« ForrigeFortsæt »
invariably in connection with the commanding feature. We hear Napoleon, or Cæsar, or Cicero, or Queen Elizabeth, and lastly, but not least, John Tyler, spoken of, merely as a prelude to the next observation that shall necessarily turn on their noses. Those efforts of the intellect and the physical powers have best succeeded, which have had their original suggestion with the nose. Tom Hood's "Bridge of Sighs" may be cited very fairly, as a scent-sible example in point. It is to be believed, and physiognomists have pretty conclusively so established it, that poor Hood, either from perplexity, and sorrow, and weeping, or some other cause, was continually snuffing. This process, to a poetic mind like his, was nothing more nor less, nor else," than an emphatic and burdened sigh. These sighs were almost minutely crossing the inner bridge of his nose; hence, the title of his little poem. To illustrate familiarly my principle, a man of a huge, ill-shaped, uncouth, or deformed nose, may enter your presence, and the first ejaculation of your mind is sure to be, "what a nose!" Conversation ensued, and perhaps you become fascinated with it, and for the time the slave to him; yet when you come to recount the good and the bad, be he in other respects as perfect as perfect can be, you insensibly find that his nose outweighs every other consideration in his favor, and has lost him your good opinion. I have an intimate acquaintance, just returned from a trip to the West Indies, whose grand prospective item and idea of life has always been, to be married rich. This I knew to be a very common and commendable purpose with very many lords and ladies of creation, and would not have been wondered at, in my friend's case, had he not set about his work with such deadly deliberation. His energies, tastes, and hopes were all on the qui vive to be the possessor either of a fortune or, at least, of one who owned one. When I first saw him, on his return from his romantic mission, I upbraided him with his gloominess and disquiet, in hopes thus to crush or root out what I did not believe yet settled on him. But my taunts, and jeers, and mirthful sallies, fell like lead on his ear; he was wrapped up pretty closely in his own meditations. Thus matters stood for some time, till I finally made an effort to inquire for the real and whole cause of his dejection. Alas, had I done so before I should have saved myself some trouble and him much suffering, for I am an advocate of the doctrine, that trouble is much more easily borne with, when somewhat distributed. It seemed hard at first to get at the gist of the real matter, for the delicacy of a man's feelings is, of all other things, the greatest delicacy in the world. The poor victim had become mightily captivated with an Indian heiress, whose beauty, from the animated description he lavished upon it, must have completely shaded that of Niolle. Her figure was faultless, and yet by no means of that sort of perfection that means merely "free from fault," for it had a commanding expression that would have led captive even "durem militem Ulyssei." He had first fallen in with her in the evening, under circumstances that conspired to favor a close investigation of her features. He had frequently tried to make appointments by which he should more fully feast his
greedy eyes in the clear and truth-telling light of day; but so far, to no purpose. Things went on swimmingly, and almost exactly to his taste, if we except the impossibility of his "meeting her by daylight alone." There seemed to be something studied about that, on her part, which he could not then understand, though he now thinks he sees pretty clearly through the matter. I could for some time get him to go no farther in his narration, than here! he even preferred to go back and repeat, rather than go on. I had at last to draw the truth out of him, by the Socratic method of question and answer. I asked him if she was rich. "Her wealth," he said, "could not be told." "Was she of good family?" "Had you asked me that once," said he, "our friendship would have been parted." "Was she handsome?" "Can Venus suffer an improvement?" was his question-able reply. "What then, Tom, in Heaven's name, can be the reason you did not make your planned proposal?" "Nose !" said he, and sank back in his chair, exhausted. The truth now flashed mildly on his mind; this was, thought I, the grand key to all the mysteries of human fortune; it is the noble prow of our vessel, the rostrum or beak of our hopes; the handle to our staff. Poor fellow, how I pitied him! one nose had lost him one fortune.
There is no one who, while he affects to smile at the way in which I put my theory into practice, does not, at the same time, place much confidence in the theory itself; and on this have I based my Philosophy of Noses, for you must know that I have reduced the subject to a perfect science. A long, straight, slim, thin nose, betokens the man of exquisite taste; I mean in his own way. Every thing about him must be exactly so, and so nice, and so forth. His washerwoman suffers weekly martyrdom at his hands; his linen all has such a peculiar, invariable fix and glaze, that you might quite easily know the nature of his nose, even if you never saw it, from a glance at his collar and fixtures. His boots are always polished well, with long toes, and turned away from his ankles with admirable precision. He usually dresses in black, and loves to sport in glittering guard-chain and goldheaded cane. In fact, his nose gives a sort of nasal dignity to his habits, that he very unceremoniously assumes to the credit of his own birth or merits; he speaks deep, sonorously, and measuredly; he is particular and an adept in the management of little things. Such endowed men make good school-teachers, or better country parsons. The management of mischievous urchins is to be reckoned their peculiar forte.
Then comes the pug, blunt, turned-up nose. The man who wears it is certain that he knows about all that is absolutely necessary, and is possessed of a corresponding facility in persuading others to the same truth. It seems to set itself against the eyes and sense of the world; it is a repeller of every idea its owner did not himself advance, and there it goes round, ahead of a head, and gazes and stares and gapes at men as two eighteen-pounders, side by side, stare out from the battery. Some such men as those who lay claim to this kind of nose, are well, or, at least, decently, disposed; but it is not the fault of their
nose; it most generally is because they do not know how to be otherwise. There is a stub-bornness about this nose, that will allow or let nothing but blood, and that in profusion. It is conquered only by blows, and these not in the regular way in which a man blows his
Then comes the broken nose; this is usually the result of some unforeseen accident or encounter. He who has to carry such fragments about with him, is like a broken-nosed pitcher, good for nothing.
There are those who have noses pointing away from their face to the one side or the other. Sometimes you will find the stub and twist qualities united, as in the stamp on the "Stubb and Twist" barrel of a pistol. Above all things, never tell a man who possesses one of these turn-about-noses to "follow his nose." You cannot conceive the dizziness to which he would be liable, provided nevertheless always, that he followed your directions instead of following you.
The flat nose will admit of no flattery, and very little remark. They can be called only capacious breathing-tubes, communicating, almost perceptibly, with the region of the lungs. The beaked nose is a bad one, and a certain indication of rapaciousness and avarice. I had as lief have no nose at all, as one of that kind.
Then there is the large, red, burly nose, so indicative of ferocity. The man who pushes such a pioneer before him, has square shoulders and a full, broad chest, a large amount of stomach, and most generally a huge cane. Contrast this being with the first one enumerated, and you will readily see that the nose makes all the difference in the world in the character of a man. This possessor dines on steak or venison, and always prefers it "rare done;" his weakest drink is strong beer; he is an active politician, though never an editor, and delights in appropriating boastfully to his own use the glory of another, or, as we now have it rendered, more classically, "in stealing thunder." His nostrils never expand, for never mind how much thunder he may steal, he can never get the lightning into him; he is only snagger and sucker.
Here is a little stripling sort of a man, hardly seeming twenty-one, his eye twinkling like a spark, his elbows all motion, as prim as a rosebush, and as lively as champagne. He has a good nose, though not at first sight peculiar; yet look closer. Do you see the thin curvature of the gristle, and the almost unaccountable dilation and contraction of the nostrils? There is the lightning; touch him, or insult his sister, and you'll have the thunder about your ears, with no "twelve months' notice" accompanying. He has no need to steal others' thunder, nor does any one want any of his, after one experiment. Yet this man's sensibilities are of all others the most tender, and he will be the first to drop a burning tear in sympathy for your distress, when those who affect to despise him shall have proved recreant to the most ordinary claims of human nature.
These are but an outline of my observations on the Philosophy of Noses. The topic on the foundation of this science may seem slight, from the seeming ludicrousness of the subject; but all things have
small beginnings. I cannot conceive why Phrenology, a science founded on the irregular excrescences of the head, by whatsoever means raised, should unblushingly accept the life-long efforts of such men as Gall, Combe, and Spurzheim, and should have been allowed to beget a professorship in a European University, while a so much more practical and sensible science, as that of the Philosophy of Noses, should be suffered to wait for so humble a pioneer-advocate as myself. Yet the fall of an apple led to the discovery of the principle of gravitation, and I take courage that if I fall by the promulgation of this science, a principle of full as much practical advantage and beauty may thereby be brought to light and disseminated. Should your sympathy run in the way of publishing this introduction to my doctrine, you shall have the remaining position of it shortly; so shall this Philosophy of Noses become at last a popular science, and he who first projects it remain behind it (as is becoming in every man) his nose.
GRAY'S "ELEGY, WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.”
Or the English poets of the last century, there are few who have attained to greater distinction than Gray, and of his writings there is no part that has been so universally popular as his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard." It is the style and matter of this poem that will constitute my subject at the present time.
There is no place calculated to excite deeper and more profitable emotions in the mind, than a graveyard, and especially such an one as is represented in this poem. In the splendid cemetery, where the rich and great lie buried, and which wealth has been lavished, and taste and art exhausted to beautify, the thoughts are frequently distracted from more serious subjects, by admiration of some lofty monument, or sculptured column, or exquisitely proportioned statue, placed there to show the rank of the deceased; to maintain a sort of aristocracy, even amongst the dead.
Or perhaps on seeing the tomb of some distinguished warrior or statesman, the mind is carried back to the time in which he lived, to the scenes in which he acted, and while it dwells upon these, it loses the feelings which the simple contemplation of a grave might awaken.
And when we visit the last resting place of those whom we have loved, the sense of affliction often crowds every other emotion from the soul. We think we can think only of those whom we have lost; of the mother, or sister, or brother who is there. Our minds will turn to the last moments of the departed relative or friend, to the last sigh that he heaved, the last look that he gave, the last word that he spoke, and to the one all-absorbing thought that they were the last. But these feelings, interesting as they are, are not the ones which our poet has
endeavored to portray. He wished simply to express the thoughts which would naturally arise in the mind of a reflecting stranger on visiting a country churchyard, where merely the plain farmers and mechanics and laborers of the hamlet were buried.
The plot of this poem, if it can be called a plot at all, is exceedingly simple. A young man is walking at the dusk of the evening towards the village burying-ground. He seems to have been the prey of disappointment or melancholy; and the scene around him--the glimmering, fading landscape; the farmers returning home from their work; the stillness of the evening, interrupted only by the droning flight of the beetle, or the faint sound of the bells from some distant flock-is one that peculiarly harmonizes with his feelings. He comes to the churchyard; and as he looks upon the graves of the "rude forefathers of the hamlet," imagination takes him back to the obscure and humble scenes of their lives-to the days when they were full of strength and life and joy; and as he stands above their mouldering remains, he thinks of the transitory nature of all human enjoyments; he reflects that the tomb is the destiny of all, of the rich and honored, as certainly as of the poor and unknown, and thus rebukes the haughtiness of the great and proud:
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
The sentiment contained in this verse is by no means original with Gray, nor was it probably intended to be so. It had been uttered a thousand times, and in a thousand different forms, before this poem was written. The utmost that he could have aimed at, was to clothe it in new and more elegant language than it had been before, and for one I certainly never remember to have seen it expressed more beautifully, except perhaps in those well-known lines of Moore:
"And false the light on glory's plume,
As fading hues at even;
And love, and hope, and beauty's bloom,
There's nothing bright but heaven."
But if the honors which are shown during life are empty and useless, how much more are those that are lavished upon the dead! For what satisfaction can it give the corpse to be clothed in fine and costly linen? what ease to be laid on a luxurious couch? or what gratification to be placed in a gorgeously-ornamented coffin? Or what pleasure can the splendid hearse, with its sable steeds and their liveried driver, its varnished sides and nodding plumes, give to the lifeless passenger within? Or how can he hear the lofty panegyrics pronounced by the orator at his burial, or read the flattering epitaph engraved upon his tomb, or see the noble monument erected over him? Such are the thoughts which occur to our hero as he exclaims