M. A. Harris (essay date 1895)
SOURCE: Harris, M. A. “The Origin of the Seventeenth Century Idea of Humours.” Modern Language Notes 10, no. 2 (February 1895): 44-6.
[In the following essay, Harris examines the history of the concept of humors as used by Jonson, Molière, and other seventeenth-century writers.]
Symonds, writing of Ben Jonson's time, says: “At this date humour was on everybody's lips to denote whim, oddity, conceited turn of thought, or special partiality in any person”; and again, “The word had become a mere slang term for any eccentricity.” Jonson, annoyed by the inexact popular use of the word defines it—:
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