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 of 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; from whom I heard a story of him, redounding so much to his credit, that it would be an injury to his memory not to relate it; especially as it is the duty of an historian to derive his hero from honourable ancestors, and to introduce him into the world with all the éclat and renown he can.
It seems the city of Bologna being greatly over-stocked with dogs, the inhabitants of the place are obliged at certain seasons of the year to scatter poisoned sausages up and down the streets for their destruction; by which means the multitude of them is reduced to a tolerable number. Now Julio, having got abroad one morning by the carelessness of servants into the streets, was unwisely tempted to eat of one of these pernicious cates; which immediately threw him into a violent fit of illness: but being seasonably relieved with emetics, and having a good constitution, he struggled through the distemper; and ever afterwards remembering what himself had escaped, out of pity to his brethren, who might possibly undergo the same fate, he was observed to employ himself during the whole Sausage Season, in carrying away these poisonous baits one by one in his mouth, and throwing them into the river that runs by the city. But to return.
The Italian nobleman above mentioned had an intrigue with a celebrated courtesan of Bologna, 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 though 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 expense 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. Ch——apman 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 clothes, 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 him.
But nobody distinguished himself more on this subject than 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 expenses made her think him a very desirable 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 show 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 to 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, entreated, threatened, 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 favourite 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 tranquillity; and though 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 show how very short-lived are the affections of protesting lovers.