Children, while bashful, are proverbially destitute of what we call modesty; a circumstance which directs attention very sharply to a distinction too often lost sight of by writers, but which is emphasized, by Mr. Ellis in his splendid work on the Psychology of Sex, that modesty is an instinct wholly separable from fear, although a resultant of" an agglomeration of fears;" one of these being of earlier than human origin, and supplied solely by the female, and the other, or others, "of more distinctly human character, and of social rather than sexual origin," Children, by nature, have little if any modesty. Both in speech and act, they outrage conventionality with the most charming insouciance. Frequently their apparent ignorance will have a most appalling accidental point, as the following will prove:
A little miss who, to deter her from the too common practice of sucking her thumb, had been told by her mother that if she continued the habit she would lose all her beauty, and grow up coarse and stout, and with a big stomach. When a lady about seven months advanced towards maternity got upon the car one day, the little girl, after eyeing her closely for some time, suddenly pointed her finger reprovingly at her, shouting out, to the mingled horror and amusement of the passengers—" aha, I know what you've been doing 1"
To show that modesty is not innate, but cultivated, among children, it iB only necessary to point out that children who have not been subjected to a discipline of decency not only expose themselves with the greatest freedom and unconcern, but when under instruction in this regard, frequently wholly miss the point at issue. Up to that period at which the lessons of modesty become properly instilled, both boys and girls expose their privates quite unconsciously; and I am inclined to think that if, in some, the reverse happen to be the case, it is due not so much to the fact that the organs are sexual as that they are excretory, just as it is with animals.
Repugnance to filth is an animal as well as human feeling, the lower mammals, cats and dogs, exercising the greatest care to preserve clean-line**, and retiring, almost invariably, to secluded places b> respond to the wants of nature.1 Thus we may be justified in regarding a too precocious modesty as of animal rather than human origin. There is a well-marked repugnance among all peoples, savage and civilized, to the satisfaction of natural needs; the Dyaks of Malacca, although remarkably cleanly, washing the sexual organs carefully after urinating, and always using the left hand for the purpose, the right being reserved for the more honorable uses of war, labor and the chase.1
It would be tedious, and perhaps unprofitable, to attempt in this place any extended or scientific analysis of this question of human modesty; but whether we regard it as congenital or acquired, psychological or physiological, there can be no evading its importance as a sexual attribute, or the part which it plays in the mutual attractability of the sexes.
One of its most obtrusive phenomena—the act of blushing—presents the following list of symptoms, as recorded by Partridge in one hundred and twenty cases critically examined.3 Tremors near the waist, weakness in the limbs, pressure, trembling, warmth, weight or beating in the chest, warm waves from the feet upward, quivering of heart, stoppage, and then rapid beating of the same, coldness all over, followed by heat, dizziness, tingling of toes and fingers, numbness, something rising in the throat, smarting of the eyes, ringing of the ears, prickling sensations of the face, and pressure inside head." A portentous array of symptoms with the most important objective one—facial subcutaneous hyperaimia—omitted: "The lady blushed red, but nothing she said."4