Posted by The Wise One on January 23, 2004
In Reply to: Origin of phrase posted by ESC on January 23, 2004
: : Where did the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" originate?
: BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER - "The first stirrings toward this proverb appear to have come from the English dramatist John Lyly, who wrote in 'Euphues in England' . 'As neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose,' and from William Shakespeare, who in 'Love's Labour's Lost' (c.1594) penned the line 'Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye.' Almost a century and a half later, Benjamin Franklin in his 'Poor Richard's Almanack' of 1741 included the lines, 'Beauty, like supreme dominion/ Is but supported by opinion,' and Scottish philosopher David Hume's 'Essays, Moral and Political' contained the perhaps too analytical 'Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.' It was not until 1878, however, that the modern wording of the proverb first appeared in 'Molly Brown,' by the Irish novelist Mr. Margaret Hungerford. The saying has been repeated frequently in the twentieth century." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).
Now there is a variant of that phrase which I rather like and it is: "Age is in the youth of the beholder". This variant has been around since the mid 1950 and I know that to be true since that's when I first used it and it was well received at the time. I should be interested to know if others have come across this variant or whether it was stillborn and all my efforts to introduce it into the language over the last 50 years have been in vain. There is, of course. the possibility that I read it/ heard it somewhere and unwittingly claimed it as my own - it's notoriously difficult to separate fact from fiction following long sessions in the student bar so long ago.