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It Is Foolish To Wish For Beauty ...

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I found this quote in my files tonight, thought I'd share it
It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior. So said the teachers of our childhood; and so say we to the children of the present day. All very judicious and proper, no doubt; but are such assertions supported by actual experience?
We are naturally disposed to love what gives us pleasure, and what more pleasing than a beautiful face—when we know no harm of the possessor at least? A little girl loves her bird—Why? Because it lives and feels; because it is helpless and harmless? A toad, likewise, lives and feels, and is equally helpless and harmless; but though she would not hurt a toad, she cannot love it like the bird, with its graceful form, soft feathers, and bright, speaking eyes. If a woman is fair and amiable, she is praised for both qualities, but especially the former, by the bulk of mankind: if, on the other hand, she is disagreeable in person and character, her plainness is commonly inveighed against as her greatest crime, because, to common observers, it gives the greatest offence; while, if she is plain and good, provided she is a person of retired manners and secluded life, no one ever knows of her goodness, except her immediate connections. Others, on the contrary, are disposed to form unfavourable opinions of her mind, and disposition, if it be but to excuse themselves for their instinctive dislike of one so unfavoured by nature; and visa versa with her whose angel form conceals a vicious heart, or sheds a false, deceitful charm over defects and foibles that would not be tolerated in another. They that have beauty, let them be thankful for it, and make a good use of it, like any other talent; they that have it not, let them console themselves, and do the best they can without it: certainly, though liable to be over-estimated, it is a gift of God, and not to be despised. Many will feel this who have felt that they could love, and whose hearts tell them that they are worthy to be loved again; while yet they are debarred, by the lack of this or some such seeming trifle, from giving and receiving that happiness they seem almost made to feel and to impart. As well might the humble glowworm despise that power of giving light without which the roving fly might pass her and repass her a thousand times, and never rest beside her: she might hear her winged darling buzzing over and around her; he vainly seeking her, she longing to be found, but with no power to make her presence known, no voice to call him, no wings to follow his flight;—the fly must seek another mate, the worm must live and die alone.

Updated 03-15-2015 at 02:25 PM by farnoosh



  1. NikolaiI's Avatar
    Agreed with most all of this, and a lot of the same things can be said about money and power to a certain extent.

    Then again our ideas of beauty are quite subjective. All life is quite beatiful, when you spend time reflecting on how unique and precious it is. I think our definitions of human beauty, at least in common use, have strayed a little ways; it seems to make more sense to me to equate good health with beauty.

    Definitely it's interesting. . I do like how the quote mentions we learn these things in childhood - I remember my dad teaching me as well, some of these ideas. I always found it funny, that although he told me these things, he didn't fully believe them himself. Being the trusting soul that I was as a child, I took them to heart. It's one of the things that has made the most difference.

    The quote is quite poetical and beautiful itself - who is it by?
  2. farnoosh's Avatar
    I wish I knew. For all I know I could've just copy-pasted it from a magazine or something, years ago.
    Sadly, back then I didn't always document the original source location
  3. NikolaiI's Avatar
    I found it - from chapter 17 of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.
  4. farnoosh's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NikolaiI
    I found it - from chapter 17 of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.
    No way!!
    You've just made my day Nik. I love that book, haven't read it in 5 years I think. But the passages in that book meant a lot to me at the time. Now reading this one I've found, I think they still do. Guess some things don't change

    Thanks for finding it my friend!
  5. NikolaiI's Avatar
    That's wonderful to know.
    You are most welcome, farnoosh!