Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/401

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
385
ON ACQUIRED FACIAL EXPRESSION.

been partially created by his habit of working bis jaws concomitantly with his shears. Let any one watch a person cutting a piece of tough material with scissors, and he will see that the lower part of the face wags in rhythmic and spontaneous unison with the blades. Shepherds and farm laborers who join sheep-shearing gangs certainly acquire a different expression while engaged in this kind of work. The cast of countenance by which one so easily recognizes a groom is partially explicable from the fact that the muscles which close the jaw and compress the lips are always called into play when we are asserting our will over that of a horse. Nearly all jockeys and other horsey men have a peculiar set of the mouth and chin, but I have been unable to distinguish any special characteristic about the eye or upper part of the face. It is instructive to compare the visage of the ruler of horses with that of the ruler of men. The horseman's face shows command in the mouth, the drill-sergeant's in the mouth and the eye. The last is undoubtedly the most effective instrument in exacting obedience from our own species. Here we get a hint of the cause of that want of dignity, that element of coarseness, which is discernible in the countenances of some men and women who have much to do with horses. The higher and nobler method of expressing authority is outweighed by the lower and more animal one.

Generally speaking, it is a strenuous contest with minor difficulties which produces a thin and rigid set of lips. It is seen almost invariably in housewives of the Martha type, who are "careful and troubled about many things," and whose souls are shaken to the center by petty worries within doors, and strife à outrance with shortcomings of the scullery maid or the cook.

The compressed lip so loved (and so often misinterpreted) by novelists is a sign of weakness rather than strength. It tells of perpetual conflicts in which the reserves are called into the fray. The strong will is not agitated into strenuous action by the small worries of the hour, and the great occasions which call for its whole forces are too few to produce a permanent impress of this kind upon the features. The commanding officer, assured of bis men's obedience, does not habitually keep his lip muscles in a state of tension. Look at the sea captain, the most absolute monarch on earth. He carries authority and power in his face, but it resides in his eye and the confident assurance of his easily set mouth. Every spar and shaft and muscle in bis floating realm must obey him, and he knows it. This is probably a reason why the sea captain's and the engine driver's show a certain similarity of type. The engine driver can make bis captive giant, strong as ten thousand men, obey the pressure of his finger. His lips are usually calm, like those of the statues of the wielder of thunder-