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Stories Before 1850. 0082: Anon., Cato, or Interesting Adventures of A Dog of Sentiment

Author: Anon.
Title: Cato, or interesting adventures of a dog of sentiment: interspersed with many amiable examples and real anecdotes. By a lady
Cat. Number: 0082
Date: 1816
1st Edition: 1816
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: J. Harris, Corner of St. Paul's Church Yard
Price: Unknown
Pages: 1 vol., iv + 176pp.
Size: 13.5 x 8.5 cm
Illustrations: Engraved frontispiece

Images of all pages of this book

Page 004 of item 0082

Introductory essay

In the 'Introduction' the dog Cato explains that he has been inspired to tell his story by the success of another book, Felissa, Or the Life and Opinions of a Kitten of Sentiment (by Elizabeth Ludlow). This had been first published in 1811 at 5s.6d. (an exorbitant price for a children's book, even with its 12 coloured engravings), and was successful enough to merit a second edition in 1822 and another as late as 1903. Cato did just as well, with five editions issuing from John Harris's press (Moon 1987: 27). What follows this attempt to position the book in this clearly profitable tradition of anthropomorphic memoirs is an 176-page account, narrated by Cato himself, of the his adventures and observations. We follow him from his puppyhood (a brutal time, when his ears and tail were docked, and his siblings drowned) to his dotage, when he is finally reunited with Henry, the master who had been the first to love him.

Interspersed with this is a series of lessons for the reader. Some are taught directly, with little or no role taken by Cato or his canine friends, save that he observes and records them. Henry's cousin Ellen lets her bonnet be carried off by the wind, for instance, and she is punished severely for having disobeyed her mother's injunctions against loosening it (pp.16-24). Though it is the dogs who destroy it, this fact makes little difference to the didacticism. It is the kind of episode familar from many standard moral tales. Similarly, a lecture on the size, habits and agricultural uses of the buffalo is ushered into the text solely on the pretext of an anecdote about a dog attacking a buffalo in the East Indies (pp.29-30). On the other hand, some lessons are taught by allegory. For example, when Cato secures applause for his tricks, and admits that he 'felt very much obliged to the good Henry for having given me an education which had procured me so much esteem', the lesson that one should attend to one's schooling is surely meant for human consumption (p.14).

For other comparable animal tales in the Hockliffe Collection, see:
1. Dorothy Kilner, The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse (1784: 0159)
2. Anon., Memoirs of Dick the Poney (c.1799: 0178-0179A)
3. Anon., The Dog of Knowledge; or, Memoirs of Bob the Spotted Terrier (No date: 0179B) 4. Mary Pilkington, Marvellous Adventures; or, the Vicissitudes of a Cat (1802: 0197)
5. Elizabeth Sandham's The Adventures of Poor Puss (1809: 0204)
6. Eliza Fenwick, The Life of the Famous Dog Carlo (1809: 0162)
7. Mary Martha Sherwood, The Little Woodman, and his Dog Cæsar (1818: 0214).
8. E. Smyth, History of Tabby, a favourite cat (1809: 0218)

Moon, Marjorie, John Harris's books for youth, 1801-1843, revised edition, Winchester, 1987