Imágenes de páginas

he also very closely touches, at times, upon the region of absurdity, if he do not absolutely fall into its boundary; and, in uniting the name of our Saviour with that of Jupiter, seems to show, that the same cast of religion, as well as of moral philosophy, is common to the school. His remarks are as follows: "The pictures of the saints show the very configuration of those pious men whom Gall had first observed. It is also in this respect remarkable that the head of Christ is always represented as very elevated. Have we the real picture of Christ? Have artists given to the head of Christ a configuration which they have observed in religious persons, or have they composed this figure from internal inspiration? Has the same sentiment among modern artists given to Christ an elevation of head, as among the ancient it conferred a prominence of forehead upon JUPITER ? At all events, the shape of the head of Christ contributes to PROVE this organization."*

Now in this very singular passage there are three propositions, concerning which, it is difficult to say which is to be admired most; a proof deduced from queries, which the author is incapable of answering; the idea that our Saviour possibly sat for his picture; and the idea that modern artists are possibly inspired when they paint his image from their own conceptions. I must leave the reader to make his own comments (for I dare not trust myself on the subject) concerning the edifying resemblance which is here pointed out between the head of the Saviour of the world and that of the JUPITER of the Greek poets; and the unity of SENTIMENT which has ever, it seems, prevailed between ancient and modern artists, when engaged in studying these sacred models.†

In seriousness and sobriety, however, it is not a little extraordinary, not only that folly and absurdity, but that wisdom, hypocrisy, gluttony, drunkenness, sensuality, mirth, melancholy, and some dozens of other powers and faculties of the most common kind, should have no chamber allotted to them, no protuberance or manifestation, in the hypothesis before us. During an interview I had some months ago with Dr. Spurzheim, I started this difficulty for explanation; but his reply was at least not satisfactory to myself. It may be sufficient to observe, as a single example, that for the organ of gluttony he referred us to the stomach; but this is rather to evade than to meet the difficulty. The stomach is unquestionably the organ of hunger; as the eye of sight, and the ear of hearing; but if the painter,

Physiolog. Syst. p. 412.

† It is always amusing, and sometimes instructive, to trace the learned rovings of different philosophical imaginations, when indulging in a like pursuit; to mark the point from which they set out, and follow up the parallelism or divergency of their respective courses, when aiming at a common goal. Sir Everard Home, whom every one will allow to be as deeply versed in the internal structure and the external mapping of the brain as either Dr. Gall or Dr. Spurzheim, seems also, from a late article in the Philosophical Transactions, (1821, p. 31,) to have felt a tendency to the study of phrenology. But from the only two regions he appears yet to have visited in his new voyage of discovery, his bearings are likely to be in every respect widely different from those of the German navigators, and calculated to lead to very different results. These regions are the supposed natural seats of MEMORY and CONCUPISCENCE. While Dr Gall and Dr. Spurzheim fix the first of these, as far as they are able to ascertain its dominion, between the nose and the forehead, (Śpurz. p. 427.) Sir Everard has had to pursue his course into a far higher latitude, and did not reach it till he arrived at the vertex of the scull, that very region which the German craniognomists have already taken possession of for the faculty of religious veneration, as just noticed in the text: at the same time, that while these skilful explorers have decidedly fixed the organ of coNCUPISCENCE at the nape of the neck, the ultima Thule, or lowermost extremity of the cranial sphere, (p. 344,) Sir Everard has found it at its sinciput or highest part of the forehead; bordering, indeed, where we should little have expected it, upon the region of memory or religious veneration, according to Dr. Gall's hypothesis.

who derives a pleasure of a peculiar nature from the eye, as in the case of colours; or the musician, who derives a pleasure of a peculiar nature from the ear, as in the case of sounds, have an express chamber in the brain, by which such peculiar pleasure is alone excited, and on which it alone depends, so ought the glutton, who derives a pleasure of a peculiar nature from the stomach. While, if there be no such cerebral region or chamber in the brain, and, consequently, no external developement or manifestation of gluttony, or any of the other feelings or sentiments I have just glanced at, the system itself, even admitting its general truth, must be so far imperfect and unavailing it must dwindle into a half science, and be more liable to lead us astray than aright.

There is also another powerful objection, which I will beg leave to state, as I stated it at the same time to the learned lecturer I have just alluded to, though, so far as appeared to myself, without a successful solution. It is this. The strictly obvious or natural divisions of the brain are but three; for we meet with three, and only three distinct masses,-the cerebrum or brain properly so called, the cerebel or little brain, and the oblongated marrow. The first, as we have formerly observed, constitutes the largest and uppermost part; the second lies below and behind; the third level with the second, and in front of it; it appears to be a projection issuing equally from the two other parts, and gives birth to the spinal marrow, which is thus proved to be a continuation of the brain extended through the whole chain of the spine or back-bone.

Now as the brain consists naturally of three, and only three distinct parts, it may be allowable and pertinent to suppose that each of these parts is allotted to some distinct purpose; as, for example, that of forming the seat of thinking, or of the soul; the seat of the local senses of sight, sound, taste, and smell; and the seat of that general feeling which is diffused all over the body; but as the nice hand of the anatomist has confounded even so rational a speculation as this, by proving that many of the nerves productive of different functions originate in the same division of the brain, while others, limited to a single function, originate in different divisions of it;* as it has hereby shown that we know nothing of the reason of this palpable conformation, nor the respective share which each of these grand divisions takes in producing the general effect,-how fanciful and presumptuous must it be to partition each or any one of these divisions into a number of imaginary regions, and to guess, for after all, it comes to nothing more, at the respective duties allotted to these boundaries of our own conceit !

But the most serious, or perhaps I should rather say the most ludicrous, and as it appears to me the most fatal objection to this hypothesis, is the extraordinary fact that the different professors of it cannot agree in dividing the brain, or in mapping the scull-bone; some of them telling us that a bump or protuberance in a given situation imports one faculty, and others, that it imports another faculty; while one or two of them have, at different times, assigned different faculties or manifestations to the same bump. The organ which Dr. Gall at first called that of courage, he afterwards denominated that of quarrelsomeness, and still later that of self-defence. Now the qualities of self-defence and of quarrelsomeness are as opposite as those of light and darkness; while that of courage is distinct from both of them. So the, organ of the theatrical talent he afterwards detected to

* See Stud. of Med. vol. iv. p. 6. 2d edit.

[ocr errors]


be, and consequently denominated it, the organ of poetry; and Dr. Spurzheim has since found out that even this name, to adopt his own words, "does not indicate the essential faculty of the organ," which is rather that of fancy or imagination; and he has hence called it the organ of ideality. Gall asserts that there is no separate organ for hope; Spurzheim contends that there is, and that its protuberance lies near the crown of the head. Gall asserts that nature has furnished us with one region or propensity for assassination or murder, and two for thieving or stealing daring and audacious stealing, and cunning circumspect stealing. Spurzheim is more moderate: he contends that nature has given us but one for each, and maintains that the second stealing bump of Gall manifests nothing more than a general propensity to reserve or secrecy. Gall makes the same organ which impels various animals, as the chamois or wild goat, to prefer lofty situations, indicative of pride or self-love in man. This, in Bojames's table, is denominated the region of vanity or conceit; but as such a term will not cover the idea of fondness for elevated situations, Dr. Gall has since called it the region of haughtiness. Now this would do well enough for a conundrum-maker :—why is a wild goat like a proud man? because it is fond of what is haughty or lofty ;--but such quirks and punnings are altogether unworthy the dignity of serious philosophy. Dr. Spurzheim, indeed, has felt it so; but then he has still further confounded the hypothesis, by honestly confessing, in the first place, that he does not know where the organ that impels us to prefer one place rather than another resides, though he apprehends there is such an organ; while he positively affirms that the bump or protuberance of self-love or pride lies in another part of the head than that affirmed by his colleague and


"Who shall decide when doctors disagree." }

A thousand other objections and inconsistencies, each of them perhaps fatal to the hypothesis, might be pointed out, if we had time. I may especially ask, since murder and thieving have express organs in the brain, how it comes to pass, that lying, and swearing, and backbiting have not equal organs? If the mechanic and the painter have organs that specifically identify them, why has not the haberdasher and the tailor? the latter more especially, since, as it has lately been attempted to be proved, by a learned writer on the subject, that the calling of the tailor is the oldest of all professions whatever; "a calling," says he, "that commenced immediately after the fall for it was then that mankind sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves clothes."

Even upon the subject of the religious bump, upon which I have said so much already, the professors of the new school cannot altogether agree; for while Dr. Gall and Dr. Bojames affirm that this protuberance on the top of the head indicates the existence of a God, and is the most cogent proof mankind possess of such existence, Dr. Spurzheim contends that it is no proof whatever-that his friends have mistaken the quality-and that it indicates neither religion nor morality; both which, it seems, in the opinion of this enlightened philosopher, have nothing to do with each other: for," one man," says Dr. Spurzheim, " may be religious without being just, and another may be just without being religious."


* Physiolog. Syst. p. 417.

Ibid. pp. 400. 402.

Ibid. p. 415

Spurzheim gives to this protuberance, therefore, a different and a far ampler scope, so as to cover, as all his names do, fifty or a hundred qualities at the same time. He calls it, indeed, the organ of veneration, which at first sight appears to have an approach to the name given it by Gall and Bojames; but then he especially tells us, "that this faculty does not determine the object to be venerated, nor the manner of venerating; and that it equally includes the veneration of God, of saints, of persons, or any thing else, however mean or contemptible." Yet this is the organ which Dr. Spurzheim has supposed to have been peculiarly developed in the head of the Saviour. As some amends, however, for his philosophical apostacy upon this point, he makes Dr. Gall's origin of moral goodness, in his explanation, the organ of Christian charity,* for so he expresses himself; introduces a new organ, which Gall will not allow, and a bump which Gall cannot find out, to indicate religious hope and faith, and which he places next to Gall's religious bump; at the same time totally defeating the value of his amende honorable by adding, that this organ of faith and hope, "in persons ENDOWED with it in a higher degree, manifests credulity."t

Such, then, are a few of the inconsistencies of the new hypothesis, and the discordances of its different professors with each other.

But it may be replied, that there is no reasoning against facts; that the gentlemen I allude to are men of learning and character; and that they have actually determined the moral propensities of a multitude of persons, by a reference to the rules of their own art. I admit the learning and character of these gentlemen, and most freely pay homage to them on this score; but these qualities, though a full security against voluntarily deceiving others, is no proof whatever against self deception.

There is no science, perhaps, among those professed formerly, and held in the highest estimation, which has fallen into more contempt than that of judicial astrology. Yet this, when it was in fashion, was for ages embraced by men of the greatest learning and talents, and of unblemished integrity and who, in a thousand instances, foretold events that actually came to pass and persuaded themselves that they foretold them by the rules of their own art. Such, to confine ourselves to times comparatively recent, were Baptista Porta, Cardan, and Kepler, of the sixteenth century the first, the most distinguished scholar, and the two last the most distinguished mathematicians of their age; and such were the Abbé de Rancé, the celebrated founder of the monastery of La Trappe, and our own two learned countrymen and poets Cowley and Dryden, in the seventeenth century. And let the school before us, therefore, boast as much as they may upon this subject, we can bring far more numerous instances of individuals as honest, as successful, and incomparably more learned, who have devoted themselves to a science which is now utterly abandoned by every man in the possession of his senses. To talk, therefore, of the occasional success of the physiognomists before us, is to add not a barley corn to the scale in their favour; since right they must sometimes be, upon the common doctrine of chances and the very nature of things; right they may sometimes be, from the common physiognomy of the face: right they may still more frequently be, from the artful and sweeping amplitude of the reply which may be made to cover a variety of tempers or propensities at the same time; and necessarily and infallibly right they do not profess to be.

* Physiolog. Syst. p. 416.

* Id. p. 416.

The whole, in truth, is founded on hypothesis: here it begins, and here it ends; hypothesis, too, unsettled and disputed, in many of its points, among themselves. And yet, planting their feet upon this tottering and unsteady ground, they are perpetually uttering the proud and lofty words science, proof, and demonstration; than which a more palpable or grosser abuse of terms can never be employed or conceived.

In few words, how grossly imperfect must be the range and condition of that science, which, upon their own showing, is capable of deciphering to us, that this man is a good musician; that a good painter; a third, a good linguist; a fourth, a good dramatist; a fifth, a good theologian; a sixth, a good murderer; and a seventh, a good thief; and that any or all these may at the same time be ambitious, or courageous, or conceited, or cunning; while, if you ask them whether they are good liars, good backbiters, or good swearers; whether they are inclined to gluttony or sensuality, to wisdom or folly, to sympathy or hypocrisy, to timidity or confidence, to mirth or to melancholy; characters, the one or the other of which apply to every one you meet with, whether abroad or at home, they are compelled to acknowledge that their physiognomy or craniognomy does not extend to any one of these qualities, and that nature has either forgotten to put them into the catalogue with which the head is covered, or has marked them so bunglingly and obscurely that they cannot read the writing.



In an early lecture in the present series I observed that the passions, when called forth and operating, discover themselves by a double influence upon the organs of the body, the EXPRESSION OF THE FEATURES, and the CHARACTER OF THE LANGUAGE. The first we have already noticed; let the second serve as a subject for the lecture before us.

That the presence and operation of the passions give a peculiar style and animation to the language must have been observed by every one who has paid the slightest attention either to his own feelings, or to those of the world around him. The man who is in a state of calm and tranquillity will always have his ideas flow in a calm and tranquil current, and express them in an easy and uniform tenour. But let him be roused by some sudden and violent insult, or by some unexpected stroke of overwhelming joy or sorrow, and the tempest of his soul will give a corresponding tempest to his utterance. His speech, instead of being mild and uniform, will be vehement, energetic, exclamatory, and abrupt; his judgment will be borne down, his imagination ascendant; the face of nature will, in consequence, assume a new aspect, presenting a distorted, an unduly bright, or an unduly saddened picture, according to the nature of the predominant emotion; and the phraseology will partake of the colouring, and become proportionally figurative and fanciful.

This is not a sketch of any particular age or country, but of all ages and all countries; it is a sketch of mankind at large; and we draw from it these two conclusions; first, that the natural language of the passions is

« AnteriorContinuar »