No. 275. Tuesday, January 15, 1712. Addison.

--tribus Anticyris caput insanabile--

I was Yesterday engaged in an Assembly of Virtuosos, where one of them produced many curious Observations which he had lately made in the Anatomy of an Human Body. Another of the Company communicated to us several wonderful Discoveries, which he had also made on the same Subject, by the Help of very fine Glasses. This gave Birth to a great Variety of uncommon Remarks, and furnished Discourse for the remaining Part of the Day.

The different Opinions which were started on this Occasion, presented to my Imagination so many new Ideas, that by mixing with those which were already there, they employed my Fancy all the last Night, and composed a very wild Extravagant Dream.

I was invited, methoughts, to the Dissection of a Beaus Head and of a Coquets Heart, which were both of them laid on a Table before us. An imaginary Operator opened the first with a great deal of Nicety, which, upon a cursory and superficial View, appeared like the Head of another Man; but upon applying our Glasses to it, we made a very odd Discovery, namely, that what we looked upon as Brains, were not such in reality, but an Heap of strange Materials wound up in that Shape and Texture, and packed together with wonderful Art in the several Cavities of the Skull. For, as Homer tells us, that the Blood of the Gods is not real Blood, but only something like it; so we found that the Brain of a Beau is not real Brain, but only something like it.

The Pineal Gland, which many of our Modern Philosophers suppose to be the Seat of the Soul, smelt very strong of Essence and Orange-flower Water, and was encompassed with a kind of Horny Substance, cut into a thousand little Faces or Mirrours, which were imperceptible to the naked Eye, insomuch that the Soul, if there had been any here, must have been always taken up in contemplating her own Beauties.

We observed a long Antrum or Cavity in the Sinciput, that was filled with Ribbons, Lace and Embroidery, wrought together in a most curious Piece of Network, the Parts of which were likewise imperceptible to the naked Eye. Another of these Antrums or Cavities was stuffed with invisible Billetdoux, Love-Letters, pricked Dances, and other Trumpery of the same Nature. In another we found a kind of Powder, which set the whole Company a Sneezing, and by the Scent discovered it self to be right Spanish. The several other Cells were stored with Commodities of the same kind, of which it would be tedious to give the Reader an exact Inventory.

There was a large Cavity on each side of the Head, which I must not omit. That on the right Side was filled with Fictions, Flatteries, and Falshoods, Vows, Promises, and Protestations; that on the left with Oaths and Imprecations. There issued out a Duct from each of these Cells, which ran into the Root of the Tongue, where both joined together, and passed forward in one common Duct to the Tip of it. We discovered several little Roads or Canals running from the Ear into the Brain, and took particular care to trace them out through their several Passages. One of them extended itself to a Bundle of Sonnets and little musical Instruments. Others ended in several Bladders which were filled either with Wind or Froth. But the latter Canal entered into a great Cavity of the Skull, from whence there went another Canal into the Tongue. This great Cavity was filled with a kind of Spongy Substance, which the French Anatomists call Galimatias, and the English, Nonsense.

The Skins of the Forehead were extremely tough and thick, and, what very much surprized us, had not in them any single Blood-Vessel that we were able to discover, either with or without our Glasses; from whence we concluded, that the Party when alive must have been entirely deprived of the Faculty of Blushing.

The Os Cribriforme was exceedingly stuffed, and in some Places damaged with Snuff. We could not but take notice in particular of that small Muscle which is not often discovered in Dissections, and draws the Nose upwards, when it expresses the Contempt which the Owner of it has, upon seeing any thing he does not like, or hearing any thing he does not understand. I need not tell my learned Reader, this is that Muscle which performs the Motion so often mentioned by the Latin Poets, when they talk of a Man's cocking his Nose, or playing the Rhinoceros.

We did not find any thing very remarkable in the Eye, saving only, that the Musculi Amatorii, or, as we may translate it into English, the Ogling Muscles, were very much worn and decayed with use; whereas on the contrary, the Elevator, or the Muscle which turns the Eye towards Heaven, did not appear to have been used at all.

I have only mentioned in this Dissection such new Discoveries as we were able to make, and have not taken any notice of those Parts which are to be met with in common Heads. As for the Skull, the Face, and indeed the whole outward Shape and Figure of the Head, we could not discover any Difference from what we observe in the Heads of other Men. We were informed, that the Person to whom this Head belonged, had passed for a Man above five and thirty Years; during which time he Eat and Drank like other People, dressed well, talked loud, laught frequently, and on particular Occasions had acquitted himself tolerably at a Ball or an Assembly; to which one of the Company added, that a certain Knot of Ladies took him for a Wit. He was cut off in the Flower of his Age by the Blow of a Paring-Shovel, having been surprized by an eminent Citizen, as he was tendring some Civilities to his Wife.

When we had thoroughly examined this Head with all its Apartments, and its several kinds of Furniture, we put up the Brain, such as it was, into its proper Place, and laid it aside under a broad Piece of Scarlet Cloth, in order to be prepared, and kept in a great Repository of Dissections; our Operator telling us that the Preparation would not be so difficult as that of another Brain, for that he had observed several of the little Pipes and Tubes which ran through the Brain were already filled with a kind of Mercurial Substance, which he looked upon to be true Quick-Silver.

He applied himself in the next Place to the Coquets Heart, which he likewise laid open with great Dexterity. There occurred to us many Particularities in this Dissection; but being unwilling to burden my Readers Memory too much, I shall reserve this Subject for the Speculation of another Day.


Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 300.
'A head, no hellebore can cure.'