This section is from the book "The Practice Of Palmistry For Professional Purposes", by C. de Saint-Germain. Also available from Amazon: The Practice of Palmistry for Professional Purposes.
All modern Palmists attach such importance to the symptoms revealed by the Position and Shape of the Thumb, that it seems to me essential to inform the student why. physiologically speaking, the Thumb ranks so high among the constituting elements of Palmistry. For that purpose I shall ask permission, in this chapter and the following, to quote-freely from Captain d'Arpentigny's standard work, La Science de la Main (3d Edition, 1865), using in most cases the excellent translation of Mr. Heron-Allen, modified according to my understanding of the French text (and French is my native tongue), without the exhaustive comments of the translator. To avoid cumbersome quotation marks, the paragraphs in smaller type may be considered, once for all, as belonging to the great book above mentioned.
The superior animal is signalized by his possession of a hand, the man is signalized by his possessing a thumb.
The thumb of the monkey, which is barely flexible, and for this reason scarcely able to be opposed, i. e.. be made to act in conjunction with any of the other fingers, is looked upon by many naturalists as nothing more than a movable nail. Whereas, on the contrary, the human thumb is so situated and organized as to be able always to act in an opposite direction to the other fingers.
and it is by this power that it symbolizes the inner or moral sense which we oppose to our will, and through it to the temptations of our instincts and our senses.
Proofs of this assertion abound; thus, for instance, idiots, who are idiotic from birth, come into the world either without thumbs or with thumbs which are powerless and atrophied; and this is perfectly logical, for where the essence is absent, its symbol also must be wanting. (See the typical Idiot's Hand in our next chapter.)
Professor Sir Richard Owen, in his monograph On the Nature of the Limbs, calls attention to the fact that the "Thumb, which is the least important and constant digit of the anterior extremity in the rest of the mammals, becomes in man the most important element of the terminal segment, and that which makes it a hand properly so called."
Infants, up to the time when their intelligence begins to be developed, keep their hands continually closed, folding their fingers over the thumb; but in proportion as, with the body, the mind becomes developed, the thumb in turn folds itself over the fingers.
Epileptic patients in their fits fold their thumbs before the rest of their hands, which shows that this evil, which is instinctively apprehended before it is actually felt, affects the organisation by which one perceives and knows, before it affects the organization by which one merely feels.
These principles laid down, I shall proceed as I did with the Fingers by interpreting the indications furnished by
I. The Position of the Thumb, meaning by this the fact of its being more or less detached from the Hand Proper, a wider or narrower angle being thus opened between the base of its second phalanx and the Side of the Hand, when the thumb is stretched downward to its full extent.
IT. The Size of the Thumb, from the base of the second Phalanx to the tip of the first or nailed Phalanx.
III. The Shape of the Thumb. This will complete the indications concerning the Thumb as a whole.
Taking each Phalanx separately, as I have done, for the Fingers, I will examine,
IV. The First (or nailed) Phalanx.
V. The Knot between the Phalanges.
VI. The Second Phalanx,
VII. The Combinations of Phalanges..
Too high - Idiotcy (also short and ill-shaped).
High - Lack of adaptability. Mean-ness in money matters.
Low - Generosity; intelligence.
Normal - Meaning to be found in form and size.
Close to the fingers - Avarice.
Away from the fingers - Spendtlirift disposition.
(Without distinguishing between phalanges.)
Very long - The head governs rather than the feelings; obstinacy, not always wise.
Long - Fine capacity for thought and action; the subject is his own master.
People with large thumbs are governed by their heads (source of all feelings of exclusive-ness), and are more at ease in an atmosphere of ideas, than in one of sentiments. They judge things better by reflection than on the spur of the moment.
A large thumb with smooth fingers. cnnical at the top - Success in art or literature is reached by method, logical deduction, not intuition. With square or spaiulate fingers -Love of action but lack of proper reasoning. Willi knotty fingers and square or spatulate tips - Reason has the upper hand in all the subject's, undertakings: in fact, he lacks all impulsiveness, all intuition and oftentimes loses himself in complicated combinations that never come to anything.
Short - Irresolute mind; weak reasoning.
Very short - The subject will be carried constantly from one extreme to another.
People with small thumbs are governed by their hearts (source of all tolerant feelings), and are more at home in an atmosphere of sentiments than in one of ideas; they appreciate things more at a rapid survey of them than on reflection.
It is more easy for large-thumbed subjects to overcome the tendencies of their natures than for people with small thumbs. Generally speaking, a thumb which is small, mean and poorly formed announces an irresolute mind, and a wavering disposition in those things which are usually the result of reasoning power, and not of sentiment or of instinctive knowledge.
A small thumb with smooth fingers - Talent or at least aptitude for one of the fine arts or literature. If the fingers are conical - The talent in question aims to a high ideal; if the fingers are square or spatulate - The talent will lie in a clever rendering of real life. with knotty fingers - If the fingers are conical - Method and logic modify the natural intuition. If the fingers are square or spatulate - The gift will be entirely in the line of science and business.
You must not, however, conclude that he-cause you have a large thumb and knotted, spat-uJatc fingers, you are necessarily gifted with the of excelling in all practical sciences and occupations; nor that because you have a small thumb, smooth and conical fingers you are necessarily gifted with pre-eminent talent in every branch of the fine arts; on the contrary, the pursuit of a single science or art, or of a small number of sciences or arts (bo an extent limited by the scope of the faculties of each individual). absorbs as a rule, the whole of the stock of genius with which God has endowed the generality of men.
(Without distiguishing between phalanges.)
Thick - Primitive tastes; often uncouth ways; also blunt honesty.
Flat - Nervous disposition; mean Broad - Violent outbursts, If short besides - Fits of stubbornness that do not last.
Slender- - Poetic and artistic genius, or at least refined tastes.
Stiff - Plenty of common sense; often stubbornness, exaggerate caution, secret-iveness.
Thrown back naturally - Generosity, artistic gifts.
Flexible - Spendthrift disposition; unconventional tendencies.