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Part 1 Chapter 14

In which the History of Greatness is Continued.

Matters being thus reconciled, and the gaming over, from reasons before hinted, the company proceeded to drink about with the utmost chearfulness and friendship; drinking healths, shaking hands, and professing the most perfect affection for each other. All which were not in the least interrupted by some designs which they then agitated in their minds, and which they intended to execute as soon as the liquor had prevailed over some of their understandings. Bagshot and the gentleman intending to rob each other; Mr. Snap and Mr. Wild the elder meditating what other creditors they could find out to charge the gentleman then in custody with; the count hoping to renew the play, and Wild, our hero, laying a design to put Bagshot out of the way, or, as the vulgar express it, to hang him with the first opportunity. But none of these great designs could at present be put in execution, for, Mr. Snap being soon after summoned abroad on business of great moment, which required likewise the assistance of Mr. Wild the elder and his other friend, and as he did not care to trust to the nimbleness of the count’s heels, of which he had already had some experience, he declared he must LOCK UP for that evening. Here, reader, if them pleasest, as we are in no great haste, we will stop and make a simile. As when their lap is finished, the cautious huntsman to their kennel gathers the nimble-footed hounds, they with lank ears and tails slouch sullenly on, whilst he, with his whippers-in, follows close at their heels, regardless of their dogged humour, till, having seen them safe within the door, he turns the key, and then retires to whatever business or pleasure calls him thence; so with lowring countenance and reluctant steps mounted the count and Bagshot to their chamber, or rather kennel, whither they were attended by Snap and those who followed him, and where Snap, having seen them deposited, very contentedly locked the door and departed. And now, reader, we will, in imitation of the truly laudable custom of the world, leave these our good friends to deliver themselves as they can, and pursue the thriving fortunes of Wild, our hero, who, with that great aversion to satisfaction and content which is inseparably incident to great minds, began to enlarge his views with his prosperity: for this restless, amiable disposition, this noble avidity which increases with feeding, is the first principle or constituent quality of these our great men; to whom, in their passage on to greatness, it happens as to a traveller over the Alps, or, if this be a too far-fetched simile, to one who travels westward over the hills near Bath, where the simile was indeed made. He sees not the end of his journey at once; but, passing on from scheme to scheme, and from hill to hill, with noble constancy, resolving still to attain the summit on which he hath fixed his eve, however dirty the roads may be through which he struggles, he at length arrives —— at some vile inn, where he finds no kind of entertainment nor conveniency for repose. I fancy, reader, if thou hast ever travelled in these roads, one part of my simile is sufficiently apparent (and, indeed, in all these illustrations, one side is generally much more apparent than the other); but, believe me, if the other doth not so evidently appear to thy satisfaction, it is from no other reason than because thou art unacquainted with these great men, and hast not had sufficient instruction, leisure, or opportunity, to consider what happens to those who pursue what is generally understood by GREATNESS: for surely, if thou hadst animadverted, not only on the many perils to which great men are daily liable while they are in their progress, but hadst discerned, as it were through a microscope (for it is invisible to the naked eye), that diminutive speck of happiness which they attain even in the consummation of their wishes, thou wouldst lament with me the unhappy fate of these great men, on whom nature hath set so superior a mark, that the rest of mankind are born for their use and emolument only, and be apt to cry out, “It is pity that THOSE for whose pleasure and profit mankind are to labour and sweat, to be hacked and hewed, to be pillaged, plundered, and every war destroyed, should reap so LITTLE advantage from all the miseries they occasion to others.” For my part, I own myself of that humble kind of mortals who consider themselves born for the behoof of some great man or other, and could I behold his happiness carved out of the labour and ruin of a thousand such reptiles as myself I might with satisfaction exclaim, Sic, sic juvat: but when I behold one GREAT MAN starving with hunger and freezing with cold, in the midst of fifty thousand who are suffering the same evils for his diversion; when I see another, whose own mind is a more abject slave to his own greatness, and is more tortured and racked by it, than those of all his vassals; lastly, when I consider whole nations rooted out only to bring tears into the eyes of a GREAT MAN, not indeed because he hath extirpated so many, but because he had no more nations to extirpate, then truly I am almost inclined to wish that Nature had spared us this her MASTERPIECE, and that no GREAT MAN had ever been born into the world.

But to proceed with our history, which will, we hope, produce much better lessons, and more instructive, than any we can preach: Wild was no sooner retired to a night-cellar than he began to reflect on the sweets he had that day enjoyed from the labours of others, viz., first, from Mr. Bagshot, who had for his use robbed the count; and, secondly, from the gentleman, who, for the same............

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