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at once begin to model their public instructions upon these doctrines; and on the other hand, however objectionable they might consider them, it is not surprising that they should have hesitated to come forward with any formal answer to, or refutation of, his errors; seeing that, in order to do either of these with any effect, it would first be necessary for them to study a science, and to learn a language, which they have never been taught, and to both of which most of them are entire strangers.
I may here state, that, about fifteen years ago, I happened to have my attention turned to the subject of Phrenology, and that I have since made it more or less an object of study. Having become convinced of the truth of its general principles, I entered as a member of the Phrenological Society in the year 1822, aad thereafter took a considerable share in its proceedings; and finally, was elected to the office of its President, in the year 1825.
Soon after that time, Mr Combe began to broach those doctrines on human responsibility, and other points, which were afterwards more fully developed in his "Constitution of Man." These I opposed at the time, but without much effect and Mr Combe having, in 1827, printed a small impression of that Essay for private distribution, I also printed a little tract in answer to it, (which was likewise privately distributed,) but without being able to produce any material
change in his views. At last, finding Mr Combe determined to persevere in these new doctrines, to introduce them regularly for discussion in the Society, and to support them by articles in the Phrenological Journal, I resolved to break off all connection with both; and acordingly, I gave up attending the Society's meetings, as did also several other members who entertained the same opinions of Mr Combe's views. I also, from that time, ceased from contributing to the Phrenological Journal.
In June, 1828, Mr Combe published his work on the "Constitution of Man," nearly in the shape in which it now appears. He acknowledges that, at its first appearance, the book did not sell, as nearly seven years elapsed before another edition was called for. It was not until, by aid of the "Henderson Bequest," he was enabled to reduce the price, that it came to have any considerable circulation. Since that time, it appears, many thousand copies of it have been sold, chiefly among the operative classes in our manufacturing towns. It also appears that it has been translated into some foreign languages, and that it has been widely circulated in America. I am not surprised at this extensive sale of the essay, as, along with many errors, it contains much that is both instructive and amusing. It contains an account of the interesting discoveries of Gall and Spurzheim, together with other matter well adapted to
the class of readers for whom it seems principally intended. This, with the extraordinary cheapness of the work, may account for its extensive sale.
Although, during the first seven years after its publication, I did not consider an answer called for, seeing that it seemed to have excited little attention; the case was altered after it appeared that the sale of it had increased to many thousands, among a class of readers not the best fitted to detect its fallacies; nd that it was circulated chiefly in those places where the population had far outgrown the means of proper Church accommodation; and where, of course, it was offered to the people not along with, but in lieu of, religious instruction. It was then pressed upon me by several friends, that the work ought to be answered, and that I ought to undertake the task, as I understood the subject of Phrenology, as maintained and taught by Mr Combe, and was able to address him in his own language; and that as I had formerly studied his book with the view of answering it, the labour was already half performed.
These reasons may perhaps be held sufficient to account for my engaging in the present undertaking.
Mr Combe's work takes so wide a range, embraces or touches so vast a variety of subjects, and contains so great a multitude of errors, that
in order to answer it completely-to separate the chaff from the wheat-and, admitting what may be true, to expose and refute all that is erroneous,—it would be necessary to write, not a book, but a library. He says in his preface, that it is his wish to avoid controversy. He takes a strange method to avoid it, seeing that he has, in the course of his speculations, not merely declared war against most, if not all, of our secular institutions, but has openly attacked the clergy, and denounced as erroneous almost every article of faith, with regard to the past and present condition of the human race, which is generally held by them on the authority of Scripture.
I shall here mention some of the points on which Mr Combe attacks the doctrines of our divines.
There are, first, the doctrines of the Original Perfection of Man,-the Fall,-and the consequent Depravity of our Nature. Here are three most important points, lying at the foundation of the whole scheme of the Christian faith, which Mr Combe denounces as errors, on grounds the most frivolous, false, and unphilosophical.
We have next an objection to the Paradisaical State of our First Parents before the Fall, founded on a mere fancy which he has adopted, that certain of the faculties of man are adapted to a world in which pain, danger, and death are elements in his condition, and, therefore, he
imagines, would be unsuited to a state from which these were excluded.
Then we have an objection to the theological doctrine that Death was brought upon man as the Punishment of Sin, founded on the assumption that death is inseparable from the nature of an organized being, and that, therefore, it must have been an original institution of the Creator.
We have an objection to the belief, (founded on a passage in Genesis,) that the Pains of Child-birth were part of the punishment inflicted on Woman at the Fall. Mr Combe maintains, that the pains alluded to are not an institution of the Creator at all, but are caused by a disobedience of some unknown Natural Laws.
With regard to the Natural Laws themselves, (which are at present universally disobeyed, for this, among other reasons, that nobody knows what they are,) Mr Combe's system proceeds on a principle directly opposite to that of Christianity. That system aims at improving the moral nature of man in the first place, holding that, if this were attained, all other improvement would necessarily follow. Mr Combe, on the contrary, maintains that, in order to improve the moral nature of man, we must firs improve his physical condition; and, accordingly, he directs our attention almost exclusively to the petty details of diet, clothing, exercise, &c. "what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed."