THE PHŒNIX-FLEA, or,
Lauro Scutoque Resurgo, or,
Keep Buggering On.
Such tunges unhappy hath made great division
In realmes, in cities, by suche fals abusion.
Of fals fickil tunges suche cloked collusion
Hath brought nobil princes to extreme confusion.
In auspicatum, male ominatum, infortunatum se fateatur
habuisse horoscopum, quicunque maledixerit vati Pierio
—John Skelton, ‘Against Venemous Tunges’
PEERING forth from my quotidian dusty casement, I solemnly witness the busyness of the Times: the frenzied labours of the grim Armourers; the fervent exhortations of sundry Righteous Zealots that we must believe this or that narrative of History, or Justice, or Teleology; & the new-old tricks of the Cozeners & Cony-catchers who would gull the devout cleric, the staunch farmer, the honest merchant, the poor orphan, the sweating labourer & the frugal Goodwife, all alike.
I behold the tiny Pryckes of the narrow-eyed Witch-Finders as they mordantly needle & probe, ever coldly watchful to twist the words of the Plain-Speaker, or to descry auguries of incorrectness in the mind of many an Innocent, seeking thereby some or other patent sign of rankest Heresy; or to read in the smallest flicker of an eye-lash, the infallible mark of a Compact with the Very Devil.
Then, weary and perplex’d, I turn for diversion to the observations, imaginings, & sublime visions of true Poets, and I contemplate their witty, or (it may be) vatic, invocations of the shining Metaphysickal Muse, and my Soul is nourished thereby; as a celestial FLEA which hath drunk deep of the Ætheric Essence of the Heavenly Spheres, I rest, replenish’d, & nourish’d, brighten’d & fortified against the dismal intrigues of vile, sublunary Politicians.
And, I pray, Good Reader, so may you.
Ever Yr Hble & Obdt,
Dedication: This IVth issue of THE FLEA is dedicated to Mr. Matthew Hopkins, of Parts Various, for his tireless endeavours in delicately sniffing out a whiff of Evil-Doers, and smoaking them hence. That Excellent Pierian, Mr. Mark Allinson, of Hovel-super-Mare, hath most kindly furnish’d THE FLEA with his verse Satyre, ‘Borrowed Tactics’, to serve as an Epigraph to Issue IV.