Physical Deformity in the Jacobean Age

Charles Gibbon, The Order of Equalitie (John Legat, 1604):

In naturall causes, by the opinion of Naturalists, if all partes & members of the bodie be not proportionable and equall, there cannot be that perfect Symmetry which is required in nature, and therefore such as be of goodly partes and lynea|mentes of body doe carrie a king of encomion in the scriptures: it is said of Saul, that he was a goodly yong man, 1. Sam. 9. 2. and of Dauid, that he was a comlie person 1. Sam. 16. 18, and of Christ, that he was of a meane composition and stature, as Publius Lentulus reporteth: the poet giueth a reason hereof, gratior est pulchro veniens è corpore virtus, those gifts are more gracious that proceede from a comly person: for oftentimes a deformed bodie doth argue a  deformed mind, and therefore Aristotle in his booke of gouernment would haue comly men called to office & not mishapen & deformed; for which cause such as had a blemish might not enter the order of preisthood by the old lawe. And by the ciuill lawe this composition and habitude of bodie is so estimable, that it alloweth the sonne an action of the cause against him that shall deface the portract of his father.

In the constitution and state of mans bodie good propor|tion and equalitie of humors and qualities causeth health, and therefore health is defined by the philosphers to be nothing els but a well proportioned vnion of many humors together: for where one qualitie and humor doth exceede another, they are the very symptoms of some naturall defect by iudgment of physitions. (“Of the Necessitie of Equalite,” 7-8)

Joseph Hall, The Genealogie of Vertve, in Two Guides to a Good Life (London: W. Iaggard, 1604):

At first, we were created vpright both in soule and body, but since through sinne, we are become deformed both in soule and bodye. (“How to know our selues”)

John Davies, Wittes Pilgrimage (London: John Browne, 1605):

In Nature are two supreame Principles:
As namely, Vnity, and Binarie:
The first doth forme all Beauties Miracles:
The last's the Fount of all Deformitie.  (90.1-4)

Barnabe Rich, Faultes Faults, and Nothing Else but Faultes (London: Valentine Simmes for Ieffrey Chorleton, 1606):

There is nothing more formall in these dayes then Deformitie it selfe. (3)

Francis Bacon, “Of Deformity,” in The Essaies (London: John Jaggard, 1613):

Deformed persons are commonly even with nature; for, as nature hath done ill by them, so do they by nature, being for the most part (as Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have their revenge on nature. Certainly, there is a consent between the body and the mind, and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth in the other: Ubi peccat in uno, periculitatur in altero.

But because there is in man an election, touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclination are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline and virtue; therefore, it is good to consider of deformity, not as a sign which is more deceivable, but as a cause which seldom faileth of the effect.

Helkiah Crooke, Mikrokosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man (London: William Iaggard, 1615):

To depraued and illegittimate Conceptions must Monsters be referred. (299)

Monsters happen either when the sexe is vitiated, or when the Confor|mation is vnlawfull. In the sex, when they are of an vncertaine sex, so that you may doubt   whether it be a male or a female or both, as Hermophradites. Bi-sexed Hermophradites they call Androgynas, [undefined span non-Latin alphabet]…. In conformation Monsters are more ordinary. To Conformation we referre Figure,   Magnitude, Scituation and Number. In Figure Monsters happen: if a man haue a prone or declining Figure like a bruite beast, if he haue the face of a Dogge, of a VVolfe, a Fox,   a Toad, or such like. In Magnitude Exceeding or Deficient: if there be an vnequal propor|tion   of the parts as a great heade, or againe so little that it agreeth not with the rest of the parts. In Scituation, as if the eyes be in the middle of the forehead, the Nosethrilles in the sides, the eares in the nowle, or such like. In Number Exceeding, as when it is diuided into   two bodies, two heads, foure armes, or such like; or Deficient, if it haue but one eye, no eares, and the like. (299)

Concerning the causes of Monsters, diuers men are of diuers mindes. The Diuine re|ferres it to the iudgement of God, the Astrologers to the Starres…. We list not to exclude the iust vengeance of Almighty God, which no doubt hath a great stroake in these things; but to speake as a Physitian or Naturall Phi|losopher, it must be granted that all these aberrations of Nature are to be referred vnto the   Materiall and Efficient causes of generation. (299-300)

Patrick Hannay, A Happy Husband or, Directions for a Maide to Choose Her Mate (London: John Beale for Richard Redmer, 1619):

As for his shape I would it should be free
From (Natures, not of spite)  Deformity:
 Deformed shape is of so bad a nature,
That its disliked euen in a noble creature;
VVhere comely shape with loue attracts the eyes,
By secret sympathy os all it sees.
Englands third Richard, and the wife of Shore,
The one  deform'd, the other grac'd with store;…
Thus Nature makes each Body with the mind,
Some way to keepe Decorum: for we find
Mark'd bodies, Manners crosse accompany,
VVhich in well shap'd we seld, or neuer see:
For shee doth Builder-like a Mansion frame,
Fit for the guest, should harbour in the same. (B3)

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford: John Lichfield and James Short for Henry Cripps, 1621):

Particular discontents and grieuances, are either of Body, Mind, Fortune, which as they wound the Soule of man, and produce this of melancholy, and many great inconueni|ences, by that Antidote of good counsell and perswasion they may be eased or expelled. Deformities and imperfections of our bodies, as lamenesse, crookednesse, deafenesse, blindnesse, be they innate or accidentall torture many men: yet this may comfort them, that those imperfections of the body doe not a whit blemish the soule, or hinder the operations of it, but rather help and much increase it. Thou art lame of Body, deformed to the eye, yet this hinders not but that thou maist be a good, a wife, vpright honest man. (387)

Aesope crooked, Socrates purblind, long legged, hairy, and Democritus withered, Seneca leane and harsh, vgly to behold, yet shew me so many flourishing wits, such divine spirits. Ignatius Loiola the founder of the Iesuits, by reason of an hurt he receaued in his legge, at the siege of Pampelona the chiefe towne of Nauarre in Spaine, vnfit for warres and lesse serviceable at Court, vpon that accident betooke himselfe to his beads, and by that meanes got more honour, then ever he should haue done with the vse of his limmes, & propernesse of person, Vulnus non penetrat animam: a wound hurts not the Soule. Galba the Emperour was crookbacked, Epictetus lame, that great Alexander a little man of stature, Augustus Caesar of the same pitch A Dom. 1306. Vladslaus Cubitalis that Pigmy king of Poland raigned, & fought more victorious battles, then any of his long shanked predecessors. Nullam virtus respuit staturam, Virtue refuseth no stature, and commonly your great vast bodies, and fine features, are sottish and dull, leaden spirits. Their body, saith Lemnius, is a burden to them, and their spirits not so liuely, nor they so erect and merry. Non est in magno corpore mica saelis. Let Bodine in his 5. cap. method. hist. plead the rest, the lesser they are, as in Asia, Greece, they haue generally the finest wits. (387-88)

Mary Wroth, The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (London: Augustine Mathewes for Iohn Marriott and Iohn Grismand, 1621):

Alas Sir, said he, you see I am old, no euer was I a Souldier, borne deformed as you see, not for Armes, but Carpets; these shoulders crooked, and mishapen, were not ordaind, but to be kept from eyes, which would rather bring contempt, then respect: my Stature low, my body weake, all fram'd to be a Chamber-keeper, rather then a Knight at Armes. (224)

Gervase Markham and William Sampson, The True Tragedy of Herod and Antipater (London: G. Eld for Mathew Rhodes, 1622):

  Antip.  Has Nature stampt me with Deformity?
Am I of late transform'd?...
My Legs, my Hands, my Head, Face, Eyes and Nose;
I'm disproportion'd no way that I know of:
Then why doe these Wood-cracks wonder at me?

Thomas Heywood, “Of Women Deformed,” in Gynaikeion (London: Adam Islip, 1624):

It is remembered of the Poet Hypponax (by Plinie, Lib. 36. cap. 5.) to be of that vnhappie shape, vnseemely presence, and vncomely countenance, so  deformed both in face and feature, that he became a generall scorne to all: insomuch, that two famous Painters, Bubulus and Anterinus, drawing his picture, and setting it out to sale, had pensill'd him in such ridiculous and vnfashionable manner, that the Table begot laughter from all such as passed by and beheld it. Which Hypponax hearing, hee so persecuted the poore Painters, in his bitter Iambicks, and inuectiue Satyres, that despayring, they hanged themselues. Then blame me not, if I be sparing in ripping vp the  deformities of women, least they prosecute me as seuerely with their rayling tongues, as the Poet did the Painters with his Satyricall penne. (263)

Francis Bacon, “Of Envy” in The Essaies (London: Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, 1625):

Deformed persons and eunuchs, and old men and bastards, are envious; for he that cannot possibly mend his own case, will do what he can to impair another’s.