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the expression of himself. With the Dandy, however, the science of clothes has to be instilled into him; he must take anxious care and thought as to what to wear and how to wear it. In fact, there is as much difference between the Beau and the Dandy as there is between a Wit and a man who labours at his jokes until at last he produces a bright idea, and then has to guide the conversation until he can get the chance of fitting the jeu d'esprit into it.
Henry Cope, who, during the Regent's wildest days at the Pavilion on the coast of Sussex, was known as "The Green Man of Brighton," may be mentioned as an example of the unsuccessful Dandy.
"He is dressed in green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock, green cravat; and though his ears, whiskers, eyebrows, and chin are better powdered than his head, which is however covered with flour, his countenance, no doubt from the reflection of his clothes, is also green. He eats nothing but greens, fruits and vegetables; has his rooms painted green and furnished with green sofas, green chairs, green tables, green bed, and green curtains. His gig, his livery, his portmanteau, his gloves, and his whip are all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand, and a large watch chain with green seals, fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat, he parades every day on the Steyne."
Of course Henry Cope failed as much by his extremity as by his artificiality, but it is that very inability to know what will be acceptable, and the striving not to be superior to his fellows but to be different, which marks the unsuccessful Dandy. Those who hold an intermediate position between the genuine Beau and the false Dandy, those who follow a fashion and contrive to look well, to catch attention as extremely well-dressed people-I use
The Hour-and the Beau
the word in its narrow sense, as used by the votaries of fashion are the successful Dandies.
England has counted among its celebrities but three men who are Beaux par excellence, Nash, Brummell, and D'Orsay, and of these Nash's name lives more by the character of the work that he did than by his elegance in dress, though that gave him his reputation. There are some people who would deny that he filled any real place in the world, but fortunately this is not the opinion of the majority, for the organiser and the ruler is in constant demand.
D'Orsay did not influence society as much as Brummell, though he was quite as elegant a figure. He was not an Englishman, he had not the same opportunity of attracting royalty, his career was weighted by scandal, and he lacked both the ultra-cool assurance of Brummell and the capacity for organisation which made of Nash an autocrat. In fact, much as he was admired, he lived at a time of transition in social views, a transition which eventually put the Beau out of fashion. For the existence of the Beau depends upon the character of society.
Beaux, fops, dandies, whatever name we may give them, will always be with us, but their position, their prominence, and their effectiveness will depend upon the conditions of the society in which they live. As M. Barbey d'Aurevilly says: "For a rare Beau to develop himself it is necessary that he should have the advantage of a very aristocratic, complicated society." Had there been no Prince Regent there would have been no Beau Brummell as we know him; had there been no Bath we should have heard little of Beau Nash; had there been no Charles II. we should have heard nothing of the elaborate fineness of such men as Rochester, Sedley, and Feilding.
The Court, after the Restoration, was a veritable hot
house in which Beaux attained to their highest development, and yet it must be borne in mind that that development was, by the very nature of the Court itself, but a coarse, sensual excellence, which expressed itself in an extravagance of colour and adornment, and an extravagance of thought and habit which was manifested in extravagant action.
The Beaux of the Regency were in some cases no less immoral, no less coarse and foolish than those of the earlier time, yet superficially they showed a quieter elegance, and were slightly subdued by the weight of a disapproving King in the background. They were also the product of a staid social order and so were, on the whole, devoid of the talent and wit which came to the fore in Charles's time, as the result of the clash of ideas and forces, the reaction against Puritanism.
Though D'Orsay equalled Brummell in his love of appearance, he was not, in the first place, so assertive; and secondly, the Court of Queen Victoria offered no opportunities for the display of his particular qualities. Thus, if I may pervert Browning's well-known line, Brummell had the time, the place, and the circumstance all together, and he stands now, and perhaps for all history, as the most perfect example of a Beau that ever lived.
But as has been said, there are many others who deserve notice besides these three best known of the Beaux. Before Nash made his entry into Bath, again in the interval before Brummell captured the Prince of Wales, also in that period which divided Brummell's departure for Calais in 1816, from the rise of D'Orsay in "smart society," there were a number of smaller men renowned for their dress, their wit, and their idleness. From the date when the gorgeous James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, went on a splendid embassy with a message to the French king, down to the
The Beau as Wit
middle of the twentieth century, we have had Dandies, who by their pranks, their misdeeds, and saving qualities, have run a gaudy pattern into the fringe of history.
In my experience, to speak of Beaux and Dandies is to raise a certain amused, half-tolerant scorn of the subject. A Beau is looked upon much in the same light as the tailor in the nursery rhyme-as only part of a man, and this puts me, as it were, upon the defensive. For I am in no mind to apologise for my subject; amusement is as necessary to our health as high thinking, and if I offer frivolity for your consideration rather than saintly virtue, I am not the less offering a good thing. A person who can appreciate wit and laugh at humour is as healthy as he who says long prayers and strives after good actions; and on the score of wit and humour the Beaux are well worthy of attention. As wit is born in a man and cannot be educated into him, some of the Dandies were greater in this respect than those they followed. Nash was spontaneously witty sometimes, but sometimes, especially in old age, he mistook rudeness for wit. D'Orsay showed a great sense of humour, and Brummell's tongue, if not the sharpest of his day, was certainly one of the readiest. Lord Alvanley, who in some ways succeeded the last named in the favour of the Prince Regent, is more often quoted for his wit than for his dress, and the remembered mots of Selwyn would fill pages.
It is unfortunate that of those Wits and Beaux of the Stuart period so few creditable sayings remain. There were Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, Etherege, Sedley, Killigrew, Rochester, and later, Congreve, whose wit is now to be found only in their published plays, and when found it is to us not keenly pointed, for we know little of the topics of their day. One writer talks of Congreve "as a horrible nightmare, and may the fates
forbid that I should go through his plays again!" "My recollection of his plays is like that of a vile nightmare, which I would not for anything have return to me!" That is putting the case extravagantly, for we look no more for delicate sentiment and fine distinctions in morals among men suffering from a violent reaction against aggressive repression and vandalism, than we expect lilies to bloom on a recently burnt hill-side.
On the other hand, there were a number of Dandies who did not profess wit, whose lives were made up of very small things indeed, and these Addison immortalised by sarcasm in one of his Spectator essays with which this chapter may fittingly conclude :
"A head no hellebore can reach," is the introductory line to this amusing account of the dissection in a dream of a Beau's head.
"An imaginary operator opened the first (a Beau's head) with a great deal of nicety, which upon a cursory and superficial view, appeared like the head of another man; but upon applying our glasses to it, we made a very odd discovery, namely, that what we looked upon as brains, were not such in reality, but an heap of strange materials wound up in that shape and texture, and packed together with wonderful art in the several cavities of the skull. For, as Homer tells us, that the blood of the Gods is not real blood, but only something like it; so we found that the brain of the Beau is not a real brain, but only something like it.
"The pineal-gland, which many of our modern philosophers suppose to be the seat of the soul, smelt very strong of essence and orange-flower water, and was encompassed with a kind of horny substance, cut into a thousand little faces or mirrors, which were imperceptible to the naked eye, insomuch that the soul, if there had been