Another conversation between Hillario and a celebrated lady of quality.
IF the foregoing dialogue appears impertinent and foreign to this history, the ensuing one immediately concerns the hero of it, whose pardon I beg for having so long neglected to mention his name. He 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 a different species; being seldom permitted to expatiate beyond the ante-chamber of 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.
Among the many visitors that favoured Hillario with their company in a morning, a lady of quality, who had buried her husband, and was thereby at liberty to pursue her own inclinations, was one day drinking chocolate with him. They were engaged in a very interesting conversation, on the Italian opera, which they all declared to be the most sublime entertainment in life; when on a sudden little Pompey came running into the room and leapt up into his master's lap. Lady Tempest (for that was her name) 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?' 'That dog, Madam,' cries Hillario, 'O l'amour! thereby hangs a tale—That 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.'—O quelle mine! Quelle delicatesse!' Then ran he into the most extravagant encomiums on her beauty, and after dropping many hints of an intrigue, to awaken Lady Tempest's curiosity, and make her enquire into the particulars of the story, concluded with desiring her ladyship 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 I 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 surprised us one evening in a little familiar dalliance, and, sent me a challenge the next morning.' 'Bless us!' said Lady Tempest, 'and what became of it?' 'Why,' cries Hillario, 'I would willingly have washed my hands 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 would have a fire in his best apartment, and a bottle of Burgundy ready for me on the table after I had gone through 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 would 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 ladyship with a long, tedious description—I ran him through the body.' Lady Tempest burst out a-laughing at this story, which she most justly concluded to be a lie; and after entertaining herself with many pleasant remarks upon it, 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 after spending an hour with her in the bitterest lamentations, when it grew dangerous and impossible to stay any longer, we knelt down both of us on the cold ground, and saluted one another for the last time on our knees.—Oh how I cursed fortune for separating us! But at length I was compelled to decamp, 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 lady had heard him to an end, 'well,' said she, '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 tonight—but if you did it does not signify, 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 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. They laughed at constancy in marriage as the most ridiculous thing in nature, exploded the very notion of matrimonial happiness, and were most fashionably pleasant in decrying everything that is serious, virtuous and religious. 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 her 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 expense 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. Little Pompey cast up a wistful eye at the window above,; but the chairmen were now in motion, and with three footmen fore-running his equipage, set out in triumph to his new apartments.