Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/493

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477
THE OLD PHRENOLOGY AND THE NEW.

or overawe the inquiring mind. Pope's dictum concerning "the proper study of mankind" embellishes the walls; and the advice "know thyself," meant to be interpreted and taken in a phrenological sense, is given gratis through the medium of a conspicuous and usually illustrated poster. The tattooed head of a New-Zealander; a few skulls, occasionally supplemented by a collection of stuffed lizards and other reptilian curiosities, and invariably flanked by busts of the ancient philosophers, complete the æsthetic furnishings of the modern temple of the delineator of character. To the proprietor, in due time, enters a certain moiety of the British public in search of knowledge. And thence issue the patients, each provided for a consideration with a wondrous chart of their mental disposition, wherein the moral quicksands are presumed to be duly marked, and the obliquities of character stamped, with a view toward future correction and improvement.

How does the phrenological professor succeed very fairly in reading character? may be asked at the outset by readers who have had those parts of their disposition best known to themselves delineated with accuracy by the oracle. The reply is clear. Not through manipulating those mysterious "bumps," nor through any occult knowledge of the brains of his votaries, but simply from a shrewd talent for scanning the personal appearance and physiognomy of his clients, and by the dexterous suggestion of queries bearing on those traits of character which the features and manner reveal. Your successful phrenologist is in truth a shrewd physiognomist. His guide to character is in reality the face, not the brain-pan. The dress, manners, and deportment of his clients, and not the gray matter of the cerebrum, form the real basis of his observations. If any one may be found to doubt how accurately one's character may be mapped out from its outward manifestations, let him endeavor to study for a while the acts and deportment of those with whose "mind's construction" he may be even slightly acquainted, and he will speedily discover numerous clews to the mental disposition in common acts and traits which previously had passed utterly unnoticed. Such a result accrues speedily to the professed physiognomist and shrewd observer of men, who, passing his fellows in professional review before him, speedily discovers types of character to which, with allowance for special proclivities or traits, his various clients may be referred. That character may with tolerable success be determined even from handwriting is a well-known fact; and it is difficult to see the superiority of the pretensions and claims of phrenology as a guide to character over those of the professor of calligraphic philosophy. One of the most convincing illustrations that even a practical knowledge of brain structure is not necessary for the successful delineation of such superficial traits of character as can alone be determined by the casual observer, may be found in the fact that very few "professors" of phrenology have ever studied the brain, while a large proportion may never have seen an actual brain. A notable example of a successful practice of phrenology