Supergroup 3: The History of Pompey the Little

by Hannah Fillmore-Patrick, Mike Langley, and Allie Rigby

Wednesday, 25 April

Pompey. Dedication (32) –  End of Volume 1 (104)

SATIRE

“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, and 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” (Coventry 42).

How and why does Coventry use satire in his societal critique?

Do the names Hillario, Lady Tempest, Lady Sophister have other implied references? Example: Sophistry according to dictionary.reference.com: a subtle, tricky superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning; a false argument

How does the social commentary regarding marriage and materialism relate to Pamela, Anti-Pamela, Woman of Colour, and Victim of Prejudice?

Why does Coventry insist Pompey is a hero? So far, is Pompey a hero? Does Pompey’s situation parallel that of Olivia in a Woman of Colour or Mary in Victim of Prejudice?

EDUCATION

“Lady Sophister (for that was her name) as soon as she was released from the Matrimonial Fetters, set out to visit foreign Parts, and displayed her Charms in most of the Courts of Europe. There, in many Parts of her Tour, she had kept Company with Literati, and particularly in France, where the ladies affect a reputation of Science, and are able to discourse the profoundest Questions of Theology and Philosophy. The Labyrinths of a Female Brain are so various and intricate, that it is difficult to say what first suggested the Opinion to her, whether Caprice or Vanity of being singular, but all on a sudden, her Ladyship took a Fancy into her Head to disbelieve the Immortality of the Soul; and never came into the Company of learned Men without displaying her Talents on this wonderful Subject. The World indeed ascribed the Rise of this Opinion in her Ladyship’s Brain, to Self-interest; for, said they, it is much better to perish than to burn; but for my part, I chuse rather to impute it to absolute Whim and Caprice, or rather, an absurd and ridiculous Love of Paradox” (Coventry 68).

How does Coventry portray educated women in Pompey? How do characters like Lady Sophister contribute to our ongoing discussion of female education?

How does Coventry portray educated men in Pompey? (e.g. Coventry 51)

MARGINALIZATION

Is Pompey, or is Pompey not, a marginalized character?

“There is a Story I have often heard of a crippled Beggar, who used constantly to apply for Alms at Hyde-Park Corner; where a Gentleman, who was then just recovered from a dangerous Fit of Illness, never failed to give him Six-pence every Morning, as he passed by in his Chariot for the Air. A Servant of this Gentleman’s going by chance one Day into an Alehouse, discovered this same Beggar sitting down to a Breast of Veal with some more of the Fraternity, and heard him raving at the Landlord, because the Bur was gone, and he had no Lemon ready to squeeze over it; adding many Threats of leaving the House, if their Dinners were not served up for the future with more Regularity and Respect. The Servant informed his Master of this extraordinary Circumstance, and next Morning when the pampered Hypocrite applied for his Charity as usual, in the old lamentable Voice, the Gentleman put his Head out of the Chariot, and told him, with a Sarcasm, No, Sir, I can eat Veal without Lemon” (Coventry 112).

Is Coventry making a specific social critique in Pompey? How does he treat marginalized characters like the Pompey’s beggar-master?

“Here Pompey again fell into the most desponding Meditations. ‘And was this Misery, thought he, reserved in store to compleat the Series of my Misfortunes? Am I destined to lead about the dark Footsteps of a blind, decrepit, unworthy Beggar? Must I go daggled thro’ the Streets with a Rope about my Neck, linking me to a Wretch that is the Scorn of human Nature? O that a Rope were fixed about my Neck indeed for a nobler Purpose, and that I were here to end a dreadful, tormenting Existence! Can I bear to hear the Sound of, Pray remember the poor blind Beggar? I who have conversed with Lords and Ladies; who have slept in the Arms of the fairest Beauties, and lived on the choicest Dainties this habitable Globe can afford! Cruel, cruel Fortune! when will thy Persecutions end?’” (Coventry 111).

How does having a sentient, intellectual narrator differ from an inanimate object narrator that other It narratives have?

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3 thoughts on “Supergroup 3: The History of Pompey the Little

  1. I’d like to address your first question: How and why does Coventry use satire in his societal critique? Satire is defined as the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. (dictionary.com), and, looking back at some of the discussions we’ve had in class so far, it’s not difficult to identify the use of satire in some of the character descriptions. In Coventry’s The History of Pompey the Little, characterizing the dog by his pedigree mirrors how some upper class members of 18th century society separate themselves from the rest of society. As you’ve quoted, “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, and 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” (Coventry 42). Here, we discover Pompey’s lineage, making him worthy of sitting on his mistress’ lap – a woman of high social upbringing. If Pompey were, say, born of two stray dogs in the streets of Italy, he probably would not be worthy of such a status. Now, if Pompey were a human, his birthright and lineage would classify him as a noble gentleman (gentledog). If he were not so lucky to be born into a high breed of family, he would have been a lower class citizen. Coventry’s use of satire explicates the class roles that dogs – and humans alike – have in 18th century Europe.

  2. Short question regarding one of the questions:

    “Is Pompey, or is Pompey not, a marginalized character?”

    Does it matter if Pompey is marginalized or not? What is at stake with this question?

    This isn’t a critique, but a genuine query.

  3. I’d like to comment about that question asking, “Is Coventry making a specific social critique in Pompey? How does he treat marginalized characters like the Pompey’s beggar-master?” Coventry is using Pompey as a orchestrator of many social critiques. As Eliza points out in the previous comment, the use of satire to make it easier to understand the class roles within 18th century Europe. In the case of the beggar, one can point out many instances of a social critique. For one, the sole fact that the beggar is only referred as “the beggar” as opposed to being given a name should be the first indicator of a social critique. This highlights the mistreatment as well as the dislike of these types of people during this time period. The scene where his own scene treats him terribly, just so that he can keep the others he is by not thinking of him as the Sharper he actually is. The social critique can be seen in the quote, “I was obliged to use you a little roughly this morning, but you’ll excuse me – There was a necessity you know of treating you like a scoundrel and an imposter, to prevent any suspicion of our relationship” (Conventry 125). So to answer the question above, yes, I believe this book is definitely used as a satirical social critique. It can clearly be observed when looking at the case of the beggar.

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