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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/335

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BOOK II.

 

GWYNPLAINE AND DEA.

 
 

CHAPTER I.


WHEREIN WE SEE THE FACE OF HIM OF WHOM WE HAVE HITHERTO SEEN ONLY THE ACTS.


NATURE had been prodigal in her kindness to Gwynplaine. She had given him a mouth opening to his ears, ears folding over to his eyes, a shapeless nose to support the spectacles of the grimace-maker, and a face that no one could look upon without laughing.

We have just said that Nature had loaded Gwynplaine with her gifts. But was it Nature? Had she not been assisted? Two slits for eyes, a hiatus for a mouth, a snub protuberance with two holes for nostrils, a flattened face,—all producing the effect of violent laughter, certainly Nature never produced such perfection single-handed. But is laughter a synonym of joy?

If in the presence of this mountebank (for he was one) the first impression of gaiety wore off, and the man's countenance was examined closely, traces of art were recognizable. Such a face could never have been created by chance; it must have been the result of intention. Such perfection of detail is not found in Nature. Man can do nothing to create beauty, but everything to produce ugliness. A Hottentot profile cannot be changed