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THE PREDATORY ART.

CHAPTER THE FIRST. THE PRELUDE.

UNWILLINGLY complying with the
exigencies of the present hour, I write now in
the mother tongue that tractate de Arte
Pr├Ždatori├ó, which it would have been my
happiness to indite in Latin, had I been so
blessed as to have broken into the world two
or three hundred years ago. The day may
yet return when Latin, or at any rate thieves'
Latin, shall be spoken in the courts of
emperors, the camps of generals, within the
merchant's counting-house, the banker's
parlour; by the steward of accounts in Crystal
Palaces; by the reliever of the poor within
the workhouse walls. Such a day may dawn
even upon the generation to which I belong.

For free, art thou already, and famous, O
light-fingered Predatory Art! Fortunate
men are they who practise thee, and fear
thee not. In a great town, on the approach
of midnight, a sound, as of the grating of a
million bolts, the rattle of a thousand chains,
declares the terror of the herd to whom thy
secrets are not open. The honest family
commits itself every night to prison, sleeps
under lock and key, and has not only
imprisonment, but often torture also in its
nightly dungeon. If the wind but shake a
chimney-board, or if a mouse but nibble at a
door, the heart of the trembler quakes in his
domestic jail. The honest men occasionally lock
up a few of the rogues; the rogues, however,
lock up every night all the honest men. The
best prerogative of citizens belongs, therefore,
especially to him who cultivates the
Predatory Art. In the land of freedom, it
is he who is free, and who makes free.

What shall a nation prize next to its
liberty? Its fame. The Predatory Art makes
famous those who follow it. A most foolish
poetof the class weakly refusing to obtain
repute by larceny of jewels from established
verse shopspeached upon a man who would
do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
If that man would do his good by way of
stealing he might have relied upon its
publication in the papers. The smallest robbery
is thought worthy of being detailed for the
instruction of the public. A curate having
laboured thirty years in a large parish, having
destroyed his health by indefatigable toil, and
having earned the eternal gratitude of many
souls, receives a silver teapot and a purse of
sovereigns. Fame does not so much as take
her trumpet in her hand. I step in between
the curate and his friends, acquire, by my
skill in the Predatory Art, the teapot and
the gold: Fame puts her trumpet to her
mouth, and makes known my achievement.

Here let me pause. I do but touch a chord
where I might play a symphony. I will not
linger over praises of the Predatory Art, but
pass on to the next part of my treatise.

CHAPTER THE SECOND. THE THEORY
PROPOUNDED.

The Predatory Art enables its professor to
acquire in one hour, that for which another
may have laboured many years; it places at
his free disposal all the houses in the land;
it closes hearts, and open pockets. The
doctrine of the closed heart is, Expect nothing
but what you can take; the doctrine of the
open pocket is, Take what you would have.
Among beasts, man reckons as king the lion,
which is the most easily successful as an
animal of prey; among birds, those only
which are predatory, are accounted noble.
The men whose deeds history recounts with
most applause, and who are especially called
great, are those who exercised upon the
largest scale the Predatory Art.

The peculiar advantages offered to the
practitioner of this art, arise chiefly from its
simplicity and its directness. By throwing
out of life the element of truth, the great
obstacle to plain dealing is overcome. And
this needs hardly to be proved. For every
man knows how often on his path of life he
is brought to a standstill, at a point where
inconvenient truth obliges him to say or do
what forces him into a way that is tortuous,
or even stubbornly opposed to that which he
sees leading straight towards his object. In
the Predatory Act success is most complete,
wherever this unmanageable principle of
truth is most effectually overcome. He may
walk straight to his destination, who knows
that he is at liberty to throw over any chasm
in his solid ground of fact, a flying bridge of
falsehood. He may please men who is at
liberty to tell them anything they like to
hear, and he who has no strength to suit
circumstances to his will, may yet know how
to suit his will to circumstances, bending as