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siderable amount of knowledge by means of signs, and of expressing themselves by them.'”
The following interesting remarks are quoted * from Colonel Mallery: “The wishes and emotions of very young children are conveyed in a small number of sounds, but in a great variety of gestures and facial expressions. A child's gestures are intelligent long in advance of speech ; although very early and persistent attempts are made to give it instruction in the latter, but none in the former, from the time when it begins risu cognoscere matrem. It learns words only as they are taught, and learns them through the medium of signs which are not expressly taught. Long after familiarity with speech, it consults the gestures and facial expressions of its parents and nurses, as if seeking thus to translate or explain their words. . . . The insane understand and obey gestures when they have no knowledge whatever of words. ... Sufferers from aphasia continue to use appropriate gestures.”
Colonel Mallery also says that “ Indians who have been shown over the civilized East [of the United States] have often succeeded in holding intercourse by means of their invention and application of principles, in what may be called the voiceless mother utterance, with white deaf-mutes, who surely have no semiotic code more nearly connected with that attributed to the Indians than is derived from their common humanity. They showed the greatest pleasure in meet
* p. 105. From his “Sign-language among the North American Indians” (First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology) : Washington, 1881.
ing deaf-mutes, precisely as travellers in a foreign country are rejoiced to meet persons speaking their language.”
Gesture-language is declared * by Mr. Tylor to be “substantially the same all the world over,” and Colonel Mallery has affirmed † that “the sign-language of the Indians is not, properly speaking, one language; but it and the gesture-systems of deaf-mutes, and of all peoples, constitute one language—the gesture-speech of mankind—of which each system is a dialect.” This shows plainly how all men are of one intellectual nature.
Mr. Romanes also gives † at length a very interesting account of a conversation held between two Indians of different races, and carried on entirely in gesture-language. It began with the questions and answers: “Which of the North-Eastern tribes is yours? Mountain river men. How many days from Mountain river ? Moon new and full three times.” The dialogue was continued through a great variety of detail.
A deaf-mute at Washington is said § to have related to some Indians that “when he was a boy, he went to a melon-field, tapped several melons, finding them to be green or unripe ; finally, reaching a good one, he took his knife, cut a slice and ate it. A man made his appearance on horseback, entered the path on foot, found the cut melon, and, detecting the thief, threw the melon towards him, hitting him in the back, whereupon he ran away crying. The man mounted and rode off in an opposite direction.” There is also given || “the
* See p. 107. † See p. 111. p. 108.
I p. 113
narrative of a boy going to an apple-tree, hunting for ripe fruit, and filling his pockets, being surprised by the owner and hit upon the head with a stone." This anecdote was much appreciated by the Indians and completely understood.
The amount of abstract thought thus expressed and apprehended by means of gesture only, shows that it must be a matter of difficulty to lay down any hard and fast line beyond which intellectual intercourse by gesture only should be absolutely impossible.
As to the effect of spoken language on gesture, Mr. Romanes observes : * “As all the existing races of mankind are a word-speaking race, we are not able to eliminate this factor, and to say how far the signmaking faculty, as exhibited in the gesture-language of man, is indebted to the elaborating influence produced by the constant and parallel employment of spoken language. We can scarcely, however, entertain any doubt that the reflex influence of speech upon gesture must have been considerable, if not immense.” This seems to us to be very questionable ; for the use of so rapid and very serviceable an agent as spoken language, must have tended to starve out and replace the relatively slow and much less serviceable language of gesture. No doubt, speech has greatly aided the elaboration of ideas, and so enriched the conceptual material for gesture-expression, without at all facilitating or developing gesture expression itself. We have no evidence of its having done the latter, and do not see how it could have had that effect. Mr. Romanes continues : “ Even the case of the deaf-mutes proves nothing to the contrary ; for these unfortunate individuals, although not able themselves to speak, nevertheless inherit in their human brains the psychological structure which has been built up by means of speech ; their sign-making faculty is as well developed as in other men, though, from a physiological accident, they are deprived of the ordinary means of displaying it. Therefore we have no evidence to what level of excellence the sign-making faculty of man would have attained, if the race had been destitute of the faculty of speech."
* p. 113.
But deaf-mutes never inherited the extraordinary manual dexterity they show in manifesting their ideas. Such special nervous connections, or hypertrophied condition of nerves and ganglia as may be supposed to have been induced by long descent through speaking ancestors, they might have inherited. Such an inheritance, however, could never have aided their gesticulations. We must rather suppose that the nervous conditions of abundant gesticulation must have been going through a process of atrophy for ages, during all the many generations of their loquacious fathers. Moreover, as we shall see alınost directly, deaf-mutes do not express their ideas in the order and sequence followed in the spoken language of their fellows, but have a special construction of their own. Yet this construction could never have been inherited from their speaking forefathers. À fortiori, then, their modes of gesticulation could not be the outcome of their speaking forefathers. As no amount of gesture-capacity could possibly by itself have initiated the beginning of speech, so no
speaking capacity could by itself have initiated the bodily movements of gesture-language.
We may further observe that no nervous developments of either kind (those subserving oral, and those subserving manual expression) could have constituted a faculty of conception generally, since such things are but differences in degree in the material accompaniments of a corresponding physiological activity; while the first introduction of a power of conception is the initiation of a psychical difference of kind. Mr. Romanes is not always careful enough about such distinctions, since, in the passage last quoted, he speaks of a “psychological structure” of “brain” being inherited, instead of speaking of an anatomical condition accompanying a certain psychological activity. Some definite structural conditions and physiological activities must -in a creature at once corporeal and intellectual as we are-accompany all thinking. Nevertheless, the phenomena exhibited by deaf-mutes and gesticulating Indians, serve abundantly to prove that neither the anatomical nor the physiological conditions need be such as are indispensable for speech. They show that such highly abstract ideas as “ripeness,” “appearance,” “ detection," "direction,” “surprise,” etc., can be both entertained and plainly signified in the absence of such anatomical and physiological conditions.
Mr. Romanes next calls our attention * to some details concerning the syntax of gesture-language. Thus the construction f of the sentences of deaf-mutes is said to be uniform “in different countries, and wholly * p. 114.
+ See also “On Truth,” p. 229.