The HISTORY of POMPEY the LITTLE
|Contents||Chapters I-III||Chapters VIII-IX|
|Chapter IV||Chapter V||Chapter VI|
|Sir Thomas Browne|
Another conversation between Hillario and two ladies of quality.
OUR hero was now perfectly recovered from the indisposition hinted at in the beginning of the preceding chapter, and pretty well reconciled to the air of England ; but as yet he had made few acquaintances either with gentlemen of his own or of a different species ; being seldom permitted to expatiate beyond Hillario's lodgings ; where his chief amusement was to stand with his forepaws up in the window, and contemplate the coaches that passed through the street.
But fortune, who had destined him to a great variety of adventures, no sooner observed that he was settled and began to grow established in his new apartments, than she determined, according to her usual inconstancy, to beat up his quarters, and provide him a new habitation.
Hillario and his little dog were making a visit one morning to a lady of quality at her toilette ; where they had not been long, before another lady of the same rank entered the room, and joined the conversation. It turned, as I have been told, on the Italian opera, which they all declared to be the most sublime entertainment in life ; when on a sudden little Pompey leaped up into his master's lap. Lady Tempest (that was the name of the lady last arrived) no sooner saw him , than addressing herself to his master with the ease and familiarity of modern breeding, ' Hillario,' said she, ' where the devil did you get that pretty dog?' ' This dog, madam,' cries Hillario, ' O l'amour ! thereby hangs a tale --- This dog, madam, once belonged to a woman of the first fashion in Italy, the finest creature, I think that ever my eyes beheld --- such a shape and such an air.' --- Then ran he into the most extravagant encomiums on her beauty, and after dropping many hints of an intrigue, to awaken the ladies curiosity, and make them enquire into the particulars of the story, concluded with desiring them to excuse him from proceeding any farther, for he thought it the highest injury to betray a lady's secrets. Nay,' said lady Tempest, ' it can do her reputation no hurt to tell tales of her in England ; and besides, Hillario, if you acquitted yourself with spirit and gallantry in the affair, who knows but we shall like you the better after we have heard your story ?' ' Well,' said he, ' on that condition, my dear countess, I will confess the truth --- I had an affair with this lady, and, I think, none of my amours ever afforded me greater transport : But the eyes of a husband will officiously be prying into things that do not concern them ; her jealous-pated booby surprized us one evening in a little familiar dalliance, and, pox take him, sent me a challenge the next morning.' ' Bless us !' said lady Tempest, ' and what became of it ?' ' Why,' cries Hillario, ' I wou'd willingly have washed my hand of the fellow if I could, for I thought it but a silly business to hazard one's life with so ridiculous an animal ; but, curse the blockhead, he could not understand ridicule --- You must know, madam, I sent him for answer, with the greatest ease imaginable --- quite composed as I am at this moment --- that I had so prodigious a cold, it would be imprudent to fight abroad in the open air ; but if he wou'd have a fire in his best apartment, and a bottle of Burgundy ready for me on the table after I had gone thro' the fatigue of killing him, I was at his service as soon as he pleased --- meaning, you see, to have turned the affair off with a joke, if the fellow had been capable of tasting ridicule.' ' But that stratagem,' replied lady Tempest, ' I am afraid did not succeed --- the man I doubt was too dull to apprehend your raillery.' ' Dull as a beetle, madam,' said Hillario ; ' the monster continued obstinate, and repeated his challenge--- When therefore I found nothing else wou'd do, I resolved to meet him according to his appointment ; and there --- in short --- ha ! ha ! I shall never forget how he looked --- in short, not to trouble your ladyships with a long, tedious description --- I ran him through the body.' Both the ladies burst out a laughing at this story, which they most justly concluded to be a lie ; and after entertaining themselves with many pleasant remarks upon it, one of them said with a smile, ' but what is this to the dog, Hillario ?' ' The dog, madam,' answered he, ' O pardon me, I am coming to the dog immediately. --- Come hither Pompey, and listen to your own story. --- This dog, madam, this very little dog, had at that time the honour of waiting on the dear woman I have been describing, and as the noise of my duel obliged me to quit Bologna, I sent her private notice of my intentions, and begged her by any means to favour me with an interview before my departure. The monster her husband, who then lay on his death-bed, immured her so closely, that you may imagine it was very difficult to gratify my desires ; but love, immortal love, gave her courage ; she sent me a private key to get admission into her garden, and appointed me an assignation in an orange-grove at nine in the evening. I flew to the dear creature's arms, and spent an hour with her in the greatest rapture, till it grew dangerous and impossible to stay any longer. O mon coeur ! then we knelt down both of us on the cold ground, and saluted one another for the last time on our knees. D--mn'd malicious fate tore me at length from her arms, and she gave me this dog, this individual little dog, to carry with me as a memorial of her love. The poor, dear, tender woman died, I hear, within three weeks after my departure ; but this dog, this divine little dog, will I keep everlastingly for her sake.'
When the ladies had heard him to an end, ' well,' said lady Tempest, ' you have really told a very pretty story, Hillario ; but as to your resolutions of keeping the dog, I swear you shall break them ; for I had the misfortune t'other day to lose my favourite black spaniel of the mange, and I intend you shall give me this little dog to supply his place.' ' Not for the universe, madam,' replied Hillario ; ' I should expect to see his dear injured mistress's ghost haunting me in my sleep to-night, if I could be guilty of such an act of infidelity to her.' ' Pugh,' said the lady, ' don't tell me of such ridiculous superstitious trumpery. --- You no more came by the dog in this manner, Hillario, than you will fly to the moon to night --- but look'e make no preambles, for I positively must and will take him home with me.' ' Madam,' said Hillario, ' this little dog is sacred to love ! he was born to be the herald of love, and there is but one consideration in nature that can possibly induce me to part with it.' ' And what is that,' said the lady ? ' That, madam,,' cries Hillario, bowing, ' is the honour of visiting him at all hours in his new apartments --- he must be the herald of love wherever he goes, and on these conditions --- if you will now and then admit me of your retirements, little Pompey waits your acceptance as soon as you please.' ' Well,' said the lady, smiling, ' you know that I am not inexorable, Hillario, and if you have a mind to visit your little friend at my ruelle, you'll find him ready to receive you --- though, faith, upon second thoughts, I know not whether I dare admit you or not. You are such a killer of husbands, Hillario, that 'tis quite terrible to think on; and if mine was not conveniently removed out of the way, I should have the poor man sacrificed for his jealousy.' ' Raillery ! raillery !' returned Hillario ; ' but as you say, my dear countess, your monster is commodiously out of the way, and therefore we need be under no apprehensions from that quarter, for I hardly believe he will rise out of his grave to interrupt our amours.' --- ' Amours !' cried the lady, lifting up her voice, ' pray what I have said that encourages you to talk of amours ?'
From this time the conversation began to grow much too loose to be reported in this work : They congratulated each other on the felicity of living in an age, that allows such indulgence to women, and gives them leave to break loose from their husbands, whenever they grow morose and disagreeable, or attempt to interrupt their pleasures. From hence they relapsed again into a discourse on the Italian opera, and thence made a quick transition to ladies painting. This was no sooner started than Hillario begged leave to present the lady of the house with a box of Rouge, which he had brought with him from France, assuring her that the ladies were arrived at such an excellency of using it at Paris, as to confound all distinction of age and beauty. ' I protest to your ladyship,' continued he, ' it is impossible at any distance to distinguish a woman of sixty from a girl of sixteen ; and I have seen an old dowager in the opposite box at their playhouse, make as good a figure, and look as blooming as the youngest beauty in the place. Nothing in nature is there required to make a woman handsome but eyes. --- If a woman has but eyes, she may be a beauty whenever she pleases, at the expence of a couple of guineas. --- Teeth and hair and eye-brows and complexions are all as cheap as fans and gloves and ribbons.'
While this ingenious orator was pursuing his eloquent harangue on beauty, lady Tempest, looking at her watch, declared it was time to be going ; for she had seven or eight visits more to make that morning, and it was then almost three in the afternoon. Little Pompey, who had absented himself during great part of the preceding conversation, as thinking it perhaps above the reach of his understanding, was now ordered to be produced ; and the moment he made his appearance, lady Tempest catching him up in her arms, was conducted by Hillario into her chair, which stood at the door waiting her commands. Thus our hero, with three footmen fore-running his equipage, set out in triumph for his new apartments.
The character of lady Tempest, with some particulars of her servants and family.
THE sudden appearance of this lady, with whom our hero is now about to take up his residence, may perhaps excite the reader's curiosity to know who she is ; and therefore, before we proceed any farther in our history, we shall spend a page or two in bringing him acquainted with her character. But let me admonish thee, my gentle friend, whosoever thou art, that shalt vouchsafe to peruse this little treatise, not to be too forward in making applications, or to construe satire into libel. For we declare here once for all, that no character drawn in this work is intended for any particular person, but meant to comprehend a great variety ; and therefore, if thy sagacity discovers likenesses that were never meant, be so good to impute it to thy own ill-nature, and accuse not the humble author of these sheets. Taking this caution along with thee, candid reader, we may venture to trust thee with a character, which otherwise we should be afraid to draw.
Lady Tempest then was originally daughter to a private gentleman of a moderate fortune, which which she was to share in common with a brother and two other sisters : But her wit and beauty soon distinguished her among her acquaintance, and recompensed the deficiencies of fortune. She was a free-hearted, sprightly, jovial girl, very chearful in her conversation, and open in her behaviour ; ready to promote any party of pleasure, and not displeased now and then to be assistant in a little mischief. This made her company courted by men of all sorts ; among whom her affability and spirit, as well as her beauty, procured her many admirers. At length she was sollicited in marriage by a young lord, famous for nothing but his great estate, and far her inferior in understanding : But the advantageousness of the match soon prevailed with her parents to give their consent, and the thoughts of a title so dazzled her own eyes, that she had no leisure to ask herself whether she liked the man or no that wore it. His lordship married for the sake of begetting an heir to his estate ; and married her in particular, because he had heard her toasted as a beauty by most of his acquaintance. She, on the contrary, married because she wanted a husband ; and married him, because he could give her a title and a coach and six.
But, alas ! there is this little misforune attending matrimony, that people cannot live together any time, without discovering each other's tempers. Familiarity soon draws aside the masque, and all that artificial complaisance and smiling good-humour, which make so agreeable a part of courtship, go off like April blossoms, upon a longer acquaintance. The year was scarce ended before her young ladyship was surprized to find she had married a fool ; which little circumstance her vanity had concealed from her before marriage, and the hurry and transport she felt in a new equipage did not suffer her to attend to for the first half year afterwards. But now she began to doubt whether she had not made an unhappy bargain for life, and consulting with some of her female intimates about it (several of whom were married) she received such documents from them, as, I am afraid, did not a little contribute to prepare her for the steps she afterwards took.
Her husband too, tho' not very quick of discernment, had by this time found out, that his wife's spirit and romantic disposition were inconsistent with his own gloom ; which gave new clouds to his temper, and he often cursed himself in secret for having married her.
They soon grew to reveal these thoughts to one another, both in words and actions ; they sat down to meals with indifference ; and the one was always sure to dislike what the other at any time seemed to approve. Her ladyship had recourse to the common expedient in these cases, I mean the getting a female companion into the house with her, as well to relieve her from the tediousness of sitting down to meals alone with her husband, as chiefly to hear her complaints, and spirit her up against her fool and tyrant ; the names by which she usually spoke of her lord and master. When no such female companions, or more properly toad-eaters, happened to be present, she chose rather to divert herself with a little favourite dog, than to murder any of her precious time in conversing with her husband. This his lordship observed, and besides many severe reflexions and cross speeches, at length he wreak'd his vengeance o the little favourite, and in a passion put him to death. This was an affair so heinous in the lady's own esteem, and pronounced to be so barbarous, so shocking, so inhuman by all her acquaintance, that she resolved no longer to keep any terms with him, and from this moment grew desperate in all her actions.
First, then, she resolved to supply the place of one favourite with a great number, and immediately procured as many dogs into the family as it could well hold. His lordship, in return, would order his servant to hang two or three of them every week, and never failed kicking them down stairs by dozens, whenever they came in his way. When this and many other stratagems had been tried, some with good and some with bad success, she came at last to play the great game of female resentment, and by many intimations gave him to mistrust, that a stranger had invaded his bed. Whether this was real, or only an artifice of spite, his lordship could never discover, and therefore we shall not indulge the reader's curiosity, by letting him into the secret ; but the bare apprehension of it so inflamed his choler, that her company now became intolerable to him, and indeed their meetings were dreadful to themselves, and terrible to all beholders. Their servants used to stand at the door to listen to their quarrels, and then charitably disperse the subjects of them throughout the town ; so that all companies now range of lord and lady Tempest. But this could not continue long ; for indifference may sometimes be borne in a married state, but indignation and hatred I believe never can ; and 'tis impossible to say what their quarrels might have produced, had not his lordship very seasonably died, and left his disconsolate widow to bear about the mocker of woe to all public places for a year.
She now began the world anew on her own foundation, and set sail down the stream of pleasure, without the fears of virginity to check her, or the influence of a husband to controul her. Now she recover'd that sprightliness of conversation and gaiety of behaviour, which had been clouded during the latter part of her cohabitation with her husband ; and was soon cried up for the greatest female wit in London. Men of gallantry, and all the world of pleasure, had easy access to her, and malicious fame reports, that she was not over-hard-hearted to the sollicitations of love ; but far be it from us to report any such improbable scandal. What gives her a place in this history is her fondness for dogs, which from her childhood she loved exceedingly, and was seldom without a little favourite to carry about in her arms : But from the moment that her angry husband sacrificed one of them to his resentment, she grew more passionately fond of them than ever, and now constantly kept six or eight of various kinds in her house. About this time, one of her great favourites had the misfortune to die of the mange, as was above commemorated, and when she saw little Pompey, she resolved immediately to bestow the vacancy upon him, which that well-bred gentleman consented to on certain conditions, as the reader has seen in the foregoing chapter.
She returned home from her visit just as the clock was striking four, and after surveying herself a moment in the glass, and a little adjusting her hair, went directly to introduce master Pompey to his companions. These were an Italian grey-hound, a Dutch pug, two black spaniels of king Charles's breed, a harlequin grey-hound, a spotted Dane, and a mouse-colour'd English bull-dog. They heard their mistress's rap at the door, and were assembled in the dining-room, ready to receive her : But on the appearance of master Pompey, they set up a general bark, perhaps out of envy ; and some of them treated the little stranger with rather more rudeness than was consistent with dogs of their education. However, the lady soon interposed her authority, and commanded silence among them, by ringing a little bell, which she kept by her for that purpose. They all obeyed the signal instantly, and were still in a moment ; upon which she carried little Pompey round, and obliged them all to salute their new acquaintance, at the same time commanding some of them to ask pardon for their unpolite behaviour ; which whether they understood or not, must be left to the reader's determination. She then summoned a servant, and ordered a chicken to be roasted for him ; but hearing that dinner was just ready to be serve dup, she was pleased to say, he must be contented with what was provided for herself that day, but gave orders to the cook to get ready chicken to his own share against night.
Her ladyship now sat down to table, and Pompey was placed at her elbow, where he received many dainty bits from her fair hands, and was caressed by her all dinner-time, with more than usual fondness. The servants winked at one another, while they were waiting, and conveyed many sneers across the table with their looks ; all which had the good luck to escape her ladyship's observation. But the moment they were retired from waiting, they gave vent to their thoughts with all the scurrilous wit and ill-manner'd raillery, which distinguishes the conversation of those parti-coloured gentlemen.
And first, the butler out of livery served up his remarks to the house-keeper's table ; which consisted of himself, an elderly fat woman the house-keeper, and my lady's maid, a saucy, forward, affected girl, of about twenty. Addressing himself to these second-hand gentlewomen, as soon as they were pleased to sit down to dinner, he informed them, ' that their family was increased, and that his lady had brought home a new companion.' Their curiosity soon led them to desire an explanation, and then telling them that this new companion was a new dog, he related minutely and circumstantially all her ladyship's behaviour to him, during the time of his attendance at the side-board, not forgetting to mention the orders of a roasted chicken for the gentleman's supper. The house-keeper launched out largely on the sin and wickedness of feeding ' such creatures with christian victuals,' declared it was flying in the face of heaven, and wondered how her lady could admit them into her apartment, for she said, ' they had already spoiled all the crimson damask-chairs in the dining-room.'
But my lady's maid had a great deal more to say on this subject, and as it was her particular office to wait on these four-footed worthies, she complained of the hardship done her, with great volubility of tongue. ' Then,' says she, ' there's a new plague come home, is there ? he has got the mange too, I suppose, and I shall have him to wash and comb to-morrow morning. I am sure I am all over fleas with tending such nasty poisonous vermin, and 'tis a shame to put a christian to such offices --- I was in hopes when that little mangy devil died t'other day, we should have had no more of them ; but deuce fetch me, if I won't run the comb into the little devil's back the first time he comes under my hands. I can't endure to see my lady let them kiss her, and lick her face all over as she does. I am sure I'd see all the dogs in England at Jericho, before I'd suffer such poulcat vermin to lick my face. Fogh ! 'tis enough to make one sick to see it ; and I am sure, if I was a man, I'd scorn to kiss a face that had been licked by a dog.'
This was part of a speech made by this delicate, mincing comb-brusher ; and the rest we shall omit, to wait upon the inferior servants, who were now assembled at dinner in their common hall of gluttony, and exercising their talents likewise on the same subject. John the footman here reported what Mr. William the butler had done before in his department, that their lady had brought home a new dog. ' Damn it,' cries the coachman, with a surly brutal voice, ' what signifies a new dog ? has she brought home ever a new man ?' which was seconded with a loud laugh from all the company. Another swore, he never knew a kennel of dogs kept in a bed-chamber before ; which likewise was applauded with a loud and boisterous laugh : but as such kind of wit is too low for the dignity of this history, tho' much affected by many of my cotemporaries, I fancy I shall easily have the reader's excuse, if I forbear to relate any more of it.
To say the truth, the lower sort of men-servants are the most insolent, brutal, ungenerous rascals on the face of the earth : they are bred up in idleness, drunkenness and debauchery, and instead of concealing any faults they observe at home, find a pleasure in vilifying and mangling the reputations of their masters in all ale-houses, nine-pin-alleys, gin-shops, cellars, and every other place of dirty rendezvous.
Our hero becomes a dog of the town, and shines in high-life.
POMPEY was now grown up to maturity and dog's estate, when he came to live with lady Tempest ; who soon ushered him into all the joys and vanities of the town.
As he attended his mistress to all routs, drums, hurricanes, hurly-burlys and earthquakes, he soon established an acquaintance and friendship with the most noted dogs of quality, and of course affected a most hearty contempt for all of inferior station, whom he would never vouchsafe to play with, or pay them the least regard. He seemed to know at first sight, whether a dog had received a good education, by his manner of coming into a room, and was extremely ambitious to shew his collar at court ; in which again he resembled certain other dogs, who are equally vain of their finery, and happy to be distinguished in their respective orders.
If he could have spoken, I am persuaded he would have used the phrases so much in fashion, ' nobody one knows, wretches dropt out of the moon, creatures sprung from a dunghil ;' by which are signified all those who are not born to a title, or have not impudence and dishonesty enough to run in debt with their taylors for laced cloaths.
Again, had he been to write a letter from Bath or Tunbridge, he wou'd have told his correspondent ' there was not a soul in the place,' tho' at the same time he knew there were above two thousand ; because perhaps none of the men wore stars and garters, and none of the women were bold enough to impoverish their families by playing at the noble and illustrious game of brag.
As he was now become a dog of the town, and perfectly well-bred, of course he gave himself up to intrigue, and had seldom less than two or three amours at a time with bitches of the highest fashion : In which circumstances he again lamented the want of speech, being by that means debarred from the pleasure of boasting of the favours he received. But his gallantries were soon divulged by the consequences of them ; and as several very pretty puppies had been the offspring of his loves, it was usual for all the acquaintance of lady Tempest to solicit and cultivate his breed. And here I shall beg leave to insert two little billets of a very extraordinary nature, as a specimen of what it is that engages the attention of ladies of quality in this refined and accomplished age. Lady Tempest was sitting at her toilette one morning, when her maid brought her the following little scroll, from another lady, whose name will be seen at the bottom of her letter.
' Dear Tempest,
' My favourite little Veny is at present troubled with certain amorous infirmities of nature, and would not be displeased with the addresses of a lover. Be so good therefore to send little Pompey by my servant who brings this note, for I fancy it will make a very pretty breed, and when the lovers have transacted their affairs, he shall be sent home incontinently. Believe me, dear Tempest,
' Yours affectionately,
Lady Tempest, as soon as she had read this curious epistle, called for pen and ink, and immediately wrote the following answer, which likewise we beg leave to insert.
' Dear Racket,
' Infirimities of nature we are all subject to, and therefore I have sent master Pompey to wait upon miss Veny, begging the favour of you to return him as soon as his gallantries are over. Consider, my dear, no modern love can, in the nature of things, last above three days, and therefore I hope to see my little friend again very soon.
' Your affectionate friend,
In consequence of these letters, our hero was conducted to Mrs. Racket's house, where he was received with the civility due to his station in life, and treated on the footing of a gentleman who came a courting in the family. Mrs. Racket had two daughters, who had greatly improved their natural relish for pleasure in the warm climate of a town education, and were extremely sollicitous to inform themselves of all the mysteries of love. These young ladies no sooner heard of Pompey's arrival, than they went down stairs into the parlour, and undertook themselves to introduce him to miss Veny : for love so much engrossed their thoughts, that they could not suffer a lap-dog in the house to have an amour without their privity. Here, while they were solacing themselves with innocent speculation, a young gentleman, who visited on a familiar footing in the family, was introduced somewhat abruptly to them. They no sooner found themselves surprized, than they ran tittering to a corner of the parlour, and hid their faces behind their fans ; while their visiter, not happening to observe the Hymeneal rites that were celebrating, begged to know the cause of their mirth. This redoubled their diversion, and they burst out afresh into such immoderate fits of laughter, that the poor man began to look exceedingly foolish, imagining himself to be the object of their ridicule. In vain he renewed his entreaties to be let into the secret of their laughter ; the ladies had not the power of utterance, and he would still have continued ignorant, had he not accidentally cast his eye aside, and there beheld master Pompey with the most prevailing sollicitation making love to his four-footed mistress. This at once satisfied his curiosity, and he was no longer at a loss to know the reason of that uncommon joy and rapture which the ladies had expressed.
Thus was our hero permitted to riot in all the luxuries of life, and treated every where, both at home and abroad, with the greatest indulgence. He fed every day upon chicken, partridges, ragouts, fricassees, and all the rarities in season ; which so pampered him up with luxurious notions, as made some future scenes of life the more grievous to him, when fortune obliged him to undergo the hardships that will hereafter be recorded.
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This page is by James Eason.