Backlog Studies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.
but unsatisfactory.  If I hear that a man is lymphatic or nervous-sanguine, I cannot tell therefrom whether I shall like and trust him.  He may produce a phrenological chart showing that his knobby head is the home of all the virtues, and that the vicious tendencies are represented by holes in his cranium, and yet I cannot be sure that he will not be as disagreeable as if phrenology had not been invented.  I feel sometimes that phrenology is the refuge of mediocrity.  Its charts are almost as misleading concerning character as photographs.  And photography may be described as the art which enables commonplace mediocrity to look like genius.  The heavy-jowled man with shallow cerebrum has only to incline his head so that the lying instrument can select a favorable focus, to appear in the picture with the brow of a sage and the chin of a poet.  Of all the arts for ministering to human vanity the photographic is the most useful, but it is a poor aid in the revelation of character.  You shall learn more of a man’s real nature by seeing him walk once up the broad aisle of his church to his pew on Sunday, than by studying his photograph for a month.

No, we do not get any certain standard of men by a chart of their temperaments; it will hardly answer to select a wife by the color of her hair; though it be by nature as red as a cardinal’s hat, she may be no more constant than if it were dyed.  The farmer who shuns all the lymphatic beauties in his neighborhood, and selects to wife the most nervous-sanguine, may find that she is unwilling to get up in the winter mornings and make the kitchen fire.  Many a man, even in this scientific age which professes to label us all, has been cruelly deceived in this way.  Neither the blondes nor the brunettes act according to the advertisement of their temperaments.  The truth is that men refuse to come under the classifications of the pseudo-scientists, and all our new nomenclatures do not add much to our knowledge.  You know what to expect—­if the comparison will be pardoned —­of a horse with certain points; but you wouldn’t dare go on a journey with a man merely upon the strength of knowing that his temperament was the proper mixture of the sanguine and the phlegmatic.  Science is not able to teach us concerning men as it teaches us of horses, though I am very far from saying that there are not traits of nobleness and of meanness that run through families and can be calculated to appear in individuals with absolute certainty; one family will be trusty and another tricky through all its members for generations; noble strains and ignoble strains are perpetuated.  When we hear that she has eloped with the stable-boy and married him, we are apt to remark, “Well, she was a Bogardus.”  And when we read that she has gone on a mission and has died, distinguishing herself by some extraordinary devotion to the heathen at Ujiji, we think it sufficient to say, “Yes, her mother married into the Smiths.”  But this knowledge comes of our experience of special families, and stands us in stead no further.

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Backlog Studies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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