Phrenological bust by LN FowlerPhrenological bust by LN FowlerThe History of Phrenology on the Web

by John van Wyhe

George Combe's A System of Phrenology, 5th edn, 2 vols. 1853.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].


THIS organ is situated near the middle of each parietal bone, where the ossification of the bone generally commences.

The figures represent its appearance when large and small.


Cingalese boy.

Dr Gall was acquainted at Vienna with a prelate, a man of excellent sense and considerable intellect. Some persons had an aversion towards him, because, through fear of compromising himself, he infused into his discourses interminable reflections, and delivered them with unsupportable slowness. When any one began a conversation with him, it was very difficult to bring it to a conclusion. He paused continually in the middle of his sentences, and repeated the beginning of them two or three times before proceeding farther. A thousand times he pushed the patience of Dr Gall to extremity. He never happened by any accident to give way to the natural flow of his ideas ; but recurred a hundred times to what he had already said, consulting with himself whether he could not amend it in some point. His manner of acting was in conformity with his manner of speaking. He prepared with infinite precautions for the most insignificant

A a


undertakings. He subjected every connexion to the most rigorous examination and calculation before forming it. This case, however, by itself was not sufficient to arrest the attention of Dr Gall ; but this prelate happened to be connected in public affairs with a councillor of the regency, whose habitual irresolution had procured for him the nickname of Cacadubio. At the examination of the public schools, these two individuals were placed side by side, and Dr Gall sat in the seat immediately behind them. This arrangement afforded him an excellent opportunity of observing their heads. The circumstance which most forcibly arrested his attention was, that both their heads were very broad in the upper, lateral, and hind parts, the situation of the organ in question. The dispositions and intellectual qualities of these two men were, in other respects, very different ; but they resembled each other in circumspection, and also in this particular development of head. The coincidence between them in this point suggested the idea to Dr Gall, that irresolution, indecision, and circumspection, might be connected with certain parts of the brain. Subsequent reflection on this disposition, and observation of additional facts, converted the presumption into certainty. It is a principle in Phrenology, that the absence of one quality never engenders another. Every feeling is something positive in itself, and is not a mere negation of a different emotion. Fear, then, being a positive sentiment, is not the mere want of courage ; and it appears to me that the faculty now under discussion produces that feeling. It causes the individual to apprehend danger ; and this leads him to hesitate before he acts, and to look to consequences that he may be assured of his safety. Dr Spurzheim names it " Cautiousness,"-which appellation I retain as sufficiently expressive, although the primitive feeling appears, on a rigid analysis, to be simply fear. Dr Gall says, " It was requisite that man and animals should be endowed with a faculty to enable them to foresee certain events, to give them a presentiment of certain circumstances,


and to prompt them to provide against danger. Without such a disposition, their attention would have been occupied only with the present ; and they would have been incapable of taking any measures with reference to the future." Accordingly, he describes the faculty which gives the tendency to these actions, as if it comprised something intellectual ; and he calls it " Circumspection, Foresight." Dr Spurzheim " does not believe that it foresees ; it is, in his opinion, blind, and without reflection, though it may excite the reflective faculties." This observation appears to me correct.

Dr Vimont names this the " Organ of Circumspection,''1 and attributes the sentiment of fear to the organ of the Love of Life, treated of on p. 292. He supports this opinion by the fact that the natural movement of the body, when threatened with danger, is to draw itself together downwards, as may be observed when a heavy object is seen falling on us from above, or when we approach the edge of a steep precipice, or look over the wall of a high tower, without a sufficient height of parapet to assure us of safety. I acknowledge that the movement which he describes is manifested when life is in danger, that it corresponds precisely with the situation of the organ of the Love of Life, and that this feeling is then powerfully and painfully affected ; but I beg leave to remark, that fear is a general emotion which may be conjoined in activity with any of the other faculties, and that in this instance it is obviously acting in combination with the instinct of self-preservation. I have seen a man in whom Acquisitiveness and Cautiousness were large, threatened with the loss of a considerable sum of money which he had lent on an insufficient mortgage, and he was in an ecstasy of fear ; yet, as his life was not in danger, he did not manifest the natural language before described. A run on a bank is a manifestation of fear in great activity in its creditors, yet men, in running to a banking-house to uplift then-deposits, do not draw their bodies down and together, as if

1 Traité de Phrenologie, tome ii. p. 167.


great beams were falling on them. I have seen a mother in whom Philoprogenitiveness and Cautiousness were both large, in a state of painful fear, because her beloved son had not returned from a neighbouring village at the hour in the evening at which she expected him ; and yet, as her own life was in no danger, she did not manifest the natural language before described. These terrors appeared to me to arise from Cautiousness acting in combination with the organs which were threatened with deprivation of their objects, and the natural language was that of fear. It is difficult to understand how the instinct of self-preservation, when acting in circumstances in which life is not in peril, even although combined with other organs, should produce the dread of losing money, or children, or friends, or fame. It appears more philosophical to regard the instinct of the love of life as a primitive feeling, manifested by its own organ ; and fear to be a distinct sentiment, also manifested by an organ peculiar to itself. On this latter supposition the mental phenomena mentioned can be more satisfactorily explained.

A full development of this organ is essential to a prudent character. It produces a cautious, circumspect, and considerate disposition of mind. Persons so organized, says Dr Gall, " are habitually on their guard ; they know that it is more difficult to sustain than to acquire reputation, and consequently, every new undertaking is prosecuted as carefully as the first. They look forward to all possible dangers, and are anxious to anticipate every occurrence ; they ask advice of every one, and often, after having received much counsel, remain undecided. They put great faith, in the observation, that, of a hundred misfortunes which befal us, ninety-nine arise from our own fault. Such persons never break any article ; they may pass their lives in pruning trees, or in working with sharp tools, without cutting themselves. If they see a vessel placed near the edge of the table, their nerves shrink. If they give credit, or indulge in gambling, they never lose large sums of money. Finally," says he, " they form a standing subject of criticism to their less con-


siderate neighbours, who look on their forebodings as extravagant, and their precautions as trifling and absurd."1

In treating of Cautiousness in his lectures on Phrenology, Dr Broussais introduces remarks on Cuvier and Dupuytren. Dupuytren was the celebrated surgeon in the Hotel Dieu, a man of great talents and decision of character. " He calculated all his actions,5' says Dr Broussais, "and all his words. He never used an expression, or executed a gesture, of which the effect was not foreseen. He practised one manner with the student,-another with the patient of the lower orders,-another with the patient of the higher class, -another was reserved for princes,-another, differently graduated, was exhibited towards his professional brethren, and to them alone,-and, finally, still another for the public in his gratuitous consultations. His head was enormously large in the region of Cautiousness, as appears in his cast. Cuvier also was a man who calculated all his actions, whose ambition was to raise himself at once by politics and science. He had Cautiousness extremely large."

When the organ is too large, it produces doubts, irresolution, and wavering ; and may lead to absolute incapacity for vigorous and decisive conduct. A great and involuntary activity of it produces a panic-a state in which the mind is hurried away by an irresistible emotion of fear, for which no adequate external cause exists.

The organ is almost uniformly large in children, and appears, from this circumstance, to be developed at an earlier age than many of the other organs. This is a wise provision of nature ; as caution is never more indispensable to the safety of the individual, than during the helpless years of infancy and childhood. The cut represents a top view of the skull of the Cingalese boy already figured on p. 369. Children possessing a large endowment

1 Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome iv. p. 320.


may be safely trusted to take care of themselves ; they will rarely be found in danger. When, on the other hand, the organs are small in a child, he will be a hapless infant ; fifty keepers will not supply the place of the instinctive guardianship performed by adequate Cautiousness. In a boy of six years of age it was very small, and he took off his clothes to leap into an old quarry full of water to recover his cap, which the wind had blown into it ; totally insensible to the danger, which was imminent, of being drowned. In some very young children, the organs are so prominent as to alarm mothers with the fear of disease or deformity. Water in the head indeed frequently shews itself by an enlargement of this part of the skull, but it is not uncommon for unskilful persons to mistake a natural and healthy development of the organ in question, for an indication of that malady.

In mature age, when the organ is very deficient, the individual is rash and precipitate. He is never apprehensive about the results of his conduct, and often proceeds to act without due consideration. Persons of this description are frequently of a gay, careless disposition, and engrossed entirely with the present ; they adopt rash resolutions, and enter upon hazardous enterprises, without deliberation or advice. In domestic life, misfortunes overtake them in consequence of their want of precaution. From constitutional recklessness they precipitate themselves against objects in the dark ; they break frangible articles, owing to want of precaution in arranging them ; and lose the money which they lend, by omitting to take proper security for repayment. Riding upon a slippery path, quite insensible to danger, their horse falls and deprives them of life. A cat, or other animal, overturns the candle which they have left burning, and sets their house on fire. In short, they are subject to interminable misfortunes, through want of caution in their conduct.1

This faculty produces a repressing influence, and, in esti-

1 Gall Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome iv. p. 319.


mating its effects, the faculties with which it is combined should be kept in view. An individual with large Acquisitiveness and Self-Esteem, which produce instinctive selfishness, was pointed out to me as remarkably careful of his own interest, although the organ of Cautiousness was deficient in his head. It was admitted, however, that his prudence consisted chiefly in resisting solicitations to perform generous actions, and to enter into suretiship ; but that, when a tempting prospect of gain was held out to him, although attended with great risk, he was liable to dash into the adventure, and in consequence frequently sustained severe losses. His natural dispositions rendered him little prone to excessive generosity, and in that respect no danger awaited him ; but if Cautiousness had been large, it would have kept him alive to the perils of speculation, and prompted him to prefer small and certain profits to the chances of great but uncertain gain.

Extreme and involuntary activity of this faculty produces internal sensations of dread and apprehension, highly distressing to the individual, although often very ridiculous in the eyes of ignorant spectators. The character of " the fearful man," depicted by Theophrastus, may be referred to as an excellent illustration. Many persons believe that the feelings of the mind depend upon the dictates of the understanding, and that individuals, if they would allow themselves to be convinced of the groundlessness of their apprehensions, might, by an act of volition, remove the terrors which oppress them. Such notions argue great ignorance of human nature. As easily can we remove a pain from the leg, by resolving to be quit of it, as can the unhappy sufferer under diseased Cautiousness, dispel the mental gloom by which he is afflicted.

A large development of this organ, combined with much Destructiveness, predisposes to self-destruction. Cautiousness does not produce suicide as a specific act ; but the sentiment, when stimulated to excess by disease of the organs,


gives rise to intense melancholy, anguish, and anxiety, and, by rendering life extremely miserable, indirectly prompts to this result. Hence the fact, that the best of men, and those in whose external circumstances no adequate motive can be found, are sometimes led to that fatal deed. Let no one suppose such an act done from mere error in judgment. It proceeds from internal and involuntary feelings of a diseased nature, of the misery and torment of which, no man who has never felt any thing similar, can form an accurate conception. The great ignorance of mankind in general, regarding the state of mind which predisposes to suicide, has arisen from the influence of the organs being entirely overlooked, and from the fact not being known, that disease in any of them deranges the character of the sane feeling which it serves to manifest, and often renders it independent of the will. Dr A. Combe examined a considerable number of suicides, in the Morgue at Paris, and found in them Hope generally small, with Cautiousness and Destructiveness large ; and I have seen several similar examples.1 Dr Vimont differs from this opinion, and ascribes the tendency to melancholy and to suicide, " à une mode d'organization particulière du système nerveux cérébral, augmenté sans doute par le dévellopement ou le défaut d'action de certaines facultés, mais dans des proportions qui n'ont pas été étudiées sur un assez grand nombre d'individus pour avoir tous les caractères d'une chose démontrée." I admit that diseased Cautiousness is not the only cause of suicide. I examined the head of a lad of fourteen years of age, who had just hanged himself in a fit of passion because his elder brother, with whom he lived, had given him a beating for staying out to unseasonable hours at night. In him the organs of Self-Esteem, Firmness, and Destructiveness, were very largely developed, while those of Reflection and the moral sentiments were deficient. But my observations warrant me in continuing to believe, that diseased Cautiousness, with deficient Hope,

1 See Phrenological Journal, vi. 77 ; ix. 136.


is one, and a very general cause, of the tendency to self-destruction. In certain states of cerebral excitement, however, the same tendency rushes into the mind, unconnected with melancholy, and I infer that, in these instances, the seat of the diseased affection is Destructiveness and the organ of the Love of Life.

Many instances of disease of this organ occur, not only in hospitals for the insane, but in private life. Dr Gall mentions, that, at Vienna, he attended two fathers of families in easy circumstances, who, nevertheless, were tormented night and day by the apprehension that their wives and children were exposed to die of hunger. The most earnest assurances of their friends were insufficient to make them comprehend that this fear was altogether chimerical. After their recovery, they could not bear to hear their condition mentioned, through terror of a relapse. Before their malady, they were known to be men of gloomy dispositions.

Pinel, under the head of Melancholy, mentions a variety of cases referrible to diseased Cautiousness. " A distinguished military officer," says he, "after fifty years of active service in the country, was attacked with disease. It commenced by his experiencing vivid emotions from the slightest causes : if, for example, he heard any disease spoken of, he immediately believed himself to be attacked by it ; if any one was mentioned as deranged in intellect, he imagined himself insane, and retired into his chamber full of melancholy thoughts and inquietude. Every thing became for him a subject of fear and alarm. If he entered into a house, he was afraid that the floor would fall, and precipitate him amidst its ruins. He could not pass a bridge without terror, unless impelled by the sentiment of honour for the purpose of fighting."

The forms in which this affection shews itself are numberless. It is in vain to address the understanding of the patient by argument ; because the disease consists in a disordered state of a corporeal organ, and the only consequence of the most irresistible demonstration to the intellect, would


be a change of the object of terror, but no alleviation of the feelings of painful apprehension itself.1

Dr Gall mentions, that this organ is possessed in a high degree by those of the lower animals which venture out only during the night, as owls and bats ; and also by those animals which place sentinels to warn them of approaching danger, as the wild goose, chamois, crane, starling, and buzzard. Among the lower animals, it is generally larger in females than in males ; and Dr Gall mentions some curious facts, illustrative of the greater manifestation of the faculty by the former than by the latter. He happened to kill so many as twenty squirrels, without finding a single female among them ; although it was not the season in which they are confined by the care of their young. He caught, during three years, forty-four cats in his garden, among which he found only five females. During one winter five hundred bears were killed in two provinces of Virginia, among which only two females were discovered. An account of the wolves destroyed in France from 1st January 1816 to 1st January 1817, was published officially by Count Gerardin, Captain of the Royal Chase : it shewed 1894 males, and only 522 females. Among the goats, the leader is always a female, and their safety, it will be recollected, arises from a high degree of circumspection. Among wild cattle, horses, and other animals which are defended by courage, the leader is uniformly a male, for, in this sex, Combativeness is usually larger. This fact, of females in general being more cautious than males, is corroborated by Captain Franklin, in his Journey to the Arctic Regions. " It is extraordinary,'' says he, " that although I made inquiries extensively among the Indians, I met with but one who said that he had killed a she-bear with young in the womb."

It has been remarked, in the way of criticism on these

1 See Dr Andrew Combe's Observations on Mental Derangement, p. 151, 267 ; and an Essay by him on the Seat and Nature of Hypochondriasis, in The Phrenological Journal, iii. 51. See also vol. ii. p. 75-8; ix. 66 ; and Transactions of the Phrenological Society, p. 313.


statements, that more males are produced by nature than females ; which is quite correct : but the excess of males does not extend to one twentieth part of these differences in the number of their deaths by violence. Dr Vimont mentions, that the situation of this organ differs in different species of animals, and he points out its precise locality in several of them. In birds distinguished for circumspection, the organ is found some lines above the middle portion of the posterior margin of the frontal bone. In quadrupeds it enlarges the middle portion of the parietal bone along its whole length. In the quadrumani its situation is the same as in man.

The metaphysicians, in general, do not treat of " fear," or of the instinctive tendency to take precautions against danger, as an original principle of the mind ; but its existence and utility are recognised by Lord Kames.1 " It is not," says he, " within the reach of fancy to conceive any thing more artfully contrived to answer its purpose, than the instinctive passion of fear, which, upon the first surmise of danger, operates instantaneously. So little doth the passion, in such instances, depend on reason, that it frequently operates in contradiction to it : a man who is not upon his guard cannot avoid shrinking at a blow, though he knows it to be aimed in sport ; nor avoid closing his eyes at the approach of what may hurt them, though conscious that he is in no danger."3 Dr Thomas Brown ranks melancholy among the primitive emotions, which is one of the effects of this faculty in a state of constant but not violent activity.

The organ is larger in the Germans, English, and Scotch, than in the Celtic French. Dr Vimont says, " In France it is not rare to see a pretty considerable number of heads presenting a feeble development of the organ of circumspection. I may indeed say that the mass of the nation presents the organ only in a moderate degree of development ; although

1 As to the manifestations of Cautiousness in the lower animals, see Lord Kames' Sketches, B. ii. Sk. i.

1 Elements of Criticism, 8th edit. 1805, vol. i. p. 68.


in a population of upwards of thirty millions, a considerable number of exceptions may be expected." I have remarked, that the French of the east and north-east departments of France, bordering on Germany, possess this organ larger than those of the departments of the middle of France. In the former departments the Teutonic brain is largely intermixed with the Celtic, and the heads of the people present a striking modification from this cause. The organ appears to be larger in the English than in the Turkish head. Mr Forster, a civil servant on the Madras Establishment, travelled over land from Bengal to England in the year 1782, disguised as a Turk. In all the numberless scenes through which he passed, he had the address successfully to maintain his disguise, except in one single instance, in which he was detected by an individual who was led to certainty in the discovery which he made, by examining the shape of the traveller's head. " A Georgian merchant,'' says Mr Forster, " who occupied the room next to mine (it was at Cashmere), and was a very agreeable neighbour, did not, I observed, give a ready credit to my story, which he cross-examined with some tokens of suspicion ; and one day having desired to look at my head, he decidedly pronounced it to be that of a Christian. In a future conversation he explained to me, and proved by comparison, that the head of a Christian is broad behind, and flatted out at the crown ;-that a Mahomedan's head grows narrow at the top, and, like a monkey's, has a conic form.1" This description indicates Cautiousness to be larger in the Christian.

The organ is large in Bruce, Hette, Burns, the Swiss, Scotch, Mummies, Hindoos,2 Cingalese,3 Peruvians, and Papuans ;* moderate in Bellingham, Mary Macinnes, and Negroes. The subjoined figures indicate a great develop-

1 Forster's Journey, vol. ii. p, 33.

3 Transactions of the Phren. Soc. p. 440, and Phren. Journ, viii. 528.

3 Phrenological Journal, vii. 638.

* Id. viii. 298 ; x. p. 7, 146, 493, 546; xii. C5, 289 ; xv. 35, 57.


ment of the organ. They are views of the skull of a Kandian, one of the Cingalese tribes in Ceylon.

The difference of breadth at this part between heads of the same general size, but presenting a large and small development of Cautiousness, frequently exceeds an inch and a half; and as the organ is particularly easy of observation, it deserves the attention of beginners.

The natural language of this faculty when predominantly active presents the following characteristics. The eyes are opened wide, the head turns horizontally from side to side, and the look is often directed all around. The countenance expresses anxiety, fear, or terror.

The organ is regarded as established.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].

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