Falstaff, by Eduard von Grützner (1846–1925).
Part 1 of 2
IF I were to be born into this world again and had the choice of my endowments I should arrange very carefully about my smile.
There is nothing so irresistible as the right sort of smile. It is better than the silver spoon in the mouth. It will carry you anywhere and win you anything, including the silver spoon. It disarms your enemies and makes them forget that they have a grudge against you. “I have a great many reasons for disliking you” said a well-known public man to a friend of mine the other day, “but when I am with you I can never remember what they are.”
It was the flash of sunshine that did for him. He could not preserve his hostility in the presence of the other’s disarming smile and gay good-humour. He just yielded up his sword and sunned himself in the pleasant weather that the other carried with him like an atmosphere.
Columnist A. G. Gardiner expressed some regret that he had not been born with one of those smiles that seem to work magic. He recalled how one friend of his had a smile so disarming that others invariably forget whatever bone they may have had to pick with him, and simply basked in its warmth. (55 / 60 words)
David Lloyd George in 1922.
Really first-rate smiles are rare. For the most part our smiles add little to our self-expression. If we are dull, they are dull. If we are sinister, they are only a little more sinister. If we are smug, they only emphasise our smugness. If, like the Lord High Everything Else, we were born sneering,* our smile is apt to be a sneer, too.
The most memorable smiles are those which have the quality of the unexpected. A smile that is habitual rarely pleases, for it suggests policy, and the essence of a smile is its spontaneity and lack of deliberation.
But it is no use for those of us who have only humdrum smiles to attempt to set up a smile that is an incantation. Smiles, like poets, are born, not made. If they are made, they are not smiles, but grimaces, and convict us on the spot. They are simply an attempt to circulate false news. There is no remedy for us of the negligible smile, but to be born again and to be born different, not outside but within, for the smile is only the publication of the inward spirit.
* A reference to Pooh-Bah in The Mikado (1885) by Sir W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. “My family pride is something inconceivable” he told Nanky-Poo. “I can’t help it. I was born sneering.” He became Lord High Everything Else when all the other ministers resigned rather than serve under Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, and Pooh-Bah accepted their posts himself. “And the salaries attached to them?” Pish-Tush clarified. “You did.”
Gardiner conceded that smiles of this bewitching kind are uncommon. Spontaneous smiles inevitably advertise or betray our own natural character, and a contrived or conventional smile is seen through quickly. The only way to acquire a more winning smile, he said, is to acquire a more winning personality — to undergo an inner rebirth. (54 / 60 words)