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then ensues a shock of more than what Wordsworth calls mild surprise:
Enter MESSENGER and TALBOT.
Countess. And he is welcome. What ! is this the man!
Countess. Is this the scourge of France ?
But even her ladyship, before the interview was over, came to think this little shrimp of a fellow very like a whale.
Agesilaus, the great King of Sparta, was small of size ; and when Tachos, King of Egypt, on forming an alliance with him, had his first sight of his petty person, the sum total of the Spartan hero's inches was so absurdly inferior to Egypt's expectations, that Tachos had the ill manners to vent his disappointment in a reference to the mountain which brought forth a mouse. "Ωδινεν όρος, Ζευς δ'έφοβείτο, το δ' έτεκεν μύν. The mountain was in labour, and Zeus himself was all alarm,—but what came to the birth was a mouse. Agesilaus, however, was ready-witted in repartee. Davonual GOL TOTE kůL dewv, One of these days you'll be thinking me a lion, was his reply, we are told, to the dull-eyed giber. We must look to the mind and not to the outward appearance, said Æsop to his master: 'Αφοράν ουν δει εις τον νούν, και μη εις την όψιν: and Æsop spoke feelingly, considering his stunted size and crooked back.
If, says Mr. Emerson, command, eloquence, art, or invention, exist in the most deformed person, all the accidents that usually displease only serve now to please, and to raise esteem and wonder higher. And he quotes a saying of Du Guesclin's, “Since I am
I so ugly, it behoves me to be bold.” Those who have ruled human destinies, like planets, for thousands of years, adds the essayist, were not handsome men. And he urges, that if a man can raise a small city to be a great kingdom, can make bread cheap, can irrigate deserts, can join oceans by canals, can subdue steam, can organise victory, can lead the opinions of mankind, can enlarge knowledge, it is no matter whether his nose is parallel to his spine, as it ought to be, or whether he has a nose at all; whether his legs are straight, or whether his legs are amputated. “His deformities will come to be reckoned ornamental, and advantageous on the whole.” Perhaps, however, it requires the glasses of a transcendental philosopher to see the particular advantage on the whole.
Of one in old time who wrote as seldom man
wrote, it was said by them to whom he wrote, and who were disappointed with his person, that his letters indeed were weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence weak, and his speech contemptible.
Plutarch tells us that the Macedonian notion about Flaminius was of a fierce commander, intent on devastation, breathing menace and slaughter, at the head of a host of barbarians, himself the biggest barbarian of all. Great, therefore, was their surprise when they met in him “a young man of a mild aspect, who spoke very good Greek, and was a lover of true honour.”—According to Timæus, the Sicilians, at the first appearance of Gylippus, sent from Lacedemon to aid them against the Athenians, laughed at his cloak and head of hair ;" yet scarcely had he shown himself before they “ gathered about him, as birds do about an owl, and were ready to follow him wherever he pleased.”—Ptolemy is said to have been considerably disgusted at first with Cato's mean dress and appearance, especially when associated with such supercilious manners; but on getting to talk with him, and hearing his "free and nervous eloquence, he was easily reconciled to him.”
When Julian made his triumphal entry into Constantinople (A.D. 361), an innumerable multitude pressed round him with eager respect, and, says Gibbon, were perhaps disappointed when they beheld the small stature and simple garb of a hero whose inexperienced youth had vanquished the barbarians of Germany, and who had now tra
versed, in a successful career, the whole continent of Europe, from the shores of the Atlantic to those of the Bosphorus. It is in the luminous, or voluminous, pages (which was it, Mr. Sheridan ?) of the same historian that we read how that veteran general Sclerus, who had twice been invested with the purple, as well as twice loaded with chains, being desirous of ending in peace the small remainder of his days, approached the throne of Basil (A.D. 976), an aged suppliant, with dim eyes and faltering steps, leaning on his two attendants, and how the emperor exclaimed, in the insolence of youth and power, “And is this the man who has so long been the object of our terror ?"
Bacon's saying, that deformed people are good to employ in business, because they have a constant spur to great actions, that by some noble deed they may rescue their persons from contempt, is an assertion which Mrs. Thrale (Piozzi), in her British Synonymy, approves as in some sort established by experience; many men famous in history having been of this class—"the great warriors, above all, as it should seem in very contradiction to naturewhen Agesilaus, King William the Third, and Ladislaus, surnamed Cubitalis, that pigmy King of Poland, reigned, and [the last] fought more victorious battles, as Alexander Gaguinus relates, than all his longer-legged predecessors had done.” Corpore parvus eram, I was of small stature, he says-cubito vix altior, scarcely above a cubit high ; sed tamen in parvo corpore magnus eram, Nevertheless, small as
was my size, I was a great man. The lady's reference to William III. suggests an apt quotation from Lord Macaulay, who reckons it probable that among the 120,000 soldiers, who were marshalled round Neerwinden under all the standards of Western Europe, the two feeblest in body were “the hunchbacked dwarf [Luxembourg] who urged forward the fiery onset of France, and the asthmatic skeleton [William] who covered the slow retreat of England.” Mr. Hayward, who annotates the quotation to Mrs. Piozzi's text, assumes that all readers of Shakspeare will call to mind the Countess of Auvergne's speech to Talbot.
Many a man of note went out of his way for the sake of a look at Frederick the Great. And what went they out for to see ? A man, as Comte de Ségur describes him in old age, great in genius, small in stature; stooping, and as it were bent down under the weight of his laurels and of his long toils. His blue coat, old and worn like his body;
his waistcoat covered with snuff.
In his small figure, nevertheless, "you discerned a spirit greater than any other man's”-a spirit especially self-asserting in the fire of his eyes. So, again, General von der Marwitz, who had three memorable views of Frederick, dilates on his old three-cornered regimental hat, with the strings torn and loose, and the white feather in it tattered and dirty ; his coat “old and dusty, the yellow waistcoat covered with snuff;" and of course what Mr. Carlyle calls those perpetual boots, of which