Page images

possess no more power than any stranger to decipher that which was intended for another correspondent.

The complicated and laborious methods hitherto used, almost indispensably require the assistance of some patient secretary, who must necessarily become acquainted with the matter to be communicated. The intervention of no such third person is with this cipher required. Any man, however valuable his time may be, can find leisure to use it, and by its means to dictate a series of letters to an amanuensis, who, whilst he is ignorant of the meaning which they convey, transcribes them for the eye of the correspondent, for whose information alone they are intended, and who is furnished with the means of readily understanding them.

RICHARD PENN. Great George Street, March 2, 1829.

Observations on the Organ of Scent.

By William Wadd, Esq., F.L.S.

“Non cuicunque datum est habere nasum.”—Martial.

" I have a nose.”-PROBY,

It has often struck me as a defect in our anatomical teachers, that in describing that prominent feature of the human face, the organ of scent, they generalize too much, and have but one term for the symmetrical arch, rising majestically, or the tiny atom, scarce equal to the weight of a barnacle-a very dot of flesh! Nor is the dissimilarity between the invisible functions of the organ, and the visible varieties of its external structure, less worthy of remark. With some, the sense of smelling is so dull, as not to distinguish hyacinths from assafatida ; they would even pass the Small-Pox Hospital, and Maiden Lane, without noticing the knackers; whilst others, detecting instantly the slightest particle of offensive matter, hurry past the apothecaries, and get into an agony of sternutation, at fifty yards from Fribourg's.

Shakspeare, who was a minute observer of the anatomical and physiological varieties of the human frame, did not allow this dissimilarity to pass unnoticed ; and, moreover, he starts a query that has never been satisfactorily answered, from his time to the present; viz. “ Canst thou tell why one's nose stands i' the middle of one's face * ?" And his nice discrimination about noses extends also to shape and colour,-from the " Red-nosed innkeeper of Dav’ntry t," and the “ Malmsynosed knave, Bardolph I,” to him in Henry V., “whose nose was sharp as a pen!"

This celebrated “ Malmsy-nose” possessed properties unknown to the same feature now-a-days. It was adapted to practical utility, in its application to domestic purposes, and moral instruction, by that great admirer and competent judge of its virtues, Sir John Falstaff, to whose sheets it did “ the office of a warming-pan $ ;" and who made as good use of it as some men do of a death's head, or a memento mori : " I never see it,” said he,“ but I think hell fire." It stands almost unrivalled in history, and ranks at least with that which gave a cognomen to Ovid I, and the one to which the celebrated violoncello player, Cervetto, owed the sobriquet of Nosey. This epithet reminds me of another nose of theatrical notoriety, whose rubicund tint, when it interfered with the costume of a sober character which its owner was enacting, was moderated by his wife, who with laudable anxiety to keep down

rosy hue,” was constantly behind the scenes with a powder puff, which she was accustomed to apply, ejaculating, 'Od rot it, George! how you do rub your poor nose! Come here, and let me powder it. Do you think Alexander the Great had such a nose ?"

Nor would I omit to mention one, contemporary almost with the above, by which the public peace was said to be endangered, as recorded by a poet of the day, who states,


its "

Amongst the crowds, not one in ten

Ere saw a thing so rare;
Its size surpriseth all the men,

Its charms attract the fair.

* Lear.

+ 1 Henry IV. iv. 2. 2 Henry IV. ii. 1.

$ Henry V. ii. 1. 11 Ovidius Naso was the man: and why, indeed, Naso; but for smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy?" says Holofernes, the schoolmaster, in Love's Labour Lost.

'Tis wonderful to see the folk,

Who at the nose do gaze ;
All grin and laugh, and sneer and joke,

And gape in such amaze.
The children, whom the sight doth please,

Their little fingers point;
Wishing to give it one good squeeze,

And pull it out of joint." Much more is said by the poet in its praise: at last he falls into a moral strain :

“For many, as you may suppose,

'Gainst nature loudly bawl,—
That one man should have such a nose,

Whilst some have none at all."
And then concludes with some excellent sentiments :-

“Tho' ev'ry man's a nat'ral right

To shew a moderate nose,
Yet surely 'tis a piece of spite

To spoil the world's repose.
'Tis wrong t' exhibit such a show,

Tho' you may think it fun;
Yet still, good Sir, you little know

What evil it has done.
What quarrels have from hence begun!

What anger and what strife!
What blows have pass d 'tween man and man!

What kicks 'tween man and wife !
No longer, then, thyself disgrace,

In quest of beauty's fame;
No longer, then, expose thy face,

To get thy nose a name.
Take it away, if thou art wise,

And keep it safe at home
Amongst thy curiosities

Of ancient Greece and Rome."
Shakspeare would have thought it high treason; for he says,

“ Down with the nose, take the bridge quite away
Of him, that his particular to forefend

Smells from the general weal." There may have been many other such noses that have escaped observation,—“ born to blush unseen :" enough, however, I have here stated of those my recollection furnishes me with at the moment, to establish the fact of variety; and to lead curious physiologists to a scientific classification of this prominent and well-deserving feature of the human face. I

would recommend a proper distinction being observed between functional varieties, and those which arise from size, shape, or colour, of which, in a cursory way, may be enumerated first




Bottle nose.



Parrotical nose.





Copper. Now, what does all this come to ? Cui bono? A great deal for surgery; let us examine what may be done ;-we know that noses may be supplied, -may not, therefore, a small one be enlarged, and a large one made small ?' We have seen a person with a bunch of noses, but can only, on the authority of Shakspeare, quote one "who had a thousand.”

For a great length of time nothing was admired in the world but Roman noses, -and then not a word was heard about them, till William III. brought them again into fashion.

People occasionally possess the power of voluntary action with the muscles of the nose, and can move it horizontally, or to the right and left, -draw it up or protrude it,—so as to make it take any position they please. Painters have been provokingly deceived by this stratagem, and have in vain attempted the portraits of such persons, who were able at every instant to produce a new physiognomy.

One of the qualifications for the Ugly Club, was a nose eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or breadth, the thickest skin had preference.

Hitherto we have only considered external appearances; we must now notice its functional and other properties.

With some persons, the nose is a sort of barometer,-a certain state of the atmosphere is invariably announced to them by an agreeable sensation of coldness at the tip.

* Lavater considers the nose as the fulcrum of the brain; and describes it as a piece of Gothic architecture." It is in the nose that the arch of the forehead properly rests, the weight of which, but for this, would mercilessly crush the cheeks, and the mouth.” He enters into the philosophy of noses with diverting enthusiasm, and finally concludes, Non cuique datum est habere nasum;"—it is not every one's good fortune to have a nose! A sharp nose has been considered the visible mark of a shrew. JAN.-MARCH, '1829.


Zimmerman used to draw conclusions, as to a man's temperament, from his nose! Not indeed from its size or form, but from the peculiar sensibility of the organ,

Cardan considered acuteness of smell as a proof of penetrating genius, and a lively imagination.

Haller could distinguish perspiration at ten yards distance.

There have been instances on record of blind people who were able to discover colours by the touch, and deaf and dumb, who could feel sounds by placing their hand upon the speaker's mouth: this, however, is not more astonishing, than that the sense of smelling should be so acute, as to enable some persons to judge by it the quality of metals. Martial mentions a person, named Mamurra, who consulted only his nose, to ascertain whether the copper that was brought him were true Corinthian. There have been Indian merchants who, if a piece of money were given them, by applying their nose to it, defined its quality to a nicety, without touchstone, balance, or aqua-fortis. Europeans, also, are to be found whose sense of smelling is equally delicate and perfect,

Marco-Marci speaks of a monk at Prague, who, when any thing was brought him, distinguished, by its smell, with as much certainty as the best nosed dog, to whom it belonged, or by whom it had been handled. It was also said of him, that he could accurately distinguish, in this manner, the virtuous from the vicious. He was much devoted to the study of natural philosophy; and, among other things, had undertaken to oblige the world with precepts on the sense of smelling, like those we have on optics and acoustics, by distributing into certain classes a great number of smells, to all of which he had given names : but an untimely death cut him off in the midst of these curious researches.

The guides who accompany travellers on the route from Smyrna or Aleppo, to Babylon, have no other signs in the midst of the deserts, to discover their distance from the place of destination, than the smell of the sand alone, by which they determine with certainty. Perhaps they judge by the odour exhaled from small plants, or roots, intermixed with the sand.

« PreviousContinue »