Poets Ranked by Beard Weight is a classic of Edwardian esoterica, a privately printed leaflet offered by subscription to the informed man of fashion and as a divertissement au courant for reading bins and cocktail tables of parlor cars and libraries and smoking lounges of gentlemen's clubs.
Typifying a once-popular, but nowadays seldom-encountered species of turn-of-the-century ephemera, Poets Ranked by Beard Weight has become a rarity much prized by bibliophiles, and one that still stands out as a particular curiosity among the many colorful curiosities of the period. Its author, one Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881 – 1937), was a deipnosophist, clubman, and literary miscellanist with a special interest in tonsorial subjects.
Hat tip: Jenny Davidson.
In helpless thrall, I can't resist quoting further:
That "exalted dignity, that certain solemnity of mien," lent by an imposing beard, "regardless of passing vogues and sartorial vagaries," says Underwood, is invariably attributable to the presence of an obscure principle known as the odylic force, a mysterious product of "the hidden laws of nature." The odylic, or od, force is conveyed through the human organism by means of "nervous fluid" which invests the beard of a noble poet with noetic emanations and ensheathes it in an ectoplasmic aura.
I shall throw away my razor immediately.
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