Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Thomas Jefferson - The Aristocracy of Beauty

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson,
November 15, 1813.

A daughter of a greengrocer walks the streets in London daily with a basket of cabbage sprouts, dandelions, and spinach on her head. She is observed by the painters to have a beautiful face, an elegant figure, a graceful step, and a debonairness. They hire her to sit. She complies, and is painted by forty artists in a circle around her. The scientific Dr. William Hamilton outbids the painters, sends her to school for a genteel education, and marries her. This lady not only causes the triumphs of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar but separates Naples from France and finally banishes the King and Queen from Sicily. Such is the aristocracy of the natural talent of beauty. Millions of examples might be quoted from history, sacred and profane, from Eve, Hannah, Deborah, Susanna, Abigail, Judith, Ruth, down to Helen, Mrs. de Mainbenor, and Mrs. Fitzherbert. For mercy's sake, do not compel me to look to our chaste states and territories to find women, one of whom let go would, in the words of Holofernes' guards, deceive the whole earth....

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