Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

almost infer with certainty, that, in the very great majority of instances, an undue activity and improper direction will have been communicated to these, if subjected in early life to the inAuence of evil association. This will bold good, not only in respect of those whose tendencies to immorality are naturally considerable, but in respect also of those who possess from nature a fair average of moral endowment; and indeed I may go further, and assert, with the highest confidence, that even those who are the most favourably gifted of nature will lose that high sense of Christian virtue, which is the perfection of the moral code, if in early life they have been engulfed in the allurements of vicious society. For, as the apostle emphatically observes, 'evil communications corrupt good manners.' And, in like manner, an individual of no great moral strength by his nature, will often pass through life with more true honour to himself than one more eminently endowed in a moral point of view, whose opportunities as to early association have not been so favourable. But the influence of society is not alike upon all : moral example will have infinitely more effect upon one who is possessed of a high cerebral organization, than upon one whose head is villanously low;' and whilst I believe that an individual of this latter character will, from his earliest years, be almost sure to run riot if evil communication be not studiously prevented, I am yet satisfied that even such an one may, by dint of an excellent moral training, be rendered a tolerably respectable character.* And the intermediate results may always be anticipated under intermediate circumstances; the proper proceeding, in the estimate, being always to compare the predisposition with the external agents by which it is modified, and to deduce the legitimate conclusion from a consideration of their reciprocal influence."

There is considerable force in what Mr Noble says in commendation of the study of literature, which he conceives to polish the manners by cultivating Ideality. We think him mistaken, however, in supposing that it is against sound literary education that the public mind is now so generally excited. There is a great difference between the mere acquisition of synonymous words in different languages, and the gaining of a relish for the beauties of native or foreign literature. Of twenty boys who receive what passes for a literary education, probably

a not more than one really appreciates, follows out, and is improved by the study of belles lettres.

After mentioning that the function of the perceptive faculties is to observe external objects and their qualities and phenomena, Mr Noble adds, with great truth,—“ But the kind of knowledge

This statement appears too broad. Heads of the lowest class are in no cir. cumstances accompanied by a tolerably respectable character.-Ep.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sought after, and its effects upon individuals, will vary with variations in thedegreeof

mental endowment in other respects, and with their general education. Thus, for example, a person may have great-powers in the acquisition of knowledge, but shall be of moderate reflective endowment : of such an one bet left to himself, the great probability as, that his whole-soulewill be bent upon petty gossip and trifling detail, in which he may abound to tediousness; whilst, on the other hand, the same individual, by the communication of some powerful influence in early life, might have acquired much useful information, and, as a referee for those more highly endowed with reflective power, have constituted no unimportant member of society. And if some one were to predicate, from a mere olservance of cerebral development, that a person with great individuality and eventuality would make great progress in physical science, and be very fond of natural history, and so on, it might happen that a very great error should be committed, -as love of tea-table talk, or of village politics, or of some other objects of trivial import, contracted by neglect of education, might have created an actual distàste to the very things in which, under other circumstances, he would have been a respectable proficient. And in regard to those instances where, with strength of perception, a powerful reflective - faculty exists, it will depend very much upon the i education whether such a mind be honourably directed in its pursuits. I -have seen individuals, with great intellectual power, presenting instances of mental excellence far inferior to many whose cerebral organization was much beneath their own ;p and, in these cases, the result might readily be traced to the education. The former class of individuals I have generally observed to be very expert in their ordinary avocations; very clever at a bargain, or in arranging some scheme relative to the ordinary affairs

of life; well informed, and happy in reasoning, upon the politics of the :day; and, in a case or two which I have now in mind, decided- ly ignorant upon, and entertaining distaste to, most of those subjects to the cultivation of which their own minds might, by their nature, be considered prone. And persons of the opposite class I have seen, whose eerebral organization, though respectable indeed, has not been indicative of any first-rate power, but who, by the influence of an excellent training, have distinguished themselves before the whole scientific world, and this, too, un-assisted by patronage and undue influence. These illustrations are intended to convey an idea as to the method in which the direction of the intellectual faculties may modify the results."

!

Due consideration has been given to the Society's remarks on our critique of Mr Noble's essay on the Temperaments ; but

[ocr errors]

there is nothing in that critique which we as yet see any good reason for modifying. We are by no means satisfied that, in cases of the sanguine temperament, " there is most commonly a disposition to indolence and mental inactivity, in the absence of any powerful motive;" nor are we less sceptical as to the validity of the reason assigued by Mr Noble for the circumstance, even supposing the fact to be as stated. H. Those " organs of vegetative life," which generally possess th the predominant energy when the temperamentis sanguine, are the lungs and Jieart; and the activity of these, iso far fron detracting from that of the brain or any other part of the system, has exactly the opposite effect, by propelling foreibly through the body an abundant i supply of well-oxygenated blood, which stimulates alike the brain and the muscles. It was after carefully considering the sentence quoted last by Mr Rawson, but which, for the sake of brevity, was omitted in the printed essay, that we wrote the observation that " temperament, besides influencing the activity of the organs, affects their poroer also, to a greater extent than Me Noble seems inclined to allow.". The passage adverted to, however, does not bear on the question at all; for Mr Noble speaks of energy acquired by exercise, while our remark has reference to native energy alone. Observation proves that the latter depends on temperament or quality of the organic structure, as well as on its size. However much a lymphatic brain may be compelled to work, it will never acquire the energy of a similarly developed bilious or nervous brain which performs exactly the same quantity of labour. The reader must judge between 115.-EDITOR. 1

Tulis,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1.

ARTICLE IX.
Tulf1!! "EDUCATION AND CRIME.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE PHRENOLOGICAL JOURNAL. Sin,-. The work of M, Guerry, entitled " Statique Morale de la France," has lately revived discussion on the old question, whether or not edacation tends to diminish crime. It appears from the work alluded to' (of which an abstract will be found in the first volume of Mr Henry Lytton Bulwer's “ France, Social, Literary, and Political"), that while crimes against the person are most frequent in Corsica, the provinces of the southeast, and Alsace, where the people are well instructed, there are fewest of those crimes in Berry, Limousin, and Brittany, where the people are most ignorant ; and that, in like manner, crimes against property almost invariably prevail most in those departments of which the inhabitants are best informed. Thc data on which such statements are founded, ought to be narrowly looked into; but as M. Guerry has a high reputation for accuracy, and his tables seem to have been compiled with care, the probability is, that the above account may be safely relied on. Now, it may naturally enough be imagined, that if the facts are really so, they furnish unquestionable evidence that education, instead of diminishing crime, positively tends to increase it. Such an inference, however, seems to be as yet unwarranted; for, until it be proved that education has the same kind of subjects to operate on in every part of France, its effects cannot be judged of from such data as those furnished by M. Guerry. It appears from the 42d number of the Phrenological Journal, article 1st, that France is peopled by two great families,named by M. Thierry, Gauls and Kimris--whose mental qualities are very dissimilar; and I have been informed, by a phrenologist who recently travelled in France, that he observed the heads to be in some districts much inferior to those seen in others. Now, this important fact ought not to be overlooked, as it has hitherto been, in judging of the influence of education; for it can hardly be doubied, that educated but inferior minds will display less morality than minds which are uneducated but naturally much superior. What should we say of a man who should call in question the efficacy of medical treatment, because a patient tainted from birth with consumption, and who had been long under the care of a physician, was not so healthy as a person with naturally sound lungs, who had never taken medical advice in his life? But for the treatment, the consumptive man

an would have been much worse than he actually was, and probably would have died in early youth. To judge correctly, therefore, of the question at issue, we must compare the present amount of crime in particular departments of France, with its amount in the same departments when there was either very little instruction or none at all. In this manner we shall avoid being misled by the effects of other influences ; such as the density or thinness of the population, the employment of the people in agriculture or manufactures,--and their residence on the coast, in the interior, or in mountainous or fertile districts. Were such a trial made, I think it would almost without exception be found, in cases where no great change of circumstances had occurred that in exact proportion to the increase of education there had been an obvious diminution of crime. I am well aware that, by the system of instruction generally pursued, the moral feelings, which restrain from crime, are wholly neglected : but cultivation even of the intellect appears favourable to morality ; first, by giving periods of repose to the lower propensities, of whose excessive activity crime is the result; secondly, by promoting the formation of habits of regularity, subordination,

a

and obedience; and, thirdly, by strengthening and informing the intellect, and thereby enabling it to see more clearly the dangerous consequences of crime. No doubt there are criminals on whom an excellent intellectual education has been bestowed ; but instead of thence inferring that education increases the liability of mankind to crime, it may with great reason be asked, whether, had the same individuals wanted education altogether, their crimes would not have been ten times more atrocious.Yours, &c.

Q. M. Q.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE, No. 45.

Treatise on Moral Philosophy.

This number of the Information for the People is occupied by a Treatise on Moral Philosophy, in which are briefly and intelligently described the leading doctrines propounded in ancient and modern times relative to the powers and operations of the human mind. The author, in concluding his sketch of the metaphysical systems which have hitherto prevailed, states that “ it has been given more with the view of affording our readers an idea of what has been done in the way of exploring the hidden mysteries of mind, than with the hope that any benefit will be reaped from the perusal. The sketch, such as it is, exhibits a lamentable picture of misdirected ability-of valuable time spent in a search as vain as that after the philosopher's stone.' From the days of Zeno and Epicurus to those of Immanuel Kant, the world has been the theatre of successive systems of metaphysics, each of which, as we have seen, has met with followers of greater or less distinction, in schools and colleges, without having, either individually or collectively, been of any sensible benefit to the mass of the community. Logic, the design of which is to ieach the right use of our reason, or intellectual and moral faculties, and the improvement of them in ourselves and others, has been actively employed in the endeavour to subvert the most obvious truths. Zeno demonstrated the impossibility of motion; Spinoza, that there was no God; Hobbes, that there was no difference between right and wrong; Hume, that belief was imaginary ; Descartes, Mallebranche, and Locke, that mind was matter, or, in other words, that when we lose our consciousness of existence, we no longer preserve our identity. Well may the untaught reader inquire, What does all this mean? We may answer him in the words of Reid - Poor untaught mortals believe undoubtedly that there is a sun, moon, and stars ; an earth which we inhabit ; country, friends, and relations, which we enjoy ; land, houses, and move

« PredošláPokračovať »