secretions, is a mere cavity for the reception of aliment; it is alternately distended with food and Auids, or partially collapsed by inanition, and although exquisitely sensible, by its nervous apparatus, both to external and internal injury, all that belongs to it is obviously required for the discharge of its appropriate functions in the reception and digestion of aliment; no office by it performed, no sensation there experienced, indicates it to be any thing else than an organ, indispensable, indeed, to the physical support and nourishment of the body, but in no degree the residence of the mind.

On this position we cannot consent to argue further; and if there be any persons who seriously believe that the mind and affections reside in the stomach, we can only say that, in this case, we have no perceptions in common, and that the proof which convinces us would probably be lost upon them.

We are, then, at last compelled to return to the head, from which intellectual citadel we should never, for a moment, have departed, did not some individuals affirm that they are not sure where their minds reside.

Such a doubt fills me with amazement, for I am as distinctly conscious that my mental operations are in my head, as I am of my existence, or that my eyes present to me the images of external things; nay, more, I am equally certain that no merely intellectual or moral operation has its seat below the bottom of the orbital cavities; that all the wonderful and beautiful structure beneath the base of the brain, quite to the soles of the feet, is composed merely of corporeal members, of ministering servants, that obey the will and execute the mandates of the heavenly principle, the representative of the Creator residing within the beautiful dome that crowns our frames, and which, like the lofty rotunda of a holy and magnifi. cent temple, covers the inhabitant beneath, while it looks upward to heaven with aspirations toward its divine author and architect.

Are we, then, expected seriously to assert that which appears selfevident, that the seat of our mental operations, and of our affections and propensities, is in the brain ? My consciousness informs me so, and this is the highest possible evidence to me, although my consciousness cannot be evidence to another person.

Were it possible for life to exist with the body detached from the head, the latter might, perhaps, be even capable of thinking for a short time without the appendage of trunk and limbs. Indeed, we are sure that disloca. tion of the neck, while it has paralysed and rendered insensible all the parts below, so that the individual ceases to be conscious that he possesses a body, has often left the mind in full operation. Provided the luxation, or other severe injury, has taken place below the vertebræ from which proceed the nerves that supply the lungs, the sufferer continues to breathe and to converse, manifesting a rational mind as before the accident. Death must of course soon follow, and as to perception the body is already dead; but the continued activity and soundness of the mind prove that its residence is in the brain. This fact appears to me decisive, as no one would imagine that the lungs, a mere light tissue of air-cells and blood-vessels, separated by thin membranes, and destined only for circulation and respiration, can contain the mind—especially as this noble power is not subverted in chronic diseases of the lungs, not even when their substance is almost removed by a wasting consumption.* - The residence of the mind being in the brain, it is not absurd or irrational to inquire whether it can be read in the form of the cranium as well as in the expression of the features.

It would appear, from the observations of Dr. Barclay, that there is at least a general conformation that indicates intellectual and moral powers, and we are thus led to ask whether the research for more particular manifestations is unphilosophical. On this point, we ought not to depart from the received rules of sound philosophy. We are accustomed, in all other cases of scientific inquiry, to examine and weigh the evidence of phenomena, and to apply to them the severe canons of induction, nor can we discover, in the present case, any reason for a different course.

If, as has been ascertained by physiologists and anatomists, the bony matter of the cranium is deposited upon and around the membranous envelopes of the brain, which is formed before the skull, then the latter, adapting itself in its soft and yielding state, must of necessity take the shape of the former; if the different faculties, affections, and propensities of the mind are distributed in different organs contained in the convolutions of the brain, and if the energy of the faculties is in proportion to the size and developement of the

Dropsy in the brain does not form an objection, because its appropriate seat is in the ventricles or cavities; and by the very postulates of phrenology, a particular organ, or particular organs, of the brain may be diseased, or even destroyed, without subverting the action of the mind, except in the part affected.

The case of Sir Robert Liston, mentioned by Mr. Combe, is very remarkable on this point, as his intellectual powers remained unimpaired, while the organs of Wonder, Combativeness, and Language, were affected on one side. I had the pleasure of knowing him at his beautiful cottage near Edinburgh, when all his faculties were perfect, and nothing was at that time more removed from his conduct and character than the frantic anger which he afterwards manifested in a state of the brain, ascertained by post mortem examination to be diseased in the three animal organs.

organs, then the external form and size of the cranium will indicate the powers and affections within, due allowance being made for the varying depth of the frontal sinus, and for some other peculiarities of idiosyncrasy or of disease, affecting the thickness and developement of the bone in different individuals.

This, then, is the vexed question-is there such a correspondence -are the views of phrenologists sustained by facts, and do the prevailing powers, affections, and propensities of individuals, correspond with the cranial developements, modified by the temperaments, by health, and other circumstances ? It is obvious that these questions can be answered only by persons of large observation, of great mental acumen, and extensive and accurate knowledge of the structure, physiology, and history of man. The investigation includes, in the widest sense, all that belongs to him, and therefore few persons are qualified to make such responsible decisions. They have been made, however, in so many instances with success, as to command confidence and to conciliate favour.

Many persons are alarmed lest phrenology should produce an influence hostile to religion, by favouring materialism. It is supposed that our organisation may be pleaded in bar against our moral responsibility, since, if we have strong dispositions to do wrong and no power to do right, we are like machines and are not responsible. When there is no intellectual power, as in the case of an idiot, or a subversion of reason, as in the instance of a maniac, it is agreed by all, that the individual is not amenable to human laws. This opinion has no reference to phrenology, and is embraced by all mankind.

If we have rightly understood Mr. Combe, he holds that the indi. viduals in whose heads the intellectual and moral sentiments predominate, are highly responsible ; those in whom the three classes of organs are in equilibrio, are considered as still responsible, but entitled to much mercy, combined with justice, on account of their strong temptations; while those who are sadly deficient in the moral and intellectual organs, are regarded as moral patients.

From the latter class, we slide down insensibly to intellectual idiots, whom all regard as not responsible. Where shall we draw

. the line? The common sense of mankind is agreed upon the prin. ciple, but some difficulty is found in the application to particular cases, on account of the infinitely varying degree of intellectual and

moral power.

There are also peculiar cases, as those of monomania, which are treated with indulgence, and exempted, to a certain degree, from responsibility; while there are, also, other cases still, of a doubtful character, which must be judged under their peculiar circumstances, and cannot easily be brought under any general rules. As regards organisation, it is obvious that our condition in this world is dependent upon it, and that it influences all our actions and arrangements. Organisation is the foundation of human society; upon it depend our dearest relations in life, many of our highest enjoyments, all our intellectual efforts,* and our most exalted virtues; from its abuse, on the contrary, spring some of the most flagitious crimes and most poignant sufferings. Still, no court permits a criminal to plead against his condemnation the strength of his evil propensities which have led him to the commission of crime. The temptations of cupidity will not excuse the felon from transportation; nor the fierceness of anger, or the delusions of inebriety, avert the sentence of death from a murderer. Phrenology does not, in the least, alter the case; for, independently of this science, or of any other relating to our frames--as, for instance, anatomy and physiology-we are quite sure of the existence of our faculties, our affections, and our propensities, and we know that we are responsible for their proper use and for their abuse. Their manifestations through the brain does not affect our moral responsibility, any more than if they were associated with any other parts of our frame, or diffused through the whole of it, without any particular locality.

It is our duty to regulate and control all our powers, affections, and propensities, and nothing but the impotency or subversion of our reason can excuse us from moral responsibility. We will suppose, for instance, that, according to the language of phrenology, a man may have small intellectual powers, little Conscientiousness and Benevolence, and large Acquisitiveness, Destructiveness, and Com. bativeness. Will he, therefore, stand excused for theft or murder? Certainly not. It was his duty to obey his conscience, and to resist his animal propensities when they would lead him to evil. Feeble faculties and dispositions may become strong by cultivation and encouragement, and strong propensities may be controlled and subjected by vigilant discipline. We see in life many examples of self-government producing, by the force of a voluntary discipline, fine characters, formed, as it may be, out of very imperfect or bad materials, while brilliant intellectual powers and elevated moral feelings are, unhappily, too often subdued by the lower propensitiesthe animal powers; in these cases, the latter were not governed, and thus the intellect, which should have been the master, became a miserable and ruined slave to the propensities. If the case of the feebler powers and stronger propensities admits of no justification,

[ocr errors]

* Since we have no knowledge of a human mind unconnected with a brain.

the opposite case presents no palliation; for with a strong intellect, and a conscience quick to distinguish right from wrong, the propensities ought to be subjected to the most perfect control. Phrenology, therefore, stands not in the way of moral and religious influence ; but, on the contrary, if the science be true, it indicates, in a manner most important, where and how to exert the discipline of self-control, as well as the right and power of controlling others. This discovery will, indeed, without phrenology, be made in the progress of the experience of the individual, but it may be at too late a day. Health, conscience, fortune, and honour may have been sacrificed, when, had the point of danger been early made known, and the course of safety seasonably indicated, the peril might have been shunned or averted, and peace and security insured.

But, the Christian will anxiously inquire, is our safety, then, to depend on our own imperfect knowledge and resolution in performing our duty ? We answer, that however ignorant and weak we may be, there can be no doubt that our Creator has placed us here in a state of discipline, and that we are under bonds to him to perform our duty, despite of evil influences from within, and of temptations from without. If, however, phrenology will enable the anxious parent to understand the powers and capacities, with the prevailing affections and propensities, it cannot but influence the destination and pursuits of the child, while it will also indicate the course of discipline and treatment.

But all this will not avail, without superior influence flowing from the Creator himself, through his divine revelation, which is the charter of our hopes, and our supreme moral guide through life. If there be, in any instance, an unhappy cranial formation, surely it does not diminish, but, on the contrary, it enhances the necessity of a prevailing heavenly influence to illuminate that which is dark, to strengthen the weak faculties, subdue the wild animal propensities, and purify, by a holy efficiency, the moral sentiments and affections.

Religion can therefore do what phrenology cannot alone effect. Phrenology undertakes to accomplish for man, what philosophy performs for the external world; it claims to disclose the real state of things, and to present nature unveiled, and in her true features.

As science and art build upon the laws of nature, and borrowing materials from her, proceed to construct all the machines, and edifices, and various physical furniture of refined civilisation, so phrenology, if successful in developeing the real powers, affections, and propensities of man, furnishes to revealed religion, in the best possible state, the subject upon which, through the spirit of God,

« VorigeDoorgaan »