Coming to the story of the life of his hero, whom the author regards as “great people”, he seeks to convince the reader that greatness – contrary to the widespread misconception – is incompatible with kindness. The author considers absurd and absurd the desire of the biographers Caesar and Alexander of Macedon to attribute to these outstanding personalities such qualities as charity and justice. The author believes that by giving his characters such qualities, their biographers “destroy high perfection, called the integrity of character.” Absolutely irrelevant are the numerous references to the nobility and generosity of Caesar, who, according to the author, “with amazing greatness of spirit, destroyed the liberties of his homeland and, through deception and violence, placed himself head over the equal, corrupt and enslaved an entire people.”
The reader should be clear that such traits in a great man are unworthy of the purpose for
which he was born: to create immeasurable evil. Therefore, if the author in his narrative talks about such a quality as kindness, then for him this concept will be a synonym for vulgarity and imperfection, which, alas, are still peculiar to the most intimate representatives of the human race.
Jonathan, born in 1665 from a young age, displays pride and ambition. He does not study very diligently, but invariably discovers an amazing skill in appropriating someone else’s. At the age of seventeen, his father takes him to London, where the young man meets the earl of La Ruz, a famous cheater, and helps him escape from arrest. Paying tribute to the dexterity of the hands of Jonathan, who during the game of cards mopping up the pockets of partners, the Count introduces him into the light, so that the young man applies his talents in a society of people who have status and money.
In gratitude, Jonathan persuades his friend, Bob Bagshot, to rob the count when a major winnings come to him. In this case, Jonathan appropriates the lion’s share of the booty, explaining this to Bob by the action of the basic
law of human society: the low part of mankind are slaves who produce all the goods for the higher part of it. Since Jonathan considers himself to be great, justice demands that he always obtain what is extracted by someone else’s hands. Strengthening his arguments with threats, Jonathan subjugates his friend and decides to put together a gang, all members of which will work for him. Then his greatness will be compared to the greatness of Caesar and Alexander, who always took their looted soldiers with their hands.
To obtain the money needed to organize the gang, Jonathan, with the help of the earl, deceives the merchant jeweler Thomas Hartfrey, the schoolmate Jonathan.
Hartfrey gets a counterfeit bill, and Jonathan gets fake jewelry, whereas with the real count is hiding, leaving an accomplice in the fools. And yet Jonathan manages to assemble a large gang, whose members, under his leadership, successfully steal a sprawl and a simpleton.
In order to uncheck the wife of Hartfrey, who faces bankruptcy, and at the same time with his property, Jonathan deftly removes him from the house and convinces his wife to take all the valuables and sail to Holland, where he, the devoted friend of her husband, will accompany her. The simple-minded woman agrees.
During the storm, Jonathan tries to seize it, but the captain of the ship saves her. The French counterpart takes the whole team prisoner, and when Mrs. Hartfrey tells the French captain about Jonathan’s behavior, he is put in a boat and abandoned to the mercy of fate. However, soon he is picked up by a French fishing boat, and Jonathan returns safely to London.
The warrant for the arrest of Hartfrey is already approved when he learns that his wife, leaving the children’s home, took all the valuable goods and, together with Jonathan, left for Holland. Jonathan visits Hartfrey in a Newt prison to regain his trust. He tells Hartfrey that the captain of a French ship captured his wife and appropriated all the valuables, and suggests that Hartfrey escape from prison. Hartfrey refuses indignantly.
Meanwhile, Jonathan opens an office in which every robber by his gang can get back his things, paying twice as much for their value. Jonathan’s affairs are going well, and he is planning to marry beautiful Leticia, the daughter of his old friend and his father’s companion. He had long had tender feelings for her, which she, alas, rejected in favor of many other men, including bandits from the gang of Jonathan.
But, having satisfied his passion, Jonathan soon becomes cooler to his wife