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For surely no man can reap a benefit from my pursuing it equal to the comfort I myself enjo}': For what a ravishing thought! how replete with exstacy must the consideration be, that Almighty Goodness is by its own nature engaged to reward me! How indifferent must such a persuasion make a man to all the occurrences of this life! What trifles must he represent to himself both the enjoyments and the afflictions of this world! How easily must he acquiesce under missing the former, and how patiently will he submit to the latter, who is convinced that his failing of a transitory imperfect reward here, is a most certain argument of his obtaining one permanent and complete hereafter! Dost thou think then, thou little, paltry, mean animal (with such language did he treat our truly great man), that I will forego such comfortable expectations for any pitiful reward which thou canst suggest or promise to me; for that sordid lucre for which all pains and labour are undertaken by the industrious, and all barbarities and iniquities committed by the vile; for a worthless acquisition, which such as thou art can possess, can give, or can take away?' The former part of this speech occasioned much yawning in our hero, but the latter roused his anger; and he was collecting his rage to answer, when Friendly and the constable who had been summoned by Heartfree, on Wild's first appearance, entered the room, and seized the great man just as his wrath was bursting from his lips.
The dialogue which now ensued is not worth relating: Wild was soon acquainted with the reason of this rough treatment, and presently conveyed before a magistrate.
Notwithstanding the doubts raised by Mr. Wild's lawyer on his examination, he insisting that the proceeding was improper; for that a Writ do Homine replegianilo should issue, and on the return of that a Capias in Withernam, the justice inclined to commitment, so that Wild was driven to other methods for his defence. He therefore acquainted the justice, that there was a young man likewise with him in the boat, and begged that he might be sent for, which request was accordingly granted, and the faithful Achates (Mr. Fireblood) was soon produced to bear testimony for his friend, which he did with so much becoming zeal, and went through his examination with such coherence (though he was forced to collect his evidence from the hints given him by Wild in the presence of the justice and the accusers), that as here was direct evidence against mere presumption, our hero was most honourably acquitted, and poor Heartfree was charged by the justice, the audience, and all others, who afterwards heard the story, with the blackest ingratitude, in attempting to take away the life of a man, to whom he had such eminent obligations.
Lest so vast an effort of friendship as this of Fireblood's should too violently surprise the reader in this degenerate age, it may be proper to inform him, that, beside the ties of engagement in the same employ, another nearer and stronger alliance subsisted between our hero and this youth, which latter was just departed from the arms of the lovely Laetitia, when he received her husband's message; an instance which may also serve to justify those strict intercourses of love and acquaintance, which so commonly subsist in modern history between the husband and gallant, displaying the vast force of friendship, contracted by tlus more honourable than legal alliance, which is thought to be at present one of the strongest bonds of amity between great men, and the most reputable as well as easy way to their favour.
Four months had now passed since Heartfree's first confinement, and his affairs had begun to wear a more benign aspect 5 but they were a good deal injured by this attempt
on Wild (so dangerous is any attack on a Great Man), feeveral 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.
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 Last 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 brevts est, &c.