Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the year; at other times very few are seen for a considerable period. Concerning this species I have received from Mr. Maynard the following very interesting note. He says that in 1868 these birds appeared in Massachusetts "early in September, in very immature plumage, which seemed to indicate,” he thought, " that they were raised in the states. But upon visiting Oxford county, Maine,” he continues, " October 12th, and not seeing a single specimen of this bird (although after the 21st the White-winged species was common) I was induced to inquire of the farmers respecting them, when I was informed that they passed through that region early in August, in large numbers, doing great damage to the oat crop. This shows that the unusual occurrence of this bird in immature plumage early in the season was owing to the early migration of northern raised birds, induced, probably, by an insufficient supply of food, which I think regulates the migrations of all northern birds; hence the irregularity of their visits. The species in question passed entirely south of Newton (Mass.), as upon my return from Maine, November 13th, not a specimen could be found, but C. leucoptera was abundant. From what I have seen of these two species I think the latter is generally much more boreal in its habits."*

Specimens of the Red Crossbill have been received at the Museum of Comparative Zoology from Massachusetts so young that it seems highly probable that they were raised here. Among them are specimens collected in Weston, in May, 1862, by the late Mr. Horace Mann.

Some were so young that their bills were not fully grown, while the plumage also indicated great immaturity. It is hardly possible that they could have been born far from where they were collected. The condition of the specimens collected by Mr. Maynard, alluded to above, seems to indicate that they also have not been long from the nest, though they may, as he supposes, have come from Maine. These facts seem to

[ocr errors]

* MSS. Notes, received in July, 1869.

[ocr errors]

indicate that this species breeds at irregular times, since the eggs obtained near Milltown, Maine, by Mr. G. A. Boardman,* were, as he has informed me, found in February, and birds hatched thus early would probably moult their nesting plumage early in summer. Mr. Maynard's specimens must have been hatched at least as late as June, and probably in July, else in respect to the time of moulting the first or nestling plumage of this species is strangely anomalous. f

Since the above was put in type I have received from Mr. Boardman farther information respecting the breeding of the Crossbills, as follows: "They breed all the season, from the middle of February till into May, and perhaps later."

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. Curvirostra leucoptera Wilson. This species is much less frequent in its visits than the preceding, it being, as Mr. Maynard has observed, much more boreal, and is generally seen only in winter. Last winter they were quite numerous in the eastern part of the state, when, as he has stated above, Mr. Maynard observed them as carly as the middle of November. They remained, according to the same authority, till the first of June, they being observed by him in flocks during the last week of May. He also informs me that he shot a male in fine breeding plumage the 13th of June. In the summer of 1866 he found their stomachs filled with canker worms.

LAPLAND LONGSPUR. Centrophanes Lapponicus Kaup. This is a very rare winter visitor in the interior of the state, but rather common, according to Mr. Maynard, at Ipswich, where he has taken half a dozen in a day, and seen many more. It associates with the Snow Bunting (Plectrophanes nivalis), and is probably more or less common in winter along the whole coast of the state.

* See American Naturalist, Vol. iii, July, 1969.

| With the above Mr. Boardman sends the following interesting notes: “The Canada Jay also breeds when the snow is quite deep, usually in March, and I think again in summer, as I have seen young birds in September. I have also found Raven's eggs when the snow was quite deep, and have also known the young of Mergus Americanus to be out by the middle of May, which is usually early."

AMER. NATURALIST, VOL. III. 74

THE LINGERING ADMIRERS OF PHRENOLOGY.

BY PROF. CLELAND.

To slay those that are already slain may be excellent sport to employ the courage of a Falstaff, but the reader perusing · the title of this article may perhaps be disposed to ask why the pages of this review should be occupied with the discussion of so dead a doctrine as Phrenology. The answer is, that although phrenology never had much countenance from scientific men, and has long since been banished by them, with one consent, to the limbo of exploded ehimeras, yet among educated men and women not physiologists, and not pretending to know anything about anatomy, it still holds its grounds wonderfully, and counts considerable numbers of people who believe in its miraculous skull maps; while, besides these, there is a far more numerous class of persons, including, undeniably, a certain proportion of scientific men, who, admitting that the minute division of the cranial vault into organs is untenable, yet profess belief in a larger mapping, and have no hesitation in relegating the reasoning faculties exclusively to the forehead, and the moral sentiments and volitionary powers to other parts of the brain-pan.

This state of matter does not exist without a sufficient reason to account for it. Long before the time of Gall and Spurzheim, men were in the habit, sometimes consciously, and much more frequently half unconsciously, of gauging the intelligence and moral qualities of their neighbors by their personal appearance generally, and more particularly of estimating them according to crude impressions derived from the shapes of their heads. They judged rightly enough that there was some connection between brain and mind. Much of the evidence that the brain is the organ of the mind is so palpable that it could not remain long hid. The effects

of injuries and diseases of the brain in disturbing the intelligence, its larger size in the higher than in the lower classes of animals, and more especially its distinctively great development in 'man: these circumstances, together with the indubitable frequency of finely proportioned heads among persons of distinguished talent, and the tendency of the eye to dwell on clumsy or forbidding proportions, when occurring . in persons brought under notice as stupid and depraved, all seemed, though vaguely, to point out that a scrutiny of the amount of the brain and shape of the cranium was likely to afford an index of the strength and qualities of the mind. Gall propounded his theory that different portions of the brain were the organs of different mental faculties, and that according to the size of those different parts of the brain, so the mental qualities varied; and making continual observations on the heads and characters of those with whom he came in contact, he covered the surface of the cranial vault with a map, which at once professed to indicate the correct analysis of the mental faculties, and to assign to each of these its proper habitation. The psychological difficulties of their pursuit do not seem to have weighed heavily on either Gall or his followers; and as for the exceedingly great obstacles in the way of estimating the proportions of even large masses of the brain by observation of the surface of the skull, not only did the phrenologists strangely ignore them, but we are constrained to say that even anatomists have been very slow to appreciate them. Phrenology, however, supplied a want which the public felt, seeming to furnish an answer to questions which were continually obtruded before them, and giving precision to the notions founded on fact which had previously possessed their minds: this, we believe, is the principal reason why phrenology became so popular as it did, and why it is not yet eradicated from the public mind.

Probably scientific men, in dealing with phrenology, have been too much in the habit of contenting themselves with merely pointing out that the system is certainly a blunder; and their hearers have gone away impressed with the conviction that it is impossible for the uninitiated to argue with experts, yet saying in their hearts that they are sure there is a mistake somewhere, and unwilling to part with all their beautiful theories and get nothing in exchange. Iconoclasm is not popular : when an image is thrown down it is well that its destruction should make way for a flood of light suf-. ficient to satisfy the eye in its stead. This is an achievement not easy to accomplish, but actuated with the laudable motive of attempting it, the writer will try, not only to reiterate the reasons why phrenology cannot possibly be true, but to give some idea of what is positively known regarding the brain and its functions, and to point out in what direction speculation may be still legitimately indulged.

Let us begin at the beginning and try and form some general notion of what the brain is as it is known to the anatomist, before we dogmatize about the functions of the parts which happen to come in contact with the upper and lateral walls of the skull.

If a chick be examined in a hen's egg which has been allowed to hatch for twelve hours, or if the embryo of any vertebrate animal be examined at a similarly early period, it will be seen to exhibit a long open furrow, the walls of which are the first portions of the animal to be formed. The most superficial layer of substance entering into the construction of this furrow may be described as a long ribbon, consisting of two symmetrical parts separated by a longitudinal groove : this is the embryo brain and spinal chord, constituting one continuous structure, the cerebrospinal axis.

The parts which support the ribbon form in like manner the cranium and the spinal canal, primarily undistinguishable one from the other. The edges of the furrow rise up and become united, so that the open furrow is converted into a closed cylinder; and similarly the ribbon within it has its lateral edges brought together, so that the brain and spinal cord

« AnteriorContinuar »