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].


ALTHOUGH the eyes are affected agreeably or disagreeably by different modifications of the beams of light, or by colours, yet they do not conceive the relations of different colours-their harmony or discord-and they have no memory of them. Certain individuals are almost destitute of the power of perceiving colours, who yet have the sense of vision acute, and readily perceive other qualities in external bodies, as their size and form. This fact has been remarked by Mr Stewart. He says,-" In the power of conceiving colours, too, there are striking differences among individuals : and, indeed, I am inclined to suspect, that, in the greater number of instances, the supposed defects of sight in this respect ought to be ascribed rather to a defect in the power of conception. One thing is certain, that we often see men who are perfectly sensible of the difference between two colours when they are presented to them, who cannot give


names to these colours with, confidence, when they see them apart ; and are, perhaps, apt to confound the one with the other. Such men, it should seem, feel the sensation of colour like other men, when the object is present : but are incapable (probably in consequence of some early habit of inattention) to conceive the sensation distinctly, when the object is removed."1

In this quotation we have a specimen of the usual mode of conducting metaphysical speculations. When the most curious and perplexing phenomena of the mind are mentioned, and when we look anxiously for an explanation of them, ha bit or association is dragged in to solve the difficulty ; and this perhaps merely in a parenthesis, as if no difficulty existed.

By means of observation, we have discovered that individuals who have the part of the brain marked No. 26 largely developed, possess in a high degree the power of discriminating colours ; and, on this account, the phrenologist admits that power as a fundamental faculty of the mind.

Lord Jeffrey objected to this doctrine, that light is always coloured, indeed nothing else but colour ; and that it is impossible for any one to see acutely who cannot distinguish colours with equal success, because all visible objects must necessarily be distinguished by colour alone. The answer is, that the eye receives the external impression of light, and transmits it to the brain. The apparatus of transmission is the following. The retina transmits the impression to the optic nerve, and the optic nerve to the anterior pair of the corpora quadrigemina. All of these are necessary to the reception of the impressions of light. But these do not produce the perception of colour.3 The impressions must

1 Elements, ch. iii.

2 Mr Simpson, in an ingenious essay published in the Phrenological Journal, vol. x. p. 444, maintains that " Colour alone is seen by us ; and the only operation of light on the eye is painting a coloured picture on the retina. Turn where we will, colour, not mere light, meets us ; and all that light does for us is to make colour visible."

be communicated farther, to a particular convolution of the brain, the organ of colouring. The superior longitudinal commissure, lying above the corpus callosum, connects the anterior lobe with the posterior regions of the brain. The case is analogous to that of the ears transmitting sound to the organ of Tune. If the eye, optic nerve, and corpora quadrigemina,l be perfect, and the organ of Colouring deficient, the individual may be capable of distinguishing degrees of intensity of light, although he cannot discriminate differences of tint : and the former is sufficient to acute vision, as is proved by engraving and black chalk drawing ; in which form, distance, and expression, are successfully represented by mere differences of light and shade, or by different degrees of light independent of varieties of colour.

The faculty when powerful gives a delight in contemplating colours, and a vivid feeling of their harmony and discord. Those in whom the organ is deficient, experience little interest in colouring, and are almost insensible to difference of hues. In the Transactions of the Phrenological Society, p. 210, Dr Butter reports the case of Mr Robert Tucker, whose eye- sight was not deficient, and who was able neither to distinguish nor to recollect many of the primitive colours, even when shewn to him. " Orange he calls green, and green colours orange ; red he considers as brown, and brown as red, ; blue silk appears to him like pink, and pink of a light blue colour ; indigo is described as purple." The organ is reported to be decidedly deficient in this gentleman's head. The case of Mr James Milne, brass-founder in Edinburgh, is also peculiarly illustrative of this faculty ; and, as I obtained the facts from himself, they may be implicitly relied on.

Mr Milne's grandfather, on the mother's side, had a deficiency in the power of perceiving colours, but could distinguish forms and distance easily. On one occasion, this gentleman was desirous that his wife should purchase a beauti-

1 See pp. 25-6 of this vol.


fui green gown. She brought several patterns to him, but could never find one which came up to his views of the colour in question. One day he observed a lady passing on the street, and pointed out her gown to his wife, as the colour that he wished her to get ; when she expressed her astonishment, and assured him that the colour was a mixed brown, which he had all along mistaken for a green. It was not known till then that he was deficient in the power of perceiving colours.

Neither Mr Milne's father, mother, nor uncle on the mother's side, was deficient in this respect; so that the imperfection passed over one generation. In himself and his two brothers, however, it appeared in a decided manner ; while in his sisters, four in number, no trace of it is to be found ; as they distinguish colours easily. Mr Spankie, a cousin once removed, has a similar defect.1

Mr Milne is rather near-sighted, but never could find glasses to aid his defect. He rather excels in distinguishing forms and proportions ; and, although he cannot discover game upon the ground, from the faintness of his perception of colours, yet he is fond of shooting : when a boy, he was rather an expert marksman, when the birds were fairly visible to him in the air. He sees them, however, only in the sky-light ; and, on one occasion, when a large covey of partridges rose within ten or twelve yards of him, the back ground being a field of Swedish turnips, he could not perceive a single bird. His eye is convex to a considerable degree.

Mr Milne's defect was discovered in rather a curious manner. He was bound apprentice to a draper, and continued in his service for three years and a half. During two

1 I have examined the heads of Mrs Milne's brothers, who are deficient in the power, and in them the organ is evidently little developed. I have also examined its development in one of his sisters, and found no deficiency, but rather a fulness in the organ. Mr Lyon, a member of the Phrenological Society, states that he has examined the head of Mr Spankie, and found the organ rather deficient.


years, he fell into considerable mistakes about colours, but this was attributed to inexperience, and ignorance of the names of the tints. At length, however, when he was selling a piece of olive corduroy for breeches, the purchaser requested strings to tie them with ; and Mr Milne was proceeding to cut off what he considered the best match, when the person stopped him, and requested strings of the same colour as the cloth. Mr Milne begged him to point out a colour to please himself ; and he selected, of course, a green string. When he was gone, Mr Milne was so confident that he himself was right, and the purchaser wrong, that he cut off a piece of the string which he intended to give, and a piece of that which had been selected, and carried both home, with a piece of the cloth also, and shewed them to his mother. She then told him that his ribbon was a bright scarlet and the other a grass-green. His masters would not believe in any natural defect in his power of perceiving colours : and it was only after many mistakes, and some vituperation, that he was permitted to renounce the business, and betake himself to another, that of a brass-founder, to which he had a natural disposition ; for he had used the turning-lathe in fashioning playthings when a mere boy.

As to the different colours, he knows blues and yellows certainly; but he cannot distinguish browns, greens, and reds. A brown and green he cannot discriminate or name when apart ; but when together, he sees a difference between them. Blue and pink, when about the same shade, and seen in day-light, appear to him to be of the colour of the sky which he calls blue ; but seen in candle-light, the pink appears like a dirty buff, and the blue retains the appearance which it had in day-light. The grass appears to him more like an orange than any other coloured object with which he is acquainted. Indigo, violet, and purple, appear only different shades of one colour, darker or lighter, but not differing in their bases. He never mistakes black and white objects : he distinguishes easily between a black and a blue, and is able even to tell whether a black is a good or a bad


one. In the rainbow he perceives only the yellow and the blue distinctly. He sees that there are other tints in it, but what they are he cannot distinguish, and he is quite unable to name them. In day-light, crimson appears like blue or purple, but in candle-light it seems a bright red.

When in Glasgow, his greatcoat was carried off from the travellers' room by mistake, and on inquiring at the waiter what had become of it, the question was naturally put, what was the colour of the coat ? Mr Milne was quite puzzled by the interrogatory ; and, although he had worn it for a year, he could only reply that it was either snuff-brown or olive-green, but which he could not tell. The waiter looked as if he suspected that Mr Milne wanted to get a coat instead of wishing to recover one ; but the coat was found, although even yet Mr Milne is not able to tell the colour. He is apt to mistake copper for brass, unless he distinguishes them by the file.

A mask of Mr Milne is sold in the shops, and in it the organs of Form, Size, and Constructiveness1 are well developed, while that of Colouring is decidedly deficient ; there being a depression in the part corresponding to this organ, into which the point of the finger falls on passing it along. As a contrast, the reader may compare it with the masks of Sir David Wilkie, Mr Haydon, Mr Douglas, or Mr Williams, all eminent painters; and as the organ is large in these masks, a very marked difference will be perceptible.

Cases of this description are not rare. In the mask of Mr Sloane of Leith, the development is small, and in a letter, dated 20th February 1822, addressed to me. this gentleman says,-" When I see apiece of tartan, or any other complication of colours, I can easily distinguish the difference of hues ; but were the different colours presented to me singly, I could not say which was which. I feel particularly at a loss to distinguish betwixt green and brown, and likewise betwixt

1 This is an example of the organ of Constructiveness being situated higher than usual, as noticed in vol. 5, p. 327.


some shades of red and blue. I am not sensible of being deficient in seeing any thing at a distance, or of being unable to perceive as small a particle as the generality of men can do." In this mask, the deficiency is not so great as in that of Mr Milne, but the organ of Colouring is much less developed in it than in the masks of the painters before alluded to.1

In the Phren. Journ., vol. x. p. 466, a case is mentioned in which a person, in consequence of injury of the brain, became blind, who, nevertheless, had visions of groups of persons " in clothing of all colour s T This shews that the conception of colours may remain after vision is lost. See also vol. xiv. p. 149, 230, 288, 358.

Sir John F. W. Herschel's explanation of the cause of deficiency in the power of discriminating between certain colours, seems to coincide with that before given. " We have examined," says he, " with some attention, a very eminent optician, whose eyes (or rather eye, having lost the sight of one by an accident) have this curious peculiarity, and have satisfied ourselves, contrary to the received opinions, that all the prismatic rays have the power of exciting and affecting them with the sensation of light, and producing distinct vi-

1 A collection of similar cases has been made by Mr Robert Cox in The Phrenological Journal, vol. vii. p. 144. In addition to the works there referred to, the following, enumerated by Dr Mackenzie, in his Practical Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye, 2d edit. p. 861, may be consulted by the reader who is curious respecting such cases.-Nicholl, in Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, vol. vii. p. 477, and vol. ix, p. 359 ; also in Annals of Philosophy, New Series, vol iii. p. 128.-Harvey, in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. x. p. 253 ; also in Edinburgh Journal of Science, vol. v. p. 114.-Brewster, in Edinburgh Journal of Science, vol. iv. p. 85. -Colquhoun in Glasgow Medical Journal, 1829, vol. ii. p. 12.

Dr Henry Holland, in the second chapter of his Medical Notes and Reflections, gives instances of the defect prevailing in families. " I am acquainted," says he, " with a family in which there are three examples, the father and two children, of inability to distinguish red as a colour. Another example, resembling the last, is known to me, where three brothers, and two or three children of their families, have the inability to distinguish between blue and pink. Instances of this kind, as an hereditary defect, are far from unfrequent."


sion ; so that the defect arises from no insensibility of the retina to rays of any particular refrangibility, nor to any colouring matter in the humours of the eye preventing certain rays from reaching the retina (as has been ingeniously supposed), but from a defect in the sensorium, by which it is rendered incapable of appreciating exactly those differences between rays on which their colour depends."1

It appears difficult, however, to perform an experiment of this nature which should be conclusive. If, for example, the optician's defect consisted in being incapable of distinguishing red light, and if Sir John F. W. Herschel produced that light artificially, and exhibited objects to the optician under its illumination, and if he saw the forms and sizes of objects" but not their red colour, it would not follow that he saw these by means of the red rays, because Sir David Brewster has shewn that " red, yellow, and blue light exist at every point of the solar spectrum. That as a certain portion of red, yellow, and blue, constitute white light, the colour of every point of the spectrum may be considered as consisting of the predominating colour at any point mixed with white light. In the red space there is more red than is necessary to make white light with the small portion of yellow, and blue which exist there ; in the yellow space there is more yellow than is necessary to make white light with the red and blue ; and in the part of the blue space which appears violet, there is more red than yellow, and hence the excess of red forms a violet with the blue.'' Brewster's Treatise on Optics, Part II. chap, vii., figs. 50 and 51. Hence there might be as much white light mixed with the red as sufficed to shew the form and size of the objects to the optician.

There are instances of individuals who involuntarily associate particular colours with particular names, even although they have never seen the persons named ; thus, all Johnsons will be blue, and all Thomsons black, and so on with other names and colours. There appears to be an association in

1 Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, article " Light," p. 434, § 507.


activity between the organs of Colouring and Language in such individuals, so that the one cannot act without exciting the other; as some men cannot bend one finger without bending also the one next to it. This, however, is only a conjecture.1 The proper way to observe the development of the organ of Colouring, is to distinguish to what extent the centre of each eyebrow projects forward. In Mr Milne it is slightly depressed below the neighbouring parts ; in Mr Sloane, it is scarcely depressed, but it does not project, so as to overhang the eye-ball ; in the painters it is large and prominent, forming a heavy shade above the eye. Dr Spurzheim mentions that a large development of it is indicated by an arched appearance in the middle of the eyebrow, and that this sign is found in the portraits of Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt, Salvator Rosa, Claude Lorraine, &c. ; but its large size is indicated also by the projection forward of this part of the eyebrow without arching. It presents this appearance in the masks of the late Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir David Wilkie, Haydon, and other eminent painters. Dr Gall states it as an indubitable fact, that determinate laws of proportion in colours exist. The three primitive colours of blue, yellow, and red, says he, do not harmonize. If we mix two of these, an intermediate colour is produced ; blue and yellow give green ; blue and red, violet ; red and yellow, orange. To obtain a harmonious combination, we must place beside a primitive colour a mixed one, into which the primitive enters as an element ; the mixed colour will always be in harmony with the two primitive colours from which it is produced. If we place, says he, a silk ribbon, of a blue colour, and about an inch broad, on a sheet of white paper, and look at it stedfastly ; at the end of a short

1 See cases of colours associated with things, persons, and musical notes, in The Phrenological Journal, vol. iii. p. 420; also, vol. viii. pp. 70, 216.


time, we shall see besides, yellow and red, and (at the side) orange, resulting from the mixture.1

Lord Jeffrey, in the article "Beauty," already alluded to, informs us, that " colour is, in all cases, absolutely indifferent to the eye ;'' and adds, that "it is no doubt quite true, that, among painters and connoisseurs, we hear a great deal about the harmony and composition of tints, and the charms and difficulties of a judicious colouring. In all this, however, we cannot help thinking that there is no little pedantry and no little jargon?"1 Speaking of the natural gamut of colours, he continues : " We confess we have no faith in any of these fancies ; and believe, that if all these colours were fairly arranged, on a plain board, according to the most rigid rules of this supposed harmony, nobody but the author of the theory would perceive the smallest beauty in the exhibition, or be the least offended by reversing their collocation." It is a curious fact, that the organ of Colouring in Lord Jeffrey's head is actually depressed ; and it appears that, in the usual manner of metaphysical writers, he has conceived his own feelings to be an infallible standard of those of human nature in general. It is quite true that the eye is affected only by the degrees of light ; but by this expression, the mind is here obviously meant. The author, when speaking in the next sentence of the gamut, draws no distinction between the powers of the mind and those of the eye. Those individuals, then, whose cases I have cited, and who cannot distinguish dark-brown from scarlet, buff from orange, or violet from pink, would probably subscribe to Lord Jeffrey's positions. But other individuals, such as Wilkie and Haydon, have an intense sensibility to shades of every hue, and of every degree ; and some painters have assured me, that they experience a very decided emotion in contemplating colours, independently of every association ; and declare, that they perceive harmony, congruity, and incongruity, in their arrangements, even on a plain board, as certainly and as distinctly as they distinguish harmony and discord in sound.

1 Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome v. p. 81.


Lord Jeffrey, in criticizing this work in The Edinburgh Review, No. 88, controverts these inferences. " Without meaning," says he, " to call in question the fact of the depression of his skull, we happen to know that the individual here mentioned has a remarkably fine and exact perception of colours, so as to be able to match them, from memory, with a precision which has been the admiration of many ladies and dressmakers. He has also an uncommon sensibility to their beauty ; and spends more time than most people in gazing on bright flowers and peacocks' necks, and wondering, he hopes innocently, what can be the cause of his enjoyment. Even the phrenologists, we think, must admit, that, in his case, it cannot be the predominance of the appropriate faculty, since they have ascertained that he is totally destitute of the organ."

In a letter which I addressed to Lord Jeffrey, in answer to this criticism,1 I asked, " How could you assert in the Encyclopaedia, that ' colour is in all cases absolutely indifferent to the eye,' if you were conscious when you wrote of possessing 'an uncommon sensibility to their beauty?' How could you stigmatize as 'pedantry and jargon' the doctrine of ' the harmony and composition of tints, and the charms and difficulties of a judicious colouring,' and assert, ' that if all those colours were fairly arranged, on a plain board, according to the most rigid rules of this supposed harmony, nobody but the author of the theory would perceive the smallest beauty in the exhibition, or be the least offended by reversing their collocation,' when all the time you enjoyed in yourself ' a remarkably fine and exact perception of colours, so as to be able to match them from memory with a precision which has been the admiration of many ladies and dressmakers ?'" " Matching them" obviously implies a perception of their harmony and discord.

In a Note to the 89th Number of the Review, Lord Jef-

1 Phrenological Journal, vol. iv. p. 1, and also p. 242.-I beg leave to refer the reader to these Letters for an answer to the whole of Lord Jeffrey's criticisms on this work. The first is published also separately.


frey replied to this argument as follows : " There are two questions here ; first, whether there are any grounds, from inconsistency or otherwise, to impeach the credit of the Reviewer, when he says that he can distinguish colours, and shades of colours, with more than common accuracy ? and, secondly, whether there are any such grounds for disbelieving him, when he says that he has a strong sense of their beauty ? The first is the main allegation, and formed the whole original subject of controversy. Mr Combe alleged that the organ of colour was actually depressed in the head of that individual, and inferred that he probably did not know scarlet from brown : it was answered that this was a mistake,-for he was known to have a remarkably fine perception of colours and their diversities : and the replication to this in the pamphlet is, that that cannot well be, since he himself had stated, in the Encyclopedia, that all colours are indifferent to the eye, and one just as beautiful as another. Well, suppose he had said so, where would have been the inconsistency 1 for, where is the connection between the allegations that are held to be contradictory ? A man who happens to think brown as beautiful as scarlet, may surely perceive the difference between them,-or rather, he must perceive it, when he compares them, in this way, as two distinct and distinguishable objects. There is not, therefore, the shadow of a pretext for discrediting the Reviewer's leading allegation, that the individual alluded to, though destitute of the phrenological organ, can discriminate colours with unusual readiness and precision.''

In answer to these remarks, I beg leave to observe, that Lord Jeffrey overstates my objection. The paragraph on which he comments is printed in this work verbatim as it stood in the edition reviewed, and the reader will perceive that I did not allege that the organ was absolutely wanting in his head, and did not infer that he was incapable of perceiving colours, or that " he probably did not know scarlet from brown." On the contrary, the statement was merely that the organ is " depressed ;" that is to say, that in him


it is deficient in size relatively to the other organs-whereas in the painters it is large. The work itself afforded information of the effect of a depressed organ : it is said that " perception is the lowest degree of activity" of every intellectual faculty ; " when a coloured object is presented, and the individual cannot perceive, so as to distinguish the hues, he is destitute of the power of manifesting the faculty of colour ;'' " each organ will enable the mind to recall the impressions which it served at first to receive ;" and memory is merely " a degree of activity of each faculty." A friend in India, after reading Lord Jeffrey's note, wrote to me as follows : " Melody is the pleasure arising from successions of simple sounds suited to each other. Harmony is that arising from combined sounds, or from several striking the ear simultaneously, as in a band playing different parts. The former requires much less of the organ than the latter, and hence the Scotch, with no great Tune, are melodists, but nothing as musicians. In like manner, the allocation of simple colours is their melody, and the combination of several is harmony. Lord Jeffrey might thus place one ribbon beside another very well, but not perceive the harmony of combined colours."1 There is no inconsistency therefore, between the depression of Lord Jeffrey's organ of Colouring and "the manifestations which he describes. Even Mr Milne is able to perceive some colours and to distinguish differences between them, and he has memory of some of them ; although in him the organ is considerably more depressed than in Lord Jeffrey.

The real objection stated in the work was, that painters not only distinguish differences, but enjoy direct pleasure from " contemplating colours independently of every association ; and that they perceive harmony, congruity, and in-

I understand that this defect is apparent in some painters ; they are capable of matching a few simple colours, but when a numerous assemblage of them requires to be introduced into a picture, they fail in giving them harmony.



congruity, in their arrangements, even on a plain board, as certainly and distinctly as they distinguish harmony and discord in sounds ;" which assertions Lord Jeffrey characterised as pedantry and jargon.

In answer to my statement, therefore, he should have proved, that notwithstanding his depressed organ, he possesses the faculty in this higher degree, that he actually receives direct pleasure from colours, and perceives their harmonies and discords. In No. 88 of the Review, he endeavoured to do this, by referring to his " remarkably fine and exact perception of colours, so as to be able to match them from memory ;" and to his delight " in gazing on bright flowers and peacocks' necks :5<) and in No. 89 of the Review, he favours us with the following additional arguments in support of this position.

" But, in the next place," says he, " and this is still more material, it is certain that the individual in question does not maintain, in the Encyclopaedia, that there is no beauty of colours, or combinations of colours,-but the very reverse. His whole object in that treatise, as every one must know who has looked into a line of it, is, not to deny the existence of beauty, but to explain its nature and causes, in colours as in every thing else : And, accordingly, not only is there no doubt thrown on the fact of their beauty, but its reality, and that of the peculiar pleasure afforded by it, is both expressly asserted in a variety of passages, and constantly assumed and taken for granted, as the very basis of the theory, and the test of the illustrations which are urged in its support. The theory is, that colours are beautiful, not in consequence of the mere organic operation of their physical qualities on the eye, but in consequence of their habitual association with certain simple emotions or mental qualities, of which they remind us in a great variety of ways. Thus Blue, for example, is said to be beautiful, because it is the colour of the unclouded sky,-Green, because it is that of vernal


woods and summer meadows,-and Red, because it reminds us of the season of roses, or of the blushes of youth and innocence ;-and, accordingly, when these associations are disturbed, the beauty which they created disappears. Green would not be beautiful in the sky, nor blue on the cheek, nor vermilion on the grass. The doctrine is precisely the same as to the beauty of combination of colours, and it is attempted to be proved by similar illustrations. Throughout it is distinctly stated, and invariably assumed as indisputable, that they are beautiful, and afford pleasure to those who admire them,-though it is alleged that there is a good deal of pedantry in those who dogmatise on the laws of their harmony, and affect to limit their pleasing combinations exclusively to certain arrangements. It is maintained, as before, that their beauty depends entirely on the associations with which they are connected ; and while it is admitted that certain combinations will generally excite the same associations in those who are devoted to the same pursuits, it is denied that these are either universal or unvarying, or that the feeling they undoubtedly excite can ever be referred to the organic action of the coloured light on the sense. These opinions may be right or wrong, but the only question now at issue is, whether they are inconsistent with the admission of the fact, that colours are beautiful ? and whether the man who holds them must be disbelieved, when he says that he has a keen sense of this kind of beauty ?

In this note Lord Jeffrey no longer wonders what can be the cause of his enjoyment from the bright flowers and peacocks' necks. He informs us distinctly, that he has no direct perception of beauty in their colours as mere colours, but that the beauty perceived by him depends " entirely on the associations with which they are connected." " Colours,'' says he, " are beautiful, not in consequence of the mere organic operation of their physical qualities on the eye, but in consequence of their habitual association with certain simple emotions or mental qualities of which they remind us in a great


variety of ways." It now turns out, accordingly, that his pleasure in contemplating the bright flowers and peacocks' necks arose, not from any quality in these objects themselves, or from any direct effect produced by them on his mind, but from something else, which they served merely to introduce to his fancy. He was pleased, for example, with the red of the flowers, not because it was a colour grateful in itself, but because it reminded him of the lovely season in which roses are produced, or of the blushes of youth and innocence ; and he delighted in the blue of the peacocks' necks, not because that colour was intrinsically pleasing, but because it excited the recollection of the unclouded sky. The painters, on the other hand, in whom the organ is large, state that the source of their pleasure in colours is direct. They inform me that Lord Jeffrey's love of bright flowers and peacocks' necks indicates that his organ of colouring must be feeble ; because a strong stimulus is necessary to excite it to action, and even when it is thus stimulated, he is not capable of feeling direct pleasure from colours, but they serve merely to introduce extrinsic ideas and emotions. His experience, therefore, corresponds in the most complete manner with the " depressed" state of the organ in his head. This is so plain as scarcely to admit of illustration ; but we may suppose a young military officer to assert that there is no harmony or discord in sounds, and no direct pleasure in melody ; but that, nevertheless, he enjoys great delight in hearing a military band. If we should ask him what is the source of his delight in the band, and he should answer, " The notes give me pleasure, not in consequence of the mere organic operation of their physical qualities on the ear ; but because they remind me of the gay uniforms, the waving plumes, and the martial pomp of our regiment ; they recall also the summer evening parade, with the fairy forms and angel smiles of female loveliness which then hover around us ; in short, with me, their beauty depends on the associations which they serve to introduce," Phrenology would certainly be in fault if the man who made such a statement were


not deficient in the organ of Tune. In fact, the individual supposed would never dwell for a moment on the music itself ; to him it would be mere sound, exciting in his mind ideas of the soldiers, the parade, and female beauty, which would be the real objects of his admiration and the sources of his enjoyment. This case is an exact parallel to that of Lord Jeffrey, in regard to colours. The colours themselves convey no impression of beauty to his mind : they never engage his attention by their own loveliness ; but merely usher in extraneous ideas and emotions, in which he finds his gratification. Would not Phrenology be again in fault, if in him the organ of Colouring were otherwise than " depressed ?"

A legal practitioner, in a Scotch provincial town, whom I have seen, and in whom this organ was very large, was engrossed by a passion for flowers, even to the neglect of his professional duties. He collected and propagated fine specimens, without any directly scientific object. His principal delight seemed to be in the colours and forms. He was frequently seen, for minutes at a time, bending over a bed of flowers, and during the season, he was seldom without a bunch of them in a button hole of his coat. It is probable that the intense sensibility to colours, which accompanies a large development of the organ, was the source of this interest.

Phrenologists are accustomed to infer the particular powers which are most vigorous in an author's mind, from the manifestations of them in his works ; and none affords better scope for observation than the faculty of Colouring. Unless the impressions made on the mind of an author by colours be very strong, he has no inducement to introduce them in his works, for he can easily treat of a great variety of subjects without adverting to their hues. When, therefore, we find him minutely describing tints and shades, and dwelling on colours and their effects with evident delight, we may safely infer that the organ is large. Mr Tennant, the author of Anster Fair, frequently does so, and in his head the organ is large.


The organ is generally larger in women than in men ; and, accordingly, some women, as colourists, have equalled the masters among men ; while, as painters, women, in general have always been inferior to the other sex. The faculty aids the flower-painter, enameller, dyer, and, in general, all who occupy themselves with colours. Its great energy gives a passion for colours, but not necessarily a delicate taste in them. Taste depends upon a perfect rather than a very powerful activity of the faculties. In several oriental nations for example, the faculty appears, from their love of colours, to be strong, and, nevertheless, they display bad taste in the application of them.

If any conclusion may be drawn from the very limited observations which have been made on the development of the organ of Colouring in different parts of the world, it appears to be large in those countries where vegetation displays the greatest brilliance of tint, and deficient where the aspect of nature is dreary and unvariegated. The organ, for instance, seems to be large in the Chinese ; while it is small in the Esquimaux, to whom the sky, and snow, and ice, are almost the only objects of vision. Captain Parry mentions that dyeing is an art wholly unknown to the Esquimaux.1

Dr Spurzheim observed, that, in persons born blind, the organ of Colouring is in general less developed than in persons who see, or who have become blind in mature age. I have repeatedly verified this observation in asylums for the blind. Indeed it is possible, by observing the development of the organ of Colouring, to distinguish individuals who have become blind in infancy, from others who have lost their sight in mature age ; in the former the organ is much less developed than in the latter. James Wilson of Belfast, author of Biography of the Blind, lost his sight from smallpox at four years of age. His right eye was subsequently couched, and he saw till he was seven ; his vision was then

1 Parry's Voyages, 12mo, vol. v. p. 295.


again extinguished by a furious cow, and he has continued blind ever since. After he became blind he learned to work as a carpenter ; he also acquired such an accurate and extensive knowledge of places, as to be able to act as a kind of courier for the merchants, to the extent of thirty or forty miles round Belfast ; he boasts of considerable literary attainments, and possesses a very extensive memory for persons, places, names, and dates. I saw him in 1836, when he was in the 57th year of his age : at that time his organs of Colouring were very small ; while those of Individuality, Size, and Number, were large, and those of Form and Locality very large. . His temperament was nervous, bilious, and a little sanguine. The organs which had been most exercised appeared to have attained the largest size, while the organs of Colouring, which had been dormant, had apparently scarcely grown from infancy. A mask of him was taken, and is in the collection of the Phrenological Society.1 Dr Gall mentions, that he had seen a bookseller of Augsburg, blind from birth, who maintained that it is not the eye, but the intellect, which recognises, judges, and produces proportion among colours. This individual asserted, that, by means of an internal sense, he had precise notions of colours, and it is a fact that he determined their harmony exactly. He had a number of glass beads of various colours, which he formed into different figures, and always produced harmony in the arrangement of the colours. After making a great effort of this kind, he experienced pain immediately above the eye, particularly over the right eye.2 I have seen a blind man in Stirling, who distinguished colours with great accuracy by means of touch. Derham, in his Physico-Theology* mentions a similar case, and observes, that " although the eye be the usual judge of colours, yet some have

1 See Phren. Jour. x. 89.

2 Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome v. p. 85.

3 Book iv. ch. 6.


been able to distinguish them by feeling." I have conversed with persons born blind, who assured me that they could form no conception whatever of colour, or of the phenomena of sight. I cannot conceive, therefore, that the blind bookseller of Augsburg, spoken of by Dr Gall, had precise notions of colours, similar to those enjoyed by persons who see. The blind man at Stirling who distinguished colours by the sense of touch was guided by differences in the texture of the objects. He practised chiefly on the dresses of the passengers in the beautiful walk round Stirling Castle ; and I have seen him, by rubbing his hand along the pile of the sleeve, distinguish, with much readiness and accuracy, a black coat, a brown coat, a blue coat, and a green coat. The skin on the points of his fingers had acquired a most extraordinary softness and delicacy, from long practice of this operation. In his mind there appears to have been a distinct tactile perception, to which he gave the name of green, another which he designated brown, and so on ; but I cannot conceive that such impressions at all resembled the common apprehensions of colours enjoyed by persons possessing perfect vision. Dr Spurzheim says : " Many blind persons have assured me of their incapacity to distinguish colours. A few, however, discern white from black, because white surfaces are in general smoother than black. When the blind pretend to distinguish colours, they do no more than determine surfaces of greater or less degrees of smoothness, without acquiring any idea of colour in itself."1

The organ is considered 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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