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AN ESSAY ON THE TEMPERAMENTS. By Mr DANIEL NOBLE, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Read before the Members of the Manchester Phrenological Society, April 30. 1834. *
THE doctrine of the temperaments has been variously considered, in different ages, and by different individuals. The ancients, with Hippocrates at their head, regarded the bodies of all the higher classes of animals as consisting of four elements, viz. of blood, of a watery fluid, and of two kinds of bile, yellow and black; and the temperament was defined according as each of these assumed elements had the predominance. The word temperament is derived from the Latin temperare, to mix, to temper; and, in the popular acceptation of the terin in modern times, it is used to denote the result of a mixture or tempering of all the qualities, bodily or mental, characteristic of the individual; just as, by the ancients, it was employed to designate the kind of mixture in each animal body, of what were considered to be its elementary constituents. Hippocrates, in following up the views of his predecessors and contemporaries, established four genera of temperaments, which he denominated from the fluids whose excess he regarded as the cause of their existence-first, the sanguine, produced by an undue predominance of the quantity of blood in the system; next, the lymphatic, dependent upon an excess of the watery fluid in the various animal tissues; third, the bilious or choleric, resulting from a surplus of the yellow bile; and, lastly, the atrabiliary, or melancholic, produced by an excess of the fancied elementary black bile. These respective peculiarities of temperament were considered to be associated with corresponding powers and dispositions; and thus what in the present day we regard as the combined effect of temperament and cerebral organization, was attributed by the disciples of this school to the influence of the temperament only; the sanguine temperament, for instance, being considered to be associated with quickness of perception, tenacity of memory, a lively and luxuriant imagination, a disposition readily roused to anger but as easily appeased, and an undue attachment to the indulgence of sense; and, in like manner, each of the other temperaments was regarded as the cause
This essay, which we have taken the liberty slightly to compress, is inserted not so much on account of any novelty in the author's views, as with the object of keeping alive the attention of phrenologists to the very important subject of the temperaments, and of stimulating to farther diligence those who have of late years been endeavouring to elucidate their origin and effects.. -ED.
of certain other mental characteristics. These views, in their main bearings, have continued in great favour with many physiologists even to the present day. In its popular acceptation, the word temperament is employed in a more extensive sense; for we frequently hear the slightest peculiarity in individuals attributed to their temperament: thus the brave man is said to be of a courageous temperament; lazy people are said to be of an indolent temperament; individuals distinguished for warmth of feeling are described as being of an ardent temperament; persons of great muscular energy and agility are said to be of an athletic temperament, and so on.
It would appear from an attentive observation of facts, that the powers of the mind, as well as the vegetative and mechanical functions of the system, are influenced, in a variety of ways, by the quality of their material organs; and whilst it would seem that mere native power of function is intimately dependent upon the character of the solid structures of the frame, it would appear that the activity of the functions, and more especially the cerebral, is intimately connected with the character of the fluids. No illustration is required by the members of this Society to enable them to appreciate the distinction between power and activity of any human faculty. We are all aware that, in respect to the muscular system, one man is exceedingly quick, restless, and vivacious, but unfit for energetic labour; while another is little disposed to exertion, tardy in his motions, but able, when set to work, to execute feats of strength which the first individual would attempt in vain. There is a perfect analogy, in this respect, between muscular power and all the other animal functions, including those of the brain and nervous system; and this difference is to be traced to variations in the character of the organs necessary for their manifestation. As a general rule, I think it may be stated that power is for the most part dependent on the quantity of the solid material of the organization, and activity upon the character of the fluids. I am aware that it may be objected, that it is a difficult and almost hopeless attempt, to point out the lines of demarcation-where the solid and where the fluid materials begin, end, or run into each other. My reply is, that we have here an objection to which the present state of our knowledge will not afford a complete or satisfactory answer; but nevertheless, although, at present, we can receive but minute glimpses in our investigations of this subject, still we must avail ourselves of the lights we happen to possess, and not reject partial illumination because we cannot, at once, enjoy the full blaze of a meridian sun. For ordinary purposes, there can be no difficulty in specifying the solid and the fluid constituents of the body.
The temperaments are considered, by phrenologists, as fairly
divisible into four genera; and the division is, to some extent, founded on the principle which guided Hippocrates in his classification. Spurzhein regarded the activity of the mental powers as being modified by the influence of the sanguineous, lymphatic, and biliary fluids; and by peculiarities in the excitability of the nervous system, probably dependent upon the existence of a nervous fluid, as supposed by many physiologists. He considered the lymphatic temperament as least, and the nervous as most, predisposing to cerebral activity; and in estimating, by physical signs, the mental characteristics of any individual, he never lost sight of the importance of the temperament. It is to be regretted that Spurzheim's example, in this respect, has not been well followed by many of his disciples, who, in their phrenological manipulations, are all alive to the size of the organs, but almost totally neglect the circumstances affecting their quality. In consequence of this neglect, numerous errors have been fallen into.
As least favourable to functional activity, I shall first describe the characters and general results of the lymphatic temperament. This is considered to depend upon an undue predominance of the watery constituents of the various animal materials, as in the glandular, serous, and mucous secretions, and of the quantity of the serous portion of the blood. And as the various organs of the human frame, more particularly the brain, seem to act upon the application of stimuli, so it is considered, that, with the lymphatic temperament, the fluids of the body are of the least stimulating quality. The physical characteristics of this temperament are a softness of the fleshy parts, from undue repletion of the cellular tissue; commonly a fairness though thickness of the skin; the hair most usually of light, flaxen, or sandy complexion; a plumpness of figure, but without expression; the pulse weak and slow; and a languor and want of energy in all the vital actions. Individuals of this temperament are generally remarkable for their aversion to both mental and corporal exercise; and whatever be the native power in either of these respects, the deficiency of activity, in its exercise, will even operate as an unsurmountable barrier to the attainment of first rate excellence in any pursuit. Persons of the lymphatic temperament, with the highest mental power, will be surpassed in their qualifications for the common and extraordinary duties of life, by individuals of far less native strength of mind, but who, with a more favourable temperament and consequent love of exercise, have laid in larger stores of mental possessions. In drawing inferences, therefore, from combinations of development of the cerebral organs, the greatest possible caution should be observed when the temperament is lymphatic, as sometimes the activity of powerful organs will hardly have been induced, in the absence of strong external stimuli.
The sanguine temperament is supposed to depend upon a predominance of the vascular system over the rest of the tissues of the animal economy; the quantity of blood circulating in the system being in a proportion sufficiently great to characterise the individual. With respect to the nature of the circulating fluid in this temperament, I suppose we are to regard it as being constituted with a somewhat considerable proportion of the more nutrient ingredients, as the fibrin, the albumen, and the saline materials; and, hence, in the course of the circulation, more effectually stimulating the various organs, than when of a more watery or lymphatic composition. The sanguine temperament may be distinguished by the red or light brown hair, blue eyes, and a fair florid complexion: the arteries and veins are large, and generally superficial, the pulse full and frequent, the skin soft, tolerably thin, and somewhat delicate; the body largely made, and inclined, especially in the middle period of life, to obesity. This temperament, probably more than any other, is generally regarded as influencing the mental economy otherwise than by its effects upon the activity of function; and, by many able physiologists, it is considered to be the bodily condition producing the powers and dispositions specified when speaking of the sanguine temperament at the commencement of this paper. An appeal to facts will readily set the matter at rest; and I defy every physiologist in civilized Europe to adduce this or any of the temperaments, as invariably associated with any peculiarity of human character. Individuals of the sanguine temperament are decidedly of a more active disposition than those of the lymphatic: at the same time, there is most commonly a disposition to indolence and mental inactivity, in the absence of any very powerful motive; and this is probably owing to the predominant energy possessed, in these instances, by the organs of vegetative life,-great activity of one portion of the system always, cateris paribus, detracting from the activity of another. Nevertheless, we shall find, that these individuals, when strongly excited, will be second to none in vigour of conduct; and it is highly probable that the reason why we so frequently observe the animal propensities in a state of activity with the sanguine temperament is, that, in the mass of mankind, these, so far surpassing in native energy the moral and intellectual faculties, more frequently afford powerful motives of action.
The bilious temperament affords a still higher degree of functional activity than the sanguine, and is considered by many to depend upon a redundancy of power in the biliary system; as the last was regarded in connection with a similar condition of the sanguineous vessels. It may not be a very easy matter to convey a precise idea of the mode in which the bilious temperament produces its results upon the cerebral organization;
but I will endeavour to explain, in as few words as possible, the views which suggest themselves to my mind, respecting the As before observed, I consider the influence of the temperaments upon organic activity to depend upon the peculiar states of the animal fluids, characteristic of each; and, in the case of the lymphatic and sanguine temperaments, I have attempted to suggest the rationale of their effects upon the system. But, in the case of the bilious temperament, I confess that I do not see my way quite so clearly. However, I would observe that we must regard the biliary system in two points of view-in relation to the depuration of the venous blood, and to the healthful stimulation of the alimentary canal. It is a fact, than which none in physiology can be better established, that a due arterialisation of the blood is essential to the full possession of its vital qualities; and it is absolutely necessary to the attainment of this object, that the noxious and superfluous ingredients of the venous blood should be eliminated from its composition. One great agent, in effecting such elimination, is the liver, the organ which secretes the bile. Now, as the secretion of the bile constitutes so striking a feature in the necessary re-integration of the blood, we may be able, from this circumstance, to arrive at some general notion as to the necessary influence which the state of the biliary system must have upon the functions of the cerebral organisation. Again, the intimate sympathy at all times subsisting between the brain and the alimentary canal, may lead us to appreciate the importance of any diversity in the permanent character of a secretion so materially influencing the healthful condition of the latter; for the bile is universally known to act as a powerful stimulant upon the intestinal tube, into which it is conveyed from the liver by its own proper duct. Hence, it might readily be inferred a priori, that functional activity must be modified by the character of the biliary system; and observation has established that its energetic condition produces a temperament midway, in its results, between the nervous and the sanguine. In the bilious temperament, the pulse is strong and hard, as in the sanguine, but somewhat more frequent; the veins are cutaneous and projecting; the complexion of a somewhat swarthy character; the hair black, or of a darkish brown; the body moderately fleshy, and the muscles firm and well marked; and, often, there is a peculiarly strong and harsh expression of the countenance. Individuals characterised by this temperament have generally a considerable share of native energy, manifesting their predominant powers and dispositions with remarkable keenness. Unlike individuals of the lymphatic or even of the sanguine temperament, they require no very powerful external stimu
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