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LETTER TO THE EDITOR ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PHRENOLOGY AND THE CONTINUANCE OF THE JOURNAL.*
10th April, 1841. Sir-Having just read a notice published by the proprietors of the American Phrenological Journal, that it must be given up at the close of the present volume, that is, in September next, unless it be better patronized, I cannot refrain from addressing you in consequence.
For more than forty years I have devoted my thoughts chiefly to the study and observation of the human mind. I am not a scholar, nor a learned man, in the usual and ordinary acceptation of those terms. I am merely a self-taught man. But my opportunities for observation and for practical experience, have been continuous and uninterrupted for full fortyfive years. The minds of infants, of children, and of adults, have been constantly subjected to my study. So have also the minds of peasants, of mechanics, of men from the schools, and even from the universities. I have watched them from the cradle to the grave; in love and in hate, in joy and in grief, in sobriety and in drunkenness, in private life and in public life, in the confident security of home, and in some of the most hard fought battles of the last and present century. My great object during all this time has been to discover how I could best do good to my neighbor; for during all this time, I have had no doubt that in doing good to my neighbor, I best served my God.
For twenty years I have studied phrenology, and I subscribed to the American Phrenological Journal from its commencement. I can truly say that I feel deep gratitude to the proprietors for the efforts they have made and are still making for the good of mankind, and hitherto I doubted not but that they would be well sustained by the public. It is not easy, therefore, to express the degree of pain and disappointment which I now experience on reading the notice just published. And it is not at all so much on account of the proprietors being unsuccessful, that I suffer, as on account of the backwardness of our race to examine and duly appreciate the greatest and most blessed discovery of modern times. Surely enough has now been written on phrenology to arrest the most serious attention of all men who desire to obey the great christian com
• The above letter comes from a geintleman whose name, character and standing, (were we permitted to give them) would certainly ensure for it a careful perusal on the part of every reader of this Journal, as well as tend to awaken still deeper interest an the subjects of which it treats.-Ed.
mandment to love one another. If the happiness of mankind be above all other earthly advantages, surely the means whereby it can be best attained, claim the prompt and universal attention of all good men. I have long been surprised that the christian clergy every where, have not taken up the science, or, as some call it, pretended science, and referred it to the consideration of committees of their wisest and best divines. It is professedly based on experiment and observation, and by such men it may, no doubt, be fully established or entirely overthrown. Have the christian people every where not a right to call upon their religious teachers to apply themselves to the study necessary to enable them to overthrow or establish this strange but surprising, and, if true, invaluable science ? Let, therefore, an universal call be made upon the clergy forth with to commence such a course of inquiry as must satisfy all reasonable men that phrenology is or is not a true interpretation of nature as manifested in all mental phenomena.
I have no doubt in my own mind, but that every infant born with a healthy brain, may by such treatment as phrenology points out, be educated and trained up to be an industrious, benevolent, virtuous, moral and useful member of society; and that thus, in one generation, three-fourths, I will say, of the vices of mankind may be rooted out. But because of the indolence, the prejudices, and the groundless fears of mankind, I have no hope that such results can be realized even in a century; but that they will be more than realized at some future time, I have the firmest belief.
My present object is to make an effort, however feeble it may be, to rouse the public mind to the most earnest consideration of this great subject, and I request of you to insert this short letter in the Journal, and I call on every newspaper editor on this continent to tranfer it from your columns, or from wherever else he may find it, to his own.
How universally and promptly are the discoveries in physical and mechanical science heralded through the world from the moment of their first publication? And what are the principal results of such discoveries? Why chiefly the gratification of covetous and vain minds. While here is a discovery which is calculated to diminish the ills and woes of life to a degree not hitherto hoped for by the most ardent philanthropist, and capable of increasing our happiness to the highest degree of which we are capable in this world.
I cannot refrain from declaring that my heart often sickens at this view of our perverse nature. Yet I will not despair but that ardent minds will soon be found in sufficient numbers to carry this knowledge practically into every church, and school, and family in the land. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
ON THE FUNCTIONS OF THE ORGAN, OF MARVELLOUSNESS As the ideas advanced in this essay will be found to differ from high. authority, the following narrative is given, to enable the reader to judge whether my investigations were prompted by a desire for innovation, or love of truth. About three years since, an individual, well known to me had his head examined by one of the first practical phrenologists in this country. As one result of this examination, it was declared that the organ of Marvellousness was small. This judgment having been confirmed by several subsequent examinations by different persons, I considered it as settled that according to the present views of phrenologists, a head shaped like the one referred to, possessed a small organ of Mar. vellousness. The feelings of the individual in question, however, presented this contradiction to the alleged phrenological developement, that while a portion of the functions of Marvellousness were very, fully man ifested, another portion formed almost if not quite a trait in the character. To the difficulty presented by this case, and a few others of a sim. ilar character, the following circumstances added not a little. In Dr. Spurzheim's bust the organ of Marvellousness commences at the side of Veneration, runs laterally to the organ of Ideality, and they extends. forward between Ideality and Imitation until it reaches Mirthfulness, In Mr. Combe’s bust, no part of Marvellousness touches Veneration; but it commences at the front edge of Hope and runs forward between Ideality and Imitation to the upper edge of Causality and Mirthfulness, According to Mr. Combe, it is of an oblong form, with its length in the direction of, and parallel to, the median line. Iņ Mr. 0. S. Fowler's, bust, the length of the organ is nearly at right angles to the median line, and its boundaries are Veneration, Imitation, Ideality and Hope; no part of the organ touching either Causality or Mirthfulness. These differences in size, shape and situation, can be seen at a glance by comparing either the marked busts or plates of these phrenologists. This comparison the reader is particularly requested to make, as it will greatly help to elucidate the remainder of this article.
The ideas of various phrenologists on the primary function of the organ, were also found to differ considerably. These circumstances induced me so to direct my observations as to ascertain if these seeming contradictions could be reconciled. Many of the examinations made with this view, only served to establish the discrepancy previously, observed between the deductions of the phrenologists and the real character. In the mean time the subject had been mentioned to several phre.
nologists : but their endeavors to remove the difficulty, (which they admitted did exist,) were as ineffectual as my own. At length in comparing the views of Spurzheim and; Combe on the primary function of the organ, I was struck with the very great difference between them. As this difference was between two close and accurate observers of nature, and, as I believed, sincere, lovers of the truth, I felt assured that each must have founded his opinions on fact. After some consideration, it occurred to me that the differences between the busts of the various phrenologists, between their opinions of the primary functions of the organ, and between the cerebral developement and the character of; many per: sons I bad either examined or seen examined, were caused by confounding both the seats and the functions of two distinct organs. A considerable number of examinations made in direct reference to this point, forced me to the conclusion that there are two organs contained within the cerebral limits of Marvellousness, as delineated by Dr. Spurzheim. The direction and number of the convolutions of the brain in this region, will be found to confirm this idea. Let a line be drawn from the upper corner of Imitation on Dr. Spurzheim's bust, at right angles to the median line, till it touches Ideality, so as to cut off that part of the organ of Marvellousness between Imitation and Ideality, from the posterior portion, and the boundaries of the two organs will be seen. in front I propose to call Wonder. It corresponds with the front part of the organ of Wonder on Mr. Combe's bust. The posterior portion, or Marvellousness, corresponds in shape and situation with the organ as delineated by Mr. O. S. Fowler. Numerous observations have convinced me that some persons have a strong love for the new, derful and the mysterious, and that this feeling can be highly excited and gratified by details not at all.addressed to either Ideality, Sublimity, or a belief in the supernatural. This feeling, I consider, is manifested by that cerebral convolution that it is now, proposed to call Wonder. The faith, be it weak or strong, in the reality of spirits or of spiritual influ: ence that has been and is co-extensive with our race, is, I believe, mainly derived from the action of that part of the brain here called Marvellousness, in contradistinction to Wonder. The principal reason why Wone, der and Marvellousness have been so long confounded by phrenologists, may be found in the facility with which, from their very nature, these organs would form a combination in activity. The manifestations of these faculties have been observed and recorded by men of far greater abilities and opportunities than I can claim. The following extracts and references, therefore, are made, in the belief that they will be more effectual in elucidating the subject than any thing else that could be offered. The reader, however, is desired to remember that though the observa
tions are correct, they were made under a wrong impression, and he must distinguish for himself those manifestations resulting from Won der, from those caused by the activity of Marvellousness. Mr. Geo. Combe, in treating of the organ of Wonder, after giving Dr. Spurzheim's views, proceeds as follows: “My own observations on this organ, are the following. I have met with persons exceedingly fond of news, which, if extravagant, were the more acceptable; prone to the expression of surprise and astonishment in ordinary discourse; deeply affected by tale's of wonder; delighting in the Arabian Night's Entertainments, and the mysterious incidents abounding in the Waverly Novels, and in them I have uniformly found the part of the brain in question largely developed." * “In other persons I have found the part of the brain in question small, and in them it was accompanied with a staid soberness of feeling, diametrically the opposite of the manifestations above described. Such individuals were annoyed by every thing new or strange; they scarcely felt or expressed surprise, and had no taste for narratives leaving the beaten track of probability or reality, and soaring into the regions of supernatural fiction.' On analyzing these manisestations, they all appear to be referrable to the sentiment of Wonder, an emotion which is quite distinguishable from those hitherto enumerated." So far Mr. Combe ; from the shape and situation of the organ of Wonder as laid down by him, as well as from the tenor of his remarks on it, he seems to have confined his attention to the developement between Ideality and Imitation, almost to the exclusion of that part of the organ next Veneration and Hope.
The following extract from an article “On the primary function of the organ of Wonder," by M. B. Sampson, Esq., published in the American Phrenological Journal, vol. 1st, page 204, appears more consistent with facts and will better serve to explain my ideas respecting the organ of Marvellousness, than any thing I have yet seen. After some preliminary remarks, Mr. Sampson proceeds as follows: Our belief in the necessity of submission to a Supreme Being—our hope of future happiness—the duties of justice and universal love, are all written as with a pen of fire upon our nature, and teach man the great truths of his being, albeit he may roam as a savage over the wildest plains, or pass his days in the colleges of civilization. Now next to the feeling of dependence upon God, the truth that presses most closely upon the interests of a living man, is that by which he recognizes in himself the possession of an indestructible power, independent of and commanding his physical organization, and without the consciousness of which, all his aspirations for future happiness, all his yearning towards perfection, all his sense of responsibility for good or evil, can only be regarded as vain and idle