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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/842

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"The smallest heads," says Aristotle, "are generally stored with the largest share of sense, and the same rule applies to other extremities. If the hands and feet are small in proportion to the size of the trunk, it betokens a refined mind, a noble ancestry." Lavater would trust only to first impressions. "If I begin to analyze features," he confesses, "I am biased by my prejudices, and persuade myself to consider a head a bad one because it exhibits features which my pet theory objects to. But there are laws of compensation which assert themselves in the tout ensemble impression."

"In many faces I have seen an habitual expression which at first puzzled me," says Kant, "but I have found that by mimicking that characteristic look my mind involuntarily turns in the direction of that person's predominating passion, and thus furnishes me a key to the problem."

"How is it," asks Dr. Haller, "that crafty and designing persons use to keep one, or sometimes both eyes, half shut? and that only children and animals are honest enough to meet your glance with perfect unconcern? To other features I look for pathological indications, but the eye alone is the mirror of the mind."

Lord Byron, in matters of that sort perhaps a better observer, seems to have formed quite a different view. "Hold on, let me see the jaw," he called out, when Shelley's body was removed from the beach of Spezzia—"I can recognize any one by the teeth with whom I have talked. I always watch the lips and mouth: they tell what the tongue and eyes try to conceal."

"Let a beginner draw a head," says Le Brun, "and the face will always bear an expression of stupidity; never one of malignity or wickedness. Is not here an important hint? Stupidity, as expressed in mind or body, is incongruity, while in a scoundrel the mental machinery may be well arranged and very efficient, though working in the wrong direction. Mental turpitude can rarely be discovered in the features; mental derangement—which all foolishness more or less amounts to—very easily."

The comparison of some special rules reveals even stranger contradictions. Buffon, who himself loved a well-stocked larder, accepts embonpoint as a safe sign of mental health. "Crazy people," he informs us, "are always haggard; harmony of the mental and moral faculties is favorable to the development of fat." Redfield, with the same plausibility, demonstrates the exact reverse. "Only stupid brutes accumulate fat," says he, "oxen, sheep, and swine. Mental activity stimulates our torpid organs, but a sluggish brain induces physical inertia and fatty degeneration. . . . Dr. Swift," he adds, "was lean as long as he applied himself to letters; he afterward lost the main part of his reason and then became plump again." "A fat, short neck," says Pliny, "announces a mind ferocious," but Sir Charles Bell distinctly tells us that it indicates good-natured laziness and love of a