Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COMBE, George, phrenologist, born near Edinburgh, Scotland, 21 October, 1788; died at Moor Park, Surrey, England, 14 August, 1858. He was educated at the high school and Edinburgh University, and in 1804 began the study of law. In 1812 he obtained his commission as a writer to the signet, and soon afterward that of notary public. He was eminently successful as a lawyer, and his shrewdness and conscientiousness in dealing with his clients obtained him a large practice. In 1837 he devoted himself wholly to phrenology. On the visit of Spurzheim to Edinburgh in 1816, Combe became a convert to his system of phrenology, and advocated it in his lectures and writings. In 1819 he published "Essays on Phrenology, or an Inquiry into the System of Gall and Spurzheim, which was subsequently developed into his " System of Phrenology" (2 vols., 8vo, 1824). His most important work, "The Constitution of Man" (1828), was designed to show that all the laws of nature were in harmony with one another, and that man could best fulfil God's will, and attain the greatest happiness, by discovering those laws and obeying them. In 1823, assisted by a few friends, George Combe and his brother Andrew, a physician, established the "Edinburgh Phrenological Journal," and for more than twenty-three years contributed gratuitously to its pages. In 1833 he married Cecilia Siddons, a daughter of the famous actress. In 1837 he went to Germany; and in 1838, accompanied by his wife, he visited the United States, and during the two years he remained there delivered 158 lectures on phrenology, and the education and treatment of the criminal classes. On his return to Great Britain in June, 1840, he published his "Moral Philosophy," and in the year following his "Notes on the United States of North America."
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