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THE following are the circumstances which led to the publication of the present Work.
My first information concerning the System of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim, was derived from No. 49. of the Edinburgh Review. Led away by the boldness of that piece of criticism, I regarded their doctrines as contemptibly absurd, and their authors as the most disingenuous of men. In 1816, however, shortly after the publication of the Review, my friend Mr. Brownlee invited me to attend a private dissection of a recent brain, to be performed in his house by Dr. Spurzheim. The subject was not altogether new, as I had previously attended a Course of Demonstrative Lectures on anatomy by Dr. Barclay. Dr. Spurzheim exhibited the structure of the brain to all present, among whom were several gentlemen of the medical profession, and contrasted it with the bold averments of the Reviewer. The result was a complete conviction in the minds of the observers, that the assertions of the Reviewer were refuted by physical demonstration.
The faith placed in the Review being thus shaken, I attended the next course of Dr. Spurzheim's Lectures, for the purpose of hearing from himself a correct account of his doctrines. The Lectures satisfied me, that the system was widely different from the representations given of it by the Reviewer, and that, if true, it would prove highly important; but the evidence was not conclusive. I therefore appealed to Nature by observation, and at last arrived at complete conviction of the truth of Phrenology.
In 1818, the Editor of the "Literary and Statistical Magazine for Scotland," invited me to a free discussion of the merits of the system in his work, and I was induced to offer him some Essays on the subject. The notice these attracted led to their publication in 1819, in a separate volume, under the title of " Essays on Phrenology." A second edition of these Essays has since been called for
and the present volume is offered in compliance with that demand. In the present Work, I have adopted the title of a "System of Phrenology," on account of the wider scope, and closer connexion, af its parts; but pretend to no novelty in principle, and to no rivalry with the great founders of the science.
The controversial portions of the first edition are here almost entirely omitted. As the opponents have quitted the field, these appeared no longer necessary, and their place is supplied by what I trust will be found more interesting matter. Some readers may think that retributive justice required the continued republication of the attacks of the opponents, that the public mind, when properly enlightened, might express a just disapprobation of the conduct of those who so egregiously misled it; but Phrenology teaches us forbearance; and, besides, it will be misfortune enough to the individuals who have distinguished themselves in the work of misrepresentation, to have their names handed down to posterity, as the enemies of the greatest and most important discovery ever communicated to mankind.
In this work, the talents of several living characters are adverted to, and compared with the developement of their mental organs, which is a new feature in philosophical discussion, and might, without explanation, appear to some readers to be improper: But I have founded such observations on the printed works, and published busts or casts, of the individuals alluded to; and both of these being public property, there appeared no impropriety in adverting to them. In instances in which reference is made to the cerebral developement of persons, whose busts or casts are not published, I have ascertained that the observations will not give offence.
TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
I HAVE been requested to prepare a corrected edition of this work for the American press, and with the greatest satisfaction have complied with the solicitation. The United States stand in an enviable position as a nation. To a territory almost boundless, a soil in the highest degree fertile, and every variety of climate, are added what no other people on earth enjoy, a constitution entirely free, and social institutions calculated to encourage the boldest exercise of the human understanding. They require only, in addition, a sound and practical system of mental philosophy, to enable them to attain to a moral and intellectual preeminence commensurate with their physical and political advantages. Phrenology professes to be such a system; and as such I present it to their consideration. The great discoverer of it has been for several years numbered with the dead, and to him alone belongs. the glory of having presented this invaluable gift to mankind. His illustrious colleague died lately in the arms of American citizens: They did honor to him, to themselves, and to their country, by their generous conduct towards him while alive, and the reverence paid to his memory when dead. We who remain profess to be only humble disciples, made wise by the wisdom of our masters, and shining with a light reflected from their brightness. In proclaiming the value and importance of their doctrines, therefore, we assume no merit to ourselves; we simply invite others to partake of a moral and intellectual banquet which we have enjoyed with the highest relish, and found to conduce to our happiness and improvement.
Few words will suffice in answer to these observations. Such critics greatly overrate the extent of my ability; for my strength lies in the goodness of my cause. I have studied Phrenology, and read its doctrines directly in the page of nature. What I assert in point of fact, I have seen; and what I maintain in argument, I have found confirmed by experience. Those who have attacked the doctrines, on the other hand, have not studied them as science; they have not read the facts, on which they found their objections, in the book of nature; they have not tried how their arguments would harmonize with other established truths; nor have they ascertained to what results their principles would lead if carried into practical effect. Full of confidence in themselves, and of contempt for their adversary, they have come to the combat without arms and without armor; and if in some instances they have reeled back from the encounter, their defeat must be ascribed solely to the inherent weakness of their cause:—it deprived them of the advantages of their talents, while truth added to the strength of the party assailed.
I plead guilty of being known to the world only as a Phrenologist. Believing, as I do, that the same Divine Wisdom which ordained the universe, presided also at the endowment of the brain with its functions; that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that mind is the noblest work of GOD; convinced, also, that this discovery carries in its train the most valuable im provements in education, morals, and in civil and religious institutions,-I cannot conceive a nobler employment than that of vindicating its claims to consideration, and stemming, to the extent of my feeble ability, the mighty flood of prejudice and injustice with which, like all other important discoveries, it has been nearly overwhelmed. To be recognised, hereafter, by impartial and enlightened men, as having been in any degree instrumental in braving the storm of popular derision with which Phrenology was at first assailed, will more than satisfy all the ambition for posthumous fame which ever fired my bosom; and I never was so extravagant as to expect, while alive, any reward from "the great in science and philosophy" except ridicule and dislike. They have chosen their part, and I have chosen mine: the long day will do justice to all.
EDINBURGH, October, 1830.