What could two men, so different from each other, see in this "brown patch", as Mary called hereself? It was certainly not her plainness that attracted them (and let all plain young ladies be warned against the dangerous encouragement given them by Society to confinde in their want of beauty)
It becomes possible to admit that plainness may coexist with nobility of nature, and fine features with baseness; and yet to hold that mental and physical perfection are fundamentally connected, and will, when the present causes of incongruity have worked themselves out, be ever found united.
Be neat, Philothea; let nothing be negligent about you. It is a kind of contempt of those with whom we converse, to frequent their company in uncomely apparel; but, at the same time, avoid all affectation, vanity, curiosity, or levity in your dress. Keep yourself always, as much as possible, on the side of plainness and modesty, which, without doubt, is the greatest ornament of beauty, and the best excuse for the want of it.
Saint Francis de Sales
Who has not experienced how, on near acquaintance, plainness becomes beautified, and beauty loses its charm, exactly according to the quality of the heart and mind? And from this cause am I of opinion that the want of outward beauty never disquiets a noble nature or will be regarded as a misfortune. It never can prevent people from being amiable and beloved in the highest degree.
The beginner should approach style warily, realizing that it is himself he is approaching, no other; and he should begin by turning resolutely away from all devices that are popularly believed to indicate style - all mannerisms, tricks, adornments. The approach to style is by way of plainness, simplicity, orderliness, sincerity.
E. B. White
The very essence of truth is plainness and brightness; the darkness and crookedness is our own. The wisdom of God created understanding, fit and proportionable to truth, the object and end of it, as the eye to the thing visible. If our understanding have a film of ignorance over it, or be blear with gazing on other false glitterings, what is that to truth?
In the early forties and fifties almost everybody "had about enough to live on," and young ladies dressed well on a hundred dollars a year. The daughters of the richest man in Boston were dressed with scrupulous plainness, and the wife and mother owned one brocade, which did service for several years. Display was considered vulgar. Now, alas! only Queen Victoria dares to go shabby.
M. E. W. Sherwood
Socrates was the chief saint of the Stoics throughout their history ; his attitude at the time of his trial, his refusal to escape, his calmness in the face of death , and his contention that the perpetrator of injustice injures himself more than his victim, all fitted in perfectly with Stoic teaching. So did his indifference to heat and cold, his plainness in matters of food and dress, and his complete independence of all bodily comforts.
We are often struck by the force and precision of style to which hard-working men, unpracticed in writing, easily attain when required to make the effort. As if plainness and vigor and sincerity, the ornaments of style, were better learned on the farm and in the workshop than in the schools. The sentences written by such rude hands are nervous and tough, like hardened thongs, the sinews of the deer, or the roots of the pine.
Henry David Thoreau
Cressida: My lord, will you be true? Troilus: Who, I? Alas, it is my vice, my fault: Whiles others fish with craft for great opinion, I with great truth catch mere simplicity; Whilst some with cunning gild their copper crowns, With truth and plainness I do wear mine bare. Fear not my truth: the moral of my wit Is "plain and true"; there's all the reach of it.
[In the Royal Society, there] has been, a constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style: to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men deliver'd so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They have exacted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can: and preferring the language of Artizans, Countrymen, and Merchants, before that, of Wits, or Scholars.
O guide my judgment and my taste, Sweet Spirit, author of the book Of wonders, told in language chaste And plainness, not to be mistook. O let me muse, and yet at sight The page admire, the page believe; "Let there be light, and there was light, Let there be Paradise and Eve!" Who his soul's rapture can refrain? At Joseph's ever pleasing tale Of marvels, the prodigious train, To Sinai's hill from Goshen's vale. The psalmist and proverbial seer, And all the prophets sons of song, Make all things precious, all things dear, And bear the brilliant word along. O take the book from off the shelf, And con it meekly on thy knees; Best panegyric on itself, And self-avouch'd to teach and please. Respect, adore it heart and mind. How greatly sweet, how sweetly grand, Who reads the most, is most refind'd, And polish'd by the Master's hand.
An Arundel Tomb Side by side, their faces blurred, The earl and countess lie in stone, Their proper habits vaguely shown As jointed armour, stiffened pleat, And that faint hint of the absurd - The little dogs under their feet. Such plainness of the pre-Baroque Hardly involves the eye, until It meets his left-hand gauntlett, still Clasped empty in the other, and One sees with a sharp tender shock His hand withdrawn, holding her hand. They would not think to lie so long, Such faithfulness in effigy Was just a detail friends would see, A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace Thrown off in helping to prolong The Latin names around the base. They would not guess how early in Their supine stationary voyage The air would change to soundless damage, Turn the old tenantry away; How soon succeeding eyes being To look, not read. Rigidly, they Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light Each summer thronged the grass. A bright Litter of birdcalls strewed the same Bone-littered ground. And up the paths The endless altered people came Washing at their identity. Now helpless in the hollow Of an unarmorial age, a trough Of smoke in slow suspended skeins Above their scrap of history, Only an attitude remains. Time has transfigured them into Untruth. The stone fidelity They hardly meant has come to be Their final blazon and to prove Our almost-instinct almost-true: What will survive of us is love.