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had nearly lost his life by suffocation, from the fumes of brimstone, having commenced the manufacturer of his own matches, under a discovery, that he could make many more for a farthing, than he could purchase for a halfpenny; and at another time his life was in great danger, from his having been shot at, under a sapposition that one moonshiny night he was robbing a rabbit-warren, when the fact was, that he was only engaged in picking up the excrements of the sheep, and other cattle, that he might enrich his own garder by depriving a neighbouring common of its manure. Such are some of the contrivances of this miserable creature, that he may have plenty of ready money, for purposes
not less villainous, than they are mean. Wor. It seldom happens, but where a deal of covetousness exists, cruelty and villany are sure to be connected with it.
Free. I am sure it is the case with that crafty old harpy, for every thing he does, is with an eye to his own interest. It is looked upon as a remarkable instance of extravagance, at least in him, to give sixpence a week to a public news-room; but it is with a design that he may learn from the different advertisements, what is to be sold by the thoughtless, and necessitous of every description. And from this principle, he is become a considerable land-jobber, whereby he has made several advantageous purchases of different estates. Some he sells again, others he has in own possession.
Wor. What a long-headed fellow he must be-and what a character he must have among all who know him !
Free. He cares nothing about character; for he will oftentimes tell of his covetous pranks, for the diversion of others, in a measure of the same stamp with him. self. I remember one of them was, that hearing, by the papers,
that an estate was to be sold not far from Grediton, and that London was to be the place of sale ; he first contrived to get himself subpoenaed to attend a trial, at an assize in the town, through which
he must necessarily pass. As his departure from home, being a professional man, might prove a considerable loss to him, the charge he made was so high, that it completely paid his stage coach expences, during a journey of near four hundred miles, before be accomplished his return. He not only lived at free cost while he was upon the business of the trial, but when there, pocketed sufficient prog to take him to London. On his arrival there, he entered the auctionroom as early as he could; and this being plentifully provided with biscuits, wine, and other good commodities of the same sort, being sharp set, after his long journey, he first made a most plentiful meal, and next loaded his pockets with a quantity, sufficient to furnish him with provisions for his return, that he might not be at the expence of eating at an inn. The whole of his travelling expences amounting but to fifteen pence, for a little gin and water, or small beer, after so long a journey, and after having purchased an estate amounting to full three hundred pounds a year.
Wor. Sir, if I had the least reason to doubt your veracity, I should at once say it is impossible. But when covetousness is thus reduced to a system, almost any thing may be credited, that the wretched system may be abided by. I am afraid he was a horridly extortionate landlord.
Free. Why Sir, after all, (for I know a deal of the family,) this wretched cormorant, who never got fat by all he devoured, does not over-rate his tenants ; but this is all from the same principle, that they may not beggar bis estates; for though he is moderate in his demand of rent, yet he can make such immoderate demands of improvements as it respects the plantation of timber trees, clearing of wastes, and keeping the lands in a proper condition, that it is supposed, that no one's estates are in better trim than his.
Wor. So far as that goes, if he is fair and moderate in regard to rent, what serves the landlord, serves the tenant, and I find all my tenants, as they are used well, pay well. That mercenary landlord who oppresses his tenants, is generally served as he deserves they beggar his land, and break in his debt.
Free. Ah Sir! without flattery, your name as a landlord, will liye a long time after you are dead. As far as this however, old alderman Greedy follows your example. But if any of them are in arrears, or should perchance, through misfortune fail in his debt, he directly attacks them, as the most'oppressive vulture that ever lived. The cry of the widow and the orphan, never reaches his.callous heart; the accomplishment of their ruin is sure to take place, sooner than he will miss by lenity, what he can extort by law.
Wor. Why of the two, one should rather suppose, he is a greater monster of iniquity than the possessor of the family estate at Grediton Hall.
Free. Sir, in point of principle, the one is as bad as the other : but in regard to mere covetousness, so far as it relates to the art of saving, the old alderman far exceeds him. As to usury, it is his supreme delight, so far as he can evade the lash of the law. He is sure to deal with the extravagant spendthrift, if he can cover himself by collateral security from the most distant danger of a loss ; and these may depend upon paying most severely for their folly.—A sinking tradesman, is also sure to get money from him, provided he can procure a bond in judgment for himself; for it is no matter with him who is cheated, provided he is benefitted.
Wor. A bond in judgment ! yes, those rascally instruments of legal process, might do well enough for him, while they entirely sweep away the property of other creditors, who may have an equal claim. But can a man of character or conscience, for a moment, bear to possess such villanous instruments of law ?
Free. No matter for all this, or ten times worse. These miserable characters would strike his rapacious eye with infernal delight : like a complete vulture, as sure as he could seize them ni his talons, he would
hold them fast, till they became entirely subject to his mercy,-a grain of which he never possessed.
Wor. What horrid mischief the love of money does to the human mind!
Free. Why Sir, the mind of lawyer Greedy, is scarcely human. Cruel as the spider when the help. less fly is entangled in his web, which he is sure never to leave till he finishes his existence by sucking his blood; so this unfeeling fiend in human shape, who cares for no one but himself, when he has these unwary sufferers safely toiled in those cruel instruments of law, tortures them at his pleasure; and while there is any blood in them, being as crafty as he is cruel, he is sure to find it out!
Wor. What a monster of a man !
Free. Sir, he is one who knows no interest but what centers in himself. If ever he appears generous, it is only with some feigned designs. He would be a bearable character, were he merely covetous for bimbut his covetousness urges
him on to
every thing that is wicked and unjust, while at the same time, he is one of those lung-headed, crafty-minded fellows, who scarcely ever expose themselves to the lash of the law; but under the cover of the law, he will act a part the most villanous, and unjust. If he had not been as cunning as he is knavish, he would have been hanged long ago. But out of respect to his nephew, ] am ashamed to tell all I know.
Wor. I shall never wound the tender feelings of this amiable youth, by giving him the most distant hint respecting the subject of our present conversation; but still I have a curiosity to hear more about him, and of his different tricks.
Free. Tricks indeed! I recollect the following master-piece of his villany, which he accomplished ahout ten years ago. Though he had scarcely any creditable business in his profession, yet he was in the habit of being employed by some, who were as covetous and as mean as himself. Nothing delighted him more, than to make people's wills for them, and
this he was glad enough to do gratis, provided he could secure a legacy for himself. He had a job of this sort in hand, for two old people that were shopkeepers in the same town: Simon Grasper and his wife. In this will he absolutely left all that he was possessed of to her, only empowering her to leave it to his nephew next, if she saw fit. For it seems the young man who once served in his shop, had given bim considerable offence by retiring from the town without his consent, as it was a situation he hated, and by marrying a young woman in the West of Eng. land, with little or no fortune.
The old man died first, and this put the widow completely into old Greedy's hands. His first attempt was to give broad hints that her nephew was inclined to be improvident, and a spendthrift, and that trustees might be needed, and how happy he should be to perform that office, out of respect to his old friend that was now dead. She however did not chuse to take the hint, and thought old Greedy was too far advanced in life for that office, and therefore insisted that another will should be made according to her husband's wish, leaving all her property to the nephew ; excepting a few trifling legacies, and some comfortable residuary pickings for himself, and foolishly suffered the old harpy, to be whole and sole exechtor to the will.
Wor. This was giving him an opportunity to fleece them, according to his heart's desire.
Free. Yes Sir, and by all accounts he did it completely, for it seems the old people had mustered together in different effects, upwards of three thousand pounds, and it was always supposed that the round sum of three thousand pounds, was actually left for the poor nephew and his family: but upon the death of the old lady, which took place about a year afterwards. It was discovered on the opening of the will, £300 instead of £3000 was all that fell to the poor nephew's share, and it is the general conjecture of all, that the old scoundrel altered the word thousand