[ 'Beware the Cat by William Baldwin, 1584.' is reproduced from Prefaces Dedications Epistles selected from early English books 1540-1701, selected by William Carew Hazlitt, printed for private circulation by Henry Huth, London: Chiswick Press, 1874, pp.69-74. Page numbers are as in Huth's edition.]



    [ A fragment of this book, including a title-page dated 1570, was sold among Dr. Bliss's books, and Ritson mentions one of 1561. Only one copy of the impression of 1584, deficient of the title-page, has apparently come down to us ; it is that which passed through the hands of George Steevens and others, and at the sale of Mr. Corser's library was purchased for Mr. Huth. The George Ferrers mentioned below was the well-known person of that name, of whom there is a sufficient account in Warton. ]

Heading: T.K. to the Reader.

His little book Bevvare the Cat,
    moste pleasantly compil'd :
In time obscured was and so
    siince that hath been exilde.
p.70 /
Exilde, because perchaunce at first
    it shewed the toyes and drifts,
Of such as then by wiles and willes
    maintained Popish shifts.

Shifts, such as those in such a time
    delighted for to vse :
Wherby ful many simple soules
    they did ful sore abuse.

Abuse? yea sure, and that with spight,
    when as the Cat gan tel
Of many pranks of popish preests,
    bothe foolish, mad and fel.

Fel sure & vaine, if iudgement right
    appeere to be in place :
And so as fel in pleasant wise
    this fixion shewes their grace.

Grace? nay sure vngratiousnes
    of such and many mo:
Which may be tolde in these our daies
    to make vs laugh also.

Also to laugh? nay, rather weep
    to see such shifts now vsed:
And that in euery sorte of men
    true vertue is abused.

Abused? yea, and quite downe cast,
    let vs be sure of that:
And therfore now, as hath been said,
    I say beware the Cat.

p.71 /
The Cat ful pleasantly wil shew
    some sleights that now are wrought ;
And make some laugh, which vnto mirth
    to be constrainde are loght.

Lothe? yea, for ouer passing greef,
    that much bereues their minde :
For such disorder, as in states
    of euery sorte they finde.

Finde? yea, who can now boste but that
    the Cat wil him disclose?
Therfore in midst of mirth (I say)
    beware the Cat to those.

Heading: To The Right Wor-
shipful Esquire John Yung,
grace and helth.

Haue penned, for your maisterships pleasure, one of the stories which M. Streamer tolde the last Christmas, and whiche you so faine would haue heard reported by M. ferrers him selfe ; and although I be vnable to pen or speak the same so pleasantly as he coulde : yet haue I so neerly vsed bothe the order and woords of him that spake them, which is not the least vertue of a reporter, that I dout not but that he and M. willot shal in the reading think they hear M. Streamer speak, and he him self in the like action shal dout whether he speaketh or readeth. I haue deuided his oration into three parts, and set thargument p.72 / before then and an instruction after them with such notes as might be gathered therof. so making it book like and intituled Beware the Cat. But because I dout whether M. Stremer wil be contented that other men plovve with his oxen (I mean penne suche things as he speaketh), which perhaps hee would rather doo him self, to haue as hee deserueth the glory of bothe : therfore I besech you to learne his minde heerin. And if he agre it pas in such sort : yet that he peruse it before the printing, and amend it, if in any point I haue mistaken him. I pray you likewise to ask M Ferrers his iudgement heerin, and shew him that the cure of the great plague of M Streamers translation out of the Arabique, which he sent me from Margets, shalbe imprinted as soon as I may conueniently. And if I shal perceiue by your triall that M. Streamer allow my endeuours in this kinde, I wil heer after (as Plato did by socrates) pen out such things of the rest of our Christmas conmunications as shalbe to his great glory, and no lesse pleasure to all then that desire such
kindes of knowledge . in the mean vvhile i beseech
you to accept my good wil and learn to beware
the Cat. So shall you not only per-
form that i seek : but also please
the almightie who alwayes
preserue you
                                Yours to his power, G.B.

p.73 /

Heading: The Argument.

T chaunced that, at Christemas last, I was at Court with Maister Ferrers then maister of the Kings maiesties pastimes, about setting foorth of sertain Interludes, which for ye Kings recreation we had deuised & were in learning. In which time, among many other exercises among our selues : we vsed nightly at our lodging to talke of sundry things for the furtherance of such offices, wherin eche man as then serued, for which purpose it pleased Maister Ferrers to make me his bedfellowe, and vpon a Pallet cast vpon the rushes in his owne Chamber to lodge Maister Willot and Maister Stremer, the one his Astronomer : the other his Diuine. And among many other things to long to rehearce : it hapned on a night (which I think was the twenty eight of December) after that M. Ferrers was come from the Court, and in bed : there fel a controuersie between maister Streamer (who with Maister Willot had already slept their first sleep) and mee that was newly come vnto bed, the effect wherof was whether Birds and beasts had reason ; the occasion therof was this. I had heard that the Kings Players were learning a play of Esops Crowe, wherin the moste part of the actors were birds, the deuice wherof I discommended, saying it was not Comicall to make either speechlesse things to speake : or brutish things to commen resonably. And although in a tale it be sufferable p.74 / to immagin and tel of some thing by them spoken or reasonably doon (which kinde Esope lawdably vsed) yet it was vncomely (said I) and without example of any authour to bring them in liuely personages to speake, doo, reason, and allege authorities out of authours. M. Stremer, my Lordes Diuine, beeing more diuine in this point then I was ware of, held the contrary parte, afferming that beasts and foules haue reason, and that asmuch as men, yea and in some points more. M. Ferrers him self and his Astronomer waked with our talke and harkned to vs, but would take parte on neither side. And when M. Stremer had for proofe of his assertion declared many things of Elephants that walked vppon cords, Hedghogs that knew alwaies what wether would come :
      Foxes and Dogges that, after they had been all night a brode killing Geese and Sheep, would come home in the morning and put their necks into their collers. Parats that bewailed their keepers death : Swalowes that with Sellendine open their yung ones eyes, & an hundred things more which I denyed to come of reason, and to be but naturall kindely actions, alledging for my proof authoritie of moste graue and learned Philosophers : Wel, quoth maister Stremer, I knowe what I knowe, and I speak not onely what by hearsay of some Philosophers I knowe : but what I myself haue prooued. Why, quoth I then, haue you proofe of beasts & foweles reason ? Yea, quoth he, I haue herd them, and vnderstand them bothe speak and reason, aswel as I hear and vnderstand you. At this M. Ferrers laughed ; but I, remembring what I had red in Albertus woorks, p.75 / thought their might be sonwhat more then I did knowe, wherfore I asked him what beasts or fowles he had heard, and where, and when ? At this hee paused awhile, and at last said. If that I thought you could be content to hear me, and without any interruption, till I haue doon to mark what I say : I would tel you such a story of one peece of myne owne experimenting, as should bothe make you wunder and put you out of dout concerning this matter ; but this I promise you a fore, if I doo tel it, that assoon as any man cur-
iously interupteth mee : I wil leaue of & not
speak one woord more. When we had pro-
mised quietly to heare, he turning
him self so in his bed as we
might best heare him,
said as followeth.
Decorative end page design

[This is where the text ends in the Hazlitt/Huth 1874 republication.]