صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

occurred to the mind of man, in any other way than that in which it did occur to its authors. The inference I would draw from the whole is, that this is not a human invention, but the evolution of a scheme composed and designed by the same mighty mind which devised the structure of the universe.

Had Doctors Gall and Spurzheim sat down to devise a system from their own imagination, it is morally impossible they could have contrived one which harmonizes so completely with itself, and with the actual state of the human faculties, and the uses to which these are subservient. This is a problem which has puzzled the most eminent philosophers, so as almost to entitle us to conclude that its solution was beyond the reach of human ingenuity. Independently, therefore, of more direct evidence, the presumption is exceedingly strong, that they did not invent, but discovered it by observation.

Supposing that we knew nothing of human nature but what we are able to gather from systems of philosophy, what notion could we form of man from perusing all the works that have ever been written on the metaphysics of the schools? Is it not obvious that they afford a very indistinct or inadequate account of what man really is, and of what are his powers, dispositions, and functions. On the contrary, the system we have been now considering, to use the expression of an acute writer,* seems to present us with "a portrait from the life.”

If we take our account of man from this system, would it not be evident, that a being possessed of the powers and faculties here attributed to him must be a wonderful being; that if the intellectual faculties are active and predominant, he must be a great and powerful being; that if to these be added a large share of the destructive propensities, he must be a terrible being; and if the * The late Mr Abernethy of London.

kind, the social, the benevolent, the moral and religious qualities are added to the intellectual, and the destructive powers used only for the purposes of good, he must be all but divine; "in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a God, -the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!" But is it not equally evident, that if the balance of the powers is not duly preserved, if the lower propensities are too powerful, and act without due regulation, or even if any of the higher sentiments exceed the bounds of propriety and moderation, so as to interfere with the due exercise of the rest, his actions will be betrayed into obliquity and error, and the whole character will be degraded? And such is the state of man.



HAVING stated shortly the scheme of the human faculties, which, generally speaking, both Mr Combe and I assume as the basis of our views, I shall now advert to some points upon which we differ, and where I think he errs in the practical application of his own system.

The first grand principle which he adopts, is what he calls the supremacy of the moral sentiments and intellect over the lower propensities.

Mr Combe opens his remarks on this subject, with another quotation from Butler, which I shall give entire. "Mankind has various instincts and principles of.


any thing else, to increase our own happiness. According to this view, a thoroughly enlightened self-esteem, leading to the desire of our own greatest good, and a thoroughly enlightened benevolence, leading to a desire for the highest welfare of our fellow-men, should direct us precisely to the same course of conduct,—that course which we have reason to believe, and which indeed we know, to be most conformable to the will of God. If the foregoing view be correct, the whole powers of the mind, the selfish, the social and benevolent, and the religious, if all were sufficiently enlightened and properly directed, would be entirely in harmony with each other, and produce one harmonious result. This, could it be attained, would be the perfection of human nature: this, and nothing short of this, would be perfect morality.

The view here taken of the human faculties, which represents them rising one above another by an almost imperceptible gradation, and all in harmony with each other, affords a more pleasing, and, at the same time, I am satisfied, a truer picture of our nature in its most perfect state, than that which would divide them into two classes, separated by a wide and strongly marked interval. Thus, and thus only, does the constitution of man appear in a light worthy of its original perfection, and worthy of its high ultimate destiny-not like a piece of new cloth put into an old garment, where the parts are not fitly joined, but like the "robe which was without a seam, woven from the top throughout." It is all of a piece, every part corresponding to another, with nothing superfluous, and nothing awanting. Man is not like a satyr, the face and upper extremities only human, but the lower parts those of a brute. He is all human, bearing in .every part the impress of the same divine original.

Do we then say that all the faculties are equal? We

with the rest, as its turn happens to come, from the temper and circumstances one happens to be in, this is not to act conformably to the constitution of man: neither can any human creature be said to act conformably to his constitution of nature, unless he allows to that superior principle the absolute authority which is due to it."

To the doctrine here delivered I cordially and entirely subscribe.

Mr Combe has discarded the term conscience—a term universally used, and. perfectly understood by all mankind, as applied to those internal feelings which dictate to us what is right and wrong in conduct-and has adopted in its place a formula involving a theory of his own. "Right conduct," he says, "is that which is approved of by the whole moral and intellectual faculties, fully enlightened, and acting in harmonious combination. This," he adds, "is what I call the supremacy of the moral sentiments and intellect."

Now in order to understand this, it is necessary to know what is here meant by the term "moral and intellectual faculties." Taking the expression in its popular acceptation, it is universally admitted, that the moral and intellectual faculties are those by which the conduct is to be regulated; and, therefore, to tell us that right conduct is that which is approved of by these faculties, gives us no information whatever. We knew all that before phrenology was discovered. But these expressions are used by Mr Combe in a limited and technical sense-not applied to the whole moral capacities of our nature, but to certain distinct feelings or propensions, of which the precise functions have been specified by phrenological writers, and which they have chosen to denominate, specially and exclusively, the moral sentiments. But although thus limited to a special class of

pleasures of which we do not see the evil consequences. But if intellect once clearly points out that our greatest and permanent good is only to be attained by a life of temperance and sobriety, truth and honesty, a regard for the welfare of others, and a humble reliance on the goodness of God,-self-esteem will, when so enlightened, become a powerful aid to virtue, and furnish the strongest motive to strict moral conduct.

Philoprogenitiveness is one of the lower propensities, and is possessed by many animals. Its objects are limited. It does not certainly aim at the happiness of all mankind, though, in its effects, it has immense influence on the welfare of the whole race. It only leads men to the love of their own offspring, and of young and tender beings in general. It attaches us to them by the strongest ties, and impels us to attend to their wants, and minister, as far as in our power, to their happiness. When unenlightened, it may lead to absurd indulgence and improper treatment of children, just as unenlightened benevolence may lead men to acts which are hurtful instead of being beneficial to society, or, as Mr Combe himself states, "to injurious indulgence of the appetites and fancies of others." But allow here the same advantage as is insisted on in the case of the higher sentiments. Let the feeling be properly enlightened by the intellect with a view of what conduces to the permanent good of its object, and it will undoubtedly lead us to seek that permanent good, and to refuse hurtful indulgences, and thus its tendency will be as strictly moral as that of the weaker, but more diffusive, desire to benefit the whole race.

Benevolence is a feeling said to be common to man and the inferior animals. Being in them unenlightened by intellect, it is confined to a passive meekness of disposition. In man it is more active; but it is the light

« السابقةمتابعة »