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Part 2 Chapter 8

In which Our Hero Carries Greatness to an Immoderate Height.

Let us remove, therefore, as fast as we can, this detestable picture of ingratitude, and present the much more agreeable portrait of that assurance to which the French very properly annex the epithet of good. Heartfree had scarce done reading his letters when our hero appeared before his eyes; not with that aspect with which a pitiful parson meets his patron after having opposed him at an election, or which a doctor wears when sneaking away from a door when he is informed of his patient’s death; not with that downcast countenance which betrays the man who, after a strong conflict between virtue and vice, hath surrendered his mind to the latter, and is discovered in his first treachery; but with that noble, bold, great confidence with which a prime minister assures his dependent that the place he promised him was disposed of before. And such concern and uneasiness as he expresses in his looks on those occasions did Wild testify on the first meeting of his friend. And as the said prime minister chides you for neglect of your interest in not having asked in time, so did our hero attack Heartfree for his giving credit to the count; and, without suffering him to make any answer, proceeded in a torrent of words to overwhelm him with abuse, which, however friendly its intention might be, was scarce to be outdone by an enemy. By these means Heartfree, who might perhaps otherwise have vented some little concern for that recommendation which Wild had given him to the count, was totally prevented from any such endeavour; and, like an invading prince, when attacked in his own dominions, forced to recal his whole strength to defend himself at home. This indeed he did so well, by insisting on the figure and outward appearance of the count and his equipage, that Wild at length grew a little more gentle, and with a sigh said, “I confess I have the least reason of all mankind to censure another for an imprudence of this nature, as I am myself the most easy to be imposed upon, and indeed have been so by this count, who, if he be insolvent, hath cheated me of five hundred pounds. But, for my own part,” said he, “I will not yet despair, nor would I have you. Many men have found it convenient to retire or abscond for a while, and afterwards have paid their debts, or at least handsomely compounded them. This I am certain of, should a composition take place, which is the worst I think that can be apprehended, I shall be the only loser; for I shall think myself obliged in honour to repair your loss, even though you must confess it was principally owing to your own folly. Z— ds! had I imagined it necessary, I would have cautioned you, but I thought the part of the town where he lived sufficient caution not to trust him. And such a sum! —— The devil must have been in you certainly!”

This was a degree of impudence beyond poor Mrs. Heartfree’s imagination. Though she had before vented the most violent execrations on Wild, she was now thoroughly satisfied of his innocence, and begged him not to insist any longer on what he perceived so deeply affected her husband. She said trade could not be carried on without credit, and surely he was sufficiently justified in giving it to such a pers............

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