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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/652

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

describes his reception by the principal Mexicans, each of whom put his own hand to the ground and then kissed it. A yet clearer illustration is shown in the practice still existing in some parts of Germany, that the inferior calling upon a high official should knock at the door, whether open or closed, of the latter's apartments, not at the convenient level of his hand, but low down near the flooring, thereby humbly indicating his station. An actual lowering of the head is required in these cases, but normally it is not seen and is only incidental to the main action. A truly gallant sentiment appears in the custom in some Dutch cities of bowing when passing the house where a lady friend resides, even though it may be certain that the salute can not be seen. Her presence, real or supposed, receives the compliment.

In southeastern Africa, two chiefs, each claiming to be at least the other's equal, can never meet because the initiative in salutation acknowledges the superiority in rank of the chief saluted. If no salutation is made, the followers fall to blows and war begins. But among the Mbengas it is the duty of the highest in position to make the first salutation, a curious example of the coincidence between the low types of man and the latest culture which rules that a lady has the privilege as well as duty of recognition. Such salutes must always be returned, and indeed nearly all forms and expressions of greeting must be reciprocated as made, even among savages who are the representatives of antiquity, this fact militating against the degrading origin of the bow, which could only apply when made by one party—viz., the inferior. To adduce one instance among many: The king of the Hoorn Islands, early in the seventeenth century, receiving the party of discovery, held his hands against each other with his face above them for two hours, lowering himself nearly to the ground, and remaining so until the visitor had paid him the like reverence. Until then the ceremony was incomplete.

The uncovering of the masculine head, with or without the forward bow, by removal of whatever head-dress is upon it, is also explained by Mr. Spencer on the principle of fear. It means to him a removal of part of the clothing as symbolical of the whole, and thereby is an abbreviation of the exhibition or pretense of poverty, helplessness, and abjectness by which the wrath or greed of a tyrant is deprecated. In support of this view many usages are cited in which whole or partial nakedness and displayed misery seem to become ceremonial. It is also true that the respective costumes of the master and servants were often designed to assert that the former alone was big. Not only such titles as Highness, Celsitude, and Altitude implied elevation before mentioned, but those like Majesty and Magnitude demanded the show of relative size. Similar devices to distinguish the great