Miss Barrett at Thirty-Five

  • Mary Russell Mitford


[Her beauty] proceeded from contrasts — a slight, girlish figure, very delicate, with exquisite hands and feet, a round face, with a most noble forehead, a large mouth, beautifully formed, and full of expression, lips like parted coral, teeth large, regular, and glittering with healthy whiteness, large dark eyes, with such eyelashes, resting on the cheek when cast down; when turned upward, touching the flexible and expressive eyebrow; a dark complexion, with cheeks literally as bright as the dark China rose, a profusion of silky, dark curls, and a look of youth and of modesty hardly to be expressed. This, added to the very simple but graceful and costly dress by which all the family are distinguished, is an exact portrait of her some years ago. Now she has totally lost the rich, bright colouring, which certainly made the greater part of her beauty. She is dark and pallid; the hair is almost entirely hidden; the look of youth gone (I think she now looks as much beyond her actual age as, formerly, she looked behind it); nothing remaining but the noble forehead, the matchless eyes, and the fine form of the mouth and teeth — even now their whiteness is healthy. Your dear mama, so well versed in the appearances of sickness, will understand what I mean, and read in it a symptom favourable to our beloved friend’s restoration.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Mary Russell Mitford

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