« PreviousContinue »
“ When the bustle of the crowd is past, or reduced to a fitful whispering sound, in those more silent hours when the moon looks abroad, and the air partakes of her fresh and calming influence, a summer night in the Prado is not without its charms. The hum of the city is heard—but at intervals and afar off, like the breathing of the sea upon the shore. The birds of night send down a solemn greeting from the dismantled walls of the palace of the Retiro, as a voice from the depths of the past, telling of ruin, and desolation, and human vicissitude. The busy animated crush' of an hour ago becomes a vast solitude, animated only by the shrill voice of the cigalas keeping vigil in the trees, and lulled by the dash of the fountains. Perchance, some fond couple, or solitary being come there to commune with himself, are seen gliding along the moonlit alleys, taking counsel from the night.”
despatching dozens upon dozens of the little round plump inviting Malaga figs, not to mention ices, yemas, (yolk of eggs conserved,) and other pastimes. An ounce, (three pounds five shillings,) is a mere trifle to put in one's pocket when gallantly inclined."
ON MISS CATHERINE DOUGLAS PUTTING ON A HELMET.
BY L. MACARTNEY MONTAGU.
WHEN, through her bright redundant curls,
And when the warrior's helm doth throw
Thus beauty still will beauty be,
AN APOLOGY FOR PHRENOLOGY.
The brain hath been defined (not in Johnson) to be an autobiographical substance, writing its character on the skull in legible bumps and bosses. It seems strange that the professors of the curious art or science of accurately deciphering this hieroglyphic manuscript should have yet succeeded in making so few converts to their imposing doctrines. The vague physiognomical theories of Lavater found a vastly greater number of admirers: this, however, doubtless arose from the natural vanity of men: every conceited prig, to whom nature had assigned a scarlet button or squashed fig for a nose, fancied it a faultless model of the feature it was intended to represent. But when the startling doctrine is propounded, that the asinine qualifications of each person are in an inverse proportion to the size of his pate, the question becomes simply a matter of superficial inches, and the wight with an apple or a potatoe on his shoulders, cannot, by any stretch of imagination or vanity, convince the world or even himself of the magnitude of his cranium. This is the rock on which the science is doomed to split: for, as long as the phrenologists lay down any definite rule as to the essentials for intellectual power, so long will all those who fall without that rule continue to be the bitter opponents of their system. And who will not sympathize with the mortified feelings of those whose heads are all back? For my own part, I must confess that I scoffed largely at the science, until a phrenologist made me a zealous convert, by lauding my intellectual developement. I thereupon suddenly discovered how closely my powers and feelings corresponded with his flattering conjecture; and it accordingly occurred to me, to set forth a few arguments in defence of the system, and to propound some manifest advantages which must accrue therefrom to society at large: but whether my mode of handling the subject be necessarily calculated to remove the doubts of the wavering, may itself be a matter of no small doubt.
First : it is to be observed that, beyond all question, the skull, both in man and animals, is the seat of knowledge, and the brain the cushion. All things are shaped to their peculiar uses; and no other possible use can be devised for the brain–except, indeed, in the case of nightingales ortolans, and the like, whose medulla forms an epicurean dish. The argument, questionless, loses much of its force, if applied to certain savage nations : for, among the cannibals of the Caribbee islands, the human brain is esteemed a rarer delicacy than dromedary's hump. But, again, observe how in common language the existence of the mind is always impliedly referred to the head. A stupid person is distinguished by the terms, Block-head, Woodenheaded fellow, Num-skull, and similar complimentary appellations. Now this involuntary and instinctive reference is alone sufficient to establish the point. There is within us an untaught consciousness, independent of anatomical theory, and almost imperceptible to ourselves, of the proper function of each nerve, and muscle, and member: as in walking, sleeping, eating, drinking, we exert the proper muscles without any effort of attention. Doth the kitten of a month
old require instruction touching the use of its eyes, or its ears, or its mouth?
Moreover, it is most fitting that the throne of the mind should be on the most elevated point; that it should inhabit the loftiest story, and enjoy an extended view from its pair of attic windows over the scenes which take place in the world around.
“Os homini sublime dedit, cælumque tueri."
In the next place—having thus proven that in every individual, all manner of ideas (except in truth where the individual possesseth not a single idea) flow from the brain—we proceed to show that this brain must nécessarily be divided into sundry distinct compartments.
The proof rests on analogy. Consider the other parts of the body, how that each hath its separate function. Five senses there be, (not seven, as some do vainly imagine,) and five organs represent the same; the eye is not confounded with the ear, neither is the nose implanted in the mouth-which last would be an unclean arrangement. We may take a lesson from the lowliest insects: the ant's nest, and the bee's hive, are respectively parcelled out into numerous minute and well-ordered compartments. How inextricable would be the confusion, were the memory one vast store-house, or lumberroom, without division or arrangement: bales of heterogeneous thoughts piled upon each other, the rarest gems mingled with the most worthless pebbles, the massive engine-wheels of reasoning entangled with the clock-work of calculation, or the delicate machinery of' fancy; the perception of colour darkened with one sombre monotonous hue, the organ of order in disorder, the faculty of music out of tune! For my own part, I verily believe, that the inestimable endowment of “ clear-headedness," depends entirely on the well-marked division of each segment of the brain.
The only remaining important point to be demonstrated, is, perhaps, the most astounding of all, to wit, that cæteris paribus, the power of each faculty depends upon the absolute size of the corresponding portion of the brain. Nevertheless, this admits of conclusive proof. And here again we may refer to the evidence of common speech :-a longheaded fellow means a shrewd and knowing person, who can see as far into a stone wall as any of his neighbours, and requireth but a hint to know how many blue beans it takes to make up half a dozen ; while a thick skull is a term of reproach, it being an axiom familiar to the vendors by false measure, that the thicker the vessel the smaller its capacity. Again, is it not a universal law of nature, that size is the measure of power ? This holds true from the fea to the elephant
—from the sprat to the whale. If you want a man to knock down your enemy with the greatest facility, you will seek some broadshouldered Cribb; if you want a man to devour the greatest quantity of venison in a given time, you will apply to a pot-bellied alderman. The rule is equally applicable to the brains of quadrupeds as of bipeds. Toby, the learned pig, had a strikingly intellectual brow : parrots, in general, have the organ of language, and peacocks that of tune.
Having thus, by strict induction, established the main propositions
of phrenology, it is scarcely necessary to point out the manifest advantages resulting from a knowledge of the science. The phrenologist, on entering a mixed company, measures at a glance the intellectual calibre of each; none can deceive him—no shallow declaimer can involve the intensity of his ignorance in a mist of words, no empty-headed plagiary can conceal the nakedness of his own ideas beneath a stolen dress. For example, should you chance to meet any leaden penciller, you could not fail to perceive the bumps of absurdity sticking out from either side of his head, like unto the ears of an ass. In the choice of your friends or your cook, of a partner for life or a partner for a quadrille, phrenology will be your guide. If your bosom friend hath not the organ of conscientiousness eschew lending him a hundred pounds on personal security; if he hath the organ of combativeness, fight shy of him altogether.
Again, plırenology would be an invaluable guide in the conduct of education. The peculiar method adopted should vary with each brat, and be made to act as a file on refractory bumps, while correct young ideas might be taught to shoot correctly. Here, too, it is to be remarked, that there is a palpable error in the practice of converting the birch into an argument à posteriori : seeing that the seat of knowledge is the head, it is inconsistent that the seat of punishment should be the tail, which, besides, when the punishment is severe, becomes unfit to be a seat at all : accordingly it is to be inferred, that the most natural mode of correction is the giving a box on the ear, pulling the hair, or administering a whack on the head with a round ruler.
Several changes might advantageously be suggested in our laws. In order to check the vast influx of conceit and ignorance into the reformed Parliament, a certain standard of intellectual developement should be made as indispensable a qualification as landed estate. Again, our criminal code should be so modified as to have reference, not to crimes actually committed, but to the apparent propensity to commit crime. For, on the principle that prevention is better than cure, much trouble would be saved by hanging without the smallest ceremony all persons afflicted with certain dangerous bumps, without waiting for the result of the operation of the said bumps in the shape of murders, robberies, and the like.
Innumerable other important consequences occur to me, but lest my apology should itself require an apology, I will be wise in time. In conclusion, oh, most sapient reader, let me ask whether thou hast never given half-a-crown to a gipsy to foretell thy future fortunes ? Is it less probable, then, that nature should have written thy character on thy forehead, than that fate should have scribbled her decrees in the palm of thy hand ? Or, perchance, you have dived into the arcana of astrology, and read (or thought you read) the secrets of coming ages (and your own little adventures among others) in the paths traced out by the mighty bodies which traverse space? If so, you are like unto the sage who spent the morning in looking for his spec. tacles, the same spectacles being just then athwart his nose, and assisting him in the search.
T. C. M. Limbo, May 21, 1836.
LETTERS TO BROTHER JOHN.Y—No. VI.
15th June, 1836. MY DEAR John, When a man, who thinks as well as sees, suffers his eye to range over the various minor systems which compose the one great scheme of the universe—when he looks at the planetary system, and beholds worlds whirling amid worlds in countless numbers, with inconceivable rapidity, yet infallible accuracy—when he dwells on the vegetable system, and sees myriads of plants rising from the same earth, living in the same air, warmed by the same sun, watered by the same rain, yet each differing from each, and affording year after year for ever, each its own peculiar product, with unerring precision—the vine the grape, the oak the acorn, the brier the rose, the foxglove its bells of blue, the holly its berries of red—when, with more inquisitive glance, he penetrates the thicker veil with which nature has curtained the chemical world, and watches the several phenomena resulting from chemical operations, combustion, putrefaction, vegetable fermentation, &c. and observes the unfailing exactitude with which all these render obedient homage to the one great law of affinity—then, when he looks inward and contemplates his own system-beautiful as the most beautiful and not less worthy of Omnipotent Wisdom than the most worthy-when he looks inward, I say, and beholds all there confusion and imperfection—when he perceives that, of all the systems of nature, that of man alone is liable to derangement, and is the only one ot all which ever fails of fulfilling its intention when he sees that while all others always go right, his own goes almost always wrong-when, moreover, he reflects that his own system is the work of the same Almighty hands which fashioned and gave being to all the others--when the eye remarks all this, the mind cannot but be irresistibly struck with the anomaly, and the tongue cannot but exclaim, “ Why is this so ?" How is it that the system of man-of man, the most perfect of all God's creations—how comes it that the system of man is for ever going wrong, while all around him goes right? The natural average of human life, we are told on high authority, is “ three-score years and ten.” How happens it, then, that “about one-fourth of the children that are born die within the first eleven months of life ; one-third within twenty-three months, and one-half before they reach their eighth year? Two-thirds of mankind die before the thirty-ninth year, and three-fourths before the fifty-first: so that, as Buffon observes, of nine children that are born only one arrives at the age of seventy-three ; of thirty only one lives to the age of eighty; while out of two hundred and ninety-one, one
Continued from p. 211.