A forgotten poet and the limits of the internet

This evening I was reading an atheist forum.  Most of them were insane, chattering how Jesus never existed, never walked on earth, and — so often had they told themselves the lie — that there was no evidence whatever that he had.  One, however, much reviled by the rest, continued to protest that this was nonsense, that no sensible person doubted that Jesus had walked the earth, and that to affirm otherwise was to bring atheism into disrepute.  His reward was a hail of mockery.  Today he stands — but for how long?

I found myself murmuring an adage from somewhere:

Bad company is a disease;
He who lies with dogs, shall rise with fleas.

And then naturally I wondered who said it.  It was obviously old, but I was not sure that I had remembered it correctly. 

A Google search promptly attributed it to someone called Benjamin Franklin, some early American.  But this could not right, I felt sure.  It had a Restoration tang to it, I thought.

And so it does.  It turns out to be the work of a poet named Rowland Watkyns, who in 1662 published a volume of verse under the title Flamma sine fumo.   After much difficulty I found a copy here, in strange format.  I had not misremembered too badly:

Bad Company is a disease;
Who lies with Dogs,  shall rise with fleas .

Watkyns, I think, was a Welsh clergyman (1616-1664), dispossessed under Cromwell but restored by Charles II.  It is remarkably hard to discover much about him using Google.  It is a reminder, perhaps, of what is NOT online.  Eventually I found this brief biography.


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