Richard Overton, The Frogges of Egypt (1641)
The Ruling Class and the State: An Anthology from the OLL Collection
Richard Overton, The Frogges of Egypt, or the Caterpillers of the Commonwealth (August, 1641)
[Created: January 8, 2018]
The image is James Gillray, "The British Atlas, or John Bull supporting the Peace Establishment" (1816).
[See a higher resolution image and the illustrated essay on "James Gillray on War and Taxes during the War against Napoleon".
[Richard Overton], The Frogges of Egypt, or the Caterpillers of the Commonwealth. truely dissected and laid open; With the Subjects Thankefulnesse unto God for thier deliverance from that Nest of Vermine. Printed in the yeare 1641.
In the Leveller Tracts Collection, vol. 1: </pages/leveller-tracts-2nd-1#T9>.
THE FROGS OF EGYPT OR THE CATTERPILLERS OF THE Common-wealth.
MOnopolers by their nefarious Projects, and impious exactions, have contaminated the Land with such a contagious exulceration of wicked impositions, that I may with a coequall sympathie, assimulate them to the Frogs of Ægypt. First, In regard that those Frogs were the second Plague that was brought upon the Ægyptians: So these Monopolers (in respect that Bishops had the priority) were the second Plague, which with disastrous aspersions, did infect our Nation. Secondly, As those Frogs came unto Pharaoes Bed-chamber, and upon his Bed: So these Diabolicall Parasites, did creeep into our Kings bosome, with their Phariticall Calumny. Thirdly, Those Frogs did come upon all the people in Ægypt, throughout their Territories: And who is there in all our Kingdom, that have not beene infected by the contagion of their venenosive aspersions: they were a Nest of Wasps, which did Tyrannically sting the Kings loyal Subjects with their exacting impositions: They were a swarme of Vermine, which did pollute sincere purity, and like the Frogs of Ægypt, did over-creep the Land. They warmed themselves at other mens fires, and though the peoples fingers ends were a cold, by regard of their impious Project, yet they would alwayes remember to say with Mantuan Optimum est alienafrui pecunia. They sip’t of honest mens cups, and did distend their purses in their Bacchanalian ryot, for they drowned themselves in Bacchus Fountaine, while other men payd the reckoning. They did alwaies share with the Butler in his Box, yea they grew so fat and plump with damned Projects, that it was easier for Hercules to beate the Triple-headed Cerberous out of Hells Seygian Portali, then for us of late, to speake against these cursed Projectors, who abused the Triple Crowne. But (we thank the all-directing providence of the mighty and Almighty God) we have found the like successe with Hercules, and by the inflexible Justice of the Parliament, we shall with him, drag these Hell-hounds upon the earth, who did eradicate the well planted branch of Plenty. They were heretofore so Epidemically strict, that they would not bate us a pin in their exactions; they have worne a Vizard a long time: But a Vizard sayd I? Their pride was a sufficient Vizard, for it was no marvaile that no man else could know them, when they knew not themselves. But when the Parliament shall once unface these, they will prove as bad as any cards in the packe. They were Janus-like, and had two Cloakes to hide their knavery; and like the Pythagorean Monster, they did threaten to devoure the whole Commons at a mouth-full. In Ægypt the thirsty Dog could never lap of the River Nilus, but the Crocodile would assault him immediatly. Neither in our Land could any honest man, whom drie necessitie by compulsive coercion required to allay his sitiating thirst, sip at the odoriferous Spring of Bacchus, but incontinently he was assayled by these cursed Crocodiles, the rubbish of Babylon, Honesties Hangman, fomenters of Impietie, Iniquities prodigious Monsters, Plenties execrable Foes, Envies individuall Companions, detestable Enemies to loyall Subjects; and in a word, that I may fully paint them out, The Devills Journey-men. The Romans were never in more danger of the Sabines, than wee have beene of these pernicious members: the Sicilians never feared the Basilisk more, nor the Cretans the Minotaure neither the Athenians that pestiferous Serpent Epidaurus, than we have justly feared these wicked Dragons of implety. They are like the Grecian Horse, in the midst of Troy, under pretence of safety, but at length consumed the whole city: So these firebrands of iniquitie would have extirpated the flourishing plenty of the Land, but (thanks be to God and the righteous Parliament) they are now extinguished. For as a rotten member Ense recidendum est ne pars sincer a trahatur, ought to be cut off, least it infect, and contaminate the whole body; so ought these wicked members of the Common-wealth to be executed with the Sword of Iustice, who have already too farre polluted the body of the Realme. Tis a plausible assimulation which Hippocrates observeth, that in the body naturall, as it must be truely purged, before it can be truely sound: so likewise in the body politicke, unlesse these improbous malefactors be purged out, it can never be truly sound. Their very name Monopolers doth stigmatize them under the brand of knavery, which is derived from monois which signifies in English, Onely: so that Monopolers, are the Onely Polers of the people, which have abused them by their Projects: But now (alas poore men!) they are intruss’d and like to be whipp’d. Their very Projects themselves are set against them: Their Coles which they did aggerate are ready to consume them: The Butter, which before greased their pockets, now melts in their mouthes: The Sope scornes to be projected any longer, and will invert its first Letter S. into R. and become a Rope to them rather. The Salt is ready to pouder them to Tiburne: The Cards scorne that they should play the Knave any longer: The Pinnes could pin their Heads to the Gall-house, The Wine threatens to lay them dead——drunke: but hang them they are so crafty, that although they fall downe in a Wine-Seller, yet they know how to rise up agine in a Tobacco-Shop, but I hope before they rise there, they will first rise up at the Gall house: where I’le leave them——By these, and the like enormities have our Land beene too farre overspread, it hath lately flourished too luxuriously in impiety, which did accumulate such insupportable burthens to the weather-beaten Commons of this Realme, that they were almost everted. But thankes be to the all-disposig omnipotence of immortall God, who have alwayes preserved this Kingdome from innumerable evills, and have kept it as the apple of his eye. I say thankes be to his Supremacy, who among other evills have preserved us likewise from the Tyranny of these insulting Projectors. But we now solely depend upon the Parliaments exemplary piety and great Justice, of whom we beg with all humility, and with affectionate servency to the truth, doe supplicate that they would with expedition extinguish these cursed firebrands of the Land, who like Samsons Foxes have consumed the Lands and Possions of the Commons. Wherefore let every true hearted Subject enumerate his expresse thankefulnesse to Almigty God for the preservation of this Kingdome, and the multitude of his favours irrigated thereon with all alacritie.
A Thanksfullnesse to God for his Mercy towards this Kingdome:
VVE blesse & magnifie (great God!) thy Name
Who justly dost exenterate with shame
All Enemies to Thee, and us who dost
Preserve this Kingdome with thy favours most.
By Thee our base Monopolers doe fall
False Prelates, and false Papists in their Gall.
By Thee Projectors vanish, and by Thee
The Church has beene preserv’d from ’Popery.
By Thee our Canonists requoile, and turne
Their Innovations to a dolefull Urne.
By Thee all Pontificians dote deplore
Their fortune more diastruous and more.
Thus in our Hemisphere, while the bright Sunne
Desplayes his radiant splendor, and doe runne
Through the twelve Signes i’th’ Zodiacke, and then
Smileth upon the face of mortall men:
Thus while the Queene of night doe beautifie
Her selfe, and gilds the Star-bespangled Sky:
While liquid rivers doe returne againe
Wandring abroad into the greedy maine,
Yea, while our pious hearts remaine to be,
We yeeld a thankefull sacrifice to Thee.
And as we thanke Thee for thy Favours past,
So we doe supplicate a blessings last.
First, that Thou would’st extenerate all those
That are Monopolers, or other Foes.
And Then (oh!) then conduct the Church aright
For our Salvation and thy Heavenly Right.
That we may serve Thee, serving Thee we may
Rejoyce, rejoycing triumph, in that day:
Triumphing, then exult, exulting raise
Glory to Thee, and serve Thee all our Dayes.