Beards are back?

I did a double-take when I passed a Big Issue seller in the city a few weeks back.  Why does the big issue have an update of a 30 year old photograph of my husband on the front cover?



Oh no! I can feel a Six Degrees of Separation between Judge Willis coming on…..


I’ll let Edmund Finn (better known as ‘Garryowen’) tell the story:

Up to 1851 whiskers were not articles of common wear in Melbourne, and moustachios and beards were unknown, unless with passing visitors from the bush, who periodically burst into town for a spell, and as suddenly burst out again when their cheques were liquified.  The early town colonists were well content with the barefacedness which prevailed in England since the time of William III and were loth to encumber the human face divine with hirsute protuberances.  [Mr Edward Sewell, a dandified solicitor] sometimes affected the exceptional, and, at the risk of being out of the fashion, aimed occasionally to be out of the common, and took it into his head to create a slight sensation.  Accordingly, going into retreat for some time, he emerged unexpectedly from his seclusion, with fiercely luxuriant moustache, which, if it did not increase admiration of him, certainly rendered him pro tem the “observed of all observers”.

Making for the Supreme Court, he stalked in with the swagger of a half-daft peacock, and gazed with solemn superciliousness around him.  The Judge was startled and stared with much wonderment.  He wriggled in his seat, and with much difficulty restrained himself until the business in hand was disposed of, and then Sewell, advancing towards the Bench, asked permission to appear for a client in an Equity suit, as all the limited Bar had been retained by the other side.  The Judge regarded him with astonishment, as if unable or unwilling to recognize him in his disguise.  At length he roared out that his Court was not a place for “A whiskered pandour or a fierce hussar!” If the person who had spoken was desirous to appear as counsel, he ought to have assumed the semblance of one.  As it was, his physiognomical get-up was enough to frighten a man out of his wits! He had better clear out, or he would not be long an officer of that honourable Court.  The astounded Sewell, scared by such an unexpected reception, hastily retreated from the precincts of the highly irritated dignitary, and, fearful of being struck off the rolls if he put in a second hairy appearance, dashed away for the nearest barber’s shop, submitted to a thorough tonsorial operation, and returned with a face and a conscience equally clear to the presence of the offended impersonation of Justice, where he was received as a repentant sinner, obtained solution, and was taken (metaphorically) to the Judicial arms.

I’d always wondered about Willis’ term “whiskered pandour or fierce hussar”.  I’ve since found that he’s quoting from a poem ‘The Battle of Maciejowice’ by Thomas Campbell, which mourns the Russian defeat of the Poles in October 1794.

Oh sacred Truth!

Oh sacred Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,

And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,

When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars

Her whiskered pandours and her fierce hussars Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,

Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn:

Tumultous horror brooded o’er her van

Presaging wrath to Poland and to Man!

Anyway, Mr Sewell would be gratified, I’m sure, to know that beards are back, and that he could venture into court again today with his fiercely luxuriant mustachios and be embraced as being at the height of fashion.

8 responses to “Beards are back?

  1. been setting the trend since 1978 but no-one seemed to notice, now everyone’s doing it think I will take mine off, well somewhat.

  2. My husband’s had his since 1980 … still going strongish! I rather like a beard (obviously). Fascinating to see them coming back. I do like the term “whiskered pandour”.

    • residentjudge

      Has he had a beard all that time? My husband has had three (I think) and doesn’t have one now. A ‘pandour’ sounds rather cuddly (perhaps I’m thinking of a panda?) but apparently they were Croatian soldiers notorious for their brutality. Perhaps you’d better not call L. that.

  3. I see your point about the old photo and now. Nice work on your part to find the quote. One doesn’t hear the word pandour too often nowadays. There is a nice line in The Magic Pudding about beards, but I can’t recall it now.

    • residentjudge

      I’ll have to look out for an opportunity to use ‘pandour’. Not sure that I’m going to find one.

  4. Grew mine in 1970 and apart from one shave since, have always had it. Took it off because my girlfriend at the time asked me to-obviously I wasn’t one of “Her whiskered pandours and her fierce hussars”-but she refused to speak to a clean shaven face so I grew it back quickly, Beards may have been uncommon in Melbourne in the early 1840s but in the bush at the time they were fairly universal. Squatters and all their men grew them, much more sensible than taking a sharp object to the throat after a heavy night on the bottle, following a hard day in the hot sun.

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