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George Burgess
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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Health and Education

Beard Wearing

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

Beard WearingI am for beards out and out, because I think the Maker of the beard was and is. This is reason enough; but there are many others. The misery of shaving, its expense, its consumption of time – a very corporation existing for no other purpose but to shave mankind. Campbell, the poet, who has always a bad razor, I suppose, and was late of rising, said he believed the man of civilization, who lived to be sixty, had suffered more pain in littles every day in shaving, than a woman with a large family had from her children. This would be hard to prove; but it is a process that never gets pleasanter by practice; and then the waste of time and temper – the ugliness of being ill or unshaven. Now we can easily see advantages in it; the masculine gender is intended to be more out of doors, and more in all weathers than the smooth-chinned ones, and this protects him and his Adam’s apple from harm. It acts as the best of all respirators to the mason and the east wind. Besides, it is a glory; and it must be delightful to have and to stroke a natural beard, not one like bean-stalks or a bottle-brush, but such a beard as Abraham’s of Abd-el-Kader’s. It is the beginning ever to cut, that makes all the difference. I hazard a theory that no hair of the head or beard should ever be cut, or needs it any more than the eyebrows of eyelashes. The finest head of hair I know is one which was never cut. It is not too long; it is soft and thick. The secret where to stop growing is in the end of the native untouched hair. If you cut if off the poor hair does not know when to stop; and if our eyebrows were so cut, they might be made to hang over our eyes, and be wrought into a veil. Besides, think of the waste of substance of the body in hewing away so much hair every morning, and encouraging an endless rotation of crops! Well, then, I go in for the beards of the next generation, the unshorn beings whose beards will be wagging when we are away; but of course they must be clean. But how are we to sup our porridge and Kail? Try it when young, when there is just a shadowy down on the upper lip, and no fears but they will do all this “elegantly” even. Nature is slow and gentle in her teaching even the accomplishment of the spoon. –