« EelmineJätka »
than as moralists, and are properly to be regarded as men of sound sense. They have not been deeply conversant with moral subjects; and it is no imputation against their science to suppose, that is drawn off for a few years, to reflect upon themselves, and revolve the wonderful impulses of human liberty and religion, they would become satisfied of the utter insufficiency of phrenology, as now taught. There is much in man,-should we not rather say, that inan himself is never perceived except by a kind of reflection, somewhat artificial or philosophic-a habit, or form, which is developed only by exercise in a particular direction.
We have been astonished at the facility of our countrymen, in the admiration they have bestowed upon the late Dr. Spurzheim. It is our pride, that the stranger is so hospitably received on our shores; and if he come, as it were, a philosopher into exile, exploded by the contempt of philosophic opinion in bis own country, it is still right, that we receive him with the charity due his unfortunate distinction. Nay, if it be the will of God, that he be laid in our dust, let the spot where his infatuated industry rests, be marked by soine appropriate monument. But why should the novelties and the coarse infidelity of one, whom the neologizing infidels of his own country discard as crude and visionary, be so hastily credited by us as profound discoveries? Does it regenerate folly, that it has come to our shores? Can we not, shall we not, some time or other, learn to distinguish, between opening our hearts and giving up our understandinys? And why, especially, are christian ministers so ready to speak, even in their sermons, of the “great philosopher" ? and why do they greet so complacently the itinerant pedlars of this mental quackery? Let them read, let them examine, weigh, and inwardly digest, ihe two volumes of their great philosopher, and they will find, that so far from being any philosopher, he is, in his seelings, a man of low vanity; that against religion he is swayed by the prejudices and retails the vulgar cant of the mob; that, if he has studied the brain with industry, and often observed individual facts with acuteness, his general deductions are a disorderly jumble, rather than a unique and digested system; and that, as far as mental analysis or resolution of psychological elements is concerned, (which in fact is, after all, the only ground on which bis pretensions rest,) bis work is more like the fuss of an alchemist, than it is like the sagacious and orderly process of philosophic research. No distinction is intelligently drawn, and of course, none is adhered to; every thing which is established is given up, and every thing but what is proved, established. For a very natural reason, he is ever looking for mind outwardly; and there is of necessity therefore no personal life, no strong unity of consciousness, in his doctrine of man. He einpties the skull; he turns over the brains; he talks about functions and organs, and the quarts there are of them ; but of mind, as a living monad, he never thinks; he thinks of it rather
ness, etc., etc., affect conscientiousness ? Ordinary powers of judgment would despair in such a case, but phronologists are more fortunate. Consider it an even chance then, one to iwo,
16. But character is not absolute, it is relatire. It is necessary, therefore, not merely to measure every organ in combination with the others in the given head, but also to measure it in comparison with the same in heads in general; in which case the volume, or solid contents, temperament, texture, etc., of the same in heads generally, must be known. Here a field of mischances, number. less as the stars, is laid open. But sny again, one 10 two.
17. Nor is it necessarv only to know the volume, teasperament, texture, etc., of the single organ itself generally, but it must be known in combination with all the other organs in each head ; for that no organ is known till it is known in combination, is olten repeated. The volume, temperament, texture, etc., of all the organs in heads generally, must therefore be known in their combined effects upon the single organs generally with which comparison is thus to be made, in order to adjust a character, or distinctive description of that element in a given person! Well! to save numbers, so unwieldy that we can never finish our reckoning, call the chance one to five.
18. Add to these the chanre, (in common cases the least of all possible,) that the ch:rarter, intellectually and morally, of the subject examined, be rightly estimated in particulars by bimself and friends, and so that the result bo justly tested, wbich we will call one to two.
We have, then, the following formula, as a measure of the worth of phrenologic judgments: l'ox7x3x1xx11xxxx;'xfx75x} xxx}x}x}x= 31 ਨ ਨੇ ਚ 5 ਚ ·
What an invaluable discovery must it be, that enables a practical and professed phrenologist to give a true character of the head once in 2,700,000 limes! And what a noble basis on which to rest iporal science, education, and the awful in. terests of religion! one chance in 2,700,000! We know very well, that they do judge cases more successfully than this would indicate; but it is by observing eyes, countenance, ione, air, elc., etc., and not by virtue of the science."
Gall, we are told, had neither form nor locality,-faculties essential to this science. Spurzheim was grieved, that his loving disciple at Edinburgh should hint bis lack of concentratircness,-a faculty of vundamental importance in every species of philosophy. Since they deal thus with each other, we venture to in. qoire, whether there may not bo a fatul deficiency somewhere in the heads of the whole tribe
Is this a philosopher ?—Call bim rather an arusper. We make these remarks, partly with a view to adınonish and check what we deem a hasty and dangerous tendency in the public, at this time, and partly to save ourselves the use of severer terms, concerning the author we have in hand. Nor will it by any means displease us, if some degree of factitious dignity, imparted by the association, shall bring him the more fitly within range of our criticism.
Dr. Brigham, the reader will at once perceive, is an implicit disciple of the great philosopher, and, like every such disciple, transcends all the follies of his master. With no title to discovery, he is yet the more pleased with his originality. He retails the opinions of his master more confidently without their reasons than he did with them. And the certainty which his chief felt, for the most part, in mental science, when the doctrine is possible, he
as a mess.
feels in religion, where it is absurd. Yet his book is better fitted, we suspect, to make converts among a certain class, than the works of Spurzheim bimself; it is so by reason of its very faults. While it will do much, as we have anticipated, to open the eyes of christians and of all sober and judicious persons, and so at length to establish right opinions; we fear it will at first delude too many of the young and giddy, and especially of that numerous class, who, to weakness and want of cultivation unite hostile and fagrant prejudices against every kind of religion which includes the necessity of virtue.
There is a kind of even, self-possessed malice in the book 10ward religion, which will please ihem. And, soberly, if there be any thing respectable in that which gives unity to a work, we ourselves think it the author's most manly principle ; for, intellectually, he has no one subject, and does not know bimsell, whether he writing a theory of moral development, or a treatise upon health.
There is, too, a vein of self-confidence, or rather impudence, in the book, that is very likely to impose upon the vulgar. We undertook to mark the sentences beginning, “I am os opinion," "I judge,” “I advise," and the like; but we soon found it a hopeless task. We must refer at once to the book itself, where they will be found as thick neighbors as our phrenologic bumps. The most difficult and disputed questions are often dispatched in this way with magisterial satisfaction. Always, where the author had not the sense to devise a reason, or was ioo ignorant to investigate farther, he says, “I am of opinion," and that ends it. A man who speaks with such authority, will surely be deemed a philosopher.
And if they should not make the discovery, it will not be amiss to receive a genıle intimation. “ They [the preachers) seem not to observe,” he says, " that the age demands explanation, not dogmatism; that christianity is very properly yielding 10 the spirit of the age, and has become philosophical. Heretofore, when the great mass of mankind received it and believed it without examination, then it was dogmatical, imperious, immutable; but now, like all other subjects, it is submitting itself, and must submit itself, to discussion, analysis and examination.” (p. 325.) This, after the rigid and profound research of his scripture commentary on the sacraments, is magical indeed. How charming must it be to the unfortunate class we have named, to hear that christianity is yielding in its once immutable principles, and becoming philosophical ; and withal, after such a sort of philosophy, in which any inan who has the five senses may be as deep as the wisest.
Besides, the writer is a man of such age and experience, as must be respected. Hear how he speaks." Innumerable facts, deVol. VIII.
rived from many years [!] of caresul observation and inquiry ; very many physiological and psychological truths must be obliterated from my memory, [!!] before I can be denied the consciousness of having collected (though in a very imperfect manner) important and timely considerations for my countrymen.” (p. 329.) Venerable man! 'they will say, and bless the wisdom of his gray hairs with solemn admiration. Indeed, one must be of a prodigious age, who has even begun to anticipate the time when bis “consciousness" will be preserved only by bis “memory," and especially bis consciousness of having written a book, by his memory of “ very many psychological truths.”
Nor will it be vain that he has seen foreign countries. A chapter upon stiffness, or anchylosis of the joints, as seen in the shocking austerities of the east, he thus pointedly concludes: “When I was at Rome in 1829, I saw, near the Basilica of St. Giovanni, the Scala Santa or holy stairs ; which at that time were covered with devotees of both sexes, slowly, and I thought painfully, ascending on their knees, occasionally kissing the steps and saying prayers. The stairs consist of twenty-eight steps, and are said to have once belonged to the palace of Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem." (p. 75.) By which it satisfactorily appears, that the venerable author has traveled too, even in bis old age; though it is not so evident, what connection the fact has with anchylosis of the joints ; unless, perhaps, that the stairs be saw once belonged 10 Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem. The fact, however, will have its weight.
An extraordinary vein of learning, too, is here opened. The influence of religion upon health was to be considered; but yet there was a vast deal of learning besides, which the veteran author knew of, (vid. Lempriere's Dictionary, Bryant's Mythology, Mosheim's History, &c.,) and which, as it had nothing to do with the subject, he determined to put into three or four introductory chapters by itself. These, having no intelligent object, will doubtless excite pure astonishment.
In fact, the book is too well fitted to impose upon the irreligious vulgar, -just that class which the humane and good are caresul to surround with safeguards and moral defenses, and that, whose applause, to a man of elevated feeling, would be ignominy itself. It will drive from many such, we fear, the little remaining respect they feel for religion. It suits their taste, it fatters their wit, it arms them with excuses against their conscience, and what they will fancy wise reasonings against the gospel; and so it will make a prey,-alas! the prey is too easy,--of their defenseless souls.
In the mean time, the cultivated reader will see at once, in the air of industrious crudity, and the utter want of philosophic discrimination every where manisest, that the author does not know his facts; that he has digested nothing; and wears his learning less in the manner of a veteran than of an ambitious boy. And not only is he ignorant what his facts mean, but he does not even understand what they are meant to mean, or what his book is meant to establish. It is entitled, Observations on the Influence of Religion upon the Health. But this, it will be seen at once, is a mere pretext to hold the author within the limits of his profession. In some parts of the book, one would suppose, that his design was to enlighten the world, and the clergy in particular, in reference to the written gospel, and perhaps to establish a new sect. If we turn to bis preface, where he apologizes for the three learned chapters, or to his concluding chapter, we see that he has heard of such a thing as the philosophy of religious bistory; and that some indistinct notion of a theory of moral development on the pbrenologic basis, or of the development of what he calls “religious sentiment,” figures before his mind. Almost the whole book, however, has nothing whatever to do with such a theory. The three learned chapters are made up for the most part, of mythological and bistorical extracts, thrown together in what, by way of distinction, it is time to call the phrenologic style. Then follows a chapter of scripture commentary, in reference not to "sentiments” but sacraments. A large, and some will think the weightiest part of the volume, is a polemic against night-meetings, protracted meetings, and the doctrine of the special agency of the Holy Spirit. A description of the brain and nervous system is given; and then comes the conclusion. On the whole, and that is the only satisfactory account we can make out,) the author seems to give out, at the beginning, that he is to be philosophical ; in the end, to conclude that he has been; wbile, between ihe beginning and the end, he is Dr. Amariah Brigham, who was at Rome in 1829, and who, since that time, bas been in various places. By no other figure can we describe the manner of his book so intelligibly.
But here is a view, if not a philosophy, of the "religious sentiment." Let us try if we may extract it; for it is our business, remember, not to refute, but to observe. What then is this new thing, which the new philosophy brings us in place of the gospel, which our unlearned fathers received ? It is something like this: There is in man, or rather in the top of his head, what the author calls “réligious sentiment,” and for which he is at some pains to tell us he "entertains a profound respect." This sentiment is “innate," of course, and - universal ;” being a part of the constitution itself. He says nothing, therefore,--and bis doctrine permits nothing to be said,--of will, or of moral obligation, or of future responsibility; and he is so far consistent, that he nowhere seems to impute blame himsell ;-except to those who ride their horses to church, and believe in the special agency of the Holy