Such a monstrous nose, said they, had it been a true nose, could not possibly have been suffered in civil society – and if false – to impose upon society with such false signs and tokens, was a still greater violation of its rights, and must have had still less mercy shewn it. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Stern (1713-1768)
Among the numerous stratagems by which pride endeavors to recommend folly to regard, there is scarcely one that meets with less success than affectation, or a perpetual disguise of the real character by fictitious appearances. Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
A man whose volatile passions have distanced him from polite society has sought a solution to his problems in the self-serving writings of assumed wise men. These men, forging from flesh and bone and prejudice the modern science of physiognomy, have described how the external appearance, particularly of the face and surrounding regions, reflects the inner character. In these words he has learned that his is the face of a choleric man, which advertises to society that he is in possession of strong appetites and given to impetuous and wilful outbursts. So surrounded by the shadows of his obsessions, the self-diagnosed choleric submits to the compulsion of his temperament and readies himself to cut off his nose to spite his own face. His vainglorious pride, the very thing he hopes to amputate, has led him to strap himself into his physiognomists chair, with the stark reality of his damning profile beside him and the modified craniometer, designed to measure the man and guide the cut, over the offending anatomy. According to the theory, in so modifying his visage, this will be his last act as a choleric man, after which he will not have to look down his nose at himself any longer. And true to his prescribed character, the only concession to the consequences of his actions is the bloodletting bowl in his lap, there to catch the ill humours that so trouble him.
My thanks to everyone for their comments and encouragement throughout the past four long months. And now I am off to cut the lawn - it is spring here and the grass is very long and I’m sure my neighbours are not impressed