Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 11/The windows of the soul

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
2894673Once a Week, Series 1, Volume XI — The windows of the soul
1864Thomas Ballantyne

Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/359 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/360 is quite as bad as the reckless, roving expression of the eye which marks the American. The right course is to look the person with whom you are conversing full in the face; showing neither unmanly timidity, nor undue boldness. That artificial and demure look which Lord Bacon calls "a point of cunning," is the usual mark of a Jesuit, but it is not confined to the disciples of Loyola. Now and then we encounter a face of this description, where the cunning expression has been produced by other causes. "The greatest hypocrite I ever knew," says Hlaizt,t "was a little demure, pretty, modest-looking girl, with eyes timidly cast upon the ground, and an air soft as enchantment. The only circumstance that could lead to a suspicion of her true character was a cold, sullen, watery, glazed look about the eyes, which she bent on vacancy, as if determined to avoid all explanation with yours. I might have spied in their glittering, motion less surface, the rocks and quicksands that awaited below." This, however, is only a one-sided view of the affair. What would the "little, demure, pretty, modest-looking girl" have said about the expression of Hazlitt's own eyes? Had she been able to express her feelings in as fine words as he used, we might have had as repulsive a picture of him as he has drawn of her. Fatmore tells us that Hazlitt's eyes were neither fine nor brilliant; and as for expression, "there was a furtive and, at times, a sinister look about them, as they glanced suspiciously from under their overhanging brows, that conveyed a very unpleasant impression to those that did not know him. And they were seldom directed frankly and fairly towards you, as if he were afraid that you might read in them what was passing in his mind concerning you." Who can wonder that the "modest-looking girl" should have felt afraid to look him frankly in the face?

Hazlitt ought to have remembered the fundamental law which reigns through all physiognomical relations, that like begets like. If your eyes wear a habitually suspicious or jealous expression, you may be sure that they will call forth a corresponding look in the eyes of most people with whom you come in contact. On the other hand, if your eyes have an open, frank, and cheerful expression, as if a good-natured soul were looking out of the window, you will find most people responding to your hearty greeting in the same pleasant ocular dialect. Marvellous also is the power which one soul exercises over another through the eyes, in imparting whatever passion or feeling predominates at the moment. This is certainly one of the greatest mysteries of our dual nature, but it is one to which we shall obtain the key when we have acquired that high degree in self-knowledge which enables us, really and truly, to "see oursel's as ithers see us."

Solomon warns us against familiarity with "him that hath an evil eye; for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." The double-minded man cannot help showing his real nature in the language of his eye. "Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee." Singleness of heart is equally visible in frankness of ocular expression. "My eye no sooner fixed upon his," says John Dunton, "but through that perspective I could see the inward virtue of his soul, which immediately produced a veneration in my breast, and I soon found our hearts beat time to one another." How much of our enjoyment in social intercourse arises from such sympathy is well expressed by Emerson. "Vain and forgotten are all the fine offers and offices of hospitality, if there is no holiday in the eye. How many furtive inclinations are avowed by the eye, though dissembled by the lips. A man comes away from a company in which, it may easily happen, he has said nothing, and no important remark has been addressed to him, and yet, if in sympathy with the society, he shall not have a sense of this fact, such a stream of life has been flowing into him, and out from him, through the eyes." Nor is this enjoyment altogether owing to the felicitous temper of the individual himself. The company of sympathetic souls has the effect of a powerful cordial upon a sinking heart. It soon raises it up to a higher level; and this all the more effectually from the unconscious nature of its operation. When we see "holiday in the eye," we do not need to care much about what the tongue says.

T. Ballaxtyne.




Nigh the church two men are standing,
Each in scarlet mantle shrouded,—
One the king, with brow o'erclouded,
And the headsman is the other.

To the headsman speaks the monarch,
"When the priests have ceased their chanting,
Ceased the chant, the bridal ending,
Keep, oh! keep thy good axe ready."

Bells ring out, deep swells the organ,
Out of church the throng is streaming,
Bridal train of festive seeming—
In the midst the bride and bridegroom.