Punch,  53 (1867), 64.

The Character Insurance Company



Announcement, Spoof


Phrenology, Psychology, Philosophy, Physiognomy, Human Development, Animal Behaviour, Morality, Railways, Transport, Commerce, Charlatanry, Crime

    Begins by pondering the credibility of phrenology and its 'general principles' and proceeds to a series of questions on the nature and development of the brain. These include: 'Is it a substance no more important than so much fat?' 'Has the brain any connection with the mind?' 'Does its development really in general vary with the varieties of mental character?' 'Do those men whose heads most resemble the heads of apes, approach the nearest of all mankind to the lower animals?' and 'Is there not a general difference between the clerical and the criminal head?'. Announces the Character Insurance Company, which is based on the supposition that it is possible to 'estimate the development of the brain in a general way' and that its directors will examine the 'heads of persons willing to submit to that scrutiny, and pay for it', and provide a 'correct account' of such persons' 'disposition and abilities'. Explains that the company directors will also classify heads according to their moral nature and that this process is designed to give shareholders a means of establishing which individuals are to be trusted 'with the management of their affairs', and thus raise 'commercial confidence' and prevent 'panics'. Concludes by insisting that the company will ensure better use of capital and prevent such a 'scandal as the smash of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway'.

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