My Mission

Robert Sale-Hill’s poem, The True Origin and History of “The Dude” (The New York World, January 14, 1883) introduced the world to the word Dude, and kicked off a full-on Dude craze. A-Dude-a-Day[i] Blog is dedicated to preserving and sharing pics, pieces and poems from the early days of the Dude-craze of 1883. You can read more about the history and origin of the word Dude on my blogpost, "Dudes, Dodos and Fopdoodles" on my other blog, Early Sports 'n' Pop-Culture History Blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dude #27 - Dudus Americanus

The Dudus Americanus. 

The Dudus Americanus, or American dude has of late been the subject of much scientific inquiry.  Yet little light has been thrown upon his origin and development.  There is no use consulting a dude himself on this subject, because his mental horizon is so limited that he does not even know he is a dude.  To paraphrase one of The Sun's poets:

     "Was ever sleeper who could tell
     The time when sleep upon him fell?
     Was ever Dude who understood
     The moment he became a Dude?"

It is held by many that the dude is the descendant, through a long course of evolution, of the dodo, because of the similarity in name and because the dodo strutted about as though it were pleasing to look upon, whereas it was ridiculous in appearance.  Moreover, the dodo is described as “stupid and incompetent.”

These points certainly favor this theory, but one objection has been overlooked.  The dodo was strong, and was feared by numbers of smaller species.  No one, however, fears a dude.  He lacks the wit and physique to harm by word or act.  Consequently, the claim that he is a descendant of the dodo is contrary to the theory of the survival of the fittest.

Again, those who maintain that the Dudus Americanus is not a separate species, but a deterioration of the Dudus Britannicus, point to the fact that while the American dude may be the offspring of American parents, he receives the finishing touches from an English tailor.  Moreover the American and the British dude have much in common.  Both are reserved in conversation not from choice, malicious people say, but from necessity.  Both are rather attenuated in figure, a peculiarity attributed to the fact that their only nutriment appears to be the small quantity of alimentary matter derived from sucking the silver heads of their canes.  Both are proud of their families, though their families were never known to be proud of them.

But there is a common sense view of this question which yields more satisfactory results than scientific research.  In all ages that class of people in society who have been too stupid to discover their ignorance have been held up to ridicule and contempt.  Names have been invented for them which would properly reflect the opinion of the sensible portion of the community concerning them.  “Dude” is simply the latest of these names.

The Sun (New York), April 27, 1883, page 2, column 3; Evening Critic (Washington DC), May 2, 1883, page 1, column 6.

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