Contemplation upon the skull of the Sweep

Beats as it sweeps as it cleans

Sat in contemplation of events just gone, the cloak of melancholia draped close about my shoulders and dressed it could be said appropriately in my smoking jacket, sampling the scorched taint to the air. I held within my grasp the small white still cooling skull that had once been our chimney boy. Gazing into the black and empty sockets I pictured the cheerful scamp, always black with soot and weeping of eye, disappearing into one of the institutes many flues with a merry doff of his cap. Concentrating my faculties I broke through the imprisoning bars of human emotion and reached for the cold detached mantle of the scientific observer and let the work begin.

Once again the brass cranioscope begins a journey of discovery, carefully catching the cartography of crests and depressions indicative of personality and character, matching what has been observed in life with that that may be mapped in death. For each student is assigned a member of staff to observe and record their behaviours that knowledge may advance. So measurement complete it is to these notes I turn, for the greater part the accuracy is unerring and typical of one from the lower reaches. There was however a discrepancy in the area of love of beauty, hope and generation, all above the average and well developed, could we have had a potential Turner, Constable or Wordsworth hidden in plain sight?

Swirling my brandy and inhaling deeply of the restorative vapours I gaze once again into the empty sockets and wonder what might have been. Could other potential be out there unobserved among the masses? So a plan slowly materialises as the fine French spirit works it’s magic and lets fly the soul.

Henceforth I have determined that at the point of application all new personnel are to be mapped in the cranioscope. Then assessed and tested to determine their suitability to the role sought, also to seek any potential for development that may benefit both the individual and society, for as Buddha observed “What we think, we become…”

So in a better frame of mind I replace the skull upon my desk, sad not to have known the name of its owner, but resolved to have it sent for gilding to use as a paperweight, that it may stand as a reminder of the shining potential that may exist in the most unlikely receptacle.

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Fire atop the Institute – a note from the Master’s desk

This recounts the story of the night late last November that will live long in infamous memory to all present to witness. Whilst not about to advance your understanding of our studies here, it is nevertheless relevant to the life of the institute and bears telling, if only to show how human effort can overcome adversity.

It begins late one evening with Dunne, our man of all trades, sent roof-ward on an errand to adjust the aether condenser intake manifold. Achieving the crow’s nest he began winching in the sails to reduce the inflow as the aether ran in full and growing vigour, presenting danger to the Masters and Fellows at work below. With retrospect and a perhaps a judicious tap on the barometer, this could have been forestalled, the sails lowered early and danger averted.

A storm had gathered over a wild Irish sea, sweeping onto the Cheshire plain, with all the fury of the old gods dancing overhead. An angry Thorian bolt lashed from the sky, firing the rooftop and sweeping the unfortunate Dunne into the night, falling a full three storeys, into our prize winning rhododendron, Empire’s Gazumper (Rhodedendron Bardus), purple flowered and full scented. This incident of terror also produced a note of whimsy, as an apple Dunne had carried for sustenance took its own journey and alighted upon the spiked helmet of Count Otto von Raumstad. The Count, an Austro-Hungarian neo-mechanist and a strange person to find within an institute based on developing the learning’s of natural science, is not beloved of the student body and so much jocularity was enjoyed. Von Raumstad’s brows darkened and muttering imprecations in his native tongue, clicked his heels and marched away.

Our lighter moment over, thoughts turn back again to the flames dancing across the rooftop, immediate concerns were for the Bio-genetic Repositioning Faculty, where a puncture in our security provision could release a half complete specimen into the countryside. Already the village below was rousing, coming to our aid with buckets, and the optimism the lower orders have in the face of adversity. It would not do for them to be confronted by a half plant, half animal experiment lumbering toward them. Simple people they may be, but such as that would live long in their memory, and so it befalls their betters to protect their innocence on occasion.

Dunne was brushed down, steadied on his feet and dispatched back aloft along with the services of his boy and the chimney boy to assure the Institutes’ secrets and the confounding of the conflagration. Some moments later our heroic team could be seen, outlined silhouettes against a red-orange sky beating back with burning roof spars such creatures as had tried to make good their escape.

The Under-Master of Anatomy quickly aligned the fellows and the villagers into bucket chains to quench the blaze, it gladden the heart to watch the disparate classes working together with common aim for the good of all and the restoration of polite order. For after all as the House-Master remarked to me, watching as were, taking  tea under the arbour, “It is well for the fellows to work alongside the lesser classes that they may see fully their brutishness, that must be used, steered and driven as our maker intended”, something one would find hard to contend.

Napoleon reputedly said “When soldiers have been baptised in the fire of the battlefield they all have one rank in my eyes”, he was however a Corsican who wished to be thought of as French, which may tell all we should need to know.

Following several hours of honest endeavour the incident was closed, the Fellows sent to their beds, the Village thanked and dispatched with a tot of rum. Sterling work completed by our team aloft meant that nothing of an extraordinary nature was sighted from below and the experiments contained within the faculty. Sadly though not without exacting a toll, for three shadows became two as a semi-sentient tree, frantic with fear lashed out a palm frond claw pulling a smaller shape within, leaving a small scorched flat-cap to drift slowly downwards and rest upon the ground.

And so I to bed with orders given for an hour’s delay in the morrow’s breakfast service, some tidying and refurbishment to plan, all that remains is to collect a schilling from Dunne for a replacement rhododendron and initiate the search for a new chimney boy.

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‘Just Like A Chap’ by Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer – YouTube

Just Like A Chap’ by Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer – YouTube.

A chap, some style, some music, who needs anymore?

Click thru – worth a listen

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Case Notes – Amativeness, Miasma and Hackney Bill

Making my philanthropic rounds of the workhouse I was pressed by the Beagle to examine a young miscreant who presented with symptoms of weakness of the limbs, lingering torpor and a dullness of vision.

Introduced to Bill, a man so cockney I presumed it must be painful, indeed during the taking of case notes I exclaimed to Bill in some dismay, “One more, “Gor’ Blimey, Gov’nor” and you’ll suffer a strangulation of the cartiod spheres”

Leading our man to a sideward I was upon him immediately with my pocket cranioscope, always carried with me, and was about my business with some verve. Measurements taken, I like to follow-up with some further probing by hand, whilst questioning for further evidence, a full and documented background being the scientific way.

Working as a Hackney carriage driver it was to be expected that our subject suffered continual exposure to miasma, leading to his symptoms, building torpor and subsequent descent into ruin. I was not convinced, there was more to this than met the eye. Our captain of the Hansom cab placed into the hands of Matron to be thoroughly bled, additionally shut into a room with smoke of camphor to balance the humours, I to my calculation.

Bill exhibited over-large organs of secretiveness and amativeness, with notable deficiencies in the organs of adhesiveness, friendship and cautiousness. Releasing him from the smoke and brought back to the world of sensation, I set to some deft questioning of the patient. This deeper enquiry brought about the eventual confession and explanation of this case. His natural predisposition to secretiveness and physical love combined with an inability to socialise brought on an over-reliance on the solitary pleasures of the night, a habit he developed to pass the time whilst waiting for fares. So began a journey he had not expected to take, along the road to rack and ruin, to languish in the poorhouse, dependent upon the charity of others.

All is not lost, for with scientific method comes progress and so we may offer a route back to regular society. An additional bleeding and some firm and thorough leeching upon the organs of indiscretion set Bill upon the path to recovery.

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“Phrenology – Heads Up!” T-Shirts & Hoodies by xenostral | Redbubble


“Phrenology – Heads Up!” T-Shirts & Hoodies by xenostral | Redbubble.

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Powers and Organs of the Mind

Powers and Organs of the Mind.

via Powers and Organs of the Mind.

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Of observation

For every Phrenologist either practising or a seeker who is Phrenophile every outing can be an opportunity to sharpen their skills. A restful afternoon tea, a journey via public conveyance or even a post prandial ambulation can offer occasion for some correlation between discreet observation and behavioural trait.

Whilst etiquette and simple, natural good manners may prevent  interference under a ladies bonnet in public and rarely may one produce the cranioscope in the company of complete strangers, a windblown hat or a naked balding head proffers instance to advance our knowledge.

Consider; The person evading their fare are they displaying an excess of the selfish propensities, tempered with a deficiency of cautiousness? The lounge lizard of the tea dance pressing his unwanted suit is he displaying an excess of self esteem with a deficiency of the moral sentiments? Reference those indicative bumps and depressions, reflecting the organs of the brain, make an estimation of the relative magnitudes and note them, a circumspect measurement sighted along an outstretched palm will assist. Remember to include an index of class.

Observation is all, the method by which we progress our art, our dear science, as Arthur Conan Doyle remarked, Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details”

So get out, get about, observe, record, the laboratory of the World awaits.

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A rummage under the topper

Phrenology developed in the the late 1790s by a German Physician, Franz Joseph Gall, studies the organs of the brain as manifest by the outward appearance. This handy science much developed during Victorian’s reign (God bless her) allows a chap to checkout likely coves by virtue of a quick rummage under the topper.

“The science of picking the pocket through the scalp. It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with.”  – Ambrose Biere

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