In the judgment of character by the formation of the Hand, the Thumb is
of about the same importance as the nose is to the face. It must be
understood to represent the natural Will Power, whereas the Line of Head
represents the Mental Will.
In my larger works on this subject I have gone into very deeply the
medical reasons why character should be expressed by the Thumb and the
extraordinary role it has played in civilisation, and also in the various
religions of the world.
The Thumb proper represents the three great worlds of ideas, viz., Love,
Logic, and Will.
Love is represented by the base of the Thumb which is covered on the hand
by the Mount of Venus.
Logic is the middle phalange, and Will is the top or nail portion.
When these divisions are found large, the qualities are increased; when
small, they play a smaller role in the life of the individual.
There are two distinct classes of Thumbs, the supple-jointed and the
The former of these divisions is the Thumb bending outwards and supple
at the joint underneath the nail.
This denotes a nature pliable and adaptable to others, very broad-minded,
rather unconventional, and not obstinate in its views of life. These
characteristics will be increased if the Head Line be found sloping and
bending downwards. If, however, the Line of Head be found lying straight
across the palm, they are more conventional. The "supple-jointed" thumb
also denotes generosity of mind both as regards thought and money. In all
ways these people are more extravagant than people who have the straight
firm-jointed thumb. In other words they "give more" even in what they
think as well as in what they do.
The nearer the Thumb approaches the side of the hand, or the more it
looks tied down or cramped to the palm, the more the subject is inclined
to grasp or hold. The true miser has always a thumb cramped towards the
hand, and the nail phalange as a rule slightly turned in, as if the mind
wanted to grab hold or retain.
The supple-jointed Thumb is more impulsive in its desire to give than is
the stiff-jointed class, whereas the latter type demands reflection
before he even gives an opinion.
If a favour should be asked of the man with the supple-jointed Thumb, one
should remember that he is more inclined to give in on the impulse of the
moment, and if one does not press one's point home at once, he is likely
first to promise, and later, on reflection, change his mind.
The man with the stiff-jointed Thumb on the
contrary, is more likely to refuse at first and on reflection to agree to
the proposition; but it he does make up his mind, he will stick to his
judgment or opinion, and the more he is opposed the more determined he
will be to hold to his view.
The firm-jointed thumb is then the outward sign of a more resisting
nature, and the longer the first or nail phalange is, the stronger and
more powerful the Will force.
These people seldom make friends so easily or rapidly as those belonging
to the other type. On a railway journey they rarely begin a conversation
with a fellow traveller, and if they have to do so it will generally be
in the form of an argument that "the window must be left open or shut,"
as the case may be. Heaven help the other poor traveller if he should
also happen to have a stiff thumb, and oppose his ideas to those of the
The supple-jointed class, on the contrary, enter readily into
conversation with strangers, and they often make their greatest friends
while travelling. They are affable, charming companions, and give in
readily to the wishes of others. In fact, this quality inclines to a
weakness that should be guarded against. Among all those men and women
who take the "easiest way" a large majority will be found to have very
supple-jointed thumbs. This, however, will be greatly qualified by the
position and appearance of the Line of Head, the indicator of the
developed mental Will.
To have a supple lower or middle joint does not relate to the Will but to
the phalange of Logic of the possessor. When this second joint is found
supple the subject adapts himself to circumstances rather than to
persons. He reasons out that he must bend or adapt himself to the
conditions or circumstances of the life in which he is placed.
The Clubbed Thumb, is so called from its being thick
like a club. People possessing this class of Thumb belong to the
Elementary type as far as Will is concerned. They are brutal and like
animals in their unreasonable obstinacy. If they are opposed they fly
into ungovernable passions and blind rages. They have no control over
themselves, and are liable to go to any extreme of violence or crime
during one of their tempers. In fact the clubbed-shaped Thumb has also
been designated "the murderer's thumb" on account of so many murderers
having been found with this formation.
The possessor of a Clubbed Thumb could not, however, plan out or
premeditate a crime, for he would not have the determined Will or power
of reason to think it out.
The shorter the Thumb, the nearer the possessor is to the brute in
passion and lack of self-control.
The "waist-like" Thumb, and the "straight" formation
(Fig. 5), must also be considered as the opposite of one another in their
characteristics, but in this case the difference is in the quality of
Logic or Reason. The former will not use or depend much on such things,
he will rely, on the contrary, on tact and diplomacy to gain his point or
win his way. The second class have little or no tact, but in all matters
depend on argument and reason.
The third phalange of the Thumb, which is placed under the designation of
Love (Plate VI., Part II.), when found long, denotes more control over
the quality of Love or Sensuality; when short and thick-set, the passion
or sensual nature is more brutal and animal.
The space at my disposal in this work will not allow me to go deeper
into all the shades of character that can be made out by a study of the
Thumb alone, but I think I have said enough to show my readers the great
truth in D'Arpentigny's words that "the Thumb individualises the man."
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