Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/146

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and says: "The deuce! I don't really understand the use of these ceremonies. Eugh, somebody has been here before—that I can plainly perceive."

The old custom now only survives in certain sayings. Frenchmen use the expression baiser la terre (to kiss the earth), jeeringly, of a person falling; and the German, die Erde küssen (to kiss the earth), is a euphemistic way of saying "die." I may add, for the sake of completeness, that kissing the earth still occurs sporadically nowadays in the sense of the profoundest humility mingled with regret. When Raskolnikow, in Dostojewski's novel of that name, has confided to Sonja how he murdered the old usurer's wife, he exclaims in his despair: "And what shall I do now?"—"What shall you do now," exclaims Sonja, and her eyes flash: "Get up, go hence at once; station yourself at a crossway, kneel down and kiss the earth you have defiled, bow down thus before all the people, and say to them: 'I have committed murder.' Then God shall give you new life."

And, finally, when Raskolnikow has determined publicly to acknowledge his crime and denounce himself as a murderer, he falls pros-