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No. 144 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 144
Wednesday, August 15, 1711.
‘… Noris quam elegans formarum

Spectator siem.’


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 has intimated that he too well knew the Power of it. One [1] has told us, that a graceful Person is a more powerful Recommendation than the best Letter that can be writ in your Favour. Another [2] desires the Possessor of it to consider it as a meer Gift of Nature, and not any Perfection of his own. A Third [3] calls it a short liv’d Tyranny; a Fourth, [4] 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, tho’ more like a Lover, when he call’d it Royalty without Force. It is not indeed to be denied, that 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 preserve 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 pleas’d 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 Discourse.

Amaryllis, who has been in Town but one Winter, is extreamly 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 Publick Assemblies you meet her careless Eye diverting itself with the Objects around her, insensible that she her self is one of the brightest in the Place.

Dulcissa is quite [of] 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 tho’ she designs her self a Prey she will not stay to be taken. No Painter can give you Words for the different Aspects of Dulcissa in half a Moment, whereever 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 it self. Thus the unhappy Merab, tho’ a Wit and Beauty, is allowed to be neither, because she will always be both.