FURTHER CONFERENCES BETWEEN THE COUNT AND MASTER WILD, WITH OTHER MATTERS OF THE GREAT KIND. The count missed his money the next morning, and very well knew who had it; but, as he knew likewise how fruitless would be any complaint, he chose to pass it by without mentioning it. Indeed it may appear strange to some readers that these gentlemen, who knew each other to be thieves, should never once give the least hint of this knowledge in all their discourse together, but, on the contrary, should have the words honesty, honour, and friendship as often in their mouths as any other men. This, I say, may appear strange to some; but those who have lived long in cities, courts, gaols, or such places, will perhaps be able to solve the seeming absurdity.
When our two friends met the next morning the count (who, though he did not agree with the whole of his friend's doctrine, was, however, highly pleased with his argument) began to bewail the misfortune of his captivity, and the backwardness of friends to assist each other in their necessities; but what vexed him, he said, most, was the cruelty of the fair: for he intrusted Wild with the secret of his having had an intrigue with Miss Theodosia, the elder of the Miss Snaps, ever since his confinement, though he could not prevail with her to set him at liberty. Wild answered, with a smile, "It was no wonder a woman should wish to confine her lover where she might be sure of having him entirely to herself;" but added, he believed he could tell him a method of certainly procuring his escape. The count eagerly besought him to acquaint him with it. Wild told him bribery was the surest means, and advised him to apply to the maid. The count thanked him, but returned, "That he had not a farthing left besides one guinea, which he had then given her to change." To which Wild said, "He must make it up with promises, which he supposed he was courtier enough to know how to put off." The count greatly applauded the advice, and said he hoped he should be able in time to persuade him to condescend to be a great man, for which he was so perfectly well qualified.
This method being concluded on, the two friends sat down to cards, a circumstance which I should not have mentioned but for the sake of observing the prodigious force of habit; for though the count knew if he won ever so much of Mr. Wild he should not receive a shilling, yet could he not refrain from packing the cards; nor could Wild keep his hands out of his friend's pockets, though he knew there was nothing in them.
When the maid came home the count began to put it to her; offered her all he had, and promised mountains in futuro; but all in vain--the maid's honesty was impregnable. She said, "She would not break her trust for the whole world; no, not if she could gain a hundred pound by it." Upon which Wild stepping up and telling her "She need not fear losing her place, for it would never be found out; that they could throw a pair of sheets into the street, by which it might appear he got out at a window; that he himself would swear he saw him descending; that the money would be so much gains in her pocket; that, besides his promises, which she might depend on being performed, she would receive from him twenty shillings and ninepence in ready money (for she had only laid out threepence in plain Spanish); and lastly, that, besides his honour, the count should leave a pair of gold buttons (which afterwards turned out to be brass) of great value, in her hands, as a further pawn."
The maid still remained inflexible, till Wild offered to lend his friend a guinea more, and to deposit it immediately in her hands. This reinforcement bore down the poor girl's resolution, and she faithfully promised to open the door to the count that evening.
Thus did our young hero not only lend his rhetoric, which few people care to do without a fee, but his money too (a sum which many a good man would have made fifty excuses before he would have parted with), to his friend, and procured him his liberty.
But it would be highly derogatory from the GREAT character of Wild, should the reader imagine he lent such a sum to a friend without the least view of serving himself. As, therefore, the reader may easily account for it in a manner more advantageous to our hero's reputation, by concluding that he had some interested view in the count's enlargement, we hope he will judge with charity, especially as the sequel makes it not only reasonable but necessary to suppose he had some such view.
A long intimacy and friendship subsisted between the count and Mr. Wild, who, being by the advice of the count dressed in good cloaths, was by him introduced into the best company. They constantly frequented the assemblies, auctions, gaming-tables, and play-houses; at which last they saw two acts every night, and then retired without paying--this being, it seems, an immemorial privilege which the beaus of the town prescribe for themselves. This, however, did not suit Wild's temper, who called it a cheat, and objected against it as requiring no dexterity, but what every blockhead might put in execution. He said it was a custom very much savouring of the sneaking-budge, [Footnote: Shoplifting] but neither so honourable nor so ingenious.
Wild now made a considerable figure, and passed for a gentleman of great fortune in the funds. Women of quality treated him with great familiarity, young ladies began to spread their charms for him, when an accident happened that put a stop to his continuance in a way of life too insipid and inactive to afford employment for those great talents which were designed to make a much more considerable figure in the world than attends the character of a beau or a pretty gentleman.
MASTER WILD SETS OUT ON HIS TRAVELS, AND RETURNS HOME AGAIN. A VERY SHORT CHAPTER, CONTAINING INFINITELY MORE TIME AND LESS MATTER THAN ANY OTHER IN THE WHOLE STORY. We are sorry we cannot indulge our reader's curiosity with a full and perfect account of this accident; but as there are such various accounts, one of which only can be true, and possibly and indeed probably none; instead of following the general method of historians, who in such cases set down the various reports, and leave to your own conjecture which you will chuse, we shall pass them all over.
Certain it is that, whatever this accident was, it determined our hero's father to send his son immediately abroad for seven years; and, which may seem somewhat remarkable, to his majesty's plantations in America--that part of the world being, as he said, freer from vices than the courts and cities of Europe, and consequently less dangerous to corrupt a young man's morals. And as for the advantages, the old gentleman thought they were equal there with those attained in the politer climates; for travelling, he said, was travelling in one part of the world as well as another; it consisted in being such a time from home, and in traversing so many leagues; and [he] appealed to experience whether most of our travellers in France and Italy did not prove at their return that they might have been sent as profitably to Norway and Greenland.
According to these resolutions of his father, the young gentleman went aboard a ship, and with a great deal of good company set out for the American hemisphere. The exact time of his stay is somewhat uncertain; most probably longer than was intended. But howsoever long his abode there was, it must be a blank in this history, as the whole story contains not one adventure worthy the reader's notice; being indeed a continued scene of whoring, drinking, and removing from one place to another.
To confess a truth, we are so ashamed of the shortness of this chapter, that we would have done a violence to our history, and have inserted an adventure or two of some other traveller; to which purpose we borrowed the journals of several young gentlemen who have lately made the tour of Europe; but to our great sorrow, could not extract a single incident strong enough to justify the theft to our conscience.
When we consider the ridiculous figure this chapter must make, being the history of no less than eight years, our only comfort is, that the histories of some men's lives, and perhaps of some men who have made a noise in the world, are in reality as absolute blanks as the travels of our hero. As, therefore, we shall make sufficient amends in the sequel for this inanity, we shall hasten on to matters of true importance and immense greatness. At present we content ourselves with setting down our hero where we took him up, after acquainting our reader that he went abroad, staid seven years, and then came home again.