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'be as great as any prime minister whatsoever? Un'doubtedly he would. What then have I to do in the 'pursuit of greatness, but to procure a gang, and to make 'the use of this gang centre in myself. This gang shall 'rob for me only, receiving very moderate rewards for 'their actions; out of this gang I will prefer to my favour 'the boldest and most iniquitous (as the vulgar express 'it); the rest I will, from time to time, as I see occasion, 'transport and hang at my pleasure; and thus (which I 'take to be the highest excellence of a Prig) convert those 'laws which are made for the benefit and protection of 'society to my single use.'
Having thus preconceived his scheme, he saw nothing wanting to put it in immediate execution but that which is indeed the beginning as well as the end of all human devices: I mean money.—Of which commodity he was possessed of no more than sixty-five guineas, being all that remained from the double benefits he had made of Bagshot, and which did not seem sufficient to furnish his house, and every other convenience necessary for so grand an undertaking. He resolved therefore to go immediately to the gaming-house, which was then sitting, not so much with an intention of trusting to fortune as to play the surer card of attacking the winner in his way home. On his arrival, however, he thought he might as well try his success at the dice, and reserve the other resource as his last expedient. He accordingly sat down to play; and as fortune, no more than others of her sex, is observed to distribute her favours with strict regard to great mental endowments, so our hero lost every farthing in his pocket. This loss however he bore with great constancy of mind, and with a great composure of aspect. To say truth, he considered the money as only lent for a short time, or rather indeed as deposited with a banker. He then resolved to have immediate recourse to his surer stratagem; and casting his eyes round the room, he soon perceived a gentleman sitting in a disconsolate posture, who seemed a proper instrument or tool for his purpose. In short (to be as concise as possible in these least shining parts of our history), Wild accosted this man, sounded him, found him fit to execute, proposed the matter, received a ready assent, and having fixed on the person who seemed that evening the greatest favourite of fortune, they posted themselves in the most proper place to surprise the enemy as he was retiring to his quarters, where he was soon attacked, subdued, and plundered; but indeed of no considerable booty; for it seems this gentleman played on a common stock, and had deposited his winnings at the scene of action; nor had he any more than two shillings in his pocket when he was attacked.
This was so cruel a disappointment to Wild, and so sensibly affects us, as no doubt it will the reader; that, as it must disqualify us both from proceeding any farther at present, we will now take a little breath; and, therefore, we shall here close this book.
OK THE LATE
ME. JONATHAN WILD,
Characters of silly people, with the proper uses for which such are designed.
One reason why we chose to end our first book, as we did, with the last chapter, was, that we are now obliged to produce two characters of a stamp entirely different from what we have hitherto dealt in. These persons are of that pitiful order of mortals, who are in contempt called Good-natured; being indeed sent into the world by nature with the same design with which men put little fish into a pike-pond, in order to be devoured by that voracious water-hero.
But to proceed with our history, Wild having shared the booty in much the same manner as before, i. e. taken three-fourths of it, amounting to eighteen-pence, was now retiring to rest, in no very happy mood, when by accident he met with a young fellow who had formerly been his companion, and indeed intimate friend, at school. It hath been thought that friendship is usually nursed by similitude of manners; but the contrary had been the case between these lads: for, whereas Wild was rapacious and intrepid, the other had always more regard for his skin than his money; Wild therefore had very generously compassionated this defect in his school-fellow, and had brought him off from many scrapes, into most of which he had first drawn him, by taking the fault and whipping to himself. He had always indeed been well paid on such occasions; but there are a sort of people, who, together with the best of the bargain, will be sure to have the obligation too on their side; so it had happened here: for this poor lad had considered himself in the highest degree obliged to Mr. Wild, and had contracted a very great esteem and friendship for him; the traces of which, an absence of many years had not in the least effaced in his mind. He no sooner knew Wild, therefore, than he accosted him in the most friendly manner, and invited him home with him to breakfast (it being now near nine in the morning), which invitation our hero with no great difficulty consented to. This young man, who was about Wild's age, had some time before set up in the trade of a jeweller, in the materials or stock for which he had laid out the greatest part of a little fortune, and had married a very agreeable woman for love, by whom he then had two children. As our reader is to be more acquainted with this person it may not be improper to open somewhat of his character, especially as it will serve as a kind of foil to the noble and great disposition of our hero, and as the one seems sent into this world as a proper object on which the talents of the other were to be displayed with a proper and just success.
Mr. Thomas Heartfree then (for that was his name) was of an honest and open disposition. He was of that sort of men, whom experience only, and not their own natures, must inform, that there are such things as deceit and hypocrisy in the world; and who, consequently, are not at five and twenty so difficult to be imposed upon as the oldest and most subtle. He was possessed of several great weaknesses of mind; being good-natured, friendly, and generous to a great excess. He had indeed too little regard to common justice, for he had forgiven some debts to his acquaintance, only because they could not pay him; and had entrusted a bankrupt on his setting up a second time, from having been convinced, that he had dealt in his bankruptcy with a fair and honest heart, and that he had broke through misfortune only, and not from neglect or imposture. He was withal so silly a fellow, that he never took the least advantage of the ignorance of his customers, and contented himself with very moderate gains on his goods; which he was the better enabled to do, notwithstanding his generosity, because his life was extremely temperate, his expenses being solely confined to the cheerful entertainment of his friends at home, and now and then a moderate glass of wine, in which he indulged himself in the company of his wife, who, with an agreeable person, was a mean-spirited, poor, domestic, low-bred animal, who confined herself mostly to the care of her family, placed her happiness in her husband and her children ; followed no expensive fashions or diversions, and indeed rarely went abroad, unless to return the visits of a few plain neighbours, and twice a year afforded herself, in company with her husband, the diversion of a play, where she never sat in a higher place than the pit.