« ПредишнаНапред »
correspondence be published, will appear to the readers of it to be the opposite of courteous. To these I have not hitherto adverted, because I regarded them simply as indications of the state of your own mind, and as altogether without just application in any other point of view.
I repeat, that, out of deference to your choice, I am ready to proceed with the reference, although unconvinced of its necessity and advantages; meantime remain, &c.
Sir William Hamilton to Mr Combe.
Edinburgh, 10th May, 1827. MY DEAR SIR,-As I perceive no utility in protracting this irrelevant discussion, I will make no remarks on any part of your letter, except to notice that your statement is incorrect of my having refused to publish my objections against Phrenology, and that your assumption is equally so, that a private reference was ever by me in. tended to supersede a public exposition of the result of the arbitration, and of its grounds. If the determination were awarded against me, I should certainly give up the whole controversy; and be indeed compelled to acquiesce in an absolute scepticism with regard to the possibility of ascertaining even the most unambiguous phenomena. But as not merely between ourselves, it was certainly, I thought, better for the interests of truth, that in any public discussion, both should depart from an admitted basis of reality, instead of each mak. ing his own assertions and counter-assertions; and, with this view, I proposed that the real state of the facts should be determined by an impartial verdict previously to any public discussion as to their import. How, in regard to phenomena so palpable, any difference of opinion should ever have arisen, is to me matter of the profoundest admiration ; but as the authority of all anatomists, I believe, except the phrenological, is on my side, and as my propositions are, I know, confirmed by the most incontrovertible observations, I cannot entertaip a doubt, but that the assertions of Gall and Spurzheim are, in regard even to the plainest facts of cranial anatomy, as assuredly the reverse of truth, as is their opinion in cerebral anatomy, that the cortical matter precedes and generates the medullary substance. In these circumstances it is idle to disguise the inevitable alternative; either Drs Gall and Spurzheim are the most worthless of observers, or my counter-statements are a product of the most exquisite delusion that presumption ever engendered upon ignorance. Let it be decided which of us must own—
pudet haec opprobria nobis Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse refelli.
I remain, &c. W. HAMILTON.
Sir William Hamilton lo the Editor of the Scotsman.
The letter by Mr Combe, printed in the note on p. 388, appeared first in the Scotsman newspaper, in which several of the preceding letters had previously been published. On seeing it Sir William Hamilton addressed the following letter to the Editor of that paper :
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTSMAN.
Edinburgh, 24th May, 1827. SIR,-May I request that you would publish the following reply to Mr Combe's letter, which appeared in your paper of yesterday.
I cannot comprehend how Mr Combe could hazard, in explana. tion of his declining to produce Spurzheim's collection of skulls at his lecture, the statement, that I proposed " that he should explore the sinus by probes through holes not larger than pin-heads," while in the letter urging him to try the phrenological anatomy by an appeal to this suicidal evidence of its falsehood, I expressly begged him to“ remark, that all the skulls were, in fact, open for every purpose of observation, when examined in the hand—that the depth of many
of the sinuses, from the GREAT SIZE of the holes, was apparent even to the eye and that, if that were thought proper, all might be made equally notorious." Had Mr Combe, in fact, adduced this or any other collection of crania, opened so as fully to display the sinuses, and truly representing the average of nature, I am confident he neither could nor would maintain the propositions which he now does. The skulls he produced at his lecture might certainly refute the notion which he carefully denied, but which, as far as I know, no one ever entertained, that these cavities extend over a great part of the head, (meaning, I presume, beyond the frontal bone); but if they afforded any countenance to the new doctrines in osteology, they are, I confidently assert, as much in opposition to the ordinary appearances of nature as the phrenologi. cal statements are to all anatomical authority. Mr Combe alleges the open crania of his friend Mr Syme; but can he induce Ar Syme, or any other practical anatomist, to stake his scientific rem putation in support of the phrenological paradoxes in relation to the sinus, which these crania are said to confirm ? When the Phre. nologists shall be brought to look nature boldly in the face, they will, I am well convinced, precipitately back out of all the statements of their two great authorities in regard to the most manifest and elementary facts on which the hypothesis is founded : and I rejoice to find that Mr Combe himself has shown the example, by now at length allowing, that in young adults the frontal sinuses are
GENERALLY present ; though this admission be in the teeth of
• Mr Combe indeed admits, in his System, published in 1825, that “ in " adult age the sinus frequently occurs to a certain extent.”
Spurzheim's most positive assurance, that these cavities “occur ONLY in old persons, and after chronic insanity." —But in so plain and so important a matter, what is this, but to admit against the Doctor an excruciating dilemma of presumptuous ignorance or im. pudent deceit-an alternative completely destructive of all confi. dence in any fact that rests upon his testimony? The history of Phrenology proves, indeed, that it is only necessary to insist that black is white, with sufficient pertinacity, to gain to an opinion converts, and intelligent converts, on authority ; but human credulity cannot surely be carried to the extent of crediting an interested authority, in opposition to the plainest personal evidence of sense. In the belief, that no Phrenologist would maintain the credo quia impossibile, and his faith in Gall, in contempt of the most palpable realities of nature, when forced upon his observation, I proposed a common reference, in order, definitively and authoritatively, to ascertain the real state of facts in relation to the frontal sinuses; but as I have uniformly found with Blumenbach, that " what is new in Phrenology is not true," I am prepared, admitting even the preliminary possibility of the hypothesis, to demonstrate the falsehood of every integral position it involves, which I have been able to bring to proof. Among other contradictions, I pledge myself to prove to the umpires the five following additional propositions, all directly the reverse of the phrenological doctrine:
1. That the whole brain attains its full complement of size at seven years old ; and that the subsequent increase in the bulk of the head is exclusively determined by the greater development of the cranial bones, muscles, integuments, and hair.
2. That the proportion which the brain proper holds to the cerebellum throughout after life is attained at least ten years previous to puberty.
(The preceding facts are confirmed by the observations of the most accurate anatomists; the two following have not, I believe, been previously noticed.)
3. That the cerebellum in women is greater in proportion to the size of the whole cerebral mass than in men.
4. (Nay, that phrenological assertion should always be shown to be at the greatest possible distance from the truth), that the female cerebellum is absolutely larger than the male.
5. That the supposed organ of theosophy or veneration is, proportionally even to the lesser size of the female head, much smaller in women than in men. I remain, &c. W. HAMILTON.
P.S.-I observe the following errata in No VI. of my correspon. dence with Mr Combe, which materially affect the sense: general line for general law, and the confusion of the 3d and 4th propositions.
Note. We have many observations to offer on the preceding correspondence, but refrain for the present, as Sir W. Hamilton's
propositions are now under examination before Dr Christison, professor of Medical Jurisprudence, named by Sir W. Hamilton, and Dr John Scott, named by Mr Combe, and Mr James Syme, lecturer on Anatomy and Surgery, chosen by these two gentlemen, as umpires. In our next Number we shall return to this subject, and take an opportunity of exposing the hollowness and recklessness of assertion which so strongly characterize all Sir W. Hamilton's letters. Some of them are ludicrously extravagant, and we question if there is one that will produce any effect, except upon those whose ignorance of the subject is as great and whose confidence in the unerringness of their own prejudices is as unbounded as his own.-EDITOR.
OBSERVATIONS ON EDUCATION, SUBMITTED TO A COM
MITTEE OF THE TOWN COUNCIL OF
The Committee having visited the Sessional School in Edinburgh, superintended by John Wood, Esq. presented to the Council an able and interesting report on that seminary. Having read their observations, and also repeatedly visited Mr Wood's school, I offer my humble testimony to the accuracy of the report, and excellence of the plan.
But suppose a young man educated to the full limit of Mr Wood's system, and sent into the world, what will be the amount of his attainments? He will possess a very considerable knowledge of the English language, writing, arithmetic, and geography. These appear considerable acquirements, and I am very far from undervaluing them. They are the instruments, by the diligent use of which much use
These observations are written by a Phrenologist, and our readers will discover phrenological principles to pervade them throughout, although the terms of the science were avoided to suit them for the committee for whose perusal they were prepared. -EDITOR.
ful and practical knowledge may be attained ; but in themselves they do not constitute such knowledge. A few observations are necessary to elucidate this position.
First, In regard to language in general, and the “ learn“ed languages” in particular.
Words are mere arbitrary signs for expressing feelings and ideas in the mind; and it is better to have ten ideas, although the words by which we designate them belong all to one language, than to have only one idea, and ten words in as many different languages for communicating it; for example,-a monk who has only seen a horse passing by the window of his cell, may know that this animal is named in Greek, 17705,—in Latin, équus in English, a horse,-in French, cheval,-in Italian, cavallo,-in German, pferde ; and by some persons may be supposed to be, in consequence, highly learned on the subject of a horse. But his stock of REAL knowledge would not be the least increased by the acquirement of these six words to express the name of the animal. His original NOTION of a horse, whatever it was, would continue unextended and unimpaired by all these additions to its names. The body of a man is neither stronger, taller, nor more graceful, because he possesses six suits of clothes, than it would be if he had only one, provided it fitted him exactly; and so it is with the mind. A youth trained in a stable-yard, whose attention had been directed to the various qualities that go to make up a good roadster, hunter, or racehorse, and who knew their names only in his mother-tongue, would be far superior, as a practical man, to the monk; he would excel him in selecting, employing, and managing a horse. He would possess ideas about the animal itself, would know what points were good, and what bad about it,-how it would work in different situations, how it would thrive on particular kinds of food,-and how it required to be treated in general, so as to obtain the most complete development of its natural powers. This is
practical knowledge-acquaintance with words is learning.