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The Study of Human Nature

I am aware that some of my friends would advise omitting this brief chapter. The word phrenology is a term of contempt in the mouths of a certain class of wise men. No one can realize more thoroughly than I do, that phrenology is not a science, nevertheless it is worthy of thoughtful consideration. I have been a reader of the best and latest books on psychology. Thus far, these writers have made no large contributions to the art of analyzing character, barring the Binet and similar tests for intelligence.

Here is my story. Some time in July, 1869, when I was sixteen years of age, I read in a New York paper a small advertisement, "How to make a bad memory good, and a good memory better. Send ten cents to Jesse Harvey, New York". I ordered the booklet, only to discover that it was a brief treatise on mnemonics. In reading it, my eye caught sight of a footnote in which reference was made to "Memory" by O. S. Fowler, published by Fowler and Wells Company, New York, price one dollar, twenty-five cents.

Father would not, under any circumstances, purchase for me or permit me to purchase any other book than a school text. I picked ten quarts of blackberries, measuring them with my mother's tin quart cup. I told my father that it was very necessary for me to go to the village, three and a half miles distant to get the mail. I convinced him that I was expressing the goodness of my heart in making this walk of seven miles. Knowing nothing about the picking of the blackberries, he consented.

On my arrival at the post office, which was kept in a small grocery story by a Republican, Baptist deacon, I found to my dismay that he used a peck measure in determining the quantity of berries. He said, "You have only eight quarts."

I replied, "I picked ten quarts and you now have all of them."

He maintained that he was right. I then and there learned to distinguish between dry and liquid measure. I said, "I wish to order a book by mail and I must have one dollar and a quarter instead of one dollar."

He cheerfully said, "I will loan you the quarter." Taking the peck of berries he emptied them into a large shallow box with other blackberries.

I further observed that his measure for retailing was a tin quart cup like the cup I had used in measuring. He bought his berries "dry measure" and sold them "liquid measure" not forgetting to mark them "up". This was my second ethical jar in dealing with a church deacon who was diligent in business.

Purchasing a money order for one dollar and twenty-five cents, I mailed it to the Fowler and Wells Company. At the end of another week I very much desired to go after the mail. I was insistent that father should not go. Again he consented. My book, which had arrived, proved a God-send to me. It taught me that there are as many kinds of memories as there are kinds of mental activities. This was one book of a series of three on education from the phrenological standpoint.

In the autumn of the same year I attended a teachers' institute the last week of a two weeks' session at Waverly, New York, and through my mother's kindness took with me in an oilcloth carpet bag sufficient bread to keep me alive for one week at self-boarding. I had coaxed father to let me have money enough to pay for a week's board. I used this money for purchasing the other two books of the series.

My insatiable desire for self-improvement was aroused through the study of phrenology. It is only natural that I should have continued this study by purchasing additional books on the same subject. Ever since this initiation I have devoted much valuable time to the study of human nature. To this study I attribute no small part of my success in the educational field.

My enthusiasm in this line led me to publish in 1921 Dr. William Windsor's "Science of Character" at a total cost of several thousand dollars. This was not a good business investment, but in a small way, it has contributed to my knowledge of human nature. I am still of the opinion that phrenology contains some basic ideas that psychologists cannot afford to ignore.

O. S. Fowler and his brother L. N. Fowler were both graduates of Amherst College. They gave thousands of lectures in America and England. It is impossible to estimate the tremendous value of these public lectures.