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A Look Inside



This is another example of a pull out illustration along with the cover page.  An earlier edition was dedicated to Oxford, which accounts for the pairing of the two colleges in the city images as well as the two capped scholars standing in the center section.  In the title, the four complexions are specified: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic. 

In a diagram on the left, these same four complexions are matched with age or period of life, season, an unknown category, one of the four elements, a planet, and multiple zodiac signs.  It is a very useful summary of the humors and their associations with other topics.



Walkington begins his work with an attack against ignorance, instead encouraging self-knowledge.  What is interesting in this text is the presence of Greek letters.  This shows up in other contemporary works, and it stirs up larger questions around the printing process in the 17th century.  It would be interesting to know how printing presses had been adjusted for the printing of non-English typography.



The humors were thought to be highly analogous to temperament and other factors of human personality.  At the top of the right page, it is stated that specific physical conditions can even affect temper, like “dryness in the bones.”



The spirits were another aspect of the human body that were believed to be greatly affected by the humors.  Spirits were also imagined as liquids in the body, and they could be either pure or corrupted. This lent itself to many opportunities for colorful imagery surrounding of the discussion within this and other works of the genre.



A chapter on choleric, the humor attached to anger.  Walkington goes about his writing not in a scientific way but rather pulling in proverbs and other literary reference.



A chapter on the sanguine temper, the humor attached to blood and every pleasing emotion, including love and joy, as well as the general control of the emotions.  Described here as “the Ornament of the Body, the Pride of Humors, the paragon of Complexions, the Prince of all Temperatures; for blood is the Oil of the Lamp of our Life.”



A chapter on the phlegmatic humor, most associated with more destructive emotions.  It was believed to thicken the blood, being of a similar nature to the modern equivalent of phlegm.



A chapter on melancholy, attached to sadness and even madness.  Walkington presents a melancholic complexion as being highly variable as well: “like unto a huge Vessel on the rolling Sea, that is either hoisted up to the Ridge of a main Billow, or else hurried down to the Bottom of the Sea valley.”



Continuing the section about melancholy, Walkington goes on to describe the signs.  A loss of wit, a distracted mind, and other physical representations of sadness are described ,as well as some solutions.

A Look Inside