The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
by Charles Darwin
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Lastly, with respect to the natives of India, Mr. J. Scott has sent me a full description of their gestures and expression when enraged. Two low-caste Bengalees disputed about a loan. At first they were calm, but soon grew furious and poured forth the grossest abuse on each other's relations and progenitors for many generations past. Their gestures were very different from those of Europeans; for though their chests were expanded and shoulders squared, their arms remained rigidly suspended, with the elbows turned inwards and the hands alternately clenched and opened. Their shoulders were often raised high, and then again lowered. They looked fiercely at each other from under their lowered and strongly wrinkled brows, and their protruded lips were firmly closed. They approached each other, with heads and necks stretched forwards, and pushed, scratched, and grasped at each other. This protrusion of the head and body seems a common gesture with the enraged; and I have noticed it with degraded English women whilst quarrelling violently in the streets. In such cases it may be presumed that neither party expects to receive a blow from the other.

A Bengalee employed in the Botanic Gardens was accused, in the presence of Mr. Scott, by the native overseer of having stolen a valuable plant. He listened silently and scornfully to the accusation; his attitude erect, chest expanded, mouth closed, lips protruding, eyes firmly set and penetrating. He then defiantly maintained his innocence, with upraised and clenched hands, his head being now pushed forwards, with the eyes widely open and eyebrows raised. Mr. Scott also watched two Mechis, in Sikhim, quarrelling about their share of payment. They soon got into a furious passion, and then their bodies became less erect, with their heads pushed forwards; they made grimaces at each other; their shoulders were raised; their arms rigidly bent inwards at the elbows, and their hands spasmodically closed, but not properly clenched. They continually approached and retreated from each other, and often raised their arms as if to strike, but their hands were open, and no blow was given. Mr. Scott made similar observations on the Lepchas whom he often saw quarrelling, and he noticed that they kept their arms rigid and almost parallel to their bodies, with the hands pushed somewhat backwards and partially closed, but not clenched.

Sneering, Defiance: Uncovering the canine tooth on one side.— The expression which I wish here to consider differs but little from that already described, when the lips are retracted and the grinning teeth exposed. The difference consists solely in the upper lip being retracted in such a manner that the canine tooth on one side of the face alone is shown; the face itself being generally a little upturned and half averted from the person causing offence. The other signs of rage are not necessarily present. This expression may occasionally be observed in a person who sneers at or defies another, though there may be no real anger; as when any one is playfully accused of some fault, and answers, "I scorn the imputation." The expression is not a common one, but I have seen it exhibited with perfect distinctness by a lady who was being quizzed by another person. It was described by Parsons as long ago as 1746, with an engraving, showing the uncovered canine on one side.[14] Mr. Rejlander, without my having made any allusion to the subject, asked me whether I had ever noticed this expression, as he had been much struck by it. He has photographed for me (Plate IV. fig 1) a lady, who sometimes unintentionally displays the canine on one side, and who can do so voluntarily with unusual distinctness.

The expression of a half-playful sneer graduates into one of great ferocity when, together with a heavily frowning brow and fierce eye, the canine tooth is exposed. A Bengalee boy was accused before Mr. Scott of some misdeed. The delinquent did not dare to give vent to his wrath in words, but it was plainly shown on his countenance, sometimes by a defiant frown, and sometimes "by a thoroughly canine snarl." When this was exhibited, "the corner of the lip over the eye-tooth, which happened in this case to be large and projecting, was raised on the side of his accuser, a strong frown being still retained on the brow." Sir C. Bell states[15] that the actor Cooke could express the most determined hate "when with the oblique cast of his eyes he drew up the outer part of the upper lip, and discovered a sharp angular tooth."

[14] Transact. Philosoph. Soc., Appendix, 1746, p. 65.

The uncovering of the canine tooth is the result of a double movement. The angle or corner of the mouth is drawn a little backwards, and at the same time a muscle which runs parallel to and near the nose draws up the outer part of the upper lip, and exposes the canine on this side of the face. The contraction of this muscle makes a distinct furrow on the cheek, and produces strong wrinkles under the eye, especially at its inner corner. The action is the same as that of a snarling dog; and a dog when pretending to fight often draws up the lip on one side alone, namely that facing his antagonist. Our word sneer is in fact the same as snarl, which was originally snar, the l "being merely an element implying continuance of action."[16]

I suspect that we see a trace of this same expression in what is called a derisive or sardonic smile. The lips are then kept joined or almost joined, but one corner of the mouth is retracted on the side towards the derided person; and this drawing back of the corner is part of a true sneer. Although some persons smile more on one side of their face than on the other, it is not easy to understand why in cases of derision the smile, if a real one, should so commonly be confined to one side. I have also on these occasions noticed a slight twitching of the muscle which draws up the outer part of the upper lip; and this movement, if fully carried out, would have uncovered the canine, and would have produced a true sneer.

[15] 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 136. Sir C. Bell calls (p. 131) the muscles which uncover the canines the snarling muscles.

[16] Hensleigh Wedgwood, 'Dictionary of English Etymology,' 1865, vol. iii. pp. 240, 243.

Mr. Bulmer, an Australian missionary in a remote part of Gipps' Land, says, in answer to my query about the uncovering of the canine on one side, "I find that the natives in snarling at each other speak with the teeth closed, the upper lip drawn to one side, and a general angry expression of face; but they look direct at the person addressed." Three other observers in Australia, one in Abyssinia, and one in China, answer my query on this head in the affirmative; but as the expression is rare, and as they enter into no details, I am afraid of implicitly trusting them. It is, however, by no means improbable that this animal-like expression may be more common with savages than with civilized races. Mr. Geach is an observer who may be fully trusted, and he has observed it on one occasion in a Malay in the interior of Malacca. The Rev. S. O. Glenie answers, "We have observed this expression with the natives of Ceylon, but not often." Lastly, in North America, Dr. Rothrock has seen it with some wild Indians, and often in a tribe adjoining the Atnahs.

Although the upper lip is certainly sometimes raised on one side alone in sneering at or defying any one, I do not know that this is always the case, for the face is commonly half averted, and the expression is often momentary. The movement being confined to one side may not be an essential part of the expression, but may depend on the proper muscles being incapable of movement excepting on one side. I asked four persons to endeavour to act voluntarily in this manner; two could expose the canine only on the left side, one only on the right side, and the fourth on neither side. Nevertheless it is by no means certain that these same persons, if defying any one in earnest, would not unconsciously have uncovered their canine tooth on the side, whichever it might be, towards the offender. For we have seen that some persons cannot voluntarily make their eyebrows oblique, yet instantly act in this manner when affected by any real, although most trifling, cause of distress. The power of voluntarily uncovering the canine on one side of the face being thus often wholly lost, indicates that it is a rarely used and almost abortive action. It is indeed a surprising fact that man should possess the power, or should exhibit any tendency to its use; for Mr. Sutton has never noticed a snarling action in our nearest allies, namely, the monkeys in the Zoological Gardens, and he is positive that the baboons, though furnished with great canines, never act thus, but uncover all their teeth when feeling savage and ready for an attack. Whether the adult anthropomorphous apes, in the males of whom the canines are much larger than in the females, uncover them when prepared to fight, is not known.

The expression here considered, whether that of a playful sneer or ferocious snarl, is one of the most curious which occurs in man. It reveals his animal descent; for no one, even if rolling on the ground in a deadly grapple with an enemy, and attempting to bite him, would try to use his canine teeth more than his other teeth. We may readily believe from our affinity to the anthropomorphous apes that our male semi-human progenitors possessed great canine teeth, and men are now occasionally born having them of unusually large size, with interspaces in the opposite jaw for their reception.[17] We may further suspect, notwithstanding that we have no support from analogy, that our semi-human progenitors uncovered their canine teeth when prepared for battle, as we still do when feeling ferocious, or when merely sneering at or defying some one, without any intention of making a real attack with our teeth.

[17] 'The Descent of Man,' 1871, vol. L p. 126. CHAPTER XI.


Contempt, scorn and disdain, variously expressed—Derisive smile— Gestures expressive of contempt—Disgust—Guilt, deceit, pride, &c.— Helplessness or impotence—Patience—Obstinacy—Shrugging the shoulders common to most of the races of man—Signs of affirmation and negation.

SCORN and disdain can hardly be distinguished from contempt, excepting that they imply a rather more angry frame of mind. Nor can they be clearly distinguished from the feelings discussed in the last chapter under the terms of sneering and defiance. Disgust is a sensation rather more distinct in its nature and refers to something revolting, primarily in relation to the sense of taste, as actually perceived or vividly imagined; and secondarily to anything which causes a similar feeling, through the sense of smell, touch, and even of eyesight. Nevertheless, extreme contempt, or as it is often called loathing contempt, hardly differs from disgust. These several conditions of the mind are, therefore, nearly related; and each of them may be exhibited in many different ways. Some writers have insisted chiefly on one mode of expression, and others on a different mode. From this circumstance M. Lemoine has argued[1] that their descriptions are not trustworthy. But we shall immediately see that it is natural that the feelings which we have here to consider should be expressed in many different ways, inasmuch as various habitual actions serve equally well, through the principle of association, for their expression.

Scorn and disdain, as well as sneering and defiance, may be displayed by a slight uncovering of the canine tooth on one side of the face; and this movement appears to graduate into one closely like a smile. Or the smile or laugh may be real, although one of derision; and this implies that the offender is so insignificant that he excites only amusement; but the amusement is generally a pretence. Gaika in his answers to my queries remarks, that contempt is commonly shown by his countrymen, the Kafirs, by smiling; and the Rajah Brooke makes the same observation with respect to the Dyaks of Borneo. As laughter is primarily the expression of simple joy, very young children do not, I believe, ever laugh in derision.

The partial closure of the eyelids, as Duchenne[2] insists, or the turning away of the eyes or of the whole body, are likewise highly expressive of disdain. These actions seem to declare that the despised person is not worth looking at or is disagreeable to behold. The accompanying photograph (Plate V. fig. 1) by Mr. Rejlander, shows this form of disdain. It represents a young lady, who is supposed to be tearing up the photograph of a despised lover.

The most common method of expressing contempt is by movements about the nose, or round the mouth; but the latter movements, when strongly pronounced, indicate disgust. The nose may be slightly turned up, which apparently follows from the turning up of the upper lip; or the movement may be abbreviated into the mere wrinkling of the nose. The nose is often slightly contracted, so as partly to close the passage;[3] and this is commonly accompanied by a slight snort or expiration. All these actions are the same with those which we employ when we perceive an offensive odour, and wish to exclude or expel it. In extreme cases, as Dr. Piderit remarks,[4] we protrude and raise both lips, or the upper lip alone, so as to close the nostrils as by a valve, the nose being thus turned up. We seem thus to say to the despised person that he smells offensively,[5] in nearly the same manner as we express to him by half-closing our eyelids, or turning away our faces, that he is not worth looking at. It must not, however, be supposed that such ideas actually pass through the mind when we exhibit our contempt; but as whenever we have perceived a disagreeable odour or seen a disagreeable sight, actions of this kind have been performed, they have become habitual or fixed, and are now employed under any analogous state of mind.

[1] 'De In Physionomie et la Parole,' 1865, p. 89.

[2] 'Physionomie Humaine,' Album, Legende viii. p. 35. Gratiolet also speaks (De la Phys. 1865, p. 52) of the turning away of the eyes and body.

[3] Dr. W. Ogle, in an interesting paper on the Sense of Smell ('Medico-Chirurgical Transactions,' vol. liii. p. 268), shows that when we wish to smell carefully, instead of taking one deep nasal inspiration, we draw in the air by a succession of rapid short sniffs. If "the nostrils be watched during this process, it will be seen that, so far from dilating, they actually contract at each sniff. The contraction does not include the whole anterior opening, but only the posterior portion." He then explains the cause of this movement. When, on the other hand, we wish to exclude any odour, the contraction, I presume, affects only the anterior part of the nostrils.

[4] 'Mimik und Physiognomik,' ss. 84, 93. Gratiolet (ibid. p. 155) takes nearly the same view with Dr. Piderit respecting the expression of contempt and disgust.

[5] Scorn implies a strong form of contempt; and one of the roots of the word 'scorn' means, according to Mr. Wedgwood (Dict. of English Etymology, vol. iii. p. 125), ordure or dirt. A person who is scorned is treated like dirt.

Various odd little gestures likewise indicate contempt; for instance, snapping one's fingers. This, as Mr. Taylor remarks,[6] "is not very intelligible as we generally see it; but when we notice that the same sign made quite gently, as if rolling some tiny object away between the finger and thumb, or the sign of flipping it away with the thumb-nail and forefinger, are usual and well-understood deaf-and-dumb gestures, denoting anything tiny, insignificant, contemptible, it seems as though we had exaggerated and conventionalized a perfectly natural action, so as to lose sight of its original meaning. There is a curious mention of this gesture by Strabo." Mr. Washington Matthews informs me that, with the Dakota Indians of North America, contempt is shown not only by movements of the face, such as those above described, but "conventionally, by the hand being closed and held near the breast, then, as the forearm is suddenly extended, the hand is opened and the fingers separated from each other. If the person at whose expense the sign is made is present, the hand is moved towards him, and the head sometimes averted from him." This sudden extension and opening of the hand perhaps indicates the dropping or throwing away a valueless object.

The term 'disgust,' in its simplest sense, means something offensive to the taste. It is curious how readily this feeling is excited by anything unusual in the appearance, odour, or nature of our food. In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty. A smear of soup on a man's beard looks disgusting, though there is of course nothing disgusting in the soup itself. I presume that this follows from the strong association in our minds between the sight of food, however circumstanced, and the idea of eating it.

[6] 'Early History of Mankind,' 2nd edit. 1870, p. 45.

As the sensation of disgust primarily arises in connection with the act of eating or tasting, it is natural that its expression should consist chiefly in movements round the mouth. But as disgust also causes annoyance, it is generally accompanied by a frown, and often by gestures as if to push away or to guard oneself against the offensive object. In the two photographs (figs. 2 and 3, on Plate V.) Mr. Rejlander has simulated this expression with some success. With respect to the face, moderate disgust is exhibited in various ways; by the mouth being widely opened, as if to let an offensive morsel drop out; by spitting; by blowing out of the protruded lips; or by a sound as of clearing the throat. Such guttural sounds are written ach or ugh; and their utterance is sometimes accompanied by a shudder, the arms being pressed close to the sides and the shoulders raised in the same manner as when horror is experienced.[7] Extreme disgust is expressed by movements round the month identical with those preparatory to the act of vomiting. The mouth is opened widely, with the upper lip strongly retracted, which wrinkles the sides of the nose, and with the lower lip protruded and everted as much as possible. This latter movement requires the contraction of the muscles which draw downwards the corners of the mouth.[8]

[7] See, to this effect, Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's Introduction to the 'Dictionary of English Etymology,' 2nd edit. 1872, p. xxxvii.

It is remarkable how readily and instantly retching or actual vomiting is induced in some persons by the mere idea of having partaken of any unusual food, as of an animal which is not commonly eaten; although there is nothing in such food to cause the stomach to reject it. When vomiting results, as a reflex action, from some real cause— as from too rich food, or tainted meat, or from an emetic—it does not ensue immediately, but generally after a considerable interval of time. Therefore, to account for retching or vomiting being so quickly and easily excited by a mere idea, the suspicion arises that our progenitors must formerly have had the power (like that possessed by ruminants and some other animals) of voluntarily rejecting food which disagreed with them, or which they thought would disagree with them; and now, though this power has been lost, as far as the will is concerned, it is called into involuntary action, through the force of a formerly well-established habit, whenever the mind revolts at the idea of having partaken of any kind of food, or at anything disgusting. This suspicion receives support from the fact, of which I am assured by Mr. Sutton, that the monkeys in the Zoological Gardens often vomit whilst in perfect health, which looks as if the act were voluntary. We can see that as man is able to communicate by language to his children and others, the knowledge of the kinds of food to be avoided, he would have little occasion to use the faculty of voluntary rejection; so that this power would tend to be lost through disuse.

[8] Duchenne believes that in the eversion of the lower lip, the corners are drawn downwards by the depressores anguli oris. Henle (Handbuch d. Anat. des Menschen, 1858, B. i. s. 151) concludes that this is effected by the musculus quadratus menti.

As the sense of smell is so intimately connected with that of taste, it is not surprising that an excessively bad odour should excite retching or vomiting in some persons, quite as readily as the thought of revolting food does; and that, as a further consequence, a moderately offensive odour should cause the various expressive movements of disgust. The tendency to retch from a fetid odour is immediately strengthened in a curious manner by some degree of habit, though soon lost by longer familiarity with the cause of offence and by voluntary restraint. For instance, I wished to clean the skeleton of a bird, which had not been sufficiently macerated, and the smell made my servant and myself (we not having had much experience in such work) retch so violently, that we were compelled to desist. During the previous days I had examined some other skeletons, which smelt slightly; yet the odour did not in the least affect me, but, subsequently for several days, whenever I handled these same skeletons, they made me retch.

From the answers received from my correspondents it appears that the various movements, which have now been described as expressing contempt and disgust, prevail throughout a large part of the world. Dr. Rothrock, for instance, answers with a decided affirmative with respect to certain wild Indian tribes of North America. Crantz says that when a Greenlander denies anything with contempt or horror he turns up his nose, and gives a slight sound through it.[9] Mr. Scott has sent me a graphic description of the face of a young Hindoo at the sight of castor-oil, which he was compelled occasionally to take. Mr. Scott has also seen the same expression on the faces of high-caste natives who have approached close to some defiling object. Mr. Bridges says that the Fuegians "express contempt by shooting out the lips and hissing through them, and by turning up the nose." The tendency either to snort through the nose, or to make a noise expressed by ugh or ach, is noticed by several of my correspondents.

[9] As quoted by Tylor, 'Primitive Culture,' 1871, vol. i. p. 169.

Spitting seems an almost universal sign of contempt or disgust; and spitting obviously represents the rejection of anything offensive from the mouth. Shakspeare makes the Duke of Norfolk say, "I spit at him— call him a slanderous coward and a villain." So, again, Falstaff says, "Tell thee what, Hal,—if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face." Leichhardt remarks that the Australians "interrupted their speeches by spitting, and uttering a noise like pooh! pooh! apparently expressive of their disgust." And Captain Burton speaks of certain negroes "spitting with disgust upon the ground." Captain Speedy informs me that this is likewise the case with the Abyssinians. Mr. Geach says that with the Malays of Malacca the expression of disgust "answers to spitting from the mouth;" and with the Fuegians, according to Mr. Bridges "to spit at one is the highest mark of contempt."

I never saw disgust more plainly expressed than on the face of one of my infants at the age of five months, when, for the first time, some cold water, and again a month afterwards, when a piece of ripe cherry was put into his mouth. This was shown by the lips and whole mouth assuming a shape which allowed the contents to run or fall quickly out; the tongue being likewise protruded. These movements were accompanied by a little shudder. It was all the more comical, as I doubt whether the child felt real disgust— the eyes and forehead expressing much surprise and consideration. The protrusion of the tongue in letting a nasty object fall out of the mouth, may explain how it is that lolling out the tongue universally serves as a sign of contempt and hatred.[11]

[10] Both these quotations are given by Mr. H. Wedgwood, 'On the Origin of Language,' 1866, p. 75.

We have now seen that scorn, disdain, contempt, and disgust are expressed in many different ways, by movements of the features, and by various gestures; and that these are the same throughout the world. They all consist of actions representing the rejection or exclusion of some real object which we dislike or abhor, but which does not excite in us certain other strong emotions, such as rage or terror; and through the force of habit and association similar actions are performed, whenever any analogous sensation arises in our minds.

Jealousy, Envy, Avarice, Revenge, Suspicion, Deceit, Slyness, Guilt, Vanity, Conceit, Ambition, Pride, Humility, &c.—It is doubtful whether the greater number of the above complex states of mind are revealed by any fixed expression, sufficiently distinct to be described or delineated. When Shakspeare speaks of Envy as lean-faced, or black, or pale, and Jealousy as "the green-eyed monster;" and when Spenser describes Suspicion as "foul, ill-favoured, and grim," they must have felt this difficulty. Nevertheless, the above feelings—at least many of them— can be detected by the eye; for instance, conceit; but we are often guided in a much greater degree than we suppose by our previous knowledge of the persons or circumstances.

My correspondents almost unanimously answer in the affirmative to my query, whether the expression of guilt and deceit can be recognized amongst the various races of man; and I have confidence in their answers, as they generally deny that jealousy can thus be recognized. In the cases in which details are given, the eyes are almost always referred to. The guilty man is said to avoid looking at his accuser, or to give him stolen looks. The eyes are said "to be turned askant," or "to waver from side to side," or "the eyelids to be lowered and partly closed." This latter remark is made by Mr. Hagenauer with respect to the Australians, and by Gaika with respect to the Kafirs. The restless movements of the eyes apparently follow, as will be explained when we treat of blushing, from the guilty man not enduring to meet the gaze of his accuser. I may add, that I have observed a guilty expression, without a shade of fear, in some of my own children at a very early age. In one instance the expression was unmistakably clear in a child two years and seven months old, and led to the detection of his little crime. It was shown, as I record in my notes made at the time, by an unnatural brightness in the eyes, and by an odd, affected manner, impossible to describe.

[11] This is stated to be the case by Mr. Tylor (Early Hist. of Mankind, 2nd edit. 1870, p. 52); and he adds, "it is not clear why this should be so."

Slyness is also, I believe, exhibited chiefly by movements about the eyes; for these are less under the control of the will, owing to the force of long-continued habit, than are the movements of the body. Mr. Herbert Spencer remarks,[12] "When there is a desire to see something on one side of the visual field without being supposed to see it, the tendency is to check the conspicuous movement of the head, and to make the required adjustment entirely with the eyes; which are, therefore, drawn very much to one side. Hence, when the eyes are turned to one side, while the face is not turned to the same side, we get the natural language of what is called slyness."

[12] 'Principles of Psychology,' 2nd edit. 1872, p. 552.

Of all the above-named complex emotions, Pride, perhaps, is the most plainly expressed. A proud man exhibits his sense of superiority over others by holding his head and body erect. He is haughty (haut), or high, and makes himself appear as large as possible; so that metaphorically he is said to be swollen or puffed up with pride. A peacock or a turkey-cock strutting about with puffed-up feathers, is sometimes said to be an emblem of pride.[13] The arrogant man looks down on others, and with lowered eyelids hardly condescends to see them; or he may show his contempt by slight movements, such as those before described, about the nostrils or lips. Hence the muscle which everts the lower lip has been called the musculus superbus. In some photographs of patients affected by a monomania of pride, sent me by Dr. Crichton Browne, the head and body were held erect, and the mouth firmly closed. This latter action, expressive of decision, follows, I presume, from the proud man feeling perfect self-confidence in himself. The whole expression of pride stands in direct antithesis to that of humility; so that nothing need here be said of the latter state of mind.

Helplessness, Impotence: Shrugging the shoulders.—When a man wishes to show that he cannot do something, or prevent something being done, he often raises with a quick movement both shoulders. At the same time, if the whole gesture is completed, he bends his elbows closely inwards, raises his open hands, turning them outwards, with the fingers separated. The head is often thrown a little on one side; the eyebrows are elevated, and this causes wrinkles across the forehead. The mouth is generally opened. I may mention, in order to show how unconsciously the features are thus acted on, that though I had often intentionally shrugged my shoulders to observe how my arms were placed, I was not at all aware that my eyebrows were raised and mouth opened, until I looked at myself in a glass; and since then I have noticed the same movements in the faces of others. In the accompanying Plate VI., figs. 3 and 4, Mr. Rejlander has successfully acted the gesture of shrugging the shoulders.

[12] Gratiolet (De la Phys. p. 351) makes this remark, and has some good observations on the expression of pride. See Sir C. Bell ('Anatomy of Expression,' p. 111) on the action of the musculus superbus.

Englishmen are much less demonstrative than the men of most other European nations, and they shrug their shoulders far less frequently and energetically than Frenchmen or Italians do. The gesture varies in all degrees from the complex movement, just described, to only a momentary and scarcely perceptible raising of both shoulders; or, as I have noticed in a lady sitting in an arm-chair, to the mere turning slightly outwards of the open hands with separated fingers. I have never seen very young English children shrug their shoulders, but the following case was observed with care by a medical professor and excellent observer, and has been communicated to me by him. The father of this gentleman was a Parisian, and his mother a Scotch lady. His wife is of British extraction on both sides, and my informant does not believe that she ever shrugged her shoulders in her life. His children have been reared in England, and the nursemaid is a thorough Englishwoman, who has never been seen to shrug her shoulders. Now, his eldest daughter was observed to shrug her shoulders at the age of between sixteen and eighteen months; her mother exclaiming at the time, "Look at the little French girl shrugging her shoulders!" At first she often acted thus, sometimes throwing her head a little backwards and on one side, but she did not, as far as was observed, move her elbows and hands in the usual manner. The habit gradually wore away, and now, when she is a little over four years old, she is never seen to act thus. The father is told that he sometimes shrugs his shoulders, especially when arguing with any one; but it is extremely improbable that his daughter should have imitated him at so early an age; for, as he remarks, she could not possibly have often seen this gesture in him. Moreover, if the habit had been acquired through imitation, it is not probable that it would so soon have been spontaneously discontinued by this child, and, as we shall immediately see, by a second child, though the father still lived with his family. This little girl, it may be added, resembles her Parisian grandfather in countenance to an almost absurd degree. She also presents another and very curious resemblance to him, namely, by practising a singular trick. When she impatiently wants something, she holds out her little hand, and rapidly rubs the thumb against the index and middle finger: now this same trick was frequently performed under the same circumstances by her grandfather.

This gentleman's second daughter also shrugged her shoulders before the age of eighteen months, and afterwards discontinued the habit. It is of course possible that she may have imitated her elder sister; but she continued it after her sister had lost the habit. She at first resembled her Parisian grandfather in a less degree than did her sister at the same age, but now in a greater degree. She likewise practises to the present time the peculiar habit of rubbing together, when impatient, her thumb and two of her fore-fingers.

In this latter case we have a good instance, like those given in a former chapter, of the inheritance of a trick or gesture; for no one, I presume, will attribute to mere coincidence so peculiar a habit as this, which was common to the grandfather and his two grandchildren who had never seen him.

Considering all the circumstances with reference to these children shrugging their shoulders, it can hardly be doubted that they have inherited the habit from their French progenitors, although they have only one quarter French blood in their veins, and although their grandfather did not often shrug his shoulders. There is nothing very unusual, though the fact is interesting, in these children having gained by inheritance a habit during early youth, and then discontinuing it; for it is of frequent occurrence with many kinds of animals that certain characters are retained for a period by the young, and are then lost.

As it appeared to me at one time improbable in a high degree that so complex a gesture as shrugging the shoulders, together with the accompanying movements, should be innate, I was anxious to ascertain whether the blind and deaf Laura Bridgman, who could not have learnt the habit by imitation, practised it. And I have heard, through Dr. Innes, from a lady who has lately had charge of her, that she does shrug her shoulders, turn in her elbows, and raise her eyebrows in the same manner as other people, and under the same circumstances. I was also anxious to learn whether this gesture was practised by the various races of man, especially by those who never have had much intercourse with Europeans. We shall see that they act in this manner; but it appears that the gesture is sometimes confined to merely raising or shrugging the shoulders, without the other movements.

Mr. Scott has frequently seen this gesture in the Bengalees and Dhangars (the latter constituting a distinct race) who are employed in the Botanic Garden at Calcutta; when, for instance, they have declared that they could not do some work, such as lifting a heavy weight. He ordered a Bengalee to climb a lofty tree; but the man, with a shrug of his shoulders and a lateral shake of his head, said he could not. Mr. Scott knowing that the man was lazy, thought he could, and insisted on his trying. His face now became pale, his arms dropped to his sides, his mouth and eyes were widely opened, and again surveying the tree, he looked askant at Mr. Scott, shrugged his shoulders, inverted his elbows, extended his open hands, and with a few quick lateral shakes of the head declared his inability. Mr. H. Erskine has likewise seen the natives of India shrugging their shoulders; but he has never seen the elbows turned so much inwards as with us; and whilst shrugging their shoulders they sometimes lay their uncrossed hands on their breasts.

With the wild Malays of the interior of Malacca, and with the Bugis (true Malays, though speaking a different, language), Mr. Geach has often seen this gesture. I presume that it is complete, as, in answer to my query descriptive of the movements of the shoulders, arms, hands, and face, Mr. Geach remarks, "it is performed in a beautiful style." I have lost an extract from a scientific voyage, in which shrugging the shoulders by some natives (Micronesians) of the Caroline Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, was well described. Capt. Speedy informs me that the Abyssinians shrug their shoulders but enters into no details. Mrs. Asa Gray saw an Arab dragoman in Alexandria acting exactly as described in my query, when an old gentleman, on whom he attended, would not go in the proper direction which had been pointed out to him.

Mr. Washington Matthews says, in reference to the wild Indian tribes of the western parts of the United States, "I have on a few occasions detected men using a slight apologetic shrug, but the rest of the demonstration which you describe I have not witnessed." Fritz Muller informs me that he has seen the negroes in Brazil shrugging their shoulders; but it is of course possible that they may have learnt to do so by imitating the Portuguese. Mrs. Barber has never seen this gesture with the Kafirs of South Africa; and Gaika, judging from his answer, did not even understand what was meant by my description. Mr. Swinhoe is also doubtful about the Chinese; but he has seen them, under the circumstances which would make us shrug our shoulders, press their right elbow against their side, raise their eyebrows, lift up their hand with the palm directed towards the person addressed, and shake it from right to left. Lastly, with respect to the Australians, four of my informants answer by a simple negative, and one by a simple affirmative. Mr. Bunnett, who has had excellent opportunities for observation on the borders of the Colony of Victory, also answers by a "yes," adding that the gesture is performed "in a more subdued and less demonstrative manner than is the case with civilized nations." This circumstance may account for its not having been noticed by four of my informants.

These statements, relating to Europeans, Hindoos, the hill-tribes of India, Malays, Micronesians, Abyssinians, Arabs, Negroes, Indians of North America, and apparently to the Australians—many of these natives having had scarcely any intercourse with Europeans—are sufficient to show that shrugging the shoulders, accompanied in some cases by the other proper movements, is a gesture natural to mankind.

This gesture implies an unintentional or unavoidable action on our own part, or one that we cannot perform; or an action performed by another person which we cannot prevent. It accompanies such speeches as, "It was not my fault;" "It is impossible for me to grant this favour;" "He must follow his own course, I cannot stop him." Shrugging the shoulders likewise expresses patience, or the absence of any intention to resist. Hence the muscles which raise the shoulders are sometimes called, as I have been informed by an artist, the patience muscles." Shylock the Jew, says,

"Signor Antonio, many a time and oft In the Rialto have you rated me About my monies and usances; Still have I borne it with a patient shrug." Merchant of Venice, act 1. sc. 3.

Sir C. Bell has given[14] a life-like figure of a man, who is shrinking back from some terrible danger, and is on the point of screaming out in abject terror. He is represented with his shoulders lifted up almost to his ears; and this at once declares that there is no thought of resistance.

As shrugging the shoulders generally implies "I cannot do this or that," so by a slight change, it sometimes implies "I won't do it." The movement then expresses a dogged determination not to act. Olmsted describes[15] an Indian in Texas as giving a great shrug to his shoulders, when he was informed that a party of men were Germans and not Americans, thus expressing that he would have nothing to do with them. Sulky and obstinate children may be seen with both their shoulders raised high up; but this movement is not associated with the others which generally accompany a true shrug. An excellent observer[16] in describing a young man who was determined not to yield to his father's desire, says, "He thrust his hands deep down into his pockets, and set up his shoulders to his ears, which was a good warning that, come right or wrong, this rock should fly from its firm base as soon as Jack would; and that any remonstrance on the subject was purely futile." As soon as the son got his own way, he "put his shoulders into their natural position."

[14] 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 166.

[15] 'Journey through Texas,' p. 352.

Resignation is sometimes shown by the open hands being placed, one over the other, on the lower part of the body. I should not have thought this little gesture worth even a passing notice, had not Dr. W. Ogle remarked to me that he had two or three times observed it in patients who were preparing for operations under chloroform. They exhibited no great fear, but seemed to declare by this posture of their hands, that they had made up their minds, and were resigned to the inevitable.

We may now inquire why men in all parts of the world when they feel,— whether or not they wish to show this feeling,—that they cannot or will not do something, or will not resist something if done by another, shrug their shoulders, at the same time often bending in their elbows, showing the palms of their hands with extended fingers, often throwing their heads a little on one side, raising their eyebrows, and opening their mouths. These states of the mind are either simply passive, or show a determination not to act. None of the above movements are of the least service. The explanation lies, I cannot doubt, in the principle of unconscious antithesis. This principle here seems to come into play as clearly as in the case of a dog, who, when feeling savage, puts himself in the proper attitude for attacking and for making himself appear terrible to his enemy; but as soon as he feels affectionate, throws his whole body into a directly opposite attitude, though this is of no direct use to him.

[16] Mrs. Oliphant, 'The Brownlows,' vol. ii. p. 206.

Let it be observed how an indignant man, who resents, and will not submit to some injury, holds his head erect, squares his shoulders, and expands his chest. He often clenches his fists, and puts one or both arms in the proper position for attack or defence, with the muscles of his limbs rigid. He frowns,—that is, he contracts and lowers his brows,—and, being determined, closes his mouth. The actions and attitude of a helpless man are, in every one of these respects, exactly the reverse. In Plate VI. we may imagine one of the figures on the left side to have just said, "What do you mean by insulting me?" and one of the figures on the right side to answer, "I really could not help it." The helpless man unconsciously contracts the muscles of his forehead which are antagonistic to those that cause a frown, and thus raises his eyebrows; at the same time he relaxes the muscles about the mouth, so that the lower jaw drops. The antithesis is complete in every detail, not only in the movements of the features, but in the position of the limbs and in the attitude of the whole body, as may be seen in the accompanying plate. As the helpless or apologetic man often wishes to show his state of mind, he then acts in a conspicuous or demonstrative manner.

In accordance with the fact that squaring the elbows and clenching the fists are gestures by no means universal with the men of all races, when they feel indignant and are prepared to attack their enemy, so it appears that a helpless or apologetic frame of mind is expressed in many parts of the world by merely shrugging the shoulders, without turning inwards the elbows and opening the hands. The man or child who is obstinate, or one who is resigned to some great misfortune, has in neither case any idea of resistance by active means; and he expresses this state of mind, by simply keeping his shoulders raised; or he may possibly fold his arms across his breast.

Signs of affirmation or approval, and of negation or disapproval: nodding and shaking the head.—I was curious to ascertain how far the common signs used by us in affirmation and negation were general throughout the world. These signs are indeed to a certain extent expressive of our feelings, as we give a vertical nod of approval with a smile to our children, when we approve of their conduct; and shake our heads laterally with a frown, when we disapprove. With infants, the first act of denial consists in refusing food; and I repeatedly noticed with my own infants, that they did so by withdrawing their heads laterally from the breast, or from anything offered them in a spoon. In accepting food and taking it into their mouths, they incline their heads forwards. Since making these observations I have been informed that the same idea had occurred to Charma.[17] It deserves notice that in accepting or taking food, there is only a single movement forward, and a single nod implies an affirmation. On the other hand, in refusing food, especially if it be pressed on them, children frequently move their heads several times from side to side, as we do in shaking our heads in negation. Moreover, in the case of refusal, the head is not rarely thrown backwards, or the mouth is closed, so that these movements might likewise come to serve as signs of negation. Mr. Wedgwood remarks on this subject,[18] that "when the voice is exerted with closed teeth or lips, it produces the sound of the letter n or m. Hence we may account for the use of the particle ne to signify negation, and possibly also of the Greek mh in the same sense."

[17] 'Essai sur le Langage,' 2nd edit. 1846. I am much indebted to Miss Wedgwood for having given me this information, with an extract from the work.

That these signs are innate or instinctive, at least with Anglo-Saxons, is rendered highly probable by the blind and deaf Laura Bridgman "constantly accompanying her yes with the common affirmative nod, and her no with our negative shake of the head." Had not Mr. Lieber stated to the contrary,[19] I should have imagined that these gestures might have been acquired or learnt by her, considering her wonderful sense of touch and appreciation of the movements of others. With microcephalous idiots, who are so degraded that they never learn to speak, one of them is described by Vogt,[20] as answering, when asked whether he wished for more food or drink, by inclining or shaking his head. Schmalz, in his remarkable dissertation on the education of the deaf and dumb, as well as of children raised only one degree above idiotcy, assumes that they can always both make and understand the common signs of affirmation and negation."

Nevertheless if we look to the various races of man, these signs are not so universally employed as I should have expected; yet they seem too general to be ranked as altogether conventional or artificial. My informants assert that both signs are used by the Malays, by the natives of Ceylon, the Chinese, the negroes of the Guinea coast, and, according to Gaika, by the Kafirs of South Africa, though with these latter people Mrs. Barber has never seen a lateral shake used as a negative. With respect to the Australians, seven observers agree that a nod is given in affirmation; five agree about a lateral shake in negation, accompanied or not by some word; but Mr. Dyson Lacy has never seen this latter sign in Queensland, and Mr. Bulmer says that in Gipps' Land a negative is expressed by throwing the head a little backwards and putting out the tongue. At the northern extremity of the continent, near Torres Straits, the natives when uttering a negative "don't shake the head with it, but holding up the right hand, shake it by turning it half round and back again two or three times."[22] The throwing back of the head with a cluck of the tongue is said to be used as a negative by the modern Greeks and Turks, the latter people expressing yes by a movement like that made by us when we shake our heads.[23] The Abyssinians, as I am informed by Captain Speedy, express a negative by jerking the head to the right shoulder, together with a slight cluck, the mouth being closed; an affirmation is expressed by the head being thrown backwards and the eyebrows raised for an instant. The Tagals of Luzon, in the Philippine Archipelago, as I hear from Dr. Adolf Meyer, when they say "yes," also throw the head backwards. According to the Rajah Brooke, the Dyaks of Borneo express an affirmation by raising the eyebrows, and a negation by slightly contracting them, together with a peculiar look from the eyes. With the Arabs on the Nile, Professor and Mrs. Asa Gray concluded that nodding in affirmation was rare, whilst shaking the head in negation was never used, and was not even understood by them. With the Esquimaux[24] a nod means yes and a wink no. The New Zealanders "elevate the head and chin in place of nodding acquiescence."[25]

[18] 'On the Origin of Language,' 1866, p. 91.

[19] 'On the Vocal Sounds of L. Bridgman;' Smithsonian Contributions, 1851, vol. ii. p. 11.

[20] 'Memoire sur les Microcephales,' 1867, p. 27.

[21] Quoted by Tylor, 'Early History of Mankind,' 2nd edit. 1870, p. 38.

[22] Mr. J. B. Jukes, 'Letters and Extracts,' &c. 1871, p. 248.

[23] F. Lieber, 'On the Vocal Sounds,' &c. p. 11. Tylor, ibid. p. 53.

With the Hindoos Mr. H. Erskine concludes from inquiries made from experienced Europeans, and from native gentlemen, that the signs of affirmation and negation vary—a nod and a lateral shake being sometimes used as we do; but a negative is more commonly expressed by the head being thrown suddenly backwards and a little to one side, with a cluck of the tongue. What the meaning may be of this cluck of the tongue, which has been observed with various people, I cannot imagine. A native gentleman stated that affirmation is frequently shown by the head being thrown to the left. I asked Mr. Scott to attend particularly to this point, and, after repeated observations, he believes that a vertical nod is not commonly used by the natives in affirmation, but that the head is first thrown backwards either to the left or right, and then jerked obliquely forwards only once. This movement would perhaps have been described by a less careful observer as a lateral shake. He also states that in negation the head is usually held nearly upright, and shaken several times.

Mr. Bridges informs me that the Fuegians nod their heads vertically in affirmation, and shake them laterally in denial. With the wild Indians of North America, according to Mr. Washington Matthews, nodding and shaking the head have been learnt from Europeans, and are not naturally employed. They express affirmation by describing with the hand (all the fingers except the index being flexed) a curve downwards and outwards from the body, whilst negation is expressed by moving the open hand outwards, with the palm facing inwards." Other observers state that the sign of affirmation with these Indians is the forefinger being raised, and then lowered and pointed to the ground, or the hand is waved straight forward from the face; and that the sign of negation is the finger or whole hand shaken from side to side.[26] This latter movement probably represents in all cases the lateral shaking of the head. The Italians are said in like manner to move the lifted finger from right to left in negation, as indeed we English sometimes do.

[24] Dr. King, Edinburgh Phil. Journal, 1845, p. 313.

[25] Tylor, 'Early History of Mankind,' 2nd edit. 1870, p. 53.

On the whole we find considerable diversity in the signs of affirmation and negation in the different races of man. With respect to negation, if we admit that the shaking of the finger or hand from side to side is symbolic of the lateral movement of the head; and if we admit that the sudden backward movement of the head represents one of the actions often practised by young children in refusing food, then there is much uniformity throughout the world in the signs of negation, and we can see how they originated. The most marked exceptions are presented by the Arabs, Esquimaux, some Australian tribes, and Dyaks. With the latter a frown is the sign of negation, and with us frowning often accompanies a lateral shake of the head.

With respect to nodding in affirmation, the exceptions are rather more numerous, namely with some of the Hindoos, with the Turks, Abyssinians, Dyaks, Tagals, and New Zealanders. The eyebrows are sometimes raised in affirmation, and as a person in bending his head forwards and downwards naturally looks up to the person whom he addresses, he will be apt to raise his eyebrows, and this sign may thus have arisen as an abbreviation. So again with the New Zealanders, the lifting up the chin and head in affirmation may perhaps represent in an abbreviated form the upward movement of the head after it has been nodded forwards and downwards.

[26] Lubbock, 'The Origin of Civilization,' 1870, p. 277. Tylor, ibid. p. 38. Lieber (ibid. p. 11) remarks on the negative of the Italians. CHAPTER XII.


Surprise, astonishment—Elevation of the eyebrows—Opening the mouth— Protrusion of the lips—Gestures accompanying surprise— Admiration—Fear—Terror—Erection of the hair—Contraction of the platysma muscle—Dilatation of the pupils—Horror—Conclusion.

ATTENTION, if sudden and close, graduates into surprise; and this into astonishment; and this into stupefied amazement. The latter frame of mind is closely akin to terror. Attention is shown by the eyebrows being slightly raised; and as this state increases into surprise, they are raised to a much greater extent, with the eyes and mouth widely open. The raising of the eyebrows is necessary in order that the eyes should be opened quickly and widely; and this movement produces transverse wrinkles across the forehead. The degree to which the eyes and mouth are opened corresponds with the degree of surprise felt; but these movements must be coordinated; for a widely opened mouth with eyebrows only slightly raised results in a meaningless grimace, as Dr. Duchenne has shown in one of his photographs.[1] On the other hand, a person may often be seen to pretend surprise by merely raising his eyebrows.

Dr. Duchenne has given a photograph of an old man with his eyebrows well elevated and arched by the galvanization of the frontal muscle; and with his mouth voluntarily opened. This figure expresses surprise with much truth. I showed it to twenty-four persons without a word of explanation, and one alone did not at all understand what was intended. A second person answered terror, which is not far wrong; some of the others, however, added to the words surprise or astonishment, the epithets horrified, woful, painful, or disgusted.

[1] 'Mecanisme de la Physionomie,' Album, 1862, p. 42.

The eyes and mouth being widely open is an expression universally recognized as one of surprise or astonishment. Thus Shakespeare says, "I saw a smith stand with open mouth swallowing a tailor's news." ('King John,' act iv. scene ii.) And again, "They seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear the cases of their eyes; there was speech in the dumbness, language in their very gesture; they looked as they had heard of a world destroyed." ('Winter's Tale,' act v. scene ii.)

My informants answer with remarkable uniformity to the same effect, with respect to the various races of man; the above movements of the features being often accompanied by certain gestures and sounds, presently to be described. Twelve observers in different parts of Australia agree on this head. Mr. Winwood Reade has observed this expression with the negroes on the Guinea coast. The chief Gaika and others answer yes to my query with respect to the Kafirs of South Africa; and so do others emphatically with reference to the Abyssinians, Ceylonese, Chinese, Fuegians, various tribes of North America, and New Zealanders. With the latter, Mr. Stack states that the expression is more plainly shown by certain individuals than by others, though all endeavour as much as possible to conceal their feelings. The Dyaks of Borneo are said by the Rajah Brooke to open their eyes widely, when astonished, often swinging their heads to and fro, and beating their breasts. Mr. Scott informs me that the workmen in the Botanic Gardens at Calcutta are strictly ordered not to smoke; but they often disobey this order, and when suddenly surprised in the act, they first open their eyes and mouths widely. They then often slightly shrug their shoulders, as they perceive that discovery is inevitable, or frown and stamp on the ground from vexation. Soon they recover from their surprise, and abject fear is exhibited by the relaxation of all their muscles; their heads seem to sink between their shoulders; their fallen eyes wander to and fro; and they supplicate forgiveness.

The well-known Australian explorer, Mr. Stuart, has given[2] a striking account of stupefied amazement together with terror in a native who had never before seen a man on horseback. Mr. Stuart approached unseen and called to him from a little distance. "He turned round and saw me. What he imagined I was I do not know; but a finer picture of fear and astonishment I never saw. He stood incapable of moving a limb, riveted to the spot, mouth open and eyes staring. . . . He remained motionless until our black got within a few yards of him, when suddenly throwing down his waddies, he jumped into a mulga bush as high as he could get." He could not speak, and answered not a word to the inquiries made by the black, but, trembling from head to foot, "waved with his hand for us to be off."

That the eyebrows are raised by an innate or instinctive impulse may be inferred from the fact that Laura Bridgman invariably acts thus when astonished, as I have been assured by the lady who has lately had charge of her. As surprise is excited by something unexpected or unknown, we naturally desire, when startled, to perceive the cause as quickly as possible; and we consequently open our eyes fully, so that the field of vision may be increased, and the eyeballs moved easily in any direction. But this hardly accounts for the eyebrows being so greatly raised as is the case, and for the wild staring of the open eyes. The explanation lies, I believe, in the impossibility of opening the eyes with great rapidity by merely raising the upper lids. To effect this the eyebrows must be lifted energetically. Any one who will try to open his eyes as quickly as possible before a mirror will find that he acts thus; and the energetic lifting up of the eyebrows opens the eyes so widely that they stare, the white being exposed all round the iris. Moreover, the elevation of the eyebrows is an advantage in looking upwards; for as long as they are lowered they impede our vision in this direction. Sir C. Bell gives[3] a curious little proof of the part which the eyebrows play in opening the eyelids. In a stupidly drunken man all the muscles are relaxed, and the eyelids consequently droop, in the same manner as when we are falling asleep. To counteract this tendency the drunkard raises his eyebrows; and this gives to him a puzzled, foolish look, as is well represented in one of Hogarth's drawings. The habit of raising the eyebrows having once been gained in order to see as quickly as possible all around us, the movement would follow from the force of association whenever astonishment was felt from any cause, even from a sudden sound or an idea.

[2] 'The Polyglot News Letter,' Melbourne, Dec. 1858, p. 2.

With adult persons, when the eyebrows are raised, the whole forehead becomes much wrinkled in transverse lines; but with children this occurs only to a slight degree. The wrinkles run in lines concentric with each eyebrow, and are partially confluent in the middle. They are highly characteristic of the expression of surprise or astonishment. Each eyebrow, when raised, becomes also, as Duchenne remarks,[4] more arched than it was before.

[3] 'The Anatomy of Expression,' p. 106.

The cause of the mouth being opened when astonishment is felt, is a much more complex affair; and several causes apparently concur in leading to this movement. It has often been supposed[5] that the sense of hearing is thus rendered more acute; but I have watched persons listening intently to a slight noise, the nature and source of which they knew perfectly, and they did not open their mouths. Therefore I at one time imagined that the open mouth might aid in distinguishing the direction whence a sound proceeded, by giving another channel for its entrance into the ear through the eustachian tube, But Dr. W. Ogle[6] has been so kind as to search the best recent authorities on the functions of the eustachian tube, and he informs me that it is almost conclusively proved that it remains closed except during the act of deglutition; and that in persons in whom the tube remains abnormally open, the sense of hearing, as far as external sounds are concerned, is by no means improved; on the contrary, it is impaired by the respiratory sounds being rendered more distinct. If a watch be placed within the mouth, but not allowed to touch the sides, the ticking is heard much less plainly than when held outside. In persons in whom from disease or a cold the eustachian tube is permanently or temporarily closed, the sense of hearing is injured; but this may be accounted for by mucus accumulating within the tube, and the consequent exclusion of air. We may therefore infer that the mouth is not kept open under the sense of astonishment for the sake of hearing sounds more distinctly; notwithstanding that most deaf people keep their mouths open.

[4] Mecanisme de la Physionomie,' Album, p. 6.

[5] See, for instance, Dr. Piderit ('Mimik und Physiognomik,' s. 88), who has a good discussion on the expression of surprise.

[6] Dr. Murie has also given me information leading to the same conclusion, derived in part from comparative anatomy.

Every sudden emotion, including astonishment, quickens the action of the heart, and with it the respiration. Now we can breathe, as Gratiolet remarks[7] and as appears to me to be the case, much more quietly through the open mouth than through the nostrils. Therefore, when we wish to listen intently to any sound, we either stop breathing, or breathe as quietly as possible, by opening our mouths, at the same time keeping our bodies motionless. One of my sons was awakened in the night by a noise under circumstances which naturally led to great care, and after a few minutes he perceived that his mouth was widely open. He then became conscious that he had opened it for the sake of breathing as quietly as possible. This view receives support from the reversed case which occurs with dogs. A dog when panting after exercise, or on a hot day, breathes loudly; but if his attention be suddenly aroused, he instantly pricks his ears to listen, shuts his mouth, and breathes quietly, as he is enabled to do, through his nostrils.

When the attention is concentrated for a length of time with fixed earnestness on any object or subject, all the organs of the body are forgotten and neglected;[8] and as the nervous energy of each individual is limited in amount, little is transmitted to any part of the system, excepting that which is at the time brought into energetic action. Therefore many of the muscles tend to become relaxed, and the jaw drops from its own weight. This will account for the dropping of the jaw and open mouth of a man stupefied with amazement, and perhaps when less strongly affected. I have noticed this appearance, as I find recorded in my notes, in very young children when they were only moderately surprised.

[7] 'De la Physionomie,' 1865, p. 234.

[8] See, on this subject, Gratiolet, ibid. p. 254.

There is still another and highly effective cause, leading to the mouth being opened, when we are astonished, and more especially when we are suddenly startled. We can draw a full and deep inspiration much more easily through the widely open mouth than through the nostrils. Now when we start at any sudden sound or sight, almost all the muscles of the body are involuntarily and momentarily thrown into strong action, for the sake of guarding ourselves against or jumping away from the danger, which we habitually associate with anything unexpected. But we always unconsciously prepare ourselves for any great exertion, as formerly explained, by first taking a deep and full inspiration, and we consequently open our mouths. If no exertion follows, and we still remain astonished, we cease for a time to breathe, or breathe as quietly as possible, in order that every sound may be distinctly heard. Or again, if our attention continues long and earnestly absorbed, all our muscles become relaxed, and the jaw, which was at first suddenly opened, remains dropped. Thus several causes concur towards this same movement, whenever surprise, astonishment, or amazement is felt.

Although when thus affected, our mouths are generally opened, yet the lips are often a little protruded. This fact reminds us of the same movement, though in a much more strongly marked degree, in the chimpanzee and orang when astonished. As a strong expiration naturally follows the deep inspiration which accompanies the first sense of startled surprise, and as the lips are often protruded, the various sounds which are then commonly uttered can apparently be accounted for. But sometimes a strong expiration alone is heard; thus Laura Bridgman, when amazed, rounds and protrudes her lips, opens them, and breathes strongly.[9] One of the commonest sounds is a deep Oh; and this would naturally follow, as explained by Helmholtz, from the mouth being moderately opened and the lips protruded. On a quiet night some rockets were fired from the 'Beagle,' in a little creek at Tahiti, to amuse the natives; and as each rocket, was let off there was absolute silence, but this was invariably followed by a deep groaning Oh, resounding all round the bay. Mr. Washington Matthews says that the North American Indians express astonishment by a groan; and the negroes on the West Coast of Africa, according to Mr. Winwood Reade, protrude their lips, and make a sound like heigh, heigh. If the mouth is not much opened, whilst the lips are considerably protruded, a blowing, hissing, or whistling noise is produced. Mr. R. Brough Smith informs me that an Australian from the interior was taken to the theatre to see an acrobat rapidly turning head over heels: "he was greatly astonished, and protruded his lips, making a noise with his mouth as if blowing out a match." According to Mr. Bulmer the Australians, when surprised, utter the exclamation korki, "and to do this the mouth is drawn out as if going to whistle." We Europeans often whistle as a sign of surprise; thus, in a recent novel[10] it is said, "here the man expressed his astonishment and disapprobation by a prolonged whistle." A Kafir girl, as Mr. J. Mansel Weale informs me, "on hearing of the high price of an article, raised her eyebrows and whistled just as a European would." Mr. Wedgwood remarks that such sounds are written down as whew, and they serve as interjections for surprise.

[9] Lieber, 'On the Vocal Sounds of Laura Bridgman,' Smithsonian Contributions, 1851, vol. ii. p. 7.

[10] 'Wenderholme,' vol. ii. p. 91.

According to three other observers, the Australians often evince astonishment by a clucking noise. Europeans also sometimes express gentle surprise by a little clicking noise of nearly the same kind. We have seen that when we are startled, the mouth is suddenly opened; and if the tongue happens to be then pressed closely against the palate, its sudden withdrawal will produce a sound of this kind, which might thus come to express surprise.

Turning to gestures of the body. A surprised person often raises his opened hands high above his head, or by bending his arms only to the level of his face. The flat palms are directed towards the person who causes this feeling, and the straightened fingers are separated. This gesture is represented by Mr. Rejlander in Plate VII. fig. 1. In the 'Last Supper,' by Leonardo da Vinci, two of the Apostles have their hands half uplifted, clearly expressive of their astonishment. A trustworthy observer told me that he had lately met his wife under most unexpected circumstances: "She started, opened her mouth and eyes very widely, and threw up both her arms above her head." Several years ago I was surprised by seeing several of my young children earnestly doing something together on the ground; but the distance was too great for me to ask what they were about. Therefore I threw up my open hands with extended fingers above my head; and as soon as I had done this, I became conscious of the action. I then waited, without saying a word, to see if my children had understood this gesture; and as they came running to me they cried out, "We saw that you were astonished at us." I do not know whether this gesture is common to the various races of man, as I neglected to make inquiries on this head. That it is innate or natural may be inferred from the fact that Laura Bridgman, when amazed, "spreads her arms and turns her hands with extended fingers upwards;"[11] nor is it likely, considering that the feeling of surprise is generally a brief one, that she should have learnt this gesture through her keen sense of touch.

Huschke describes[12] a somewhat different yet allied gesture, which he says is exhibited by persons when astonished. They hold themselves erect, with the features as before described, but with the straightened arms extended backwards—the stretched fingers being separated from each other. I have never myself seen this gesture; but Huschke is probably correct; for a friend asked another man how he would express great astonishment, and he at once threw himself into this attitude.

These gestures are, I believe, explicable on the principle of antithesis. We have seen that an indignant man holds his head erect, squares his shoulders, turns out his elbows, often clenches his fist, frowns, and closes his mouth; whilst the attitude of a helpless man is in every one of these details the reverse. Now, a man in an ordinary frame of mind, doing nothing and thinking of nothing in particular, usually keeps his two arms suspended laxly by his sides, with his hands somewhat flexed, and the fingers near together. Therefore, to raise the arms suddenly, either the whole arms or the fore-arms, to open the palms flat, and to separate the fingers,—or, again, to straighten the arms, extending them backwards with separated fingers,—are movements in complete antithesis to those preserved under an indifferent frame of mind, and they are, in consequence, unconsciously assumed by an astonished man. There is, also, often a desire to display surprise in a conspicuous manner, and the above attitudes are well fitted for this purpose. It may be asked why should surprise, and only a few other states of the mind, be exhibited by movements in antithesis to others. But this principle will not be brought into play in the case of those emotions, such as terror, great joy, suffering, or rage, which naturally lead to certain lines of action and produce certain effects on the body, for the whole system is thus preoccupied; and these emotions are already thus expressed with the greatest plainness.

[11] Lieber, 'On the Vocal Sounds,' &c., ibid. p. 7.

[12] Huschke, 'Mimices et Physiognomices,' 1821, p. 18. Gratiolet (De la Phys. p. 255) gives a figure of a man in this attitude, which, however, seems to me expressive of fear combined with astonishment. Le Brun also refers (Lavater, vol. ix. p. 299) to the hands of an astonished man being opened.

There is another little gesture, expressive of astonishment of which I can offer no explanation; namely, the hand being placed over the mouth or on some part of the head. This has been observed with so many races of man, that it must have some natural origin. A wild Australian was taken into a large room full of official papers, which surprised him greatly, and he cried out, cluck, cluck, cluck, putting the back of his hand towards his lips. Mrs. Barber says that the Kafirs and Fingoes express astonishment by a serious look and by placing the right hand upon the mouth, Littering the word mawo, which means 'wonderful.' The Bushmen are said[13] to put their right hands to their necks, bending their heads backwards. Mr. Winwood Reade has observed that the negroes on the West Coast of Africa, when surprised, clap their hands to their mouths, saying at the same time, "My mouth cleaves to me," i. e. to my hands; and he has heard that this is their usual gesture on such occasions. Captain Speedy informs me that the Abyssinians place their right hand to the forehead, with the palm outside. Lastly, Mr. Washington Matthews states that the conventional sign of astonishment with the wild tribes of the western parts of the United States "is made by placing the half-closed hand over the mouth; in doing this, the head is often bent forwards, and words or low groans are sometimes uttered." Catlin[14] makes the same remark about the hand being pressed over the mouth by the Mandans and other Indian tribes.

[13] Huschke, ibid. p. 18.

Admiration.—Little need be said on this head. Admiration apparently consists of surprise associated with some pleasure and a sense of approval. When vividly felt, the eyes are opened and the eyebrows raised; the eyes become bright, instead of remaining blank, as under simple astonishment; and the mouth, instead of gaping open, expands into a smile.

Fear, Terror.—The word 'fear' seems to be derived from what is sudden and dangerous;[15] and that of terror from the trembling of the vocal organs and body. I use the word 'terror' for extreme fear; but some writers think it ought to be confined to cases in which the imagination is more particularly concerned. Fear is often preceded by astonishment, and is so far akin to it, that both lead to the senses of sight and hearing being instantly aroused. In both cases the eyes and mouth are widely opened, and the eyebrows raised. The frightened man at first stands like a statue motionless and breathless, or crouches down as if instinctively to escape observation.

[14] 'North American Indians,' 3rd edit. 1842, vol. i. p. 105.

[15] H. Wedgwood, Dict. of English Etymology, vol. ii. 1862, p. 35. See, also, Gratiolet ('De la Physionomie,' p. 135) on the sources of such words as 'terror, horror, rigidus, frigidus,' &c.

The heart beats quickly and violently, so that it palpitates or knocks against the ribs; but it is very doubtful whether it then works more efficiently than usual, so as to send a greater supply of blood to all parts of the body; for the skin instantly becomes pale, as during incipient faintness. This paleness of the surface, however, is probably in large part, or exclusively, due to the vasomotor centre being affected in such a manner as to cause the contraction of the small arteries of the skin. That the skin is much affected under the sense of great fear, we see in the marvellous and inexplicable manner in which perspiration immediately exudes from it. This exudation is all the more remarkable, as the surface is then cold, and hence the term a cold sweat; whereas, the sudorific glands are properly excited into action when the surface is heated. The hairs also on the skin stand erect; and the superficial muscles shiver. In connection with the disturbed action of the heart, the breathing is hurried. The salivary glands act imperfectly; the mouth becomes dry,[16] and is often opened and shut. I have also noticed that under slight fear there is a strong tendency to yawn. One of the best-marked symptoms is the trembling of all the muscles of the body; and this is often first seen in the lips. From this cause, and from the dryness of the mouth, the voice becomes husky or indistinct, or may altogether fail. "Obstupui, steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit."

[16] Mr. Bain ('The Emotions and the Will,' 1865, p. 54) explains in the following manner the origin of the custom "of subjecting criminals in India to the ordeal of the morsel of rice. The accused is made to take a mouthful of rice, and after a little time to throw it out. If the morsel is quite dry, the party is believed to be guilty,— his own evil conscience operating to paralyse the salivating organs."

Of vague fear there is a well-known and grand description in Job:—"In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before my eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job iv. 13)

As fear increases into an agony of terror, we behold, as under all violent emotions, diversified results. The heart beats wildly, or may fail to act and faintness ensue; there is a death-like pallor; the breathing is laboured; the wings of the nostrils are wildly dilated; "there is a gasping and convulsive motion of the lips, a tremor on the hollow cheek, a gulping and catching of the throat;"[17] the uncovered and protruding eyeballs are fixed on the object of terror; or they may roll restlessly from side to side, huc illuc volvens oculos totumque pererrat.[18] The pupils are said to be enormously dilated. All the muscles of the body may become rigid, or may be thrown into convulsive movements. The hands are alternately clenched and opened, often with a twitching movement. The arms may be protruded, as if to avert some dreadful danger, or may be thrown wildly over the head. The Rev. Mr. Hagenauer has seen this latter action in a terrified Australian. In other cases there is a sudden and uncontrollable tendency to headlong flight; and so strong is this, that the boldest soldiers may be seized with a sudden panic.

[17] Sir C. Bell, Transactions of Royal Phil. Soc. 1822, p. 308. 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 88 and pp. 164-469.

[18] See Moreau on the rolling of the eyes, in the edit. of 1820 of Lavater, tome iv. p. 263. Also, Gratiolet, De la Phys. p. 17.

As fear rises to an extreme pitch, the dreadful scream of terror is heard. Great beads of sweat stand on the skin. All the muscles of the body are relaxed. Utter prostration soon follows, and the mental powers fail. The intestines are affected. The sphincter muscles cease to act, and no longer retain the contents of the body.

Dr. J. Crichton Browne has given me so striking an account of intense fear in an insane woman, aged thirty-five, that the description though painful ought not to be omitted. When a paroxysm seizes her, she screams out, "This is hell!" "There is a black woman!" "I can't get out!"—and other such exclamations. When thus screaming, her movements are those of alternate tension and tremor. For one instant she clenches her hands, holds her arms out before her in a stiff semi-flexed position; then suddenly bends her body forwards, sways rapidly to and fro, draws her fingers through her hair, clutches at her neck, and tries to tear off her clothes. The sterno-cleido-mastoid muscles (which serve to bend the head on the chest) stand out prominently, as if swollen, and the skin in front of them is much wrinkled. Her hair, which is cut short at the back of her head, and is smooth when she is calm, now stands on end; that in front being dishevelled by the movements of her hands. The countenance expresses great mental agony. The skin is flushed over the face and neck, down to the clavicles, and the veins of the forehead and neck stand out like thick cords. The lower lip drops, and is somewhat everted. The mouth is kept half open, with the lower jaw projecting. The cheeks are hollow and deeply furrowed in curved lines running from the wings of the nostrils to the corners of the mouth. The nostrils themselves are raised and extended. The eyes are widely opened, and beneath them the skin appears swollen; the pupils are large. The forehead is wrinkled transversely in many folds, and at the inner extremities of the eyebrows it is strongly furrowed in diverging lines, produced by the powerful and persistent contraction of the corrugators.

Mr. Bell has also described[19] an agony of terror and of despair, which he witnessed in a murderer, whilst carried to the place of execution in Turin. "On each side of the car the officiating priests were seated; and in the centre sat the criminal himself. It was impossible to witness the condition of this unhappy wretch without terror; and yet, as if impelled by some strange infatuation, it was equally impossible not to gaze upon an object so wild, so full of horror. He seemed about thirty-five years of age; of large and muscular form; his countenance marked by strong and savage features; half naked, pale as death, agonized with terror, every limb strained in anguish, his hands clenched convulsively, the sweat breaking out on his bent and contracted brow, he kissed incessantly the figure of our Saviour, painted on the flag which was suspended before him; but with an agony of wildness and despair, of which nothing ever exhibited on the stage can give the slightest conception."

I will add only one other case, illustrative of a man utterly prostrated by terror. An atrocious murderer of two persons was brought into a hospital, under the mistaken impression that he had poisoned himself; and Dr. W. Ogle carefully watched him the next morning, while he was being handcuffed and taken away by the police. His pallor was extreme, and his prostration so great that he was hardly able to dress himself. His skin perspired; and his eyelids and head drooped so much that it was impossible to catch even a glimpse of his eyes. His lower jaw hung down. There was no contraction of any facial muscle, and Dr. Ogle is almost certain that the hair did not stand on end, for he observed it narrowly, as it had been dyed for the sake of concealment.

[19] 'Observations on Italy,' 1825, p. 48, as quoted in 'The Anatomy of Expression,' p. 168.

With respect to fear, as exhibited by the various races of man, my informants agree that the signs are the same as with Europeans. They are displayed in an exaggerated degree with the Hindoos and natives of Ceylon. Mr. Geach has seen Malays when terrified turn pale and shake; and Mr. Brough Smyth states that a native Australian "being on one occasion much frightened, showed a complexion as nearly approaching to what we call paleness, as can well be conceived in the case of a very black man." Mr. Dyson Lacy has seen extreme fear shown in an Australian, by a nervous twitching of the hands, feet, and lips; and by the perspiration standing on the skin. Many savages do not repress the signs of fear so much as Europeans; and they often tremble greatly. With the Kafir, Gaika says, in his rather quaint English, the shaking "of the body is much experienced, and the eyes are widely open." With savages, the sphincter muscles are often relaxed, just as may be observed in much frightened dogs, and as I have seen with monkeys when terrified by being caught.

The erection of the hair.—Some of the signs of fear deserve a little further consideration. Poets continually speak of the hair standing on end; Brutus says to the ghost of Caesar, "that mak'st my blood cold, and my hair to stare." And Cardinal Beaufort, after the murder of Gloucester exclaims, "Comb down his hair; look, look, it stands upright." As I did not feel sure whether writers of fiction might not have applied to man what they had often observed in animals, I begged for information from Dr. Crichton Browne with respect to the insane. He states in answer that he has repeatedly seen their hair erected under the influence of sudden and extreme terror. For instance, it is occasionally necessary to inject morphia, under the skin of an insane woman, who dreads the operation extremely, though it causes very little pain; for she believes that poison is being introduced into her system, and that her bones will be softened, and her flesh turned into dust. She becomes deadly pale; her limbs are stiffened by a sort of tetanic spasm, and her hair is partially erected on the front of the head.

Dr. Browne further remarks that the bristling of the hair which is so common in the insane, is not always associated with terror. It is perhaps most frequently seen in chronic maniacs, who rave incoherently and have destructive impulses; but it is during their paroxysms of violence that the bristling is most observable. The fact of the hair becoming erect under the influence both of rage and fear agrees perfectly with what we have seen in the lower animals. Dr. Browne adduces several cases in evidence. Thus with a man now in the Asylum, before the recurrence of each maniacal paroxysm, "the hair rises up from his forehead like the mane of a Shetland pony." He has sent me photographs of two women, taken in the intervals between their paroxysms, and he adds with respect to one of these women, "that the state of her hair is a sure and convenient criterion of her mental condition." I have had one of these photographs copied, and the engraving gives, if viewed from a little distance, a faithful representation of the original, with the exception that the hair appears rather too coarse and too much curled. The extraordinary condition of the hair in the insane is due, not only to its erection, but to its dryness and harshness, consequent on the subcutaneous glands failing to act. Dr. Bucknill has said[20] that a lunatic "is a lunatic to his finger's ends;" he might have added, and often to the extremity of each particular hair.

Dr. Browne mentions as an empirical confirmation of the relation which exists in the insane between the state of their hair and minds, that the wife of a medical man, who has charge of a lady suffering from acute melancholia, with a strong fear of death, for herself, her husband and children, reported verbally to him the day before receiving my letter as follows, "I think Mrs. —— will soon improve, for her hair is getting smooth; and I always notice that our patients get better whenever their hair ceases to be rough and unmanageable."

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