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The "Novum Organum,” from which these words are taken, though misinterpreted in the common acceptation of the Baconian philosophy, and improperly extended beyond the limits of natural science, is yet the best possible test of philosophies that appeal to observation. Tried by this test, Phrenology cannot stand. It has no sufficient foundation in facts; its boasted experience falls far short of the rigid demands of the “ Instauration." We should transgress all bounds, were we to attempt any thing like an enumeration of the facts unfavorable to Phrenology. Let the following example stand instead of a thousand. We extract it from an article on this subject in a late number of the "Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine." “Some hundreds and even thousands of monomaniacs, in all of whom certain feelings and propensities have been developed even to morbid excess, have passed a part of their lives under the inspection of M. Esquirol, who possesses most extensive resources for elucidating almost every subject connected with the history of mental diseases, and has neglected no inquiry which could further the attainment of that object. At his establishment at Ivry, he has a large assemblage of crania and casts from the heads of lunatics, collected by him during the long course of his attendance at the Salpétrière, and at the Royal Hospital at Charenton. While inspecting this collection, the writer of the present article was assured by M. Esquirol, that the testimony of his experience is entirely adverse to the doctrine of the phrenologists; it has convinced him that there is no foundation whatever in facts for the system of correspondences, which they lay down between certain measureinents of the heads and the existence of peculiar mental endowments. This observation by M, Esquirol was made in the presence of Mr. Mitivié, physician to the Salpétrière, and received his assent and confirmation.' There are few if any individuals in Europe whose sphere of observation has been so extensive as that of M. Esquirol ; but testimonies to the same result may be collected from unbiassed witnesses, whose evidence taken collectively may have nearly equal weight.”* We have no doubt that the
* Rudolphi, a German physiologist, says that he has examined many hundreds of brains without finding any thing favorable to the Phrenso logical theory. VOL. XVII. N. S. VOL. XII. NO, II,
ingenuity of phrenologists may contrive some evasion of the obvious inference which must be drawn from sacts like these; but, with every one who does not stand committed on this subject, we are sure that one such testiinony must be decisive. We will, however, add one more. Dr. Prichard, in his late work “on the Physical History of Mankind,” after showing that the skulls of African Negroes allow less room for cerebral developement than those of Europeans, observes, on the question whether any difference of intellectual capacity be connected with this circumstance, that, as far as he has had opportunity of collecting information on the subject, the result has been a decided assurance that Negroes are not inferior in intellect to Europeans; that this has been the almost uniform testimony of intelligent planters and medical practitioners from the West Indies; and that among the former, notwithstanding their prejudices, he has not met with one out of a great number, who did not give a most positive testimony as to the natural equality of the African Negro and the European.
The phrenologist's account of what he is pleased to call the mind, is unquestionably the most absurd theory that was ever contrived to support a beloved hypothesis. His classification of the mental powers is an insult to consciousness. The whole system is framed with exclusive reference to this world; for even “ veneration” does not necessarily imply a Supreme Being as its object. It has no point of contact with the world of spirits, and renders many spiritual phenomena, - regeneration for example, altogeiber inexplicable. That Reason, Faith, Consciousness, and the power of moral selfdetermination should be left out of view in this system, as not coming within the experience of phrenologists, is not surprising. But how are we to account for the omission of so obvious and common a faculty as Memory ? Is the whole ground preoccupied ? Is there no more room in cerebrum or cerebellum ? Cannot the advocates of this doctrine by a little different arrangement, by crowding or retrenching, by omitting veneration, say, or conscientiousness, find space for one more organ? If they can, we advise them to do so with all speed, and to call that organ Memory ; for, if there is any thing certain about the human mind, it is the existence of such a faculty. Its operation is not to be explained by the combined functions of other powers. If any attribute of the mind is single and distinct, this is so.
of the gate.
The prevalence and popularity of Phrenological views may seem to require explanation. It is well known to most of our readers, how suddenly the doctrine established itself, and how rapidly it gained ground in this region. No sooner had its late distinguished apostle appeared in our city, than a pentecost was witnessed, such as philosophy has not known before, since the days of the later Platonists. All tongues were loosed, and a strange onomastic was in every man's mouth. Heads of chalk, inscribed with mystic numbers, disfigured every mantel-piece. Converts multiplied on all sides, some proselytes of the covenant, and some proselytes
A general inspection and registry of heads took place. In defiance of the Apostolic injunction, hands were laid suddenly on all men, and many by such imposition were ordained teachers. A cast was given them as a diploma, "una cum potestate publice prelegendi," &c. In short, this theory of man obtained a speedy and signal triumph, and all the higher principles of our nature were in danger of being entombed in the little tumuli of the brain. Happily, however, the prevalence of a doctrine is no test whatever of its soundness. On the contrary, there is much truth in what Bacon has said on this subject; “ Consent ought to be so far from passing as any real authority, as to give a violent suspicion of the contrary; for of all characteristics that is the worst, which men take from consent in matters of the understanding. So that the thought of Phocion* may be justly transferred from intellectuals to morals; for men ought directly to examine themselves wherein they have erred, when the multitude consents and applauds them. This sign, therefore, of general consent, is one of the most unfavorable that a philosophy can have.” | We are not at all apprehensive that this system will ever find much favor with philosophers and scientific men. For, not to mention the intellectual poverty of the doctrine, and the entire absence (manifested, for example, in the work before us) of all great and far
, reaching views, - a philosophy which has been rejected by
, such men as Cuvier, Sabatier, and Pinel, and that too on purely physiological grounds, has but a slender chance
* Phocion, being once highly applauded by the multitude, turned round to bis friends and asked what absurdity he had committed.
+ Nov. Org., Aph. 77.
of success with the learned. Meanwhile its prevalence among the unlearned is easily accounted for. A philosophy of some sort, - a philosophy of human nature, which, whether true or false, may be paraded and talked about, is a luxury to which, in these days, almost every one aspires. But, unluckily, a system of philosophy was till lately a difficult acquisition. The aspirant was forced, either to turn his attention within himself, — a very uninteresting employment; ; or else to read books which required some degree of mental application, — an unpleasant alternative. But now there springs up a system which requires no such hard conditions ; - a philosophy which appeals simply and solely to the senses, and is therefore suited to the humblest capacity and the coarsest taste ;- a philosophy which lays out human nature in the form of a map, so that every man, woman, or child, who will take the trouble to spend a few hours over that map, and learn the names of its different provinces, with their respective location, may rise up a philosopher, completely versed in the noble science of man.
Is it wonderful that a system so cheap and easy should find ready followers ?
One word in conclusion as to the purpose of this discussion. It was not the heavy tax levied upon the credulity of the people, nor yet the irreligious tendency of the doctrine, evidenced by various symptoms, that induced us to take up arms against Phrenology. Our chief object has been to expose the presumption with which this doctrine arrogates to itself the supreme right to dictate on subjects beyond the reach of physical inquiry. While the discoveries, or supposed discoveries, of Gall bore the humble name of Craniology, we felt no disposition to interfere with them. We deemed it an innocent, though not a very profitable occupation for those who had no other employment, to hunt out coincidences between the heads and the characters of their friends. But when this science assumed the title of Phrenology, when it usurped the rights of mental philosophy, and presumed to pass judgment on questions which require far other discipline, and far other powers; when it brought to the dissecting-table the powers and properties of the inner man, and sought to lay bloody hands on the sacred image of God; we began to fear its carnal influence. And it is on this ground that we have thought proper to discuss freely its character and its claims. The encroachment of the senses and of sensual philosophy on the domain of consciousness and faith, is a species of invasion which we shall never cease to resist with such force as our limited powers, and our strong convictions, may supply. We shall always render unto the physical sciences the things that are theirs, and we shall claim equal justice in behalf of “that interior truth, whose school and oracle are within the breast." *
ART. VIII. - Memoir of S. Osgood Wright, late Mission
ary to Liberia. By B. B. THATCHER. Boston: Light & Horton. New York : Moore & Payne ; Leavitt, Lord, & Co. 1834. pp. 122.
This is an able delineation of an unpretending life and character, as interesting as it is instructive. The principal source, from which the details of the Memoir were derived, is the private journal of its subject. It is seldom, in this country, that literary justice is done the prorninent members of the denomination of which this individual was so promising an ornament. Their honors of this kind have been reaped in England. Among us the Methodists are more known by their oral, than by their written productions, or biographies prepared by professional writers. Their labors, too, are as unassuming as they are sedulous. One, indeed, of their clergy, by his unremitting efforts and fervid eloquence in behalf of a neglected class of our population, has endeared himself universally, and become identified with the benevolent spirit of the day. And we welcome the little work before us not least, because it is the story of his younger brother's martyrdom in the cause of religion and humanity.
Mr. Wright was a native of Springfield, in Massachusetts, where his early years were passed under happy domestic and local influences, the genial effect of which upon his susceptible feelings, were fully manifested in his after life. He did not pass the ordeal of youthful temptation, however, without feeling, and, to some extent, yielding to its power.
* Norris's 6 Ideal World."