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 in the middle of the coronal region of the brain, at the bregma or fontanel of anatomists. The figures represent it large and small.

Veneration moderate. Veneration large.

Dr Gall gives the following account of the discovery of this organ. His father's family consisted of ten children, who all received the same education, but their talents and dispositions were very dissimilar. One of his brothers manifested from infancy a strong tendency towards religion. " Ses jouets étaient des vases d'église qu'il sculptoit lui-même, des chasubles et des surplis qu'il faisait avec du papier." He was constantly engaged in prayer, and in saying mass ; and when obliged to be absent from church, he spent his time in ornamenting and gilding a crucifix of wood. His father had intended him for a merchant, but he himself disliked that occupation, because, said he, it exposed him to the necessity of lying. At the age of twenty-three years he abandoned merchandise ; and having lost all hope of being then able to pursue the studies requisite for the Church, he fled from his father's house and became a hermit. His father at length allowed him to study :-at the end of five years he took orders, and continued, till the period of his death, to live in the exercise of devotion and the practice of penance.


L)r Gall farther remarked, that, in schools, some of the children took no interest in religious instruction, whilst others received it with avidity ; also, that those individuals in the classes, who voluntarily devoted themselves to the Church, were either studious, pious, virtuous, and honourable young men, or idlers of the worst description, indolent, and totally destitute of talent. The latter, he observes, obviously had no other aim than that of living at the expense of their fellow-citizens ; while the former felt a lively interest in the vocation to which they aspired. This commendable feeling sprang up in them, says he, nobody knew how ; and it certainly was not attributable to example or education, or to the circumstances in which they had been placed ; for many of them had embraced the clerical profession, even contrary to the intention of their parents and guardians. These facts convinced him that the disposition to religion is innate.

At a later period, no sooner had he fixed his attention on some of the primitive qualities of the mind, than he recollected these observations made in his youth, and immediately examined the heads of persons eminent for devotion. He visited the churches of every sect, and particularly observed the heads of individuals who prayed with the greatest fervour, or who were the most completely absorbed in their religious contemplations. The result was the establishment of the part of the brain in question as the organ of Veneration.

Catholic countries afford particularly favourable opportunities for such observations. Dr Bright, a traveller in Lower Hungary, informs us, that, in Vienna, " the churches are almost constantly open, and enter them when you will, servants, who have been sent on errands, are seen kneeling before the altars or the images, with their baskets or parcels by their sides. Thus prayer, by its frequency, becomes a habit and recreation, rather than the performance of a duty ; and I have often been truly astonished to observe, in the


coldest weather, little children, when far from the restraints of their parents, fall down upon their knees before the images which adorn many of the corners of the streets and passages in Vienna, and there remain fixed for several minutes, as in serious devotion."1 I have observed similar facts in Vienna and in other Catholic cities on the Continent.

The function of the faculty is to produce the sentiment of Veneration in general ; or an emotion of profound and reverential respect, on perceiving an object at once great and good. It is the source of natural religion, and of that tendency to worship a superior power, which manifests itself in almost every tribe of men yet discovered. The faculty, however, produces merely an emotion, and does not form ideas of the object to which adoration should be directed ; and hence, if no revelation have reached the individual, and if the understanding be extremely limited, the unfortunate being may worship the genius of the storm ; the sun, as the source of light, heat, and vegetable life ; or, if more debased in intellect, brutes, and stocks, and stones :

'' Lo ! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind."

The organ is large in King Robert Bruce, who, it is mentioned in history, was strongly alive to religious feelings, and ordered his heart to be carried to the Holy Land, because he had not been able to fulfil a vow to visit it in person.

This faculty, when unenlightened, may lead to every kind of religious absurdity, as worshipping beasts, and stocks, and stones. The Negroes, American Indians, and even the Hindoos, have a poor intellectual development compared with Europeans, and their superstitions are more gross. Socrates did not assent to the popular religious errors of the

1 Pages 43, 44.



Greeks, and in the ancient busts of him, he is represented with a splendid forehead.1

It is large also in the Negroes, who are extremely prone to superstition.

It has been objected, that, if an organ and faculty of Veneration exist, revelation was unnecessary. But Dr Gall has well answered, that the proposition should be exactly reversed ; for unless a natural capacity of feeling religious emotion had been previously bestowed, revelation would have been as unavailing to man as it would be to the lower animals ; while, if a mere general sentiment of devotion, or an instinctive but blind tendency to worship, which Veneration truly is, was given, nothing was more reasonable than to add instruction how it ought to be directed. Dr Gall observes, farther, that the existence of the organ is an indirect proof of the existence of God. Destructiveness is implanted in the mind, and animals exist around us, to be killed for our nourishment : Adhesiveness and Philoprogenitiveness are given, and friends and children are provided as objects on whom they may be exercised : Benevolence is conferred on us, and the poor and unhappy, on whom it may shed its soft influence, are everywhere present with us : in like manner, the instinctive tendency to worship is implanted in the mind, and, conformably to these analogies of nature, we may reasonably infer that a God exists whom we may adore. As, however, Veneration has likewise objects on earth, this argument cannot be regarded as conclusive.

The organ is possessed by all men, but in different degrees by different persons ; and, on the principle that the natural power of experiencing an emotion bears a proportion, caeteris paribus, to the size of its organ, every sane individual will be naturally capable of joining in religious worship ; but the glow of devotional feeling experienced by each, will be greater or less in intensity, according to the development of

1 A copy of his bust may be seen in the Phrenological Society's Museum.


this part of his brain. The difference in the strength of the emotion is certain, independently of Phrenology ; so that this science reveals only the relation between its intensity and the size of the organ.

Dr Gall mentions, that in the portraits of saints remarkable for devotional feeling, this organ is represented as large, and that the same configuration of head has been given by the ancient artists to their high priests. It is large in the portraits of Constantine, Marcus Aurelius, St Ambrose, Charles I. of England, and Malebranche. In the portrait of St John, in the Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, it and Benevolence are represented as very large.

It is also greatly developed in philosophers and poets who are distinguished for piety, as in Newton, Milton, and Klopstock ; while it is flat in the head of Spinosa, who professed atheism. The same configuration is found in the heads of Christ, represented by Raphael. In these, the parts behind


the ear, or the organs common to man and the lower animals, are small ; whereas the organs situated in the forehead and in the coronal region, connected with intellect and the moral sentiments, are very large. This organization indicates great intellectual penetration, with exalted Benevolence and Veneration. Dr Gall puts the question, Has this divine form of head been invented, or may. we presume that it is a faithful copy of the original 2 It is possible, says he, that the artists may have imitated the heads of the most virtuous, just, and benevolent men whom they could find, and thence drawn the character of the head of Christ. In this case, the observation of the artists coincides with that of Dr Gall-a circumstance which supposes either a kind of presentiment of organology on their part, or an accuracy of observation scarcely admissible. He considers it more probable, that the general type, at least, of the head of Christ, has been transmitted to us. St Luke was a painter, and how should he fail to preserve the features of his Master ? It is certain that this form of the head of Christ is of a very high antiquity. It is found in the most ancient pictures and specimens of mosaic work. The Gnostics of the second century possessed images of Christ and of St Paul ; hence Dr Gall concludes, that neither Raphael nor any other artist has invented this admirable configuration.1

1 Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, tome v. p. 389. See also a Brief Notice of some Ancient Coins and Medals, as illustrating the Progress of Christianity, by the Rev. K. Walsh, LL.D., Chaplain to the Embassy at Constantinople. The errors into which modern painters, who, instead of studying nature, strain after originality, fall, in representing the figure of Christ, are extraordinary. In the great Cathedral at Leipzig, Christ is drawn with so small a head, that it indicates a close approach to idiocy. In a beautiful new church in Potsdam, he is painted as an embodiment of bone and muscle. He has a large thorax, ample abdomen, large limbs, an immensely large, round, sunny face, with a small forehead and low coronal region. In the Royal Gallery at Dresden, there is a head of him, No. 552, by an unknown artist, which gives him an expression of almost unmingled Self-Esteem. He is pert, confident, and aristocratic The artist has obviously mistaken this for the natural language of moral


The metaphysicians in general do not treat of Veneration as an original emotion. They trace the belief in God to the perceptions of the understanding. We perceive order, beauty, harmony, power, wisdom and goodness, in the works of creation, and infer from these qualities that a supreme creating and directing Mind exists. In this view the phrenologists concur: the understanding, however, only perceives facts and draws inferences, but does not feel emotions ; and after this deduction is completed, it experiences no tendency to adore the God whom it has discovered. The tendency to worship, on the other hand, is often more vigorous than the understanding itself ; and the most ignorant and stupid men are prone to venerate, while their intellects are incapable of directing them to an object worthy of their homage. Under the influence of a blind Veneration, they cut branches from trees, and fall down and worship them ; or they adore monsters and reptiles as deities-facts which were utterly inexplicable, till Phrenology pointed out an instinctive tendency to venerate, altogether apart from understanding. This tendency is produced by the faculty in question, and it is a great omission on the part of the old philosophers, that no such power is to be found in their systems.

Hitherto we have considered Veneration only as directed to religion, which is undoubtedly its noblest end ; but it has also objects and a wide sphere of action, in the pre-

greatness. In the new chapel of the Prince of Thurn and Taxis in Katisbon, is Danneker's celebrated statue of Jesus Christ, a full-length figure, of the most stainless marble, and the very personification of benignity and intellect. It seems to radiate calm dignity and noble beauty, the natural expression of the highest mental qualities. The anterior lobe of the brain is represented as long, high, and just so broad as is consistent with the character ; but unfortunately the coronal region is rather deficient in the situation of Benevolence, while the posterior region shews deficient Cautiousness, enormous Love of Approbation, and, in my opinion, large Amativeness, although this latter appearance may perhaps be ascribed to the flowing of the hair. If the head of this statue had been phrenologically correct throughout, it would have been a perfect gem of art.


sent world. It produces the feeling of deference and respect in general ; and hence may be directed to every object that seems worthy of such regard. In children it is a chief ingredient in filial piety, and produces that soft and almost holy reverence with which a child looks up to his parents as the authors of his days, the protectors of his infancy, and the guides of his youth. A child in whom this organ is small, may, if Benevolence and Adhesiveness be large, entertain great affection for his parents as friends ; but, in his habitual intercourse, there will be little of that deferential respect which is the grand feature of the mind when the organ is large. Children who are prone to rebellion, regardless of authority, and little attentive to command, will generally be found to have Self-Esteem large, and this organ proportionally deficient.

Veneration leads to deference for superiors in knowledge, virtue, and rank, as well as in years, and prompts to the reverence of authority. The organ is generally largely developed in the Asiatic head, and the tendency to obedience is strong in the people of that quarter of the globe. Indeed, the hereditary slavery which has descended among them through so many generations, may be connected with the prevalence of this disposition.

A lady who is in the habit of examining the heads of servants before hiring them, informed me, that she has found by experience, that those in whom Veneration is large are the most deferential and obedient ; and that one with large Combativeness and Destructiveness, and small Veneration, became angry and abusive when her conduct was censured. This occurred, even although Love of Approbation and Conscientiousness were both large ; but the passion speedily subsided, and was followed by self-reproach and repentance. If Veneration also had been large, it would have produced that instinctive feeling of respect which would have operated as instantaneously as Combativeness and Destructiveness, and restrained the ebullitions.


Veneration may produce also respect for titles, rank, and power ; for a long line of ancestry, or mere wealth : and it frequently manifests itself in one or other of these forms, when it does not appear in religious fervour. Individuals in whom Love of Approbation and Veneration are very large, and Conscientiousness and intellect not in proportion, venerate persons of higher rank than their own, and are fond of their society. People of rank, who do not possess high virtues or talents, like the society of those in whom this combination occurs. It inspires its possessor with an habitual deference towards them, which is felt as a constant homage. On the occasion of King George the Fourth's visit to Scotland in 1822, some individuals experienced the profoundest emotion of awe and respect on beholding him ; while others were not conscious of any similar excitement, and were surprised at what appeared to them to be the exaggerated enthusiasm of the first. I examined the heads of several of both classes, and, in the former, found the organ of Veneration uniformly larger, in proportion to the other organs, than in the latter.

This faculty is likewise the source of the profound awe which some persons feel in visiting ancient temples, Gothic cathedrals, and places of sepulture for the illustrious dead. It gives reverence for churchyards, and other burial-places of our ancestors'. A person in whom it is small experiences a comparatively feeble emotion, even in viewing Westminster Abbey, and the monuments of departed genius there preserved. Veneration is one ingredient in the love of old coins, and in the tendency generally to antiquarianism.

Like other powers, this sentiment is liable to abuse. When not subjected to the guidance of Reflection and Conscientiousness, it may produce a bigoted respect for old customs and absurd institutions, if only sanctified by time ; and a blind tendency to admire the wisdom of our ancestors, more than is warranted by its intrinsic value.1 It gives reverence for great names and authorities in religion and philosophy,

'See Phrenological Journal, viii. 598.


and when these are really unworthy of respect, it presents a strong obstacle to the progress of truth. It seems to maintain the unenlightened devotee in a state of bigoted subjection to his priests : an emotion of profound and sanctified respect springs up in his mind on contemplating the doctrines which they have instilled into him in his youth ; and every suggestion of the understanding, in opposition to this feeling, is expelled as profane. In short, Veneration, when vigorous and unenlightened, produces complete prostration of the mind before the object to which it is directed.

Defect of Veneration does not necessarily produce profanity, but only indifference to religious exercises, and little reverence for power and ancestry. On the other hand, a man may possess a large organ of Veneration, and nevertheless have no reverence for the Christian religion, if he disbelieve in its divine origin ; but he will venerate something else. Voltaire's Veneration was large, and he was an unbeliever ; but he is known to have venerated the Supreme Being, and to have paid great deference to persons of high rank.1 He was even accused of fanaticism by some of the Parisian sçavans, on account of his respect for God.2 I have found Veneration large in the head of the genuine Tory-in him who really delights in contemplating kings and nobles, and who regards them as invested with a degree of sanctity by being able to trace their descent through a long line of ancestry, and by the possession of hereditary authority. In the genuine Whig or republican, who sees in kings and nobles only men liable to all the frailties of human nature, and requiring checks to prevent them from abusing power, Veneration is generally smaller, in proportion to their intellectual endowment. When Veneration, Self-Esteem, Conscientiousness) and Intellect, are all well developed, the individuals are moderate Whigs, or moderate Tories, and readily

1 See Phren. Journ. viii. 598.

2 See "Observations on some recent Objections to Phrenology, founded on a part of the Cerebral Development of Voltaire," by Mr Simpson Phren. Journ. iii. 564.


approximate in their sentiments. They ought to exercise mutual forbearance, their different feelings being the result of different natural constitutions. These observations are limited to genuine Tories and genuine Whigs ; for a man may profess whiggery through love of place, and toryism through mere factiousness, and in such cases other organs will predominate.

As Nature has implanted the organs of Veneration and Wonder in the brain, and the corresponding sentiments in the mind, it is a groundless terror to apprehend that religion can ever be extinguished, or even endangered, by the arguments or ridicule of the profane. Forms of worship may change, and particular religious tenets may now be fashionable, and subsequently fall into decay ; but while the human heart continues to beat, awe and veneration for the Divine Being will ever animate the soul ; the worshipper will cease to kneel, and the hymn of adoration will cease to rise, only when the race of man becomes extinct.

The natural language of this faculty carries the head upwards in the direction of the organ. The voice is soft, subdued, reposing, and adoring.1 The greatest difference is perceptible in the tones and manner of prayer of clergyman in whom the organ is large, compared with those in whom it is small ; there is a soft breathing fervour of devotion in the former, and a cold reasoning formality in the latter. I have found the organ uniformly large in clergymen who selected the clerical profession from natural liking, and not merely as a means of subsistence.2

1 In treating of Self-Esteem, I remarked, that, when we insist on our own dignity and importance, we draw back the head and carry it high. Lavater had made similar observations before Dr Gall.

2 In Eastern countries, inferiors in rank, in approaching great personages, prostrate the body and bow the face to the ground. This act is an expression not of direct Veneration for the man in authority, but of abasement and humiliation on the part of the prostrate subject. It is the natural language of an absolute negation of Self-Esteem :-the whole movements of the body are diametrically opposite to those which indicate its active state.


The organ is generally larger in the female head than in the male ; and women are more obedient and prone to devotion than men.

Dr Gall treats of this sentiment as producing religious feeling alone : to Dr Spurzheim is due the merit of analyzing it, and describing it as the source of the emotion of reverence and respect in general.

Nothing is more common in the hospitals for the insane, says Pinel, than cases of alienation produced by devotional feelings excessively exalted, by conscientious scruples carried to prejudicial excess, or by religious terror. As this kind of insanity, says Dr Gall, is often present without derangement of the other faculties, physicians ought to have inferred that it is connected with disease of a particular part of the brain. He and Dr Spurzheim saw, in the hospital of Amsterdam, a patient who was tormented with the idea that he was compelled to sin, and that he could not possibly be saved. In him the organ of Veneration was very largely developed. In a priest who despaired of salvation, and in another patient who had the confirmed idea that he was condemned to eternal punishment, the organ was also very large. A woman named Elizabeth Lindemann, was brought to Dr Gall. At the first glance he perceived that she possessed this organ in an extraordinary degree ; she continued standing before him lifting her eyes from time to time to heaven, and indicating, by all her gestures, sadness and anguish-From her youth, she had been excessively addicted to prayer. For some time previous to the interview with Dr Gall she " had been subject to convulsions, and maintained that she was possessed ; the devil, she said, entered into her heart by her mouth, and made efforts to carry her to hell." Dr Gall mentions also, that he had seen, in the collection of M. Esquirol, casts of the heads of three persons subject to religious insanity. In all the three the organ of Veneration was largely developed. If, says he, M. Esquirol continues for some time to mould the heads of the insane and to preserve their


skulls, he will not fail to become one of the most zealous and enlightened disciples of Organology. Esquirol very justly remarks on the subject, that although a particular sermon has often been blamed for producing this species of insanity, yet it would not have had that effect, unless there had been a predisposition to the disease, probably a pre-existence of it in the individual.

I have seen patients insane from Veneration in several lunatic asylums in this country. In 1836, I saw in Mr Drury's establishment near Glasgow, a patient whose tendency to prayer, when labouring under a fit of insanity, was irresistible. He prayed on his knees all the day. The organ of Veneration was not large in his head. It has always been stated, that although large organs, from their superior energy of function, are more prone to fall into a state of diseased activity than small ones, yet that small organs also may become diseased. This patient enjoyed a lucid interval when I conversed with him, and in answer to the question, whether he enjoyed his devotional exercises when excited, he replied, No-that he was unhappy, and that the object of his prayers was to implore the turning away of the divine wrath. His organs of Cautiousness and Destructiveness were very large ; and my impression is that he prayed through fear. When religious insanity arises from the diseased excitement of Veneration, Hope, and Wonder, the patient enjoys a supernatural beatitude. Respecting religious insanity, the reader may consult Dr A. Combe's Observations on Mental Derangement, p. 184; and a series of articles in the ninth volume of The Phrenological Journal, pp. 289,532,577, entitled " Observations on Religious Fanaticism ; illustrated by a Comparison of the Belief and Conduct of noted Religious Enthusiasts with those of Patients in the Montrose Lunatic Asylum. By W. A. F. Browne, Esq., Medical Superintendent of that Institution. In the 10th volume of the Phrenological Journal, p. 450, Dr Abram Cox reports a case which occur-


red in November 1836, in which ramolissement of the white substance of the brain, on the right side, was found in a woman about the age of 68, extensively implicating the organs of Veneration and Imitation, and encroaching, to a small extent, on those of Hope and Wonder, and on that of Benevolence still more slightly. The lesion of Veneration was distinctly indicated by extra-normal excitement of the religious feelings ; that of Hope, by the confidence with which she looked forward to happiness in a future life, and lastly, that of Wonder, by her seeing visions ; all as reported to .Dr Cox by her son and daughter before her death, and of course before the actual state of her brain was known. She twice suffered from apoplectic attacks, the second of which gave rise to -paralysis and a state of mind bordering on dementia. The gray matter of the superior surface of the organ of Veneration was untouched, and even after her second apoplectic attack her devotion remained a prominent mental manifestation. In vol. xiii., p. 259, of the same Journal, Dr J. H. Balfour reports a case which presented itself in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in February 1840, in which the organ of Veneration, in the right hemisphere, had obviously been for some time in a state of chronic inflammation. The membrane covering it was opaque and much thickened. The man had laboured under religious melancholy for many months, if not years, and died by suicide.

Cases in which the organ of Veneration was mesmerized, and corresponding manifestations produced, are reported in the Journal, vol. xv., p. 358, et seq.

Dr Broussais considers that some of the lower animals possess this organ :* and Burns the poet falls into the same train of observations. "Man," says Burns, " is the god of the dog. He knows no other ; he can understand no other. And see how he worships him ! With what reverence he

1 Phren. Journ. x. 547.


crouches at his feet-with what love he fawns upon him- with what dependence he looks up to him-and with what cheerful alacrity he obeys him. His whole soul is wrapt up in his god-all the powers and faculties of his nature are devoted to his service, and these powers and faculties are ennobled by the intercourse. Divines tell us that it ought just to be so with the Christian-but the dogs put the Christian to shame." Broussais, however, does not point out the organ of Veneration in the lower animals, and Dr Vimont does not ascribe it to them, and he is the highest authority in comparative Phrenology.

The organ of Veneration is large in the following heads, represented in Dr Spurzheim's Phrenology in connexion with the Study of Physiognomy ;-Oberlin, plate xvii. fig. 2 ; President Jeannin, xviii. 2; Francis Paris, xxi. 1 ; Augustus Baker, xxi. 2 : Paul Lejeune, xxiv. 2, and Sully; xxxiv. 2 ; -Small in Nero, xv. 1, and Pope Alexander VI. xvii. 1.

The organ is regarded as established.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain 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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