Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Barber of London in 1829

Thursday, March 8, 2012
Loretta reports:

Contrasting with the description of a footman, this presents the barber as offering a kind of paradise to his clients.
The members of this ancient and gentle profession—foul befal the libeller who shall designate it a trade— are mild, peaceable, cheerful, polite, and communicative: they mingle with no cabal, have no interest in factions, are "open to all parties, and influenced by none;" and they have a good, kind, or civil word for everybody. . . . Their small, cool, clean, and sparingly-furnished shops, with sanded floor, and towelled walls, relieved by the white-painted, well scoured shelves, scantily adorned with the various implements of their art, denote the snug system of economy which characterises the owners. Here, only, is the looking-glass not an emblem of vanity: it is placed to reflect, and not to flatter. You seat yourself in the lowly, antique chair, worn smooth by the backs of half a century of beard-owners, and instantly feel a full repose from fatigue of body and mind. You find yourself in attentive and gentle hands, and are persuaded that no man can be in collision with his shaver or hair-dresser. The very operation tends to set you on better terms with yourself; and your barber hath not in his constitution the slightest element of difference. The adjustment of a curl, the clipping of a lock, the trimming of a whisker, (that much-cherished and highly-valued adornment of the face,) are matters of paramount importance to both parties—threads of sympathy for the time, unbroken by the divesture of the thin, soft, ample mantle, that enveloped you in its snowy folds while under his care . . . The veriest churl is softened by the application of the warm emollient brush, and calmed into complacency by the light-handed hoverings of the comb and scissors. A smile, a compliment, a remark on the weather, a diffident side-wind inquiry about politics, or the passing intelligence of the day, are tendered with that deference, which is the most grateful as well as the handsomest demonstration of politeness.
—George Cruikshank, Robert Cruikshank, The Gentleman’s Pocket Magazine, Vol 3, 1829


textilehistorIE said...

Emailing this to my bearded OH. Thanks ladies!

Donna Hatch, historical author said...

Sounds so relaxing. I must need a barber :-)

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