Speaking of neat little books (see entry below), A fun book I picked up a while back, Fighting Words: Writers Lambast Other Writers, includes this quote:

He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and somewhat rustic, although courteous manners, corresponding well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Henry David Thoreau

Was that a backhanded complement or a sophisticated insult?