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ventitious or fantaftic appendages induces us to overlook inherent permanent qualities. Lady Madelina's zeal for the dignity of her family was fo warmly exercifed in the defence of old Donald's galley, that he had no leifure to advert to the fearless intrepidity and the generous liberality with which her ancestors defended the rights of their clan, and fuccoured their oppreffed dependents during the period that the houfe of Stuart fate upon the Scottish throne. "They fhone the glory of the north" till after the restoration; but the reign of Charles the Second, fo fatal to principle and morality, first contaminated the house of Monteith,, and fapped the foundations of its feudal greatness. In the voluptuous court of that diffipated monarch, the then earl forgot the wild fhores of Loch Lomond, and the "flowery borders of the ancient Forth;" and abandoning his caftle
caftle to ruin, and his dependents to defpair, glittered a faint fatellite in the train of tinfel greatnefs. His extrava, gance and prodigality were in fome degree repaired by the alliance of his fucceffor with the heirefs of a rich Blackwellhall factor; but the archives of the family are rather filent upon that head, and lady Madelina could never relate a fingle anecdote explanatory of the event of thofe difgraceful nuptials. Since that period, the Macdonalds had perfevered in the plan of leaving the family estate, clear from incumbrances, to the eldest fon. The younger fons either fell in the defence of their country, or ftarved in fome obfcure corner, while the daughters had only their high birth to add to the perfonal qualifications of merit and beauty, advantages not always fufficient to attract the mercenary heart of man. With no other portion lady Madelina herself
bestowed on the fortunate head of the houfe of Frazer, the ineftimable treasure of her hand. He was indeed far advanced into the vale of years, and his title was only fimple Sir Simon; but her lady ship preferred him to all the dukes, marquifes, and earls, who, according to the indubitable teftimony of herself and her maid Peggy, had for more than twenty years unremittingly implored her compaffion.
The father of the young earl, whose nuptials with the heiress of Powerscourt have been announced in the beginning of this chapter, fell a victim to the demon of modern honour, about the fame time that the pale orgies of diffipation had made a visible inroad in his lady's health. The fhock at the dreadful circumftances of his exit haftened the cruel attacks of difeafe, and fhe expired a few months after her lord. The noble pair had ever found each other's fociety too
vapid to difpel the gloom of one domeftic evening; yet his lordship conceived himself obliged to refent the intrusion of a young officer, who entered her ladyfhip's box at the opera, at a time when the earl was of her party. He fell at the firft fire, and the countefs found it impoffible to furvive him. The fcandalous chronicles of the age afferted, that the colonel's appearance was neither unexpected nor unwelcome to any but the earl, and that difappointment and the neceffity of feclufion and economical retrenchment, barbed the mortal dart of woe in the bofom of the fair inconfolable. Till I am convinced that jealoufy is the only motive which can direct the attention of a husband to his own wife, and that connubial forrow wants energy to break the fragile thread of female existence, I fhall adhere to my own reprefentation of this catastrophe.
Lord Monteith, following the example of his progenitors, left his eftate totally unincumbered to his only fon James. His beautiful daughter Arabella found a protectrefs in the friendship of her aunt, lady Madelina, who adopted her as her own daughter, and publicly declared her refolution, in cafe fhe should produce no heir to the house of Frazer, to bequeath to her all the ample poffeffions with which Sir Simon's tender gratitude had endowed his beloved bride. At the age of feventeen, after having experienced the adulation and the luxury of two London winters, the lovely Arabella fet out for her aunt's caftle, fituated in the wilds of Lochaber, where, by the indifpofition of fir Simon, now reduced to a state bordering upon fecond childhood, fhe had the melancholy prospect of being perfectly immured.