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nothing can convince, doubted whether the feudal cuftoms, with which Sir William embellished his narrative, existed at that remote period; and I have heard a whisper, that the venerable relic which lady Madelina fo carefully preferved, was nothing more than the remains of a great gilded dragon, originally fufpended over a Chinese temple belonging to her lady fhip's maternal great-grandfather, though fo happily executed, that, like Hamlet's cloud, you might fay it was equally like a "camel, or an oufel, or a whale."
But though thefe veftiges of remote fuperiority might rather excite the doubts than fix the conviction of the observer of coftume, the Macdonalds and Powerf courts preferred unquestionable claims to the honours of antiquity,-extenfive influence and ample poffeffions. It fometimes happens, that close attention to ad
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 she 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 greatnefs. 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 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 single 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 disease, and the 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 resent 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 scandalous 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 jealousy 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 representation of this catastrophe.