« AnkstesnisTęsti »
excited admiration. Neither did the difcover from what fecret failing in herself that admiration fprung, nor that Vanity is as great a magnifier as Love.
Fitzofborne had been fo careful to veil his fcepticism in ambiguous phrafes, that lady Monteith's folicitude to dif cover his principles really arofe from an idea that their fingularity chiefly proceeded from their excellence, and that by converfing with him the should ftrengthen her own convictions. She had often lamented, that lord Monteith's volatile temper deprived her of that fupporting judgment and directing care which the conjugal inftitution was intended to afford to the fofter fex. Though not doubtful of the propriety of her own conduct, fhe naturally wished it fhould receive the approbation of an obferving eye, and a confciousness of her own abilities was attended with fome repugnance
"The uncommon uncommon fufceptibility and "delicacy of her character would make "her feel painful alarms, while I fee you only indulge a fine frenzy.' In "a conversation you lately had with "her, even fome of your guarded ex66 preffions have caufed her the moft "diftreffing agitation."
Lady Monteith recollected that the was talking to a lover, and determined to endure a little puerility. She acknowledged, that it was natural for Arabella to feem depreffed immediately after the lofs of a friend who had acted
part of an adopted mother to her, and The promised to be very cautious in future. "But," continued she, “ I must "own that the invisible agency of fe
parated spirits is a very favourite theme "with me; and though, contrary to "the opinion of the Abyffinian fage, I "could affirm, that we never have any " certain
"certain evidence that the dead are
permitted to become objects of our fenfes, I have long rejoiced in the hope that our departed friends are "the agents employed by over-ruling "Providence to perform offices of care " and tenderness to their furviving con"nexions. This thought has most frequently occured to me, as I have "bent over my fleeping children, and I "have fancied glorified beings watched "our unconscious hours with fimilar "attention. When I was once threat"ened with the lofs of my eldeft darling, "I found fenfible confolation in the idea "of its becoming a guardian cherub to "fuftain the innocence of its fifters through a dangerous world, and to
receive my parting fpirit at the hour "of my diffolution."
While the countefs fpoke, her radiant eyes were fuffufed with tears.
borne, checking fome unfubdued ftruggles of confcience, which almoft tempted him to wish he could enjoy fuch vifionary delights, coolly replied to her energetic fpeech: "I fhould be very forry, ma"dam, to interrupt thofe agreeable re"veries which in minds of your tem"perature can rarely be prejudicial. I "fhall only state the dangerous confe
quences of fuch illufions becoming "general. What a tremendous fuper« structure of impofition might prieft"craft erect upon fuch a vifionary bafis! "You do not pretend, madam, to fay,
that your hopes reft upon any real "foundation. The nature of the foul "has hitherto eluded inquiry. It may "in time become capable of abfolute "definition; and though the age is not "at prefent fufficiently enlightened to
afford abfolute proof of this fuppofed "immaterial fubftance being only a
moreexquifite configuration of perish"able atoms, incapable of distinct exist46 ence, the glorious epocha of truth and "reafon is too near to allow us to believe "the poffibility of spectral appearances, "or even of spiritual agency, in the "manner your imagination prompts you " to wish."
Though lady Monteith was no deep theologian, fhe had heard of the millenium, and the fufpenfion of consciousness in the difembodied foul; and fhe concluded that Fitzofborné was a convert to thofe doctrines. She was by no means aware of the deeper tendency of his views; yet, as fhe thought there was fomething peculiar in his opinions, fhe wished to fathom him upon thefe fubjects. She knew enough of the world to be convinced, that divinity was not the favourite study of young men of fafhion; but he knew too, that deep learning