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The Pocket Lavater; or, The Science of Physiognomy To which is added an inquiry into the analogy existing between brute and human physiognomy

The Pocket Lavater; or, The Science of Physiognomy
To which is added an inquiry into the analogy existing between brute and human physiognomy
Category: Physiognomy
Title: The Pocket Lavater; or, The Science of Physiognomy To which is added an inquiry into the analogy existing between brute and human physiognomy
Release Date: 2018-04-23
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 14
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Some typographical errors have been corrected.

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[Imageunavailable: T. G. LAVATER.]


A N   I N Q U I R Y

Embellished with 44 Copperplate heads.

Published by Van Winkle & Wiley.1817.


Southern District of New-York, ss.

BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the first day of May, in the forty-first yearof the Independence of the United States of America, Van Winkle & Wiley,of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book,the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words and figuresfollowing, to wit:

“The Pocket Lavater, or, the Science of Physiognomy. To which is added,An Inquiry into the Analogy existing between Brute and HumanPhysiognomy, from the Italian of Porta. Embellished with 14 Copperplateheads.”

In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled, “Anact for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps,charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, duringthe times therein mentioned,” and also, to an act entitled, “An act,supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement oflearning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to theauthors and proprietors of such copies, during the times thereinmentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing,engraving and etching historical and other prints.”

Clerk of the Southern District of New-York.



The public are here presented with a translation from the French of the“Pocket Lavater,” a work which has become highly popular in France, andwhich has run through successive and repeated editions.

The attention which the French have, of late, paid to Physiognomy, maybe ascribed not only to the infatuating nature, and intrinsic excellenceof that science, but, also, to adventitious circumstances. France, or,more properly, its metropolis, has, within a few years, become, as itwere, the immense stage on which all the varieties of human aspect andaction have been exhibited. Their painters, at present, employ thepencil, not on pieces of ancient history or mythological fiction, but indesignating the various national physiognomies, costumes, and{iv}conformation of body, which Paris now presents, assembled from allEurope, and from some parts of Asia. The Physiognomist has there anample scope for the study and enlargement of his Science: the Britonmelancholy amidst success—the Frenchman happy amidst adversity—thephlegmatic German, the choleric Russian, the proud Spaniard, the vainPole, and the grave and jealous Turk; these parading her streets andgardens, or thronging her Caffées, must present a group, whose motleyand various character mocks both narrative and description. All of theseare distinguished from each other by a difference of countenance,language, dress, habits, customs, and manners; yet the philosopherobserves in all these but one being under different modifications.

This edition is enriched by an ingenious inquiry into the existinganalogy between brute and human physiognomy, from the Italian of Porta,whose observations on national character, although written threecenturies ago, are found correct at the present day.


The plates which accompany this work, are designed, and faithfullyexecuted, after those which accompany the Paris edition.

The Publishers, in submitting this work to the public, will beinfluenced by its success to the publication of the “Female Lavater,” awork of established merit, and which forms a counterpart to the present{3}{2}volume.


Nothing is more common than to hear the study of physiognomy condemnedas being calculated to mislead men in their judgments of each other, andthe impossibility of its being reduced to a science; yet, nothing ismore universally prevalent, in all classes of society, than formingjudgments from the appearances of the face. How often do we hear theseobservations—“He has an open countenance”—“His countenance isforbidding”—“That man has an honest face”—“His looks are enough forme”—“Rogue is depicted in his countenance,” “That bewitchingeye”—“That stupid face,” and many other expressions of the kind. Thisproves that, although differences of opinion may be entertainedrespecting physiognomy, all men are, in the true signification of theterm, physiognomists. We shall here proceed to point out some of itsadvantages.{4}

Whether a more certain, more accurate, more extensive, and thereby, amore perfect knowledge of man, be, or be not profitable; whether it be,or be not, advantageous to gain a knowledge of internal qualities fromexternal form and feature, is certainly a question deserving of inquiry.

It may be asked, Is knowledge, its extension and increase, ofconsequence to man? This question, it is presumed, can receive but oneanswer from all unprejudiced persons: for, as certainly as man ispossessed of corporeal strength, so certain is it that to exercisestrength is necessary. As certainly as he has the faculties, power, andwill, to love, so certain is it that it is necessary he should love.Equally certain is it, that if man has the faculties, power, and will,to obtain wisdom, that he should exercise those faculties for theattainment of wisdom.

Mutual intercourse is the thing of most consequence to mankind, who aredestined to live in society. The knowledge of man is the soul of thisintercourse—that which imparts to it animation, pleasure, and profit.This knowledge is, in some degree, inseparable from, because necessaryto, all men. And how shall we, with greater ease and certainty, acquirethis know{5}ledge than by the aid of physiognomy, understood in its mostextensive sense, since, in so many of his actions, man isincomprehensible?

Physiognomy unites hearts, and forms the most durable, the most divinefriendships; nor can friendship discover a more solid foundation than inthe fair outlines and noble features of certain countenances.

Physiognomy is the very soul of wisdom, since it elevates the mutualpleasures of intercourse, and whispers to the heart when it is necessaryto speak—when to be silent; when to forewarn—when to excite; when toconsole—when to reprehend.

But to enumerate all the advantages that are derived from the study ofphysiognomy would require a volume. We shall, therefore, conclude theseprefatory remarks by adding testimonies, from the highest authorities,in favour of that science, which Lavater, in his essay, introduces inthe following manner:

“To support the feeble among my readers, and to furnish the strongwith such arguments as are most convenient to their disputes withthe feeble, I shall produce witnesses, of more or less importanceamong the learned and wise, in{6} the company of whom I shall deem itan honour to be despised. They will be few, and not conclusive;but, however, may to many appear of consequence, and be unexpected:

“The countenance of the wise sheweth wisdom, but the eyes of a foolare in the ends of the earth.”—Prov. xvii. 24.

“Though the wicked man constrain his countenance, the wise candistinctly discern his purpose.”—Prov. xxi. 29.

“The heart of man changeth his countenance, whether it be for goodor evil; and a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance.”—Eccl.xiii. 25.

“A man may be known by his look; and one that hath understanding,by his countenance, when thou meetest him.”—Eccl. xix. 29.

“We know that nothing passes in the soul which does not producesome change in the body; and particularly, that no desire, no actof willing, is exerted by the soul without some correspondingmotion, at the same time, taking place in the body. All changes ofthe soul originate in the soul’s essence, and all changes in thebody in the body’s essence. The body’s essence consists in theconformation of its mem{7}bers; therefore, the conformation of thebody, according to its form, and the form of its constituentmembers, must correspond with the essence of the soul. In likemanner must the varieties of the mind be displayed in the varietiesof the body. Hence, the body must contain something in itself, andin its form, as well as in the form of its parts, by which anopinion may be deduced concerning the native qualities of the mind.I repeat, native qualities; for the question here does not concernthose qualities derived from education, or by instructiveconversation. Thus considered, the art of judging man by the formof his members, and of his whole body, usually called physiognomy,is well founded.

“The lines of the countenance constitute its expression; whichexpression is always true when the mind is free from constraint:these lines, therefore, must discover what the natural inclinationsare, when seen in their true and native position.”—Wolf.

“What is the fairest countenance, disfigured by the hateful vicesof lust, anger, falsehood, envy, avarice, pride, and discontent?What can external marks of decorum effect when an{8} ignoble andinsignificant mind is depicted in the countenance? The most certainmeans of rendering the face beautiful, is to beautify the mind, andto purify it from vice. He who would make his countenanceintelligent must so first make his mind. He who would impart to theface its most fascinating charms, must store the mind with religionand virtue, which will diffuse over it every expression of sublimecontent.”—Gillert.

“Where is the hand that shall grasp that which resides beneath theskull of man? Who shall approach the surface of that now tranquil,now tempestuous, abyss! Like as the Deity has ever been adored insacred groves, so is the Lebanon, the Olympus of man, that seat ofthe secret power of the divinity, overshadowed. We shudder atcontemplating the powers contained in so small a circumference, bywhich a world may be enlightened, or a world destroyed.

“Through those two inlets of soul, the eye and ear, how wonderfulare the worlds of light and sound, the words and images that findentrance!

“How significant are the descending locks that shade this mountain,this seat of the gods!{9} their luxuriance, their partition, theirintermingling!

“The head is elevated upon the neck. Olympus resting upon aneminence in which are united freedom and strength, compression andelasticity, descriptive of the present and the future. The neck itis that expresses, not what man was originally, but what he is, byhabit or accident, become; whether erect in defence of freedom,stretched forth and curbed in token of patient suffering, rising aHerculean pillar of fortitude, or sinking between the shoulders,the image of degradation; still it is incontestably expressive ofcharacter, action, and truth.

“Let us proceed to the countenance, in which shine forth mind anddivinity.

“On the front appear light and gloom, joy and anxiety, stupidity,ignorance, and vice. On this brazen table are deeply engraved everycombination of sense and soul. I can conceive no spectator to whomthe forehead can appear uninteresting. Here all the graces revel,or all the Cyclops thunder! Nature has left it bare, that, by it,the countenance may be enlightened or darkened.

“At its lowest extremities, thought appears to be changed into act.The mind here collects{10} the powers of resistance. Here reside thecornua addita pauperi. Here headlong obstinacy and wiseperseverance take up their fixed abode.

“Beneath the forehead are its beauteous confines the eyebrows; arainbow of promise, when benignant; and the bent bow of discord,when enraged; alike descriptive, in each case, of interior feeling.

“I know not any thing which can give more pleasure, to an accurateobserver, than a distinct and perfectly arched eyebrow.

“The nose imparts solidity and unity to the whole countenance. Itis the mountain that shelters the fair vales beneath. Howdescriptive of mind and character are its various parts; theinsertion, the ridge, the cartilage, the nostrils, through whichlife is inhaled!

“The eyes, considered only as tangible objects, are by their formthe windows of the soul, the fountains of light and life. Merefeeling would discover that their size and globular shape are notunmeaning. The eye-bone, whether gradually sunken, or boldlyprominent, equally is worthy of attention; as likewise are thetemples, whether hollow or smooth. That region of the face whichincludes the eyebrows,{11} eye, and nose, also includes the chiefsigns of soul; that is, of will, or mind, in action.

“The occult, the noble, the sublime, sense of hearing, has natureplaced sideways, and half concealed. Man ought not to listenentirely from

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