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, when large, gives prominence or a rounded fulness to the middle of the forehead.

22. Individuality moderate. 22. Individuality large. 22. Individuality large.

30. Eventuality large. 30. Eventuality small. 30. Eventuality large.

84. Comparison rather large. 34. Comparison very large. 34. Comparison full.

1 See ample details in The Phrenological Journal, vol. viii. p. 435.


After Dr Gall had discovered an external sign of the talent for learning by heart, he was not long in perceiving that it by no means indicated every species of memory. He observed, that, among his schoolfellows, some excelled in verbal memory, and remembered even words which they did not understand ; while others were deficient in this qualification, but recollected with uncommon facility facts and events : some were distinguished by a great memory of places ; some were able to repeat, without mistake, a piece of music which they had heard only once or twice, while others excelled in recollecting numbers and dates ; but no individual possessed all these talents in an equal degree. Subsequently to these observations, he learned that philosophers before him had arrived at similar conclusions, and had distinguished three varieties of memory-memory of things, " memoria realis ;" verbal memory, " memoria verbalis ;" and memory of places, "memoria localis" In society, he observed persons who, though not always profound, were learned, had a superficial knowledge of all the arts and sciences, and knew enough to be capable of speaking on them with facility ; and he found in them, the middle of the lower part of the forehead very much developed. At first he regarded this as the organ of the " memory of things ;" but, on farther reflection, he perceived, that the name " memory of things" does not include the whole sphere of activity of the faculty now under consideration. He observed, that persons who had this part of the brain large, not only possessed a great memory of facts, but were distinguished by prompt conception in general, and an extreme facility of apprehension ; a strong desire for information and instruction ; a disposition to study all branches of knowledge, and to teach these to others : and also, that, if not restrained by the higher faculties, such persons were naturally prone to adopt the opinions of others, to embrace new doctrines, and to modify their own minds according to the manners, customs, and circumstances by which they were surrounded. He therefore rejected the name " memory of things," and adopted the appellations Sens des choses, sens (Feducabilité, de perfectibilité, to distinguish this faculty.


Dr Gall's observations apply to the part of the brain comprising the organs now designated Eventuality and Individuality ; he did not treat of them as separate organs. We owe to Dr Spurzheim the correct indication of the functions of each.

The function of Eventuality is to take cognizance of changes, events, or active phenomena, indicated by active verbs. It observes motion, in such expressions as the bock falls, the horse gallops, the river runs, the substantive springs from Individuality, and the verb from Eventuality. Two gentlemen went to see a review, of two or three thousand soldiers. After the review, a friend asked one of them what regiments were on the ground. He could not tell. " Did you not observe the numbers on their knapsacks V '-No, I didnot.- " Did you observe the facings of their coats V' " No."-" Then, pray what did you observe /"-" I observed the Evolutions. The men came on the ground in marching columns ; they formed line ; then column again ; then hollow squares ;" and he proceeded to describe all their movements. In his head Eventuality was large, and Individuality deficient. Another gentlemen, who heard this discourse, said, " My observations took a different direction. I noticed the numbers painted on the knapsacks of the men, indicating the regiments ; the facings, the particular officers who commanded, &c., but I could not recall the evolutions, as Mr A. has done." In this person Individuality was large, and Eventuality deficient.

In visiting the State Prison of Connecticut, in the United States, on 22d October 1839,1 observed that the head of Mr Pillsbury, the superintendent of the prison, presented a deficient organ of Individuality, with a large organ of Eventuality ; on which the Reverend Mr Gallaudet, who accompanied me, without giving any explanation to Mr P. of the object of his enquiry, asked him whether, in seeing a review, he would observe, and recollect best the appearance of the men or the evolutions ; he replied instantly, " the evolutions."

In The Phrenological Journal, vol. xii. p. 257, Mr W. R.


Löwe reports the following case :-" In Mrs T--, a well-educated, married lady, aged between forty-five and fifty, Eventuality and Time are developed to an unusual extent ; the surface of these two organs occupying nearly half the entire intellectual region, and their prominence being such as to give to the forehead quite an arched or semicircular appearance ; and, from a long intimacy having existed between us, I can with truth bear testimony to the correspondence of the power of these faculties with the cerebral organization. She is, indeed, as the phrenologist would expect, -a complete walking almanac, a kind of animated calendar of births, deaths, historical occurrences, and events generally, and has been from quite childhood (as I am informed) a never failing book of reference for her family and friends. The following anecdote will, however, give some idea of her memory of events. Two ladies, who had each given birth to a child in the space of a fortnight, were recently disputing as to which of the two children was the elder ; the birthday of the one was distinctly remembered, but they were undecided as to whether the other was a fortnight older, or a fortnight younger. Mrs T. happening, however, to call just at this juncture, she was asked if she could settle the dispute ; and although she had never heard the date of the birth-day of either of the children mentioned, so vivid and accurate was her recollection of the event, that, without the slightest consideration (turning to one of the ladies) she answered, " Your child is the elder, for he was born on Sunday, May 5th, 1828, and yours " (addressing the other lady) " was born a fortnight afterwards, on Saturday, the 19th." In the course of an evening spent a few weeks ago with Mrs T., she shewed, in a variety of instances (by answering questions put with a view of ascertaining the extent of her memory of events, and telling, for instance, the days of the birth and death of Burns, Scott, and other men of eminence, the dates of the opening of several railways, &c.) that the energy of the faculties of Eventuality and Time exactly corresponds with the size of their organs. To relate all these


instances would be making my communication too prolix ; one other may, however, be given. T asked her if she could recollect the date of the opening of the church at Ironbridge, in Shropshire (not very far from her residence) ; when, without a moment's hesitation, she replied, " Yes ; it was intended to have been consecrated and opened on Thursday, July 27th, 1837 ; but as the Bishop (of Hereford) died on Monday the 24th, it did not take place until Thursday, October 26th." It is almost needless to add, that, on subsequent enquiry, I found these dates correct,

" In addition to Mrs T.'s wonderful recollection of events, she also possesses, in a considerable degree, the power of remembering the genealogies of families ; being able to trace back, with little or no consideration, through several generations, the pedigrees of most of the nobility, with whose names she is familiar. It is, however, I suppose, questionable whether this can be referred to Eventuality alone or not." I consider Eventuality the chief ingredient in this kind of memory.

Eventuality prompts to investigation by experiment, while Individuality leads to observation of existing things. Individuality gives the tendency to ascribe existence to abstract ideas, such as Ignorance or Wisdom ; and Eventuality to represent them as acting. In a work written by an author with whom I was acquainted, and in whom both of these organs were large, Ignorance and Common-sense were represented as personages who addressed the people, excited them to action, and themselves performed a variety of parts ; Ignorance " stole a march on Common-sense," who, by dexterous expedients, extricated himself from the difficulty. An author in whom Individuality is large and Eventuality small, will treat his subjects by description chiefly ; and one in whom Eventuality is large, and Individuality small, will narrate actions, but deal little in physical description.

Sheridan possessed both organs large, with those of Size and Locality amply developed ; and the following passage affords an example of the prominence which the physical ap-


pearances of objects obtain in his composition. Speaking of a woman and her husband, he says-" Her fat arms are strangled with bracelets, which belt them like corded brawn. -You wish to draw her out as you would an opera-glass- A long lean man, with all his arms rambling ; no way to reduce him to compass, unless you could double him up like a pocket-rule.-With his arms spread he'd lie on the bed of Ware, like a cross on a Good Friday bun.-If he stands cross-legged, he looks like a caduceus, and put him in a fencing attitude, you would take him for a chevaux-de-frise ; to make any use of him, it must be as a spontoon or a fishing-rod.-When his wife's by, he follows like a note of admiration.-See them together, one's a mast, and the other all hulk,-she's a dome, and he's built like a glass-house ;- when they part, you wonder to see the steeple separate from the chancel, and were they to embrace, he must hang round her neck like a skein of thread on a lace-maker's bolster ; to sing her praise, you should choose a rondeau, and to celebrate him you must write all alexandrines."

In the busts and portraits of Pope, Individuality is greatly inferior in dimensions to Eventuality; and this author rarely excels in describing physical appearances, while he surpasses in representing action. The following lines from The Rape of the Lock are intended to describe a beautiful lady; but it will be observed that they represent action condition, and quality, almost to the exclusion of substantive existence, with its attributes of form, colour, size, and proportion. 1

" Not with more glories in the ethereal plain,, The sun first rises o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launched on the bosom of the silver Thames. Fair nymphs and well-dressed youths around her shone ; But every eye was fixed on her alone.

1 Some acute and interesting observations by Mr Hewett Watson, on the relation between the writings of these and other authors, and their cerebral organs, will be found in The Phrenological Journal, vol. vi. pp. 383




On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore, Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore. Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose, Quick as her eyes and as unfixed as those : Favours to none, to all she smiles extends : Oft she rejects, but never once offends. Bright as the sun her eyes the gazers strike ; And, like that sun, they shine on all alike. Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride, Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide : If to her share some female errors fall, Look on her face, and you'll forget them all."

This organ is often largely developed in children, and gives them an appetite for knowledge, in the form of stories and narratives. In practical life, it gives chiefly the talent of observing, recollecting, and describing action ; in other words, of observing the occurrences of which history is composed, and of telling the story of what we know. When deficient, great difficulty is experienced in observing, recollecting, and describing active phenomena. Captain Marryat' s novels exhibit the faculty strongly, and the organ appears to be large in his portrait. The writings of Godwin shew little of it, and in his mask the organ is small. Mr Charles Meymott mentions, in the Phrenological Journal, vol. xiii. p. 260, that although he remembered the appearance of a certain person whom he had previously known, he could not recollect " when, where, or how often he had seen him, his name, occupation, or indeed any event whatever relating to him. This," says he, " is only one instance out of many of the same kind that are continually occurring to me." He adds, that in his head the organ of Eventuality is " relatively much smaller than the surrounding organs."

If Eventuality be large, and Concentrativeness deficient, the qualities of observation and narration may be possessed, but the narrative will resemble a description of figures in a carnival ; it will be full of life, action, and incident, but deficient in onward continuity : with Concentrativeness large, the story would more nearly resemble a regular drama.

If Individuality be large, physical substances may be re-


membered vividly by it, their relations in space by Locality and Order, and their causes and effects by Causality ; but if Eventuality be deficient, extreme difficulty will be experienced in bringing together these items of information, and presenting them in the form of a natural narrative.

A person in whom the combination how described exists, and in whom Concentrativeness is large, will feel strongly the desire of communicating the quality of continuity to his narrative ; and on important occasions he will produce it by laboriously writing down all the elementary ideas of his subject, by transposing them, by filling up, and by striking out parts, until the whole shall cohere with neatness and consistency. Such a combination will fit its possessor for studying physical more successfully than moral science ; because action is the primary element of the latter.

If Concentrativeness and Eventuality be both deficient, the literary or philosophical, productions of the individual will be marked by omissions of important intermediate ideas ; in oral discourses he will combine description with inference, without taking sufficient notice of modes of action ; he will often wander from his subject j in short, he may display great knowledge of objects which exist, with profound reflection on their relations, and yet be unsuccessful in conveying to the minds of his readers or auditors philosophical convictions, similar to those which exist in his own mind. This will be owing chiefly to deficiency in the power of representing, by Eventuality, modes of action, and of giving, by Concentrativeness, continuity to the thread of his discourses. ^ Individuality, Eventuality, and Concentrativeness, are indispensable qualities to a successful teacher. I have never seen a person capable of interesting children and exciting their intellects, who was deficient in both the first and the second organs. The manner of a teacher thus deficient in communicating knowledge, is vague, abstract, and dry, and altogether unsuited to the mental condition of the young. These three organs large, combined with large Philoprogenitiveness, Benevolence, and Conscientiousness, and an active


temperament, constitute the leading mental elements of a good teacher.1 Sir George Mackenzie suggests that he should also be gifted with a mirthful disposition.2

When both Individuality and Eventuality are large, the individual possesses two important qualities for general business. They confer that readiness of observation and talent for detail, which are essential in the management of affairs. The lawyer so endowed is able readily to apprehend the details of his cases : to recollect the principles of law, the dicta of legal authors, and the decisions of courts, as matters of fact : and to reproduce the whole in a connected narrative before a judge or jury. His power of applying principles to new cases, depends on the reflecting faculties : but although these be powerful, yet, if Individuality and Eventuality be deficient, he may feel great difficulty in preparation for a trial, and in the reproduction of his ideas. In point of fact, the most eminent practical lawyers, particularly in England, are distinguished by a great development of these organs. They are equally necessary to the public speaker, to give him a command over the materiel or details of his subject, and to enable him to set it forth clearly and naturally to his audience. I have observed them large also in eminent physicians ; for, in the profession of medicine, prompt and accurate observation is one important element in success.

Both of these organs are large in authors who acutely observe objects that exist, and also life, manners, and occurrences :-as Le Sage, Defoe, and Sir "Walter Scott.3

1 See The Phrenological Journal, vol. v. p. 620.

2 General Observations on the Principles of Education : for the use of Mechanics Institutes. By Sir G. S. Mackenzie, Bart. 1836, p. 65.

3 Sir Walter Scott was deficient in Concentrativeness, and the absence of the mental quality is very conspicuous in his writings. The first volume of each of his novels is in general expended before he enters fairly into his subject. With Concentrativeness large, he would have dashed into it at once, and proceeded to pour forth a condensed stream of narrative and description to the close.


They are essential to the composition of such works as Robinson Crusoe and Gullivers Travels, in which a strong impression of reality is produced by a minute description of particular objects and actions. In the skull of Swift, the organs appear very large.1

When both organs are small, and the organs of reflection are large, the individual will retain only general ideas, and will experience great difficulty in becoming learned ; he may see, hear, or read many facts, but they will make only a faint impression, and soon escape from his mind ; he will feel great difficulty in commanding, without previous preparation, even the knowledge which he possesses.

These faculties desire only to know existence and phenomena, and do not reason or trace relations. A person in whom they are strong, and in whom the reasoning powers are deficient, gains his knowledge by questioning and observation. If we tell him two facts, which clearly imply a third, he will not naturally endeavour to find it out by his own suggestion, but will instantly put another question. The tendency of these faculties also, is to recollect facts according as they occur, and not according to any philosophical relations between them. Mrs Quickly1 s speech to Falstaff's, a beautiful illustration of this kind of understanding. She is reminding him of his promise of marriage, and says- " Thou didst swear to me on a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea coal fire, on Wednesday in Whitsunweek, when the Prince broke thy head for likening his father to a singing man of Windsor ; thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my lady thy wife. Canst thou deny it ? Did not goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then, and call me gossip Quickly ? coming in to borrow a mess of mne-

1 Thus skull, which I examined in Dublin, presents unequivocal marks of disease, and cannot therefore be cited as evidence, except in so far as supported by authentic portraits painted before his insanity commenced. In all of these the organs of Individuality and Eventuality are represented large. See Phren. Journ. vol. ix. p. 466, 603


gar ; telling us, she had a good disk of prawns ; whereby thou didst desire to eat some ; whereby I told thee, they were ill for a green wound ; and didst not thou, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor people, saying, that ere long they should call me Madam ? And didst thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings ? I put thee now to thy book oath ; deny it if thou canst.'11 Here is a surprising variety of trivial circumstances connected by no link but that of the order of their occurrence. Yet every one must perceive, that they have an effect in producing the impression of reality on the mind. We feel it impossible to doubt the promise, which is substantiated by so particular a detail of facts, every one of which becomes, as it were, a witness to its truth.

Dr Spurzheim, in treating of Eventuality, says : " It seems to me that this faculty recognises the activity of every other, whether external or internal, and acts in its turn upon all of them. It desires to know every thing by experience, and consequently excites all the other organs to activity ; it would hear, see, smell, taste, and touch ; is fond of general instruction, and inclines to the pursuit of practical knowledge, and is often styled good sense in our proceedings. It is essential to editors, secretaries, historians, and teachers. By knowing the functions of the other powers, this faculty and Individuality contribute essentially to the unity of consciousness, and to the recognition of the entity my self in philosophy. Eventuality seems to perceive the impressions which are the immediate functions of the external senses, to change these into notions, conceptions, or ideas, and to be essential to attention in general. Its sphere of activity is very great, and expressed by the verbs in their infinitive mood. Every philosophic system has taken account of some operations of this faculty."2

The relation of the faculty of Time to Eventuality is stated on p. 74-5, voce Locality.

1 Second Part of King Henry IV. Act ii. scene 2. 3 Phrenology, last (American) edition, p. 340.


Dr Gall regarded the part of the brain comprising Individuality and Eventuality, as the organ of " the sense of things" in man, and of educability or perfectibility in the lower animals. While he admits that every faculty is susceptible of improvement by education, he forms a scale of the heads of animals, from the crocodile and frog up to man, with the view of proving, that the more this part of the brain is developed in each species, the higher are its natural susceptibilities of being tamed and taught. Camper and Lavater, he adds, had made similar observations ; but they did not distinguish special faculties and organs. Dr Spurzheim acknowledges the correctness of the facts stated by Dr Gall, that tame animals have fuller foreheads than wild ones, and that animals are generally tameable in proportion to the development of their foreheads ; but he conceives that Dr Gall attributes to a single faculty, manifestations which depend on the intellect generally. Eventuality does not fill the whole forehead; and the other organs situated there contribute to the effects observed by Dr Gall. The observation of the latter, therefore, is deficient in precision, rather than in truth. Dr Gall, however, remarks, that this organ does not fill the whole forehead ; and he distinguishes between the capacity of improvement which belongs to every faculty, and that general capacity for being educated which he ascribes to this organ alone. The organ, he says, is confined to the middle line of the forehead, on the two sides of the falx, and the power of educability which it confers extends to all things not comprehended within the spheres of the other organs. Dr Gall regarded the organ of Benevolence, in the lower animals, as the source of gentleness of disposition, and described it as situated in them in the middle of the upper part of the forehead. The organ of Educability, which is distinct, he says, is situated in the middle of the lower part of the forehead.

The older metaphysicians do not treat of any faculty distinctly analogous to Eventuality. But Dr Thomas Brown1

1Lectures, vol. ii. p. 192.

104 TIME.

admits a power of the mind, under the name of " Simple Suggestion," which corresponds very closely with it ; and he reduces Conception and Memory of the metaphysicians to this principle of Simple Suggestion. The organ is 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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