Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

The flourish with which you introduce the third attack is in the following terms :-“ Every one, of course, has heard “ of Dr Gall's Craniology, and seen his plaster heads, mapped out “ into the territories of some thirty or forty independent faculties. Long before this time, we confess, we expected io have seen them turned into toys for children, and this folly consigned to that

great limbo of vanity to which the dreams of alchemy, sympathetic medicine, and animal magnetism had passed before it.. It seems really to provoke you that Phrenology will not die. You tell us in this article, that “ the dogmatism and arro-, 66

gance of its advocates were really BEGINNING TO BE TIRE

SOME, and the folly had lasted RATHER TOO LONG.” No, wonder ! It has lasted twenty-three years after you had deprived it of every shadow of plausibility! It is now believed in and supported by full-grown men, who were not in existence when you first attacked it. This is lasting “ rather too long." You assure us, however, that “ it would, no doubt, decline of itself in no VERY long time ; and, in supposing " that we have now done something to accelerate its cessation, we “ are probably vainly arrogating to ourselves an honour that will “ belong entirely to the progress of reason, or the more fortunate. “ distraction of some newer delusion.” It was this passage, cou.. pled with the two previous attacks of the Review, that suggested the motto to the present Letter.

The strong contempt which you entertain for Phrenology has kept you sadly ignorant of its history and progress. You have written sixty-six pages replete with hostile arguments, original, no doubt, to yourself, but the most of them familiar, as a thrice-told tale, to those who have attended to the discussions about the science. Did the public not know your genius and originality, it would be impossible for them to doubt, that you had ransacked the pages of Blackwood's Magazine, the Literary Gazette, and other equally philosophical oracles,-picked up every argument they contain against Phrenology, and spun them into this web of your own. Your objections, almost without a single exception, have been al.. ready propounded, refuted, and given up by their advocates, and, what is more, by the public. It shall be my business to prove this as we proceed.

You say,

" We do not hear that Phrenology makes much “ way in London or Paris.” This is because you do not read the periodical notices of its progress. Allow me then to mention, that there is in London a Phrenological Society, embracing upwards of a hundred members, not obscure persons, but members of parliament, doctors in medicine, barristers, and such like. In April and May, 1826, Dr Spurzheim lectured in that city to an audience exceeding 800 individuals of the highest rank and intelligence; and, finally, for brevity's sake, the Medico-Chirurgical Review for October, 1826, the most widely-circulated and the most esteemed medical journal in Europe, has published a review of the sys-,tem of Phrenology, in which the following passage occurs :Phrenology is more intimately connected with the applica“ tions of medical knowledge than may at first sight be apparent, “On this account, therefore, we recognize in the science of its prin

ciples a legitimate and useful subject of professional inquiry. We “ must acknowledge, at the same time, that we feel impelled, by " the pure force of multifarious and unquestionable evidence, to

regard this as the most intelligible and self-consistent system of mental philosophy that has ever yet been presented to the con"templation of inquisitive men.” After a full, able, and accurate analysis of the work, the journalist concludes :-“ We might have

expatiated at great length on the utility of this science, in its ap“plications to the purposes of education, legislation, political eco

nomy, criminal jurisprudence, history, legal and theological elo“ cution, and, above all, TO THE TRUE PHILOSOPHY OF MEDI. CINE ;

but we have abstained from this indulgence, in the belief " that the foretaste of an intellectual luxury we have provided for

our readers will stimulate them to desire the enjoyments of a full “ repast."-P. 468.

In regard to the progress of the science in Paris, I beg to refer you to the following extract of a letter from a gentleman in that city, published in the Transactions of the Phrenological Society in 1824.--" It is worth mentioning also, " that, about two years ago, Dr Gall

, at the request of the Mi“ nister of the Interior, commenced lecturing for the benefit of " the Medical Students in Paris. The lectures were, like others, “ delivered gratis ; but he was provided with the use of the “ operation and lecture room in the Hospice de Perfectionnement, “ for his first course, and afterwards, on account of that being

too small, with the large examination-room of the Institution

[ocr errors]

“ des Jeunes Aveugles, which is well fitted for the purpose. “ His audience amounted to betwixt 200 and 300; and so eager“ ly is he attended, that it is well known that many more tickets “ were applied for at each course than could be given, and that “ the apartment was regularly crowded half an hour before the “ lecture began. Dr Spurzheim also continues to lecture in “ Paris, and although, from his demanding a fee, his auditory “is not numerous compared with Dr Gall's, yet he is regularly " attended, and his course is esteemed the more philosophic of " the two."

The statements of this letter are confirmed by a notice which appeared in the New Monthly Magazine for January, 1823.-" Histoire des Fonctions du Cerveau. Par le Docteur Gall, 2 vols. 8vo, Paris, 1822.

“This is another exposition of Dr Gall's system of Invincible « (innate) Dispositions. This gentleman, who possesses no little “ talent, both as a physician and a writer, has been practising, “ for the last twelve or fifteen years, in Paris, where he has esta“blished a reputation, and realized a handsome fortune. On “ the first development of his system, it was received either with “ unthinking pleasantry, or dismissed as idle, without due con“sideration, but a more intimate knowledge of the man has led, if not to the adoption of his ideas, at least to a more serious and respectful examination of them. There are many men here (Paris) amongst the most eminent for their medical and “physiological knowledge, who, though differing, widely upon “other scientific topics, yet agree in saying, that there is much, not only of probability, but of truth, in the system of Dr Gall. “ It is certain that one of the most powerful motives of human " action, instinct, has been but very imperfectly examined by the “most celebrated modern philosophers, and, amongst others, the “ acute Helvetius. It appears to be the general opinion of the “present savans of Paris, that Dr Gall's system calls for a much

more serious and profound examination than it has hitherto “ undergone. To this task it will be necessary to bring a con“siderable share of anatomical science, as the Doctor, it is said, “ has made some very important discoveries in the structure of " the brain. This new edition, which is improved and enlarged, “ will consist of eight volumes 8vo."

The account given in the foregoing letter regarding the opinions entertained in Paris, although published in this country several years ago, and reprinted at the time in a Parisian newspaper, have never been contradicted. Not only so, but they have been supported by many subsequent notices in the

[ocr errors]

philosophical journals of France, particularly the Revue Encyclopedique.

In page 295 of your Review, you state, “ that several persons who had been at first rather taken with the new doc

trines, had, by more careful observation, been thoroughly convinced of their fallacy." This also is an unfounded and very frequently-refuted assertion. It is adverted to in the following letter by Dr Spurzheim, likewise published in the Phrenological Transactions.

« In the whole of our travels," says he, we have been well re"ceived, and the second course was always more fully attended than “ the first, so that there was no doubt that the subject excited great “ interest. But it is to be regretted that we stopt too short a time K to form practical pupils. The principles were explained, the de

velopment shewn, and we were off. You will conceive that this was not the way to establish the doctrine. We had more advantage than our pupils, because we had great opportunities of observing the heads of many men of talents; we got more conviction " than our auditors. We were prepared by previous study to make .“ observations, but our stay was too short to teach the auditors to

repeat them. Dr Gall even gave the advice not to repeat the ex“periments, since it is difficult to do so, which I have mentioned “ in my large English work, 2d edition, p. 270. But I assure you, “that not one Phrenologist, from knowledge, has fallen back, saya ing that the doctrine is false. I have seen frequently the con“trary, i.e. the belief in it strengthened by self-observations."

Farther, the. assertion, that individuals, after once believing, have discovered evidence which induced them to renounce their faith, must imply one of two alternatives, either that nature changed betwixt the period of belief and that of disbelief, or that the persons alluded to became converts at first from credulity, without due examination. The first alternative will scarcely be alleged to have happened; and as the second implies a total want of a philosophic understanding in the individual, and indeed admits his previous stultification, I willingly allow you all the advantages which you can derive from such testimony against the truth of the doctrines.' Even although some persons should affirm that they have made observations, and found the result to differ from the assertions of the Phrenologists, this would be nothing more than has happened in the case of other sciences, which have nevertheless been ultimately admitted to be true, Mr Playfair mentions that Mariotte, * though very conversant with experiment, appears never to have succeeded in repeating the experiments of Newton.Supp. to Encyc. Brit. second Dis.

p.

57. To complete this brief notice of the progress of the science, allow me to add, that Dr Otto, an established medical professor, and editor of a medical journal in Copenhagen, lectures on Phrenology as the true theory of the functions of the brain, advocates its cause in his Journal, and has published a separate work in elucidation of it. In the United States there are Phrenological Societies in Philadelphia and Washington; and lectures have been delivered at the latter city, New York, and Lexington. Dr Caldwell of Lexington is an endowed medical professor, who has both published and lectured on the science ; and, in particular, his course in Washington this year was attended by the highest function‘ aries of the American state, and many members of Congress. In Calcutta there is a Phrenological Society; and, as a proof that it is not a dormant body, it may be mentioned, that there is now on my table a pamphlet, or rather à book of 126 octavo pages, published there in 1825, against the science. I could add many more proofs that Phrenology is far more widely extended than you appear to dream of; but one more shall suffice.' In the spring of 1826, a Mechanics’ Phrenological Society was formed in Dundee. The first letter of their Secretary announcing the information was as follows:

Dundee, May 2, 1826.-To GEORGE COMBE, Esq. -RE

SPECTED SIR, The members of the Dundee Mechanics' Phre“nological Society request me to transmit you their most sincere thanks for the interest you have taken in their welfare, by sending " them, through Mr Galloway, a copy of your System of Phreno“ logy at a reduced price. At the same time they wish me to give

you some account of the motives which induced us to form our. “selves into a society, for the purpose of obtaining a knowledge of

phrenological truth; the chief of which was, the education of “ youth. It has long appeared to a few of us, that the present sys

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »