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* desires. What remains, therefore, for us but to resolve 'bravely to lay aside our Priggt'sm, our roguery, in
* plainer words, and preserve our liberty, or to give up 'the latter in the preservation and preference of the -' former.' . ,
This speech was received with much applause; however Wild continued as before to levy contributions among the prisoners, to apply the garnish to his own use, and to strut openly in the ornaments which he had stripped from Johnson. To speak sincerely, there was more bravado than real use or advantage in these trappings. As for the nightgown, its outside indeed made a glittering tinsel appearance, but it kept him not warm; nor could the finery of it do him much honour, since every one knew it did not properly belong to him; as to the waistcoat, it fitted him very ill, being infinitely too big for him; and the cap was so heavy that it made his head ache. Thus these clothes, which perhaps (as they presented the idea of their misery more sensibly to the people's eyes,) brought him more envy, hatred, and detraction than all his deeper impositions and more real advantages, afforded very little use or honour to the wearer; nay, could scarce serve to amuse his own vanity, when this was cool enough to reflect with the least seriousness. And should I speak in the language of a man who estimated human happiness without regard to that greatness, which we have so laboriously endeavoured to paint in this history, it is probable he never took (i.e. robbed the prisoners of) a shilling, which he himself did not pay too dear for.
The dead-warrant arrives for Heartfree; on which occasion Wild betrays some human weakness.
The dead-warrant, as it is called, now came down to Newgate for the execution of Heartfree among the rest of the prisoners. And here the reader must excuse us, who profess to draw natural, not perfect characters, and to record the truths of history, not the extravagances of romance, while we relate a weakness in Wild of -which we are ourselves ashamed, and which we would willingly have concealed, could we have preserved at the same time that strict attachment to truth and impartiality which we have professed in recording the annals of this great man. Know then, reader, that this dead-warrant did not affect Heartfree, who was to suffer a shameful death by it, with half the concern it gave Wild, who had been the occasion of it. He had been a little struck the day before on seeing the children carried away in tears from their father. This sight brought the remembrance of some slight injuries he had done the father to his mind, which he endeavoured, as much as possible, to obliterate; but, when one of the keepers (I should say lieutenants of the castle) repeated Heartfree's name among those of the malefactors who were to suffer within a few days, the blood forsook his countenance, and in a cold still stream moved heavily to his heart, which had scarce strength enough left to return it through his veins. In short, his body so visibly demonstrated the pangs of his mind, that, to escape observation, he retired to his room, where he sullenly gave vent to such bitter agonies, that even the injured Heartfree, had not the apprehension of what his
"wife had suffered shut every avenue of compassion, would Lave pitied him.
When his mind was thoroughly fatigued and worn out "with the horrors which the approaching fate of the poor "wretch, who lay under a sentence which he had iniquitously brought upon him, had suggested, sleep promised him relief; but this promise was, alas! delusive. This certain friend to the tired body is often the severest enemy to the oppressed mind. So at least it proved to Wild, adding visionary to real horrors, and tormenting his imagination with phantoms too dreadful to be described. At length starting from these visions, he no sooner recovered his waking senses, than he cried out: 'I may yet 'prevent this catastrophe. It is not too late to discover 1 the whole.' He then paused a moment: but greatness instantly returning to his assistance, checked the base thought as it first offered itself to his mind. He then reasoned thus coolly with himself: 'Shall I, like a child, or a woman, or one of those mean wretches, whom I have always despised, be frightened by dreams and visionary phantoms to sully that honour which I have so difficultly acquired, and so gloriously maintained! Shall I, to redeem the worthless life of this silly fellow, suffer my reputation to contract a stain which the blood of millions cannot wipe away! Was it only that the few, the simple part of mankind, should call me Rogue, perhaps I could submit; but to be for ever contemptible to the Prigs, as a wretch who wanted spirit to execute my undertaking, can never be digested. What is the life of a single man? Have not whole armies and nations been sacrificed to the honour of One Great Man? Nay, to omit that first class of greatness, the conquerors of mankind, how often have numbers fallen by a fictitious plot only to satisfy the spleen, or perhaps exercise the ingenuity of a member of that second order
'of greatness the Ministerial! What have I done then? 'Why, I have ruined a family, and brought an innocent 'man to the gallows. I ought rather to weep with 'Alexander that I have ruined no more than to regret 'the little I have done.' He at length, therefore, bravely resolved to consign over Heartfree to his fate, though it cost him more struggling than may easily be believed utterly to conquer his reluctance, and to banish away every degree of humanity from his mind, these little sparks of which composed one of those weaknesses which we lamented in the opening of our history.
But, in vindication of our hero, we must beg leave to observe that nature is seldom so kind as those writers who draw characters absolutely perfect. She seldom creates any man so completely great, or completely low, but that some sparks of humanity will glimmer in the former, and some sparks of what the vulgar call evil will dart forth in the latter; utterly to extinguish which will give some pain and uneasiness to both; for I apprehend, no mind was ever yet formed entirely free from blemish, unless peradventure that of a sanctified hypocrite, whose praises some well-fed flatterer hath gratefully thought proper to sing forth.
Containing various matters.
The day was now come when poor Heartfree was to suffer an ignominious death. Friendly had, in the strongest manner, confirmed his assurance of fulfilling his promise, of becoming a father to one of his children, and a husband to the other. This gave him inexpressible
eomfort, and he had, the evening before, taken his last leave of the little wretches with a tenderness which drew a tear from one of the keepers, joined to a magnanimity which would have pleased a Stoic. When he was informed that the coach, which Friendly had provided for him, was ready, and that the rest of the prisoners were gone, he embraced that faithful friend with great passion, and begged that he would leave him here; but the other desired leave to accompany him to his end: which at last he was forced to comply with. And now he was proceeding towards the coach, when he found that his difficulties were not yet over; for now a friend arrived, of whom he was to take a harder and more tender leave than he had yet gone through. This friend, reader, was no other than Mrs. Heartfree herself, who ran to him with a look all wild, staring, and frantic, and, having reached his arms, fainted away in them without uttering a single syllable. Heartfree was, with great difficulty, able to preserve his own senses in such a surprise at such a season. And indeed our good-natured reader will be rather inclined to wish this miserable couple had, by dying in each other's arms, put a final period to their woes, than have survived to taste those bitter moments which were to be their portion, and which the unhappy wife, soon recovering from the short intermission of being, now began to suffer. When she became first mistress of her voice, she burst forth into the following accents: '0 my husband:—Is this the condition in which I find 'you after our cruel separation! Who hath done this? 'Cruel heaven! What is the occasion? I know thou 'canst deserve no ill. Tell me, somebody who can 'speak, while I have my senses left to understand, what 'is the matter?' At which words several laughed, and one answered: 'The matter! Why no great matter. 'The gentleman is not the first, nor won't be the last: