The Woman Who Charms…
Is it the handsome woman? Yes, sometimes, but not always. Beauty is always attractive, but the handsome woman has the same advantage only that the handsome man possesses – she draws attention to herself at once. If she has nothing but her beauty to rely upon, she does not hold the attention.
It was Balzac who reminded us of the fact that nearly all of the most celebrated attachments in history were inspired by women in whom there were noticeable physical defects. Mme. de Pompadour, Joanna of Naples, Cleopatra, La Valliere – in fact, almost all the women whom a romantic love has invested with a halo of interest – were not without imperfections and even infirmities, while nearly all the women whose beauty is described to us as perfect, have been finally unhappy in their loves.
It frequently happens that the beauty makes the mistake of expecting to be entertained by her admirers, and does not exert herself to please. The plain girl, however, is often superior in tact, for being obliged to study human nature closely in order to get the most out of companionship, she learns to depend upon this knowledge in her efforts to please. She is not dazzled by admiration, nor is she unduly confident when she obtains it that she will retain it.
Mme. Hading, who is a strikingly handsome woman, and, therefore, can discuss beauty without falling under suspicion, once said:
“A woman is very unfortunate who has nothing but beauty to insure her success. There are other things superior to beauty. Taste, good taste, brains, tact, health, those are the things a woman must have to hold people. And then there are good manners – so rare and yet so easily cultivated. To be refined, to be gentle, to be amiable, charitable in thought and in speech, to be intelligent, is to be charming, in spite of an unattractive body and an ugly face. To be well born is, indeed, to be blessed, but to rise above low birth is sublime. The greatest painter of the age could make only a caricature of a face for the Empress Josephine, and yet the sweetness of her smile and the charm of her pleasing and gracious ways immortalized her name. There are other ends to happiness than mere wealth; there are sweeter things in a woman’s face than beauty.”
— an excerpt from The Man Who Pleases and The Woman Who Charms (1904) by John Cone