46:  New Friends, and a Preaching

Crow with NestThis morning I found new friends, though not of the kind that would love a deep-brained sonnet.  I was on the path, watching some birds at their nest-building (though the trees scarce have leaves) when three children came to me. 

They were of the common sort, and I know not whether they were girls or boys.  All were dressed in coats, and all had the same scents.

One fetched a little cart that the gardeners use, and they sat me in it so I might ride about the walks.  Most pleasant.

A man who was at his work laughed and called, “That’s our Earl’s old Gib.  You have a care with him!  Else his lordship will cut your hands off.”

He spake in jest, but they swore they would be careful. 

When I tired of my new playfellows, I returned to my house and counted the winters I’ve seen.  They came to eleven, I think.  That means I am past the noon-tide of my life, for I never knowed a cat that saw more winters than he had claws.  Small wonder that some think I’m old.

A cat standing on a brick wall, staring at the moon.
The Mad Cat

The Mad Cat has seen more winters than I, though he’s forgot how many.  He forgets many things.

But he has not forgot the goodly book his mistress read to her household this winter, because at our first assembly this year he rose up to preach against the wickedness in this world.

He spake against the baiting of bears.  He sayt it was a filthie stinking game.

A black cat looking excited
Nero the Sea Cat

None of us had seen a bear.  Some arrkst where they were baited.

Nero leapt up to say that a bear was a monstrous hairy beast with great teeth and claws.  They were baited with dogs as bulls are.  Except a bear can do great hurt to a dog.

“Good,” came a call.  “I would friend a bear.”

That set the Mad Cat off.  He sayt that some men (gentlemen, they call theirselves) keep a dozen or a score of mastiff-dogs to fight with bears.  “They bet twenty, forty, or even an hundred pounds on such devil’s work.  Who can take pleasure in seeing poor creatures hurt each other?”

“Us cats,” came a call.

(Oh, how some love to bait the Mad Cat.)

“No, friends,” sayt he. “Bears and dogs may be evil to us, yet they are good creatures in theirselves, and they was made to set forth the glory of our Creator.  None should abuse them.  Love me, love my dog is a common saying.”

(I believe the Mad Cat’s mistress keeps a dog, who has no malice in him.)

“Who loves dogs?” called a stone-cat.  “Not I.  Let bears kill them all.”

Some sayt there was dogs in their households who were their friends.  Others sayt they hated dogs, and the words should be: Love me, love my cat.

A ginger and white cat in profile.
Linkin the Law Cat

“Be that as it may,” sayt Linkin, most judicious, “any who abuses the creatures of this earth abuses our Creator.”

“The Queen Cat of Heaven!” came a call.  “Is she offended?”

“She is much offended,” sayt the Mad Cat.  And he told of wicked folks watching a bloodie spectacle of this sort.  The scaffoldings they sat upon all fell down, and many were killed or hurt.  That was her judgement upon them.

Next, he spake against hunting.

“How do we live, if we may not hunt?” called my sister.  “How will I feed my kits?”

“Friend,” sayt the Mad Cat, “there’s no sin in hunting for your food, or to keep your household free of vermin.  But there are men and women who hunt for the joy of shedding blood.”

Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He's about to eat the apple. The cat at Eve's feet may be about to kill the mouse at his.
Albrecht Dürer’s The Fall of Man

He told us to remember the garden where all dwelt most peaceable when this world was new made.

Then the first man and the first woman were disobedient, and we was cast out of the garden with them.

We suffered for their sin.  Therefore they should pity us, not kill us for mere pleasure.  That was not lawful.

“So I believe,” sayt Linkin. “But I know of no law writ by man that says so.”

“I know what I know,” sayt the Mad Cat.  “The day is nigh when men and women who care nowt for Creation will be judged.  I may not see it in my lifetime, you may not see it in yours.  But it will come, believe me.”

A cat looking startled, with ears high and eyes slightly squinting.Many sayt that they hoped they would live long enough to see a bear.

And a bloodie spectacle.  And wicked folks all squashed when their seats fell down.

From a place of safety, where none could do us harm.

Editor's Note. Small image of a quill pen.The Mad Cat’s mistress has been reading Philip Stubbes’ Anatomie of Abuses to her household.  It consists of lively diatribes against Elizabethans behaving badly, the customs and pastimes that led to bad behaviour, and an attack on extravagant fashions.  The fact that much bad behaviour took place on the Sabbath made it even worse.

First published in 1583, the Anatomie was a bestseller.  Stubbes followed up with a second volume revealing the “corruptions” in various Elizabethan trades and professions.  The Mad Cat’s mistress probably read that to her household as well, but she’s sure to have skipped his attacks on lawyers.  Her son (and Linkin’s master) was one.


22 thoughts on “46:  New Friends, and a Preaching

  1. Soul Gifts March 17, 2016 / 11:14 pm

    Well not a lot has changed in the last few hundred years it seems 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi March 18, 2016 / 1:25 pm

      A lot hasn’t! Though at least animals have some legal protection in many parts of the world.

      And while nowadays we’re not too fussed about the theatre, May Poles, and make-up, many of Stubbes’ targets are still regularly attacked in the press. Drunkenness, gambling, the lack of provision for the poor and aged, “sturdy beggars” i.e. people capable of working but who won’t, and people with no money marrying too young and adding to the pool of beggars…

      The list goes on. And of course when it comes to youngsters behaving badly, Stubbes said that parents were to blame.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Soul Gifts March 18, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      Wise cat 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Claudio LeChat March 17, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    Am very taken with the line: I never knowed a cat that saw more winters than he had claws; and I am pleased to see that the cats are taking a moral stand against blood sport, altho I am looking forward to reading more of Gib’s deep-brained sonnet that he so tantalising began in the last post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 18, 2016 / 1:28 pm

      I fear Gib may have passed his most recent winter snoozing by the fire, rather than pushing on with his sonnet!


  3. April Munday March 18, 2016 / 12:10 am

    Stubbes’ book sounds like a good read. Was he a Puritan?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 18, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      He’s usually described as a Puritan nowadays, and is most often quoted for his scathing attacks on the theatre and theatre-goers, and his detailed accounts of Elizabethan fashions. But, like almost all “middling or lower sort” writers of the time, little is known about him. He’s certainly a staunch Protestant, but he’s careful to say nothing that would give serious offence to the religious/political establishment. That might be because it could have prevented his work from being licensed for publication. And yes – he’s well worth reading, though I like to dip into his books by topic, rather than try cover-to-cover.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday March 18, 2016 / 7:03 pm

      Worth pursuing then. I have some books by some 17th century Puritans and they tend to be very long and quite hard-going. They’really probably great character builders.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 18, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      Stubbes can be very entertaining, which probably accounts for the success of the “Anatomie”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday March 19, 2016 / 12:46 am

      It’s very expensive on amazon, but it looks as if there’s a free version somewhere, which I shall investigate when I get home tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 19, 2016 / 8:27 am

      If you have a Google account you can download it as a free e-book. I downloaded a replica of the first (1583) edition. (It went through several editions.) There are also e-versions available that have been edited and annotated by the Shakespearean scholar Frederick J Furnivall on the Internet Archive. Try this link for Vol II – the Display of Corruptions.
      https://archive.org/stream/phillipstubbescorru00stubuoft#page/n0/mode/2up. Furnivall’s edition of Vol I is there as well (and is also available on Google Books), but has a lot of extra material and some of The Anatomy itself seems to be missing. But his annotations do make for easy browsing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday March 19, 2016 / 11:12 am

      Thank you. I’ve downloaded it from the Archive. That will be something interesting to read on the train up to London next week.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wade March 18, 2016 / 12:26 am

    I too hope that I might live long enough to see a bear!

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi March 18, 2016 / 1:32 pm

      I hope you will (at a safe distance) on one of your wilderness adventures. Though I understand they tend to scoot off when they hear us coming.


  5. Robyn Haynes March 19, 2016 / 4:11 pm

    Children still like to push cats in prams or carts. Not much changes there. I remember dressing my cat up in doll’s clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 19, 2016 / 4:28 pm

      I used to dress a very placid cat we had in old baby clothes and wheel him about in a pram! He never complained. And some cats seem to enjoy riding in carts or wheelbarrows, and even on furniture when it’s being moved around the house.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes March 19, 2016 / 4:34 pm

      Some of the old ways of having fun still persist don’t they? Granddaughter likes to do the same with her dog. I think cats are far more forgiving though.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 22, 2016 / 7:01 pm

      They were. The cats often make fun of the Mad Cat in the same way that people made fun of puritans. However (IMHO), puritans have had a bad press. Yes, they could be killjoys, and there was an OTT fringe. But I suspect that many nowadays who are dismissive of “puritans” – whatever they mean by that – owe some of their thinking to them.


  6. Robyn Haynes April 14, 2017 / 6:10 pm

    So prophetic: “I know what I know,” sayt the Mad Cat. “The day is nigh when men and women who care nowt for creation will be judged. I may not see it in my lifetime, you may not see it in yours. But it will come, believe me.”

    Liked by 1 person

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