By selecting for his illustrations one feature from one lady and another from another, Messer Firenzuola builds up an ideal of the Beautiful Woman, which, were she to be possible, would probably be as faultily faultless as the Perfect Woman, were she possible.
Moreover, much about the same time as Firenzuola was writing, Botticelli's blonde, angular, retrousse women were breaking every one of that beauty- master's canons, perfect in beauty none the less; and lovers then, and perhaps particularly now, have found the perfect beauty in faces to which Messer Firenzuola would have denied the name of face at all, by virtue of a quality which indeed he has tabulated, but which is far too elusive and undefinable, too spiritual for him truly to have understood,--a quality which nowadays we are tardily recognising as the first and last of all beauty, either of nature or art,--the supreme, truly divine, because materialistically unaccountable, quality of Charm!
Who could have prophesied in what way any of these inspired law-breakers would break the law, what new type of perfect imperfection they would create?
So we return to the Perfect Woman, having gained this much knowledge of her,--that her perfection is nothing more or less than her unique, individual, charming imperfection, and that she is simply the woman we love and who is fool enough to love us.
Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.
With these facts, here far too briefly and imperfectly given, which show that there is much graduated diversity in the eyes of living crustaceans, and bearing in mind how small the number of living animals is in proportion to those which have become extinct, I can see no very great difficulty (not more than in the case of many other structures) in believing that natural selection has converted the simple apparatus of an optic nerve merely coated with pigment and invested by transparent membrane, into an optical instrument as perfect as is possessed by any member of the great Articulate class.
The next day Aylmer apprised his wife of a plan that he had formed whereby he might have opportunity for the intense thought and constant watchfulness which the proposed operation would require; while Georgiana, likewise, would enjoy the perfect repose essential to its success.
Though she had some indistinct idea of the method of these optical phenomena, still the illusion was almost perfect enough to warrant the belief that her husband possessed sway over the spiritual world.
She felt how much more precious was such a sentiment than that meaner kind which would have borne with the imperfection for her sake, and have been guilty of treason to holy love by degrading its perfect idea to the level of the actual; and with her whole spirit she prayed that, for a single moment, she might satisfy his highest and deepest conception.
She saw them lay the perfect body there upon the rough branches.
No faint sign of fear marked her perfect brow--only haughty disdain for her priests and admiration for the man she loved so hopelessly filled her thoughts.
I answer in the next place, that I should esteem it the extreme of imprudence to prolong the precarious state of our national affairs, and to expose the Union to the jeopardy of successive experiments, in the chimerical pursuit of a perfect