The Domination of Phoenixes

Three true negative statements:

1. The 1780 text of The Pleasant History of Thomas Hickathrift ends with a poem, spoken by Tom, running in part:

My Friends while I have Strength to stand,
Most manfully I will pursue
All Dangers, till I clear this Land,
Of Lions, Bears, and Tygers too…

Since “this land” is Kent, England, you will perceive that Tom succeeded in his quest.

2. Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in the thirteenth century about the History and Topography of Ireland, says many things that are dubious; he claims, for example, that in Ireland “thunder does not frighten, nor lightning terrify one. No cataracts rush down upon one. No earthquakes swallow one.” (This is the Penguin translation.)  We can all agree that he is correct in one point, though: “Ireland,” he says, “has no dragons.”

3. Right at the beginning of Journey to the West (Jenner translation), one monkey brags about how free monkeys are, claiming to be “infinitely lucky” because: “We are spared the rule of unicorns, the domination of phoenixes, and the restraints of human kings.” Two thirds of these forms of oppression are not forms I had hitherto been worried about.

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