by writing and lecturing. In September 1838 he sailed for America, where he had been frequently invited to lecture, and he made a tour through the United States and Canada, lecturing, arguing, and making friends with various Americans, especially Dr. Channing and Horace Mann, well known as an educationist, until June 1840, when he returned to Europe. He was exhausted by his labours, but in September presided over the third meeting of the General Association of Phrenologists at Glasgow. He took a house called 'Gorgie Cottage' at Slateford, near Edinburgh. Phrenologists were now quarrelling among themselves. Two-thirds of the members of the association resigned on account of a profession of Dr. Engledue at the London meeting in 1841 that phrenology was based upon materialism. Combe had escaped these troubles by going to Germany in May, and in 1842 he gave a series of lectures upon phrenology at Heidelberg, studying German for the purpose under a teacher who translated his lectures for him. His health was declining, and he was advised to give up lecturing. He now bought a house, 45 Melville Street, Edinburgh, which was his headquarters for the rest of his life. He continued to write on various topics connected with his main subject, and to carry on a large correspondence. Among his friends were Robert Chambers, Cobden, and Miss Evans ('George Eliot'). Miss Evans spent a fortnight with him in 1852, and found him agreeable. In January 1849 Combe published a life of his brother Andrew, who died in 1847, and some heterodox sentiments increased his alienation from Edinburgh society. In politics Combe sympathised with Cobden, though disapproving his friend's extreme peace principles. His chief interest was in education. He wrote pamphlets advocating a system of national secular education, leaving religious instruction to the separate churches. He found an ally in William Ellis, author of 'Outlines of Social Economy,' and helped to support a school set up on his principles at Edinburgh, where he gave some lessons on physiology and phrenology. During his last years he was much occupied with the question of the relations between religion and science. He published a pamphlet upon the subject in 1847, which was expanded into a book, described as the fourth edition of the pamphlet, in 1857. His health had long been breaking, and he died 14 Aug. 1858; he left no children. His wife died 19 Feb. 1868. Combe's portrait was painted by Sir Daniel Macnee in 1836 and Sir John Watson Gordon in 1857. Engravings are given in his life. Combe was remarkably even-tempered and mildly persistent; he was thoroughly amiable in all his family relations, and liberal in cases of need, though his formality and love of giving advice exposed him to some ridicule. He was essentially a man of one idea. His want of scientific training predisposed him to accept with implicit confidence the crude solution of enormously complex and delicate problems propounded by the phrenologists, and for the rest of his life he propagated the doctrine with the zeal of a religious missionary. His writings were for many years extremely popular with the half-educated, and though his theories have fallen into complete discredit he did something, like his friend Chambers, to excite an interest in science and a belief in the importance of applying scientific method in moral questions.
Combe's chief works are:
- 'Essays on Phrenology,' 1819; in later editions, 1825 to 1853, called a 'System of Phrenology.'
- 'Elements of Phrenology,' 1824, eighth edition 1855; translated into French by J. Fossati, 1836.
- 'The Constitution of Man considered in relation to External Objects,' 1828, and many later editions.
- 'Lectures on Popular Education delivered to the Edinburgh Association,' 1833.
- 'Outlines of Phrenology,' reprinted in 1824 from 'Transactions of the Phrenological Society' for 1823; ninth edition 1854.
- 'Lectures on Moral Philosophy before the Edinburgh Philosophical Society,' Boston, 1836.
- 'Moral Philosophy, or the Duties of Man considered in his Individual, Social, and Domestic Capacities,' 1840, 1841, and 1846.
- 'Notes on the United States … during a Phrenological Visit in 1838–40,' 3 vols., 1841.
- 'On the Relation between Religion and Science,' 1847; enlarged in fourth edition as 'Relation between Science and Religion,' 1857. This last includes also 'An Enquiry into Natural Religion,' privately printed in 1853.
- 'Life and Correspondence of Andrew Combe,' 1850.
Besides these Combe published many pamphlets in controversy with Jeffrey and Hamilton and others, and upon minor points: upon capital punishment, 1847; national education,, 1847; secular education, 1851 and 1852; on criminal legislation, 1854; and on the currency question, 1858. In 1859 was published 'Phrenological Development of Robert Burns,' edited by R. Cox.
[Life of George Combe, ed. Charles Gibbon, 2 vols., 1878; Life of Andrew Combe, 1860: George Eliot's Life, vol. i.; Reminiscences of Spurzheim and Combe, ed. R. Capen, 1881; Frances Kemble's Record of a Girlhood, 1879, i. 251-5.]
COMBE, TAYLOR (1774–1826), numismatist and archaeologist, was born in 1774,