Thomas Gowing felt the mighty yet fragile English Beard to be threatened with extinction by an invasive foreign species, the Razor. So he set out to defend the furry face mammal in every conceivable way. The resulting lecture was received so enthusiastically by a bushy-faced audience in Ipswich that it was soon turned into The Philosophy of Beards (1854) — the first book entirely devoted to this subject.
It is Gowing’s ardent belief that the bearded are better looking, better morally and better historically than the shaven.
In the last section, Gowing gambols through the ancient and modern past, attaching a beard or lack thereof to thousands of years of heroism and cowardice, honour and deceit. Viewing history through the prism of the beard makes things nice and simple: “The bold Barons outbearded King John, and Magna Charta was the result,” … “Henry the 7th shaved himself and fleeced his people”. Napoleon I only allowed men in his empire to have an “imperial”, an upturned triangle of a beard, as a way of letting them know “that they were to have the smallest possible share in the empire”.
Finally, he dismisses as “a foul libel” the idea that ladies don’t fancy a beard. He declares, presumably without much survey data to hand, that “Ladies, by their very nature, like everything manly, and cannot fail to be charmed by a fine flow of curling comeliness.”
You can read much more at The Public Domain Review, including the book itself. The book has also been recently republished by the British Library, for the first time since 1854. You’ll find a link at The Public Domain. I’d think the book would be a fine gift for anyone’s bearded friends and loved ones.
You might also be interested in Beards of Time: