Beauty Of Soul And Character
( Originally Published 1896 )
I pray thee, 0 God, that I may be beautiful within.-Socrates.
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Bible.
"Don't be fooled by pretty face ;
If one has personal beauty it is the gift of God, an additional talent, imparting a peculiar power which may be rightly or wrongly used. Personal charms may be a dangerous gift and snare. If God gives beauty to one and homeliness to another, it maybe for the sake of moral discipline. One person's beauty may be as much a trial and temptation to virtue, as another's deformity may be an occasion of envy. In order to judge of a picture, we must have the right light upon it; so a good heart in a fair body has the advantage of a good light. Has God given you personal beauty? Let the Hand that made you fair make you good.
Personal beauty is desirable, but mere bodily charms pass for very little except with vain, thoughtless, and light-minded people. It too often happens that beauty is more admired and flattered than any quality of mind or character. True beauty does not always attract public observation. It is that which not only has a substance, but a spirit, and to appreciate it we must studiously and intimately know it. In conversation this inward beauty of soul will become luminous, when the mind shines through the casket. To the beholder who can discern this true Beauty, she makes herself known by a thousand graces that "bespeak that their owner has a soul."
Outward, or physical beauty is overestimated by the world's people, while they underrate the value of inward beauty of soul. We should attach but small importance to a person's natural beauty or the want of it. A plain person may be as truly pleasing as a handsome one. As we become better acquainted with some "handsome" people, and get a look at the quality of their minds and hearts, their beauty loses its charm - turns to repugnance; while on the other hand, a nearer acquaintance with some plain and homely persons who have soul-beauty, causes their very ungainliness to become beautiful and transfigured with loveliness.
The want of outward beauty of person is not to be regarded as a misfortune, and never disturbs a noble soul within. A plain face or even uncomely form cannot hinder their possessor from being amiable and admired for all that is truly admirable. It makes little difference whether Dame Nature has given to her child a fair or a homely face, a graceful or an ill-shapen body, if the soul within is beautiful. Beauty of soul is far more excellent than beauty of face or form. A plain face is made charming when a kind disposition lights it up. We have seen a crippled boy hobbling along with a crutch and withered limb dangling, yet with a face as bright and cheery as a May morning, and with a heart, too, as light and innocent as his face. Bodily deformities and imperfections need be no bar to beauty of soul and soundness of character. In the most imperfect body there may shine a spirit of such perfect beauty as to be fairly angelic. A man may be club-footed, hump-backed, a dwarf in body, but have regal gifts of mind .and a heart akin to God's. He may be an ungainly ragged outcast from man, but worthy to be set among princes and have his name written among the sons of God. Don't be soured, embittered or envious because you have not as fair a form as another. You can eclipse the very sun of the world's gay " society " by your substantial, well-rounded character, by your shining graces and agreeable disposition, and kindly, sunny soul.
Of what use is it to be dissatisfied with the bodies God has given us? Shall we add to an ill-shapen body a frowning face, an ugly disposition, a bad heart? If nature has not favored you with a fair and shapely body, do not allow that blameless defect to make you mean, misanthropic, unhappy, and morbidly sensitive. Byron allowed a "slight personal deformity to darken his whole life," but we fear that there was a darker deformity on that gifted poet's heart. If some people have drawbacks to their personal beauty they have worse drawbacks to their spiritual beauty. Unavoidable bodily blemishes nced not imply spots on the heart.
Some young women are terribly annoyed because they have a few freckles or moles on their face. What are freckles on the face compared with spots on the -soul and dark cold specks on the heart! The face may be all black or copper-colored, yet the character may be comely. If we have not outward beauty we may all have inward grace. Neither beauty nor money can compensate for lack of a lovely spirit and bearing. We can make up for our want of natural beauty by our winning soul beauty. As physical beauty may be cultivated by proper attention to the laws of hygiene, so moral beauty may be enhanced by giving heed to the conditions of soul health. If people would only try the experiment they could more than atone for their natural defects by their moral perfections and God-given goodness, by their having a heart warm and sympathetic. Curls and cosmetics, paints and powders, enamels and ointments, are all in demand to increase the beauty of the human face, but if certain persons would take half the pains to beautify their souls-what. a glorious transfiguration would occur in their essential natures and lives! A kind heart and noble soul will transform a homely body into a form of loveliness. That person is beautiful whose radiant face shows the overflowings of a kind and innocent heart. This soul-beauty will often make one forget all about bodily deformity or a homely face. A lady, who, while yet a. young and fastidious girl, chanced to meet with an old woman whom she at first believed to be the very ugliest. in the world as to form and features, thus spoke of the event years afterwards: "I look back with delight. to the impression made on me. She not only pleased, she charmed me, as many a beautiful one has failed to do. Her low, cultivated voice; the sympathetic and gentle manner with which she occupied herself with me, a passing stranger; the word or two fitly spoken' of the serene joy in Christ, stay by me, and have returned again and again." A recent sensible writer says:
" What is the use of being homely, girls, when you. can all be beautiful just as well as not ? If you have-the white light of the. soul within, it will shine through the muddiest complexions and the thickcst swarms of freckles. It can re-shape snub-noses and wry mouths;. it can burnish red hair until it shines like gold; it can transform anyone into an angel of delight. In other words, the loveliness of a pure spirit imparts its charm to everything connected with it.
" As a rule, the prettiest girls lack ambition, for they depend largely upon their good looks to carry them along. We all have heard. such remarks as: She would be a very pretty girl if she only knew something,' and ' She is really a beautiful girl to look at, but when she opens her mouth-my!' On the other hand, happily, we often hear people say of a middle-aged woman: She looks so much better than she did when a girl.' That is because she has been cultivating the intelligent part of herself all these years.
" Ask the teachers in the schools who are the best scholars, and they will point out the plain ones, who,. knowing they could not count upon personal attractions, sought their charms at a higher source. It is believed that Michael Angelo's broken nose did much to stimulate his genius. The eminent women of our day are not noted for beauty, and the newspaper reporter-makes much of it when he finds one having an ordinary share of good looks.
" The world is laughing yet at Pompey's soldiers, who. fled in terror when Caesar's rough fellows struck at their handsome faces. Do we not miss nobler victories every day on the battleground of the heart because we have the same kind of vanity?"
What is true beauty? Shakspeare says:
" In nature there's no blemish but the mind;
" What is beauty? Not the show
The faces of some people are an inspiration and benediction.
One has gone so far as to declare that every trait of Beauty may be referred to some virtue, as to innocence, candor, generosity, modesty, and heroism. It has been said that Beauty lives with Kindness. While a pleasing face and comely person are desirable, yet there are better things in this world than good looks. A thoroughly good character is covered all over with charms. The real, irresistible charms of woman are not her outward beauty, or good looks, or ornaments, but her modesty, innocence, and unaffected virtue-all of which are heart adornments. A blush on the cheek of modesty is always beautiful. That one is not above suspicion who can stand a stain on the heart without a blush on the face. Is not modesty more attractive than a handsome face and form? Humility and lowly deportment are always beautiful. Was there not some-thing beautiful in Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning of Him to be meek and lowly? Be fall of grace, if you would be graceful. Beauty without grace is a violet without fragrance.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll, Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul."
A bride may have a beauty beyond all her natural grace and lovely attire. In choosing a companion for life, one needs to beware of false charms and artificial beauty; but there may be real physical beauty without moral attractiveness - a sound and symmetrical character.
One who marries for beauty alone without reference to character and disposition is as foolish as the man who ate a bird because it sang so sweetly. To marry only for beauty is to please the eye and plague the heart.. Marriage sometimes means bliss, and sometimes blister. If you marry in haste you will repent at your leisure. Once, at least, in life the head must look after the heart. Love is blind, and the wisest are then apt to lose their wits.
Some women, beautiful in person, are yet too shrewd with their tongue ever to get a good husband. It is due to say right here that if some women have long tongues, some men know too well how to set them going. No woman can be called truly beautiful who is not refined and dainty in speech as well as in dress. A young lady loses largely her attractions when she is heard using uncouth and slang words and useless bye-words.