48:  I am Disquieted

I passed summer in the garden with my new friends.  I believe they’re the gardener’s kits.  They made garlands of daisies to hang about my neck, and I rode in the little cart.  Good sport for all.

At the Cats’ Field I heard newes but, true to my vow, I told no tales.

None arrkst me to. (Can you credit it?)

I will never cast another pearl before such swine.  

A close-up of a ginger and white cat meowing.

At our last assembly, Linkin the Law Cat sayt that his master has come from the city with his wife and kits, and all the household were joyed to see them.

They were in health, but there is sickness in London.

There has long been pestered [crowded-together] houses in the city.  And many folk from strange lands, and ships too.

All are known to cause sickness, but Linkin’s master fears this may prove to be the worst in his lifetime.

A collection of items on a table which demonstrate the transience of life: a candle, a letter, a quill pen, a pocket watch, a plucked flower, and a human skull.
– by Pieter Claesz (c1597-1660). Held in the Franz Hals Museum.

Some arrkst the Mad Cat if the pestilence were sent by the Queen Cat of Heaven to punish those who abuse us poor cats and all Creation.

The Mad Cat sayt that dreadful day is yet to come.

To cheer all I gave newes from my household, with embellishments.

Viz. that Her Majestie – she the common sort call Queen Puss [Bess] – having ate all there was in her own house, set forth to devour other folks’ food.  As is her custom.

I sayt, “Small wonder that so many of her friends have given up the ghost.  Our Countess’s old father never has been well since the Queen was at his house last year.”

“The ghost?  What ghost?” came a call.  And then, “May we hear a tale of ghosts?”

I could scarce believe mine ears.  Now the lackwits want a tale from me?

“No!” I cried.

But even as I spake, the poetick maggot in my head whispered a ghostly word to me.  That word was: Revenge.

I saw Nero prick his ears, too.  What might his maggot have said of ghosts?

To hush my maggot, Nero, and all, I told how Her Majestie had been entertained in the learned town of Ox-Foot [Oxford].  Our Earl was in her company.

The scholars made many speeches in Greek and Latin, and Her Majestie replied in like manner.  And she called for a stool so old Lord Purrlie [Burghley] might sit, he being too lame to stand whilst she spake.

He’s like to die soon.

I do not doubt that, with so many rich folks in Ox-foot, starveling poets came creeping ghost-like after them, singing their praises in hopes of a reward.

Not long after our assembly, I had a horrid thought.  Her Majestie might come here again. Would my lord be fool enough to invite her?  There has been much bustle about the house and yard, as happened before.

And then I saw a wash-wench [laundry maid] wearing a riband.  One that was stole from my basket when first I came hither.

I kept my countenance, though I was disquieted.  I stepped into the garden to find a place of safety whence I might watch all.

Instead, I heared a whisper, “There he is!”

And what do I see but my three little playfellows, all as wary as I.  Two had the gardener’s cart, and one a wreath of ivy.

What happened after, I shall set down in my next little book.

Elizabeth, gorgeously dressed, seated with her hand on a globe, and two panels behind her - one of ships on a calm sea, the other of shipwrecks.
The image of power.  Elizabeth at her most regal, in the portrait to commemorate the defeat of the Armada in 1588. The dark panel behind her left shoulder shows the wrecking of the Spanish ships in heavy seas. Or, as the Mad Cat had it, by the Queen Cat of Heaven lashing her tail.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorQueen Elizabeth and her court were in Oxford in late September 1592.  Gib’s dark remarks about her dead friends have a grain of truth in them.

Elizabeth had reached that melancholy time of life when many of her oldest and most trusted companions and advisers were dying.  However, Lord Burghley, 72 at the time of the Oxford visit, lived until 1598.

The young courtiers who surrounded the Queen were probably wondering when she too would die.  Bewigged, bejewelled, and caked with make-up, to them she must have seemed (at 59) ancient.

The Oxford locals, kept some way off, were probably dazzled.

And as for Gib’s “starveling poets”: in his biography of the Earl of Southampton, G P V Akrigg refers to a poem in Latin by John Sanford who describes him at Oxford as “…a lord of lofty line whom rich Southampton claims…as a great hero.  There was present no one more comely, no young man more outstanding in learning, though his mouth scarcely yet blooms with tender down.”

From this we may assume that Gib’s young Earl, almost 19, was what we would call a late developer.  But, poets being what they are, that’s all we can believe.

I couldn’t track down an online copy of the poem, but I’d be interested in what it had to say about the 26 year old Earl of Essex.  As Elizabeth’s favourite nobleman, he was the one to curry favour with.


25 thoughts on “48:  I am Disquieted

  1. jeneanebehmeswritings March 31, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    I absolutely love your cat tales that are such a wonderful blend of history with the inimitable “catittudes” of your furry bunch of characters. This is another winner!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Soul Gifts March 31, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    Cattitudes is a wonderful word to describe the personality and arrogance 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. April Munday April 1, 2016 / 12:20 am

    I always smile when I see another post from Gib in my Reader, but I’m a bit anxious, now, about what the gardener’s kits will get up to with him. He’s quite elderly himself, so I hope they’re gentle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 8:55 am

      He’s placid (except when some lackwit cat or person has slighted him), but from comments he’s made I think he’s also large. I’m sure he’ll look after himself!

      Liked by 2 people

    • April Munday April 1, 2016 / 9:21 am

      That’s a relief. I always imagine that he’s quite small, especially compared to his sister.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 9:37 am

      He would have benefited, as comfortably-off Elizabethans did, from always having had enough to eat. So while on average cats would have been smaller (particularly in the cities), Gib probably achieved a suitably aristocratic length.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wade April 1, 2016 / 3:00 am

    Ah, good old Ox-Foot. No other place like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mick Canning April 1, 2016 / 8:56 am

    I shall make for Ox-foot. These rich folks may shew pity on a starveling poet such as myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 9:03 am

      Smart move, Mick. Sometimes I think the pursuit of rich folks may have proved more rewarding than the pursuit of literary grants.

      Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 9:09 am

      Don’t ask me, I’ve never seen one. I believe there’s such a thing as an application form. A lot less fun to write than a dedication.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rachel McAlpine April 1, 2016 / 9:50 am

      I had great success with one Grant. I married it, and I had several poetry collections published before the next applicant deposed me. But if you marry a grant, I should warn you that there is often a hefty price to pay in household chores and child-care.

      Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 10:16 am

      Marrying a grant? Oh, that’s taking the concept of Writer-in-Residence a little too far. Though, in Gib’s day, some rich folks were kind enough to offer places in their households to starveling poets. It may have been Ben Jonson who said that the in-house poet didn’t get such good food to eat as some other members of the household did; I must check this out. Gib, of course, is likely to have said the same.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Rachel McAlpine April 1, 2016 / 10:20 am

      When you marry a grant, you have to cook the food for all the household. So think twice.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Robyn Haynes April 1, 2016 / 11:27 am

      I love it! Talk about being married to your work. I hope you warned the next applicant what she was in for.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Robyn Haynes April 1, 2016 / 11:30 am

    Another great tale in the Gib story Denise.

    Mmm, what say you is the collective noun for tales/tails? A wag? An entertainment?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2016 / 11:49 am

      This could be fun. A tallery? (Rhymes with gallery.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mitchteemley April 8, 2016 / 10:13 am

    Ah, the poetick maggot, indeed. Mine is incessant unquiet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 8, 2016 / 12:16 pm

      Yes, they whisper away no matter how hard you try to ignore them.


  8. Hemangini April 21, 2016 / 12:47 am

    I love your blog name and this cat tale is amazing. I am a history buff and this is so interesting… Love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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