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a treatise, entitled, 'An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue*' Speaking of the effect which the beauty of the human figure has upon our minds, the author expresses himself in the following words :
• There is a farther consideration, which must not be passed over, concerning the external beauty of persons,
which all allow to have great power over human minds. Now it is some apprehended morality, some natural or imagined indication of concomitant virtue, which gives it this powerful charm above all other kinds of beauty. Let us consider the characters of beauty which are commonly admired in countenances, and we shall find them to be sweetness, mildness, majesty, dignity, vivacity, humility, tenderness, good-nature: that is, certain airs, proportions, je ne sçai quoi's, are natural indications of such virtues, or of abilities or dispositions towards them. As we observed above of misery or distress appearing in countenances; so it is certain, almost all habitual dispositions of mind form the countenance, in such a manner as to give some indications to the spectator. Our violent passions are obvious, at first view, in the countenance, so that sometimes no art can conceal them; and smaller degrees of them give some less obvious turns to the face which an accurate eye will observe.'
What an important lesson may be drawn by my fair countrywomen from the observations contained in this passage !
Nature has given to their sex beauty of external form greatly superior to that of the other: the power which this gives them over our hearts they well know, and they need no instructor how to exercise it: but whoever can give any prescription by which that beauty may be increased, or
* By Dr. Hutcheson.
its decay retarded, is a useful monitor, and a benevolent friend.
Now I am inclined to think, that a prescription may be extracted from the unfashionable philosopher above quoted, which will be more effectual in heightening and preserving the beauty of the ladies, than all the pearl powder or other cosmetics of the perfumer's shop. I hope I shall not be misunderstood, and I beg my fair readers may not think me so ill-bred, or so ignorant of the world, as to recommend the qualities mentioned in the above passage, on account of their having any intrinsic value. recommend to the world to embrace virtue for its own sake, should be left to such antiquated fellows as the heathen philosopher from whom I have taken the motto of this Number, or the modern philosopher I have quoted, who has borrowed much from his writings; but I would not wish to sully my paper, or to prevent its currency in the fashionable circles, by such obsolete doctrines.
Far be it from me, therefore, so much as to hint to a fine lady, that she should sometimes stay at home, or retire to the country, with that dullest of all dull companions, a husband, because it is the duty of a wife to pay attention to her spouse; that she should speak civilly to her servants, because it is agreeable to the fitness of things, that people under us should be well treated; that she should give up play or late hours upon Sunday, because the parson says Sunday should be devoted to religion. I know well that nothing is so unfashionable as for a husband and wife to be often together ; that it is beneath a fine lady to give attention to domestic economy, or to demean herself so far as to consider servants to be of the same species with their mistresses; and that going to church is fit only for fools and old women. But though I do not recommend the above, or the
like practices on their own account, and in so far must differ from the philosophical gentlemen I have referred to; yet, I think, what they recommend ought to be attended to, for the good effects it may have on female beauty. Though I am aware, that every fine lady is apt, like Lady Townly, to faint at the very description of the pleasures of the country: yet she ought to be induced to spend some of her time there; even though it should be her husband's principal place of residence; because the tranquillity and fresh air of the country may repair some of the devastations which a winter campaign in town may have made
her cheeks. Though I know, also, that spending Sunday like a good Christian is the most tiresome and unfashionable of all things, yet, perhaps, some observance of the Sabbath, and a little regularity on that day by going to church, and getting early to bed, may smooth those wrinkles which the late hours of the other six are apt to produce: and though economy, or attention to a husband's affairs, is, I allow, a mean and vulgar thing in itself; yet, possibly, it should be so far attended to as to prevent that husband's total ruin; because duns, and the other impertinent concomitants of bankruptcy, are apt, from the trouble they occasion, to spoil a fine face before its time. In like manner, though I grant it as below a fine lady to cultivate the qualities of sweetness, mildness, humility, tenderness, or good-nature, because she is taught that it is her duty to do so; I would, nevertheless, humbly propose to the ladies, to be good-humoured, to be mild to their domestics, nay, to be complaisant even to their husbands; because good-humour, mildness, and complaisance are good for their faces. Attention to these qualities, I am inclined to believe, will do more for their beauty, than the finest paint the most skilfully laid on: the culture of them will give a higher
lustre to their complexion, without any danger of this colouring being rubbed off, or the natural fineness of the skin being hurt by its use.
Let every lady, therefore, consider, that whenever she says or does a good-humoured thing, she adds a new beauty to her countenance; that by giving some attention to the affairs of her family, and now and then living regularly, and abstaining from the late hours of dissipation, she will keep off, somewhat longer than otherwise, the wrinkles of age; and I would hope the prescription I have given, may, amidst the more important cares of pleasure, appear deserving of her attention.
This prescription must, from its nature, be confined to the ladies, beauty in perfection being their prerogative. To recommend virtue to our fine gentlemen, because vice might hurt their shapes, or spoil their faces, may appear somewhat like irony, which on so serious a subject, I would wish to avoid. Some considerations may, however, be suggested, why even a fine gentleman may find his account in an occasional practice of virtue, without derogating from the dignity of that character which it costs him so much labour to attain; and these may perhaps be the subject of a future paper.-S.
N° 4. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1779.
Meliora pii docuere parentes. ---Hor. The following letter I received from an unknown correspondent. The subject of it is so important, that I shall probably take some future opportunity of giving my sentiments on it to the public: in the mean
time I am persuaded it will afford matter of much serious consideration to many of my readers.
· TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
• SIR, • At the age of twenty-five I succeeded to an estate of 15001. a year by the death of a father, by whom I was tenderly beloved, and for whose memory I stil retain the most sincere regard. Not long after, I married a lady, to whom I had for some time been warmly attached. As neither of us were fond of the bustle of the world, and as we found it every day become more irksome, we took the resolution of quitting it altogether; and soon after retired to a family-seat, which has been the favourite residence of my ancestors for many successive generations.
• There I passed niy days in as perfect happiness as any reasonable man can expect to find in this world. My affection and esteem for my wife increased daily; and as she brought me three fine children, two boys and a girl, their prattle afforded a new fund of amusement. There were, likewise, in our neighbourhood, several families that might have adorned any society, with whom we lived on an easy, friendly footing, free from the restraints of
ceremony, which, in the great world, may, perhaps, · be necessary, but, in private life, are the bane of all social intercourse.
• There is no state, however, entirely free from care and uneasiness. My solicitude about my children increased with their years. My boys, in particular, gave me a thousand anxious thoughts. Many plans of education were proposed for them, of which the advantages and disadvantages were so equally balanced, as to render the choice of any one a matter of no small perplexity.