« PreviousContinue »
middle feature the juste milieu of noses ! Its outline in profile would have been Grecian, but for a slight Roman protuberancy; and it was this double classicality of form which finished the utter subjugation of Ned Redmund. Had he known Greek he would have quoted Anacreon ; had he been acquainted with Latin he would have spouted Ovid; but as his predilections had always been the same, so that, even when a boy at school he studied marbles in preference to grammars, and enjoyed blowing soap-bubbles more than construing crabbed exercises, he simply
“ Looked and gazed,
And gazed and looked 1;
And gaped and gazed again." It has generally been suspected that young ladies, in the circumstances of our heroine, are annoyed by the particular inspection of the curious and speculative; and so it seemed with Miss Betsy Redishfor that was her name. Her walk indicated her uneasiness ; her gait became less elastic, her procession less direct, and a sort of crabbed sidling superseded the hitherto even tenor of her way. The grassinvited her steps from the foot-path, and the foot-path again won her back from the grass. Thus she could not be said altogether to progress to the gate at the end of Oxford-street, though she advanced in that course, half wishing Ned at Tyburn-turnpike, and half not displeased with the effect she could not help perceiving she had produced on his nervous system. Have you seen a hare doubling, and a hound on the scent ?--such was the game all across the Park. All across the Park did I say: all up by Connaught-place, turning sharp round to the right, crossing
street, down by Quebec Chapel (into which, in passing at speed, first the hare, and then the hound threw a prophetic peep, as if a coming event cast its shadow before), and finally into ominous Mount-street, where the beauteous chace sought refuge in the shop of a green-grocer.
To the infatuated Ned she appeared to disappear behind considerable bunches of summer-cabbage, white turnips, and yellow carrots, and several bushels of peas in the shell and in baskets. To break cover from such a wilderness was hopeless, and Ned was in despair ; but faint heart never won fair lady, and he crossed the street to reconnoitre. Over the door of the refugee he read, agreeably to the usual order in which matters of the retail kind are announced
GREEN ( REDISH ) GROCER. Whence he inferred that one Mr. Redish sold green-grocery there. But how was he to form an acquaintance with this desirable person? He was no housekeeper, and wanted not summer cabbage, nor turnips, nor carrots, nor peas, nor any vegetable substance in existence. In the windows were no bouquets of flowers—those convenient and sweet introductions-everything was for the mouth, and nothing for the nose. But Venus ever favours her true votaries. Happily, lifting up his eyes in extreme distress, Mr. Redmund observed an inscription more delightful than letters of gold, though mere black and white, which intimated
A first floor to be let;" and blessed be he who lets me, exclaimed Tom, as advised by a brass plate he hastened to “ knock and ring."
Why should I dilate upon the further incidental particulars in the
progress of this affair? Suffice it, that Ned established himself in the lodgings, found his adored Betsy was Mr. Redish's only child, and so ardently took old Time by the forelock, that he must have pulled his hair off in six weeks, had he not succeeded in obtaining the consent of Miss Redish to bestow her hand, heart, and nose upon him in holy wedlock for ever.
Received as the affianced lover, while preparations were making for the nuptials, Ned and his fair slaver entered into those innocent enjoyments which are understood, à priori, to prepare the way to more perfect happiness. Alas, how uncertain is the lot of humanity! how wide a gap does accident often contrive to make of that small space which lies between the cup and the lip! One delicious afternoon, when the cooing pair had taken a gentle ride over the scene of their first encounter, they gaily cantered on towards the Regent's Park. Miss Redish had better never have forsaken the pavement of Mount Street, to mount a palfrey warranted to keep its feet (which it certainly did, though its feet could not keep it from stumbling), and charm the world with deeds of horsewomanship. Just opposite Lockhart's house a dirty-looking boy ran hastily past, and the creature started, fell, and threw its rider; which was not surprising, as it happened to be a printer's devil carrying the copy of an article on Melton Mowbray for the “ Quarterly Review.” The consequences were most disastrous. Ned, distractedly, reined up his steed; and, unfortunately for the poor lady on the road, his far hind foot came far too near, and the iron shoe striking her face, mutilated it in a shocking manner. Bleeding and senseless, she was borne to three coloured bottles, and such assistance administered as their owner could supply. Taken home, she was attended by skilful leeches ; but, horrid catastrophe ! after weeks of darkness, and bandagings, and suffering, it was found that her nose, that temple of beauty worshipped by the disconsolate Redmund, was irrecoverably gone.
With it his fondest expectations were crushed ; and his agony was only the more intense, when he reflected that the cruel mutilation was his own doing. The iron, metaphorically, and not of the horse-shoe, entered his own soul; and wide London could not exhibit a man more woe-begone and wretched than Mr. Edward Redmund.
Weeks and months elapsed, yet his sorrows knew no assuaging. Without a nose, how could they have an end ? Fate had done its worstthe line of beauty, the glorified line of beauty, was defaced, annihilated. Nor was Betsy's grief less sincere, though of necessity unaccompanied by some of the common concomitants of weeping. Her eyes, it is true, shed abundance of tears, but they could only trickle down her cheeks ; and the reddened prominency, with its peculiarly-unpleasant sound, and requisition for the well-sopped handkerchief, was wanting to the complete manifestation of female disconsolateness.
When things are at the worst, (said old Green Peas one day, endeavouring to console his lodger and daughter,) when things are at the worst, they must mend. “ But there is nothing to mend !” exclaimed Redmund, wiping near his eyes; "Nothing to mend,” repeated Betsy, raising her hand in vain to wipe the same organ. It was a pitiable calamity, and seemed irremediable; yet the worthy grocer was in the right, and help was nearer than the bereft could imagine.
It was at this epoch that the celebrated surgeon of the Modern Athens, to whom I have humbly and respectfully inscribed this tale, took it into his head to leave the Athenians to their national disorders, and settle himself in the capital of Cockaigne. London being covered with houses for about twenty miles in every direction, was declared to be a wider field for the exercise of his extraordinary abilities, and accordingly he came amongst us to demonstrate that if the John of that name was a King in his way, the Robert was a Devil in another learned profession; that he was Galen, let who would be Thespis.
It so happened that Ned fretted himself into a fit of sickness, and called in a doctor, as if physic could cure vexation. He had heard, perhaps, of “ pills to purge melancholy," and fancied a few might do him good. The doctor was a man of the greatest ability in his line, that is to say, he was a prodigious gossip, and talked more to his patients during a half-hour's visit, than they could have heard from any other mouth in town for double the amount of his fee. His medical success was accordingly prodigious, and, in fact, the only obstacle to his rising to still greater practice was the want of time, and consequently talk to give to his patients. Had days consisted of forty-eight instead of twenty-four hours, he would have done twice as much. It was during his second call upon Ned that his desultory conversation chanced to run from Lord Byron's “ Cain” into Sterne's "Tristram Shandy” and one of its heroes, Hafen Slawkenbergius, with his illustrious “illustrations of the doctrine of Noses.” From Slawkenbergius and the ninth tale of his twelfth decade, wherein the stranger who arrived at Strasburg from the promontory of Noses is so graphically described, and the sentinel exclaimed,“ Di honi! nova forma nasi,” alias, “ Never saw such a nose in my life!" our doctor slipped into the subject of the extraordinary nasal erections of the Edinburgh surgeon, and so astonished his patient with his accounts of these operations, that, without taking another prescription, he forthwith got perfectly well. It was hope which arose in his breast, and healed him; hope, worth all the medicines in the world, opium, quinine, colocynth, colchicum, squills, calomel, and prussic acid to boot. Hope, that takes its seat on our nature's throne, and issues its decrees to all the vassal vessels round, till brightness gleams from the dulled eye, smiles dimple on the languid cheek, breath flows freely from the choked throat, the red blood circulates briskly in the stagnant veins, the heart beats lightly, the foot treads firmly, and every
look and motion bespeak the balmy influence of the rosy and god-like monarch who reigns within.
Hope told a flattering tale." Nevertheless, throughout the night Ned was restless and uneasy, and rose from an almost sleepless couch, with the earliest cries of “Old clo," and " Miew below." He passed through the streets, where he met no living inhabitants stirring abroad, except the utterers of these noises, and a few grooms leading forth horses to enjoy, what their masters and mistresses never did, but, vice versa, namely, the fresh air. Thus he reached the surgeon's door, at an hour when, if there had been an accident-patient for every shutter that was up, there would have been no want of practice. It was some time before he made himself heard, but at length the parlour window was opened, and an immense cat looking
cout, very gravely intimated his desire to know Ned's business, and the cause of his making so much noise so unseasonably.
The matter being explained, the faithful creature immediately awakened his principal, and a consultation was held, to the indescribable satisfaction of the no-longer despairing lover. -: Towards Mount-street he returned jocund and tip-toeing it, while he muttered—“If she will consent—it is not impossible-restored-nose -line of beauty--true Greco-Roman line of beauty---feature-nose nose !” Hastening to the apartment of his injured and beloved Betsy, he was so overcome with emotion that he could only throw himself on his knees before her, and sigh—“Oh, my life, Liston—Liston-Liston !"
Now, Miss Redish, though she had lost her nose, had kept her cars, and she bent them to listen to this wild adjuration with all her might. It was long, however, before she could gather the purport of the startling proposition so earnestly made to her, and open her eyes to the prospect of a new nose in their neighbourhood. The pros and cous, the doubts and assurances, the fears and persuasions, were numerous and lasting.
“Can it be done ?”
Ned was all eloquence and persuasion, and Betsy, though timid, entertained latent feelings which prompted her to yield. For nobody likes to be without a nose; and few girls to be without a husband.
Finally, the reconstruction of this important feature was confided to Mr. L., the rival of Telford in bridge-building, though employing only cartilage, muscle, and skin, instead of wood, lime, and granite.
It would ill become me even to approach a process, the picturing of which might offend the most fastidious sense; were it not that while I discard the technical terms of the schools, I can in few words describe the curious plastic ceremony which my heroine underwent, without the risk of uttering a syllable to render the information disagreeable to the gentlest of the gentle sex. Love sought the union, and it was successfully effected.
The shape was traced with ink on the pale forehead of the trembling maiden, being previously measured in soft leather, to remedy and cover the deformity below. The skin was dissected, and carefully carried down; while its attachment at the root of the nose was left of a proper thickness to secure a sufficient vascular supply. Elegantly fitted to a surface prepared for it by sutures, lint moistened with warm water, and other applications, were judiciously used, and the constant fair one was left to repose.
She suffered like a martyr-Ned like a victim.
Three days afterwards, the attached portion of the flap on the forehead was divided, and the nose was left to itself.
Mr. Redmund's anxiety about the result was intense. He could not -await the removal of the isinglas-plaster, which concealed from him the condition of the improved face; and would have endangered the
second nose as much as the first, had he not been restrained by surgical advice amounting to strong prohibition.
I ought perhaps to have mentioned that the skilful operator had been terribly taxed to renovate, not only the lost organ, but the perfect line of beauty of the original. “A mere nose,” said Ned,“ will be an acquisition; but the nose to restore me to former happiness must be GrecoRoman, and consistent with the only line of beauty."
The patterns he submitted to Mr. Liston were, of course, duly considered ; and when the bandages were removed, it was astonishing to see how near “ the first intention” of the surgeon had fulfilled the anxious intention of the lover. The union was so natural, that it foreboded his own; and he talked of lymph as if it were nymph, and of inosculations as if they were congratulations; so mixed up in his mind had become the ideas of cure and matrimony.
At length the countenance of Miss Redish was openly revealed, and, though infinitely delighted, Ned sighed to perceive that there were yet imperfections and deficiencies in his worshipped face. It is true, the brow was unscarred, and the nose was Greco-Roman; but there was a certain dipping inward at the tip, which, to a connoisseur like him, was almost more offensive than no nose at all. His fine taste revolted at a curve so un-Raphaelesque--so un-Phidiastic! and again the aid of the skilful operator was invoked, and again he succeeded by, as he informed Ned, in his own pithy style, he would,“ borrowing a narrow piece of the upper lip skin, mucous lining, and interposed substance; to provide a columna, to form a partition across the nostril, and support the extremity at a proper elevation !”
Ned's amazement was at its height when he found that not only was his grand object by this means accomplished, but that the shape of Betsy's mouth was infinitely improved by it. Upon that mouth he imprinted a soft kiss, while he repeated, from Slawkenbergius, "a Nasorum Promontorii rediit et nasum speciosissimum egregiosissimum, quem unquam quisquam sortitus est, acquisivit”-she has returned from Liston's Place in the Promontory of Noses with one of the goodliest and most magnificent that ever fell to the lot of woman!
“ God's power is infinite !" cried the Nosarians (vide Tristram Shandy,” passim); “ he can do anything." * By God in heaven!” cried the Popish doctors, “ he can make a nose, if he thinks fit, as big as the steeple of Strasburg!" Had our Liston lived in those days, he must have been esteemed at least a glorious apostle. But truce to comment; and I, like Slawkenbergius, must come to the peripeitia, or catastrophe of my tale.
Blessing Providence that his Betsy's nose had not been stuck on as was Garengeot's*, Ned led her, perfect in all her parts, a blushing
* The case of a soldier, if we remember rightly, reported by Carpue. According to the true account, his nose, having been carried off in action, was much trampled on under foot during the making and repulse of several vigorous charges, was picked up during a pause, washed in wine, and stuck on again ; but so great were the hurry and confusion of the battle, his kind comrade deposited it the wrong way: so that ever after, when he wanted to take snuff, he was obliged either to drop it in funnel-wise, or stand upon his head,
Jesting apart, my story was suggested by witnessing the performance of the operation on which it is founded in the hospital of the London University a few months