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her, and promised to stay till her return: and Miss Doshy, leaving Mr. Wild to his meditations, fastened him in the kitchen by barring the door (for most of the doors in this mansion were made to be bolted on the outside), and then slapping to the door of the house with great violence, without going out at it, she stole softly up stairs, where Miss Laetitia was engaged in close conference with Mr. Bagshot. Miss Letty, being informed by her sister in a whisper of what Mr. Wild had said, and what he had produced, told Mr. Bagshot that a young lady was below to visit her, whom she would despatch with all imaginable haste, and return to him. She desired him therefore to stay with patience for her in the mean time, and that she would leave the door unlocked, though her papa would never forgive her if he should discover it. Bagshot promised on his honour, not to step without his chamber; and the two young ladies went softly down stairs; when pretending first to make their entry into the house, they repaired to the kitchen, where not even the presence of the chaste Laetitia could restore that harmony to the countenance of her lover, which Miss Theodosia had left him possessed of; for, during her absence, he had discovered the absence of a purse containing bank notes for 900/. which had been taken from Mr. Heartfree, and which, indeed, Miss Straddle had, in the warmth of his amorous caresses, unperceived drawn from him. However, as he had that perfect mastery of his temper, or rather of his muscles, which is as necessary to the forming a great character, as to the personating it on the stage, he soon conveyed a smile into his countenance, and concealing as well his misfortune as his chagrin at it, began to pay honourable addresses to Miss Letty. This young lady, among many other good ingredients, had three very predominant passions; to wit, vanity, wantonness, and avarice. To satisfy the first of these, she employed Mr. Smirk and company; to the second, Mr. Bagshot and company; and our hero had the honour and happiness of solely engrossing the third. Now, these three sorts of lovers she had very different ways of entertaining. With the first, she was all gay and coquette; with the second, all fond and rampant; and with the last, all cold and reserved. She therefore told Mr. Wild, with a most composed aspect, that she was glad he had repented of his manner of treating her at their last interview, where his behaviour was so monstrous, that she had resolved never to see him any more: that she was afraid her own sex would hardly pardon her the weakness she was guilty of in receding from that resolution, which she was persuaded she never should have brought herself to, had not her sister, who was there to confirm what she said (as she did with many oaths), betrayed her into his company, by pretending it was another person to visit her; but, however, as he now thought proper to give her more convincing proofs of his affections (for he had now the casket in his hand), and since she perceived his designs were no longer against her virtue, but were such as a woman of honour might listen to, she must own—and then she feigned an hesitation, when Theodosia began: 'Nay, sister, I am resolved you shall 'counterfeit no longer. I assure you, Mr. Wild, she hath 'the most violent passion for you in the world; and 'indeed, dear Tishy, if you offer to go back, since I 'plainly see Mr. Wild's designs are honourable, I will 'betray all you have ever said.'—' How, sister (answered 'Laetitia), I protest you will drive me out of the room: 'I did not expect this usage from you.'—Wild then fell on his knees, and taking hold of her hand repeated a speech, which as the reader may easily suggest it to himself, I shall not here set down. He then offered her the casket, but she gently rejected it; and on a second offer, with a modest countenance and voice, desired to know what it contained. Wild then opened it, and took forth (with sorrow I write it, and with sorrow will it be read) one of those beautiful necklaces, with which, at the fair of Bartholomew, they deck the well-bewhitened neck of Thalestris queen of Amazons, Anna Bullen, queen Elizabeth, or some other high princess in drollic story. It was indeed composed of that paste, which Derdaeus Magnus, an ingenious toyman, doth at a very moderate price dispense of to the second-rate beaus of the metropolis. For to open a truth, which we ask our readers' pardon for having concealed from him so long, the sagacious Count, wisely fearing lest some accident might prevent Mr. Wild's return at the appointed time, had carefully conveyed the jewels which Mr. Heartfree had brought with him into his own pocket, and in their stead had placed in the casket these artificial stones, which, though of equal value to a philosopher, and perhaps of a much greater to a true admirer of the compositions of art, had not however the same charms in the eyes of Miss Letty; who had indeed some knowledge of jewels: for Mr. Snap, with great reason, considering how valuable a part of a lady's education it would be to be well instructed in these things, in an age when young ladies learn little more than how to dress themselves, had in her youth placed Miss Letty as the handmaid (or housemaid as the vulgar call it) of an eminent pawnbroker. The lightning, therefore, which should have flashed from the jewels, flashed from her eyes, and thunder immediately followed from her voice. She be-knaved, be-rascalled, be-rogued the unhappy hero, who stood silent, confounded with astonishment, but more with shame and indignation, at being thus outwitted and over-reached. At, length, he recovered his spirits, and throwing down the casket in a rage, he snatched the key from the table; and without making any answer to the ladies, who both very plentifully opened upon him, and without taking any leave of them, he flew out at the door, and repaired with the utmost expedition to the Count's habitation.
In which Wild, after many fruitless endeavours to discover his friend, moralizes on his fortune in a speech, which may be of use (if rightly understood) to some other considerable speech-makers.
Not the highest-fed footman of the highest-bred woman of quality knocks with more impetuosity than Wild did at the Count's door, which was immediately opened by a welldressed liveryman, who answered that his master was not at home. Wild, not satisfied with this, searched the house, but to no purpose; he then ransacked all the gaminghouses in town, but found no Count: indeed, that gentleman had taken leave of his house the same instant Mr. Wild had turned his back, and, equipping himself with boots and a post-horse, without taking with him either servant, clothes, or any necessaries for the journey of a great man, made such mighty expedition that he was now upwards of twenty miles on his way to Dover.
Wild, finding his search ineffectual, resolved to give it over for that night; he then retired to his seat of contemplation, a night-cellar, where, without a single farthing in his pocket, he called for a sneaker of punch, and placing himself on a bench by himself, he softly vented the following soliloquy:
'How vain is human Greatness! What avail superior abilities, and a noble defiance of those narrow rules and bounds which confine the vulgar; when our best concerted schemes are liable to be defeated! How unhappy is the state of Priggism! How impossible for human prudence to foresee and guard against every circumvention! It is even as a game of chess, where, while the rook, or knight, or bishop, is busied in forecasting some great enterprise, a worthless pawn interposes, and disconcerts his scheme. Better had it been for me to have observed the simple laws of friendship and morality than thus to ruin my friend for the benefit of others. I might have commanded his purse to any degree of moderation; I have now disabled him from the power of serving me. Well! but that was not my design. If I cannot arraign my own conduct, why should I, like a woman or a child, sit down and lament the disappointment of chance? But can I acquit myself of all neglect? Did I not misbehave in putting it into the power of others to outwit me? But that is impossible to be avoided. In this a Prig is more unhappy than any other: a cautious man may, in a crowd, preserve his own pockets by keeping his hands in them; but while the Prig employs his hands in another's pocket, how shall he be able to defend his own! Indeed, in this light what can be imagined more miserable than a Prig f How dangerous are his acquisitions! how unsafe, how unquiet his possessions! why then should any man wish to be a Prig, or where is his greatness? I answer, in his mind: 'tis the inward glory, the secret consciousness of doing great and wonderful actions, which can alone support the truly Great Man, whether he be a Conqueror, a Tyrant, a Statesman, or a Prig.—These must bear him up against the private curse and public imprecation, and, while he is hated and detested by all mankind, must