Beauty, in short, is only a tribute which we pay to necessity. In equipping itself for the struggle for existence humanity has found that it is convenient to have two eyes and a stereoscopic vision, just as it is convenient to have four fingers on the hand and one thumb instead of five thumbs. Our members have been developed in the manner best fitted to enable us to fight our battle. And the more perfectly they fulfil that supreme condition the more beautiful we declare them to be. Our ideas of beauty, therefore, are not absolute; they are conditional. They are the humble servants of our necessity. Two eyes are necessary for us to get about our business, and so we fall in love with two eyes, and the more perfect they are for their work the more we fall in love with them, and the more beautiful we declare them to be.
I think that Peggy, nursing her one-eyed cat there in the sun, has not yet accepted our creed of beauty. She will be as conventional as the rest of us when her frocks are longer.
The other day I went into a hatter’s to get my hat ironed. It had been ruffled by the weather, and I had a reason for wishing it to look as new and glossy as possible. And as I waited and watched the process of polishing, the hatter talked to me on the subject that really interested him—that is, the subject of hats and heads.
“Yes,” said he, in reply to some remark I had made; “there’s a wonderful difference in the shape of ’eads and the size. Now your ’ead is what you may call an ord’nary ’ead. I mean to say,” he added, no doubt seeing a shadow of disappointment pass across my ordinary face, “I mean to say, it ain’t what you would call extry-ord’nary. But there’s some ’eads—well, look at that ’at there. It belongs to a gentleman with a wonderful funny-shaped ’ead, long and narrer and full of nobbles—’stror’nary ’ead ’e ’as. And as for sizes, it’s wonderful what a difference there is. I do a lot of trade with lawyers, and it’s astonishing the size of their ’eads. You’d be surprised. I suppose it’s the amount of thinking they have to do that makes their ’eads swell. Now that ’at there belongs to Mr. ------ (mentioning the name of a famous lawyer), wonderful big ’ead ’e ’as—7-1/2—that’s what ’e takes, and there’s lots of ’em takes over 7.
“It seems to me,” he went on, “that the size of the ’ead is according to the occupation. Now I used to be in a seaport town, and I used to serve a lot of ships’ captains. ’Stror’nary the ’eads they have. I suppose it’s the anxiety and worry they get, thinking about the tides and the winds and the icebergs and things....”