Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Lionizing” (Text-04), Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque  (1840), 1:19-25


[page 19:]


———— all people went

Upon their ten toes in wild wonderment.

Bishop Hall's Satires.

I AM — that is to say, I was — a great man; but I am neither the author of Junius, nor the man in the mask, for my name is Thomas Smith, and I was born somewhere in the city of Fum-Fudge. The first action of my life was the taking hold of my nose with both hands; my mother saw this, and called me a genius; my father wept for joy, and bought me a treatise on Nosology. Before I was breeched I had not only mastered the treatise, but had collected into a common-place book all that is said on the subject by Pliny, Aristotle, Alexander Ross, Minutius Felix, Hermanus Pictorius, Del Rio, Villarêt, Bartholinus, and Sir Thomas Browne.

I now began to feel my way in the science, and soon came to understand that, provided a man had a nose sufficiently big, he might, by merely following it, arrive at a lionship. But my attention was not [page 20:] confined to theories alone; every morning I took a dram or two, and gave my proboscis a couple of pulls. When I came of age my father asked me, one day, if I would step with him into his study.

“My son,” said he, when we got there, “what is the chief end of your existence?”

“Father,” I said, “it is the study of Nosology.”

“And what, Thomas,” he continued, “is nosology [[Nosology]]?”

“Sir,” I replied, “it is the Science of Noses.”

“And can you tell me,” he asked, “what is the meaning of a nose?”

“A nose, my father,” said I, “has been variously defined by about a thousand different authors, (here I pulled out my watch). It is now noon, or thereabouts — we shall have time enough to get through with them all before midnight. To commence, then. The nose, according to Bartholinus, is that protuberance, that bump, that excrescence, that ——”

“That will do, Thomas,” said the old gentleman. “I am thunderstruck at the extent of your information — I am positively — upon my soul. Come here! (and he took me by the arm). Your education may now be considered as finished, and it is high time that you should scuffle for yourself — so — so — so — (here he kicked me down stairs and out of the door) so get out of my house, and God bless you!”

As I felt within me the divine afflatus, I considered this accident rather fortunate than otherwise, and determined to follow my nose. So I gave it a pull [page 21:] or two, and wrote a pamphlet on Nosology. All Fum-Fudge was in an uproar.

“Wonderful genius!” said the Quarterly.

“Superb physiologist!” said the New Monthly.

“Fine writer!” said the Edinburgh.

“Great man!” said Blackwood.

Who can he be?” said Mrs. Bas-Bleu.

What can he be?” said big Miss Bas-Bleu.

Where can he be?” said little Miss Bas-Bleu. But I paid them no manner of attention, and walked into the shop of an artist.

The Duchess of Bless-my-Soul was sitting for her portrait; the Marchioness of So-and-So was holding the Duchess's poodle; the Earl of This-and-That was flirting with her salts; and his Royal Highness of Touch-me-Not was standing behind her chair. I merely walked towards the artist, and held up my proboscis.

“O beautiful!” sighed the Duchess.

“O pretty!” lisped the Marchioness.

“O horrible!” groaned the Earl.

“O abominable!” growled his Royal Highness.

“What will you take for it?” said the artist.

“A thousand pounds,” said I, sitting down.

“A thousand pounds?” he inquired, turning the nose to the light.

“Precisely,” said I.

“Beautiful!” said he, looking at the nose.

“A thousand pounds,” said I, twisting it to one side.

“Admirable!” said he. [page 22:]

“A thousand pounds,” said I.

“You shall have them,” said he, “what a piece of virtu!” So he paid me the money, and made a sketch of my nose. I took rooms in Jermyn street, sent her Majesty the ninety-ninth edition of the Nosology with a portrait of the author's nose, and his Royal Highness of Touch-me-Not invited me to dinner.

We were all lions and recherchés.

There was a Grand Turk from Stamboul. He said that the angels were horses, cocks, and bulls — that somebody in the sixth heaven had seventy thousand heads and seventy thousand tongues — and that the earth was held up by a sky-blue cow, having four hundred horns.

There was Sir Positive Paradox. He said that all fools were philosophers, and all philosophers were fools.

There was a writer on ethics. He talked of fire, unity, and atoms; bi-part, and pre-existent soul; affinity and discord; primitive intelligence and homoomeria.

There was Theologos Theology. He talked of Eusebius and Arianus; heresy and the Council of Nice; consubstantialism, Homousios, and Homouioisios.

There was Fricassée from the Rocher de Cancale. He mentioned Latour, Markbrunnen, and Mareschino; muriton of red tongue, and cauliflowers with velouté sauce; veal à la St. Menehoult, marinade à la St. Florentin, and orange jellies en mosaiques. [page 23:]

There was Signor Tintontintino from Florence. He spoke of Cimabué, Arpino, Carpaccio, and Argostino; the gloom of Caravaggio, the amenity of Albano, the golden glories of Titian, the frows of Rubens, and the waggeries of Jan Steen.

There was the great geologist Feltzpar. He talked of internal fires and tertiary formations; of aëriforms, fluidiforms, and solidiforms; of quartz and marl; of schist and schorl; of gypsum, hornblende, micaslate, and pudding-stone.

There was the President of the Fum-Fudge University. He said that the moon was called Bendis in Thrace, Bubastis in Egypt, Dian in Rome, and Artemis in Greece.

There was Delphinus Polyglott. He told us what had become of the eighty-three lost tragedies of Æschylus; of the fifty-four orations of Isœus; of the three hundred and ninety-one speeches of Lysias; of the hundred and eighty treatises of Theophrastus; of the eighth book of the conic sections of Apollonius; of Pindar's hymns and dithyrambics; and the five-and-forty tragedies of Homer Junior.

There was a modern Platonist. He quoted Porphyry, Iamblicus, Plotinus, Proclus, Hierocles, Maximus Tyrius, and Syrianus.

There was a human-perfectibility man. He quoted Turgot, Price, Priestly [[Priestley]], Condorcet, De Stael, and “The Ambitious Student in Ill Health.”

There was myself. I spoke of Pictorius, Del Rio, Alexander Ross, Minutius Felix, Bartholinus, Sir Thomas Browne, and the Science of Noses. [page 24:]

“Marvellous clever man!” said his Highness.

“Superb!” said his guests; and the next morning her grace of Bless-my-Soul paid me a visit.

“Will you go to Almack's, pretty creature?” she said, chucking me under the chin.

“Upon honor,” said I.

“Nose and all?” she asked.

“As I live,” I replied.

“Here, then, is a card, my life, shall I say you will be there?”

“Dear Duchess, with all my heart.”

“Pshaw, no! — but with all your nose?”

“Every bit of it, my love,” said I; so I gave it a pull or two, and found myself at Almack's.

The rooms were crowded to suffocation.

“He is coming!” said somebody on the staircase.

“He is coming!” said somebody further up.

“He is coming!” said somebody further still.

“He is come!” said the Duchess; “he is come, the little love!” and she caught me by both hands, and looked me in the nose.

“Ah joli!” said Mademoiselle Pas Seul.

“Dios guarda!” said Don Stiletto.

“Diavolo!” said Count Capricornuto.

“Tousand teufel!” said Baron Bludennuff.

“Tweedle-dee — tweedle-dee — tweedle-dum!” said the Orchestra.

“Ah joli! Dios guarda! Diavolo! and Tousand teufel!” repeated Mademoiselle Pas Seul, Don Stiletto, Count Capricornuto, and Baron Bludennuff. This applause — it was obstreperous; it was not the [page 25:] thing; it was too bad; it was not to be borne. I grew angry.

“Sir!” said I to the Baron, “you are a baboon.”

“Sir!” he replied after a pause, “Donner und blitzen!” This was sufficient. We exchanged cards. The next morning I shot off his nose at six o’clock, and then called upon my friends.

“Bête!” said the first.

“Fool!” said the second.

“Ninny!” said the third.

“Dolt!” said the fourth.

“Noodle!” said the fifth.

“Ass!” said the sixth.

“Be off!” said the seventh.

At all this I felt mortified, and so called upon my father.

“Father,” I said, “what is the chief end of my existence?”

“My son,” he replied, “it is still the study of Nosology; but in hitting the Baron's nose, you have overshot your mark. You have a fine nose, it is true; but then Bludennuff has none. You are d——d; and he has become the lion of the day. In Fum-Fudge great is a lion with a big proboscis, but greater by far is a lion with no proboscis at all.”



The running header on even numbered pages is: “GROTESQUE AND ARABESQUE.” On odd numbered pages, the page header is: “LIONIZING.”


[S:1 - TGA, 1840] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - Lionizing (Text-04)