Of the Nose.
Why doth the nose stand out farther than other parts of the body?
There are two answers: the first, because the nose is as it were the sink of the brain, by which the phlegm of the brain is purged, and therefore it doth stand forth, lest the other parts should be defiled; the second (according to Constant.), is because the nose is the beauty of the face, and therefore it doth show itself, and shine. It doth smell also, and adorn the face, as Boetius saith, de discip. school.
Why hath man the worst smell of all living creatures, as it doth appear lib. de animal?
Because the man (as the commentator saith), in respect of his quantity hath the most brain of all creatures; and therefore by that exceeding coldness and moistness the brain wanteth a good disposition, and by consequence the smelling instrument is not good, as Aristotle and Themistocles do teach; yea, some men there be which do not smell at all.
Why do the vulture or cormorant smell very well, as the commentator doth say?
Because they have a very dry brain, and therefore the air carrying the smell is not hindered by the humidity of the brain, but doth presently touch its instrument; and therefore he saith, that the vultures, tigers, and other beasts, came five hundred miles to the dead bodies after a battle in Greece.
Why did nature make the nostrils?
For three commodities. First, because that the mouth being shut, we draw breath in by the nostrils to refresh the heart with. The second commodity is, because that the air which proceedeth from the mouth doth savour badly, because of the vapours which rise from the stomach, but that which we breathe from the nose is not noisome. The third is, because the phlegm which doth proceed from the brain is purged by them.
Why do men sneeze?
Because that the expulsive virtue of power and the sight should thereby be purged, and the brain also from superfluities, because that the lungs are purged by coughing, so is the sight and brain by sneezing; and those who sneeze often are said to have a strong brain; and therefore the physicians give sneezing medicants to purge the brain, and such sick persons as cannot sneeze die quickly, because it is a sign the brain is wholly stuffed with evil humours, which cannot be purged.
Why do such as are apoplectic sneeze; that is, such as are subject easily to bleed?
Because the passages or ventricles of the brain are stopped in them; and if they could sneeze, their apoplexy would be loosed.
Why doth the heat of the sun provoke sneezing, and not the heat of the fire?
Because the heat of the sun doth mow dissolve and not consume; and therefore the vapour dissolved is expelled by sneezing; but the heat of the fire doth dissolve and consume, and therefore rather doth hinder sneezing than provoke.