Page images

consult them. Her milliner lives in "Seven Dials," and her dressmaker honours an attic in " Monmouth-street," they are "tip-top" in their way, and enjoy the "unlimited confidence" of the "ladies" around them. And the shoe-black himself, oh! he is quite as grand as his "Missis"-sports a Petersham great coat, and a real Bandana; sticks in his mouth a cabbage-leaf "cuba," rolled round a straw; sets his head on one side, uses Macassar," perks up his chin, and pulls out his collar, wears a gilt chain round his neck, and drives his lady to Highgate on Sundays-and all for the sake of appearances," or to do "wot's respectable." * *



[ocr errors]

But it is time to give over, though our sketches might be multiplied to the number of the kaleidoscope's changes; one leaf more, and we've done. Look at that damsel buried in thought young, pretty, and not without coquetry; she is a seamstress, no doubt-half-a-crown (toowearily earned) lies before her, and near it a comb that's a little the worse for the wear; she glances from one to the other, pausing between the wish to buy a showy "Geneva" and the appetite for a dinner for the rest of the week. Her shabby comb goes to her heart, but the lack of a meal must go to her stomach; what is to be done? which is to be chosen? the high-backed comb, all red and brown, and yellow—as like tortoise-shell" as possible for two shillings and sixpence"fortable mouthful of meat for the ensuing three days? Stay! there's a knock at the door of her garret! an old woman, in a dirty white bonnet, pokes in-Mrs. Sham-finery has sent to invite Miss Stitch-apace to a tea and turn-out" the next day :-'t is enough! the old comb is flung into the fire, the maiden mounts a shovel of horn on her head, becomes the belle of the revels, is led out by the journeyman tailor, looks as fine as soiled gauze and two-penny ribband can make her, and-starves on potatoes for the rest of the week-Quoi donc ? "she kept up appearances."

[ocr errors]

-or a com

Feb. 8th, 1835.



VICTOR LOVE, before thy might
Arms will fail and wealth is weak,
Yet thou sleep'st the live-long night
In the maiden's dimpled cheek.

Lightly thou treadest the wind-tost wave,
And bright is thy path to the woodland cave,
Spirit's wing, or mortal's art,

Nought escapes thy venom'd dart,

And they who feel the wound, in frenzied fondness rave.

Thy spell the purest spirit turns,

To deeds of guilt and shame;

E'en now, when strife unhallowed burns,

'Tis thou that feed'st the flame.

And the soft, bright glance of a virgin bride,
As she sits enthroned in her beauty and pride,
Tames the soul with equal sway

To heaven's laws or sceptred clay,

For Venus sportive comes with conquest at her side.

E. S. C.


The Principles of Physiology applied to the Preservation of Health, and to the Improvement of Physical and Mental Education; by Andrew Combe, M.D. Second edition, enlarged and improved; 8vo, pp. 385, Edinburgh and London, 1834.

Dr. Combe undertakes, in this beautiful and instructive volume, to lay before the public a plain and intelligible description of the structure and uses of some of the more important organs of the human body, and to shew how information of this kind may be usefully applied both to the preservation of health and to the improvement of physical and mental education. Among other important prefatory observations, he introduces the remark-that, in the case of the lower animals, the necessity of modifying the method of cultivation according to the peculiarities of constitution which they present, has long been perceived and consistently acted on, and with such success as to afford us good reason for applying the same rule to our own species, and for considering every mode of education as erroneous and inefficient, which is not in harmony with the higher nature of man: indeed, there can scarcely be a doubt that were the same principle followed in the cultivation of his physical, moral, and intellectual powers, and were no rule received which is not in accordance with the laws of his constitution, a much higher degree of success would reward our exertions, than has ever yet been experienced.

Dr. C. farther observes, at p. 6, it has been objected, that to teach any one how to take care of his own health, is sure to do harm by making him constantly think of precautions, to the utter sacrifice of every noble and generous feeling, and to the certain production of hypochondriacal peevishness and discontent. The result, however, is exactly the reverse; and it would be a singular anomaly in the constitution of the moral world, were it otherwise. He, who is acquainted with the fabric of the human body, and with the laws which regulate its action, sees at once his true position when exposed to the causes of disease, decides what ought to be done, and thereafter feels himself at liberty to devote his undivided attention to the calls of higher duties. It is ignorance, and not knowledge, that renders an individual full of fancies and apprehensions, and robs him of his usefulness; it would be a stigma on the Creator's wisdom, if true knowledge weakened the understanding, and led to injurious results. Those who have had the most extensive opportunities of forming an opinion on this subject from experience, bear unequivocal testimony to the advantages which knowledge confers in saving health and life, time and anxiety. Nevertheless, he concludes, p. 11, I must express my belief, that the study of diseases and their modes of cure by unprofessional persons, is not only unprofitable, but often deeply injurious; because such persons cannot possibly possess the collateral knowledge required to form a correct judgment of all the attending circumstances, and are therefore extremely liable to fall into error, where every error is attended with risk, often of the most dangerous kind.

Dr. Combe's "Principles of Physiology" are consecutively expounded in ten elaborate chapters, comprising introductory remarks; observations on the structure and functions of the skin; on the preservation of the health of the skin; on the nature of the muscular system; on the effects of, and rules for, muscular exercise; on the

bones, their structure, uses, and health; on respiration, and its uses; on the nervous system and mental faculties; the application of the preceding principles; and, on the application of the principles of physiology to the amelioration of the condition of the insane-all which most interesting topics, whether as premises or inductions, are discussed in a style and method of illustration singularly adapted to the comprehension of popular readers.

This volume of Dr. C.'s is so remarkably comprehensive, with its diction so concise, expressive, and perspicuous, that we should utterly fail, were we to engage in any attempt to exhibit an analytical condensation of its pages; for this reason, and for the present, we propose confining our own and the reader's attention to the valuable practical doctrines unfolded in the eighth chapter, on the nervous system and the mental faculties.

Dr. C. opens this section of his work with stating-that, in man and the higher order of animals, the nervous system is composed of the brain, the spinal marrow, and the nerves; and that he confines his remarks chiefly to the brain, and to such points regarding it, as all are agreed upon, and the general reader can easily comprehend. The brain is that large organized mass which, along with its enveloping membranes, completely fills the cavity of the skull. It is the seat of thought, of feeling, and of consciousness, and the centre towards which all impressions made on the nerves distributed throughout the body are conveyed, and from which the commands of the will are transmitted to put the various parts in motion. Its structure is so complicated, that less is known of its true nature than of that of almost any other organ. Dr. C. limits his observations to a general statement of its principal divisions-the cerebrum or brain proper, the cerebellum or little brain, and the cerebral membranes-and, at p. 257, he adds that, on examining the convolutions in different brains, they are found to vary a good deal in size, depth, and general appearance: in the various regions of the same brain, they are also different, but preserve the same general aspect: thus, they are always small and numerous in the anterior lobe, larger and deeper in the middle, and still larger in the posterior lobe. It receives an unusually large supply of blood, in comparison with the rest of the body.

Most physiologists are agreed that the different parts of the brain perform distinct functions, and that these functions are the highest and most important in the animal economy; but, there is a great discrepancy of opinion as to what the function of each part is, and as to the best mode of removing the obsurity in which the subject is involved. This much, however, is certain-that all physiologists and philosophers regard the brain as the organ of the mind; that most of them consider it as an aggregate of parts, each charged with a specific function; and, that a large majority regard the anterior lobe as more immediately the seat of the intellectual faculties. Farther, says Dr. C. by nearly universal consent, the brain is held to be also the seat of the passions and moral feelings of our nature, as well as of consciousness and every other mental act, and to be the chief source of that nervous influence which is indispensable to the vitality and action of every organ of the body. Many animals possess individual senses or instincts in greater perfection than man, but there is not one which can be compared with him in the number and range of its faculties; and, as a necessary consequence, there is not one which approaches him in the development and perfection of its nervous system. No organ can execute more than one single function; and, accordingly, in precise proportion as we ascend in the scale of creation, and the

animal acquires a sense, a power, or an instinct, do its nerves multiply and its brain improve in structure and augment in volume, each addition being marked by some addition or amplification of the powers of the animal, until in man we behold it possessing some parts of which animals are destitute, and wanting none which they possess, so that we are enabled to associate every faculty which gives superiority, with some addition to the nervous mass, even from the smallest indications of sensation and will, up to the highest degree of sensibility, judgment, and expression. It is extremely important to bear in mind this constant relation between mental power and development of brain; because it not only explains why capacities and dispositions are so different, but shews incontrovertibly that the cultivation of the moral and intellectual faculties can be successfully carried on by acting in obedience to the laws of organization, and associating together those faculties the organs of which are simultaneously progressive in their growth. For instance, it is a law that alternate periods of activity and repose conduce to the strength and development of every organ, and to the easy performance of its function, and that excess in either is alike hurtful in its consequences. When the brain is not exercised in conformity with the organic laws, we shall look in vain for the same amount of improvement which would have followed their fulfilment; and yet, so far is the physiology of the brain from being considered as the only sound basis on which the science of education can rest, that very few teachers or moralists are aware that the organic laws have any connexion with the operations of mind, and still fewer have ever thought of adapting their practice to the dictates of these laws; although, than this, no truth in education or philosophy can be more clearly proved, or more beneficially applied. It has been said, in answer to this proposition, that a month's vacation and idleness in the country, after ten or eleven months spent at schools in town, are beneficial to the scholar by increasing his aptitude for mental exertion. Now, this is true; but, it is in reality no exception to the rule previously stated: this result follows simply because the boy's health, which had been impaired by confinement and overtasking, becomes restored by country air, idleness and exercise; and his brain has regained its lost tone and is able to manifest the mental faculties with greater vigour. But it does not follow, from this circumstance that, if the brain and mind be always duly exercised according to their strength and the laws of nature, a month or two of idleness will then be advantageous. On the contrary, it would be not less hurtful than irksome to the individual; and, if a healthy young person were so situated, idleness would be so unpleasant to him, that he would desire mental occupation in some shape, for himself. Parents, guardians, and instructors of the young, ought never to lose sight of this essential distinction.

In thus treating of the brain as the indispensable instrument or organ of the mental faculties, Dr. C. must not be understood as representing mind and brain to be one and the same thing: he means only that the brain is necessarily engaged in every intellectual and moral operation, exactly as the eye is in every act of vision; and that, as the mind cannot see without the intervention of the eye, so neither can it think or feel, during life, except through the instrumentality of the brain: consequently, it would be as reasonable and logical to infer, from the former proposition, that the eye is the mind, or the mind the eye, as to infer from the latter, that the brain is the mind, or the mind the brain. He adds, p. 262, it requires however to be distinctly understood, that activity of mind and activity of

brain are inseparable, and that every change of the one is attended by a corresponding change in the condition of the other. If, by the excessive use of stimulants, the brain be highly excited, the mind will be disturbed in an equal degree, as is exemplified every day in cases of intoxication; and if, on the other hand, the mind be suddenly roused by violent passions, the vessels of the brain will instantly take an increased action, redness will suffuse the face, and excitement of the brain will shew itself in characters as legible as if produced by a physical cause. The mind and brain being thus inseparably associated, during life, it becomes an object of primary importance to discover the laws by which their healthy action is regulated, that we may yield them willing obedience, and escape the numerous evils consequent on their violation.

Regarding the brain as a most important part of the animal system, and subject to the same general laws as every other organ, Dr. C. proceeds to state the conditions of its healthy action; and the first of these he believes to be-a sound original constitution. If the brain possess, from birth, a freedom from all hereditary taints and imperfections, and have acquired no unusual susceptibility from injudicious treatment in infancy, it will withstand a great deal, in after life, before its health gives way; but if, either it inherit deficiencies, or if early mismanagement have entailed upon it an unusual proneness to morbid action, it will give way under circumstances which would otherwise have been perfectly innocuous; and, accordingly, the most powerful of all the causes which predispose to nervous and mental disease, is the transmission of an hereditary tendency from parents to children, producing an increased liability to the same maladies with which the parents had been afflicted. Even, the doctor adds p. 263, when the defect in the parents is merely some peculiarity of disposition or temper, amounting perhaps to eccentricity, its influence on some of the progeny may be traced, as well as its interferences with a man's happiness or success in life. When such original eccentricity is on the mother's side, and she is gifted with much force of character, the evil extends more widely among the children, than when it is on the father's side: when both parents are descended from tainted families, their offspring is more affected than when one of them is from a pure stock; and, seemingly for this reason, hereditary predisposition is a more common cause of nervous disease in the higher classes, who intermarry much with each other, than in the lower who have a wider choice. Unhappily, hereditary predisposition is to be dreaded, not merely as a cause of disease, but for the obstacles it throws in the way of permanent recovery: these are most formidable, and can never be entirely removed. Safety is to be found only in avoiding the perpetration of the mischief; and, therefore, if two persons, each naturally of an excitable and delicate nervous constitution, choose to unite for life, they have themselves to blame for the concentrated influence of similar tendencies in destroying the health of their children, and subjecting them to all the miseries of nervous disease, madness, or melancholy. Even when no hereditary defect exists, continued excitement of the nervous functions in the mother, from anxiety, grief, or other causes, during pregnancy, has often a striking effect on the future mental health and constitution of her offspring: many authors testify to the truth of this fact, and it has not escaped the penetration of some mothers.

According to our author p. 264, the second condition required for the health of the brain, is a due supply of properly oxygenated blood. The effects of slight differences in the quality of the blood, are not easily

« PreviousContinue »