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should, at a certain day and place appointed, answer all that one Thomas Thimble, a tailor, had to say to him; which Thomas Thimble, it seems, alleged that the Count had, according to the law of the realm, made over his body to him as a security for some suits of clothes to him delivered by the said Thomas Thimble. Now, as the Count, though perfectly a man of honour, could not immediately find these seconds, he was obliged for some time to reside at Mr. Snap's house: for it seems the law of the land is, that whoever owes another 101. or indeed 21. may be, on the oath of that person, immediately taken up and carried away from his own house and family, and kept abroad till he is made to owe bOl. whether he will or no; for which he is perhaps afterwards obliged to lie in gaol; and all these without any trial had, or any other evidence of the debt than the abovesaid oath, which if untrue, as it often happens, you have no remedy against the perjurer; he was, forsooth, mistaken.
But though Mr. Snap would not (as perhaps by the nice rules of honour he was obliged) discharge the Count on his parole; yet did he not (as by the strict rules of law he was enabled) confine him to his chamber. The Count had his liberty of the whole house, and Mr. Snap using only the precaution of keeping his doors well locked and barred, took his prisoner's word that he would not go forth.
Mr. Snap had by his second lady two daughters, who were now in the bloom of their youth and beauty. These young ladies, like damsels in romance, compassionated the captive Count, and endeavoured by all means to make his confinement less irksome to him; which, though they were both very beautiful, they could not attain by any other way so effectually, as by engaging with him at cards, in which contentions, as will appear hereafter, the Count was greatly skilful.
As whisk and swabbers was the game then in the chief vogue, they were obliged to look for a fourth person, in order to make up their parties. Mr. Snap himself would sometimes relax his mind from the violent fatigues of his employment by these recreations; and sometimes a neighbouring young gentleman, or lady, came in to their assistance: but the most frequent guest was young Master Wild, who had been educated from his infancy with the Miss Snaps, and was, by all the neighbours, allotted for the husband of Miss Tishy, or Laetitia, the younger of the two; for though, being his cousin-german, she was perhaps, in the eye of a strict conscience, somewhat too nearly related to him; yet the old people on both sides, though sufficiently scrupulous in nice matters, agreed to overlook this objection.
Men of great genius as easily discover one another as freemasons can. It was therefore no wonder that the Count soon conceived an inclination to an intimacy with our young hero, whose vast abilities could not be concealed from one of the Count's discernment: for though this latter was so expert at his cards that he was proverbially said to play the whole game, he was no match for Master Wild, who, inexperienced as he was, notwithstanding all the art, the dexterity, and often the fortune of Ms adversary, never failed to send him away from the table with less in his pocket than he brought to it, for indeed Langfanger himself could not have extracted a purse with more ingenuity than our young hero.
His hands made frequent visits to the Count's pocket before the latter had entertained any suspicion of him, imputing the several losses he sustained rather to the innocent and sprightly frolic of Miss Doshy, or Theodosia, with which, as she indulged him with little innocent freedoms about her person in return, he thought himself obliged to be contented; but one night, when Wild imagined the Count asleep, he made so unguarded an attack upon him, that the other caught him in the fact: however, he did not think proper to acquaint him with the discovery he had made; but preventing him from any booty at that time, he only took care for the future to button his pockets, and to pack the cards with double industry.
So far was this detection from causing any quarrel between these two Prigs,* that in reality it recommended them to each other: for a wise man, that is to say a rogue, considers a trick in life as a gamester doth a trick at play. It sets him on his guard; but he admires the dexterity of him who plays it. These, therefore, and many other such instances of ingenuity, operated so violently on the Count, that, notwithstanding the disparity which age, title, and above all dress, had set between them, he resolved to enter into an acquaintance with Wild. This soon produced a perfect intimacy, and that a friendship, which had a longer duration than is common to that passion between persons who only propose to themselves the common advantages of eating, drinking, whoring, or borrowing money; which ends, as they soon fail, so doth the friendship founded upon them. Mutual interest, the greatest of all purposes, was the cement of this alliance, which nothing, of consequence, but superior interest, was capable of dissolving.
A dialogue between young Master Wild and Count La Euse, which, having extended to the rejoinder, had a very quiet, easy, and natural conclusion.
One evening, after the Miss Snaps were retired to rest, the Count thus addressed himself to young Wild: 'You cannot, I apprehend, Mr. Wild, be such a stranger to your own great capacity as to be surprised when I tell you I have often viewed, with a mixture of astonishment and concern, your shining qualities confined to a sphere where they can never reach the eyes of those who would introduce them properly into the world, and raise you to an eminence where you may blaze out to the admiration of all men. I assure you I am pleased with my captivity, when I reflect I am likely to owe to it an acquaintance, and I hope friendship, with the greatest genius of my age; and, what is still more, when I indulge my vanity with a prospect of drawing from obscurity (pardon the expression) such talents as were, I believe, never before like to have been buried in it: for I make no question, but, at my discharge from confinement, which will now soon happen, I shall be able to introduce you into company, where you may reap the advantage of your superior parts. 'I will bring you acquainted, Sir, with those, who as they are capable of setting a true value on such qualifications, so they will have it both in their power and inclination to prefer you for them. Such an introduction is the only advantage you want, without which your merit might be your misfortune; for those abilities which would entitle you to honour and profit in a superior station, may render you only obnoxious to danger and disgrace in a lower.'
Mr. Wild answered: 'Sir, I am not insensible of my obligations to you, as well as for the overvalue you have set on my small abilities, as for the kindness you express in offering to introduce me among my superiors. I must own, my father hath often persuaded me to push myself into the company of my betters; but, to say the truth, I have an awkward pride in my nature, which is better pleased with being at the head of the lowest class than at the bottom of the highest. Permit me to say, though the idea may be somewhat coarse, I had rather stand on the summit of a dunghill than at the bottom of a hill in Paradise; I have always thought it signifies little into what rank of life I am thrown, provided I make a great figure therein; and should be as well satisfied with exerting my talents well at the head of a small party or gang, as in the command of a mighty army: for I am far from agreeing with you, that great parts are often lost in a low situation; on the contrary, I am convinced it is impossible they should be lost. I have often persuaded myself that there were not fewer than a thousand in Alexander's troops capable of performing what Alexander himself did.
'But because such spirits were not elected or destined to an imperial command, are we therefore to imagine they came off without a booty? or that they contented themselves with the share in common with their comrades? Surely, no. In civil life, doubtless, the same genius, the same endowments have often composed the statesman and the Prig: for so we call what the vulgar name a Thief. The same parts, the same actions often promote men to the head of superior societies, which raise them to the head of lower; and where is the essential difference, if the one ends on Tower-hill, and