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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/648

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

also turn their backs. The concept of peace is close to that of surrender, and the Indian sign described is often used simply for "friend." The members of the Wonkomarra tribe salute one another on meeting by throwing their hands up to their heads. The etiquette of the Todas is in point to show that prostration and groveling are voluntarily performed in ceremony. One party falls at the other's feet, crouching, and the other places first the right and next the left foot on the prostrate head. But all this is done with high good humor as being the correct etiquette, and by no means cruel in the one party or shameful to the other. In southern India the inferior prostrates himself with extended arms to show entire helplessness. In Japan the host and hostess fall on their knees and lower their faces to the floor, the nose and chin resting on the back of the right hand, to which the visitor responds in the same manner. Sometimes both parties distinctly and repeatedly strike the floor with their heads.

It must also be admitted that the principle of the superior preserving an easy posture and the inferior assuming one of physical inconvenience is obvious in many ceremonials. In the court of France the right of sitting in the presence of the monarch, though on a low, armless, and backless stool called a tabouret, was jealously guarded, the exceptions even in favor of age and sex being made by special edict; and, although prostration is Mr. Spencer's great original of all respectful forms, recumbency in the court mentioned was not to be imagined. A quaint illustration of this is in the device by which alone it was considered possible for Louis XIII to pay a necessary visit to Cardinal Richelieu when confined to his bed. The king had another bed prepared, and on his arrival at once lay down on it himself, so that his subject had at least no advantage over him. The same concept rules the customs of many lands. In Monbutto no servant is permitted to address his superior except in a stooping posture with his hands upon his knees. The Hindoo in the presence of a Brahman raises his folded hands to his forehead, touching it with the balls of his thumbs, uttering at the same time a word meaning "prostration," which clearly explains the gesture. But notwithstanding this array of examples in favor of the origin of the bow from physical fear, there is reason to believe it had a separate and independent course of evolution, and that the subject is much more complex than as hitherto presented.

Mr. Spencer's theory about the origin of the bow must refer exclusively to the actions of the inferior toward the superior, in the same manner that his theory of the derivation of the handshake, really hand-grasp, depends upon the conduct of equals.