PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION
There is no country in the world where the "study of character" is more indulged in than in the United States of America. During my many visits there I could not help remarking how even the "hardest headed" business men used any form of this study that they could get hold of to help them in their business dealings with other men and also in endeavouring to ascertain the character of their clerks and employees.
In looking over the records of my career I find that in the course of my visits to America I gave private lessons to the heads of two hundred and seventy business establishments in New York, one hundred and thirty-five in Boston, and three hundred and forty-two in Chicago.
All these men were large employers of labour and what they principally wanted was, to have some help beyond that of their own judgment in dealing with those with whom they came in contact in the regular course of their business careers. In no other country did I find the same interest taken in the study of character from a practical standpoint.
It is for this reason that I write a special Preface for this Edition, believing as I do that my American readers will appreciate the added information I may be able to give regarding the obtaining by a mere glance at a hand a quick grasp of the leading characteristics of the persons with whom they are thrown into contact, or for whatever reason they choose to make use of this study.
Everyone knows that "the face can wear a mask," that a person may be a good actor and put on a certain expression that may deceive even the best judgment.
But hands cannot change as the result of a mere effort to please; the character they express is the real nature of the individual—the true character that has been formed by heredity or that has grown up with the person by long years of habit.
The characteristics alluded to below are those which may be easily observed and which are aids to a rapid judgment of character and which I have never before been able to give to the public in such a concise way.
The more elaborate details concerning the ultimate success of the person one is talking to, their more intimate character and their future development will be found in their proper place, in the subsequent chapters.RULES FOR RAPID OBSERVATION
Observe the fingers. If they look short and stumpy in proportion to the rest of the palm—one may be sure that the individual to whom they belong is of an animal nature, possessing coarse instincts, devoid of real intellectuality, and belonging to the lower order of humanity.
If the fingers and the palm appear equal in length, the owner belongs to a more cultured race. He has inherited from a more intellectual line of ancestors and for all work requiring intelligence and a higher mentality he or she could be depended on, whereas the first-mentioned type could not—no matter how well he might talk or advocate his own superiority.
If the fingers look unusually long and thin, and in this way out of proportion to the palm, the man or woman will err on the side of too much ideality and refinement and is not suited to business or work requiring "level headedness" and practicality. It would be useless, for example, to put such a person in charge of work-people or over work-rooms. His ideality and refinement would be thrown away in such positions, and even with the best will in the world he would be completely out of harmony with his surroundings.
Such a man, however, could be depended upon in all positions requiring personal mental work, research, science, literature, philosophy, educational work or, in fact, anything relating to the higher qualities of the mind.
If his fingers, in addition to their length, were also knotty or jointed (joints much pronounced), he could be depended on to a still greater extent for all work requiring great thoughtfulness, detail, and concentration of mind.
If, on the other hand, these long fingers were smooth jointed, he would, while having the same desire for ideality and for everything intellectual, be impulsive and inspirational, would lack a sense of detail and a love for detail in his own work, would be visionary, artistic, emotional....