Phrenological Examinations of J.B. Rush's Head

During the late 1700's, a physician named Frances Gall proposed that the bumps on a person's head could be linked to their intellectual faculties and personality. While this is now regarded as pseudoscience, phrenology was quite popular during the first half of the 19th century. Thirty five different regions were identified which were linked to a number of faculties, as shown in the figures above. These regions were said to be proportional to a person's tendencies or inclinations. The importance of an organ was derived from their relative size compared to other organs. It was believed that the skull was shaped in order to accommodate the different sizes of those particular regions of the brain in different individuals, so that a person's capacity for a given personality trait could be determined simply by measuring the region of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain.

During the course of the afternoon of 21st April 1849, after the body of J.B. Rush had been cut down, his head was shaven and a cast taken of the features and skull by Mr. Gaivonni Bianchi, a figure maker of St George's Middle Street, Norwich, in order that a phrenological examination could be made.

An advertisement for his Wax Figure Exhibition was on the front page of the 28th April 1849 edition of The Norfolk News.

There are at least five Phenological Descriptions of Rush's head cast that have been published:

A phrenological development of the cranium of Rush has been obtained from an inspection of the original cast, by Mr. Stark, of this city:- The measurement of the cranium is 24½ inches, being 2½ inches above the average. From ear to ear, round the back of the head, is 12½ inches - the back of the head being 9½ inches wide. From ear to ear round the front is 12 inches, the perceptive organs being very full. From ear to ear across the crown is 14½ inches; whilst, owing to the receding of the forehead, the facial angle is greatly below the average. The anterior and middle lobes of the brain are exceedingly small in comparison with the posterior lobe containing the animal propensities. The cranium might be mapped out thus:- Philoprogenitiveness, large; Concentrativeness and Adhesiveness, full; Combativeness, or Aggressiveness and Constructiveness, large; Acquisitiveness, Secretiveness, Self-Esteem, and Love of Approbation, full; Cautiousness and Benovolence, small in comparison; Veneration, very small; Hope, also very small; Ideality and Conscientiousness, very deficient; Firmness, very large. All the organs about the eyes, appropriated to the perception of external objects and the rememberance of events, are fully developed; but the reflective organs, Causality and Comparison, are exceedingly small.

Ref: Anon. 1849. An Introductory Narrative and Revised Report of the Trial and Execution of J. B. Rush, for the murder of Isaac Jermy, of Stanfield Hall, Esq. ..... and of his son Isaac Jermy Jermy, Esq. Bacon and Kinnebrook, Norwich. 162pp.

His forehead is small and low - the organs of comparison and casualty but little developed; his perceptive organs over the eye, size, locality, weight, &c., are fully developed. Altogether, the front part of the head does not indicate any mental power, nor would it have been possible for any training to have produced any high degree of such power. His forehead is narrow; ideality is very deficient; he has no great degree of imagination; his circle of mental vision is extremely limited. The top of his head is flat; benevolence and veneration are wanting; he has naturally no strong religious tendencies. Marvellousness is fully developed; credulous himself, he believes others to be equally so. That organ misnamed destructiveness, is full above the ear; it ought to be called impulsiveness (that which prompts a man to immediate action), and it may be as fully developed in a benevolent as in a malevolent person's head, or even more so. Cautiousness and concentrativeness are very full, especially the latter. His natural powers, though weak, were aided by his tendency to rivet them on one object; if he had not a good object before him he would inevitably have a bad one, and unless great obstruction came in the way, he would succeed. He has combativeness full; also amativeness exceedingly strong, as indicated by his thick neck. He is naturally five times more animal than intellectual, and his whole history proves him to have been a gross sensualist - a man incapable of any generous emotion, a low, mean, grovelling character, but of active habits; and under stern command, his physical energies might have been turned to good account: left to the governance of himself, he soon began to run riot. His passions had their full swing, and because he felt no moral restraint, he came to be considered as a man of resolute and determined will, but without any just claim to the distinction any more than a headstrong horse, that, left to himself, would run his head against a will. I have met with a great many of these headstrong people, who, because they will have everything their own way, and because they bully and swagger over everybody, pass, among the unthinking multitude, for men of importance and ability. Rush appears to be one of this class.

Ref: Anon. 1849. The Stanfield Hall Assassinations! Authentic Report of the Trial, Conviction, and Extraordinary Defence of Jas. Bloomfield Rush; including Every incident in the Most Appalling Tragedy of real Life ever Recorded in the Annals of Crime. Cleave, London. 26pp.

The following observations on Rush's head, are from the pen of one of our most eminent Phrenologists, in a private letter to the Editor:

Rush's head is the worst I ever saw, and I question whether its parallel could be found in Europe. It has the worst possible combination of organs, and all of monstrous size. Amativeness, Secretiveness, Acquisitiveness, Destructiveness, and Combativeness, are prodigious; Conscientiousness and Veneration seem as if they were planed out; and the whole crown of the head is at least an inch lower that a head of such capacity ought to be. It has every indication of a wicked and innately immoral man. A rigid moral and religious education might have done much for him.

Ref: 28th April 1849. The Norfolk News. Norwich. p 3, col a.

Phrenological Delineation of Rush's Head

By C. Donovan, Esq

On Wednesday evening last, a lecture was delivered at the Assembly Rooms, by C. Donovan, Esq., of London, on the Fundamental Principles of Phrenological Science, and the facts and arguments by which its propositions are supported. The lecture was not numerously attended, but the audience was a highly intelligent and repectable one. After a very clear and forceful elucidation of the organic laws of Phrenology, Mr. Donovan explained their practical application by reference to several casts and drawings of well and malformed heads. Amongst the latter was a cast of the head of the wretched man recently executed in this city.

Phrenology, Mr. Donovan remarked, would do this - it would make men teachers of good after they were dead. It would place them in such a position as to do something to compensate for their previous lives. One of the casts he had before him, and to which he would now call their attention - although not the cast of the criminal lately executed in the city - was, nevertheless, a type of the same character. It might almost be said to be the very man, and might be handed about as such but for a little difference in the years. It had the same immense coarseness in the animal region; it was deficient in the moral and the intellectual, or regulative powers. If Phrenology was founded in facts, he should say that the conjugal region in the cast of Rush's head (which the lecturer now produced) was unduly developed; the Parental was large, Inabitatineness large, and the Adhesive or Fraternal faculties were very large. Such a man, the lecturer said, would enter early into Conjugal relations, and, under certain circumstances, would exhibit parental love: he would be friendly and warm in social life, and would thus, by his conduct, induce the belief that a man could be a warm husband and a kind father, without being a virtuous man; but never was there such a delusion as this. The friends of such an one might exclaim, "He was a jolly good, kind-hearted fellow, and I never was so much astonished as when I heard that he had committed a crime like that."

The astonishment, however, the lecturer said, could only result from ignorance of the man's Phrenological developments. At the Lateral region of the head, where the faculty of Defence, Aggression, and of Concealment lay, there was a large development of the brain - the brain being laterally nearly half an inch wider than the moral head. The faulty which led to the desire for the possession of property - Covetousness, and Secretiveness - which concealed property, appeared to phrenological eyes, more developed. The faculty of Constructiveness too was very large. Such a man would be fond of making improvements on his premises, and would be given to mechanical pursuits, if facilities present themselves and were he placed in favourable circumstances. The Alimentive faculties were so large, that at first sight, a person would say "What an appetite that man must have had." The inference was that such a man, for the gratification of his strong appetites, had no control over himself. He was like a man on a horse which was set upon running away with him whether he would or not, he being unable to control it. In reference to the higher region of the head, the lecturer remarked that the first thing which a phrenologist would do, was to look at the proportion between the animal faculties and the moral. - [In this head, (pointing to a different bust,) the moral did not bear its proper proportion; there was a great and starting deficiency of nearly an inch in the height of the brain, as compared with the width. If any person could find him a man of high moral feeling, with such a head as that, he would confess that a strong fact had been brought against the truths of Phrenology. The region of Caution too was deficient. In the part where they could look for a full development - where the faculties of Conscientiousness was seated - they found scarcely any arch at all - the arch was greater behind.]

With regard to the head of Rush, to which the lecturer again directed the attention of the audience, he showed by measurement that the height (or moral region) was defective to the extent of more than an inch; the deficiency, he said, was original, but superinduced by mal-education in accordance with the theory to which he had referred in a former part of his lecture. But if any man committed such a violation of the law, as to hand over his own life to the laws of society, and a cast were taken of his head soon after death, and if that cast shewed that the man had as fine a head as was ever found on human shoulders, that even would be no answer to the truths of Phrenological science; for no Phrenologist would say that a man's having a fine development of the moral powers, would show that he must be practically a good or moral man, any more than a physician would say "How strange that any man with a fine shaped body at 23 years of age, should be found in a hospital." If a man got into bad society, or became a lover of wine-bibbing, and gave himself over to the sudden and unlawful acquirement of property, and to field sports - which might be useful as a recreation but were not justifiable as a pursuit - that man's faculties would go down; the organs would lose their power and would not act, and his head would become a spoiled one.

Here (in a cast produced, showing the head of a Frenchman) was a case in point - a man who had had a very fine development, but it became spoiled in its powers - benevolence, integrity, hope, faith, and veneration, having been shocked and become inoperative. Let nobody say that, if a man had a fine organized brain, there was no need for him to have a moral or religious educator - no reason for him to be temperate, or to avoid the danger of moral contamination - that there was no occasion for him to use such cautions. He (the lecturer) was convinced that there was occasion - though such a man would not, most likely, fall as soon as as a less morally consituted person. It might be expected that he should give his general opinion, relative to to the head of this criminal (Rush). He had the privilege of seeing and obtaining casts of almost every criminal - those at Newgate in particular; and he never saw a more dangerous and more unfortunate combination of organisms; a more wretched type of all that would excite an individual to every description of violence, sensuality, and crime, never was it his lot to meet with. All present might take it as a conviction of one who had studied the science for 25 years, and for ten has been a public practitioner, and who pledged his reputation on the correctness of what he said, that no phrenologist would hesitate for a moment to say that that was the head of a sensual, depraved, violent, incautious man, any more than an astronomer would at once hesitate to observe, "That is a comet." when he saw one of those wonderful heavenly bodies. He did not mean to say, that the man was necessitated to have gone on in a course of depravity, or that education would not have saved him, for he believed that it would; but in this free country men were handed over at an early age to their own government.

Education had been unattended to, and the consequence was, that men were placed in situations for which they were not fitted - the draught horse men got into gigs, and the result was that they soon broke the shafts. There was in the present state of society a higgledy-piggledy scattering of men, and if any did get into their proper positions it was a wonder; trades were therefore a lottery, professions were a lottery, everything was a lottery. There were, however, few types of worse heads than this. There were weak heads - heads of men who committed crime from weakness - unable as it were to withstand temptation, feeble, small, petty, of the Greenacre class. And then there was a cleverer class of criminals, men who were brought up in public houses, and who went afterwards to service, and got pampered; these were of the class of Daniel Good, who did some nasty sneaking things. But here (in allusion to Rush) came the monster man, who committed a crime that startled the world by its violence, after a course of immorality and sensuality; who got into difficulty and could not well get out; and who, like the shark in the fisherman's net, made a sudden and violet plunge, and at once broke through the obstacles that beset him.

But phrenological science explained the uses and abuses of the brain, it shewed that there was a beauty and harmony which gave health and strength to the moral faculties as well as the others. Had Rush been kept at hard work as a cottage labourer, happily for himself, he might have gone through life an industrious, honest, fine old English Labourer, but he had the handling of dirty money, which he hunted with avidity, and which, having obtained, he applied to bad uses - and thereby hung a tale. As Rush he was in name, so he was in life, in reality - a rush - a noxious weed; but as science took hold of the rush, and lighted it to guide the student in his pursuit of philosophy, and thus enabled him to drink in the delicious springs of knowledge, so he would say, "May science make of this man's head a light to enlighten his fellow creatures, using it as a teacher of the great truths of human science - the science of Phrenology - and thereby shew that the human character is regulated by the formation of the brain, and that in the primary instance this man was influenced by its malformation, and secondly by the education he received.

Mr. Donovan conclude his lecture amid much applause.

Ref: 28th April 1849. The Norfolk News. Norwich. p 3, col a.

An Account of the Head of Rush, the Norfolk Murderer

By Dr. Elliotson

The true nature of Rush cannot be mistaken. It is certain that he was, in every respect, an atrocious villain, and a villain of extraordinary force of character. His acts were such that his whole nature is unveiled: and, if the development of his head had not agreed according to Gall's principles with his life, Gall's physiology of the brain must have fallen to the ground for ever. For a cerebral physiologist may always, without fear, assert positively of the head from constant, positive, exhibition of a mental faculty, because constant strength of certain parts of the mind is accompanied by strong development of certain parts of the brain, and consequently of the skull; just as he may always fearlessly assert negatively of the mental faculties from negative exhibitions of the head, because deficient development of certain parts of the brain, and consequently of the skull, is accompanied by deficient strength of certain mental faculties: although, conversely, he would not assert respecting mental faculties from positive exhibitions of the head, nor respecting the head from negative exhibitions of mental faculties, because the development of the head map arise from other causes than brain, or the quality of the brain may not be healthy; and on the other hand deficiency of the manifestation of certain mental faculties may arise from mere want of excitement or from disease.1 Therefore, before we saw the cast of Rush's head, we all declared that his head must have been very large; - the organs of the disposition to violence, of courage, and of the love of property, of cunning, of the love of the opposite sex, and of food, enormously large; while those of self-esteem and love of notoriety, with the lower range of intellectual organs, must have been large; and, provided the brain were healthy, the organs of justice and caution, and the higher intellectual organs, small.

The man was a farmer, land agent, and auctioneer and appraiser, in West Norfolk; of middle age, rather below the middle height, very muscular, with broad shoulders, short neck, massive head inclined rather to the right shoulder, and a slouching gait, and a countenance which made people dislike him and say they should not wish to meet him in the dark.

On the evening of the 28th of last November, he went, masked and otherwise disguised, and without any accomplice, to Stanfield Hall, the house of a neighbouring gentleman, named Jermy, whom he shot dead in the porch, where he knew his victim would be at that time; entered the house by the servants' door and shot the son dead in the hall, coolly and successfully motioning the butler to retire to his pantry; and then shot and wounded the mistress and her maid, saying, "Poor thing, poor thing!" when he saw the latter fall whom he had not, aimed at, and firing a second time at Mrs. Jermy. He also pursued Miss Jermy, but she escaped into the stables. He then withdrew to his own home. These may not have been the only murders committed by him. In 1844, he and his father-in-law had been shooting at the farm of the latter, and, after returning to the house, his father was shot. The account given by Rush was, that, after directing his father's attention to the excellence of his gun, he left the room while his father was examining it, but almost immediately heard a report, and on going back found that the gun had gone off, lodging all its contents in his father's head. In August, 1848, his mother having been ill for some time, he told her nurse one evening, as the woman reports, that he would sit up with his mother that night, and on the woman's objecting he insisted. After the nurse had been in bed some time, she saw Rush enter her room, as if he wished to ascertain whether she was asleep. He made no remark and went away. About four in the morning he went into the room again, and she asked how her mistress was. "Oh," he replied, "you need not trouble yourself, she has been dead these four hours." The nurse jumped up, and found that Rush had laid his mother out and performed all the necessary offices himself. A salesman, named Collins, who had done business for Rush, and at whose house Rush had once spent a day and night, returned the visit at Rush's earnest invitation, though Mrs. Collins strongly objected to her husband going and said there was something about Rush's manner that she did not like. Indeed, Mr. Jermy, jun., had an inconceivable dislike to Rush, and often warned his father against him: and Mrs. Jermy disapproved of Rush going to the house whenever he chose without ringing. On the very night of Mr. Collins's arrival, Rush's wife was taken ill. Rush went to Mr. Collins's room and told him of this, begging him at the same time to come down stairs. Mr. Collins asked whether he had sent for a doctor. Rush said no, it would be useless, for she was too ill for any one to do her good. Before morning she was dead. A man and woman slept one night a few years ago at an inn about Shoreditch. In the night the woman was taken ill and died. The man represented himself as a Norfolk farmer but did not give his name, alleging that the woman was a person he had picked up that day in town. She was said, by a medical man, to have died of diseased heart; but with what good reason is not known. When likenesses of Rush were published lately, the landlord recognized the face as that of the man who had slept at the inn on that occasion. He had a child last year by a young woman, named Emily Sandford, whom he seduced and was keeping at his farm at the time of the murder of the Messrs. Jermy, sen. and jun., but it soon died. A woman, named Sims, settled comfortably in a farm, was advised by Rush to give it up; and he got possession of the proceeds, and ultimately made away with them all. This seriously depressed her spirits; she went to live at Stanfield Hall farm, not far from Rush, and was found dead in her bed one morning. He was very violent, bursting out into a rage, not only in private, but at his trial and in prison. His cruelty was exhibited in the unfeeling manner in which he cross-examined Emily Sandford - the chief victim of his lust, and even in 1846 he had declared it would not be long before he served Mr. Jermy with an ejectment for the other world. His revengeful feeling led him to compass the destruction, not of the husband only, but of the wife, the son, and daughter. He wrote to Mr. Jermy thus,-

"You have completely ruined me as far as my own property goes. If you think I shall not take steps to ruin you and your family, you never were more deceived in your life. You do not know me yet. Hitherto, I have done but what I have told you of; but unless you answer this letter satisfactorily, nothing on earth shall prevent me from treading in your steps, and paying you off in the same base coin that you have me."

As to courage, or combativeness, which is courage in excess, Mr. Beattie - the sincere and useful lecturer on mesmerism and cerebral physiology - informs me that a friend of his sat on the same bench with Rush at school, and that Rush was always ready to fight any boy for a penny, and was nicknamed "Gully" by the boys for his propensity to fight. In after life he frequented fighting cribs. His great courage was manifested in his bold attacks upon Mr. Jermy's family, unaided by any accomplice, and when all were up and stirring; by his unaided defence on the trial, before council, judge, and witnesses, and the whole world, during six long days; and the steadiness of his demeanour at his execution, for his step never faltered as he regularly marched to his doom, and, when the rope was adjusting, he said coolly, "This does not go easy, put the thing a little higher, - take your time, - don't be in a hurry," and these were his last words; and his courage was as striking at the trial.

"As witness after witness cut away every fragment of a chance, his nerves seemed to become more firmly strong, and his resolution more unassailable. While every eye was turned on him with loathing - while on every side his gaze must have rested on a mass of faces breathing but one sentiment - on pen and pencil busily engaged in writing the lines which proclaimed his atrocity to the world - on artists recording the lineaments of his features for the gratification of every vulgar crowd, and for the ornament of every village ale-house - while he knew he stood there, unsentenced and untried, Rush, the murderer, - he looked about him with an unshrinking eye; arranged his papers as coolly as if he were engaged in a college thesis, and never gave one single minute touch which showed he felt fear or compunction. In fact, he was a sort of rustic Richard the Third - bloody, resolute, and cruel. If country stories be true, he was familiar with deeds of murder, and impunity had made him secure and foolhardy. A father-in-law, a mother, and a wife, are generally believed to be among the number of his victims. They all died under circumstances of great suspicion. It was curious to mark the speculative curiosity in his eye, as the judge was about to put on the black cap; he looked like an indifferent spectator who had never seen the awful ceremony before, and was anxious to observe it closely. Indeed, some parts of the evidence, which were purely circumstantial and ingenious, seemed to interest him much in the same way. For instance, that important evidence respecting the covers on which the notices were written. This remarkable piece of evidence was evidently regarded by the prisoner with a sort of admiration, though it had the greatest possible weight against him."

His love of gain appeared in his extreme energy in business and his engaging in far more concerns than he had the means or the time to conduct efficiently. He had many actions successfully brought against him for breach of covenants, and his endless pecuniary transactions appear to have been characterized by grasping and roguery. His murderous attack upon the Jermys was partly to obtain property fraudulently and to escape the obligation of payment, as well as to gratify revenge, - which revenge, however, arose from being opposed by Mr. Jermy in his attempts to defraud that gentleman, with whom he had many pecuniary transactions and whose tenant he was as well as debtor: he would have been called upon to pay a considerable sum to Mr. Jermy in a day or two after the time of the murder. He prevailed upon Emily Sandford to forge documents relative to Mr. Jermy’s property and himself.

His cunning was displayed on all occasions; it mixed itself with every act of his life; he did nothing without artifice. He wished to appear a marvellously religious man. In his cross-examination he continually urged religious considerations upon the witnesses to induce them by perplexing them to speak the truth, as he called it, but which would have been a perversion of truth. He attended places of worship with some regularity; listened attentively and with deep emotion; sometimes disturbing the congregation with sighs and sobs; took the sacrament; and had family prayers read every morning, even while he was arranging his murders. When two persons, Larner and Jermy, were at his house that he might aid them in a claim upon Mr. Jermy's estate, and he was laying his plans to fix the future murders upon them, he joined with them, upon his knees, in family prayer. In his cross-examination of his victim, Emily Sandford, he impudently asked her, "Have I not given you passages of Scripture that I said would sanction the way in which we lived together? Did I not say also, that God Almighty would forgive us that sin, if we committed no other?" "Have you not invariably, before coming to bed to me, knelt down, and, to all appearance to me, said your prayers?" "In his house was a box designed for the collection of money for a society in London called The Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews, and to this he invariably called upon his friends to contribute." He made himself in company be considered a nice man, and soon got round innocent unsuspecting women.

In addition to what has been incidentally mentioned in regard to another part of his character, we are told that, when younger, "he was known among his companions as a libertine, and few have carried out so regularly and universally, in this particular, the desires of a depraved and sensual appetite. He made a boast of seduction, and many a heart and many a family have been saddened by his criminal atrocities. When thoroughly set upon a purpose of this kind, he was to be deterred by no difficulty: he would undertake journeys, lay plans, execute manoeuvrers, resort to enterprise, persuasion, flattery, falsehood." After the death of his wife, who bore him nine children, he advertised for a lady to take the educational charge of his offspring, and four young women filled the situation in succession, Emily Sandford being the last and not the only victim among them. His attention to taking his food was strikingly shewn by his words in the "condemned" cell after sentence was passed. "Where's my supper?" he exclaimed; "I want my supper after a hard day's work. I shall now live at the country's expense:" no refreshment being ready, he threw himself upon the bed. On the Saturday before his trial he wrote the following letter to Mr. Leggatt:-

"Norwich, 24th March, 1849.
"Sir, You will oblige me by sending my breakfast this morning, and my dinner about the time your family have their's. Send anything you like except Beef, and I shall like cold meat as well as hot, and meal bread; and the tea in a pewter mug (if with a cover on the better). I will trouble you to provide for me now, if you please, till after my trial; and if you could get me a small sucking pig in the market today, and roast for me on Monday, I should like that cold as well as hot after Monday, and it would always be in readiness for me, as it will be so uncertain what time I then have for my meals after Monday. Have the pig cooked in the same way as you usually have, and send plenty of plum sauce with it. Mr. Penson will pay you for what I have of you. By complying with the above, you will very much oblige,
"Your humble and obedient servant,
"James B. Rush.
"Mr. Leggatt, Bell Inn,
"Oxford-street, Norwich"

However great was his cunning, he was deficient in cautiousness. His enjoyments beyond his means, his idea of murdering the Jermys and not being at once suspected2, his not reflecting that the sensation would be intense and the murderer be ultimately detected, the defence of himself on his trial and his absurd mode of conducting, all exhibited a great deficiency of caution: as indeed did his whole life. He was always sly, but never prudent; just like so many bad men who form a false idea of the sources of true happiness. In assuming the appearance of innocence and piety in jail, he so overacted his part as clearly to shew his hypocrisy.

His want of justice or conscientiousness was equally great with his want of prudence.

He must have had a high opinion of himself or he would not have taken so much upon himself in business, nor relied strength for his defence. Throughout life he had been fond of self-reliance.

His love of approbation contributed no doubt to his religious hypocrisy, and was exhibited to the last in his protestation of innocence. His constant language in prison was, "Thank God, I am quite comfortable in body and mind; I eat well, drink well, and sleep well." After his committal, he was constant in his attendance at chapel, and soon requested to have the sacrament administered to him privately. He pretended to sleep beautifully when he positively did not at all on the last night of his life. When the chaplain urged him on the morning of execution to repent of his crime, he replied, "God knows my heart; He is my judge, and you have prejudged me:" and when the chaplain and a dissenting minister at a late hour urged confession and repentance, he began to quarrel violently with them, and the governor entered the chapel and pinioned him. He once coolly asked if they had begun to put up that machine (the gallows), and, having no answer, said he hoped it would be a fine day. He walked to the gallows in black, with patent leather boots, and his scrupulously white shirt collar folded down, turning his face from the crowd to the castle wall. He had always made himself so agreeable at a respectable party that he was considered an acquisition.

He was, notwithstanding, not destitute of kind feeling, of love for his offspring, or of veneration. When he found he had wounded the maid-servant, who had nobly come forward to defend her mistress when terrified at the reports as the two Mr. Jermys fell, he exclaimed, "Poor thing, poor thing!" and certainly from no other reason than pity, for he ran a risk of his voice being recognized, and could not be attempting to make any one suppose that he regretted it: pity only will explain it. He was liked by his workmen. At church he would be as unconcerned as a rock while future punishment was dwelt upon; but, when a dying Christ was the topic, he would be greatly affected, and nothing but this seemed to cause emotion in him at church.

He stole a cheque for £40 during his trial: and absolutely denied all knowledge of it till he became satisfied that it would be appropriated to his children if found: and he then took it forth from behind the lining of his hat. He was much moved when the Rev. Mr. Andrews brought certain family matters to his recollection, and his spirit for a time seemed subdued. He was a very indulgent father.

Many a bandit, both robber and murderer, has been religious: that is, he has firmly believed all the supernatural accounts and opinions inculcated on him, and worshipped and humbled himself sincerely in prayer. How many of the religious world around us are all uncharitableness in denouncing others not of the same fancies, malicious, and most given to creature comforts, even to sensuality, so as to be Christians moving upon velvet: and yet are sincerely religions, that is, are strangers to the principles of Christ, but, like Calvin, fancy themselves to be Christians.3 That, as in Rush, there is a great admixture of cant and hypocrisy in the religious world, cannot be doubted: but how much, it is not always easy to determine. Gall says:-

"When devotion is found in men endowed, in other respects, with qualities which do not appear very appropriate to it, or which are even diametrically opposed to it, we usually accuse those men of hypocrisy, or at least of acting for some sinister purpose. We can scarcely believe that it was in good faith that Gustavus Adolphus and Suwarrow, on the eve of a battle, themselves performed and commanded their armies to perform the most severe religious exercises, prayers, fasts, &c., either to obtain a general absolution, or to ensure the victory.

"Gabrino Rienzi was generally accused of being an impostor, a hypocrite, and of making religion serve his purposes by employing revelations and visions to authorize his ambition and cruelty. The inspection of his portrait explains all the contrasts of his conduct.

"Now that we understand how the most revolting contradictions may subsist in the same individual, we shall no longer be astonished at seeing the devotees, Louis XI., and Philip II., commit all acts of cruelty, make auto-da-fes, and, with their own hands, perform the functions of the executioner. Again, it is organology alone which gives the most reasonable explanation of the horrors of the holy inquisition.

"The life of the conqueror Cromwell is an enigma to most of his biographers. Was his devotion real? Was it a calculation of hypocrisy? M. Villemain expresses himself as follows when speaking of Cromwell's mysticism4:-

" 'That official mysticism, if we may so term it, employed by Cromwell in his communications with parliament, is found at the same period in his private letters. Must we, from this fact, suppose with Voltaire, that Cromwell was for a long period really a fanatic, and that he became a hypocrite in proportion as his mind was sharpened by the progress of his power? or must we believe that Cromwell, like Mahomet, made his first dupes amongst his own family, and began, by their delusion, the imposture which he desired to extend around him ?

"The following are some of the religions letters which Cromwell, already powerful and celebrated, wrote to members of his family. The first, dated in 1646, is addressed to his daughter Bridges:-

" ' Dear daughter ,- Your sister Claypole is tormented by some uneasy thoughts (I confide in the mercy of the Lord); she sees her own vanity and the carnal disposition of her soul; she laments it, and seeks that which must satisfy her. Thus to seek is to belong to the most happy sect, after that which finds, as every humble and faithful seeker must do. Happy seeker! happy finder! Who has ever tasted how gentle is the Lord, without experiencing some returns of self-love and feebleness? Who has ever enjoyed this kindness of God, and could become less zealous in his desire, and less urgent to obtain the full enjoyment of the Lord. My dear love, always pursue the Lord: let not thy husband nor anything else in the world cool thy affection for Jesus Christ. I hope he will be an occasion of exciting them still more in thee. What is most worthy of love in thy husband is that he bears in him the image of Jesus Christ; fix there thine eyes; behold what must be beloved before all things, and every thing else for that,' &c. "

Another letter of Cromwell, to his wife, presents the same character and is not less curious :-

" ' My very dear --, I am rejoiced at learning that thy soul prospers, and that the Lord augments his favours towards thee more and more: the great good which thy soul can desire is that the Lord should shed upon thee the light of his protection, which is worth more than life,' &c.

"I submit to the reader these ascetic letters, which appear more worthy of Madame Guyon than of a conqueror; if he is not resolved to see in them habitual phrases, and an intention to deceive, which is powerful only when adopted every moment, we may conclude from them that Cromwell was sincere. Independently of the different proofs which I have opposed to this opinion, and of the testimony of the enemies of Cromwell, who, whether fanatical or not, all accuse him of hypocrisy, I may cite the authority of an impartial and indifferent witness. Debordeaux, the ambassador of France, wrote respecting Cromwell's zeal for Protestantism: 'The reports which are spread respecting the General are not true: he affects great piety; but with a particular communication with the Holy Spirit: he is not so weak as to allow himself to be caught by flattery. I know that he ridiculed it with the ambassador of Portugal.'5

" M. Villemain says in a note of the second book of his Histoire de Cromwell:-

" 'We find in a letter written after the death of Cromwell by a man who had been attached to him, some details respecting his character and person which are useful for shewing what he was and what he appeared. The most curious feature of this description is that proneness to compassion often observed in the life of Cromwell, and which makes Whitelock say, in his Memoirs, that the Protector was a very good man; a kind of sensibility sometimes entirely physical, which does not reach the soul, and which accords, in some men, with the cold meditation of the greatest cruelties. The following are the terms of this letter:- 'The Protector was of a powerful and robust constitution ; his height was under six feet, (by two inches I believe;) his head so preponderating that you would have believed it contained a vast treasure of intellectual faculties; his temper excessively inflammable, but this flame subsided spontaneously, or was soon appeased by the moral qualities of the Protector. He was naturally compassionate towards suffering objects, even to an effeminate degree. Although God had given him a heart in which there was little room for the idea of fear, excepting that which He himself inspired, yet he carried to excess his tenderness towards those who suffered. . . . He lived and died in a perfect union with God, as the judicious persons who were near him have observed.'6

"In truth, the form of this extraordinary man's head proves, in an irrefutable manner, that his devotion as well as his other qualities are in harmony with his organization. In general, I do not think that sovereigns, especially when they are powerful, take great pains to appear otherwise than as they really are, and we shall never fail to find the explanation of their most singular contrasts, and of their apparent hypocrisy, in a particular combination of organs simultaneously developed to a high degree of activity."7

People are excited to hypocrisy by the absurdity of too many of the religious world, who praise their neighbour, not for excellence of life, but for all the outward performances and show of religion, so profitable to the performer, and for his profession of particular opinions on matters which would I require for due appreciation, or even comprehension, if some can be comprehended, far more intelligence and study than fall to the lot of the bulk of those called the educated, though sound and genuine education has scarcely yet begun among us. Europe is Christian: yet bloody battles are incessantly fought in it: two millions and a half of soldiers with ample instruments of death said to be maintained; and England to pay annually forty-six million pounds sterling for wars past, present, or to come. Were Christ to revisit earth, whatever profession of Christianity he might find, he would find little conception of the beautiful spirit and little obedience to the precepts which he so simply and in so unpriestly a manner inculcated: he would have to recommence his great and blessed work, and shew that he had been completely misunderstood. Hypocrisy, the mere shadow of virtue, and a false estimate of virtue and happiness, are sadly encouraged by the richer sort, the instructed, and the teachers of the people, though they think it not.

Rush, though he could talk glibly and was a sharp, active man of business, shewed no force or grasp of intellect. His defence was most loose and rambling: he asked irrelevant questions; sometimes he aimed at what could be of no service to him, and sometimes disgusted every person by his stupid and glaring efforts to establish falsehood. His force of character was great, but it was the force of all the lower feelings. Placed in certain high situations, he might have become in the vulgar sense a great and renowned man might have destroyed nations most heroically, and, if cursed with arbitrary power, have trodden upon the necks of millions of subjects. But the want of high intelligence and of a high sense of justice and benevolence rendered his strength mere brutality.

In accordance with his qualities, his head is very large.

The circumference of his cast over the eyes is 24½ inches.
A line drawn from ear to ear over the eyes is 12½ inches.
A line drawn from ear to ear backwards 12 inches.
A line drawn from ear to ear over the head 12¼ inches.

But unfortunately the head is large where it had better have been smaller; and small where it had better have been large. The head strikes a person, even unacquainted with phrenology, as one of the most monstrous and ill-shaped ever beheld; quite as hideous as his character: and his face is in exact accordance; his upper lip is frightful. The sides of his head and the lower part of its back are enormous, and there lay the positive, the forcible part, of his character. The organs of Alimentiveness8, sexual impulse, the love of property (Acquisitiveness), the disposition to violence (Destructiveness), the disposition to contend (Courage, Combativeness), cunning (Secretiveness), are ENORMOUS.

The breadth at Disposition to Violence is 6¾ inches.
The breadth at Courage is 5¾ inches.
The breadth at Love of Property is 6½ inches.
The breadth at Cunning is 6½ inches.
The breadth at centre of Sexual Impulse is 3½ inches.
The breadth at Alimentiveness is 6½ inches.

The remarkable negative part of his character arose from the SMALLNESS of his organs of Justice9 and Caution. In the situation of these organs the head grows narrow and slopes down in a most singular manner. The contrast with the other organs already mentioned strikes every eye. At Caution the breadth is only 4½ inches.

The organs of Attachment, Love of Offspring, Love of Notoriety, or Vanity, as Gall terms it, and of Self-esteem, are large. The force of any of them would be very great when one or more of the six very large organs at the lower part of the sides and back of the head, - Destructiveness, Combativeness, Cunning, &c., acted in concert with them; but must have been overpowered when opposed by one or more of these.

The same remark holds with respect to Benevolence, Veneration, and Firmness, which are not quite so large as the four former, but still are full. The organ of Ideality is not at all deficient. The organ of Firmness, or rather Perseverance, is not an overpowering organ in him, but much that is called firmness is really either courage, or the strong action of some other organ: and his organs of perseverance were so supported by the immense power of the very large organs, that I see no reason to doubt from Rush's head that Gall is correct in what he advances upon this faculty and organ. The term firmness in common acceptation signifies sometimes steadiness in a course, sometimes resolution or courage in some particular circumstance. The former is supposed to be the faculty of the organ.

The distance measured by calipers from the orifice of the ear -
- to Firmness is 6¼ inches.
- to Veneration is 6 inches.
- to Benevolence is 6¼ inches.
- to Self-esteem is 6½ inches.
- to Parental Love is 5½ inches.
The breadth at the centre of the two organs of Attachment is 4 inches.

The development of his intellectual organs is in accordance with what we know of him. The lower range, the perceptive organs, as some term them, were in general large: while the higher or reflecting range were poor.

The organs of Music, the Sense of Persons, Form, Language, and Locality, were large. His speech in his defence for fourteen hours proved he had words enough at command, and he was known to be very fond of music and to play well upon the flute.10

His organ of observation, of the Sense of Things, as Gall denominates it, divided by Dr. Spurzheim, on what ground I know not, into Individuality and Eventuality, was not quite so large. The length from the orifice of the ear to it is six inches.

The organ of Order was small.

The upper row of intellectual organs were among the smallest of his head. His forehead at this part was narrow and did not advance. Causality was small, Wit small, and Comparison was larger. The length from the orifice of the ear to Comparison was 6¼ inches. The distance of the centre of each organ of Causality 2¼ inches; the breadth at the outer extremity of the orbits being 5¼ inches. So that the want of intellectual power exhibited in his defence is fully accounted for.11 Such a brain would never have chosen intellectual pursuits, but must always have occupied itself in the gratification of the feelings which the brute department of animals possess, some one, and some another, in equal force with ourselves.12

Why was such a monster, such a monstrous organization, made? But why is the whole world a scene of suffering and wickedness? Why are innocent babies tortured with endless varieties of disease? Why are they agonized with the natural process of obtaining their teeth? Why do epidemic poisons devastate nations, the good and the bad equally? Why do agonizing and fatal hereditary diseases attack the virtuous? Why do countless causes of misery assail the just and the unjust? There is little happiness which is not produced with the unhappiness of others, toiling and anxious; or which is not liable to be smashed unexpectedly. As to the miseries occasioned by ourselves, why are we not so made as to wish and be able to act better? Why have we not more intelligent and more virtuous brains? Why is mankind so organized and situated that ignorance, superstition, vice, and suffering, are the prevalent lot of humanity? Whatever the external show of happiness, we may find sorrow actual or impending almost everywhere, if we go behind the scenes and learn the particulars of every individual; or, if not, we have only to wait and we find it come. Not only while beholding the glitter and happy excitement of our parks and streets have we merely to turn our heads and see the famishing and diseased beggar, or visit the hospitals or the dirty alleys and back streets and behold want and agonizing and wasting disease: but, while we are enjoying the most glorious landscapes, the dwellings of the destitute and almost houseless are at hand, some victim of disease is never far off, and some suffering birds, fish, beast, or insects, in more or less abundance, are always discoverable.

For the innocent brutes suffer too. Look at the miseries of the toiling horse - that docile and affectionate animal - cruelly forced to excessive labour for our advantage or perhaps taken into bloody battle to be wounded and painfully killed. Look at the miseries of the myriads of animals which are every moment painfully put to death for our own nutriment. Truly, "the whole creation travaileth and groaneth." The insensible department of nature is no less exposed to injury and destruction. Plants perish from over crowding, from lack of moisture and nourishment, and from the violence committed upon them by the animal department of nature, and by weather. The inanimate department is equally injured; mountains fall, countries are swallowed up; streams obstructed; shores worn away. In the vegetable and inanimate department there is no suffering, and all appears a magnificent circulation of changes: but the same general laws which disturb them reign throughout, and disturb the sentient department of nature just as though this part were also insensible. Good comes out of evil every moment. But the question presents itself, Why the evil at all? And next comes the greater question, Why is anything at all? For what end this strange and suffering spectacle of nature?

The head of Rush is no greater mystery than the rest of sentient nature. To give a shadow of a reason is impossible. The purpose of all this is past finding out. We must be content with beholding and submitting in silence, conscious of our own littleness and inability; and not foolishly and presumptuously attempting an explanation. We must be satisfied that it could not be otherwise than it is, and this is my own sole consolation. But while we thus encourage a humble spirit, let us do all the good in our power.

From Rush's head we must learn charity. Let everyman remember that, if he had such a charge of cunning, acquisitiveness, &c., &c., as Rush was burthened with in the possession of such massive organs, and a corresponding deficient charge of higher feeling and intellectual power, he would be a Rush. Let us detest such organizations as we detest the organizations called wolf, tiger, rattlesnake, scorpion, or vermin; and let us defend ourselves and others from them by all means which are absolutely necessary and as little cruel as possible. But let us pity the individual, for he did not make himself, - no, not a hair of his head.13


  1. See my Human Physiology, pp. 373-4. I lament to say that mine is the only Physiology in the English language that sets forth and defends phrenology and mesmerism.
  2. As soon as the murder was known, all fixed upon Rush as the criminal, and the officers of justice repaired to his house early in the morning.
  3. See my Human Physiology, p. 195.
  4. History of Cromwell, vol. 1., p. 404.
  5. Thurlow's State Papers, vol. 1., p. 256.
  6. Thurlow's State Papers, vol. 1., p. 766.
  7. Gall's Fonctions du Cerveau, t. v., p. 389. Were Mr. Symes's translation of this work published, the advantage to English readers would be incalculable. He has it ready, but no bookseller takes it. We ought to ensure its publication by subscription. See Zoist, No. XIX., p. 213.
  8. See my note in No. XII., p. 462, upon the discovery of this organ. The unhappy Crook has lately destroyed himself.
  9. My reasons for regarding it as the organ of justice, and not of conscientiousness, are given in No. XII., p. 466.
  10. See my remarks on the equal wickedness of people with much "music in their souls," No. XXI., p. 53.
  11. The head is farther ill shaped. The posterior portion of the right side and the superior portion of the back are smaller; and the anterior portion of the left side smaller, than their opposites.
  12. My cast of Rush was taken from the corpse at Norwich by an Italian figure maker resident there, and sold by him to B. Casci, No. 3, Harford Place, Drury Lane, who sells copies for a few shillings, and is a man whom I can recommend for taking casts, both on account of his skill and integrity. Whoever wishes for a cast of a deceased relative will find in him an admirably conducted man.
  13. "Humility and benevolence are two leading duties. If we detect the signs of intellectual deficiency and vice in our own heads, we may learn to think humbly of ourselves; and, being put in possession of true self-knowledge, endeavour to strengthen what is too weak and repress what is too strong. If we detect the signs of great talents and virtues in the heads of others, we may love them the more as superior and highly favoured beings: whereas, if we detect the signs of great virtues and talents in our own heads, we may learn to give no praise to ourselves, but be thankful for the gift; and, if we detect the signs of vice and intellectual deficiency in others, we may learn to pity rather than censure. . . . A vicious man must be restrained, as a wild beast, for the good of others, though, for aught we know, his faults may, like the acts of the beast of prey, be chargeable rather on his nature; and, while we feel justified in confining, and the culprit is perhaps conscious how richly he deserves his fate, we may pity in our hearts and acknowledge that we ourselves have often been less excusable.
    'Teach me to love and to forgive.
    Exact my own defects to scan,
    What others are to feel, and own myself a man.'

Ref: Elliotson. 1849. The Zoist: A Journal of Cerebral Physiology & Mesmerism. Vol. VII. No. XXVI. July 1849. pp106-121