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 immediately above, and extends a little backwards and forwards from, the external opening of the ear, and corresponds to the lower portion of the squamous plate of the temporal bone.

The subjoined figures represent the skulls of Tardy and a Cingalese. A section of the latter will be found on page 144.


Tardy was a bloody pirate, and in him it is very large. In the Cingalese, who are mild, it is deficient. In Dr Gall's plates it extends a few lines farther back than in those given by Dr Spurzheim : and Dr Gall mentions, that when it is excessively large, the whole portion of the skull from the inferior margin of the parietal bones to the ears is elevated ; and that in cases of smaller development the prominence is confined to the lower part of the temporal bones. I have seen examples of both kinds. The external opening of the ear is much lower in some individuals than in others. Its depression is caused by the great size of the cerebral convolutions which lie over the petrous portion of the temporal bone and in the middle fossa of the skull, and is one sign of Destructiveness being large.

Dr Gall gives, in substance, the following account of the discovery of this organ. In comparing attentively the skulls of several of the lower animals, he observed a characteristic difference between those of the carnivorous and the graminivorous tribes. In graminivorous animals, only a small portion of the brain lies behind the external opening of the ear ; while in the carnivorous, a considerably larger mass is situated there. He found also, that the skulls of the latter were more prominent above the ear than those of the former. For a long time he merely communicated these observations to his hearers, without making the least application of them to Phrenology. He only pointed out that, by inspecting the cranium, even when the teeth are wanting, it is possible to distinguish whether the animals belong to the graminivorous or carnivorous genera. It happened, at length, that some one sent him the skull of a parricide ; but he put it aside,


without imagining that the skulls of murderers could be of any use to him in his researches. Shortly afterwards he received also the cranium of a highwayman, who, not satisfied with robbing, had murdered several of his victims. He placed these two crania side by side, and frequently examined them. Every time that he did so, he was struck by this circumstance, that, although they differed in almost every other point, each of them presented a distinct and corresponding prominence, immediately above the external opening of the ear. Having observed, however, the same prominence in some other crania in his collection, he thought that it might be by mere accident that this part was so much developed in the skulls of the murderers. It was only after a considerable time, that he began to reflect upon the different conformation of the brain in carnivorous and graminivorous animals ; and having then observed that the part which was large in carnivorous animals, was precisely that which was so much developed in the murderers, the question occurred to him, Is it possible that there can be any connection between the conformation of brain thus indicated and the propensity to kill I " At first," says Dr Gall, " I revolted from this idea ; but as my only business was to observe, and to state the result of my observations, I acknowledged no other law than that of truth."" " Let us not, therefore," says he, " fear to unfold the mysteries of nature ; for it is only when we shall have discovered the hidden springs of human actions, that we shall know how to guide the conduct of men.'1 This faculty has been subjected to much ridicule, owing partly to its Having been named by Dr Gall the penchant au meurtre, or propensity to kill. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that he spoke of the organ of murder. Killing being a necessary operation, he regarded this as a legitimate aim of the faculty when rightly directed ; but " I have never," says he, " in speaking of the instinct du meurtre, meant a propensity to homicide." The word Destructiveness employed by Dr Spurzheim is a more comprehensive appellation, and the propensity thus designated is recognised by


many authors as existing in the human mind. Lord Kames observes, that " there is a contrivance of Nature, no less simple than effectual, which engages men to bear with cheerfulness the fatigues of hunting, and the uncertainty of capture ; and that is an appetite for hunting."-" It is an illustrious instance of providential care, the adapting the internal constitution of man to his external circumstances. The appetite for hunting, though among us little necessary for food, is to this day remarkable in young men, high and low, rich and poor. Natural propensities may be rendered faint or obscure, but never are totally eradicated."1 Vicesimus Knox, in his Essays, gives a similar theory of hunting. The delight felt in this sport has been ascribed to the excitement of the chase, to emulation, and to the pleasure of succeeding in our aim ; but if these were the only sources of the enjoyment, it should be as pleasant to gallop over hill and dale, and leap hedge and ditch, without, as with, an animal in chase, and as agreeable to shoot at any inanimate object thrown into the air as at a bird. This, however, is not the case ; unless there be a creature to suffer the effects of hunting and shooting, little pleasure is derived from these laborious pastimes.

The feeling is familiar to poets and authors who delineate human nature. The description by Sir Walter Scott, of King Robert Bruce avenging on Cormac Doil the death of Allan, is written in the very spirit of Destructiveness :

" Not so awoke the King ! his hand Snatched from the flame a knotted brand, The nearest weapon of his wrath ; With this he crossed the murderer's path,

And venged young Allan well !

The spattered brain and bubbling blood

Hissed on the half extinguished wood ;

The miscreant gasp'd and fell."

The same author recognises several of the phrenological faculties in the following lines-in particular, Love of Approbation and Destructiveness ; the latter, however, only in

1 Sketches, B. i.


a state of abuse. The verses refer to the battle of Bannock-burn :


" But O ! amid that waste of life, What various motives fired the strife ! The aspiring noble bled for fame, The patriot for his country's claim ; This knight his youthful strength to prove, And that to earn his lady's love : Some fought from ruffian thirst of blood ; From habit some, or hardihood ; But ruffian stern, and soldier good,

The noble, and the slave, From various cause the same wild road, On the same bloody morning trode, To that dark Inn the grave."

In Recollections of the Peninsula, by the author of Sketches in India, the following passage occurs : " As the chill dews of evening were descending on our bivouack, a staff-officer, with a courier, came galloping into it, and alighted at the quarters of our general. It was soon known among us that a severe and sanguinary action had been fought by our brother soldiers at Talavera. Disjointed rumours spoke of a dear-bought field, a heavy loss, and a subsequent retreat. I well remember how we all gathered round our fires to listen, to conjecture, and to talk about this glorious but bloody event. We regretted that we had borne no share in the honours of such a day ; and we talked with an undefined pleasure about the carnage. Yes ! strange as it may appear, soldiers, and not they alone, talk of the slaughter of battlefields with a sensation which partakes of pleasure," (p. 39). In confirmation of this remark, I may notice that I have met with some young men who possessed good moral qualities, but whose thoughts ran habitually on killing and slaughtering. The impulse was restrained, but they confessed that it would have given them great momentary gratification to smash and slay. In them the organ was decidedly large.

The object of this faculty in the human mind, and its


utility, are easily discoverable. In regarding this scene of creation, we perceive man surrounded by ferocious animals, such as lions, tigers, bears, and wolves ; which not only are incapable of being tamed and put to use, but would be fatal to him if he did not destroy them. To maintain himself in existence, therefore, he must put many animals to death. Moreover, he has received from nature a stomach fitted to digest animal food, and a bodily system that is nourished, excited, and preserved in health and activity, by the aliment which it affords. To gratify this appetite, he must bereave animals of life by sudden destruction ; for their flesh is unwholesome, if they die of old age or disease. Now, let us consider in what condition man, placed in these circumstances, would have stood, if he had been without this propensity. He would have been the timid prey of every ferocious animal in want of a meal. With Destructiveness in his mind, the lion and tiger read their fate in his eye, and shrink from the encounter, unless irresistibly impelled by hunger.

Farther, a series of changes, effectuated by destruction, is constantly proceeding, also, in the physical world ; so that, in point of fact, we are surrounded by death in all its forms, and by destruction in its every shape ; and Nature, by means of this faculty, steels our minds so far as to fit us for our condition, and to render scenes which our situation constrains us to witness, not insupportable. A certain degree of obduracy of feeling, regardlessness of suffering, and indifference to the calamities of our race, is absolutely necessary to render existence tolerable in this world of mingled joy and woe. I have seen individuals miserable from too great feebleness of this faculty. Every being in a state of pain harrowed up their feelings, lacerated their hearts, and produced a degree of continued uneasiness scarcely conceivable by persons of more obdurate dispositions.

Mr Robert Cox, in an ingenious essay on " The Laws of Activity of Destructiveness, published in The Phrenological Journal, vol. ix., p. 402, regards the primitive feeling mani-


fested by this organ to be "the propensity to injure."1 " Let me not,1' says he, " be misapprehended. Injury does not necessarily imply malice or mischief. There are occasions when it is beneficial to injure ; though doubtless the propensity is manifested less frequently in its uses than in its abuses. We may destroy, kill, or chastise, for good purposes as well as bad ; nay, we are compelled to do so : and the faculty which prompts to such conduct needs only to be regulated by morality and reason. Destruction is extreme injury ; to kill is to injure mortally ; slander and reproach are verbal injuries ; chastisement is injurious to bodily comfort ; we injure a statue by breaking off its nose." Mr Cox remarks, that " it seems to be a law of the human constitution, that, when any of our faculties is pained, or disagreeably active, this propensity instantly comes into play ; that is to say, there is immediately excited in the mind of the sufferer an inclination to injure-having for its object the inflicter of the pain, if one exist, but not unfrequently vented, where the feeling is uncontrolled by the moral sentiments and intellectual powers, upon neutral individuals, or even inanimate objects." A foolish nurse beats the ground on which a heedless child has fallen, and thereby gratifies its feeling of revenge, or its desire to injure the object which occasioned the pain. I concur in Mr Cox's view, in so far that I regard the desire to injure as one form of manifestation of Destructiveness. One purpose of Destructiveness is the removal of objects that annoy us ; and as pain is an annoyance, it naturally calls forth the disposition to destroy whatever occasions it. Morbid nervous irritability, by exposing us to suffer from every object or excitement that grates, however slightly, on our faculties, maintains Destructiveness in constant activity, and thus leads to that harshness of temper which generally characterizes this form of indisposition.

1 See also an interesting discussion between Dr Weir and Mr Cox on the primitive function of this faculty in The Phren. Journ., vol. xiii. p. 29 ; also p. 193.


Dr Vimont observes, that " the faculty of Destructiveness has been bestowed on vertebrated animals as well as on man, as a species of auxiliary to aid their other faculties. The beaver and the squirrel cut and tear in pieces the bark, leaves, and branches of trees, to construct a cabin or nest."

Combativeness, then, gives courage to resist aggression, and to meet danger unappalled. Destructiveness makes the onset perilous to the aggressor. Combativeness enables us to meet and overcome obstacles, and, having surmounted them, desires no more. Destructiveness prompts us to chastise or even exterminate the causes of them, so that they may never rise up again to create fresh annoyance. When the energy of this faculty is great, and Benevolence moderate, indifference to pain and destruction is the result. When too weak, Benevolence being strong, poignant distress is felt at the sight of death, and suffering of every kind.

The organ is large in the heads of cool and deliberate murderers. It is very large, and Benevolence small, in the skull of Bellingham, who murdered Mr Percival, the Prime Minister of England.1 The temporal bones protrude very much on each side, in the situation of the organ of Destructiveness, and the frontal bone presents a receding surface at the organ of Benevolence, where the skulls of individuals remarkable for Benevolence generally rise into an elevation of an inch or more. A cast of Bellingham's skull may be inspected in the Phrenological Society's collection. The organ of Destructiveness is largely developed also in the skull of Gordon, who accompanied a poor half-fatuous pedlar boy, and, in the middle of a muir, beat out his brains with the heel of his clog, and robbed him of his pack, not worth twenty shillings.2 The skull itself is in the Society's collection, and the bones protrude considerably on each side at the region in question. The protrusion in these instances arises from its excess over the neighbouring organs. If they had been equally large, there would have been great

1 Phrenological Transactions, p. 339. ° Id. p. 327.


general breadth, but no particular elevation. Inexperienced observers often fall into great errors by looking for protrusion alone. The organ is large in Charles Rotherham, who pulled a stake from a hedge and beat out the brains of a poor woman on the highway, and robbed her of some very trifling articles. It is large also in the skulls of Hussey, Nisbet, and Lockey, who were executed for murder. It is very large, with deficient moral organs, in William Hare, who murdered sixteen human beings, for the sake of selling their dead bodies as subjects for dissection ; and also in Gottfried, already mentioned on pages 142 and 144 ; Vitellius, page 146 ; and Linn, page 184. It, and the organ of Acquisitiveness, appear largely developed in the head of Heaman, executed at Edinburgh for piracy and murder ; also in the head of Robert Dean, executed for murdering a child without any rational motive ; and in the head of Mitchell, executed for murdering a young woman whom he had seduced. In the heads of David Haggart and Mary Macinnes, executed at Edinburgh, and of Booth, a poacher, executed at York, all for murders committed on the impulse of the moment, it appears considerably developed ; while in them Combativeness also is large. In the skull of Tardy, an atrocious pirate, murderer, and suicide,1 the development of Destructiveness is enormous. It is large also in the skull of Robert Burns.2 The reader may contrast, at situation of this organ, the skulls represented on p. 144 of the present work.

The Phrenological Society possesses casts of the skulls of five Caribs, who are well known to be a ferocious tribe, and in all of them the organ of Destructiveness is decidedly large. On the other hand, Dr George Murray Paterson, surgeon in the Honourable East India Company's service, mentions, as the result of three thousand actual examinations, that the organ is small in the heads of Hindoos in general, who are known to be extremely tender in regard to

1 Phrenological Journal, v. 365. * Id. ix. 63.


animal life. In the skulls of thirty-seven Hindoos, twelve of which were presented to the Society by this gentleman, two by Dr J. S. Combe of Leith, and the others by Sir George Mackenzie, the development of the organ is in general decidedly less than in the crania of most Europeans. The organ is moderately developed in the Esquimaux and Cingalese, and they are strangers to cruelty and ferocity. It is very large in the Papuan Islanders, who are very prone to murder.1 In the casts of three Swedish Laplanders pre-


sented to the Society by Mr G. M. Schwartz of Stockholm, the organ is large ; and the temper of that people is very passionate.2

When excited by intoxication, the organ sometimes becomes ungovernable ; and hence occasionally arises the de-

1 Phrenological Journal, ii. 264 ; vii. 638 ; viii. 299.

2 Id. ix. 329 ; and Malte-Brun's Universal Geography (Edinburgh edition), vi. 466. As to the Destructiveness of the Scotch and Peruvians, see The Phrenological Journal, viii. 182, and ix. 160.


struction of glasses, mirrors, chairs, and other frangible objects, at the close of a feast. Hence also the temptation, often almost irresistible, experienced by some worthy citizens, when inebriated, to smash a lamp in their progress home. One gentleman assured me that the lamps have appeared to him, when in this state, twinkling on his path with a wicked and scornful gleam, and that he has frequently lifted his stick to punish their- impertinence, when a remnant of reason restrained the meditated blow. In him Destructiveness was decidedly large, but, when sober, there was not a more excellent person.

This organ is larger in the male head than in the female ; and hence the male head is in general broader. The manifestations correspond ; for the propensity is less vigorously manifested by woman than by man.

In active life, a good endowment of the organ is an indispensable requisite to a proper discharge of the duties of several situations. What restrains the domination of the proud, but a knowledge, that, if they press too heavily even on the meanest, the feeling of resentment will start into activity to repel the insult ?-and resentment is the result of Destructiveness excited by wounded Self-esteem. In the case of officers conducting difficult and dangerous enterprises, what weight would the word of command carry, if every stubborn mind that received it knew, for certain, that the leader's dispositions were so soft, that he would inflict no punishment for disobedience ?-and punishment flows from Destructiveness directed by justice : the sword, accordingly, is carried before the supreme magistrate, and is an emblem of Destructiveness ready to fall on the contemners of the law.

These are not mere theoretical ideas, but views founded on actual observations. The Hindoo head is smaller than the European, and in particular Combativeness and Destructiveness are less in it in proportion to the other organs ; and we see millions of the former conquered by thousands of the latter. I have met with persons who were so soft that they scarcely struck fire, however hardly they were hit ; who


shrunk and retreated, jet agonized under every insult that was offered ; whose anger was so feeble, that its manifestations excited only a deeper scorn, and incited to farther outrages. Such individuals possessed small Combativeness and Destructiveness, and were carried through life on the shoulders of others, being incapable of fighting their own way amidst the turmoils of the world. Men who have an ample endowment of these organs, well regulated by superior sentiments, are not aware how much they owe to them. In civilized society, we pass years without a contest ; but it is because all know that the sentinels are at their post, and that attack is dangerous. A man in whom society recognises a deficiency of these powers, is not equally safe from aggression.

Destructiveness has been regarded by some phrenologists as communicating a more general energy to the mind. Endeavouring to trace analytically the manner in which it produces this effect, they have supposed it to give an impatient craving appetite for excitement ; a desire to vent the mind, as it were, on something ; a feeling which would be delighted with smashing and turmoil, or with any irregular commotion, rather than with the listlessness of repose : and hence a large development of it is held to be incompatible with that drowsiness of disposition which dreams life away in vapid inactivity, and which is contented to accept absence of suffering for enjoyment, and feels pain rather than pleasure in excitement. In this view, it is supposed to give a general stir and impetus to the mental faculties. The Hindoos, in whom the organ is small, are remarkable not only for great tenderness of animal life, but for deficiency in energy of character. In point of fact, however, the brain in general must be large and active, before great general power can be manifested ; and the real effect of Destructiveness appears to me to be to communicate ability to act with energy in certain situations in which, were that organ small, the individual would be completely paralyzed. In this view, it may add efficiency even to Benevolence, to which, at first sight, it appears di-


rectly opposed ; but it does so, not by increasing the positive amount of that feeling, which depends on its own organ, but by fitting the possessor to perform acts of real kindness, which require severity as their means.

As much ill-nature as wit is necessary for satire, and Destructiveness gives to it, to sarcasm, and to invective, their edge. It prompts also to the conception of images of terror, which become sublime or horrible, according as they are clothed with Ideality, or presented in naked deformity. In Lord Byron's works, it is strongly manifested. His appetite for fierce excitement,-the dark and dismal scenes of suffering and murder which generally abound in his stories,- together with the deadly venom and the fearful vehemence of his pen, when directed against his enemies,-could proceed from no source but the faculty in question. It leads a poet in general to imagine scenes of devastation and destruction, and to delight in the description of them. Byron's poem of Darkness exhibits the very form and pressure of Destructiveness.

The abuses of this faculty are easily recognised in society. There are persons who fly into a passion upon every trifling occurrence, and vent their rage on all who are subjected to their authority. This is a rude and vulgar manifestation of it. There are others, however, who avoid this form of misapplication, but who indulge in making severe remarks and cutting observations, altogether uncalled for, and introduced with no view but to give pain ; others issue their commands in harsh and angry terms, backed by loud threatenings and terrible gesticulations ; others are severe to excess on account of failures in duty, and little mindful of the happiness of those who live under their control : all these manifest abuses of Destructiveness.

When very active, this propensity produces a quick step, a drawing up of the body to the head, and a stamping or striking downwards ; also a wriggling of the head like the motion of that of a dog in the act of worrying. It gives a dark expression to the countenance, and harsh and discor-


dant tones to the voice. If, in a friendly converse with a person in whom the organ is large and Secretiveness small, one happens to touch on some irritating topic, in an instant the softness of Benevolence, and the courtesy of Love of Approbation, are gone, and the hoarse growl of Destructiveness indicates an approaching storm. I have seen it stayed, by referring the rising wrath to its source in this propensity, and calling on reflection to subdue it.

Cursing is an abuse of this faculty ; and I have observed among the lower orders, that some boys who attempted to practise this abominable vice through imitation, deeming it manly, could never infuse into their imprecations that force and expression which seemed to come quite naturally to others ;l and this incapacity for swearing proceeded from Destructiveness being moderately developed in proportion to the organs of the moral sentiments.

I have said that this faculty furnishes the threat which gives force to command. In the Bible, every variety of motive is held out to deter men from sin ; and I have noticed, that those individuals in whom Destructiveness predominates, have a natural tendency to dwell on the threatenings of the Gospel, while those in whom Benevolence, Hope, and Veneration are large, and Destructiveness deficient, hold out almost exclusively its promises-or, if they do mention its denunciations, they are so diluted by the softness of their own minds, that more than half their terrors are abated. Preachers of the first class frequently mistake the fervours of Destructiveness for the inspirations of moral eloquence ; and while, by their vehemence, they gratify men of sterner natures, they harrow up amiable and susceptible minds, and inflict on them great uneasiness. Preachers of the latter class, on the other hand, are acceptable to persons naturally mild in disposition, but to others they appear insipid. Love is a higher motive than fear, and where the mind can be led by

1 Stephen. I would rather than forty shillings I could swear as well as
that gentleman. " Body of Cosar-St George-and the foot of Pharaoh.1'
No. I ha'nt the right grace. Every Man in his Humour.


the higher feeling, it ought always to be preferred ; but many are open to the influence of terror, who are not alive to Hope and Veneration, and hence the use of both is necessary. It is only inordinate dwelling upon the one to the exclusion of the other that is reprehensible. The higher the cultivation of the audience, the less is fear requisite to make an impression. Fear is only aversion to personal suffering, and is totally different, from the love of good.

The pleasure which even humane and cultivated individuals experience in witnessing an execution, is inexplicable on any principle, except that of the existence of such a faculty as this, aided no doubt by the love of excitement, arising from Wonder and some other faculties. " We have," says Mr Scott, in an admirable essay on this propensity, " too much humanity ourselves to put a man to death. But, if a man is to be killed, we have no objection to witness the fact, or, if I may be allowed to say so, to enjoy the pleasure of seeing it performed.'1-Were Destructiveness wanting, and Benevolence favourably developed, in persons present at an execution, they would be horrified, not delighted, by such a scene."1 A blind man in Edinburgh attended the public executions. His Destructiveness was probably gratified by descriptions given to him by those who saw, and by their emotions when excited by the scene.

In children, and even in adults, Destructiveness frequently vents itself in destroying inanimate objects. The people deface mile-posts, bridges, statues, and public buildings, wherever they can get access to them ; and " no object of art, or even of utility," says a late writer, " is safe from their depredations." He ascribes this tendency to :t the spirit of pure mischief,1'-a correct designation for unguided Destructiveness. The statute SdGeo. IV. chap. 71, which ordains, " that, if any person or persons shall wantonly and cruelly beat, abuse, or ill-treat, any horse, mare, gelding," &c. he shall pay certain penalties to the king, is clearly directed against the abuses of this propensity, and, of course, presup-

1 Phren. Trans, p. 147. See also Phren. Journ. ix. 502.


poses its existence. The adjectives severe, harsh, angry, cruel, fierce, ferocious, savage, brutal, barbarous, atrocious, indicate states of mind all originating from it.

Metaphysical authors in general do not treat of any power resembling this propensity, considered as a spontaneously active power. Accustomed to reflect in the closet more than to observe actions, they were not likely to discover it. At the same time, it is surprising that the contemplation of the pages of history did not suggest the existence of a tendency of this kind to their minds. Caligula is represented as cutting out the tongues of his victims,-delivering them to be devoured by wild beasts,-forcing individuals to assist in executing their relations,-torturing and putting to the rack unhappy wretches as an amusement to his own ferocious spirit, and finally expressing a wish that the Roman people had but one head, that he might cut it off by one blow. Turning our eyes to Nero, we discover him indulging in equal atrocities,-causing Britannica to be poisoned,-murdering his own' mother,-setting fire to Rome in four quarters at once, and ascending a tower to enjoy the spectacle of the conflagration. In modern times, we are presented with the horrors of the Sicilian Vespers, the carnage of St Bartholomew's, the cruelties of the Spaniards in America, the burning of witches, and the massacres of the French revolution. These actions are inexplicable, on the supposition that no propensity like Destructiveness exists : If the metaphysicians had applied their systems to human conduct, they would have discovered that they contained no principle capable of accounting for the atrocities alluded to. In the ancient busts of Nero, the organ of Destructiveness is represented as enormously large.

The organ is liable to excitement by disease, and then the propensity is manifested with irresistible vehemence. The author of Sketches in Bedlam describes the case of Pat Walsh, a ferocious maniac who had been deranged altogether about twelve years, and had, it is said, uniformly evinced a character of desperation, vengeance, and sanguinary cruelty, scarcely


conceivable even in madness. Notwithstanding every precaution that was taken, he had killed three persons during his confinement. " His propensity to mischief, malice, and personal abuse, is as incessant as his taste for bloodshed and slaughter. He has contrived, notwithstanding his restriction of hands and feet, to break about seventy panes of glass within the last two years, in the dining-room windows, although guarded on the inside by a strong iron-wire latticework. This amusement he contrived to effect by standing on a form placed at some distance from the windows, and, taking the bowl of his wooden spoon in his mouth, he poked the handle through the meshes of the wire-work, and thus broke the pane.'' As this man is said to be confined in an iron cincture that surrounds his waist, with strong handcuffs attached to it, I infer that he is the same whose head I examined in Bedlam in 1824, and in whom the organs of Combativeness and Destructiveness were inordinately large.

When these two organs are very much developed, and the moral and intellectual organs very deficient, there is an innate disposition to mischief and violence which renders the individual dangerous to society. In visiting the Richmond Lunatic Asylum in Dublin, in 1829, a man was presented to me by Dr Crawford, substitute-physician, concerning whom I made the following remarks :

'' This is the worst head I ever saw. The combination is worse than Hare's. Combativeness and Destructiveness are fearfully large, and the moral organs altogether very deficient : Benevolence is the best developed of them, but it is miserably small compared with the organs of Combativeness and Destructiveness. I am surprised that this man was not executed before he became insane."

Dr Crawford had previously written down, and then exhibited, the following observations :

" Patient E. S., aged 34. Ten years since first admission.

Total want of moral feeling and principle ; great depravity of character, leading to the indulgence of every vice, and to the commission even of crime. Considerable intelligence, ingenuity, and plausi-


bility ; a scourge to his family from childhood ; turned out of the army as an incorrigible villain ; attempted the life of a soldier ; repeatedly flogged ; has since attempted to poison his father.'»

In preparing a report of this and other cases for The Phrenological Journal (vol. vi. p. 80.), I sent the proof-sheet to Dr Crawford for revisal, which he returned along with a letter to the following effect :-" I have a few remarks to make on the lunatic lettered E. S. You observe in your own notes, 'lam surprised that he was not executed before he became insane.' This would lead to the supposition, that he had been afflicted with some form of insanity in addition to a naturally depraved character. Such, however, is by no means the case : he never was different from what he now is ; he has never evinced the slightest mental incoherence on any one point, nor any kind of hallucination. It is one of those cases where there is great difficulty in drawing the line between extreme moral depravity and insanity, and in deciding at what point an individual should cease to be considered as a responsible moral agent, and amenable to the laws. The governors and medical gentlemen of the Asylum have often had doubts whether they were justified in keeping E. S. as a lunatic, thinking him a more fit subject for a bridewell. He appears, however, so totally callous with regard to every moral principle and feeling-so thoroughly unconscious of ever having done any thing wrong-so completely destitute of all sense of shame or remorse when reproved for his vices or crimes -and has proved himself so utterly incorrigible throughout life-that it is almost certain that any jury before whom he might be brought would satisfy their doubts by returning him insane, which in such a case is the most humane line to pursue. He was dismissed several times from the Asylum, and sent there the last time for attempting to poison his father, and it seems fit he should be kept there for life as a moral lunatic ; but there has never been the least symptom, of diseased action of the brain, which is the general concomitant of what is usually understood as insanity. This I consider might with propriety be made the foundation for a division of lunatics into two great classes : those who were in-


sane from original constitution, and never were otherwise, and those who had been insane at some period of life from diseased action of the brain, either permanent or intermittent. -There would be room for a few additional notes to the case of E. S., explanatory of what I have said, if you think fit.- Dublin, 20th July 1829."

Dr Gall cites a variety of cases of diseased manifestations of this propensity, which had fallen under his own observation, and quotes several others highly illustrative from Pinel. I select one of these, in which the organ of Destructiveness seems to have been affected singly, the other organs remain-' ing entire. The patient, during periodical fits of insanity, was seized with an " uncontrollable fury, which inspired him with an irresistible propensity to seize an instrument or offensive weapon, and to knock on the head the first person who presented himself to his view. He experienced a sort of internal combat between this ferocious impulse to destroy, and the profound horror which rose in his mind at the very idea of such a crime. There was no mark of wandering of memory, imagination, or judgment. He avowed to me, during his strict seclusion, that his propensity to commit murder was absolutely forced and involuntary, and that his wife, whom he tenderly loved, had nearly become his victim, he having scarcely had time to bid her flee to avoid his fury. All his lucid intervals were marked by melancholy reflections and expressions of remorse ; and so great did his disgust of life become, that he had several times attempted an act of suicide" (this is common in the excess of Destructiveness) " to bring it to a close. ' What reason have I,' said he, ' to cut the throat of the superintendent of the hospital, who treats us with so much kindness ? and yet in my moments of fury I am tempted to rush upon him, as well as others, and plunge a dagger in his bosom. It is this unhappy and irresistible propensity which reduces me to despair, and makes me attempt my own life.1 "*

1 Sur l'Alienation Mentale, deuxième édition, p. 102 et 103, sect. 117 See other cases of the same kind in Gall Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau i.



Individuals who occasionally commit murder, or set fire to property, without any rational motive, sometimes ascribe their actions to the temptation of the devil, asserting that he whispered into their ears, " Kill him, kill him,'' and never ceased to repeat the exhortation till they had complied with it. Diseased activity of this organ, filling the mind habitually with a desire to destroy, probably gives rise to such an impression. In ages when belief in witchcraft was common among religious persons, impulses of the propensities, arising from spontaneous activity of the organs, appear to have been frequently mistaken for suggestions of evil spirits.

One form in which disease of this organ sometimes appears, requires particular notice ; it is when it prompts females of the most unquestionable reputation to child-murder. I cite the following from the public newspapers of May 1822. " On Sunday morning, about half-past ten o'clock, a most horrid murder, of unparalleled inhumanity, was perpetrated on the body of a fine female infant, about eight months old, named Sarah Mountfort, by her own mother, wife of Mr Mountfort, weaver, No. 1 Virginia Row, Bethnal Green. The husband, who is a Methodist, had gone to chapel, leaving his wife to clean, and send to the Sunday school, her young family. Having done this, it appeared she cleaned herself and her infant, when, overcome by some extraordinary aberration of intellect, she cut off the head of the child with a razor, and, besmeared with the blood, immediately told the persons in the house of the bloody deed, desiring to be given into custody, as she wanted to be hanged. From the conduct of the wretched woman after the transaction, no doubt can be entertained of her insanity. Mrs Mountfort underwent a short examina-

399,417-423,447-457; ii. 470; iii. 174; iv. 99-110, 170 ;-Spurzheim's

Phrenology, section on Destructiveness ;-Dr A. Combe's Observations on Mental Derangement, p. 258 ; Simpson's Necessity of Popular Education, Appendix, No. II. ;-and Phrenological Journal, viii. 144, 189 ; xii. 102. 255.


tion on Monday, and was committed for trial. A coroner's inquest has been held, which returned a verdict of wilful murder against the wretched woman. The distress of the family is extreme. The unhappy husband and two of the eldest daughters are seen running about the streets in a state of distraction. One of the latter has been deprived of utterance since the horrid transaction.'' This woman is said to have been " overcome by some extraordinary aberration of intellect ;" a mode of expression which may be forgiven in the writer of a newspaper paragraph, although, viewed philosophically, it is absurd. The intellectual powers enumerated by the metaphysicians, such as Perception, Conception, Memory, Imagination, and Judgment, furnish no propensities to action, which, being deranged, could produce such a piece of barbarity. Derangement of intellect causes the patient to reason incorrectly, and speak incoherently; but if las feelings be sound, he is not mischievous. Here, however, the unhappy woman seems to have been inspired with a blind and irresistible impulse to kill, arising from disease of Destructiveness.

These details are exceedingly painful, and the reader may question the taste which permits their insertion ; but great ignorance prevails in the public mind on this subject, and the records of our criminal courts still shew cases of unhappy persons condemned to the gallows, who, if Phrenology were known to the judges and juries, would be consigned to lunatic asylums.1

As already noticed, the organ is common to man and carnivorous animals.2 Dr Gall, however, remarks, that " the organ is not, in all carnivorous animals, situated with rigor-

1 Mr M. B. Sampson has published an instructive work on this subject, entitled Criminal Jurisprudence considered in Relation to Mental Organization.

2 Mr Robert Cox maintains that herbivorous animals are not wholly destitute of Destructiveness. See Phren. Journ., ix. 406. It is certainly not easy to deny, that the bull and ram sometimes display the faculty in a high degree.


ous exactness above the external opening of the ear. Among some species of birds-for example, in the stork,' the cormorant, the heron, the gull, &c.-the external opening of the ear is considerably removed back, and the organ of the propensity to kill is placed immediately behind the orbits, forming a large prominence upon each side, the size of which is found to bear an uniform proportion to the degree in which the animal manifests the propensity to kill. In comparing the crania of carnivorous birds with the skulls of those which can live indifferently upon either animals or vegetables, this prominence is found to be less conspicuous in the latter-in the duck, for example, and in the different species of thrushes ; and it becomes less and less prominent, in proportion as the birds exhibit a more distinct preference for vegetables, such as the swan, the goose," &c. The differences are illustrated by plates in Dr Gall's work. If the brain of a sheep and that of a dog be compared, a great deficiency will be discovered in the former at Destructiveness.

In 1827, Dr Joseph Vimont presented to the Royal Institute of France, a memoir on Comparative Phrenology, in which he brings forward a vast collection of most interesting facts, in regard to the dispositions and forms of the brain in the lower animals. In regard to Destructiveness he says : " All animals which live on flesh, or which have a propensity for destroying, have a particular part of the cranium whose development corresponds with that of this faculty. Thus all the ferae,1 without exception, have the squamous portion of the temporal bone2 enlarged in a perceptible manner. We may cite as examples, the tiger, the cat, the fox, the martin, the weasel, the ermine.

" In the carnivorous birds properly so called, the portion of the cranium situated behind the orbit, corresponds with the organ of the carnivorous instinct, and presents a remarkable development. In the omnivorous birds, the enlargement is

1 Beasts of prey.

2 Which covers Destructiveness,


a little more posterior." " He remarks farther, in his Comparative Phrenology, that when Gall and Spurzheim cite, m support of their observations, carnivorous and granivorous birds as examples of the presence of the propensity to destroy in the one case, and the absence of it in the other, they commit a double error. Many granivorous birds are very fond of animal substances. I have seen fowls run with avidity to flesh, even that of a young chicken which had been cut in pieces. I have seen the same birds quit grain in order to eat shell-fish which had been thrown to them. It is quite certain that there exists a great difference between the skulls and brains of birds which live exclusively on animal substances, and those whose principal food is vegetables, a difference which Dr Gall has not correctly indicated, as I shall demonstrate ; but, in my opinion, it is to be ascribed to the difference in the activity of the tendency to destroy in the different species, and not to its total absence in one of them,"

The organ is regarded as established.

In a subsequent chapter, I shall present figures from Dr Vimont's work shewing, according to his views, the situation of the organs in several of the lower animals.

Various additional cases and remarks on this propensity and organ, will be found in the Phrenological Journal, vol. xiv., p. 55, and in vol. xv., p. 56, 95, 257, 357.


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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