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nomena which infants exhibit; nor perhaps so wonderful as that instinctive terror with which nature has certainly endowed some of the brutes for the destined enemies of their respective tribes. It deserves, too, to be remarked, with respect to the lower animals, that they, as well as man, express what
passes in their minds by natural signs; and there is even some reason for apprehending, that some of them understand instinctively certain natural signs which we employ.
2. If natural signs be interpreted in consequence of experience only, why are we more affected by natural signs than by artificial ones? A peasant who has never heard but one language spoken, has as much reason to associate the word love or hatred with the sentiment it denotes, as to associate these passions with their natural expressions: And yet the effects of the two species of signs are widely different. For the farther confirmation or limitation of this conclusion, it would be worth while to institute some experiments expressly, if such a case as that recorded by Cheselden should again fall under the examination of an equally intelligent observer.
As ideas multiply, the imperfections of natural language are felt; and men find it necessary to invent artificial signs, of which the meaning is fixed by mutual agreement. In proportion as artificial language improves, the language of nature declines, insomuch that, in such a state of society as ours, it requires a great deal of reflection and study to recover the use of it. This study is, in a considerable degree, the foundation of the arts both of the actor and of the orator.
Among the ancients, the study of natural signs seems to have been cultivated with wonderful success. The pantomimes on the Roman stage carried the art to a perfection hardly credible: and about which, I must own, I should be disposed to be extremely sceptical, if I were to form a judgment from the best attempts of the same kind that I have happened to wit
We are told, that they performed long plays without any recitation, and yet conveyed to the spectators a distinct idea of the fable ; and here it deserves our notice, that although much study was necessary to acquire the art, or rather to recover the natural capacity, it required no study to understand the exhibition. It consisted of a natural language, equally intelligible to the knowing and the ignorant, to the refined and the barbarous. Lucian, in his treatise reps OPXNTEWS, mentions a king, whose dominions bordered on the Euxine Sea, who happening to be at Rome, in the reign of Nero, and having seen a pantomime perform, begged him of the Emperor as a present, in order that he might employ him as an inter
preter among the nations in his neighbourhood, with whom he could have no intercourse on account of the diversity of language. *
Notwithstanding, however, the decline of natural language in consequence of the use of artificial signs, the acquaintance which we still have with the former (however imperfect) is of essential service in teaching children the meaning of the latter. This may be easily exemplified, by first reading over to a child one of the simplest of Æsop's Fables, without taking your eye from the book, or using any inflection of voice; and afterwards telling him the same story, with the commentary of your face, and gestures, and tones. This effect of natural expression, in adding to the significancy of conventional signs, (the effect of the vultus habitusque hominis) is remarked by Horace:
66 Docte Cati, per amicitiam divosque rogatus
From the observations already made it seems to follow, that there are natural signs of the operations and passions of mind, which are interpreted instinctively by all who see them. At the same time, I am ready to grant that there are many expressions of countenance of which the meaning is learnt from experience alone; expressions which may justly be called natural signs, inasmuch as their connexion with the things signified is the effect of the natural constitution of the human frame, and as they must, therefore, have exhibited the same appearance in all ages and nations; but which, notwithstanding, are of a very different class from those hitherto considered, being intelligible to those alone who have turned their attention, in some degree, to the study of Character.-A single instance will be sufficient, both for the illustration and proof of this remark.
When a variety of ideas are passing rapidly through the mind, the eyes are constantly in motion ; for every time our thoughts change from one object to another, there is a corresponding movement in the organ. I do not say that it is impossible to prevent this effect from taking place, by a particuIar exertion of the will-but only, that this is the natural and
* See Critical Reflections on Poetry and Painting by the Abbé de Bos; also Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers.
ordinary effect of the general laws of our constitution. Revolve, for example, quickly in your mind the names of a number of your acquaintance-or travel over in imagination the different parts of a country with whose geography you are acquainted; you will be sensible of a motion in your eyes every time that you change your idea, either of the person, or place. Hence persons of a lively fancy or of a busy mind acquire what is called a quick eye. On the contrary, when the attention is much engaged with one object; or when the succession of ideas is slow, as in a deep melancholy; or in a mind occupied with some inquiry which requires patient and collected meditation, the eyes are either completely fixed, or their motions are slow and heavy. Bishop Atterbury takes notice of this circumstance as a remarkable feature in the countenance of Sir Isaac Newton. " The very lively and piercing
eye (says Atterbury) that M. Fontenelle in his Eloge on “ Newton ascribes to him, did not belong to him, at least not "for twenty years past, about which time I first became ac
quainted with him; indeed in the whole air of his face and “make, there was nothing of that penetrating sagacity which “ appears in his works. He had something rather languid in “his look and manner, which did not raise any great expecta" tions in those who did not know him."*
I am inclined to believe, that the expression of countenance which Atterbury here ascribes to Newton, will be found, in general, to be characteristic of all men whose habitual studies require patient and profound investigation ; excepting, perhaps, in those instances, where the effects of their studies have been powerfully counteracted by habits of business, or by an extensive commerce with the world.
In the instances which have just been mentioned, the connexion between the mind and the external appearance, is plainly the effect of the operation of the mind on the body. Whether there are not other connexions resulting from the operation of the body on the mind, is a question of greater difficulty. At the same time there seems to be but little doubt, that general inferences concerning the intellectual capacity, may be drawn with some confidence from the form and size of the scull, and from other circumstances connected with the original oganization of that part of the body. No parent, for example, fails to feel some apprehension about the intellect of a child whose head is uncommonly large, or whose scull departs widely from the common form. In this last case, the observation is as old as the time of Homer, according to whose idea, the head of Thersites (a person whom the Poet represents as of a very unsound understanding) seems to have somewhat resembled a cone.* It has been imagined by some, that, corresponding to the varieties of intellectual and moral character, there are certain inequalities or prominencies on the surface of the scull : and it certainly is a legitimate object of experimental inquiry to ascertain how far this opinion is agreeable to fact. Any conclusions on this point, cautiously obtained by induction, would undoubtedly form an interesting accession to what Bacon calls the Doctrina de Fadere. But, hitherto, the inquiry has produced nothing more than bold and gratuitous assertions; and the little we know with certainty of the indications of character as they are exhibited on the exterior of the head, has been inferred, not from the surface of the cranium, but from the forms which the face assumes from the play of the muscles. How far the particular rules on this subject, given by Lavater and others, have a solid foundation in experience, I do not pretend to decide. I confess, indeed, I strongly suspect that it is only very gross estimates which can be formed on those mathematical proportions which can be measured by a pair of compasses ; and that the traces of the more delicate peculiarities of mind are too complicated and too fugitive to be comprehended in the terms of any verbal description. On the other hand, I will not affirm, that these traces may not be distinctly visible to those who, by long practice, have acquired a sort of new sense, or rather a new perceptive faculty, analogous to what physicians acquire by long experience, for the more delicate and evanescent symptoms of disease. It seems to be owing to this that so little satisfaction can be obtained from the writings of the ancients, concerning the principles on which their art of physiognomy proceeded; while we have complete evidence of the great success with which they cultivated the study.
* Atterbury's Letter to M, Thiriot.
There is yet another class of signs which may be considered as natural, inasmuch as they have been found to present themselves to the common sense of mankind in a great variety of instances, as the most obvious and intelligible signs they could employ for particular purposes. Such, for example, is the universal practice of showing respect for another person, by stepping aside upon the road, in order to make way for
him ; of rising up when he enters, or when he leaves an apartment; of bending the head forward as a token of assent or approbation ; of shaking the head as a sign of dissent or disapprobation, and many others of a similar kind. may be remarked, that wherever a particular sign is in use among unconnected nations, however arbitrary and capricious it may at first appear, it must have some foundation in nature, or reason, or fancy; although perhaps we may be unable to give a satisfactory account of its origin. Thus the agreement, among so many different tribes, in various quarters of the globe, to employ a branch of a tree as an emblem of peace, has probably been suggested by the natural weapon of the savage-the club—the emblem exhibiting the materials, or the means of hostility, and, at the same time, a disposition to forbearance and accommodation. The practice of kissing the hand to a person at a distance, in token of courtesy and respect, seems to have been very general. Juvenal alludes to it as a habit carried to an extravagant excess by the Greek parasites, who in his time, infested the streets of Rome :
Qui semper et omni
In the book of Job the same gesture is mentioned as an expression of religious adoration, employed by idolaters towards the starry firmament.
« If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking “ in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or "my mouth hath kissed my hand : This also were an iniquity "to be punished by the judge; for I should have denied the "God that is above."
The practice probably originated in an idea that such a gesture was significant of a wish on the part of him who employed it, to convey, or fling by the hand, a salute to the person to whom it was addressed.--In a great variety of cases, it has been considered as a mark of rank, or of fashion, to allow the nails of one or of more fingers to grow to such a length as to disqualify the hand in a great measure for its proper function. The common account given of this, in the case of the Chinese Mandarines, is, that they may show that they are not employed in any manuel operations; and it is extremely likely, that some idea of the same kind has suggested the practice in other instances. The ornament which Laloubere saw among the fe
* Juvenal, Sat. iii. 106.