Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/294

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
288
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

brown), Charles XII. of Sweden (dark brown), Captain Cook (dark brown), Cromwell, Defoe (dark brown), Longfellow, Farragut (becoming in middle life almost black), Dean Farrar (dark brown), Eugene Field (cross between brown and dove color!), Gladstone (brown, later black), Gordon, U. S. Grant (reddish brown, though another authority says chestnut brown), Keats (gold brown), Sidney Lanier (light brown), Napoleon (dark brown), Washington Irving (chestnut), John Milton (light brown), Peter the Great (ruddy brown), George Ripley, Robespierre, John Ruskin, Shelley, Southey, Charles Sumner (nut brown), Bayard Taylor (dark brown), Thoreau, General Thomas (light brown), George Washington (light brown) though another authority says dark brown), N. P. Willis (light brown).

The remainder of the names in our list, aside from the case of Thackeray, whose hair is described sometimes as "white" and sometimes as "flaxen," we have classed as "reddish." The hair of Bunyan is so described, that of Andrew Jackson is described as "reddish sandy," that of James Russell Lowell as "ruddy" or "auburn," that of Swinburne as "red" in his youth, though the information in this last case comes from a passing reference in a magazine article and not from an authoritative biography. William the Silent is described as having auburn hair and Savanarola as having reddish eyelashes, while Thomas Hobbes is referred to as having yellowish-reddish whiskers. It will be remembered that in an earlier portion of this paper the hair of U. S. Grant is given as reddish-brown and that of Peter the Great as ruddy-brown. The case of Swinburne is thus the single instance of red hair in our lists if our information as to that individual is authentic. As to Hobbes it is important to note that the color given refers only to the beard which, under the law we have mentioned, must have been lighter in color than the head hair, and it is not improbable therefore that the hair of Hobbes was dark.

The absence of yellow from our lists is highly important, seeing that flaxen is the leading hair color of the northern races of Europe. The hair of Sir Thomas More, as we have seen, was "black shot with yellow," and as to R. L. Stevenson it is said "his hair, from being light, almost yellow, became after twenty-five dark but not black." The hair of Thackeray, as already mentioned, is spoken of sometimes as "white" and sometimes as "flaxen." These aside, however, we are without the name of a single individual whose hair is described unqualifiedly as "yellow," unless the case of Thackeray be taken as such.

More interesting, however, than the detail of color is the structure of the hair among men of genius. Upon this phase of the subject our data lend marked sanction to a popular fancy mentioned in an early paragraph of this paper. The "poet's ringlets" seem to represent a distinct fact in biography. Of the sixty individuals whose hair is described in our data the structure of the hair is given as to twenty-six,