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B E W A R E   T H E   C A T,







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HE quaint little tract here reprinted is so exceedingly rare, that I have not been able to refer to the original, and have been compelled to be contented with a modern transcript, in which, it is to be feared, there are some misreadings. The main text is, however, preserved, and its curiosity will, I doubt not, be appreciated. What of religious satire there is in it may be passed over without notice, the interesting portions consisting chiefly of the accounts of the avisian play, and of the allusions to witches, which are illustrative of the play of Macbeth. The notices of popular legends are of p.6 / singular curiosity and interest, and they have escaped the notice of all writers on the subject.
      There were at least three editions of this little tract ; one printed in 1551, another in 1570, and a third in 1584, but I believe that no copy of the first exists, while no perfect copy is known of either of the others.

                      J. O. HALLIWELL.

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HAVE penned for your masterships pleasure one of the stories which Mr. Streamer told the last Christmass and which you so fain would have heard reported by Maister Ferrers him self ; and although I be unable to pen or speak it so plesantly as he could, yet have I so nearly used both the ordre and words of him that spake them, which is not the least virtue of a reporter, that I dout not but that he and Mr. Willot shall in the reading p.8 / think they hear M. Streamer speak, and he himself in the like action shall dout whether he speaketh or readeth. I have divided this oration into three parts, and set the Argument before the, and an instruction after them, with such notes as might be gathered therof, so making it look like, and entitled, Beware the Cat. But because I dout whether Mr. Streamer will be contented that other men plowe with his oxen (I mean for such things as he speaketh), which perhaps he would rather do himself, to have as he deserveth, the glory of both ; therfore I beseech you to learn his mind herin. And agre it pass in such sorte, yet that peruse it before the printing, and amend it in any point I have mistaken him. I pray you likewise to ask M. Ferers his judgement herin ; and show him that the cure of the great plunge of M. Streamers translation out of the Arabique, which he sent me from Margete, shall be imprinted as soon as I may conveniently ; and if I shall perceive by your tryal that M. Streamer allow my endeavours in this kind I will hereafter p.9 / (as Plato did by Socrates) pen out such things of the rest of our Christmass communications as shall be to his great glory, and no less pleasure to all them that desire such kinds of knowledge ; in the mean while I beseme you to accept my good wit, and learn to Beware the Cat, so shall you not only perform that I seek, but also please the Almighty, who always preserve you. Amen.

                   Yours to His power,
                                G. B.

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T chanced that Christmas last I was at Cou with Maister Ferrers (then maister of the Kings Majesties pastimes), about setting forth of certain interludes, which, for the Kings recreation, we had devised and were in learning ; in which time among many othe exercises among our selves, we used nightly at our lodging to talk of sundry things for the furtherance of such offices wherin each man as then served, for which purpose it pleased M. Ferrer to make me his bedfellow, and upon a pallet cast upon the reedes in his own chamber, to lodge M. Willet and M. Streamer, the one his astronomet, the other his devine. And among many other things p.12 / too long to rehearse, it happened on a night which I think was the xxviii. of December, after that M. Ferrers was come from the court and in bed, there fell a controversie between M. Streamer (who with M. Willet had already slept his first sleep) and me, that was only come unto bed, the gest wherof was whether bird or beast had reason ; the occasion wherof was this, I had heard that the kings players were learning a play of Esops Crowe, wherin the most part of the actors were birds, the device wherof I discommended, saying, it was not comical to make eyther speechless things to speak, or bruitish things to converse reasonably, and although in a tale it were sufferable to imagine and tell of something by them spoken or reasonably done (which kind Esop laudably used) yet it was uncomely (said I), and without example of any authors to bring therin lively personages to speak reason, and alledge authorites and of authours. Mr. Streamer my lords divine (being more devine in this point than I was ware of) held the contrary part, affirming that p.13 / beastes and fowles had reason, and that as much as me, yea, and in some points more. M. Ferrers himself and his astronomet wakened with our talk and hearkened to us, but would take part on neyther side. And when M. Streamer had for proof of his assertion declared many things of elephants that walked upon cords, hedgehogs that knew always what wether would come, foxes and dogs that after they had been all night abroade, killing gesse and sheep would come home in the morning and put their necks into their collars, parats that bewayled their keepers deaths, swallows that with salendine open their young ones eyes, and an hundred things more which I denyde to come of reason, and to be but natural kindly actions, alledging for my proofs authorities of most grave and learned philosophers. “ Well,” quot M. Streamer, “ I know what I know, and speak not only what by hearsay of our philosophers I know, but what I myself have proved.” “ Why,” quoth I then, “ have ye proof of beastes and fowles reason ?” “ Yes,” quod he, “ I have heard them and p.14 / understood them both speak and reason, as well as I hear and understand you.” At this Mr. Ferrers laughed, but I remembering what I had red in Alberts works, thought there might be somewhat more than I did knowe, wherfore I asked him what beastes or fowles he had heard, and where and when ? at this he pawsed awhile and at last said, “ If that I thought that you could be content to hear me, and without any interruption till I have done, mark what I say, I would tell you such a story of one peice of my own experimenting, as shall better make you wonder and put you out of dout concerning this matter ; but this I promise you afore, if I do tell it, that as sure as any man curiously interrupt me, I will leave off and not speak one word more.” When we had promised quietly to hear, he (turning himself so in his bed as we might best hear him) said as followeth.

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EING lodged, as I thank him I have been often, at a friends house of mine, which were rowmish within than garnish without, stading at Saint Martins Lane end, hangeth partly upon the town wall that is called Alder’s Gate, either of one Aldrich, or els of elders, that is to say, ancient men of the citie, which among them builded it, as bishops did Bishops’ Gate, or els of elder tress which beschaunce as they doe in the gardines now there about, so, while the comon there was vacant, p.16 / grew abundantly in the same place where the gate was after builded, and called therof Eldergate, as Moorgate took the name of the field without it, which hath been a very moore, or els because it is the most ancient gate of the cittie, was therof in respect of the other, as Newgate, called the Elder gate, or els as Ludgate taketh the name of Lud, who builded it, so most part of Haroldes (I know) will soonest assent that Aleredus builded this, but they are deceived, for he and his wife Algag builded Algate, which therof taketh the name, as Cripple Gate doth of a cripple, who begged so much in his life (as put to the silver weather cock which he stole from Powles steeple) after his death builded it.
      But wherof soever this gate Aldersgate took the name (which longeth chiefly to Historyes to know), at my friend's house, which (as I said) standeth so neare that it is over it, I lay oftentimes, and that for sundry causes ; sometimes for lack of othe lodging, and sometime as while my Greek Alphates p.17 / were in printing, to see that it might be truly corrected. And sure it is a shame for all young men, if they be no more studious in the tunges ; but the world is now come to that passe, that if he can put a little Latin, and handle a racket and a pair of six square bowles, he shall sooner obtain any living then the best learned in a whole cittie, which is cause that learning is so despised, and bagagical things is much advaunced.
      While I lay at the foresaid house for the cause aforesaid, I was lodged in a chamber hard by a printing house, which had a fair bay window opening into the garden, the erth wherof is almost as high as S. Anne Church top which standeth thereby ; at the other end of the printing house, as you enter in, is a side doore and three or four steps which go up to the leads of the gate, wheras some time quarter of men (which is a loathly and abominable sight) doo stand upon poles. I call it abominable, because it is not only against nature, but against Scripture : for God commanded by Moses p.18 / that after the sun went down, all such as was hanged or otherwise put to death should be buryed ; but if the sun saw them the next day his wrath should come upon them and plague them, as he hath done this and many other realms for the like transgression, and I marvel where men have lerned it, or for what cause they doe it, except it be to feed and please the devils ; for sure I believe it some spirits, Misanthrope or Melochitus, who lived by the savour of mannes blood, did after their sacrifice failed, in which men were slain and offered unto them, put into butcherly heathen tyrans hands to mangle and boil Christian transgressors, and to set up their quarters for them to feed upon, and therfore I will counsail all men to bury or burn all executed, and refrain from making such abominable bodyes sacrifices, as I have often seen, at ravens, or rather devils, feeding upon them in this forsaid leeds, in the which every night many cats assembled, and there made such a noise that I could not sleep for them.

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      Wherfor on a time as I was sitting by the fire with certin of the house, I told them what a noise, and what a wawling the cats had made there the night before, from ten o'clock till one, so that neither I could sleep nor study for them, and by meens of this introduction we fel in conversation of cats, and some affirming as I do now (but I was against it then) that they had understanding, for confirmations therof one of the servants told this story.
      “ There was in my country,” quod he, (the felow was borne in Staffordshire,) “ that had a young cat wich he had brought up of a belling, and would nightly dally and play with it, and on a time as he rode through Kank wood, about certain business, a cat (as he thought) leaped out of a bush before him and called him twice or thrice by his name, but because he made no answer nor speak (for he was so afeard that he could not,) she spake to him plainly twise or thrise these words following,—‘ Commend me to Titten Tatten and to pus thy cattan, and p.20 / tell her that Grimalikin is dead.’ This done she went her way, and the man went forward about his business. And after that he was returned home, in an evening sitting by the fire with his wife and his household, he told of his adventure in the wood ; and when he had told them all the cats message, his cat, which had hearkened unto the tale, looked upon him sadly, and at last said, ‘ And is Grimalkin dead ? then farewell dame !’ and therwith went her way and was never seen after.” When this tale was done, another of the company which had been in Ireland asked this fellow when this thing which he had told happened ? He answered that he could not tell well, howbeit, as he conjectured, not passing eleven years, for his mother knew both the man and the woman which caught the cat that the message was unto. “ Sure,” quoth the other, “ it may well be, for about that same time (as I heard) a like thing happened in Ireland, where (if I conjecture not amiss) Grimalkin (of whom you speak) was slain.” “ Yes, sir,” quod I, “ I pray you how so ?” p.21 / “ I will tell you, Maister Streamer,” quod he, “ that which was told me in Ireland, and which I have (till now) little credited that I was ashamed to report it, but hearing that I hear now, and calling to mind my own experience when it was (I do so little misdoubt it), that I think I never told, nor you heard, ever a more likely tale.
      “ While I was in Ireland in the time that Macmorro and all the rest of the wild lords were the kings enemies, what time mortal wane was between the Fitzhonies and the Prior and Covent of the Abbey of Tintern, who counted them the kings frinds and subjects, whose neighbour was Cayn Macort, a wilde Irish man, than the kings enemy, and one which daily made inrodes into the county of Washford, and burned such towns and carried away all such cattell as he might come by, by means wherof all the country from Climin to Rosse, become a waste wilderness, and is scarce recovered untill this day. In this time, I say, as I was on a night at Cosbery with one of Fitzburies p.22 / churles, we fell in talk, as we have done now, of strange adventures, and of cats ; and there, among other things, the churl (for so they call all farmers and husband men) told me as ye shall hear.
      “ There was (not seven years past) a kern of John Butlers dwelling in the fassock of Bantry, called Patrick Apore, who minding to make a prey in the night upon Cager Makent, his maisters enemy, got him with his boy, for so they call their horse keepers, be they ever so old knaves, into his country, and in the night time entered into a town of two houses, and broke in and slew the people, and then took such cattle as they found, which was a cow and a sheep, and departed therwith homewards ; but doubting they should be pursued, the cur dogs making such a shrill barking, he got into a church, thinking to lurk their till midnight was past, for there he was sure that no one would suspect or seek him, for the wild Irish men have had churches in such reverence (till our men taught them the contrary) that they neyther would, nor durst p.23 / either rob aught thence or hurt any man that took the church yard for sanctuary, no though he had killed his father. And while the kern was in the church, he thought it best to dine, for he had eaten little that day, wherfore he made his boy go gather sticks, and strake fire with his feres, and make a fire in the church, and kild the sheep, and after the Irish fashion, layed it there upon and roasted it ; but when it was ready, and he thought to eat it, there came in a cat, and set her by him, and said in Irish, shane foel, which is, “give me some meat,” He, mazed at this, gave her the quarter that was in his hand, which immediately she did eat up, and asked more till she had consumed all the sheep ; and, like a cormorant not satisfied therwith, asked still for more, wherfore they supposed it were the devil, and therefore thinking it wisdom to please him, killed the cow which they had stolen, and when they had flayed it gave the cat a quarter, which she immediately devoured ; then they gave her two other quarters, and in the mean while, p.24 / after their country fashion, they did cut a piece of the hide and prickt it upon iiii. stakes which they set about the fire, and therin they set a piece of the cow for themselves, and with the rest of the hide they made each of them bags to wear about their feet, like broges, both to keep their feet from hurt all the next day, and also to serve for meat the next night if they could get none other, by broyling them upon coals. By this time the cat had eaten three quarters and called for more, wherfore they gave her that which was a seething, and doubting lest when she had eat that she would eat these to, because they had no more for her, they got them out of the church, and the kern took his horse, and away he rode as fast as he could hie. When he was a mile or two from the church the moon began to shine, and his boy espied the cat upon his masters horse behind him, wher upon the kern took his dart and turning his face towards her, flung it, and struck her throw with it ; but immediately there came to her such a sight of cats, p.25 / that after long fight with them his boy was killed and eaten up, and he himself (as good and as swift as his horse was) had much to do to scape. When he was come home, and had put off his harness, which was a corslet of mail, and like a shirt, and his skull covered with gilt leather and crested with other skin, all weary and hungry he set himself down by his wife and told her his adventure, which when a kitten which his wife kept, scarce half a yere old, had heard, up she starts, and said, “ Hast thou killed Grimallykin ?” and therwith plunged in his face, and with her teeth took him by the throat, and ere that she could be plucked away, she had strangled him.’
      “ This the churl told me now about thirty-three winters past ; and it was done, as he and divers other credible men informed me, not seven yere before. Whereupon I gather that this grimalikin was it which the cat in Kanck wood sent news of unto the cat which we heard even now.” “ Tush,” quod another that sat by, “your conjecture is so unreasonable ; for p.26 / to admitt that cats have reason, and that they do, in their own language, understand one another, yet how should a cat in Canckwood know what is done in Ireland ?” “ How?” quod he ; “ even as we know what is done in the realms of France, Flanders, and Spain, yea, and almost in all the world beside. There be few ships but have cats belonging to them, which brings news to their fellows out of all quarters.” “ Yea,” quod the other, “ but why should all cats love to hear of Grimmalkin ? or how should Grimmalkin eat so much meat as you speak of? or why should all cats so harbor to revenge her death ?” “ Nay, that passeth my cunning,” quod he, “ to shew in all. How be it in past conjecture may be as the . . . . . may be that Grimmaalkin and her line is as much esteemed, and hath the same dignitie among cats, as either the humble or master bee hath among the whole hive, at whose commandments all bees are obedient, whose succour and safeguard they seek, whose wrongs they all revenge ; or, as the Pope hath had ere this over p.27 / all Christendom, in whose cause all his clergy would not only scratch and bite, but kill and burn to powder, though they know not why, whom so ever they thought to think against him ; which Pope, all things considered, devoureth more at every meal than Grimmalkin did at her last supper.” “ Nay,” said I, “although the Pope, by exaccions and other bagagical trumpery, have spoyled all people of mighty spoils, yet, as touching his own parts, he eatheth and weareth as little as any other man, though peradventure more sumptious and costly, and in greater abundance provided. And I heard a very proper saying, in this behalf, of King Henry the Seventh, when a servant of his told him what abundance of meat he had seen at an abbot's table, he reported him to be a great glutton, he asked if the abbot eat up all, and when he answered no, but his guests did eat most part : ‘Ah !’ quod the king, ‘ thou callest him glutton for his liberality for feeding thee and such other unthankful churls.’ Like to this fellow are all ruffians ; for let honest, p.28 / worshipful men of the City make them good cheer, or lend them money, as they commonly do, and what have they for their labour ?—either foul, reproachful names, as dunghill churls, cuckold knaves, or els spiteful and slanderous reports, as to be userers and deceivers of the commonweal, and although that some of them to be such in deed, yet I abhor to hear others, of whom they deserve well, so lewdly to report them. But now, to return to your communication, I marvail how Grimmalkin, as you term her, if she were so big could eat so much meat at once.” “ I do not think,” quod he that told the tale, “ that he did eat all, although she asked all, but took her choice, and laid the rest by, as we see in the feeding of many things ; for a wolf, although a coup, get more than he can eat, yet will he kill a cow or twain to his breakfast, likewise all other ravenous beasts. Now that love and fellowship, and a desire to save their kind, is among cats, I know by experience ; for there was one that hired a friend of p.29 / mine to roast a cat alive, and promised him for his labour twenty shillings. My friend, to be sure, caused a cooper to fasten him into an hogshead, in which he turned a spit whereupon was a quick cat ; but ere he had turned a while, whether it was the cats wool that singed, or els her cry that called them, I cannot tell, but there came such a sort of cats, that if I and other hardy men, which were well sent for our labour, had not behaved us the better, the hogshead, as fast as it was hooped, could not have kept my covin from them.”
      “ Indeed,” quod a well learned man, and one of excellent judgement, that was then in the company, “ it doth appear there is in cats, as in all other kinds of beasts, a certain reason and language, wherby they understood one another. But, as touching this Grimmalikin, I take rather to be an hagat, or a witch, than a cat, for witches have gone often in that likeness ; and therof hath com the proverb, as true as common, that a cat hath nine p.30 / lives, that is to say, a witch may take on her a cats body nine times.”
      “ By my faith, Sir, this is strange,” quod I myself, “ that a witch should take on her a cats body. I have read that the Petoneses could cause their spirits to take upon the dead mens bodies, and the airy spirits which we call demons, of which kind are Incub and Lucinbus, Robin-Goodfellow the fairy, and goblins which the misers call Telechins, could, at their pleasure, take upon them any other sorts, but that a woman, being so large a body, should strain her into the body of a cat, or into the form eyther, I have not much heard of, nor cannot perceive how it may be, which makes me, I promise you, believe it the less.” “ Well, Master Streamer,” quod he, “ I know you are not so ignorant herin as you makes yourself, but this is your accustomed fashion always to make me believe you be not so well learned as you be, sapiens enim colat scienciam, which appeared well by Socrates ; for I know being skilld as you be in the tounges chiefly the called p.31 / Arabick and Egytian, and having read so many authors therin, you must needs be skilful in these matters ; but when you spake of intrusion of a womans body into a cats, you either play Nichoden, or the stubborn popish coinser, whereof one would creep into his masters belly again, the other would bring Christ out of Heaven to thrust him into a peice of bread ; but as the one of them is gross and the other pervers, so in this point I must place you with one of them, for although witches may take upon them the cats bodies, or alter the shape of their or other bodies, yet this is not done by putting their own bodies therto, but either by bringing their souls for the time out of their bodies, and putting them in the other, or by deluding the sight and fantasies of the seers, as when I make a candle with the brain of an horse and brimstone, the light of the candle maketh all kinds of heads appear horses heads ; but yet it altereth the form of no head, but deceiveth the right conception of the eye, which, through the false light, p.32 / seemeth a like form.”   Then quod he that had been in Ireland, “ I cannot tell, Sir, by what means witches do change their own likeness and the shapes of other things, but I have heard of so many and seen so much my self that they do it. For in Ireland, as they have been ere this in England, witches are for fear held in high reverence ; they be so cunning that they can change the shapes of things as they list at their pleasure, and so deceived the people therby that an Act was made in Ireland, that no man should by any red swine. The cause therof was this,—the witches used to send to the markets many red swine, fair and fat to see unto as any might be, and would in that form continue long, but if it chaunced the buyer of them to bring them to any water, immediately they found them returned either into wisps of hay, straw, old rotten boards, or such like trumpery, by means wherof they lost the money or such other cattel they gave in exchange for them. There is also in Ireland one notion wherof some man or p.33 / woman are at evry seven years end turned into woolf, and so continue in the woods the space of seven years ; and if they hap to live out the time, they return to their own form again, and other twain are turned for the like time into the same shape ; which is a pennance they say enioined by St. Patrick for some wickedness of their ancestors. And that this is true witnessed a man that I left alive in Ireland who performed this seven years pennance, whose wife was slain, while she was a wolf, in her last yeer. This man told to many men whose cattel he had worried, and whose bodies he had assailed while he was a wolf, so plain and evident tokens, and showed such scars of wounds which other men had given him, both in his mans shape before he was a wolf, and in his wolfs shape since, which all appeared upon his skin, that it was evident to all men ; yea, and to the Bishop (upon whose grant it was recorded and registered) that the matter was undoubtedly past all paralventure, and, I am sure, you are not ignorant of the hermit whom, as St. Austin p.34 / writeth, a witch would in one asses form ride upon to market ; but now how these witches made their swine, and how these folks were turned from shape to shape, whether by some ointment whose clearness deceived mens sights, till either the water washed away the ointment, or els that the clearness of the water excelled the clearness of the ointment, and so betrayeth the operation of it, I am as uncertain as I am sure that it were the spirits called demons, forced by inchantments which move those bodies, till chance of their shapes discerned caused them to . . . . . but as for the transformation of the wolves is either miraculous, as Nesmans lepry in the stock of Gekin, or els to shameful crafty malicious sorcery ; and as the one way is unsurchable, so I think this might never be found to guess how it be done the other way. The witches are by nature exceeding malicious, and if it chance that one witch for displeasure with this warluike nation gave her daughter charge in her death bed, when she taught her the science, (for till that time p.35 / witches never teach it, nor then but to their eldest or best beloved daughter,) that she should at every seven years end confest some ointment, which for seven years space might be in force against all other charms to represent to mens eyes the shape of a wolf, and in the right season to go herself in the likeness of a mare, or some other right form, and anoint therwith the bodies of some couple of that kindred which she hated ; and that after her time she should charge her daughter to observe the same, and to charge her daughter after her to do the like for ever. So that this charge is given always by traddition with the science, and so is continued and observed by this witches offspring ; by whom two of this kindred (as it may be supposed), one from every seven, for seven years space, turned into wolves.
      When I had heard these tales, and that reason of the doing shewed by the teller ; Thomas, quod I, (for that was his name, he died afterwards of a disease which he took in Newgate, where he lay p.36 / long for suspection of magic, because he had desired a prisoner to promise his soul after he was hanged,) I perceive now the old proverb is true, the still sow eateth up all the draff ; you go and behave yourself so simply that a man would think you were but a sot, but you have uttered such proof of a natural knowledge in this your brief tale as I think (except my self and few more the best learned alive) none could have done the like. “ You say your pleasure, Master Streamer,” quoth he, “as for me I have said nothing but that I have seen, and wherof any man might conjecture as I do.”
      “ You have spoke full well,” quoth he that gave occasion of this tale, “ and your conjectures are right reasonable ; for like as by ointments (as you suppose) the Irish witches do make the form of swine and wolves appear to all mens sight, so think I that by the like power, English witches and Irish witches may and do turn themselves into cats ; for I heard it told, while I was in the University, by a cridible clerk of Oxford, how that in the days when he was a child p.37 / an old woman was brought before the official and accused for a witch, which, in the likness of a cat, would go into her neighbours house and steal there what she listed, which complaint was proved true by a plea of the womans skin, which her accusers, with a fire-brand that they hurled at her had singed while she went a thieving in her cats likeness ; so that, to conclude as I began, I think that the cat which you call Grimmalkin, whose name carryeth in it matter to confirm my conjecture, for Malkin is a womans name, witneseth the proverb, there be mo maids then Malkin. I think (I say) that it was a witch in a cats likeness, and that for the wit and craft of her other natural cats, that were not so wise, have had her and her race in reverence among them, thinking her to be but a meer cat as they themselves were, like as we silly fools long time for his sly and crafty jugling reverenced the Pope, thinking him to have been but a man (though much holier than we our selves were), where as, indeed, he was a very incarnated devil, like as this Grimmalkin was an inchanted witch.”

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      “ When then, Sir,” said I, “ do you think the natural cats have wit, and that they understand one another ?”
      “ What els, Maister Streamer,” quoth he, “ there is no kind of sensible creatures but have reason and understanding, wherby (in this kind) each understandeth other ; and does therin in some parts so excel that the considerations therof moved Pythagoras (as you know) to believe and affirm that after death mens souls went into beasts, and beasts souls into men, every one according to his desert in his former body. And although his opinions be fond and false, yet that which drew him therto is evident and true, and that is the wit and reason of divers beasts ; and again the dull, beastly, bruitish ignorance of divers men. But that beasts understand one another, and fowls likewise, beside that we see by daily experience in . . . . . the story of the Bishop of Alexandra by record doth prove, for he found the means either through dilligence so to marke them, or els through magic natural, so to subtiliate p.39 / his sensible power, either by purging his brain by dry drinks and fumes, or els to augment the brains of his power perceptible by other natural medicines, that he understood all kinds of creature by their voices ; for being on a time sitting at dinner in an house among his friends, he harkened dilligently to a sparrow that came fleeing and chirping to others that were about the house, and smiled to himself to hear her. And when one of the company desired to know why he smiled, he said at the sparrows tale ; ‘ for she told them,’ quoth he, ‘ that in the highway, not a quarter of a mile hence, a sack of wheat is even now fallen off a horse-back and broken, and all the wheat run out, and therfore biddeth them come thither to dinner,’ and when the guests, musing herat, sent to prove the truth, they found it even as he had told them.”
      When this tale was ended the clock struck nine, wherupon old Thomas, because he had to go to his lodging, took his leave and departed ; the rest of the company gat them either to their business or to their beds.

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      And I went straight to my chamber, and took a book in my hand to have studied, but the rememberance of this former talk so troubled me that I could think of nothing els, but mused still and, as it were, examined more narrowly what every man had spoken.

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RE I had been long in this contemplation, the cats, whose crying the night before had been occasion of all that which I have told you, were assembled again in the leads which I spoke of, where the dead mens quarters were set up, and after the same sort as they did the night before ; one sang in one tune, an other in an other, even such an other service as my Lord Chappell upon the scaffold sung before the king, they observed no musical chords, neither diateparrian, diapentic, or diapason ; and yet, I ween I lie, for one cat, groaning as a bear doth when dogs be let slip at him, throled out so p.42 / low and so loud a base that, in comparison of another cat which crying like a young child squeiled out the shrieking treble, it might be well accounted a double diapason, wherfore to the intent I might see better the cause of that assembly and by their gestures to perceive part of their meaning, I went softly and fair into a chamber into which hath a window into the same leads, and in the dark standing closely, I viewed through the trellis as well as I could all their gestures and behaviours, and I promise you it was a thing worth the marking, to see what countenances, what becks, yea, and what order was among them.
      For one cat, which was a mighty big one, grey haired, brisk bearded, and having broad eyes which shone and sparkled like two stars, sat in the midst, and on either side of her sat an other, and before her stood three more, wherof one mewed continually, save when the great cat growned, and ever when the great cat had done, this mewing cat began again, first stretching out her neck, as it were making p.43 / beckes to them which sat ; and oftentimes in the midst of this cats mewing all the rest would acutely each one in his turn braid forth, and incontinently hushed again, as it were laughing at somewhat which they heard the other cat declare ; and after this sort I beheld them from ten till it was twelve o clock. At this time, whether it were vessel in the kitchin under, or some boord in the printing house hard by I cannot tell, but somewhat fell with such a noise that all the cats got them up upon the house ; and I fearing lest any arose to see what was falling they would charge me with the hurling down of it if they found me there, I whipt into my chamber quickly, and finding my lamp still burning I set me down upon my bed, and devised upon the doings of these cats, casting all manner of ways what might be conjectured, therby to know what they meant. And by and by I deemed that the gray cat, which sat in the midst, was the chief, and sat as judge among the rest, and that the cat which continually mewed declared some matters or made account to her of somewhat.

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      By means wherof I was straight caught with such a desire to know what she had said, that I could not sleep at all that night, but lay devising by what means I might learn to understand them ; and calling to mind that I had read in Albertus Magnus works a way how to be able to understand birds voices, I made no more to do but sought in my library for the like book, and greedily read it over ; and when I came to “ Si vis voces avium intelligere,” &c., Lord, how glad I was ; and when I had thoroughly marked the description of the medium, and considered with my self the nature and power of everything therin, and how and upon what it wrought, I devised thereby how with part of those things and addition of others, with like virtue and operations, to make a filter to serve my purpose, and as soon as restless Phœbus was come up out of the smoking sea and with shaken his golden coloured beams which were all the night long in Tethis moist bosome, had dropt off his silver sweat into . . . . . lap, and kissing fair Aurora with glowing mouth, p.45 / had driven from her the adououtese Lucifer, and was mounted so high to look upon Europe that all the height of Mile End steeple he espied me through the glass window, laying upon my bed ; up I arose, and got me abroad to seek for such things as might serve for the earnest bussines which I went about ; and because you be all my frinds that are here, I will hide nothing from you, but declare point by point how I behaved myself, both in making and taking my philtre. “ If thou wilt understand,” saith Albert, “ the ways of birds or of beasts, take two in thy company, and upon Simon and Judes day, early in the morning, get thee with hounds into a certain wood, and the first beast that thou meetest take and prepare with the heart of a fox, and thou shalt have thy purpose ; and whosoever thou kissed shall understand them as well as thy self.”
      Because his writing here is doubtful, because he saith, “ quiddam nemus, a certain wood,” and because I know three men (not many years past) which while they went about this hunting were so frayed, p.46 / whether with an evil spirit or with their own imagination I can not tell, but home they came with their hair standing on an end, and some have been the worse ever since, and their hounds likewise. And seeing it was so long to St. Judas day, therfore I determined not to hunt at all ; but conjecturing that the beast that they should take was an hedghog (which at that time of the year goeth most abroad), and knowing by reason that the flesh therof was by nature full of natural heat, and therfore the principal parts being eaten must needs expulse gross matters and subtil the brain, by the like power it engendereth fine blood and helpeth much both against the gout and the cramp, I got me forth to wards St. Johns Wood, wheras not two days before I had seen one, and see the lucky and unlucky chance. By the way as I went I met with hunters who had that morning killed a fox and three hares, who, I thank them, gave me an hare and the foxes whole body (except the case), and six smart lashes with a slip, because (wherin I did mean p.47 / no harm) I asked them if they had seen any where an hedghog that morning ; and howsoever my tale is otherwise long, I would show you my mind of these wicked observations of foolish hunters, for they be like as me seemeth to the papists, which for speaking of good and true words punish good and honest men. Are not apes, owls, cuckoos, bears, and urchins Gods good creatures ? why then is it not lawful to name them ? If they say it bringeth ill luck in the game, then are they unlucky, idolitrical, miscreant infidels, and have no true belief in Gods providence, I beshrew their superstitious hearts, for my buttocks did bear the burthen of their misbelief, and yet I thank them again for the fox and the hare which they gave me ; for with the two hounds at my girdle, I went a hunting till, indeed, under an hedge, in a hole of the earth, by the root of an hollow tree, I found an hedghog with a bundle of crabs about him, whom I killed straight with my knife, saying, “ Shanse swashmelt gorgona fifcud,” and with my other beasts hung him at my p.48 / girdle, and came homeward as fast as I could hie. But when I came in the close besides Islington, commonly called St. Johns field, a kite, belike very hungry, spyed at my back the skinless fox, and thinking to have had a morsel strake at it, and that so eagerly, that one of his claws was entered so deep that before he could loose it I drew out my knife and killed him, saying, “ Samot sheley slutsthoon fiscud,” and to make up the mess brought him home with the rest. And ere I had layed them out of my hand come Thomas (whom you heard of before), and brought me a cat, which for doing evil turns they had that morning caught in a snare set for her two days before, which for the skinners sake being slain was so exceeding fat that after I had taken some of the grease, the inwards and the head, to make (as I made him believe) a medicine for the gout, they parboyled the rest, and at night (crosted and farred with good herbs) did eat it up every morsel, and was as good meat as was or could be eaten. But now mark, when Thomas p.49 / was departed with his cat, I shut my chamber door to me and flayed my urchin, wishing oft for D. Nicholas or some other expert phisition to make the dissection for the better knowledge of the anatomy, the flesh I washed clean and put it in a pot and with white coin Mellisopoholus or Motism, commonly called balsam, rosemary water, being four parts of the first and two of the second ; I made a broth and set it on a fire and lighted it, sitting it on a limbeck, with a glass at the end, near the mouth of the pot, to receive the water that distilled from it, in the seething wherof I had a pint of a bottle of wine which I put in the pot, then, because it was about the solstitium . . . . . . and that in confections the hours of the planets for the better operation must be observed, I tarried till ten a clock before dinner what time Mercury began his lucky reign, and then I took a peice of the cats liver, a peice of the kidneys, a peice of the milt, and the whole heart, the foxes heart and the lights, the hares brain, the kites maw, and the urchins kidneys ; all p.50 / these I beat in a mortar untill it were small, and then made a cake of it and baked it upon a whole stone until it was dry like bread. And while this was baking I took seven parts of the cats grease, as much of her brain, and five hairs of her beard, three black and two grey, three parts of the foxes grease, as much of the brain, with the hooves of his left feet, the like portion of the urchins greece and brain with his stones, all the kites brain with all the marrow of her bones, the juice of her heart, her upper beak, and the middle claw of her left foot, the fat of the hares kidneys, and the juice of his right shoulder bone ; all these things I pounded together in a mortar by the space of an hour, and then I put in a cloth and hung it near a basson in the sun, out of which dropped within four hours after about a half a point of oil, very fine and clear ; then took I the galls of all these beasts, and the kites too, and served them likewise, keeping the licours that dropped from them. At twelve of the clock, what times the sun began his platenical p.51 / dominion, I went to dinner, but meat I eat none save the boiled urchin, my bread was the cake mentioned before, my drink was the distillation of the urchins broth, which was exceeding strong and pleasant in taste and savour. After that I had dined well, my head waxed so heavy that I could not choose but sleep, and that after I waked again, which was within an hour, my mouth and my nose purged exceedingly, such yellow, white, and tawny matters as I never saw before, nor thought that any such had been in mans body. When a pint of this gear was come forth, my rheum ceased, and my hed and all my body was in exceeding good temper, and a thousand things which I had not thought in twenty years before came so freshly to my mind as if it had been then presently done, heard, or seen ; wherby I perceived that my brain (chiefly the rule memorative) was marvellously well purged, my imagination also was so fresh, that by and by I could show a probable reason what, and in what sort, and upon what matter everything which I had taken p.52 / wrought, and the cause why, than to be occupied after my sleep, I cast away the carkass of the fox and of the kite, with all the garbage both of them and the rest, saving the tounges and the ears, which were very nessarsary for my purpose. And thus I prepared them,—I took all the ears and scalded off the hair, then steeped them in a mortar, and when they were all a dry jelly I put to them rue, fennel, lowachtsic, and leekblades of each an handfull, and pounced them afresh : then divided I all the matter into two equal parts, and made two little pillows and stuffed them therwith, and when Saturns dry hour of dominion approached, I fryed these pillows in good oil olive and laid them hot to mine ears, to each ear one, and kept them there till nine a clock at night, which help exceedingly to comfort my understanding powers ; but because as I perceived the cell perceptible of my brain intelligible was yet so gross by means that the filmy pannicle coming from dura mater made to stroil opilations by engrossing the pores and conduites imaginative, p.53 / I desired to help that what this gargaristical fume whose subtill assertion is wonderful, I took the cats, the foxes, and the kites tounge and sod them in wine well near to jelly, then I took them out of the wine and put them in a mortar, and added to them of new cats dung an ounce, of mustard seed, garlick, and pepper as much, and when they were with beating incorporated I made lozenges and trociskes therof.
      And at six a clock at night, what time the suns dominion began again, I supped with the rest of the meat which I left at dinner ; and when Mercury's reign approached, which was within two hours after, drunk a great draft of my stelled water, and anointed all my head over with oil before described, and with the water which came out of the galls I washed mine eyes, and because as humour should ascend into my head by evaporacion of my veins through the chine bone, I took an ounce of alha kghi in powder, which I had for a like purpose not two days afore bought at the potecaries, and therwith p.54 / rubbed and chafed my back from the neck down to the middle, and heated in a fryingpan my pillows afresh and laid them to mine ears, and tied a kercher about my head, and with my losenges and trociskes in a box, I went out among the servants, among whom was a shrewd boy, a very crackrope, that needs would know what was in my box ; and I to sause him after his sauciness, called them prescienciall pills, affirming that whom might eat one of them should not only understand wonders, but also prophecy after them ; wherupon the boy was exceeding earnest in entreating me to give him one, and when at last very loathly (as it seemed) I granted his request ; he took a losenge and put it in his mouth and chewed it apace, by means wherof, when the fume ascended, he began to spattle and spit, saying, “ By Gods bones it is a cats toorde.” At this the company laughed apace, and so did I too, veryfying it to be as he said, and that he was a prophet ; but that he might not spew too much by imagination, I took a losenge in my mouth and p.55 / kept it under my tongue, showing therby that it was not evil. While this pastime endured me thought I heard one cry with a loud voice, “ What, Isegrim ! what, Isegrim ! ” and therfore I asked whose name was Isegrim, saying that one did call him ; but they said that they knew none of the name, nor heard any that did call. “ No,” quod I, for it called still ; “ hear you nobody ?” “ We hear nothing but a cat,” quod they, “ which meweth alone in the leads.” When I saw it was so indeed, and that I understood what the cat said, glad was I as any one alive, and taking my leave of them as though I would to bed straight, I went into my chamber ; because the houre of Saturnes cold dominion approached I put on my gown and got me privily to the place in which I had viewed the cats the night before ; and when I had settled myself where I might conveniently hear and see all things done in the leads, where this cat cried still for Isegrim, I put into my two nostrills two troisisques, and into my mouth two losenges, one above my p.56 / tounge, the other under, and put off my left shoe because of Jupiters appropinquosion, and laid the fox tail under my foot ; and to hear the better I took off my pillows, which stopped my ears, and then listened and viewed as attentively as I could ; but I warrant you the pellicils or filmy vein that lieth within the bottom of mine ear hole, from whence like veins carry the sound to the senses, was with this medicine in my pillows so purged and parched, or at least dried, that the least moving of the air, whether struck with breath or with living creatures, which we call voyces, or with the moving of dead, as winds, waters, trees, carts, falling of stones, &c. which are named noises, sounded so shrill in my head, by reverbrations of my final filmes, that the sound of them altogether was so disordered and monstrous that I could discern no one from other, save only the harmony of the moving of the spheres which noise excelled all other as much both in pleasance and shril bigness of sound as the zodiac itself surmounteth all other creatures in altitude of p.57 / place, for in comparison of the basest of this noise, which is the moving of Saturn by means of this huge compass, the highest whistling of the wind, or any other organ pipes (whose sounds I heard issued together,) appeared but a low base, and yet was those an high treble to the voice of beasts which as a mean the running of rivers was a tenor, and the boyling of the sea, and the catracts or gulf therof a goodly base, and the rushing, rising, and falling of the clouds a deep diapson. While I harkend to this broil, labouring to discern both voices and noises a sundre, I had such a mixture as I think was never in Chaucer's “ House of Fame,” for there was nothing within an hundred mile of me down on my side (for from so far but so faither the air may come because of obliquacion,) but I heard it as well as if I had been by it, and discern all voices, but by means of noises understood none. Lord, what a doo women made in their beds ; some scolding, some laughing, some singing to their sucking children, which made a woeful noise with their p.58 / continual crying, and one shrewd wife, a great way off (I think at St. Albans), called her husband cuckold a loud and shrilly that I heard that plain, and would fain have heard the rest, but could not by no means for barking of dogs, grunting of hogs, wailing of cats, rumbling of rats, gagling of geez, humming of bees, rousing of bucks, gagling of ducks, singing of swains, ringing of panns, crowing of cocks, sowing of sockes, cackling of hens, scrapling of pens, heeping of mice, trulling of dice, curling of frogs and todes in the bogs, churking of crickets, shutting of wickets, scritching of owls, fluttering of fowls, routing of knaves, snorting of slaves, farting of churls, fisling of girls, with many things els ; as ringing of bells, counting of coins, mounting of groins, whispering of lovers, springling of plovers, groning and spinning, baking and brewing, scratching and rubbing, watching and shrugging, with such a sort of commixed noises as could adaf any body to have heard, much more me, seeing that the peanieles of my ears were with my medicine p.59 / made so fine and stiff, and that by the temperate heat of the things therin, that like a tabbar dried before the fire, or els a lute string by heat shrunk, never they were incomparably amended in receiving and yeilding the shrilness of any touching sounds. While I was earnestly harkening (as I said) to hear the women, minding nothing els, the greatest bell in St. Botolph steeple, which is hard by, was tolled for some rich lady that then lay in passing, the sound therof came with such a rumble into mine ear, that I thought all the devils in hell had broken loose, and where come about me, and was so afraid therwith that when I felt the foxtail under my feet (which through fear I had forgot) I deemed it had been the devil indeed ; and therfore I cried as loud as ever I could, “ The devil, the devil !” But when some of the fellows, raised with my noise, had sought me in my chamber and found me not there, they went seeking about, calling to one another, “ Where is he ? I cannot find M. Streamer.” Which noise and stir of them was so great in mine ears, p.60 / and passing much common sound, that I thought they had been devils indeed which sought and asked for me ; therfore I crept close into a corner and hid me, saying many good prayers to save me from them ; and because that noise was so terrible that I could not abide it, I thought best to stop mine ears, thinking therby I should be the less afraid. And as I was there about, a crow, which belike was nodding asleep in the chimney top, fell down into the chimney over my head, when fluttering in the fall made such a noise that when I felt his feet over my head I thought then the devil had he come indeed and seized upon me ; and when I cast up my head to save me, and therwith touched him, he called me knave in his tounge after such a sort that I swooned for fear, and by that I was come to myself again he was flown from me into the chamber roof, and there he sat all night. Then took I my pillows to stop mine ears, for the rabble that the servants made I took for the devil, it was so great and shrill, and I had no sooner put them p.61 / on but by and by I heard it was the servants which sought for me, and that I was deceived through my clearness of hearing. For the bell which put me in all this fear (for which I never loved bells since) tolled still, and I perceived well enough what it was ; and seeing that the servants would not leave calling and seeking till they found me, I went down to them and fained to them that a cat had been in my chamber and frayed me, wherupon they went to bed again, and I to my old place.

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Y this time waning Cynthia come which the day before had filled her growing horns, was upon our hemisphere, and freshly yeilded forth her brother light, which the reverbration of Thetis trembling face, now full by means of spring, had fully cast upon her ; wherof she must needs lose every day more and more, by means the rap abasing Thetis sullen face would make her to cast beyond her those raides which before the full the spring had cause her to throw short, like as with a chrystall glass a man may by the placing of it either high or low so cast the sun or a candle light after any round p.63 / glass of water, that it shall make the light therof, both in waxing and waning, to counterfeit the moon. For you shall understand, chiefly you Maistre Willet, that are my lords astronomer, that all our ancestors have failed in knowledge of natural causes, for it is not the moon that causeth the sea to ebb and flow, neither to rap and spring, but the rapping and springing of the sea is the cause of the moons both waxing and waning. For the moon light is nothing save the shining of the sun cast into the element by the opposition of the sea ; as also the stars are nothing els but the sun light reflected upon the face of rivers and cast upon the chrystalline heaven, which because rivers always keep like course, therfore are the stars always of one bigness ; as for the course of the stars from east to west, is natural by means of the suns like moving, but in that they ascend and descend, that is, sometimes come northward and sometimes go southward, that is caused also by the suns being either on this side or on the other side likenlightical. The like reason followeth p.64 / for the poles not moving, and that is the situation of those rivers or dead seas which cast them, and the roundness and eg form of the firmament. But to let this pass, which in my book of heaven and hell, shall plainly not only declared, but both by reason and exposition proved, I will come again to my matter when Cythera, I say, as following her brothers steps, looked in at my chamber window and saw me neither in my bed nor at my book, she hied me apace into the south, and at a little hole in the house roof peeped in and saw me where I was set to hearken to the cats, and by this time all the cats which were there the night before were assembled, with many others, only the great grey one excepted, unto whom, as soon as he was come, all the rest did their beshiance, as they did the night before. And when he was set thus he began in his language, which I understood as well as if he had spoken English.
      “ A my dear friends and fellows, you may say I have been a linguer this night, and that I p.65 / have tarried long, but you must pardon me for I could come no sooner ; for when this evening I went into an ambry, where was much good meat, to steal my supper, there came a wench, not thinking I had been there, and chopped the lid down, by means wherof I had much to do to get forth ; also in the way as I came hither, over the house tops in the gutter, were thieves breaking in at a window, who frayed me so that I lost my way and fell down into the street, and had much to do to escape the dogs ; but seeing that by the grace of Hagat and Hag I am now come, although I perceive by the tail of the great bear and by alhabar, which are now somewhat southward, that the fifth hour of night approacheth, yet seeing this is the last night of my charge, and that to-morrow I must again to my lord Crammoloch,” (at this all the cats spread along their tales, and cried, “ Hagat and Hag, save him !”) “ Go to now, good Mouselier,” quoth he, “ and that time which my misfortune hath lost, recover again by the briefness of p.66 / thy talk.” “ I will, my lord,” quoth Mouslyer, which is the cat which as I told you stood before the great cat the night before continually mewing, who, in her language, after that with her tail she had made curtsey, shrunk in her neck and said, “ Where as by virtue of your commission from my lord Crammoloch (whose life Hagat and Hag defend), who by inheritance and our free election enjoyeth the empire of his traitourously murthered mother, the goddess Gremolochini, you his grieffen and chief counsellor, my lord Grisard, with Isegrim and Polinoers your assistants ; upon a complaint put up in your high dees by that false accuser Catchrat, (who beareth me malice because I refused his lecheriously offered delights,) have caused me in . . . . . of myself before this honourable company to declare my whole life since the blind daies of my kitlinghood. You remember, I trust, how in the two nights passed I have declared my life for four years space, wherin you perceive how I behaved me all that time ; wherfore, to begin where I left p.67 / last, ye shall understand that my lord and lady, whose lives I delivered unto you last yester night, left the city and went to dwell in the country and carried me with them ; and being thus strange I lost their house, and with Birdhunt, my make, the gentlest in honest venery that ever I met with, went to a town where he dwelt, called Stratford either Stony upon Tine, or upon Avon, I do not well remember which, where I dwelt half a year. And this was in the time when preachers had leave to speak against the mass, but it was not forbid untill half a year after. In this time I saw nothing worthy to certify my lord of save this : my dame, with whom I dwelt, and her husband were both old, and therfore had to be turned from their rooted belief which they had in the mass, which caused divers young folk, chiefly their sons and a learned kinsman of theirs, to be the more earnest to teach and persuade them ; and when they had almost brought the matter to a good point, I cannot tell how it chanced, but my dames sight failed her, and she was so sick that she kept p.68 / her bed two days, wherfore she sent for the parish priest, her old godly father. And when all were voided the gostly chamber, save I and they twoe, she told him how sick she was and how blind, so that she could see nothing, and desired him to pray for her and give her good counsell. To whom he said thus, “ It is no marvel though you be sick and blind in body which suffer your soul willingly to be blinded, you send for me now, but why send you not for me when these new hereticks teach you to leave the Catholick belief of Christs flesh in the sacrament ?’ ‘ Why, Sir,’ quoth she, ‘ I did send for you once, and when you came they posed you so with holy writ and saints writings, that you could say nothing but call them hereticks, and that they had made the New Testament themselves.’ ‘ Ye,’ quoth he, ‘ but did I not bid you take heed then, and told you how God would plague you ?’ ‘ Yes, good Sir,’ quoth she, ‘ you did ; and now, to my pain, find you too true a prophet ; but I beseech you forgive me and pray to God for me, and what p.69 / soever you will teach me that will I believe unto the death.’ ‘ Well,’ quoth he, ‘ God refuseth us sinners that will repent, and, therfore, in any case believe Christs flesh, body, soul, and bone, is as it was born of our blessed Lady in the consecrated hoste ; and see that therfore you worship it, pray, and offer to it, for by it many of your friends souls may be brought out of purgatory, which these new hereticks say is no place at all, but when their souls fire in it they shall tell me another tale ; and that you may know that all I say is true, and that the mass can deliver souls that trust in it from all manner sins, I will by and by say you a mass that shall restore your sight and health.’ Then took he out of his bosom a wafer cake and called for wine, and then, shutting the door unto him, received himself in a surplice, and upon a table set before the bed he laid his porture, and therat he said mass ; and when he came to the eleusion, he lifted up the cake and said to my dame, which in two days afore saw nothing, ‘ Wipe thine eyes, thou sinful woman, p.70 / and look upon thy Maker.’   With that she lifted up herself and saw the cake, and had her sight and helth as well as ever she had before. When mass was done she thanked God and him exceedingly, and he gave charge that she should tell to no young folks how she was holpe, for his bishop had throughout the diocese forbidden them to say or sing any mass, but commanded her that secretly unto old honest men and women she should at all time most devoutly rehearse it ; and by reason of this miracle many are so confirmed in that belief that, although by a common law all masses upon penalty were since forbid, divers have them privily and nightly said in their chambers until this day.”
      “ Marry, Sir,” quoth Polinos, “ this was either a mighty miracle or els a mischevious subtelty of a magistical minister, but sure if the priest by the magical art blinded her not afore, and so by like magical sorcery cured her again, it were as good for us to hire him, or other priests at our delivery to sing a mass before our kitlings, that they might in p.71 / their birth be delivered of their blindness ; and sure if I hear the priest it should scape me hard but I would have one litter of kittens in some chamber where he useth now to say his privie night masses.” “ What need that,” quoth Mouselier, “ it would do them no good, for I myself, upon like consideration, kittened since in another mistriss chamber of mine where a priest every day said mass, but my kitlings saw nought the better, but rather the worse ; but when I heard that the lord with whom I went into the country would to London to dwell again, I kept the house for a month before so well, that my lady when she went carried me with her ; and when I came to London again, I went in visitation to mine old acquaintance, and when I was great with kitling, because I would not be unfurnished of a place to kitten in, I got in favour and household with an old gentlewoman, a widow, with whom I passed out this whole year. This woman got her living by boarding young gentlemen, for whom she kept always fair wenches in store, for whose sake p.72 / she had the more rent ; and to tell you the truth of her trade it was fine and crafty, and not so dangerous as deceitful, for when she had soked from young gentlemen all they had then would she cast them off, except they fell to cheating ; wherfore many of them in the night time would go abroad, and bring the next morning home with them sometimes money, sometimes jewels—as rings and chains, sometimes apparel, and sometimes they would come again, cursing their ill fortune, with nothing, save, pasadventure, dry blows or wet wounds ; but which ever they brought my dame would take it, and find the means either so to gage it so that she would never fetch it again, or els melt it and sell it to the goldsmiths. And notwithstanding that she useth these wicked practices yet was she very holy and religious, and therfore, although that all images were forbidden, yet kept she one of our lady in her coffer, and every night, when every body were gone to bed, and none in her chamber but she and I, then would she fetch her out and set her upon her p.73 / cup board, and light up two or three wax candles afore her, and then kneel down to her sometimes an whole hour, crying over her beads, and praying her to be good unto her, and to save her and all her guests both from danger and shame, and promising that then she would honour and serve her during her life. While I was with this woman I was always much cherished and made of, for one night, while she was a praying, I would be playing with her beads, and always catch them as she let them fall, and would sometimes put my head in compass of them and run away with them about my neck, wherat many times she took great pleasure ; yea, and so did our lady too, for my dame would say sometimes to her, ‘ Yea, blessed Lady, I know thou hearest me, by thy smiling at my cat.’ And never did my dame do me any hurt save once, and that I was even with her for, and that was thus : there was a gentleman, one of her boarders, much enamoured in the beauty of a merchant mans wife in the city, whom he could by no means prevail to p.74 / satisfy his lust ; yea, when he made her great banquets, offered her rich apparell, and all kinds of jewels precious, which commonly women delight in, yea, and large sums of money, which corrupt even the gods themselves, yet could he by no means alter her mind, so much she esteemed her good name and honesty ; wherfore, forced through desire of that which he could not but long for, and so much the more cause it was most earnestly denied him, he brake his mind to my dame, and entreated her to aid him to win this young womans favour, and promised her for her labour whatever she would require. Wherupon my dame, which was taken for as honest as any in the city, found the means to desire the young woman to a dinner, and against she should come, my dame gave me a peice of a pudding, which she had filled full of mustard, which as soon as I had eaten wrought so in my head that it made my eyes run all the day after ; to mend this, she blew pepper in my nose to make me neese, and when the young wife was come, after that my p.75 / dame had showed her all the commodotes of her house (for women delight much to show forth what they have), they set them down together at the table, none save only they two ; and while they were in gossips talk about the behaviours of this woman and that, I came as I was accustomed and sat by my dame, and when the young woman, hearing me cough and seeing me weep continually, asked what I ailed, my dame, who had tears at her commandment, sighed (and fallen as it were into a sudden dumps), burst forth a weeping, and said, ‘ In faith, mistress, I think I am the unfortunatest woman alive, upon whom God hath at once poured forth all his plagues, for my husband, the honestest man that lived, he hath taken from me, and with him mine heir and only son, the most towardly young man that was alive ; and yet not satisfied therwith, lo here my only daughter, which, though I say it, was as fair a woman and as fortunately married as any in this city, He hath (for her honesty or cruelty I cannot tell whether) turned into this likeness, wherin p.76 / she hath been above this two months continually weeping as you see, and lamenting her miserable wretchedness.’   The young woman, astonished at this tale, and crediting it by means of my dames lachrimable protestations and deep dissimulation, asked her the more earnestly how and by what chance and for what cause, as she thought, she was so altered ? ‘ Ah,’ quoth my dame, ‘ as I said before, I cannot tell what I should think, whether excuse my daughter and accuse God, or else blame her and acquit Him, for this my daughter, being, as I said, fortunately married and so beloved of her husband and loving again to him, as now we both too late do and for ever I think shall rue, was loved exceedingly of another young man, who made great suite and labour unto her. But she (as I think all women should), esteeming her honesty and promise made to her husband the day of her marriage, refused still his desire ; but because he was importunate she came at last and told me it. And I, thinking that I did well, charged her in any case (which full oft since I p.77 / have repented) that she shall not consent unto him, but to shake him off with shrewd words and threatening answers. She did so ; alas, alas, the while, and the young man, seeing none other boote, went home and fell sick, and loving so honestly and secretly that he could make none other of his council, forpined and languished upon his bed the space of three days, receiving neither meat nor drink ; and then, perceiving his death to approach, he wrote a letter, which I have in my purse, and sent it by his boy to my daughter, if you can read you shall see it, I cannot, but my daughter best could very well and write too.’ Herewith my dame wept apace, and took the letter out of her purse and gave it this young woman, who read it in form following :—
      “ ‘ The nameless lover to the nameless beloved ; in whose love sith he may not live, he only desireth license to die. Cursed be the woful time wherin mutual love first mixed the mass of my miserable carcass. Cursed be the hour that ever the fatal destinies have ought for me prevailed ; yea, cursed p.78 / be the unhappy house, may I say, in which I first saw those passing eyes, which by insensible and unquenchible power inflaiming my heart to desire are so blend of mercy as will rather with rigour consume my life than view my grief with one drop of pity. I sue not to you, my dear unloving love, for any kind of grace the doubtful hope wherof despair hath long since with the pouring showers of evil words utterly quenched ; but this much I desire, which also by right me thinketh my faithful love hath well deserved, yet sith your fidelity in wedlock, which I can and must needs praise as would to God I could not, will suffer my pined course no longer to retain the breath, through cold cares wholly consumed, yet as the least, which is also an office of frindship befor the gods merititious, come, viset him who, if aught might quench love, should not love ; whose mouth these three days hath taken no food ; whose eyes the like time have taken no rest ; whose heart this three weeks was never merry ; whose mind these three months was p.79 / never quiet ; whose bed this seven nights was never made ; and who, to be brief, in all parts so enfeebled that living he dieth, and dead while he liveth. And when this silly ghost shall leave this cruel and miserable prison, in recompence of his love, life, and death, let those white and tender hands of yours close up those open windows through which the uncomfortable light of your beauty shone first into this heart. If you this refuse to do, I beseech the gods immortal, to whom immediately I go, that as without any kind of either love or kindness you had caused me to die, so that none other caught with your beauty do likewise perish. I beseech, I say, the just gods that either they change that honest stony heart, or els disfigure that fair miracles favour. Thus, for want of force either to endite or write any more, I take my leave, desiring you either to come and see me die, or if I be dead before, to see me honestly buiried.
      “ ‘ Yours unregarded alive,
                                                           “ ‘ G. S.’

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      “ When the young woman had read this letter she took it again to my dame, and with much to doo to withhold her swelling tears she said, ‘ I am sorry for your heaviness, much more for this poor man's ; but what did she after she saw this letter ?’ ‘ Ah, quoth my dame, she esteemed it as she did his sutes before—she sent him a rough answer in writing, but never the boy came home with it, his master was dead. Within two days after, my son-in-law, her husband, died suddenly ; and within two days after, as she sat here with me lamenting his death, a voice cried out aloud, “ Ah, flinty heart, repent thy cruelty!” And immediatedly, oh extreme rigor, she was changed as you now see her; wherupon I gather that though God would have us keep our faith to our husbands, yet rather than any other should die for ourselves, we should not make any conscience to save their lives ; for it fareth in this point as it doth in all other ; for as all extremities are vices, so is it a vice, as appeareth plainly by the punishment of my daughter, to be p.81 / extreme in honesty, chastity, or any other kind of virtue.’   This, with other talk of my dame, in the dinner-time, so sunk into the young woman's mind that the same afternoon she sent for the gentleman whom she had erst so constantly refused, and promised him that if he would appoint her an unsuspected place, she would be glad to meet him to fulfill all his lust, which he appointed to be the next day, at my dame's house, where, when they were all assembled, I, minding to acquit my dame for giving me mustard, caught a quick mouse, wherof my dame was always exceedingly afraid, and came with it under her clothes, and then let it go, which immediately croop up on her leg. But, Lord ! how she bestirred her then ; how she cried out, and how pale she looked ; and I, to amend the matter, making as though I leaped to the mouse, all to be scratch her thies and her belly, so that I dare say she was not whole again in two months after ; and when the young woman to whom she shewed her pounced thies, said I was p.82 / an unnatural daughter to deal so with my mother, ‘ Nay, nay,’ quoth she, ‘ I cannot blame her, for it was through my counsel she suffered all this sorrow ; and yet, I dare say, she did it against her will, thinking to have caught the mouse, which else, I dare say would have crept into my belly.’   With this means this innocent woman, otherwise invincible brought to consent to commit whoredom. Shortly after this young woman begged me of my dame, and to her I went and dwelled with her all that year. In which year, as all the cats in the parish can tell, I never disobeyed or transgressed our holy law in refusing the concupiscenial company of any cat, nor the act of generation, although some time it were more painful to me than pleasant, if it were offered in due and convenient time. Inded, I confess that I refused Catchrat and bit him, and scratch him, which our law forbiddeth ; for on a time this year when I was great with kitlings, which he of a proud stomach refused to help to get, although I earnestly wooed him therto, what p.83 / time he loved so much his own daghter, Slickskin, that all others seemed vile in his sight, which also esteemed him as much as he did the rest, that is, never a whit in this time. I say when I was great with kitling I found him in a gutter eating a bat which he had caught that evening ; and as you know, not only we, but also women in our case do oft long for many things, so I then longed for a piece of the reremouse, and desired him, for saving of my kitten, to give me a morsel, though it were but of the leather-like wing ; but he, like an unnatural ravenous churl, eat it all up, and would give me none, and, as men do now-a-days to their wives, he gave me bitter words, saying, we longed for wantones and not for any need. This grived me so sore, chiefly for the lack of that I longed for, that I was sick two days after, and had it not been for good dame Isegrim, who brought me a piece of a mouse, and made me believe it was of a back, I had lost my burden by kittening two days before my time. When I was recovered and went abroad p.84 / again, about three days, this cruel churl met me, and needs would have been doing with me, to whom when I had made answer according to his desserts, and told him withal, which he might see to by my belly, what case I was in, tush, there was no remedy (I think he had eaten savery), but for all that I could say he would have his will. I seeing it, and that he would ravish me perforce, I cried out for help as loud as ever I could squail, and to defend myself till succour came, I scratcht and bit as hard as ever I could, and this notwithstanding, had not Isegrim and her son Lightfoot come the sooner, who both are here and can witness, he would have marred me quite. Now whether I might in this case refuse him, and do as I did, without breach of our holy law, which forbideth us females to refuse any males not exceeding the number of x in a night, judge you, my lords, to whom the interpretation of the laws belongeth.” “ Yes, surely,” quoth Grisard ; “for in the iii year of the reign of Glascalon, at — — court, holden in Catswood, in the records p.85 / they decreed upon that exception, forbidding any male in this case to force any female, and that upon great penalties ; but to let this pass wherof we were satisfied in your purgacion the first night, tell us how you behaved you with your new mistress, and that as briefly as you can for lo where corleons is almost plain west, wherby we know the goblins hour approacheth.” “ After I was come to my young mistress,” quoth Mouselier, “ she made much of me, thinking that I had been my old dames daughter, and many tales she told therof to her gossips. My master, also, made much of me, because I would take meat in my foot and therwith put it in my mouth and feed. In this house dwelt an ungracious fellow who, delighting much in unhappy turns, on a time took four walnut shells and filled them full of soft pitch and put them upon my feet into cold water till the pitch was hardened, and then he let me go. But, Lord ! how strange it was for me to go in shoes, and how they vexed me ; for when I was upon any p.86 / steep thing they made me slide and fall down ; wherfore all that afternoon, for anger that I could not get off my shoes, I hid me in a corner of the garret which was boarded, under which my master and mistress lay ; and at night when they were all in bed, I spied a mouse playing in the flower, and when I ran at her to catch her, my shoes made such a noise upon the boards that it waked my master, who was a man very fearful of spirits ; and when he with his servants harkened well to the noise, which went pit pat, pit pat, as it had been the trampling of a horse, they waxed all afraid, and said surely it had been the devil. And as one of them, an hardy fellow, even he that had shooed me, came up stairs to see what it was, I wend downward to meet him, and made such a rattling that when he saw my glistering eyes, he fell down backward and break his head, crying out, the devil ! the devil ! the devil ! which his master and all the rest hearing, ran, naked as they were, into the street, and cried the same cry, wherupon the neighbours arose and p.87 / called up among other and old priest, who lamented much the lack of holy water, which they were forbidden to make. How be it, he went to the church, and took out of the font some of the christening water, and took his chalice and therin a wafer unconsecrated, and put on a surplice and his stole about his neck, and fetched out of his chamber a piece of holy candle which he had kept two year, and herwith he came to the house, and with his candle light in one hand, and a holy water sprinkle in the other hand, and his chalice and wafer in sight of his bosom, and a pot of font water at his girdle, up he came, praying, towards the garret, and all the people after him ; and when I saw this, and thinking I should have seen some mass that night as many nights before in other places I had, I ran towards them, thinking to meet them. But when the priest heard me come, and by a glimpsing had seen me, down he fell upon them that were behind him, and with his chalice hurt one, with his water-pot another, p.88 / and his holy candle fell into another priests breech beneath, who, while the rest were bawsoning me, was conjuring our maid at the stairs foot, and all to besinged him, for he was so afraid with the noise of the rest which fell that he had not the power to put it out. When I saw all this bussiness done I ran among them where they lay on heaps ; but such a fear as they were all in then, I think was never seen afore ; for the old priest, which was so tumbled among them that his face lay upon a boys bare asse, which belike was fallen headlong under him, was so astonished that when the boy, which for fear beshit himself, had all to mired his face, he neither felt nor smelt it, nor removed from him. Then went I to my dame which lay among the rest, God knoweth very madly, and so mewed and curled about her, that at last she said, ‘ I ween it be my cat ; ’ that hearing the knave that had shewed me, and calling to mind that erst he had forgot, said it was so indeed and nothing else. That hearing the priest in whose holy breech the holy candle all p.89 / this while lay burning, he took haste a grace, and before he was spied, rose up and took the candle in his hand, and looked upon me and all the company, and fell a laughing at the handsome lying of his fellows face. The rest, hearing him, came every man to himself, and arose and looked upon me, and cursed the knave which had shoed me, who would in no case be acknowen of it ; this done they got hot water and dissolved the pitch, and plucked off my shoes ; and then evry man, after they desired each other not to acknowne of this nights work, for shame, departed to their lodgings, and all our household went to bed again.” When all the cats, and I to, for company, had laughed at this apace, Mouselyn proceded, and said, “ After this, about three quarters of a year which was at Whitsun last, I played another prank, and that was this : the gentleman who by mine old dames lying, and by my weeping, was accepted and retained of my mistriss, came often home to our house, and always in my masters absence was doing p.90 / with my dame, wherfor desirious that my master might know it, for they spent his goods so lavishly between them that notwithstanding his great trade of merchandize, they had, unweeting to him, almost undone him already, I sought how I might bewray them, which, as hap would, at the time remembered afore, came to pass this while this gentleman was doing with my dame, my master came in so suddenly that he had no leisure to pluck up his hose, but with them about his legs ran into a corner, behind the painted cloth, and there stood, I warrant you, as still as a mouse. As soon as my master came in his wife, according to her old wont, caught him about his neck and kissed him, and devised many means to get him forth agein, but he, being weary, sat down and called for his dinner ; and when she saw there was none other remedy she brought it him, which was a mess of pottage and piece of beef, wheras she and her franion had broke their fast with capons, hot venison, maribones, and all other kinds of p.91 / dainties. I seeing this, and minding to show my master how he was ordered, got behind the cloth, and, to make the man speak, I all to pawed him upon his bare legs and buttocks with my claws, and for all this he stood still and never moved ; but my master heard me, and thinking I was catching a mouse, bad my dame go help me, who knowing what best was there, came to the cloth and called me away, saying, ‘ Come, puss ! come, puss !’ and cast me meat into the floor ; but I minding no other thing, and seeing that scratching could not move him, suddenly I leapt up and caught him by the genitals with my teeth, and bote so hard, that when he had restrained more than I thought any man could, at last he cried out, and caught me by the neck, thinking to strangle me. My master not smelling but hearing such a rat as was not wont to be about such walls, came to the cloth and lift it up, and there found this barearst gentleman strangling me who had his stones in my mouth ; and when I saw my master I leght go my hold, p.92 / and the gentleman his, and away I ran immediately to the place where I now dwell, and never came there since, so that how long they agreed among them I cannot tel, nor never durst go see for fear of my life.
      “ Thus have I told you, my good lords, all things that have been done and happened through me, wherin you perceive my loyalty and obedience to all good laws, and how shamefully and falsely I am accused for a transgresser ; and pray you as you have perceived so certify, my liege, great Cammoloch (whose life both Hagat and Hag preserve), of my behaviour.” When Grisard, Isegrim, and Poilnoes, the commissioners, had heard this declamation and requests of Mouselier, they prayed her much, and after they had commanded her with all the cats there to be on St. Catherine's day next ensuing at Catness, were (as she said) Camoloch would hold his court, they departed. And I glad to have heard that I heard, and sorry that I had not understood what was said the other two nights before, p.93 / got me to my bed and slept a good. And the next morning when I went out into the garden, I heard a strange cat ask of our cat what Mouselier had done before the commisoners those three nights, to whom my cat answered that she had purged herself of a crime that was layed to her by Catchrat, and declared her whole life for six years space, wherof in the first two years, as she said (said she), she had five masters,—a priest, a baker, a lawyer, a broker, and a butcher, all whose privy deceits which she had seen she declared the first night ; in the two years she had seven masters,—a bishop, a knight, a poticary, a goldsmith, an usurer, an alchemist, and a lord, whose cruelty, study, craft, cunning, niggardness, folly, want, and oppression, she declared, the second night wherin, their doing was notable ; because the knight, having a fair lady to his wife, gave his mind so much to his book that he seldom lay with her, this cat, pitying her mistress, and minding to fray him from lying alone, on a night when her master lay from her got to his mouth p.94 / and drew to his breath, that she almost stifled him. A like part she played with the usurer, who being rich and yet living miserably, and faining him poor, she got one day while his treasure chest stood open and hid her therin, wherof he, not knowing, locked her in it, and when at night he came thither again and heard one stirring there, and thinking it had been the devil, he called the priest and many other persons to come and help him to conjure, and when in their sight he opened his chest out leapt she, and they saw what riches he had, and ceassed him thereafter. As for what was done and said yesternight, both of my lord Grisards hard adventure and Mouseliers bestowing of her other two last years, which is nothing in comparison of any of the other twos years before, I need not tell you for you were present and heard it yourself.” This told, lo I heard between these two cats, and though I got me in and brake my fast with bread and butter, and dined at noon with common meat, which so repleted my head again, and my other powers in p.95 / the first digestion that by night time they were as gross as ever they were before ; for I harked at night to other two cats, which, as I perceived by their gesture spake of the same matter, I understood never a word. So here have I told you all, chiefly you, my lord, a wonderful matter, and yet as incredible as it is wonderful ; notwithstanding, when I may have convenient time I will tell you other things which these eyes of mine have seen, and these ears of mine have heard, and that of mysteries so far passing this that all which I have said now shall in comparison therof be nothing at all to be believed. In mean while I will pray you to help to get me some money to convey me on my journey to Cathness, for I have been going thither these five years and never was able to perform my journey. When Master Ferries perceived that he would evry man shut up his shop windows, which the forsaid talk kept open two hours longer than they would have been.

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Design above heading


KNOW these things will seem marvellous to many men that cats should understand and speak, have a government among themselves and be obedient to their laws ; and were it not for the approved authority of the extatical authour of whom I heard it, I should myself be as doubtful as they : but seeing I knew the place and the persons with whom he talked of these matters before he experienced his wonderful and strange confessions, I am the less doubtful of any truth therin. Wherfore seeing that he hath in his oration proved that cats do understand us and mark our secret doings, and so declare them among themselves that through help of the medicine by p.97 / him described any man may, as he did, understand them. I would councill all men to take heed of wickedness, and eschue secret sins and privy mischevious counsels, left, to their shame, all the world at length do hear therof. But if any man for doubt herof do put away his cat, then shall his so doing testify his secret naughty living, which he is more ashamed his cat should see then God and his angels, which see, mark, and behold all mens closet doings ; and that we may take profit by this declaration of Master Streamers, let us so live, both openly and private, that neither our own cat, admitted to all our secrets, be able to declare aught of us to the world save what is laudable and honest ; nor the devils cat, which, wil we or nil we, seeth and writeth all our ill doings here, aught to lay against us afore the face of God, who, not only with shame, but with everlasting torments, will punish all sin and wickedness. And ever when thou goest about anything call to mind this proverb, “ Beware the Cat,” not to tie up thy cat till those have done, but p.98 / to see that neither thine own nor the devils cat, which can not be tied up, find anything therin wherof to accuse thee to thy shame.
      Thus doing thou canst not do amiss, but shall have such good report through the cats declamation, that thou shalt in rememberance of Maister Streamers oration labour, who giveth thee this warning, sing unto God this hymn of his making.


HO givest wit to whales, to apes, to owls,
And kindly speech, to fish, to flesh, to
         fowls ;
And spirits to men in soul and body clean,
To mark and know what other creaturs mean.

Which hast given grace to Gregorie, no pope,
No king, no lord, whose treasures are this hope,
But silly priest, which like a Streamer waves,
In ghostly good despisde of foolish knaves.

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Which hast, I say, given grace to him to know
The course of things above and here below ;
With skill so great in langages and tounges,
As never breathed from Mithridates lungs.

To whom the hunter of birds, of mice, and rats,
Did squeak as plain as Kate that thomneth hats,
By mean of whom is openly bewraid
Such things as closely were both done and said.

To him graunt, Lord, with healthy wealth and rest,
Long life to us to unload his learned breast ;
With fame so great to e'er live his grave,
As none had erst nor any after have.


Imprinted at London by John Alde, Anno Domini 1570, and
are to be sold by John Arnold at the North Doore of Pauls.

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[Written in pen:]   Ten Copies Only.
 Number Ten.
          J. O. H.