Some people have observed that I am growing in a beard at the moment, and I have responded that I am doing so partly because I was lazy a couple weeks ago, and partly in preparation for the tea dance on Sunday, after which I shall probably remove it again. I explain that Beau Brummell himself felt strongly that men should not go clean-shaven.
I here offer the Beau's remarks on the topic, from his unpublished manuscript "Male Costume", dated 1822, published in Male and Female Costume by Beau Brummell, Arno Press, 1978, pp. 128-129.
It is remarkable that, with a looser costume, more or less of the beard has generally been suffered to grow in every age; and, in perfect consistency with this fact, many of those gentlemen who contemn the remarks of the vulgar, now suffer the hair to grow on the upper lip.
This habit is a manly and noble one. God and nature made it distinctive of the male and female; and its abandonment has commonly been accompanied with periods of general effeminacy, and even with the decline and fall of states. They were bearded Romans who conquered the then beardless Greeks; they were bearded Goths who vanquished the then beardless Romans; and they are bearded Tartars who now promise once more to inundate the shaven and effeminate people of Western Europe.
In further illustration of the manliness of this habit, we may observe, that, throughout Europe, wars have generally led to its temporary introduction.
It assuredly looks best when it is not too finically adjusted, as by leaving a distinct lock on each half of the upper lip and another on the chin, but when, on the contrary, the mustachio on the upper lip runs on each side into the whisker continuously and unbroken; while the hair is removed only whence it can be best spared; namely from below the line of the mouth.
Those assuredly completely blunder, who ridicule mustachios and whiskers as a piece of puppyism. The silly affectation lies, on the contrary, entirely with those who, by removing all the beard, take the trouble so far to emasculate themselves! and who think themselves prettyfied by a painful and ridiculous imitation of the smoother face of women!