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a number of examples, so examples of a contrary nature may continually come in, to weaken its force, or utterly to subvert it. And the affair is made still worse, when we see, as in the case of craniology, that all the reasons that can be deduced (as here from the nature of mind) would persuade us to believe, that there can be no connection between the supposed indications, and the things pretended to be indicated.
Craniology, or phrenology, proceeds exactly in the same train, as chiromancy, or any of those pretended sciences which are built merely on assumption or conjecture. The first delineations presented to the public, marked out, as I have said, the scull into compartments, in the same manner as a country delineated on a map is divided into districts. Geography is a real science, and accordingly, like other sciences, has been slow and gradual in its progress. At an early stage travellers knew little more than the shores and islands of the Mediter
Afterwards, they passed the straits of Hercules, and entered into the Atlantic. At length the habitable world was distributed into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Africa. More recently, by many centuries, came the discovery of America. It is but the other day comparatively, that we found the extensive island of New Holland in the Southern Ocean. The ancient geographers placed an elephant or some marine monster in the vacant parts of their maps, to signify that of these parts they knew no
thing. Not so Dr. Gall. Every part of his globe of the human scull, at least with small exceptions, is fully tenanted; and he, with his single arm, has conquered a world.
The majority of the judgments that have been divulged by the professors of this science, have had for their subjects the sculls of men, whose habits and history have been already known. And yet with this advantage the errors and contradictions into which their authors have fallen are considerably numerous. Thus I find, in the account of the doctor's visit to the House of Correction and the Hospital of Torgau in July 1805, the following examples.
Every person was desirous to know what Dr. Gall would say about T—, who was known in the house as a thief full of cunning, and who, having several times made his escape, wore an additional iron. It was surprising, that he saw in him far less of the organ of cunning, than in many of the other prisoners. However it was proved, that examples, and conversation with other thieves in the house, had suggested to him the plan for his escape, and that the stupidity which he possesses was the cause of his being retaken.”
“We were much surprised to be told, that M., in whom Dr. Gall had not discovered the organ of representation, possessed extraordinary abilities in imitating the voice of animals; but we were convinced after enquiries, that his talent was not a
natural one, but acquired by study. He related to us that, when he was a Prussian soldier garrisoned at Berlin, he used to deceive the waiting women in the Foundling Hospital by imitating the voice of exposed infants, and sometimes counterfeited the cry
of a wild drake, when the officers were shooting ducks.”
“Of another Dr. Gall said, His head is a pattern of inconstancy and confinement, and there appears not the least mark of the organ of courage. This rogue had been able to gain a great authority among his fellow-convicts. How is this to be reconciled with the want of constancy which his organisation plainly indicates ? Dr. Gall answered, He gained his ascendancy not by courage, but by cunning."
It is well known, that in Thurtel, who was ex'ecuted for one of the most cold-blooded and remorseless murders ever heard of, the phrenologists found the organ of benevolence uncommonly large.
In Spurzheim's delineation of the human head I find six divisions of organs marked out in the little hemisphere over the eye, indicating six different dispositions. Must there not be in this subtle distribution much of what is arbitrary and sciolistic?
It is to be regretted, that no person skilful in metaphysics, or the history of the human mind, has taken a share in this investigation. Many errors and much absurdity would have been removed from the statements of these theorists, if a
proper division had been made between those attributes and propensities, which by possibility a human creature may bring into the world with him, and those which, being the pure growth of the arbitrary institutions of society, must be indebted to those institutions for their origin. I have endeavoured in a former Essay to explain this distinction, and to shew how, though a human being cannot be born with an express propensity towards any one of the infinite pursuits and occupations which may be found in civilised society, yet that he
may be fitted by his external or internal structure to excel in some one of those pursuits rather than another. But all this is overlooked by the phrenologists. They remark the various habits and dispositions, the virtues and the vices, that display themselves in society as now constituted, and at once and without consideration trace them to the structure that we bring into the world with us.
Certainly many of Gall's organs are a libel upon our common nature. And, though a scrupulous and exact philosopher will perhaps confess that he has little distinct knowledge as to the design with which "the earth and all that is therein” were made, yet he finds in it so much of beauty and beneficent tendency, as will make him extremely reluctant to believe that some men are born with a decided
propensity to rob. and others to murder. Nor can any thing be more ludicrous than this author's distinc
• See above, p. 31, 32.
tion of the different organs of memory-of things, of places, of names, of language, and of numbers : organs, which must be conceived to be given in the first instance long before names or language or numbers had an existence. The followers of Gall have in a few instances corrected this : but what their denominations have gained in avoiding the
grossest absurdities of their master, they have certainly lost in explicitness and perspicuity.
There is a distinction, not unworthy to be attended to, that is here to be made between Lavater's system of physiognomy, and Gall's of craniology, which is much in favour of the former. The lines and characteristic expressions of the face which may so frequently be observed, are for the most part the creatures of the mind. This is in the first place a mode of observation more agreeable to the pride and conscious elevation of man, and is in the next place more suitable to morality, and the vindication of all that is most admirable in the system of the universe. It is just, that what is most frequently passing in the mind, and is entertained there with the greatest favour, should leave its traces upon the countenance. It is thus that the high and exalted philosopher, the poet, and the man of benevolence and humanity are sometimes seen to be such by the bystander and the stranger. While the malevolent, the trickish, and the grossly sensual, give notice of what they are by the cast of their features, and put their fellow-creatures upon their