83: More Trouble for Lady Moll

Our preparations to have at Spain go well.  Queen Puss is most amiable to the Earl of Essicks.  And to Sir Water Rawly [Walter Ralegh].  He has his old place as captain of her guard again.  She chased him from it after he offended her by marrying another Puss.

A thin-faced, dark-haired woman in formal Elizabethan attire.
Elizabeth Ralegh (nee Throckmorton) who lost her position as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber after she and Sir Walter secretly married. From a full-length painting by Robert Peake the Elder, c. 1600

I do not believe the Puss he wed will ever win back her place in the Queen’s household.

My lord was never so high in the Queen’s favour as to be offered employment, but he hopes his service against the Spanish might give her a better conceit [opinion] of him.

We shall see.

But oh, how troubles come!

My lady Moll’s husband Thoms (he of the Imperial Dog Collar, but no employment) has brought fresh scandal on us all.

Some say that Thoms has harboured cheese-wits [Jesuits], and sent Catlick spy newes to the Emperor whose dog he is.

The portrait show a solidly-built bearded nan with the long Habsburg chin.
Rudolf II (1552-1612) – by Joseph Heintz the Elder. He created Thomas Arundell a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in reward for his military service.  Arundell’s acceptance of the honour (his “dog collar”) infuriated Queen Elizabeth.

Thoms and one of his friends were taken up for examination.  Another of Thom’s friends, a small man, has hid hisself, for fear he might be stretched [on the rack].

I arrkst Linkin our Law Cat what he’d heard of this.

Linkin sayt, “Nowt has yet been proven.  Thoms is in the keeping of a gentleman who has read him a lecture or three on his folly.”

“By folly, mean you his dog collar or his religion?” arrkst my niece.

“Both,” sayt Linkin.  “But now Thoms’ keeper says he can no longer afford to feed him.  He also writ that Thoms fears for the health of your Lady Moll.  She being a sick and weak woman.”

“Not sick,” sayt I.  “Suttle.”  For I do not believe my lady Moll is weak.  I think she feigns it, in hopes of seeing her husband freed.

Linkin had more to tell.

The Fleet River, from a 1572 map of London. The river runs from north to south, coming into the Thames at Blackfriars.  The prison is on the east side above Fleet Street.
The River Fleet, from a 1572 map of London. The prison (I think) was on the east side above Fleet Street. Possibly the building in the upper half of the picture which sits beside the river and curves around the crescent?

Thoms’ friend that was taken is confined in the Fleet prison.  There is a stinking privy not two feet from his door.  He must light a candle if he wants to write after three of the clock.

He sayt that if Her Majestie could see him there, she would pity him.

But Queen Puss don’t grace her prisons with her presence.

So this fellow writes to Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] telling of all he did to find the small man and perswayde him to offer hisself for questioning.  Which the small man would not do, but demanded money of my lady Moll.

She gave him none, saying it was against her will that Thoms ever entertained him.

“I believe you’ve made our unfortunate prisoner’s akwayntance,” sayt Linkin.  “His name is Drool [Drewell/Druell].  He was in your household with Thoms when the murderers were hid there.  You keep wicked company, my friend.”

“I do,” sayt I.  Talk of Thoms always makes us merry.

Linkin then told how Thoms had writ to Sir Rabbit Cecil, saying the small man was nowt but a private soldier whose akwayntance he’d made in Hungrie [Hungary].

And Thoms learnt that the small man meant to travel to Prague to collect pay he was owed.  Thoms arrkst him to carry proof of his own pedigree to the Emperor, so that he should know he had not conferred an honour on a base person.

“Who is not wearie of this geck Thoms?” arrkst Linkin.  “Other than your Lady Moll?  And even she, at times.”

“But,” sayt he, “Essicks and Sir Rabbit may bring an end to this.  They’ve writ to Thoms’ old father to tell him ’tis the Queen’s pleasure that he should house and feed son, daughter-in-law and all, till Thoms mends his ways.”

Thoms’ old father does not like his son, and he hates my lady Moll.

Sayt I, “That letter will make all hearts glad.”

Prague Castle, where Rudolf II had his court, by 1595. Via Wikimedia (by Sokoljan own-work CC By SA 3.0)
Prague Castle, where Rudolf II had his court, by Joris Hoefnagel, 1595. Via Wikimedia (Sokoljan, own work, CC By SA 3.0)

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorHow Linkin’s mistress must have enjoyed her lawyer son’s visits and news.  He seems to have had a reliable source in the Cecil household.

Linkin doesn’t always get the details right.

The elusive “small man” was named Smallman.  Being of inferior social status to Thomas Arundell and Sir Humphrey Drewell/Druell, he may well have been at risk of torture if he were thought to be part of a pro-Spanish Catholic spy ring.

While I feel for Sir Humphrey in the Fleet prison, I can see why Gib and Linkin find the Arundell saga so entertaining.

The letters from this latest episode, through May and June 1597, are in the Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury (“the Cecil papers”) Vol VII, available on line.

Humphrey Drewell was indeed at Titchfield during the escape of the Danvers brothers in 1594.  He was with John Florio, the young Earl’s tutor, in the Itchen-Southampton ferry when Florio threatened to throw the sheriff of Southampton overboard.  In 1596 he took part in the Cadiz expedition, and was knighted there by Essex.


16: I Prove My Valour

A Brindled Cat
A Brinded Cat

Now I have writ of my birth and bringing up, and of how I came to be a poet and a spy, I will tell how I pass my days.

There is a brinded cat here that did nowt but torment me.

He did not bristle up when he saw me, but contented hisself with persecuting me most sly and suttle.  For wherever I found a pleasing place to sit, when next I went there he were in it.

And when I found another, he would claim that too.  This happened many times.

And he crept up to my young lady’s chamber, and left his mark on the door.  I over-marked him, but his misfeasances [ill doings] left me mopish.

Then it come to me that mayhap he too served that spy cat Master Grey.  So I sayt to him, most civil, “By night all cats are grey.”  (I thought that might be our watchword.)

He glared at me.

Today the sun came forth, so I stepped out to take the air upon the garden wall.  This brinded cat came and sat not far from me, with his paws folded under his breast and his tail wrapped neat about him.  Most peaceable.

I believed we might be friends.

Then he bent his head to sniff the wall beneath his nose, gave me an evil look, and sniffed the wall again.  Like the very stone whereon I’d trod was foul to him.

I never knowed such insolencie in all my life.

I puffed up, laid back my ears, and stepped most prideful along the wall.

A cat of honour (which I am) will advance slow and sideways so our enemie may see us well, reckon our strength, and yield if he so chooses.

Advancing in this wise was not easie, for though the wall is broad I am a long cat.  (And I never done this in earnest before, but had watched my uncle at it many times.)

The rascal rose to meet me.  His fur rose with him.

He gave me the look direct, and I returned it.

“Give way, sir!” I cried.  “I will have this wall.”

“The wall is mine, sir,” cried he.  “Make of that what thou wilt.”

He lashed his tail.

I had at him then, and knocked him flying.  We fell to the ground, righted ourselves, and went hard at it.  I gave him many good kicks in the belly, and he gave me some too.  Oh, how our fur did fly!

But I triumphed.  It was he who first cried, “Hold! Enough!”

I kept him down and whispered that if he did not tell me where in that house the cheese-wits [Jesuit priests] were hid, I would bite his head off.

He swore on his life that he knew nowt of cheese-wits, and I believed him.  (I know nowt of them myself, but am here to spy them out.)

I let the rascal rise, and stood firm while he walked away.  He stepped very slow, like one who went because he wished to, not because I beat him.

When he was at a distance, he turned and sayt, “The only cheese-wits I know of are those you have beneath your ears.”

“No, friend,” I sayt, “What I have beneath my ears is a most conceitful maggot.  But you will never know of such a treasure.”

A little BeeFor it come to me that my maggot was not an evil worm like the one that turned the old Earl’s wits and consumed him with wild fancies.  My maggot was like to a pretty bee that lent its honey to my tongue and its wings to my words.

But even as I spoke, I grew mopish again.  For that spy Master Grey had called me a country clown, and sayt my tales were fool.  I fear his unkind words have driven my maggot out.

And without my sweet maggot, how can I be the young Earl’s poet?

Three Cats Fighting - workshop of Franz Snyders (1579-1657).
Fighting Cats – workshop of Franz Snyders (1579-1657). This fight seems to be about who will have the food basket.