76:  Of Lady Moll, and a Dog Collar

Gib, looking large-eyed and self important.I wisht to know why my lady Moll has been troubled of late.  I heared nowt from the common folks who serve me and keep this house for my lord.

So I hied me to Linkin’s house, because the London lawyer who was once his master oft visits and brings gossips’ talk.

Linkin was in the yard with Nero.  They was rejoicing in the victory of our heroick Earl of Essicks.  He has sacked the port of Cadiz!  I’ll tell more of this when next I write my diurnal.

A marble figure of a young Elizabethan woman kneeling in prayer.
An image of Mary beneath her father’s effigy on the Wriothesley Monument in St Peter’s Church, Titchfield. From a photo on Hampshire History.

First, I’ll set down what I learnt of the sorrows of my lady Moll.

Linkin sayt, “Your lady Mary’s husband Thoms [Thomas] is a Catlick clown.”

He told me Thoms lacked employment.  So his father gave him money and horses that he might aid the holy roaming [roman] Emperor in his fight against the Turks.

Queen Puss [Bess] permitted Thoms to go, even though she loves the Turks and will do nowt against them.

Nero sayt, “I too love the Turks.  A nation most civil to cats.”

The portrait show a solidly-built bearded nan with the long Habsburg chin.
Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612) – a portrail by Joseph Heintz the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thoms fought well in Hungrie [Hungary], and proved his valour.  The Emperor honoured him by making him an Earl.

Then Thoms sayt he would come home.

So his father writ to old Lord Purrlie’s wittie [clever] boy who has a good place in Her Majestie’s household. 

Thoms’ father begged that he be offered a position in the Queen’s service to keep him oversea.

He sayt the reason Thoms wisht to return was because his wife arrkst him to.

Thoms’ father feared some would say that his son lacked the courage for more fighting, or that he’d gone to the wars onlie to gull his father out of all his horses and eleven hundred pounds.

A thin-faced, bearded man in darl clothes, with papers and an official red, embroidered, dispatch bag beside him.
Old Lord Purrlie’s clever boy, better known as Sir Robert Cecil (1563-1612). This portrait is probably a copy of one by John de Critz the Elder. Via Wikimedia Commons.

But Thoms took ship for home, and was shipwracked.  “He lost all he had with him,” sayt Linkin.  “Horses, clothes, and money.”

“Had he a tail, he’d have lost that too,” added Nero.

“True,” sayt Linkin.  “He come ashore with nowt but a cold he caught in the sea.”

“Doubtless,” sayt Nero, “to the joy of his loving Dad.”

“And to the joy of his loving Queen,” sayt Linkin.  “She was much offended that he’d presumed to accept an honour from the Emperor.  As she has sayt before: My dogs wear my collars.”

Queen Puss sent Thoms to prison.  And writ to the Emperor to reprove him, but she spake of shepherds and their sheep.  Not of her dogs and his collars.

Lord Purrlie told Thoms that none can serve two masters.  And that it’s the custom in our country for stranger [foreign] Earls to be granted, in courtesie, a higher place than our own Earls.  Thoms being but a gentleman, that’s not fitting.

We cats know well how to serve more than one master or mistress.  But on the matter of place, I believe old Purrlie spake true.  I would not like to see Thoms sat higher than our Earl.

Nor would I wish to see another cat in a higher place than mine.

Next, some folk sayt that Thoms has been consorting with the Spanish and other wicked folks.  Which he denied, protesting his loyalty and the friendship he believes the Emperor has for Her Majestie.

“The Earl of Essicks examined Thoms,” sayt Linkin.  “Justly so, for then our fleet was making ready for Spain.  Essicks arrkst what informations about the Queen’s navy he gave them.  But Thoms denied all.  Now he’s banished from the court.”

I know ’tis wicked to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others.  And I do believe that Thoms loves the collar of an Earl Imperial as I love a good gravy.

But the tale of his woes made us merrie.

Then Linkin sayt that Thoms’ fool father has offered lodgings to Thoms and all his family, save his wife.  Her, his father will not have in his house.

Poor Lady Moll.  ’Tis a sorry thing to have no place in a household, as we cats know.

A face and shoulders made up of an array of fruits and vegetables.
In the absence of a portrait of Mary Arundell, I couldn’t resist another of Rudolf II as Vertumnus, a Roman god of the seasons.  He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts. By Guiseppe Arcimboldo (c.1526-1593). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorMoll/Mary’s husband Thomas Arundell (c.1560-1639) was probably too overtly Catholic to find favour with Queen Elizabeth.

Mary and he appear to have lived in various of the young Earl’s properties, e.g. Itchel Manor in Hampshire, and Southampton House in London where his father Sir Matthew Arundell described him disapprovingly as “solitary and studious”.

In 1595 Thomas was permitted to join Rudolf II’s campaign against “the Turks”.  Click on this link and scroll down to the map to see the size of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

Queen Elizabeth herself maintained amiable diplomatic relations with “the Turks”, potential allies against Spain and a lucrative trading partner for England.

The saying “My dogs wear my collars” is believed to relate to Sir Nicholas Clifford, who accepted an honour from Henri IV of France as a reward for military service.  Another of Elizabeth’s courtiers, Sir Anthony Sherley/Shirley, did the same.  Elizabeth’s problem was that acceptance of these honours meant an oath of loyalty to Henri.

In vain did Thomas Arundell protest that being created an Earl Imperial (a Count of the Holy Roman Empire) involved no oath.  His letters to Sir Robert Cecil are preserved in the Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury (“the Cecil papers”) Vol VI, available on line.

Mary also wrote to Sir Robert, asking him to intercede with her father-in-law on her behalf.  She attributes Sir Matthew’s refusal to let her live in his house, Wardour Castle, to “some unkindness that passed between us at my last being there…” and asks Sir Robert to “…assure him that I will not behave myself otherwise towards him than as shall become a kind and respective daughter-in-law…”

66:  My Little Niece

Gib, a cat with blue dapples, looking startled.My lord has gone to London.  I can call my house mine own.

This morning, as I passed through the kitchen, a boy gave me a fish head.  It was not to my liking, so I took it to my sister’s barn.

The kitlings there (my little niece, and two birthed by a niece full-grown) nibbled it most happy.

My sister and I sat a while together, peaceful.  We marvelled at how far we’ve come since we were kits in the old Earl’s stable.

I’m a poet and cat of the young Earl’s bedchamber.  My sister is a barn queen with many kin-cats most respective to her.

“In truth, Queen Puss [Bess] herself should envie you,” sayt I.  “Now she’s old, all who know her hate her.  She has no kit to take her place when she goes from this world.  That may bring us to strife, as in the old time.  Hers is a place many will fight for.  Or the Spanish may come at us, for their king thinks hisself our king too.”

I saw my little niece was listening prick-eared.  When I left for home she followed me.

“I wish to see your house,” sayt she.  “I wish to see the book room where you find your tales.  Will you show me how to find a tale?”

“I find my tales in books, not rooms.”

“What’s a book? I wish to see one.”

I walked fast.

“I have newes,” she called.  “I wish to give it at the Cats’ Field.  When shall we all meet again?”

I sayt, “If wishes were fishes, no cat would starve.”

"If wishes were fishes..." A still life by Pieter Claesz (c1597-1660)
“If wishes were fishes…”
A still life by Pieter Claesz (c1597-1660)

Then I added, “We shall not meet before the spring, unless any has great matter to report.  And kits may not give newes at our Field.  What do kits know that all would hear?”

“I know of the murder you spake of,” she sayt.

“Stale newes,” sayt I.  “Our stable cats saw seven horses go out at night.  Four returned, and now they’re in London with my lord.  All know the Daffers [Danvers] brothers and their servant are over the sea.”

She sayt, “My newes is not from these parts.  I heared it from a stranger cat who came by our barn.  He had it from another cat, who had it from another, and so across this country [county] and the next.”

“Gossips’ talk,” sayt I, but had patience.  I know what it is to be a kitling most curious.

She sayt, “The stranger cat told me that the gentleman who was slain is named Harry Long.  He came from a household where all are scoundrels.  Their servants murdered one of the Daffers’ men, and gave many insults and injuries besides.

“Then Harry Long writ unto the elder of the Daffers brothers, offering to whip his bare arse.  This brother set forth and gave him a beating.  As he turned to go, Harry drew his sword and wounded him.  The younger brother had no choice but to shoot the villain.”

Sayt I, “This report came from a cat in the Daffers household, most like.  Poets may tell lies, but we must also seek the truth.”

A small black, white, and orange kitten
Gib’s Little Niece

My little niece sayt, “I told the stranger cat that if he could swear to the truth of it, then come spring I would hoist my tail and let him put a kit in my belly.  And so he swore.”

“Well,” sayt I, “he would, wouldn’t he.”  

She gave me a pert look.  “Come spring, I will have as many sworn reports as I choose and a bellyful of kits.  But you will know no more than I, and have no kits at all.”

Then she ran off.

Oh, I pray those kits will settle her, else she may prove more rebellous than ever her mother and I were.