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from accepting an otherwife unexceptionable offer; but fince no law, either human or divine, permits it to diffolve the marriage-bond, it cannot be urged as an excufe for married wretchednefs, unless fome moral defect or painful peculiarity in temper be superadded. Senfibility may wish that the stock of mutual happiness may receive every agreeable addition; but judgment will look abroad, and, eftimating its own real fituation by adverting to the lot of others, will find reafons for content, particularly if humility whisper fomewhat of its own confcious deficiencies. I fpeak of general wretchedness, not of a momentary pang; of a confirmed train of thinking, not of a fudden reflection which reafon examines and rejects.
Long before the period of which I am now treating, lady Monteith had abandoned the impracticable scheme of
arraying Acteon in the vestments of Apollo. The difcovery was painful to her vanity, which had taught her credulity to believe, that love and beauty are the true alchymifts that can transmute the baseft metals into the pureft gold. But the fanguine hopes of youth do not fink under one difappointment. Her lord poffeffed many good qualities, and the uncontrolled power which he gave
her over his fortune allowed her to execute every scheme that her liberality. fuggefted, and purfue her own taste in its fullest extent, provided fhe fpared him the irksome task of being obliged to pay attention to her plans. As to any idea of being impeded in the execution of his own, the yielding gentleness of lady Monteith preferved her from making the mad attempt, which could only have been compared to " drinking up Eifel, or eating a crocodile."
If the fuggeftions of latent pride, or, to call it by its fofter name, conscious fuperiority, fometimes led her to think that he might have made a more congenial choice, returning tendernefs bade her start from the injurious fuggeftion, and fly to her colony or her plantations, which, prefenting the idea of her lord's indulgence, never failed to infpire com placency. The future was an ample field for hope, and fhe filled it with the moft agreeable images. She deter mined, by strictly attending to the edu cation of her daughters, to bend their ductile minds to fuch purfuits as would enable her to find thofe colloquial pleafures in her maternal character, which had been withheld from her connubial portion.
Her thoughts were fometimes diverted from her favourite employment of framing fuch a plan of education as fhould
fhould infure fuccefs, to the contemplation of her Lucy's approaching happiness, which every day rendered more probable. Henry now generally refided at Powerfcourt. His filial attentions and agreeable manners enlivened fir William's declining years; and his frequent opportunities of obferving Mifs. Evans convinced the countefs that her beloved friend would gradually make the conqueft fo important to her repose, in the manner which her ftrict sense of delicacy and propriety required.
Bending under the enfeebling load of time, but still tranquil, focial, and benevolent, the vifits of his beloved daugh ter seemed to renew fir William Powerfcourt's frail exiftence. Her counte nance always bespoke happiness, and he forgave the negligent inadvertencies vifible in lord Monteith's behaviour to himself. "Old men and young lords," faid
faid he, "can't be expected to fuit one "another; but he is kind to my child, " and that is fufficient."
I have now defcribed those scenes of
lady Monteith's life, in which, judging. by the proper estimate of terreftrial good, the might be termed innocent and happy. An artful feducer combining with her mafter-paffion reverfed the pleafing profpects, and produced fcenes which the following pages will develope. While I profecute my arduous, and perhaps unpopular tafk, I rely on the lenity of those who fincerely regret the alarming relaxation of principle that too furely discriminates a declining age; and I anticipate the candid allowances which they will make for any incidental defects in a well-meant endeavour to point out the tendency of feveral opinions now too generally diffused through every rank in fociety.