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"The Short-Hairs" And "The Swallow-Tails"
by [?]

The line of division in New York is, however, drawn much lower down. The Massachusetts Short-Hair is a man of intelligence, of some education, who wears a plain black neglige and rumpled shirt-front and soft hat, and disregards the condition of his nails, and takes a warm bath occasionally. The New Yorker, on the other hand, wears such clothes as he can get, and only bathes in the hot weather and off the public wharf. If he has good luck and makes money, either in the public service or otherwise, he displays it not in any richness in his toilet or in greater care of his person, but in the splendor of his jewels. One of his first purchases is a diamond-pin, which he sticks in his shirt-front, but he never sees any connection of an aesthetic kind between the linen and the pin, and will wear the latter in a very dirty shirt-front as cheerfully as in a clean one–in fact, more cheerfully, as he has a vague feeling that by showing it he atones for or excuses the condition of the linen. In fact, the Short-Hair view of dress would be found on examination to be, in nearly ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, something of this kind: that the constant care of the person which produces an impression of neatness and appropriateness, and makes a man look “genteel,” is the expression of a certain state of mind; that a man would not take so much trouble to make himself look different from the ordinary run of people whom he meets, unless he thought himself in some way superior to them, or, in other words, thought himself a “gentleman” and them common fellows, and that he therefore fairly deserves the hatred of those of whom he thus openly parades his contempt.

A New York Short-Hair seldom goes farther than this in his speculations, though he doubtless has also a vague idea that a well-dressed man is not so likely to stand by his friends in politics as a more careless one. In New England, as might be expected, however, the popular dislike of that “culte de la personne,” as some Frenchman has called it, which distinguishes “the white-cravat-and-daily-bath gentleman,” has provided itself with a moral basis. There is there a strong presumption that the Swallow-Tail is a frivolous person, who bestows on his tailoring, and his linen, and his bathing, and his manners the time and attention which the Short-Hair or “plain blunt man” reserves for reflection on the graver concerns of life, and especially on the elevation of his fellow-men, and this presumption even a career of philanthropy and the composition of the “Principia” would not in many minds suffice to overthrow. We believe it is authentic that General Grant never got over the impression produced on him by seeing that Mr. Motley parted his hair in the middle, and it is said–and if not true is not unlikely,–that Mr. R. H. Dana’s practice of wearing kid gloves told heavily against him in his memorable contest with Butler in the Essex district. We may all remember, too, the gigantic efforts made by Mr. Sumner and others in Congress to have our representatives abroad prohibited from wearing court-dress. What dress they wore was of course, per se, a matter of no consequence, provided it was not immodest. The fervor on the subject was due to the deeply rooted feeling that even the amount of care for externals exhibited in putting on an embroidered coat or knee-breeches indicated a light-mindedness against the very appearance of which the minister of a republic ought to guard carefully. It is partly to produce the effect of seriousness of purpose, but mainly to avoid the appearance of airs of social or mental superiority, that nearly all skilful politicians dress with elaborate negligence. In most country districts no complaints can be made of men in office such as the New York Short-Hair makes against the Swallow-Tail. They fling on their easy-fitting black clothes in a way that leaves them their whole time for the study of public affairs and attention to the wants of their constituents, and at the same time recalls their humble beginnings.