4. The heart and the lungs are so intimately connected by nerves that the closest sympathy exists between them; nor has the mind always sufficient control over them to allay the excitement which a word or a whisper may have occasioned. Thus the “ feeiings of the heart,” as they are called, will express themselves by outward signs, distinct from those which the mind directly controls. We can readily conceive why a man, under the influence of terror, stands with eyes intently fixed on the object of his fears, the eyebrows elevated to the utmost, and the eye largely uncovered; and why he moves with hesitating and bewildered steps, and glances his eye wildly around him. In all this, the mind acts directly on the outward organs. But observe this man further: there is a spasm on his breast; he can not breathe freely; the chest is elevated, the muscles of his neck and shoulders are in action, his breathing is short and rapid, there is a gasping and convulsive motion of his lips, a tremor on his hollow cheek, a gulping and catching of his throat—and why does his heart knock at his ribs while yet there is no force of circulation'? for his lips are ashy pale.

5. Sometimes the mind, by a strong effort, can restrain, to some extent, the outward expressions of emotion, at least in regard to the general bearing of the body; but who, while suffering under the influence of any strong emotion, can retain the natural fullness of his features, or the healthful color of his cheek, and unembarrassed respiration'? The murderer may command his voice, and mask his purpose with light words, or carry an habitual sneer of contempt of all softer passions; but his unnatural paleness, and the sinking of his features, will betray that he suffers. Clarence says to his murderer,

" How deadly dost thou speak'! Your eyes do menace me : why look you pale' ?" 6. Thus the frame of the body, though constituted for the support of the vital functions, becomes the instrument of expression, and in the anatomy of the system we find the cause. We see why, when the mind suffers, the breathing should be agitated, for then the ordinary involuntary motions of the respiratory organs are interfered with by a more potent3 nervous influence than ordinary; we see why the muscles of the throat should be affected with spasm-why slight quivering motions pass from time to time over the face, the lips and cheeks, and nostrils; why the voice sticks in the throat, and the paralyzed“ lips refuse the commands of the will; and why

even the walk should often indicate the workings of the mind, or the general character of the individual.

"You may sometimes trace
A feeling in each footstep, as disclosed
By Sallust in his Catiline, who, chased
By all the demons of all passions, showed
Their work even by the way in which he trode."

1 CON-VĚN-TION-AL, agreed upon, or arising 3 POP-TENT, powerful. out of custom.

4 PĂR'-A-LÉZED, benumbed; incapable of mo? Phys-I-ÕG'-NO-MY, the science of discerning tion.

the character from the face.

[ocr errors]


(Adapted chiefly from Sir Charles Bell.)
Fig. 8.

Fig. 8 shows the Facial Nerve-

the nerve of expression of the countenance. All the principal divisions and branches of this nerve, and their exact localities, are known to anatomists and named by them ; but it is not necessary to specify them here. Each nerve branch has its appropriate office to perform in moving the contiguous muscles; and it is only when we consider the vast number of combinations that may be made of them that we begin to realize the wonderful versatility of this natural language of the human countenance. It must be remembered that on the opposite side of the head is another facial nerve, the exact counterpart of the one here represented, and that the facial is but one of twelve pairs of cranial nerves distributed to the different parts of the head. Injury of the facial nerve produces paralysis of the parts to which it is distributed, rendering the muscles of the face powerless, and the countenance therefore distorted. So of the other cranial nerves; yet one of a pair-as one eye, one ear, one nos

tril, etc.-may be affected, and the other continue in healthy action.

1. In the preceding lesson we treated, generally, of the language of muscular motion ; but the various expressions of the human countenance, in particular, are what we would now notice, together with the immediate causes which produce them. Over each side of the face and each half of the head extends what is called the facial nerve; and it is through this and its numerous and minute ramifications that are produced those movements of the muscles which give to the face its wonderful variety of expression—the mute language of thought, feel.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ing, and emotion. What a wonderful net-work of nervous fibres is here set apart for the purpose of producing the only universal language which is known and read of all mankind! 2. It will be interesting to know how some of the expres

sions of the countenance are produced. If we will notice, we shall observe that the wrinkling of the muscles of the eyebrow and forehead causes a frown to pass over the features; when a smile occurs, it is produced by the muscles which raise the corners of the mouth; and when sadness is expressed, it is by the opposite action of drawing down the corners of the mouth. Hence the origin of the common

expression, “ Down in the mouth.” Fig. 9.–Laughter.

In hearty laughter, which is represented in the annexed engraving, the muscles which raise the corner of the mouth act strongly, pushing up and wrinkling the cheek, while the eyes are nearly closed by the action of the circular muscle of the eyelids. The muscles of the throat, neck, and chest are also agitated, and so violently that the individual may be said to be actually “convulsed” with laughter. 3. In severe weeping, on the contrary, the muscles that draw

down the corners of the mouth act strongly, the muscles of the eyelids contract with great force, closing the eyes, and the frowning muscle at the same time wrinkles the eyebrows. The cheeks, drawn between two adverse powers, lose their joyous elevation, the breathing is cut short by sobbing, the inspiration is burried, and the expiration is slow, with a melancholy note. In weeping, the same muscles are affected as in laughter ; but

they act differently, and the expresFig. 10.—Crying.

sion is as much opposed to that of laughter as the nature of the emotion which produces it.

4. In unrestrained rage, which is a brutal passion, the whole frame trembles, the features are unsteady, and the whole visage is sometimes pale, sometimes dark and almost liv. id ;2 the exposed eyeballs roll and are inflamed, the forehead is alternately knit? and raised in furrows, the nostrils are inflated to the utmost, the lips are swollen, the corders of the mouth open, and the teeth are so firmly closed that words escape with difficulty. Tasso, in describing the rage of Ar


gantes, dwells with great effect Fig. 11.- Rage.

upon this “strangling of speech” by the violence of passion.

The pagan lord, to such affronts unused,
Bit both his lips, wrath's strangled orators;
He would have spoke, but only sounds confuse 1
Broke forth, such sounds as when a lion roars;
Or, as when lightning cleaves the stormy doors
Of heaven, to rouse from its reluctant rest
The thunder growling as the tempest pours;
For every word, which he with pain express'd,
Escaped in tones as gruff from his infuriate breast.--Canto vi. 38.

6. Bodily fear gives to the features a different expression, by differently affecting the muscles. In men, as in animals, the expression is without dignitythe mean anticipation of pain. Here the frontal muscle, unwrinkling the eyebrows, raises them to their fullest extent; the eyeball is largely uncovered, and the eyes staring; the whole upper lip is raised instead of a part of it. The nostrils are spread out, and the lower jaw is fallen,

while in rage it is in the oppoFig 12.-Bodily Fear.

site condition. There is a spasmodic affection of the muscles of the chest, a trembling of the lips, a hollowness and convulsive motion of the cheeks, and a cadaverous4 aspect, caused by the receding of the blood.

7. Terror, that species of fear which rouses to defend or escape, is thus alluded to by Shakspeare:


Canst thou quake and change thy color',
Murther thy breath in middle of a word',
And then again begin', and stop again',

As if thou wast distraughts and mad with terror' ?Richard 111. But when terror is mixed with astonishment, the fugitive. and unnerved steps of mere terror are changed for the rooted and motionless figure of a creature appalled and stupefied. Spenser characterizes well this kind of terror:

He answer'd naught at all; but, adding new
Fear to his first amazement, staring wide
With stony eyes, and heartless hollow hue,
Astonish'd stood, as one that had espy'd
Infernal furies with their chains unty'd.

8. Differing from any thing to which we have yet alluded is the mixed expression which a testy,? peevish, suspicious, jealous melancholy gives to the countenance —the expression of one who is incapable of receiving satisfaction, from whatever source it may be offered; who can not endure any man to look steadily upon him, or even to speak to him, or laugh, or jest, or be familiar, with

out thinking himself contemned, 8 Fig. 13.—Jealous Melancholy. insulted, or neglected. See how the corners of the mouth are drawn down, and the chin drawn up; notice the peevish turn given to the lowering eyebrows, and the peculiar meeting of the perpendicular and transverse furrows of the forehead.

9. Envy, which “consumeth a man as a moth doth a garment,” has a similar expression. Jealousy, which is a fitful and unsteady passion, is marked by a frowning and dark obliquitylo of the eyes; and suspicion by the same, combined with earnest attention. The latter passion is thus forcibly characterized by Spenser in his Faery Queen:

Foul, ill-favored and grim, 11
Under his eyebrows looking still askance;
And ever as Dissemblance laughed on him,
He lower'd on her with dangerous eye glance,
Showing his nature in his countenance:
His rolling eyes did never rest in place,
But walked each where, for fear of hid mischance, 12
Holding a lattice still before his face,

Through which he still did peep as forward he did pace.-B. iii., c. 12. 10. It is an important truth that all these muscular move ments, which give expression to the countenance, are directed and controlled by the nervous influence transmitted from the



« ElőzőTovább »