Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/75

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PHYSIOGNOMIC CURIOSITIES.

Zopyrus berated Socrates as if he had caught a pickpocket; nay, the Spartan Gerontes fined one of their kings for courting a thick-set lady, because "they could not permit him to afflict the state with a race of undersized princes." In the record of the battle of Platæa, a certain Callicrates is mentioned simply because he was the fairest of all the Greeks who fought on that day; and Plutarch speaks of a slave whom Nicias set free for winning the applause of all Athens in a play (or religious festival), where he enacted the rôle of the Bacchus Methystes; and even more amazing is what Strabo tells us of one Philippus, who joined in the expedition of Doricus against Erix, and who, after having been slain and stripped by the people of Segeste, was taken up and grandly buried by his foes, and long afterward worshiped as a demigod, on account of his great beauty.

But the nil admirari is not always a voluntary virtue. De Lagny, in his account of a visit to the eastern tribes of Circassia, describes the horrible sight of a battle-field in the rocky valley of Halistan, where the day before six Russian regiments had been routed by the Lesghian mountaineers. "But the victory was dearly bought," says he; "in the bed of the river, and all along the northern shore, we found the unburied bodies of the heroes who had died in defense of their country. R—— was overcome by the sight, and asked us to hurry on,

but on the outskirts of a chestnut-grove, that shades the valley of a tributary creek, he suddenly stopped, and soon we were all assembled around the body of a Lesghian warrior, who had fallen, with a bullet through his head, at the foot of a shattered tree. The man wore the green scarf of his tribe, and, from the profusion of ornaments on his belt and his neck, seemed to have been a chieftain among his companions. Yet it was not his grotesque attire, nor his form, which was that of a Hercules, which held us spellbound—it was his face, a face which in manly beauty exceeded anything Phidias or Thorwaldsen ever expressed in marble. We stood around, almost immovable, as men will before a phenomenon they may see once and no more. No one spoke a word, till Surgeon Herbert, of the Chasseurs d'Afrique, broke the silence; baring his head—"Hats off, messieurs; voici l'image de Dieu—we stand before the image of God!"

The Duke de Rohan used to say that "it had pleased Providence to put something between the eyes of a French cavalier which a plebeian could not look at without quailing." The guillotine seems to have settled that difficulty, but it is true that there is an innate majesty in some faces which commands the respect even of those who would decline to recognize any other claims to superior rank, not excepting those of an established reputation. For some reason or other possibly the all-pervading hypocrisy of our Western civilization—this vultus majestatis has almost become a monopoly of the Mohammedan nations. During the revolt of the Wahabees, the commander of the sectarian army had frequent occasion to notice the efficiency of