Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

DR. GALL AND HIS HYPOTHESIS.

To the Editor of the Literary Panorama. SIR,

OBSERVING in your last number of the Panorama that Dr. Gali was arrived at Paris, whence we certainly shall hear more of him, and being desirous that every system proposed by an intelligent man, should have justice done it, I take the liberty of submitting to the publick, by your means, an outline of that phy-iologist's hypothesis My design is, on one hand, that it should not be scouted without reason; and on the other, that it should be submitted 10 the closest investigation by your ingenious readers.

Dr. Gall considers animals as being born with the dispositions or faculties proper to their species ; but these faculties have not equal power in every individual. The brain is the seat of the mental faculties: but it is not a simple organ; it is a combination of organs, each of which has its particular disposition. The size of the organ is proportionate to the intensity of these dispositions, and these organs are manifested on the outside of the cranium, by protuberances which correspond in form to that of the portion of brain which they enclose. In short, the bony case of the skull is conformed to the internal contents, so that by knowing one we know the other, as 10 shape. The bony covering not only receives this form while it is soft in infancy, says Dr. Gall, but it yields to the impulse of the internal parts as they grow, and “the lymphatick vessels absorb part of the bone itself, which is regenerated by other vessels which issue from the membranes of the brain."

The difficulty in supporting and applying this theory is, to determine what particular part of the skull corresponds to any certain disposition of the person. This was partly ascertained by the examination of animals. Dr. Gall places the organ of goodness, for instance, on the upper part of the head. It is indicated by a protuberance in the middle of the forehead, where the forehead begins to flatten. This protuberance is found in sheep; and in goodnatured dogs, and horses. It is even said, that jockies pay attention to this part when buying of horses. This protuberance is wanting in cats, in the hyena, the crocodile, and the bull dog; also, in the Caribbee Indians, and, if the Dr. may be credited, it was wanting in Robespierre. He also affirms, that according to the absence or presence of this bump, he has distinguished to a certainty, amid a whole herd of cows, which was good, and which was bad. The fox, the cat, the panther, the hound, among animals, and, among men, the diplomatists, the comedians, and the authors of well conducted and intrigued novels, have, on the sphemoide angle of the parietal bone, a very distinct prominence, which is the organ of cunning. That of thefi is close adjacent, and is almost always connected with it. “ It has never been absent in any thief who has been examined in the different prisons How far the diplomatists, comedians, and novelists, may feel themselves flattered by this connexion, must be left to their own sensations to decide. The organ of the fighting propensity is marked, says Dr. Gall, by a globular rising at the posteriour and inferiour angle of the bregmatick bone, where it touches the bone of the temples. This is found in courageous animals, but not in the timid, as hares, &c. Dr. Gall found it in general Wurmser; but not in the poet Alxinger, who was a fearful man. Yet the poet Alxinger was a friendly man, though the Dr. did not find in him, the organ of friendship, which he places above the andaidal suture of the parietal bone. He found this organ in dogs, and in some men and women,

In the whole, Dr. Gall has distinguished twenty-seven organs, with some degree of certainty. His thought, to say the least of it, is ingenious. That there are such points on the human skull is undeniable ; and though the difficulty of appropriating them is confessedly great, yet science may demonstrate that it is not insuperable.

I am, sir, yours, &c.

INGENIOSUS.

THE CITY OF BAKU, AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD.

The following curious account of the city of Baku, and Place of Fire in its neigh

bourhood, is extracted from Wilkinson's Historical and Topographical Description of Mount Caucasus.

SEVENTEEN versts S. S. E. of the river Agahbdal stands Baku, or Badku ; built in the form of an obtuse triangle, and called the Holy City by the Gebers or Guebres (who are styled fireworshippers) and considered as one of the great mercy seats of the Indian Brahmans.

It lies twenty-two versts from the southern arm of Caucasus, in a flat hilled plane, devoid of river or stream, and near the sea. It is surrounded with a ditch, and thick strong walls, and supplied with cannon and mortars, of which no one there understands the use. It must formerly have made a better appearance, and been better built; for we meet with many respectable ruins and caravansaries, near the mountains, where the old city extended to. The Geo bers cannot sufficiently praise their former greatness and wealth. Before Persia had changed the true religion for the Mahomedan, they say, the city was annually visited by many thousand men. They do not reckon the total ruin of it before the death Usunn Hassan, king of Persia. There are still, however, many respectable mosks, houses, bazars, and caravansaries, which stand so near the shore, that ships may be laden and unladen from them; and yet, with all these great conveniences, and an excellent harbour, commerce is entirely neglected.

The neighbourhood of Baku has many and various charms, but they must not be visited in July, August, or September ; for in those months the whole country pines under the oppression of heat, and the arid soil bursts asunder; but in spring or autumn, when it is adorned with rich enamelled meadows and fertile fields; on which account, the whole Hyrca. nian territory, as far as Muskurr, is called “ The Paradise of Roses.”

Not less remarkable is the noble view round Baku. Towards the sea and the neighbouring islands, it is delightful. To the south, one discovers other countries and verdant mountains, separated by the Kurr. To the westward is the southern arm of Caucasus, stretching far to the eastward, which serves the inhabitants as well for an object, as to mitigate the heat. For when the strong, dry east and south winds blow on those mountains, and return cool in the evening with quickening balsamick power, from numerous fruit-bearing trees, and full of the perfume of so many thousand different flowers, an uncommon sweet sleep seizes the weary traveller; and he feels, on awaking, lasting and pleasant beguiling sensations, which other countries afford much more sparingly.

The neighbourhood of Baku must contain an incredible quantity of moun. tain oil ; for in Balaghan, the name of the district of some villages twelve versts from Baku, twenty-five oil wells are open. They often dry up, and then new ones are obliged to be dug; but the old ones are carefully kepl open some time, because the spring, after a few months, generally makes its appearance again.

The inhabitants of Balaghan undoubtedly compute the measure of oil too high, when they say, that the deepest and richest wells yield every day between 1000 and 1500lb. It is true, they draw out, two or three times a day, some buckets full ; but, according to my reckoning, the bucket does not contain more than 230lb. Thus much I am certain of, that other wells only yield from 50 to 80lb. daily. If the less abundant wells are not emptied every day, the increase of oil ought to be greater; but in the main well its daily measure ought not to exceed it; therefore that one is emptied every day ; but the others are only emptied once a week. The prince of Baku has retained the sole right of selling all the oil; thus, when more is drawn in Balaghan than there is a sale for, it is sent to Baku; and as they have no convenient casks, or storehouses for it, there is a place without the city containing fifteen deep pits. In them the overplus is preserved, until it is again drawn off for sale The colour of the oil is quite black; but if poured out against the sun, it appears redish. It does not light very quick, but when once in flames, emits a clear light and much smoke. The inhabitants of that neighbourhood, and along the Caspian, use it as well in their lamps, as in fat, broad, iron pans, filled with sand, into which the oil is poured and lighted. They also pain: the terrace-roofs of their houses with it, to prevent the rain from penetraling; and in summer, buf. faloes are smeared all over with it, to protect them from the very dangerous horse flies and gnats.

Not far from thence, at the foot of a bill, is a well of white oil. This lights very quick; even on the water; on that account the inhabitants amuse themselves with throwing some pattmans [8]b.] of it into the bay; or, du• ring a calm, into the channel between the small islands, and lighting it at the dusk of the evening. The gentle beating of the waves does not exun. guish the flame, which spreads consideral»ly, and the water appears to blaze. A patiman of this oil, called u hite naphtha, costs one rouble sixty copeeks. The middling classes use it for lamps. It is also sold to painters; and generally serves as a domestick medicine for many disorders. In gouty cases, and rheumatick pains, it is employed with great success.

Four versts east of the naphına springs, is a place particularly remarkable; and the only one in this sandy soil. It is called Ateschjah, or Place of Fire. As soon as one approaches, a very sulphurious smell arises. The diameter of the place exceeds something more than a verst; and from the centre, in dry weather, a strong, yellowish-blue flame is emitted, that in. creases in the night.

At some distance from the flame, but on the same spot, Indians, whom I before called Geber, Gueber, or fireworshipliers and other poor persons, have erected small stone houses. The space of ground, enclosed by the walls, is covered with loam a foot thick, that the flame may not break through. But where an inhabitant thinks fire necessary, he leaves incisions or holes in the floor; and when fire is wanted to boil his food or coffee, he holds a light over the opening, and immediately a flame arises, which is employed more conveniently than common wood or coal fire. The flame completely fills the opening, were it ever so large ; but the narrower it is, the greater is the force and heat of the flame. From an opening of two inches it reached three feet ien inches in height, and afterwards fell down to two feet five inches. When fire is no longer necessary, the hole is pressed down, after the flame has been extinguished.

The hole in the loam floor, from which the flame rises, certainly heats, but its edges suffer no change. When the fire breaks out and burns, a sulphurious vapour is smelt, and a strong current of air continues after the

fame is extinguished. Whoever then holds his hand, for some time, over the opening, feels at first a rising warm air. At last the skin becomes warm, red and swollen, and the exhalation is perfectly similar to that of warm sulphur baths. But the fire is not merely confined to the houses; it is every where at hand.

In dark nights, the inhabitants procure light by means of that fire. In a narrow hole, bored through the loam floor, they fix a reed, whose inner surface must be completely coated by limewater frequently poured through it. The outer edges, below and above the opening, are covered with the same substance, and the reed stuck into the hole. When it is all dry, they apply a burning paper to the upper end, and immediately a steady flame bursts forth, almost six inches high, which serves instead of the clearest light.

The poor Indian linen-weavers who live there, as som as it is evening, set fire lo those reeds, and on both sides of the weaving stool similar ones are placed ; and the workman has neither to keep up the flame, nor snuff the burning wick. Firing is also unrecessary, for the heat is so great, that the windows and doors always stand open. Besides, it is very dangerous to light a wood fire, without sufficient caution ; because the whole neighbourhood might be in flames, of which melancholy accounts are related. The current of air rushing from the incisions or holes is strong. Leathern bottles and flasks are soon filled with it, and this confined air is inflammable for some time after. I saw a proof of it at the prince of Schammaghi's, who ordered a leathern bottle full to be fetched for my satisfaction; and though the messenger was obliged to make a long circuit, on account of the Lesghaes, and did not return before the fourth day, yet it was still inflammable. The Gebers, besides, assert that they send casks full of it to India, which ignite even at that distance.

The inhabitants not only use the fire for domestick purposes, but likewise for burning lime.

After digging to the depth of four or five feet in the neighbourhood, and particularly round Baku, very cold water, tasting strongly of naphtha, rises from a gravely soil; and even the loam-hole, from which a strong current of warm air burst forth at first into flames, serves no longer, as soon as they have dug to the given depth, and got water. But if the loam soil only is bored through in another part, from six to eight inches distant from the place where the water rises, the abovementioned current of inflammable air rises again immediately; and is not diminished, although the clearest water is drawn off with a reed near the rising flame. As soon as the spring is exhausted, a passage is again open for the inflammable air. The naphthataste of the water does not prevent the inhabitants of Baku from using it. It is by no means injurious to the health, and the traveller no where feels a greater appetite, than when he drinks that water.

Besides this consuming fire, there is another near Baku that does not inflame. After warm rains in autumn, if the evening is also warm, the fields round Baku stand in full flames. It often appears as if the fire rolled down from the mountains, in large masses, with incredible velocity; and frequently it remains on the same spot where it first appeared. In October and November one often sees, in clear moonlight nights, a very bright, blue light, that covers and illumines the whole western range of Baku. Most frequently the mountain Soghto-ku is covered with a similar appearance remarkably splendid, which does not extend to the plain. But if the nights are dark and warm, innumerable flames, sometimes single, sometimes in masses, cover the whole plain, and then the mountains are obscured. They often excite great alarm amongst the horses and mules of a caravan ; but do

not last beyond the fourth hour of the night; and if there is a strong east wind, they are not seen at all. This fire does not burn, and if a person finds himself in the middle of the flames, no warmth is felt. The dry grass and reeds are not burnt, though the whole soil appears to be full of devouring fire. On the outside of an exhausted receiver, the fire hangs for some minutes, like a phosphorick light And although the flame on the ground is extinguished, yet glass tubes, having their air exhausted, appear for some moments strongly illuminated. It should seem that the mixture of this light is different from the species of vapour called Ignis fatuus; for this is of a dark red colour; on the contrary, the other is a whitish blue light.

Hindoos come from India (Moultan] to pay their devotions, and perform austerities of various kinds, in the presence of these natural fires.

RIFLE CORPS. EVERY marshal of France has, with his division of the army, a corps d'élite of 2:00 riflemen, who never miss their mark at a distance of 150 paces. Should the army be concentred for a general engagement, these riflemen compose a separate corps of 16,000 men, who are formed two deep, and are posted in the place where the enemy's line is to be penetrated. This corps d'élite generally fire irregularly, but every shot brings down its man, and in a few minutes a whole line of the enemy is destroyed. When two, three, or four lines are thus disposed of, the cavalry and infantry pass through, the riflemen enter the openings in the enemy's line, and attack the corps in both flank and rear. “ This system,” say men of information, “will continue to conquer, till its opponents possess an equal number of equally good marksmen; for without them, if both armies were equally well commanded, success would only be the work of chance.”—Beside this corps d'élite of riflemen, every marshal has, in every company, several expert marksmen, who never miss their man, whose only duty is to pick off the artillerymen and officers in front; but, above all, the commanding officer, which they are able to do at 150 paces. Beside the strong train of artillery, each marshal has, with his divisiun, two battalions of horse artillery, to act with his corps d'élite of riflemen, who equal them in the rapidity of their manæuvres, and quickness of their fire. These battalions are very seldom separated, but are masked by cavalry and sharp shooters. Each marshal has also a corps of Voltigeurs, who are practised to climb walls, leap ditches, and are taught to vault behind the cavalry, by whom they are car. ried to the place of action, when they dismount, and take post in the thickets, and behind walls and hedges. In the general attack, the above mentioned corps d'élite of riflemen, mounted rangers, and horse artillery, of all the divisions of the army, are assembled for the purpose of breaking the enemy's centre, by which, in the engagements of the two last years, the fate of the day was determined.

INSTINCT OF PIGEONS.
To the Editor of the Literary Panorama.

SIR,

YOU have done me the honour to insert several instances of animal sagacity, that I submitted to your opinion; but, I think that nothing on the subject can be more striking than a passage in Captain Carleton's memoirs which are lately republished. I have, therefore, transcribed it, and do my

« VorigeDoorgaan »