Text: N. C. Brooks (???), “The Atlantis [page 5]” [Text-02], American Museum (Baltimore, MD), vol. II, no. 1, January 1839, pp. 37-41


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[page 37, unnumbered:]

THE ATLANTIS.

BY P. PROSPERO, LL. D.

(Continued.)

CHAPTER XIV.

The No. of the Portico in Saturnia.

THE production laced in my hands by Sterne, which was published in the daily journal of Saturnia, was the following, which, as I was pleased with it, and think it may be useful at all times, I carefully preserved.

[FOR THE PORTICO.]

MR. EDITOR — A few days ago, I received, through the politeness of a friend, a treatise upon Geology, another upon Phrenology, and a third upon what the author denominates Ornithicknology. In the first of these works, the author undertakes to show from a variety of fossil remains of animals and vegetables — the first of dimensions vastly greater than any of those species at present subsisting upon the earth — that this our planet must have existed long anterior to the period assigned for its origin, according to the vulgar interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. He supposes that these singular animals which now are extinct, were among the number of those generations which have followed each other in succession, during the lapse of unnumbered ages. Neither the philosopher nor the christian, can have any insuperable objection to the doctrine, that the universe, and the solar system, may have subsisted for any number of years conceivable by the human imagination, or even from eternity, since the declaration in Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” is the same as that in St. John, “In the beginning was the Word,” which all agree refers back the origin of the Second Person in the Trinity to eternity. But I know of no doctrine which could be broached, within the pale of the christian church, more favorable to the system of Atheism, than that which is entertained in late treatises upon Geology, that the Creator has from the beginning, put forth repeated successions of animals and vegetables, each last series of which, are improvements [page 38:] upon the former. Must the Almighty exercise his apprentice hand, before he discovers the skill and perfection of a master? There is not the slightest ground in any lessons of science, deduced from experience and observation, for believing that the species of animals now subsisting upon the earth, are not precisely, the same as have occupied it from the creation. — There is the strongest reason for the opinion, that nature has never yet allowed a species to become extinct. And as to that portion of this work upon Geology, which relates to what these new and unfledged interpreters of nature have denominated Ornithicknology, or an attempt to ascertain the size of birds and animals, by marks which the imaginations of men construe into prints of their feet in rocks and sandstones, we should think it too egregious foolery and trifling with our understandings, to find any abettors or apologists, among an educated and intelligent community. Such enquiries are the mere shadow of a shade; and if we deem these strictures merited upon those literary empiricks who thus undertake to mislead the understandings of men in matters of science and philosophy, what shall we say of those charlatans who go about our city and country, delivering lectures and exhibiting delineated heads, in illustration of phrenology, and professing from outward suns upon the skull, to interpret the faculties, affections and dispositions of the mind? Such pretenders to science, would transform the venerable Minerva of her temple into a fortune-telling gipsy. The author of these animadversions is no enemy to phrenology or geology, when they are rightly comprehended and wisely cultured. The one may be made subsidiary to the science of the mind, and the other should reveal to us the treasures that are concealed in the bowels of the earth, without adventuring upon those wild speculations about cosmogony, or the form in which the earth was created, and the changes it has undergone, which are evidently above the reach of the human mind.

We cannot conclude this list of crudities, without referring to another practice now gaining prevalence in our country, that of exhibiting sleeping beauties under the influence of animal magnetism, or other species of excitement, during which time, they are said to become spiritual somnambulists, and able to pay visits in fancy to distant. places, recognize persons they never saw, an ci describe scenes they never witnessed. Do these impudent pretenders to miracles, and deceivers of the people, know that the power which they claim, amounts to a prerogative above that of omniscience, and that the very assumption is rank impiety? Doctor Clarke, in defending [page 39:] the opinion of Newton against the objections of Leibnitz, expressly it that the Divine mind can only perceive where It is present, and of course, his omnipresence is the foundation of his omniscience. He could not know what took place in a portion of space that was not pervaded by his presence. But these magnetic somnambulists can discern and describe things they never saw, and travel over countries they never beheld! Would we suppose that men of sense could be deluded by such flimsy pretences? When science has unpeopled the world of witches, ghosts, apparitions, hobgoblins, and all supernatural sights and superstitious fooleries, shall she not immediately explode these most stupid, if not the most pernicious, of all impostures? The report made many years ago, to the king of France, by Doctor Franklin, and all illustrious committee of learned men, upon Mesmer’s animal magnetism, is one of the finest specimens of philosophical demonstration extant, and ought forever to have precluded all future attempts of this kind.

Thus far we have endeavored by solid argument and just considerations, to correct the several errors and abuses to which we have alluded; but a friend who sent us the following parody or pasquinade, has taken the most advisable expedient to sink those follies into utter disrepute and contempt. Upon an occasion in which one of these lectures upon phrenology and interpreters of heads, sent him a card indicating the time and place in which he would display his gifts, and as usual extolled the powers of his art, and the encouragement he and his productions had met with in many, countries, this friend of mine published in the paper, which contained the advertisement comprised in the card, the following exact parody, confining himself strictly to the original as to all the particulars of thought and language, to which reference is made.

RINOSOPHIA, OR NOSE-OLOGY. — A great discovery in the science of phrenology, which will be explained to the public in a series of lectures upon Noseology, or as the Greeks call it, Rinosophia, accompanied by an examination of noses, as a practical test and demonstration of, the truth of the science; by Horatius B. Scriblerus, a practical Nose-ologist, and lineal descendant of the celebrated Martinets and Cornelius Scriblerus.

The first of the series of lectures, will be delivered in the State House of this town, upon the approaching festival of the church, to commence at 5 o’clock in the evening.

Suffice it for the present, that Mr. Scriblerus should inform [page 40:] the inhabitants of the city of Saturnia, that the science of Rinosophia or Noseology, is an attempt to simplify that of phrenology, or rather craniology, and instead of deducing its principles from an examination of the whole head and brain, the interior machinery of which nature has naughtily hidden from the eye of the philosopher, very wisely confines its researches to the observation of that external organ which is proverbially exposed to the inspection of all observers. Mr. Scriblerus will undertake to show that from the organic structure of the nose, together with the lilies and angles, may be determined all the propensities, faculties, affections and prevailing dispositions of the heart acid mind. In fact, the fundamental principles of this science, have been long recognized in the republic of letters, though never before, as Mr. Scriblerus flatters himself, so fully unfolded and happily applied to practical purposes. Who has not heard of the Grecian nose, the Roman nose, the aquiline, the pug, the flat nostril, and the sharp projecting; bill, which indicates the scolding woman, with various other modifications of structure too tedious to enumerate, and which language inadequately distinguishes? These several forms are known to present significant indications of either the great and virtuous, or the ignoble and debating properties of our nature, insomuch that Lavater might well pronounce of Cicero’s, that it was worth a kingdom, But we have not time in this brief address, to discuss the merits or this newly discovered science, or illustrate and recommend its maxims. For confirmation of its truth, and to satisfy an enlightened community that it is deeply founded in the Baconian method of investigation, we need only refer those who are inclined to incredulity, to the celebrated Nose that made its appearance in the town of Strasburg, and awoke such pother and confusion in the schools of science, and if we may credit the veritable history of Tristram Shandy, set all the philosophers of that age most keenly by the ears. Should not this sin-te instance prove entirely satisfactory, we would direct our readers to the more authentic history of the learned Taliacotius, as related in, the Hudibras, who adopted as wise as it was an extraordinary expedient, to supply to his patients this important organ of perception, when they were deprived of it, from the moat honorable pieces of flesh out of the bodies of Porters.

It may be proper to add to the foregoing brief statement, that in order to gratify the literary curiosity of the good people of Saturnia, it is the intention of Mr. Scriblerus, during his course of lectures, to exhibit to them enormous [page 41:] fossil remains of Noses, derived from Dr. Buckland’s collection, which afford undoubted indications that they are vestiges of a former world which subsisted millions of years anterior to the fol matron of the present race of animals. He will show, moreover, upon the noses of Noah and his family, which are in his possession, the most incontestible goofs, by ornithicknological demonstration, or from the prints of birds‘ feet which may be clearly deciphered, that birds must have lighted upon the noses of this patriarchal family, during their residence in the Ark, which were as high at least as the steeple of St Paul’s Church. Mr. Scriblerus will conclude these interesting lectures, by demonstrating that not only is the nose of man the great seat and organ of sensation and thought, and not the pineal gland as Des Cartes dreamed, but that with this organ, also, we can taste, hear and see; and of consequence, that it was with this instrument and not with the lower stomach, as stated in our journals, that the celebrated French lady, who lately occasioned so much conversation in Paris, was enabled to perform such wonders in hearing and ill vision. That our magnetized sleeping beauties in like manner, are led by the nose, through all their spiritual peregrinations and somnambular visions, any one may prove to his satisfaction, by only giving a tolerably stout pinch of that organ, during their artificial slumbers.

N. B. Mr. Scriblerus has taken a room in Mr. Combe’s residence, Washington St. in which lie will receive visitors for the examination of their noses. Should any person have been unfortunately deprived of this invaluable feature of the human farce divine, like Tycho Brahe of old, it is suggested that our porters Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, are ready to submit to the Talicotian operation to accommodate ladies and gentlemen with supplemental noses. Treatises upon noseology may be purchased at the same time for a few cents, that have reached an hundred editions, in Germany and France. It is earnestly requested that ladies will refrain from snuff on the day in which they present their noses for inspection and examination.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - AM, 1838] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Rejected - The Atlantis [page 5] [Text-02]