The history of the life of the late mr. Jonathan wild the great

Download 0.51 Mb.
Size0.51 Mb.
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   ...   38


Wild no sooner parted from the chaste Laetitia than, recollecting that his friend the count was returned to his lodgings in the same house, he resolved to visit him; for he was none of those half-bred fellows who are ashamed to see their friends when they have plundered and betrayed them; from which base and pitiful temper many monstrous cruelties have been transacted by men, who have sometimes carried their modesty so far as to the murder or utter ruin of those against whom their consciences have suggested to them that they have committed some small trespass, either by the debauching a friend's wife or daughter, belying or betraying the friend himself, or some other such trifling instance. In our hero there was nothing not truly great: he could, without the least abashment, drink a bottle with the man who knew he had the moment before picked his pocket; and, when he had stripped him of everything he had, never desired to do him any further mischief; for he carried good-nature to that wonderful and uncommon height that he never did a single injury to man or woman by which he himself did not expect to reap some advantage. He would often indeed say that by the contrary party men often made a bad bargain with the devil, and did his work for nothing.
Our hero found the captive count, not basely lamenting his fate nor abandoning himself to despair, but, with due resignation, employing himself in preparing several packs of cards for future exploits. The count, little suspecting that Wild had been the sole contriver of the misfortune which had befallen him, rose up and eagerly embraced him, and Wild returned his embrace with equal warmth. They were no sooner seated than Wild took an occasion, from seeing the cards lying on the table, to inveigh against gaming, and, with an usual and highly commendable freedom, after first exaggerating the distressed circumstances in which the count was then involved, imputed all his misfortunes to that cursed itch of play which, he said, he concluded had brought his present confinement upon him, and must unavoidably end in his destruction. The other, with great alacrity, defended his favourite amusement (or rather employment), and, having told his friend the great success he had after his unluckily quitting the room, acquainted him with the accident which followed, and which the reader, as well as Mr. Wild, hath had some intimation of before; adding, however, one circumstance not hitherto mentioned, viz. that he had defended his money with the utmost bravery, and had dangerously wounded at least two of the three men that had attacked him. This behaviour Wild, who not only knew the extreme readiness with which the booty had been delivered, but also the constant frigidity of the count's courage, highly applauded, and wished he had been present to assist him. The count then proceeded to animadvert on the carelessness of the watch, and the scandal it was to the laws that honest people could not walk the streets in safety; and, after expatiating some time on that subject, he asked Mr. Wild if he ever saw so prodigious a run of luck (for so he chose to call his winning, though he knew Wild was well acquainted with his having loaded dice in his pocket). The other answered it was indeed prodigious, and almost sufficient to justify any person who did not know him better in suspecting his fair play. "No man, I believe, dares call that in question," replied he. "No, surely," says Wild; "you are well known to be a man of more honour; but pray, sir," continued he, "did the rascals rob you of all?" "Every shilling," cries the other, with an oath: "they did not leave me a single stake."
While they were thus discoursing, Mr. Snap, with a gentleman who followed him, introduced Mr. Bagshot into the company. It seems Mr. Bagshot, immediately after his separation from Mr. Wild, returned to the gaming-table, where having trusted to fortune that treasure which he had procured by his industry, the faithless goddess committed a breach of trust, and sent Mr. Bagshot away with as empty pockets as are to be found in any laced coat in the kingdom. Now, as that gentleman was walking to a certain reputable house or shed in Convent-garden market he fortuned to meet with Mr. Snap, who had just returned from conveying the count to his lodgings, and was then walking to and fro before the gaming-house door; for you are to know, my good reader, if you have never been a man of wit and pleasure about town, that, as the voracious pike lieth snug under some weed before the mouth of any of those little streams which discharge themselves into a large river, waiting for the small fry which issue thereout, so hourly, before the door or mouth of these gaming-houses, doth Mr. Snap, or some other gentleman of his occupation, attend the issuing forth of the small fry of young gentlemen, to whom they deliver little slips of parchment, containing invitations of the said gentlemen to their houses, together with one Mr. John Doe,[Footnote: This is a fictitious name which is put into every writ; for what purpose the lawyers best know.] a person whose company is in great request. Mr. Snap, among many others of these billets, happened to have one directed to Mr. Bagshot, being at the suit or solicitation of one Mrs. Anne Sample, spinster, at whose house the said Bagshot had lodged several months, and whence he had inadvertently departed without taking a formal leave, on which account Mrs. Anne had taken this method of SPEAKING WITH him.
Mr. Snap's house being now very full of good company, he was obliged to introduce Mr. Bagshot into the count's apartment, it being, as he said, the only chamber he had to LOCK UP in. Mr. Wild no sooner saw his friend than he ran eagerly to embrace him, and immediately presented him to the count, who received him with great civility.


Mr. Snap had turned the key a very few minutes before a servant of the family called Mr. Bagshot out of the room, telling him there was a person below who desired to speak with him; and this was no other than Miss Laetitia Snap, whose admirer Mr. Bagshot had long been, and in whose tender breast his passion had raised a more ardent flame than that which any of his rivals had been able to raise. Indeed, she was so extremely fond of this youth, that she often confessed to her female confidents, if she could ever have listened to the thought of living with any one man, Mr. Bagshot was he. Nor was she singular in this inclination, many other young ladies being her rivals in this matter, who had all the great and noble qualifications necessary to form a true gallant, and which nature is seldom so extremely bountiful as to indulge to any one person. We will endeavour, however, to describe them all with as much exactness as possible. He was then six feet high, had large calves, broad shoulders, a ruddy complexion, with brown curled hair, a modest assurance, and clean linen. He had indeed, it must be confessed, some small deficiencies to counterbalance these heroic qualities; for he was the silliest fellow in the world, could neither write nor read, nor had he a single grain or spark of honour, honesty, or good-nature, in his whole composition.
As soon as Mr. Bagshot had quitted the room the count, taking Wild by the hand, told him he had something to communicate to him of very great importance. "I am very well convinced," said he, "that Bagshot is the person who robbed me." Wild started with great amazement at this discovery, and answered, with a most serious countenance, "I advise you to take care how you cast any such reflections on a man of Mr. Bagshot's nice honour, for I am certain he will not bear it." "D--n his honour!" quoth the enraged count; "nor can I bear being robbed; I will apply to a justice of peace." Wild replied, with great indignation, "Since you dare entertain such a suspicion against my friend, I will henceforth disclaim all acquaintance with you. Mr. Bagshot is a man of honour, and my friend, and consequently it is impossible he should be guilty of a bad action." He added much more to the same purpose, which had not the expected weight with the count; for the latter seemed still certain as to the person, and resolute in applying for justice, which, he said, he thought he owed to the public as well as to himself. Wild then changed his countenance into a kind of derision, and spoke as follows: "Suppose it should be possible that Mr. Bagshot had, in a frolic (for I will call it no other), taken this method of borrowing your money, what will you get by prosecuting him? Not your money again, for you hear he was stripped at the gaming-table (of which Bagshot had during their short confabulation informed them); you will get then an opportunity of being still more out of pocket by the prosecution. Another advantage you may promise yourself is the being blown up at every gaming-house in town, for that I will assure you of; and then much good may it do you to sit down with the satisfaction of having discharged what it seems you owe the public. I am ashamed of my own discernment when I mistook you for a great man. Would it not be better for you to receive part (perhaps all) of your money again by a wise concealment: for, however seedy [Footnote: Poor.] Mr. Bagshot may be now, if he hath really played this frolic with you, you may believe he will play it with others, and when he is in cash you may depend on a restoration; the law will be always in your power, and that is the last remedy which a brave or a wise man would resort to. Leave the affair therefore to me; I will examine Bagshot, and, if I find he hath played you this trick, I will engage my own honour you shall in the end be no loser." The count answered, "If I was sure to be no loser, Mr. Wild, I apprehend you have a better opinion of my understanding than to imagine I would prosecute a gentleman for the sake of the public. These are foolish words of course, which we learn a ridiculous habit of speaking, and will often break from us without any design or meaning. I assure you, all I desire is a reimbursement; and if I can by your means obtain that, the public may--;" concluding with a phrase too coarse to be inserted in a history of this kind.
They were now informed that dinner was ready, and the company assembled below stairs, whither the reader may, if he please, attend these gentlemen.
There sat down at the table Mr. Snap, and the two Miss Snaps his daughters, Mr. Wild the elder, Mr. Wild the younger, the count, Mr. Bagshot, and a grave gentleman who had formerly had the honour of carrying arms in a regiment of foot, and who was now engaged in the office (perhaps a more profitable one) of assisting or following Mr. Snap in the execution of the laws of his country.
Nothing very remarkable passed at dinner. The conversation (as is usual in polite company) rolled chiefly on what they were then eating and what they had lately eaten. In this the military gentleman, who had served in Ireland, gave them a very particular account of a new manner of roasting potatoes, and others gave an account of other dishes. In short, an indifferent by-stander would have concluded from their discourse that they had all come into this world for no other purpose than to fill their bellies; and indeed, if this was not the chief, it is probable it was the most innocent design Nature had in their formation.
As soon as THE DISH was removed, and the ladies retired, the count proposed a game at hazard, which was immediately assented to by the whole company, and, the dice being immediately brought in, the count took up the box and demanded who would set him: to which no one made any answer, imagining perhaps the count's pockets to be more empty than they were; for, in reality, that gentleman (notwithstanding what he had heartily swore to Mr. Wild) had, since his arrival at Mr. Snap's, conveyed a piece of plate to pawn, by which means he had furnished himself with ten guineas. The count, therefore, perceiving this backwardness in his friends, and probably somewhat guessing at the cause of it, took the said guineas out of his pocket, and threw them on the table; when lo, (such is the force of example) all the rest began to produce their funds, and immediately, a considerable sum glittering in their eyes, the game began.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   ...   38

The database is protected by copyright © 2019
send message

    Main page