My dear friend, Mrs. Astor, has accused me of being a master at court intrigue
Of course I laughed at this suggestion as I am just a little old Countess from Transylchusetts.
How could I possibly indulge in court intrigue?
The court of Elizabeth I of England was a hotbed of intrigue. Several of our favorite nursery rhymes came about as a way to set the court’s intrigue into a popular jingle much like an advertising slogan will do today.
Hey diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
The cat is argued to represent Queen Elizabeth I who was nicknamed ‘The Cat’ because of the way she played or fiddled with her cabinet members, much like a cat will play with mice. An interesting quote by Elizabeth I states, “I may not be a lion, but I am a lion’s cub, and I have a lion’s heart.” Perhaps the nickname, given behind her back, was not unknown to Elizabeth.
The little dog was reportedly Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Some believe Elizabeth loved Robert; others feel that they were simply very close friends. It is said that Elizabeth once referred to him as her ‘lap dog.’ It is suggested that the cow and the moon are also nicknames for members of Elizabethan court intrigue.
It is said that Elizabeth’s serving lady represents the dish and the spoon was the designation of the royal taster. These two servants fell in love and secretly eloped and ran away from the court. When they were captured, Elizabeth had them thrown into the Tower of London.
Perhaps Mrs. Astor had better keep a good eye on the Royal Taster.
Good Lord, I shall not eat or drink for the entire time you are here. Right.
Darling Mrs. Astor, duBarry and I will lend you OUR taster. Not to worry!
Or, it could just really be a silly children's nursery rhyme. I think I like that better.