Imagens das páginas

unequal heaps, and added a golden snuff-box to the lesser heap, he desired Mr. Wild to take his choice.

Mr. Wild immediately conveyed the larger share of the ready into his pocket, according to an excellent maxim of his: 'First secure what share you can before you wrangle 'for the rest:' And then, turning to his companion, he asked, with a stern countenance, whether he intended to keep all that sum to himself? Mr. Bagshot answered with some surprise, that he thought Mr. Wild had no reason to complain: for it was surely fair, at least on his part, to content himself with an equal share of the booty, who had taken the whole. * I grant you took it,' replied Wild, 'but, pray, who proposed or counselled the taking it ? Can you say that you have done more than executed my scheme? and might not I, if I had pleased, have employed another, since you well know there was not a gentleman in the room but would have taken the money, if he had known how conveniently and safely to do it?' 'That is very true (returned Bagshot), but did not I execute the scheme, did not I run the whole risk? Should not I have suffered the whole punishment if I had been taken, and is not the labourer worthy of his hire?' Doubtless (says Jonathan) he is so, and your hire I shall not refuse you, which is all that the labourer is entitled to, or ever enjoys. I remember when I was at school to have heard some verses, which for the excellence of their doctrine made an impression on me, purporting that the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, work not for themselves. It is true, the farmer allows fodder to his oxen, and pasture .to his sheep; but it is for his own service, not theirs. In the same manner the ploughman, the shepherd, the weaver, the builder, and the soldier, work not for themselves but others; they are contented with a poor pittance (the labourer's hire,) and permit us, the Great, to enjoy the fruits of their labours. Aristotle, as my master told us, hath plainly proved, in the first book of his politics, that the low, mean, useful part of mankind, are born slaves to the wills of their superiors, and are indeed as much their property as the cattle. It is well said of us, the higher order of mortals, that we are born only to devour the fruits of the earth; and it may be as well said of the lower class, that they are born only to produce them for us. Is not the battle gained by the sweat and danger of the common soldier? are not the honour and fruits of the victory the general's who laid the scheme? Is not the house built by the labour of the carpenter, and the bricklayer? Is it not built for the profit only of the architect, and for the use of the inhabitant, who could not easily have placed one brick upon another? Is not the cloth, or the silk, wrought into its form, and variegated with all the beauty of colours, by those who are forced to content themselves with the coarsest and vilest part of their work, while the profit and enjoyment of their labours fall to the share of others? Cast your eye abroad, and see who is it lives in the most magnificent buildings, feasts his palate with the most luxurious dainties, his eyes with the most beautiful sculptures and delicate paintings, and clothes himself in the finest and richest apparel; and tell me if all these do not fall to his lot, who had not any the least share in producing all these conveniences, nor the least ability so to do? Why then should the state of a Prig° differ from all others? Or why should you, who are the labourer only, the executor of my scheme, expect a share in the profit? Be advised, therefore, deliver the whole booty to me, and trust to my bounty for your reward.' Mr. Bagshot was some time silent, and looked like a man thunderstruck: but at last recovering himself from his surprise, he thus began: 'If * you think, Mr. Wild, by the force of your arguments to 'get the money out of my pocket, you are greatly mis'taken. What is all this stuff to me? D—n me, I am 'a man of honour, and though I can't talk as well as 'you, by G— you shall not make a fool of me; and if 'you take me for one, I must tell you, you are a rascal.' At which words he laid his hand to his pistol. Wild perceiving the little success the great strength of his arguments had met with, and the hasty temper of his friend, gave over his design for the present, and told Bagshot he was only in jest. But this coolness with which he treated the other's flame had rather the effect of oil than of water. Bagshot replied in a rage, ' D—n 'me, I don't like such jests; I see you are a pitiful 'rascal, and a scoundrel.' Wild, with a philosophy worthy of great admiration, returned,' As for your abuse, 'I have no regard to it; but to convince you I am not 'afraid of you, let us lay the whole booty on the table, 'and let the conqueror take it all.' And having so said, he drew out his shining hanger, whose glittering so dazzled the eyes of Bagshot, that, in a tone entirely altered, he said, 'No! he was contented with what he 'had already; that it was mighty ridiculous in them to 'quarrel among themselves; that they had common 'enemies enough abroad, against whom they should 'unite their common force; that if he had mistaken 'Wild, he was sorry for it; and as for a jest, he could 'take a jest as well as another.' Wild, who had a wonderful knack of discovering and applying to the passions of men, beginning now to have a little insight into bis friend, and to conceive what arguments would make the quickest impression on him, cried out in a loud voice, 'That he had bullied him into drawing his hanger, and 'since it was out, he would not put it up without satis'faction.' 'What satisfaction would you have?' (answered the other.) 'Your money or your blood,' said Wild. 'Why, lookye, Mr. Wild (said Bagshot), if you 'want to borrow a little of my part, since I know you to 'be a man of honour, I don't care if I lend you:—for 'though I am not afraid of any man living, yet rather 'than break with a friend, and as it may be necessary for 'your occasions—' Wild, who often declared that he looked upon borrowing to be as good a way of taking as any, and, as he called it, the genteelest kind of Sneakingbudge, putting up his hanger, and shaking his friend by the hand, told him he had hit the nail on the head; it was really his present necessity only that prevailed with him against his will; for that his honour was concerned to pay a considerable sum the next morning. Upon which, contenting himself with one half of Bagshot's share, so that he had three parts in four of the whole, he took leave of his companion, and retired to rest.

* A Thief.


Wild pays a visit to Miss Lcetitia Snap. A description of that lovely young creature^ and the successless issue of Mr. Wild's addresses.

The next morning when our hero waked, he began to think of paying a visit to Miss Tishy Snap; a woman of great merit, and of as great generosity; yet Mr. Wild found a present was ever most welcome to her, as being a token of respect in her lover. He therefore went directly to a toy-shop, and there purchased a genteel snuff-box, with which he waited upon his mistress, whom he found in the most beautiful undress. Her lovely hair hung wantonly over her forehead, being neither white with, nor yet free from powder; a neat double clout, which seemed to have been worn a few weeks only, was pinned under her chin; some remains of that art with which ladies improve nature shone on her cheeks: her body was loosely attired, without stays or jumps; so that her breasts had uncontrolled liberty to display their beauteous orbs, which they did as low as her girdle; a thin covering of a rumpled muslin handkerchief almost hid them from the eyes, save in a few parts, where a goodnatured hole gave opportunity to the naked breast to appear. Her gown was a satin of a whitish colour, with about a dozen little silver spots upon it, so artificially interwoven at great distance, that they looked as if they had fallen there by chance. This, flying open, discovered a fine yellow petticoat, beautifully edged round the bottom with a narrow piece of half gold lace, which was now almost become fringe: beneath this appeared another petticoat stiffened with whalebone, vulgarly called a hoop, which hung six inches at least below the other; and under this again appeared an under-garment of that colour which Ovid intends when he says,

Qui color alius erat nunc est contrarius albo.

She likewise displayed two pretty feet covered with silk, and adorned with lace: and tied, the right with a handsome piece of blue ribbon; the left as more unworthy, with a piece of yellow stuff, which seemed to have been a strip of her upper-petticoat. Such was the lovely creature whom Mr. Wild attended. She received him at first with some of that coldness which women of strict virtue by a commendable, though sometimes painful restraint, enjoin themselves to their lovers. The snuff-box being produced, was at first civilly, and indeed, gently refused; but on a second application

« AnteriorContinuar »