Talking Horses: “The Cavalier’s brave warlike horse bids them kiss his arse”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.46.14Here’s a gem. This salty poem appeared on a pamphlet during the English Civil War, and it pitches the Royalist Cavaliers against the Cromwellian Roundheads through the medium of a fancy, boastful war horse and a humble mill horse or ass. Some tart words are exchanged between these two, reflecting on the ideologies of opposing sides in the war, and on class and the fate of equines in general. I copied it from a microfiche in Cambridge University Library that was not always legible, so my apologies for the omissions or errors. The spelling is also “authentic”, but reading it is rewarding, I promise!

A Dialogue Betwixt a Horse of warre and a millhorse
wherein the content and safety of an humble and painfull life, is preferred above all the Noyse, the Tumult, and Trophies of the Warre.

Full of harmeless Mirth, and variety

London, printed Bernard Alsop, published according to order, 1645

A discourse between the Cavalliers Warre-Horse and the Country-mans Mill-Horse

Cavalier’s horse:
Well met old Mill-Horse or indeed an Asse,
I must instruct thee before we doe passe
How to live bravely; look on me and view
My Bridle and my Saddle faire and new;
Warre doth exalt me, and by it I get
Honour, while that my picture is forth set
Cut out in Brasse, while on my back I beare
Some Noble Earle or valiant Cavallier.
Come therefore to the Wars, and doe not still
Subject thyself to beare Sacks to the Mill.

Mill horse:
Despise me not thou Cavallier War-horse
For though to live I take an idle course
Yet for the common-wealth I alwayes stand;
and am imploy’d for it, though I’m nam’d
A Mill-Horse, I am free and seem not under
Malignants that doe townes and houses plunder,
Transported on thy back, while thou must be
Halfe guilty of their wrong, and injurie
Done to their country, while without just cause,
Thought fightest for the King against the Lawess
Against religion, parliament and all
and leave the Pope and Bishops down would fall
Thou art expos’d to battle but no thanks
thou hast at all when thou dost break the Ranks
of our stout Musketiers, whose bullets flye
In showeres, as in the fight at Newbery,
And force thee to retreat with wounds or lame,
is this the glory of thy halting fame
Whereof thou dost so bragge? … [illegible] thy fault
of fighting for them who have alwayes fought
Against the common-wealth, is such a sin
That both stick closer to thee than thy skin
What though upon my back I carry sacks;
Thy meat is plundered out of barns and stacks
While thou dost feed on stolen oates and hay
the wronged farmers curse the strength away
of all thy Diet, often inviting that
diseases may consume they ill-got fat,
therefore recant and never more appeare
in field a Champion for the Cavallier;
Let not his Spurre nor false fame prick thee on
to fight in unjust warres as thou hast done.

Cav. horse:
Fame is not what I aime at, but the knowne
Right of the King, the trumpet that is blowne
Into the Battell doth not give me more
Courage, than what I had in him before,
As if we did partake of more then sense
and farre exceeded man’s intelligence,
In Hooping unto Kings, and doe prove thus
Ourselves descended from Bucephalus,
That Horse who did no loyall duty lack
But kneeling downe received on his back
Great Alexander, while men kick and fling
Against the power of so good a King
As time has blest us with, O let this force
A change in thee who art dull Mill-horse.
Thou art no Papist being without merit,
Nor zealous Brownist, for thou dost want spirit.
But with a Halter ty’d to block or pale,
… [illegible] pennance, while they master drinks his Ale
In some poore Village; such a poore thing art thou
Who Gentry scorne, beare till thy ribs doe bow
Burthens of corne or meale, while that Kings are
My Royall Masters both in Peace and Warre.

Mill-horse:
Boast not of happy fortune, since time brings
a change to setled states and greatest Kings,
England was happy; peace and plenty too
Did make their rich abode here, but now view
the alteration, warre hath brought in twos [?]
and sad destruction both this land o’flow;
Now thou art proud, but if this Warre in peace
Should end, they high ambition would then cease;
Thy strength and courage would find no regard,
Thy plundering service would get no reward,
Although in warre thou trample downe and kill
Thy foe, in age thou shalt beare sacks to mill
As i doe now, and when thy skinne is grizzle
… [illegible] underneath thy burthen, fart and fizzle
… [illegible] an old horse, a souldier of the kings
‘All imploy’d valour sad repentence brings,
when thou art lame, and wounded in a fight
not knowing whether thou dost wrong or right,
or what is the true ground of this sad warre
Where king and subjects both ingaged are;
both doe pretend the justnesse of their cause
One for Religion, Liberty and Lawes;
Doth stand, while that the king doth strive again
his right and due prerogative to maintaine;
the king keeps close to this, while subjects be
Growne mad to eclipse the sonne of Majestie
by enterpoling differences; how canst though judge
Where the fault is? both at each other’s grudge,
I know that this discourse is farre too high
For us, yet now to talke of Majesty;
In boldest manner is a common thing
While every cobler will condemn a king,
And to be politick in their discourse
Yet know no more then I a poor MIll-Horse;
Who for the common-wealth doe stand and goe
Would every common-wealth man doe so.

Cav. horse:
Mill horse in this thy space and speech agree
Both wanting spirit dull and tedious bee;
The King and commonwealth are vexed the ames
writ on by many; prathee think on Beanes
And Oates well ground, what need hast thou to care
How the deplored common-wealth doth fare;
for policy this rule in mind doth keep,
‘Laugh when thou hast made others grieve and weep,
what care we how the State of things doe goe?
‘While thou art well, let others feel the woe.
If I have store of provender I care not,
Let cavaliers still plunder on and spare not,
When Ockingham [?] was burned I stood by
and like rich widdowes wept at ne’re an eye;
When the town burnt a fellow said in leather
‘He loved to see a good fire in cold weather;
and with the simple clowne I doe stay still,
‘If I do well I care not who doth ill;
For with the Cavalliers I keep one course,
And I have no more Religion then a Horse.
I care not for Liberty nor Lawes,
Nor priviledge of Subjects, nor the cause,
Let us stand well affected to good Oates,
While that the ship of State and Kingdom floates
on bloody waves, the staved rack shall be
Crammed with hay, a common-wealth to me.

Mill horse:
I pity thee thou great war horse
As thou art like Cavalliers without remorse;
The sad affliction which the kingdom feeles
Regarding not thou casts it at thy heeles;
And so doth prove that horses have no brains,
Or if they have they little wit containe.
Into the kingdomes tale thy prick eares lend
A whole griefe I will describe, and right defend.

Cav-horse:
Though defend right, thy right to the high way
is lost, as sure as thou dost live by hey,
In telling of a tale without all doubt
Thou needs must be humble, and wilt soon run out
of breath and sense, good Mill-horse, therefore prethee
Leave tales, there are too many tales already,
That weekly flye with more lies without faile
Then there be haires on a horses taile;
And if the writers angry be I wish,
You would the Cavalliers horse arse both kisse,
Not as the Miller thy back doth kisse with whip,
But as a lover doth his mistresse lip;
For know the Cavalliers brave warlick [sic] horse
Scornes vulgar jades, and bid them kisse his arse.

Mill horse:
Thou pampered Jade that liv’st by plundered oates
My skin’s as good as thine and worth ten groates,
Though slow of foot, I come of good kind,
of Racers, gotten by the boistrous wind
… [illegible] when the mare turned her back-side in the mouth
of Boreas, being northerne breed not South
The Miller’s horse before the warres began,
Would take the way of Lords and Gentleman;
And when peace shall malignants keep in aw,
I shall see thee in coach or dung cart draw.

Cav-horse:
I scorne thy motion, after this sad Warre,
Perhaps I may draw in some Coach or Carre,
and which doth grieve me, Cavaliers most high-born
I may be forced to draw on to Tiburne:
In time of Peace I serve for Triumphs, more then that
I shall be made a Bishop, and grow fat,
As Archey said ‘When bishops rul’d t’was worse,
that had no more religion than a horse.’
But thou shalte weare thy selfe out, and be stil
an everlasting drudge unto some Mill.

Mill-horse:
No matter, I will spend my life and health,
Both for my country and the common-wealth,
And it is Prince-like (if well understood)
to be ill-spoken off for doing good,
and if a horse may … [illegible] his good intent
some asses raile thus at parliament
scorn is a burthen laid on good men still,
which they must beare, as I do sackes to the mill:
But thou delighteth to hear trumpets rattle
and animal rushing into lawlesse battle;
If thou couldst think of thoe who are slain and dead,
they skin would blush, and all thy … [illegible] red
with blood of men, but I do with for peace,
on that condition Dogs may eat thy flesh.
then should the Mill-horse meat both fetch and bring,
Towns brew good Ale, and drink healths to the king.

Cav-horse:
Base Mill-horse have I broke my bridle, where
I was tyed by my master Cavaliere
To come and prattle with thee, and doest thou
wish dogs might eat my flesh? I scorn thee now?
My angry sense a great desire not feeles,
to kick thee into manners with my heeles.
But for the present I will curb my will,
If thou wilt tell me some newes from the mill.

Mill-horse:
If thou wilt tell me newes from camp and court,
I’ll tell the Mill-newes that shall make thee sport.

Cav-horse:
If country news thou wilt relate and shew me,
Halters of love shall binde me fast unto thee.

Mill-horse:
It chancced that I carried a young Maid
to Mill, and was to stumble much afraid,
she rid in handsome manner on my back,
and seem’d more heavie then the long meale sacke
on which the fate, when she alighted, I
perceive’d her belly was grown plump and high;
I carried many others and all were
Gotten with childe still by the Cavaleer [sic],
so that this newes for truth I may set downe,
there’s scarce a Mayd left in a market towne;
A woman old with … [illegible] on her chin,
did tell the miller she had plundered been
thrice by the Cavaliers, and they had taken
her featherbeds, her brass, and all her bacon
and eke [?] her daughter Bridget that should wed
Clodsforms, was plundered of her maidenhead,
besides I heare your Cavaliers does still,
Drinke sacke like water that runs from the mill;
we heare of Irish Rebels comming over,
which was a plot that I dare not discover,
and that malignant Army of the king,
Into this land blinde Popery would bring.

Cav-horse:
Peace, peace, I see thou dost know nothing now,
They fleering jests I cannot well allow;
and there are Mercuries abroad that will,
tell better news then a horse of the Mill;
But I will answer thee, and tell thee thus,
thou lyest as bad as ere did Aulicus.
Who thought he write Court-newes I’ll tell you what,
he’ll lye as fast as both of us can trot.
You tell of Maydens that have been beguild,
and by the Cavaleers [sic] are got with childe,
and hast not thou when thou wast fat and idle,
often times broke thy halter and thy bridle,
and rambled over hedge and ditch to come,
unto some Mare, whom thou hast quickly wonne
to thy desire, and leapt her in the place,
of dull Mill-horses to beget a race;
while that the Cavaliers when they do fall
to worke, will get a race of soldiers all.
It had been newes whereat I would have smilde,
If the maids had got the Cavalliers with childe.

Mill-horse:
I ramble over hedge, thou meanst indeed [?]
The Cavaliers, who were compelt, with speed
both over hedge and ditch away to flee
when they were lately beat at Newbery,
the proverb to be true is prov’d by thee
that servants like unto their masters bee;
those plundering … [illegible] on thy back doe ride,
have fill o’thee with a pamper’d spirit of pride,
and hath eaten too much Popish Dates [?]
That in thy belly thou hast got three Popes;
the great grandfather of that race did come
that bore [?] Pope Joane in triumph through Rome
I heare to Mill of corne a plump long sack,
thou carriest a great Pluto upon thy back,
… [illegible] Cavallier and who can then abide thee,
when that malignant fooles and knaves do ride thee
from town to town and plunder where they come,
the country is by Cavlliers undone.
and these thy matters are, who fight and kill
and seek the blood of the protestants to spill;
for thus the newes abroad doth alwayes runne,
that the kings forces are in horse most strong
whereby it doth appeare the … [illegible] War-horse are
guilty of blood-shed, in this cruell wars
and yet the Cavalliers horse I heare
at Kenton Field beshit themselves for feare.
and the Cavalliers being kill’d, they run about
the field to seek another master out,
therefore love war, and have of wounds thy fill,
while I in peace doe walk unto the mill;
I will be alwayes true unto my selfs
and love the kingdome and the Common-wealth.

Cav-horse:
Mill-horse, because thou shewst thy railing wits,
I’ll give thee a round answer with some kicks,
which I’ll bestow upon thee, but I’m … [illegible] done,
Yonder my Cavallier doth come
to fetch me back, and Yonder too I see
the miller comming for to take up thee
if thou lik’st not my discourse very well,
Mill-horse take up my taile, and so farwell.”

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

  • Composer Eve Harrison teamed up with Scottish schoolchildren to write a musical about the horse meat scandal, called The Unspeakable. If I weren’t on the move just now I would dig out a 17th century story in which Scottish children chased and stoned a man known to eat horse meat. (BBC)
  • The FAO reports that the number of horses in the world has dropped by a million every year from 2009–2011, doubtless in response to the recession. The number of donkeys has increased – again, I’m pretty sure that’s down to the recession too. Donkeys make the developing world go round, after all. (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In the wake of the horse meat scandal, Ireland tightened its enforcement of slaughter regulations, with the result that the number of horses entering abattoirs has plummetted. The government is now considering a humane disposal programme for horses that have been treated with bute and other drugs that render them unfit for human consumption. (Irish Times) Meanwhile the UK’s DEFRA will close the loop hole that allowed horses travelling between Ireland, the UK and France to escape a full vet inspection. Racehorses and FEI competitors will still be excused (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In May the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association’s executive committee voted in favour of a bill that would end the use of padded shoes and chains. The board of directors nixed it. Now a member of the executive committee is running an unauthorised poll among members to ask them what they think, and feathers are flying (The Tennessean)
  • Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered a 2,500 year-old Thracian chariot and two horses – the twist? The horses were somehow buried standing (Habitat for Horses)
  • Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    New York Subway Art

    New York Subway Art

    • I’m usually sceptical about “horses stolen for meat” stories (unless they come from Florida), but this one rings true. A Romanian has been arrested in connection with the theft of several draft horses in eastern France, allegedly for the slaughter trade. Some of the horses were already being raised for meat. (The Horse)
    • The English police horse who was punched by a drunk football fan has received boxes of polo mints from fans of the opposing team. (Daily Mail)
    • A British university claims that the Carneddau ponies that died of starvation and exposure in Wales earlier this year are part of a genetically distinct breed that shares a common, but centuries-removed ancestor with Welsh Mountain ponies. (BBC)
    • Ipswich Transport Museum is restoring a horsedrawn tram. The lightweight draft horses that drew these vehicles were dubbed “trammers” and in the nineteenth century typically only lasted a year between the shafts because of the effort of drawing the tram through often clogged tracks. (BBC)
    • “Thank God for the horses. Thank God for the bloody horses,” – a trooper at the 1917 Battle of Beersheba. (ABC)
    • Wild horse and burro sanctuaries in California, and how to visit them. (SFGate blogs)
    • Awards for teenage boys who saved a trapped Shetland pony from drowning. (HorseTalk)
    • I can’t keep up. Now the NYT is saying there will be federal approval for a horse slaughter house in New Mexico.. (NYT)
    • A horse had to be euthanised in Belfast after hitting a car. The case raises ongoing concerns about horses that are kept untethered (or tethered, come to that) on housing estates in the city. (Belfast Telegraph)
    • Interesting, given the cheap meat scandal: the value of horse meat exported from the UK has more than doubled in five years. (This Is Wiltshire)
    • Horse racing begins again in Libya. (Al Arabiya)
    • Seventh century horse armour/tack unearthed in Japan. (Asahi Shimbun)

    Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    Found horse, Berlin street.

    Found horse, Berlin street.

    First up: please go directly to Horse Nation to read Susan Corwin’s account of joining a hunt in Meath, Ireland to break the world record for the number of side-saddle attendees. Fans of Molly Keane and Somerville & Ross will enjoy the craic. This was Susan’s first choice of riding expedition after a gruelling course of cancer treatment. Turns out a thick application of Irish mud, a wilful Connemara pony and some very large ditches are just the ticket.

    After about the second ditch, a very kind Irish gentleman handed me his flask and assured me that the more I drank now, the smaller the ditches would get, and the more I drank at the pub later, the bigger they would get.

    And now on with the more mixed news of all that’s weird or worrying in the horse world. Not much light-hearted fun this week, I’m afraid, but some steps forward.

    • Burger King finds itself implicated in the horse meat scandal. (CNN) Which has probably been going on for over a year… (Telegraph) Meanwhile, Poland say that five of the six slaugherhouses that supply meat to Ireland have no traces of horsemeat on site. (Reuters)
    • Aqueduct racetrack in New York begins to cancel race days in order to try and get a grip on horse safety. Six horses have broken down on the turf course and been shot since December. More of the NYT’s excellent coverage of the lethal intersection of big, casino-inflated purses and medication abuse in US horse racing (NYT)
    • Denver International Airport erected a statue of a giant blue mustang with neon red eyes five years ago, and everyone hated it. Now that those five years have passed, locals are legally allowed to petition for its removal. Will it become a cult classic or a bad taste memory? (9News.com)
    • Danish scientists on the challenges and rewards of studying social hierarchy in horses. (The Horse)
    • I’ve covered donkey-milk soap as a beauty aid. Now Kazakhstan is getting in on the act with horse-milk soap. (Eurasia.net)
    • Emaciated and gravely injured cob youngster abandoned in an Essex playground. Photo not for the faint-hearted; the horse had to be put down immediately. (Thisistotalessex)
    • The number of ponies hit by cars on Dartmoor has risen with the poor weather: the ponies come to the roads for the sale that’s laid down to melt snow. (BBC)
    • An American man says he violated a horse because he was trying to make a “horseman baby”. (The Smoking Gun) And Germany outlaws bestiality. Good news for German horses, if not for wannabe centaur begetters. (NYT)

    How To Give Your Lover A Pony For Valentine’s Day

    Image from The Young Lady's Equestrian Manual (1838), at Archive.org

    Image from The Young Lady’s Equestrian Manual (1838), at Archive.org

    Jewellery’s nice. A fine meal with wine – yes, also good. I’ll let you in on a secret: I wouldn’t say no to a weekend in Venice. But can any of them compete with a pony? I think not. Fear not, lovers of the horse-mad, I have your Valentine’s gift solution. Here’s a list of local and global charities in the UK that offer adoption gift sets.

    The Moorland Mousie Trust on Exmoor have a selection of bonny Exmoor ponies for you to adopt. Updates and photos can be posted or emailed to you, and you have a chance to visit the centre and maybe even ride your pony. Score!

    Redwings Horse Sanctuary have incredible facilities for caring for neglected equines, from a full-on veterinary hospital to a special unit for handling the most traumatised animals. They also have a range of options for adopters, and a wide variety of beasties to choose from. What about Muffin the mule?

    The Horse Rescue Fund is a Norfolk charity that’s been instrumental in pushing for changes in legislation to protect all horses, from riding school regulations to meat export. They offer a chance to sponsor some of their long-term residents, including Oscar, who was dumped at a mere nine days of age and is now doing very well indeed.

    World Horse Welfare have also pulled their weight in campaigning to improve the lives of equines. They oversee a network of rescues around the UK. What about adopting Spencer, who’s based in Aberdeen, and who was rescued in terrible condition from a semi-wild herd?

    Horse World in Bristol don’t just provide photos and updates, they also send you a wee stuffed-toy version of your horse or donkey. Horse World have the best names: how could you resist a donkey called Bathmat or Pickle-Lily? Also: you are invited to their birthday party. Oh yes.

    Speaking of donkeys, let’s skip on to Adoptadonkey.org.uk which promises instant local donkey to those who cannot resist long, soft ears and a fixation with gingernuts. The Donkey Sanctuary oversees the site, and they have an excellent record not just for rescuing donks in the UK, but also contributing to improvements in the welfare of working donkeys overseas. They’re branching out into therapeutic use of donkeys too, which makes me think we need a new term. If “hippotherapy” is therapy involving horses, then the donkey equivalent is “onotherapy”. Credit where it’s due.

    The Brooke is another truly excellent charity, this time devoted exclusively to work in the developing world, where equines make an enormous contribution to the economy. You might never meet your Brooke donkey, but your adoption will help both him and the family he supports.

    Donkeys, Books, Unicorn Boadiceas and Brixton Ponies

    This is my “what I did on my busman’s holiday” post, except that there will be multiple posts because I can’t do multiple slideshows in a single post.

    My first stop was Dartington Hall, home of this lovely donkey statue. I was giving a talk at the Telegraph‘s Way with Words literary festival – my debut as a jobbing, all-singing, all-dancing 21st-century performing author. Owing to the whole “working from home” effect (The Oatmeal sums it up nicely here), general feelings of inadequacy and a large dollop of overexcitement at the possibilities of Power Point, I prepared for the talk as if it were a PhD viva. As I launched into the talk, which coincided exactly with the beginning of Andy Murray’s Wimbedon final, I realised that (a) it would have been far better if I’d trusted myself to improvise the whole thing and (b) what’s required is not a lecture but a piece of stand-up comedy. If I told you that my first question from the floor was, “Well, why do girls like horses?” then you’ll understand how muddled I was. I live, I learn.

    Once I’d finished I was able to relax and chat to some of the other authors, discovering that Michele Hanson of the Guardian is a secret ex-horsey girl, and that a very reliable Highland pony once managed to slip Monty Halls off his shoulder three times in less than an hour. I then, via a crammed train, a nose bleed and a long wait at Swindon, reached Tetbury where the Yellow Lighted Bookshop had drummed up a fantastic audience who seemed to enjoy the newly written, improved and improvised If Wishes Were Horses talk. Hereward and his team run a beautiful shop, and let me range through the shelves ogling cookbooks which I (rudely) forgot to buy when the talk was over as I was so relieved.

    I spent the night with some friends just outside Stroud, and found this curious welcoming arrangement on my bedroom windowsill:

    Back in London I had an afternoon of setting the world to rights with Rose Spearing MBE at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. We watched as the after-school club had their lessons (part of which included “wearing” a bridle and being steered around the yard) and the older kids prepared ponies for an event at Hickstead. To be continued…