« AnteriorContinuar »
Notwithstanding that there is nothing obscene in natural knowledge, and that I intend to give as little offence as may be to readers of a well-bred imagination; I must, for my own quiet, desire the critics, who in all things have been fainous for good noses, to refrain from the lecture of this curious Tract. These gentlemen were formerly marked out and distinguished by the little rhinocerical nose, which was always looked upon as an instrument of derision; and which they were used to cock, toss, or draw up in a contemptuous manner, upon reading the works of their ingenious contemporaries. It is not, therefore for this generation of men that I write the present transaction,
Minus aplus acutis
FRANCIS. but for the sake of some of my philosophical friends in the Royal Society, who peruse discourses of this nature with a becoming gravity, and a desire of improving by them.
Many are the opinions of learned men concerning the rise of that fatal distemper, which has always taken a particular pleasure in venting its spight upon the nose, I have seen a little burlesque poem in Italian, that gives a very pleasant account of this matter. The fable of it runs thus : Mars, the god of war, having served during the siege of Naples in the shape of a French colonel, received a visit one night from Venus, the goddess of love, who had been always his professed mistress and admirer. The poem says, she came to him in the disguise of a sut
tling wench, with a bottle of brandy under her arm. Let that be as it will, he managed matters so well, that she went away big-bellied, and was at length brought to-bed of a little Cupid. This boy, whether it was by reason of any bad food that his father had eaten during the siege, or of any particular malignity in the stars that reigned at his nativity, came into the world with a very sickly look, and crazy constitution. As soon as he was able to handle his bow, he made discoveries of a most perverse disposition. He dipped all his arrows in poison, that rotted every thing they touched; and, what was more particular, aimed all his shafts at the nose, quite contrary to the practice of his elder brothers, who had made a human heart their butt in all courtries and ages. To break him of this roguish trick, his parents put him to school to Mercury, who did all he could to hinder him from demolishing the noses of mankind; but, in spight of education, the boy continued very unlucky; and though his malice was a little softened by good instructions, he would very frequently let fly an invenomed arrow, and wound his votaries oftener in the nose than in the heart. Thus far the fable.
I need not tell my learned reader, that Correggio has drawn a Cupid taking his lesson from Mercury, conformable to this poem; nor that the poem itself was designed as a burlesque upon Fracastorius.
It was a little after this fatal siege of Naples, that Taliacotius began to practise in a town of Germany, He was the first love-doctor that I meet with in history, and a greater man in his age than our celebrated doctor Wall. He saw his species extremely mutilated and disfigured by this new distemper that was crept into it; and therefore, in pursuance of a very seasonable invention, set up a manufacture of
noses; having first got a patent that none should presume to make noses besides himself. His first patient was a great man of Portugal, who had done good services to his country, but in the midst of them unfortunately lost his nose. Taliacotius grafted a new one on the remaining part of the gristie or cartilaginous substance, which would sneeze, smell, take snuff, pronounce the letters M or N; and, in short, do all the functions of a genuine and natural nose. There was, however, one misfortune in this experiment: the Portuguese's complexion was a little upon the subfuse, with very black eyes and dark eye-brow's; and the nose being taken from a porter that had a white German skin, and cut out of those parts that are not exposed to the sun, it was very visible that the features of his face were not fellows. In a word, the Comdè resembled one of those maimed antique statues that has often a modern nose of fresh marble glewed to a face of such a yellow, ivory complexion, as nothing can give but age. To remedy this particular for the future, the doctor got together a great collection of porters, men of all complexions, black, fair, brown, dark, sallow, pale, and ruddy; so that it was impossible for a patient of the most out-of-the-way colour not to find a nose to match it.
The doctor's house was now very much enlarged, and became a kind of college, or rather hospital, for the fashionable cripples of both sexes, that resorted to him from all parts of Europe. Over his door was fastened a large golden snout, not unlike that which is placed over the great gates at Brazen-nose college in Oxford; and, as it is usual for the learned in foreign Universities to distinguish their houses by a Latin sentence, the doctor writ underneath this great golden proloscis two verses out of Ovid;
Militat omnis amans, babet et sua castra Cupido;
OVID. Amor, El. it. i. The toils of love require a warrior's art; And every lover plays the soldiei's part. It is reported that Taliacotius had at one time in his house, twelve German counts, nineteen French marquisses, and a hundred Spanish cavaliers, besides one solitary English esquire, of whom more hereafter. Though the doctor had the monopoly of noses in his own hands, he is said not to have been unreasonable. Indeed, if a man had occasion for a high Roman nose, he must go to the price of ii. A carbuncle nose likewise bore an excessive rate ; but for your ordinary short turned-up ncses, of which there was the greatest consumption, they cost little or nothing; at least the purchasers thought so, who would have been content to have paid much dearer for them rather than to have gone without them.
The sympathy betwixt the nose and its parent was very extraordinary. Hudibras has told us, that when the porter died, the nose dropped of course, in which case it was always usual to return the nose, in order to have it interred with its first owner. The nose was likewise affected by the pain, as well as death of the original proprietor. An eminent instance of this nature happened to three Spaniards, whose noses were all made out of the same piece of brawn. They found them one day shoot and swell extremely; upon which they sent to know how the porter did : and heard, upon inquiry, that the parent of the noses had been severely kicked the day before, and that the porter kept his bed on account of the bruises which it had received. This was highly ree
sented by the Spaniards, who found out the person that had used the porter so unmercifully, and treated him in the same manner, as if the indignity had been done to their own noses. In this and several other cases it might be said, that the porters led the gentlemen by the nose.
On the other hand, if any thing went amiss with the nose, the porter felt the effects of it; insomuch, that it was generally articled with the patient, that he should not only abstain from all his old courses, but should, on no pretence whatsoever, swell pepper, or eat mustard ; on which occasion, the part where the incision had been made, was seized with unspeakable twinges and prickings.
The Englishman I before mentioned was so very irregular, and relapsed so frequently into the distemper which at first brought him to the learned Taliscotius, that in the space of two years he wore out five noses ; and by that means so tormented the porters, that if he would have given five hundred pounds for a nose, there was not one of them that would accommodate him. This young gentleman was born of honest parents, and passed his first years in fox-hunting; but accidentally quitting the woods, and coming up to London, he was so charmed with the beauties of the playhouse, that he kad not been in town two days before he got the misfortune which carried off ihis part of his face. He u ed to be called in Germany “ the Englishman of tive noses,” and “ the gentleman that had thrice as many poses as he had ears.” Such was the raillery of those times.
I shall close this paper with an admonition to the young men of this town; which I think the more necessary, because I see several new fresh-coloured faces, that have made their first appearance in it, this winter. I must therefore assure them, that the