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Part 2 Chapter 4

In which Wild, After Many Fruitless Endeavours to Discover His Friend, Moralises on His Misfortune 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 well-drest 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 gaming-houses 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 his 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 forecasting some great enterprize, a worthless pawn exposes 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? 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 consciou............

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