صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

fortably adds, "these are to be sought for after the death of the person!"

I am not to be informed that this system is extolled as the only solution of the phænomena of insanity. Believing that insanity is often produced by animal causes, it is at least as probable that it is often a pure, independent, disease of the mind. Why may not intellect have its idiopathy as well as the body? But surely this pretext of defence is most luckless; for countless cases of mental derangement might be adduced, in which the organization of the brain has not been even most slightly affected. It is only a quirk to take refuge in the physiology of the brain. It merely begs the question. What is this functionary action? And when the structure is perfect, what possible ground have any to assume an imperfect and unhealthy action?

It is often put as a strong case, that the mind must be in the brain, for that, on the removal of the brain, the operations of the mind cease. But I suspect that man would find an equal difficulty in thinking, were he under a bond to some Shylock to lose a pound of his heart. That the brain is essential to vitality, was never disputed; and, of course, whatever destroys life, destroys also intellect, as far as united to flesh, and confined to earth.-That the soul is in the brain, can be as little proved in cases of amputation. It is said that the sufferer feels pain in the extremities, though no longer his. Now if this be true, and the inference drawn from it be valid, the pain should be in the head; and it is a misinformation of the mind to assign it to a limb which no longer exists. The explanation is easy without so clumsy an inference,-mental association springing from morbid habitude.

When Induction is pleaded as the basis of this theory, we feel that there is a very impudence in the assertion. There have been living for ages upon this earth, at any one period, five hundred millions of human beings. Upon how many of these heads have craniologists laid hands and measures? There must be dissection for a perfect examination of cranial phænomena. Now the business should be, not to go into catacombs

and charnels to collect skulls, because we cannot generally say what was the mind or the character of their former posses sors; it is to collate the skulls of those whom we intimately knew, and to establish by them the soundness of these conclusions. Is there a man who could exhibit a hundred skulls, and say as he took up each, "I knew him well." What becomes, then, of the inductive boast? A rule is laid down, from the merest scantling, to be applied to millions of millions, when probably this scantling consists of exceptions to the universal rule! Induction! "Prodigious !"

I should be very glad if I thought the theory, as a straw whirled into air, would only mark the veerings of popular opinion. I am no alarmist; and were I one, I would not disturb you with my tocsin. Yet I cannot calmly review these trifles without regret; in sorrow more than anger. “Hæ nugæ seria ducunt." I ask, do not these studies argue a decay and vitiation of public intellect? Are they characteristic of a thinking age? Breathe they a healthy spirit of learning? Can they school genuine philosophers? Appear they not the toys of our second childhood? Speak they not a degeneracy of power and taste? Surely we have fallen on an age of little men. Its very activity is a wanton caprice, and feverish restlessness. If any which preceded it was the age of iron, though heavy, it was massive; though rigorous, it was useful. This is the age of tinsel. Is it come to this? Is our Io Pæan loudest whilst we most flagrantly offend the god? Could any recorded climacteric of liberal enquiry, of severe art, of genuine science, have produced this abortion? Could it have lived for a moment in the times of Newton, Locke, or Johnson? It seems, that after the unexampled growth of former years, we must now have a fallow,—this is one of the weeds. The river has retreated to its channels, and only left its ooze,this is part of the spawn. If such bagatelles have any attraction for us, our intellectual retrograde has at least commenced. If these be the proofs of an enlightened æra—if these be the rays of our noontide splendour,—the twilight will soon thicken, and the night quickly fall. I am incapable of nationality in

!

science; "Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur." But I confess that a suspicion haunts me when the import arrives from a particular land: the bills of lading demand a quarantine and fumigation. We have had enough already of Transcendental Mysticism, of Antisupernatural Religion, of Mawkish Sentimentality, from the German shores. Our literature, our metaphysics, have been sufficiently infused by Teutonic decoctions. Let our fountains for a time be left to well up their own waters. Their health and purity require their unmixed element and undisturbed source.

66

I do not retract a single apology which I have both suggested and admitted in favour of this system. I freely grant that Craniology is not necessarily, in the case of its partizans, identified with a low animal philosophy. But that there is such a grovelling principle at work, cannot be denied. The Linnæan arrangement is more calculated to degrade man than to assist science. What boots it him that, in all the essentials of his humanity, he is so dissimilar, and so transcendent? A pectoral indication suffices to classify him! A whale! ("very like a whale !") a bat! ("cast to the bats," as we shall soon be to the moles!") a man! Id omne genus! These are levelling and equalising doctrines truly! And as little can it be denied, that this system is cordially greeted by these brutalising misanthropists. They only wanted this to make the demonstration complete. It now becomes us to decide whether we must succumb! It is for us now to determine whether we feed our lamp with our kindred leviathan! Whether the bat pays us the tribute of a common nature, as it skims over our grave!-Those resemblances, which all admit, it were folly to question. But the comparison has lately known no prudence. Man is described as an ameliorated brute. He has made his own way out of the economy of bestial instinct! Not satisfied with this emersion, he is to be taunted with his origin. The chance of a forehead makes him what he is. His intellect is a mere result of organization. His dispositions are blind and mechanical instincts. Let him think fellowly of the ape! This philosophy only wanted the Craniological

addition to complete the ingredients of its enchanted cal dron;

"Cool it with a baboon's blood,

Then the charm is firm and good."

Time was when organization was admitted to be much affected by the mind. This is a hypothesis with which we should have little quarrel. The physiognomical transforms tion we could heartily abet. But organization is now made restrictive. "To expect," says Lawrence, that the Americans and Africans can be raised by any culture to an equal height in moral sentiments and intellectual energy with Europeans, appears to me quite as unreasonable as it would be to hope that the bull-dog might equal the grey-hound in speed; that the latter may be taught to hunt by scent like the hound; or that the mastiff may rival in talents and acquirements the sagacious and docile poodle." The plot is at last betrayed. "This is no flattery." The human species is at a hopeless rest. Advance is impossible. The barrier is insurmountable. Taunt, of course, follows when such opinions are broached. The canine allusion is all within that vein. It is pleasing to these misanthropes to conceive of their fellows as packs of so many breeds, and of the earth as a kennel or menagerie.

It has been already admitted that a believer in these speculations is not required of necessity to be a materialist. But I must express my conviction that they are founded on a low, gross, materialism. If such be the origin of the theory, such may well be its consequence. Perhaps its suspected or its real connection with the system of materialism creates no alarm. Be it so; I am the keeper of no man's conscience, and judge of no man's creed. My own alarm is undissembled, and there are thousands who participate it.-Some have supposed that they might allow the facts of materialism, and yet reason differently upon them. They feel themselves secure against the undue conclusions of a Spinoza or a Lawrence. But it is untrue that it adducess any facts. It can claim assumptions and find analogies, to surfeit; but it is destitute of a single credible

and argumentative ground, of a solitary plain and tangible fact. If you admit its facts, you cannot long quarrel with its inferences. And is this the precise time for concessions? Have all the previous concessions of too-confiding candour been generously used? Are first principles of no importance? Are we to surrender our consciousness to the omnific power of brute flesh, and to describe thought as the effect of organised, and as the accident of perishable, matter? It is painfully evident that Materialism has made a great advance; that it is viewed with less apprehension than it was wont to excite; that it is flattered by a candour which it never exhibits, that it has corrupted our language, that it has debased our finest thinking, that it threatens the Palladium of our Religious Faith. Yet in our candour we are to open every gate for it, and never forbear until it is within our walls.

"Instamus tamen immemores, cæcique furore,
Et monstrum infelix sacratâ sistimus arce."

In the mean time Infidelity has not been inactive in the conflict, nor indifferent to the dispute: and I may expect her venomed serpents to entwine me for the "ne credite, Teucri," I have presumed to utter. Ever watchful, she has gloated over the rising enchantment. Her loud, boastful, laugh now proclaims her triumph. Man, an animal merely !-man, a compound of matter!-man, a tool of fate! She asks no more! Drunken with hope she once again flings high her thyrsus! mingles her filthy potions, and prepares her bloody revels!

The influence of these opinions on human conduct seems to me, also, necessarily mischievous. For many reasons it would be wrong as well as ungracious in me to discuss questions of necessity, volition, well-being; but when mankind at large are informed that their histories are engraved where they may read them, that their cranioscopy is truer than their consciousness, then, it may be feared, that man will presume that a destiny decides every thing, that human liberty is a fiction, that virtue and vice are only conventional, and that he is running but an appointed race. The freedom of the will, it

« السابقةمتابعة »