Thursday, 7 February 2008

Early English Fleas

Following on my previous research on Gawen Smith, another trip to the British Library allowed me to investigate Jessica Wolfe's Phd work, Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature. A reference on page 191 referred to a "catalogue of mechanical minutiae", I mistakely was thinking this was a literal catalogue when it in fact referred to Thomas Moffett's poem "The silkwormes and their flies" (1599)

"The silkwormes and their flies" is described as being written by Thomas Moffatt countrie farmer and an apprentice in physicke for the great benifit and enriching of England. Printed at London by V.S. form Nicholas Ling and to be sold at his shop at the West ende of Paules, 1599

My research was made harder by the fact that the thing I was looking for turned out to be a margin note on this poem. Early English Books Online came to my rescue by having a search facility and by having the origional scans as well as the text.

Nay, for to speake of things more late and rife,
Who will not more admire those famous Fleas,
Made so by art, that art imparted life,
Making them skippe, and on mens hands to feaze,
And let out bloud with taper-poynted knife,
Which from a secret sheathe ranne out with ease:
The those great coches which the feloes did drive
With bended scrues, like things that were alive?
Made by Gawen Smith Anno, 1586
Ingenious & Germane, how didst thou convey
Thy Springs, thy Scrues, thy rowells, and thy flie?
Thy cogs, thy wardes, thy laths, how didst thou lay?
How did thy hand each peece to other tie?
O that this age enjoy'd thee but one day,
To shew thy Fleas to faithlesse gazers eye!
That great admireres might both lay and see,
In smallest things that greatest wonders bee.

This was a manual transcript so if you need the exact spelling or want to see the old English s/f's then you will need to refer to the origional document.

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