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And we may take one specimen from innumerable others in the Greek Anthology:
Archer Love, though slily creeping,
Well I know where thou dost lie;
The moderns have dallied with similar conceits till they have become so frivolous and threadbare as to be now pretty nearly abandoned to the inditers of Valentines, and the manufacturers of Vauxhall songs.
The old French author Bretonnayau, not content with lamenting, like Milton, that so precious an organ as the eye should have been so limited and vulnerable, considers it, in his "Fabrique de l'Eil," as a bodily sun possessing powers analogous to the solar orb, and treats it altogether as a sublime mystery and celestial symbol. A short extract may shew the profundity of his numerical and astronomical views:
"D'un de trois-et de sept, à Dieu agréable,
Les sept guimples luisans qui son rondeau contournent, Ce sont les sept errans, qui au grand monde tournent, Car le blanc qui recouvre et raffermit nos yeux, Nous figure Saturne entre ces petits creux," &c. &c. And yet all this mysticism is scarcely more extravagant than the power of witchcraft or fascination which was supposed to reside in the eyes, and obtained implicit credence in the past ages. This infection, whether malignant or amorous, was generally supposed to be conveyed in a slanting regard, such as
that "jealous leer malign," with which Satan contemplated the happiness of our first parents.
"Non istic obliquo oculo mea commoda quisquam
Limat, non odio obscuro, morsuque venenat,"
says Horace; and Virgil makes the shepherd exclaim, in his third eclogue,
"Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos."
Basilisks, cockatrices, and certain serpents, were fabled not only to have the power of bewitching the birds from the air, but of killing men with a look-a mode of destruction which is now limited to the exaggerations of those modern fabulists yclept poets and lovers.
Every difference of shape is found in this variform organ, from the majestic round orb of Homer's oxeyed Juno, to that thin slit from which the vision of a Chinese lazily oozes forth; but in this, as in other instances, the happy medium is nearest to the line of beauty. If there be any deviation, it should be towards the full rotund eye, which, although it be apt to convey an expression of staring hauteur, is still susceptible of great dignity and beauty; while the contrary tendency approximates continually towards the mean and the suspicious.
As there is no standard of beauty, there is no pronouncing decisively upon the question of colour. The ancient classical writers assigned to Minerva, and other of the deities, eyes of heaven's own azure as more appropriate and celestial. Among the early Italian writers, the beauties were generally blondes,
being probably considered the most estimable on account of their rarity; and Tasso, describing the blue eyes of Armida, says with great elegance, "Within her humid melting eyes
A brilliant ray of laughter lies,
That trembles in the azure stream."
Our own writer Collins, speaking of the Circassians, eulogises" Their eyes' blue languish, and their golden hair," with more beauty of language than fidelity as to fact; but our poets in general give the palm to that which is least common among ourselves, and are accordingly enraptured with brunettes and dark eyes. When Shakspeare bestowed green eyes upon the monster Jealousy, he was not probably aware that about the time of the Crusades there was a prodigious passion for orbs of this hue. Thiebault, king of Navarre, depicting a beautiful shepherdess in one of his songs, says,
"La Pastore est bele et avenant,
which phrase, however, has been conjectured to mean hazle; an interpretation which will allow me to join issue with his Majesty, and approve his taste. But taste itself is so fluctuating, that we may live to see the red eye of the Albinos immortalised in verse, or that species of plaid recorded by Dryden
"The balls of his broad eyes roll'd in his head,
And glared betwixt a yellow and red."
For my own part, I decidedly prefer the hue of
that which is now bent upon the page, for I hold that an indulgent eye, like a good horse, cannot be of a bad colour.
My paper would be incomplete without a word or two upon eyebrows, which, it is to be observed, are peculiar to man, and were intended, according to the physiologists, to prevent particles of dust or perspiration from rolling into the eye. Nothing appears to me more impertinent than the fancied penetration of these human moles, who are for ever attributing imaginary intentions to inscrutable Nature; nor more shallow and pedlar-like than their resolving every thing into a use; as if they could not see, in the gay colours and delicious perfumes, and mingled melodies lavished upon the earth, sufficient evidence that the beneficent Creator was not satisfied with mere utility, but combined with it a profusion of gratuitous beauty and delight. I dare say that they would rather find a use for the coloured eyes of Argus in the peacock's tail, than admit that the human eyebrows could have been bestowed for mere ornament and expression. Yet they have been deemed the leading indices of various passions. Homer makes them the seat of majesty-Virgil of dejection-Horace of modesty—Juvenal of pride-and we ourselves consider them such intelligible exponents of scorn and haughtiness, that we have adopted from them our word supercilious. In lively faces they have a language of their own, and can aptly represent all the sentiments and passions of the mind, even when they are purposely repressed in the eye. By the workings of the line just above a
lady's eyebrows, much may be discovered that could never be read in the face; and by this means I am enabled to detect in the looks of my fair readers such a decided objection to any farther inquisition into their secret thoughts, that I deem it prudent to exclaim, in the language of Oberon-" Lady, I kiss thine eye, and so good night."
THE LAWYER AND THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER.
A ROGUISH Old Lawyer was planning new sin,
When a Chimney-sweep's boy, who had made a mistake,
My master's a-coming to give you a brush.”
"If that be the case," said the cunning old elf,
"There's no moment to lose-it is high time to flee;
So he limp'd to the door without saying his prayers;