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قراءة كتاب Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

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‏اللغة: English
Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

to be worthy the attention of beings made for a better sphere, and capable of seeing something in much that is around us, which intimates the order and beauty by which that sphere is distinguished. This is enough to put an end to this objection, in reference to the subtle element of which we are venturing our humble, but we believe, orthodox sentiments. For ourselves, we know of no more sad or senseless mental condition in which we could be placed—we mean in the social relation—than this one of such ungraceful stupidity, as this of which a boast is made by such weary fellows as we have adverted to. If Beauty is an outside principle, which they argue is of no utility, and quite unworthy of one who should look beyond the mere coating of this existence for his reward or his satisfaction, then we say that even an outside of loveliness and grace, is better than an interior of deformity, uselessness, indefiniteness, chaos—even though it pretend to be all spiritual, while it suggests little but nonsense, and is quite certain to end in nothing.

There is another thought in connexion with this element of Beauty in Woman, which certainly deserves consideration. We believe the philosophy which it intimates is founded in very good sense, and withal, in propriety. Insensibility to the power, we have observed, is no index of anything virtuous or elevated. It is rather, in all cases, a bad omen. Men look upon it—and that very rationally—as indicative of something unhealthy in the moral system. It seems to tell of a hardness—bad propensities—a crustaceous nature. In short, man regards his fellow, who is dead to this influence, as rather to be suspected at all times, than to be trusted at any. But this is not his saddest trial—or what should be regarded as such, if he can sign himself a man, with any conscience whatever. His estimation by woman is unqualified and unquestioned. He is set down by her as a creature as unworthy of regard by the sisterhood, as he is devoid of warmth or wit in anything that has to do with the social relations, and, above all, with the mysteries of the passions and affections. He is marked by them with a timble brand. He is set apart as a poor thing, who knows nothing of what he was made for, and whose ideas of the graceful and lovely in life are about as defined and worthy as those of the brutes that perish. He is run upon and laughed at by the playful, and satirised and scathed by the witty. In the circle he is treated—not pitied—as a piece of circulating insensibility; in the street he is pointed at as one who might be well set up as a mark at its corners. And this is right. It is well he should be visited by rebuke from her who presents so continually around him the elements of that power he is foolish to resist, and unable, after all, to depreciate. Woman’s opinion, here, is a part of the great system which the influence she defends is meant to support—and we truly hope that she will maintain it aloud as long as she can utter it. Of the power of Beauty, both the world of fact, and the world of fancy, are abounding in instances. The records of ancient story present us with their Helens and their Cleopatras, who wrought upon nations by the magic of their faces. Later times show us the wonder of the power in Mary of Scotland, and many a page might be adverted to, full of the adventures which marked the love passages of kings as well as clowns, originating in this mysterious influence, as developed in the graces and glories of woman.

The power of Beauty operates widely, and everywhere. It takes the good man captive as well as the miscellaneous one, who has no definite rule to guide him on his wanderings. It bows the masters and teachers of men at its shrine, as well as the scholars and children of life. It draws the merchant from his desk—the philosopher from his chair. It gives new utterance to the poet, while it wins the statesman to confess that there is some virtue in the outside of the world, after all, and some attraction apart from the chaos of cabinets and broad seals.

There is a beautiful exemplification of this power given by Florian, in his story of a Theban sculptor. He is a wandering orphan in the streets of his native city, and his first entrance into the workshop of the celebrated Praxitiles well proves the truth of what we have set down in the foregoing pages.—“He is suddenly transported on beholding so many masterpieces of art! He gazes upon them—he is lost in admiration! and turning to Praxitiles with an air of grace and juvenile freedom, “Father,” cried he, “give me the chisel, and teach me to become as great as thou art.” Praxitiles stared at the boy, astonished at the fire of enthusiasm which kindled in his eyes, and embracing him with affection, “Yes!” said he, “remain with me; I will now be your master, but my hope shall be that you may soon be mine.”

The pupil soon becomes worthy of his teacher. He becomes the heir of his fortune, and removes to Miletus. There, the daughter of the governor visits his statuary, and from the time of that visit, his destiny is sealed. Love usurps the place of every other passion, and the chisel is cast aside in silence, under that supremacy. The Venus of marble that adorned his study, was no longer a Venus before that living one which filled his eye and his bosom. He felt that he must tell his love, or die. He declares it, in a hurried letter—a slave betrays him—and the indignant father accuses him before the council. He is banished from the city—and embarks in a Cretan vessel.

At this time pirates surprise the city, and pillage the temple of Venus. The statue of that goddess is torn from its pedestal. It was the Palladium of the island, and on its possession hung the happiness of the Milesians. The oracle of Delphos was consulted, and it was answered that Miletus would not be safe till a new statue of Venus, beautiful as the Goddess herself, should replace that ravished by the pirates. The inhabitants were in despair. They accused the governor of unjustly banishing the only man who might now save the city. He is seized, and hurried in chains to a dungeon. Now came the trial of the daughter, whose beauty had brought on this fearful crisis. She equips her vessel, and with treasures about her, determines to go in person to Athens—Corinth—Thebes—to find some artist who should emancipate her father. Tempted to land on a delicious island, she there comes suddenly upon her lover, whom she had been taught to believe had been long laid under the waters that lashed the heights of Naxos.

The story is soon told. In the humble cabin of his solitude he had prepared a statue which he said would meet the demand of the sybil. But he claimed to have it placed veiled upon the pedestal in the temple of Miletus, before she should even look upon the marble. She consents—and they embark for that island. The artist is received with shoutings and joy. The statue is borne to its trial on the altar of Venus. It stands erect. He fears nothing—and it is unveiled. The features are not mistaken—and the people utter cries of joy as they behold the image of his mistress! The enamored sculptor had made her, in his loneliness, the model of his Venus!—He is called on to claim his reward. “Release him you have imprisoned,” he cried—“release her father—and I ask no more.”—It is done—and the father gives up the daughter to his preserver, at the foot of her statue.

Can the power of Beauty be better illustrated than in this simple tale? We are not shown simply its effect upon an uneducated, artless individual—upon a mind in its singleness, and just awakened to its own capabilities of suffering and joy—but we see it operating in a wide and unquestioned influence, upon the spirit