descending from the stations they formerly occupied, to take a lower position in the scale of intellectual improvement. The enmity of such men, if they be not animated by a spirit of real candour and the love of truth, is likely to be directed against methods by which their vanity is mortified, and their importance lessened."-Dissertation, part ii. p. 27.

Every age has afforded proofs of the justness of these observations. "The disciples of the various philosophical schools of Greece inveighed against each other, and made reciprocal accusations of impiety and perjury. The people, in their turn, detested the philosophers, and accused those who investigated the causes of things, of presumptuously invading the rights of the Divinity. PYTHAGORAS was driven from Athens on account of his novel opinions; and for the same reason ANAXAGORAS was confined in prison. DEMOCRITUS was treated as a fool by the Abderites for endeavouring to find out the cause of madness by dissections; and SOCRATES, for having demonstrated the unity of God, was forced to drink the juice of hemlock."-Dr SPURZHEIM's Physiog. Syst.

But let us attend in particular to the reception of the three greatest discoveries that have adorned the annals of philosophy, and mark the spirit with which they were hailed.

Mr PLAYFAIR, speaking of the treatment of GALILEO, says: "GALILEO was twice brought before the Inquisition. The first time, a council of seven cardinals pronounced a sentence which, for the sake of those disposed to believe that power can subdue truth, ought never to be forgotten; viz. That to maintain the sun to be immoveable, and without local motion, in the centre of the world, is an absurd proposition, false in philosophy, heretical in religion, and contrary to the testimony of Scripture; and it is equally absurd and false in philosophy to assert, that the earth is not immoveable in the centre of the world, and, considered theologically, equally erroneous and heretical."

Mr HUME, the historian, mentions the fact that HARVEY was treated with great contumely on account of his discovery of the circulation of the blood, and in consequence lost his practice. An eloquent writer, in the 94th Number of the Edinburgh Review, when adverting to the treatment of HARVEY, observes, that "the discoverer of the circulation of the blood-a discovery which, if measured by its consequences on physiology and medicine, was the greatest ever made since physic was cultivated-suffers no diminution of his reputation in our day, from the incredulity with which his doctrine was received by some, the effrontery with which it was claimed by others, or the knavery with which it was attributed to former physiologists, by those who could not deny and would not praise it. The very names of these envious and dishonest enemies of HARVEY are scarcely remembered; and the honour of this great discovery now rests, beyond all dispute, with the great philosopher who made it." This shews that HARVEY, in his day, was treated exactly as Dr GALL has been in ours; and if Phrenology be true, these, or similar terms, may one day be applied by posterity to him and his present opponents.

Again, Professor PLAYFAIR, speaking of the discovery of the composition of light by Sir ISAAC NEWTON, says, "Though the discovery now communicated had every thing to recommend it which can arise from what is great, new, and singular; though it was not a theory or system of opinions, but the generalization of facts made known by experiments, and though it was brought forward in a most simple and unpretending form, a host of enemies appeared, each eager to obtain the unfortunate pre-eminence of being the first to attack conclusions which the unanimous voice of posterity was to confirm." (P. 56.) "Among them, one of the first was Father PARDIES, who wrote against the experiments, and what he was pleased to call the Hypothesis of NEWTON. A satisfactory and calm reply convinced him of his mistake, which he had the candour very readily to acknowledge. A countryman of his, Mariotte,

was more difficult to be reconciled, and though very conversant with experiment, appears never to have succeeded in repeating the experiments of NEWTON."

Here, then, we see that persecution, condemnation, and ridicule, awaited GALILEO, HARVEY, and NEWTON, for announcing three great physical discoveries. In mental philosophy, the conduct of mankind has been similar.

ARISTOTLE and DES CARTES "may be quoted as examples of the good and bad fortune of new doctrines. The ancient antagonists of ARISTOTLE caused his books to be burned. Afterwards, these books were received with a veneration equal to that due to inspiration itself; and even so late as the time of FRANCIS I., the writings of RAMUS against ARISTOTLE were publicly burned, his adversaries were declared heretics, and, under pain of being sent to the galleys, philosophers were prohibited from combating his opinions. At the present time the philosophy of ARISTOTLE is no longer spoken of. Again, DES CARTES was persecuted for teaching the doctrine of innate ideas; he was accused of Atheism, though he had written on the existence of God; and his books were burnt by order of the University of Paris. A short time after, the same University adopted the doctrine of DES CARTES in favour of innate ideas; and when LOCKE and CONDILLAC attacked it, there was a general cry of materialism and fatalism. Thus, the same opinions were considered at one time as dangerous because they were new, and at another as useful because they were ancient. What is to be inferred from this, but that man deserves pity; that the opinions of contemporaries, in respect to the truth or falsehood, and the good or bad con- ! sequences of a new doctrine, are altogether suspicious; and that the only object of an author ought to be that of pointing out the truth?"-Dr SPURZHEIM'S Physiog. Syst. p. 488.

To these extracts many more might be added of a similar nature; but enough has been said to demonstrate, that, by the ordinary practice of mankind, great discoveries are

treated with hostility by the generation to whom they are addressed.

If, therefore, Phrenology be a discovery at all, and especially if it be also important, it must of necessity come into collision, on the most weighty topics, with the opinions of men hitherto venerated as authorities in physiology and the philosophy of mind; and, according to the custom of the world, nothing except opposition, ridicule, and abuse, could be expected on its first announcement. If we are to profit, however, by the lessons of history, we ought, after surveying these mortifying examples of human weakness and wickedness, to dismiss from our minds every prejudice against our present subject, founded on its hostile reception by men of established reputation of the present day. He who does not perceive that if Phrenology shall prove to be true, posterity will view the contumelies heaped by the philosophers of this generation on its founders as another dark speck in the history of scientific discovery, and he who does not feel anxious to avoid all participation in this ungenerous treatment, has reaped no moral improvement from the records of intolerance which we have now contemplated: but every enlightened individual will say, Let us dismiss prejudice, and calmly listen to evidence and reason; let us not encounter even the chance of adding our names to the melancholy list of the enemies of mankind, by refusing, on the strength of mere prejudice, to be instructed in the new doctrines when submitted to our consideration; let us enquire, examine, and decide.

These, I trust, are the sentiments of the reader; and on the faith of their being so, I shall proceed, in the second place, to state very briefly the principles of Phrenology itself.

It is a notion inculcated, often indirectly no doubt, but not less strongly, by highly venerated teachers of intellectual philosophy, that we are acquainted with Mind and with Body, as two distinct and separate entities. The anatomist treats of the body, and the logician and moral philosopher of

the mind, as if they were separate subjects of investigation, either not at all, or only in a remote and unimportant degree connected. In common society, too, men speak of the dispositions and faculties of the mind, without its occurring to them that they are in close connexion with the body.

But the Human Mind, as it exists in this world, cannot, by itself, become an object of philosophical investigation. Placed in a material world, it cannot act or be acted upon, but through the medium of an organic apparatus. The soul sparkling in the eye of beauty does not transmit its sweet influence to a kindred spirit, but through the filaments of an optic nerve; and even the bursts of eloquence which flow from the lips of the impassioned orator, when mind appears to transfuse itself almost directly into mind, emanate from, and are transmitted to, corporeal beings, through a voluminous apparatus of organs. If we trace the mind's progress from the cradle to the grave, every appearance which it presents reminds us of this important truth. In earliest life the mental powers are feeble as the body, but when manhood comes, they glow with energy, and expand with power; till, at last, the chill of age makes the limbs totter, and the fancy's fire decay.

Nay, not only the great stages of our infancy, vigour, and decline, but the experience of every hour, remind us of our alliance with the dust. The lowering clouds and stormy sky depress the spirits and enerve the mind;-after short and stated intervals of toil, our wearied faculties demand repose in sleep; famine or disease is capable of levelling the proudest energies in the earth; and even the finest portion of our compound being, the Mind itself, apparently becomes diseased, and, leaving Nature's course, flies to self-destruction to escape from pain,

These phenomena must be referred to the organs with which, in this life, the mind is connected; but if the organs exert so great an effect over the mental manifestations, no system of philosophy is entitled to consideration, which would neglect their influence, and treat the thinking prin

« VorigeDoorgaan »