202:  Rejoycings and Farewells

An alert-looking black and white cat
Harry, our narrator. A.k.a Pie Face or Greediguts, but what’s in a name?

I vowed that when my lord next removed to the countrie, I would accompany him.  Even if I had no choice but to run up his back and cling his neck as he quit our house.

But first I hoped to hear newes of our book.

How joyed I was when a minion came to tell me that Picker and Stealer had spied it out and hooked it.

“From the shop with the picture of the pied bull?” arrkst I, scarce able to believe mine ears, but knowing they’d took a book from there before.

“From the shop with a picture of a parrot,” sayt she, hawtie. “You find fault in that?”

“No!” cried I.  “Such birds croak out others’ words. ’Tis very apt.”

“Then come to Paws’ yard on the morrow,” sayt she.

I fair flew there.  Many cats were gathered in admiration.

I thrust through the throng to see this marvel for myself.

It were much begrimed and pulled about, but wondrous well-scented. 

Those deemed worthy had been permit to set their marks on it.

I nosed Luvvie the player-cat, Onix and Kettie, and the cat from the print-shop. 

Picker and Stealer invited me to mark it, too.

I begged leave to examine it first.

The front was not as I had hoped. There was no picture of my uncle’s coat [of arms].

The print-shop cat sayt, “That’s not my fault.”

Kettie sayt, “A picture needs a block.  Belike the printers had none fitting, which is to be regret.”

“No matter,” I sayt, lest I be accused of fault-finding again, and turned to our dedication.

I never before saw such rubbish in any book. Words were in the wrong order. It made no sense, but I put on a good face.

A Monument.

“Now that do look right well,” I sayt.  “Like it were cut in stone.”

“Like it were a moniment,” sayt Picker.  “To cover the hole wherein a corpse is laid.”

Stealer sayt, “And under this moniment we mean to bury Snakes-Purr.”

“Not to praise him,” added Luvvie.

There came applauds and screechings, but I continued lifting pages. 

Lines and whole verses of my uncle Gib’s making came at me.

A young and fluffy black, white, and orange cat.
A youthful Tricks  displays the Essex colour.

“From fairest creatures we desire increase…”  (My mother always sayt she never wanted no kits, and our uncle made some sonnets on that matter.)

“Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now
Will be a matted pelt of small worth held…”  (My mother was proud to bear the orange-tawny of the most noble and heroick Earl of Essex.)

“Muse to me, why dost thou mew so sadly?”  (My mother, again.  But she never mewed sadly, she wauled wicked words.)

Then my uncle’s musings on hisself and his friends.

Shall I compare thee to a puff of smoke?”  And, When in disgrace with Fortune and all eyes…

A close-up of a black cat
Nero, whose response to Gib’s fine verse is recalled by Tricks here.

And “When my friend swears his tale is made of truth…” That were to honour a sea-cat named Nero, but my mother sayt it were too deep-brained for his liking, or hers.

And “Two cats am I, of sweetness and of spite…”

Oh, all were defiled by Snakes-Purr’s foul imaginings, but I knowed them and many more too.

I sayt, “My uncle’s work is here.  And sure, there’s much else stole from other poets who will offer Snakes-Purr a beating.”

Mad applauds.

I sayt, “Some are such as the King hisself might have writ of his he-favourites!”

There came calls of, “What?  Snakes-Purr stole from the King?”  “He’ll hang!”

I added, “The last verses are woeful.  Belike Snakes-Purr penned them hisself.  They tell of a woman who permit a man to seize her by the scruff, and then was grieved when he ran away after.”

A queen cat called, “Who would wish a stinkard to stay after she’d done with him?”

“Whoever made that tale was no cat,” cried another.

“Woeful, woeful,” the queen cats sang, while several ugly fellows stepped forward offering to pleasure them. 

I turned, raised my tail, and marked our book long and well.

Picker and Stealer came and over-marked me.  I was not vexed.  They’d earned that honour.

Then they crept sly-faced towards me, and I knew our brief accord was over.

“We hear tell,” sayt Picker, “that when Kettie arrkst what your Earl calls you, you offered the name given you by our friends that keep the Tower.”

“Mr Wrissole’s Harry,” sayt Stealer.  “Why that name, and none other?”

“My lady mother named me Harry,” sayt I.  “And I shall tell her of how we’ve shamed Snakes-Purr publick, and showed him for the thief he is.  So I must bid your ladyships and all farewell.  I am going into the countrie.”

I promised Kettie and Onix I would remember them to my mother.

Then I fled away, as swift as I’d come.

We do what we can in this wicked world.  I had done all I could to be quit of my vow to my mother, whether she liked it or no.

I was free to do as I chose.  And I chose a quiet and private life.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorAnd here, in the summer of 1609, we bid farewell to Harry.  If he wrote more, the papers have been lost. 

However, he must have returned to Place House in Titchfield, because his memoirs survived along with those of Tricks and Gib. Tricks would have turned 15 in 1609, so I hope she was still alive, and impressed by the publication.

Few others seem to have been.  There wasn’t a second print run.  The sonnets weren’t republished until 1640 – with a far more respectful title page than that designed by Harry.

The woeful tale that Harry speaks of isn’t a sonnet, but a narrative poem called The Lover’s Complaint.  It’s not always printed in modern editions of the sonnets, and its authorship has been disputed.  That would not surprise Harry.


28 thoughts on “202:  Rejoycings and Farewells

    • toutparmoi January 9, 2020 / 8:06 pm

      I am too! I won’t know myself without any cats’ memoirs to transcribe. I plan to do an epilogue about what happened in subsequent years for the Earl of Southampton, and I’ve got some tidying up to do on the blog, because I’ve been remiss in keeping my References page and some of the other supporting pages updated. Even so…

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday January 9, 2020 / 8:34 pm

      Perhaps some other memoirs will come to light elsewhere.

      I’m going to sit in my easy chair and go through from start to finish, but that might only make me miss the three of them even more.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 9, 2020 / 10:31 pm

      That’s a fair amount of reading, April. I originally thought this blog would run to about 100 posts, but now it’s twice that length.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Claudio LeChat January 10, 2020 / 12:14 am

    It is tempting to opine “Alas poor Harry, I knew him well.” Excepting he’s not “poor”. He leaves with his head and tail held high. A job well done. Which is more than can be said for his current namesake. My mistress and I have very much enjoyed reading of the machinations of Gib, Tricks and Harry, and will miss the weekly postings. We have been most entertained, and have learned a lot too. We thank you for that. We are hopeful that in the years to come, you may uncover more papers to transcribe, but in the meantime, have a well deserved break. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi January 10, 2020 / 6:43 am

      Thanks, Claudio. I’ve learnt heaps from Gib, Tricks, and Harry, and feel honoured to have walked in their pawprints – figuratively and sometimes literally.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Catwoods January 10, 2020 / 7:31 am

    I’m going to miss these clever cats! Though I do understand the need to have resting times. Histories are no longer complete for me if they lack the viewpoints of nearby cats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 10, 2020 / 8:58 am

      Thanks, Catwoods. I have a busy year ahead. I’m planning to sell my house, where I’ve lived for about 25 years so there’s some decluttering and ‘deferred maintenance’ to do.
      I shall miss the cats too – I’ll just have to spend more time admiring yours!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rachel McAlpine January 10, 2020 / 2:52 pm

    Harry ends his tale on a high note indeed, covered in glory. How many of us can say that we have fulfilled our mission in life and our pious duty? Your many admirers will be satisfied, I’m sure… for now. I’m glad you have a major distraction to fill this gaping hole in your professional life. Thank you, o mysterious transcriber, editor and Commentator.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 10, 2020 / 3:00 pm

      Thank you too, Rachel. I’m sure I could not have continued with my mission to spread the word about Gib’s long-forgotten genius if the cats had not acquired followers as eager as I to see justice done.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mick Canning January 11, 2020 / 5:45 am

    Definitely ending on a high note. I suspect I’m not the only one with a suspicion that further feline tales may yet arise…

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi January 11, 2020 / 4:06 pm

      Who knows? But Harry makes no mention of passing on his skills to any other cat, and Tricks’ view of the general level of literacy achieved by her kittens was disparaging. Plus there’s the problem of the random survival of historical records, particularly things like letters and diaries…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave Ply January 14, 2020 / 11:15 am

    No more stories from Gib’s line? Cat-astrophe! At least Harry went out with his tail held high, he made his mark.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi January 14, 2020 / 6:15 pm

      He certainly did! I plan to post an epilogue on what happened next for Harry’s Earl, and then this blog will be done.


  6. Val February 17, 2020 / 2:15 am

    As long as they only marked it with paw prints! What a loss. No more cat memoirs. Maybe look in your garden and see if you can find any bird ones? Maybe written upon leaves?

    I wonder what their transcriber will do now. Have you any plans?

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi February 17, 2020 / 10:48 am

      Ah, plans. I mean to write an epilogue on what happened next for the Earl of Southampton, and probably would have done so by now, but for the fact that my desktop was away for over a week (!) getting a new system and data transfer. I’m also gearing up to get my house (and me) ready for its sale, and my stress levels are already through the ceiling! I won’t be taking on any major writing projects for a while, but I do intend to hang about in the blogosphere…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mitchteemley April 9, 2020 / 1:20 am

    What, an end? Never say it! No fourth generation edu-catted feline? Certain, Dr. Johnson must have had a cat, and a literary one at that, who clawed up all them defelinitions for him. We must have another tail, I tell you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 10, 2020 / 9:22 am

      Dr Johnson’s cats would certainly have had some tales to tell. Now, did Boswell really write that biography, or … ?

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Robyn Haynes November 13, 2020 / 2:14 pm

    So very clever. I have enjoyed the memoirs to the last.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mitchteemley June 15, 2021 / 10:47 am

    Denise, delighted to hear from you. Looking forward to reading new posts if/when you feel so led. Maybe something on the Countess of Southampton’s pet playwright? Well, at any rate, have a lovely year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2021 / 2:53 pm

      Thanks, Mitch. That was wonderful news about your movie!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. timitownsend51 November 11, 2021 / 3:55 am

    Oh, I didn’t realize that Harry’s tale was over until now. Surely you will be writing more for us to enjoy? Please?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 12, 2021 / 9:35 am

      Thanks, Timi, but there won’t be any more cat memoirs. I do need a new project, though I’m still tossing up what that will be.

      Liked by 1 person

    • timitownsend51 November 12, 2021 / 4:54 pm

      Please let us all know when you start your new project. I’m sure it will be wonderful, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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