But let us go back to firm ground. If you compare a dog's profile with that of a horse you will note at once that the nostrils are in advance of the lips, and have a kind of portal to themselves. This is a distinct advance. The sense of smell has come to the front and pushed aside the lower sense of touch. You will observe, too, that with the growth of the brain the brain-pan has elevated itself above the level of the nose. Through the cat to the monkeys the process proceeds, the forehead advancing, the jaws retreating, and the nostrils leaving the lips, until they finally settle in a detached villa midway between the eyes and the mouth. This is the nose. I do not know the use of it. I cannot fathom the meaning of it. It is a solemn mystery. See the face of an orang-outang. It is a countenance, a signboard with three distinct lines of writing on it, the eyes, the nose and the mouth. You may not think much of this particular nose. Neither do I. I think it is situated rather too near the eyes and too far from the mouth. It is a little too small also, and wants style. But you must not judge a first attempt too critically. I have seen human noses of a pattern not unlike this, but they are not considered aristocratic: perhaps they indicate a reversion to the ancestral type.
But the noses even of monkeys are not all like this. In fact, there is a good deal of variety, and two in particular have struck me as quite remarkable. One is that of the long-nosed monkey (Semnopithecus nasalis). I think it must have suggested Sterne's stranger on a mule, who had travelled to the promontory of noses and threw all Strassburg into a ferment. I have often contemplated this nose in mute wonderment, and longed to see that monkey in life, if so be I might arrive at some understanding of it; for the taxidermist cannot rise above his own level, and the man who would mount S. nasalis would need to be a Henry Irving. Then there is the sub-nosed monkey, labelled rhinopithecus, of which there is an expressive specimen at the South Kensington Museum. Who can consider that nose seriously and continue to believe in a recipe made up of struggle for existence, adaptation to environment, and natural selection quantum suf.? If I could dine with that monkey, ask it to drink a glass of wine with me, offer it a pinch of snuff and so on, I might come in time to feel, if not to comprehend, the import of its nose.
But one step further is required for the evolution of what we may call the human nose, and that is a solid foundation, a ridge of bone connecting it with the brow and separating the eyes from each other. I believe that the completeness of this is a fair index of the comparative advancement of different races of men. In the Greek ideal of a perfect face the profile forms a straight line from the top of the forehead to the tip of the nose. This is the type of face which painters have delighted to give to the Virgin Mary; and, when looking at their Madonnas, one cannot help wondering whether they forgot that Mary was a Jewess. According to the Hebrew ideal, a perfect nose was like "the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus" (Song of Solomon, vii. 4); but not even the ruins of that tower remain to help us to-day. The Romans, no doubt, accepted the ideal of the Greeks aesthetically, but their destiny had given them a very different nose, and they ruled the world.
Here is the nose of Julius Caesar as a coin has preserved it for us. I think that the outline is too straight for a typical Roman, but the deep dip under the brow and the downward point are characteristic. Now compare the nose of another race which rules an empire greater than that of the Caesars. Here is John Bull as Punch usually represents him. It belongs to the same genus as that of the Roman. The reason why this should be the nose of command is not easy to give with scientific precision, for we are dealing with the play of very subtle influences, so the man without imagination will no doubt scoff. But I will take shelter under Darwin. Dealing with the expression of pride he says, "A proud man exhibits his sense of superiority by holding his head and body erect. He is haughty (haut), or high, and makes himself appear as large as possible." Again, "The arrogant man looks down on others"; and yet again, "In some photographs of patients affected by a monomania of pride, sent me by Dr. Crichton-Browne, the head and body were held erect and the mouth firmly closed. This latter action, expressive of decision, follows, I presume, from the proud man feeling perfect self-confidence in himself."
Darwin says nothing about the nose, but I believe that, by physiological sympathy, it cannot but take part in the habitual downward look upon inferior beings. Darwin goes on to say that, "The whole expression of pride stands in direct antithesis to that of humility"; from which it follows, if my philosophy is sound, that the nose of Uriah Heep was turned upwards.
Of course, many emotions may share in the moulding of a nose, and the whole subject is too intricate and vast to be treated briefly. I have only given a few examples to illustrate my argument, and my conclusion is that the key to the peculiar significance and personal quality of the nose is to be found in its immobility. The eyes and lips are incessantly in motion, we can twitch and wrinkle the cheeks and forehead, and muscles to move the ears are there, though most men have lost control of them. But the nose stands out like some bold promontory on a level coast, or like the Sphinx in the Egyptian desert, with an ancient history, no doubt, and a mystery perhaps, but without response to any appeal. And for this very reason it is an index, not to that which is transient in the man, but to that which is permanent. He may knit his brows to seem thoughtful and profound, or compress his lips to persuade his friends and himself that he has a strong will, but he can play no trick with his nose. There it stands, an incorruptible witness, testifying to what he is, and not only to what he is, but to the rock whence he was hewn and to the pit whence he was digged. For his nose is a bequest from his ancestors, an entailed estate which he cannot alienate.