AN ADVENTURE WHERE WILD, IN THE DIVISION OF THE BOOTY, EXHIBITS AN ASTONISHING INSTANCE OF GREATNESS. The count was one night very successful at the hazard-table, where Wild, who was just returned from his travels, was then present; as was likewise a young gentleman whose name was Bob Bagshot, an acquaintance of Mr. Wild's, and of whom he entertained a great opinion; taking, therefore, Mr. Bagshot aside, he advised him to provide himself (if he had them not about him) with a case of pistols, and to attack the count in his way home, promising to plant himself near with the same arms, as a corps de reserve, and to come up on occasion. This was accordingly executed, and the count obliged to surrender to savage force what he had in so genteel and civil a manner taken at play.
And as it is a wise and philosophical observation, that one misfortune never comes alone, the count had hardly passed the examination of Mr. Bagshot when he fell into the hands of Mr. Snap, who, in company with Mr. Wild the elder and one or two more gentlemen, being, it seems, thereto well warranted, laid hold of the unfortunate count, and conveyed him back to the same house from which, by the assistance of his good friend, he had formerly escaped.
Mr. Wild and Mr. Bagshot went together to the tavern, where Mr. Bagshot (generously, as he thought) offered to share the booty, and, having divided the money into two 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 surprize, 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 risque? 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[Footnote: A thief.] 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 surprize, 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 mistaken. 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 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 his 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 satisfaction." "What satisfaction would you have?" answered the other. "Your money or your blood," said Wild. "Why, look ye, 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 sneaking-budge, 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.