactions of buying and selling; and have saved them, in various instances, from bad debts and impositions.
Having pointed out these defects, it becomes me to observe, that, with all its blemishes, M. Lavater's Essays form the best and fullest book on the subject we at present possess. To say nothing of its language, which, though far too florid, is animated, and often elegant, it is a rich repository of isolated facts, shrewd remarks, and ingenious suggestions; and with less fancy, and more judgment, would have been, and must have been, the favourite text-book of every physiologist in this branch of natural philosophy. Nor, even as it is, can it ever be neglected by any who is desirous of establishing physiognomy upon a permanent and sober basis; and of analyzing the causes, and determining the real principles, upon which every one pretends to judge, whether rightly or wrongly, of the internal qualities of the mind, by the external features of the body; and consequently, as in the case of astronomy, gives proof that the study is founded in nature, although its specific laws have not had the good fortune, like those of gravitation, to be systematically sought out and exemplified.
It is from this last circumstance, in connexion with M. Lavater's desultory and erratic mode of handling his subject, that other philosophers have been induced to abandon altogether the common ground of the general form and features, upon which mankind in all ages, whether learned or unlearned, have hitherto reasoned, and to inquire whether there may not be some less sensible and obvious, but at the same time more fixed and scientific, more exact and immediate index in some part of the human figure, which may infallibly direct us to the same ends. No minister has hence devised more schemes for taxation, no insurance-broker more modifications for a lottery, than this general research has given rise to-this philosophical rage