Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/175

This page has been validated.
163
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

posing to give the other precedence, will refuse to go first, and there will result at the doorway some conflict of movements, preventing either from advancing; so, if each of two tries to kiss the other's hand and refuses to have his own kissed, there will result a raising of the hand of each by the other toward his own lips, and by the other a drawing of it down again, and so on alternately. Though at first such an action will be irregular, yet as fast as the usage spreads, and the failure of either to kiss the other's hand becomes a recognized issue, the motions may be expected to grow regular and rhythmical. Clearly the difference between the simple squeeze, to which this salute is now often abridged, and the old-fashioned hearty shake, exceeds the difference between the hearty shake and the movement that would result from the effort of each to kiss the hand of the other.

Even in the absence of this clew yielded by the Arab observance, we should be obliged to infer some such genesis. After all that has been shown, no one can suppose that hand-shaking was ever deliberately fixed upon as a salute; and if it had a natural origin in some act which, like the rest, expressed subjection, the act of kissing the hand must be assumed as alone capable of leading to it.

 

Whatever its kind, then, the obeisance has the same root with the trophy and the mutilation. At the mercy of his conqueror, who, cutting off part of his body as a memorial of victory, kills him, or else, taking some less important part, marks him as a subject person, the conquered enemy lies prone before him now on his back, or now with neck under his foot, smeared with dust or dirt, weaponless, and with torn clothes, or, it may be, stripped of the trophy-trimmed robe he prized. Thus, the prostration, the coating of dust, and the loss of covering, incidental on subjugation, become, like the mutilation, recognized proofs of it: whence result, first of all, the enforced signs of submission of slaves to masters, and subjects to rulers; then the voluntary assumptions of humble attitudes before superiors; and, finally, those complimentary movements expressive of inferiority, made by each to the other between equals.

That all obeisances originate in militancy is a conclusion harmonizing with the fact that they develop along with development of the militant type of society. Attitudes and motions signifying subjection do not characterize headless tribes and tribes having unsettled chieftainships, like the Fuegians, the Andamanese, the Australians, the Tasmanians, the Esquimaux; and accounts of etiquette among the wandering and almost unorganized communities of North America make little, if any, mention of actions expressing servitude or subordination. There are indeed, in India, certain simple societies politically unorganized and peaceful, in which there occur humble obeisances; as instance the Todas. At marriage, a Toda bride puts her head under the foot of the bridegroom. But, since exceptions of this kind, and less marked kinds,