The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy
"Beauty! thou pretty plaything! dear deceit!
That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart,
And gives it a new pulse unknown before."
WE doubt not that God is a lover of beauty. He fashioned the worlds in beauty, when there
was no eye to behold them but His own. All along the wild old forest He has carved the forms
of beauty. Every cliff, and mountain, and tree is a statue of beauty. Every leaf, and stem, and
vine, and flower is a form of beauty. Every hill, and dale, and landscape is a picture of beauty.
Every cloud, and mist-wreath, and vapor-veil is a shadowy reflection of beauty. Every
diamond, and rock, and pebbly beach is a mine of beauty. Every sun, and planet, and star is a
blazing face of beauty. All along the aisles of earth, all over the arches of heaven, all through
the expanses of the universe, are scattered in rich and infinite profusion the life-gems of
beauty. All this great realm of dazzling and bewildering beauty was made by God. Shall we
say, then, He is not a lover of beauty?
There is beauty in the songsters of the air. The symmetry of their bodies, the wing so light and
expert in fanning the breeze, the graceful neck and head, their tiny feet and legs, all so well
fitted for their native element and more than this, their sweet notes that awaken delight in
every heart that loves to rejoice. Who can range the sunny fields and shady forests on a bright
summer's day, and listen to the melody of a thousand voices chanting their Maker's praise,
and not feel the soul melt with joy and gratitude for such refreshing scenes? The universe is its
temple; and those men who are alive to it cannot life their eyes without feeling themselves
encompassed with it on every side. Now this beauty is so precious, the enjoyments it gives are
so refined and pure, so congenial with our tenderest and noblest feelings, and so akin to
worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude of men as living in the midst of it, and living
almost as blind to it as if, instead of this fair earth and glorious sky, they were tenants of a
dungeon. An infinite joy is lost to the world by the want of culture of this spiritual endowment.
The highest style of beauty to be found in nature pertains to the human form, as animated and
lighted up by the intelligence within. It is the expression of the soul that constitutes this
superior beauty. It is that which looks out at the eye, which sits in calm majesty on the brow,
lurks on the lip, smiles on the cheek, is set forth in the chiseled lines and features of the
countenance, in the general contour of figure and form, in the movement, and gesture, and
tone; it is this looking out of the invisible spirit that dwells within, this manifestation of the
higher nature, that we admire and love; this constitutes to us the beauty of our species. Hence
it is that certain features, not in themselves particularly attractive, wanting, it may be, in
certain regularity of outline, or in certain delicacy and softness, are still invested in a peculiar
charm and radiance of beauty from their peculiar expressiveness and animation. The light of
genius, the superior glow of sympathy, and a noble heart, play upon those plain, and it may be,
homely features, and light them up with a brilliant and regal beauty. Those, as every artist
knows, are the most difficult to portray. The expression changes with the instant. Beauty
flashes, and is gone, or gives place to a still higher beauty, as the light that plays in fitful
corruscations along the Northern sky, coming and going, but never still.
We would now dwell upon the beauty of spirit, soul, mind, heart, life. There is a beauty which
perishes not. It is such as the angels wear. It forms the washed white robes of the saints. It
wreathes the countenance of every doer of good. It adorns every honest face. It shines in the
virtuous life. It molds the hands of charity. It sweetens the voice of sympathy. It sparkles on the
brow of wisdom. It flashes in the eye of love. It breathes in the spirit of piety. It is the beauty of
the heaven of heavens. It is that which may grow by the hand of culture in every human soul. It
is the flower of the spirit which blossoms on the tree of life. Every soul may plant and nurture
it in its own garden, in its own Eden. This is the capacity for beauty that God had given to the
human soul, and this the beauty placed within the reach of us all. We may all be beautiful.
Though our forms may be uncomely and our features not the prettiest, our spirits may be
beautiful. And this inward beauty always shines through. A beautiful heart will flash out in the
eye. A lovely soul will glow in the face. A sweet spirit will tune the voice, wreathe the
countenance in charms. Oh, there is a power in interior beauty that melts the hardest heart!
Woman, by common consent, we regard as the most perfect type of beauty on earth. To her we
ascribe the highest charms belonging to this wonderful element so profusely mingled in all
God's works. Her form is molded and finished in exquisite delicacy of perfection. The earth
gives us no form more perfect, no features more symmetrical, no style more chase, no
movements more graceful, no finish more complete; so that our artists ever have and ever will
regard the woman-form of humanity as the most perfect earthly type of beauty. This form is
most perfect and symmetrical in the youth of womanhood; so that youthful woman is earth's
queen of beauty. This is true, not only by the common consent of mankind, but also by the
strictest rules of scientific criticism.
This being an admitted fact, woman, and especially youthful woman, is laid under strong
obligations and exposed to greater temptations. Beauty has wonderful charms - a charming
gift of pleasure. Beauty will not only win for her admiring eyes, but it will win her favor; it
will draw hearts toward her; it will awaken tender and agreeable feelings in her behalf; it will
disarm the stranger of the peculiar prejudices he often has toward those he knows not; it will
pave the way to esteem; it will weave the links to friendship's chain; it will throw an air of
agreeableness into the manners of all who approach her. All this her beauty will do for her
before she puts forth a single effort of her own to win the esteem and love of her fellows.
Socrates called beauty a short-lived tyranny; Plato, a privilege of nature; Theophrastus, a
silent cheat; Theocritus, a delightful prejudice; Cameades, a solitary kingdom; Domitian said,
that nothing was more grateful; Aristotle affirmed, that beauty was better than all the letters
of recommendation in the world; Homer, that it was a glorious gift of nature; and Ovid calls it
a favor bestowed by the gods. But, as regards the elements of beauty in women, it is not too
much to say that no woman can be beautiful by force of features alone; there must be as well
sweetness and beauty of soul. Beauty has been called "the power and aims of woman."
Diogenes called it "woman's most forcible letter of recommendation." Cameades represented
it, "a queen without soldiers;" and Theocritus says it is "a serpent covered with flowers;"
while a modern author defines it "a bait that as often catches the fisher as the fish." Nearly all
the old philosophers denounced and ridiculed beauty as evanescent, worthless and
mischievous; but, alas! while they preached against it they were none the less its slaves. None
of them were able to withstand "the sly, smooth witchcraft of a fair young face." A really
beautiful woman is a natural queen in the universe of love, where all hearts pay a glad tribute
to her reign.
Nothing is all dark. There cannot be a picture without its bright spots; and the steady
contemplation of what is bright in others, has a reflex influence upon the beholder. It
reproduces what it reflects. Nay, it seems to leave an impress even upon the countenance. The
feature, from having a dark, sinister aspect, becomes open, serene, and sunny. A countenance
so impressed, has neither the vacant stare of the idiot, nor the crafty, penetrating look of the
basilisk, but the clear placid aspect of truth and goodness. The woman who has such a face is
beautiful. She has a beauty which changes not with the features, which fades not with years. It
is beauty of expression. It is the only kind of beauty which can be relied upon for a permanent
influence with the other sex. The violet will soon cease to smile. Flowers must fade. The love
that has nothing but beauty to sustain it soon withers away. A pretty woman pleases the eye; a
good woman, the heart. The one is a jewel, the other a treasure. Invincible fidelity, good
humor, and complacency of temper, outlive all the charms of a fine face, and make the decay
of it invisible. That is true beauty which has not only a substance, but a spirit; a beauty that we
must intimately know to justly appreciate.
Beauty has been not unaptly, though perhaps rather vulgarly, defined as "all in the eye," since
it addresses itself solely to that organ, and is intrinsically of little value. From this ephemeral
flower spring many of the ingredients of matrimonial unhappiness. It is a dangerous gift for
both its possessor and its admirer. If its possession, as is often the case, turns the head, while its
loss sours the temper, if the long regret of its decay outweighs the fleeting pleasure of its
bloom, the plain should pity rather than envy the handsome. Beauty of countenance, which,
being the light of the soul shining through the face, is independent of features or complexion, is
the most attractive as well as the most enduring charm. Nothing but talent and amiability can
bestow it, no statue or picture can rival it, and time itself cannot destroy it.
Man, however, is not the highest type of beauty; for in him, as in all things on earth, is mingled
along with the beauty much that is deformed - with the excellence much imperfection. We can
conceive forms superior to his - faces radiant with a beauty that sin has never darkened, nor
passion nor sorrow dimmed. We can conceive forms of beauty more perfect, purer, brighter,
loftier than anything that human eyes have ever seen. Imagination fashions these conceptions,
and art produces them. This, the poet ,the painter, the sculptor, the architect, the orator, each
in his own way, is ever striving to do, to present, under sensible forms, the ideal of a more
perfect loveliness and excellence than the actual world affords. This, however, cannot be done
successfully, as perfection of beauty dwells alone with God.