146:  Liars All

A black, white and orange cat peering in through a lattice window.When I came to our house and showed my face at my window, the mistress greeted me most kind.

She offered me a dish of broth and a morsel of cheese.

Then she called the master, and both nosed my fur.  They cried, “Gun smoke!” and marvelled that I’d been so near the troubles that day.

I told them nowt.

I lay beside Linkin and Wattie our dog to warm myself, and they also nosed me.

“I’ve trod the leads [roof] of Essex House,” sayt I, “and defied the soldiers of the Queen.”

They were fire-hot to hear more, but I was wearie.  I sayt I would pass the morrow resting, and when Onix came by we would make a true account for all to hear.

A thin-faced, bearded man in dark clothes, with papers and an official red, embroidered, dispatch bag beside him.
Sir Rabbit – better known as Sir Robert Cecil. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Rabbit was swifter than we.  He struck like a venomous worm [snake].

First, the Proclamation of Treason was printed and sent all about the town.

It sayt that the Earl of Essex, with the Earl of Rutland (I knew him not) and the Earl of Southampton and their complices, had imprisoned Her Majestie’s councillors, threatened to kill them, and traitorously issued into the citie.  Where they killed Her Majestie’s subjects, etcetera.

“I think Her Majestie’s subjects killed more than we did,” sayt I to Linkin.

“They was not rebels,” sayt Linkin.

This fool Proclamation ended with Her Majestie’s thanks to her loyal citizens.  And a request that they lay hands on any who spread slanders against the government, for the rebels probably had instruments in sundry places.

“Instruments?” I arrkst Linkin. “What means Sir Rabbit by that?”

“The likes of you,” sayt Linkin.

I never was named an Instrument before.

Next we heared from the master that Sir Rabbit had sent a copy of the Proclamation to a governor in Ireland, with a letter that sayt: By the time you receive this, Essex, Southampton, and others will have lost their heads.

“So there’ll be no honorable trial,” sayt I to Linkin.

“There can be but one verdick from a treason trial,” sayt he.  “Honorable or not.”

Then we heared that Sir Rabbit had spake against Essex most fierce.

A company of Irish kerns.

He sayt Essex had devised to make hisself King of England these 5 or 6 years past.  And he’d conspired with the Irish arch-rebel Tire-Own to make away with the Queen’s loyal servants (Sir Rabbit and friends) and govern her hisself.

Then he meant to take her place and send for Tire-Own to bring his army of kerns over to England to prey on us all.

I sayt, “If that’s the best Sir Rabbit can do, any trial will be a comedie.  And he knows nowt of the plat we hatcht at Drury House, so I’m safe.”

“For the present,” sayt Linkin. “But the examinations have begun.  Certes, some will sing most sweet to save their necks.”

A large ginger catch perched precariously in a tree.
Linkin’s friend.

And off he went with his Essex committy (his law cat friend, and Onix too) to make their report to Paws parlement.

So my heroick tale was told by a ruddy clown too fat to sit well in a tree, and a perfumed popinjay who did nowt at Essex House but bepiss hisself beneath a table.

I did not go with them.  Onlie Members were permit to speak and I was not a Member.

I did not care.  I was now an Instrument.

I slipped into the master’s study, and wrote a letter to Queen Puss on behalf of her loyal and loving subjects.

I warned her to beware of all the venomous worms, wolves and foxes that pass for Rabbits in her realm and prey upon us silly sheep that do love her so well.

And I wrote on the paper, “Deliver me into the hands of our most gracious and noble Queen,” and cast it from the window.  There was a fair wind for Westminster.

Then I bethought me of Scabface, who’d set forth to White-Hall after we’d interrogated that sly Player Cat.

Where was Scabface?  He’d missed all the actions.  I feared he would think I’d sent him on a fool’s mission, and return full of wroth.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorThe exact number killed during the rebellion isn’t certain.  Definitely one on either side at the skirmish near the Ludgate.  A couple of “idle gazers” may also have been killed, presumably by musket fire from the small force that halted Essex there.

Four more died during the siege of Essex House.  One account has it that Captain Owen Salusbury/Salisbury – a loyal follower of Essex – committed suicide by sniper, intentionally showing himself at a window.  One of the Earl of Southampton’s servants was killed, possibly in the courtyard when Lord Burghley’ s men broke down the gate, as were two of Lord Burghley’s men.

Sir Robert Cecil’s inflammatory statement of 13 February 1601 (as summarised in the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series 1598-1601) wasn’t his finest effort.  He combined a shrewd but damning assessment of Essex’s character (i.e. no matter what Essex got, he always wanted more) with accusations of religious hypocrisy and double dealing.  Then he reverted to John Hayward’s book about Henry IV and the deposition of Richard II, maintaining Essex meant to depose the Queen.  Did he believe all he said?

But one way or another, Essex had to go.

Tricks’ letter may have gone further than her previous attack on Sir Robert Cecil did.  There’s one in similar vein among the Cecil papers.  Lots of animal imagery, but no mention of Rabbits.  I suspect some fellow malcontent found her letter, rewrote it, and sent it on.

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29 thoughts on “146:  Liars All

  1. April Munday August 30, 2018 / 7:27 am

    I’m glad that Tricks got home and was welcomed in. She even seems happy to be with Wattie. O doubt the excitements and alarums are all over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 30, 2018 / 12:20 pm

      Excitements and alarums indeed! I think the Essex rising would make a fascinating docudrama. The eyewitness accounts and statements from folks both high and low provide a fascinating glimpse into the city’s life and a Sunday that must have kept its citizens talking for months. I’m not surprised that the master and mistress were still up when Tricks arrived home so late.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday August 30, 2018 / 6:18 pm

      There was a TV film a few years ago with Eddie Redmayne as Southampton and the depiction of that Sunday is very different. I think I’m right in remembering that there was a lot of shooting outside Whitehall.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 31, 2018 / 9:01 am

      I vaguely remember that programme – I think it was part of one of the many series made about Elizabeth which I rarely bothered to watch, having zilch interest in her and her court back then. There certainly seemed to be a lot of shooting, but I can’t remember where.

      It’s amazing how powerful visual images are.
      I’ve read several contemporary and slightly contradictory accounts about how ‘armed’ Essex and his supporters were when they entered the city: swords only, or swords and daggers, and/or some with pistols concealed about their persons. Yet I still have images in my head of Essex, Southampton etc in breastplates!

      They’re definitely images from a TV programme or movie.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday August 31, 2018 / 9:17 am

      I don’t remember breastplates, but I remember barricades. I might be conflating it with Les Miserables.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 31, 2018 / 9:34 am

      I don’t recall breastplates in that particular version either. I do have an image in my head of an appealing little pageboy standing holding a horse (Southampton’s?) amid gunfire while Essex and Southampton took shelter! The pageboy was shot in the stomach – the horse remained unscathed.

      At the time I found the scene both shocking and absurd, which is why it has stayed with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. leggypeggy August 30, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    A fun description and accompanying photo—’a ruddy clown too fat to sit well in a tree’

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Christine Valentor August 30, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    The plot thickens! Tricks better watch her step, being an Instrument! With all the superstition about at the time, cats were highly subject as witches’ familiars… And anyone could be a witch.

    I never knew of Cecil’s reference to John Hayward’s book, but I have heard of quotes by the Queen saying “I am Richard II”. Interesting…

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 31, 2018 / 8:23 am

      John Hayward had a tough time of it! His book was first published, with a dedication to Essex, in February 1599. It was a bestseller. Two weeks later, the dedication was officially removed from unsold copies. That, of course, made the book sell even better!

      Queen Elizabeth was suspicious of the book, and a second print-run was officially seized and burnt. In mid-1600 Hayward was interrogated and sent to the Tower, and interrogated again after the ‘rebellion’. He spent the rest of Elizabeth’s reign in the Tower.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Valentor September 1, 2018 / 3:02 am

      Wow, talk about censorship! Bess was running a police state, in many ways… Too bad for John Hayward. So many people ended up in the Tower.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 1, 2018 / 9:43 am

      Or any other of the many prisons! I wonder what percentage of the population was in prison or under some other form of constraint (like being in the custody in the house of a respectable citizen) at any given time? London alone (pop. 200,000 – 220,000) had eight or nine prisons!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Valentor September 1, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      Well, there were so many things they could get arrested for — from religious practice, to reading the ‘wrong’ pamphlets, to their dress code! It is hard to imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 2, 2018 / 9:34 am

      Even saying the wrong thing in the pub! Who hasn’t done that after one drink too many?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Valentor September 2, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      People speaking their minds in one way or another, got them in trouble. It makes me grateful for how far we have come!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mick Canning August 30, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    And to think – Tricks might have changed the course of history had that letter got through!

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi August 31, 2018 / 9:03 am

      Probably not, Mick. I suspect Tricks’ tone was such that Queen Elizabeth would have been much offended.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mick Canning August 31, 2018 / 5:58 pm

      Ah, that’s the trouble with cats generally. Our two are rather like that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 1, 2018 / 9:14 am

      So true. You need a stout ego to survive alongside cats.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. chattykerry September 2, 2018 / 6:38 am

    Nosing into fur is one of my favorite pastimes but never have I smelt gun smoke…

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 2, 2018 / 9:45 am

      You must keep company with law-abiding cats…
      I wonder if cat fur picks up scents so readily to serve as “hunters’ camouflage”? They can certainly smell gorgeous when they’ve spent the day outside in the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

    • chattykerry September 3, 2018 / 5:55 am

      I have never thought about that. Toffee rarely washes but always smelled the best. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 4, 2018 / 6:54 am

      I recently came across what’s now my favourite word ever for a flash young man of the times. Spanglebabe. Though if I were to slip it into my conversation today, I think people would think I was referring to a young woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mitchteemley October 2, 2018 / 12:06 am

    Who knows how many of history’s most influential letters were written by literate cats. Ah, to be an Instrument!

    Liked by 1 person

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