Графични страници
PDF файл



Hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear!

Tue phrenologist was but a common observer of nature ; be possessed no advantage over other men; and he asserted no claim upon the attention of the world, until, after the minutest observation for years, he solved the great mystery of man's moral and intellectual nature. The puzzle vanished upon the announcement, more than forty years ago, by the illustrious discoverer and founder of the science of pbrenology, that each faculty and sentiment of the human mind had its appropriate organ in the brain; that, other things being equal, as a general truth, upon the size of that organ depended its manifestation of power; and ihat, as a result from these premises, the mental dispositions of men depended upon the organization of their brain, the size and relative proportions of which could in general be ascertained with accuracy during life.

No new characteristic of the human mind did the phrenologist claim to have discovered. He merely traced the demonstration of the faculty or sentiment to its source; he put his finger upon the spot,' and said, 'Here I have discovered the seat of the faculty whose existence was before admitted; here is the source of those waters at whose stream all have drank; liere is the cause whose effects every body knew and acknowledged; bere I show you the local habitation' of that to which you have already given a 'name;' and now go with me through the examination, and among the millions of men, let us pursue the path of investigation, and note the physical and mental resemblances among the different individuals of the human race.' Thus he challenged the scrutiny of the world, and appealing to facts, and to these alone, he has sustained the noble and interesting truths he at first proclaimed, and his science, now emerged from its rude elements, and grown into system, is admitted to rank high among the various branches of human knowledge, by the learned of all the en. lightened nations of the earth.

But after all, phrenology is immoral in its tendency, say what you will!' So the objector has ceased to laugh, and commenced a dismal cry against our most excellent philosophy. Well, then, what is the matter? Why, several organs possess very hard names, and lead to the commission of very naughty deeds. Gall denominated one the organ of murder, and another of theft, and therefore a man must murder and steal. This is very bad, certainly; and worse, too, if there was no murder or theft committed before the day of Gall; but it occurs to me that the world knew something of these propensities before the doctor's day, although they did not know exactly where to look for the seat of them.

Now a man born with one leg shorter than the other, is not expected to walk as gracefully as one on whose limbs sit grace and fair proportion; but he can walk, although he is inclined to limp. Well, I tell you that this man is inclined tv limp, because one leg is shorter

than the other. Am I to be blamed for having discovered the cause of his lameness? What say you? Why, that I ought to be whipped for the discovery, and the cripple for his lameness! Ought you not rather to thank me for the discovery, and give the lame man a crutch? True, the phrenologist has discovered in the human brain an organ which he has denominated 'destructiveness :' its office is to inspire energy; its over-manifestation, with ill-balanced sentiments, may lead to the killing of a human being; although, well-regulated, it might only lead to the killing of snakes, or at the most assist a respectable butcher in his vocation ; and with benevolence at hand, it might only produce your active business man, who will have every thing done in season.

So large acquisitiveness may lead to theft or cheating, where conscientiousness is defective; and so will fire burn up all your houses, without water to check the flames. The materials for good and evil pervade the universe. Have we not heat and cold, pain and pleasure, the fatal poison and the certain antidote? There is no good but may be perverted to evil. Man has not a sentiment, propensity, or faculty, but may be made productive of good; and there is not a moral evil in human society, but can be traced to the abuse of a good propensity, or the neglect of a gocd sentiment, or faculty. Cautiousness is the instinct of self-preservation, and necessary to the preservation of life; but by an over-manifestation, or improper indulgence, it may whisper to the general in the hour of battle,

'He that fights and runs away,,

May live to fighi another day.' Self-defence is the law of our nature, and combativeness and destructiveness are the ministers of that law; but should they turn from resistance to aggression, and become aggressors

from their proper attacks upon dangerous beasts and reptiles, and destroy the innocent and harmless then there is a perversion of good to the purposes of evil, and the moral agent who thus turns aside, is held responsible for the wrong, as well by the phrenologist as the strictest moralist of the old school.

The love of offspring is admitted to be a good instinct of our nature ; but suffer its excessive manifestations to influence the discipline of children, and a ‘spoiled child' is an ordinary specimen of the result. Excessive benevolence may deny the demands of justice, and set the culprit free; and on the other hand, justice not properly attempered with benevolence, may become harsh and unlovely, and excite the gentler feelings of our nature to revolt at its exercise. The overaction of veneration, coupled with large marvellousness, may fill the mind with weak superstitions and wild, fanatical delusions; these are certainly no advantage to any body; and yet to call the source of veneration a bad organ, would not be tolerated. It is not condemned, but extolled, if it produce a reasonable religious faith; it is not much abused, if it make but an antiquary or high tory; and destructiveness would never be censured, but complimented, if it was exercised only in the killing of rattle-snakes. Without respectable marvellousness, man would reject many things which it is comfortable to believe; but if it be quite large, he will believe too much, alto

gether. To its excessive manifestation, witches owe their existence, and ghosts their shadowy forms. By it, marvels by land and sea are upheld, and violations of nature's laws accredited.

Suppose a case of hydrophobia should occur in a large city, and that the corporate authority, under the influence of excited cautiousness, should decree the extermination of the canine race. Each man having large destructiveness assails an unhappy dog; a carman endowed with large benevolence arrests the fatal weapon,


preserves the life of a noble animal. Veneration for the


function aries who erected the law of extermination, excites to a prosecution of the carman for a violation of its provisions; while conscientiousness, manifested in a love of justice, according to law, condemns the man who acted from a generous impulse to pay a fine for the deed. Now it is not difficult to perceive, that a good sentiment or faculty took the lead at each stage of these proceedings, but nevertheless worked a wrong, from the beginning to the end of the matter.

The utmost that the phrenologist will concede to the objector against the morality of his science, is that it is more difficult for some men to come up to the required degree of moral rectitude than for others. Nay, he will concede that on account of the natural constitutions of some men, and the neglected education of their sentiments, it is extremely difficult for them to refrain from the violation of wholesome moral rules. But these instances are rare, and there is a remedy for them. Moral symmetry does not adorn every body by nature, any more than physical perfection; and a man is no more in fault. for having a bad head, than for having an ill-proportioned frame; but the parent who discovers either, and does not assist nature to approach perfection, by every means in his power, is guilty of criminal neglect; and the offspring that is the victim of such negligence, had better never have been born.

The phrenologist has relaxed none of those safe moral rules adopted for the bappiness of mankind; but he has added new statutes to the moral code, and enjoined new duties upon parents, teachers, and law-givers. He has aided, by his grand discovery, the surmounting of obstacles hitherto a barrier to the attainment of even a confortable moral excellence, by some individuals of the human race. It certainly is of some importance to know, that any organ of the mind can be called into or out of action, without the exercise of all the others ; that the exercise of an organ will increase its size and activity, upon which depend its power and influence in forming the character of the man. Is here no hope for the moral monster ? May not the infant mind be rectified in some degree? May not the youthful propensity be prevented from characterizing the man?

Suppose in a boy it is early discovered thai the sentiment of justice is small, acquisitiveness and secretiveness large? Ought not the parent and teacher to know that here is an embryo thief-before them? Let them train the subject of this unhappy combination according to his moral wants, and the youth will grow to manhood with a dangerous propensity so trained and modified, as that, instead of plunging him into crime, it makes him the honest possessor of millions, and he dies one of the honored of mankind, leaving his ample fortune as a benefaction to his country's orphans. How like a god ! -- and yet, when

young and untutored, how very like a thief!

In the interior of this state, a few years ago, a child of about six months of age was found dead in the front yard of a house inhabited by a poor and degraded family, with its head borribly cut by a sharp instrument, and one of its legs chopped off, and lying near the body. This dreadful deed was afterward clearly shown to have been committed by a boy not quite five years old, an inmate of the house, and that he used an axe for the purpose. The same young monster was soon afterward arrested in an attempt to kill a small child in the street. Now what provision have the moralists of the old school made for this boy? Whips, of course, are provided for him here, and torture hereafter; but for all these, he will kill their children. Now I apprehend there was a remedy for this youth's moral infirmity; and that, taken at an early age, his destructive propensity might have been attempered by benevolence, to a degree sufficient to prevent his final exit upon the gallows.

As in the physical, so in the moral world ; rough nature requires the hand of art to give it utility and beauty. Care and skill will remedy both physical and moral defects, and none but decided monsters in nature are beyond improvement by human art and ingenuity. What pains do we not take to supply the defect of hands, feet, or other members of our frame? Who despairs of being useful, who is merely deprived of hearing or of sight? Who does not aid the weak organ, exercise the delinquent muscle, straighten the crooked limb, and remedy, assist, and improve nature, whenever there is need? This is the appropriate business of reason, but not her entire task. For the weak sentiment can be made strong, the strong propensity weakened, the inert faculty aroused to activity, and the slumbering passion awakened into life. We have institutions for those deprived of sight. Let those who are morally blind, be made to see. We have institutions for the deaf and dumb. What provision has been made for those who are deaf to the voice of reason and justice ? Alas! they have an asylum, but it is only that of the convicted felon!

What science, then, in point of utility and dignity, compares with that uuder consideration ? It is the knowledge of intellectual power and action, and unfolds, to a great extent, the operations of the human mind, that most subtile emanation from the divinity of nature. It is · the key to the knowledge of human nature, the varieties of human character, the motives of human actions. It has something for every body to observe, and to profit by, in understanding. It makes every man a philosopher, and endows him with no inconsiderable share of wisdom; enables him to know others, and more than that, himself. The cradled infant is an object of its early solicitude and care, and to its benign influence the little being' may owe that nurture and discipline which may place it in the paths of virtue and peace. It inspires us with charity for human weaknesses, and invokes the aid of humanity to arrest the career of the dangerous, rather than the sword of justice to accomplish their swift destruction.

All youths should be educated in the principles of this science. No young man should enter upon the theatre of human action, without the knowledge it would afford him of those by whom he is destined to be surrounded. No maiden should pass through the joys of wedlock, to the duties of a mother, without understanding it. Phre

nology will safely direct the friend in the formation of his attachments, and the lover in adopting the mistress of his heart. He who surrounds himself with companions deficient in the higher sentiments, will have occasion devoutly to pray for deliverance from his friends; and he who leads the fair one to the hymenial altar, who is deficient in the same respect, will most sincerely regret that he had not paid more attention to the head, than to the face and feet, of his betrothed.

This science enables the teacher to understand the mental capacities of his pupils, and to adapt their studies accordingly. It should decide one in the choice of his profession, and settle upon his walk in life. It designates those whom nature designed to be distinguished among men, and points out the material sign of those intellectual endowments, and higher sentiments, which only can make a man truly great, and thereby sustains nature's genuine nobility against the pretensions of the aristocracy of wealth, and the usurpations of titled meanness. In a word, phrenology is not only the true philosophy of the human mind, but the kindest nurse to the infant, the safest guide to manhood, and the wisest law-giver to society.

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »