I have often been told that her nose was good—and good it unquestionably is—good for blowing; good for sneezing; good for snoring; good for smelling; a fine nose for a catarrh. But who could play with it? Who could tweak it passionately, as a prelude to kissing? Who could linger over it tenderly with a candle, or a lump of mutton fat, when cold had laid its cruel hand upon it? It is not tip-tilted like a flower; it is not whimsical with some ravishing and unexpected little crook. It is straight, like a mathematical line. But it has no parts. Her cheeks are round and fair. Each has its dimple and blush. They are thoroughly healthy, Mrs. Smith’s digestion is unexceptionable. You might indicate the contour of these cheeks with a pair of compasses; you might paint them with your thumb. Poor Mrs. Smith’s talk, or babble rather, is of her husband, her children, her home. It is a mere purring over them. She never cuts them to pieces, and holds them up to scorn and mockery. She never penetrates their weaknesses. She does not even understand that Smith is a common-place, stereotyped kind of fellow, exactly like hundreds of other men in his class. She does not appear to notice the ghastly defects in his education, tastes, and character, which gape before all the world else. She does not see that he is without the morbidezza of culture; that he finds no appogiatura in art; that he never rises at midnight, amid lightning and rain, to emit an inarticulate cry of aesthetic anguish in some metrical construction of the renaissance period. She does not miss in him that yearning after the unattainable, which in some mysterious wise fills us with a mute despair; which has in it yet I know not what of sweetness amid the delirious aspirations with which it distracts us. She cannot know, with her base instincts dragging her down to the hearth-level of home and child, the material gracelessness of her husband, equally incapable of striking an Anglo-Saxon, or a mediaeval attitude; and with his blood flushed, healthy face unable to realize in his expression that divine sorrow which can alone distinguish the man of culture from ordinary Englishmen, or the anthropoid apes. She will never know what vibrates so harshly on us—the want of feeling for colour which is displayed in the coarse tone of his brown hair. So in regard to her children, the mind of Mrs. Smith is quite uncritical. Look at that baby, like a thousand other babies you see every day. It has not a single idiosyncrasy on which anyone above the intellectual level of a cretin could hang an affection. Its porcine eyes twinkle dimly through rolls of fat; it splutters and puffs, and its habits are simply abominable. What a gross home for that life’s star, which hath had elsewhere its setting and cometh from afar! The star is quenched in fat; it has exchanged the music of the spheres for a hideous caterwauling! Yet Mrs. Smith loves that child, and gobbles over it, descending to its abysses of grossness.