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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/581

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PHYSIOLOGY OF THE PASSIONS.

pressions, have the same origin. Thus, the habit of praying with the hands joined palm to palm comes, according to him, from the fact that in past times captives testified their entire submission by holding up their hands to be bound by the victor. The captive assumed the kneeling posture, in order to make this operation easier. Thus, the gesture and the attitude, which are now the instinctive expression of adoration, of devotion, would be merely vestiges of the savage usages of primitive man. When we are angry with a person, we involuntarily close our fists, so that they may be ready for use, even when we have no intention of striking the one who has angered us. If, under the action of similar feelings, the lips contract so as to show the teeth, as though we were preparing to bite, the reason is, says Darwin, that we are descended from animals who used their teeth as weapons of offense. Why do the eyebrows assume an oblique position when a person is suffering pain? For this reason: when children cry from hunger or from pain, the act of crying profoundly modifies the circulation; the blood flows to the head, and particularly to the eyes, and this produces an unpleasant sensation. The muscles around the eyes then contract so as to protect them, and this action has become, under the influence of selection and heredity, an instinctive habit.

Most of Mr. Darwin's ingenious explanations thus tend to refer movements of the physiognomy, that are now involuntary and instinctive, to movements that once were voluntary and intentional. Many of these explanations seem plausible, but it is nevertheless true that the physiognomy betrays the emotions and passions by means of signs entirely independent of the will. That some of the muscular movements of the face arose in the manner described by Darwin we might admit, but still we cannot see how that accomplished naturalist can reduce under his fundamental hypothesis those complex movements which are expressed by laughter, lachrymal secretion, blushing, pallor, turgescence or flaccidity of the flesh, and the flashing and dimming of the eyes. All these phenomena are entirely independent of the will, nor can they be explained on the theory put forward by Darwin to account for the eyebrow contracting under the influence of painful emotions, or for the lips contracting in anger. Therefore, we are forced to the conclusion that the agitation of the cephalic centres, produced by the passions, calls forth, in virtue of the anatomical relations of those centres with the facial nerves and muscles, reflex phenomena that never were under the control of the will. The habit of seeing such and such an expression associated with such and such a passion leads us to judge of the one by the other; but yet the habit is not the efficient cause of the expression.

There still remains to be considered one more series of physiological phenomena which bear the impress of passion, viz., vocal phenomena. The inflections of the voice, as related to the passions, are as varied as the expressions of the physiognomy. Each passion has its