Pleased because I knew where the villain might be found, and troubled because it were over the river. Even Picker and Stealer had not set paw there.
A cat cannot stand upon the stairs and call for a boat as men and women do. To go, we must cross the bridge while the river roars below.
Linkin had not been idle while I made my enquiries. He’d heard our master speak of the brave doings of our Earl, who’d gone to the war in Ireland again.
Then we learnt that Lord Mountjoy – he that took Essex’s place as Lord Deputie – wished to offer our Earl the place of Governor of Connawt [Connaught]. The Irish rebels had won a great fight with the last governor and killed him. To their sorrow, for they held him to be an honest man.
Queen Puss sayt: No. Our Earl could not have his place.
So our poor Earl, knowing he could never do more in Ireland than serve as a common captain, resolved to go into the Low Countries and aid our Hollander friends against Spain.
It was not onlie our Earl who lacked a good place. The Earl of Essex had lost all his in the Queen’s household as punishment for his disobediences.
“His enemies have not done with him yet,” swore Linkin. “They wished to try him for treason, but could find no proofs of it.”
“Treason?” sayt I. “For entering Queen Puss’s bedchamber unarrkst?”
“No,” sayt Linkin. “They believe he hatcht a plot with the Arch-Rebel Tire-Own. None knows what they spake of private. Each left his soldiers behind him and rode alone to parley. In a river.”
“In a river?” I cried. (Sure, that dire land makes all mad. They know not earth from water.)
Then I had a cunning thought. The horse Essex sat upon knew what they spake of, and his friends would too.
I resolved to visit the stables at Essex House.
That were a night that tried my patience.
“Know you,” I arrkst the horses, “what treason your lord spake when he met the Arch-Rebel of Ireland?”
“Say now,” sayt one. “Do we know what treason he spake?”
“Yea,” all sighed. “We do.”
Then the fools fell silent, thinking they’d given me an answer.
I begged them tell me more.
I will not vex myself anew by setting down all that passed between us, but I learnt that the Arch-Rebel sayt he wished onlie for freedom of religion.
And Essex told him to be hanged. For (sayt Essex) you care no more for religion than does my horse.
Then the horses, having uttered these words, all fell to snorting and sighing, so grieved were they.
“But heard you owt that was traitorous?” arrkst I.
“Yea,” sayt all. “That were traitorous.”
And they lamented that they should be so distained after their heroick actions in the field when they was in daily dread of being killed and ate by the Irishes.
I sayt, “Then you should have cast Essex from your back for shaming you before the Arch-Rebel.”
“Nay,” sayt one horse. “The rebel horse stood most respective with his belly in the river. He were as shamed as I.”
“Yea,” sayt all. “That Irish horse and his friends were as shamed as we.”
And I got no more from the dullards.
Sayt I to Linkin, “I never heard that horse-shaming was accounted treason.”
“Be that as it may,” sayt Linkin, judicial. “The axe is being sharped. All that remains is for Essex to fall under it.”
Vetoing the Earl of Southampton’s appointment as Governor of Connaught was a bad move on Queen Elizabeth’s part.
Was she still punishing him for marrying Bess Vernon without permission, or was there more to it? If she suspected him of egging the Earl of Essex on, she’d have done better to give him some incentive to stay in Ireland.
In June 1600 Essex had been formally deprived of his appointments: Earl Marshal of England, Master of the Ordnance, Master of the Queen’s Horse, and Privy Councillor.
Speaking alone with the Earl of Tyrone was an extraordinarily risky thing for Essex to have done, though it was only the first of several meetings. According to historian Paul E. J. Hammer the Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke was convinced that Essex had cut a deal with Tyrone. “Coke firmly believed Essex and Tyrone had conspired with the Pope and perhaps also with Spain to ensure Tyrone’s control of Ireland, open toleration of Catholicism, and Essex’s succession to the throne. Coke could never quite prove this case because this conspiracy did not actually happen. … Nevertheless, these allegations of an Irish and Popish plot reflected what [Essex’s] enemies continued to believe about him.”
 Shakespeare’s Richard II, the Play of 7 February 1601, and the Essex Rising in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol 59, No.1, Spring 2008 pp. 1-35