But, just as a man who has carelessly allowed a fortune to slip through his fingers cannot reasonably hope to acquire another at middle age, neither can a woman hope to be beautiful again, once she has put down the habit of beauty, and ceased to expand her mind. The milkmaid who said, " My face is my fortune," spoke more truthfully than her creator perhaps intended; and a fortune not cared for and put out to interest must needs diminish with time.
To use another metaphor, every person's vitality has a high-water mark, which it seldom touches in the ordinary way. It can be forced there without apparent harmful after-effects when one is young, but in the third age of beauty a constant low ebb has to be endured in consequence. If a young woman keeps her thoughts in the present, and keeps them superficial, she must become egotistical and narrow-minded, and then wakens up one morning to find herself old and without an audience for her tiresome talk. No art or device will hide this kind of age, and at forty she is old and yet immature, an object of pity, clinging to muslins, curls, and blue ribbons, to the past and to "kittenish" ways.
You remember that when "in her prime" - a phrase used by this type of woman- she had a horror of old age, and belonged to that same genus of beauty who poisoned herself when she found wrinkles on her face and grey in her hair. This type of woman, by refusing to acknowledge the possibilities of the third age (from forty onwards), commits the kind of suicide meant in the saying "a pretty woman dies twice."
Another type of woman who dies her beauty-death in the second age is the married woman who is not selfish enough. She becomes " domesticated," and she says that now she "lives for her children." Youth does not leave this woman - she deliberately drives it away, forgetting that youth will only appeal to youth. When the time comes for her to be living in the full beauty of her third age she finds herself "on the shelf," and the young people leaving her out of their discussions. If she sees then some wiser woman, who has carried forward her accomplishments, her thoughts, and her ideas, monopolising her place, she will indeed be miserable. Never rule out any good thing of life, because if it is really good it will be good all the time, and will only mellow and ripen with keeping.
It does seem a hard thing to say, but the too-unselfish woman often hands the prizes of life to her more selfish sister, who has never forgotten herself so far as to go bankrupt of youth and vitality. But as it takes all sorts to make a world, this is also true of a family; and the domesticated woman who does not want to be old at forty should remember one or two things : Extremes meet. It is possible to be selfish in extreme unselfishness, and children who are not taught to give to mother as well as take from her are being badly educated. Then, the demand of a family is life-long, though it may take different forms. In essence, however, it is always the same - a demand upon the mother's vitality and sympathies; and to meet this demand a woman needs to provide and conserve during the second age, so that the third shall have its own share of youth, beauty, and interests.
There is more than this to be done, but it may be best revealed in the study of some woman who has reigned as a beauty not only in the second but to the full extent of the third age. It is in later years that she will evidence her work done in her best years.
The third age is really the "proving of the pudding," for after forty the main points of the life cannot be very much altered, though there are many exceptions to this rule. Can these theories, put into practice, enable a woman to be young at fifty ? For answer, compare the woman of to-day - the woman with a widened outlook - with the woman of a hundred years ago.
1 t and beauty as they did to three-volume novels - when the sound of the wedding-bells has ceased. Many problems leap up for discussion at this juncture, but to follow our single thread of beauty culture, it is seen that the woman without household responsibilities has more outdoor exercise, can be more selfish, pays more attention to her meals, and much more attention to her mind. A woman cannot be said to reach the fulfilment of her beauty till she is thirty. Before this she may be beautiful or pretty; at thirty she should begin to be fascinating. Helen of Troy was forty when she commenced to make history; Cleopatra was over thirty when she met Antony; Mdlle. Mars was most beautiful at forty-five; and Madame de Maintenon was forty-three when she married Louis XIV.
"Beauty," in its narrowest sense, is a negligible quantity; it lies " in the eye of the beholder." As an illustration of this there is Canova's famous Venus, to create which he had to use the combined beauty of twenty-two beautiful models, one contributing an arm, another the nose, and a third the eyebrows. And yet this Venus has her critics. This, of course, because she is only cold marble. One of the twenty-two models, provided she had fascination, would have more influence in the world than a Venus. It is conceded, then, that physical beauty alone has little fascination, though it is valuable as an attractive casket for some jewel.
The women who have been celebrated for beauty have not aimed at this kind of celebrity. They have almost invariably desired power. There is not a reasonable woman alive who does not desire some power, some influence, and rightly so, since she was created to influence.
But the clever ones have always clothed a firm hand in a velvet glove, and have known that physical beauty, good gift as it is, though it will attract, will not hold. We then find them using their beauty for some definite purpose, and none know better the value of reservation, the avoidance, of any frittering of the vitality upon occasions and people that - from their particular point of view - did not matter. Some ambition, some compelling motive, keeps the mind ever on the alert, calls out latent powers, and bids for development when lesser souls are content to be middle-aged. The personality here begins to be fascinating. But there must be much more; and I think a study of the matter reveals the fact that "love of life" is the greatest factor in fascination.
Such women as Cleopatra and Mdlle. Mars "lived." It was as though their characters were many-phased, though a deeper study would show mirrors on the facets of their diamond. But whether they sympathised really, or gave back flattering reflections to the onlooker, they had the credit of "understanding." The highest tribute a man can pay a woman is to say that "she -under-stands." Any woman can understand many men if she develops her powers. Probably no man can read any woman in this way; this is why it would be absurd to speak of " a fascinating man."
We never find the supreme artists of fascination unveiling their art. Theirs was the art concealing art, and the fascinating woman keeps her brow serene though her thoughts are in a ferment, and always the appearance makes first appeal to the beholder. Another factor, then, is reticence. If ever the queens of beauty stooped from the eminence to which they had climbed-observe it is not said "had been placed*"- they stooped to conquer. Power is self-poise and self-reliance; lose these, and power goes. Alas! they are hard to keep, for in the scramble of life, its temptations and its illusions, the poise is attacked on every side. Let the "nobly planned" woman deviate ever so little from the path ruled by hygiene and wisdom, and, pro rata, she loses her power " to warn, to comfort, and command."
This brings us to the factor of fascination which is most uncertain, most potent, and yet most destroying.
It is love.
Love in any of its phases brightens the eye, gives a glow of youth to the appearance, and banishes many cobwebs of age. All fascinating women are always in love with love all the time, and many never materialise their ideal, although they may give the appearance of having done so.
It is this which gives the magnetism to the personality. This being an article on beauty, it is only necessary to note how-great a part Love has played in the history of great beauties. But this factor of fascination is, as has been said, an uncertain one; it is a magnetic current running high and running low; and so it has happened that, running low, all other gifts have been frantically sacrificed. The magnetic power goes; the light lit for one who cares nothing is put out; and,r behold ! the woman is old, because she is not able to love again.
There is a love which gives serenity to beauty, and, properly exercised, keeps the brow unwrinkled and the eyes young. This is the love for children. Then the sympathies keep young, and the heart is softened. It has been noticed often how people who are much with children, sharing whole-heartedly in their joys and sorrows, keep young and good-looking into the years. Though such beauty lacks fire, it has its own fascination.
For every woman there is her own ideal, or, if you like, her personality idealised.
Every woman knows her ideal. If throughout all her conscious years she follows it, she materialises some of its beauty into all her three ages, especially the last. To be continued.
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