« AnteriorContinuar »
of those most interested in her future display. That this may happen in one case out of a thousand may be considered as possible; though it is not very likely that the occupier of a common-place rotundity would be content to lose the pleasure of thinking like Newton or Bacon, merely out of dogged moroseness, which would hurt nobody but itself. But even were this case to be more common than can be supposed, the certainty of preventing the growth of evil propensities is sufficient to counterbalance the loss which society might sustain from this cause; and, to carry on the allusion to the training of plants, the manure of education which would in many cases be applied to heads already predisposed to excellence, might raise their posses sors to such heights of knowledge, that the average of the whole population might be equal to a Locke, and not inferior to a Pope or Addison.
It is impossible for one mind to conceive all the objections which may be made by the ignorant, or those who are so wedded to old notions as to consider no innovations as improve ments. But it would ill become the projector of so magnificent a plan for the future, not to suggest something likewise that may ameliorate the existing race of human beings, and, at least, banish vice and crime, if it do nothing more, from our native country. If the prevailing disposition of mind can be infallibly ascertained, according to Phrenologists, by the examination of the outside of the head, might not the British Parliament do something worse than pass an act, which shall oblige all individuals of this empire, of whatever age, to submit their rotundities to the required examination; and those found with organs hurtful to the community could then be separated from the general mass, and prevented from disturbing the peace of society by their furtive or murderous propensities? Crime would thus be crushed in the bud, and the infant murderer, or the confirmed thief, might pay the forfeit of their intended crimes long before their little arms were able to wield a rush, or their eyes distinguish one species of property from another. The grown up wicked people might be put to death without mercy, for the safety of the good; or, if this were thought too cruel, they might be transported,
at the expence of the Societies for the Suppression of Vice, to our new settlements on Melville Island, where their ingenuity might have room for its display in contesting with the arctic bear and fox the right of property in each other's bodies. Were this " summation," so "devoutly to be wished," to take place, a committee of Gall and Spurzheim's followers in London, and the same in Edinburgh, superintended by their publishing disciples, might be established, for the purpose of picking out all the disturbers of society with villainous propensities, previous to their shipment; and the British millennium might instantly commence, by the shutting up for ever of those receptacles of vice and misery, the Newgates, and Bridewells, and prison-houses of every denomination.
As in every great revulsion of public opinion, or change of public sentiment, certain classes are sure to suffer, the opposition to the measure from those interested in the existence of crime, or who derive their chief sup port from the commission of vice, might be overcome by granting them annuities equal to the amount of their annual profits. Or, if this should be thought to fall too heavy on the national income, the measure might be partially delayed till the present race of office-holders wore out. Leaving a few culprits in every county for a certain limited period, the criminal courts and the officers of police, the keepers of jails, and the public executioner, would have no more reason to complain of the stagnation of trade, than other honest dealers in mercantile commodities for a long time past; and those respectable and useful matrons, who keep markets of beauty for the unwived part of the population, might be re stricted in their calling to the disposa of their present stock. From the usua termination of crime, the frail natur of beauty, and the accidents to which it is exposed, I do not see that, from these causes, the millennium need b delayed beyond a very few years.
In those cases where the bumps o the skull do not form an infallibl criterion, (for it must be allowed tha this mode of judging of propensitie sometimes fails) the assistance of thos acute observers of human nature, th Bond Street and Police officers, ough to be called in, before deciding finall upon a moral delinquency; and, as
last resource, a jury of Spurzheimists would settle the matter in a way not to be called in question. Though the examination of the skulls of great men has, in a few cases, thrown discredit on the theory, by even the most acute phrenologists sometimes finding the cranium of a thief to belong to the most beneficent person, and a murderer's bump on a head overflowing with the "milk of human kindness," yet these are but exceptions to the general rule, mere tricks of nature to perplex philosophers. It is a very ill constructed theory, indeed, that cannot explain things much more perplexing, and fortunately here the explanation is not difficult. In craniums of this sort, the organs undisplayed possess sufficient controul over the externally prominent ones to counter act their mischievous tendency; and although the head of Shakespeare, ex amined by the doctrines of the crani ologists, palpably wants all the organs which should have contributed to form a mind capable of " exhausting worlds and imagining new ones;"although Milton, by the same theory, looks very like as if he could steal a horse; Dryden might be mistaken for the keeper of a country ale-house; and Swift, Pope, and Gay, as three fellows whom it would be unsafe to meet upon an unfrequented road; although Sir Isaac Newton and Dr Adam Smith, according to Spurzheim and Co., may be set down as tailors in no great estimation; Joseph Addison as an irreclaimable rake; David Hume and Edward Gibbon as portly coachmen, with heads s smooth as the hind-quarters of
their horses; yet all these, I insist, are but exceptions to the general rule, and are by no means to be considered as of any consequence in the estimation of the phrenetic or phrenological hypothesis.
To conclude, (for I do not wish to exhaust the subject,) it may be mentioned, as an additional argument for the introduction of metal caps, or mind-regulators, that the heads, where no superior purpose was required, might be formed so as better to suit the various occupations of men than those in common use. Might not the person intended as a teacher of ma thematics, for example, have his seat of thought moulded into the shape of a triangle, a cone, a cylinder, or any other form which might be of use to him in his demonstrations of Euclid, and thus save the trouble of tracing illustrative diagrams? those intended to carry weights on this part of their bodies might have the upper surface of the cranium formed into a horizontal plane; while soldiers, intended for parade, might have it elongated to a cone or cylinder, which would add some inches to their stature. But these details I willingly leave to the committee of Parliament, who will have to arrange the provisions of the bill; only suggesting, as it is my own dis covery, that the act should be intituled, both in the warrant for the money which I am sure to receive from Parliament, and in the Journals of the House," An Act for hastening the British Millenium, and for the revival of the Golden Age."
Improvement of Intellect from Cross-breeds of Genius.
DR SPURZHEIM, in his late duodeimo on Education,* has a chapter on the "Laws of Propagation," in which he proposes to improve the human ce by judicious cross-breeding. The easonings contained in that chapter
are certainly worthy the attention of those persons of both sexes who may now be disposed to enter into the matrimonial state; and, were not the subject repulsive for its indelicacy, I should have been glad to have supported my
A View of the Elementary Principles of Education, founded on the Study of the Nature of Man. By J. G. Spurzheim, M.D. Edin. 1821.
own preconceived opinion by numerous quotations from an observer of such talents. But as I have an antipathy to scientific bawdry and learned obscenity, whether coming from the pen of Dr Aristotle or of Dr Spurzheim, I only quote the result of the interesting inquiry. "It is indeed a pity," says the Doctor," that the laws of propagation are not more attended to. I am convinced that, by attention to them, not only the condition of single families, but of whole nations, might be improved beyond imagination, in figure, stature, complexion, health, talents, and moral feelings. I consider with Aristotle,”-Vide Aristotle's Masterpiece," that the natural and innate differences of man are the basis of all political economy. He who can convince the world of the importance of the laws of propagation, and induce mankind to conduct themselves accordingly, will do more good to them, and contribute more to their improvement, than all institutions, and all systems of education !"
As any improvement of intellect from this source, however, is of little consideration, after the magnificent theory illustrated in the foregoing chapters, I should not now have noticed the subject at all, were it not to establish my own claim to priority of discovery, even on this point. From a paper of mine read before the Philosophical Society of Assbury, upwards of two years ago, and which was honoured by the marked approbation of all the members present at its reading, I extract the following passages :
"It will not be denied, that great improvements have been made, during the last fifty years, in the breeds of cattle, by the judicious intermixture of the various qualities of animals, which are the objects of the breeders of horse or black cattle, or the rearers of sheep and the producers of wool. It is also well known, that Mr Knight, whose philosophic experiments on plants have been productive of so much advantage to horticulture, has succeeded in raising new and improved varieties of fruit from the junction of allied species. And it is at least a probable conjecture, that the same attention to the marriages of the human race, where genius or valour, or any species of excellence may be required, would scarcely fail to have similar results.
"For example, who could doubt
that the junction of a male Milton and a female Addison, a he Dryden and a she Swift, a feminine Pope, and masculine Otway, would have produ ced, by the commixture of talents, a cross-breed of genius to which there would have been no parallel? and Bacon's sagacity, and Newton's scientific powers, might, by a proper arrange ment of marriages betwixt the members of the families, long ere this time have resolved all the desiderata in philosophy, and unfolded all the arcana of nature.
"It is perhaps of no use to regret that the philosophical views which guide our graziers in the improvement of the breeds of cattle, and our expe rienced jockies in the management of their horses, were not perceived and acted upon ere this time, and th eighteenth century in Britain had compared to the rest of the world enough to distinguish it, without ha ving added to its laurels the discover which I have now the honour of de tailing. If it had been earlier made the person who now addresses yo would not have had the merit of i and this Honourable Society would no have had the envied distinction of re cording in their Transactions, an publishing to the world, a secret f its future improvement, even more v luable than the finding out of the ph losopher's stone.
"To put the theory to the test experiment, I now beg to propose appointment of a committee, to conf with committees of the other scienti and literary associations througho the kingdom, for the purpose of arra ging the details, and securing to p terity the combination of the taler we at present possess, by promoti connexions which, however they m interfere with the partial and sho sighted arrangement of parents, w infallibly raise the next age to a pi cedency of talent over all former a of the world."
I have nothing further to add on t subject. But if a sound and healt progeny is an object of concern to a respectable and beautiful young who may wish a cross with our fami I trust I shall not be so unpolite as reject the advances of youth and beɛ ty. My address is, Sir Toby Tick toby, of Tickletoby Hall, by Lo town,
ΤΑΤΩΝ ΜΟΥΣΩΝ ΕΙΣΟΔΙΑ.
THE MUSES WELCOME
TO THE HIGH AND MIGHTIE PRINCE JAMES, &c.
THERE are two things which, we hope, will ever be found to go hand and hand to the end of time; we mean learning and loyalty; and that discontent and dissatisfaction will ever be confined to the utterly ignorant, and to that more mischievous class, which may be denominated the halfinformed; in which arrogance and pretension are more assiduous in making converts to crude speculations, than conscious of deficiency in making progress in true philosophy and sound sense. It is a considerable time now, since Pope told the world, that " little learning was a dangerous thing," and assuredly the Spenceans and Radicals cannot be brought forward as an illustration of the falsity of his maxim.
Were a comparison to be drawn between our ancestors of a century or two back, and the present times, we do not think, that, in many respects, we should have great cause to exult in the parallel. We should in all likelihood surpass them in the show, but yield to them in the substantial practice of good. We should exhibit more of finicalness, pretension, politeness, and all those arts and graces, which cost little in the exercise; but it is much to be feared, that, balanced against them in benevolence, hospitality, warm-heartedness, disinterestedness, generosity; or in any of those virtues, the practice of which requires a sacrifice of selfish feelings; or in profundity of knowledge; or in whatever demands severe exertion of the mental faculties, we have as much reason to dread our being found want ing, as Belshazzar, when he beheld The armless hand that wrote His sentence on the palace wall. Extremes meet. There are one set of people who are ever ready to exclaim, that the present age is by far the best and wisest of any that the world has exhibited; and that the past is to them but a scene of twilight indistinctness and confusion; while there is another set, who despising every thing recent, merely because it is so, and willing to adhere rather to old prejudices than to newly discovered truths, will be contented with nothing but what wears
the stamp of ancient usage, and venerable old age. In most things, truth, after all, generally lies in the middle; and the surest way of arriving at it is, by setting aside all prejudices, and forming our estimate from the consideration of facts alone. There is nothing, for instance, more loudly vaunted of than the present flourishing state of learning in Scotland-which is indeed supposed to form one of our most characteristic excellencies among the nations of the earth-and that li beral diffusion of ideas, originating in the cheapness of education, which has formed us into a large body corporate of authors and readers; yet we venture to stake our credit, that no such volume as the one before "The us, Muses Welcome to K. James," could, by any exertion of cotemporary talent, be possibly called forth on any similar occasion. As to our sister Erin throwing it into shade, by any thing which she may produce on the present occasion of his Majesty's visit there, we profess an equally sceptical opinion.
So inveterate were the prejudices, now fast dispelling, which our south ern neighbours, at least the most uninformed part of them, conceived against this portion of the island, that our forefathers were accounted a set of savages prowling about the mountains, and utterly ignorant of the arts which adorn civilized life. A journey to Scotland was considered as a thing far more hazardous than what we look on a voyage to China to be now-adays; and the traveller, before leaving his disconsolate friends, generally made his will, and settled his affairs, as the chances were considerably against his safe return to the bosom of his family. We speak of things not half a century old; and which will be found to be not wholly extinct at the present day, as witness the fears expressed so pathetically in the commercial travels of our friend the Bagman, as may be found extracted in an early Number of our work: but we trust we have there made sufficient apology for him, in its being the first time he had ever lost hold of his mother's apron-strings.
A more complete refutation of the scandals thrown out against old Scotland, and a more triumphant display of her general scholarship and sound information, at a time when a great part of Europe was in a state of semibarbarism, can be found nowhere more satisfactorily, than in the collection from which we now propose to
make some extracts. And we do think we shall be deemed to have rendered a service to our country, by putting our literary men on their mettle, against the expected visit of his Majesty next year.
James the Sixth, after having resided, and held his court in London for fourteen years, found it expedient, for the better settling of the civil and ecclesiastical differences of his Scottish subjects, to visit his ancient dominions in person. In his journey northward, the heads of the civil authorities, and the seminaries of learning, in testimony of their loyalty and joy, delivered orations, held disputations before him, and greeted him with poems in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English tongues, which were collected in a handsome folio, printed in 1618, (the year following,) and edited by John
In passing from Berwick to Dunglass, the King was first addressed by A. Hume, in a most elaborate piece of oratory, which sets out with saying, that Priam of Troy had fifty sons; and that between father and children there subsisted many reciprocal duties. This postulate we immediately grant to Mr A. Hume; but let us see what use he makes of the fact. James the Sixth is likened to Priam, and the Scottish people to his offspring; but, as Priam had a Paris, as well as a Hector, the similitude will not hold good here, in Mr A. Hume's opinion, as his countrymen were all Hectors. He then proceeds to give a sketch of the history of Scotland from the days of the Picts, the landing of Fergus, the invasions of the Britons, Danes, Normans, and Romans, down to the day and the hour in which the King stands before him. Nothing surely can be more loyal or rhetorical than the following passage.
"Nos hactenus per duo ferè millia annorum soli fuimus majorum tuorum; illiq; nos respiciebant solos. Si labores et sudores; si frigus et famen; si incommoda, et pericula, quæ illi pro nobis, nos pro il
lis hausimus, enumerare velim; dies me, quid diem dico? imò annus, imò et ætas deficiet priùsquàm oratio.”
The speech being concluded, a great number of "poesies," in the Latin tongue, were recited, some of them considerably above mediocrity, and one or two of them very chaste and classical.
On the 15th of May, "the King's majestie came to Sea-towne," where he was presented with a Latin half poem, as long as the Pilgrims of the Sun, composed by Joannes Gellius a Gellistown, Philosoph. et Med. Doc. who seems to have been fond of congratulatory addresses, as, previous to this, he was also author of an Epithalamium in Nuptias Frederici V. et Elizabethæ, printed at Heidelburg in 1613.—But let us turn from him to a name with which we are more familiar, and not more so than we ought to be; for, whatever Mr Gifford may say to the contrary, we uphold Drummond to be, if not a great historian, at least a poet of exquisite sensibility. When stupidity is trampled on, it remains in the mire; but genius re-assumes its native superiority. Such has been the fate of Drummond's writings, and they illustrate the motto which he has prefixed to the poem of "Forth Feasting," in this collection; " A Virtute orta occidunt rarius." The poem was presented by Drummond in person but whether recited or not, we are not informed. We extract the following as a specimens:
Let others boast of blood and spoyles o