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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