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DIALOGUE ON PHYSIOGNOMY.
Frank. It appears strange to me that people can be so imposed upon. There is no difficulty in judging folks by their looks. I profess to know as much of a man, at the first view, as by half a dozen years' acquaintance.
Henry. Pray, how is that done? I should wish to learn such an art.
Fr. Did you never read Lavater on Physiognomy?
Fr. Physiognomy means a knowledge of men's hearts, thoughts, and characters, by their looks. For instance, if you see a man with a forehead jutting over his eyes like a piazza ; with a pair of eyebrows heavy like the cornice of a house ; with full eyes, and a Roman nose, — depend on it, he is a great scholar, and an honest man.
Hen. It seems to me I should rather go below his nose, to discover his scholarship.
Fr. By no means : if you look for beauty you may descend to the mouth and chin; otherwise, never go below the region of the brain.
Enter George. George. Well, I have been to see the man hanged; and he has gone to the other world, with just such a great forehead, and Roman nose, as you have always been praising.
Fr. Remember, George, all signs fail in dry weather.
Geo. Now, be honest, Frank, and own that there is nothing in all this science of yours. The only way to know men is by their actions. If a man commit burglary, think you a Roman nose ought to save him from punishment ?
Fr. I don't carry my notions so far as that; but it is certain that all the faces in the world are different; and equally true that each has some marks about it, by which one can discover the temper and character of the person.
Enter Peter. Peter. (To Frank.] Sir, I have heard of your fame from Dan to Beersheba ; that you can know a man by his face, and can tell his thoughts by his looks. Hearing this, I have visited
you, without the ceremony of an introduction. Fr., Why, indeed, I profess something in that way. Pet. By that forehead, nose, and those eyes
of might be sure of an acute, penetrating mind.
Fr. I see that you are not ignorant of physiognomy.
Pet. I am not; but still I am so far from being an adept in the art, that, unless the features are very remarkable, I cannot determine with certainty. But yours is the most striking face I ever saw; there is a certain firmness in the lines which lead from the outer verge to the centre of the apple of your eye, which denotes great forecast, deep thought, bright invention, and a genius for great purposes.
Fr. You are a perfect master of the art; and to show you that I know something of it, permit me to observe, that the form of your face denotes frankness, truth, and honesty. Your heart is a stranger to guile, your lips to deceit, and your hands to fraud.
Pet. I must confess that you have hit upon my true character, though a different one from what I have sustained in the view of the world.
Fr. [To Henry and George.] Now see two strong examples of the truth of physiognomy. [While he is saying this, Peter takes out his pocket-book, and makes off with himself.1 Now, can you conceive that, without this knowledge, I could fathom the character of a total stranger ?
Hen. Pray, tell us by what marks you discovered that in his heart and lips were no guile, and in his hands no fraud ?
Fr. Ay, leave that to me; we are not to reveal our secrets. But I will show you a face and character which exactly suit him. [Feels for his pocket-book in both pockets - looks wild and concerned.]
Geo. [Tauntingly.) Ay, “in his heart is no guile, in his
lips no deceit, and in his hands no fraud! Now we see a strong example of the power of physiognomy!”
Fr. He is a wretch! a traitor against every good sign! I'll pursue him to the ends of the earth. [Offers to go.]
Hen. Stop a moment; his fine, honest face is far enough before this time. You have not yet discovered the worst injury he has done you.
Fr. What's that? I had no watch or money for him to steal. Hen. By his deceitful lips, he has robbed you
any just conception of yourself; he has betrayed you into a foolish belief that you are possessed of most extraordinary genius and talents. Whereas, separate from the idle whim about physiognomy, you have no more pretence to genius or learning than a common school-boy. Learn henceforth to estimate men's hands by their deeds, their lips by their words, and their hearts by their lives.
1. Young persons are sometimes, from mere thoughtlessness, guilty of conduct, which, if they stopped to reflect, they would see to be wrong. When they treat the aged with incivility, such conduct appears especially unamiable. The hoary head should be respected, wherever it is found ; and neither poverty and rags, nor the vices of the individual, are any apology for making him the subject of sport and ridicule.
2. In one of the most populous towns of New England, a short time since, a party of lads, all members of the same school, got up a grand sleigh-ride. There were about twentyfive or thirty boys engaged in the frolic. The sleigh was a very large and splendid establishment, drawn by six gray horses. The afternoon was as beautiful as any boy could desire.
3. On the day following, the story of the ride became, of course, a subject of interest; and in the recess which is usually given during school time, the instructor of the school inquired of the boys, as they clustered round the stove in the school-room, about their excursion. One of them gave a narrative of the whole affair.
4. As he drew near the end of his story, he exclaimed, “Oh! sir, there was one little circumstance which I had almost forgotten to tell you. Towards the latter part of the afternoon, as we were coming home, we saw at some distance ahead of us a queer-looking affair in the road. We could not exactly make out what it was - it seemed to be something of the monstrous kind, half-sleigh and half-wagon. As we approached it, it proved to be a rusty old sleigh, fastened behind a covered wagon, proceeding at a very slow rate, and taking up the whole road.
5. “Finding that the owner was not disposed to turn out, we determined upon a volley of snow-balls and a good hurrah. These were soon sent, and produced the desired effect, and a little more. The wagon turned out, and the horse began to run. As we rushed by, some one who had the whip gave the old jilt of a horse a good crack, which made him run faster.
6. “With that, an old fellow in the wagon, who was buried up under an old hat, and beneath a rusty cloak, and who had dropped the reins, bawled out, Why do you frighten my horse ?' Why don't you turn out, then ?' says the driver. So we gave him three rousing cheers more ; his horse was frightened again, and ran up against a loaded team, and 1 believe almost capsized the old creature—and so we left him.”
7. “ Well, boys," replied the teacher, “this story sounds well for your civility and kindness to some aged stranger, at
But take your seats, and I will tell you a story." When they had resumed their seats, he proceeded :“ Yesterday afternoon, a very venerable and respectable old man, and a clergyman by profession, was on his way from