Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/192

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I shall try to answer this question in the following pages, but, nevertheless, I wish at once to state most expressly that we are now approaching ground where we know nothing, and where no one can with certainty know anything. We can only advance more or less likely hypotheses.

In the first place, it is important to bear in mind that there are many races of people who are quite ignorant of kissing as it is generally understood. Thus it is unknown in a great part of Polynesia, in Madagascar, and among many tribes of negroes in Africa, more particularly among those which mutilate their lips. W. Reade, in one of his books of travel, tells us of the horror which seized a young African negress when he kissed her. Kissing is likewise unknown amongst the Esquimaux and the people of Tierra del Fuego. Certain Finnish tribes appear, from what B. Taylor tells us, not to practise it much. In his Northern Travel he relates that "while both sexes bathe together in a state of complete nudity, a kiss is regarded as something indecent." A Finnish married woman, on being told by him that it was the usual custom for husband and wife to kiss each other, angrily exclaimed, "If my