The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 52

That day the Emperor Charles received from England a letter in which his son said to him:

Sir and Father:

It displeases me to have to live in this land where the accursed heretics breed like fleas and caterpillars and locusts. Fire and sword would not be amiss to lop them from off the trunk of the life-giving tree our mother Holy Church. As if this grief were not enough for me, still it must needs be that they will not look on me as their king, but as their queen’s husband, and having no authority apart from her. They make game of me, saying in malicious pamphlets, whose authors and printers none can discover, that the Pope pays me to trouble and harm the realm with impious hangings and burnings, and when I would raise some urgent levy from them, for oftentimes they leave me without money, out of mere malice, they reply in evil lampoons that I have but to ask money from Satan whose work I do. The men of the Parliament make excuses and hunch up their backs in fear lest I should bite, but they grant nothing.

All the while the walls of London are covered with lampoons representing me as a parricide ready to strike down Your Majesty to have your inheritance.

But you know, my lord and father, that in spite of all my legitimate ambition and pride, I wish Your Majesty a long and glorious reign.

They scatter also throughout the town a drawing all too cleverly engraved on copper, in which I am seen making cats play upon a harpsichord with their paws, shut up inside the instruments, with their tails protruding through round holes into which they are fastened with iron pins. A man, who is myself, is burning their tails with a red-hot iron, and so making them strike on the keys with their paws and yowl desperately. I am depicted as so ugly that I cannot even bear to look at myself in it. And they show me laughing. Now you must know, dear sir and father, if I happened to take this profane pleasure at any time, I doubtless endeavoured to amuse myself by making these cats mew, but I never laughed. They make it a crime in me, in their rebel’s talk, what they call the newfangledness and cruelty of this harpsichord, although the beasts have no souls, and though men and especially all royal personages may use them even unto death for their diversion. But in this land of England they are so well mated with beasts that they treat them better than their servants; stables and kennels here are palaces, and there are lords even that sleep with their horses on the same litter.

Furthermore, my noble wife and queen is barren; they declare by way of brutal insult that I am the reason, and not she who is also jealous, sullen, and gluttonous of love beyond degree. Dear sir and father, every day I implore our Lord God to have me in his grace, hoping for another throne, were it among the Turks, while awaiting that to which I am called by the honour of being the son of your most glorious and greatly victorious Majesty.

(Signed) Philip.

To this letter the Emperor made answer:

Sir and Son:

Your enemies are strong, I do not contest the fact, but endeavour to endure with patience the waiting for a more illustrious crown. I have already announced to divers the intention I have conceived of withdrawing from the Low Countries and my other dominions, for I am well aware that old and gouty as I now become, I cannot well make head against Henry of France, second of the name, for Fortune loveth the young. Think also that as the master of England you wound by your power our enemy France.

I was foully beaten before Metz, and lost forty thousand men there. I was forced to flee before him of Saxony. If God doth not restore me by a touch of his good and divine will unto my full strength and vigour, I am minded, dear sir and son, to quit my realms and leave them to you.

Have therefore patience and meanwhile do your duty fully against the heretics, sparing none of them, men, women, girls, nor babes, for word has come to me, to my great grief, that madame the queen would fain ofttimes have shown them grace.

Your affectionate father,

(Signed) Charles.