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Part 4 Chapter 4

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 have 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 cryed out — “I may yet prevent this catastrophe. It is not too late t............

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