Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/174

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uncovering the head has become an expression of respect due even to a laborer on entering his cottage.


These last facts suggest a needful addition to the argument. Something more must be said respecting the way in which all kinds of obeisances between equals have thus resulted by diffusion from obeisances which originally expressed surrender to a conqueror and submission to a ruler.

Proof has been given that rhythmical muscular movements, naturally signifying joy, such as jumping, clapping the hands, and even drumming the ribs with the elbows, become simulated signs of joy used to propitiate a king, when joined with attitudes expressing subjection. These simulated signs of joy become civilities where there is no difference of rank. According to Grant, "when a birth took place in the Toorkee camp. . . . women assembled to rejoice at the door of the mother, by clapping their hands, dancing, and shouting. Their dance consisted in jumping in the air, throwing out their legs in the most uncouth manner, and flapping their sides with their elbows." And then, where circumstances permit, such marks of consideration become mutual. Bosman tells us that on the Slave Coast, "when two persons of equal condition meet each other, they fall both down on their knees together, clap hands, and mutually salute, by wishing each other a good day." And cases occur where, between friends, there is reciprocity of compliment even by prostration. Among the Mosquitos, says Bancroft, "one will throw himself at the feet of another, who helps him up, embraces him, and falls down in his turn to be assisted up and comforted with a pressure." Such extreme instances yield verifications, if there need any, of the conclusion that the mutual bows, and courtesies, and unhattings, among ourselves, are remnants of the original prostrations and strippings of the captive.

But I give these instances chiefly as introducing the interpretation of a still more familiar observance. Already I have named the fact that between polite Arabs the offer of an inferior to kiss a superior's hand is resisted by the superior if he is condescending, and that the conflict ends by the inferior kissing his own hand to the other; and here, from Niebuhr, is an account of a nearly-allied usage:

"Two Arabs of the desert meeting, shake hands more than ten times. Each kisses his own hand, and still repeats the question, 'How art thou?'. . . . In Yemen, each does as if he wished the other's hand, and draws back his own to avoid receiving the same honor. At length, to end the contest, the eldest of the two suffers the other to kiss his fingers."

Have we not here, then, the origin of shaking hands? If of two persons each wishes to make an obeisance to the other by kissing his hand, and each refuses out of compliment to have his own hand kissed, what will happen? Just as when leaving a room, each of two persons, pro-