Sunday, August 25, 2019

How Jonson's 'Gross Opinion' has given us a Wrong Shakespeare

How Gross Opinion has given us a Wrong Shakespeare

Opinion, Poetry and Folly in “Every Man in His Humour”
John Scott Colley

Ben Jonson always insisted upon the correspondence between right reason and right poetry, arguing that ethics and aesthetics are merely two complementary aspects of the Good. As early as Every Man in His Humor (1598), he attempted to equate social folly with bad poetry in his satiric drama about an overly-solicitous father, a jealous husband, and a would-be poet. Despite the success of the play, critics have complained that Jonson is not entirely a master of his material, and that his catalogue of corresponding affectations does not hold together. It is said that, unlike Volpone and The Alchemist, Jonson’s early play lacks an “ethical center,” and that its plot is just a “correctly constructed showcase” designed to hold attention and to exhibit certain satirical contents. In the Quarto version epecially, critics complain, there is no vital and necessary connection established between the foolish and affected characters. In his revision of the play, Jonson was forced to “cut away the superfluous moralizing about poetry, and [reshape] his play to make it a humor play all over, speaking with a single voice and saying only what it was capable of saying as a whole play and nothing more.
The Folio Every Man in His Humor is indeed the superior play. Yet the very revisions that strengthen the work may obscure Jonson’s original intentions. The Quarto version does demonstrate that foolish character can be considered of imagination compact. Jonson’s fools suffer from a particular malady called “Opinion,” which was a popular sixteenth-century emblem of self-deception and moral blindness. Each of Jonson’s erring characters experiences a short circuit in his reasoning process and is motivated by a false perception of truth, rather than by truth itself. The false image of truth, “Opinion,” is the force that leads each into error, and it is what each must abandon during the course of the play. Young Lorenzo’s “Apology for Poetry” (Quarto only) in Act V directly cites “gross opinion.” Through the early acts of the play Opinion is not directly identified, but it is the likely common source of parental meddling, marital jealousy, and lame versifying.
Jonson was only one of a score of contemporary satirists who  were fascinated with “Opinion,” which was imagined either as an allegorical figure (in one instance, a blindfolded goddess with a chameleon on her wrist) or as a concept that helped explain how men are misled by false appearances. The concept may have reflected both a Stoic and Calvinist emphasis on inward discipline and virtue, for Opinion was a maldy of the careless and the weak. Jonson may have been interested in Opinion because it was a serious moral and intellectual malady that could be cured by a good dose of reason. Jonson’s masque Hymenaei (1606) features an extended debate between two character called Truth and Opinion, “both so alike attired as they could by no note be distinguished.” The major danger of Opinion is that it is a counterfeit image of truth, superficially alluring, but certain to encourage error. In his Discoveries, Jonson writes that

Opinion is a light, vaine, crude, and imperfect thing, settled in the Imagination, but never arriving at the understanding, there to obtaine the tincture of Reason. Wee labour with it more than Truth. There is much more holds us, then presseth us. An ill fact [note - deed or act?]is one thing, and ill fortune is another: Yet both oftentimes sway us alike, by the error of our thinking.
Edward Guilpin, Samuel Daniel, William Cornwallis, George Chapman, and William Shakespeare all make contemporary reference to Opinion in terms that parallel Jonson and Charron.
Opinion, then, works upon the mind by allowing mere products of the imagination, or fantasy, to affect behaviour. It by-passes reason and understanding and motivated otherwise well-meaning and unsuspecting people to affected and passionate conduct. Opinion is dangerous because it can present an image superficially identical to Truth ( as in Hymenaei). It is, however, the very opposite of truth, a reverse image of what men should seek. In the poetry and drama of Jonson’s time, Opinion operates in a characteristic manner.

Cynthia's Revels, Jonson


 ...For, let your Soul be as-
sur'd of this (in any rank, or profession whatever) the
more general, or major part of Opinion goes with the
FACE, and (simply) respects nothing else. Therefore,
if that can be made exactly, curiously, exquisitely,
thorowly, it is enough:


Jonson, on the Droeshout Engraving:

THE FIGURE that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle SHAKESPEARE cut,
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature, to out-do the life:
O could he have but drawn his wit
As well in brass, as he has hit
His FACE; the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass:
But since he cannot, reader, look
Not on his PICTURE, but his book.

Author: Holland, Abraham, d. 1626.
Title: Naumachia, or Hollands sea-fight Date: 1622

A Caveat to his Muse

You deem it a matter of high worth
To have a fame among 'em: New come forth:
And thinke your chiefe felicity is marr'd
If you be not perch't up in Paules Church-yard
Where men a farre may know you in a trice,
By some new-fangled, brasse-cut FRONTispice.
Such book's indeed as now-dayes can passé
Had need to have their FACES made of brasse.
Is it not then sufficient for you
To stay at home among the residue
Of better sisters: where my dearest Will,
And other friends would praise and love thee still:
Him and my other harts-halfes I account
Intire assemblies, and thinke they surmount
A Globe of ADDLE Gallants: I averre
One judging Plato worth a Theater.

Soul of an Ignorant Age

To the Great Example of H O N O U R and V E R T U E, the most Noble


E A R L of P E M B R O K E , L O R D C H A M B E R L A I N, &c.

M Y L O R D,

N so thick and dark an IGNORANCE, as now almost covers the AGE, I
crave leave to stand near your Light, and by that to be read.
Posterity may pay your Benefit the Honour and Thanks, when it shall
know, that you dare, in these JIG-GIVEN times, to countenance a
Legitimate Poem. I must call it so, against all *NOISE OF OPINION*: from
whose crude and airy Reports, I appeal to that great and singular
Faculty of Judgment in your Lordship, able to vindicate Truth from
Error. It is the First (of this Race) that ever I dedicated to any
Person; and had I not thought it the best, it should have been taught
a less Ambition. Now it approacheth your Censure chearfully, and with
the same assurance that Innocency would appear before a Magistrate.

Your Lordships most faithful Honourer,


True Fame vs the NOISE of OPINION
Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius

...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe
Those that we have, and those that we want too:
Th'art all so good, that reading makes thee worse,
And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.
Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate
That servile base dependance upon fate:
Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,
Excluding those from life in after-time*, 
Who into Po'try first brought luck and rime: 
Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name 
What was but NOISE; and getting Briefes for fame 
Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence 
THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win
That best applause of being crown'd within..

Art hath an Enemy called Ignorance - Jonson 

Jonson on Shakespeare:
I remember, the Players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing, (whatsoever he penn'd) hee never blotted out line. My answer hath beene, would he had blotted a thousand. Which they thought a MALEVOLENT speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their IGNORANCE, who choose that circumstance to COMMEND their friend by, wherein he most FAULTED... 


The COMMENDATION of good things may fall within a many,  their approbation but in a few· *for the most COMMEND out of affection,  selfe tickling, an easinesse, or imitation*: but MEN iudge only out of KNOWLEDGE. That is the trying faculty. -- Jonson

Opinion, Poetry and Folly in “Every Man in His Humour”
John Scott Colley

…such is Jonson’s fear of Opinion as expressed in the Discoveries, where he warns that the fruits of the imagination must be tempered by the understanding and reason. Opinion, the chief enemy of Reason and Truth, transforms virtues into their opposite vices; or specifically, it transforms legitmate parental concern into smothering protectiveness, love into jealousy, poetry into simpleminded versifying. In each instance, the erring character does not school his imagination or fantasy, and in each case, he tumbles into RIDICULOUS ERROR.

Jonson, Discoveries

Opinion is a light, vain, crude, and imperfect thing, settled in the imagination; but never arriving at the understanding, there to obtain the tincture of reason. We labour with it more than truth. There is much more holds us, then presseth us. An ill fact is one thing, an ILL FORTUNE is another: Yet both often times sway us alike, by the error of our thinking.

Commending Shakespeare and Imitating the Noise of Opinion:

To the Memory of My Beloved MASTER William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us

By Ben Jonson

To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such
As neither man nor muse can praise too much;
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.
These are, as some infamous bawd or whore
Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more?
But thou art proof against them, and indeed,
Above th' ILL FORTUNE of them, or the need.
I therefore will begin. Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare, rise!



 what could hurt her more?

 --It is as great a spite to be praised in the wrong place, and by a wrong person, as can be done to a noble nature. (Jonson, Discoveries)

Hor. lib. 2. Epist. 1.

But lest you think 'tis niggard praise I fling

To bards who soar where I ne'er stretched a wing,
That man I hold TRUE MASTER of his ART
Who with fictitious woes can wring my heart,
Can rouse me, soothe me, pierce me with the thrill
Of vain alarm, and, as by magic skill,
Bear me to Thebes, to Athens, where he will.

Now turn to us shy mortals, who, instead
Of being hissed and acted, would be read:


Ben Jonson, on Shakespeare (~Timber)

‘I remember, the Players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing, (whatsoever he penn’d) hee never blotted out line. My answer hath beene, Would he had blotted a thousand. Which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance, who choose that circumstance to commend their friend by, wherein he most faulted. And to justifie mine owne candor, (for I lov’d the man, and doe honour his memory (on this side Idolatry) as much as any.) Hee was (indeed) honest, and of an open, and free nature: had an excellent Phantsie; brave notions, and gentle expressions: wherein hee flow’d with that facility, that sometime it was necessary he should be stop’d: Sufflaminandus erat; as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his owne power; would the rule of it had beene so too. Many times hee fell into those things, could not escape laughter: As when hee said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him; Caesar, thou dost me wrong. Hee replyed: Caesar did never wrong, but with just cause: and such like; which were ridiculous. But hee redeemed his vices, with his vertues. There was ever more in him to be praysed, then to be pardoned.’


...In short, whenever you notice that a DEGENERATE STYLE pleases the critics, you may be sure that character also has deviated from the right standard. Just as luxurious banquets and elaborate dress are indications of disease in the state, similarly a LAX STYLE, if it be popular, shows that the mind (which is the source of the word) has lost its balance. Indeed you ought not to wonder that corrupt speech is welcomed not merely by the more squalid mob but also by our more cultured throng; for it is only in their dress and not in their judgments that they differ. You may rather wonder that not only the effects of vices, but even vices themselves, meet with approval. For it has ever been thus: no man's ability has ever been approved without something being pardoned. : ) Show me any man, however famous; I can tell you what it was that his age forgave in him, and what it was that his age purposely overlooked. * I can show you many men whose vices have caused them no harm, and not a few who have been even helped by these vices. Yes, I will show you persons of the highest reputation, set up as models for our admiration; and yet if you seek to correct their errors, you destroy them; for vices are so intertwined with virtues that they drag the virtues along with them.* (SNIP)
Some individual makes these vices fashionable - some person who controls the eloquence of the day; the rest follow his lead and communicate the habit to each other.

 Some individual makes these vices fashionable--Soul of the Age


Thou Need make many Poets, and some such
As Art and Nature have not better'd much;
Yet ours, for want, hath not so lov'd the Stage,
As he dare serve* th'ill Customs of the Age*,
Or purchase your delight at such a rate,
As, for it, he himself must justly hate:
Rhodri Lewis:

...the visionary quality of the furor poeticus was by definition irrational, and easily contaminated by the threat of ‘enthusiasm’; as there was Restoration consensus that the civil wars had been the product of enthusiastic speech and writing, this contamination was fatal.Consequently, the imitative model of poetics – and with it, translation – came to have a new prestige and cultural importance as an antidote to such anxieties: in CONSTRAINING the poet’s FREEDOM to ERR, it was seen as doing important meta-literary work, and conferred an intrinsic mutuality on the literary enterprise:


Constraining/Holding/Ruling Shakespeare's Quill:

From To the Deceased Author of these Poems (William Cartwright)

by Jasper Mayne

For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.
In Thee Ben Johnson still HELD SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL:
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)


Title: Q. Horatius Flaccus: his Art of poetry. Englished by Ben:
Jonson. With other workes of the author, never printed before Date:1640

...Those that are wise, a FURIOUS POET feare,
And flye to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the Leprosie, or had
The yellow jaundis, or were truely mad,
Under the angry Moon: but then the boyes
They vexe, and careless follow him with noise.
This, while he belcheth lofty Verses out,
And stalketh, like a Fowler, round about,
Busie to catch a Black-bird; if he fall
Into a pit, or hole, although he call
And crye aloud, help gentle Country-men;
There's none will take the care to help him, then, For if one should,
and with a rope make hast
To let it downe, who knowes, if he did cast
Himselfe there purposely or no; and would Not thence be sav'd,
although indeed he could;
Ile tell you but the death, and the disease
Of the Sysilian Poet, Empedocles'
He, while he labour'd to be thought a god,
Immortall, took a melancholick, odd
Conceipt, and into burning Aetna leap't.
Let Poets perish that will not be kept.

He that preserves a man against his will,
Doth the same thing with him that would him kill.
Nor did he doe this, once; if yet you can
Now, bring him back, he'le be no more a man,
Or love of this his famous death lay by.
Here's one makes verses, but there's none knows why;
Whether he hath pissed upon his Fathers grave:
Or the sad thunder-strucken thing he have,
Polluted, touch't: but certainly he's mad;
And as a Beare, if he the strength but had
To force the Grates that hold him in, would fright
All; so this grievous writer puts to flight
Learn'd, and unlearn'd; holdeth whom once he takes;
And there an end of him with reading makes:
Not letting goe the skin, where he drawes food,
Till, horse-leech like, he drop off, full of blood.
Tom O'Bedlam - Anonymous

With a host of FURIOUS FANCIES
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghostes and shadowes
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end.
Methinks it is no journey.


From [Jonson’s] Every Man in his Humour, Quarto 1601, Act V, Sc. 1. Omitted from the Folio of 1616. The play was first acted in 1598 (or 1597)

Matheo. Sir, heres the beginning of a sonnet I made to my mistresse.
              Clement. That, that: who? To Maddona Hesperida? Is she your mistresse?

Prospero. It pleaseth him to call her so, sir.

Clem. ‘In Sommer time when Phoebus golden rayes.’ You translated this too, did you not?

Pros. No, this is invention; he found it in a ballad.

Mat. Fayth, sir, I had most of the conceite of it out of a ballad indeede.
Clem. Conceite: fetch me a couple of torches, sirha. I may see the conceite: quickly! It’s very darke!
Guilliano. Call you this poetry?
Lorenzo Junior. Poetry? Nay, then call blashemie religion;
Call Divels Angels; and Sinne pietie:
Let all things be preposterously transchangd.
Lorenzo senior. Why, how now, sonne? What! Are you startled now?
Hath the brize prickt you, ha? Go to; you see
How abjectly your Poetry is ranckt,
In generall opinion.
Lorenzo Junior. Opinion! O God, let grosse opinion
*Sinck and be damnd as deepe as Barathrum*.
If it may stand with your most wisht content,
I can refell opinion and approve
The state of poesie, such as it is,
Blessed, aeternall, and most true devine:
Indeede, if you will look on Poesie,
As she appears in many, poore and lame,
Patcht up in remnants and old worne rages,
Halfe starvd for want of her peculiar foode,
SACRED INVENTION, then I must conferme
Both your conceite and censure of her merrite:
But view her in her glorious ornaments,
Attired in the majestie of arte,
Set high in spirite with the precious taste
Of sweete philosophic and, which is most,
Crownd with the rich traditions of a sould
That hates to hae her dignitie prophand
With any relish of an earthly thought –
Oh then how proud a presence doth she beare!
Then is she like her selfe, fit to be seene
Of none but grave and consecrated eyes.
Nor is it any blemish to her fame
That such leane, ignorant, and blasted wits,
Such brainlesse guls, should utter their stolne wares
With such applauses in our vulgar eares;
Or that their slubberd lines have currant passe,
From the fat judgements of the multitude;
But that this barren and infected age
Should set no difference twixt these empty spirits
And a true Poet; then which reverend name
None can more adorne humanitie.    Enter with torches.

Clement. I, Lorenzo, but election is now governd altogether by the influence of humor, which, instead of those holy flames that should direct and light the soul to eternitie, hurles foorth nothing but smoke and congested vapours, that stifle her up, and bereave her of al sight and motion. But she must have store of Ellebore given to purge these grosse obstructions. Oh, that’s well sayd. Give me thy torch; come lay this stuffe together. So, give fire! There, see, see, how our Poets glory shines brighter, and brighter! Still, still it increaseth! Oh, now its at the highest! And now it declines as fast! You may see, gallants, Sic transit gloria mundi

 Hurling Metaphorical Smoke and Congested Vapours: Soul of a Barren and Infected Age:

Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were

To see thee in our waters yet appear,

And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza and our James!
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou star of poets, and with rage
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.


 Honest Ben/Honest Iago:

Lust for Audience: An interpretation of Othello
Marjorie Pryse

As Shakespeare’s play begins, Iago has just informed Roderigo that without his knowledge, Desdemona has eloped. In the opening line, Roderigo exclaims that he doesn’t want to to hear this news – “Tush, never tell me!” – and especially not from Iago, whom he has been paying to be his pander. Iago jumps to his own defense: “’Sblood, but you’ll not hear me!/If ever I did dream of such a matter, /Abhor me” . He is concerned about two things: that Roderigo accuses him of being responsible, or in some way having prior knowledge; and that Roderigo has refused to listen to him – “’Sblood, but you’ll not hear me!” He explains the source of his hatred for the Moor, however, not to defend himself against Roderigo’s accusations, but rather to recapture his listeners attention. Othello, he says, has refused to listen to “three great ones” whom Iago has sent to plead his advancement:

But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them with a bombast circumstance.
Horribly stuffed with epithets of war;
And, in conclusion,
Nonsuits my mediators. (I.i.12-16)

Iago  hates Othello not because Othello has chosen Cassio to be his lieutenant, but because he has refused to listen to Iago and to the advocates Iago sends. As far as Othello is concerned, Iago does not exist. He does not recognize Iago’s worth, and Iago is offended: “I know my price; I am worth no worse a place” (I.i.11)
Iago’s hatred for Othello convinces Roderigo to become his accomplice – and to remain his audience. Iago wishes, throughout the play, to convince – “lay thy finger thus, and let thy sould be instructed – and Roderigo to be convinced – “I will hear further reason for this – in spite of his lack of confidence in Iago’s words:

Iago: Will you hear me, Roderigo?
Roderigo: Faith, I have heard too much; for your words
                  And performances are no kin together.

Roderigo doesn’t learn anything about Iago as the play proceeds which he doesn’t know in the opening scene, yet he grants Iago his attention because Iago engages his fantasy. Roderigo, himself, cannot act to win Desdemona, yet he feeds on Iago’s verbal promises. The opening scene, then, articulates not only Iago’s characteristic action – he provides Roderigo with imaginative or fantastic satisfaction of his needs – but also his characteristic motive; without and audience, he is worth nothing, yet he knows his price and will be heard.

Throughout the history of Othello criticism, readers have understood the play as a triad of nobility, purity, and villainy. Yet Othello and Desdemona share Iago’ s motive for action. Desdemona’s death and Othello’s tragedy result not from Iago’s machinations, but rather from their own insistence that they be heard. Lust for audience is neither noble nor villainous; rather, it expresses the problem of human existence.



Droeshout - 2 left arms and a mask - Nabokov, Bend Sinister
Ambisinister - Can Not/Will Not write the 'right' or correct way - self-love


Fortune Unbound in Othello
Lynn S. Meskill

How does this conversation between Roderigo and Iago on fortunes—or preposterous conclusions—differ from that on Fortune—or the goddess blind—between Pistol and Fluellen? In Othello, Shakespeare has introduced fortune with a resolutely small “f”. Fortunes are hatched in the brain of a conniving man such as Iago, who holds sway over the temporal fortunes of other characters for the duration of the play, all the while arguing that every man comes to his own “conclusions”. The slippage from the blind goddess, Fortune, in Henry V, to the mischief-making Iago, signals a first stage in Shakespeare’s unbinding of Fortune in Othello.

In Othello, we have neither Fortune nor “her” wheel, nor the spokes and fellies, nor the round nave or hub. Instead, we have Shakespeare distilling Fortune’s wheel into verbs of motion: rolling, wandering, encircling, and turning. Unhitching the wheel from Fortune, and transforming it into a verb, alerts us to something new. In Act I, Scene i, Roderigo tells Brabantio:
Your daughter (if you have not given her leave),
I say again, hath made a gross revolt,
Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
Of here and every where. (my emphasis, I.i.133-137).
The word “wheeling” is used here for the first and only time as an adjective in Shakespeare. It is compounded with “extravagant”. Randal Cotgrave’s 1611 English definition of the French extravagance is pertinent: “To extravagate, to roam, to range, wander,*err in a humour*, stray, gad in a fantastical way”. The epithet “wheeling” has a similar semantic consistency, describing Othello’s peripatetic travels and dramatic peripeteia. The wheel epithet, then, associates him closely with his own revolving fortunes. Iago even describes Othello’s verbal dilation as a verbal wheeling. The first thing Iago says he hates about Othello is how he “[E]vades…with a bumbast circumstance/Horribly stuff’d with epithites of war” (I.i.13-14). Iago hates Othello’s roundabout, evasive indirection in speech, a kind of windy grammar, a form of circumlocutory or wheeling discourse that will eventually roll, like Fortune’s hub in Hamlet, from heaven to as low as fiends, from the sublime “Othello music” to a discourse on “Goats and monkeys” (IV.i.263).  And so Othello, wheeling through exotic countries, across boundaries, and through accidents and disasters, is intimately linked to the wandering and wheeling speech that is ultimately an image of his own changing fortunes.  This wheeling wandering leads even to Brabantio’s accusation that Othello is a witch. For Brabantio, the Venetian, Othello, the Moor, is “a practiser/Of arts inhibited and out of warrant” (my emphasis; I.ii.78-79). He and the arts he practices are outside the law, outside legal limits, outside the sphere of what is warranted in Venice. Othello’s wheeling nature, his circumlocutory speech, and his witchcraft are all of a piece: they pinpoint who and where he is in the world.

Finally, Othello’s tirade against Desdemona in Act IV, Scene I may well be connected to the turning of Fortune’s wheel. “Sir, she can turn, and turn; and yet go on /And turn again.” (IV.i..253-254). Othello’s pointed reference to the inconstancy of women echoes the habitual language referring to the fickleness of Fortune.

Horace, Art of Poetry - Ben Jonson transl.

...Most writers, noble sire and either son,
Are, with the likeness of the truth, undone.
Myself for shortness labour, and I grow
Obscure. This, striving to run smooth,
and flow,
Hath neither soul nor sinews. Lofty he
Professing greatness, swells; that, low by lee,
Creeps on the ground; too safe, afraid of storm.
This seeking, in a various kind, to form
One thing PRODIGIOUSLY, paints in the woods
A dolphin, and a boar amid the floods.
So shunning faults to greater fault doth lead,


 Jonson, Discoveries

Oratio imago animi. - Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see
thee. It springs out of the most retired and inmost parts of us, and
is the image of the parent of it, the MIND. No glass renders a man’s
form or likeness so true as his speech. Nay, it is likened to a man;
and as we consider feature and composition in a man, so words in
language; in the greatness, aptness, sound , structure, and harmony of
we must take care that our words and sense be clear...Order helps much to perspicuity, as Confusion hurts...Whatsoever loseth the grace, and clearness, converts into a Riddle: the obscurity is marked, but not the value.

C Y N T H I A 'S
R E V E L S,

O R,
The Fountain of Self-Love.


First Acted in the Year 1600. By the then CHILDREN of QUEEN

Amorphus. Plant your self there, Sir: and observe me. You
shall now, as well be the Ocular, as the Ear-witness,
how clearly I can refel that paradox, or rather pseudodox;
of those, which hold the Face to be the Index of the
mind, which (I assure you) is not so, in any politick
Creature: for instance; I will now give you the parti-
cular, and distinct face of every your most noted species
of Persons, as your Merchant, your Schollar, your
Soldier, your Lawyer, Courtier, &c. and each of these
so truly, as you would swear, but that your Eye shall
see the variation of the Lineament, it were my most
proper and genuine aspect. First, for your Merchant,
or City-face, 'tis thus, a dull, plodding Face, still look-
ing in a direct line, forward: there is no great matter
in this Face. Then have you your Students, or aca-
demique Face, which is here, an honest, simple, and
methodical Face: but somewhat more spred than the
former. The third is your Soldiers Face, a menacing,
and astounding Face, that looks broad, and big: the
grace of this Face consisteth much in a Beard. The anti-
face, to this, is your Lawyers Face, a contracted, sub-
tile, and intricate Face, full of quirks, and turnings,
a labyrinthæan Face, now angularly, now circularly, e-
very way aspected. Next is your statist's Face, a seri-
ous, solemn, and supercilious Face, full of formal, and
square Gravity, the Eye (for the most part) deeply and
artificially shadow'd: there is great judgment required
in the making of this Face. But now, to come to your
Face of Faces, or Courtiers Face, 'tis of three sorts,
according to our subdivision of a Courtier, Elementary,
Practick, and Theorick. Your Courtier Theorick, is
he, that hath arriv'd to his farthest, and doth now
know the Court, rather by speculation, than practice;
and this is his Face: a fastidious and oblick Face, that
looks, as it went with a Vice, and were screw'd thus.
Your Courtier Practick, is he, that is yet in his Path,
his course, his way, and hath not toucht the puntilio,
or point of his hope; his Face is here: a most promi-
sing, open, smooth, and over-flowing Face, that seems
as it would run, and pour it self into you. Somewhat
a northerly Face. Your Courtier Elementary, is one
but newly enter'd, or as it were in the alphabet, or ut-re-
mi-fa-sol-la of Courtship. Note well this Face, for it is
this you must practice.
Aso. I'll practice 'em all, if you please, Sir.
Amo. I, hereafter you may: and it will not be alto-
gether an ungrateful study. For, let your Soul be as-
sur'd of this (in any rank, or profession whatever) the
more general, or major part of Opinion goes with the
Face, and (simply) respects nothing else. Therefore,
if that can be made exactly, curiously, exquisitely,
thorowly, it is enough: But (for the present) you shall
only apply your self to this Face of the Elementary
Courtier, a light, revelling, and protesting Face, now
blushing, now smiling, which you may help much with
a wanton wagging of your Head, thus, (a Feather will
teach you) or with kissing your Finger that hath the
Ruby, or playing with some String of your Band, which
is a most quaint kind of melancholy besides: or (if a-
mong Ladies) laughing lowd, and crying up your own
Wit, though perhaps borrow'd, it is not amiss. Where
is your Page? call for your Casting-bottle, and place
your mirrour in your Hat, as I told you: so. Come,
look not pale, observe me, set your face, and enter.
Mer. O, for some excellent Painter, to have tane the
Copy of all these Faces!


TO  NIGHT -- Jonson

Break, Phantafy, from thy cave of cloud,
And fpread thy purple wings;
Now all thy figures are allowed,
And various shapes of things;
Create of airy forms a stream,
It must have blood, and nought of phlegm;
And though it be a waking dream,
Yet let it like an odour rife
To all the fenfes here;
And fall like fleep upon their eyes,
Or music in their ear.
(‘The Vision of Delight.’)


Jonson was only one of a score of contemporary satirists who  were fascinated with “Opinion,” which was imagined either as an allegorical figure (in one instance, a blindfolded goddess with a chameleon on her wrist) or as a concept that helped explain how men are misled by false appearances. The concept may have reflected both a Stoic and Calvinist emphasis on inward discipline and virtue, for Opinion was a malady of the careless and the weak. Jonson may have been interested in Opinion because it was a serious moral and intellectual malady that could be cured by a good dose of reason. Jonson’s masque Hymenaei (1606) features an extended debate between two character called Truth and Opinion, “both so alike attired as they could by no note be distinguished.” The major danger of Opinion is that it is a counterfeit image of truth, superficially alluring, but certain to encourage error. --

Opinion, Poetry and Folly in “Every Man in His Humour”
John Scott Colley


 Sidney, Defence of Poetry

...But besides these GROSSE ABSURDITIES, howe all their Playes bee neither RIGHT Tragedies, nor RIGHT Comedies, mingling Kinges and Clownes, not because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the Clowne by head and shoulders to play a part in majesticall matters, with neither DECENCIE NOR DISCRETION: so as neither the admiration and Commiseration, nor the the RIGHT sportfulnesse is by their mongrell Tragicomedie obtained. I know Apuleius did somewhat so, but that is a thing recounted with space of time, not represented in one moment: and I knowe the Auncients have one or two examples of Tragicomedies, as Plautus hath Amphitrio. But if we marke them well, wee shall finde that they never or veriedaintily *matche horne Pipes and Funeralls*. So falleth it out, that having indeed no RIGHT Comedie in that Comicall part of our Tragidie, wee have nothing but SCURRILITIE unwoorthie of anie chaste eares, or some extreame shewe of doltishnesse, indeede fit to lift up a loude laughter and nothing else: where the whole tract of a Comedie should bee full of delight, as the Tragidie should bee still maintained in a well raised admiration. But our Comedients thinke there is no delight without laughter, which is verie WRONG, for though laughter may come with delight, yet commeth it not of delight, as though delight should be the cause of laughter.
But I have lavished out too many words of this Play- matter; I do it, because as they are excelling parts of Poesie, so is there none so much used in England, and none can be more pitifully abused: which like an unmannerly daughter, shewing a bad education, causeth her mother Poesies HONESTIE to be called in question.


Jonson P R O L O G U E. Every Man In His Humour

Thou Need make many Poets, and some such
As Art and Nature have not better'd much;
Yet ours, for want, hath not so lov'd the Stage,
As he dare serve th'ill Customs of the Age,
Or purchase your delight at such a rate,
As, for it, he himself must justly hate:
To make a child now swadled, to proceed
Man, and then shoot up in one beard and weed,
Past threescore years: or, with three rusty swords,
And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words,
Fight over 
York, and Lancasters long jars,
And in the Tyring house bring wounds to scars.
He rather prays, you will be pleas'd to see
One such to day, as other plays should be;
Where neither 
Chorus wafts you o're the seas,
Nor creaking Throne comes down, the boys to please;
Nor nimble Squib is seen, to make afeard

The Gentlewomen; nor roul'd Bullet heard
To say, it Thunders; nor tempestuous Drum
Rumbles, to tell you when the Storm doth come;
But Deeds, and Language, such as men do use:
And Persons, such as 
Comœdy would chuse,
When she would shew an Image of the Times,
And sport with Humane Follies, not with Crimes.
Except, we make 'em such by loving still
Our popular Errors, when we know th' are ill.
I mean such Errors as you'll all confess
By laughing at them, they deserve no less:
Which when you heartily do, there's hope left, then,
You, that have so grac'd MONSTERS, may like Men.