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LIFE AND CONNOTONDENCE OF
DR ALIW CUMBE. * This is a book which miesi, Wr 1.6 be road with interest and prees by a great variety at Madiun Ihr curious in human nature, whose delight it is to pinirmie meer su part of celebrated men, will be gratitied by a delineatkan smuk ina bruthful of the inner working of a vigorous and inden idagi m.iri, idee simple and unlearned aspirasi will be taught, by lisika 2.1.18 oresons, how life may be res dered both nobles and hebun Bu mast one not so much by gifts of genius, or laturhus avharisma si seal or college, as by that ham. bler species of phosal anime tining which lies within the reach of the though the sitting and it conscientious ; while to the enlightened power, it is in a hos kind, there will be a still higlier che mai ihani in mod cumsty, or even the hope of personal advahormen in Lim T * onstantly presents of a pure and beuerulni mind a brans dimod at the mildest affections, and a characier alignitus oli siigas vante suzemness, and modesty.
We think the pain hart er satished with the manDer in wreb Nr litlu has the delicate duty of biograper lo his law.lars. I tre turkey naturally existing between the minds of ihr lange Lingerier and more self-relying an early insight mich Le mur nail and feelings of the younger, enabled hina waeithnwash 1. ha guna anseher, and friend, was of itself a high qualibaba bora in To Mr Combe has added ---besides a Llunugh masabjects under discussion in the wundrai ar vamment rare judgment in the use of materials and a quarta en fact, eren in the most insignibeant details
But the best qualidel arte the best ustas of success; and we accordingly and Nr tele sarung mach aaral anxiety, that, from his abundant material de studii supet exactly such characteristae incidents and remanis atly represent to intelligent readers the teelings and incelemal qualities of the individual. With the view, therefore, as be kiss screngthening his own hand, be submitted tbe in eslin the mai, suss it was written, to a seleet number of able persoas påmians and ochers; but the opinions be received in answer to the appealskud gerally favourable both to the subjeet and manner of the wors-rak entirely as to the different parts most to be objected to or admired, that he was compelled, after all
, to follow his own course with the remainder, marineed, if he had before doubted it, that the very ancient story ef the poor artist in the market-place, wbo bad his picture obliterated both by its contemners and admirers, is of equal application to the present day. Of these differing opinions, the substance of which is given in the preface, we agree moet with that which ebarseterises Dr Combe as an eminent reformer in medical science, and an invaluable instruetor of the pablie : and least with those which seem to suppose that the general success of the work
* Edinburgh: Maciachlan & Stewart. 1856
will depend on the complete establishment and reception, by the world at large, of the doctrines of phrenology. We so far agree, as to look on phrenology as being still an unsettled question in physiology, but cannot allow that the permanent value of Dr Combe's “Life” will, to any great extent, depend on its settlement; for, however desirable it may be to be always in the right, infallibility is certainly no attribute of man ; and we think Dr Combe's fame has too many supports on which it firmly rests, to be much shaken, even though the science on which he founded so much should eventually be withdrawn from the sum of them.
Though the course of Dr Combe's life abounds in those moral harmonies which to the thoughtful ear will ever sound“ far above singing,” we must look elsewhere for the kind of interest there is, and ever will be, in the delineation of romantic passion and adventure. Wholly without striking incidents, his life was one of patient suffering and faithful working. He was born in the year 1797, in the middle class of Scottish society, and of parents, who, like the rugged Covenanters of old, and many of the “grave livers” of a later day, have been too apt to mistake sternness for duty in the family intercourse, and perhaps, from the northern temperament, to minglea cold asceticism with that prudence, industry, and holy purity of life, which, accompanied with geniality, would have rendered the humble home a temple of love, as it was of peace, and the parental example as touching and attractive as it was generally self-denying and respectable. Dr Combe's parents, if not tender, were just, dutiful, and, after their own fashion, kind-hearted. They had seventeen children, fourteen of whom grew up. The father carried on the trade of a thriving brewer at Livingston Yards, under an angle of Edinburgh Castle, and managed to give his children rather a better education than generally falls to the lot of their class in Scotland. Andrew attended the High School for five years, and the College for two sessions; but his intellect appears to have developed slowly, and, though persevering, and early in possession of that natural refinement of mind which is so sure a mark of superiority, he had reached his seventeenth year without giving much promise of future eminence. Having shown some disposition for the medical profession, at fourteen years of age his father bound him apprentice to Mr Henry Johnston of Edinburgh, a medical practitioner, who dispensed medicine to his patients from a store kept in his own house in Prince's Street. Andrew, however, did not seem quite to have made up his mind to his calling—or at least to the time of beginning his studies; and an amusing, though rather startling, scene is described, highly characteristic of the firmness of the elder party, and the dogged, reserved obstinacy of the younger, before his mind had awakened to reason. But the elder conquered, and Andrew, carried to Johnston's house on the shoulders of two of his stout brothers, was ludicrously “made a doctor of,” nolens volens. Here he spent several profitless years; occupied half-an-hour a day in study, and the rest of the time in delivering the medicines; yawning out of a ground floor window, and reading indifferent novels. At fifteen, he attended lectures on anatomy and chemistry, and towards the end of his apprenticeship saw a little practice in the workhouse of St Cuthbert's parish, of which Mr Johnston was the medical attendant; but not till he was in his serenteenth year could he be said to have fairly begun to study.
Mr Combe speaks of his brother's education as having been very defective, and instructively explains how this arose, in spite of the above mentioned advantages, from the little attention, at that time, paid by teachers to the individual conformation of mind exhibited by the pupils. Andrew Combe was a reasoning, reflecting, rightly feeling boy, but was far from being quick of observation or ready of tongue, and the old style of teaching-by technical rules, and absolute dogmas, instead of explanations addressed to reason and common sense—had not unnaturally the tendency frequently to stupify and revolt, rather than to instruct him.
However, the deep springs of a powerful and fine character were there by nature, and if the circumstances which surrounded the shy and awkward youth were not the very best in the world for the drawing forth of that clear stream which was to carry health and refreshing into 80 many arid places, neither were they by any means the worst. His mind was among those which find “sermons in stones, and good in everything.” “In observing the processes of his father's trade, he came in contact with nature, and marked the regular evolution of her power;” his parents set him an example, not only of the stern virtue of quiet endurance, but of one which is both higher and holier, a steady pursuit of the useful and the good ; and his mind was gradually awakened, and his moral being expanded in the wholesome atmosphere of activity, of duty, and of truth.
The arrival of Dr Spurzheim in Edinburgh opened a new era in the life of our young philosopher. Whatever the science of phrenology has yet been, or may be to the world at large, the reception of it seemed to promise him the all-important key by which the mystery of his intellectual being would be, if not wholly explained, at least rendered henceforth an "open secret.” To us it will ever seem unfortunate, that, at the time of life when religious impressions generally sink so deeply as to become part of the inner being, Christianity, which we think alone fully meets the wants of man's nature, should, from the rigid Calvinism of his parents, have been presented to him in a form which tended to repulse rather than engage his genial affections. Phrenology, which he soon began to consider as the science best calculated to establish the kingdom of God upon earth, appears to have taken the place which Christianity, in other circumstances, would have probably held in his heart. The positive nature of its doctrines, too, entirely suited an idio syncrasy to which the vague or the transcendental (so often the resource of those who lose hold of their early faith) offered nothing better than a pillow of thorns, on which neither reason nor conscience could for a moment repose in peace. Phrenology was to him, what
“ The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion," were, in the earlier days of the world, to those on whom the abstract and purely spiritual could lay no hold. It was as the law and the Gospel-a new revelation of the ever-present Deity—“the garment” he was henceforward to see him by ;” and, viewing it as such, it seems no wonder, however much to be regretted, that he should have both followed after it and urged it upon others as he did, with the anxious perseverance of a conscientious, energetic, and most religious mind.
- Dr Combe's medical education, which was thus begun in Edinburgh, was completed at Paris, whither he went in 1817, and remained till 1819. It was while there that he attended Dr Spurzheim's lectures, and completely satisfied himself of the truth and usefulness of the new science which so deeply coloured all his future views. He interestingly describes the change that it wrought on him, in a letter to his brother, written so long after as in 1841;
“ Perhaps the first benefit which I derived from the new philosophy of mind was a better knowledge of myself, and the clearing away of sundry obscurities which impaired my usefulness, and, with it, my happiness. From my large wonder and veneration I invested everything unknown to me with a depth and magnitude which seemed to place it utterly beyond my powers. From the same feelings I invested every one with whom I was not intimate with great and high qualities, and an amount of knowledge to which I could never hope to attain. With these impressions, conjoined with active caution, secretiveness, and love of approbation, I was afraid to place myself on the same level with others, and often, after intimacy was almost forced upon me, I marvelled to find myself, after all, just as clever and well-informed as most of them. During my studies, the same combination led me to assign an unfathomable depth and extent to all new branches of professional knowledge; and it happened very often that when I understood a thing easily, I continued poring over it under the conviction that there must be a deeper and more important meaning which my stupidity had not been able to reach. . I studied, therefore, hesitatingly, gropingly, and sometimes almost despondingly. I lingered, wondered, and doubted, till, I verily believe, I impaired the elasticity of my intellect; at least, I feel assured that had I then known the sources of these apprehensions, and been encouraged and animated in my career, I would have advanced with a vigour, efficiency, and pleasure, which would have influenced my whole future existence. To Spurzheim's lectures I am indebted for the first relief I obtained from these impediments. In his descriptions of wonder, cautiousness, veneration, secretiveness, and love of approbation, I recognised my own feelings; and the thought came over me, 'So it is you, and not the external objects that are mystifying and perplexing me!'
I saw and was comforted. For the first time my mind was in harmony with itself, and I could exert without distrust the faculties which God had given me. I could now compare myself with other men, and see that in some important respects I possessed advantages of my own, which might in their turn be employed to good account."
Besides occupying himself strenuously with his studies in Paris, he frequented pleasant society, grew tall, improved in the power of expressing his thoughts, and rubbed off the rust of home, without in any measure losing his interest in everything which occurred there. His mother's death, which happened at this time, seems to have affected him deeply. A passage from one of his letters on this subject, shows a more highly excited imagination than anything else we know of him. Writing to his sister, he says:
"In returning from Passy we had a grand thunder-storm. In the middle of the Champ de Mars the death of my mother struck me with more force even than on re. ceiving George's letter. There was something so solemn and grand in the awful peals of thunder and broad sheets of lightning, diversified by zig-zig flashes, that my imagination became excited, and at every flash I gazed at the clouds as if to penetrate through them, and, by the vivid lightning, once more to see her whom I fancied to be stationed beyond them.”
Before returning to Edinburgh, he made a tour through Switzerland, where he found out his deficiency in the mental qualities which constitute a poet, in discovering that he could not rise to the pitch of inspiration which would have enabled him to express his admiration of the beautiful and sublime scenery. In his eagerness to explore these deeply interesting regions he neglected the laws of health, and was soon after his arrival at home seized with symptoms of pulmonary consumption. Having early in life been exposed to the disadvantage there must always be to the human frame in living in a low and damp situation like that of Livingston Yards, which was out of the reach of a constant supply of fresh air, there was probably a predisposition in his constitution to this malady, which hard study and the fatigues of his late tour too surely increased. From this time—the year 1820—to the day of his death, he was, though with many intervals of comparative health, a confirmed invalid. But, as if the element of bodily suffering which usually impairs the powers and the usefulness of other men, had been necessary to the full development of his, it is to the exertions of these years of pain and anxiety that we owe the remarkable works which have placed Dr Combe so high in the rank of the men whose noble privilege it bas been to push visibly onwards the great wheel of human progress, by conferring on man the means of improving his mental and physical condition upon earth. For not alone did he learn in suffering how suffering could best be soothed and ameliorated; the full tide of sympathy it awakened in his heart led him to trace the poisoned stream to its source, and hence resulted those admirable expositions of the why and the wherefore of the more ordinary forms of diseased action, and also those clear and practical lessons of prevention, which have advanced hygiène almost to the rank of a positive science.
Immediately upon his seizure he determined to go to the south of France, but had not got farther than London when he found himself too unwell to travel, and returned home; there he temporarily recovered, helped to found the Phrenological Society, and in the ensuing August set off again to the Mediterranean. He passed two years travelling about in search of a climate to suit him, staying one winter at Leghorn, and, after paying a summer visit at home, another at Marseilles. At the end of the second year he felt so strong that he determined to begin practice in Edinburgh, where his high standing among his professional brethren, and general character for good sense, talent, and strict conscientiousness did not leave him long unemployed.
During the next few years he attained to great repute from his able papers in reply to the opponents of phrenology, and also rose bigh in his profession. Mr Combe gives the following interesting and instructive account of his medical practice, which will also serve as a specimen of the force and lucidity of his own style :
“At the time Dr Combe entered the medical profession, it was common for prac. tising physicians simply to prescribe medicines, and to lay down dietetic rules, to be observed by their patients, without explaining to them the nature of their maladies or the rationale of the cure, Blind faith and implicit obedience were required of them. He early adopted the practice of addressing the reason and enlistening the moral sympathies of his patients, in every case in which this appeared to him practicable. He preferred the intelligent co-operation of a patient in the measures necessary for the restoration of his health, to mere observance of rules, and tlserefore communi