A terrible misfortune happens to our hero, which brings his history to a conclusion.
THIS letter inflamed the lady so much, that she immediately ordered her coach, and drove away to Lincoln's-Inn, to consult her solicitor. She found him in his chambers, surrounded with briefs, and haranguing to two gentlemen, who had made him arbitrator in a very important controversy, concerning the dilapidations of a pig-stye. On the arrival of our lady, the man of law started from his chair, and conducted her with much civility to a settee which stood by his fire-side; then turning to his two clients, whom he thought he had already treated with a proper quantity of eloquence. 'Well, gentlemen,' said he, 'when your respective attornies have drawn up your several cases, let them be sent to me, and I'll give determination upon them with all possible dispatch.' This speech had the desired effect in driving them away, and as soon as they were gone, addressing himself with an affectation of much politeness to the mistress of little Pompey, he began to enquire after the good lady her mother, and the good lady her sister—but our heroine was so impatient to open her cause, that she hardly allowed herself time to answer his questions, before she began in the following manner. 'Sir, I was walking this morning in the Mall, when a certain extraordinary lady, whose actions are always of a very extraordinary nature, was pleased, in a most peculiar manner, to steal my lap-dog from me.' 'Steal your lap-dog from you, Madam!' said the man of law; 'I protest, a very extraordinary transaction indeed! and pray, Madam, what could induce her to be guilty of such a misbehaviour?' 'Induce her!' cried the lady eagerly; 'sir, she wants no inducement to be guilty of anything that is audacious and impudent.—But, sir, I desire you would immediately commence a suit against her in chancery, and push the affair on with all possible rapidity, for I am resolved to recover the dog, if it costs me ten thousand pounds.' The counsellor smiled, and commended her resolutions; but paused a little, and seemed puzzled at the novelty of the case. 'Madam,' said he, 'undoubtedly your ladyship does right to assert your property, for we should all soon be reduced to a state of nature, if there were no courts of law; and therefore your ladyship is highly to be applauded—but there is something very peculiar in the nature of dogs—There is no question, Madam, but they are to be considered under the denomination of property, and not to be deemed feræ naturæ, things of no value, as ignorant people foolishly imagine; but I say, Madam, there is something very peculiar in their nature, Madam.—Their prodigious attachment to man, inclines them to follow any body that calls them, and that makes it so difficult to fix a theft.—Now, if a man calls a sheep, or calls a cow, or calls a horse, why he might call long enough before they would come, because they are not creatures of a following nature, and therefore our penal laws have made it felony with respect to those animals; but dogs, Madam, have a strange undistinguished proneness to run after people's heels.' 'Lord bless me, sir!' said the lady, somewhat angry at the orator's declamation; 'what do you mean, sir, by following people's heels? I do protest and asseverate, that she took him up in her arms, and carried him away in defiance of me, and the whole Mall was witness of the theft.' 'Very well, Madam, very well,' replied the counsellor, 'I was only stating the case fully on the defendant's side, that you might have a comprehensive view of the whole affair, before we come to unravel it all again, and show the advantages on the side of the plaintiff.—Now though a dog be of a following nature, as I observed, and may be sometimes tempted, and seduced, and inveigled away in such a manner, as makes it difficult—do you observe me—makes it difficult, I say, Madam, to fix a theft on the person seducing; yet, wherever property is discovered and claimed, if the possessor refuses to restore it on demand,—on demand, I say, because demand must be made—refuses to restore it on demand, to the proper, lawful owner, there an action lies, and, under this predicament, we shall recover our lap-dog.' The lady seeming pleased with this harangue, the orator continued in the following manner; 'if therefore, Madam, this lady—whoever she is, A. or B. or any name serves our purpose—if, I say, this extraordinary lady, as your ladyship just now described her, took your dog before witnesses, and refused to restore it on demand, why then we have a lawful action, and shall recover damages.—Pray, Madam, do you think you can swear to the identity of the dog, if he should be produced in a court of justice?' The lady answered, 'yes, she could swear to him amongst a million, for there never was so remarkable a creature.' 'And you first became possessed of him, you say, Madam, at the university of Cambridge.—Pray, Madam, will the gentleman, who invested you with him, be ready to testify the donation?' She answered affirmatively. 'And pray, Madam, what is the colour of your dog?' 'Black and white, sir.' 'A male, or female, Madam?' To this the lady replied, 'she positively could not tell;' whereupon, the counsellor, with a most sapient aspect, declared he would search his books for a precedent, and wait on her, in a few days, to receive her final determinations; but advised her, in the meanwhile, to try the effect of another letter upon her ladyship, and once more threaten her with a prosecution. He then waited upon her to her chariot, observed that it was a very fine day, and promised to use his utmost endeavours to reinstate her in the possession of her lap-dog.
This was the state of a quarrel between two ladies for a dog, and it seemed as if all the mouths of the law would have opened on this important affair (for Lady Tempest continued obstinate in keeping him) had not a most unlucky accident happened to balk those honourable gentlemen of their fees, and disappoint them of so hopeful a topic for shewing their abilities. This unfortunate stroke was nothing less than the death of our hero, who was seized with a violent phthisic, and after a week's illness, departed this life on the second of June, 1749, and was gathered to the lap-dogs of antiquity.
From the moment that he fell sick, his mistress spared no expense for his recovery, and had him attended by the most eminent physicians of London; who, I am afraid, rather hastened than delayed his exit, according to the immemorial custom of that right venerable fraternity. The chamber-maids took it by turns to sit up with him every night during his illness, and her ladyship was scarce ever away from him in the day-time; but, alas, his time was come, his hour-glass was run out, and nothing could save him from paying a visit to the Plutonian regions.
It is difficult to say, whether her ladyship's sorrow now, or when she formerly lost him in the Mall, most exceeded the bounds of reason. He lay in state three days after his death, and her ladyship, at first, took a resolution of having him embalmed, but as her physicians informed her the art was lost, she was obliged to give over that chimerical project; otherwise, our posterity might have seen him, some centuries hence, erected in a public library at a university; and who knows but some antiquary of profound erudition, might have undertaken to prove, with quotations from a thousand authors, that he was formerly the Egyptian Anubis?
However, though her ladyship could not be gratified in her desires of emblaming him, she had him buried, with great funeral solemnity, in her garden, and erected over him an elegant marble monument, which was inscribed with the following epitaph, by one of the greatest elegiac poets of the present age.
King of the garden, blooming rose!
Which sprang'st from Venus' heavenly woes,
When weeping for Adonis slain,
Her pearly tears bedewed the plain,
Here now thy precious dews distil,
Now let thy dewy leaves bewail
A Greater beauty's greater ill;
Ye lilies! hang your drooping head,
Ye myrtles! weep for Pompey dead;
Light lie the turf upon his breast,
Peace to his shade, and gentle rest.