There is more in this science than may at first sight appear to an observer. We know that certain bumps upon the head indicate certain characteristics of human nature. The colour of the hair and eyes, the form of the mouth, of the chin and nose, the shape of the ears, with other signs and attributes of person, and the general form of the body, nails, and fingers afford certain and infallible indications of temperament as varied as the forms of ear or face. Nothing in nature is more remarkable than the fact that, although every individual amongst the millions of living human beings possesses features, and organs of perception, visibly formed for the same purposes, and used for those purposes, no two persons possess them exactly alike. The variety therefore is infinite.
What then, are we to say concerning the hand of man? Character can be read from the features and expression of the face, why not from the marks and lines upon the hand? Because, you will say, the "horny-handed son of toil ”will show you more and ft greater variety of marks (not lines) than the idle man, or the individual who works with his pen, and not with spade, pickaxe, or hammer. We grant that the effects of manual labour will be different, but they will not produce the same lines. Put any two men at the same work, their hands will not be any more alike after a week's work than they were at the beginning of the week. Neither is the lines in the hand caused by the general folding or construction; as an old writer puts it Deus et Natura nihil efficiunt frustra. Certainly nothing has been made in vain, and why, then, should the lines of the human hand not bear some significance? "Nature," continues one old authority, "has impressed lines in the forehead which is not capable of restriction or placation, therefore this cannot hold, that the construction of the hands should cause the formation or appearance of lines in the hands; or between the joints of the fingers many persons have lines, and of different forms. Other people have very few may hap none at all and here there is no flexion. "We therefore support the principle that there is a meaning attached to the lines and mounds of the hand, though we will not take upon ourselves to affirm unreservedly that the meanings attached to those lines or mounds are always unalterably the true ones, as far as the future is concerned. It is against reason and common sense to foretell, beyond power of mutation, events which cannot certainly be known to any human being. That certain identical lines and mounds are visible in the hands of individuals of like temperament is not to be gainsaid. Phrenology has given us standing ground for so much assumption in regard to Chiromancy. Lavater was a master in reading temperament from facial observation. The hand will afford as much information if we study it properly. As to which hand should be inspected, it is the generally received rule that the left hand is the one which the Chiromant must study first, and that the indications which he finds in that hand must be modified or corrected by those found in the right ; and this, it seems to us, is owing to the fact that the left hand is (except in the case of a left-handed subject) comparatively the idle hand, and is therefore the more adapted to the proper formation of the lines and mounds. We have found in an ancient authority a manifestly absurd rule which declares that it depends whether the owner of the hand had been born by night or by day ; that if the former, the left hand is to be inspected, that in the latter case the right hand ; though both are necessary for a complete divination.
" Node etiam natis sinistra magis favet, die vero et in aurora natis dextra, quamvis utraque manut
" Node etiam natis sinistra magis favet, die vero
et in aurora natis dextra, quamvis utraque manutprobe inspicienda et examinanda est."
"The middle sort, who have not much to spare, To Chiromancer's cheaper art repair, Who clap the pretty palm to make the lines more fair."
Artemidorus, in the second century, wrote of Chiromancy, and we have many later authors, such as Codes in 1504, De la Chambre 1653, with other Italian and French writers, as well as Germans, down to the lady who produced the " Grand Jeu de Socie'te' " in Paris.
The first regular work, however, upon this art or science seems to have been produced in the 15th century by Hartlieb, who produced a very remarkable and now very rare volume entitled "Die Kunst Ciromantia." The date of this volume a rare specimen of the block printing is 1448. Codes above mentioned appears to have made a study of Chiromancy, and it is recorded by the writer of the "Anecdotes de Florence," that he made some successful predictions from an observation of hands and features. Codes himself was the victim of the murder he predicted, and fulfilled his former prophecy to the effect that he himself would die from the effects of a blow upon the head, which did actually cause his death. This prediction came true to the letter, as he was struck with an axe by the man whom he had connected with a "detestable murder," to be performed that very day.
The study of Physiology and Chiromancy (or Palmistry) were not uncommonly united, and many seers tried their hands at the art we have found two very excellent professors, whose works, with other rather more modern and equally scarce pamphlets, we have laid under contribution in the following pages. We have devoted some years to the study of the subject, and, reading the palm as we do, we find much to recommend the art. There is considerable instruction to be gained by its practice, but we would recommend caution in fully interpreting the lines of the hand in public. There may well be occasions when silence even will best meet the case; for, putting aside the objection sensitive people may entertain on the subject, nervous individuals, and those whose minds are apt to dwell upon trifles as likely to affect their future happiness, should not be "operated on."
We have had experience of this in ordinary "fortune-telling," when "tears" tell to the lot of a lady three times successively, notwithstanding some good natured attempts to alter Fate by shuffling the fortunetelling apparatus. The young lady was deeply impressed by the singular repetition of the unhappy fate in store for her, and did not recover her spirits for some days. As a matter of fact, her life since then some fifteen years ago has been singularly unhappy, full of disappointments and pain, mentally and bodily. The prediction was only too true.
But to resume, Chiromancy died out in the seventeenth century, when Physiognomy usurped its place, but within a few months Society has taken up the "craze," as it has been ignorantly called, for there is much more sense in the study of Chiromancy than in ninety-nine of the passing fancies taken up by people who have no time to take up anything. One ancient writer said that. Chiromancy "informeth us to know and discern by the Hand the Complexions and Constitutions of Bodies ; the Sufferings and Sorrows of Humane Life ; the Felicity and Infelicity thereof; and, in fine, all things Good or Bad that may befall or betide Man or Woman." Most singular speculations may be drawn from the lines, he says ; that is to say, " from their Longitude, Latitude, Profundity, Rectitude, Obliquity, Intersection, Application, Opposition, Conjunction, Separation, Continuity, Discontinuity, Proportion, Disproportion, Lucidity, Apparency, Pallidity, Rubedity, Fuscedity (which is a cloudy darkness of color), Mollicity," &c., from their "Position, Calligation, and Form."
Nor is this all that pertains to the correct reading of the hands : there are other indications which the student must take note of and remember, such as the crosses, stars, rays, and branches, ascensions and dissensions, "right or torted;" so Palmistry is not the mere amusement it would appear. Granting, therefore, that these lines were put upon the hands by Nature, as indications of character, or as heritage from our parents and remoter ancestors, whose characteristics we naturally inherit, we shall be able to make certain diagnoses of the kind of people we are.
The explanation of these signs is named CHIROMANCY."
"Seek and ye shall find!" said the greatest and highest Philosopher, but now and then to aid the feeble powers of man, to guide his erring but welt intentioned footsteps, Providence sends a man gifted with powers beyond those of his fellow-mortals, whose efforts, whose researches, and whose natural powers, help man a step farther towards that goal which is already in sight, towards that power which is only just out of reach of our grasp, towards that knowledge which is man's pre-ordained prerogative, but for which, in the days of our forefathers, its seekers were condemned to the prison, the torture, and the scaffold. Such men as this were Hermes Trismegistus, Apollonius, and Paracelsus such men are and have been Gall, Lavater, D'Arpentigny, and Desbarrolles. Gall and Lavater taught methods of divination complicated to acquire and difficult to put into practice. M. le Capitaine D'Arpentigny at length appeared on the scene, endowed with a cool judgment, an indomitable perseverance, and an unflagging watchfulness. The system he inaugurated, under the title of Chirognomy, though vague in places, became elucidated and enlarged as it passed through the hands and brains of such men as Bichat, Montaigne, Rabelais, Herder, and Balzac. To these men came Desbarrolles, with his sister science Chiromancy; what the former wanted, the latter supplied; what was confusing in the latter was explained by the former; and the twin doctrines uniting with their younger and necessarily more fallible satellite, Graphology, became a harmonious whole, " The Science of the Hand. Desbarrolles, having studied all the Chiromantic works on which the Sorcerers, Astrologers, Necromancers, and Charlatans of the Middle Ages founded their pretended knowledge, rejected all as the creations of unscrupulous mystery-mongers, and seeking for Chiromancy its true origin in the Kaballa of primitive India, embodied the principles of our science, by which the instincts of man, his past life, and, to a certain extent, his future may be explained and revealed.
We say "to a certain extent," for were we to say the absolute unavoidable future may be read in the hand, we should lay ourselves open to just condemnation for charlatanry and fatalism. What we do claim for the science is this, that by indicating, by means of the instincts and tendencies shown in the hands, the events which, if left to themselves, would supervene, such events, by the suppression of the tendencies which will bring them about, may be neutralized or avoided entirely. Let us -claim for this Opuscule the merit of opening your eyes to the tendencies of your nature, and the probable results of those tendencies. Let this brochure be the means by which you may so encourage your finer instincts, and so combat and neutralize your evil ones, that by attention to the aptitudes and weaknesses with which you entered this world, you may learn and labour truly to get your own living in that state of life unto which it shall have pleased God to call you.