Among all other thynges of this worlde I wyll that thou knowe a noble and mervaylous scyence that is called physonomy by the which thou shalt knowe the nature and condycyon of people. And it was founde by a phylosophre named Physonomyas, the whiche sought the qualytees of the nature of creatures. In the tyme of the sayde Physonomyas reygned the moost wyse physycyen Ypocras. And bycause the fame of Physonomyas and his wysdome was so gretely spredde, the dyscyples and servauntes of Ypocras toke his fygure secretly, and bare it to Physonomyas to here how he wolde Juge and say by the sayd fygure of Ypocras. And bade hym say and tell the qualyte therof. Whan Physonomyas had well beholden it, he sayd: `This man is a wrangeler lecherous and rude.' This herynge the dyscyples of Ypocras they wolde have slayne Physonomyas, and sayd to hym: `Aa fole this is the fygure of the best man of the worlde.' Whan Physonomyas saw them thus moeved, he appeased them the best waye that he coude with fayre wordes saynge. I knowe well that this is the fygure of the wyse man Ypocras. And I have shewed you by scyence as I knowe. Whan the dyscyples were come to Ypocras they tolde hym what Physonomyas had sayd. And Ypocras sayd, `Truely Physonomyas hath tolde you the trouthe, and hath left nothyng of my complexyon in the whiche ben all my vyces. But reason in me overcometh and ruleth the vyces of my complexyon.'
Dere sone I have shortely abreged to the, the rules of this scyence of Physonomy, the whiche shall infourme the gretely. Yf thou se a man with salowe coloure, flee his company, for he is inclyned to the synne of lechery, and to many evylles. Yf thou seest a man that smyleth lyghtly, and whan thou beholdest hym he wyll loke shamfastly and wyl blusshe in his face and sygh, with teeres in his eyes yf thou blame hym for ony thynge, surely he feareth the and loveth thy persone. Beware of hym as thy enmy that is tokened in his face, and of hym also that is mysshapen. The best complexyon that is, is he that is of meane coloure with browne eyes and heere, and his bysage between whyte and reed, with an upryght body, with a heed of metely bygnesse, and that speketh not but of nede be, with a softe voyce, suche a complexyon is good, and suche men have about the. If the heeres be playne and smothe the man is curteys and meke, and his brayne is colde. Harde heere and curled is a token of foly, & lewdnesse. Moche heere on the brest and on the bely betokeneth very yll or very good complexyon naturally and is very amerous, and kepeth in his herte the injuryes that hath ben done to hym. Blacke heere betokeneth to love reason & Justyce.
Duskysshe eyes betokeneth fooly, & lyghtly to be angry. Gray eyes betokeneth honeste, & lovynge peas. Bygge eyes betokeneth to be envyous, unshamefast, slowe & unobedyent. Eyes meane between blacke and yelowe is of good understanding, curteys, and trusty. Wyde retchynge eyes and a longe face betokeneth a man malycyous and yll. Eyes lyke an asse alway lokyng downe is of harde nature and nought. Waveryng eyes with a long face betokeneth gyle, rennynge mynde and untrusty. Reed eyes betokeneth to be stronge and of a grete courage. He that hath spekles about his eyes, whyte, blacke, or reed, is the worst of all other men. Thycke heered eye lyddes is an yll speker, he that hath them hangynge longe to his eyes, is neyther true nor clene. He that hath heere ynough betwene his two browes and be thynne and not to longe, is of a good and grete understandyng.
A sklendre nosed man is soone angry. A longe nose hawked to the mouthe, is a token of honeste and hardynesse. A snytted nose is a token of a token to be soone vexed. Wyde nosethrylles in a man is slouth and boystousnesse and soone angered. A brode nose in the myddes is a grete speaker, and a lyer. But the best is he that is meane neyther to wyde nor to close. The vysage that is ful & flat, and that is not swollen nor to bygge is a token of an yll persone, envyous, injuryous, and a wrangeler. But he that hath a meane vysage of fourme of chekes and eyes, neyther to fat nor to leane, he is trusty, lovynge, and of grete understandynge, wyse and full of servyce and wytte.
He that hath a wyde mouthe loveth batayle and is hardy. He that hath thycke lyppes is folysshe. And he that hath a wrynkled face is a lyer, and careth not of many debates. He that hath a sklender face is of grete reason. He that hath a lytell vysage and yelowe of colour is a deceyver, dronken, and evyll. Full eyes & smothe chekes is soon angry.
Small eeres betokeneth foly, and lechery.
He that hath a small voyce & speketh thycke loveth feyghtynge. He that hath a meane voyce, neyther to bygge, nor to lytell, is folysshe and unreasonable. And he that speketh to moche with a sklender voyce, is not over honest, and of smal care. He that hath a femynyne voyce is soone angry, and of yl nature. A softe voyced man is often angry and envyous. He that hath a fayre voyce, is folysshe, and of hyghe courage. He that speketh lyghtly, lyeth often, and is a deceyver. And he that speketh without moevynge his handes, is of grete wysdome and honeste.
He that hath a sklender necke, is hote, deceytfull, and folysshe. He that hath a grete bely is proude, lecherous, and unwyse.
He that hath a large brest, thycke sholdres, and bygge fyngers, is hardy, wyse, gentyll, and of good wytte. He with a sklender backe agreeth never with ony other. He that hath his brest and backe egall, is a token of honeste. Hye reysed sholdres, is a token of lytell tydelyte, nought, and sharpe. He that hath longe armes rechynge to the knee, is of grete boldenesse, sadnesse, & lyberalyte. Shorte armes betoken that he loveth socour, and is folysshe.
Longe palmed handes with longe fyngers, is ordeyned to lerne many scyences, and artes, and specyal handy craftes, and to be of good governaunce. Fyngers short and thycke, betoken foly.
Shorte thycke fete and flesshy, betokeneth to be folysshe, and full of injury. A lytell lyght fote, is a man of smal understandynge. A sklender fote sheweth a man to be symple, and of small knowlege. He that hath a thycke fote is hardy and folysshe.
The length of the legges, & the heles, betoken strength of the body. A thycke flesshy kne, is soft and weyke.
A man that gooth a grete pace, is wyllynge in all thynges, and to hasty.
He is of a good nature and complexyon, that hath softe flesshe and moyst, meanely smothe and rough, and that is kyndly between reed and whyte.
He that hath a smoothe contenaunce, soft here & playne, with meane eyes of bygnesse, with a well proporcyoned heed, a good necke and suffycyent in length, with sholders somdele lowe, and his legges and knees metely flesshed, his voyce competent clere, the palmes of his handes and fyngers longe, and not thycke, and that he laughe but lytell, and that is no mocker, with a smylyng chere and mery, is of good complexyon. Howbeit dere sone I commaunde the not to Juge all upon one sygne, but consydre all the tokens of a man whiche moost habounde and sheweth the foly in hym, and holde the to the best and moost prouffytable party.
Thus endeth the abstract of the secrete of secretes of Arystotle prynce of Phylosophres. Here folowe certayne reasons of the grete phylosophre Sydrac to the kynge Boctus, whiche I have translated out of the Pycardes speche, thynkynge it necessary in this sayd treatyse.