It is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of manner and of dress is more engaging than that glare of paint and airs and apparel which may dazzle the eye, but reaches not the affections.
There is probably no better or more reliable measure of whether a woman has spent time in ugly duckling status at some point or all throughout her life than her inability to digest a sincere compliment. Although it could be a matter of modesty, or could be attributed to shyness- although too many serious wounds are carelessly written off as “nothing but shyness” – more often a compliment is stuttered around about because it sets up an automatic and unpleasant dialogue in the woman’s mind.
It is often found that modesty and humility not only do no good, but are positively hurtful, when they are shown to the arrogant who have taken up a prejudice against you, either from envy or from any other cause.
Charms which, like flowers, lie on the surface and always glitter, easily produce vanity; whereas other excellences, which lie deep like gold and are discovered with difficulty, leave their possessors modest and proud.
A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every talent which a man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies; like the shades of paintings, it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colors more beautiful, though not so glowing as they would be without it.