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In the beautiful, man sets himself up as the standard of perfection; in select cases he worships himself in it. Man believes that the world itself is filled with beauty --he forgets that it is he who has created it. He alone has bestowed beauty upon the world --alas! only a very human, an all too human, beauty.
Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naivete rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man -- the domain of aesthetic judgment is therewith defined.
The criterion of true beauty is that it increases on examination; if false, that it lessens. There is therefore, something in true beauty that corresponds with right reason, and is not the mere creation of fancy.
Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due -- she reminds us too much of a prima donna.
Beauty is a form of genius -- is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.
If either man or woman would realize that the full power of personal beauty, it must be by cherishing noble thoughts and hopes and purposes; by having something to do and something to live for that is worthy of humanity, and which, by expanding and symmetry to the body which contains it.
We know only that we are living in these bodies and have a vague idea, because we have heard it, and because our faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are, those are things which seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty.
Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good; a shining gloss that fadeth suddenly; a flower that dies when it begins to bud; a doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower, lost, faded, broken, dead within an hour. -