« السابقةمتابعة »
DINNER OF THE PHRENOLOGICAL SOCIETY.
The Phrenological Society dined in Barry's Hotel, Prince's Street, on Thursday, 230 November, 1826; Mr WILLIAM Scott, President of the Society, in the chair ; Mr JAMES Simpson, Vice-president; and a large number of the Members present.
After an elegant and sumptuous dinner, provided in the best style by Mr Barry, and the cloth being removed, Mr Scott gave, “ The King ;” next, “ The Phrenological So“ciety ;” and subsequently, “ The Health of Mr George “ Combe;" prefacing the last toast with some observations on the debt of gratitude which the Society owed to this gentleman. He had been the means, said Mr Scott, of calling the attention of the greatest part of the members to the science; he had taught many of them its truths and applications ; and he continued his exertions in the cause with unabating perseverance and success,-circumstances which justified the President in proposing his health at this early stage of their proceedings.
Mr GEORGE Combe returned thanks, and begged to direct the attention of the meeting to the great founder of the science,-Dr Gall. It was unnecessary for him to dwell on the merits of this highly-gifted individual, they being known to every one who had enrolled his name in a Phrenological Society. He would only observe, that Dr Gall had discovered the functions of the brain ; involving in its consequences the true philosophy of human nature, animal, moral, and intellectual ;-that, for the first time since the world began, mankind had been enabled, by this discovery, to compare their individual and social institutions, their codes of morality and religion, and their various practical principles,
with the actual nature of man. How much would be found defective he needed not to tell; but at the bare idea of how much might be improved, his mind swelled with the liveliest hope. In fact, imagination sunk under the contemplation of thevastness of Dr Gall's discovery, and of the consequences which are in its train. These statements might be viewed as extravagant ravings of enthusiasm by those who knew nothing of the science beyond the opprobrious epithets with which it had been loaded by its opponents; but on its real merits the judgment of a Phrenological Society was the decision of posterity. Those whom he now addressed had studied and comprehended the principles; they had examined the evidence, and had traced the consequences of the discovery; and what they now saw, felt, and anticipated, was the shadow thrown before of what posterity, when equally enlightened, would feel, and see, and practically experience. If, then, we would have regarded it as an unspeakable felicity to have been enrolled among the admirers, not to say the supporters and defenders, of Galileo, of Harvey, of Newton, of Locke, or of any other of the great and good men who had been persecuted by their contemporaries for conferring the greatest blessings on their race,-if we would have rejoiced in an opportunity of offering to them the humble tribute of
our most sincere and deep-felt gratitude and homage, and of exhibiting to them, in our admiration, a real, though feeble, specimen of the applause which an enlightened and benefited posterity would never cease to shower upon their names ;how greatly may we exult in having it this day in our power to express all these emotions towards a man who has conferred on the world a gift not inferior to the greatest that was ever proffered to it by these his illustrious predecessors, who has undergone, and who now endures a measure of opprobrium and abuse on this account alone, to be equalled only by the magnitude of his merits, and who yet lives, and is capable of receiving this our humble testimony of esteem. Much as we admire Dr Gall as a great discoverer and a profound philosopher, there was another point of view in which Mr C. was desirous of introducing him; and it was only on such an occasion as this that a becoming opportunity was afforded of doing so.
He referred to Dr Gall's appearance, character, and manners, as an individual. Mr C. had not enjoyed the honour of his personal acquaintance, but, with permission, he would read a graphic and eloquent description of him which he had very recently received. It was from the pen of a gentleman well known to the Society for his exertions in the cause of Phrenology, and of whom they had on former occasions expressed their highest approbation, namely, Dr Elliotson of London. (Applause.)
“ I have seen Dr Gall,” says Dr Elliotson,~"seen much of him, “and had repeated conversations with him on phrenological points, " and on the history of the discoveries. He lectures in Paris, to a “ class of above one hundred, at the Athenée Royale. His course
consists of sixty or seventy lectures, and he spends several days in
dissecting. When, at the end of the hour, he asks whether he “ shall proceed ? the audience applaud violently, and he often con"tinues two, and upwards of three hours. Dr Gall ranks high in “ Paris; he is physician to ten ambassadors,--has great practice, “ is considered a savant,—and bears himself, and lives handsomely “ like a gentleman.
“ Gall’s head is magnificent; and his countenance, dress, and manners, with the depth, continuousness, liberality, and simpli
city of his remarks, show you, that you are in company with a “ profound philosopher,-a perfect gentleman,—and a most kind“ hearted friend. 'He is perfectly free from affectation or quackery; “pursues truth only, regardless of all consequences; and has sought “ it at an immense expense, and free from all interested motives. “ He knows the importance and the reality of his discoveries; and “though perfectly modest and simple, forms the just estimate of “ himself that posterity will form, and feels secure of immortality: “ I advised him to write some popular work, but he objected; said “ he had written for the studious oply,—for those who desired to “understand the subject thoroughly; that he had composed a “ work for posterity; and must leave to others the occupation of “ writing for loungers. Till within the last two or three years he “ has been considerably out of pocket by Phrenology. Ii was de“ lightful to see the good old man every day sitting on his sofa, or “sitting up in bed (for he was ill at the time), surrounded by his “ friends, all listening to him, while he spoke knowledge in the most “ amiable manner, attending to every question, and allowing some “ more voluble, though not less admiring than the rest, to interrupt “ him, patiently resuming his arguments when they had finished. “ He is incessantly meditating and observing, so untrue is it that he “ labours no longer. He encourages all to work, telling them, that “much remains yet to be done, and mentions points upon which he “ wishes them to make observations for the purpose of solving va“ rious difficulties.” (Loud and enthusiastic applause.)
Mr Combe would not detract from the effect of this description by adding a single word of his own; he begged to give the health of Dr Gall; great honour and prosperity to him ; and may he be allowed to live till he see his merits appreciated by Europe and the world, as they now are by the Phrenological Society.-(Great applause.)
Dr A. COMBE, having next craved a toast, rose to propose the health of an individual whose name was inseparably connected with that of Dr Gall, and with the history of the science, and to whom the British Phrenologists, and they in particular, were under deep obligations ;--he alluded to Dr
To do justice to the merits of Dr Spurzheim would require an eloquence and a power of detail which no Phrenologist would look for in combination with so scanty a development of Ideality and of Language as that which he possessed. He must, therefore, come to the conclusion, that, in devolving upon him the agreeable duty of testifying their respect and admiration of that gentleman, his fellow-members had acted under the conviction, that Dr Spurzheim's discoveries and writings were so well known to all, as to render either individual enumeration or expressions of praise altogether unnecessary; but it was so rare an occurrence for his diminutive faculty of Language to be found addressing a meeting like this, that now that its activity was fairly roused, he was willing at least to attempt to recall a few among the many and valuable services conferred by Dr Spurzheim on every branch of science to which he had hitherto devoted the energies of his powerful mind.
As an anatomist, as a philosopher, and as a physician, Dr Spurzheim, he said, was almost equally distinguished. In the cultivation of that vast field, so long a barren waste, and now so fruitful and attractive, viz. the human and comparative anatomy of the nervous system, he had manifested mental attributes of the very highest order, and displayed a scope and comprehensiveness of mind, and an extent and accuracy of observation, that ceased to astonish only when viewed in connexion with the splendid development of his forehead. In conjunction with Dr Gall, he had invented a method of dissecting the brain, which was, for the first time, in unison with the soundest principles of reason and of physiology, and by the application of which he had effected important discoveries in the structure of that organ; but, superior as the mode of dissection unquestionably was, and valuable as were these individual discoveries, still he could not but regard the beautiful practical exposition, which his writings afforded, of the great leading principle of always studying structure in relation with function, and function in relation with structure, as constituting the chief and distinguishing feature in his anatomical and physiological excellence. When stated in as many words, this principle seems very simple, and even trite; but it was not the less to Dr Spurzheim's credit that he seemed to have been the first to appreciate its real magnitude, and to inculcate practically the necessity of faithfully adhering to it as a guide. The instability and imperfections of the systems of mental philosophy antecedent to Phrenology, showed how little had been or could be accomplished, by the utmost exertions of the profoundest men, without the guidance of this principle, in the lapse of many centuries. The stability and present comparative perfection of the phrenological system showed how much had been and could be accomplished in the course of a few years by the unaided exertions of one, or rather two individuals acting with this principle. In like manner, the crude and contradictory, and, as they were called by a late unphrenological writer, utterly incomprehensible notions entertained in regard to the anatomy of the human brain ; and the very mode of dissection