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public and private collections, together with the interesting experiments, by a member of this Society, in taking the curves and circles of the head, will soon set aside all differ
I shall always be willing to exchange error for truth, and, with a sufficient confirmation of facts opposed to my present ideas, hail its dawn, and acknowledge myself bene fited by the correction.
DR FOSSATI'S LECTURE ON PHRENOLOGY.
De la Nécessité d'étudier une nouvelle doctrine, avant de la juger, et application de ce principe à la physiologie intellectuelle. Par M. le Dr Fossati. Paris, 1827.
We have just received a very sensible pamphlet with the above title, from Dr Fossati, the pupil and friend of Dr Gall. The discourse was delivered on the 14th January, 1827, at the opening of a course of Lectures on Phrenology, in Dr Gall's house, at Paris, and the subject was well calculated to remove prejudice, and to lead to the patient examination of the principles and facts of Phrenology.
Dr Fossati shows, by the history of all great discoveries, that the new doctrine is any thing but singular in the amount of opposition with which it has been met, and in the ridicule and alarm which have been raised in their turn against it. It is even in the very nature of a discovery that it should be received with suspicion and distrust; for what is a discovery but the manifestation of a truth previously unknown ? And on the other hand, what are the false systems but new errors announced as truths ? How then can the public be expected instantly to distinguish the true from the false, particularly
if the thing announced requires meditation, study, and research ? Most men give the same reception to the charlatan and to the man of genius; to new extravagances and new errors, as to new truths and new inventions. These are first left to float vaguely about, then they are decried, then consequences are deduced from them, then applications are made of them, then one becomes enthusiastic, and another angry, and all take good care in the mean time not to examine them. Who are the men that form their opinions only after study and inquiry? Where are they who have fixed their political, physical, religious, or philosophic opinions, only after having known, weighed, and decided the real grounds on which truth ought to stand ?
History shows human nature to have been the same in all ages. “ Everybody knows the persecution suffered by Galileo, for having innocently proved that the earth turns on its own axis every day, and moves round the sun every year ; but the vexatious annoyance which he met with from the learned men and critics of his time are less generally known. Even the professors of Padua mocked him, and the mathematicians, the natural philosophers, and the academies, spoke of his discoveries just as our peasants speak of them in our own day, when you try to explain to them the earth's motion. In 1597 he invented the geometrical compass, and ten years after he was forced to seek a decision against Balthazar Capra, who had appropriated the invention. In 1609 he invented the telescope, discovered the inequalities of the moon, and that the milky-way was nothing more than an infinity of fixed stars; he discovered the spots on the sun, the phases of Venus, the planets of Jupiter and their periods ; and more lately, the mode of marking in degrees the longitude at all times and at all places; he discovered the rotation of the sun on its own axis ; and as a reward for so many discoveries, he was summoned to the Holy Office at Rome, and condemned to two years' imprisonment. His letters and his writings, particularly those in the Saggiatore, show the kind of imputa
tions directed against him, and how he was obliged to defend himself, and the complaints which were forced from him of the hatred which his discoveries had caused, and of the 'calamitous state to which they had reduced him.”
The same persecution was long the reward of Columbus, as Dr Fossati points out at some length, and also of Harvey and of Jenner. For demonstrating the circulation of the blood, Harvey was cruelly persecuted both by the philosophers and medical men of his day, and after many bonours, was at last disgraced by his own king, over whom the ignorance of his adversaries had greater influence than the merit of the illustrious discoverer. In the case of Jenner again, in our own day, not only the prejudices of the people warred against vaccination, but authors, magistrates, ministers of religion, and, what is still more remarkable, a very large proportion of medical men, declared themselves hostile to the discovery, and laboured with reckless animosity to extinguish its then feeble life.
But does any one now believe that those who denied the motion of the earth, those who denied the existence of another continent, those who denied the circulation of the blood, and those who arrayed themselves against vaccination, did so only after having studied the facts and the proofs upon which these great truths were established ? Certainly not. We all know now, that they reasoned hastily from the knowledge they had previously acquired, and without taking the trouble to observe experiment, examine, or scrutinize by a sound logic, the new ideas which were laid before them; and that
they preferred breaking out in diatribes, and redoubling in 1. activity and hatred, not only against the principles, but also against the persons that wished to enlighten them. Such, in short, is human nature, and let them pause therefore who think themselves secure in rejecting the new philosophy on the notion that it must be false because it meets with oppo sition from the learned, and with disregard from the established teachers of youth.
Dr Gall's fate differed in no respect from that of the great men already alluded to. After he had advanced a considerable way in his discoveries, he held conferences at Vienna with his friends, and with men of learning, and submitted to them his observations and inferences. The Austrian government imposed silence on him, and did its best to strangle in its birth the new physiology of the brain. Circumstances led him to quit Vienna, and he then visited the north of Germany. Every where he astonished the savans and the public by the novelty and importance of his researches, and by the successful application of his principles in prisons, lunatic asylums, hospitals, and schools. At last he came to Paris, and, conjunctly with Dr Spurzheim, he demonstrated to the Institute the anatomy of the brain, and explained, in a memoir, his anatomical discoveries. The judgment passed upon them by this learned body, and the influence which the despot of the day exercised upon them, are well known. Almost every anatomical fact was denied, and they tried to show that the physiology was a deduction from the anatomy, and that it also must of course be false. The journalists adopted this decision, and gross pleasantries, absurdities, falsehoods, calumnies, and reproaches, were launched forth and spread from the centre of the civilized to the remotest regions of the scientific world. The founder of the new physiology, firm as the rooted oak, unshaken by the storm, was not disconcerted. He pursued his researches, and gave to the world his great work. He answered objections, added new facts, and completed the exposition of his principles. But man continued to act according to his nature, to judge without knowledge. The work remained unconsulted; and many physicians, philosophers, and men of genius, continued their ridicule and their pleasantries. They did not even stop here. They excited the femmes de la halle* against the person of Dr Gall; they prepared a masquerade to turn him,
• A kind of female porters at the public markets.
into ridicule, which, however, the prefect of police, M. le Comte Dubois, prohibited; and they attacked him by attempting to excite the authorities, by some of the charitable insinuations usual on such occasions, to remove him from Paris. Not being then naturalized in France, they sought to have him expelled, on the pretext of his being an alien. : Dr Fossati adds, in regard to the masquerade, that he is in possession of a plaster medal, which Dr Gall himself procured for him, representing the comic personages that were to have appeared in it. On the middle of the medal is engraved Marche comique du Docteur Gall.
Our imperturbable philosopher, says Dr F., would have wished to amuse himself by seeing it performed ; but the prefect pretended that it would be a disgrace to the nation. ·
The anathemas of the Academy of the Catholic Religion at Rome, in which Phrenology is condemned as “ contrary “ to the morality and precepts of the Catholic religion, and 4 as being based on the most absurd fatalism, and on the “ erroneous doctrine of predestination,” are next quoted, but need not be repeated. No reasonable mind can look back to the past history of the world, and continue to view the treatment of Gall as a proof of the erroneousness of his doctrines.
There is one illustration by analogy that struck us as a happy one. In a French journal in 1822, in speaking of the organ of Locality, which the critic calls the organ of travelling, he says, that “ swallows and Captain Cook, cranes and 4 Christopher Columbus, &c. are equally remarkable for a “ pretty little bump, which is half hidden' in the frontal o sinuses." Here there is an insinuation that it is impossible that the same cerebral organ determines man and animals to change place, or to travel. “ But if I told you,” says Dr Fossati, " that the same organ, the heart, causes the blood “ of the swallow and that of Mr Canning to circulate ; that “ the same organ, the optic nerve, receives the impressions “ of light in the eyes of a crane and of a Bolivar; and that 6 the same muscles le the deer and the huntsman to