Autograph letter signed to Thos. Martineau Jr. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim.
Autograph letter signed to Thos. Martineau Jr.

Autograph letter signed to Thos. Martineau Jr.

Publisher Information: 1815.

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar (1776-1832). Autograph letter signed to Thomas Martineau Junior (1795-1824). 2pp. plus integral address leaf. London, 18 April 1815. Lacuna repaired where seal was broken (not affecting text), remains of mounting slip on address leaf, but very good.

From J. G. Spurzheim, co-developer with Gall of the pseudoscience of phrenology, which holds that a person’s character and personality traits can be determined by reading the bumps and fissures of the skull; it is credited with furthering the development of neuroscience by promoting the concept of localization of function in the brain. His correspondent was Thomas Martineau Jr., surgeon and founder of the Norfolk and Norwich Eye Infirmary, who was apparently interested in engaging Spurzheim to lecture on phrenology. Martineau, a member of the prominent Martineau family of Norwich, was the older brother of Harriet Martineau (1802-76), the famous political writer and social theorist, and of theologian and philosopher James Martineau (1805-1900). Both Harriet and James wrote about phrenology extensively, with Harriet endorsing the doctrine in the second edition of her Letters on Mesmerism (1851) and James taking a more skeptical view, e.g. in his Essays Philosophical and Political (1870). Spurzheim’s 1815 letter thus documents one of the earliest connections between the Martineau family and phrenology.

After collaborating with Gall on several phrenological works, Spurzheim set up on his own as a lecturer and writer on phrenology, traveling extensively throughout Britain and Europe. In the present letter he discusses the content of his lectures and sets out his terms:

". . . I am aware that no one will and can subscribe without knowing the time when the Lectures are to be delivered. I now foresee that I cannot go to Norwich during this Summer. I will, therefore, answer at least your other questions. I show the structure of the brain and deliver, besides, twelve Lectures on the practical part of our doctrine; thirty subscribers are requested before I begin a course; the price of a Ticket is two guineas; the Tickets are transferable. I am indifferent about the Lecturing-hour, but it must be fixed in the list of Subscribers, otherwise there are always who object against any hour. I lecture at least four times a well; if I can lecture every day, except Sundays, the better."

Book Id: 45033

Price: $2,000.00

See all items by