Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

in proportion as they depart from them. And even they who have arrived at this view, have rather adopted it as a matter of faith, borne out and warranted by partial glimpses of the Creator's goodness and power, than been convinced of it by complete demonstra. tion. If the world, and all that it contains, have received a definite constitution, and if enjoyment can be found only in acting in accordance with it, every individual ought in his daily life to regulate his conduct by that constitution ; every community ought to form its institutions in harmony with it, and every nation ought to adhere to it in its laws and its foreign and domestic arrangements. Every individual ought to feel, that in departing from it he acts against the will and the power of God; while in following it, he has the pledge of Omniscience for success, and a beneficial result to his undertakings. Farther, if men were practically convinced that God is good, they would not doubt of his design to permit their enjoyment; and as a consequence, when they felt unhappy, they would be certain of a departure from his laws, and he led to inquire into their offences, that they might return to obedience. If they were satisfied to demon. stration that He is intelligent and wise, they would not hesitate in believing, that consistency and unity of purpose pervade the whole of creation, and consequently that the happiness of each individual, of each community, and of each nation, is perfectly compatible with that of all other individuals, communities, and nations, whenever all of them shall place themselves in accordance with the divine arrangements, wbile none can be happy by neglecting them. The practical end 10 which this conviction and belief would tend, would be, that from infancy to the close of life each individual would perceive that he is part of a great whole; that his happiness or misery is inseparably connected with that of the world around him; and he would be led to dedicate his efforts, intelligently and constantly, to the promotion of the great scheme of creation, in place of habitually losing sight of God's arrangements in secular affairs, concentrating bis whole views and feelings on his individual circle and its interests, mistaking the way of gratifying even these, and in the end reaping only vanity and vexation of spirit.

In no inquiry is it more necessary to be deeply imbued with the conviction of the Creator's benevolence, wisdom, and power, than in the survey of human nature. Man obviously stands pre-eminent among sublunary objects, and is distinguished by remarkable endow. ments above all other terrestrial beings. Nevertheless, no creature presents such anomalous appearances as man.

Viewed in one aspect, he almost resembles a demon; in another, he still bears the impress of the image of God. Seen in his crimes, his wars, and his

VOL. III.-3

a

devastations, he might be mistaken for an incarnation of an evil spirit; contemplated in his schemes of charity, his discoveries in science, and his vast combinations for the benefit of his race, he seems a bright intelligence from heaven. The lower animals exhibit a more simple and regulated constitution. The lion is bold and ferocious, but he is regularly so; and, besides, is placed in circumstances suited to his nature, in which at once scope is given and limits are set to the gratification of his instincts. The sheep, as a contrast, is mild, feeble, and inoffensive; but its external condition also is suited to its constitution, and it apparently lives and flourishes in as great enjoyment as the lion. The same remarks apply to all the inferior creatures; and the idea which we wish particularly to convey is, that the bodily organs, mental instincts, and external cir. cumstances of these creatures, form parts of a system in which adaptation and harmony are discoverable; and that the enjoyment of the animals depends on the adaptation of their constitution to their external condition. If we saw the lion one day tearing in pieces every animal that crossed its path, and the next oppressed with remorse for the death of its victims, or compassionately healing those whom it had mangled, we should exclaim, what an inconsistent creature ! and conclude that it could not by possibility be happy, owing to this opposition among the principles of its nature. In short, we should be strikingly convinced that two conditions are essential to enjoyment: first, that the different instincts of an animal must be in harmony with each other; and, secondly, that its whole constitution must be in accordance with its external condition.

When, keeping these principles in view, we direct our attention to man, the most formidable anomalies present themselves. The most opposite instincts or impulses exist in his mind; actuated by Combativeness, Destructiveness, Acquisitiveness, and Self-esteem, the moral sentiments being in abeyance, he is almost a fiend ; on the contrary, when inspired by Benevolence, Veneration, Hope, Conscientiousness, Ideality, and intellect, the benignity, serenity, and splendour of a bighly-elevated nature beam from his eye and radiate from his countenance. He is then lovely, noble, and gigantically great. But how shall these conflicting tendencies be reconciled ? And how can external circumstances be devised that shall accord with such heterogeneous elements ? Here, again, a conviction of the power and goodness of the Deity comes to our assistance.

Man is obviously an essential and most important part of the present system of creation, and, without doubting of his future destinies, we ought not, so long as our knowledge of his nature is incomplete, to consider his condition here as inexplicable. The nature of man has hitherto, to all philosophical purposes, been unknown, and both the purposes of the Creator and the situation of man have been judged of ignorantly and rashly. The sceptic has advanced arguments against religion, and crafty deceivers in all ages have founded systems of superstition, on the disorder and inconsistency which are too readily admitted to be inseparable attributes of human existence on earth. But we venture to hope that man will yet be found in harmony with himself and with his condition; and it is because we anticipate that phrenology will be the means of bringing these great truths to light, that we have said that its consequences are unknown, or perceived only by a few.

We are aware that some individuals, whose piety we respect, con. ceive that as the great revolutions of human society, as well as all events in the lives of individuals, take place under the guidance of the Deity, it is presumptuous, if not impious, in man to endeavour to scan their causes and effects. But it is obvious that the Creator governs man with reference to the faculties bestowed on him. The young swallow, when it migrates on the approach of the first winter of its life, is impelled by an instinct implanted by the Deity, and it can neither knor, the causes that prompt it to fly, nor the end to be attained by its flight. But its mental constitution is wisely adapted to this condition ; for it has no organs of Causality stimulating it to reflect on itself and external objects, and to inquire whence came its desires, or to what object they tend. Man, however, has been framed differently. The Creator has bestowed on him faculties to observe phenomena, and to trace cause and effect; and he has constituted the external world to afford scope to these powers. We are entitled, therefore, to say, that it is the Creator himself who has commanded us to observe and inquire into the causes that prompt us to act, and the results that will naturally follow; and our whole design is to show that it has been from non-performance of those duties that much of human misery has ariser.

But as long as inan remained ignorant of his own nature, be could not of design form his institutions in accordance with it. Until his own faculties became the subjects of his observation, and their rela. tions the objects of bis reflection, they operated as mere instincts. He adopted savage habits, because bis animal propensities were not at first directed by moral sentiment or enlightened by reflection. He next adopted the condition of the barbarian, because his higher powers had made some advances, but had not yet attained supremacy; and he now manufactures, because his constructive faculties and intellect have given him power over physical nature, while his Acquisitiveness, Self-esteem, and Love of Approbation, are predomi. nant, and are gratified by these avocations. Not one of these changes, however, has been adopted from design, or from perception of its suitableness to the nature of man. He has been ill at ease in them all; but it does not follow that he shall continue for ever equally ignorant of his nature, and equally incapable of framing institutions to harmonise with it. The simple facts, that the Creator has bestowed on man reason capable of discovering his own nature, and its relations to external objects; that He has left him to apply it in framing suitable institutions to ensure his happiness; that, nevertheless, man has hitherto been ignorant of his nature and of its relations, and that, in consequence, his modes of life have never been adopted from enlightened views of his whole capacities and qualities, but sprung up from the instinctive ascendency of one blind propensity or another-warrant us in saying, that a new era has begun with the discovery of phrenology, and that the future may exhibit man assuming his station as a rational creature, pursuing his own happiness with intelligence and design, and at length attaining higher gratification to his whole faculties than he has hitherto enjoyed.

[blocks in formation]

On looking abroad upon society, we perceive some families apparently surrounded by every external advantage, yet in which it is found difficult to rear any of the children to maturity. Either from scrofula, consumption, or some other form of bad health, one after another is carried off; and those who survive, are characterised by great delicacy of constitution, and require the most assiduous care for their preservation. As a contrast to this, we meet with other families seemingly much less fortunate in their outward circumstances, but in which one child grows up after another as if no such thing as disease existed; or as if the ordinary disorders of infancy were merely mysterious processes for the farther developement of the bodily organisation. That such remarkable differences exist, must have been observed by all who notice what is passing around them; and, granting them to exist, the very important question occurs, On what do they depend?

* From Combe on Infancy.

[ocr errors]

To some extent, at least, we have no difficulty in answering the inquiry. The very terms of our statement imply, that the unusual susceptibility of disease in the one case, and the immunity from it in the other, arise from no peculiarity of treatment or external situation, and must, therefore, depend on some inherent difference of constitution derived from one or other, or from both, of the parents. Such, accordingly, is the truth; and so manifest is the influence of hereditary constitution upon the organisation and qualities of the offspring, that, from the earliest ages, the attention of mankind has been directed to its observation. Where interest does not blind the judgment, there is thus an almost instinctive preference of a sound and morally respectable stock over one which is either unhealthy or remarkable for any moral or personal peculiarity. Apparent exceptions occur in cases where the children differ widely from their progenitors; but they are so few in number, and usually so easily explained, that the general principle remains unshaken.

Admitting, then, the reality of hereditary influence, the next point of practical importance is, to discover what are the conditions in the parents which affect most powerfully the future welfare of the child. The following are, perhaps, the most deserving of notice :

1st, Natural infirmities of constitution derived from their own parents.

2dly, Premature marriages, especially of delicate females, and persons strongly predisposed to hereditary disease.

3dly, Marriages between parties too nearly allied in blood, particularly where either of them is descended from an unhealthy race.

Athly, Great disproportion in age between the parents.

5thly, The state of the parents at the time of conception; and, lastly, The state of health and conduct of the mother during preg. nancy. Of these I shall speak in succession.

It may be said, that, in a work like the present, destined chiefly for the guidance of parents and young practitioners, it is altogether superfluous to treat of any of the first four heads; seeing that the child is supposed to be already in existence, and that it is no longer in our power to avert the consequences of a well or ill assorted mar. riage, or infirm constitution. But this objection does not apply with much force; for the more delicate the infant is, the more necessary does it become to detect the true source of the delicacy, that the means of remedying it may be applied with that discrimination which is essential to success. The same treatment, for example, which is suitable for an infant whose infirm health arises from its inheriting the constitutional tendencies of the race of cither parent, may not be equally suitable for another whose delicacy is caused by

« VorigeDoorgaan »