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Every one is capable of making observations on this subject for himself. It is not, however, necessary to have recourse to nature to prove this to be true. It is admitted by phrenologists themselves. Mr. Combe informs us, that there are circumstances which modify the effect of size. These are constitution and health. In some individuals the brain seems to be of a finer texture than in others; and there is in these a delicacy and fineness of manifestation, which is one ingredient in genius.” And he adds, “it is thus clearly admitted, that constitution or quality of brain has a great influence on the mental effects of size." Here, then, we have something superadded to size of brain, which has a powerful influence upon the intellectual functions. The brains of certain individuals are of a peculiar quality or constitution; have a certain quality of texture, or delicacy of organization, which gives them power superior to those less exquisitely organized.
Mr. Combe goes on to observe, that,
“As a general rule, all the parts of the same brain have the same constitution, and, if size be a measure of power, then, in each head, the large organs will be more powerful than the small ones. This enables us to judge of the strong and the weak parts in each head. But, if we compare two separate brains, then we must recollect that the size of the two may be equal; and, nevertheless, the one, from possessing the finest texture and most vigorous constitution, may be exceedingly active, while another, from being inferior in quality, may be naturally inert. The consequence will be, that the best constituted brain will manifest the mind with most vigour. That size is nevertheless the measure of power, may be proved by contrasting the manifestations of a small and of a large brain, possessing the same combination of organs, and equally well constituted; the power or energy will be found greatest in the latter. This is what is meant by other natural conditions being equal.”
It will be observed that Mr. Combe here remarks, that, "as a general rule, all the parts of the same brain have the same constitution.” He thus gives his assent to the proposition that, in some instances, the constitution of the phrenological organs is different; some organs being possessed of more power, from “their texture being finer, or their constitution more vigorous," than others in the same individual. But, that we may not be left in uncertainty, when treating of combinations in activity, he informs us, “that cultivation or education will produce so great a development of mental function in some of the organs that their faculties will predominate, and constitute the chief characteristic of the mind of the individual. It thus appears that, either as a natural or acquired condition, certain organs, in some individuals, have more energy of action than other organs; and, consequently, that attention to relative size, or the size of one organ compared with another of the same head, is not alone sufficient to enable us to ascertain peculiarities of
mind; and, unless some plan can be devised, by which we can discover in what organs this greater energy of action exists, and whether it is natural or acquired, it is obvious that no satisfactory conclusions can be deduced from a comparison of the size of one organ with that of others. No method has been proposed, by which we can discover the organs whose native vigour is the greatest. That which is supposed to be acquired, as the result of education, we shall refer to presently.
The difference in the constitution of the brain of different individuals is a still more important point of consideration, and is one on which great stress is laid. "In perusing phrenological works, we are constantly meeting with the phrase, “cæteris paribus," "other conditions being equal;" and we are particularly cautioned not to be hasty in drawing conclusions from size alone; but to take into account the peculiarities of each individual; whether they arise from fineness or coarseness of texture of the whole brain; greater or less native vigour of certain organs; or superior energy conferred by education. This being so important a part of the system, phrenologists are bound to give us precise rules, which admit of easy application, by which we can distinguish these different conditions. The brain is shut up from our view by its bony case; and it is apparent that we cannot, by any examination of the exterior of a man's head, ascertain whether the texture of his brain is fine or coarse ; or what is the character of the action, either of the whole, or of separate organs. We must, therefore, have external marks, from which we may infer these peculiarities. And it is manifest that these marks must not be of doubtful character. They must be exceedingly significant, and not in the smallest degree lịable to mistake or uncertainty in their application ; otherwise we never can place any reliance upon the results of our observations. If, for example, we should compare two heads of exactly similar dimensions, and assert that their mental vigour 'is precisely equal, and the texture of the one brain should be finer than that of the other, we should make a capital mistake. We should equally mistake, if some of the organs of the one should be more energetic than the corresponding organs of the other, whether this were nature, or the result of education. So, again, if we should observe certain organs to be large, in a particular case, and assert that this was indicative of the great strength of certain faculties, if some of the other organs should be possessed of more vigour of action, either from nature, or as the result of education, both the science and the observer would be brought into disrepute. We thus perceive of how great importance it is, that the discriminating marks of these several conditions be so clear as to secure us from any or all of these mistakes.
Mr. Combe asks the following question: "Do we possess any
index to constitutional qualities of brain ?" and thus answers it. “The temperaments indicate them to a certain extent.” Now, this reply is most unsatisfactory. Correct conclusions, relative to the constitution of the brain, we are told, form an essential part of the practical application of the system. It is absolutely impossible to come to a decision worthy of confidence, unless we take into the calculation peculiarities of structure as well as energy of action, both native and acquired; and the only method by which we can ascertain these several conditions of the brain, by the acknowledgment of phrenologists themselves, will afford us information only to “a certain extent.” Here, then, we have confessedly an essential element of the calculation but partially and imperfectly revealed to us, and, if we proceed, we must conjecture the remainder.
Let us, however, examine to what extent the temperaments are indicative of constitutional qualities of brain. “There are four temperaments,” says Mr. Combe, “the lymphatic, the sanguine, the bilious, and the nervous, and they are accompanied by different degrees of activity in the brain." We here have a division of the
temperaments somewhat peculiar. Mr. Combe takes three of the temperaments, which have always been recognized by physiologists, leaving out the fourth, and has added the nervous, which was suggested by Dr. Gregory-as a fifth, including in his arrangement the four original classes. Respecting this fifth temperament of Dr. Gregory, the following remarks are quoted from the article Temperament, in the Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine, written by Dr. Pritchard, one of the most distinguished phrenologists of Great Britain:
« The obstacle which stands in the way of Dr. Gregory's attempt to introduce a fifth temperament, is the circumstance that only four strongly marked diversities of external character present themselves to observation; the nervous temperament is not so distinguished, and as this is an essential part of the original scheme for the distribution of temperaments, the improvement here proposed is lame and defective.”
According to Dr. Pritchard, there is no foundation whatever for a nervous temperament; and yet, from Mr. Combe's description, this is the only one of his four which has the slightest connection with the brain. He informs us that
“The brain and nerves being predominantly active, from constitutional causes, produce the nervous temperament; the lungs, heart, and bloodvessels being constitutionally predominant, give rise to the sanguine; the muscular and fibrous systems, to the bilious; and the glands and assimilating organs, to the lymphatic."
These different temperaments, it is well known, are indicated by external signs, which are open to the observation of all.. Thus, if we meet with a person having blue eyes; a fair, forid
complexion; red, or light-brown hair; soft, thin, and delicate skin,—these marks show, according to Mr.Combe, that the lungs, heart, and blood-vessels are constitutionally predominant; if the eyes are of a light gray, accompanied by a pallid, unhealthy whiteness of skin, cold surface, &c., the glands and assimilating organs are predominantly active; if the eyes and hair are black, the skin of a dark leaden and unhealthy hue, &c., the fibrous and muscular systems take the lead. Here, then, we have signs which indicate specific conditions of the lungs, heart, blood vessels, muscular and fibrous systems, and the glands and assimilating organs; but we are not informed what is the connection between these several systems and the brain, by which we may form an opinion in relation to the condition of this organ. It is not attempted to be shown that the lungs, heart, &c. have any connection with the brain, as the organ of mind, either in the relation of cause or effect, which justifies us in the formation of conclusions; but an appeal is made to facts, and it is asserted that, where the lymphatic temperament is present, the action of the brain is slow, languid, and feeble ; when the sanguine exists, the brain is active; in the nervous it is active; and in the bilious it is active. It thus appears that, admitting the temperaments do indicate the constitution of the brain, three of them afford the same indication, viz., an active condition; and, consequently, that all persons of these temperaments should be possessed of superior talent, compared with those of the lymphatic temperament, whatever may be the size or shape of their brains; inasmuch as we are assured that “the best constituted brain will manifest the mind with most vigour.” But if the sanguine, bilious, and nervous temperaments are all indicative of an active condition of the brain, what becomes of the phrenological assertion, that "the four temperaments are accompanied by different degrees of activity of this organ ?" It is completely nullified.
Is it, however, the fact, that the lymphatic temperament is indicative of a "slow, languid, and feeble action of the brain," as the organ of mind? We are here, again, at issue with the phrenologists. Some of the brightest intellects the world has seen have been of this temperament. We need only mention Dr. Samuel Johnson, whose lymphatic system was strongly developed. Neither is it a whit more true, that all individuals of the other three temperaments have superior minds. We find men of every possible shade and degree of intellect in all the temperaments; and it follows, that the phrenological index to constitutional qualities of brain, instead of giving us information to a “certain extent,” gives it to us to no extent whatever ; but leaves us to grope in the darkness of conjectural uncertainty. It is well known, too, that these temperaments are seldom or
never seen in their purity; but are liable to so great a variety of combinations, that, from this cause alone, it would be impossible to arrive at certain conclusions with respect to the condition of the brain. Even if they did indicate the state of the brain, when existing separately, as we have no means of forrning a correct estimate of the exceedingly diversified proportions in which they combine, it is obvious that we are again in nubibus enveloped by the murky atmosphere of uncertainty.
It thus appears that the phrenological method of ascertaining constitutional qualities of brain, whether proceeding from fineness or coarseness of texture of the entire organ, greater or less native vigour of certain organs, or superior energy conferred by education, is altogether worthless; and as this is an essential part of the system as it is impossible, by their own showing, to judge correctly of character, without taking these circumstances into consideration--and as they give us no certain means of discovering them, the conclusion is inevitable, that phrenology, instead of being based upon facts, as is the constant boast of its advocates, is nothing better than a clumsy hypothesis; not being even a rational conjecture, where the series of facts is incomplete ; which is the case from the beginning to the end of the chapter.
We have as yet but barely alluded to the influence of education upon the organs of the different faculties; and it will be easy to show that, from this source, we have confusion worse confounded. Speaking of combinations of activity, Mr. Combe says :
“It is in virtue of this principle that education produces its most important effects. If, for instance, we take two individuals, in each of whom all the organs are developed in an average degree, and if the one of them has been educated among persons of sordid and mercenary dispositions, acquisitiveness and self-esteem would then be cultivated in him into a high degree of activity, and self-interest and personal aggrandisement would be viewed as the great objects of life. If the love of approbation were trained into combined activity with these faculties, it would desire distinction in wealth or power: if veneration were trained to act in concert with them, it would take the direction of admiring the rich and great; and conscientiousness, not being predominantly vigorous, would only intimate that such pursuits were unworthy, without possessing the power, by itself, of overcoming or controlling the whole combination against it. If another individual, possessing the same development, were trained amidst moral and religious society, in whose habitual conduct the practice of benevolence and justice towards men, and veneration towards God, were regarded as the leading objects of human existence, the love of approbation, acting with this combination, would desire esteem for honourable and virtuous-actions; and acquisitiveness would be viewed as the means of procuring gratification to these higher powers, but not, as itself, an object of paramount importance. The practical conduct of the two individuals might be very different, in consequence of this difference of training."