Nay, we may go further. The mental emotions excited by those sensations will be expressed in the same way. For example, the sense of smell is peculiarly effective in exciting disgust. Anything which does violence to the sense of hearing exasperates, but does not disgust. If a man practises the accordion all day in the next room you do not loathe him, you only want to kill him. But anything that stinks excites pure disgust. Here you have the key to the fact that disgust and all feelings akin to it, disdain, contempt and scorn, express themselves through the nose. Darwin says that when we think of anything base or vile in a man's character the expression of the face is the same "as if we smelled a bad smell." This is an example of the temporary expression of a passing emotion, and there are many others like it. But each of us has his prevailing and dominant emotions which constitute the habitual attitude of his mind. And by the habitual indulgence of any emotion the features will become habituated to the expression of it, and so the set of our features comes at last to express our prevailing and dominant emotions; in other words, our character.
But let us return to the evolution of the nose. In these days of universal "Nature study" nobody need be told that the practice of breathing through the nostrils was introduced by the amphibians and reptiles. The former (frogs and toads) take to it only when they come of age, but lizards, snakes and all other reptiles do it from infancy. But the nose is not yet. That is something too delicate to come out of a cold-blooded snout covered with hard scales. Birds, too, by having their mouth parts encased in a horny bill seem to be debarred from wearing noses. And yet there is one primeval fowl, most ancient of all the feathered families, which has come near it. I mean the apteryx, that eccentric, wingless recluse which hides itself in the scrub jungles of New Zealand. Its nostrils, unlike those of every other bird, are at the tip of its beak, which is swollen and sensitive; and Dr. Buller says that as it wanders about in the night it makes a continual sniffing and softly taps the walls of its cage with the point of its bill. But the apteryx is one of those odd geniuses which come into the world too soon, and perish ineffectual. Its kindred are all extinct, and so will it be ere long.
When we come to the beasts we find the right conditions at last for the growth of the nose. Take the horse for an example of the average beast without idiosyncrasy. Its profile is nearly a straight line from the crown to the nostrils, beyond which it slopes downwards to the lips. The skin of this part is soft and smooth, without hair, and the horse dearly loves to have it fondled. The sense of touch is evidently uppermost. At this stage there was what to the eye of fancy looks like a bold attempt to grow a nose in the case of a tapir, but it miscarried. These hoofed beasts are all very hard up for something in the way of a hand to bring their food to their mouths. The camel employs its lips and the cow its tongue; the muntjae or barking deer of India has attained a tongue of such length that it uses it for a handkerchief to wipe its eyes. So the tapir could not resist the temptation to misapply its nose to the purpose of gathering fodder, and the ultimate result was the elephant, whose nose is a wonderful hand and a bucket and other things. The pig, being a swine, debased its nose in a worse way, making a grubbing tool of it.
There has been another attempt to misuse and pervert this part of the face which I scarcely dare to touch upon, for it is so utterly fantastic and mystical that I fear the charge of heresy if I give words to my thoughts. It occurs among bats, a tribe of obscure creatures about which common knowledge amounts to this, that they fly about after sunset, are uncanny, and fond of getting entangled in the hair of ladies, and should be killed. But there are certain families of bats, named horseshoe bats, leaf-nosed bats and vampires about which common knowledge is nil, and the knowledge possessed by naturalists very little, so I will tell what I know of them. They are larger than common bats, their wings are broad, soft and silent, like those of the owl, they sleep in caves, tombs and ruins, they do not flutter in the open air, but swiftly traverse gloomy avenues and shady glades, their prey is not gnats and midges, but the "droning beetle," the death's head moth, the cockchafer, croaking frogs, sleeping birds and human blood. The books will tell you that these bats are distinguished by "complicated nasal appendages consisting of foliaceous skin processes around the nostrils," which is quite true and utterly futile. It may do for a dried skin or a specimen in spirits of wine. I have had the foul fiend in a cage and looked him in the face. His whole countenance, from lips to brow and from cheek to cheek, is covered and hidden by a hideous design of
Spells and signs,
Symbolic letters, circles, lines,
sculptured in living, quivering skin. It is a sight to make the flesh creep. The books suggest that these foliaceous appendages are the organs of some special sense akin to touch. Futile again! There are things in Nature still which prompt the naturalist who has not atrophied his inner eye and starved his imagination to cry out:
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
Supposing there should be in the unseen universe an evil spirit, an imp of malice and mischief, not Milton's Satan, but the Deil of Burns:
Whyles ranging, like a roaring lion,
For prey, a' holes an' corners tryin;
Whyles on the strong-winged tempest flyin,
Tirlin the kirks;
Whyles in the human bosom pryin,
and supposing him to crave possession of a body through which he might get into touch with this material world and express himself in outward forms and motions; then oh! how fitly were this bat explained.