Royal Magazine, November 1905
If you’ll listen I will tell you, as concisely as I may
Of Madeline Trevelyan and Alonzo Bamstead Grey,
And how the latter’s happiness completely disappeared
When, to satisfy his lady-love, he tried to grow a beard.
One evening, as Alonzo at his lady’s feet reclined,
“My Madeline,” he murmured, “would you tell me (be so kind)
If you find me, as a lover, lacking all defect and blot?”
And she answered: “Well, Alonzo, to be candid, I do not!”
“My angel, is it possible! You fill me with surprise!
In what precise essential would you have me otherwise?
Oh, tell me, lest my character be permanently seared.”
And she answered: "Oh, Alonzo, I do wish you’d grow a beard.
“You’re nice and tall, and well set-up; you’ve such a lovely waist;
You play the flute and Sousaphone correctly and with taste;
Your name is in Debrett and Burke; you’ve hazel eyes; but, oh!
You will never be perfection till your beard begins to grow.
“Remember how repeatedly, to prove that you were true,
You have begged me, dear, to set you something difficult to do;
Fierce bears and lions you’ve expressed your eagerness to kill.
Oh, spare their lives, but grow a beard!” Alonzo said, “I will.”
He embarked upon his mission optimistic, brave, and gay;
Neglected in his dressing-case his trusty razors lay;
Till shortly, he observed with joy, the wished-for change set in.
(He scratched his hand one morning when he tried to stroke his chin.)
His valet looked contemptuous, but Alonzo did not flinch.
Within a week the crop had grown to more than half-an-inch;
His heart was light; he knew no grief; he carolled, capered, hopped;
When suddenly to his dismay the growth abruptly stopped.
As when a merry motor-car stops absolutely dead,
And eke, to gain some private end, declines to forge ahead,
Though chauffeur toils and crowds collect and luckless riders rave—
Precisely thus that nascent beard elected to behave.
Alonzo’s classic countenance, once beautiful to view,
Resembled now a tooth-brush—and a tooth-brush far from new;
His eyes assumed a haggard look, his brow was lined with care.
His friends began to cut him; passers-by began to stare.
His life became a burden. He was forced to shun the park;
The theatres ceased to know him; he stayed in till after dark;
And when this lack of exercise his health began to wreck,
He slunk about the Borough with a muffler round his neck.
At last upon his Madeline reluctantly he called.
She met him in the drawing-room, and staggered back appalled:
“Alonzo! You’re a perfect sight! Why ever aren’t you shaved?”
He didn’t stop to argue, but he simply shouted “Saved!”
He saw she had forgotten what she’d ordered him to do,
But he did not stay to tell her so. He took his hat and flew.
And when the barber’s razor chanced to cut his stubbly chin,
He gave the man a five-pound note, and said “Go in and win.”
The moral of this story is especially designed
To be of use to gentlemen whom love has rendered blind.
Let not her will, persistently, be thwarted by your won’t,
But if she bids you grow a beard, be warned in time—and don’t.