The Language of the Eye

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The Language of the Eye.

Joseph Turnley in 1856.jpg













My Lord,

I knew you to be a friend and lover of learning, and, therefore, I sought the honour of dedicating these pages to your Lordship. I beg to thank you for the permission, and may observe, another fact emboldened me to seek that favour,—viz., the circumstance of your Lordship being President of a Literary Society of which I have the honour of being Vice-President.

I have endeavoured to preserve the substance and spirit of the subject, and yet write in an untechnical manner; but you will not be surprised, that in this attempt I have met difficulties I have only partially surmounted.

Permit me to express my deep respect for your Lordship, and to subscribe myself,

Your Lordship's

Very obedient humble servant,


Manor House, Norwood.
13th Feb. 1856.



  1. Page
  2. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  3. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  4. Motion and Shape (with Illustration)
  5. Physiology of the Eye (with Illustration)
  6. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  7. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  8. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  9. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  10. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  11. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  12. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  13. Genius (with Illustration)
  14. Hope (with Illustration)
  15. Innocence; or, the Eastern Eye (with Illustration)
  16. Love (with Illustration)
  17. Sorrow (with Illustration)
  18. Imagination (with Illustration)
  19. Dignity (with Illustration)
  20. Resignation (with Illustration)
  21. Beauty (a Sketch)
  22. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

The Language of the Eye.





This world is a state of probation, in which, by the faithful exercise of the mind, we may gain a glance of some of the beauty of the world to come, of which things present have many similitudes fully distinguishable by the ingenuous philosopher, as evidences of some great truths. Perhaps there is no part of our nature so much engaged in detecting, evincing, and developing the beautiful as the eye. This is the guard ever waiting at the gates of the palace of the brain. This is the privileged officer, who is allowed to bear the important missions between the worlds of action and reflection. This organ is the faithful mirror which reflects the drama of time and things, for the information of the unseen divinities inhabiting materialism: its shape and action, its place and power, are all most interesting subjects of consideration, and shall have their share of our attention. We shall endeavour to pourtray some parts and powers of this mystic inlet to the brain; but who can say how the cattle on ten thousand hills, the varied hues of the myriad beauties of creation and art, are permitted to place their portraits and similitudes in the brain? by what devious path, and by means of what extatic velocity, do they appear there, giving place to each other with an order and rapidity far exceeding thought, or, perhaps, the meteoric light of heaven itself? Whence all this? The refinement which the mind attains, when occupied in the study of the laws of nature, may partly qualify its owner to appreciate in contemplation the varied habits, exercises, and employments of this wonderful organ. Its capacity and delicacy, its mobility, the peculiar softness of the nervous system which surrounds it, are altogether wonderful, and form part of the many exquisite alliances which aid in sustaining its ever-varying sensibilities and powers. This is of all the senses the most reflective and powerful; by its rapid agencies man principally acts and thinks, and through its channels pass influences more numerous than the sands of the sea-shore,—influences which are as sparks of eternal light shining amidst kindred glories. By the aid of this acute sense, man is enabled to act amidst the social throng with order and excellence; through its agencies his imagination is captivated, his affections secured, and an irresistible and seductive influence consummated over his will, his judgment, and every attribute of his nature. He yields without constraint even to the impulse of the moment, and seizes the exact time for observation, whether urged by accident or meditation. There is an acquisitiveness and a retention, an arrangement and a distributive ability, which create no confusion, and encounter no opposition. Through these portals fair Truth makes her first advance; timidly she peers in to regard the majestic regalia of the dominions of thought. Yes, that angel, Truth, enters, to whom distance is no hindrance; for she can fly on the wings of the morning or the trembling shadows of night. From the fringed windows of this haughty mansion may be seen the panorama of nature, the distant hills tinted by the gorgeous colours of Apollo's chariot.

The wan moon leads her glittering courtiers forth, to cast their dazzling glories on the painted windows of the palace of sight. Nor does the leaden hand of sleep subdue all the powers of this organ. Over its beauteous orbs, there falls a constant and unceasing stream of dewy moisture, to lubricate their action and preserve their brilliancy. No cuirass or golden helmet, lit up with morning's earliest rays, not even Orion, or great Arcturus, or the silver Pleiades, in all their glory, could vie with vision's light. This mystic presence of divinity has no parallel—exceeding all of nature and art. It is, therefore, important to endeavour to understand its nature and philosophy. Our inquiry will sometimes appear technical and narrow; yet we believe a close examination of any of the paths and habits of nature is most profitable, and the study of them will yield many proofs of the harmony of our nature with the economy of the physical world and our own happiness; that such investigations tend to create a love for order and virtue, and that destiny of which we are informed by revelation, and the noblest forms of philosophy. Casting aside the indifference which some are content to assume, let us delight in the investigation of those truths which refer to our own nature and its dependence on the laws of Providence.

Then the low world in measured motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear,
Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear.



Some of the most delightful sources of information and excitement may be traced to the influence of light and colour, both which are deeply connected with our subject, and claim some observations.

Light and colour have an inherent beauty appreciable by the senses, and we may regard the expression of their beauty as best communicated by a state of tension of radii or illumination, which is not so vivid and corruscating as to cause pain or distraction, but sufficiently golden and mellow to avert any fear of darkness or deep shadow; for, as the natural love of life and the consciousness of existence aid in the prolongation of life, so one of the primary elements of life is light; indeed, to render any object beautiful, it must communicate sentiments of pleasure to all the senses. The eye is pleased with means and images which promise pleasure to the touch, and the ear with sounds which indicate the approach of objects pleasing to the eye; and, when the qualities most pleasing to the senses are combined, they express the highest social affection, and compose an object of perfect beauty. There is a certain order and arrangement of shades or shadows, in which different blendings and modulations of the rays of light are said to fall on the eye from every object it sees, and which create those pleasing vibrations of the optic nerves which serve to inform the mind concerning shape, distance, and character of all objects in the material world. We often speak of such a colour being beautiful, when we only mean that a pleasing sensation has been produced by a correct combination of colours; perhaps, such feelings scarcely admit of argument: yet, we believe, some connection or mixture of colours is sometimes absolutely offensive to the nervous system, whilst others are pleasing and stimulating; for instance, a mass of red with bright blue lines drawn across it, is so offensive that the primary pain may be compared to the offences sometimes given to the palate. It is true some of this pain or pleasure may be traced to association, which sometimes becomes most intense and operative. We must stay here, as we are on the confines of metaphysics, and will avoid the snare. Nature needs no sophistry or flattery, but is ever ready to tender her loveliness and imperishable charms to the virtuous and worthy. Her golden and silver radiance, with her soothing company of shades and shadows, are ever presenting themselves for occupation and the delight of association. What would anger be without shade, or love without light, or hope without colour? what would all these be without the waving lines in motion adapted to the expression? The artificial would totally extinguish the light of true beauty, and hide its excellence with dyes, oils, and cosmetics; they fear to trust their figures and faces to kind Nature, lest she should curtail them of some of the features of beauty. To such, a voice has said,—Go, thou fool, ask the rivers and counsel with the sunbeams; look in the rampant cataract, listen to the whisper of the breeze, and watch the hills decked with morning light or noontide rays. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, ye of little faith?"

When the fair one is content to trust to Nature, she will be a bright monument of loveliness and beauty. Then will that raven hair hang as a dark cloud on the fair brow of morn, and her form shall move, her slender figure wave, like some light cypress when the merry winds carol midst the yielding boughs and wake young Echo from her noontide lair. Then shall light dart through the young eye-lash and steal away to melt in many a heart. Then will life be an impassioned dream of innocence and truth; the fairy foot shall press the earth as sighs of evening hour. Then shall the virgin hue and pleasant shade be loved, and light, that one apparition of divinity be adored; it shall appear to clothe the silver moon, the billows of the west in all their shadowy glory, and many a ray shall play in dimpled joy on crystal rivers' tide. Sweet light shall couch by flowery sapphire and blue violets, and dance with jocund joys where the white daisies tesselate the mead; then memory shall illuminate itself—turn out its store of images bright as at their creation; then shall the soul arrange its myriad hues of by-gone time; dwell over the glory of the spiritual scene, until, in extasy and grateful joy, a voice shall shout,—"How beautiful is Light."

The great authority on the doctrine of light and colour, was the renowned Claude de Loraine, who said the sky always graduates one way or the other, and that the rising or setting of the sun evinces the beautiful blending of colour beyond all other natural appearances. He observed that, in animated nature, the colours seen in the peacock's tail yield the painter's gamut. He also refers us to the three colours seen in flames of fire and the seven colours of the rainbow, as ever yielding sweet entertainment to the eye.

The colour which seems to realize most pleasure and satisfaction, is a certain mellow amber colour, as seen in a serene evening sky, which appears expressive of congenial warmth, and favourable to the cultivation of passion. Sunset is the medium between red, which implies the violence of heat, and blue, which expresses coldness. Dante's Inferno explains the horror of this blue light, which generally prevails when the features accumulate a greater degree of shade, and assume a gloomy expression.

In silence roaming round the world of woe,
Guided along by that malignant light,
That less than morning seem'd and more than night,—
Pale, gleaming from the frozen lake below.

Whilst gentle tones of colour dispose to the refined and delicate feelings; and some of the pleasures of life, and even the health of the body depend on the harmonious regulation of the light in which the body moves.

Miss Landon, in the Forget-me-Not, explains this light as seen in water:—

Long gazed the Countess on the lake,
And loved it for its beauty's sake.

Notwithstanding the enthusiastic endeavours of the ancient masters to exalt the characters of their deities far above human, they were only able to give them features with that contour of beauty which is ever developing itself, in a much higher and more animated degree, in the fashion and countenance of woman. The chief difficulty which the sculptor was ever encountering was in his effort to supply expression, which the light of the living eye can alone yield. The studio of the experienced painter would exhibit many efforts he once made to resist the great teacher of all art—viz., Nature; and, that at last, he discovered the expression of life, or rather its imitation, demanded that disposition of colours and shades which appear distinctly varied, but are yet meltingly united. But mighty Nature passes all rules of art, and presents lights and colours which defy imitation. How often has the sculptor sighed, when he has attempted to represent the organ of sight; he has hung over his excellent work, and sorrow has beclouded his intelligent face, whilst remarking the immeasurable distance between nature and the highest work of art. The life of the eye, and that veil of light in which all nature moves, cannot be imitated, nor its absence compensated. The loveliest country fails to charm until light and shade play over its bosom. The most perfect fair one of the daughters of Eve would be even an ungraceful object without the complexion which light and shade supply; indeed, if the skin of the darkest negro was entirely removed, he would not be less gracious to the eye than the finest form subjected to the same operation. We know one of the purest sources of beauty may be traced to the godliness of light and its ancillaries—shade and colour. Even slightly serated or rough parts on the face will intercept the effect of light and shade, thereby evincing how subtle and delicate is the influence. This reminds us of Mr. Dryden's epistle to Sir Godfrey Kneller, wherein he describes the light and shades of the human countenance; and, at the end of his incomparable letter, or essay on light, he says:—

Where light to shade descending, plays, not strives,
Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives.

When the mind is tranquil, and all the sweet sensibilities of our nature are awakened, we acknowledge the glory and indispensability of light: then we are followed by an enchantment, and the very spirit of loveliness seems to enfold us in its mystic charms. In how many paths does light in its greatness travel! it moves through spheres illimitable, attended by its wondrous train of radiances, shades, and colours. In the bosom of the dropping cloud, which heralds gentle Spring and veils the beauty of the hastening year amid ten thousand mirrors of pellucid light. It is sweet Spring! made glorious by the godliness of light, she rejoices in her new-born freedom, and bounds forth from the icy womb of nature decked with myriad spangles of light. Soon Summer comes, stepping in confidence, and hand in hand with many fair companions she proudly marches through wide fields of ether and unfolds her sunny wings of light, whilst the attendant hours paint every floweret's form with varied hues. Some as fairies in a sunbeam dance, and some in golden blushes smile; some pace a kingdom of fire, through which the fanning breezes play; some in the dark green grass overshade their rounded forms, and thus the graces all enfold this gift of God—the boon of light. Quickly is seen the russet robe which golden Autumn wears; it is broidered over with many a fervid light direct from Heaven's great palaces. It is the garment given by the Creator, and midst its course are burnished lamps or forms like diamonds shining, far as the eye can shoot around. Soon comes the sacred seer, cold Winter's form; he too is clad in light, and round him bend the trembling children of the forest in his pure livery clad, glistening like the eyes of love. His glassy palace, with parian domes, and silver spires, and alabaster "terrace high uplifted," shines with forms bright as the seraphim which leads him to eternity. Aladdin's cave yielding beneath the starried jewels of Eastern magnificence, would be but dreariness beside the glories of this one apparition of Divinity.

But what is the light of the lonely sea?

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glosses itself in tempests.

All time, all place, display their radiant being to declare the love of their Creator. The stars have left their ebon dome; the moon's unclouded grandeur is now spent; the eye-lids of the morn now ope. Yes:

Waked by the circling hours, with rosy hands
Unbars the gates of light.

Then merry day vaunts with gallant foot, and every step is streaked with the glory of light; the wild deer trips from snowy height by mountain's misty top to glassy font, and high impassioned joy fills all the world, whilst many a hymn of praise records the loveliness of light. Even the dying splendour of the sun which gilds the towering clouds, over which the hours have travelled long, show pyramids of light and towers of golden brilliancy, ere he sinks in those waves of sparkling silver which bound the far-off west. Here we may quote the thoughts of Thompson, which we presume to apply to light:—

Now through the passing clouds she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulian smiles awhile,
Where the pale deluge floats, and streaming mild
O'er the tall mountain to the shadowy vale,
Where rocks and floods reflect the quiv'ring gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
Of silver radiance trembling round the world.

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We would now refer to the general doctrine of motion and shape: the former arises from polarity, or constant duplicity of force; indeed, a polar tension lies at the bottom of all motion, which must, therefore, in its course, realize a sphere, which is the only shape in which the Creator and his various manifestations appear. Neither sun, moon, nor any of the fiery globes, or æriform vibrations, or sea, or cataract can ever assume any form but the spherical; indeed, there are no straight lines in life or nature, and, for that reason, there are no angles. This may appear an extravagant declaration; but whenever we test this proposition, we shall discover therein the wonderful and harmonious purposes of God in so appointing and endowing all his agents with this single but beautiful shape and action. This spherical motion encounters no opposition in nature; it requires the least power and produces the greatest, occupying the least possible space. In its development sounds of nature travel, and those of music or voice are most beautiful and sweet, when rendered in that shape. This motion incurs the least possible injury to bodies, and often realizes many symbols of the sublime, such as smoothness, brightness, continuity, &c. &c. The engineer so fashions the stony bulwark of piers, the bows of vessels, and all parts of art which have to companionize with nature. It is the contour of the first line of our existence. It is the shape and motion of that organ which contains the divine powers of sight; it is the shape of the greater and lesser channels of our life, as well as of the muscular and nervous powers; the vessels and arteries of man are all spherical. It is in this shape the whole body is prefigured; indeed, in the form of man is all nature prefigured, The light, the air, the fire, the water, are all thus prefigured. Some have thought that the whole body consists of a series of rings or spheres. The sphere is the shape which furnishes the greatest convenience in the least possible space; indeed, it is so obviously a supereminent expression, that generations of man in all time must acknowledge its eternal powers and graces. As we have said, there are no mathematical straight lines in the world, as real lines are constantly in a state of polar action or tension, always converging and diverging, at once central and peripheric, i.e., assuming their natural bias as boundaries of the sphere; in truth, the whole universe is a globe or sphere; it is, like its Creator, a total and independent spirit. For should the Mighty One (in reverence we speak) appear real, He must appear in a sphere; and we never contemplate His mystic being, but enshrined in that space, which is a point of space in a state of expansion. And in those sweet and happy moments when the tired spirit of man pauses and allows the eye of faith to enter the unseen world, his being conceives itself in presence of God, and his angels are shadowed forth by a sphere of bounds immeasurable.

Another axiom, which is most obviously sequent, is, that there is no level surface in the universe (the sail of the ship is first seen); no pure surface or pure lines, all being curved. The surface of a sphere cannot be regarded as a continuum, but as drops, or the fashion of the heavenly bodies, or as when a given quantity of air is displaced so many spheres are readily moved amidst other spheres. The doctrine of sphericity is geometry (which like mathematics is of eternal nature), for all forms are contained in the sphere, and all geometrical proofs are capable of being conducted through the sphere. As we have before said, every individual sphere has two motions in itself; for instance, the heavenly bodies depend upon the representation of the primary in themselves by the special rotation, but re-attempting to recover the primary centre through the general rotation around the universal axis. It is thus with the heavenly bodies—those holy images and metotypes of the Eternal.

Perhaps the face and form of woman may be regarded as the very ideal of symmetry, and these in action create by their own grace symmetrical forms; and this symmetry is the highly exalted being endowed with life and exquisite variety.

We may venture to give an illustration of the effect and influence of shape, by referring to the three cousins, whose portraits ornament our pages. Kate is all love and joyance; with her, toil is sweet, and love is her life.

Her virtues graced with external gifts
Soon breed love's settled passions in the breast.

Her countenance, as some placid lake, is enclosed in the sphere. Hermione sustains the same outline, though other feelings occupy her mind "Her passions are made of nothing but the finest parts of true love." Faith, Friendship, and bright Hope are there, which are always enclosed in the sphere. Isabella has conversed with dark spirits, and now sad suspicions and purposes fill that once noble heart. Those lips seem taught to writhe, but not to love, whilst her rugged and angular features are ever violating the line of beauty. It cannot be doubted that the virtues and simple passions when in motion, enclose in their hallowed circuit every indent or rigidity.



We would again trespass on the patience of our readers, and ask their consideration of another aspect of our subject. It is said the eye is a refracting medium, and is only distinguished from the brain by being a translucent, refractive substance. That light does not stream into the eye like water into the sponge, but it progresses gradually into it, and operates upon it; and that, in order to experience the sensation of light, the eye is placed in a similar tension to the air and water, and that the tension between it and the main body of brain is perceived by the latter, as illumination. Some say the eye is the brain's prism, in which it sees the world,—in which the brain sees its own tension or the production of colour. Sight is also characterized as deoxidation of light; and the eye by some is now approved as an actual part of the brain. We may refer to the first expression or lines of man's existence ere his birth, and then, remembering how combined all his parts once were,—how that the line of life (the vertebræ) did solve into itself all parts for a time (as the trunk of a tree),—we are not indisposed to admit all such philosophy. Some consider that the optic nerve is an organized ray of light; the brain an organized sun; the eye an organized chromatic sun or rainbow; the optic nerve perceives not the light in general, but its terrestrial formation in the chromatic image, which has been propagated into the eye. In contemplating this interesting subject we experience overwhelming admiration, that timidity in determining, and that veneration for the Creator which a consideration of his works ever creates. As we proceed, we encounter new joys, new fears, and are at last astounded with the many mysteries of the subject. Yet we may announce our conviction of principles; for instance, we would say the more anything has adopted within itself the great principles of the universe, the more perfect and beautiful will be its power, appearance, and existence; for being thus animated, it then evinces its alliance to the Eternal. It is thus it would be the most perfect finite essence. It is, therefore, the highest and last whereunto creation could attain; for more than God and His manifestations cannot be seen in one space. It can never cease to exist, having about it eternal motion, being under the polarity, which is eternal. It may appear in different form to our finite senses,—the space it occupied may seem void,—but we are assured by revelation and the highest schools of philosophy it never dies; it is principle, and maintains itself by virtue of its life; it may be generated by actual progression, but it never dies.

Some say the eye is a nervous system, represented in a state of purest organization. That it has its own share of brain, for the cerebrum is the optic brain. The optic nerve is itself hollow, and unites the cerebral with the orbitar cavity. The sclerotic coat of the eye is the continuation of the dura mater of the brain. The vascular or choroid coat of the eye is the continuation of the encephalic pia mater; indeed, all parts of the eye are said to be continued into the brain. A still greater and more interesting analogy must be referred to, viz., that as light represents choatically the whole of nature, the eye is the choatic representation of all material processes of the body. The analogy may be considered fanciful, but we concur in the opinion that the limbs or members of the body are repeated in the ocular muscles and sclerotic or bony ring; indeed, these muscles move the eye, similar to a motion by the hand. The sclerotic corresponds to the corium; the cornea to the digital unguis, or finger-nail; the choroid coat is the respiratory system of the eye, as the lungs are to the body; the iris may be compared to the larynx; the pupil to the glottis—its expansion and contraction is respiratory; the choroid coat encloses a mass,—the lens,—a vertebral body, thought by some osseous, by others albumen; the morbid states of which are osseous diseases, such as gout. In the chambers of the eye, water, as being a product of digestion, is constantly secreted; the orbitar cavity is a mouth with salivary glands, giving tears; the lachrymal canal is a bronchial duct, which opens into the nose like the Eustachian tubes did from the ear into the mouth; the eye-lids correspond to the lips, and are, in like manner, fringed with hairs; indeed, this little organ repeats in itself the whole of man, which is the highest and most complete organization.

We are aware the general reader will expect the subject to be enunciated with the least technicality, and, therefore, we will now approach our subject in a popular form, and say there is another and more simple view of light and colour, as affecting the eye, which owns no independent light, but enjoys the rays of that orb which glorifies and warms this lower world. The light of this orb is subject to three principal laws requiring notice, viz., transmission, colour, and refraction by transparent media.

1st. The sun or any body in a state of combustion contains independent light; and striking opaque or non-luminous bodies in straight lines or rays, which are intercepted and reflected at the same angle as that of incidence. When these same rays strike the eye of man, the illuminated body becomes visible.

2nd. All light contains three principal colours—blue, yellow, and red. Now, if the surface of the body on which the rays fall are of such nature as to reflect these three colours in equal mixture, the body reflected on will appear white. If the nature of the object has quality which decomposes these three rays, sometimes it absorbs two, and then the object appears of the colour of the third; but if it absorb one only, then it will represent a colour partaking of the two remaining colours; and from the respective degrees in which one or other of these primitive colours predominate, arise the variations of colours. Lastly, if all the three colours are absorbed by the object, it appears black. The rainbow shows an arrangement of the chief colours, and may be recollected by the word vibgyor—i.e. violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red—which may be regarded as the primitive and mixed colours.

3rd. When light falls on transparent bodies, such as water or glass, at right angles on its surface, it proceeds straight through, and is not intercepted by the substance; but when it falls obliquely, it suffers refraction, and the greater the density the greater will be the refractive power. The old experiment, of putting a stick in water or oil, will demonstrate this rule. The first two rules render visible the infinite variety of objects and colours in the external world; and by the third, as applied in the mechanism of the eye, man is enabled to see these objects and colours. Although we can say nothing new, yet we should endeavour more fully to explain the process of seeing, and in familiar terms. The first rule shows the rays of light must reach the eye in a diverging direction, when it is turned towards the objects, and these rays have the form of a cone, whose apex is in the object, and its base at the cornea. Those rays which enter through the pupil, proceed through the transparent media—viz., the aqueous humour—the lens and vitreous body. Thus are the rays of light made to converge in the interior of the eye. This convergence presents a cone, whose point rests on the concave surface, or posterior hemisphere, i.e. on the retina; its base being on the cornea, or anterior hemisphere. The point in the retina is the focus, and it is thus the point of the external object from which the rays diverge is represented at the bottom of the eye, by a point exactly corresponding to that of the external object. But as every point of the object sends rays to the eye in the same manner, these must represent as many foci in the retina; and as the points in the object lie close to one another, the foci at the bottom of the eye must also occupy the same relative position among themselves as these points in the object. The object then forms an image in the interior of the eye, though small, just as a picture is represented on the table of the camera.

The optician's business is to make an instrument which is analogous to the mere mechanism of the eye, and he is well able to explain the mode by which objects arrive on the retina; but who can say how they communicate with the brain, and become a part of man's knowledge? Of this hereafter.

When there is any malformation, either in quality of refraction, media, or mechanical parts, or adjustment of the eye, short sight, or other imperfections, and even blindness are the result. Even light, or rays which enter the eye, cannot be used by all eyes alike, but to some they create indistinctness and even pain.

As to the quantity of light admitted into the eye, this is regulated by the iris, which contracts when too much is presented, otherwise indistinctness would prevail; and that the iris may more peremptorily regulate this most important principle, there is a dark colouring matter painted all around the interior of the eye, and thus the eye represents the principles used in the camera. The darker the matter the better, as preventing absorption of rays; so that we may say people with dark eyes can endure more glaring light, and, of course, admit more light into the eye. The great officers of the eye are,—sclerotica, giving the ball its form and firmness, conjoined to wonderful resilience, united by six muscles; the choroid provides warmth and nourishment; the transparent media refract light, and by causing convergence form an image accordant with the object, which image appears on the retina; the iris and pigment regulate the light and secure distinctness.

We have said thus much of objective vision, that is, we have spoken of light and of mechanism of the eye, and traced the means by which the external object is placed in the retina, and this may be said to be the materialism of our subject. But how all the sensible works of God and man become ideas and elements of the mind may be more difficult to prove. Yet we will follow in the beaten channel of authority, and endeavour to consider this other part of our subject,—viz., subjective seeing, or the means by which the retina surrenders its store of images and subjects to the mind or brain.

Perhaps the most simple form of explaining this more devious part of our subject, may be to say that when the image has been received by the retina, it has executed the mere mechanism of an optical instrument, and then the eye itself becomes the instrument of the mind, and the manner in which it is used by the mind may be called subjective seeing. For this there must be energy in the nerve of sense; that is, the retina and the optic nerve must be in strict life and action, whilst the mind itself should be in vigour and ability, so as to realize a simultaneous action or recognition of the outward object, and commix it with all the store of previous possessions of knowledge.

Occasionally it occurs that the object arrives at the retina without rendering any knowledge or report to the brain, owing either to some defection in the action of the optic nerve, or unsoundness of cerebral power, and then the sensation or feeling of sight (if we may be allowed the expression), is wholly dull and immobile, and, of course, no perception is realized.

Sometimes persons, as we know, are in abstract and deep thought, when the object has arrived on the retina, and they appear not to have seen anything; but, after a time, they will tell you they felt the arrival of the object or image on the retina and perceived its nature, which accorded or varied with their previous knowledge or experience. It is not needful for us to quote instances when the optic nerve is sensitive, and even the brain acknowledges the presence of light, and yet the objects find no place in the mind.

It is sometimes a curious inquiry, how it is that having two eyes, each perfectly adapted for vision, we yet see but one object, or rather have but one picture on the retina. The most simple answer seems, that if both eyes are directed to one object, the two optic lines will concur at the same point of the object, and the two images (one to each eye) will be simultaneously referred by the retina to the single point of concurrence of both optic lines. Although each eye may be said to have an image, yet the sensation of the two retinæ are of a correspondent nature, and being made in the same manner and time, they must harmonize with each other in respect to this triple unity of nature, manner, and time. After we leave the mechanical powers and
Language of the Eye, Turnley, 1856 image DjVu pg 38.jpg

actions of this wonderful organ, we arrive amidst many mysteries, and must admit that perception is not explicable by laws which govern matter. Here spirit takes the light into its own mystic keeping, and leads man through wonders many, and vastly above the comprehension of the superficial.

The Diagram is the same section, though on a less scale than Dr. Franz's. It represents a horizontal section of the anterior part of the head, made in the direction of a line passing through the middle of the anterior aperture of each orbit, to show form of orbit; position of eye-ball; arrangement of muscles; the lachrymal organs; interior structure of globe; course of optic nerve; and formation of the image of an external object on the nervous membrane of the eye by means of the rays of light. The vessels and nerves are omitted.

1  Shows the lateral walls of the orbit.

2  The left eye-ball with five of the six muscles.

3  Is the superior.

4  inferior.

5  exterior.

6  interior.

7  The superior oblique muscle (with its tendon passing through a loop of cartilage), which is affixed to the foremost part of the upper wall of the orbit, where this wall unites with the interior wall.

8  The lachrymal gland.

9  The conjuntiva, covering a portion of the anterior hemisphere of the globe and the interior surface of the eye-lids.

10  Small orifices, through which the tears pass into the lachrymal ducts.

11  A transverse section of the lachrymal ducts.

12  The ophthalmic artery, as it enters the orbit by foramen opticum.

13  A horizontal section of the right globe.

14  The sclerotica.

15  The cornea.

16  The choroid.

17  The dark pigment.

18  The retina.

19  The iris, having the pupil widely open.

20 and 21  The anterior and posterior chambers containing the aqueous humour.

22  The lenticular system.

23  The vitreous body.

24  The central artery.

25  The optic nerve.

26  The chiasma of the optic nerves (longitudinal section of which is made), the numerous fibrils composing these nerves, their course, and decussation.

27  The part of the optic nerves coming from the brain.

28  An object which reflects the light in the direction of the lines drawn from the points a to the eyes directed towards the object, just as every other point in the object would do. The lines b are pencils of light, as they find entrance through the pupil into the interior of the eye-ball, where each of them is by refraction made to converge to a point, called the focus, which, falling exactly on the retina, forms a distinct image thereon of the point a of the external object from which the pencil of light emanated. This is what takes place at least in the eye in its normal state; but when there is any deviation from this state, and the condition of the eye is such as to bring the rays of each pencil of light to a focus at the line c or d, no distinct image can in this case be formed on the retina; since, when the focus occupies the place of the line c, the rays, in meeting the retina, are again divergent; and, when the focus is situated at the line d, the rays, in meeting the retina, are not yet brought into union with each other. The first case occurs in a near-sighted eye, and the second in a far-sighted eye. The lines e represent only the principal rays of each pencil of light reflected to the left eye.

The orbit occupies a spherical cavity formed of seven bones, which are quite independent of the fashion of the head—it is rather conical at the back, with apertures for communication with the brain. The ball or apple of the eye is spherical—the most beautiful form in nature—the form which nature assumes in all most pleasing expressions. The vault of Heaven—the rainbow—the contour of woman—the shape of the brow—lash and lid of the eye—the path of the sea—the sweetest sounds are round—the marital emblem—the very shape in which the mind always conceives the great Spirit resident—is that of a sphere or circle. It would exceed our limits to say more on shape, else very many pleasing lines might be added. Its motion is aided by its shape; in short, the sphere is the only perfect and independent shape, all other shapes being but parts of it. It is the shape which beauty assumes when it has executed its mission of action and attrition.

The eye's imperial eminence above all the other senses gives it dignity and power. The elevated situation yields the idea of a lighthouse, from whence we may look down on the storms and sands of time, whilst we observe the drama of fortune and vicissitude; and, although the very foundations of the sea may be raised in many dusky atoms, yet the lamps of this lighthouse remain faithful and luminous. Nature has built a wall round about this great treasure, i.e., seven bones form a deep cavity, called the orbit, in which rests the ball or apple, with its muscles, vessels, &c. The eye may be said to ride in an adipose substance, as the sea-fowl rides upon the wave. The texture of this organ would excite some fear that it might readily suffer injury; but the eye may be compared to a room with a blind (iris), pane of glass (the cornea), and strong shutters (the lids), which do not resist violence, but endure it, without suffering injury, being so active, flexible, and resilient, that its very vibrations form its armour, as the yielding wave bears the haughty bark. The muscles, glands, nerves, and bones are more fully described in the diagram, which is drawn from a section adopted by that intelligent authority, Dr. Franz. The muscles move the eye towards the object; it centralizes upon every object, every letter of a book separately, but with such activity, that in a moment the eye has reported to the brain every object and colour in a room. The lachrymal glands supply all that lubricating moisture which prevents superficial injury to the organ in its active motion—the tears appear through the small orifices, and pass into the duct away. The optic nerves and arteries, the various humours, transparencies, and powers should be subjects of the greatest interest to those who delight in the study of the organs and physical abilities of the human frame: yet the author fears a more elaborate consideration of this part of these subjects would be scarcely acceptable in a little book, the chief object of which is (in a popular manner) to attract attention and deeper solicitude to the subject, and thus incite the reader to a more extensive examination of the nature (physically and philosophically) of this most solemnly interesting and highly important organ.



Our subject rather invites a few words on the comparative character of the senses. Enjoyment appears universally to be the main end and rule, the ordinary and natural condition; while pain is but the casualty, the exception, the necessary remedy, which is ever tending to a remoter good, in due consideration to an ever higher law of nature. Here, as in every part of the physical economy, nature has endowed these organs with a direct and particular sensibility to those impressions which have a tendency to injure its structure; whereas they delight in those impressions which are not injurious. These external agents, which are capable of affecting the different parts of the nervous system, so as to produce sensation, are governed by laws peculiar to themselves. Their structure is adapted in each particular to receive the impressions made by their respective agents, and are modified in exact conformity with the physical laws they obey. The structure of that part of the nervous system which receives visual impressions, viz., the retina, is adapted to the action of light; and the eye, through which the rays pass, is constructed with strict reference to that object.

The ear is formed to receive delicate impressions from those vibrations of the air which realize sound, and acquires a susceptibility of influences by its own appropriate agents, and by no others. In almost every case the impression made upon the sentient extremity of the nerve which is appropriated to sensation, is not the direct effect of the external body, but results from the agency of some intervening medium. There is always a portion of the organ of sense interposed between the object and the nerve on which the impression is to be made. The object is never allowed to come in direct contact with the nerves; not even in the sense of touch, for there the organ is defended by the cuticle, through which the impression is made. This observation refers equally to taste and smell, the nerves of which are not only defended by the cuticle, but by secretion of mucous character, which averts any violent excitement. The two senses, which are more relative than others, are the sight and hearing, both which receive their impressions through the medium of the air.

We feel some hesitation on proceeding further on this interesting part of the subject,—viz., the comparison of the organs of sense and their respective physiological distinctions. If we were to go much deeper, we should soon find ourselves amidst those most interesting distinctions of sense, as delineated by the general animal kingdom—the touch of the ant, the sight of the fish, the hearing of the bird, the smell of the dog, &c. We would refer our readers to Buffon, Laurence, Hutin, Koget, and Walker, and conclude this part of our subject with but few observations.

Touch furnishes the relation of mechanical bodies; taste is adapted to chemical relations; smell also to chemical relations, but for the perception of substances in the aëriform state; hearing is for sound and its many modifications, tones which are produced by the internal vibration and motion of the particles of bodies and through the medium of air, &c. Our subject, the sense of sight, is adapted to light and its modifications, colour and shade, and render to the perception the surface, form, and position of objects through the medium of light.

Sight and hearing seem to bear the most important characteristics, being employed on those objects which form the basis of human knowledge, viz., time and space.

An eloquent and scientific writer, reminds us that the great Mosaic record states, that a deep silence and repose, with a mysterious darkness, prevailed over the chaos of things, and God commenced his work by saying, "Let there be light." The sublime volume of revelation declares that on the last day a trumpet shall sound, announcing the judgment; then, amidst the tumult of the elements, shall the sun, moon, stars, and all temporal things, perish; but the spirit of man shall enter into the bright and resplendent mansions of eternity.

In man all these senses are susceptible of equal and simultaneous action, which is one of his leading distinctions from other animals. The habits and instinct of the brute demand that prompt and excelling vitality should attend particular organs. Even amongst the children of man, it may be observed, some seem more agile in the use of particular senses. The aborigines of some parts of the world will hear more readily and see objects at greater distance than the inhabitants of civilized cities; and this advantage may be traced to the fact, that they are very much in a state of nature, and, therefore, compelled to sustain their existence by daily use of their senses of sight and hearing, and have, at times, no other protection against sudden danger than the acute vigilance of these nerves. The inhabitant of the ice-bound wilds will be seen suddenly to lay upon his face and put his ear on the ice, by which he will learn what is approaching, though unseen. The wild bush man can see through marshy vapours, which would entirely eclipse the object from the eye of the European. The savage can detect the footsteps of wild animals or his enemy, o'er mountain pass, o'er gloomy moor, and midst deep jungles, which would entirely elude the eye of civilized man. Here also is an evidence of the provident hand of the Creator, whose ample benevolence includes creation round, and not a child of man has been forgotten in his love.

Perhaps a summary of the ability of sight and hearing may be thus stated:—

Sight is adapted to light, colours, form, shape, numbers, &c.; written language, the works of art and nature.

Hearing is adapted to music, tones of all sorts, matter, quality, rest and motion in time; speech, the feelings, the sympathies, the finite and temporal.

There are some useful observations in Lord Malmesbury's Philosophy, and in Oken, of the German school; also in a more familiar, but very valuable work on natural philosophy, by the late Golding Bird.

We fear we are becoming tedious, and too abstracted; but, truth demands a basis; and we rejoice to say, that whenever we investigate the attributes of nature, we look upon eternal beauty and excellence. If we are able to test them by one or all the sciences, we award them the highest approval, and feel the sweetest interest in the investigation. Perhaps no subject is so full of excitement and interest as the economy of our own nature: its anatomy and physiology, its fashion and mechanical appliances are so truly in harmony with the strictest principles of science, whilst its sensibilities have a constant relation to the qualities of things external; indeed, we discern such a proportion of harmony and exact fitness, that the pains of the body, equally with its pleasures, seem appointed to balance and protect its delicate and wonderful structure. We must also observe the activity of one system promoting that of a second; the functions of one organ, the action of another; whereby arises a succession of series of all functions, constituting a perfect circle, which is termed organic life. The power of any one organ of the body ministers to the enjoyment of every other part of the body, carrying on a correspondence with all the works of God. This unity of end and harmony of action have justly tempted the learned to continue those extensive investigations, amidst which the philosopher lives and dies; but our humble aim will be to attract attention to one subject only, and in as abstract and brief a manner as possible, and to render it in the most popular and untechnical language; for, whilst we admit the constant relations before noticed, we have neither the ability nor space to survey the whole field of philosophy. If we did not at once deny ourselves this extensive investigation, we might be required to consider the nature of the soul—the life of nature; the great globe—its consistence and relations with other worlds; and many subjects worthy of large volumes. The mechanization of other animals and their relations with the old and new worlds, geology and its incidents, the doctrine of gravity, motion, respiratory habits of the earth, air, light, colour, anatomy, physiology, pathology, therapeutics, human volition, &c. &c.

How exhaustless is the wonder which nature creates! It is said light moves 200,000 miles per second; that the earth is distant from the sun 95,000,000 miles; and that light traverses the space in about eight minutes. Again, it is said by some that the light which supplies this world emanates from certain celestial lights, and would require thousands of years ere it reached us, but that a force (almost awful) equal to its distance, drives it through this space, so as to supply us with fresh light every instant; and that it is thus it enters the eye of man and strikes on that delicate nerve by which vision is produced. Again, we would just say, the magnitude of the world, its division into lands and waters; its storms and tides; its substance and complexion; its rocks and sands; its mountains and vallies, all share in yielding, distributing, and meting out being and endowments to man; and we have no doubt this wasting frame owes its nourishment and dependence, both sudden and gradual, to elements external, and that the most active are perhaps those which are the least seen and understood by the ordinary observer. We do not mean these bodies are wholly made out of the external matter, but we acknowledge a correspondence and accordance which the Christian philosopher is ever discovering. The great Creator rested from his labours, and declared all was good; and often, very often does the philosopher bow down in veneration and praise, in certain epochs of his researches, confounded with the demonstrations which burst before him, and he feels there is nothing of chance, but a constant ruling Intelligence over all and all things. The cataract displays no greater wonders to his mind than the stream which warbles by the village bower; the haughty voice of Æolus excites no greater wonder in him than the breeze which trembles on the cordage of the little skiff: for well he knows they equally perform a share in the great manifestation of holy government. Design extends over all, and universal nature celebrates the goodness of God. The consideration of the fitness of things—their harmony and beauty—is the highest occupation of man. For the preservation and enjoyment of life, many excellent provisions are made; and so complicate are they, that man without these, or any of them, could only sigh and die. He regards the power of his muscles as an obvious palpability, yet science will inform him that every breath he draws, to curse or praise, is realized by a mechanism as complicate and wonderful as that which fells the oak or raises the imperial tower; and that this mechanism is depending on ties and alliances of every order and beauty, all which unite and sympathize in the delight of being. The circulation of the blood, the nature of the heart, the acute jealousy and vigilance of the nerves, the respiratory action of the skin, the delicacy of touch, the luxury of taste, the godliness of sight—all manifest an irrepressible unity and action which no mere power of mind could regulate or exercise.

We are aware that some may regard the subject as desultory, and only approve of experimental evidence, as if the criterion of all truth were an alembic or air-pump.

How different with the philosopher! He can summon the principles of all sciences to his aid, and elaborate any result he desires. He has command over distance, number, space, time, things seen and unseen, and can use them to serve before him, and minister delights to his feasting soul. He knows that sense must one day be clogged and dull, and that it is but the perceptive power, mind being the retentive. We might illustrate this idea by saying:—"In vain should we attempt to walk the stream, till the chilling air has bound the current, and hardened the yielding surface;" so does the spirit in vain seek to rest in contemplation, until attributes of the mind have fixed the fluency of sense, and created elements for the support of higher exercises; or as the great poet of nature successfully expresses this idea in Richard the Second:—


How soon my sorrow hath destroyed my face.


The shadow of your sorrow hath
Destroyed the shadow of your face.


'Tis very true; my grief lies all within;
And these external manners of lament
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief,
That swells with silence in the tortured soul.

Or, as Milton speaks in "Paradise Lost:"—

"So much the rather, thou, celestial sight,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see, and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight."

Or, as Dante says:—

"Io non posso, celar il mio dolore."

"I am unable to conceal my grief,
Hence must my outward aspect mourn,
As the soul does within its dwelling-place;
For when Love took his station in my heart,
He stood before me, and suggested thoughts
Unto my mind, which since have seldom slept."

Cansone 18th.

It is the privilege of the great mind to know and feel this, for it bears the exalting divinity within; and the more it acts independent of all that is mutable, variable, and irrational, and dependent on that good which is immutable, permanent, and rational, the more will true peace and happiness be promoted. It is then that the trinity of parts (the spiritual, intellectual, and material) are acting together, and all the excellency of our nature is secured. It is then that the mind, which forms the connecting link between body and soul, being irradiated by celestial light, penetrates the dark mists that obscure man's ordinary vision, and enjoys an antepast of heaven itself. Were it not for this the sensible world would lose all its exquisiteness.

It is surely not the figure alone, nor the touch, nor the odour, which makes the rose; but all these governed by the dignity of intellect and the innumerable associations of mind and spirit, acting simultaneously. We do not deny that the senses perform their part; yet these would be imperfect and evanescent, but that some higher collective power lays up a store of images and pictures, which is never destroyed. Let us exult in this divine privilege; for who shall measure this power, who despoil it? It is kept by the hands of angels and archangels.

Cowper pourtrays this creative faculty of the mind thus:—

"How fleet is the glance of the mind!
Compared to the speed of its flight,
The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light.

When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there;
But alas! recollection at hand,
Soon hurries me back to despair."

Or, as an earlier English poet (Denton) says:—

"Thus, the lone lover, in the pensive shade,
In day-dreams wrapt, of soft extatic bliss,
Pursues in thought the visionary maid,
Feasts on the fancy'd smile and favoured kiss.

"Thus the young poet, at the close of day,
Led by the magic of some fairy song,
Through the dense umbrage winds his heedless way,
Nor hears the bubbling brook that brawls along."

Such exercises and powers are never appreciated by the superficial observer; his powers are but temporary and transient, and he can secure no ideas as his permanent associates for reasoning and reflection. In his retirement he can summon none of the affianced spirits of sublimity; whilst even his social amenities can bear none of the mysterious graces which illumine the brow of the philosopher—he knows that some of our most pleasing convictions press before us, when we are scarcely prepared to inquire into the cause; and yet we may fairly assert, that nothing contributes more surely to the attainment of permanent delight, than the investigation of the cause; and that it is most useful to ask ourselves why we are thus delighted, why thus affected, why melted into sympathy, why so absorbed.

If we were worthy to advise a young philosopher, we should say, avoid sophistry and too refined conceptions; yet seek for principles, and those principles which are based on the simple truths which nature supplies; and let every theorem be tested by those principles which are immutable, so that perspicuity and accuracy may be secured. But with all this, do not expect evidence unsuitable to the nature of the subjects of your inquiry. To some belong demonstrable evidence—to others intuitive—varying with the subjects.

Those who live above the regions of mere sense, and are seeking communion with the spirits of truth, are accustomed to the contemplation of true beauty, and live amidst agreeable sensations, which not only occupy the imagination, but engage the whole capacities of the mind; and there is not a beauty in nature or art, with which they are not acquainted. Every colour, every sound, every star of the night, every dew-drop of the morning, every space or expression in which beauty resides, is at once recognized as a portion of the excellence of eternal perfection. Indeed they have an intuitive perception of the beautiful, which excites admiration even before the sensation can be rendered permanent by the operation of judgment. This sensation of the beautiful traverses the whole mind; but on no occasion does it hold a more ready affection, or produce a more instant interest, than when it embraces the outlines of the human form.

It is then, the emotion of the beautiful evinces a very exquisite feature, by diffusing itself over the objects which excite it, so as to appear as if it belonged to them, and not to the mind which is occupied in reverie and contemplation. It is then the ardent and enthusiastic enter a dream of love and admiration, from which they are reluctant to awaken. They do awaken, but it is again to fall into sweet reveries, regarding their objects as containing a congenial spirit, expressive of feelings responsive to those with which they are gazed upon by their devotees. So unreservedly, yet unconsciously, is the transference of life and feeling made from the mind of the beholder to the object beheld, that the refined disciple declares, that nature is full of feeling, and animated by one great spirit, whose expression in every aspect is beauty. In a word, the lines of nature, and most especially those inclosing the human form, are as lines in the life of beauty itself, varied by the Creator to elicit with truth and fulness all our innate sensibilities, which consummate the evidences of our divine fashion and genealogy. The delightful overflowings of a mother's heart seem to her to be lovely emanations, radiating from the face of her little one. The lover, by the same law of imputation, ascribes all the charms with which his passion is inspired, to essences and qualities inherent in the object of his passion. And though this interesting phenomenon in our mental economy is attended with no ready explanation, yet whatever be the cause, we recognize in it the character of the emotion of the beautiful. It tends to diffuse itself over the beautiful object; and the mind, instead of recalling it, and viewing it as mere inert materialism, regards it as beaming with light and feeling. This is practical refinement—there is no fiction here; for man, as pious Enoch, now walks with God. In this exercise he learns to decide against all unworthy and vain occupations. His whole being is exalted. He knows God has placed him amidst things lovely and harmonious. In these beatific exercises he is often enabled to realize the relation of the beautiful in our own organization; and far from such being merely notional, he feels (with evidence suitable to the subject) that the beautiful is the representative of two of the leading economies of our nature,—viz., the material system and the intellectual capacity. It is then he declares that nature is the rule and manifestation of mathematics, her part being the apparent and material, whilst spirit dominates over the ideal only, and that there is nothing new in mathematics, in nature, or in man. Man is the summit and crown of all nature's developments, and in him will be found a true record of all past time, as the blooming apple contains all the earlier developments. In truth, man is a microcosm, or all the world in miniature. In man are inherent a spirit and nature material, which are but transcripts of each other, their laws being consonant. Perhaps, we may illustrate this somewhat mystic proposition by reminding the reader, that the crystals of ice are nothing else but water bounded by definite lines; showing (in analogy) the relation between real and ideal, spiritual and material,—both are essential to each other and yet different,—the diversity being in form only.

An old English poet, the Rev. Thomas Denton, says:—

"Tho' now no painted cloud reflects the light,
Nor drops prismatic break the falling rays,
Yet still the colours live, tho' none appear,
Glow in the darting beam that gilds yon crystal sphere."

And in another poem, it is said:—

"Tho' wondering ignorance sees every form decay,
The breathless bird, bare trunk, and shrivelled flower,
New forms successive catch the vital ray,
Sing their wild notes, or smile the allotted hour;
And search Creation's ample circuit round,
Tho' modes of being change, all life's immortal found."

So also does the idea of a circle become a real circle, not from the latter emerging from the former, but from this itself becoming manifest. Indeed, all development or realization is nothing new or original, but only a manifestation, by a process of extension taking place in the idea; in truth, the real is the ideal in a condition (as when a pebble is cast into a stilly lake) of definition and limit. The real is to assist the intellectual, in its reflections on the beauties of creation, and thereby to encourage that yearning for the wonders of infinity, which the Christian philosopher is ever experiencing.




We will return to our specific subject, by reminding our readers the mediæval poets considered there was peculiar spirituality in the eye; and, therefore, they say, angels have only the endowments of sight and hearing. It is certain that the eye gives the promptest and surest indication of mental motion. It is through this channel the understanding and feeling are communicated; talent, genius, hope, fear, love, joy, hatred, sorrow, despair, and revenge, are expressed. Here is the path through which the refined mind is excited with a continual desire to attain higher excellence; through which exalted friendship, and other noble incentives, are constantly exercising. Often in the eyes may be seen that ethereal object, the beauty of the soul, as conceived in the purpose of Deity, and ordained from eternity to lead us through rugged time to peaceful paths by the river of life.

The intelligent, the impassioned, the energetic, the imaginative, and the man of genius, are readily recognized by communications made through their eyes.

The lover's hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows are all painted in the eye; indeed, every passion and gradation of feeling may be detected by the intelligent observer; yes, the soul is constantly at the window of the enchanted palace of sight, as a little bird who has a continual desire to chaunt its melodious airs in some unbounded sphere; and when strong passion has decked the soul or awakened its more earnest excitements, it seems almost to bound against the very casements of its mystic residence, so as to leave no doubt of the evolutions and dramatic exercises which are being consummated within. Then it is that glances of light dart forth from that palace to minister joy, hope, love, fear, hatred, and those innumerable comminglings of spirits, as they hasten over the hills and vales of time.

Many learned and intelligent men have endeavoured to mark out the path and lines, the hues and contours in which these passions, feelings, and characteristics are content to take their way; and, although some of these philosophers have failed to satisfy the critics, or agree in principles, yet they have cast considerable light on a most interesting subject relating to man's social happiness. In determining some of these principles, the voice, motion of the hand, and carriage of the figure, are known to perform a part. Lavater, Gall, and others, have left their valuable experience in their works. The motion of the ball of the eye, the clashing of the lashes, the rapid or monotonous action of the upper lid, the increased brilliancy, and sometimes the presence of tears, or vermilion hue on the cheek, all perform a part in this display. To this we must add, the state of health, age, moral condition, and intellectual cultivation, all which have their share in expression. If this is so, how difficult is the task we have presumed to enter upon; but, in the enunciation, we shall depend on the liberal concession of our readers.

Some principles may be alleged,—for instance, where there is strong understanding, the look is pleasing, whilst the eye moves calmly, passing in curves, the pupil is contracted, the brows are bent downward, and the ball is prominent; whereas, when the feelings predominate, the eye performs its motions more actively, and is fluctuating and flickering, indicating the emotions of the mind, the pupil is dilated, the iris appears soft, and oft riding in a charmed sea of crystal drops.

Where the will predominates, there is great freedom of motion in all parts, and the ball moves firmly, and for the most part in rectilinear motion; the look is not pleasing, but repulsive, as it seems independent and acting under settled purpose. The brows appear stretched, and the lashes curved outwards. The really great man, the man of talent and creative genius, seems to evince the dignity of one, the freedom of the second, and the independence of the third; the look is pleasing, and even attractive, open, thoughtful, active, and penetrating. It is the apparition of the Deity, so grave, so pleasing, so elevated, so placid, so genial, so full of feeling and power, that it seems to defy, whilst it attracts, and companionizes with all the spirits of earth and heaven.

Such qualities are always discovered, unless tyranny or some violent occupation, such as constant warfare, eclipses this grand expression of the soul of man; notwithstanding, Queen Elizabeth, Julius Cæsar, Frederick the Great, were all renowned for the power of their glance.

The mind (if it may be so called) of the mean heart and limited capacity, bears an expression almost intolerable to witness. The pupil appears large, the iris dry; the look is vacant, as though the eye feared to announce what was acting within; the cornea is lustreless, it seems unable to acquire a definite form or fixation, so that you behold a monster; a being using that beautiful organ as a mere instrument to see with, and discover means for its sensual delights, instead of performing its holy mission for the soul.

Even the moral condition will express itself in the eye. Virtue and religion, faith and fanaticism, and even theology, have their influence in the expression of the eye. With piety the brows are raised, and the lids open: a soft lustre diffuses itself over the sclerotica, and an almost holy radiance over the cornea; the motions of the eye are free and in a curve directed upwards; the look is pleasing, open, and contemplative. Faith seems ever seeking the deep blue of heaven, and in calmness looks towards the horizon, and the eye seems seeking some object beyond the boundaries of earth. The fanatic seems also seeking some unseen and distant object; but, the look is generally sad and fixed. The theologian's eye is bright and clear, moves firmly, calmly, and harmoniously; the look is contemplative and agreeable; if his views are of the alarmist character, and not regarding God as love, the look, is unsteady, fluctuating, and even piercing and unpleasing, the eye often sad, and moves clandestinely and surreptitiously.

Language of the Eye p059.jpg



We believe there are not two countenances exactly similar, and although there are broad and clearly defined distinctions in every race of every climate, yet the unprejudiced naturalist doubts not the root from whence every member springs.

These physical peculiarities, and the geographical distribution of the human race, would form a most interesting subject, and it is somewhat singular so little has been written on this topic. The extremes of heat and cold, the intervention of seas and mountains, have necessarily much affected the form, carriage, and expression of the human family; and yet each appears most happy in his place of birth. The Esquimaux companionizes with a breeze so cold that mercury freezes in its presence, and yet he would pine and sorrow to be removed; his snowy deserts are sweet home to him, over which his soul traverses and feasts on sublime revelations.

But see the native of torrid regions and golden sands; there he goes wandering in reveries o'er his burning paradise. Show him the pictures of civilization, and describe to him their gorgeous possessions and effeminate delights, he looks into the very face of the sun, and, exchanging radiations with that world of fire, he turns aside from your proffer. He hastens away from the very temptations to the turpitude of leaving the associates of his nature, with whom he has entered into pledges and promises which language has no power to pourtray.

It may here be remarked, the hair and skin of the negro are not less dark than they were 3000 years back in time. The Arabian still refuses to cease his wandering, and is a child of the patriarchal age. The Hindoo has not changed; and an eminent authority, Dr. Morton, says the characteristic features of the Jews may be recognized in the sculptures of the temples of Luxor and Kornac in Egypt, where they have stood for thirty centuries. The mighty hand of the Creator has deeply impressed his command on the countenances of the human race; for uninterruptedly as one generation passeth away, another cometh, alike in form, structure, and habits, and even in limit of existence; and man, however exalted by education, and midst the sparkling lamps of the halls of civilization and refinement, is yet born the same helpless, dependent creature as the first children of Adam. Here the great Record of records, the voice of heaven, may be quoted, for it says, that "God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth." We are aware that some have thought the negro and some other races may not be included in this record; but Lawrence, in his renowned lectures, says the notion of specific identity between the African and ourang-outang is as philosophically false, as morally infamous.

The children of man have varied characteristics, as various as the colours of the rainbow. The natives of the still monotonous wilds of Siberia, and those of the burning fires of a torrid zone; the Georgian beauty; the Spanish fair; the mystic Turk; the bland and heroic French; the barbarian of Moscow; the serious, noble, and kindly English, must surely bear differing aspects amongst their fellows, and in no respect will such difference appear more decided, than in the expression of the eye. The prevailing mental expression of a nation may be defined; yes, the standard of morality, and even the degree of happiness, civilization, or freedom.

The eye of the Scotch moves slowly and within a narrow sphere, until he has attained his object; the Irishman displays the open courteous expression in the eye, which lulls all fear; the English speak contemporary with their eyes, so that you cannot mistake. The Italian's eye glows with ardour, which flashes across his sunny face like sunbeams o'er a stilly lake; whilst in the northern parts of Europe we observe the eye apparently in repose, reflection, and even reserve. Look on the nations under slavery; how dull, sullen, dissatisfied, is the expression of the eye, as though rapture and real temperament were put back for want of exercise of independence! Those to whom every golden morn brings fear and fresh degradation, with them the brows and lids are contracted; the eye moves heavily, slothfully, and timidly, and mostly in direct lines, destitute of animation, expressing deep misery, or furious anger. But when liberty opes its gladdened path, the eye kindles with a brilliancy; where the breast of every individual beats to the trumpet of independence, uncircumscribed by the will of any kind of tyranny, or by the terrors of the power of any hierarchy; where all the citizens are equals; where talent and industry have their meed of praise and reward; where life is considered the gift of God, rendering every man accountable to Him alone: then we see the eye open, free in motion, firm, and fearless. The expression of the eye of a nation will necessarily be varied in some cases, and especially in these times, when a fraternization has been opening to a wide extent, and which is daily (happily) rendering distinctions of every sort less arbitrary. Wherever virtue, moral courage, honour, and love are, they will express themselves, yet every circumstance surrounding may heighten or diminish the expression; and in such cases the keenest investigation and the more ample consideration of the philosophic are needful, ere the predisposition or nature can even be suggested.

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The mind of woman being so much more gentle, delicate, receptive, and passionate than that of man, so its portraits or outward aspects must vary. The devotion of woman, her confidence, her ardent and ready dependence could not but require very especial lines and contours for its expression. She, who lives in passion and delights in its companionship, fears not its woes and dangers, is deaf to the appeals of reason and judgment when the idealities of her soul are before her, must surely need some different interpreter than one who is too often led by the graven images of covetousness, and all the time-serving principles of a cold and rugged world. She, who often defies the rules of the world, and prefers eddies, sands, and rocks, to the temperate and safe waters of worldliness, is surely entitled to different light—far different hues and shades, points and boundaries, for definition of her exquisite and buoyant spirit—she who is queen in a kingdom of the most precious vitalities—empress in the midst of heroic and romantic spirits, whose career is amidst the forked lights of dangers and dismays, and whose uncompromising and vaunting herald challenges the whole world of spirits to antagonism, when contending for the object of her love. Goddess amidst mystic scenes and circumstances which cannot be defined—priestess of the wand of divination, which she bears to awaken fairies and satyrs to the resolves of her soul, to listen to Pan's arcadian notes in eve tide hour—to waken Echo from her retreat—she who leads the loves of angels, and presides at the festivities of spirits requires different materials to define those orbs which evince ceaseless inspiration. That soul may often be seen looking through the brilliant transparencies: observe her at her toilet, preparing for the presence of her loved one; or at her balcony, listening to a serenade from a voice she loves; seeking some trance of love—some dream—in presence of the smile of Luna and her train of children. Lovely woman, for whom battles, dire and bloody, falchion to falchion, have met; for whom the diver takes his wondrous way, midst clanging of deafening waters; aye, in the very path of the Leviathan amidst those coral towers, where the waves, the minnow children of the sea, play their buoyant antics to please the mermaids in the ambient sports. Woman, for whom ten thousand lamps are lighted, and sounds of sackbut and psaltery, and tender shrill toned flute are played; for whom Coridon pipes his notes, and Endymion vies with the wildest notes of the winds, that he may win the smiles of the graceful Diana.

For woman the haughty winds are encompassed; for her man was made, and Eden's breezes sighed; she has a mien, a glistening radiance in her eye, a being, a personality, which cannot be described by the same lines and contour as that being who steps in confidence, unbaffled by feeling.

With her the central point of influence is the heart; all her inclinations and impulses issue from this holy spot, and all sensation and feelings tend towards it. Her emotions are stronger and more vivid than man's, and, therefore, the eye is a more certain and immediate telegraph and communicator. The more intense and absolute the feeling, the more striking and expressive will be the pictures which appear in those beautiful windows of the eye. The eye of woman is a faithful thermometer and index, whereby the warm-hearted, the congenial and sympathizing, may see the working of the holiest of all spirits, namely, woman's heart. Alas! the cold-hearted and calculating, the selfish and designing, struggle to learn therein the secrets and confidence of that best of beings; however, innocence itself has powers to encounter the ruffian gaze, and casts it aside for ever—the panoply of innocence!

How different is the mind of man; he is reflecting; divested of mere affections and feeling; far from the world of the heart, with capacity which urges him towards things palpable, and not easily moved except under extreme excitement.

In man, the eye generally tells of seriousness, resolution, and firmness; whereas, in woman, there is serenity, softness, and compliance. But, hear, ye heavens, listen, ye winds: there are times when the expression of woman's eye is far more expressive and indubitable than in man.) When her best and dearest feelings are disregarded or violated, she heeds no powers or difficulties, no distance, no dangers; no haughty domination or conventionalism can then stay her in her course for justice or vengeance; she revels and absorbs her soul in wild and ungovernable feelings; it is then the hard sarcasm of the unmanly and unfeeling is heard: for she, poor, beaten, forlorn, infuriate, in the midst of feeling can bear no more; but, at last, like the panting deer, the wandering lamb, bows her gentle head under commotions too strong for angels to bear; then it is her soul leaves every gate open to the vulgar gaze.

There is also a time, happy and joyful, in which the angels participate, when the rapture of love or joy has taken possession of woman's heart; then, in the fulness of her nature, the unrestrained emanations of her soul are seen delineating themselves on the painted windows of sight; her spirit seems to hear, to speak, to see, to dance, and revel in its spangled hall. Then comes the swelling and beating of the sphere of sight against its casement; it undulates and lights up, rendering to lovely woman a fairy-like characteristic. This radiant beaming is not lasting, but like its own sweet owner, it plays its moment on the surface, then darts away to make place for other influences.

Moore says:—

Oh! what a pure and sacred thing
Is beauty, curtain'd from the sight
Of the gross world, illumining
One only mansion with her light.

Unseen by man's disturbing eye,
The flower that blooms beneath the sea
Too deep for sun-beams doth not lie,
Hid in more chaste obscurity.

We agree with those philosophers, who consider that woman is much more pure, tender, delicate, excitable, affectionate, flexible, and patient than man—the primary matter of which she is constituted being more flexible, irritable, and elastic than that of man. She is formed for affection; all her nature is tender, yielding, easily wounded, sensible to every influence. Woman was taken out of man, to be subject to man, to solace him, and to lighten his cares by her presence and sensibility. Perhaps woman is inferior to man in general, but superior in particular.

Otway says:—

Angels were painted fair to look like her:
In her there's all we yet believe of heaven—
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Exceeding joy and never-ending peace.

Shakespeare says:—

The hand that made you fair, hath made you good.

The light texture of her fibres and organs, render her so easy to conduct to excellence; so ready of submission to the enterprise and power of man. Woman is capable of being formed to the purest purposes; to everything which can deserve praise or affection; highly sensitive to beauty and symmetry, she does not always take time to reflect on extreme consequences where love is involved.

Euripides says:—

That love alone, which virtue's laws control,
Deserves reception in the human soul.

But woman says:—

Time, force, and death,
Do to this body what extremes you can;
But the strong base and building of my love,
Is as the very centre of the earth,
Drawing all things to it.

To think profoundly is rather the province of the man; sensibility lives in the magnificent dominions of woman. She rules more effectually than man; her power is by tender looks, tears, and sighs—capable of the sweetest sympathies, the most profound emotion, the utmost humility, and the excess of enthusiasm; in her fair countenance are the signs of sanctity and innocence, which produce miraculous results. By the irritability of her nerves, arises incapacity for deep inquiry and firm decision; her extreme sensitiveness sometimes emboldens her to traverse dangerous paths, and sometimes she affects to rejoice in that which agonizes her, and, at times, she becomes the most rapturous enthusiast.

A woman moved, is like a fountain troubled—
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip, or touch one drop of it.

Woman's love is strong rooted, though occasionally rent up in a moment; her hatred is almost incurable. The mind of woman is most sublime; of man more profound. Man is required to prepare for the world, as the Athletæ did for the exercises. His duty is his life: for this he unites manners with mind, suppleness with power, as he well knows mere strength will not perform some of the greatest works. Man most embraces the whole; woman remarks individually, and takes more delight in selecting the minutiæ. Man receives a ray of light single; woman delights to view it through all its dazzling colours. She contemplates the rainbow as the promise of peace; he extends his inquiring eye over the whole horizon. Woman laughs; man smiles. Man seldom weeps, but when woman sighs:—

Sorrow, like a heavy hanging bell,
Once set in ringing, with its weight goes,
Then little strength rings out the doleful knell.

Woman is in anguish when man weeps, and in despair when he is in anguish; yet she has often more faith than man. Woman is formed to piety and religion. To her Christ first appeared; but he was obliged to prevent her from too ardently and too hastily embracing him. Woman is prompt to receive and seize novelty, and become its devotee.

It matters not that she from Heaven hath come.

Or, as Moore says:—

Alas! too well, too well they know
The pain, the penitence, the woe,
That passion brings down on the best,
The purest and the loveliest.

The whole world is forgotten in the emotion caused by the proximity of him she loves. We remember an instance of a lady darting into the field of battle, to seek the body of her husband; shot and ball flew around her, but all spared her to perform a work of joy. The lovely Artemisia, daughter of Xerxes, went in the middle of the night to the camp of Leonidas, to ask his permission to seek the body of her betrothed one. Many such instances could be quoted, for devotion is a principle with her. Woman occasionally sinks into the most incurable melancholy, or rises to the most enraptured excitement. The feelings of man are more reflective; those of woman more hearty, whole, and impassioned. When communicative, she is more communicative than man; when secret, more secret. In general she is more patient, long-suffering, credulous, and benevolent. Man singly is but half human; and until the golden union, they are but parts of a single nature. Shakespeare speaking of Blanche, says:—

He is the half part of a blessed man,
Left to be finished by sweet Blanche;
And she a fair divided excellence,
Whose fulness of perception lies in him.
Two such silver currents when they join,
Do glorify the banks that bound them in.

The eye of man is the most firm; woman's the most flexible. Man's moves more direct and steadfast; woman's more gentle and waving. Man's surveys and observes; woman's glances. Man is serious; woman is joyant. Man's eye is more often dark or brown; woman's blue and grey. The hair of man's eye-brow is more abundant, strong, and loose; woman's finely pencilled. The eye-brows of man are compressed; of woman less frowningly. Man has most convex lines; woman most concave. Man has most direct lines; woman most curved. The nervous system of woman is more mobile than that of man; her forehead should be fully developed, her face oval, and in her lower features should be modesty and dignity; but in all woman's beauty and distinction, the organs of sensation should be far more developed than that of the understanding and reasoning faculties. The circulation and respiration have less force, but are more rapid; the surface and the extremities of the body are more readily supplied, and, owing to the translucency of the skin, the slightest emotion brings beautiful tints to the surface. The bust of woman should be round, and distinguished by its volume and elegant contour, which should contain serpentine lines or parts of a sphere. The eye of the extremely passionate woman is of the softest azure; and in a well-developed woman all the organs of sense are small; but the sensibility is more vivacious and quick; hence her mental vivacity and acuteness is greater, as her perceptions appear with intenseness and promptitude. The countenance of man, taken in profile, is more seldom perpendicular than that of the woman. All her movements of body are made to perfect the purposes of feeling, and in such an easy and buoyant course, that you cannot but detect therein a certain ethereal nature of mind which is rarely seen in man; and, in the most gentle and delightful moments of thought, her body is naturally thrown into attitudes which communicate a like softness to the mind of the beholder,—it is then one of the apparitions of divinity overshadows materialism with its ineffable light and glory. Whatever is of love, and truth, and grace, will be so in expression; then comes that elevation of mind, that happy consciousness of the presence of virtue, which dignifies passion and realizes the sweetest radiance in woman's eye. All seasons and times prove her excellence and distinction; but none so much as the shade of affliction and scenes of woe. It is not surprising her soul should express itself in a very different manner to that of man; there it sits, as a lady in her bower, singing soft songs of love and charity. Look upon the windows of her soul—those beautiful orbs will tell sweet history and romance.

Oh! what a depth of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear:
But with the inundation of the eyes,
What rocky heart to water will not wear?

"Of all the passions of woman," says Richeraud, "love has the sway, and all other passions are modified by this, and derive from it a peculiar cast, which distinguishes them from those of man." Fontenelle used to say, "with woman man is more than a nation." "Love," says Madame de Staël, "is but an episode in the life of man, but the whole history of the life of woman." In regard to personal expression, we may acknowledge we do not believe its perfect demonstration can be seen until the passions have arrived at maturity, and held holy councils, and adopted their idealities; then, sweetened by the accession of love, the person assumes the modest and charming features of womanly beauty: yes, then her soul seems to have arraigned every sense to attend its great enthronement, and shines midst spiritual light, intellectual fervour, and the exquisiteness of materialism: then ensues that sweet enthusiasm of action, which goes hand in hand with the graces, and woman is enshrined in the highest glory of earthliness. Sensibility in woman is greater than her understanding; the involuntary play of the imagination than its regulated combinations; and passion is generally of the gentler kind, rather than resolve or determination: she has more activity than force of thought, and her nervous powers are more frequently disordered than man's.

Woman would trust for endless years; to man she tells her heart, and lays before his oft regardless mind jewels of countless value, the secrets of her soul, its parian innocence, its glistening life-like love, and all its hopes and fears, its joys and woes. To her the presence of the man she trusts is the presence of an angel, from whom she withholds none of the wild delights and ponderings which occupy her reveries. She even regards man as the minister between her and the supernal kingdom. There have been times, when overtaken by some temptation, and dizzy in the midst of abandonment, conscience presents to her some one of the apparitions of eternal beauty; she hastens to confess her sin and suffering; she goes to the anointed of the Church, and undraws that curtain, which screens from the common eye all the infinite genii, who are her tempters; her eyes, suffused in woe, are hidden by the beautiful lids, and she believes he will be her saviour from the magic spells. Often she describes to him the indwelling agony which has taken possession of her soul, in its contests with the spirit of holy love. She recites the woes her waywardness has created, and in maddening horror, in direst penitence, she asks the way to Heaven.



The expression of the eyes, even in the same subject, will not always give the same indications, although the scene and circumstances may be exactly the same. The same circumstances, with persons of even the same temperament and age, will not always affect the eye alike, owing to short sightedness or some other defect. An extreme state of guilt, with habitual vice, will sometimes hide and coil itself so far within the heart, that the eye does not reveal all which is passing and purposing there. But a few glances from the eye of a man of sound heart and mind, will generally convince him whether the mood of mind apparent in the eyes is natural, or temporary and artificial. The leading features of the mind cannot long escape the strict and intelligent observer, i.e., whether there is prevalent and habitual vice, or a delight in virtuous duties; and even what is the leading vice or active virtue. We consider the intentions may be most readily detected by the innocent and the most intelligent; and, although the tongue may declare differently, it rarely evades the searching spirit of innocence. The youthful Prince Arthur soon detected some hidden purpose in the mind of Hubert, who was commissioned to put out the eyes of the prince. The reader will remember that interesting colloquy, commencing—"Are you sick Hubert?" See Act IV., scene 1, of King John.

If this is so, how important is it for those who are busily engaged with men with whom they must often deal at first sight; how important for the physician, the divine advocate, or the counsel examining witnesses and watching the countenances of juries, to have some rules and signs to aid their acute judgments. It is true, the conscience is a light which will burn; and, although its owner may cover it with all sorts of vapours and delusions, yet this holy and imperial dynasty is not to be wholly ruled by man; but ever and anon its lurid sparks may be seen glittering and glistening in the mirrors of the soul to obey the commands of Deity.

Doubtless the mouth takes a considerable share in expression; yet the mouth does not observe, but merely communicates. Some have thought the mouth more influential in expression than the eye; but whilst we believe it possible that some instances might be given where the mouth is far more communicative than the eye and, that if the eyes in the portraits of some persons were hidden, the observer would more readily detect the likeness, than though the eyes were shown and the mouth hidden; yet such cases are rare, and it is to be remembered the features were intended to act together, and not separately. We suspect Van Hamburgh would have been torn to pieces by the lions and tigers, if his eyes had been hidden; doubtless all his features aided him in ruling those mighty monsters. As well might the arms say, they were independent of the legs or feet, as one feature declare its indifference to the existence of another.

The form of man was furnished with exact provisions, equalities, and dependence, so that every part might be most healthful and delighted, when acting in concert with every other part. It is amongst the principles of nature that the exercise of any function realizes power and development; and as such power and development increase, they render a particular and permanent expression; and the more the eye or any other organ is stimulated and excited, so as to be reflective of the mind, the more will be the development of the organ.

Whilst we shall contend the eye takes the lead in expression, we must admit the other features (especially the mouth) bear the stamp of passions, of genius, of intelligence, and incapacity; and it is the brain, acting through the nerves, which animates the muscles of the nose and the mouth. For ourselves, we insist, the eye only expresses by dictation of the brain, and, indeed, is the brain. This is especially evinced, where the eye has practised any feeling, although it be but artificial and affected. Amongst the great writers on this subject, may be named, Magendie, C. Bell, Camper, Berkeley, and the very celebrated Cuvier. But the vivacity of nature; the variety of temperament and idiosyncracy; the influence of education and climate; food and clothing; sciences and tastes, all influence the expression of the eye. It sometimes assumes a climatic stamp; indeed, the eye of man, like the colour and quality of flowers, varies in various climates, so much so that most learned philosophers often halt, and avow themselves puzzled, and even confused, as one looking on a dizzy cataract of waters. The eye occasionally seems to defy the criticism of fellow-mortals, and to say I also am divine, and will not be searched into, except by my Creator. We must say no more on this part of the subject, as we have promised to write in a popular manner; but for this we should delight to explain the nature of sensation, sympathies, and synergies, and explain direct sympathies in variance with cerebral sympathies; and, although all these subjects appear very technical and tedious, we would again assure the reader, the more they are investigated the greater will be the delight and ennobling influence of this knowledge. Even the varying opinions of physiologists may be considered with advantage: one will tell you (Whyatt) that sympathies are to be referred to the soul; whilst Professor Roux considers them independent of organization and having actual existence.

We have observed that symmetry exists in statical equilibrium, i.e., when the object has acted, or been acted upon, and taken its final posit, or determined its permanent axis; whereas, expression defines itself in vitality and action; for instance, the motion of the eye gives expression, whilst its shape and motion give its symmetry.

As we have said, some important expression is sustained by the mouth, yet all who have studied the nature and philosophy of the countenance, have deemed it always essential to consider the presence and influence of the eyes as the chief ministers of the face. On the general axioms and assumed principles of phrenology and physiognomy, the difference of philosophers have been wide and various, and every age has produced disciples and new teachers.

Perhaps the Greek profile, as it represents the eye, is a characteristic of sweetness and beauty. This profile is produced by a line very slightly indented, which the forehead and nose form in youthful faces, especially of females. Nature seldom accords this form to the face in cold climates, but more often in mild and temperate ones; but where this form is seen, we see beauty. The Greeks thought the more angular the eye, the less beautiful and trustworthy the face. If the bulb of the eye is level with the orbit, there will be no effect produced of light and shade; and, therefore, little to trust or understand. Where the eye itself is placed under eyebrows which do not project, the expression is dreary and dull; in such you may fear the lower passions, such as love of money and gain, are more dominant than the idealities of imagination or love: if this eye is united to a small ear its owner is conceited and sometimes worse. Tranquillity in the eye is part of the province of beauty,—this principle was well known to Grecian sculptors, who rarely presented their chef d'œuvres in passionate display. If the eye is in repose, the other features generally concord to that dictation, and then the face represents the nature and quality of the spirit: so we see to the bottom of seas and rivers when the waves are tranquil, and the stream runs smothly. (See Treatise on the Passions, by Carlo Le Brun.) The Grecians represented the eye in their best works as placid: indicating such was the divine expression ever seen in their gods. (See Storia delle Arti.) Great and signal expression requires motion in the eye; yet much grace cannot exist with much impassioned convulsion. In the works of the Grecian sculptors they uniformly preserved composure; and, therefore, the highest power wholly unexhausted, their single figures and even their dancing figures, were never allowed to exhaust their expression. Perhaps the ancient figures might furnish an excellent model, to prevent the moderns from outstepping the bounds of a modest deportment. Propertius says—

Molli diducunt candida gestu Brachia.

Indeed, no violent passion or immoderate evolution can assort with beauty; it yields none of beauty's loves and fears. Repose in the eye is one of the very express images of innocence, goodness, power, and nobility; no fear is there, but full possession of great virtue, and the companionship of angels; there you see no hard or rugged line on that heavenly face. The ancients sought for expression in the eyes of their gods, as betokening motives far superior to their own; and, therefore, the expression of eternal peace and youth was ever adopted. (See Monumenti Inediti, commencing,—"Costóro volentio proporci delle immagini da venerasi.")

The intelligent Combe insists, that the exercise of particular attributes of mind produce a more or less development of certain parts of the head; and that even the expression of the countenance would depend more upon the habitual exercise of certain virtues and vices, than upon original and natural physical materia. There is certainly much in this view which encourages the exercise of noble and exalting principles, rendering even the outside of this wonderful being somewhat susceptible to its owner for expression of beauty and dignity. The renowned John Casper Lavater has left an expansive record of his deep and sincere study of the human countenance, and various are the philosophers who have subscribed to many of his axioms; yet, we may say, all men may be physiognomists; indeed, all men are so in a degree, and must ever depend on their judgment of expression of the countenance of their fellow-men as their first, and often their only guide, in many of the most important transactions of life. It is needless to insist that the senator, the judge, the advocate, the man of war, the merchant, the lover, and the loved, do all, more or less, depend on their judgment of the human countenance, ere they treat and contract. What price would they give to bear about them some certain talisman, some unfailing guide? Alas! such cannot be purchased by the riches of Peru, or the diamonds of Golconda. We tender some suggestions, to aid in that very important inquisition, which we are often required to make and determine. It is our duty to repeat there is no part of the countenance so communicative as the eyes; their motion, colour, shape, size, &c., are all worthy of remark; and, at the same time, we must be allowed to make a few suggestions as to the eye-brow, which occasionally exercises considerable influence in expression, and is less capable of evading the criticism and observation of the beholder. We have always preferred to act under the dictation of a judgment formed from personal interviews, than by the strongest recommendation or exposition of character furnished to us by others; yet we would not presume to announce axioms as simply from our own experience; but we do unhesitatingly say, we subscribe to the opinion of those philosophers, who say blue eyes are generally more significant of gentleness and yielding than brown and black. Speaking of blue eyes, an early poet says:—

Oh! that is beauty, might ensnare
A conqueror's soul, and make him leave his crown
At random, to be scuffled for by slaves.

True it is, there are many powerful men with blue eyes, but more strength, manhood, and thought are combined with brown than with blue. A man with small ears, must have a large, noble eye, or he is full of conceit. He is one of those coxcombs who are on excellent terms with themselves, who with dull mediocrity of talent, and living on superficiality, presume to address the intellectual. He is one of the noisome weeds in the garden of life, and grows near that night-shade—ingratitude.

It is said that choleric men have eyes of every colour, but more brown than blue. Clear blue eyes are seldom or ever seen in the melancholic, but most in the phlegmatic temperament. When the under arch described by the upper eye-lid is perfectly circular, it indicates a pious disposition, fearful, but free from selfishness. When the eye-lid forms a horizontal line over the pupil, you are looking on a very able, versatile man; it may be seen in worthy men, but generally in men whose penetration is allied to simulation. The important and presumptuous carry a wide, open eye, showing much of the white:—

This is a fellow wise enough to play the fool.

The determined and the undetermined will easily be distinguished; the eye of the former is ever fixed, whilst the latter moves rapidly; the former are more strongly delineated, have thicker, better cut, but less glistening eye-lids. When very large and extremely clear, and almost transparent in profile, they describe promptitude and great capacity, with extreme sensibility, and much inclined to enjoyment and difficult inquiries. There is a small, black, sparkling eye, under strong black eye-brows, deep sunken; its light is almost phosphoric—the man with this eye must not be trusted: if unaccompanied by a jesting mouth, you may anticipate cool reflection, taste, accuracy, but an inclination to avarice. A pretty woman may have this eye, and be worthy of love, but not friendship. It sometimes seems as drawn by Love's own hand—by Love himself in love. Eyes which are almost pencilled with the profile of the nose, without standing forwards from the line of the head, denote a weak organization, and generally feeble powers of mind.

Eyes which are smooth when they appear cheerful, appertain to pusillanimous characters. The highest power of man's eye is reserve, of woman's is action.

Eyes with long, sharp corners, which do not turn downwards, with thick skinned eye-lids, are sanguine and indicative of genius. This eye regards not the precepts of science, but realizes excellence out of the reach of the rules of art: and this power induces the weak to charge the owner with madness; yet, if they temperately observe him, they will acknowledge he bows before the highest reason. Against this eye many dunces confederate. Horace says (speaking of Genius):—

He alone can claim that name, who writes
With fancy high, and bold and daring flights.

Secondary men may be mixed up like spices or pickles; but genius is one bright essence, indivisible; like the evening star, it dwells alone. Cicero says:—

All great men are in some degree inspired.

Trust that eye which gives you an idea its owner is at ease. Your admiration will increase on examination: there is beauty which accords with reason, and is not merely a creature of fancy. A well-formed forehead and open eye fears nobody, being itself power and generosity. Cicero says:—"There never was such a great man but by divine inspiration." This is the man who is above grief; abhors buffoonery; will never be unjust; and, if it were not for the compassion of his heart, he would be invulnerable.

He's armed without that's innocent within.—Horace.

Eyes which are large, open, and clearly transparent, and which sparkle with rapid motion, under sharply delineated eye-lids, certainly denote high qualities, quick discernment, elegance and taste, irritability, pride, and ardent love. This eye the Italians describe as Bellezze pelegrine.

Weak, small eye-brows, with little hair, and very long converse eye-lashes, betray their owners as mean and weak, and remind you of Shakespeare's words:—

Alas! how is it with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with the uncorporeal air do hold discourse?

The tranquil, powerful, quick glancing, mildly penetrating, calmly serene, languishing, melting, slowly moving eyes; eyes which vault against their casement, radiate as they move, and colour their object like themselves, and are a medium of exquisite or spiritual enjoyment, are never very round, nor entirely open, never deep sunken or far projecting, never have obtuse corners or sharp ones turning downwards; but are apparitions of beauty, lighting and delighting everywhere. Trust, love, live for, labour for, hope for, fear for, wait for, die for those eyes, for you will see them in heaven.

There is a blue eye, dull, sharply defined, which illumes a dark delve, under a bony, almost perpendicular, forehead, which in the lower part sinks somewhat inwards, and above is conspicuously rounded, which never attends the generous or wise, but generally heralds the proud, suspicious, mean, and cold-hearted. The more the upper eye-lid, or the skin below, or above the ball of the eye, appears well defined, shading the pupil, the more it characterizes refined sense, amiable love, truth, and eternal delicacy.

Beauty knows beauty, loves her, reflects her. Trust not that man whose eyes can coolly look upon the object which should be the most sacred object of his adoration, who expresses not veneration and reverence: such can make no claim to sensibility or spirituality. Trust him not, he cannot love, nor be loved, no lineament of the countenance full of truth and power can be found with him. He is to be seen with projecting rolling eyes, with oblique lids, or deep sunken small eyes, under a perpendicular, hard, long forehead.

Eyes which show the whole of the pupil, and white below and above it, are either constrained or unnatural, and only observable in restless, passionate, and half-simple, persons, and never in such as have a correct, mature, sound, unwavering understanding.

Fixed, mild, open, projecting eyes, in insipid countenances, are pertinacious, without firmness; dull and foolish, with pretension to wisdom; cold, though they wish to appear warm; but are only suddenly heated, without inherent warmth. Remember all men must die: the mean and hard-hearted; whose eyes have preferred to see their counterfeits of peace, rather than happy living, intelligent countenances. They also must be there at the judgment; and then, as here, you will see their small grey eye, peering about from the tottering throne of avarice.

The eye of some is full of romance and feeling, and seems to pourtray varied pictures. In some you seem to see foreign lands, sweet wild scenery, and Fancy walks by Ganges' side or Amenia's wilds. In some you may behold lighted halls of pleasure, where living stars of loveliness wear their silver and golden raiment. In some eyes you see genius stepping forth, clad in the grandeur of contemplation, and wearing the damp and fervid heat of ambition: 'tis on such occasions you may see the spirit sitting on its throne of light eternal. The beauty and spirituality of some eyes exceeds the status of mere reason, and yields a path for the majestic step of imagination. Through the eye, love beams and hovers, imparting a luxuriant animation, which causes adoration. The mouth has its beauties and indications, but requires the aid of other features ere it announces much passion or feeling; its progress is slow and irregular, so that we soon seek those channels through which spirits congratulate, contend, and sympathize: 'tis there an altar is ever burning; 'tis there we take great problems and anxious theorems for those alchymists to expound and render intelligible. Rapidly, perfectly, and with minuteness is every conceit of the soul rendered intelligible; those oracles, ancient as the archives of heaven, give language of truth's eloquence, more faithful than any other outward communication. The eye speaks in a language never before spoken, and which belongs to no place, yet is everywhere acknowledged. It has never submitted to be written, and defies transcription of the indifferent. Its tones are softer than a sigh, and yet as loud as the blast of the wild gales which traverse the Atlantic. This incomparable power dashes through all distance and all space, and passes through climes illimitable; and pourtrays to its devotees, distant lands, clashing of arms, the soothing murmur of the western waves, love's holy places, the murky paths of revenge, the seat of sorrow, and mount of hope.

This beautiful organ is one of the spirits of truth, enlightening the spirits of mortals, from the cradle to the grave. Even the clenching hand of death cannot darken this wondrous power, but it is the first spirit to cry out, "Vital spark of heavenly flame;" the first to hear, "Sister spirit, come away." Doubt not, reader, that the eye hears; the sympathy of the senses is undoubted.

The earth, the air, heaven, and all worlds are full of eyes. God's kind eye meets man's eye ten thousand times in a thousand places, and under many and varied circumstances. The sublime volume of revelation is full of eyes; nature is full of eyes; the past, the present, and the future are full of eyes; there is concord of sweet looks for the virtuous, but the selfish and unjust fear to look on the walls of time or in the clouds of eternity. Shakespeare speaks of "the mind's eye;" here, as everywhere, he was correct. There are spectres—spirits, embodied and disembodied—all with eyes. The eternality of sight of the searching One is ever before us; we bow, we shrink, and the proud ones cry for mountains to fall upon them, to hide them from the eye of Almighty power. The child of genius, the hour of despair, the delight of love, the waiting of fear, the burst of joy, the gleam of revenge, the purposes of imagination, and all the towering plans of souls, in time and eternity, are told by the eye.

The eye of genius commands all time—the past and the future are part of its domain, and as it proceeds in its excursions and exercises, amongst its many worlds, it encounters varied visions: it sees Athens full of eyes; the works of the sculptors of ancient Greece and Rome; the plains of Marathon, and the straits of Thermopylæ; the games (Olympic) are again seen; the radiant eyes of the gladiator again roll in anguish, and the great amphitheatre again heaves with the weight of the thousands who praise the tragedy of Euripides, and the comedy of Sophocles.

Time and its worlds of definition present no boundaries to the sight of mind and genius. Many a tyrannical spirit has quailed before the soul's declarations, communicated through the eye. Many a fainting heart has been encouraged by one glistening ray from this lamp of the soul. Many a pardon, many a promise, many a vow has required no greater declaration than that which the beam of the eye has emitted. Ali Pasha selected one man from twelve thousand (who had offended him twenty years before), and ordered him to be shot. Cohorts of soldiers and mailed men have watched a Caractacus or a Napoleon, whilst the beams from the eye have so aroused, encouraged, and persuaded men to die in triumph and rejoicing. Desdemona could see the soul of Othello through those glistening avenues. Saint Peter was sinking in the waves, until he looked to the eyes of his Lord. By the motion of this wonderful organ, the dying one has said, "I am hastening to my mansion in heaven, and angels guard my head. I fear no evil."



If the forehead has decided grace and intelligence, the brow can seldom defeat this effect; indeed, the forehead generally unites some other kindred expression, which leaves no doubt of the dignity of the mind. Perhaps no forehead is so rare and so beautiful as that of Shakespeare. The noble and good are generally known; yet, as we have before said, we deem the eye-brow very influential in aiding the expression of some countenances. Indeed, some are so masked with selfish desires, and the versatility of cunning, that the eye-brow must be regarded as almost the only part unable to hide the worthlessness of its proprietor. There are many instances which prove the high degree of intelligence expressed by the brow; amongst such, we quote, Torquato Tasso, Boileau, Turenne, Newton, Wesley, Dr. Melville, Sir Astley Cooper, Byron, Moore, Scott, Sir Roger Murchison, Mr. Justice Coleridge, Mr. Rolt, Q.C., Professor Ferguson, Lord Justice Knight Bruce, the late Sir William Follett, and many eminent men. There is also a female dignity of brow, but that is regularly arched, and gives the idea of power and beauty. The horizontal brow is generally a masculine possession, but when in woman's countenance, there is generally an arched line aiding the illustration of a gentle heart. There are many rough but honest-hearted men, who bear wild and perplexed brows; yet, there are brutal, selfish, covetous ones, wearing this brow; and, unless the hair is obviously soft and glistening, you must avoid them, for if they have ardour or passion, it has dark and evil engagements. The hairs running parallel, as if cut, and at the same time compressed, are leading indications in man and woman of firm understanding, and an unerring perception; and when there is a crescent in the brow when smiling, the fair owner of this brow is poetical and imaginative. When speaking of the size of the eye, or brow, or ear, the physical stature must be considered, and that which would be small in one is not in another. Meeting brows give the face a crafty and gloomy appearance, and occasionally denote dark and dangerous purposes of heart. Wild eye-brows, are never found with an absolutely mild and yielding disposition. Eye-brows, waving above the eyes, short, thick, not long, nor broad, very often denote capacious memory. The ingenious, flexile, mild, and good, very often have these brows. Thick, black, strong eye-brows, declining downwards, close upon the eye, shading deep, large eyes, and accompanied by a sharp, indented, uninterrupted wrinkle of the cheek, which on the slightest motion manifests contempt, disdain, and cold derision, and having above them a conspicuously bony forehead, are allied to the murderer and general felon, or the brutal desire of doing injury to others. If you must ever yield to such, do not let them discover they have you thoroughly under their influence. There is a sunken eye-brow, which tells of the severe and melancholy thoughts which defy the light of life to remove; it never attends the mind of the profound, nor is there moral courage or forecasting in such countenances. Weak eye-brows denote pusillanimity and meanness in man; and, also with woman, if she is otherwise physically strong, but if delicate, you must consult the eye itself, as this weakness of brow may be gentleness. Irregular, interrupted eye-brows, denote impetuosity. If the brow is very near to the eyes, the more earnest, deep, and firm, will the character be; the more remote from the eyes, the more volatile, easily diverted from any enterprise. White eye-brows suggest weakness and want of self-reliance; here the grey mare will be the best horse, and so it should be. We know there are exceptions to this rule, where the amiability of spirit o'er-shines all physical development. The dark brown is power, permanency, defiance of fate, bearing vicissitudes, and courteous to death himself—this is man. There are motions of the eye which demand more notice than the very lines and colours; these motions often perfect the image of anger and contempt, superciliousness and pride. Men with small ears seldom have brows which you care to examine, they generally denote the niggard, and conceited. The eyes of such are generally small and fitful in motion, and never to be trusted. Of course, this observation does not apply to the fair sex, as dame Nature delights to make some of her choicest works small, as indicative of innocence and sweetness. When she makes the eye and ear of man small, she sends such forth as exceptions of her power, and to try the perception and precaution of her more favoured children. Of such persons are they who desert all principle, if it requires manly courage to support it. They are too conceited to importune with their presence; and, therefore, it will be your own fault if you suffer them to annoy you; if they ever have, you have learnt a lesson you will never forget. There are some so woefully deep in this ditch of conceit that they would sacrifice property, and even the life of their friends, rather than acknowledge themselves incorrect. When this is made manifest, the whole being displays one feeling, viz., malignant malice. Here and there, we meet with an exception as to the expression, but you will be seldom deceived, if you avoid them; of course, the forehead may rule. As age advances, the brow of man generally becomes shaggy, with a wild luxuriance; but, in middle age, this appearance denotes a manly understanding, though seldom original genius, but never a volatile, tenderness and spirituality. Such eye-brows deck the eyes of counsellors, framers of plans, experimentalists; but very seldom, bold, aspiring, adventurous minds of the first magnitude. Horizontal eye-brows denote understanding, coldness of heart, and capacity for framing plans. One of the best judges of eyes and eye-brows is woman, as she is mostly free from those circumstances which mislead; she is herself a prophetess, and of kind and unprejudiced mind. A most important element in the power of judging of the expression of the eye and eye-brow is, that the observer shall have an intelligent mind, and kind heart; for with the prejudiced, unprincipled, or unthinking, the rules of the experienced and sensitive philosopher are indescribable hieroglyphics: to them the radiant eye of beauty and innocence, the exalted expression of imagination, and the profundity of genius are scarcely distinguishable from the pandering graces of fashion, or time-serving sycophancy, or the monotonous eye of mere fanaticism, or incurable monomanism. To those who love not music or poetry, we fear we shall sometimes have appeared unintelligible.



Addison said:—"A beautiful eye makes silence eloquent; a kind eye makes contradiction an assent, &c. This member gives life to every part about us, and I believe the eye is in every part of us."

Dr. Roget says, in his Bridgewater Treatise, that visual impressions are those to which the philosopher resorts for the most apt and perspicuous illustrations of his reasoning; and it also forms the same inexhaustible class of principles from which the poet draws his most pleasing, graphic, and sublime imagery. We shall dare to spend one fleeting moment with those spirits, the poets. They are gone to their reward; but, as good angels, they still minister to us, guide and illuminate; they are around our bed, and watch our sleeping hours; they raise the eye-lid of love and charity; they carol in our path, and summon us to pray; they start in clarion voice, and raise our highest emulations; they whisper gently, and hush our meditations by the tomb and grave of the lovely and the loved. This world owes many of its sunniest hours to them—they never die—

But with the ministers of holy worlds,
They ride through everlasting space in state.
They travel, as great kings and conquerors,
Then yield their fiefdom up on high to God.
Midst principalities and worlds unknown,
Whilst light insufferably bright comes forth,
To mark their radiant way and deck their souls
With glory's rays, whilst countless ages roll.

We are well pleased to be able to present the testimony of the poets in favour of our views respecting the eye. The poets! these ethereal beings, though unseen, still wave their tridents o'er the moral world, rousing the passions and affections to exquisite delights. Sir William Temple says, let no one avow a disregard for poetry or music, lest his principles and temper may be called into question. Goldsmith says—

Thou sweet poetry, thou loveliest word.

Coleridge says—

Poetry has yielded to me an exceeding great reward.

Tighe says—

'Tis this has charmed the hours of solitude.

Jean Paul says—

Our object for making liberal quotations from this treasury is, to secure the aid of the poets in sustaining the principles we have and shall enunciate in these pages. These spirits are everywhere, although mostly to be met in quiet sequestered paths; yet in midst of war and bloody scenes, there mused in long reveries at Missoloughi; yes, there fell a spirit as sinks the star of day beneath its watery bed of western waves, the noble of noble birth, ennobling nobility itself—Byron. This child of song and love, has left many evidences of his appreciation of the eye, as indicative of character, beauty, and excellence. Speaking of Donna Julia, he declares that pride, anger, and love were detected in her eyes! he declares:—

Her eye (I am very fond of handsome eyes)
Was large and dark, suppressing half its fire,
Until she spoke; then thro' its soft disguise,
Flashed an expression, more of pride than ire,
And love than either; and there would arise
A something in them, which was not desire,
But would have been, perhaps, but for the soul
Which struggled thro' and chasten'd down the whole.

Speaking of Zuleika, he announces that the eye itself is the picture of the soul:—

The light of love, the purity of grace,
The mind, the music breathing from her face,
The heart whose softness harmonized the whole—
And oh! that eye was in itself a soul!

In Leila's eyes he sees the same spirituality, and expresses the thought thus:—

Her eyes' dark charm, 'twere vain to tell,
But gaze on that of the gazelle,
It will assist thy fancy well;
As large, as languishingly dark,
But soul beam'd forth in every spark
That darted from beneath the lid,
Bright as the jewel of Giamschid.

Of Lesbia's eye, he says:—

The fire of love's resistless lightning.

To the Maid of Athens he vows:—

By those lids, whose jetty fringe
Kiss the soft cheeks' blooming tinge.

In one of his sonnets to Genevra, he says, he sees contemplation and sorrow's softness, which we give in his own inimitable words:—

Thine eyes' blue tenderness, thy long fair hair,
And the wan lustre of thy features, caught
From contemplation, where serenely wrought,
Seems sorrow's softness charm'd from its despair.

And again—

For thro' thy long dark lashes low depending,
The soul of melancholy gentleness
Gleams, like a seraph from the sky descending.

To Caroline, he says—

Think'st thou, I saw thy beauteous eyes,
Suffused in tears, implore to stay.

Speaking of Gulbeyuz, he explains that other principles than intellectual may be discovered in some eyes. He says:—

In her large eyes wrought,
A mixture of sensations might be scann'd,
Of half voluptuousness and half command.

When speaking of the beautiful Theresa, in Mazeppa, he seems to excel himself, when he says:—

She had the Asiatic eye,
Dark as above us in the sky;
But thro' it stole a tender light,
Like the first moonrise of midnight,
Large, dark, and swimming in the stream,
Which seemed to melt to its own beam.
All love and languor and wild fire,
Like saints that at the stake expire,
And lift their raptur'd looks on high,
As tho' it were a joy to die.
A brow like a midsummer lake,
Transparent with the sun therein;
When waves no murmur dare to make,
And heaven beholds her face therein.

Speaking of the innocent Haidee—

Her hair, I said, was auburn, but her eyes
Were black as death, their lashes the same hue,
Of downcast length, in whose silk shadow lies
Deepest attraction; for when to view
Forth from its raven fringe the full glance flies,
Met with such force the swiftest arrow flew:
'Tis as the snake late coil'd, who pours his length,
And hurls at once his venom and his strength.

Speaking of Haidee, he describes the sympathy and influence of the eye. He says:—

Round her she made an atmosphere of life;
The very air seem'd lighter from her eyes—
They were so soft and beautiful, and rife,
With all we can imagine of the skies.

When speaking of the "young star" Aurora Raby's eyes, he discovers a heavenly mindedness and a peering into heaven itself. He says:—

She was sublime
In eyes, which sadly shone as seraphs shine.
All youth with an aspect beyond time,
Radiant and grave as pitying man decline;
Mournful, but mournful of another's crime,
She looked as if she sat by Eden's door,
And grieved for those who could return no more.

We must not forget some of the several parts of the Giaour. In the following, he describes other than pleasant qualities as gleaming through the eye; he says—

Dark and unearthly is the scowl
That glares beneath his dusky cowl:
The flash of that dilating eye
Reveals too much of time gone by;
Tho' varying, indistinct its hue,
Oft well his glance the gazer knew,
For in it lurks that nameless spell
Which speaks, itself unspeakable,
A spirit yet unquell'd and high,
That claims and keeps ascendancy;
And like the bird whose pinions shake,
But cannot fly the gazing snake.

When speaking of Medora:—

The long, dark lashes fringed her lids of snow,
And veiled,—thought shrinks from all that lurked below.
Oh! o'er the eye death most asserts his right,
And hurls the spirit from her throne of light;
Sinks those blue orbs in that long, last eclipse,
But spares as yet the charm around her lips.

To Ianthe, he says, as lovers speak:—

Oh let that eye, which wild as the gazelle's,
Now brightly bold or beautifully shy,
Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells,
Glance o'er this page.

In the far-famed Fire Worshippers, the prince of Ireland's poets denounces the unearthly purposes to be seen in the eye, as portraits of the soul's designs:—

When he hath spoken strange, awful words,
And gleams have broken from his dark eyes,
Too light to bear:
Oh! she hath feared her soul was given
To some unhallowed child of air;
Some erring spirit cast from heaven,
Like those angelic youths of old,
Who sighed for maids of mortal mould,
Bewildered left the golden skies,
And lost their heaven for woman's eyes.

There is a line in his Loves of the Angels we may quote, as evincing the romance of the eye:—

'Twas Rubi, in whose mournful eye,
Slept the dim light of days gone by.

That poet of woman's love, the inimitable and immortal creature of Erin's land, says:—

The brilliant black eye
May in triumph let fly
All its darts without caring who feels 'em;
But the soft eye of blue,
Tho' it scatters wounds too,
Is much better pleased when it heals 'em.

Then again—

The blue eye half hid,
Says from under its lid,
I love and am yours, if you love me.
The black eye may say,
Come and worship my ray;
By adoring, perhaps, you may win me.

In his famed piece of "Laughing Eyes" he says:—

So holy,
Seem but given,
As splendid beacons, solely
To light to heaven.

This admirer of woman's eyes says:—

Where light is ever playing,
Where love in depth of shadow holds his throne.

And he talks of the pleasing hours he has spent—

Watching and pursuing
The light that lies in woman's eyes.

And at another time he says:—

Poor wisdom's chance
Against a glance
Is just as weak as ever.

In the beautiful melody of holy eyes, the poet reminds us of the great spirit Shakespeare, he says:—

In her eyes a saintly lustre beams,
And that most calm and holy confidence,
That guilt knows never.

Those who admire one of Scotland's poets (Robert Burns) may find many a characteristic reference to the eye; his song to Clarinda:—

We part; but by these precious drops
That fill thy lovely eyes!
No other light shall guide my steps,
Till thy bright beams arise.

He evinces his belief in the sympathy of the eye, in many ballads. In that to lovely Nancy is this charming line:—

Turn away those eyes of love.

And again, in the ballad, "O Mally's meek, Mally's sweet," he says:—

Her golden hair, beyond compare,
Comes trinkling down her snowy neck,
And her two eyes, like stars in skies,
Would keep a sinking ship frae wreck.

Again, when describing Peggy's charms, he says:—

The lily's hue, the rose's dye,
The kindling lustre of her eye,
The tender thrill, the pitying tear,
The generous purpose, nobly dear,
The gentle look that rage disarms:
These are all immortal charms.

There are some other thrilling notes in Burns' songs, which, though tinted somewhat beyond general approval, fail not to find the sequestered corners of the heart, which subscribes to that axiom,—"To the pure all things are pure." There are many songs, evincing his belief in the sympathies; for instance, in that song, "Farewell, thou Stream," he says of Eliza:—

The music of thy voice I heard,
Nor wist while it enslav'd me;
I saw thine eyes, yet nothing fear'd,
Till fears no more had sav'd me:
Th' unwary sailor thus aghast,
The wheeling torrent viewing;
'Mid bubbling circles sinks at last
In overwhelming ruin.

Who can forget those words in a ballad—

Sae sweetly move her genty limbs,
Like music's notes o'er lovely hymns,
The diamond dye in her een sae blue,
Where laughing love sae wantin swims.

Again, in the ballad "Adown winding Nith," he speaks of the brilliancy of the eye:—

Yon knot of gay flowers in the arbour,
They ne'er wi' my Phillis can vie:
Her breath is the breath o' the woodbine,
Its dew-drop o' diamond, her eye.

In the Vita Nuova of Dante, he declares the eyes most show the state of the mind. The 18th Sonnet contains these words, addressed to one of the idealities of his impassioned soul:—

I then perceived that you were pondering
Upon the nature of my saddened life;
So that a fear within my breast arose
Of showing with mine eye my abjectness.

In another Sonnet, this poetical philosopher alleges, that the warm-hearted sympathize so deeply, that their very countenances tell of other's woes. He says in the Color d’Amore e di pietà sembianti:—

Never did Pity's semblance and Love's hue
Take such admired possession of thy face.
Fair lady! thou hast long and oft observed,
The gentle glittering eyes that told of grief.


I struggle to prevent my love-worn eyes
From gazing in your beams, but all is vain;
And by their gazing they are quite consumed,
And speak your sorrows but in tears.

In Cansone 20th, we hear him say:—

I never thought that sighs could such distress
Bring to the heart, and torture so severe;
That my proud eye would yield a picture there,
That to all eyes my face with death appears.

Again, Dante says:—

And first I look into those lovely eyes
Which pass thro' mine, and penetrate the heart
With beams so animating and so bright,
That from the sun they seem to flow.

Anacreon is generally objectionable, yet we may quote his 27th Ode:—

We read the flying courser's mane,
Upon his side in marks of flame;
And by their turban'd brows alone,
The warriors of the East are known.
But in the lover's glowing eyes,
The inlet to his bosom lies;
Through them we see the small faint mark,
Where love has dropp'd his burning spark.

Again, in the 24th Ode, after describing the various gifts which nature has granted to various animals, he says:—

To man she gave the flame refined,
That spark of heaven—a thinking mind;—
And had she no surpassing treasure
For thee, oh woman! child of pleasure?
She gave thee beauty—a shaft of eyes,
That every shaft of war outflies;
She gave thee beauty—blush of fire,
That bids the flames of war retire!
Woman! be fair, we must adore thee;
Smile, and a world is weak before thee.

Also, 17th Ode:—

And guileless as the dews of dawn,
Let the majestic brows be drawn,
Of ebon dies, enrich'd by gold,
Such as the scaly snakes unfold.
Mingle, in her jetty glances,
Power that awes, and love that trances.
Steal from Venus bland desire;
Steal from Mars the look of fire:
Blend them in such expression here
That we by turns may hope and fear!


Thy pencil, tho' divinely bright,
Is envious of the eyes' delight.

Coleridge says in the Day Dream:

My eyes make pictures when they're shut:
I see a fountain large and fair,
A willow and a ruined hut;
And thee, and me, and Mary there.
Oh Mary! make thy gentle lap our pillow;
Bend o'er us, like a bower, my beautiful green willow.

Glover declares the loving influence of the eye, and when speaking of the closing eye, says:—

As sliding down the hemisphere, the moon
Immersed in midnight, shades her silver head.

The elegant Spencer declares the spirituality of the eye. He aptly refers to the lights of heaven; he says:—

Compare her eyes,
Not to the sun, for they do shine by night;
Not to the moon, for they are changing never;
Not to the stars, for they have purer light;
Not to the fire, for they consume not ever;
But to the Maker's self, they lik'st be,
Whose light doth lighten all things here we see.

Listen again, he says:—

In her fair eyes two living lamps did flame,
Kindled above at the heavenly Maker's light,
And darted fiery beams out of the same,
So passing brilliant and so wondrous bright,
That quite bereaved the vast beholder's sight.

Butler has not forgotten woman's eye:—

The darts of love, like lightning wound within,
And tho' they pierce it, never hurt the skin;
They leave no marks behind them where they fly,
Tho' through the tend'rest part of all—the eye.

Campbell says:—

When all is still in death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil,
As rings his glittering spear,
He lifts on high
His dauntless brow
And spirit-speaking eye.

Collins is a faithful artist of the passions. He says:—

With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired.

Smollett speaks in his Ode to Truth:—

'Tis Truth, I see her set
In majesty of light,
With Laughter at her side,
Bright ey'd Fancy hovering near, &c.

The author of the Pleasures of Imagination concurs with those poets who compare the light of the eye to the dawn of day.

Milton also says:—

The eye-lids of the morn.

Akenside says:—

Hither, gentle maid,
Incline thy polished forehead, let thy eyes
Effuse the mildness of their azure dawn.

Young (a poet too much disregarded), describing a good man, says:—

With aspect mild, and elevated eyes,
Behold him seated on a mount serene.

The pen of Bulwer declares the beatific character of the eye, and says:—

Those eyes, those eyes, how full of heaven they are,
When the calm twilight leaves the heaven most holy;
Tell me, sweet eyes, from what divinest star
Did ye drink in your liquid melancholy,
Tell me, beloved eyes.

Kirke White (whose journey in this life was short) could not resist some thoughts on this interesting subject. He says:—

Sweet Jessy, I with transport burn,
Thy soft blue eyes to see;
Sweet Jessy, I would die to turn
Those melting eyes on me.

Again, this young poet becomes extatic, and says:—

Oh that my soul might take its final station
In her waved hair, her perfumed breath to sip;
Or, catch her blue eyes' fascination,
Or meet by stealth her soft vermilion lip.


Black eyes mostly dazzle at a ball,
Blue eyes most please at evening fall;
The black a conquest soonest gains,
The blue a conquest best retains;
The black bespeaks a lovely heart,
Whose soft emotions soon depart;
The blue a steadier flame betray,
Which burns and lives beyond a day;
The black the features best disclose,
The blue my feelings all repose.
Then let each resign, without control,
The black all mind, and blue all soul.

Shakespeare has many expressions, which evince his high appreciation of this beautiful organ, and deems it fruitful in imagery; he speaks of—

The fringed curtains of thine eye.

Again, when speaking of Portia's picture, he says:—

Where is any author in the world,
Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?


Move those eyes?
Or, whether riding on the balls of mine,
Seem they in motion? here are severed lips,
Parted with sugar breath, so sweet a bar
Should sunder such sweet friends! here in her hairs
The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
A golden mesh, to entrap the hearts of men
Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes,
How could he see to do them? having made one,
Methinks it should have power to steal both his,
And leave itself unfinished.


From woman's eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethian fire.
They are the books, the arts, the academies,
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.


She bids you
Rest your gentle head upon her lap;
And she will sing the song that pleaseth you,
And in your eye-lids crown the god of sleep.

Again, in Richard's affliction, he says:—

As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
After a well graced actor leaves the stage,
Are idly bent on him who enters next;
Thinking his prattle to be tedious,
Even so, or with much more contempt, men's eyes
Did scowl on Richard: no man cried, God save him.

Again, describing a soldier (Shakespeare describes everything successfully), he says:—

Not fierce and terrible,
Only in thy strokes; but with thy grim looks
Thou mad'st thy enemies shake, as if the world
Were feverous, and did tremble.


Let not the world see fear and blank distrust
Govern the motion of a kingly eye.

When speaking of war, he says:—

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect,
Let it pry thro' the portage of the head,
Like a brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it,
As fearfully as doth a galled rock,
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base.

Describing sympathy, he says:—

Passion, I see is catching, for mine eyes
Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine.

The magnificent sublimity of thought in Brackenbury's Dream contains so much of the grand, that it may be referred to, especially as he says:—

What sights of ugly death within mine eyes—
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea;
Some lay in dead men's sculls, and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As t'were in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep.

Again, speaking of Olivia:—

O when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
That instant was I turned into a hart;
And my fond thoughts, like fell and cruel hounds,
Ever since pursue me.

In his Lucrece there is a beautiful simile:—

And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights,
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.

In that graphic description, previous to the battle of Agincourt, this spirit describes the King as visiting the camp, and says:—

Upon his royal face there is no note
How dread an army hath surrounded him,
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night;
But freshly looks, and overbears attaint
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty,
That every wretch, pining, and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks;
A largess, universal like the sun,
His liberal eye doth give to every one—
Thawing cold fear.

The singular language and thought in Midsummer Night's Dream, reflects on our subject. The poet, from his vast treasury of imagery, speaks of the fiery light of the glowworm's eyes.

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman,
Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricots and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey bags steal from the humble bees,
And for night tapers crop their waxen thighs,
And light them at the fiery glowworm's eyes,
To lead my love to bed, and to arise;
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies,
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes;
Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.

How many short and pithy thoughts dazzle in the gorgeous pages of this bard. In the following, he shows the mystic sympathy of the senses:—

To hear with eyes, belongs to love's fine wit,
A lover's eye will gaze an eagle blind;
Beauty of itself doth of itself persuade,
The eyes of men without an actor;
True eyes have never practised how
To cloak offences with a cunning brow.

Again, he speaks of the brilliancy and lovely translucency of woman's eye (all good men agree with Shakespeare's praise of woman):—

O how her eyes and tears did lend and borrow,
Her eyes seen in the tears, tears in her eye;
Both crystals, when they viewed each other's sorrow,
Sorrow that friendly sighs sought still to dry;
But like a stormy day, now wind, now rain,
Sighs dry her cheeks, tears make them wet again.

Perhaps one of the most charming thoughts may lie in the following. We say may lie, for we are constantly discovering new, brighter, and more heavenly meaning in Shakespeare; and, believe, various minds receive very various delights in reading the scriptures of this spirit from his poems. The quotation is, where he is showing sorrow turned into joy:—

The night of sorrow now is turned to day;
Her two blue windows faintly she up-heaveth,
Like the fair sun, when in his fresh array
He cheers the morn, and all the world relieveth;
And as the bright sun glorifies the sky,
So is her face illumined by her eye.

Again (here is one of our own figures) the poet describes the eye as the window of the heart, into which true love looks to see the image of his soul:—

Behold the window of my heart, mine eye,
What humble suit attends the answer there.

This poet of Nature and Nature's God; of Time, whose rolled pandect he peereth into, and of all eternities and eternals, has given a few words descriptive of the poet's eye. That highly quickened and rapturous sight can only yield delight to the intellectual and spiritual:—

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing,
A local habitation and a name.

May we make one more quotation for the young, for we would assure the young they may trust true love; it will ennoble, purify, and set up idealities in the soul, which will elevate the mind. It will attract from low and unworthy purposes, and give life and zest to the purest parts of our nature. The mean, selfish, and sensual will not understand this:—

But love first learned in a lady's eye,
Lives not immured in the brain;
But with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices;
It adds a precious seeing to the eye.

This magician, in the Winter's Tale, observes.—

He says he loves my daughter,
I think so too, for never gazed the moon
Upon the water, as he'll stand and read,
As 'twere my daughter's eyes.

In his Romeo and Juliet, he compares the spheres of sight to stars. He is right, for woman's eye enlivens, encourages, and solaces, when rugged anxieties surround man:—

Her eye discourses, I will answer it,
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks;
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do intreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres, till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?—
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp, her eye in heaven
Would thro' the airy region stream so bright,
That birds would sing, and think it was not night.

Byron says, the eye is made bright by sleep, and we may quote—

The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest;
The courteous host, and all approving guest
Again to that accustomed couch must creep,
Where joy subsides, and sorrow sighs to sleep.
And man o'erlaboured with his being's strife,
Shrinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life.
There lie Love's feverish hope and Cunning's guile,
Hate's working brain, and lulled Ambition's wile.
O'er each vain eye oblivion's pinions wave,
And quenched existence couches in a grave.
What better name may slumber's bed become—
Night's sepulchre, the universal home,
Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue sink supine,
Alike in naked helplessness recline.

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The eye of genius is very different to that eye which allows the feelings to lead and predominate; with genius there is none of that fluctuating or flickering, which indicates the shallowness of the stream. The brow is sometimes drawn back, so that the ball appears very prominent; the eye assumes to represent the whole soul, and seems to suppress the office of every other feature: there is then an imperialism in the eye which belongs to the grand and sublime. It moves slowly, calmly, and in curves through a sphere of moderate extent; the look is pleasing, very intelligent, and sometimes keen; the pupil is contracted, and the iris in a state of tension; the lustre is sometimes most dazzling; the brow is rather bent down, and not unfrequently indented.

Doubtless no power or attribute of the mind can execute its mission, unless all other parts of the mind are in due order; and perhaps it is somewhat difficult to give a definition to genius. We consider strong imagination, piercing judgment, originality, and invention, with independence of thought and action, as indispensable elements of genius. It is the power of clearly conceiving and properly combining images and sentiments, either as they relate to utility or refined taste; it is the highest effect of sensibility and reason—the power of associating ideas harmoniously. Poetry, painting, and music are sciences peculiarly beholden to genius: poetry is the language of pure passion; painting is silent poetry; music is the accent of passionate expression.

Some do not allow this grand power to be one of the properties of woman; but, if we are correct in our analysis, we can testify to the contrary. We must remember Boadicea, Eleanora of Aquitaine, Queen Elizabeth, Catherine of Russia, Wilhelmina Anspach, the unfortunate Mary, Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Clarke, Anna Maria Porter, Miss Cushman, Mrs. Sigourney, Mrs. Carpenter, Lady Strafford, Catherine of Arragon. But names are needless, we have in these days, women, intellectual and lovely, moving amongst us like stars of glory. They are courteous and affable, but you may see in their eyes, that which reminds you of deep magnificent lakes, inhabited by spirits, who hold, fiefdom under the seal of grandeur; they are constantly communing with beings free from the ties and thraldom of time:—

Their palace standeth in the air,
By necromancy placed there,
That it no tempest needs to fear
Which way it blow, or high so 'ere.


When the moon is laid asleep,
Sitting in her silver chair—
Then walks genius with slow step,
Midst things unseen:
Thus it fell upon a night,
When there was nought but starrie light.


The eye of a woman of genius is always bewitching, and in every clime is worshipped: many bow as at a shrine, lowly they whisper, look, and pass along; they feel they are on holy ground; no heedless foot disturbs the beatific exercises of genius. Let not the vain enter her palace; there sits Death as a guest invited to cast his sombre shade amongst these sublimities: sweet gentle Taste and Memory are part of her court; the knell of judgment rolls across the enchanted towers. List! she moves—the chimes of enchantment have commenced; she summons her spirits to wait upon her, they strew stars of mystic brilliancy; she stares at Death until he hies away; she charges the cauldron of unearthly elements, a thick cloud arises, spreading narcotic fragances; her brow is damp with immortal dews; the quivering of the aspen comes o'er this magnificence and all its elements: Memory steps from her seat—the spell is broken, and the passion of genius is o'er. But, there are other revelations in which she exercises; she turns towards the blue sky, she sees some fond companion, some loving star, they exchange radiations of affection; she thinks of future days, when the silver wings of Imagination may enter heaven, and partakes of sublime delights; she waits without the gate, but hears the blast of the trumpet's sound, which calls the choir of Heaven to rehearse "the immortality of beauty."[1]



Hope has elevated eye-brows, and opens the eye-lids more than usual; the iris is soft, turgescent; the pupil large; the lustre of the eye-ball mild, though increased in degree; the motions of the eye are easy, free, performed within a large space, and curved; the look is very agreeable, contemplative, expressive of a wish which is felt. This is one of the angels sent down from heaven to bear a cup of kindness and consolation to man in his pilgrimage. She raises the fallen lid, and revives, with her inspired look, those sinking and about to die.

Hope with its golden radiance opens its burning wings, and sheds on all powers the return of the love of life. All passions may be resolved into the simple system of love and hate; the various modes of affection being caused by accident. Hope is (speaking abstractedly) an anticipation of some enjoyment, and generally running parallel to an antagonistic feeling, called fear. This angel is sent into this world of reality to awaken joy and excitement, and to drive fear, anguish, and monotony far away. If the organ of sight were deprived of this power, there would be many a dark and cloudy path, which is now illumined by the waving of the wand of this holy one. The generous sympathy of this lovely spirit is not found in palaces and the domains of luxury; but, where there is a cry of woe, and where the echo of sorrow wanders about the streets, there she glides along; in many a wretched cottage, and by many
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a bed of sickness, there sits this cherub for ever smiling. Hark! how loud the winds rave, they roar through the thin walls; hunger awakes; pallid sickness glances on the dying embers of the scanty fire; the lamp flickers o'er the ashy countenances of that squalid group; Madness looks in and peers around for its victim; Hope darts forth and defies his entrance—for a moment they view each other—the white lip of Madness threatens and retires. Hope is part of the treasury of a sound mind; the philosopher well knows the rapid changes of time; the inability of man to rule for time; and that, except he sustains a firm and dignified address in the hour of danger, he becomes prey to the meanest of foes. Hope is the brightest flag in the battle of life. It brings riches to the poor, which never fade. It is the lover's staff. The wild winds blow through the curls of the little sailor boy, whilst wrestling with the tattered sails: he hears the yet hoarser voice of the bold captain; but through the driving blasts he sees a sweet cherub darting from rope to rope, chaunting sweetest melody of future joy; and he hopes the rolling seas will bring him to his home. Hope is a precious stone which glitters in many of the dark paths of life. Young says:—

"Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here."

Campbell says:—

Audacious Hope! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe:
Won by their sweets, in nature's languid hour,
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bower:
There as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring;
What viewless forms th' Æolian organ play,
And sweep the furrow'd lines of anxious thought away.



The natural appearance of the brow is unaltered; as no passion, no hope or fear has ever been there. Peace sits there on her parian throne; her various fairies are couchant around her; no appearance of alarm or rancour there. The portals of the palace of this divinity are kept

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by Silence. The upper lid has a play so slow and easy that you scarcely think it lives; yet you may observe a constant downward tendency; the lower lid is elevated, the pupil clear and expanding, there is much lustre about the sclerotica. The lovely and chaste peace which pervades the whole expression is akin to modesty, but its name is "Innocence." Milton says:—

So dear to heaven is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is proved sincerely so;
A thousand liv'ry'd angels, lacquey her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt.

This is the eastern beauty clad in ignorance and innocence; and this sweet little eye moves slowly in curves and lines, but heedless as hopeless; it has no hope, no fear, no joy or sorrow; and it seems adapted to the narrow area and few objects, over which it may exercise; it expresses none of nature's delights, yearnings or solicitudes; it may not roam over nature's beauties, nor gather one fresh thought to feast the lonely heart, or take some humble part in those extacies and luxuriant delights which social variety presents to the more favoured beauties of Spain, France, and England. Though bright and dark, well-shaped and pleasing, it seems to decline sympathy.

And scarce permitted, guarded, veiled to move,
She yields to one her person and her heart,
Tamed to a cage, nor shows a wish to roam.

The life of the young Turkish females is one of luxurious idleness; they rise early, have frequent baths which render their bodies soft as velvet; bathing and sleeping consume their heavy hours. The lady described in the illustration, is but one of many slaves of one master. Alas! all the splendour and various coloured furniture, cannot light up that eye with nature's dazzling glory; it is day by day the same placid and monotonous orb. How great are the privileges of some! Roscoe says:—

Freedom! blest gift, whom none condemn who know,
Dear is thy presence in this world below;
If thou be absent, life no joy affords—
Despised its titled pomps, and useless hoards.

But Moore is more felicitous when he speaks,—

There is a land where souls are free,
Where tyrants taint not nature's bliss;
If death, that world's bright opening be,
Oh! who would live a slave in this?

It cannot be surprising that the countenance of Innocence has but few lines; it is the sequestered mead over which the passions never step; it is the placid lake which is rarely ruffled, by even the playful breeze; it is the sphere of peace, free from all rugged marks of fear or sorrow.

Its eye (as we have said) describes a peaceful, unsuspicious, passionless spirit, awaiting the summons to its mansions—not made with hands—and prepared from the beginning of time, to which it received its title from that voice of love which descended from Mount Olivet.

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Love wears a glowing, full eye, which imparts its corruscations to all around. The presence of love warms and awakens to all social amenities. The eye-brows generally expand towards the temples; there is a very seductive expression produced from the elevation of the lower lid; the iris glistens, as though beaming in humid pearls; confidence sits gallantly enthroned in the enlarged pupil; the soul cannot be seen, but many a trickling diamond tells of the inward delights. The motion of the eye is slow and easy, except when love is embittered with fear, or doubt, or jealousy; and then it is very uncertain in its motion, as it is no longer a principle, but a passion, full of fitful and rapid vigilance. Sometimes, even then, contemplation bends over the eye, like an eagle overlooking some deep ravine, watching for its prey, or sullenly listening to the rolling cataract below: then, the brows become corrugated, and the upper lid droops and moves sadly slow; the celia bend downwards, the iris loses its tension, the pupil seems powerless, and as though its occupation was over. Withal there is too much sweetness remaining for the eye to appear in any way disagreeable, though the frown of melancholy casts many a dark shadow; here, as ever, this beautiful mirror faithfully indicates the feelings.

Love is a state of mind, which may be termed settled affection,—i.e., a constant anxiety, conjoined to willingness, to endure and suffer for another; at times it betrays sadness and uneasiness; at others, extreme consciousness of pleasure; alas! at times, it wears that direful veil, called green jealousy. Love has many streams, which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams. Its breath is the air of Paradise.

This gentle angel is looking for the manifestation of that life and feeling in others, of which she has the most ethereal models and idealities placed in the niches of her spirit; there are restless spirits there, yet all are sanctified and prepared for their office by the mystery of inspiration. Sometimes she leaves her watch-tower, and is found midst an umbrageous loveliness, listening to Echo, or sweet Philomel; in the mazy dance, gentle are her lovely motions,—smoothly gliding, undulating or winding, her buoyant form exciting the most pleasing of sensitive perceptions. Her motion is the life of beauty, her smile is beauty, her contour is the phase of beauty—the very presence of divinity. The poets describe her path and call her—

"The winding honey-suckle, with ivy canopied and interwove."

Elevation and extacy are often akin to this loveliness of form and expression. There are sympathies in the carriage of the head (which is generally thrown upward), and the arms are often raised, and this may arise from the idea prevalent amongst mortals, that the plains of eternal joys are above the mountain, and far out of mortal ken. This, also, is a phase of beauty, as an expression of the most delightful feelings, conveyed by means of that which is to sense most delicately pleasing; there is gentleness of form and combination of influences, which conjoin to animate and delight; this spirit Love, refines all ideas and conjoins with all holy desires, which mutually assist each other and multiply the exuberance of joys, till at length the highest excellence of social perception may be attained.

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The eye of earthly sorrow is generally securely hidden by the lid, and directed to the ground; the brow taking the same direction. Poor Sorrow has nothing to show or boast of, it is generally its own nurse and physician. The portrait tells that all vivacity is gone, the nerves are all agitated at the root, whilst a multiplicity of sensations and impressions are all acting, and imparting to those eyes tenderness, devotion, and meditation. The rapidity with which the ideas and idealities of sorrow flow is so great, that many pass away without submitting themselves to observation. The facility with which woman receives impressions, must be suggestive of rapid change: this continual versatility in the nervous system is always operating on the eye; and, whilst it denies the existence of that steady and lengthened condensation which the eye of man pourtrays, yet there is often a graceful and fascinating mournfulness depicted in the eye, which is a true portrait of the heart: there love hovers, as the first attribute of life. Woman walks amidst hopes, fears, and troubles as a prophetess, angel, and companion; she lives to hope, and hopes to live, to find compensation for the humiliations and woes with which she is often surrounded, and too often by that one whom her heart has selected as her companion. This lady is talking to herself, we think we hear her say:—

My summer now is gone, so quickly spent,
'Tis neither mazzy dance, nor gallant love, or joy
Can wake it from the dead.—Once, once indeed,
And only once, I loved. Ah, who can tell
When first the new-born infant opes its eye,
And drinks the light of heaven, what mystic thrill
Of joy extatic, then from nerve to nerve
Through this, of all the portals to the brain
Most complicate, attends that rushing beam!
'Tis even thus with passion's first wild throb
In youth's young soul: 'tis indefinable;
And all we know is, that it gave a zest,
An impetus unto the tide of life,
That until then had sluggish been and dull.
Oh, 'tis a gift from heaven! and could it last,
I could not wish for any other light
Than the bright trance of love.
Once more we meet down by the rocky shore,
Fix'd by his love.—Ah! in this wilderness,
'Twill cheer this soul, and yield some passing ray
To tempt this fluttering soul awhile to stay.
Ah! there the happy sea-bird tells her tale
To her loved mate: together scale o'er storms,
Which rend those high materialities,
Which bound their wild domain of angry seas.
But when the saucy winds have ceased to chide,
Their glistening eyes with undulations shine:
Fearless and proud, they ride,
And watch the crested waves to rocks incline.
Come, Sorrow, hug thy child in cold embrace,
Gently take down the tabernacle slow:
These eyes may no more gaze on that loved face,
And all the world is now a world of woe.

Sorrow has lovely shades, in which it were well sometimes to sit. She has cooling streams for feverish worldliness. She has medicines which are better than wine. She has an altar for pious vows, and a cold, dreary sepulchre for those who despise her visitations.

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The eye of Imagination seems to look through all presence, and calmly regards that which others see not. The point of convergence coincides exactly with an extreme point the eye seems to include. The look is always steady, though enduring disturbance more readily than the eye of genius; it is also penetrating and sometimes piercing, as though jealous: there is considerable lustre and feeling, but united to that control and energy, which regulate the line of the path of the eye. If the subject under consideration is of extreme importance, or relating to the unseen world, the eye opens with glistening radiance, and occasionally a tear rolls off the lashes; then the eye performs its motions more heavily, and within a more limited field, and passes in straight lines from some ideal object to another with an oscillating motion; yet a pleasing and attractive expression pervades every part of the eye. This is one of the attendant graces, and best-beloved sisters of genius; this is the loving, buoyant creature seen on brows of haughty mountains, listening to the dissonant roarings of the cataract; she dashes through thick embrasures of the dense wood, and sits by the side of pellucid streams, listening to the happy songsters of the glen. She whispers—

Bring me word hither
How the world goes.

And as Coleridge says:—

All passions, all delights, all thoughts,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
Are all her ministers in love,
And feed its sacred flame.
When moonlight hour steals o'er the sense,
'Tis her delight, her hope, her joy:
Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
Like a lovely hermitess,
Beauteous in a wilderness;
When praying always, prays in sleep;
And if she move unquietly,
Perchance 'tis but the blood so free
Comes back and tingles in her feet;
No doubt she hath a vision sweet.

She is the one Milton describes:—

She is the same that at my window peeps,
'Tis her fair face that shines so bright;
'Tis that sweet fairy, she that never sleeps,
But walks about high heaven all the night.

Imagination can see kingdoms in shadows, and watch warriors and their brilliant staff vanish in the mists of a grandeur lent for awhile by the fleecy clouds. She can hear the blast of trumpet and shawm as they travel through infinite space, and echoes the mystic praises of the Creator. She wakes in presence of spirits unseen by man,—she dreams as spirits dream, and she is clad in the dew of inspiration, in foretaste of her ethereal being.

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I will not wish ye half my misery,
I have more charity: but say, I warn'd ye:
Take heed, for Heaven's sake, take heed, lest at once
The burden of my sorrows fall upon ye.



The eye of Dignity moves calmly, whilst all the parts adjacent to the eye possess great freedom of motion, which motion is somewhat governed by mood of mind, though always under constraint. The eye seems not only capable of including everything, but also of critically examining every detail.

Woman has generally sweet alliances attending dignity of mien, and many reserve powers. The dignified never allow much outward demonstration, as this is rather a characteristic of weakness of mind.

In representing the figures of heroes, the ancient artist exercised great judgment, by exhibiting only those human affections which become a wise and heroic mind; scarcely allowing a glimmer of the flame of passion to be seen, lest that variety of fears and doubts might rush into the mind of the beholder which sometimes distracts admiration. The two great classical instances we may quote—Niobe and her daughters, against whom Diana shot her fatal darts—are represented as seized with terror and extreme anguish. The fable gives us an idea in the metamorphosis of Niobe into a stone; and hence, Æschylus introduces her in a frantic state: but the mighty artist has taken care to evince no extreme distrought, but preserves all in beauty, as though passion was in abeyance, held back by some internal sublime majesty. Niobe and her daughters are, and ever will be, the most perfect models of beauty. The other instance we would refer to is the Laocoon, where the artist still preserves the repose, vigour, and dignity of the brave man, struggling against his misfortunes, stifling the emotions of his anguish, and striving to repress them.

Dignity regards all precedence as nought, unless based on right and virtue. Of what account was the haughty Wolsey in the eyes of the unfortunate Catherine of Arragon! she told him of his cardinal sins, and yielded even for him a prayer and her pity; she reminded him of that Being before whom kings shall sue, and false priests shall quiver as the aspen. She saw a troop of angels beckoning to her, and tendering their safe conduct to the unseen world. The belief in the riches of that world induces the sacrifice of self-righteousness, and then gives to the eye, aye to all the being, true dignity.

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The eye-brows of Resignation are slightly elevated, the lids widely apart; the iris not tense, but soft with lustre; the motion of the eye is slow, but free and independent, and generally acting in a curve. The consciousness of the value and grace of virtue has reached a maturity in feeling and understanding, which is evinced in the eye. Resignation is occupied in the cultivation of the great parts of mind and soul, and fears that an extensive and unremitting intercourse with men may stifle the growth of many of the sweetest germs of virtue, and scare away gentle, tender conscience, which trembles where busy worldlings discuss the trivial interests of time.

Her modest bearing is a soft shade to the excellence of her form, giving it effect and beauty; it raises and rounds the peering points of elegance, and makes all colours blend so infinitely in order, until the figure seems veiled in purest light:—

Modest as morning, when she coldly eyes
The youthful Phœbus.

No anxiety for good news; no esteem for hasty relief. By this eye all news is qualified: the bad is not feared, the good is not exulted in; for well does the owner know, the cedar shall fall, whilst the reed quivers in the marsh, until Endymion culls it to tell the silver tones of love to beautiful Dian: yes, the spirit of resignation evinces she has powers which shall endure until all material demonstrations are passed away; she shall live and muse eternally:—

But that tall castle height must fall,
The mountain where the golden sun has hid,
The rocks where lonely eagles sullen rest,
The peaceful valley with orient honours clad,
The boundaries of the raging billows' crest,
The burning stars in their supernal vault,
Must render up their native majesty,
When the shrill trumpet of the angel sound;
But the soft notes of Resignation's voice
Shall join the choir of heaven's great palaces,
And rest for aye in holy presence there.

No noise, no care, no vanity, no strife attend this placid spirit; no haughty passion there. From a base world she wanders away; by streamlet and sequestered grove she steps and watches the gay lark, poised with gallant joys, to chant at Heaven's great gate to angels' ears. A pure ethereal calm glows over her face. Far above the reach of court intrigue, ambition's promises, and lure of gold, mean purposes and vain desires, she asks no joy, but that of virtuous peace, and dares the haughtiest storm of fate to rend that jewel from her breast. She inhabits a temple decked with amaranthine flowers, which no blast can kill; it is built with stones of crystal, through which her piercing eye is ever contemplating heaven. The misery of duplicity, temptation, and human infirmities is now unknown to her; she bids the wild earth roll, for she is shut in with God. She is a revelation of love; a beam of divinity, influencing and shining through those dark clouds which attend the mortal body. She is not compelled to beg her daily happiness from others.

"Of God she sings, and of the mild
Attendant Mercy, that beside
His awful throne for ever smiles;
Ready with her white hand to guide,
His bolts of vengeance to their prey,
That she may quench them on their way."

Her soul is decked with golden light, which glorifies her actions and her friendship; indeed, that nectarian flower, amiability, grows in her path, and even place is dignified by the serenity of her presence. She is a lover of virtue, without austerity; pleasure, without effeminacy, and life without fear of its end; hence it is, she is subject to no disappointments, for her pursuit is truth. This is the ideality of her passion,—to cherish goodness: this is her pride, this her beauty, this her hope, this her life, this her death, and this her epitaph.

It is to such we may use those words of the great bard:—

Thou art alone,
If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness,
Thy meekness saint-like,
The queen of earthly queens.

This is the woman of whom the poet might say:—

Yet there is light around her brow,
A holiness in those dark eyes,
Which shows, tho' wand'ring earthward now,
Her spirit's home is in the skies.



Soon as the eyes on beauty fondly form,
And find its pleasures, they awake the mind;
But heart and soul arise
And contemplate each lovely form,
Whilst every wish departs, save still to gaze.


We have no hesitation in saying that one of the purest sources of intellectual pleasure is the presence of Beauty; for then the spirit finds an object for the exercise of all its powers, and the most agreeable emotions are created: yet it is not wonderful that the variety and inconsistency of our tastes, respecting the attributes and characteristics of any principles, should have led many philosophers to deny the existence of any certain combinations of forms and effects, to which the term beauty ought to be invariably applied. Voltaire says, "Nothing can be more beautiful than the idealities created by reading the discourse of Plato." Perhaps it would be more intelligible to say, a standard for the beautiful, in its most general acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is made up of a spiritual exquisiteness, a perception of the primary pleasures of imagination, of the secondary pleasures of sense, and of the conclusions of the reasoning faculty.

Though men of taste possess a ready perception and lively appreciation of the beautiful, it is not possible that the sensual and conceited, the selfish and artificial can recognize beauty; for such recognition requires habitual dignity and delicacy of mind. How vain would be the endeavour to create a sympathy for the beautiful in the mind of the covetous and sensual, the idle or dissipated! before such this apparition of divinity will not appear. But we will proceed.—Beauty is one of the ministering fairies, ever tending the path of the intellectual and imaginative. By the old beechen tree, in the rays of the sun, in the hues of the dark portentous clouds, midst the dazzling figures of the mazy dance, in the long and sombre corridor, or gloomy aisle, on battlements, or mountain's brow, rolling on the bosom of the lonely sea, in the wild wind's voice, in the presence of the perfume of gentle violets, or the ruby rose, there sits beauty—to win, to excite, to delight her devotees, to charm, to soothe, to dignify and absorb, to lead to honour, love, and charity. This heavenly guest will wait on earth, till all the sons of man are gone; and then will be wafted in her golden car to join in eternal praises in the unseen world. Beauty, like all divine gifts, is everywhere to be seen by the eye of the faithful admirer of nature; and, like all spirits, she is scarcely to be described by words. Her countenance and mien, her path, her hue and carriage, often surpass expression, and soothe the enthusiast into reverie and silence. Sometimes she is personified by the graceful lily, sometimes by the dashing cataract, at times in eventide's rays, or on the trembling leaf of autumn; sometimes in the painter's reveries, or the sculptor's exalted conceptions; in the halo of childhood she frolics with innocent playfulness; but one of her earthly thrones is in woman's eye and fashion: there are the unchangeable lines and contour of beauty. There is beauty midst a host of courteous associates, who execute her commands; thence her ministers conspire to develop the life and glory of the grand emotions of the beautiful; they sit around their queen, and play on harps of heavenly note, which resound over mountain and valley, and in sweet songs they teach that beautiful objects must be in harmony with the whole economy of our nature, and that happiness is the state of feeling proper to the mind, when acting in concert with its own actual constitution. They tell that man's native right is to be happy; that in him there is a perennial spring of enjoyment, and all his search after, and reflections upon, beauty, are but the spirit's spontaneous suggestions, and the free outpourings of its nature. They teach man that he is surrounded by ties and alliances, which command his ardent affection and sympathy. They show that he is related to the physical world and its economy, which is ever creating agreeable or painful sensations; that the moral world and its economy, are exerting their influence on almost all his actions; that the Prince of the unseen world is ever appearing in the moral and physical world, and that these varied and august shadows of the Almighty evince to man that there is a beauty, awful and sublime, before which he must bow in love or in sorrow; that his obedience will lead to the intrinsic peace and harmonious activity of all his faculties. There is a voice, as from a silver trumpet, which seems to say:—"Thou, O man! live in harmony with the physical world, and health shall be thine; live in harmony with the economy of the moral world, and thou shalt wear virtue's chaplet; live in harmony with thy Divine relation, and thou shalt at last be wafted to Eternity's realms, where thou shalt bask in peace, and listen to the voices of angels and archangels chanting the praises of beauty. The soul then yearns for the visitation of true beauty on earth, and at last it shall be steeped in reverie and contemplation of eternal beauty." There are on earth many appearances and expressions of beauty; but we may now consider our subject more closely. Most truly one of the temples of the Great Spirit is the physical fashion of man, from which, though much desecrated by passions and the festivities of the man of sin, the impress of Deity and the light of the lamp of heaven have not been wholly removed: the holy is ever holy. Amidst these ruins still remain the lines of the life of beauty. The chill of fear has passed through the trellis of the windows of the castle, and many a fair ornament has been thrown aside. The gallant pennon of divinity has been exposed to many a storm, and the warder's gate has been thrown into the fosse, the fair ladie of this manse has been frighted from her bowrie, and sorrow seems sitting on the high tower. Yet there is a voice, as from one travelling in his strength, with dyed garments from Bozrah; and it whispers, "I am here." Yes! still remains beauty to mantle our being, to excite to noble and grand engagements, to rescue our minds from ignoble conceptions, to etherealize our spirits. But, say some, how shall we discern it, and what is its portraiture? Let him, who is of a pure and meek spirit, reply; let him, who loves his neighbour, reply; let the child and disciple of love and charity reply; let the faithful, who can see heaven's towers, reply; let the learned and lover of truth reply; let the imaginative and feeling heart reply. And the trumpets and shawms of angels will echo through endless space—God is beauty; all his works are beauty; his voice, his words, his providence, his presence (even as he appears in our fallen nature) is beauty; the very presence of holiness. Hark to His servants,—the north, the south, the east, the west,—how grand and beautiful is their voice. Look upon his mountains and vallies. But thou unslumbering sea, why bay my soul? Before thy shrine I do confess thou art divine, and in thy mighty, lonely path, thou hast announced thy beauty. By thy shores thou tenderest thy fashion for the infant's joyance, whilst thy tiny children play in fringed beauty and crested glory. In thy bosom thou hidest the bold mariner, the smile of love, the beam lit up for home, the gold of Ophir and the chains of slaves, the task-master and the weary, the frantic, the timid, and the bold,—all lie in thy humid bowels,—on thy moist dank pillow Death triumphs, where fretted pinnacle and coral reef form the dull sepulchre; whilst all the trance of time shall pass and deafening waves roll on. There on the couch with Death some lie, in mournful beauty clad, so blanch, so still, so full of peace, until the resurrection comes, and the command goes forth: for thou, even thou, mighty spirit of beauty, thou sea, grand and august as thy being has been, must yield and give up all thy treasure. How awful and how beautiful this magnificent array! hark, the mighty spirits rush forth from the tomb of waters, so long pent; here is beauty,—see, they break the gate of Death, and immortality put on! this is beauty! This is one of its apparitions, this also is God! He, the ever mighty one, "moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform;" his paths to take, his declarations, his denunciations, and renunciations to make; his threats, his promises to avow, and still behind a threatening cloud, his beauty clad in mercy is oft to be discerned. Again, in the morning of our days, when the feelings are young, then no listlessness arises, none of the best and tenderest; the most acute and sensitive of our feelings have been seared. Then we look upon treasures of nature, the pallid moon, the glittering stars, and perceive a vision of the beautiful in splendour and grandeur, living and burning on the very lines of beauty. How soothing is this presence to the mind of the virtuous and noble! what holy companionship! how many sweet reveries are held within the glistening halo of this enchantment! But, alas, there are seasons when these elements of the eternal are oppressive and overwhelming. How awful is their loveliness and grandeur when encountering sin! then the conscience is smitten—ashy pallor spreads over the countenance—the eye sinks—the iris is turgescent—the sclerotica is covered with a thick film—the blood of sin seems congealed in the presence of the great Spirit of night: then to be alone with even but one apparition of beauty is the depth and darkness of woe. Nature changes not—the queen of night rides forth in her silver chariot; onward she moves in obedience to the laws of beauty. How placid is all nature's beauty? The mendacious attractions of the world may distract our affections, and we may wander far from beauty, but we shall see its glory again.

To us the arch of the rainbow, its shape, its evanescent colours (blending so softly that none may tell how far the first bright tint extends, or whence it comes), are all emanations of beauty. We follow the lonely sea in its wanderings; we see God; we worship Him in a thousand ways, and at a thousand times unseen by man. We live a life of idealism in relation to his presence and his ministering servants. We dream of his dire indignation and approving consolations. We see Him the Author of beauty, the centre of a boundless sphere; and we bow in veneration. This is another expression of beauty—an apparition of Divinity. As time advances, youth recedes; the world presents its fashions and mistaken presentiments of beauty, and on them we gaze awhile and are entranced. We are too soon disposed to believe, and become lovers of science. We are told, the principles of these our new delights are to be known and reasoned upon, so that we may set up a carnal judgment and appreciation, free from any Divine dictation. We admire and learn, until we become drunken with these viands. Too soon we become devotees at the altar of science, we climb its heights, partake of its labours, and sit down at the table of its chieftains. We become at length satiated, and perceive the vanity of earthly science and its impotence to afford happiness. We again see the apparition of Deity, and return to the altar of beauty and holiness. The unchanged and unchangeable face of nature, its sun and moon, its stars, its mountains, its rivers, the unfathomable sea, again present themselves, and we dwell over them, regarding them as associates of our first love. We are led to examine our own fashion and being, and we discover assimilations of contour and shape which yield pleasing emotions. There we perceive the same line of beauty, which is the source of so much delight, whilst reflecting on the shape of the world, the fashion of the sun, the moon, and their starry children. We admire the structure of the various organs which minister to our existence, intelligence, and life; for we then recognize the same lines and shapes, which have yielded us so much pleasure in the heyday of our youth. The line of beauty is the line of life; the line of power and motion; the very perfection and being of beauty is expressed in the sphere or its features, which are curves: to behold it is to delight; and to describe its effect on our general nature demands a cultivated and unprejudiced mind. As we have said, beauty rests in her bower amidst the petals of the lily; high on the arched heaven; by the rocky shore where billows roll; surrounds the golden sun, and beams in the softer radiance of the moon; in the smile of childhood; in woman's form, and in the globe of sight. There she sits in majesty eternal, repeating in every age and clime,—"The light of the body is the eye."


How variously do philosophers explain the nature of light! Some have called it the traction of lines in radial action. That a ray of light is a radius, having two extremities, different from each other, one turned towards the sun, and one coming in contact with the planets; and that that light is a splitting, rending action: that it is the life of ether. Some have said (strangely) that the sun is an undulating sea of flame, and that combustions or electrical processes of light, appearing to us as light, occur in its atmosphere, and that the velocity of rotation hurls about the light particles, which are again, by an unknown route and unknown means, brought back to the sun.

Some consider that the sun appears to have only the density of water, being four times less dense than the earth, and, therefore, nearly in the condition of water; and that it gives out light merely because it is water; for as such it is in eternal motion, and is moved by the planets. That at every point of the sun, opposite to which a planet stands, there is flow; there illumination is stronger. That there must be several seas of light upon the sun opposite to the planets, and that there is nowhere a perfectly quiescent point in the sun. These philosophers remind us the ebb and flow of the sea give out light; and that, as they say, the sun is a body trembling through its mass, and thereupon phosphorescent.

We trust we shall not fatigue by some further observations,—for instance, colour or decomposition of light fairly claim a few words. Light cannot enter unchanged into mutual operation with matter. The tension of ether changes itself in matter, and this change is a debilitation of the tension of ether; and, lastly, its complete cessation. There can, therefore, be no absolutely transparent matter, the ether only being the absolutely transparent. The denser a material is, by so much the more will it be capable of suppressing in itself the tension of light. This suppression or expiration of the tension of light in bodies has received the name of absorption. This absorption is not a mechanical adherence of the particles of light in the pores of bodies—there are no pores for light, and this requires none—this absorption is regarded as a retrogression of light into the indifference of ether; indeed, light in conflict with matter does not continue light, but becomes a mean condition between light and darkness.

Colour orginates only in the confinity of light and dark, or in the limit between the two great antipodes, white and black. Darkness is the cause of colours. There is nothing visible but colour,—the coloured matter. The non-corporeal itself is invisible; darkness is the cause of visibility; were there no darkness there would be no world for the eye. Colours are only illuminated darkness. In the limit between light and dark there is neither white nor black, but their possible mediate conditions or the proper colours, the material tensions of ether. Colour agrees essentially with the elements, and is itself nothing different from element. Fire is in its essence red, as being the impartient of light and heat; air is in its essence nothing else than the blue ether, by virtue of its being gaseous; water is the green ether; earth the yellow. If the ether is tensed, it then becomes red or fire; if it attains its blue stage it becomes air; at the green stage water; upon the yellow, earth.

The elements are only gradations of light—colours. They have, therefore, been formed according to the laws of light; for colours are, without doubt, the legitimate developments of light. Red, as being the solar, or fire colour, ranks parallel with oxygen; the more powerful indeed the combustion, the more powerful is the oxidation, and by so much redder the flame. Matter also becomes red through oxidation. The red vanishes lastly into white, and thus the highest oxidation is white. Red is the warmest colour, and blue the coldest. Red retains its presence to the eye at a far greater distance than blue and green; though it is true an effect produces a colour of blue at a distance beyond the red, but this is only atmospheric effect. The greatest distance creates white. The sun in the firmament may be viewed as the bright opening in a darkened chamber. Colours, are, therefore, nothing but images of the sun in darkness; self-manifestations of the sun in dark matter. A point of light thrown into darkness is colour.


  1. In the Memoranda of that extraordinary genius, Mrs. Siddons, it appears that on one occasion, when the family had retired to rest, she determined to study the part of Lady Macbeth; and having steeped her feelings in the spirit of the character, she became alarmed with the poignancy of the passion, and so much was she affrighted that she ran upstairs to bed, but could not find courage to extinguish the taper.—See Boaden’s Life.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.