J. G. (Johann Gaspar) Spurzheim.

Phrenology, in connection with the study of physiognomy online

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by

Marsh, Capen amd Lyon,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

Kane &. Co. Printers,

127 \\ a•>hlll^lull S(i tet.






V P:ige.



Preliminar)' remarks, 9

Birth and parentage of Spurzheim, 12

Note. After the Biography had been placed in the hands of the' binder, we
received a letter from Dr. Brigham, Hartford, stating that the' Johnson alluded
to in page 106, was not concerned in the late conspiracy and murder at the
State Prison; but another, a more recent convict of the same name. The one
alluded to by Dr. Spurzheim ' gives good promise of having reformed.' We
correct the error with pleasure.

Dr. Brigham visited the prison in company with Dr. Spurzheim, and he fur-
nishes a fact more interestiug and important than the statement which has
reference to Johnson.

' It is a little remarkable,' says Dr. Brigham, ' that when I visited the prison
■with Dr. Spurzheim, he pointed out the two leaders of this conspiracy and mur-
der as very bad criminals. The negro, Caesar Reynolds, who, from the testi-
mony, it appears actually committed the murder, he noticed when at some dis-
tance, and lema-iked, " that negro interests 7}ie rmich," and begged the liberty
of examining his head minutely, and after he had done so, he said that he
had the best formation intellectually of any negro he ever saw ; (and he is far
superior to most blacks,) but stated that he was a wretched and dangerous man,
capable of doing any wickedness, and one that would persevere in iniquity.

' The Warden has repeatedly assured me that Dr. S, gave the characters of
many of the criminals, especially the noted ones, as correctly as he himself
could, who had long known them.' ]\. c.

tie revisits JLonaon, nis reception, o^c lo.

Tone of Public Journals, 64

Works published in London, 1825, 68

Visit to Cambridge, his reception, 68



*> Page.

Dedication, ~

Preliminar}' remarks, 9

Birth and parentage of Spurzheim, 12

Notice of Dr. Gall, ib.

Gall and Spurzheim leave Vienna, 22

Places where they visited, 23

Visit to the Prison of Berlin, 25

do. to the fortress of Spandau, 27

Spurzheim does not admit org ins of murder and theft,' 29

'Reception of Gall and Spurzheim's doctrines, 30

They present a memoir to the French Institute, ....... 32

Cuvier and Buonaparte, ih.

Gall and Spurzheim publish their large work, 36

Character of Dr. Gall, .' 37

Spurzheim leaves Paris for Vienna and London, 42

His reception in London , 43

Opinions of Mr. Abernethy, 44

Spurzheim visits Bath, Bristol, Cork and Dublin, 47

Abusive attack of the Edinburgh Review, ib.

Spurzheim visits Edinburgh, his reception and success, . . 50

do. visit to Mr. Mylne's workshop, ib.

Answer to Gordon, 53

He returns to Paris, 55

Instance of his judgment upon a brain, 56

State of Phrenology in Paris 1821, 59

Marriage of Spurzheim, 62

Lectures prohibited in Paris, 1824, 6 ;

He revisits London, his reception, &c ib.

Tone of Public Journals, 64

Works published in London, 1825, 68

Visit to Cambridge, his reception, 68







do. to Hull, 70

do. to the ' Refuge for the Insane,' 73

do. to Edinburgh 1825, 77

Change in the Edinburgh Review, ib.

Correspondence between Spurzheim and Sir Win. Hamilton, 81
Account of Dinner given to Spurzheim by the Edinburgh

Phrenological Society, 84

Visit to the City Lunatic Asylum, • • . • 90

do. to the Children's Hospital, 92

do. to Glasgow, 93

do. Liverpool and other places, 94

do. to Liverpool House of Correction, ib.

Death of Mrs. Spurzheim, 96

Visit to Dublin, 97

do. do. 1831, 100

Returns to Paris, ib.

Phrenology in Paris, ib.

Leaves Havre for the United States, 103

Arrives in New York, 104

Visits New-Haven and Hartford, 105

Visit to Weathersfield .State Prison, 106

Arrival in Boston, ib.

Lecture before the American Institute, 107

Lectures on Phrenology in Boston and Cambridge, ib.

Visit to Mr. Fowle's School, 109

do. to Mr. Field's School, 117

His sickness and death, 118

Dr. Jackson's statement, 123

Proceedings in relation to his death, 133

Resolutions of the Boston Medical Association, 136

Funeral Ceremonies, 138

Ode by the Rev. J. Pierpont, ib

View of Spiirzheim as a man, 140

do. do. as a Philosopher, 142

do. do. as a Christian, 144

Resolutions of Edinburgh Phrenological Society, IGG



Introduction, ......

Definition of Physiognomy, ....

The study of Physiognomy very ancient.
Difference between Physiognomy and Pathognomy,
Theory and Practice of a Science.


Chap I. — Physiognomical Signs of the Body .

Size and Configuration of the Body,

Organic Constitution or Temperament of the

Physiognomy of the Body of the Sexes
Chap. II. — Physiognomical Signs of the Face,

Faces of the Sexes,

National Faces, . ...

Chap. III. — Physiognomical Signs of the Head,

Mode of Considering the Physiognomical
of the head, ....

Of differences among Heads,

Heads of the Sexes,

Heads of various Nations,


Chap. I. — Of the Cerebral Organization of different Char-
acters, .......

Characters in relation to Morality,









Caracalla and Zeno,
Nero and Seneca,

. 47
. 49
52, 56
59, 61



Cardinal Richelieu and Walsingham,

Alexander VI. and Fr. Oberlin,

Godoi, Prince of Peace, and Peter Jeannin
Chap. I. — Danton and Malesherbes,

Gregory VII. and Pius VII.
Chap. II — Religious Characters,

Deacon Paris and Aug. Baker,

Cajetanus and John Crasset,

Joseph Priestley and Richard Price,

Martin V. and Lejeune,
Chap. III. — Independent Characters,

Prince of Orange and Ramus,

Stubbs and Gustavus Schlabrendorf
Chap. IV. — Ambitious Characters,

Philip II. and Catherine II.

Lalande and Vanieres,

Six figures indicating Vanity,
Chap. V. — Gay Characters,

Piron and Carlin,
Chap. VI. — Timid and Bold Characters,

The Skull of a Timid Woman and that
Courageous Man,

Cicero and the Gladiator,

Martin Luther and Melancthon,

Charles XII. and Sully,

General Reflections,

Elements of various Characters,

Summary View and Conclusion,

64, 68







. 94

9.5, 98

99, 100

101, 104

107, 111

. 114

11.5, 119

124, 125

. 129

130, 134

136, 138

. 139

. 145

144, 145

. 147

of a

. ib.

148, 153

154, 160

164, 172

. 180

. 183

. 191


On page 117, in extract from Mr. Field's note, for originality of thought,
read iinitij of thought.





"this humble attempt


N. C.
Boston, May, 1833.


Next in importance to the presence of great
and good men is the history of their hves. So-
ciety cannot prize too highly the value of those
who devote superior talents to the study and
melioration of man, and who exemplify the vari-
ous duties of life by a constant practice of them.
Since the shortness of life prevents the continu-
ance of such blessings but for a limited time, it
becomes no less an act of duty than of gratitude
to record them with every practical detail for the
good of those who are to come after us, and for
the great cause of human perfection.

The study of human nature is but the study of
ourselves and of one another. It has in view the
objects of our existence, the perfection of our
being. It increases practical knowledge, exalts
the mind, encourages virtue, and inspires a spirit
of mutual forbearance.

Theoretical speculations upon the causes of hu-
man perfection, however beautiful and promising
in aspect, have but little influence in the real for-
mation of human character. The standard of



theorists, in morals, is usually of too high gradua-
tion — requiring more than the history of man will
warrant us in anticipating. If we would persuade
mankind to improve, even to perfection, it must
be done by degrees, setting forth examples of
practice with every important principle of action.
Abstract moral propositions generally contemplate
what is desirable, rather than what is practicable.

It is thought by some that we cannot adopt too
high a standard of perfection. This opinion indi-
cates an elevated mind, and so far as the interests
of society may be thereby promoted, is deserving
of consideration ; but, from careful observation,
we are persuaded, that by requiring too much we
deter from mental activity rather than induce it.
We may require ournciglibor to be perfect and up-
right in his dealings, to exercise charity on all occa-
sions, to love his fellovi^-men as he loves himself, to
return good for evil, and to make personal sacrifices
for the general good, — all this is admirable in theo-
ry, and what every good man hopes ultimately to
see pervade the world — but what would be the
eflcct of the requisition ? We might admire and
ap])rovc, but should we adopt these duties as in-
cumbent upon ourselves ? Let every man's expe-
rience answer the question. It must be evi-
dent to the reflecting mind, that the practice of
these important christian duties depends mostly
upon example and the natural dispositions.

The many conflicting influences to which the


mind is constantly exposed, from its earliest infiin-
cy, may account for results which often entirely
disappoint the reasonable expectations of parents
and guardians. Our minds are much more readily
excited and swayed by what we see, than by what
we hear, and as external circumstances are not
always within our control, moral instruction labors
under an obvious disadvantage.

To see the great and good, to be in their pres-
ence, to feel the influence of their example, and
to participate in the fruits of their labors, are privi-
leges as great as they are rare. To appreciate
them requires the utmost gratitude of man. To
give a just and complete portraiture of their pleas-
urable effects is beyond the power of expression.

in preparing the Biograpliy of Dr. Spurzhcim,
we are conscious of our inability to illustrate
his character as it has been seen and felt. We
have but the use of language, which is cold
and inadequate, while it must be considered
that we were warmed and animated by the illus-
trious subject of our memoir, by his conversation,
acts and eloquence. All that we can attempt is
an humble effort to afford the public an imper-
fect sketch of his life and character.

A great and good man cannot leave a richer leg-
acy to the world than his character. Its im])ort-
ance cannot be calculated; its influence is infinite,
extending from nation to nation, and modifying
the character of every succeeding generation.


John* Caspar Spurzheim was born on the 31st
of December, 1776, at Longvick, a village about
seven miles from the city of Treves, on the Mo-
selle, in the lower circle of the Rhine, now under
the dominion of Prussia. His parents cultivated
a farm of the rich iVbbey of St. Maximin de Treves,
and he received his college education at the uni-
versity of that city. He was destined by his
parents to become a clergyman, but in 1799, when
the French invaded that part of Germany, he went
to Vienna to study medicine, where he became ac-
quainted with Dr. Gall. He entered with great
zeal into the consideration of the new doctrine ;
and, to use his own words, ' he was simply a
hearer of Dr. Gall till 1804, at which period he
was associated with him in his labors, and his
character of hearer ceased.'

The history of Spurzheim being intimately con-
nected with phrenology, it may not be viewed as
inappropriate here to give a brief sketch of the
life of its original founder, Dr. Gall.

F. J. Gallf was born on the 9th of March, 1757,
and was the sixth child of the marriage. He was
descended of a respectable family residing at Tie-
fcnbrun, two leagues distant from Pforzheim, in
Swabia. His father was a merchant, and mayor
of the village. His parents, professing the Ro-

* He sometimes wrote his name Gaspar, instead of John Caspar ; this
was done purely for the sake of brevity,
t I'iiren. Trans, vol. i. by Mr. Combe.


man Catholic religion, had intended him for the
church ; but his natural dispositions were opposed
to it. His studies were pursued lirst at Baden,
afterwards at Brucksal, and then were continued
at Strasbourg. Having selected the heahng art
for his profession, he went, in 1781, to Vienna,
the medical school of which had obtained great
reputation, particularly since the times of Van
Swieten and Stoll.

Dr. Gall gives an account, of which the follow-
ing is an abstract, of the manner in which he was
led to the study of the natural talents and disposi-
tions of men, his views of which terminated in the
formation of the Phrenological System.

From an early age he was given to observation,
and was struck with the fact, that each of his
brothers and sisters, companions in play, and
schoolfellows, possessed some peculiarity of tal-
ent or disposition, which distinguished him from
others. Some of his schoolmates were distin-
guished by the beauty of their penmanship, some
by their sifccess in arithmetic, and others by their
talent for acquiring a knowledge of natural his-
tory, or of languages. The compositions of one
were remarkable for elegance, while the style of
another was stiff and dry ; and a third connected
his reasonings in the closest manner, and clothed
his argument in the most forcible language. Their
dispositions were equally different, and this diver-
sity appeared also to determine the direction of


their partialities and aversions. Not a few of them
manifested a capacity for employments which they
were not taught ; they cut figures in wood, or
delineated them on paper ; some devoted their
leisure to painting, or the culture of a garden,
while their comrades abandoned themselves to
noisy games, or traversed the woods to gather
flowers, seek for birds-nests, or catch butterflies.
In this manner, each individual presented a char-
acter peculiar to himself, and Gall never ob-
served, that the individual, who in one year had
displayed selfish or knavish dispositions, became
in the next a good and faithful friend.

The scholars with whom young Gall had the
greatest difficulty in competing, were those who
learned by heart with great facility ; and such indi-
viduals frequently gained from him by their repe-
titions, the places which he had obtained by the
merit of his original compositions.

Some years afterwards, having changed his
place of residence, he stiU met individuals en-
dowed with an equally great talent of learning to
repeat. He then observed that his schoolfellows,
so gifted, possessed prominent eyes ; and he re-
collected, that his rivals in the first school had
been distinguished by the same peculiarity.

When he entered the university, he directed
his attention, from the first, to the students whose
eyes were of this description, and he soon found
that they all excelled in getting rapidly by heart,


and giving correct recitations, although many of
them were by no means distinguished in point of
general talent. This observation was recognised
also by the other students in the classes, and
although the connexion betwixt the talent and the
external sign was not at this time established
upon such complete evidence as is requisite for
a philosophical conclusion, yet Dr. Gall could
not believe that the coincidence of the two cir-
cumstances thus observed, was entirely accidental.
He suspected, therefore, from this period, that
they stood in an important relation to each other.
After much reflection, he conceived, that if mem-
ory for words was indicated by an external sign,
the same might be the case with the other intel-
lectual powers ; and from that moment all indi-
viduals, distinguished by any remarkable faculty,
became the objects of his attention. By degrees,
he conceived himself to have found external char-
acteristics, which indicated a decided disposition
for painting, music, and the mechanical arts. He
became acquainted also with some individuals
remarkable for the determination of their charac-
ter, and he observed, a particular part of their
heads to be very largely developed. This fact
first suggested to him the idea of looking to the
head for signs of the moral sentiments. But in
making these observations, he never conceived
for a moment, that the skull was the cause pf the
different talents, as has been erroneously rcpre-


sented ; he referred the influence, whatever it was
to the brain.

In following out by observations, the principle
which accident had thus suggested, he for some
time encountered difficulties of the greatest mag-
nitude. Hitherto he had been altogether igno-
rant of the opinions of physiologists touching the
brain, and of metaphysicians respecting the men-
tal faculties, and had simply observed nature.
When, however, he began to enlarge his knowl-
edge of books, he found the most extraordinary
conflict of opinions everywhere prevailing, and
this, for the moment, made him hesitate about the
correctness of his own observations. He found
that the moral sentiments had, by an almost gen-
eral consent, been consigned to the thoracic and
abdominal viscera ; and that while Pythagoras,
Plato, Galen, Haller, and some other physiolo-
gists, placed the sentient soul or intellectual facul-
ties in the brain, Aristotle placed it in the heart,


Van Helmont in the stomach, Des Cartes and
his followers in the pineal gland, and Drelincourt
and others in the cerebellum.

He observed, also, that a great number of phi-
losophers and physiologists asserted, that all men
are born with equal mental faculties; and that
the diflferences observable anion o; them are owinij:
either to education, or to the accidental circum-
stances in which they are placed. If all differ-
ences are accidental, he inferred that there could


be no natural signs of predominating faculties,
and consequently, that the project of learning by
observation, to distinguish the functions of the dif-
ferent portions of the brain, must be hopeless.
This difficulty he combated by the reflection, that
his brothers, sisters, and schoolfellows had all re-
ceived very nearly the same education, but that he
had still observed each of them unfolding a distinct
character, over which circumstances appeared to
exert only a limited control. He observed, also,
that not unfrequently they, whose education had
been conducted with the greatest care, and on
whom the labors of teachers had been most freely
lavished, remained far behind their companions in
attainments. ' Often,' says Dr. Gall, ' we were
accused of want of will, or deficiency in zeal ; but
many of us could not, even with the most ardent
desire, followed out by the most obstinate efforts,
attain in some pursuits even to mediocrity ; while
in some other points, some of us surpassed our
schoolfellows without an effort, and almost, it
might be said, without perceiving it ourselves.
But, in point of fact, our masters did not appear
to attach much faith to the system which taught
the equality of mental faculties ; for they thought
themselves entitled to exact more from one scholar,
and less from another. They spoke frequently of
natural gifts, or of the gifts of God, and consoled
their pupils in the words of the gospel, by assuring
them that each would be required to render an


account only in proportion to tlie gifts which he
had received.'*

Being convinced by these facts, that there is a
natural and constitutional diversity of talents and
dispositions, he encountered in books still another
obstacle to his success in determining the external
signs of the mental powers. He found that, in-
stead of faculties for languages, drawing, distin-
guishing places, music, and mechanical arts, cor-
responding to the different talents which he had
observed in his school-fellows, the metaphysician
spoke only of general powers, such as perception,
conception, memory, imagination, and judgment ;
and when he endeavored to discover external signs
in the head, corresponding to these general facul-
ties, or to determine the correctness of the physi-
ological doctrines regarding the seat of the mind,
as taught by the authors already mentioned, he
found perplexities without end, and difficulties in-

Dr. Gall, therefore, abandoning every theory
and preconceived opinion, gave himself up entire-
ly to the observation of nature. Being a physician
to a lunatic asylum in Vienna, he had opportuni-
ties, of which he availed himself, of making obser-
vations on the insane. He visited prisons, and
resorted to schools ; he was introduced to the
courts of princes, to colleges, and the seats of jus-

* Preface by Dr. Gall to the ' Anatomie, &c. da Cerveau,' from which
other facts in this skctcli are taken.


tice ; and wherever he heard of an individual dis-
tinguished in any particular way, either by remark-
able endowments or deficiency, he observed and
studied the development of his head. In this
manner, by an almost imperceptible induction, he
conceived himself warranted in believing that par-
ticular mental powers are indicated by particular
configurations of the head.

Hitherto he had resorted only to physiognomi-
cal indications, as a means of discovering the func-
tions of the brain. On reflection, however, he
was convinced that physiology is imperfect when
separated from anatomy. • Having observed a
woman of fifty -four ytars of age, who had been
afl[licted with hydrocephalus from her youth, and
who, with a body a little shrunk, possessed a mind
as active and intelligent, as that of other individ-
uals of her class. Dr. Gall declared his conviction,
that the structure of the brain must be difl"erent
from what was generally conceived, — a remark
which Tulpius also had made, on observing a
hydrocephalic patient, who manifested the mental
faculties. He, therefore, felt the necessity of
making anatomical researches into the structure
of the brain.

In every instance, when an individual whose
head he had observed while alive happened to die,
he used every means to be permitted to examine
the brain, and frequently did so ; and he found as
a general fact, that on the removal of the skull,


the brain, covered by the dura mater, presented a
form corresponding to that wliich the skull had
exhibited in life.

The successive steps by which Dr. Gall pro-
ceeded in his discoveries, are particularly deserv-
ing of attention. lie did not, as many have ima-
gined, first dissect the brain, and pretend by that
means to have discovered the seats of the mental
powers ; neither did he, as others have conceived,
first map out the skull into various compartments,
and assign a faculty to each, according as his im-
agination led him to conceive the place appropri-
ate to the power. On the contrary, he first ob-
served a concomitance betwixt particular talents
and dispositions and particular forms of the head;
he next ascertained, by ren)oval of the skull, that
the figure and size of the brain are indicated by
these external forms; and it was only after these,
facts were determined, that the brain was minute-
ly dissected, and light thrown upon its structure.

Dr. Gall was first known as an author by the pub-
lication of two chapters of an extensive work, en-
titled, ' Philosophisch-medicinische Untcrsuchimgen
nber Natur und Kunst im gesiinden und kranken

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Online LibraryJ. G. (Johann Gaspar) SpurzheimPhrenology, in connection with the study of physiognomy → online text (page 1 of 21)