To the Chinook " the ideal of facial beauty is a straight line from the tip of the nose to the crown of the head;"1 and while the darling little American girl despises a snub-nose, softening the harshness of the Anglo-Saxon term with the French euphemism, retrousse, the African maiden ridicules the " tomahawk noses" of her white sisters, as she smiles complacently upon the reflection of her own broad, flat proboscis in the stream.
The Tahitian women frequently remarked to Mr. Williams—"what a pity it is that English mothers pull their children's noses out so frightfully long, when they are young I"1 And the Chinese women of the northern portion of the empire, according to Pallas,3 are much preferred to those of the Manchu type, who have broad noses and enormous ears.
However various the races of mankind, the standards of beauty will be found equally varied. "To our honest Fleming," says Bombet,* "who has never studied design, the forms of Rubens's women are the most beautiful in the world. Let not us, who admire slenderness of form above everything else, and to whom the figures even of Raphael's women appear rather massive, be too ready to laugh at him. If we would consider the matter closely, it would appear that each individual, and consequently each nation, has a separate idea of beauty."
If there be an abstract beauty, as some claim, although most deny, as civilization tends to perpetuate and refine whatever is best in nature, it would seem only natural to look for it among those peoples with whom civilization has been carried to greatest perfection. This would take us naturally to either the great Turanian races of the East, or the Caucasians of the West; and it will require little argument to prove that among these, as a matter of fact, are found the greatest graces and attractiveness of person, as well as those physical features which are the most universally pleasing.
In considering the question of female beauty, and the influence it naturally exerts upon sexual selection in man, it is manifestly right that we should confine our inquiries to those types which are recognized as truly beautiful by considerable groups of people, and entirely apart from individual differences of taste and opinion. Mr. Spencer has claimed,1 and with much philosophical reason, that "mental and facial perfections are fundamentally connected;" the aspects of the latter which most charm us being the external correlations, or reflections, of those spiritual perfections which constitute the inward beauty of the soul.
Bad persons, whatever their grace or regularity of form or features, and however the "beautiful she-devil" may have been exploited in fiction, are rarely beautiful in the true sense of the term; that beauty being, as defined by dictionaries, "such a quality or assemblage of qualities in an object as gives the eye intense pleasure," it follows that its power of agreeability must be materially lessened by those ideas of association which render it repugnant to the moral sense. Thus many women are beautiful in the ordinary acceptation of the term, perfect in the regularity, and classic in the contour of their features; and yet fall far below the exquisite and sublime beauty of Raphael's Madonnas. To attain this, those outward and visible properties of the human organism, which are most agreeable to us by reason of custom, or education, must be irradiated by an equally pleasing soul-light from within; otherwise they would be but as one of those old cathedrals of Europe, glorious in design, reflecting the sublime skill of the architect, and its walls breathing with the trophies of imperishable art, but with shrouded windows, and with no light on its altar. To be physically handsome a person must approach the physical type of his or her sex; but to be aesthetically beautiful requires, in addition, not only the reflected charm of moral goodness, but that intangible something which we call intelligence speaking in the countenance.
The Kaffirs and Hottentots are charmed with the long pendant breasts of their women, which are sometimes so monstrously lengthened as to be thrown over the shoulder to accommodate the child in suckling, when it is carried on the back;' while we admire the round, firm, protuberant breasts of lesser development, quale decus tumidis Pario de marmore mammis.
Mr. Reade tells us that the native girls of Gaboon, by stretching and pulling, "strive to emulate the pendant beauties of their seniors;" a result which would strike horror to the heart of an American society woman, and which is little agreeable to the white races generally.