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PHRENOLOGY (derived from the Greek words pony, mind and λoyos, discourse) professes to be a system of Philosophy of the Human Mind, founded on the physiology of the brain. It was first offered to public consideration on the continent of Europe in 1796, but in Britain was almost unheard of till the year 1815. It has met with strenuous support from some individuals, and determined opposition from others; while the great body of the public remain uninstructed as to its merits. On this account it may be useful to present, in an introductory form, 1st, A short notice of the reception which other discoveries have met with on their first announcement; 2dly, A brief outline of the principles involved in Phrenology; 3dly, An inquiry into the presumptions for and against these principles, founded on the known phenomena of human nature; and, 4thly, An historical sketch of the discovery of the organs of the mind.
I shall follow this course, not with a view of convincing the reader that Phrenology is true, (because nothing short of patient study and extensive personal observation can produce this conviction,) but for the purpose of presenting him with motives to prosecute the investigation for his own satisfaction.
First, then-one great obstacle to the reception of a discovery is the difficulty which men experience in at once parting with old notions which have been instilled into their minds from infancy, and become the stock of their understandings. Phrenology has encountered this impediment, but not in a greater degree than other discoveries which have preceded it. Mr. Locke, in speaking of the common reception of new truths, says: "Who ever, by the most cogent arguments, will be prevailed with to disrobe himself at once of all his old opinions and pretences to knowledge and learning, which with hard study he hath all his time been labouring for, and turn himself out stark naked in quest afresh of new notions? All the arguments that can be used will be as little able to prevail as the wind did with the traveller to part with his cloak, which he held only the faster."*
Professor Playfair, in his historical notice of discoveries in physical science, published in the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, observes, that "in every society there are some who think themselves interested to maintain things in the condition wherein they have found them. The considerations are indeed sufficiently obvious, which, in the moral and political world, tend to produce this effect, and to give a stability to human institutions, often so little proportionate to their real value or to their general utility. Even in matters purely intellectual, and in which
Locke On the Human Understanding, b. iv., c. 20, sect. 11.
RES NON VERBA QUÆSO.
THE ONLY COMPLETE AMERICAN EDITION, BEING FROM THE FOURTH
AND LAST (REVISED AND ENLARGED) EDINBURGH EDITION.
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WILLIAM H. COLYER,
No. 5 HAGUE-STREET.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE following are the circumstances which led to the publication of the present work:
My first information concerning the system of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim was derived from No. 49 of the Edinburgh Review. Led away by the boldness of that piece of criticism, I regarded the doctrines as contemptibly absurd, and their authors as the most disingenuous of men. In 1816, however, shortly after the publication of the Review, my friend Mr. Brownlee invited me to attend a private dissection of a recent brain, to be performed in his house by Dr Spurzheim. The subject was not altogether new, as I had previously attended a course of demonstrative lectures on Anatomy by Dr. Barclay. Dr. Spurzheim exhibited the structure of the brain to all present, (among whom were several gentlemen of the medical profession,) and contrasted it with the bold averments of the reviewer. The result was a complete conviction in the minds of the observers, that the assertions of the reviewer were refuted by physical demonstration.
The faith placed in the Review being thus shaken, I attended the next course of Dr. Spurzheim's lectures, for the purpose of hearing from himself a correct account of his doctrines. The lectures satisfied me that the system was widely different from the representations given of it by the reviewer, and that, if true, it would prove highly important; but the evidence was not conclusive. I therefore appealed to Nature by observation; and at last arrived at complete conviction of the truth of Phrenology.
In 1818 the Editor of the "Literary and Statistical Magazine for Scotland" invited me to a free discussion of the merits of the system in his work, and I was induced to offer him some essays on the subject. The notice which these attracted led to their publication in 1819, in a separate volume, under the title of "Essays on Phrenology." A second edition of these Essays has since been called for, and the present volume is offered in compliance with that demand. In the present work I have adopted the title of "A System of Phrenology," on account of the wider scope and closer connexion of its parts; but pretend to no novelty in principle, and to no rivalry with the great founders of the
The controversial portions of the first edition are here almost entirely omitted. As the opponents have quitted the field, these appeared no longer necessary, and their place is supplied by what I trust will be found more interesting matter. Some readers may think that retributive justice required the continued republication of the attacks of the opponents, that the public mind, when properly enlightened, might express a just disapprobation of the conduct of those who so egregiously misled it but Phrenology teaches us forbearance; and, besides, it will be misfortune enough to the individuals who have distingished themselves in the work of misrepresentation, to have their names