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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/334

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

study. Children, too, who may be supposed to represent the earlier acquirements of the race, are proverbially unfettered in the expression of their sentiments. In like manner, in the various ranks of our civilized society, we see that, while a cultivated lady appears to all distant onlookers to have a mind dispassionate and undisturbed by agitating feelings, a west-country maid reveals her curiosity and wonder, her alternations of joy and misery, with scarcely a trace of compunction. If we go low enough down the social scale we find the freest utterance of feelings, and it is only when, in retracing our steps, we arrive at a certain stage of culture that we discover signs of an active emotional restraint. Where this self-control is defective we have Mr. Spencer's secondary emotional signs. Higher up, among a few specially cultivated persons, the acquisition of this power of concealment appears to be complete, and we have a type of mind capable of a prolonged external serenity unruffled by a gust of passionate impulse. The survey of these facts at once prompts the question whether the expression of our feelings by smile, vocal changes, and so on, is destined to disappear with a further advance of social organization. To attempt to answer such a question directly and briefly would perhaps betray too much confidence. We may, however, seek to define the various paths of inquiry to be pursued before a final answer can be arrived at, and to hint at the probabilities of the problem under its various aspects.

First of all, then, with respect to the distinctly unsocial feelings, the answer seems to be tolerably clear. It being generally allowed by biologists that the looks and gestures accompanying anger, jealousy, and pride, are simply survivals of hostile actions, the nascent renewal of an attitude preliminary to attack, it is natural that they should appear only in transitions of society from a barbaric to a civilized condition. When the age of destructive conflict, individual and racial, shall have become the curious research of antiquaries, it may be presumed that any bodily movements known to have grown out of these struggles will cease from sheer desuetude. Indeed, one may perhaps, without too optimist a bias, refer to the fact that all the stronger manifestations of anger and malice have already become unfamiliar in real life, so that when we see their imitations on the stage they are apt to appear ridiculously forced. The better part of modern society has put such a ban on the ugly signs of rage that our only means of discovering traces of this passion in a man is some incompletely suppressed emotional movement, or some too violent effort to command the muscles of expression. After many more generations shall have practised the difficult art of noiselessly crushing out with the foot an incipient wrath, it will be hard if such offenses to the eye as frowning brow and scornful mouth do not entirely disappear.

But the progress of social refinement probably affects other expressions than those of the distinctly hostile sentiments. It tends to