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].


the intellectual faculties which we have considered, furnish us with knowledge of objects, their qualities and relations, and also of events ; those which we proceed to treat of " act," as Dr Spurzheim expresses it, " on all the other sensations and notions ;" in other words, they judge, not of the qualities and relations of external objects, but of the relations of different classes of ideas produced by the perceptive faculties. They minister to the direction and gratification of all the other powers, and constitute what we call reason or reflection.

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Dr Gall often conversed on philosophical subjects with a savant, possessing much vivacity of mind. Whenever the latter was put to difficulty in rigorously proving his positions, he always had recourse to a comparison. By this means he in a manner painted his ideas, and his opponents were defeated and carried along with him ; effects which he could never produce by simple argument. As soon as Dr Gall perceived that, in him, this was a characteristic trait of mind, he examined his head, and found an eminence of the form of a reversed pyramid on the upper and middle portion of the frontal bone. He confirmed the observation by many subsequent instances. He names the quality " perspicacity, sagacity, esprit de comparaison." Examples of the appearance of the organ, when large and small, are given on page 92.

The faculty gives the power of perceiving resemblances and analogies. Tune may compare different notes ; Colouring contrast different shades ; but Comparison may compare a tint and a note, a form and a colour, which the other faculties by themselves could not accomplish.l " The great aim of this faculty," says Dr Spurzheim, " seems to be to form abstract ideas, generalizations, and to establish harmony among the operations of the other faculties. Colouring compares colours with each other, and feels their harmony, but Comparison adapts the colours to the object which is represented ; it will reject lively colours to represent a gloomy scene. The laws of music are particular, and Tune compares tones ; but Comparison chooses the music according to the situations where it is executed. It blames dancing music in a church ; it is opposed to walking with fine clothes in the dirt, to superb furniture beside common things ; it feels the relation between the inferior and superior feelings, and gives

See Gall Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, vi. 406 ; Phren. Journ., iv. 322; vi. 384 ; and ix. 435, 495. Also vol. i. p. 496.


the preference to the latter. Its influence, however, presupposes the activity of the other faculties, and it cannot act upon them if they are inactive. This explains why some persons have taste and good judgment in one respect and not in another. He who is deprived of Reverence, may not be careful enough about its application. He may deride what others respect. But if another possess it in a high degree, and at the same time Comparison, he will wish to bring his Reverence into harmony with his other powers.'5

Comparison thus takes the widest range of nature within its sphere. "It compares,'' says Mr Scott, "things of the most opposite kind, draws analogies, and discovers resemblances between them, often the most unexpected and surprising. It compares a light, seen afar off in a dark night, to a good deed shining in a naughty world ; it compares the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard-seed. If we would describe more minutely and accurately," he continues, " what are the kinds of resemblances which this faculty discovers, it will perhaps be found that they are in no case direct resemblances such as are perceived by the observing powers, but relative resemblances, or, to speak more accurately, resemblances not between the objects themselves, but between their relations to other objects. What resemblance is there, for instance, between a good action and the light of a candle ? None whatever directly ; but relatively there is felt to be a resemblance, when the light appears brighter because of the surrounding darkness, and when the good action is set off by the contrast afforded by the wickedness of the world."1 It finds analogies between the qualities of matter and mind; and from these comparisons and analogies, a great part of language, expressive of the qualities of mind, is drawn; "a great part of it being almost metaphorical, and applied originally in its literal sense to designate qualities of matter." We speak of a beautiful sentiment, a sparkling thought, profound respect, light discourse, burning rage, a solid argument, black despair, a cutting reproach,

1 Essay on the Faculty of Comparison; Phren. Joun., vol. iv. p. 322.


a heavy accusation, a brilliant conception, an entangled proposition, a soft reply; a hard answer, a biting sarcasm. The language of every nation proves whether this organ is much or little developed in the greatest number of its individuals. If they have this faculty in a high degree, their language is replete with figure. Dr Murray Pater son mentions that the Hindostanee language abounds in figures, and that Comparison is larger than Causality in the heads of the Hindoos in general.1

This faculty gives rise to proverbs, which convey instruction under figurative expressions.

It attaches us to comparison, without determining its kinds ; for every one must choose his analogies according to his knowledge, or from the sphere of activity of his other faculties. He who has Locality in a high degree, derives thence his examples ; while another, in whom Form predominates, will illustrate his subject from it. Dr Chalmers draws his illustrations from mechanics and astronomy ; and the organs which take cognizance of these are large in his head.

According to Dr Spurzheim, Comparison takes cognizance not only of resemblances but also of differences. This view is opposed by Mr Scott, who attributes the perception of differences to the organ of Wit ; an opinion in which he is supported by several metaphysicians before quoted.2

This faculty gives a tendency to what is frequently called reasoning, but which is very different from the correct and severe inductions of a sound logic ; namely, it endeavours to prove that one thing is of such and such a nature, because it resembles another which is so and so-in short, it reasons by analogy, and is prone to convert an illustration into an argument. The published sermons of the late Mr Logan, minister of Leith, afford an example of the productions of this kind of intellect. He is always establishing a proposition, and, to those who do not analyze profoundly, he appears to be an argumentative preacher ; but his argument is not

1 Trans, of the Phren. Soc. p. 437. 2 Vol. i. p. 493-4,


induction-it is a mere statement of analogies, closed by an inference that the case in point must be as he views it, otherwise it would be an exception to the ordinary arrangements of nature. Comparison enables the mathematician to perceive the truth of a proposition which is necessarily implied in another, which he knows to be demonstrable.

This faculty is more rarely deficient than any of the other intellectual powers, and the Scripture is addressed to it in an eminent degree, being replete with analogies and comparisons. From giving readiness in perceiving analogies and resemblances, it is one element in instantaneous acuteness. The organ is largely developed in a neighbouring nation ; and it is correctly observed by an anonymous writer, that " ingenuity in discovering unexpected glimpses and superficial coincidences in the ordinary relations of life, the French possess in an eminent degree."1 In schools, the best scholars generally have much Language and Comparison. In children the organ of Comparison is usually well developed ; and it is remarked by a practical writer, that " children come both to understand and to relish a figurative expression much sooner than we might naturally be led to imagine."2 " Children," says Miss Edgeworth, " are all, more or less, pleased with the perception of resemblances and of analogy."3 The faculty is of essential service to orators and popular preachers. It and Eventuality arc the largest organs in the forehead of William Pitt. It is large also in the busts of Curran, Chalmers, Burke, and Jeffrey. In Mr T. Moore it is very large ; and, in the eighth number of The Westminster Review it was remarked, that there are two thousand five hundred similes in his Life of Sheridan, besides metaphors and allegorical expressions. Dr Gall correctly observes, that close reasoning and rigid induction are always disagreeable to a popular audience, because their faculties are not cultivated or exercised to follow abstract conceptions. The great charm

1 Edinburgh Review, Nov. 1820, p. 389.

2 Wood's Account of the Edinburgh Sessional School, 1828, p. 179.

3 Practical Education, vol. iii. p. 96.


of popular speakers, therefore, consists in perspicuity of statement, and copiousness of illustration.

From giving power of illustration and command of figures, this faculty is of great importance to the poet ; and it aids Wit also, by suggesting analogies. By common observers, indeed, the metaphors, amplifications, allegories, and analogies, which Comparison supplies, are frequently mistaken for the products of Ideality, although they are very different. Ideality, being a- sentiment, when greatly excited, infuses passion and enthusiasm into the mind, and prompts it to soar after the magnificent, the beautiful, and the sublime, as objects congenial to its constitution.1 Comparison, on the other hand, being an intellectual power, produces no vivid passion, no intense feeling or enthusiasm; it coolly and calmly plays off its corruscations derived from the other powers with which it is combined. If united with great Individuality and Causality in any individual, the comparisons employed will be copious, ingenious, and appropriate ; but if Ideality be not large, they will not be impassioned, elevated, and glowing. Add to Comparison a large Ideality, as in Dr Chalmers, and its similes will now twinkle in delicate loveliness like a star, now blaze in meridian splendour like the sun, while intense feeling and lofty enthusiasm will give strength and majesty to all its conceptions.

The organ of Comparison is large in Franklin, Roscoe, Edwards, Henri Quatre, Mr Hume, and the Hindoos ; and deficient in Haydon the painter, and in the Caribs.

Till recently the function of this organ has been considered as limited to a perception of general resemblance between

1 It is under the influence of Ideality, that " The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven ; And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.''


ideas compared ; but a new view has been suggested by my ingenious friend Mr Hewett Watson. He conceives that its simple function probably is " a perception of conditions ;" and he proposes the term. Conditionally as its name. It is admitted, says he, that the faculty of Form compares forms, Tune compares notes, and Colouring compares colours. In these faculties, comparison is a mode of activity only ; and it is contrary to all analogy to assign comparison to another organ as its primitive function. The organ XXXIV, therefore, will probably originate some specific perceptions distinct in kind from those of any other organ ; and its comparisons will be made between its own perceptions only, as is the case with every other intellectual faculty. A few illustrations will render these ideas more clear.

When we utter the word man, we address Individuality alone ; we speak of a being which exists, without specifying his form, size, colour, or weight ; without mentioning his actions ; and without intimating his condition. When we say " the man walks," we add a new idea, that of walking : In this proposition we call in the aid of Eventuality, which conceives action or events. If we say " the tall man walks," we address Size, Individuality and Eventuality ; or if we say " the black man rides," then Colouring, Individuality, and Eventuality, combine in uttering and in understanding the proposition. But, suppose that we are told that the " miserable man runs along the road ;" here we have, first, the man -second, his condition, miserable,-and, third, his action, running : now, what organ takes cognizance of his condition .?" It is obvious that it must be an organ distinct from the other two, because the mind can conceive the man without his action ; it can conceive the man and his action without thinking of his condition, and his condition without adverting to his action : his condition is therefore a third and separate consideration, introduced as an article of additional information. Again, suppose that we are told that Mr A. and Miss B. were married last week at the altar of their parish-church : the information would be communicated by


and addressed to the organ of Individuality, which takes cognizance of Mr A. and Miss B. as individuals, and the altar and church as things which exist; Locality would give us the notion of the place of the marriage, and Time of the date of it ; but in all this, no information would be acquired of the condition of the parties. Now, suppose that we should meet them coming from the church, and should wish them " much happiness" in their " new condition" it is evident that some conceptions different from the former are added. We now contemplate them in the "married condition," and we express our wish, that they may live happily in that state.

Mr Watson's idea is, that the primitive function of Comparison is to take cognizance of the condition (as alive, dead, warm, cold, healthy, or sick) in which beings and inanimate objects exist ; and that it compares the conditions, just as Colouring compares colours, and Tune compares notes. Of all the means of creating interest or affording illustration, the specification of the condition of objects or beings is the most effectual. Thus, the man exists, is announced by Individuality, and produces little interest ; the man dies, is announced by Individuality and Eventuality, and is more affecting ; but the " good and just young man dies," stirs up a far deeper emotion ; and it is the addition of his qualities and condition, " good, just, and young," that makes the difference. Poets and orators, therefore, in whom this faculty is strong, will possess vivid perceptions of the condition or state of objects and beings ; and if every faculty compares its own objects, this will compare conditions. If Mr Watson's view be correct, we should find authors in whom Individuality predominates, illustrating their subject chiefly by comparing simple individual objects ; those in whom Eventuality predominates, illustrating by comparing actions ; and those in whom the organ now under discussion predominates, illustrating by comparing conditions or states ; and such accordingly appears to be actually the case. The following illustrations are furnished chiefly by Eventuality.


" When Ajax strives some rock's huge weight to throw, The line, too, labours, and the words move slow ; Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main."


Mr Watson observes, that, in Sheridan, Individuality and Eventuality are large, and Comparison only full ; and the example already given on page 97, from his works, corresponds with this development.

In Moore, Individuality is large, Eventuality deficient, and Comparison very large ; and his descriptions are confined so much to conditions, that any artist who should attempt to transfer one of his beauties to canvass, would find it necessary to invent every item of form, proportion, colour, and indeed every thing except condition. " The harp that once through Tar a's halls" is a good example of this ; the whole piece being but a description and comparison of conditions. In another short poem, " Though Fate, my girl, may bid us part," the same occurs ; and the following is another example :-

" When I remember all

The friends so linked together, I've seen around me fall

Like leaves in wintry weather ; I feel like one who treads alone

Some banquet-hall deserted ; Whose lights are fled, whose garlands dead ;

And all but he departed."

It is quite obvious, that condition is the prominent feature -indeed, almost the whole physiognomy-of .these lines.

In the busts of Pope, Individuality is moderately developed, Eventuality very large, and Comparison considerable. " The styles of Pope and Moore," says Mr "Watson, " seem to be quite contrasted in this respect,-that Pope narrates all the circumstances of his stories in succession, as they may be supposed to occur. Moore, on the other hand, gives us a series of highly finished pictures describing clearly and beautifully the state of the earth, atmosphere, sky,


clouds, and dramatis persono, for the time being, but by no means with that regular sequence of occurrences which is to be found in Pope. His stories are the whole routine of real life ; those of Moore stage-representations, where a good deal is done behind the scenes, and only the most effective parts brought into view. Pope writes historical documents with the minute accuracy and detail of a Welsh pedigree ; Moore's pen is like the pencil of an artist, and creates a gallery of paintings, where we see the same persons in different situations at different periods, but with no more information of what becomes of them in the interim, than we can obtain concerning the noon-day dwelling of Oberon or the Ghost of Royal Hamlet. Their styles being thus different, we should expect their similes to exhibit a corresponding diversity, if there be really no special organ of Comparison : those of Pope should be less strongly characterized by resemblance of condition, and shew a greater and more proportional variety in the points of similitude ; the comparisons should be more diversified, and the resemblances more comprehensive,"1

I communicated Mr "Watson's ideas to Dr Spurzheim, before they were published in The Phrenological Journal ; and he favoured me with the following remarks, in a letter, dated Dublin, 16th May 1830 :-" My description of Comparison involves the essence of Mr Watson's ideas. Among your examples, young horse belongs to it, but not lively horse. The horse being lively, is known by Eventuality, in the same way as motion in general. The generality of attributes and all abstract ideas and general notions are conceived by Comparison. Condition indicates not only state, but also cause ; and if Comparison shall be replaced by another term, it cannot be Conditionally. Abstraction or generalization should be preferable. Vergleichender Scharfsinn is very significant : It compares, discriminates, separates, abstracts, adapts and generalizes. The philosophers styled Nominalists had it in an eminent degree, whilst Individu

-Phrenological Journal, vol. vi.; p. 389.


ality was predominant in the Realists. Comparison compares conditions or states, and conditions or causes.- Its essential result is generalization and discrimination."

In the last edition of his Phrenology, Dr S. adverts to Mr Watson's view in the following terms : " I am delighted to know that this gentleman is engaged in the pursuit of Phrenology ; he is destined to render great service to its cause, but my Comparison makes me differ from him as to the essential function of this faculty. In my opinion, the cognizance of different conditions is tested by Eventuality. This faculty not only shews the active, but also the passive and neutral verbs. It perceives a man walking, but also a man being carried, a man asleep, two persons being married. To be young or old, good, just, or the contrary, are physical or moral events, which are made known to Eventuality. Hence there is no necessity of a new organ of Conditionally."

Mr Watson's latest remarks on Comparison are contained in the tenth volume of The Phrenological Journal. " By comparing," says he, " the developments of several authors and private acquaintances with their styles of writing and thinking, I came to the conclusion that comparison was only a mental process, and ought to be classed with perception, conception, memory, imagination, and other terms which appear to express a state of functional activity, not the kind of ideas formed in the cerebral organs. This conclusion was forced upon me by finding that the tendency to compare was not always in proportion to the development of the organ named Comparison, and that the sense of resemblance and difference, like that of memory, was always manifested most strongly in the ideas presumed to be formed by the largest organs. The next step was to ascertain the kind of ideas existing or formed in the organ hitherto called Comparison. On carefully examining the works of authors in whom this organ was predominant, I believed to have detected a peculiar tendency to describe and to compare certain trains of ideas, touching the condition or states of external nature and


internal feelings ; while the works of others, in whom this organ was moderately developed, were comparatively devoid of such tendency, but were prone to describe and compare other trains of ideas. Hence came the suggestion of this organ taking cognizance of such ideas, and remembering and comparing those ideas, just as Form is said to remember and compare shapes. Although the works of Spurzheim do not give this view, his own ideas about the function of the organ seem to have approximated to it, because, in reply to Mr Combe's epistolary intimation of my conclusions, he wrote, < Comparison compares conditions or states, and conditions or causes. Its essential result is generalization and discrimination.' Mr Hancock says that my term ' conditions' does not convey to his mind any very distinct ideas. The fault may be personal, not verbal, as it appears that Spurzheim distinctly comprehended the ideas that it should excite. I differ from Spurzheim and Mr Scott in still thinking that each organ (or pair of organs) generalizes and discriminates its own ideas only. The heads of several persons eminent in the physical sciences evince only a moderate development of Comparison, yet these sciences require generalization and discrimination to a great extent. Half the science of Botany, and almost the whole of Entomology, turn on discriminations of objects nearly alike, or in uniting them into general groups in accordance with certain resemblances in their physical properties. Why, therefore, is the organ of Comparison not always large in eminent botanists and entomologists, if this organ be necessary to generalization and discrimination of all kinds of ideas alike ? Again, if Comparison ' compares conditions or states,' what organ perceives and remembers them P"1

The views of Dr Vimont on this subject are identical with those of Mr Watson ; he names the faculty " Comparaison ou appréciation de Vétat des choses," and illustrates its nature thus :--When a piece of ice is placed in a vessel over the fire, Form, Size, and Colouring, take cognizance of its ap-

1 Phrenological Journal, vol. x. p. 169. VOL. II.


pearance ; and, when it melts, the change is perceived by Eventuality. All these perceptions may take place without any idea arising, of a relation between the state of the now liquid substance, and the same state in other substances, such as lead, mercury, or milk. What then, says he, is the faculty which recognises that state of one body relatively to another, so as to make known its qualities expressed by the adjective in language Î Doubtless, he answers, Comparison ; or, as he prefers to name it, " l'appréciation de l'état des corps, mais avec l'idée de rapprochment ou de relation,1"L He alludes to Mr Watson's essay in The Phrenological Journal, and adds the remark (ill-founded, as it appears to me), that " although the arguments of that phrenologist are very ingenious, his theory seems to be at bottom nothing but the idea of comparison, in the sense in which the word is used by Gall."

I have seen several cases which seem to support Mr Watson's view that Comparison gives a special tendency to the mind to take cognizance of conditions. I know a physician in whom it is very large, combined with Individuality small, and Causality only full, and he manifests an extraordinary tendency to investigate the condition of every important organ and function in his patients. I have observed other physicians in whom Comparison was small, content themselves with vague and general enquiries, and confine their attention to prominent symptoms, although in them the organs of Individuality and Causality were more amply developed.

It is not yet determined whether this organ is possessed by the lower animals. Dr Gall says that man alone is endowed with it ; but Dr Vimont has been led, by studying the actions of certain animals, such as the clog, elephant, orang-outang, and bear, to consider these creatures as not destitute of the faculty.

The essential functions of the organ are regarded as ascertained.

} Traité de Phrénologie, tome ii. p. 382.

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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