Happy Valentine’s Day
14 Tuesday Feb 2012
14 Tuesday Feb 2012
18 Friday Nov 2011
Posted Ephemera, Friday feature, Odditiesin
The nose is the most prominent feature of the face, and the art of reading character by the nose is one of the most interesting of human studies
Noses and What They Indicate is one of many books that were published on physiognomy, or the art of understanding personalities based on facial features. This blog has already covered books on moles and moustaches but this work obviously concentrates just on the nose.
The author claims that the nose is the one facial feature which can’t be hidden (by either a large hat or facial hair) and is always on show for the world to see. Therefore it is one of the most important indicators of character and its study should not be taken lightly.
The Roman nose is described as being “the nose of a conqueror” and people who have this type of nose often make natural leaders, with examples such as Queen Elizabeth and Gladstone. The cognitive nose is found “among men of all pursuits” but especially those who “gain the highest kind of excellence in every department”. Famous theologians Luther and Wesley are prime examples of this type of nose. Celestial noses, which are often slightly upturned at the end, are admired in the fairer sex but not very popular in men due to their somewhat feminine appearance.
The book also points out the importance of nose breathing in order to prevent disease. It talks about the small hairs inside the nose which help to trap germs and can be particularly useful in preventing consumption. Proper and full breathing is advocated as is drawing water up the nostril, although to be honest I’m not sure that last one is very healthy…!
Although volunteers were sought from the Tower Project office to have their noses analysed, sadly there were no takers. Instead we’ve decided to look at some famous noses, based on the principles laid out in the book:
Barry Manilow: his slightly hooked nose indicates that he’s a talkative individual whilst the rounded tip equals a good character
Barbra Streisand: her famous nose indicates tenderness and shows that she’s a sensitive soul
Stephen Fry: the shape of his nostrils show that he has a high I.Q. whilst the wings of his nose show that he’s a curious individual
So far I would like to think that these books seem pretty accurate. Next time you are sizing someone up (for whatever reason!) maybe you should pay more attention to the shape of their nose. It could be telling you more than you think…
Noses and What They Indicate: 1912.7.3037
Image credits: ladybugbkt, JCT(loves)Streisand, lewishamdreamer on Flickr
04 Friday Feb 2011
Posted Ephemera, Friday feature, Odditiesin
Toast is well-known for its restorative powers; but is it the stuff of poetry? Well, according to John Crossley, it is:
There’s nothing much nicer for those who are ill,
Than plenty of tasty, well-Butter’d toast;
When it pleases the palate it very soon will
Refresh the weak system; this is no boast.
I think we can take it that Mr. Crossley liked his toast. He wrote lines of verse for several foods of which he approved, including celery, lentils, peas, eggs, cabbage, cauliflower, and, my personal favourite, the orange:
O, range where you will, the orange will still
Refresh the thirsty soul;
’Tis good for the healthy and sick,* poor or wealthy,
Where’er Time’s tide doth roll.
Essayist, composer, health guru, and poet, Crossley was a man of many and varied talents. (Actually, “talents” may not be the right word. Let’s say, “interests”.) Over a period of about ten years towards the end of the nineteenth century, he produced a number of hymns, essays and poems, which have now all been catalogued by the Tower Project. Despite the fact that he never reached a wide audience – everything we have by him in the library was self-published – he was not exactly plagued by self-doubt: he declared of his pamphlet, How to live 1,000 years healthily, happily, & wisely (1888.5.167), that
The contents of this leaflet are a good and perfect benefaction to the human race; a Precious, Beautiful, and Brilliant Cluster of Mental Diamonds … For Variety, Brevity, Usefulness, and Sense combined there is probably no publication which surpasses it, except the Bible.
That’s … quite a claim. Apparently, if you want to live to be 1,000, you should “Perceive, Practise, Preach, and Propagate Purity Persistently”, and if you’re unmarried, then you “should use Sugar very moderately; as it is an extremely Amative food, and tends to make people impure and lustful”. To be fair to him, he realised that smoking was bad for your health, but his way of dissuading people from it was to remind them of the “vast variety of confectionery and sweets” on which they could spend their money instead. Which is fine, but surely inconsistent with his earlier tip to avoid sugar. (Whether he took his own advice and lived 1,000 years has not, alas, been documented.)
Reading through his work, I find myself feeling increasingly sorry for his wife. Not only did she (presumably) have to adhere to his healthy living plan, but when she tried her hand at writing herself, he was a ruthless editor. She contributed “a few lines of verse” to her husband’s Poetry, music & prose (1894.12.104), but he was disinclined to let her take much credit for them: in the poem ‘Memorial lines’, written for their late neighbour, Mr. Crossley noted at the end, “My wife composed the first six lines, and then I revised them and added the last two lines.” In other words: leave the poetry to the expert.
But then, perhaps Mrs. Crossley enjoyed his effusions. She may even have inspired some of them: after all, one of his hymn tunes is named ‘Gertrude’, which I’d like to believe is named for her; and he wrote a poem, ‘Love’, which one can only hope was dedicated to her. Though it really has to be read to believed. The first verse gives you a flavour of his flair for rhyme:
Love’s a passion and fiery,—
Chiding sin, with accents ir’y,
Rousing sinners from their miry
Sins; thus love is strong—untiry.
It hasn’t improved by the final verse:
Love is gen’rous, never stinty;
Straight of vision—seldom squinty;
Uses money—does not love it;
Values Virtue much above it.
John Crossley is the kind of writer you often come across as a cataloguer on the Tower Project: someone whose work might have been lost entirely, were it not for the legal deposit system. I find it rather cheering that his writings have survived. After all, his poetry might not have much in the way of literary merit, but how often do you read a poem that defines love in terms of how “squinty” it is? Whatever else you could say about Mr. Crossley (and really, you could say a lot), he was certainly original.
07 Friday Jan 2011
Posted Ephemera, Friday featurein
≈ Comments Off on The signalman
The library has received many donations of books and manuscripts over the centuries, but my favourite so far is not the most obviously expensive or impressive. It consists only of four boxes of material collected by the Rev. H.P Hart, Rector of Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds. The book covers are worn smooth by use, because they were used every day: they are the working manuals used by railway workers in the second half of the nineteenth century. There are timetables, signal manuals, and even notes of special arrangements for Christmas Eve trains. They’re a favourite of mine because they tell us how things were done, in a detail that even includes the names of the men working that Christmas Eve 1857 on the Devon and Exeter line.
Anyone who knows Charles Dickens short story “The signalman”, will feel a shock of recognition at this illustration from the signalling instructions issued by Great Western Railway in 1857
Dickens’ signalman was haunted by a similar apparition who stood by the red light at the entrance to the tunnel, signalling danger “For God’s sake, clear the way!” And less dramatically, Dickens’ signalman had his duties similar to those listed in these handbooks. “He took me into his box, where there was a fire, a desk for an official book in which he had to make certain entries, a telegraphic instrument with its dial, face, and needles, and the little bell of which he had spoken … Once he had to stand without the door, and display a flag as a train passed, and make some verbal communication to the driver. In the discharge of his duties, I observed him to be remarkably exact and vigilant, breaking off his discourse at a syllable, and remaining silent until what he had to do was done.”
26 Friday Nov 2010
Posted Ephemera, Friday feature, Illustrationsin
The game, which consists of a 100-square board and cards, is played in teams: a lady and a gentleman pair up against another couple, and they take it in turns to throw the dice and move their counters forward. Some of the squares describe states of being (“approval”, “contempt”, “ill will”), and others describe the process by which they are reached: so, if you land on “wealth leads to admiration” (how very cynical!) you can advance to “admiration”; but if you land on “jealousy leads to despair”, you have to go back to “despair” (and take to drink, apparently). Woe betide anyone who indulges in flirtation: if you land on that square, you have to go back to the start of the board. There are also squares which reward you with a card if you land on them (“carriages: take card”, “Papa’s consent: take card”), which can be redeemed if you land on the corresponding “carriages required”; if you land on it without the card, you have to return to “carriages: take card”. The first team to reach square 100, and the church, wins.
Alas, the counters and cards have not survived with the board, so I’ve been thwarted in my desire to play the game. Curses. I’ll have to content myself with admiring the pictures …
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