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In a letter dated April 11, 1846, there occur the following remarks on two books about which there has been little difference of opinion, and whose authors I had at that time no expectation of ever calling my friends. "I was much pleased to find that you so well appreciated Lyell. I first read Darwin's Journal' three or four years ago, and have lately re-read it. As the Journal of a scientific traveller, it is second only to Humboldt's 'Personal Narrative'-as a work of general interest, perhaps superior to it. He is an ardent admirer and most able supporter of Mr. Lyell's views. His style of writing I very much admire, so free from all labour, affectation, or egotism, and yet so full of interest and original thought ... I quite envy you, who have friends near you attached to the same pursuits. I know not a single person in this little town who studies any one branch of natural history, so that I am quite alone in this respect.” My reference to Darwin's “Journal” and to Humboldt's “ Personal Narrative " indicate, I believe, the two works to whose inspiration I owe my determination to visit the tropics as a collector.
In September, 1847, my sister returned home from Alabama, and from that time till I left for Para, in the following year, we lived together at Llantwit Cottage. To commemorate her return she invited my brother and me to go to Paris for a week, partly induced by the fact that everywhere in America she was asked about it, while we were very glad to have her as an interpreter. The last letter to Bates before our South American voyage is occupied chiefly with an account of this visit, a comparison of Paris with London, and especially an account of the museums at the Jardin des Plantes as compared with the British Museum. Towards the end of this long letter the following passages are the only ones that relate to the development of my views. After referring to a day spent in the insect-room at the British Museum on my way home, and the overwhelming numbers of the beetles and butterflies I was able to look over, I add: "I begin to feel rather dissatisfied with a mere local collection ; little is to be learnt by it. I should like to take some one family to study thoroughly, principally with a view to the theory of the origin of species. By that means I am strongly of opinion that some definite results might be arrived at.” And at the very end of the letter I say: "There is a work published by the Ray Society I should much like to see, Oken's Elements of Physiophilosophy. There is a review of it in the Atheneum. It contains some remarkable views on my favourite subject-the variations, arrangements, distribution, etc., of species.”
These extracts from my early letters to Bates suffice to show that the great problem of the origin of species was already distinctly formulated in my mind ; that I was not satisfied with the more or less vague solutions at that time offered ; that I believed the conception of evolution through natural law so clearly formulated in the “Vestiges” to be, so far as it went, a true one; and that I firmly believed that a full and careful study of the facts of nature would ultimately lead to a solution of the mystery.
There is one other subject on which I obtained conclusive evidence while living at Neath, which may here be briefly noticed. I have already described how at Leicester I became convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena of mesmerism, and was able thoroughly to test them myself. I also was able to make experiments which satisfied me of the truth of phrenology, and had read sufficient to enable me to understand its general principles. But during my early residence at Neath after my brother's death, I heard two lectures on the subject, and in both cases I had my character delineated with such accuracy as to render it certain that the positions of all the mental organs had been very precisely determined. It must be understood that the lecturers were both strangers, and that they each gave only a single lecture on their way to more important centres. In each case I received a large printed sheet, with the organs and their functions stated, and a number placed opposite to each to indicate its comparative size. In addition to this, there was a written delineation of character, but in each case it only professed to be a sketch, as I could not then afford the higher fee for a full written development of character. As these two documents have
fortunately been preserved and are now before me, it will be interesting to see how closely the main features of my character were stated by these two itinerant lecturers about sixty years ago.
I will take, first, that of Mr. Edwin Thomas Hicks, who called himself “Professor of Phrenology," and whose delineation was the less detailed of the two. It is as follows:
“ The intellectual faculties are very well combined in your head, you will manifest a good deal of perception, and will pay great attention to facts, but as soon as facts are presented you begin to reason and theorize upon them; you will be constantly searching for causes, and will form your judgment from the analogy which one fact bears to another. You have a good development of number and order, will therefore be a good calculator, will excel in mathematics, and will be very systematic in your arrangements and plans. You possess a good deal of firmness in what you consider to be right, but you want self-confidence. You are cautious in acting and speaking, quick in temper, but kind and good in disposition.”
The above estimate, although partial, and dealing almost entirely with the intellectual faculties, is yet wonderfully accurate, if we consider that it is founded upon a necessarily hasty examination, and a comparison of the proportionate development of the thirty-seven distinct organs which the examiner recognized. It is not generally known that even when the size or development of each organ is accurately given the determination of the resulting character is not a simple matter, as it depends upon a very careful study of the infinitely varied combinations of the organs, the result of which is sometimes very different from what might be anticipated. A good phrenologist has to make, first, a very accurate determination of the comparative as well as the absolute size of all the organs, and then a careful estimate of the probable result of the special combination of organs in each case; and in both there will be a certain amount of difference even between equally well-trained observers, while in special details there may be a considerable difference in the final estimate, especially when the two observers are not equal in knowledge and experience.
The first sentence in the estimate is wonderfully accurate and comprehensive, since it gives in very few words the exact combination of faculties which have been the effective agents in all the work I have done, and which have given me whatever reputation in science, literature, and thought which I possess. It is the result of the organs of comparison, causality, and order, with firmness, acquisitiveness, concentrativeness, constructiveness, and wonder, all above the average, but none of them excessively developed, combined with a moderate faculty of language, which enables me to express my ideas and conclusions in writing, though but imperfectly in speech. I feel, myself, how curiously and persistently these faculties have acted in various combinations to determine my tastes, disposition, and actions. Thus, my organ of order is large enough to make me wish to have everything around me in its place, but not sufficient to enable me to keep them so, among the multiplicity of interests and occupations which my more active intellectual faculties lead me to indulge in.
The next sentence is also fairly accurate, as at school I always found arithmetic easy, but Mr. Hicks did not, perhaps, know that my rather small organ of wit would prevent my ever "excelling” in mathematics. That I am "systematic in my arrangements and plans” is, however, quite correct. My want of self-confidence has already been stated in my own estimate of my character ; and the last sentence is also fairly precise and accurate.
Among the other organs not referred to in the written character, there are a few worth noting. Inhabitiveness, giving attachment to place, is among my smaller faculties, while Locality, giving power of remembering places and the desire to travel, is noted as being one of the largest. Individuality, giving power of remembering names and dates, is rather small, while Time is given as the smallest of all, in both cases strictly corresponding with the amount of each faculty I possess. Again, Veneration is among the smallest indicated, and is shown in my character by my disregard for mere authority or rank, its place being taken by Ideality and Wonder, both marked as well developed, and which lead to my intense delight in the grand, the beautiful, or the mysterious in nature or in art.
Coming now to the estimate of the other lecturer, Mr. James Quilter Rumball, an M.R.C.S. and author of some medical works, we have a more detailed and careful “ Phrenological Development," founded on the comparative sizes of thirty-nine organs. It is as follows, only omitting a few words at the end, which are of a purely private and personal nature.
“(a) There is some delicacy in the nervous system, and consequent sensitiveness which unfits it for any very longcontinued exertion ; but this may be overcome by a strong will. There is some tendency to indigestion; this requires air and exercise.
“(6) The power of fixing the attention is very good indeed, and there is very considerable perceptive power, so that this gentleman should learn easily and remember well, notwithstanding verbal memory is but moderate. Concentrativeness is the chief organ upon which all the memories depend, and this is undoubtedly large.
"(c) He has some vanity, and more ambition. He may occasionally exhibit a want of self-confidence ; but general opinion ascribes to him too much. In this, opinion is wrong: he knows that he has not enough; he may assume it, but it will sit ill.
" (d) If Wit were larger he would be a good Mathematician; but without it, however clear and analytical the mind may be, it wants breadth and depth, and so I do not put down his mathematical talents as first-rate, although Number is good. The same must be said of his classical abilities-good, but not first-rate.
“(e) He has some love for music from his Ideality, but I do not find a good ear, or sufficient time; he has, however, mechanical ability sufficient to produce enough of both, especially for the flute, if he so choose.