98:  I Learn of London

A black, white and orange cat against a background of flames.There is little to tell of my first days, save that my unfriend Linkin friended me again.

There were none to hear him brag, else.

“The scents of my kitlinghood,” cried he, as we rode in.  “Can you not smell the river? And the smoke?”  He oped his mouth a little.  “And taste the cookshop wares?”

My nose had took so many smells my head was like to burst.  I hid my face in my paws, and kept my mouth shut.

I couldn’t shut my ears.  They were filled with such roarings and rumblings it seemed a great surly beast had me in its belly.

“Who does not love the place where he first oped his eyes?” arrkst Linkin. “Now all comes back to me.  ’Twas among London’s fields that I met a skoller who put me in his pocket and took me to his chamber so I might help him in his studies.” 

I oped mine eyes, but could see little through our basket.  No fields.  Nowt but the brown boot of the manservant who rode beside us, and the grey belly of his horse. 

Thus came we to our lodging, where the children fell upon us all.

My late uncle, who was reared in the schoolroom with our Earl and his lady sister, loved little children.  I do not.

The master looked in our basket and greeted Linkin.  Then he sayt I was a pretty little thing.  The children begged to see me.

I resolved to be civil.

But the mistress (may the Queen Cat of Heaven reward her) sayt that Linkin and I must rest after our journey.

We were brought to a high room and loosed from our basket.  I whipped to the window, but could see nowt but more windows.

A view through one latticed window at others.

We were served refreshments, and straw was laid in the empty hearth so we might ease ourselves.  Such nicety pleased me.  I’d seen gentlemen make water in a hearth, but – their legs being longer than ours – they care not whether ’tis empty or has fire in it.

That night Linkin was carried downstairs to bear the mistress and the master company while they sat late over their wine.  And what scandal he returned with!

Item:  The widow-mother of the outlaw brothers [the Danvers] that killed a man and fled to France will take a new husband, upon condition that her sons be pardoned.   

Linkin sayt, judicious, “If this be true, it makes mock of the law.  I could accept a pardon for a killing in their own defence.  But a pardon fetched from the marriage of their mother to a kinsman of Queen Puss?”

Item:  The Earl of Essex is so high in the Queen’s favour she agreed to receive his mother Lady Lester [Leicester], whom she hates.

But only once.

A richly dressed red-haired woman.
Lady Leicester, nee Lettice Knollys, (c1543-1634).  After the death of her first husband she married Queen Elizabeth’s long-term favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and was banished from Court. Her son, the Earl of Essex, tried to use his influence to have her allowed back, but Elizabeth was obdurate.

The mistress (in drink) sayt that Lord Lester has been dead nigh on ten years, Lady Lester has another husband, and old Puss should deport herself like a Queen, not a jealous kitchen wench. 

The master (in drink) arrkst, “Or why have a Queen?”

How joyed we were by such wicked words.  I longed to hear more with mine own ears, but it was many days before I was permitted to go about the house.

Then came the day when the window to the leads [roof] was oped so we could step out and take the sun.

“There before us,” sayt Linkin, very grand, “is the river.  The bridge lies eastward.”

He turned hisself about.  “Now see behind us Paws [St Paul’s], where all go to gather newes.  Most convenient.”

The sights Linkin and Tricks can see from the roof indicate that they’re in the fashionable precinct of Blackfriars or thereabouts. This excerpt from Claes Visscher’s Panorama of London shows the area from the south bank of the Thames.

“Does not our Earl have a fine house in London?” (I hoped to seek a place there.)

Linkin sayt, “It lies some ways from here.  And our Earl’s in Paris.  Rejoycing with those outlaw brothers, most like.”

“And where is Essex’ house?” I arrkst, thinking one earl’s house as good as another’s.

“I believe it may lie near.  Westward, where other great folks dwell.  Little dog Wattie oft goes abroad with the mistress, and knows the place that bears my name.  So he may also know where Essex dwells.”

I knew I would find a use for Wattie.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorLondon may have roared in Tricks’ sensitive ears, but it would probably seem quiet to us – even allowing for the sounds of church bells, street hawkers, carts and animals.  The population at the end of the 1500s has been estimated at 200,000 – 230,000, taking in not just the city of London itself, but also Westminster, the south bank of the Thames, and other neighbourhoods beyond the city walls.

The place with Linkin’s name is Lincoln’s Inn – probably where the master was studying law when he acquired Linkin.  I think Linkin is now about 13, so that would put the master in his mid-thirties.

Tricks’ late uncle Gib investigated the Danvers’ killing.  He went on to write an account of the Earl of Southampton’s part in helping Sir Charles and Sir Henry Danvers flee the country.

Their formidable mother Elizabeth, Lady Danvers, campaigned for them to be allowed to return without risk of execution.  She married Sir Edmund Carey, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth’s aunt Mary Boleyn, in 1598.


19 thoughts on “98:  I Learn of London

    • toutparmoi August 3, 2017 / 11:03 pm

      Thanks! Unlike her uncle, Tricks is no poet, but she’s a shrewd observer.


  1. claudiothecat August 4, 2017 / 12:24 am

    Am so looking forward to seeing London through Tricks’ eyes. She has a keen eye, I agree. And being such a shrewd and pretty little thing, she will surely have many a tale to tell. I wonder if there is a resident cat at St Pauls. London is such a rich landscape of people and places. I am very envious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 4, 2017 / 1:05 am

      St Pauls is sure to have a resident cat or two. It was such a clearing house for gossip, how could cats resist it? And if you want to have a little sniff around London, check out this website. It’s a work in progress, but a great guide. http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/map.htm

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 4, 2017 / 1:16 am

      I could spend hours on it. Even though the Great Fire of 1666 wiped out most of the city, the streets are pretty much all in the same place. Though some of them would have been unsafe for cats. Just so you know, Claudio.


  2. April Munday August 4, 2017 / 12:53 am

    I’m glad that she’s settling in and it won’t do her any harm to be in awe of London.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 4, 2017 / 12:58 am

      Let’s hope not. But I detect a whiff of republicanism in her current household. I hope (staunch monarchist that I am) she won’t be tainted.


    • April Munday August 4, 2017 / 1:17 am

      I think she knows her own mind well enough not to be persuaded and I doubt she’s for anyone other than herself. Having said that, she seems to be missing her uncle.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 4, 2017 / 1:50 am

      I think she may well be missing her uncle. Or maybe she’s missing Titchfield, Nero and the Cats’ Field? Her uncle Gib, taken from his mother at a very early age with little training in the art of being a cat, didn’t surprise me (overly) with his literacy. But Tricks was reared to be a self-sufficient barn cat before she was educated by her uncle. Incidentally, her writing is clearer and her spelling much better than his. But I have a (human) sense of something lacking…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. colonialist August 4, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    It is good that Linkin again has an audience the not-self-deprecating utterances. The politics of the day make all of ours seem straightforward.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dornahainds August 6, 2017 / 8:59 am

    I am not surprised that even in the Past, the Wealthy and or Well-Connected much as it is today’, can still evade Justice through means of marriage of Right or Better family…

    Another Great addition to your story! 😎😎😎🥀🥀🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 6, 2017 / 10:39 am

      Probably even more so in the past. Though sometimes I wonder if the percentage of the population that could get away with criminal behaviour was the same as it is today.


  5. Robyn Haynes August 7, 2017 / 1:19 pm

    What was Lady Danvers leverage? Who gained from her marriage besides her sons?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 8, 2017 / 11:15 am

      There’s an account of Lady Danvers’ life on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Danvers. I assume the death of her first husband, Sir John Danvers, left her a wealthy widow. That, and her own network of familial connections, would have made her a good catch.

      John Aubrey (1626-1697), who’s quoted in the Wikipedia entry, left detailed notes on the Danvers family in his “Brief Lives”. He says an R. Danvers was his great-grandfather. I can’t figure out the precise connection, but Aubrey is recording family history.

      That’s not necessarily reliable, but his description of Lady Danvers is interesting. When he describes her as “Italian”, I assume he means a scholar of Italian – very fashionable in her day. The reason for her marriage also pops up in a letter of Rowland Whyte’s written in early March 1598. Hot gossip of the day.


  6. chattykerry August 9, 2017 / 4:34 am

    Your writing allowed me to imagine the smells of London at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

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