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N° 144. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15, 1711.
· Nôris qudm elegans formarum Spectator siem.
TER. Eun. Act. iii. Sc. 5. You shall see how nice a judge of beauty I am. BEAUTY has been the delight and torment of the world ever since it began. The philosophers have felt its influence so sensibly, that almost every one of them has left us some saying or other, which intimated that he too well knew the
of it. One* has told us, that a graceful person is a more powerful recommendation than the best letter that can be writ in your favour. Anotherf desires the possessor of it to consider it as a mere gift of nature, and not any perfection of his own. A third f calls it a short-lived tyranny;' a fourth $ a silent fraud,' because it imposes upon us without the help of language; but I think Carneades spoke as much like a philosopher as any of them, though more like a lover, when he calls it royalty without forcell.' It is not indeed to be denied, but there is something irresistible in a beauteous form; the most severe will not pretend, that they do not feel an immediate prepossession in favour of the handsome. No one denies them the privilege of being first heard, and being regarded before others in matters of ordinary consideration. At the same time the handsome should consider that it is a possession, as it were, foreign to them. No one can give it himself, or pre
* Aristotle. + Plato. Socrates. $ Theophrastus.
|| Rather, “A sovereignty that needs no military force:” this is the proper meaning of the original.
serve it when they have it. Yet so it is, that people can bear any quality in the world better than beauty. It is the consolation of all who are naturally too much affected with the force of it, that a little attention, if a man can attend with judgment, will cure them. Handsome people usually are so fantastically pleased with themselves, that if they do not kill at first sight, as the phrase is, a second interview disarms them of all their power. But I shall make this paper rather a warning-piece to give notice where the danger is, than to propose instructions how to avoid it when you have fallen in the way of it. Handsome men shall be the subject of another chapter, the women shall take up the present dis
Amaryllis, who has been in town but one winter, is extremely improved with the arts of good-breeding, without leaving nature. She has not lost the native simplicity of her aspect, to substitute that patience of being stared at, which is the usual triumph and distinction of a town lady. In public assemblies you meet her careless eye diverting itself with the objects around her, insensible that she herself is one of the brightest in the place.
Dulcissa is of quite another make; she is almost a beauty by nature, but more than one by art. If it were possible for her to let her fan or any limb about her rest, she would do some part of the execution she meditates; but though she designs herself
prey, she will not stay to be taken. No painter can give you words for the different aspects of Dulcissa in half a moment, wherever she appears : so little does she accomplish what she takes so much pains for, to be gay and careless.
Merab is attended with all the charms of woman and accomplishments of man. It is not to be doubted but she has a great deal of wit, if she were not such
a beauty; and she would have more beauty had she not so much wit. Affectation prevents her excellencies from walking together. If she has a mind to speak such a thing, it must be done with such an air of her body; and if she has an inclination to look very careless, there is such a smart thing to be said at the same time, that the design of being admired destroys itself. Thus the unhappy Merab, though a wit and beauty, is allowed to be neither, because she will always be both.
Albacinda has the skill as well as power of pleasing. Her form is majestic, but her aspect humble. All good men should beware of the destroyer. She will speak to you like your sister, until she has you sure; but is the most vexatious of tyrants when you are so. Her familiarity of behaviour, her indifferent questions, and general conversation, make the silly part of her votaries full of hopes, while the wise fly from her power. She well knows she is too beautiful and too witty to be indifferent to any who converses with her, and therefore knows she does not lessen herself by familiarity, but gains occasions of admiration by seeming ignorance of her perfections.
Eudosia adds to the height of her stature a nobility of spirit which still distinguishes her above the rest of her sex. Beauty in others is lovely, in others agreeable, in others attractive; but in Eudosia it is commanding. Love towards Eudosia is a sentiment like the love of glory. The lovers of other women are softened into fondness, the admirers of Eudosia exalted into ambition.
Eucratia presents herself to the imagination with a more kindly pleasure, and, as she is woman, her praise is wholly feminine. If we were to form an image of dignity in a man, we should give him wisdom and valour, as being essential to the character
of manhood. In like manner, if you describe a right woman in a laudable sense, she should have gentle softness, tender fear, and all those parts of life which distinguish her from the other sex; with some subordination to it, but such an inferiority that makes her still more lovely. Eucratia is that creature, she is all over woman, kindness is all her art, and beauty all her arms. Her look, her voice, her gesture, and whole behaviour is truly feminine. A goodness mixed with fear gives a tincture to all her behaviour. It would be savage to offend her, and cruelty to use art to gain her. Others are beautiful, but, Eucratia, thou art beauty!
Omniamante is made for deceit; she has an aspect as innocent as the famed Lucrece, but a mind as wild as the more famed Cleopatra. Her face speaks a vestal, but her heart a Messalina. Who that beheld Omniamante's negligent unobserving air, would believe that she hid under that regardless manner the witty prostitute, the rapacious wench, the prodigal courtesan? She can, when she pleases, adorn those eyes with tears like an infant that is chid; she can cast down that pretty face in confusion, while you rage with jealousy, and storm at her perfidiousness : she can wipe her eyes, tremble and look frighted, until
you think yourself a brute for your rage, own yourself an offender, beg pardon, and make
her new presents.
But I go too far in reporting only the dangers in beholding the beauteous, which I design for the instruction of the fair as well as their beholders; and shall end this rhapsody with mentioning what I thought was well enough said of an ancient sage* to a beautiful youth, whom he saw admiring his own figure in brass. What, said the philosopher, could
* Antisthenes, the founder of the sect of Cynic philosophers.
that image of yours say for itself if it could speak ? It might say, (answered the youth) that it is very beautiful. And are not you ashamed,' replied the cynic, to value yourself upon that only of which a piece of brass is capable ?'
N° 145. THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 1711.
Stultitium putiuntur opes
Hor. 1 Ep. xviii. 29. Their folly pleads the privilege of wealth. Ir the following enormities are not amended upon the first mentioning, I desire farther notice from my correspondents. MR. SPECTATOR, I obliged to you
your discourse the other day upon frivolous disputants, who with great warmth and enumeration of many circumstances and authorities, undertake to prove matters which no body living denies. You cannot employ yourself more usefully than in adjusting the laws of disputa tion in coffee-houses and accidental companies, as well as in more formal debates. Among many other things which your own experience must suggest to you, it will be very obliging if you please to take notice of wagerers. I will not here repeat what Hudibras
says of such disputants, which is so true, that it is almost proverbial; but shall only acquaint you with a set of young fellows of the inns of court, whose fathers have provided for them so plentifully,