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].


DR GALL mentions, that a girl named Bianchi, of about five years of age, was presented to him, and he was asked

1 Library of Entertaining Knowledge, vol. i. p. 55.-Another case of a dog which obviously distinguished the days of the week, will be found in the Phrenological Journal, vol. viii. p. 76.

2 Traité de Phrénologie, tome ii. p. 330.


for what talent she was most distinguished. He discovered in her no indication of an extraordinary memory ; and the idea had not then occurred to him, that the talent for music could be recognised by the conformation of the head. Indeed, he had not at that time ascertained the different kinds of memory ; but his friends, nevertheless, maintained, that the girl had an extraordinary memory for music, and, as he had not discovered that talent in her, they inferred that the doctrine which he taught of external signs for different kinds of memory was unfounded. This child repeated whatever she heard sung or played on the piano, and recollected whole concerts if she had heard them only twice. Dr Gall asked if she learned by heart with equal facility, but he was told that she possessed this astonishing memory in music alone. He concluded that a well-marked difference exists between memory for music, and the other kinds of memory with which he was then acquainted, and that every kind has its distinct organ. He prosecuted his observations with fresh ardour, and at last discovered that the talent for music is connected with the organ now under consideration. He calls it, " Le sens des rapports des tons;" an expression, says he, "qui rattache la manière dont l'intellect du musicien met en ouvre les rapports de tons à la manière d'agir des sens en général." The organ of Tune bears the same relation to the ears which the organ of colouring does to the eyes. The auditory apparatus receives the impressions of sounds, and is agreeably or disagreeably affected by them ; but the ear has no recollection of tones, nor does it judge of their relations : it does not perceive the harmonies of sound ; and sounds as well as colours may be separately pleasing, though disagreeable in combination. Le Bouvyer Desmortiers, in his Memoir, or Considerations on the Deaf and Dumb, remarks, that "his deaf and dumb pupil, Maurice, sung very willingly, and-with all the natural expression of the most delicious enjoyment;" and adds, " Assuredly these effects take their rise, and are accomplished, in the brain, without the participation

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of hearing."1 A friend, in a letter written from India, formerly quoted, says-" Melody is the pleasure arising from successions of simple sounds suited to each other. Harmony is that arising from combined sounds, or from several striking the ear simultaneously, as in a band playing different parts. The former requires much less of the organ than the latter ; and hence the Scotch, with no great Tune, are melodists, but nothing as musicians."

The generic terms, Pitch-Duration-Force or Loudness -and Quality, express the varieties of sound. " Pitch of musical sound depends on the number of impulses in a given time. Duration depends on the continuance of the same number in equal successive times ; Loudness or Force on the extent of excursion of the vibration of the sounding body ; and Quality on the molecular structure of the sounding body.'* " Melody may be described as a series of sounds, each of a certain Pitch, Duration, Loudness, and Quality, succeeding each other with a certain velocity." " The quality and the degrees of loudness of sounds are perceived although the organ of Tune be deficiently developed. Mr Cull says, that the function of this organ is to perceive the pitch of sound."2 Duration is judged of by the organ of Time. Mr Simpson considers " Sound'' to be the primitive function of the organ, and the power of perceiving the qualities of sounds now enumerated to depend on the degree in which the organ is possessed. He regards all sounds as musical; and says, that it is the quality or timbre of a sound, and not its pitch or adaptation to a musical scale, which renders it disagreeable.3 Another writer in The Phrenological Journal, vol. xi. p. 36, remarks, " That the duration of sound is perceived

1 Gall's Petition and Remonstrance, appended to translation of " Gall on the Cerebellum," by George Combe, p. 321.

2 These are remarks of Mr Richard Cull, communicated to the Phrenological Journal, in vol. xi. p. 33 ; also in vol. xii. p. 135, and 249. They display great knowledge and talent.

3 See Phrenological Journal, vol. x. p. 436 ; and vol. xi. p. 267. 3

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by the organ of Time; 2d, That persons insensible to melody can estimate the relative distance of sounds, which is effected by perceiving and calculating upon their loudness. 3dly, They can predicate the nature of the body producing the sound, which implies perception of the quality of the sound. Thus the quality and the degrees of loudness of sounds are perceived, although the organ of Melody be deficiently developed. The inquiry is now narrow, for the only remaining property is the Pitch of sound. And this is the property which is not perceived. There may be discrimination between the sound and its fifth or sixth, but there is no power to discriminate the several degrees of the scale or gamut ; and hence none for the perception of melody. It is by perceiving the pitch of the several sounds of the octave, in relation to the key-note of that octave, that we are enabled to perceive the relationships of pitch of the several successive sounds that form a melody." See these discussions continued in Phren. Journ., vol. xii, p. 135, 249, 305 ; xiii. p. 193 ; xiv. p. 113.

A correspondent of The Phrenological Journal mentions, that " he has a most singular tendency to compare one thing with another : for instance, if he hears the piano played, every sound seems to resemble a particular colour ; and so uniform is this, that he thinks he could almost make a gamut of colours. Some notes are yellow, others green, others blue, and so forth." In him Comparison is large, but neither Colouring nor Tune is much developed.1

A great development of the organ enlarges the lateral parts of the forehead ; but its appearance varies according to the direction and form of the convolutions. Dr Spurzheim observes, that, in Glück, and others, this organ had a pyramidal form ; in Mozart, Viotti, Zumsteg, Dussek, Crescentini, and others, the external and lateral portions of the forehead are enlarged, but rounded. Great practice is necessary to be able to observe this organ successfully; and beginners should

1 Vol. viii. p. 216.

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place together one person possessing a genius for music, and another who can scarcely distinguish between any two notes, and mark the difference of their heads. The superior development of the former will be perceptible at a glance. Mr Cull suggests the following mode of studying the size of this organ :-1. Examine the state of integument over the organ. 2. Examine the organ by a front view of the face ; then, 3. By a profile view. 4. Then examine the angle of the forehead, by looking from the corner of the .eyebrow upwards, and finally looking downwards on the angle. In examining this organ, it is well to move the head so as to obtain various effects of light and shadow oil the angle of the forehead. The organ is large in Haydn and Macvicar ; small in Sloane, and remarkably deficient in Ann Ormerod. This girl was admitted, at twelve years of age, into the asylum for the blind at Liverpool, and during two years, means were unsparingly employed to cultivate and improve any musical talent which she might possess ; but with such decided want of success, that her teachers, Mr Handford and Mr Platt, men of unceasing perseverance, and constantly accustomed to the most stubborn perverseness, were at last under the necessity of abandoning the attempt altogether."1 The figures represent her head, the organ of Tune being thrown into the outline on her left side,-and the head of Handel, the organ being brought into line on his right side.

1 Phren. Journ. vol. ii. p- 542.

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Mr Cull reports the following case in the Phrenological Journal, vol. xiv. p. 330. " This is the cast of the forehead of a lady of very defective musical perception. The organ of Constructiveness is very large, that of music is very small. Miss L. H is about 30 years of age. She cannot distinguish one simple melody from another. She declares all music to be alike. In testing her perception, I with one hand played " God save the Queen" on the pianoforte, and, requesting her attention, asked her what it was, but she was unable to recognise it as anything she before had heard. The object of playing with only one hand, was to preserve the melody as distinct as possible. " Robin Adair" was next played, still with one hand, and she thought it a repetition of " God save the Queen." The latter melody was again played, and immediately followed by the other national melody " Rule Britannia," but she could perceive no difference between them. " God save the Queen" was again tried, followed by " Maggie Lauder," but she perceived no difference between them. Many experiments were tried on several occasions with similar results. She has been to the opera and likes theatricals, but the music of all operas is alike to her-she can perceive no difference. Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and Rossini, have lived in vain for her. I tested her in the scales, and explained the construction of the octave to her ; then, after accustoming her ear to the succession of sounds of the octave, I purposely threw the semitones out of their places, but she did not perceive it. " She accurately perceives the distinctions of loudness of sound, as tested on the piano, and in everyday life by correctly estimating the distance of common noises. She accurately perceives the distinctions of quality of sound, as tested in distinguishing one musical instrument's sound from another, and in referring ordinary noises to their true causes. She accurately perceives the distinctions of duration of sound, and dances in good time. Thus she perceives all the distinctions of sound except those of pitch."

The faculty gives the perception of melody ; but this is

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only one ingredient in a genius for music. Time is requisite to give a just perception of intervals, Ideality to communicate elevation and refinement, and Secretiveness and Imitation to produce expression ; while Constructiveness, Form, Weight, and Individuality, are necessary to supply mechanical expertness :-qualities all indispensable to a successful performer. Even the largest organ of Tune will not enable its possessor to play successfully on the harp, if Weight be deficient ; the capacity of communicating to the string the precise vibratory impulse necessary to produce each particular degree of loudness will then be wanting.

Dr Gall mentions that he had examined the heads of the most celebrated musical-performers and singers, such as Rossini, Catalani, &c. and found the organ uniformly large ; and that the portraits and busts of Hadyn, Glück, Mozart, &c. also shew it largely developed. I have examined the heads of Madame Catalani, of Mons. Thalberg, and many eminent private musicians, and found the organ confirmed in every instance. Dr Gall remarks farther, that a great development is not to be expected in every ordinary player on a musical instrument. With a moderate endowment, the fingers may be trained to expertness ; but when the soul feels the inspiration of harmonious sounds, and the countenance expresses that voluptuous rapture which thrills through the frame of the real musician, a large organ will never be wanting.

" II me paraît, continues Dr Gall, " que les hommes qui sont capables de déduire les lois de la composition des lois des vibrations sonores et des rapports des tons, et d'établir ainsi les principes les plus généraux de la musique, doivent être doués en même temps d'une organe des nombres très développée ; car l'exercice de ce degré du talent musical exige, sans contredit, beaucoup de calcul ; aussi la circonvolution inférieure de l'organe musicale, la plus large de toutes, se continue immédiatement dans l'organe des nombres. Ceci explique pourquoi on peut être excellent musicien, et n'avoir

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pas le talent de la composition : être grand compositeur sans être en même temps grand musicien."l

The heads of Italians and Germans in general are broader and fuller at the situation of this organ than those of Negroes, Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Englishmen, in general : and musical talent is more common in the former than the latter. The Esquimaux are very deficient both in the talent and in the organ.2

Mr Scott has published, in The Phrenological Journal? two admirable essays " on Music, and the different faculties which concur in producing it," which will be found highly deserving of attention. " It seems to me," says he, " although I do not pretend to have made observations sufficiently accurate and numerous to prove the fact, that there is a correspondence in all cases between the voices of men and women, and their cerebral development.

" In the first place, it is a general rule, that the heads of women are comparatively smaller than those of men, and that their voices are, in a corresponding degree, smaller and shriller than the male voice.

" Boys under puberty, who have smaller heads than full grown men, have voices small, shrill, and soft, like a woman's.

" The voices of children of both sexes, but particularly girls, are shriller than even the adult female voice.

"As boys advance from puberty to manhood, and just at the time when the head is receiving the largest accessions, the voice is changed from the small shrill pipe of the boy to the grave tones of the man. '

" In men who have small or moderately-sized heads, particularly if the lower propensities are moderately developed, the voice approaches to the shrill pitch and softness of a woman's.

" In women who have large heads, particularly if the lower propensities are fully developed, the voice is generally

Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome v. p. 119.
9 Phren. Journ. vol. viii. p. 437. * Vol. ii. pp. 120 and 556.

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grave, and approaches in its tones to a man's. I have been informed, that it has been observed of women who are subject to nymphomania, that, when under the influence of a paroxysm, their voices are harsh, low, and rough, like those of men. This fact, if sufficiently established, would go far to prove, that low and rough notes are the natural language of the lower propensities.

" It is undoubted, he continues, that the quality of tone, as well as the pitch, depend considerably on the nature of the development. In women who possess Combativeness and Destructiveness well developed, the voice, though shrill, is sharp, and the tones pierce the ear like a sword. In women who are given to scolding, this sharp piercing quality of voice will invariably be noticed ; and it forms one of the most unpleasant circumstances attending it. If the lady would utter the same words in a moderate tone, the nuisance would not be nearly so great. In like manner, in men who have large Destructiveness, if the head is otherwise large and well-balanced, the voice, though grave, will be clear, and have a peculiar edge and sharpness, which Destructiveness alone seems to give.

" When the head is in general large, but Destructiveness deficient, the voice will probably be grave and full, but soft, and will want the sharp ringing quality which Destructiveness confers. This is a voice, from its rarity, much in request among singers, and is called a veiled voice (voce vela-ta). Madame Marconi, who sung at the first Edinburgh Festival, had a voice of this description. She was said to have been remarkable for good-nature.

" In those in whom intellect predominates, the voice has a calm and composed, but not a touching expression. When Benevolence, and the kindly and social affections are large, and when Tune, Imitation, and Ideality, are at the same time large, the voice has a degree of betwitching softness, as may be observed in the case of Miss Stephens or Miss Tree. But there occur in private life many instances to the same effect. When Benevolence and the higher sentiments are

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both united in full" proportion, the voice is felt to be peculiarly delightful and harmonious. In men there is generally too much of the lower propensities to admit of this in its highest degree ; indeed, these seem so essential to a manly character, that in them it would not be desirable. But we have met with women whose every tone is music, and whose voices even in ordinary discourse, have about them a delightfulness which is quite irresistible, and which makes its way directly to the heart. This softness and sweetness of voice is remarked as a great point of female excellence by King Lear, where the old distressed monarch is enumerating the excellencies of his favourite Cordelia,-

" -- Her voice was ever soft,

" Gentle and low,-an excellent thing in woman."1

These observations of Mr Scott are very interesting, and numerous cases have been observed in accordance with them ; but they are not absolutely correct, because I have met with decided exceptions. One gentleman, in particular, has a moderate-sized head, small cerebellum, and the other organs of the propensities below an average, whose voice is nevertheless a deep rich bass. It is certain that the development of brain has some, and even an important, influence on the quality of the voice : but so have the lungs and larynx ; and it is still unascertained how much of the actual effect is attributable to each.2

When an average development of Tune is combined with large reflective organs, the superior objects with which these are conversant generally attract the mind, and music is little cultivated. When, on the other hand, these are small, and Ideality, Hope, Benevolence, Veneration, and Wonder, which Tune is particularly calculated to gratify, are large, the tendency to practise music is much stronger. Hence, with the

1 The Phrenological Journal, vol. ii. p. 575.

2 I have observed that large lungs, which imply a correspondingly large heart and bloodvessels, are highly favourable to intensity of action in the brain. The blood is then well oxygenated, and it is sent to the brain copiously, and with great energy.

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same absolute development of this organ, very different practical results may ensue ; but this is in exact accordance with the principles of the science : for it is the predominance of particular organs in an individual that decides the bias of his mind ; the largest organs always tending most powerfully to seek gratification.

Tune is occasionally found strong in idiots, and, in some insane patients, its activity remains unimpaired amidst an extensive derangement of the other faculties. I have seen two idiots who manifested it in a considerable degree.

The following case is reported by Dr Andrew Combe, and occurred in his own practice.

" A young lady of high musical and intellectual powers, and of a very active mind, and who has for some months past been subject to frequent attacks of hysteria in all its ever-changing forms, and who suffers almost constantly in a greater or less degree from headach, complained on Saturday, 22d April 1826, of feeling acute pain at the external angle of the forehead, precisely in the situation of the organs of Tune, which are largely developed, and upon which, in describing the seat of the pain, she placed most accurately the points of the fingers. Next day the same complaint of pain in that region was made ; and about two hours after I saw her, she was suddenly seized with a spasmodic or rather convulsive affection of the larynx, glottis, and adjoining parts, in consequence of which, a quick, short, and somewhat musical sound, was regularly emitted, and continued with great rapidity, as if the breathing had been very hurried. On examination externally, the os hyoides at the root of the tongue and the thyroid cartilages, were seen in constant motion, and in the act of alternately approximating and receding from each other. The will was so far powerful in controlling this motion, that the young lady was able to utter a few short sentences at a time without much difficulty ; interrupted, however, by two or three movements. After this singular state had continued for about two hours, she herself remarked, that it was become rather too musical, and

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wished that it would cease, which it did at the end of another half-hour, from accidental pressure with the finger in pointing out the motion to another person ; she was then as well as usual, only somewhat fatigued.

" On Monday, 24th April, she still complained of pain in the situation of the organ of Tune ; and stated, that she had been dreaming a great deal of hearing the finest music ; that she felt quite excited by it, and could not even now get the impression out of her head. The day passed on, however, and nothing remarkable occurred.

" On Tuesday I found that I had been rather anxiously expected. During the night the young lady had been tormented with the recurrence of the musical dreams, during which she heard and performed the most beautiful airs, with a distinctness which surpassed those of the preceding night. These dreams continued for some hours, and left such an impression, that on awaking she thought she could almost note down one piece of composition which had particularly pleased her. But what is very remarkable, the excessive excitement of the faculty of Tune had now reached a height that could not be controlled ; the patient felt, not a desire only, but a strong and irresistible passion or craving for music, which it was painful beyond endurance to repress. She insisted on getting up, and being allowed to play and sing ; but that being for many reasons unadvisable, she then begged to have a friend sent for to play to her, as the only means of relief from a very painful state ; but shortly after, the craving of the faculty became so intolerable, that she got hold of a guitar, lay down upon a sofa, and fairly gave way to the torrent, and, with a volume, clearness, and strength of voice, and a facility of execution, which would have astonished any one who had seen her two days before, she sung in accompaniment till her musical faculty became spent and exhausted. During this time the pain at the angles of the forehead was still felt, and was attended with a sense of fulness and uneasiness all over the coronal and anterior parts of the forehead. Regarding all these phenomena as arising from over-excitement chiefly of the

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organs of Tune, I directed the continued local application of cold, and such other measures as tended to allay the increased action, and soon after the young lady regained her ordinary state, and has not since had any return of these extraordinary symptoms.

" In this case, the order in which the phenomena occurred, put leading queries on my part, or exaggeration or deception on the part of the patient, alike out of the question. The pain in the organ was distinctly and repeatedly complained of for many hours (at least 36) before the first night of dreaming, and for no less than three days before the irresistible waking inspiration was felt. When my attention was first drawn to the existence of the pain, I imagined it to arise from an affection of the membranes covering that part of the brain, and had no conception that it was to terminate in any such musical exhibition as afterwards took place ; and, in fact, although the young lady had mentioned her previous melodious dreams, my surprise was quite equal to, although, thanks to Phrenology, my alarm was not so great as, that of her relations, when, on entering the house on the morning of Tuesday the 25th, I heard the sound of the guitar mingling with the full and harmonious swell of her own voice, such as it might shew itself when in the enjoyment of the highest health and vigour."

When visiting the Lunatic Asylum at Worcester in the United States on 28th December 1839, I saw in one of the cells a musician, who tore every thing to pieces, and was excessively dirty. He was seated on the floor (composed of mica slate heated by fire, applied below), clothed in a very strong and thick cotton vestment, which descended to his ankles. His organs of Time and Tune were large, and remained sound amidst the wreck of nearly all his other faculties. I heard him, while thus seated, play several tunes on the flute, with correctness and expression. See farther particulars of this case in my '! Notes on America," vol. iii. p. 214.

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It is a prevalent error in education, to persevere in attempts to cultivate musical talent where none is naturally possessed. Dr Neil Arnott speaks feelingly of the lamentable consequences of the ignorant prejudice " that in the present day condemns many young women, possessed of every species of loveliness and talent except that of note-distinguishingr, to waste years of precious time in an attempt to acquire this talent in spite of nature ; and yet, when they have succeeded as far as they can, they have only the merit of being machines, with performance as little pleasing to true judges as would be the attempt of a foreigner, who knew only the alphabet of a language, to recite pieces of expressive poetry in that language. Such persons, when liberty comes to them with age or marriage, generally abandon the offensive occupation ; but tyrant fashion will force their daughters to run the same course."1

Dr Spurzheim mentions, that the heads and skulls of birds which sing, and of those which do not sing, and the heads of the different individuals of the same kind which have a greater or less disposition to sing, present a conspicuous difference at the place of this organ. The heads of males, for instance, and those of females, of the same kind of singing birds, are easily distinguished by their different development. Dr Vimont protests against Gall's practice of comparing the skulls of animals of different species at the situation of this organ ; " such a practice," says he, " is extrêmement vicieuse ; for there are many varieties of development of organs which Gall had not studied, and which are calculated to lead into error. The result of my anatomical researches," he adds, "to which I have given the closest attention, is, that the difference of organization of the brain and skull between musical birds and those which do not sing, is appreciable only m comparing individuals of the same species or genus."1

In the Phrenological Journal, vol. xv. p. 358-9, and p. 60, 62-3-6, cases are reported, in which individuals began to sing when this organ was excited in them by mesmerism.

1 Elements of Physics, vol. i. p. 493.

2 Traite de Phrenologie, tome ii. p. 371.

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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