« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
ferred to the size of that organ. The man had the organ of that size for forty years, and was not at all mad, or in any way over-mastered by the propensity it denoted. The natural conclusion then would be, that the size of the organ had nothing to do with the excessive force ultimately developed in the propensity; and the cases would be all cases against the phrenological assumption.
But the organs are sometimes diseased or morbidly excited, where there is no madness and then, though they do not increase in size, the powers and faculties to which they minister become vastly more vigorous. This does savour a little, we think, of materialism-but little enough of common sense. The diseased or morbid state of an organ, it seems, does not disturb or impede, but increases and improves the action of the faculty to which it ministers! This is as if we were to see better for an inflammation in the eye, or to smell or taste more acutely for having ulcerations in our mouths and noses ! There are some rare instances, we believe, of a morbid and excessive sensibility in these organs; but by far the most common case is undoubtedly the reverse. With the phrenological organs, however, it is quite opposite. A diseased state of the organ always makes its operations more vigorous and energetic; and no instance is mentioned in which the occasional obscuration of any faculty is referred to such a cause. This, we think, is tolerably ridiculous, But the main thing is, that, in any way of taking it, the fact proves the very foundation of the system to be false. If a faculty is doubled in vigour by a mere disease of the organ, without any increase of its bulk, then it cannot be true that there is any necessary connection between its bulk and the vigour of the faculty. The imaginary disease has often no other local indication but this increase of mental vigour-and is indeed in most cases plainly imagined or assumed merely to account for that phenomenon. It proves, at all events, that faculties may have a vigour quite incommensurate with the size of their organs, which is precisely the reverse of what Phrenology teaches. It proves that the state or quality of the organ, or of something else, quite independent of its size, may determine the state of the faculty,-and that size therefore is no criterion whatever. If we find a man with a very small organ, and a very vigorous manifestation of its supposed faculty, it is to be sure very easy to say, that this is owing, not to the size, but the condition of the organ; but it is saying what fundamentally contradicts the whole phrenological doctrine; and though it introduces another, pretty nearly as absurd, it completely puts an end to the former, A disease in the organ is, after all, but a particular state of that organ, and if its only effect upon it is to increase its power and activity as an organ, most people, we should think, would rather describe that state as one of uncommon healthiness and vigour, than one of disease. But whatever it may be called, the fact is, that a certain state of the organ may thus indicate a great improvement of its associated faculty, while its bulk remains as before. But if this be admitted in certain cases, how can it be known that it does not hold in all ? What is called a diseased state of the organ, may be only its most healthy and natural state—and all inferior manifestations of the faculty may be owing to organic ineptitude or disease. And, at all events, assuming that there is a correspondence between the organ and the faculty, is there not much more reason for holding that, in all cases, it is the state, and not the size of the organ, which determines the force of the faculty, than the reverse ? The cases of education and alleged disease demonstrate, that it is not always the size; But there is no such evidence against the supposition that it is always the state or condition exclusively, and that the size, of which alone however phrenology takes cognisance, is purely indifferent.
In some cases our author represents the faculty as inordidinately excited by disease in persons who have the organ of very small dimensions; in others, he is guilty of the double absurdity of leaving it to disease to produce any manifestation of the faculty, although the organ'has all along been unusually large--as in the following admirable illustration of Destructiveness.
• When excited by intoxication, the organ sometimes becomes ungovernable ; and hence arises the destruction of glasses, mirrors, chairs, and every frangible object at the close of many a feast. Hence also the temptation, often almost irresistible, experienced by many a worthy citizen, when inebriated, to smash a lamp in his progress home. One gentleman assured me that the lamps have appeared to him, when in this state, as it were twinkling on his path with a wicked and scornful gleam, and that he has frequently lifted his stick to punish their impertinence, when a remnant of reason re. strained the meditated blow. In him Destructiveness is decidedly large, but, when sober, there is not a more excellent person.' p. 109.
Now, here we have, first of all, a man with a decidedly large organ, who yet, in his sound and natural state, gives no manifestation whatever of the connected propensity-in itself a complete falsification of the theory. But then, when disordered with drink, this naturally quiet person becomes mischievousthat is to say, he comes into the state to which drink and disorder might bring a man with a decidedly small organ—and which state, accordingly, is constantly referred to as explaining
how men with small organs have occasionally strong propensities! We think it would be difficult to devise a more perfect refutation of the whole system.
A third and separate refutation, however, is suggested by another concession, or necessary distinction, of its supporters. There is a difference, they have been obliged to admit, between the Activity and the Power of their faculties and propensities : and size is the measure of power onlym-activity not manifesting itself by any peculiarity of outward configuration. This is, no doubt, very candid and plausible; but, at the same time, it takes away at once one half of their territory : Since it admits that there is one most material element of character, and that extending to all the faculties, sentiments and propensities that go to its formation, as to which this infallible Science of observation' gives no light whatever. It observes size only:-And it is here admitted, that though the size be the same, the activity of the faculties may be exceedingly different, and the intellectual en. dowment of the individuals, therefore, as to one and all of these faculties, exceedingly different, while Phrenology would pronounce them identical.
But, in the second place, is there in reality any distinction between what is here called power, and what is called activity; as applied to the 36 phrenological faculties ? Mr Combe is more than usually eloquent on this subject; and it is but fair, therefore, to let him speak for himself.
"There is a great distinction between power and activity of mind; and, as size in the organs is an indication of the former only, it is proper to keep this difference in view. In physics, power is quite distinguishable from activity. The balance-wheel of a watch moves with much rapidity, but so slight is its impetus, that a hair would suffice to stop it ; the beam of a steam-engine traverses slow and ponderously through space, but its power is prodigiously great.
• In muscular action, these qualities are recognised with equal facility as different. The greyhound bounds over hill and dale with animated agility; but a slight obstacle would counterbalance his momentum, and arrest his progress. The elephant, on the other hand, rolls slowly and heavily along; but the impetus of his motion would sweep away an impediment sufficient to resist fifty greyhounds at the summit of their speed.
In mental manifestations (considered apart from organization), the distinction between power and activity is equally palpable. Many members of the learned professions display great felicity of illustration and fluency of elocution, surprising us with the quickness of their parts, who, nevertheless, are felt to be neither impressive nor pro. found. They possess acuteness without power, and ingenuity without comprehensiveness and depth of understanding. This also pro
ceeds from activity with little vigour. There are other public speakers, again, who open heavily in debate, their faculties acting slowly, but deeply, like the first heave of a mountain-wave. Their words fall like minute-guns upon the ear, and to the superficial they appear about to terminate, ere they have begun their efforts. But even their first accent is one of power, it rouses and arrests attention ; their very pauses are expressive, and indicate gathering energy to be embodied in the sentence that is to come. When fairly animated, they are impetuous as the torrent, brilliant as the lightning's beam, and overwhelm and take possession of feebler minds, impressing them ir. resistibly with a feeling of gigantic power.' pp. 36–38.
Now, these are very well drawn pictures; and do credit to the author's powers of observation, as well as of writing-being very nearly as true as rhetorical descriptions can ever be: But the rhetoric is better than the logic, if the author really means to assert, that the slowness with which great energies are sometimes developed is to be regarded as their necessary attendant. If a steam-engine or elephant moves slow, a cannon-shot, a war-horse, a thunderbolt, a comet, move fast: And, beyond all doubt, the most fervid orators, the most sublime poets, the most famous warriors, and the most commanding geniuses in all departments, have been remarkable for the combined depth and rapidity of their conceptions: The slowness, when it does occur, is not a symptom of greatness, but a defect or an accident. It arises sometimes from diffidence, sometimes from want of preparation, sometimes from general indolence of temper, sometimes from affectation. This, however, is of little consequence to the present argument. The question we would now ask is, whether it is not plain that these emphatic distinctions are really without meaning as applicable to different conditions of the 36 phrenological faculties; and whether, with regard to the far greater part of them, activity and power, are not perfectly synonymous and undistinguishable? In all the instances quoted, activity seems to mean rapidity of outward motion, and nothing else; and accordingly, it is afterwards (p. 49) expressly defined as denoting the rapidity or readiness with which the • faculties may be manifested.' Now, let us see whether this does not coincide in almost every instance with any conception that can be framed of their Power, and whether the remainder are not of a nature to which it is impossible intelligibly to ascribe this attribute ? When we say, for example, that a man has Destructiveness unusually powerful, what do we mean but that he is unusually ready to injure and destroy! All men have something, it seems, of this amiable propensity; and the only difference is, that those who have it least are the slowest to give way to it and those who have it most, the quickest. The whole difference, therefore, is in what is here called its activity. A difference in power must belong to the muscles of the hand or arm, and not to the brain at all. Combativeness is manifestly in the very same predicament. Can a man be very irascible who is slow to anger ?' or did Shakespeare ignorantly depict his Combative Youth, only as “sudden • and quick in quarrel ?' In what other sense can we conceive of the faculties of Colour, Form, Size, and all the others that are supposed to minister to our perceptions of external objects? How is a man, with a powerful endowment of Colour, to be dis. tinguished from one who has it moderate, but by his having a more quick, fine, and ready perception of the differences and harmonies of tints and shades? Is there any possibility, as to these faculties, of applying the poetical similitudes of Mr Combe as to elephants and steam-engines, and the slow but resistless movements of giants? or how should we picture to ourselves a mighty colourist, bringing his tardy energies to act in a flowergarden, and labouring towards a tremendous manifestation of his faculty, while another, with a small but active organ, is flitting over the mingled hues, like a sunbeam or a butterfly ? But the absurdity is not less conspicuous as to most of the other faculties. If a man has a large organ of Hope, what can that indicate, but that he hopes promptly, rapidly, and frequently ? If he have much Wit, does not that imply that sparkling thoughts and apt allusions come to him rapidly, copiously, and easily? Does not a large endowment of Language necessarily mean, that there is a ready flow of words, a prompt recollection, a copious and rapid elocution? What is Imitation, but a quick perception and ready faculty of copying the peculiarities that are set before us ? What Individuality, higher or lower, but an instant and rapid observation and disentanglement of fleeting events or complicated appearances ? What Locality, but a swift conception and ready recollection of places transiently seen? What Cautiousness, but a quick sense of danger-a most prompt and vigilant circumspection for security ? What Ideality itself, but an aptitude to catch fire from the common presentments of nature and society, and, with an eye glancing
from heaven to earth from earth to heaven' to body forth its swift creations, and irradiate the dull realities of life with the visitations of its lightnings ?
In all these cases, and in many more, we can have no other idea of the power of any faculty, than one which answers exactly to Mr Combe's definition of its activity. It is in its extraordinary activity, in short, and nothing else, that its extraordinary power consists; and since it is admitted that activity is not indicated either by bumps on the skull, or any other visible pecu