The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood


’Tis strange how like a very dunce,

Man — with his bumps upon his sconce,

Has lived so long, and yet no knowledge he

Has had, till lately, of Phrenology —

A science that by simple dint of

Head-combing he should find a hint of,

When scratching o’er those little poll-hills,

The faculties throw up like mole-hills;

A science that, in very spite

Of all his teeth, ne’er came to light,

For though he knew his skull had grinders,

Still there turned up no organ finders,

Still sages wrote, and ages fled,

And no man’s head came in his head —

Not even the pate of Erra Pater,

Knew aught about its pia mater.

At last great Dr. Gall bestirs him —

I don’t know but it might be Spurzheim —

Tho’ native of a dull and slow land,

And makes partition of our Poll-land;

At our Acquisitiveness guesses,

And all those necessary nesses

Indicative of human habits,

All burrowing in the head like rabbits.

Thus Veneration, he made known,

Had got a lodging at the Crown;

And Music (see Deville’s example)

A set of chambers in the Temple;

That Language taught the tongues close by,

And took in pupils thro’ the eye,

Close by his neighbor Computation,

Who taught the eyebrows numeration.

The science thus — to speak in fit

Terms — having struggled from its nit,

Was seized on by a swarm of Scotchmen

Those scientifical hotch-potch men,

Who have at least a penny dip,

And wallop in all doctorship,

Just as in making broth they smatter

By bobbing twenty things in water:

These men, I say, made quick appliance

And close, to phrenologic science;

For of all learned themes whatever,

That schools and colleges deliver,

There’s none they love so near the bodles,

As analysing their own noddles;

Thus in a trice each northern blockhead

Had got his fingers in his shock head,

And of his bumps was babbling yet worse

Than poor Miss Capulet’s dry wet-nurse;

Till having been sufficient rangers

Of their own heads, they took to strangers’.

And found in Presbyterians’ polls

The things they hated in their souls!

For Presbyterians hear with passion

Of organs joined with veneration.

No kind there was of human pumpkin

But at its bumps it had a bumpkin;

Down to the very lowest gullion,

And oiliest skull of oily scullion.

No great man died but this they did do,

They begged his cranium of his widow:

No murderer died by law disaster,

But they took off his sconce in plaster;

For thereon they could show depending,

“The head and front of his offending”:

How that his philanthropic bump

Was mastered by a baser lump;

For every bump (these wags insist)

Has its direct antagonist,

Each striving stoutly to prevail,

Like horses knotted tail to tail!

And many a stiff and sturdy battle

Occurs between these adverse cattle,

The secret cause, beyond all question,

Of aches ascribed to indigestion —

Whereas ’tis but two knobby rivals

Tugging together like sheer devils,

Till one gets mastery, good or sinister,

And comes in like a new prime-minister.

Each bias in some master node is:—

What takes M’Adam where a road is,

To hammer little pebbles less?

His organ of Destructiveness.

What makes great Joseph so encumber

Debate? a lumping lump of Number:

Or Malthas rail at babies so?

The smallness of his Philopro —

What severs man and wife? a simple

Defect of the Adhesive pimple:

Or makes weak women go astray?

Their bumps are more in fault than they.

These facts being found and set in order

By grave M. D.‘s beyond the Border,

To make them for some months eternal,

Were entered monthly in a journal,

That many a northern sage still writes in,

And throws his little Northern Lights in,

And proves and proves about the phrenos,

A great deal more than I or he knows:

How Music suffers, par exemple,

By wearing tight hats round the temple;

What ills great boxers have to fear

From blisters put behind the ear;

And how a porter’s Veneration

Is hurt by porter’s occupation;

Whether shillelaghs in reality

May deaden Individuality;

Or tongs and poker be creative

Of alterations in th’ Amative;

If falls from scaffolds make us less

Inclined to all Constructiveness:

With more such matters, all applying

To heads — and therefore head-ifying.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55