1:  I Begin a True Relation of My Life

Torn Page-from painting by Jan de HeemI have been very dumpish and full of discontentments since my little lord was took and I was brought to this strange house.

Yesterday I heared one say to the Countess, “Your ladyship, that Gib has been at the books again.  Look!  He has pulled down those and clawed a page from this.”

Her ladyship sighed and sayt, “When next I see him I shall tell him to have a care, and return them to the shelves.”

The man made no answer.  He thinks her a fool.  But after she had quit the book room he sayt, “If I see that Gib, I’ll sink him in the river and tell all he ran away.”

Whither would I run?  In the deeps of winter?  I cannot feed myself, for I was took from my mother too soon to learn.  I have no friends to help me. 

Those here who should be my friends give me evil looks, and some have offered to fight me.

But always I turn away, meek-eyed, keeping my ears pricked and my coat flat.  (I mean the coat I was born with, not the coat my lord gave me).  That shows I take no offence and will give none.

Once I have my proper place in this household it may be otherwise.  We shall see.

Meantime, rather than read her ladyship’s books, I thought it meet that I should make some little books of mine own and set down a true relation of my life so far.

I have some pens put by.  (I cannot cut them for myself.)  So when that bloodie knave who wished to drown me was gone, I came from my hiding place among the books and made free with his ink and paper.

Writ this foul night by me, Gib.

A Shelf of Books, from a painting by Barthelemy d'EyckP.S.  After that bloodie knave went about his business, I raised my tail and set my mark on all the books that I could reach.

That will make him know his place.

And in my next little book I shall tell of my birth and bringing up, and of how I made my lord’s akwayntance.

Toutparmoi - Editor's NoteThere’s no date or place name on the original document, but events related in subsequent papers indicate that it was probably written at Cowdray House in West Sussex around December/January 1581/82.

The writer signs himself Gib, written as Kip in the original.  (See About These Posts for a comment on his use of consonants.)  Later in the papers there are indications that he was named Bevis after the legendary hero Bevis of Southampton.  However, Gib is the name he uses so I’ve stuck with it.

According to the OED, Gib (short for Gilbert) was a popular name for cats, leading to the use of “gib” to mean a cat, especially a male cat and later, a castrated one.


9 thoughts on “1:  I Begin a True Relation of My Life

  1. Shafali July 19, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    I can imagine the scene, Gib. The bloody knave must’ve not had a clue of who might’ve marked his books while he was gone about his business, but what if he finds out who did it? Would you not become a marked cat then, Gib?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. honestme363 August 10, 2015 / 8:35 am

    Seems I have some catching up to do with Gib. I am sure I will love the perspective he will offer ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 10, 2015 / 8:44 am

      Thanks! He has his own view of the world, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfurling August 31, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    ‘Mmmm, intriguing concept,’ she said (stroking her whiskers). Though not particularly a cat enthusiast, this character could change her perceptions.
    She is looking forward to reading the other posts.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Soul Gifts December 31, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    I look forward to following the scent of your story Gib 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. godschildshari February 19, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    My feline friend, the Lady Emma and I look look forward with eager anticipation to future perusals of the cunning Gib’s machinations and memoirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 19, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad the Lady Emma appreciates Gib’s efforts.


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