The Attraction of the Bulldog - Plain Men and Ugly Men - How the Ugly Man Scores
"He's most fascinating - he's just like a bulldog!" exclaimed one friend to another after being introduced to a "big man" at an At-home. Most women feel this appeal of the ugly man. His eyes may be small, his nose of a Wellingtonian character, his head almost bullish, but he contrives to exercise a strong fascination which he can very soon change to love.
The reason the bulldog has taken such a hold on public fancy is because of his grotesque ugliness. His curiously shaped body, his huge, clumsy head, make an appeal far greater than the graceful curves and symmetrical head of a Borzoi.
It may be that the ugly man suggests strength, courage, virility, power, in strong contrast to woman's milder characteristics; it may be that woman has found out the demerits of the man of beauty, but it is certain that the ugly man can exercise a charm which even those who feel it find it hard to define.
The ugly man must not be confused with the plain man. Women marry plain men - they have to, for most men are plain - but they are always envious of those who have found and kept a really ugly man. Some of the ugliest men in history have exercised a power which has made them immortal. Oliver Cromwell, the great uncrowned king, wielded a force, a charm, even to the present day, in spite of his red, bucolic face, his small, steel-grey eyes, his warted nose, that Prince Rupert, with his black lovelocks, his large, hazel eyes could never command. "The Duke's large nose on a battlefield is worth more than a hundred pieces of cannon," was a favourite saying in regard to the Duke of Wellington throughout the Peninsula War. Voltaire, almost repulsive in his ugliness, broke hearts with an ease that a "general" would envy in regard to her mistress's china; and the squat, bow-legged figure and piglike face of Henry VIII. readily won the hearts of the fairest maids of the Court.
I believe the fascination of the ugly man rests on the fact that he realises his ugliness and makes amends for it in manners, speech, wit, grace. The plain man, instead of recognising his plainness, imagines he is good-looking, and makes no effort to counteract his plainness or to develop it into real, taking ugliness. He allows his intellect to remain undeveloped; while the ugly man, very often unconsciously (for Nature always compensates) studies, reads, absorbs, until he is a good conversationalist, and can say interesting things on any subject. He keeps in touch with the news of the day, while the plain man devotes all his time to golf or political meetings, and attempts to become an expert (that is, a bore) on some one subject.
The plain man is usually rightly dubbed "ordinary," the ugly man receives the distinction of being "extraordinary."
The ugly man, as a rule, makes a very good husband, for his ugliness, which is more apparent to himself than the rest of the world, tends to make him of a serious, constant character. His wants are those of a solid nature; he prefers his easy-chair by the fire, his garden, the society of his wife, to a theatre stall or social functions.
Indeed, he is sometimes so conscious of his ugliness that he rather shuns society, thinking his wife may be pitied for his lack of good looks. His head is not turned by women's flattery, for as often as not he believes it comes from the pity that women cannot help extending to deformed creatures. He takes pains with the choosing of his clothes, and often develops an artistic sense which helps in the collecting together of a really beautiful home.
Usually, it is the ugly man who attains success. One sometimes longs to see a celebrity of the stage, literature, art; and when at last that opportunity does come, one exclaims disappointedly (at first), "Oh, what an ugly man!"
With the exception of a very few men, such as Tennyson, Byron, William Morris, most of our writers have been ugly men. To-day our writers and leaders in thought are not Apollos; they wear spectacles, have large heads and small bodies, stooping shoulders, thin, lank hair, hard, square chins, and noses that are the diverse opposite of the Greek god. Possibly it will be said that cleverness or genius have nothing to do with the ugliness, but I cannot help thinking that it is the direct result. As boys, these men realised their ugliness, and decided that not for them were the frivolities of life, but only steady, painstaking labour, so that they might gain something better than looks - the laurels of fame. The more they kept away from the trivialities and digressions of society the more they concentrated on work, and then came - as must come to all who fight hardest - the glory of success and fame.
The wife of the ugly man seldom has cause for jealousy. Other women do not look long at him as they pass in the street; indeed, until he speaks or smiles, his attractions are not evident. She may not have the pleasure of hearing other women remark on her husband's good looks, but she also does not hear the asides of society that "it is a pity such a good-looking man is married to such a plain woman."