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with the eye of a phrenologist, he would have found no need for 'bumps;' but the same principle which teaches that there may be
bumps,' or as we call them, developments, would have taught him, what he afterward learned, that nature had fitted his son, not for the plough, or counting-room, but for the pulpit or forum ; that he possessed the magic power, which few have, of controlling and swaying the minds of men, at his own pleasure.
I have ventured to say, what I now repeat, that the mind of the public in this country has been abused in regard to the examination of heads; and that the propriety of the practice of giving a man his written character is, at least, questionable; at any rate, it comes to me ‘in such a questionable shape,' that I will speak of it; and that I may not be deemed heterodox in my views, I will proceed to give my reasons for entertaining such views. Let it be granted, in the first place, that the brain is the material instrument of thought; without organs to carry the thoughts into execution, man would be very incomplete; it must therefore be granted, in the second place, that there must be these organs, which are the immediate executive agents, and that they must be adapted to the offices which they are to perform. There must be the harmony of proportion, in the development of all the organs; in other words, in any given case, where the mental faculties are well developed, and equably and nicely balanced, the whole body must be in harmony. The nerves, as the reader is aware, are the white cords, extending from tlic brain to the minutest parts of the body; and their office is to communicate to the different parts to which they are distributed, the commands of the will, or the dictates of the propensities and sentiments; they also give to the whole body the power of receiving and conveying impressions to the common centre of perception, which is lodged within the head. In some persons, who are to appearance well constituted, there is a marked and wonderful predominance of development of the nervous system. This is, in my opinion, quite a different thing from what is called by phrenologists the nervous temperament. There is no judging of this peculiar state of the system, by any external evidence; for there is nothing which indicates it: it is known only by remarking the great disproportion between impressions upon the senses, and their effects upon
the system. A slight moral cause, which would in one person produce an effect corresponding in degree to its cause, would, in an individual with this predominance of nerves, exhibit an effect many fold increased. We see the exhibition of this peculiarity in various ways, and on a variety of occasions, and in both the sexes; but probably most often among females. Medical men more frequently see this than others; and hence we often find patients who are unable to bear the irritation of a small blister, or the application, for a few minutes, of a mustard-plaster; either of these exciting so great a disturbance in the system, as to cause no small degree of fever. In such patients, mental impressions produce the same phenomena; they are alive to every breeze ; subject to great elevations and depressions of spirits, and the victims of their own susceptible organization. Such persons may have the cranial developments which would indicate a character for firmness, and endurance under trial, adversity, and danger; while the real character would show itself in actions
quite the reverse. Persons thus constituted, are unable to see another bled, to hear an affecting incident related, or to behold any scene of sickness or distress; and who has not seen this exemplified, not in delicate women only, but in hale, healthy, and robust mon? Suppose a phrenologist, who had no other guide than the man's appearance, with all honesty of intention, were to examine the head of such a man, and give him his character written out in detail; it would read something like this, for something very analogous to it has been seen: ‘Your propensities are only moderate, the organs the moral sentiments well developed, the intellectual organs large; consequently, you are disposed to reason correctly on whatever subjects are brought before you. Your mural courage is unflinching; whatever you believe it is your duty to do, you can do; your benevolence is great, and so is your firmness; you will therefore be always found where there is sickness and suffering; and dangers that appal others, only have the effect, upon you, to excite your courage the more, and enable you to carry out your plans, and accomplish your objects, in spite of all obstacles.'
I need not enter farther into this fancied delineation of character. Suffice it to say, that it is all totally erroneous, from the impossibility of recognising, from external appearances, this predominance of the nervous system.
Cases like these may be regarded by some as exceptions to a general rule: but whether they be so or not, they are far too frequent to be overlooked, or disregarded ; and they prove the position I have assumed, to wit, that the other parts of the body must be in harmony with the brain, in order that the mental faculties may be rightly manifested. We frequently meet with persons who present good cranial developments; but when we compare the head with the other portions of the body, we shall notice, at a glance, a marked disproportion in size.
There is, in the operations of the mind upon the body, a series of organs, or rather a continuous chain, necessary to produce the ultimate result. The brain is the first link in this chain of organs; the nerves are the media of communication between it and the executive agents, the various other organs. One is just as important as the other; and no matter which link is faulty or broken :
"Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.' The harmony of development, I repeat, must be perfect, or there is more or less of imperfection of mental character.
The reasoning which has been applied to the nerves, is equally applicable to all the other organs ; but I need not enlarge upon this point, although this view of phrenology is highly important. 'Health is another item, which should come into our account, when making up the sum total of a character from cranial developments, and which is very generally overlooked. Every medical man knows the un. bounded influence which deranged health exerts over the mind; how it affects the character for benevolence, amiability, etc., and the capacity for continued application to business or study; and, in short, how it affects it in all the relations of life. Now it is extreme folly for any man, whether he be a quack, or a genuine, scientific phrenologist, to attempt a delineation of character from an examination
of the head, without a perfect knowledge of the health of the person who is the subject of the examination.
Education is another consideration, which influences, to a great degree, the natural character; so that one may have been compelled, by the force of circumstances, to cultivate one faculty at the expense of others more largely developed ; and thus have attained to eminence in some of the walks of life, while, perhaps, he would have been without an equal, if the dormant, neglected faculties had received the same degree of cultivation. All that a phrenologist can, or should say, in such a case, is this : *You can or you may excel in such or such a thing,' instead of 'you do excel so and so.'
Education of the moral as well as the intellectual faculties should not be lost sight of, in estimating the moral worth of character. We all know the force of bad example and early habits; and we see many who are naturally inclined to go in the right path, seduced, step by step, into the broad road to ruin. It may he said, that by first ascertaining a man's habits, we can easily tell him his character; and some who profess to be phrenologists, insist that our science is particularly valuable in being able to ascertain, by feeling the head, what a man really is. Once more I take the liberty of saying, that this use, or rather abuse, of phrenology, has brought it and its disciples into disgrace. There is one most cogent reason, drawn from phrenology, why all really scientific phrenologists cannot become skilful in the examination of heads. To judge accurately of the cranial developments; to weigh one against another, and nicely to decide the preponderance; it is necessary that the phrenologist himself should have the organ of size largely developed; otherwise, he should no more attempt to decide upon character, than he should attempt to teach music, when the organs of time and tune are deficient. Thus we have a reason why there are discrepancies in the results given by practical phrenologists.
With great nicety of skill, acquired after much and varied experimental, practical phrenology, it is possible, in most instances, where there is a strongly marked character, to delineate its most striking features. But the principal use of the science, when applied to the examination of heads, is an aid, to assist in judging of the peculiarities of youth, and a guide to direct us in the choice of the course to be pursued in their education.
Many who do not understand phrenology, and some of our opponents, believe that, by destroying the 'bumps' in infancy, as is the practice among various tribes of Indians, you destroy the sum and substance of phrenology. And accordingly the Flat-head Indians, who have been recently exhibited in this city by the missionaries, are cited as triumphant examples of the overthrow of phrenology. Said an old acquaintance, a few days since: Well, doctor, what do you say now? — your phrenology is all killed.' 'Indeed; what has killed it?' 'Why,' said he, ‘hav ’nt you heard about these Flat-head Indians ? “Yes, and what then? Why,' replied he, “they are said to be very clever fellows; very intelligent, notwithstanding their bumps have all been destroyed by having their heads flattened; and now how can your doctrine be true, if they have no bumps ? Now, so far from the flat heads of the Indians being an argument against
our science, I believe that if a few of the same tribe of Indians were allowed to grow up with their heads of a natural shape, so that they could be contrasted with the others, we should draw a strong argument in favor of phrenology. And if post mortem examinations could be made of their heads, not only phrenology, but physiology and anatomy, would have additional light thrown upon them, and doubtless we should derive strong proofs of the truths of the doctrines in which we believe. What, let me ask, are the mechanical effects of compression upon the brain, in these cases ? Those who are acquainted with the anatomy of the infant, know that the bones of the head are not then perfectly formed; the skull is not, at this age, a solid bony case, there being considerable spaces between the several bones, occupied by an elastic membrane. The skull may at this time be considered a sack, for such it truly is, and subject to the same mechanical laws that a sack would be, composed of a material like Indiarubber. This is well exemplified in those cases where the head is enormously distended; where there is an effusion of water in the brain, constituting dropsy of the head. Some cases of this kind have occurred, where the head has been distended to twice its natural size. The heads of the Indians are flattened, as we know, by being compressed between two pieces of board. If an elastic, closed sack, filled with a fluid, is compressed, by force applied to opposite sides, there will be a yielding, corresponding to the force applied, in those parts where the compression is not made. So that the capacity of the sack is not diminished. If it would hold four quarts, before compression was made, it would hold the same quantity afterward, although its relative dimensions might be greatly altered; that is, the diameter from the forehead to the occiput would be diminished, but in all other directions it would be increased. It is possible that the pressure may prevent, or retard, the development of some of the organs; it is probable that it does, and so far as it produces this effect, it proves phrenology to be true, by proving that the alteration of the brain alters the mental character. " But, if it be admitted that the characters of the Flat-head Indians are not materially different from the character of other tribes, who do not distort the head, although in the one case the cranial developments are destroyed, our oppo nents gain nothing; for the facts in the case show conclusively that the organs still exist, and still perform their functions, although artificially removed from their local habitation. We shall notice other arguments brought against phrenology, in a resumption and conclusion of the subject, in another number.
Nought of this subtle principle
Is known, but its effects;
Destroys, but not detects.
Like some that guard the dead,
BY THE AUTHOR OF "THE DELUGE,' 'THE BROKEN HEART,' ETC.
Full twenty years have passed away, since thou, beloved one !
My first, my last, my only friend! - if aught the ransomed know
So would I have thee see thy son; the wrecked of passion's storm
When thou wert taken to thy rest, dear mother! there was none
And he to whom thy parting soul bequeathed the solemn trust,
Through pleasure's halls of rosy light, I danced by night and day,
Then, mother! did I think of thee; thy blessed dying words
And better thoughts are with me now; thy face more cheerful seems,
Sometimes my vision pictures thee, as stooping from on high,