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until it will well-nigh entice a bee; but who ever failed to discover a wig on the instant? Its nasty, hard scalp-line against the forehead gives a positive shock to any person possessing nervous susceptibility. Surely something might be done. Nothing can ever be expected, however, to come quite up to that beautiful setting on of the hair which nature shows us; for, as a writer in a former number of this Review says-and we may be allowed to add, says beautifully-because the pen is now well known to have been held by feminine fingers
It is the exquisite line along the roots of the hair-the graceful undulations of the shores of the head, thus given to sight, with which we are fascinated. Here the skin is invariably found finer, and the colour tenderer, than in any other part of the human face-like the smooth, pure sands, where the tide has just retired.' *
Again, art can never match even the colour of the hair to the complexion and the temperament of the individual. Did any one ever see a man with a head of hair of his own growing that did not suit him? On the other hand, was there ever seen a wig that seemed a part of the man? The infinite variety of Nature in managing the coiffure is unapproachable. One man's hair she tosses up in a sea of curls; another's she smoothes down to the meekness of a maid's; a third's she flames up, like a conflagration; a fourth's she seems to have crystallized, each hair thwarting and crossing its neighbour, like a mass of needles; to a fifth she imparts that sweet and graceful flow which F. Grant and all other feeling painters do their best to copy. In colour and texture, again, she is equally excellent; each flesh-tint has its agreeing shade and character of hair, which if a man departs from, he disguises himself. What a standing protest is the sandy whisker to the glossy black peruke! Again, how contradictory and withered a worn old face looks, whose shaggy white eyebrows are crowned by chestnut curling locks! It reminds us of a style of drawing in vogue with ladies some years since, in which a bright-coloured haymaker is seen at work in a cold, blacklead pencil landscape.
Of the modern beard and whisker we desire to write respectfully. A mutton chop seems to have suggested the form of the substantial British whisker. Out of this simple design countless varieties of forms have arisen. How have they arisen? Can any one give an account of his own whiskers from their birth upwards? To our mind there is nothing more mysterious than the growth of this manly appendage. Did any far-seeing youth deliberately design his own whisker? Was there ever known a hobbledehoy who saw 'a great future' in his silken down, and determined to train it in the way it should go? We think not. British whiskers, in truth, have grown up like all the great institutions of the country, noiselessly
See Essays by the Authoress of Letters from the Baltic, lately collected as Reading for the Rail.
and persistently--an outward expression, as the Germans would say, of the inner life of the people; the general idea allowing of infinite variety according to the individuality of the wearer. Let us take the next half-dozen men passing by the window as we write. The first has his whiskers tucked into the corners of his mouth, as though he were holding them up with his teeth. The second whisker that we descry has wandered into the middle of the cheek, and there stopped as though it did not know where to go to, like a youth who has ventured out into the middle of a ball-room with all eyes upon him. Yonder bunch of bristles (No. 3) twists the contrary way under the owner's ear: he could not for the life of him tell why it retrograded so. That fourth citizen with the vast Pacific of a face has little whiskers which seem to have stopped short after two inches of voyage, as though aghast at the prospect of having to double such a Cape Horn of a chin. We perceive coming a tremendous pair, running over the shirt-collar in luxuriant profusion. Yet we see as the colonel or general takes off his hat to that lady that he is quite bald-those whiskers are, in fact, nothing but a tremendous landslip from the veteran's head!
Even in Europe, some skins seem to have no power of producing hair at all. Dark, thick-complexioned people are frequently quite destitute of either beard or whisker, and Nature now and then, as if to restore the balance, produces a hairy woman. A charming example was exhibiting a short time since in town. The description she gives of herself in every particular we will not back, but here it is from the printed bill:
The public is most respectfully informed that Mad. FORTUNNE, one of the most curious phenomenons which ever appeared in Europe, has arrived in London, in the person of a young woman, 21 years of age, whose face, which is of an extraordinary whiteness, is surrounded by a beard as black as jet, about four inches in length. The beard is as thick and bushy as that of any man. The young lady is a native of Geneva, in Switzerland, and has received a most brilliant education. She speaks French fluently, and will answer all the questions that may be addressed to her. Her beard, which reaches from one eye to the other, perfectly encircles the face, forming the most surprising contrast, but without impairing its beauty. Her bust is most finely formed, and leaves not the least doubt as to her sex. She will approach all the persons who may honour her with their presence, and give an account of her origin and birth, and explain the motives which induced her to quit her country. Everybody will also be allowed to touch her beard, so as to be convinced that it is perfectly natural.'
The beard was certainly a most glorious specimen, and shamed any man's that we have ever seen.
Of the expression of hair-could we press for the nonce a quill from Esthonia-much might be well and edifyingly said.
The Greeks, with their usual subtilty in reading Nature, and interpreting her in their works of Art, have distinguished their gods by the variations of this excrescence. Thus the hair of the Phidian Jove in the Vatican, which rises in spouts as it were from the forehead, and then falls in wavy curls, is like the mane of the lion, most majestic and imperial in appearance. The crisp curls of Hercules again remind us of the short locks between the horns of the indomitable bull; whilst the hair of Neptune falls down wet and dank like his own seaweed. The beautiful flowing locks of Apollo, full and free, represent perpetual youth; and the gentle, vagrant, bewitching tresses of Venus denote most clearly her peculiar characteristics and claims as a divinity of Olympus. What gives the loose and wanton air to the portraits in Charles II.'s bedchamber at Hampton Court? Duchess and Countess sweep along the canvas with all the dignity that Lely could flatter them with; but on the disordered curls and the forehead fringed with love-locks Cyprian is plainly written. Even Nell Gwyn, retired into the deep shade of the alcove, beckons us with her sweet soft redundance of ringlets. But too well woman knows the power Venus has endowed her with in this silken lasso:— 'Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,
And beauty draws us with a single hair.'
In the rougher sex the temper and disposition are more apparent from the set of the hair than in woman, because, as already observed, they allow it to follow more the arrangement of nature. Curly hair bespeaks the sanguine temperament, lank hair the phlegmatic. Poets for the most part, we believe, have had curly hair-though our own age has exhibited some notable exceptions to the rule. Physiology has not yet decided upon what the curl is dependent, but we feel satisfied it arises from a flattening of one side of the hair more than the other.
So well do people understand the character as expressed by the hair and its management, that it is used as a kind of index. Commercial ideas are very fexact respecting it. What chance would a gentleman with a moustache have of getting a situation in a bank? Even too much whisker is looked upon with suspicion. A clean shave is usually, as the world goes, expected in persons aspiring to any post of serious trust. We confess that few montrosities in this line affect us more dismally than the combination of dandy favoris with the, however reduced, perúke of Brother Briefless or Brother Hardup. It is needless to add that anything like hirsute luxuriance about a sacerdotal physiognomy is offensive to every orthodox admirer of the via mediato all the Anglican community, it is probable, excepting some inveterate embroideresses of red and blue altar-cloths and tall curates' slippers.
ART. III.-1. An Inquiry into the Person and Age of the long-lived Countess of Desmond. By Hon. Horace Walpole. Strawberry Hill, 1758.
2. Historic Doubts as to the Character and Person of Richard III. 1767.
3. Letter from Mr. Meyrick. MS. 1775.
4. Notes and Queries. Vols. iv.-v. 1851-2.
ORACE WALPOLE, while engaged in investigating the
documents concerning Richard the Third, preparatory to his Historic Doubts, found that one important fragment of evidence depended solely on the traditional testimony of an apocryphal witness. He had 'often heard that the aged Lady Desmond lived to 162 or 163 years' and a story was current in some noble families that she had danced with Richard III., and always affirmed he was the handsomest man in the room, except his brother Edward, and was very well made.' A certain Sir Walter St. John and a certain 'old Lady Dacre' were said to have conversed with our ultra-venerable Countess, and, from her oral declaration, to have handed down this judicium-in refutation of the spretæ injuria forma of the calumniated prince-through 'old Lord St. John,' his sister, Mrs. Cholmondeley, and a host of their posterity. Such a description of evidence, though inadmissible at the bar of a legal tribunal, might be brought forward in a High Court of Literature, before which the ingenious advocate was about to plead for the defendant in the cause of Lancastrian Historians v. Richard Plantagenet. Yet the learned counsel saw that, before he could expect the hearsay of these witnesses to be received, it would be requisite to identify the principal one. Little credit was likely to be attached to the garrulities of such elderly ladies and gentlemen, the remotest of whom was an almost fabulous personage, a myth, a 'Mrs. Harris' of the middle ages. The longevity ascribed to her was not less open to scepticism than the singular opinion she was quoted for as to the symmetry of a prince known in nursery tales as Crook-backed Richard. Did this Irish phenomenon-who lived so longever exist at all? And how came she at a court ball in London under Edward IV.? Accordingly, the lord of Strawberry Hill commenced an Inquiry into the Person and Age of the long-lived Countess of Desmond;' and, although he at first confounded another who bore that title with the veritable object of his investigation, he arrived at a correct conclusion as to her identity :—and in short ought to have for ever set at rest the controversial question, still agitated in that occasionally useful resuscitant of dead knowledge yclept Notes and Queries-the antiquary's
antiquary's news-paper. Walpole's starting mistake is hardly worth adverting to now, further than that it is amusing to see the gay manner in which so agreeable a writer unravels a somewhat dull antiquarian entanglement. He says:
Having a few years ago had a curiosity to inform myself of the particulars of the life of the very aged Countess of Desmond, I was much surprised to find no certain account of so extraordinary a person: neither exactly how long she lived, nor even who she was; the few circumstances related of her depending on mere tradition.'
By and bye he received a distinct statement that she was buried at Sligo; and, on further inquiry, an inscription in that Irish Abbey certainly indicated that a lady of the designation had been interred there. Walpole applied to a friend in the neighbourhood to proeure a copy of it. The gentleman written to was the O'Conor Don,' already supposed to be well versed in the antiquities of his nation, and still mentioned with general respect as the venerable Charles O'Conor.' A chieftain of that regal race had been the second husband of the entombed Countess, and the monument, which set forth his titles and emblazonments, was commonly called O'Conor's tomb.' The representative of the Kings of Connaught eagerly deciphered the almost obliterated epitaph, acting the part of Old Mortality for, as he declares, many hours on a high ladder, it costing much time to clear the letters.' He also traced the figures sculptured on the tablets-the effigies of O'Conor, clad in armour, with his helmet by his side, and of Eleanora, Comitissa Desmonia, with her coronet and coat of arms-those of Butler impaled with Fitzgerald and O'Conor. But, by the inscription, the memorial had been erected by the lady herself, in 1624, on the death of her second husband; and, on referring to a recent Peerage-book, it appeared that, having bequeathed the sum of 3007. for the building of a chapel and the completion of this monument, she died so late as 1636. Could she be identical with a dame whose dancing days were so remote as to imply an interval in life of more than a century and a half? After due reflexion, Walpole, in an elaborate letter, declared he doubted whether Eleanor of Sligo could be the Desmonian Countess reported to have reached such an immense age.
Before entering into these doubts, a sketch may be given of the fortunes of this Sligo claimant, in illustration of the downfal of the house of Desmond, and of the history of its dowagers.
Eleanor Butler, the Sligo lady, was second wife to Garrett, the 16th Earl of Desmond-head of that great second branch of the Irish Geraldines which for a long period fully equalled the renown and influence of the elder line of Offally, Kildare, and