I am a your humble servant Jacob Bauthumley, and I was once, I believe, a Leicestershire shoemaker, recruited into Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. I am bewildered by your time.
Your world, too, is like a ship unmoored, drifting in a tempest, while the Beast roams free; neither does any single man know how to detain it, save the people united against the powers of this earth.
I know not, truly, how I came to be here. Those people that call themselves Quakers do I recognise as my quietist kin, and even some of the lineaments of this fair city of Norwich are familar, but there is much that is eccentric, nay, irrevocably lunatic in the disposition of your world. I fear I shall not adapt to your ways, but no matter. It is a mad world, my masters, and I shall cognise it natheless!
This I wrote in an world equally unmoored (I wear a stud in the tongue from those times, after submitting to an injurious procedures of the courts when my tongue was bored clean through for the printing of religious sedition, and I am surprised to find here that there are others who do the same), long ago, in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and fifty:
“All the creatures in the world…are but one entire being…Not the least flower or herb in the field but there is the divine being by which it is that which it is; and as that departs out of it, so it comes to nothing, and so it is today clothed by God, and tomorrow cast into the oven…God as really and substantially dwells in the flesh of other men and creatures as well as in the man Christ, in man and beast, fish and fowl, and in every green thing, from the highest cedar to the ivy on the wall, in dog, cat, chair, stool…in this tobacco pipe..he is me and I am him.”
Thus do I cleave to the realisation that, as all is one, I am as good as any man, or woman also, for God is in all, and animates all. The equalitie of beings thus given of God, I hold as a consequence that all should be held in common, and that there should be no great, nor lowly in the land, for some now have too much, and some none at all.
Know this: the penury of the poor is consequential upon the cupidity of the rich. Know this also: that though you have an immortal soule, yet there no heaven and no hell save here on earth: the priests are knaves for saying otherwise, and owre new minted Ranter tongue shall whip and drive these imposters from the churches, for there is no church, no temple, but the body wherein you dwell a space. Neither is there any sinne or damnation, for we have looked for it in codpieces, and found there none, for all are holy, and all is holy.
I and my fellow Ranters, being of the Ranting temper and informed with the breath of the master Jesus, believe all shall be levelled, yea, even the hills and the mountains, as my friend Abiezer Coppe writes, and the world made new; which we call Jerusalem, though some now call it communism: it is the same.
We who dwell in the body of Jesus, for Jesus is our body, are walking hand in hand with owre womenfolk to the Promised Land, where none shall want, where virtue shall reign among men, and the bankers and Tories of whatever cloth shall be cast down to work upon the land and picke stones from the soil.