Chapter 31

O Slawkenbergius! thou faithful analyzer of my Disgrazias—thou sad foreteller of so many of the whips and short turns which on one stage or other of my life have come slap upon me from the shortness of my nose, and no other cause, that I am conscious of.—Tell me, Slawkenbergius! what secret impulse was it? what intonation of voice? whence came it? how did it sound in thy ears?—art thou sure thou heard’st it?—which first cried out to thee—go—go, Slawkenbergius! dedicate the labours of thy life—neglect thy pastimes—call forth all the powers and faculties of thy nature— macerate thyself in the service of mankind, and write a grand Folio for them, upon the subject of their noses.

How the communication was conveyed into Slawkenbergius’s sensorium—so that Slawkenbergius should know whose finger touch’d the key—and whose hand it was that blew the bellows—as Hafen Slawkenbergius has been dead and laid in his grave above fourscore and ten years—we can only raise conjectures.

Slawkenbergius was play’d upon, for aught I know, like one of Whitefield’s disciples—that is, with such a distinct intelligence, Sir, of which of the two masters it was that had been practising upon his instrument—as to make all reasoning upon it needless.

—For in the account which Hafen Slawkenbergius gives the world of his motives and occasions for writing, and spending so many years of his life upon this one work—towards the end of his prolegomena, which by-the-bye should have come first—but the bookbinder has most injudiciously placed it betwixt the analytical contents of the book, and the book itself—he informs his reader, that ever since he had arrived at the age of discernment, and was able to sit down cooly, and consider within himself the true state and condition of man, and distinguish the main end and design of his being;—or—to shorten my translation, for Slawkenbergius’s book is in Latin, and not a little prolix in this passage—ever since I understood, quoth Slawkenbergius, any thing—or rather what was what—and could perceive that the point of long noses had been too loosely handled by all who had gone before;—have I Slawkenbergius, felt a strong impulse, with a mighty and unresistible call within me, to gird up myself to this undertaking.

And to do justice to Slawkenbergius, he has entered the list with a stronger lance, and taken a much larger career in it than any one man who had ever entered it before him—and indeed, in many respects, deserves to be en-nich’d as a prototype for all writers, of voluminous works at least, to model their books by—for he has taken in, Sir, the whole subject— examined every part of it dialectically—then brought it into full day; dilucidating it with all the light which either the collision of his own natural parts could strike—or the profoundest knowledge of the sciences had impowered him to cast upon it—collating, collecting, and compiling— begging, borrowing, and stealing, as he went along, all that had been wrote or wrangled thereupon in the schools and porticos of the learned: so that Slawkenbergius his book may properly be considered, not only as a model— but as a thorough-stitched Digest and regular institute of noses, comprehending in it all that is or can be needful to be known about them.

For this cause it is that I forbear to speak of so many (otherwise) valuable books and treatises of my father’s collecting, wrote either, plump upon noses—or collaterally touching them;—such for instance as Prignitz, now lying upon the table before me, who with infinite learning, and from the most candid and scholar-like examination of above four thousand different skulls, in upwards of twenty charnel-houses in Silesia, which he had rummaged—has informed us, that the mensuration and configuration of the osseous or bony parts of human noses, in any given tract of country, except Crim Tartary, where they are all crush’d down by the thumb, so that no judgment can be formed upon them—are much nearer alike, than the world imagines;—the difference amongst them being, he says, a mere trifle, not worth taking notice of;—but that the size and jollity of every individual nose, and by which one nose ranks above another, and bears a higher price, is owing to the cartilaginous and muscular parts of it, into whose ducts and sinuses the blood and animal spirits being impell’d and driven by the warmth and force of the imagination, which is but a step from it (bating the case of idiots, whom Prignitz, who had lived many years in Turky, supposes under the more immediate tutelage of Heaven)—it so happens, and ever must, says Prignitz, that the excellency of the nose is in a direct arithmetical proportion to the excellency of the wearer’s fancy.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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