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Dandies
by [?]

Perhaps there is no individual of all our race who is quite insensible to the pleasures of what children call “dressing-up.” Even the cynic, the man who defiantly wears old and queer clothes, is merely suffering from a perversion of that animal instinct which causes the peacock to swagger in the sun and flaunt the splendour of his train, the instinct that makes the tiger-moth show the magnificence of his damask wing, and also makes the lion erect the horrors of his cloudy mane and paw proudly before his tawny mate. We are all alike in essentials, and Diogenes with his dirty clouts was only a perverted brother of Prince Florizel with his peach-coloured coat and snowy ruffles. I intend to handle the subject of dandies and their nature from a deeply philosophic starting-point, for, like Carlyle, I recognize the vast significance of the questions involved in the philosophy of clothes. Let no flippant individual venture on a jeer, for I am in dead earnest. A mocking critic may point to the Bond Street lounger and ask, “What are the net use and purport of that being’s existence? Look at his suffering frame! His linen stock almost decapitates him, his boots appear to hail from the chambers of the Inquisition, every garment tends to confine his muscles and dwarf his bodily powers; yet he chooses to smile in his torments and pretends to luxuriate in life. Again, what are the net use and purport of his existence?” I can only deprecate our critic’s wrath by going gravely to first principles. O savage and critical one, that suffering youth of Bond Street is but exhibiting in flaunting action a law that has influenced the breed of men since our forefathers dwelt in caves or trees! Observe the conduct of the innocent and primitive beings who dwell in sunny archipelagos far away to the South; they suffer in the cause of fashion as the youth of the city promenade suffers. The chief longing of the judicious savage is to shave, but the paucity of metals and sharp instruments prevents him from indulging his longing very frequently. When the joyous chance does come, the son of the forest promptly rises to the occasion. No elderly gentleman whose feet are studded with corns could bear the agony of patent leather boots in a heated ballroom with grander stoicism than that exhibited by our savage when he compasses the means of indulging in a thorough uncompromising shave. The elderly man of the ballroom sees the rosy-fingered dawn touching the sky into golden fretwork; he thinks of his cool white bed, and then, by contrast, he thinks of his hot throbbing feet. Shooting fires dart through his unhappy extremities, yet he smiles on and bears his pain for his daughters’ sake. But the elderly hero cannot be compared with the ambitious exquisite of the Southern Seas, and we shall prove this hypothesis. The careless voyager throws a beer-bottle overboard, and that bottle drifts to the glad shore of a glittering isle; the overjoyed savage bounds on the prize, and proceeds to announce his good fortune to his bosom friend. Then the pleased cronies decide that they will have a good, wholesome, thorough shave, and they will turn all rivals green with unavailing envy. Solemnly those children of nature go to a quiet place, and savage number one lies down while his friend sits on his head; then with a shred of the broken bottle the operator proceeds to rasp away. It is a great and grave function, and no savage worthy the name of warrior would fulfil it in a slovenly way. When the last scrape is given, and the stubbly irregular crop of bristles stands up from a field of gore, then the operating brave lies down, and his scarified friend sits on his head. These sweet and satisfying idyllic scenes are enacted whenever a bottle comes ashore, and the broken pieces of the receptacles that lately held foaming Bass or glistening Hochheimer are used until their edge gives way, to the great contentment of true untutored dandies. The Bond Street man is at one end of the scale, the uncompromising heathen barber at the other; but the same principles actuate both.