صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

of ill-nature ; 4th, The misfortunes of his neighbour gratify the ill-natured man's love of laughter, only if he superadds Wit to his unsocial and malevolent tendencies.

But distinctions likewise (and these are more difficult yet than definitions) are tried by this writer. Any such attempts, without the guiding principle which Phrenology furnishes, are efforts of sagacity for the occasion; and are of course unlike the effort of sagacity of every other speculator who handles the specific subject; nay, of the same speculator at another time. Of the distinctive kinds, degrees, modes of operation and manifestation of the intellectual powers, there is such a blank in the old philosophy, that minute discriminating attempts in these are rarely made at all, and still more rarely successfully; so that the most general terms, such as talent, ability, cleverness, profundity, and their contraries, are the only refuge. But writers and talkers of all descriptions, without distinction of age or sex, dabble in the feelings ; and we are often reminded, by their expositions, of a boy's endeavour to identify and secure certain specified live eels among a number in a tub, in all the convolution, involution, and evolution of that most slippery experiment. If he succeeds in apprehending the desired individual, it has eluded his firmest grasp before he can identify it; while eager to repossess it, he takes up a stranger, which is likewise again among the mass before he knows the delusive fact. Of the three Ils which the writer before us would discriminate, he catches A, B, and C pretty regularly, and names them ; after which all perception of their identities and differences fail him ; A slips through his fingers before he is done with it, and B is caught for the rest of the distinction; anon C is believed to be in its turn the subject of demonstration ; when it is B over again which is

1 held up to view, and the experimentalist never the wiser.

“The ill-humoured man differs from the ill-natured in this, that “ he does not rejoice in misfortunes, but takes pleasure only in seeing “ his friends uncomfortable; and he has no delight even in this mea“ sure of annoyance, if he himself is not the author of it. Again,


[ocr errors]

“ he differs from the ill-tempered man, because the latter must have “ some one to be angry with ; whereas the ill-humoured man is at “ odds with himself; the ill-tempered man must have external occasion for excitement; the ill-humoured goes out of himself to seek “ for the food of his humour.

An ill-humoured man, in the bosom of his family, sits like a

spider in the centre of its web, in watchful and unceasing malice “ against all around him. No sooner does a burst of cheerfulness

explode in his presence, than he bastens to repress it by a sarcasm or a rebuke. He studies the weaknesses of his friends in order to

play upon them with more effect; and as the hackney-coachman « makes a raw' on his horse's shoulder to flog his callous hide to “ better purpose, so the ill-natured man delights to awaken an out

raged feeling,—to notice an imperfection,—to shock a prejudice, " and, in one word, to say to every individual the most unpleasant " and vexatious things that recur to his recollection. The great

pretext for this cantankerous* indulgence is, that the party loves “ to speak his mind. He, forsooth, is a plain, downright man, who'

always utters what he thinks, and he is too good an English“man to make cringes and congées like a foreigner.”

These attempted distinctions, we humbly think, are a mass of confusion, into which a Phrenologist could never have fallen. He knows that the ill-humoured man takes no pleasure in seeing either his friends or his enemies uncomfortable, or in being himself the author of the annoyance. These, as pleasures, are within the function of the ill-natured man:

" Men that make
Envy and crooked Malice nourishment,
Dare bite the best.”

Here, then, is a wrong feeling caught up for illustration.
The author is describing ill-nature, while he is exhibiting ill-
humour as the corpus demonstrationis.

The distinction between ill or irascible temper and illhumour is not more correct, inasmuch as external circumstances excite ill-humour as much as they do ill-temper. Illhumour is engrossment with the disagreeable affection of the selfish feelings, which feelings are affected both agreeably and disagreeably by the external objects suited for each purpose. . Phrenology discriminates these external objects; but external

[ocr errors]

. Sic in origine. Vol. IV.No XIII.


objects they are; so that here the author has offered a distinction without a difference.

In the latter paragraph, where the ill-humoured man is compared to a spider, so palpably is the ill-natured man described, that we could almost suspect the printer and not the author of the blunder. It is the ill-natured man, not the illhumoured man, that “ establishes a raw, and awakens an outraged feeling.” Indeed the writer lets slip the eel in his hand before the sentence is done, and catches another; so that although ill-humour begins the passage, ill-nature ends it. The

pretext” which follows is likewise more the pretext of the illnatured than of the ill-humoured. The latter is too much occupied with his own disagreeable feelings to set up for the plain speaker, or character as it is called. That, besides, often comes of mere pride and vanity, without either ill-nature or ill-humour, and is one of the thousand and one self-defeating attempts to gain a little paltry power and distinction.

But perhaps the simple explanations afforded by Phrenology are never more conspicuous than when contrasted with the attempts which the old school makes to account for the phenomena of human nature. As a specimen of what the unphrenological reading public will not only bear, but absolutely take for sound and original thinking, we extract the following bijou :

“ The last modification of disposition (ill-humour) is decidedly English; and whether it be attributable to les bouillards d'Angleroterre;' to the beef-and-puddingizing, the anxious money-getting, “ or other causes peculiar to England and Englishmen, it is rarely

to be met with on the continent in the same intensity in which it “ prevails at home. Individuals, indeed, of all nations may be

subject to occasional fits of spleen and discontent, but it is among Englishmen exclusively that we find ill-humour an etat, a maniere d'etre, which clings to a man at all periods of life; and is neither

mitigated by the successes of love, of vanity, or of ambition; nori requires to be awakened by disappointment and vexation.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Our phrenological readers will at once see that we exclude hypochondria or insanity, in which both anger and ill-humour may proceed from internal activity of the feelings alone.

[ocr errors]

“In-humour is a distinctly constitutional disease; and as its oc“casional paroxysms are rarely brought on by the more serious " evils of existence, but are excited by a perverse accumulation of

petty annoyances, so the disposition itself does not appear to depend on any notable deviation from health, but to arise from

some obscure hitch or embarrassment in the more intimate move"ments of the frame, which, without tending to sickness or dissolu“tion, is destructive of that diffusive animal pleasure which, in “ happier constitutions, is derived from the mere sentiment of ex“ istence. It should seem as if, in persons thus constituted, the ca"pillary systems were so many fountains of irritation, from which “How in upon the sensorium an accumulated torrent of inappreciable impressions, which do not engender pain, but yet fret the “ dispositions like a gummed velvet, and throw the mind upon the “ external world in search of these causes of uneasiness which are in reality internal. The humours of the body,' says a moral “writer, imperceptibly influence the will, so that they enter, for " a large part, into all our actions, without our being aware of it; "and thus it is that the ill-humoured map punishes, in his friends, “ the outrages of some peccant lymph circulating in his own veins, " and revenges himself nobly on society for the offences of his liver

or pancreas.

But ill-humour, it seems, is the English malady; so prevalent, too, “ that, whether we look into the parlour, the

nursery, or the saloon ; whether we examine the dinner-party or “ the family-circle ; whether we follow the people into their domes“ tic interior, or accompany them in their public amusements, there " is in England infinitely less cheerfulness, good-humour, and ease “ in the social intercourse of the people, than are to be found in the “ society of any other of the European nations.

The Phrenologist sees at a glance that all this is wordy nonsense. Ill-humour he knows to be disagreeably-affected selfish feelings,—these feelings holding a decided preponderance over the social. If the Magazine is right, there must exist in the universal English people, greater selfishness and more moderate Benevolence and Justice than in any other European nation! It is quite wild to mistake the effects of that license which the laws of England do not deny to all the really illhumoured who choose to vent the feeling in political grumbling, for the actual poll of a greater number of discontented men in England, than in countries where the malcontent must swallow his political resentment. To the Phrenologist there is less real ill-humour in the genuine English character than in any other in Europe. 66 Of all the unsettled humours of the land," ill-humour the least abounds in that substantially happy people; and if this writer will go more clear-sightedly into the parlour and the nursery, he will find, not ill-humour, but gravity,—the effect of a large Self-esteem, or self-respect, which the English do eminently possess, but which is as different in feeling from ill-humour, as it is in dignity from the jigs, and grimaces, and monkey-tricks of some nations of the continent.

We may yet find an opportunity of aiming at nobler game than the anthropology of the New Monthly Magazine. The human nature of some philosophers of the highest name,-of the elegant and profound Theorist of Moral Sentiments himself, will be found to be distortion when the square and plummet of Phrenology are applied to it. We conclude al present by submitting it as an exercise to our phrenological readers, to try either to reduce to sense and precision, or to declare the impracticability of so doing, the following show of thought and expression with which the article we have been examining commences:

The English language is rich in terms for expressing the various “shades and nuances of intellectual and sensitive endowments and “ infirmities. Unlike the French, who are confined to one poor 'l'es

prit,' we liave wit, fancy, imagination, sense, humour, fear, ap“prehension, and many other expressions of modality; for all of “ which the aforesaid l'esprit is for the most part compelled to do “ duty alone and unassisted ; so likewise our mother tongue indi“ cates no less than three distinct modifications of that malevolence “ with which too frequently we regard our friends and associates,

ill-temper, ill-nature, and ill-humour.”

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »