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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 43

Of Beauty.
1 VErtue is like a Rich Stone, best plaine set: And surely Vertue is best in a Body, that is comely, though not of Delicate Features: And that hath rather dignity of Presence, then Beauty of Aspect. Neither is it almost seene, that very Beautifull Persons, are otherwise of great Vertue; As if Nature, were rather Busie not to erre, then in labour, to produce Excellency. And therefore, they proue Accomplished, but not of great Spirit; And Study rather Behauiour, then Vertue. But this holds not alwaies; For Augustus Caæsar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip le Belle of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all High and Great Spirits; And yet the most Beautifull Men of their Times. In Beauty, that of Fauour, is more then that of Colour, And that of Decent and Gracious Motion, more then that of Fauour. That is the best Part of Beauty, which a Picture cannot expresse; No nor the first Sight of the Life. There is no Excell\-et Beauty, that hath not some Strangenesse in the Proportion. A Man cannot tell, whether Apelles, or Albert Durer, were the more Trifler: Whereof the one would make a Personage By Geometricall Proportions: The other, by taking the best Parts out of diuers Faces, to make one Excellent. Such Personages, I thinke, would please no Body, but the Painter, that made them. Not but I thinke a Painter, may make a better Face, then euer was; But he must doe it, by a kinde of Felicity, (As a Musician that maketh an excellent Ayre in Musicke) And not by Rule. A Man shall see Faces, that if you examine them, Part by Part, you shall finde neuer a good; And yet all together doe well. If it be true, that the Principall Part of Beauty, is in decent Motion, certainly it is no maruaile, though Persons in Yeares, seeme many times more Amiable; Pulchrorum Autumnus pulcher: For no Youth can be comely, but by Pardon, and considering the Youth, as to make vp the comelinesse. Beauty is as Summer-Fruits, which are easie to corrupt, and cannot last: And, for the most part, it makes a dissolute Youth, and an Age a little out of countenance: But yet certainly againe, if it light well, it maketh Vertues shine, and Vices blush.

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