|Chapter I||Chapter II||Chapter III|
|Sir Thomas Browne|
Pompey the Little.
A panegyric upon dogs, together with some observations on modern novels and romances.
ARIOUS and wonderful, in all ages, have been the actions of dogs ; and were I to collect, from poets and historians, the many passages that make honourable mention of them, I should compose a work much too large and voluminous for the patience of any modern reader. But as the politicians of the age, and men of gravity may be apt to censure me for mispending my time in write the adventures of a lap-dog, when there are so many modern heroes, whose illustrious actions call loudly for the pen of an historian ; it will not be amiss to detain the reader, in the entrance of this work, with a short panegyric on the canine race, to justify my undertaking.
And can we, without the basest ingratitude, think ill of an animal, that has ever honoured mankind with his company and friendship, from the beginning of the world to the present moment ? While all other creatures are in a state of enmity with us ; some flying into woods and wildernesses to escape our tyranny, and others requiring to be restrained with bridles and fences in close confinement ; dogs alone enter into voluntary friendship with us, and of their own accord make their residence among us.
Nor do they trouble us only with officious fidelity, and useless good-will, but take care to earn their livelihood by many meritorious services : they guard our houses, supply our tables with provision, amuse our leisure hours, and discover plots to the government. Nay, I have heard of a dog's making a syllogism ; which cannot fail to endear him to our two famous universities, where his brother-logicians are so honoured and distinguished for their skill in that useful science.
After these extraordinary instances of sagacity and merit, it may be thought too ludicrous, perhaps, to mention the capacity they have often discovered, for playing at cards, fiddling, dancing, and other polite accomplishments ; yet I cannot help relating a little story, which formerly happened at the play-house in Lincolns-Inn-Fields.
There was, at that time, the same emulation between the two houses, as there is at present between the two great republics of Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden ; each of them striving to amuse the town with various feats of activity, when they began to grow tired of sense, wit, and action. At length, the managers of the house of Lincolns-Inn-Fields, possessed with a happy turn of thought, introduced a dance of dogs ; who were dressed in French characters, to make the representation more ridiculous, and acquitted themselves for several evenings to the universal delight and improvement of the town. But one unfortunate night, a malicious wag behind the scenes, threw down among them the leg of a fowl, which he had brought thither in his pocket for that purpose. Instantly all was in confusion ; the marquis shook off his peruke, mademoiselle dropp'd her hoop-petticoat, the fiddler threw away his violin, and all fell to scrambling for the prize that was thrown among them. --- But let us return to graver matter.
If we look back into ancient history, we shall find the wisest and most celebrated nations of antiquity, as it were, contending with one another, which should pay the greatest honour to dogs. The old astronomers denominated stars after their name ; and the Egyptians in particular, a sapient and venerable people, worshipped a dog among the principal of their divinities. The poets represent Diana, as spending great part of her life among a pack of hounds, which I mention for the honour of the country gentlemen of Great-Britain ; and we know that the illustrious Theseus dedicated much of his time to the same companions.
Julius Pollux informs us, that the art of dying purple and scarlet cloth was first found out by Hercules's dog, who roving along the sea-coast, and accidentally eating of the fish Murex, or Purpura, his lips became tinged with that colour; from whence the hint was first taken of the purple manufacture, and to this lucky Event our fine Gentlemen of the army are indebted for the scarlet, with which they subdue the hearts of so many fair ladies.
But nothing can give us a more exalted idea of these illustrious animals, than to consider, that formerly, in old Greece, they founded a sect of philosophy ; the members whereof took the name of Cynics, and were gloriously ambitious of assimilating themselves to the manners and behaviour of that animal, from whom they derived their title.
And that the ladies of Greece had as great a fondness for them as the fair ones of our own isle, may be collected from the story which Lucian relates of a certain philosopher ; who in the excess of his complaisance to a woman of fashion, took up her favourite lap-dog one day, attempting to caress and kiss it ; but the little creature, not being used to the rude gripe of philosophic hands, found his loins affected in such a manner, that he was obliged to water the sage's beard, as he held him to his mouth ; which so discomposed that principal, if not only seat of his wisdom, as excited laughter in all the beholders.
Such was the reverence paid to them among the nations of antiquity ; and if we descend to later times, neither there shall we want examples of great mens devoting themselves to dogs. King Charles the second, of pious and immortal memory, came always to his council-board accompanied with a favourite spaniel ; who propagated his breed, and scattered his image through the land, almost as extensively as his royal master. His successor, king James, of pious and immortal memory likewise, was distinguished for the same attachment to these four-footed worthies ; and 'tis reported of him, that being once in a dangerous storm at sea, and obliged to quit the ship for his life, he roar'd aloud with a most vehement voice, as his principal concern, ' to save the dogs and colonel Churchill.' But why need we multiply examples ? The greatest heroes and beauties have not been ashamed to erect monuments to them in their gardens, nor the greatest wits and poets to write their epitaphs. Bishops have entrusted them with their secrets, and prime-ministers deigned to receive information from them, when conspiracies were hatching against the government. Islands likewise, as well as stars, have been called after their names ; so that I hope no one will dare to think me idly employed in composing the following work : or if any such critic should be found, let him own himself ignorant of ancient and modern history, let him confess himself an enemy to his country, and ungrateful to the benefactors of Great-Britain.
And as no exception can reasonably be taken against the dignity of my hero, much less can I expect any will arise against the nature of this work, in this life-writing age especially, when no character is thought too inconsiderable to engage the public notice, or too abandoned to be set up as a pattern of imitation. The lowest and most contemptible vagrants, parish-girls, chamber-maids, pick-pockets, and highwaymen, find historians to record their praises, and readers to wonder at their exploits. Star-gazers, superannuated strumpets, quarrelling lovers, all think themselves authorized to appeal to the public, and to write apologies for their lives. Even the prisons and stews are ransacked to find materials for novels and romances. Thus we have seen the memoirs of a lady of pleasure, and the memoirs of a lady of quality ; both written with the same public-spirited aim, of initiating the unexperienced part of the female sex into the hidden mysteries of love ; only that the former work has rather a greater air of chastity, if possible, than the latter. And I am told that illustrious mimic Mr. F-t when all other expedients fail him, designs, as the last effort of his wit, to oblige the world with an accurate history of his own life ; and which view one may suppose he takes care to chequer it with so many extraordinary occurrences, and selects such Adventures as will best serve hereafter to amaze and astonish his readers.
This then being the case, I hope the very superiority of the character here treated of, above the heroes of common romances, will procure it a favourable reception, altho' perhaps I may fall short of my great cotemporaries in the elegance of style, and graces of language. For when such multitudes of lives are daily offered to the publick, written by the saddest dogs, or of the saddest dogs of the times, it may be considered as some little merit to have chosen a subject worthy the dignity of history ; in which single view I may be allowed to paragon myself with the incomparable writer of the life of Cicero, in that I have deserted the beaten track of biographers, and ventured to snatch a laurel,
Unde prius nulli velarunt tempora musæ.
Having detained the reader with this little necessary introduction, I now proceed to open the birth and parentage of my Hero.
The birth, parentage, education, and travels of a lap-dog.
POMPEY, the son of Julio and Phyllis, was born A. D. 1735, at Bologna in Italy, a place famous for lap-dogs and sausages. Both his parents were of the most illustrious families, descended from a long train of ancestors, who had figured in many parts if Europe, and lived in intimacy with the greatest men of the times. They had frequented the chambers of the proudest beauties, and had access to the closets of the greatest princes. Cardinals, kings, popes, emperors, were all happy in their acquaintance ; and I am told the elder branch of the family now lives with his present holiness in the papal palace at Rome.
But Julio, the father of my hero, being a younger brother of a numerous family, fell to the share of an Italian nobleman at Bologna ; who was about this time engaged in an intrigue with a celebrated courtesan of the place. And little Julio often attending him when he made his visits to her, as it is the nature of all servants to imitate the vices of their masters, he also commenced an affair of gallantry with a favourite little bitch named Phyllis, at that time the darling of this fille de joye. For a long while she rejected his courtship with disdain, and received him with that coyness, which beauties of her sex know very well how to counterfeit ; but at length in a little closet devoted to Venus, the happy lover accomplished his desires, and Phyllis soon gave signs of pregnancy.
I have not been able to learn whether my hero was introduced into the world with any prodigies preceding his birth ; and tho' the practice of most historians might authorize me to invent them, I think it most ingenuous to confess, as well as most probable to conclude, that nature did not put herself to any miraculous expence on this occasion. Miracles are unquestionably ceased in this century, whatever they might be in some former ones ; there needs no Dr. Middleton to convince us of this ; and I scarce think Dr. Chapman himself would have the hardiness to support me, if I should venture to relate one in the present age.
Be it sufficient then to say, that on the 25th of May N. S. 1735, Pompey made his first appearance in the world at Bologna ; on which day, as far as I can learn, the sun shone just as usual, and nature wore exactly the same aspect as upon any other day in the year.
About this time an English gentleman, who was making the tour of Europe, to enrich himself in foreign manners and foreign cloaths, happened to be residing at Bologna. And as one great end of modern travelling is the pleasure of intriguing with women of all nations and languages, he was introduced to visit the lady above-mentioned, who was at that time the fashionable and foremost courtesan of the place. Little Pompey having now opened his eyes and learnt the use of his legs, was admitted to frolic about the room, as his mistress sat at her toilet or presided at her tea-table. On these occasions her gallants never failed to play with him, and many pretty dialogues often arose concerning him, which perhaps might make a figure in a modern comedy. Every one had something to say to the little favourite, who seemed proud to be taken notice of, and by many significant gestures would often make believe he understood the compliments that were paid to him.
But nobody distinguish'd himself more on this subject that our English Hillario ; who had now made a considerable progress in the affections of his mistress : For partly the recommendation of his person, but chiefly the profusion of his expences made her think him a very desireable lover ; and as she saw that his ruling passion was vanity, she was too good a dissembler, and too much a mistress of her trade, not to flatter this weakness for her own ends. This so elated the spirits of Hillario, that he surveyed himself every day with increase of pleasure at his glass, and took a pride on all occasions to shew how much he was distinguished, as he thought, above any of her ancient admirers. Resolving therefore to out-do them all as much in magnificence, as he imagined he did in the success of his love, he was continually making her the most costly presents, and among other things, presented master Pompey with a collar studded with diamonds. This so tickled the little animal's vanity, being the first ornament he had ever worn, that he would eat biscuit from Hillario's hands with twice the pleasure, with which he received it from any other person's ; while Hillario made him the occasion of conveying indirect compliments to his mistress. Sometimes he would swear, ' he believed it was in her power to impart beauty to her very dogs,' and when she smiled at the staleness of the conceit, he, imagining her charmed with his wit, would grow transported with gaiety, and practise all the fashionable airs that custom prescribes to an intrigue.
But the time came at length that this gay gentleman was to quit this scene of his pleasures, and go in quest of adventures in some other part of Italy. Nothing delayed him but the fear of breaking his mistress's heart, which his own great love of himself, joined with the seeming love she expressed for him, made him think a very likely consequence. The point therefore was to reveal his intentions to her in the most tender manner, and reconcile her to this terrible event as well as he could. They had been dining together one day in her apartments, and Hillario after dinner, first inspiring himself with a glass of Tokay, began to curse his stars for obliging him to leave Bologna, where he had been so divinely happy ; but he said, he had received news of his father's death, and was obliged to go to settle cursed accounts with his mother and sisters, who were in a hurry for their confounded fortunes ; and after many other flourishes, concluded his rhapsody with requesting to take little Pompey with him as a memorial of their love. The lady received this news with all the artificial astonishment and counterfeited sorrow that ladies of her profession can assume whenever they please ; in short she played the farce of passions so well, that Hillario thought her very life depended on his presence : She wept, intreated, threatned, swore, but all to no purpose ; at length she was obliged to submit on condition that Hillario should give her a gold-watch in exchange for her favorite dog, which he consented to without any hesitation.
The day was now fixed for his departure, and having ordered his post-chaise to wait at her door, he went in the morning to take his last farewell. He found her at her tea-table ready to receive him, and little Pompey sitting innocently on the settee by his mistress's side, not once suspecting what was about to happen to him, and far from thinking himself on the point of so long a journey. For neither dogs nor men can look into futurity, or penetrate the designs of fate. Nay, I have been told that he ate his breakfast that morning with more than usual tranquility ; and tho' his mistress continued to caress him, and lament his departure, he neither understood the meaning of her kisses, nor greatly returned her affection. At length the accomplished Hillario taking out his watch, and cursing time for intruding on his pleasures, signified he must be gone that moment. Ravishing therefore an hundred kisses from his mistress, and taking up little Pompey in his arms, he went off humming an Italian tune, and with an air of affected concern threw himself carelessly into his chaise. From whence looking up with a melancholy shrug to her window, and shewing the little favourite to his forsaken mistress, he was interrupted by the voice of the postilion, desiring to be informed of the rout he was to take ; which little particular this well-bred gentleman had in his hurry forgot, as thinking it perhaps of no great consequence. But now cursing the fellow for not knowing his mind without putting him to the trouble of explaining it, ' damn you,' cries he, ' drive to the devil if you will, for I shall never be happy again as long as I breathe.' Recollecting himself however upon second thoughts, and thinking it as well to defer that journey to some future opportunity, he gave his orders for ------ ; and then looking up again at the window, and bowing, the post-chaise hurried away, while his charmer stood laughing and mimicking his gestures.
As her affection for him was wholly built on interest, of course it ended the very moment she lost sight of his chaise ; and we may conclude his for her had not a much longer continuance ; for notwithstanding the protestations he made of keeping her dog for ever in remembrance of her, little Pompey had like to have been left behind in the very first day's stage. Hillario after dinner had reposed himself to sleep on a couch in the inn ; from whence being waked with information that his chaise was ready and waited his pleasure at the door, he started up, discharged his bill, and was proceeding on his journey without once bestowing a thought on the neglected favourite. His servant however, being more considerate, brought him and delivered him at the chaise-door to his master ; who cried indolently, ' begad that's well thought on,' called him ' a little devil for giving so much trouble,' and then drove away with the most unconcernedness. This I mention to shew how very short-lived are the affections of protesting lovers.
Our hero arrives in England. A conversation between two ladies concerning his master.
BUT as it is not my design to follow this gentleman through his tour, we must be contented to pass over great part of the puppyhood of little Pompey, till the time of his arrival at London : only it may be of importance to remember, that in his passage from Calais to Dover he was extremely sea-sick, and twice given over by a physician on board ; but some medicinal applications, together with a week's confinement in his chamber, after he came to town, restored him to his perfect health.
Hillario was no sooner landed, than he dispatched his French valet to London, with orders to provide him handsome lodgings in Pall-Mall, or some other great street near the court ; and himself set forwards the next day with his whole retinue. Let us therefore imagine him arrived and settled in his new apartments ; let us suppose the news-writers to have performed their duty, and all the important world of dress busy, as usual, in reporting from one to another, ' that Hillario was returned form his travels.'
As soon as his chests and baggage were arrived in town, his servants were all employed in setting forth to view in his anti-chamber, the several valuable curiosities he had collected ; that his visiters might be detained as they passed through it, in making observations on the elegance of his taste. For tho' dress and gallantry were his principal ambition, he had condescended, in compliance with the humour of the times, to consult the Ciceroni at Rome, and other places, as to what was proper to be purchased, in order to establish a reputation for Vertù : and they had furnished him accordingly, at a proportionable expence, with all the necessary ingredients of modern taste ; that is to say, with fingers and toes of ancients statues, medals bearing the name of Roman emperors on their inscriptions, and copied-original pictures of all the great masters and schools of Italy. They had likewise taught him a set of phrases and observations proper to be made, whenever the conversation should turn upon such subjects ; which, by the help of a good memory, he used with tolerable propriety : he could descant in terms of art, on rusts and varnishes ; and describe the air, the manner, the characteristic of different painters, in language almost as learned as the ingenious writer of a late essay. ' Here, he would observe, the drawing is incorrect ; there the attitude ungraceful --- the costumè ill-preserved, the contours harsh, the ordonnance irregular --- the light too strong --- the shade too deep,' --- with many other affected remarks, which may be found in a very grave sententious book of morality.
But dress, as we before observed, was his darling vanity, and consequently, his rooms were more plentifully scattered with cloaths than any other curiosity. There all the pride of Paris was exhibited to view ; suits of velvet and embroidery, sword-hilts, red-heel'd shoes, and snuff-boxes, lay about in negligent confusion. Nor did he appear with less eclat without doors ; for he had now shewn his gilt chariot and bay horses in all the streets of gay resort, and was allowed to have the most splendid brilliant equipage in London. The club at White's soon voted him a member of their fraternity, and there began a kind of rivalry among the ladies of fashion, who should first engage him to their assemblies. At all toilettes and parties in the morning, who but Hillario ? At all drums and diversions in the evening, who but Hillario ? No-body came into the side-box at a play-house with so graceful a negligence ; and it was on all hands confessed, that he had the most accomplished way of talking nonsense of any man of quality in London.
As the fashionable part of the world are glad of any fresh topic of conversation, that will not much fatigue their understandings ; and the arrival of a new fop, the sight of a new chariot, or the appearance of a new fashion, are all articles of the highest importance to them ; it could not be otherwise, but that the shew and figure, which Hillario made, must supply all the polite circles with matter for commendation or censure. As a little specimen of this kind of conversations may, perhaps, not be disagreeable, I will beg the reader's patience a moment, to relate what passed on this subject between Cleanthe and Cleora, two ladies of eminence and distinction in the commonwealth of vanity. The former was a young lady of about fifty, who had out-lived many generations of beauties, yet still preserved the airs and behaviour of fifteen ; the latter a celebrated toast now in the meridian of her charms, and giddy with the admiration she excited. These two ladies had been for some time past engaged in a strict female friendship, and were now sitting down to supper at twelve o'clock at night, to talk over the important follies of the day. They had play'd at cards that evening at four different assemblies, left their names each of them at near twenty doors, and taken half a turn round Ranelagh, where the youngest had been engaged in a very smart exchange of bows, smiles, and compliments with Hillario. This had been observed by Cleanthe, who was a the same place, and envied her the many civilities she received from a gentleman so splendidly dress'd, whose embroidery gave a peculiar poignancy to his wit. Wherefore at supper she began to vent her spite against him, telling Cleora, she wondered how she could listen to the impertinence of such a coxcomb : ' Surely,' said she, ' you cannot admire him ; for my part, I am amazed at people for calling him handsome --- do you really think him, my dear, so agreeable as the town generally makes him?' Cleora hesitating a moment, replied, ' she did not well know what beauty was in a man : To be sure,' added she, ' if one examines his features one by one, one sees nothing very extraordinary in him ; but altogether he has an air, and a manner and a notion of things, my dear --- he is lively, and airy, and engaging, and all that --- and then his dresses are quite charming.' ' Yes,' said Cleanthe, ' that may be a very good recommendation of his taylor, and if one designs to marry a suit of velvet, why no-body better than Hillario --- How should you like him for a husband, Cleora ?' ' Faith,' said Cleora smiling, ' I never once thought seriously upon the subject in my life ; but surely, my dear, there is such a ting as fancy and taste in dress ; in my opinion, a man shews his parts in nothing more than in the choice of his cloaths and equipage.' ' Why to be sure,' said Cleanthe, ' the man has something of a notion at dress, I confess it --- yet methinks I could make an alteration for the better in his liveries.' Then began a very curious conversation on shoulder-knots, and they ran over all the liveries in town, commending one, and disliking another, with great nicety of judgment. From shoulder-knots they proceeded to the colour of coach-horses ; and Cleanthe, resolving to dislike Hillario's equipage, asked her if she did not prefer greys to bays ? Cleora answered in the negative, and the clock struck one before they had decided this momentous question ; which was contested with so much earnestness, that both of them were beginning to grow angry, and to say ill-natured things, had not a new topic arisen to divert the discourse. His chariot came next under consideration, and then they returned to speculate on his dress ; and when they had fully exhausted all the external accomplishments of a husband, they vouchsafed, at last, to come to the qualities of the mind. Cleora preferred a man who had travelled ; ' because,' said she, ' he has seen the world, and must be ten thousand times more agreeable and entertaining than a dull home-bred fellow, who has never improved himself by seeing things :' But Cleanthe was of a different opinion, alledging that this would only give him a greater conceit of himself, and make him less manageable by a wife. Then they fell to abusing matrimony, numbered over the many unhappy couples of their acquaintance, and both of them for a moment resolved to live single : But those resolutions were soon exploded ; ' for though,' said Cleanthe, ' I should prefer a friendship with an agreeable man far beyond marrying him, yet you know, my dear, we girls are under so many restraints, that one must wish for a husband, if it be only for the privilege of going into public places, without the protection of a married woman along with one, to give one countenance.' Cleora rallied the expression of we girls, which again had like to have bred a quarrel between them ; and soon afterwards happening to say, she should like to dance with Hillario at the next Ridotta, Cleanthe, notwithstanding the indifference she had hitherto expressed towards him, could not help declaring, that she should be pleased also to have him for a partner. This stirred up a warmer altercation than any that had yet arisen, and the contended with such vehemence for this distant imaginary happiness, which perhaps might happen to neither of them, that they grew quite unappeaseable, and in the end, departed to bed with as much malice and enmity, as if the one had made an attempt on the other's life.
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This page is by James Eason.