National Geographic : 1920 Oct
HUMAN EMOTION RECORDED BY PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH A. GRAVES W HEN Shakespeare observed that "there's no art to find the mind's construction in the face," he had reference to that mind which employs artifice to conceal its motives and its machinations. In the accompany ing studies in expression, however, the camera has been employed to record the facial play and byplay of those who have naught of their emotions to withhold from the world. Here the lens of the photographer has caught and preserved the fleeting joyous thought, the moment of tranquil reverie, the sorrow without shame, the eternity of oppressive sus pense, the exuberant mirth of the care free, the rollicking gayety of childhood, the eager earnestness of youth. All these moods and fancies the faces of normal men, women, and children reflect with unfailing faithfulness. Here one finds recorded in pictures the "geography of the human heart"-its cares, its longings, its foibles, and its aspirations. It needs not the experience of a deep student of human nature to read in the face of the immigrant mother (Plate I) her story of struggle, of pain, and of sor row in the Old Country. But, happily, in her pensive smile there is the sugges tion of a brighter day to come in the hope of realized ambitions for her chil dren, who are to be given an unhampered start in the New World; and it requires no wild stretch of the imagination to read on this mother's lips an echo of the words of a famous Roman matron, "These are my jewels." The laughter of children is a universal language, as readily understood in Swe den (see Plate II) as on the lips of our own kith and kin in America (see Plate VI). "The light of love and fainting faith" contend for supremacy in the faces of those mothers who stand and silently await the glimpse of loved ones immured behind hospital walls (Plate III). It can never be said of the mother, sister, or wife who watched the solemn pageantry of military funerals during the World War that she was one of those who "never sees the stars shine through her cypress-trees"; for we see reflected in the face of each one so bereft that she is soothed and sustained by that con solation which crowns her grief, the con sciousness of a loved one's noble sacrifice (Plate IV). As we gaze upon the sweet content of the two faces on Plate V, we cannot but feel that the poet had in mind such as these when he wrote: "And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars invisible by day." The venerable patriarch of Plate VII holds the even tenor of his way "through the sequester'd vale of rural life." He who smiles first fights best would be a true paraphrase of a familiar say ing, if facial expression is an index of stamina. And who can deny that it is, after studying the light which dances in the eyes of the men in khaki shown on Plate X ? A wise student of human nature once observed that in the shadow of a great affliction the soul sits dumb. How could this truth be illustrated more strikingly than in the faces of the loved ones who watch and wait for the victims to be brought from the horror chambers of a mine disaster? That "health is the vital principle of bliss, and exercise of health" would seem to be the creed of the "Snow Birds" shown on Plate XII, while those two "studies in color" on Plates IX and XIII, may seem to indicate that a danger avoided is a danger scorned, and that "good digestion waits on appetite." France and America contend for ge niality in the facial expressions repro duced in Plates XIV and XV, while in the final scene of the series we see that "The world is all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide."