Vanity Fair (UK), January 5, 1905

[The Prophet Dowie attributes his success in life to the fact that he had a beard at the age of seventeen. “People,” he said, “used to think me about twenty-five, and I soon got the salary of a man of twenty-five, when I was seventeen.”]

IF you’re anxious to outdistance
In the struggle for existence
 Every rival on the scene,
You must imitate your Dowie,
And try hard to find out how he
 Grew a beard at seventeen.
If prosperity you’d snatch, oh,
Spend your hard-earned wealth on Tatcho,
 It’s the only thing to do;
And, remember, never harbour
Thoughts of calling in a barber,
 Though your chin be rough and blue.

And everyone will say,
As you walk your prosperous way,
 “If this young man can grow a beard
  (Which has never occurred to me),
 Why, what a most particularly gifted sort of youth
  This sort of youth must be.”

When your cheek, once smooth and chubby,
Becomes noticeably scrubby,
 And your beard grows long and thick;
Then employers, who’d secure you,
Offer princely sums to lure you;
 And you simply take your pick.
Though your friends begin to drop you,
Do not let such trifles stop you,
 Never heed their foolish whims:
Merchants offer countless dollars
For a clerk in Eton collars
 Who resembles George R. Sims.

For everyone will say,
As you walk your pard-like way,
 “If this young man, who’s still in his teens,
  Has beard enough for three,
 Why, what a most phenomenally brainy sort of youth
  This brainy sort of youth must be.”

P. G. Wodehouse.





Scotsman John Alexander Dowie (1847–1907) was a widely-traveled evangelist and faith healer who formed the Christian Catholic Church in Zion and the town of Zion, Illinois. Widely dismissed as a charlatan and crank, Dowie – who for his appearances would dress in flowing, jewelled robes and portrayed himself as a modern Elijah – nonetheless had followers who tithed directly to him and he amassed a fortune in real estate holdings in Chicago. A contemporary report: “He is bald, but his face is covered with a long, white, patriarchal beard which extends up to his little, piercing, fascinating eyes, in which can be read the instinct of domination of a sly charlatan. His voice is strong and clear, his words colored, and his discourse strewn with metaphors and biblical images, frequently, in imitation of the prophets, with imprecation and abuse.”


John Dawson    


The poem is in the form of, and could be sung to the music of, Bunthorne’s song “If you’re anxious for to shine in the high æsthetic line” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience.
 More information on George R. Sims and Tatcho can be found at the Hair Raising Stories site.


Neil Midkiff