The Dressing of the Hair, Moustachios and Beard (12)Previous page
Lord Dundreary would have been impossible in any other epoch than the Victorian, although the Dundreary whisker is but a glorified development of earlier forms:
"A marchaunt was ther with a forked berd,
In motteleye high on horse he sat."
Dundreary, with his striped peg-tops, his eyeglass, and his drawl, exactly fitted his environment. His whiskers represent the very antithesis of the "Piccadilly fringe," also happily gone, or relegated to the coster fraternity, together with the bell-bottomed trouser with which it is in singular affinity.
The Piccadilly fringe was persistently condemned by artists, notably Mr. G. F. Watts, who pointed out that it obscured and destroyed the beautiful way in which the hair springs from the forehead. Mr. Watts, however, was not the first to warn the ladies against the sin of cropping short and pulling out the hair of the forehead. If there should, peradventure, be any fair readers who are enamoured of the beauties of either the Piccadilly or other fringe, or who should be smitten with the insane desire to pop, paint, or powder the face, let them listen to the sound advice and good counsel which the Knight of La Tour Landry gave to his daughters, and to the terrible "ensaumples" which he held up to them for their consideration and avoidance:
"Alas !" he exclaims, "whi take women non hede of the gret love that God hathe yeve hem to make hem after hys figure? and whi popithe they, and paintithe, and pluckithe her visage otherwise than God hath ordeined hem? " Why indeed! There was once a lady who died and suffered great tortures in hell, the devil holding her "bi the tresses of the here of her hede, like as a lyon holdithe his praie ..." and the same "develle putte and thruste in her browes, temples, and forehede hote brenninge alles and nedeles"; and why was she subjected to all this torment? Because she had "plucked her browes, front and forehed, to have awey the here, to make her self the fayrer to the plesinge of the worlde."
It is a very far cry from the good Knight of La Tour Landry to the wicked Mr. Punch of Fleet Street, who satirises the variations in the form of the short side whisker still beloved of butlers and ostlers, and which, in the early days of the Volunteer movement of the beginning of the sixties, became identified with particular regiments or companies:
"HAIRDRESSER: South Middlesex or Keveens, sir? (Customer looks bewildered.) Why, sir, many corpses, sir, 'as a rekignised style of 'air, sir, accordin' to the Reg - (Customer storms.) Not a wolunteer, sir? — Jus' so, sir. Thought not, sir ;leastways I was a-wonderin' to myself d'rectly I see you, what corpse you could a belonged to, sir."
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Why hair is so important
World War One era hairstyles