130:  I Meet a Saucie Poet

It grieves me now that I never kept a diurnal as my uncle did.  I’ve forgot much that I saw and did in those glorious days of discontent. 

But I well recall how sour Linkin was the winter Essex was kept captive.

One evening he arrkst me how many names I had.

I, suspecting nowt, sayt, “I was first called Pretty Puss for my stella beauty.  To that I added Tricks for my tricksie nature.”

A fluffy black, white and ginger cat against the night sky.
Tricks – a stellar beauty.

“Then may I propose another?” arrkst he.  “Wen-eye.”

(Or so I thought he sayt.)

Wen-eye?  Mine eyes are very fine.  Our Earl hisself praised them as he toyed with me, saying, “In colour black why wraps she beams so bright?”

Fair words, though all know a cat’s black eyes mean mischief.  He kept his swift fingers well clear of my swift claws.

So I paid Linkin no heed.  Instead, I sayt, “When I was last in Essex House – ”

He looked smug, and ’twas then I took his meaning.

But I continued smooth, “– a merry gentleman, fresh from Ireland, visited.  This gentleman (his name is Jack) had dined with the arch-rebel Tire-Own [Tyrone].”

That made Linkin prick his ears.

“’Tis a wonder this Jack’s at liberty,” sayt I.  “When he went to see Queen Puss she threatened to imprison him.  Saucie Jack sayt he’d just come from her land-service, and hoped not to serve in her fleet. [I.e. the Fleet Prison].  She bade him begone to the country.

“Tire-Own had received Jack most courteous.  He sayt he was sorry he didn’t recall meeting him years past in London, but the troubles had made him forget almost all his friends.”  

“Tire-Own spake a true word there,” sayt Linkin.

A plump, round-faced, ginger and white cat.
Linkin.  Law cat, Member of Parlement, chief of the Irish Committy, now turned sour.

“Jack talked with Tire-Own’s sons.  Goodly boys both, with freckled faces.  Very cheerful.  They were dressed in velvet and gold lace like the sons of an English lord.

“Jack gave a book he’d writ to the boys’ tutors.  They showed it to Tire-Own, who commanded Jack to read a little of it.  And he liked what he heard so well he swore he’d have his sons read it to him entire.

“Jack sayt nowt of what meats were served at dinner.  Onlie that Tyrone drank to the health of Lord Essex.  They sat ’neath the sky on fern forms and ate off fern tables, like unto the picture I saw.” 

The picture Tricks saw (though the Earl of Tyrone’s alfresco dinner would have been far more dignified):  An Irish lord at dinner,  from John Derrick’s satirical work ‘An Image of Ireland’.

“Tire-Own was attended by boys who had neither shirts nor whiskers.  Jack sayt they ran hither and yon in the frost to do his bidding, wading through water like willing spannels [spaniels].”

Little dog Wattie, who was earing my talk, beat his tail on the floor at these words.

So I sayt to him, “The day I see you cast yourself into chill waters I’ll know the world’s run mad.”

To Linkin I sayt, “Then Jack bade us all farewell and fled away to his house in the country, where he sayt his beloved wife, his dear kits, his old jerkin and his galoshes all await him.”

A man and woman in full Elizabethan dress with impressively large white ruffs.
John Harington with his wife Mary Rogers – a portrait attributed to Hieronymus Custodis.

Linkin sayt, “A pretty tale.  But I’ve heard that Tire-Own took to calling hisself Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  Then he claimed he trusted Essex alone, and sayt that now he’s locked up for no good cause he could brake the truce.”

Suttle.  I believe Tire-Own to be an Irish cat who used witchery to become a rebel Earl. 

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorOh, happy Jack!  The chance to impress an arch-rebel doesn’t come to many writers.

Fortunately, Queen Puss had a soft spot for Sir John Harington (1561-1612), who got away with a lot by being funny.  

This time he’d doubly offended her.  Not only had he fraternised with Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, he’d accepted a knighthood from the Earl of Essex.  One London gossip referred to him as Sir Ajax Harington, from the title of his book – not the one he presented to the Earl of Tyrone, but the one that so amused the cats of Titchfield – about the merits and design of a water-closet.  

Sir John seems to have had the knack of making the most of any situation.  He’d gone to Ireland as commander of a troop of horse, initially under the short-lived Generalship of the Earl of Southampton.

Fortune favoured him.  He wasn’t wounded and didn’t get sick, unlike people all around him.  He said all he’d learnt in Ireland justified more than half of what he’d spent getting there: he could now use military jargon with the best of them.  Knowing words like “counterscarp” and “casemate” always comes in handy.

He liked the Irish (mostly) though he commented that Irish soldiers he saw – those serving with the Queen’s army – were much given to whoredom with ill-favoured women.

After the Earl of Essex dashed back to England, ongoing discussions regarding the truce were conducted by the diplomat Sir William Warren.

Sir John, unable to get a passage home because the ships were full of sick soldiers and the Earl of Essex’s horses, accompanied Sir William to a meeting with the Earl of Tyrone.  He took with him a copy of his English translation of Ludovico Ariosto’s entertaining epic romance Orlando Furioso.

I’ve only got Tricks’ word for Sir John’s visit to Essex House after his interview with the Queen and before he went home to Kelston (not far from the city of Bath), but I’m happy to believe her.  I think he’d have found it impossible not to look in.


27 thoughts on “130:  I Meet a Saucie Poet

    • toutparmoi March 29, 2018 / 8:36 pm

      It does. People will forgive you almost anything if you can make them laugh. Incidentally, is there an arch-rebel (past or present) you would like to impress?

      Dare I confess to once having had a soft spot for Fidel Castro?

      Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy March 29, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      I never had a problem with Fidel Castro. As for an arch-rebel I’d like to impress. Hmm? It would have to be Paul Robeson.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. April Munday March 29, 2018 / 11:07 pm

    Sir John sounds like a lot of fun, if somewhat irritating. I’m not surprised he wanted to get away from London; he could probably smell treason in the air.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 6:50 am

      I wish I had time to read more by him. He’s certainly entertaining, and a shrewd observer. His marriage is said to have been a very happy one, so going (or being sent) home to Mall – as he called his wife – and the kids would have been no hardship.

      Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 7:12 am

      P.S. I forgot to ask. Is there an arch-rebel you’d have liked to impress?


    • April Munday March 30, 2018 / 7:22 am

      I don’t think so. I don’t tend to go for bad boys. Wyclife, perhaps, if you consider him a rebel.


    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 7:28 am

      Wyclife’s definitely in. Some of the world’s great rebels are regarded as very good boys or girls – even if they weren’t at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Monica Graff March 30, 2018 / 3:16 am

    Yes, it’s all about the charm … and those mischievous black eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 7:58 am

      On the matter of charm, I can’t help wondering whether Tyrone was really impressed by Sir John’s book, or just turning on his own brand of charm. But anyways, is there an arch-rebel you’d like to have impressed?

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 8:51 am

      Impressing a cat takes stickability. If at first you don’t succeed…

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 7:08 am

      Yes – a close fitting jacket. They could be made out of leather, wool, or even velvet.
      Now, do you have an arch-rebel, past or present, good or bad, that you’d like to impress with your writing?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel McAlpine March 30, 2018 / 9:58 am

    I’m with Monica: if I could impress my cat that would impress me. But as a poet, I’m now drumming up exotic ways to extend my vocab… Any suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 10:41 am

      Mmm… I’m working on it. I don’t think going on campaign would serve your purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dornahainds March 30, 2018 / 11:06 am

    What is the world without a Fool or two that provide much Entertainment.. 😎🥀😎🥀😎🥀😎🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 11:16 am

      True. Some people are just natural-born entertainers.


  5. larrypaulbrown March 30, 2018 / 3:45 pm

    John Lennon. Because our corrupt government hated him was enough reason for me to love the man and his music. The lyrics to “Imagine” could be the credo for world peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 30, 2018 / 4:48 pm

      A good choice. I always liked his song Working Class Hero.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. chattykerry April 1, 2018 / 6:51 am

    I love to see a cat’s eyes go black – something wicked this way comes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kidsofthe50sand60s April 1, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    I love the story, love the historical footnotes and I really enjoy reading the chat which follows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 1, 2018 / 10:47 pm

      Can you think of any rebel you’d like to impress?


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