The ass is still an ass, e’en though he wears a lion’s hide.
The chameleon may change its color, but it is the chameleon still.
The world is still deceived by ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt. But being seasoned with a gracious voice, obscures the show of error?
In religion, what damn’d error, but some sober brow will bless it and approve it with a text, hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes some mark of virtue on its outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false as stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins the beards of Hercules, and frowning Mars; who inward search’d have livers white as milk?
And these assume but valor’s excrement, to render them redoubted. Look on beauty, and you shall see ’tis purchas’d by the weight; which therein works a miracle in nature, making them lightest that wear most of it.
So are those crisped, snaky, golden locks, which make such wanton gambols with the wind, upon supposed fairness, often known to be the dowry of the second head, the skull that bred them, in the sepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the guilded shore to the most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf veiling an Indian beauty; in a word, the seeming truth which cunning times put on to entrap the wisest.
The Soest Painting
This highly regarded portrait was painted at least thirty years after Shakespeare died, possibly after the theatres reopened following the Restoration, by yet another Dutch artist Gerard Soest. It was owned by Joseph Wright, an artist who lived in Covent Garden and now belongs to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Status: definite but not from life