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On p. 293, you state, that the whole question is, “ whether “ it be really true, that certain bumps on the head are the or“gans of certain primitive, distinct, and universal faculties," you admit that “ we cannot take upon ourselves to say that “ the facts are absolutely false,” but excuse yourself, in the following words, for not entering on a scrutiny of this most important of all the points in the discussion. “Suppose," you say, “ that we were merely to allege that, so far as our observation “went, the facts (of the Phrenologists) seemed all to be imaginary“ that it was a matter of notoriety, that men with large heads were “ not generally of superior endowments, nor those with small, defi“cient in understanding—that in the circle of our acquaintance “there were many kind mothers without any protuberance on the “ lower part of their skulls, many men of wit with no triangular
prominences beyond the temples, and many eloquent and loqua“cious persons, of both sexes, with no unusual projection of the
eyes—that, in fact, we had never happened to meet with any one “ individual in whom a marked peculiarity of character or disposi
a “tion was accompanied by any of their external indications, and " that we daily saw remarkable enough bumps on the heads of very “ordinary people—that most of those with whom we conversed had “ made the same observations, and concurred in the same results,” &c.
“ They would call on us to name our instances, and would “ cavil at them when they were named; or, because we declin“ed submitting the heads of respectable ladies and gentlemen “to an impertinent palpation, and their characters, temper, " and manners, to a still more impertinent discussion, because “we did not choose to offend many worthy people, by pointing “ them out as the owners of bumps, without the corresponding “ faculties,-or to engage in a quarterly wrangle about the “ Ideality of Dr Chalmers, or the Adhesiveness of Mrs M'Kin“non, they would complain, that we used allegations which “ we refused to verify, and contend, that nothing but a fair scrutiny was wanting to their success.”—P. 296.
No, indeed, the Phrenologists would make no such complaints. In regard to your facts, they would simply remind you, that you entered upon the observation of them avowedly with the conviction, “first, that there is not the least rea“ son to suppose that any of our faculties, but those which con“nect us with external objects, or direct the movements of our “ bodies, ACT BY MATERIAL ORGANS AT ALL, and that the phre“nological organs have no analogy whatever with those of the ex“ ternal senses ; second, that it is quite plain, that there neither
are, nor can be, any such primitive and original faculties as the
greater part of those to which such organs are assigned.”P. 294. They would remark, farther, that the consequences of these impressions would be, first, that you would not, in all probability, take the trouble to become acquainted accurately, with the form and position of organs which you had thus settled to be mere fictions of imagination ; and, secondly, that you would be as little likely to study, so as to comprehend distinctly, the functions ascribed to faculties which you had already dismissed, as what neither existed nor could exist; and they would state, with all deference, that a person thus prepossessed was not in the best condition for making impartial observations, and would not be over-disposed to recognize concomitances of organic development with mental manifestations, even although such should actually present themselves. As proofs of the truth of these inferençes, they would refer, first, to your ignorance of the situation of the organs manifested, in your placing “ Colour in the “ forehead, and Tune on the eyebrow, over the middle of “the eye,” p. 259, and describing Concentrativeness on one page, (274,)“ as having a goodly organ in the back part of “ the head, just above Love of Children and below Self-es“ teem;" and on another page, (274,) as having “two dis“tinct organs of an angular shape on the sides of the cranium;" secondly, to your blunders concerning the faculties, which are nearly as numerous as your notices of them; and, thirdly, to the surprising circumstance, that you “ never happened to “ meet with any one individual in whom a marked peculi
arity of character or disposition was accompanied by any “ of their external indications,” because, unless you had been absolutely resolved not to see, you must, according to the principle of the calculation of chances, have stumbled, by mere accident, upon, at least, one concomitance, out of any considerable number of observations.*
• The assertion in the text really proves, either that you have never looked, or been unwilling to see. You have frequently met Mr Thomas Moore,
As to calling you to " name your instances,” and “engage
“ “ in a quarterly wrangle about” the Ideality of Dr Chalmers, “ or the Adhesiveness of Mrs M‘Kinnon,” the Phrenologists would not propose any such offence to your editorial dignity and delicacy. If you wished to come to issue on the facts of the science, they would invite you to the Phrenological Hall, (and this they have done for the last four years, by opening it to public inspection,) they would show you authenticated casts of the skulls of King Robert Bruce, Raphael, La Fontaine, Bel. lingham, Sheridan, &c.; masks, taken from nature, of Henri Quatre, Swift, Burke, Pitt, Fox, &c. ; masks from authenticated busts of Voltaire, Franklin, &c.; actual skulls of executed criminals, whose actions were proved before juries ; and a great variety of skulls of most of the nations of the globe, whose manners and characters are matters of philosophical history; and they would stand or fall by the accordance or non-accordance of the development of brain in these instances, with the publicly-acknowledged talents and dispositions of the individuals and nations.
You urge, as an additional reason for not appealing to facts, that " we had ourselves known some, and heard from
good authority of many cases of flagrant and ridiculous blun“ ders committed by Phrenologists of the greatest eminence, “ which they had neither the candour to acknowledge nor the “confidence to deny.”—P. 295. There are several answers to this allegation. First, By far the greater number of the alleged blunders of the Phrenologists are gratuitous fictions of the opponents, destitute of all foundation in fact. The following will serve as examples :-It was recorded in Blackwood's Magazine, and reprinted in most of the newspapers of
and you are intimately acquainted with his works. The Westminster Re. view was led to remark, that in his Life of Sheridan there are 2500 similes, exclusive of metaphors and regularly-built allegories. This is pretty conclusive evidence as to his manifesting the faculty of Comparison, as described in the System, p. 339; and I venture to state, from observation, that the organ is so largely developed in his head as to be discernible at the distance of several yards, in the very form assigned to it the busts; and yet you never saw this concomitance !
Britain and America, that I had drawn a phrenological character from the cast of a turnip, supposing it to be taken from a real skull ; -when the very opposite was the fact, namely, that I instantly detected the imposition, and returned the cast to the person who sent it, with a doggerel parody of the Man of Thessaly pasted on its surface.* Farther, in a large company an individual stated, that the editor of a certain newspaper, in Glasgow, had invited me to examine the heads of his printers, and make observations on their ta. lents and dispositions; that I had done so, and blundered in the completest manner in every instance, from the foreman down to the youngest devil. The narrator gave authority for his statement; and was, withal, so minute and circumstantial in his account, that not a shadow of doubt remained on the minds of his audience of its literal correctness. It possessed, however, precisely the same degree of truth that characterizes your representation of my doctrine about the Welshman's organ of language, cited in p. 69 of this Letter ;
• The parody was the following :
There was a man in Edinburg,
And he was wond'rous wise ;
And cast about his eyes.
He saw the turnips fine ;
« That likeness bear to mine?
No sage, I'm sure, could know
From those that there do grow."
A cast from it was thrown :
And pass'd it for his own.
His own in every sense ;
All at his own expense.
--that is to say, it was purely fictitious. Up to this hour I have never seen the editor of the newspaper alluded to, do not know in what street his printing-office is situated, and in point of fact, have never examined a head in a printing-office of any kind in my life. Again, a “ Lady” in Edinburgh, who had procured a sketch of her natural dispositions, inferred from the development of her brain, by a Phrenologist quite unacquainted with her individually, was pleased to commit the original manuscript to the flames ;-to substitute a sketch of her own,-to get this lithographed, and to circulate it among her friends as a phrenological production, and as a specimen of the infallible accuracy of that science ! The substituted representation bore the same resemblance to the original that your account of the natural language of Self-esteem bears to my description of it, when you say that it makes “a man walk backwards,”_my proposition being, that it makes him carry “ his head high and reclining backwards.” I could add many more proofs that the alleged blunders of the Phrenologists are, in general, merely “ weak inventions of the enemy;" but these must suffice. In the second place, however, admitting, as I freely admit, that the votaries of this study have committed occasional errors, I would ask, who is the man that can legitimately pretend to infallibility? and what is the science that ever was, or can be, founded and improved, without some unsuccessful experiments and inaccurate observations occurring to impede its progress? Does a chemist never fail in an experiment, or a mathematician err in a calculation, or is an engineer never disappointed in the expected results of his combinations ? and yet who that pretends to a spark of philosophy would urge these errors of individual minds as objections against the sciences themselves ?-But, in the third place, who is He that taunts Phrenologists with their errors ? If Dr Gall or Dr Spurzheim, not to mention so humble an individual as myself, had committed, in all their works together, one-tenth part of the blunders, in fact, in philosophy, and in physiology,