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Is Beauty a Blessing?

by Anna Katharine Green

Of the beautiful women I have known, but few have attained superiority of any kind. In marriage they have frequently made failures; why, I do not know, unless the possession of great loveliness is incompatible with the possession of an equal amount of good judgment. So much is expected by the woman accustomed to admiration, that she plays and palters with her fate till the crooked stick is all that is left her. This we see exemplified again and again. While the earnest, lofty, sweet-smiling woman of the pale hair and doubtful line of nose, has, perhaps, one true lover whose worth she has time to recognize, an acknowledged beauty will find herself surrounded by a crowd of showy egotists whose admiration so dazes and bewilders her that she is sometimes tempted to bestow herself upon the most importunate one in order to end the unseemly struggle.

Then the incentive to education, and to the cultivation of one’s especial powers is lacking. Forgetting that the triumphs which have made a holiday of youth must lessen with the years, many a fair one neglects that training of the mind which gives to her who is poor in all else, an endless storehouse of wealth from which she can hope to produce treasures for her own delectation and that of those about her, long after the fitful bloom upon her handsome sister’s cheek has faded with the roses of departed summer.

Though the world can show instances here and there of women in whose dazzling glances genius and beauty struggle for equal recognition, are they not the exception proving the rule? To win without effort, and yet to ignore those victories for the sake of the more lasting and honorable ones which follow the attainment of excellence in any one thing, means character, and character added to loveliness gives us those rare specimens of womanly perfection which assure us that poetry and art are not solely in the minds of men, but exist here and there in an embodied form for the encouragement and delight of struggling human nature.