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And Liberty plucks Justice by the nose.
IT has been settled by Mr. Alison, in his "Essay on the Philosophy of Taste," that the sublimity or beauty of forms arises altogether from the associations we connect with them, or the qualities of which they are expressive to us; and Sir Joshua Reynolds, in discoursing upon personal beauty, maintains, that as nature, in every nation, has one fixed or determinate form towards which she is continually inclining, that form will invariably become the national standard of bodily perfection. "To instance," he proceeds, "in a particular part of a feature: the line that forms the ridge of the nose, is beautiful when it is straight; this, then, is the central form, which is oftener found than either concave, convex, or any other irregular form that may be proposed;"-but this observation he is careful to limit to those countries where the Grecian nose predominates, for he subsequently adds, in speaking of the Ethiopians, " I suppose nobody will doubt, if one of their painters was to paint the goddess of beauty, but that he would represent her black, with thick lips, flat nose, and woolly hair; and it seems to me that he would act very unnaturally if he did not; for by what criterion will any one dispute the propriety of his idea ?" And he thus concludes his observations
on the subject: "From what has been said, it may be inferred, that the works of Nature, if we compare one species with another, are all equally beautiful; and that preference is given from custom, or some association of ideas; and that, in creatures of the same species, beauty is the medium or centre of all various forms." If this definition be accurate, we are not authorised in admiring either the Roman or the Jewish noses, both of which are too exorbitant and overbearing-the high-born ultras of their class ;-still less can we fall in love with the Tartarian notions, where the greatest beauties have the least noses, and where, according to Ruybrock, the wife of the celebrated Jenghiz Khan was deemed irresistible, because she had only two holes for a nose. These are the radical In medio tutissimus seems to be as true upon this subject as almost every other, and, in the application of the dictum, we must finally give the preference to the Grecian form, of which such beautiful specimens have been transmitted to us in their statues, vases, and gems. Whether this were the established beau idéal of their artists, or, as is more probable, the predominant line of the existing population, it is certain that, in their sculptures, deviations from it are very rare. In busts from the living, they were, of course, compelled to conform to the original; but I can easily imagine, that if it did not actually break the Grecian chisel, it must have nearly broken the heart of the statuary, who was doomed to scoop out of the marble the mean and indented pug-nose of Socrates. Whence did that extraordinary people derive their noble figure
and beautiful features, which they idealised into such sublime symmetry and exquisite loveliness in the personification of their gods and goddesses? If they were, indeed, as the inhabitants of Attica pretended, the Autocthones, or original natives, springing from the earth, it were an easy solution to maintain, that the soil and climate of that country are peculiarly adapted to the most faultless and perfect developement of the human form: but if, as more sober history affirms, they were a colony from Sais in Egypt, led by Cecrops into Attica, we must be utterly at a loss to account for their form, features, and complexion. Traces of this derivation are clearly discernible in their religion and arts; and the sources of their various orders of architecture are, even now, incontestably evident in the ancient and stupendous temples upon the banks of the Nile; in none of whose sculptures, however, do we discover any approximation to the beautiful features and graceful contour of the Greeks. Ethiopians, Persians, and Egyptians, are separately recognisable, but there are no figures resembling the Athenians. The features of the Sphinx are Nubian; the mummies are invariably dark-coloured; and though their noses are generally compressed by the embalming bandages, there is reason to believe that they have lost very little of their elevation in the process. Leaving the elucidation of this obscure matter to more profound antiquaries, let us return to our central point of beauty-the Nose.
A Slawkenbergius occasionally appeared among the Greeks, as well as the moderns; but from the exube
rant ridicule and boisterous raillery with which the monster was assailed, we may presume that a genuine proboscis was of rare occurrence. Many of the lampoons and jokes, circulated by the wits of Athens, are as extravagant as the noses themselves, and enough has been preserved to fill a horse's nose-bag. Let the following, from the Anthology, suffice as a sample :— "Dick cannot wipe his nostrils if he pleases,
(So long his nose is, and his arms so short;)
Nor ever cries "God bless me !" when he sneezes ;
Or this, which is attributed to the Emperor Trajan :"Let Dick some summer's day expose
Before the sun his monstrous nose,
Would make an excellent sun-dial."
Many of these epigrams were derived by the Greeks from the Oriental Facetiæ; and if we would trace the pedigree of a joke, which even at our last dinnerparty set the table in a roar, we should probably hunt it back to the symposia of Athens, and the festive halls of Bagdat. It must be confessed that, in several of these instances, if the wit be old, it is very little of its age; for Hierocles, like his successor Joe Miller, seems now and then to have thought it a good joke to put in a bad one.
Ovid, it is well known, derived his sobriquet of Naso from the undue magnitude of that appendage, though
it did not deter him from aspiring to the affections of Julia, the daughter of Augustus. It is not, perhaps, so generally known, that the cry of "Nosey!" issuing from the gallery of the play-house, when its inmates are musically inclined, is the nick-name, which has long survived a former leader of the band, to whom nature had been unsparingly bountiful in that prominent feature; and who, could he have foreseen his immortality among the gods, might have exclaimed, with his illustrious namesake,
"Parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis
Astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum."
Though a roomy nose may afford a good handle for ridicule, there are cases in which a certain magnificence and superabundance of that feature, if not abstractedly becoming, has, at least, something appropriate in its redundancy, according with the characteristics of its wearer. It has advantages as well as disadvantages. A man of any spirit is compelled to take cognisance of offences committed under his very nose, but with such a promontory as we have been describing, they may come within the strict letter of the phrase, and yet be far enough removed to afford him a good plea for protesting that they escaped his observation. He is not bound to see within his nose, much less beyond it. Should a quarrel, however, become inevitable, the very construction of this member compels him to meet his adversary half way. Nothing could reconcile us to a bulbous excrescence of this inflated description, if we saw it appended to a poor little insignificant creature, giving him the appearance of the