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   Chapter 6 SEVEN

The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great By Henry Fielding Characters: 5995

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Let us now return to Heartfree, to whom the count's note, which he had paid away, was returned, with an account that the drawer was not to be found, and that, on enquiring after him, they had heard he had run away, and consequently the money was now demanded of the endorser. The apprehension of such a loss would have affected any man of business, but much more one whose unavoidable ruin it must prove. He expressed so much concern and confusion on this occasion, that the proprietor of the note was frightened, and resolved to lose no time in securing what he could. So that in the afternoon of the same day Mr. Snap was commissioned to pay Heartfree a visit, which he did with his usual formality, and conveyed him to his own house.

Mrs. Heartfree was no sooner informed of what had happened to her husband than she raved like one distracted; but after she had vented the first agonies of her passion in tears and lamentations she applied herself to all possible means to procure her husband's liberty. She hastened to beg her neighbours to secure bail for him. But, as the news had arrived at their houses before her, she found none of them at home, except an honest Quaker, whose servants durst not tell a lie. However, she succeeded no better with him, for unluckily he had made an affirmation the day before that he would never be bail for any man. After many fruitless efforts of this kind she repaired to her husband, to comfort him at least with her presence. She found him sealing the last of several letters, which he was despatching to his friends and creditors. The moment he saw her a sudden joy sparkled in his eyes, which, however, had a very short duration; for despair soon closed them again; nor could he help bursting into some passionate expressions of concern for her and his little family, which she, on her part, did her utmost to lessen, by endeavouring to mitigate the loss, and to raise in him hopes from the count, who might, she said, be possibly only gone into the country. She comforted him likewise with the expectation of favour from his acquaintance, especially from those whom he had in a particular manner obliged and served. Lastly, she conjured him, by all the value and esteem he professed for her, not to endanger his health, on which alone depended her happiness, by too great an indulgence of grief; assuring him that no state of life could appear unhappy to her with him, unless his own sorrow or discontent made it so.

In this manner did this weak poor-spirited woman attempt to relieve her husband's pains, which it would have rather become her to aggravate, by not only painting out his misery in the liveliest colours imaginable, but by upbraiding him with that folly and confidence which had occasioned

it, and by lamenting her own hard fate in being obliged to share his sufferings.

Heartfree returned this goodness (as it is called) of his wife with the warmest gratitude, and they passed an hour in a scene of tenderness too low and contemptible to be recounted to our great readers. We shall therefore omit all such relations, as they tend only to make human nature low and ridiculous.

Those messengers who had obtained any answers to his letters now returned. We shall here copy a few of them, as they may serve for precedents to others who have an occasion, which happens commonly enough in genteel life, to answer the impertinence of a dun.


MR. HEARTFREE,-My lord commands me to tell you he is very much surprized at your assurance in asking for money which you know hath been so little while due; however, as he intends to deal no longer at your shop, he hath ordered me to pay you as soon as I shall have cash in hand, which, considering many disbursements for bills long due, &c., can't possibly promise any time, &c., at present. And am your humble servant,



DEAR SIR,-The money, as you truly say, hath been three years due, but upon my soul I am at present incapable of paying a farthing; but as I doubt not, very shortly not only to content that small bill, but likewise to lay out very considerable further sums at your house, hope you will meet with no inconvenience by this short delay in, dear sir, your most sincere humble servant,



MR. HEARTFREE,-I beg you would not acquaint my husband of the trifling debt between us; for, as I know you to be a very good- natured man, I will trust you with a secret; he gave me the money long since to discharge it, which I had the ill luck to lose at play. You may be assured I will satisfy you the first opportunity, and am, sir, your very humble servant,


Please to present my compliments to Mrs. Heartfree.


MR. THOMAS HEARTFREE, SIR,-Yours received: but as to sum mentioned therein, doth not suit at present. Your humble servant, PETER POUNCE.


SIR,-I am sincerely sorry it is not at present possible for me to comply with your request, especially after so many obligations received on my side, of which I shall always entertain the most greateful memory. I am very greatly concerned at your misfortunes, and would have waited upon you in person, but am not at present very well, and besides, am obliged to go this evening to Vauxhall. I am, sir, your most obliged humble servant,


P.S.-I hope good Mrs. Heartfree and the dear little ones are well.

There were more letters to much the same purpose; but we proposed giving our readers a taste only. Of all these, the last was infinitely the most grating to poor Heartfree, as it came from one to whom, when in distress, he had himself lent a considerable sum, and of whose present flourishing circumstances he was well assured.

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