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Recapitulation - Laws of Propagation - Political views_ Mr Combe's
I SHALL shortly state the circumstances which have induced me to come before the public with the present work.
Mr Combe is now well known, not only in this country, but on the Continent, and in America, as the most able, zealous, and active supporter and propagator of the new Science of Phrenology, or the doctrine founded on the discoveries of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim. In the preface to the Essay which we are now about to consider, he says, that Phrenology appears to him “to be the clearest, the most complete, and best supported system of human nature which has hitherto been taught,” and that he has “ assumed it as the basis of his work.”
No one certainly could blame Mr Combe for adopting, in a work on the Constitution of Man, that system of human nature which he believed to be the best, and for making it the basis of his speculations ; but, not contented with this, he has attacked our divines as guilty of a gross neglect of duty in not at once adopting the same views,
and following them out in all their consequences, in their instructions to the people.
Against this there appear, even at first sight, several very serious and cogent objections; and one of them is, that even supposing it universally admitted, (which is at present very far from being the case,) that Phrenology is established on a perfectly solid foundation of facts, and that it affords a clear and perfect view of human nature, our divines are not, and cannot be supposed to be, so conversant with its principles and details, as to be able to teach them to their flocks, or to combine them in any satisfactory way with the doctrines of Christianity. It is only a very few years since Mr Combe, the chief living cultivator of this science, has adopted the views he now advocates. They have, since that time, undergone various modifications; and as they are now taught and expounded by him, they are only to be found fully stated in Mr Combe's own writings.
It may farther be mentioned, that not only are our clergy, as a body, necessarily unacquainted with the doctrines of Phrenology, but most of them are even ignorant of the peculiar terms, or technical language, in which these doctrines are conveyed, as generally used by phrenological writers. Taking, then, the most favourable supposition for Mr Combe, and supposing that they had been inclined generally to approve of his doctrines, it is quite impossible that they could
at once begin to model their public instructions upon these doctrines ; and on the other hand, however objectionable they might consider them, it is not surprising that they should have hesitated to come forward with any formal answer to, or refutation of, his errors ; seeing that, in order to do either of these with any effect, it would first be necessary for them to study a science, and to learn a language, which they have never been taught, and to both of which most of them are entire strangers.
I may here state, that, about fifteen years ago, I happened to have my attention turned to the subject of Phrenology, and that I have since made it more or less an object of study. Having become convinced of the truth of its general principles, I entered as a member of the Phrenological Society in the year 1822, aad thereafter took a considerable share in its proceedings ; and finally, was elected to the office of its President, in the
Soon after that time, Mr Combe began to broach those doctrines on human responsibility, and other points, which were afterwards more fully developed in his “Constitution of Man." These I opposed at the time, but without much effect : and Mr Combe having, in 1827, printed a small impression of that Essay for private distribution, I also printed a little tract in answer to it, (which was likewise privately distributed,) but without being able to produce any material
change in his views. At last, finding Mr Combe determined to persevere in these new doctrines, to introduce them regularly for discussion in the Society, and to support them by articles in the Phrenological Journal, I resolved to break off all connection with both; and acordingly, I gave up attending the Society's meetings, as did also several other members who entertained the same opinions of Mr Combe's views. I also, from that time, ceased from contributing to the Phrenological Journal.
In June, 1828, Mr Combe published his work on the “ Constitution of Man,” nearly in the shape in which it now appears. He acknowledges that, at its first appearance, the book did not sell, as nearly seven years elapsed before another edition was called for. It was not until, by aid of the “ Henderson Bequest,” he was enabled to reduce the price, that it came to have any considerable circulation. Since that time, it appears, many thousand copies of it have been sold, chiefly among the operative classes in our manufacturing towns. that it has been translated into some foreign languages, and that it has been widely circulated in America. I am not surprised at this extensive sale of the essay, as, along with many errors, it contains much that is both instructive and amusing. It contains an account of the interesting discoveries of Gall and Spurzheim, together with other matter well adapted to
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