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Heathens also, when they came forth to plough, laid one hand upon the stilt of the plough, and lifted the other. up to Ceres; beginning their actions both of war and peace with the same gesture. “ Sustulit excitas vinelis ad sydera palmas.”
The ancients are very copious in expressing these outward forms of devotion in the hands. They say, the hands stretched out, expanded, and erected, all naturally imply this expression. With Tertullian, the hands thus affected are expanded; with Virgil holden abroad; as Nonnius interpreteth the action, they are the open and extended hands. Cresollius says, this deportment of our hands declares that we affectionately fly unto the protection of our heavenly father, as little children when alarmed, with stretched out hands, run into the lap of their parents, or as men in the midst of a shipwreck stretch out their hands to some friendly Saviour. In a medal of Gordian, there is a figure raising its expanded hands with this inscription
“ Pietas Augusta," and, according to Eusebius, Constantine was represented in coins and paintings with his hands extended forth. The Romish church superabounds in the external expressions of devotion, some of which have been quaintly commented upon by the old writers; for instance, Huelamus, in his gloss upon the “ Oremus” in the Romish mass, says, that by the extension of his hands the priest gathers, as it were, the hearts of the people; and, by conjoining of them, unites them into one. It is the custom of mothers to teach their children this gesture at their devotion; and of this idea Sir Joshua Reynolds availed himself in his beautiful little picture of the infant Samuel.
For an illustration of this attitude represented in Plate LIII. the reader will refer to Scene II. Act 3. of Henry VIII.
K. Hen. .... Read o'er this : [Giving him papers.
throng after him, smiling and whispering.
hath undone me :-'tis the account