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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: 9

and remarkable changes, how important must be the ability to determine, even by walk or gesture, the existence of this condition!

If, in the vital system, the elasticity and freshness of the skin are the characteristics of health, and their absence warns us that the condition of woman is unfavorable to the plan of nature relatively to the maintenance of the species—or, if the capacity of the pelvis, and the consequent breadth of the haunches, are necessary to all those functions which are most essentially feminine, impregnation, gestation, and parturition, without danger either to parent or to child—of what extreme importance must be the ability to determine this with certainty and ease!

If, in the mental system, the capacity and delicacy of the organs of sense, and the softness and mobility of the nervous system, are necessary to the vivid and varying sensibility of woman—if it is in consequence of this, that woman is enabled to act on man by the continual observation of all that can captivate his imagination or secure his affection, and by the irresistible seduction of her manners—if it is these qualities which enable her to accommodate herself to his taste, to yield, without constraint, even to the caprice of the moment, and to seize the time when observations, made as it were accidentally, may produce the effect which she desires—if it is by these means that she fulfils her first duty, namely, to please him to whom she has united her days, and to attach him to her and to home by rendering both delightful—if all this is the case, of what inexpressible importance must be the ability to determine, in each individual, the possession of the power and the will to produce such effects!

If (descending to still more minute inquiries) external indications as to figure are required as to parts concealed by drapery—if such indications would obviate deception even with regard to those parts of the figure which are more exposed to observation by the closer adaptation of dress—if, even when the face is seen, the deception as to the degree of beauty, is such that a correct estimate of it is perhaps never formed—if indications as to mind may be derived from many external circumstances—if external indications as to the personal habits of women are both numerous and interesting—if such indications even of age and health are sometimes essential—if all this be the case, let the reader say what other object of human inquiry exceeds this in importance.

Let us not then deceive ourselves respecting the source of those impressions which one sex experiences from the sight of the other. It is evidently nothing else than the more or less delicate and just perception of a certain conformity of means with a want which has been created by nature, and which must be satisfied.

“It is very obvious,” says Dr. Pritchard, “that this peculiarity in the constitution of man must have considerable effects on the physical character of the race, and that it must act as a constant principle of improvement, supplying the place in our own kind of the beneficial control [in the crossing of races] which we exercise over the brute creation.” And he adds: “This is probably the final cause for which the instinctive perception of human beauty was implanted by Providence in our nature.”

We need not wonder, then, that the Greeks should have preferred beauty to all other advantages, should have placed it immediately after virtue in the order of their affections, or should have made it an object of worship.

Even the practical application of this principle to the improvement of the human race is not a matter of conjecture. We have seen both families and nations ameliorated by the means which it affords. Of this, the Turks are a striking example. Nothing, therefore, can better deserve the researches of the physiologist, or the exertions of the philanthropist, than the fact that there are laws, of which we have yet only a glimpse, according to which we may influence the amelioration of the human race in a manner the most extensive and profound, by acting according to a uniform and uninterrupted system.

Well might Cabanis exclaim: “After having occupied ourselves so curiously with the means of rendering more beautiful and better the races of animals or of plants which are useful or agreeable—after having remodelled a hundred times that of horses and dogs—after having transplanted, grafted, cultivated, in all manners, fruits and flowers—how shameful is it to have totally neglected the race of man! As if it affected us less nearly! as if it were more essential to have large and strong oxen than vigorous and healthy men, highly odorous peaches or finely striped tulips, than wise and good citizens!”

I actually know a man who is so deeply interested in the doctrine of crossing, that every hour of his life is devoted to the improvement of a race of bantam fowls and curious pigeons, and who yet married a mad woman, whom he confines in a garret, and by whom he has some insane progeny.

Let it not be imagined that the discovery of the precise laws of crossing or intermarriage, and the best direction of physical living forces, in relation both to the vital faculties and to those of the mind, upon which knowledge and skill may operate for the improvement of our race, is a matter of difficulty.

It will be shown in this work, that there exist not only an influence of beauty and defects on offspring, but peculiar laws regulating the resemblance of progeny to parents—laws which regard the mode in which the organization of parents affects that of children, or regulates the organs which each parent respectively bestows.

It will accordingly be shown, that, as, on the size, form, and proportion, of the various organs, depend their functions, the importance of such laws is indescribable—whether we regard intermarriages, and that immunity from mental or bodily disease which, when well directed, they may ensure, or the determination of the parentage of a child—or the education of children, in conformity with their faculties—or the employment of men in society.

I conclude this brief view in the words of the writer just quoted: “It is assuredly time for us to attempt to do for ourselves that which we have done so successfully for several of our companions in existence, to review and correct this work of nature—a noble enterprise, which truly merits all our cares, and which nature itself appears to have especially recommended to us by the sympathies and the powers which it has given us.”