“Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” (also in the “The Sayings of Dr. Bushwhacker and Other Wise Men”) by Frederic S. Cozzens; American Book Exchange, New York; 1880; pp. 102-105.
OF all the quadrupeds, the elephant is, unquestionably, the most sagacious. And, although some have fondly imagined that his sagacity is wholly owing to his great bulk — just as we are apt to think wisdom is peculiar to the fat, or judgment to the thickset — yet, in justice to the elephant, we must not allow the world to repose upon so absurd and preposterous an error. If mere bulk were wisdom, what shall be said of the hippopotamus; of coroners, and aldermen; of justices of the peace, the rhinoceros, and the commissioners of the Patent-office; of prize-medal pigs, and Gen. ——? We see, at once, the fallacy of the popular belief, when we consider the very opposite relations existing between the bulk and wisdom, in the above examples. It is needless here to enter into an elaborate detail of the sympathetic attachments of the brain and the nose, extending through an infinite ramification of nerves, arteries, ganglions, and tissues, nor of the power of the organ itself to express emotion; to scorn, to sneer, to snivel, to affirm, or deny; to put itself intrusively where it is not wanted; to be arrogant, haughty, conceited: to suffer indignities; to be a sleeping-trumpet, 103 and a moral, psalm-singing instrument in the conventicle. The relations between the brain and this organ, are, therefore, nearly equivalent to those between a ship and its rudder — with the trifling difference, that we are guided by one, and led by the other. These facts being established, all that is required to be known further, is, whether the dimensions of a nose being given, it is possible to arrive at a fair estimate of the subsidiary mental power, if not, indeed, at a regular scale, such as Kepler has laid down in the affirmative. Let us take the wisest of brutes as an instance. The height of the tallest elephant in the jungles of Africa is ten feet and a half, and the length of his proboscis, from the lower suture of the coronal bone (os frontis), to the tip, is exactly seven feet and an inch. Now, if we add to the height of the elephant his weight and circumference, we find the proportion of the organ to the sum total to be exactly 19 11-60 per centum. If we take, as an offset to this, the commonest and most familiar zoöogical example, viz., the proportions existing between the weight, height, and bulk of the hippopotamus, and the length of his nose, we find them expressed in round numbers by the fractions 132-33900. And it is a curious scientific fact, that the mental capacities of the two animals — I mean the power of mind — the “think” that is in them, when carefully measured, exhibit nearly the same figures. If, then, guided by these astonishing results, we take up any plethoric body of men — say the United States Congress, or the State Legislature, 104 for instance — it is very easy to determine precisely their intellectual value, in a psychological point of view. The average of a board of aldermen, reduced to the scale of half an inch to the foot, exhibits so near an approximation to the proportions of the lesser animal, that we might call them the “city hippopotami”, and be accurate enough for ordinary purposes. On the other hand, if we attend a meeting of strong-minded women, we find a prodigious development of this feature. Strong-minded women have immense noses, with some flat hats and a variety of spectacles. Jews, also, are singularly gifted; but we make allowance of at least one-third for organs of this pattern, on account of the natural hook, from the eyebrows to the tip. We once had the honor of being intimate with one of the most profound scholars and thinkers in Holland, who was so long-nosed and near-sighted that he wiped out with his nose half of what he wrote with his pen — thereby showing a memorable instance of wisdom. The average length of a fully-developed, intellectual, male nose, is precisely two inches and a half from the indention between the eyes to the extreme end of the cartilage. Washington’s nose was 2 5-8 inches; but the presidential average has, so far, been what we have stated above — Jefferson, for example, representing the longs, and Fillmore the shorts. Wellington and Napoleon differ only the sixteenth of an inch, both being above the average; Lord Brougham, who is an encyclopædia of general information, follows a feature three inches in length! the average nose of the Century Club is 2 9-16; Thackeray’s 105 nose is 2 5-8 — precisely the length of the nose of the “Father of his country;” President Johnson’s is 2 9-16; Irving’s 2 7-12; Bryant’s, 2 6-11; Dickens’s, 2 3-8; Durand’s, 2 7-13; Gen. Scott’s, 2 5-10; Longfellow’s, 2 6-11; Gen. Sherman’s, 2 1-2; Macaulay’s, 2 5-9; Farragut’s, 2 3-4; Commodore Wise’s, 1 7-12; Tennyson’s, 2 4-7; Hoffman’s, 2 7-13; the average magazine nose of this city is 1 5-8; in Philadelphia, 1 7-8; McClellan’s is 2 8-12; Verplancks’, 2 5-8; Bayard Taylor’s, 2 6-11; we shall have Frederika Bremer’s by next steamer; the nose of the Academy of Design, 2 5-9; Browning’s, 2 5-9; Miss Mulock has a very respectable feature for a woman, being 2 1-4; Jean Ingelow, 2 1-8; Bonner’s, 2 1-2; Seward’s, nearly 3 inches, and our own a snub.
In making our measurements, we have had the greatest difficulties to encounter, by reason of the foolish desire of many to be represented as measuring more than they are entitled to. But, as we know by experience how often scientific data are put aside as worthy of no credit, because of a few trifling defects or errors, we have been guided only by our instruments. We know it is very hard to refuse a sixteenth of an inch, when it is asked by a friend, as a particular favor, but, nevertheless, our “reflections” must be accurate and reliable, or else they will be justly condemned. In pursuance of our theory, we have engaged Mr. Pike, the eminent mathematical instrument maker, to construct for us a noseometer, of the greatest capacity, and will, from time to time, furnish our readers with the results of the observations taken therewith.