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Lovers Of Cats








"The Turks greatly admire Cats; to them, their alluring Figure appears
preferable to the Docility, Instinct, and Fidelity of the Dog. Mahomet
was very partial to Cats. It is related, that being called up on some
urgent Business, he preferred cutting off the Sleeve of his Robe, to
waking the Cat, that lay upon it asleep. Nothing more was necessary,
to bring these Animals into high Request. A Cat may even enter a Mosque;
it is caressed there, as the Favourite Animal of the Prophet; while the
Dog, that should dare appear in the Temples, would pollute them with
his Presence, and would be punished with instant Death."[H]

[H] Daniel's "Rural Sports," 1813.

I am indebted to the Rev. T. G. Gardner, of St. Paul's Cray, for the
following from the French:

"A recluse, in the time of Gregory the Great, had it revealed to him in
a vision that in the world to come he should have equal share of
beatitude with that Pontiff; but this scarcely contented him, and he
thought some compensation was his due, inasmuch as the Pope enjoyed
immense wealth in this present life, and he himself had nothing he could
call his own save one pet cat. But in another vision he was censured;
his worldly detachment was not so entire as he imagined, and that
Gregory would with far greater equanimity part with his vast treasures
than he could part with his beloved puss."

CATS ENDOWED BY LA BELLE STEWART.--One of the chief ornaments of the
Court of St. James', in the reign of Charles II., was "La Belle
Stewart," afterwards the Duchess of Richmond, to whom Pope alluded as
the "Duchess of R." in the well-known line:

Die and endow a college or a cat.

The endowment satirised by Pope has been favourably explained by Warton.
She left annuities to several female friends, with the burden of
maintaining some of her cats--a delicate way of providing for poor and
probably proud gentlewomen, without making them feel that they owed
their livelihood to her mere liberality. But possibly there may have
been a kindliness of thought for both, deeming that those who were dear
friends would be most likely to attend to her wishes.

Mr. Samuel Pepys had at least a gentle nature as regards animals, if he
was not a lover of cats, for in his Diary occurs this note as to the
Fire of London, 1666:

"September 5th.--Thence homeward having passed through
Cheapside and Newgate Market, all burned; and seen Antony Joyce's
house on fire. And took up (which I keep by me) a piece of glass
of Mercer's chapel in the street, where much more was, so melted
and buckled with the heat of the fire like parchment. I did also
see a poor cat taken out of a hole in a chimney, joining the wall
of the Exchange, with the hair all burned off its body and yet
alive."

Dr. Jortin wrote a Latin epitaph on a favourite cat:[I]

[I] Hone's "Every-day Book," vol. i.


IMITATED IN ENGLISH.

"Worn out with age and dire disease, a cat, Friendly to all,
save wicked mouse and rat, I'm sent at last to ford the
Stygian lake, And to the infernal coast a voyage make. Me
Proserpine receiv'd, and smiling said, 'Be bless'd within
these mansions of the dead. Enjoy among thy velvet-footed
loves, Elysian's sunny banks and shady groves.' 'But if I've
well deserv'd (O gracious queen), If patient under sufferings
I have been, Grant me at least one night to visit home again,
Once more to see my home and mistress dear, And purr these
grateful accents in her ear: "Thy faithful cat, thy poor
departed slave, Still loves her mistress, e'en beyond the
grave."'"

"Dr. Barker kept a Seraglio and Colony of Cats. It happened, that at the
Coronation of George I. the Chair of State fell to his Share of the
Spoil (as Prebendary of Westminster) which he sold to some Foreigner;
when they packed it up, one of his favourite Cats was inclosed along
with it; but the Doctor pursued his treasure in a boat to Gravesend and
recovered her safe. When the Doctor was disgusted with the Ministry,
he gave his Female Cats, the Names of the Chief Ladies about the
Court; and the Male-ones, those of the Men in Power, adorning them
with the Blue, Red, or Green Insignia of Ribbons, which the Persons they
represented, wore."[J]

[J] Daniel's "Rural Sports," 1813.

Daniel, in his "Rural Sports," 1813, mentions the fact that, "In one of
the Ships of the Fleet, that sailed lately from Falmouth, for the West
Indies, went as Passengers a Lady and her seven Lap-dogs, for the
Passage of each of which, she paid Thirty Pounds, on the express
Condition, that they were to dine at the Cabin-table, and lap their
Wine afterwards. Yet these happy dogs do not engross the whole of
their good Lady's Affection; she has also, in Jamaica, FORTY CATS, and a
Husband."

"The Partiality to the domestic Cat, has been thus established. Some
Years since, a Lady of the name of Greggs, died at an advanced Age, in
Southampton Row, London. Her fortune was Thirty Thousand Pounds, at
the Time of her Decease. Credite Posteri! her Executors found in her
House Eighty-six living, and Twenty-eight dead Cats. Her Mode of
Interring them, was, as they died, to place them in different Boxes,
which were heaped on one another in Closets, as the Dead are described
by Pennant, to be in the Church of St. Giles. She had a black Female
Servant--to Her she left One hundred and fifty pounds per annum to
keep the Favourites, whom she left alive."[K]

[K] Daniel's "Rural Sports," 1813.

The Chantrel family of Rottingdean seem also to be possessed with a
similar kind of feeling towards cats, exhibiting no fewer than
twenty-one specimens at one Cat Show, which at the time were said to
represent only a small portion of their stock; these ultimately became
almost too numerous, getting beyond control.

Signor Foli is a lover of cats, and has exhibited at the Crystal
Palace Cat Show.

Petrarch loved his cat almost as much as he loved Laura, and when it
died he had it embalmed.

Tasso addressed one of his best sonnets to his female cat.

Cardinal Wolsey had his cat placed near him on a chair while acting in
his judicial capacity.

Sir I. Newton was also a lover of cats, and there is a good story told
of the philosopher having two holes made in a door for his cat and her
kitten to enter by--a large one for the cat, and a small one for the
kitten.

Peg Woffington came to London at twenty-two years of age. After
calling many times unsuccessfully at the house of John Rich, the manager
of Covent Garden, she at last sent up her name. She was admitted, and
found him lolling on a sofa, surrounded by twenty-seven cats of all
ages.

The following is from the Echo, respecting a lady well known in her
profession: "Miss Ellen Terry has a passionate fondness for cats. She
will frolic for hours with her feline pets, never tiring of studying
their graceful gambols. An author friend of mine told me of once reading
a play to her. During the reading she posed on an immense tiger-skin,
surrounded by a small army of cats. At first the playful capers of the
mistress and her pets were toned down to suit the quiet situations of
the play; but as the reading progressed, and the plot approached a
climax, the antics of the group became so vigorous and drolly excited
that my poor friend closed the MS. in despair, and abandoned himself to
the unrestrained expression of his mirth, declaring that if he could
write a play to equal the fun of Miss Terry and her cats, his fortune
would be made."

Cowper loved his pet hares, spaniel, and cat, and wrote the well-known
"Cat retired from business."

Gray wrote a poem on a cat drowned in a vase which contained
gold-fish.

Cardinal Richelieu was a lover of the cat.

Montaigne had a favourite cat.

Among painters, Gottfried Mind was not only fond of cats, but was one
of, if not the best at portraying them in action; and in England no one
has surpassed Couldery in delineation, nor Miss Chaplin in perfection of
modelling. I am the fortunate possessor of several of her models in
terra cotta, which, though small, are beautiful in finish. Of one, Miss
Chaplin informed me, the details were scratched in with a pin, for want
of better and proper tools.





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