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on Wild (so dangerous is any attack on a GREAT Man), several of his neighbours, and particularly one or two of his own trade, industriously endeavouring, from their bitter animosity against such kind of iniquity, to spread and exaggerate his ingratitude as much as possible; not in the least scrupling, in the violent ardour of their indignation, to add some small circumstances of their own knowledge of the many obligations conferred on Heartfree by Wild. To all these scandals he quietly submitted, comforting himself in the consciousness of his own innocence, and confiding in time, the sure friend of justice, to acquit him.
CHAPTER XI. A scheme so deeply laid, that it shames all the politics of
this our age; with digression and subdigression. Wild having now, to the hatred he bore Heartfree on account of those injuries he had done him, an additional spur from this injury received (for so it appeared to him, who, no more than the most ignorant, considered how truly he deserved it), applied his utmost industry to accomplish the ruin of one whose very name sounded odious in his ears; when luckily a scheme arose in his imagination, which not only promised to effect it securely, but (which pleased him most) by means of the mischief he had already done him; and which would at once load him with the imputation of having committed what he himself had done to him, and would bring on him the severest punishment for a fact, of which he was not only innocent, but had already so greatly suffered by. And this was no other than to charge him with having conveyed away his wife, with his most valuable effects, in order to defraud his creditors.
He no sooner started this thought than he immediately resolved on putting it in execution. What remained to consider was only the Quomodo, and the person or tool to be employed; for the stage of the world differs from that in Drury Lane principally in this ; that whereas, on the latter, the hero, or chief figure, is almost continually before your eyes, whilst the under actors are not seen above once in an evening; now, on the former, the hero, or great man, is always behind the curtain, and seldom or never appears, or doth any thing in his own person. He doth indeed, in this Grand Drama, rather perform the part of the Prompter, and doth instruct the well-drest figures, who are strutting in public on the stage, what to say and do. To say the truth, a puppetshow will illustrate our meaning better, where it is the master of the show (the great man) who dances and moves every thing: whether it be the King of Muscovy, or whatever other potentate, alias puppet, which we behold on the stage ; but he himself wisely keeps out of sight; for, should he once appear, the whole motion would be at an end. Not that any one is ignorant of his being there, or supposes that the puppets are not mere sticks of wood, and he himself the sole mover; but, as this, (though every one knows it) doth not appear visibly, i.e. to their eyes, no one is ashamed of consenting to be imposed upon; of helping on the Drama, by calling the several sticks or puppets by the names which the master hath allotted to them, and by assigning to each the character which the great man is pleased they shall move in, or rather in which he himself is pleased to move them.
It would be to suppose thee, gentle reader, one of very little knowledge in this world, to imagine thou
hast never seen some of these puppet-shows, which are so frequently acted on the great stage; but though thou shouldst have resided all thy days in those remote parts of this island, which great men seldom visit; yet, if thou hast any penetration, thou must have had some occasions to admire both the solemnity of countenance in the actor, and the gravity in the spectator, while some of those farces are carried on, which are acted almost daily in every village in the kingdom. He must have a very despicable opinion of mankind indeed, who can conceive them to be imposed on as often as they appear to be so. The truth is, they are in the same situation with the readers of Romances; who, though they know the whole to be one entire fiction, nevertheless agree to be deceived ; and as these find amusement, so do the others find ease and convenience in this concurrence. But, this being a subdigression, I return to my digression.
A GREAT Man ought to do his business by others; to employ hands, as we have before said, to his purposes, and keep himself as much behind the curtain as possible; and though it must be acknowledged that two very great men, whose names will be both recorded in history, did, in these latter times, come forth themselves on the stage; and did hack and hew, and lay each other most cruelly open to the diversion of the spectators; yet this must be mentioned rather as an example of avoidance than imitation, and is to be ascribed to the number of those instances which serve to evince the truth of these maxims : Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit. Ira furor brevis est, &c. CHAPTER XII. New instances of Friendly's folly, &c. To return to my history, which, having rested itself a little, is now ready to proceed on its journey: Fireblood was the person chosen by Wild for this service. He had, on a late occasion, experienced the talents of this youth for a good round perjury. He immediately, therefore, found him out, and proposed it to him: when receiving his instant assent, they consulted together, and soon framed an evidence, which, being communicated to one of the most bitter and severe creditors of Heartfree, by him laid before a magistrate, and attested by the oath of Fireblood, the justice granted his warrant: and Heartfree was accordingly apprehended and brought before him.
When the officers came for this poor wretch they found him meanly diverting himself with his little children, the younger of whom sat on his knees, and the elder was playing at a little distance from him with Friendly. One of the officers, who was a very good sort of a man, but one very laudably severe in his office, after acquainting Heartfree with his errand, bade him come along and be d- d, and leave those little bastards, for so, he said, he supposed they were, for a legacy to the parish. Heartfree was much surprised at hearing there was a warrant for felony against him; but he shewed less concern than Friendly did in his countenance. The elder daughter, when she saw the officer lay hold on her father, immediately quitted her play, and, running to him, and bursting into tears, cried out: “You shall not hurt Papa.' One of the other ruffians offered to take the little one rudely from his knees; but Heartfree started up, and, catching the fellow by the collar, dashed his head so
violently against the wall, that, had he had any brains, he might possibly have lost them by the blow.
The officer, like most of those heroic spirits who insult men in adversity, had some prudence mixt with his zeal for justice. Seeing, therefore, this rough treatment of his companion, he began to pursue more gentle methods, and very civilly desired Mr. Heartfree to go with him, seeing he was an officer, and obliged to execute his warrant; that he was sorry for his misfortune, and hoped he would be acquitted. The other answered, he should patiently submit to the laws of his country, and would attend him whither he was ordered to conduct him; then taking leave of his children with a tender kiss, he recommended them to the care of Friendly; who, promised to see them safe home, and then to attend him at the justice's, whose name and abode he had learnt of the constable.
Friendly arrived at the magistrate's house just as that gentleman had signed the Mittimus against his friend; for the evidence of Fireblood was so clear and strong, and the justice was so incensed against Heartfree, and so convinced of his guilt, that he would hardly hear him speak in his own defence, which the reader perhaps, when he hears the evidence against him, will be less inclined to censure: for this witness deposed, “That he had been,
by Heartfree himself, employed to carry the orders of "embezzling to Wild, in order to be delivered to his wife;
that he had been afterwards present with Wild and her • at the inn, when they took coach for Harwich, where she shewed him the casket of jewels, and desired him to tell her husband, that she had fully executed his command ; • and this he swore to have been done after Heartfree had notice of the commission, and in order to bring it within that time, Fireblood, as well as Wild, swore that Mrs. Heartfree lay several days concealed at Wild's house before her departure for Holland.'