It is as well that the author I am about to cite has disappeared into the mists of time.
Of him, and of his pseudonym, I can find no trace. He and his stovepipe hat have faded like a sepia photograph until he is barely recognisable.
Had I been he, I might have chosen to vanish by design.
I would never have stumbled upon him, and his lofty writings, had I not had occasion to Google noses.
My daughter arrived while I was cooking, and reached up to brush away a generous dollop of dough on my face.
And as she did, she threw a line away: “Mummy, you have something on your lovely Roman nose.”
I knew I was paying exorbitant school fees for something.
I think I have mentioned before that I had a nickname at the illustrious newspaper office in which I worked: Concorde. My nose is large and aquiline. It shouts ‘nose’. One can’t ignore it.
Was a Roman nose a desirable asset? There was only one way to find out.
There is surprisingly little material on noses out there in cyberspace. On the Roman nose, I could find only one source.
Or rather, a series of treatises on nose forms and their characteristics. Its author was one Georges Jabet, also known as Eden Warwick. The book in question: `Notes on Noses’ – was published in 1848. And it is proof that the internet did not invent poppycock.
Jabet discourses most grandly on the different nose-types. To each nose, he attaches a description; and then goes on to accord its owner a character.
And this is what he has to say about the Roman nose: “The Roman, or aquiline nose, is rather convex, but undulating…it is usually rugose and coarse…. It indicates great decision, considerable energy, firmness, absence of refinement, and disregard for the bienseances of life.”
Those things, those bienseances? They’re proprieties.
It is not a glowing report. By Jabet’s accounts I’d rather have a Greek nose with its refinement of character and love for the arts. But the nose this quackademic holds up as the pinnacle of all noses, the essence of a deep and reflective nature, is the cogitative nose.
Wide nostrilled, this is the nose which shows strong powers of thought, and an affinity for meditation. This is the Oxford Don Conk: the one you want if you’re going to split any atoms or think at all seriously about Plato.
And I can only surmise that his ideas found safe harbour with some batty sector of the population. Because there was a follow-up: Nasology, Or Hints Towards a Classification of Noses.
For an impromptu dart board I suggest female readers try the chapter ‘Of Feminine Noses’. “Like womens’ characters,” he advises sagely, “their noses are cast in a smaller and less developed mould than the nose masculine.”
Not mine, mate.
It is in this ground breaking work that we meet the most revolutionary premise of all. Chapter Five is entitled: “How To Get A Cogitative Nose.”
Now I was losing patience by this time, but the long and short of it is, to get a cogitative nose, one has to cogitate a lot and one’s nose will gradually change shape.
So: Victorian twaddle or no, now I have my cunning plan.
I shall simply spend large parts of every day cogitating and my Roman nose, with all its impropriety, will transform into that of a learned academic.
Best, meanwhile, let us consign Jabet, or Warwick, or whoever he is, and all his preposterous nasology, discretely back into the grey mists from whence he came.
Because when all is said and done, he was a blithering idiot.