Hand

n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket.

A sailor. We lost a hand; we lost a sailor. Bear a hand; make haste. Hand to fist; opposite: the same as tete-a-tete, or cheek by joul.
sb. handVariants: hond,hoond, honde, dat.,hand, pl., bend, hende, honde, honden, handes, hondes Etymology: Anglo-Saxon hand (hond ).
a workman or helper, a person. “A cool hand ,” explained by Sir Thomas Overbury to be “one who accounts bashfulness the wickedest thing in the world, and therefore studies impudence.”

The Hand: Chief Organ of Touch

The last of the bodily senses is Touch. It has the widest gateway, and largest apparatus of them all; for though we are in the habit of speaking of it as localized in the fingers, it reigns throughout the body, and is the token of life in every part. The nearest approach to death which can occur in a living body, is the condition of paralysis or palsy, a death in life, marked in one of its forms by the loss of that sense of touch which is so marked an endowment of every active, healthy creature.

The tactile susceptibilities of the skin depend, as do the peculiar endowment of the other organs of the senses, on its plentiful supply with those wondrous living nerves, which place in vital communication with each other all the organs of the body, on the one hand; and that, mysterious living center, the brain (and its adjuncts), on the other.

Our simplest conception of an organ of sense is supplied by the finger, which whether it touches or is touched, equally realizes that contact has been made with it, and enables the mind to draw conclusions regarding the qualities of the bodies which impress it. Now, after all, every one of the organs of the senses is but a clothed living nerve conscious of touch, and they differ from each other only in reference to the kind of touch which they can exercise or feel. Keeping in view that to touch and to be touched is in reality the same thing, so far as the impression of a foreign body is concerned, we can justly affirm that the tongue is but a kind of finger, which touches and is touched by savors; that the nostril is touched by odors; the ear by sounds; and the eye by light.

The Hand  is emphatically the organ of touch, not merely because the tips of the fingers, besides being richly endowed with those nerves which confer sensitiveness upon the skin of the whole body, possess in addition an unusual supply of certain minute auxiliary bodies, called “tactile corpuscles,” but because the arrangement of the thumb and fingers, and the motions of the wrist, elbow, and arm, give the hand a power of accommodating itself spontaneously to surfaces, which no other part of the body possesses. Moreover, when we speak of the hand as the organ of touch, we do not refer merely to the sensitiveness of the skin of the fingers, but also to that consciousness of pressure upon them in different directions, by means of which we largely judge of form.

When a blind man, for example, plays a musical instrument he is guided in placing his fingers, not merely by the impression made upon the skin of them, but also by impressions conveyed through the skin to these little bundles of flesh called muscles, which move the fingers.

In many respects the organ of touch, as embodied in the hand, is the most wonderful of the senses. The organs of the other senses are passive, the organ of touch alone is active. The eye, the ear, and the nostril stand simply open: light, sound, and fragrance enter, and we are compelled to see, to hear and to smell; but the hand selects what it shall touch, and touches what it pleases. It puts away from it the things which it hates, and beckons toward it the things which it desires; unlike the eye, which must often gaze transfixed at horrible sights from which it cannot turn; and the ear, which cannot escape from the torture of discordant sounds; and the nostril, which cannot protect itself from hateful odors.

Moreover, the hand cares not only for its own wants, but, when the other organs of the senses are rendered useless, takes their duties upon it. The hand of the blind man goes with him as an eye through the streets, and safely threads for him all the devious ways; it looks for him at the faces of his friends, and tells him whose kindly features are gazing on him; it peruses books for him, and quickens the long hours by its silent readings.

It ministers as willingly to the deaf; and when the tongue is dumb and the ear stopped, its fingers speak eloquently to the eye, and enable it to discharge the unwonted office of a listener.

The organs of all the other senses, also, even in their greatest perfection, are beholden to the hand for the enhancement and the exaltation of their powers.

It constructs for the eye a copy of itself, and thus gives it a telescope with which to range among the stars; and by another copy on a slightly different plan, furnishes it with a microscope, and introduces it into a new world of wonders.

It constructs for the ear the instruments by which it is educated, and sounds them in its hearing till its powers are trained to the full.

It plucks for the nostril the flower which it longs to smell, and distills for it the fragrance which it covets.

As for the tongue, if it had not the hand to serve it, it might abdicate its throne as the “Lord of Taste.” In short, the organ of touch is the minister of its sister senses, and, without any play of words, is the handmaid of them all.

And if the hand thus munificently serves the body, not less amply does it give expression to the genius and the wit, the courage and the affection, the will and the power of man. Put a sword into it, and it will fight for him; put a plow into it, and it will till for him; put a harp into it, and it will play for him; put a pencil into it, and it will paint for him; put a pen into it, and it will speak for him, plead for him, pray for him.

What will it not do? What has it not done? A steam engine is but a larger hand, made to extend its powers by the little hand of man! An electric telegraph is but a long pen for that little hand to write with! All our huge cannon and other weapons of war, with which we so effectually slay our brethern, are only Cain's hand made bigger, and stronger, and bloodier!

What, moreover, is a ship, a railway, a lighthouse, or a palace—what, indeed, is a whole city, a whole continent of cities, all the cities of the globe, nay, the very globe itself, in so far as man has changed it, but the work of that giant hand, with which the human race, acting as one mighty man, has executed its will!

What an instrument for good it is! What an instrument for evil! and all the day long it never is idle. There is no implement which it cannot wield, and it should never in working hours be without one. It is the one universal craftsman. For the queen's hand there is the scepter, and for the soldier's hand the sword; for the carpenter's hand the saw, and for the smith's hand the hammer; for the farmer's hand the plow; for the miner's hand the pick; for the sailor's hand the oar; for the painter's hand the brush; for the sculptor's hand the chisel; for the poet's hand the pen; and for the woman's hand the needle.

For each willing man and woman there is a tool they may learn to handle; for all there is the command, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”

Such are the five entrance-ways of knowledge, which John Bunyan quaintly styles Eye-gate, Ear-gate, Nose-gate, Mouth-gate, and Feel-gate.