This review by Florence King appears in the September issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe, click here.p> strong> em> Beau Brummell : br> The Ultimate Man of Style /em> br> by Ian Kelly br> (Free Press, 393 pages, $26) /strong> /p>
The feminist Germaine Greer once declaimed that it was folly to allow men to rule the world when they begin the day by tying a noose around their necks. Ironically, George “Beau” Brummell, who invented what was to become the modern necktie, figuratively ruled the early 19th-century world when the men who actually ruled it gathered in his London townhouse to watch him dress.
Brummell was the first “dandy” — today he would be called a “metrosexual” — a type memorably defined by the historian Thomas Carlyle: “Others dress to live, he lives to dress.” An orphan but a rich one, he persuaded his trustee to buy him a commission in the 10th Light Dragoons, a cavalry regiment known as “the Prince of Wales’s Own” because it had been created to satisfy the military daydreams of the obese “Prinny” (later George IV). The Prince was its Colonel-in-Chief, but since there could be no question of sending the heir to the throne into battle, it followed that his personal regiment would never see combat either. A commission in the 10th Light was a purely social cachet, an entree to aristocratic circles for ambitious commoners like Brummell. Stationed in the royal resort town of Brighton, their sole duty consisted of prancing around on state occasions wearing luscious uniforms inspired by Prinny’s fantasies of himself as a warrior-king.
He wanted to look like a “hussar,” a Hungarian word for the medieval tribesmen who hunted wolves on horseback and slung the pelts over their shoulders. The 10th Light swanked about in a half-on, half-off fur pelisse, miles of ropey braiding, real silver tassels hanging from the sleeves, a leopard-skin helmet with a fur crest, and skintight leather breeches worn without underwear to eliminate panty lines. To top off this fashion overstatement, the Dragoons still powdered their hair and wore it in a queue despite the tax on powder levied in 1795 to pay for the war with France.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?