Punch,  41 (1861), 103.

M. Blondin's Bumps



News-Commentary, Drollery


Phrenology, Physiology, Psychology, Amusement, Animal Behaviour

    Discusses a letter to 'one of our cheap contemporaries' by Frederick Bridges on the subject of the 'phrenological and physiological characteristics' of the tightrope walker Charles Blondin, whom he visited. Surprised by Bridges's claim that Blondin has no tendency towards 'stuck-up self-importance', and notes that, according to Bridges's phrenological high opinion of Blondin's intellectual faculties, his organisation 'would do pretty well for a Sir Issac Newton' as well as Blondin. Considers the appropriateness of Blondin's mental organs for his profession: for example, supposes that his large organs of cautiousness and reflectiveness would have to be balanced by 'the force of "combativeness" and the conscious ability of "constructiveness", "size", and "weight"' to stop him from 'tumbling off his perch'. Draws attention to the phrenological differences between Blondin and his rival Léotard and endorses Bridges's observation of the similarity between Blondin and the squirrel. Noting that both squirrels and monkeys are acrobats, observes that 'Anti-Phrenologists' might respond that 'neither the squirrel nor the monkey are endowed with the cerebral development of M. Blondin', but expects Bridges to reply by arguing that as 'it takes a wise man to make a fool, so also it asks a philosopher to emulate a jackanapes'. Notes that Bridges's evidence for Blondin's 'well-balanced' brain 'will be accepted without cavil'.

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