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found out the trick at last, and kept a sharp look-out for missing forks;—they knew where to find one, if it was not in its place. Now the odd thing was that, after waiting so many years to hear of this College trick, I should hear it mentioned a second time within the same twenty-four hours by a College youth of the present generation. Strange, but true. And so it has happened to me and to every person, often and often, to be hit in rapid succession by these twinned facts or thoughts, as if they were linked like chain-shot.
I was going to leave the simple reader to wonder over this, taking it as an unexplained marvel. I think, however, I will turn over a furrow of subsoil in it. The explanation is, of course, that in a great many thoughts there must be a few coincidences, and these instantly arrest our attention. Now we shall probably never have the least idea of the enormous number of impressions which pass through our consciousness, until in some future life we see the photographic record of our thoughts and the stereoscopic picture of our actions. There go more pieces to make up a conscious life or a living body than you think for. Why, some of you were surprised when a friend of mine told you there were fifty-eight separate pieces in a fiddle. How many “swimming glands” — solid, organised, regularly formed, rounded disks, taking an active part in all your vital processes, part and parcel, each one of them, of your corporeal being--do you suppose are whirled along like pebbles in a stream with the blood which warms your frame and colours
cheeks? A noted German physiologist spread out a minute drop of blood, under the microscope, in narrow streaks, and counted the globules, and then made a calculation. The counting by the micrometer took him a week. You have, my full-grown friend, of these little couriers in crimson or scarlet livery, running on your vital errands day and night as long as you
live, sixty-five billions, five hundred and seventy thousand millions, errors excepted. Did I hear some gentleman say “Doubted”? I am the Professor; I sit in my chair with a petard under it that will blow me through the skylight of my lecture-room, if I do not know what I am talking about, and whom I am quoting.
Now, my dear friends, who are putting your hands to your foreheads and saying to yourselves that you feel a little confused, as if you had been waltzing until things began to whirl slightly round you, is it possible that you do not clearly apprehend the exact connection of all that I have been saying, and its bearing on what is now to come? Listen, then. The number of these living elements in our bodies illustrates the incalculable multitude of our thoughts; the number of our thoughts accounts for those frequent coincidences spoken of; these coincidences in the world of thought illustrate those which we constantly observe in the world of outward events, of which the presence of the young girl now at our table, and proving to be the daughter of an old acquaintance some of us may remember, is the special example which led me through this labyrinth of reflections, and finally lands me at the commencement of this young girl's story, which, as I said, I have found the time and felt the interest to learn something of, and which I think I can tell without wronging the unconscious subject of my brief delineation.
A SHORT LECTURE ON PHRENOLOGY.
Read to the Boarders at our Breakfast-Table. I shall begin, my friends, with the definition of a Pseudoscience. A Pseudo-science consists of a nomenclature, with a self-adjusting arrangement, by which all positive evidence, or such as favours its doctrines, is admitted, and all negative evidence, or such as tells against it, is excluded. It is
invariably connected with some lucrative practical application. Its professors and practitioners are usually shrewd people; they are very serious with the public, but wink and laugh a good deal among themselves. The believing multitude consists of women of both sexes, feeble-minded inquirers, poetical optimists, people who always get cheated in buying horses, philanthropists who insist on hurrying up the millennium, and others of this class, with here and there a clergyman, less frequently a lawyer, very rarely a physician, and almost never a horse-jockey or a member of the detective police.- I did not say that Phrenology was one of the Pseudo-sciences.
A Pseudo-science does not necessarily consist wholly of lies. It may contain many truths, and even valuable
The rottenest bank starts with a little specie. It puts out a thousand promises to pay on the strength of a single dollar, but the dollar is very commonly a good one. The practitioners of the Pseudo-sciences know that common minds, after they have been baited with a real fact or two, will jump at the merest rag of a lie, or even at the bare hook. When we have one fact found us, we are very apt to supply the next out of our own imagination. (How many persons can read Judges xv. 16 correctly the first time?) The Pseudo-sciences take advantage of this.—I did not say that it was so with Phrenology.
I have rarely met a sensible man who would not allow that there was something in Phrenology. A broad, high forehead, it is commonly agreed, promises intellect; one that is “villainous low," and has a huge hind-head back of it, is wont to mark an animal nature. I have as rarely met an unbiassed and sensible man who really believed in the bumps. It is observed, however, that persons with what the Phrenologists call “good heads" are more prone than others toward plenary belief in the doctrine.
It is so hard to prove a negative, that if a man should assert that the moon was in truth a green cheese, formed by the coagulable substance of the Milky Way, and challenge me to prove the contrary, I might be puzzled. But if he offer to sell me a ton of this lunar cheese, I call on him to prove the truth of the caseous nature of our satellite before I purchase.
It is not necessary to prove the falsity of the phrenological statement. It is only necessary to show that its truth is not proved, and cannot be, by the common course of argument. The walls of the head are double, with a great air-chamber between them, over the smallest and most closely crowded organs.” Can you tell how much money there is in a safe, which also has thick double walls, by kneading its knobs with your fingers ? So when a man fumbles about my forehead, and talks about the organs of Individuality, Size, etc., I trust him as much as I should if he felt of the outside of my strong-box and told me that there was a five-dollar or a ten-dollar bill under this or that particular rivet. Perhaps there is ; only he doesn't know anything about it. But this is a point that I, the Professor, understand, my friends, or ought to, certainly, better than you do. The next argument you will all appreciate.
I proceed, therefore, to explain the self-adjusting mechanism of Phrenology, which is very similar to that of the Pseudo sciences. An example will show it most conveniently.
A. is a notorious thief. Messrs. Bumpus and Crane examine him and find a good-sized organ of Acquisitiveness. Positive fact for Phrenology. Casts and drawings of A. are multiplied, and the bump does not lose in the act of copying. -I did not say it gained.—What do you look so for? (to the boarders).
Presently B. turns up, a bigger thief than A. But B. has no bump at all over Acquisitiveness. Negative fact; goes against Phrenology.-Not a bit of it. Don't you see
how small Conscientiousness is ? That's the reason B. stole.
And then comes C., ten times as much a thief as either A. or B.,-used to steal before he was weaned, and would pick one of his own pockets and put its contents in another, if he could find no other way of committing petty larceny. Unfortunately, C. has a hollow, instead of a bump, over Acquisitiveness. Ah! but just look and see what a bump of Alimentiveness ! Did not C. buy nuts and gingerbread, when a boy, with the money he stole? Of course you see why he is a thief, and how his example confirms our noble science.
At last comes along a case which is apparently a settler, for there is a little brain with vast and varied powers, case like that of Byron, for instance. Then comes out the grand reserve-reason which covers everything and renders it simply impossible ever to corner a Phrenologist. “It is not the size alone, but the quality of an organ, which determines its degree of power."
Oh! oh! I see.—The argument may be briefly stated thus by the Phrenologist: "Heads I win, tails you lose." Well, that's convenient.
It must be confessed that Phrenology has a certain resemblance to the Pseudo-sciences.—I did not say it was a Pseudo-science.
I have often met persons who have been altogether struck up and amazed at the accuracy with which some wandering Professor of Phrenology had read their characters written upon their skulls. Of course the Professor acquires his information solely through his cranial inspections and manipulations. -- What ar
- What are you laughing at? (to the boarders).—But let us just suppose, for a moment, that a tolerably cunning fellow, who did not know or care anything about Phrenology, should open a shop and undertake to read off people's characters at fifty cents or