133:  Bristling Up

As spring drew nigh, all were fightsome.  Mine own humours were not the best.

I’d hoped for newes that Mr Secretary had commanded Snakes-Purr’s paw be cut off for writing scandalous verses, but none came.

Instead, the scandal was a picture of the Earl of Essex that called him Virtue’s honour, God’s elected, Truth’s beloved, Heaven’s affected, and other strange names.  Printed by some idle fool with more ink than brain.  It did nowt but cause trouble.

An engraving of the Earl of Essex on horseback, with sketches of his military sites in the background: Cadiz, the Azores, Ireland.
The picture that stole Tricks’ thunder.

Linkin made another report to our parlement.  Not onlie was he chief of the Irish Committy, he was now the Essex Committy.   He gave out my newes from Essex House to the admirations of all.

Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy.

Item:  Lord Mountjoy (he that’s husband in all but name to Pretty Penny) was chosen to go to Ireland as the new Lord Deputie.

He sayt, No.  Her Majestie sayt, Yes.

Item:  None knew when Essex would be set free.  Or when his friends could visit him.

The Lady Rich (she whom I call Pretty Penny) wearied of offering gifts to Her Majestie and getting nowt in return.  She bristled up and writ to her most fierce.

She sayt what pitie it were that her brother’s enemies should tell lies and triumph over him.  And much more besides.

(Applauds for the fightsome Pretty Penny.)

Then Linkin told how Lord Grey had bristled up and writ to our Earl offering to fight him.  Grey sayt he wished to redress the wrong he’d received when they was last in Ireland.

Our Earl sayt he were under no obligation to fight because the matter arose from a command he’d given to one lower in the army than hisself.  But he was willing.

Many cats screeched, joyed by talk of fights.

Paws called for order, and bade Linkin end his report.

Linkin sayt in haste that they’d not fought yet.  Our Earl could choose the place, and he’d sayt it must be out of England.  In Ireland, or in France.

Paws offered thanks to Linkin.  (No word to me, a mere spectator at this show.)

As we came away Picker and Stealer crept after us.

One whispered, “Has your Earl turned coward?”

“What mean you?” I arrkst.  “He hopes for the Queen’s permission to return to Ireland.  A graveyard for our men.”

“We hear tell that this time ’twill be a graveyard for the Irishes,” sayt Picker.  “But why won’t your Earl fight Lord Grey here?”

“It’s contrarie to the law,” sayt Linkin.

An upper body portrait of young woman with a thoughtful expression wearing her hair loose. She's informally dressed in a robe with a low neckline.
Puss Fur-None, better known as Elizabeth or Bess Vernon, Countess of Southampton.

“And perchance he fears Puss Fur-None will learn of it and put a flea in his ear,” sayt I.

“That lady should have a care how she spreads her fleas,” sayt Stealer, scratching at her own.

“True,” sayt Picker. “What of the other lady in this town who hopes to hoist her tail for your Earl?  If she hasn’t yet.” 

“She’s arrkst the learned doctor which is like to die first, Puss Fur-None or your Earl,” sayt Stealer.

Linkin cut in smooth, “Our Earl will not fight that fool Grey in this country because he don’t wish to offend Queen Puss more than he has alreadie.”

The ‘other lady’  Frances Prannell (nee Howard) and next Countess of Hertford.

“Is that possible?” sayt Stealer.

“He’s arrkst if he may kiss her hand,” sayt I.

“And Queen Puss answered, Kiss mine arse,” sayt Picker.

I was sick of those saucie sisters.  I sayt, “Have you not a prison to visit?  There’s a poysoner in the Fleet.  Best you friend him.”

That made them merrie.  “We hear he’s kin to Puss Fur-None,” they cried as they ran off.  “Have a care she don’t poyson you.”

Then one called back, “We near forgot.  We enquired of your friend Snakes-Purr, and know where he may be found.”

And away they flew, right pleased with theirselves.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorLord Mountjoy, one of Essex’s strongest supporters, had been unwilling to replace him.  However, he left for Ireland in February 1600.

Queen Elizabeth might have been prepared to overlook Penelope Rich’s letter, particularly after Penelope was summoned to explain herself to Council members and wrote to the Queen in a conciliatory vein.  Then a copy was leaked, printed, and circulated along with other inflammatory letters. 

Penelope denied responsibility, took ill, and fled to her country house accompanied by Bess Vernon.

Lord Grey still resented being disciplined in Ireland the previous year for disobeying an order from the Earl of Southampton.  He issued a challenge and the pair exchanged letters, Grey’s becoming increasingly angry, Southampton’s increasingly snakey.  This feud was to have disastrous consequences a year later.

The cats have noted Frances Prannell before, here and here She’d been asking astrologer Simon Forman about the Earl of Southampton for over two years.  Now considering remarriage, she wondered if it was worth waiting for her old love.

Unsurprisingly, Southampton didn’t get to kiss the Queen’s hand but he was permitted to return to Ireland, and left England in April.  The Queen unbent enough to wish him a safe going and returning.

I’ll leave Tricks figuring out how to lure Picker and Stealer back so she can hear about Shakespeare.  I’m taking a break, so won’t post again till late May.

26 thoughts on “133:  Bristling Up

  1. April Munday April 19, 2018 / 12:48 am

    I shall miss Tricks’ tales.

    It’s a shame these men spent their energy fighting with one another rather than with the queen’s enemies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catwoods April 19, 2018 / 7:18 am

    I’ll really miss reading about Tricks! I’ll look forward to your return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 20, 2018 / 11:03 am

      Thanks – I’m looking forward to recharging my batteries.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Monica Graff April 20, 2018 / 6:10 am

    See you in May! Looking forward to the next installment. I plan on taking a break too, so I’m glad to know I’m in good company. Enjoy yours. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel McAlpine April 20, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    I will need the four weeks’ break to absorb the detail of these squabbling nobles. A plague on all their houses. Travel boldly and return safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. chattykerry April 21, 2018 / 8:13 am

    There are so many wonderful lines in this post. “Printed by some idle fool with more ink than brain”
    “And Queen Puss answered, Kiss mine arse,” sayt Picker.”
    Have a wonderful break, Denise.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. colonialist April 22, 2018 / 11:38 am

    Oh, those were such constantly interesting times! One needed nine lives for full enjoyment, so the cat observers were well equipped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 22, 2018 / 1:06 pm

      I think cats are the ideal observers of humanity. But what a blessing for us that so few write their memoirs.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Robyn Haynes April 29, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    Denise I couldn’t get past the ‘more ink than brain’ comment without wondering that in our modern presses some would still subscribe to that sentiment. It gave me a laugh. Now I’ll go back and finish the post

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi May 16, 2018 / 8:26 pm

      Thanks, Robyn, and sorry for the late reply. I haven’t been ignoring you – it’s just that I keep away from screens when I’m on holiday.

      Despite the low level of literacy in Elizabethan England, I can’t help thinking that they had a form of social media in London through “leaked” letters and the distribution of other contentious snippets of information in print or manuscript.


    • Robyn Haynes May 16, 2018 / 8:36 pm

      No apology needed. It’s important to have a break. Hope you enjoyed it. I guess gossip is ubiquitous in any society. It’s manner of distribution is what differs

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi May 16, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      You’re right – gossip is ubiquitous, and it’s powerful. Really, there’s not much difference between gossip and news – the quality of both depends on the reliability of the source.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes May 16, 2018 / 8:57 pm

      Sharp observation. Gossip/ information is power. People trade it for favours money or status. Nothing much changes over the eons in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Travel Past & Present May 10, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    Apart from all the person-to-person and cat-to-cat squabbling, Ireland has always been a source of trouble to England.


    • toutparmoi May 16, 2018 / 8:06 pm

      And England a source of trouble to Ireland. If the English had managed to reach an accord with the Earl of Tyrone, and if both parties had stuck to it, history would have been different.


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