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drawing the plainest inference from facts before their eyes. We denounce such writers “ ignorant and vain,”—and let them, as Sir Archy says, “ mak their maist o't." *
CORRESPONDENCE BETWIXT MR GEORGE COMBE
AND DR BARCLAY.
Mi George Combe to Dr BARCLAY.
Edinburgh, 5th July 1923. Dear Sir,-My nephew, Mr John Cox, who resides with me, has attended your present course of comparative anatomy, and I have observed, in his notes of your lectures, many representations of phrenology very much at variance with what I understand these doctrines to be ; but, as a lecturer ought never to be judged from notes taken by his students, I merely explained to him the correct doctrine, and abstained from troubling you. In his notes, however, of your lecture of yesterday, there are errors regarding this subject of so palpable a nature, that I think it an act of justice to you, to let
you know what has been taken down as your sentiments. I enclose the passages, and advert particularly to the statement that Drs Gall and Spurzheim“ put the differ“ent faculties of the soul into the convolutions;" and the insinuation that they derived their physiology of the brain from the anatomy, and that they pretend to have seen the faculties of the mind in the brain. These representations are so completely at variance with the doctrines of phrenology, as stated by Drs Gall and Spurzheim themselves, and as laid down in pages 8, 9, 10, 59, 60, 69, 78, 84, and 85, of the
• Love à la Mode.
Essays on Phrenology, and are so much calculated to avert inquiry into the subject, that I really feel an anxiety to know how far Mr Cox has correctly apprehended your meaning:I remain, &c.
Notes of Dr Barclay's Lecture referred to in the preceding
« I HAVE here the head of a horse,—and as we cannot procure " that article when we please, I shall take the opportunity of
shewing you the brain. You perceive that it presents a con“ voluted surface. These convolutions are almost, though not
altogether, analogous to those of the human brain. In these
convolutions, Gall and Spurzheim have placed the different “ faculties of the mind. Gall, however differs in some points
from Spurzheim, as he has found some faculties which the latter “has not yet been able to see. But, gentlemen, I am not in the “ least surprised at this, for no person ever saw the facullies of * the mind. The mind no more exists in the brain than the “ skill of the carpenter exists in his tools. I must say, that to " me the cause of the faculties is inconceivable. Are we to
expect that the faculties can be seen ? certainly not. No
animating principle has, or ever can be, seen by us; at least, “ no animating principle can be seen in this brain just now. “ In the human brain, the convolutions may be separated by “ the blow-pipe or water, as they are like the foldings or doub“ lings of a towel. Drs Gall and Spurzheim were the first who “ suggested this. These individuals put the different faculties of “ the soul into these convolutions, and these take it into their "head to shew themselves through the skull. Dr Spurzheim “ said that these convolutions were separable by water in the “ head. A person who died of water in the head had a num“ ber of these convolutions expanded by the water, which was “ seen on dissection, at which operation I was present, thus “ confirming Dr Spurzheim's assertion. We are certainly much “ indebted to Dr Spurzheim for the reviving of discoveries “ which were forgotten ; and, as he has revived ancient dis“ coveries, he has also made one or two new and useful ones. “ This gentleman, however, has been much abused by the “ Edinburgh Review, which states him to be a quack; but he " is as far from being a quack intentionally as any gentleman “ alive, and is an intelligent and learned man. When he was in " this country I respected him as a man, and as a man of can“ dour, though I could not agree with his conclusions. One “ morning he breakfasted with me, and I told him I was to " lecture that day upon the brain, and that I wished him to “ come to the class to hear if I coincided with him in the man“ ner of dissection, which, if I did not, he was to tell me at " the end of the hour. I told the gentlemen that Dr Spurzheim
was present, and that if my mode of dissection did not agree “ with his, I would inform them to-morrow. After the hour,
therefore, I asked the doctor if my ideas of the anatomy of “ the brain coincided with his, when he told me that they did
so precisely. But when he spoke of the physiology of the “ brain, he and I differed. Both of us had the same facts, upon “ which we agreed, but we drew different conclusions from " them. He said, however, that we would not quarrel upon " the subject, and so Dr Spurzheim still remains one of my
best « friends."
Dr BARCLAY to Mr GEORGE Combe.
Edinburgh, July 10, 1823. My Dear Sir, I was duly favoured with your letter and the enclosure ; but being under the necessity of leaving town immediately, or almost immediately, after the lecture, I was prevented from acknowledging the receipt of it so soon as I could have wished. In looking over the notes taken down by Mr Cox, I see nothing that deviates materially from the language that I used, so far as my recollection serves me, except the last sentence, where I am reported to have asserted that Dr Spurzheim still continues one of my best friends. I think this expression is stronger than what I made use of, although I hope we are still friends, as we once were friends, and never had a quarrel, yet he never gave me any reason to conclude that he was one of
best friends. To the best of my recollection, the other language in the notes expresses my ideas, or at least was employed to express them, though I acknowledge that, like most other expressions, it may admit of different interpretations. Thinking that I understood Dr Spurzheim's meaning, and that my language, considered in connection with the language which I used before and after, and having rather a friendly than a hostile feeling to Dr Spurzheim, I did not imagine that I could intentionally or inadvertently misrepresent him. However, in talking of the subject again, which I mean to do, after examining the structure of some more brains, I shall warn my students of the ambiguity of language, explain more fully the language which I have hitherto used, on Spur
zheim's theory, and, with permission, shall read your
letter and Mr Cox's notes, as a proof of the necessity of such a caution. With much respect and many thanks for the friendly candour of your communication, I am, &c.
Mr Combe to Dr BARCLAY.
Edinburgh, July 11, 1823. My Dear Sir,-I am much obliged by your very friendly and candid letter of yesterday's date, which confirms my previous conviction, that any error in your statements regarding phrenology, must have proceeded altogether from misapprehension. As you are to mention the matter to your class, perhaps you will not feel displeased at my requesting you, to permit me, in this letter, to furnish what I understand to be a correct enunciation of the principles on which phrenology is founded, and which, if you see proper, I have no objections that you read, after the other communication.
First, Then, the phrenologists maintain, that the mind is not conscious of the functions of the different parts of the brain, and that hence we cannot tell by merely reflecting on what passes within ourselves, whether the whole brain is employed by the mind, in performing every act of thought, or whether different parts of it serve for the manifestation of different faculties.
Secondly, That dissection alone does not reveal the functions of any organ of the body : For example, although anatomists have long dissected the nerves, they never discovered from the structure alone, that one set of them constitutes the organs of voluntary motion, and another the organs of feeling; facts, which, I understand, the recent experiments of Majendie and Mr Charles Bell have established beyond doubt. In like manner, no anatomist, by merely dissecting the brain, can discover any fact or circumstance which authorises him to assign functions to it, either as a whole, or to its different parts.
Thirdly, Drs Gall and Spurzheim, therefore, not only dis
avow the possibility of discovering the physiology of the brain from its anatomy, but state this impossibility, as an insuperable reason why some other mode of investigation must be adopted, before the functions of this organ can be at all found out; and they add, that they have compared the size of different parts of the brain, as indicated by the skull, with the power of manifesting different faculties of the mind, and have found that where the size of a particular part is large, (the brain being healthy), the mental power is invariably strong, and vice versa; and they disclaim, most explicitly, any merit, except that of observing the concomitance.
The objection to this mode of ascertaining the functions of the brain, which is generally stated, is, that the two tables of the skull are not parallel, and that only fancy can perceive the differences of development spoken of. The answer to this objection is, that the differences of development extend to inches, and the differences of thickness in the different parts of healthy skulls in the prime of life, do not exceed an eighth or a tenth of an inch, so that the want of parallelism is a verbal, more than a practical objection. For example, the space across the head, at the top of the temporal bone, where the organ of ideality is marked out, is, in the mask of Dr Chalmers, taken from nature,
63 inches. In Mr Joseph, the celebrated sculptor,
64 In Mr Haydon, the eminent historical painter, In Wordsworth the poet, And all these are men distinguished for ideality in their mental manifestations.
Whereas, In Mr Joseph Hume, M. P.,* the same distance is only
5 inches, and he is equally distinguished for plainness of manner, and deficiency in ideality.
These include the integuments. The same differences appear
in skulls. In the cast of the skull of Raphael, for example, the great painter, the above distance, withoui the in
• A cast of Mr Hume's head is sold in London.