Emily Cock’s essay, ‘Off Dropped the Sympathetic Snout’: Shame, Sympathy and Plastic Surgery at the Beginning of the Long Eighteenth Century’ explores the interplay of ‘sympathy’ as a moral sentiment and medical phenomenon within stories of nasal reconstruction. Though Gaspare Tagliacozzi stipulated in De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice, 1597) that the graft for a new nose would be taken from a patient’s own arm, other medical writers and satires such as Samuel Butler’s Hudibras promoted the spurious rumour that the graft would be cut from another man’s backside, and that it would shrivel and die when its donor did: Butler describes the ‘learned Taliacotius’, who
The brawny part of porter’s bum,
Cut supplemental noses which
Would last as long as parent breech,
But when the date of nock was out,
Off dropped the sympathetic snout. (I.i.279–284)
The death of the flesh was explained by a medicalised theory of sympathy that physiologized the communicative potential of this emotion. The narrative thus literalises competition for sympathy’s power and authenticity within and between individuals.
Emily’s essay appears in Passions, Sympathy and Print Culture: Public Opinion and Emotional Authenticity in Eighteenth-Century Britain ed. Heather Kerr, David Lemmings and Robert Phiddian (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2015).