[This item was preceded by an editor's preface which is included here.]
Shaving a beard or shaving a note is equally disagreeable to most shavees, though the grumpy broker who curtails your profits is, perhaps, not as personally disagreeable as he who abbreviates your beard, tweaks your nose, pulls your hair, stops your mouth, breathes garlic or bad rum in your face, and then asks to be rewarded because he has not cut your throat. Hair-brushing by machinery has been advertised in the English newspapers, and soon we may have shaving by steam, which will be a vast benefit to those who submit to saponaceous barberities from stern necessity. But why don't the Women's Rights folks take the matter up, and insist on the right of the fair sex to shave men as well as softsoap them. Men would willingly submit to the manipulations of pretty girls whose eyes would outshine their razors, and whose hands would glide through hair like pomatumed electricity, and whose respirations would exhale from their swelling bosoms as fragrant as "the cow's ambrosial breath". Our red-whiskered or sandcolored moustached youth would rush to the fair barbers' chairs, and before these beautiful Annie Lauries lay them down to dye. If Miss Dickinson, Mrs. Stanton, and the other phalanx of aspirants for female editorial honors who intend starting a newspaper to be conducted, from the editress-in-chief to the she-devil, by females alone, would only start a barber-shop on the same principles, they would not only have a first-rate chance to talk politics whilst their shavees mouths are being stopped by the soapbrush, but also to make a fortune, which they will not realize in the newspaper-business. Now for our humorous contributor's exposure of the
ED. T. T. -- If I do not get a chance to disgorge my opinions about barbers, I shall burst with malignant animosity.
Barbers are an unholy invention of Satan, and all their instincts are cruel and revolting.
They generally have an unwholesome breath; but do they care? No, far from it. They are proud of it. They get a man down in the barber-chair, where he cannot help himself, and then they hover over him, and give him blast after blast, and try to suffocate him. And when they see him suffering, they gloat over it in their secret hearts.
They know that the first two inches along the jawbone abaft a man's chin is tender, and for this reason they keep on shaving and scraping there till they trim off some of the skin, and the blood begins to come through and speck the pores. They know that that place will smart half a day, and annoy him to that degree that even the grave would be a happy refuge, and it does their profligate souls good to think of it.
They love to brush lather into a man's mouth; even if it is a man who never did them harm. It is nothing to them. They would brush that lather into that man's mouth though he were an angel. Nothing gratifies their degraded nature so much. They know he will taste it for an hour, and feel disagreeable, and they think it is smart. But I look upon it as an unspeakable outrage.
They think they are witty. They all think that. And so they leave a man, all soaped up and smarting, while they whet their razor on their hand, and bandy wretched, sickening jokes with their fellows. They are always trying to say clever things that will make stranger laugh -- especially those cheerful young German barbers; and so they keep on chirping, and chirping, and chirping, but they never succeed. Suppose a barber were to be suddenly cut off in the prime of his life, at such a time as this, without a moment's warning, in the midst of his awful career -- who can tell what that barber's feelings might be, or where that barber might go to?
And they lather a man, and then rub and scrub and chafe his face till they get it tender, so they can make him squirm when they shave him. Do they shudder? No. They view his sufferings with a holy calm. (And yet such men are allowed to vote. Such is republican government.) They are the most conceited race of creatures God has made. They rub and gouge and claw at a man's head, pretending to be oiling his hair and plowing up the dandruff, but all the while they are paying not even the most distant attention to what they are doing. On the contrary, they are admiring themselves in the glass, and smirking and smiling at themselves, and enjoying the way they have got their hair done up. Suppose they chance to run one of their greasy talons into a man's eye? -- they don't know it, and they don't care a cent any way, as long as they think they look charming. And as soon as ever they are done outraging a customer, they get up and spread before a glass and go to combing themselves afresh. Such things may be becoming in an ass, because it is only a dumb brute and not responsible, but they are loathsome in a man.
Barbers cannot carry around more than one idea at a time; it would break them down. They shave every man against the grain, and they part every man's hair behind. If he has got much hair on top of his head, they part it and stack it upon each side of the line as if they were digging a grave. And if he is as bald as a dome, what is it to them? Nothing whatsoever. They wool him, and plow him, and claw him all the same; and they grease him to that extent, that, if he takes his hat off in the sunshine he dazzles people's eyes, just the same as if he had a tin roof on. They haven't got any more discrimination than a clam.
Such is my opinion of barbers as a class; and I will state openly and aboveboard, that if I were king barbers would be worth fifteen hundred thousand dollars a piece the next day, because they would be so scare.
- MARK TWAIN.
[Text from microfilm. Photocopy courtesy of the Mark Twain Papers, University
of California at Berkeley.]
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