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tomy, are so well aware of the fallacy of their doctrines, that no impression is made on them. They laugh at the discoveries as dreams.
Answer.—This objection, like many others, is remarkable more for boldness than truth. For my own part, before adopting Phrenology, I saw Dr BARCLAY, and other anatomical professors, dissect the brain repeatedly, and heard them declare its functions to be an enigma, and acknowledge that their whole information concerning it consisted of " names without meaning.” It is acknowledged, in an article on the Nervous System, in No. 94. of the Edinburgh Review, quoted on p. 46, of this work, that the functions of the brain are unknown to anatomists, and that their mode of dissecting it is absurd. This circumstance, therefore, puts the whole faculty, who have not studied phrenologically, completely out of the field as authorities. The fact, however, is the very reverse of what is stated in the foregoing objection. Drs Gall and SPURZHEIM are now pretty generally admitted to be admirable anatomists of the brain, even by those who disavow their physiology; and in the list of the Phrenological Society, out of 86 members, there are 13 doctors in medicine, and 11 surgeons, a proportion considerably larger than that of the medical profession to society in general. The leading medical journals also have adopted Phrenology as true.
Objection.—“ It is inconceivable, that, after the discovery was made, there should be any body who could pretend to doubt of its reality. The means of verifying it, one would think, must have been such as not to leave a pretext for the slightest hesitation; and the fact that, after twenty years preaching in its favour, it is far more generally rejected than believed, might seem to afford pretty conclusive evidence against the possibility of its truth.”
This objection has been answered in the Introduction p. 2, where it is shewn that all important discoveries have
been equally despised and rejected at their first announcemente
The observations there quoted from Playfair and LOCKE, are completely applicable to the case of Phrenology. The discovery is new, important, and widely at variance with the prevailing opinions of the present generation; and its reception and progress have been precisely such as any sensible person, acquainted with the history of science, would have anticipated. “ The discoverer of the circulation of the blood,” says the Edinburgh Review *,
discovery which, if measured by its consequences on physiology and medicine, was the greatest ever made since physic was cultivated, suffers no diminution of his reputation in our day, from the incredulity with which his doctrine was received by some, the effrontery with which it was claimed by others, or the knavery with which it was attributed to former physiologists, by those who could not deny, and would not praise it. The very names of these envious and dishonest enemies of HARVEY are scarcely remembered; and the honour of this great discovery now rests, beyond all dispute, with the great philosopher who made it.” Posterity will pass a similar judgment on Dr Gall and his opponents.
The objection, that Phrenology leads to materialism, has been frequently urged against the science; but it appears singularly unphilosophical, even upon the most superficial consideration. Phrenology, viewed as the assertion of certain physical facts, cannot, if unfounded, logically lead to
• No. xciv. p. 76. The article quoted in the lext is “ On the Nervous System;" and the names of Drs Gall and SPURZHEIM are not mentioned in it from beginning to end. The author, however, in the above re. marks, affords them just grounds of consolation, although he exemplifies the injustice he so eloquently condemns.
any result, except the disgrace and mortification of its supporters. On such a supposition, it cannot overturn religion, or any other truth ; because, by the constitution of the human intellect, error constantly tends to resolve itself into nothing, and to sink into oblivion; while truth, -having a real existence, remains permanent and impregnable. In this view, then, the objection, that Phrenology leads to materialism, is absurd. If, on the other hand, the science is held to be a true interpretation of nature, and if it be urged, that, nevertheless, it leads fairly and logically to materialism, then the folly of the objection is equally glaring; for it resolves itself into this,-that materialism is the constitution of nature, and that Phrenology is dangerous, because it makes this constitution known. The eharge assumes a still more awkward
appearance in one shape, in which it is frequently brought forward. The objector admits that the mind uses the body as an instrument of communication with external nature, and maintains that this fact does not necessarily lead to materialism. In this I agree with him; but I cannot perceive how it should lead nearer to this result, to hold that each faculty manifests itself by a particular organ, than to believe that the whole mind acts on external objects by means of the whole body, or the whole brain. In short, in whatever point of view the system is regarded, whether as true or false, the objection of materialism is futile and unphilosophical; and one must regret that it should have been brought forward in the name of religion, because every imbecile and unfounded attack against philosophy, made in this sacred name, tends to diminish the respect with which it ought always to be invested.
The question of materialism itself, however, as a point of abstract discussion, has of late excited considerable attention; and I shall offer a few remarks upon its general merits. In entering on the subject, it is proper to take a view of the nature and extent of the point in dispute, and of the real effect of our decision upon it. The question then
is, Whether the substance of which the thinking principle is composed be matter or spirit? And the effect of our decision, let it be observed, is not to alter the nature of that substance, whatever it is, but merely to adopt an opinion consonant with, or adverse to, a fact in nature over which we have no control. Mind, with all its faculties and functions, has existed since the creation, and will exist till the human race becomes extinct, and no opinion of man, concerning the cause of its phenomena, can have the least influence over that cause itself. The mind is invested by nature with all its properties and essences, and these it will possess, and manifest, and maintain, let men think, and speak, and write what they will, concerning its substance. If the Author of Nature has invested the mind with the quality of endless existence, it will, to a certainty, flourish in immortal youth, in spite of every appearance of premature decay. If, on the other hand, Nature has limited its existence to this passing scene, and decreed that it shall perish for ever when the animating principle passes from the body, then all our conjectures, arguments, discussions, and assertions, respecting its immortality, will not add one day to its existence. The opinions of man, therefore, concerning the substance of the mind, can have no influence whatever in changing or modifying that substance itself; and if so, as little can these opinions undermine the constitution of the mind, or its relations to time and eternity, on which, as their foundations, morality and religion must, and do, rest as on an immutable basis. According to Phrenology, morality and natural religion originate in, and emanate from, the primitive constitution of the mental powers themselves. Innumerable observations have proved, that faculties and organs of Benevolence, Hope, Veneration, Justice, and Reflection, exist. Now, our believing that the mind will die with the body, will not pluck these sentiments and powers from the soul; nor will our believing the mind to be immortal implant a single one more of them in our constitution. They would all remain the same in func
tions and constitution, and render virtue amiable, and vice odious, although we should believe the mind to be made of dust, just as they would do were we to believe the mind to be a more immediate emanation from the Deity himself.
In short, therefore, this question of materialism is one of the most vain, trivial, and uninteresting that ever engaged the human intellect; and nothing can be more unphilosophical, and more truly detrimental to the interests of morality and religion, than the unfounded clamour, or cant shall I call it, which has been poured forth from the periodical journals about the dangers attending it. A manly intellect, instead of bowing before prejudice, would dissipate it, by shewing that the question is altogether an illusion, and that, adopt what opinion we will, concerning the substance of the mind, every attribute belonging to it must remain unaltered and unimpaired.
But not to stop in our investigation till we have reached the goal, we may inquire, whether it be possible to discover the substance of which the mind is composed, whether it be material or immaterial ? Previous to doing so, however, we ought to endeavour to ascertain what means we possess of arriving at a knowledge of the essence of the mind. All our knowledge must be derived either from consciousness or observation. Now, by reflecting on what we feel, we discover nothing concerning the nature or essence of the thinking being. We do not feel a spiritual substance stirring about within us, and elaborating sentiment and thought; and neither do we feel a material substance producing these effects. We are conscious only of feelings and emotions, of friendships and attachments, of high conceptions and glorious thoughts ; but whether these originate from matter or spirit; whether the first embryo substance of reflection dwelt lowly in the dust, or soared a pure
ethereal essence amid the regions of boundless space, before it was constituted a part of us; whether God, in creating man, was pleased to invest his material organs