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Whiskers Versus Hoops

Manitoba Pageant, January 1962, Volume 7, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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A letter to the Editors of the Nor'Wester in 1861:

Gentlemen:- Your lady correspondent "Mademoiselle" cleverly caricatured myself and my compeers of goatish beard, and, decides that Hoops - bad as they are - are preferable to long whiskers. I must examine this verdict; and, although not the second son of the King of France, I shall in this be "Monsieur."

'Tis natural for her, poor dear thing, to carp at my fine, waving beard, for nature has denied her having any, of any kind, or any dimensions. This is a sore pity, for a downy moustache would greatly improve her sweet face. Moreover, if she had a wee tuft, we could then see whether she would practise her own preaching, and use scissors or razor. I am sure she wouldn't; for where she has the chance, (in her hair) she studies length - 3 feet being the object of her ambition. All respectable persons prefer clipping off their hair to abridging their beard; so I presume, would Mademoiselle, if she had the opportunity; and as she won't shorten even her hair, much less would she her - her whiskers if she had any.

My dear Mademoiselle (how I wish I knew her) will admit it is natural to wear long beard; unnatural to be hooped. I infer long beard is the right thing, or nature would have given me only a stunted growth; but when did nature contrive hoops? These are, therefore, unnatural; and what is unnatural is objectionable. So think I; pray, what say you!

Besides, my whiskers have antiquity in their favour - a venerable ancestry, an honourable pedigree; and so when your fair correspondent waxes witty on my "patriarchal" goatee, she associates me with the good, old nobility of antiquity and the wig-wearing sages of more modern times; but hoops! this is an upstart of yesterday and in wearing them, she but keeps company with whiskey barrels, milk pails and that ricketty old keg yonder!

Mademoiselle likes her hoops for their use in warm weather; I like my beard for its use in cold weather. This is a matter of comfort, and I generously leave it to her to decide which is the greater evil (cold or heat) against which we are severally protected. She dislikes whiskers because they obstruct a delicate little tete a tete operation; I object to hoops, for plague them, they won't let me come within 2 yards of her.

Now, gentlemen; I am a trifler; for only such could write this nonsense; but my gallantry would not allow me to pass over Mademoiselle's epistle in silence, for that might be misunderstood. My verdict is against hoops; what say you on this grave matter?

I am, Yours truly, MONSIEUR, Kildonan, October 19th, 1861.

Page revised: 1 July 2009

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