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a fourth thought that that on aftronomy would contain the most aftonishing dif covery: a fifth allowed, that aftronomy and botany were both very suitable ftudies for fhepherds and fhepherdeffes; and every body hoped that the adventures of the poor little lady, who had loft her pellice, and got the rheumatism, would be inferted. The farcafms of the viscountess were peculiarly piquant: for hers was the moft fufpected character in company; and it is an invariable rule with ladies of her caft, that the odium with which you befpatter a neighbour's reputation has the effect, by retroaction, of furbishing your own. Her indignation was chiefly pointed at lord Monteith, who, fhe faid, was certainly anxious to obtain the honour of being a cornuto; and her idea was thought to be the more judicious, as it was known to correfpond with the fentiments of the noble
noble viscount her husband. Envy, idleness, the love of saying good things, and a dearth of conversation, affifted her to propagate the ftory. For two days the town talked of nothing else, and every relater could add circumftances of fresh atrocity. In two days more, the truth of these adventitious circumstances became doubtful; and, being proved unfounded, the whole fabric fell with them to the ground. At the end of the week every body was heartily forry for the dear mifreprefented countefs; and every body, forgetting the part they had themselves taken, heartily wifhed that fome law might be invented to prevent defamation.-Eut to return to the object of thefe inquifitorial proceedings.
The lovely Geraldine plainly perceived the malicious explanation that had been given to an incident which
Fitzofborne had faithfully explained. The love of diftinction was, as I have before obferved, one of her ruling foibles; but he fought to gratify it by the nobleft means. Her fpotlefs fame added luftre to the fplendor of her talents and the attractions of her beauty. She had ever been named as one of thofe few, who, in a degenerate age, afforded a happy inftance of the poffible union of propriety and fashion. To have the goodly edifice which fhe had reared with fuch affiduous care at once destroyed; to have her unfullied name become the jeft of witlings and the affociate of wilful depravity, was infupportable. Even fuppofing that the candid hearer would reject the calumnious affertion, fhe could not endure the very idea of having her character expofed to fufpicious difcuffion. She fat filent in the chariot, the tear of anguish stealing down her cheek,
incapable of attending to Mifs Parker's narrative, whofe regret about the pellice furnished her with a fubject of lamentation till they arrived in town.
Fitzofborne read, lady Monteith': fentiments. He rightly judged that this keen fenfibility would prove injurious to his audacious defigns; and he determined to exert his infidious arts to fubdue it. The earl was not returned from the Houfe. The countefs wifhed him good night, and paffed on to her dreffing-room. Fitzofborne followed her to the door. "Excufe my "anxiety," faid he; your look does "not indicate a wifh for repofe. Will you allow me to fit with you till "Monteith returns?" She replied, that fhe was not in fpirits for company; and after a paufe," It is in vain,” said fhe, "to difguife my feelings, Fitz"ofborne ;
"ofborne; and you know the cause of 66 my distress."
"I know nothing that can justify, or "at least deserve, those tears. Dearest lady Monteith, for Heaven's fake, conquer that emotion, which increases "the mifanthropy I long have felt at "the narrow prejudice and illiberality "of the world."
"You are always tilting against those "windmill giants," returned Geraldine with a languid smile. "It is of the spirit of detraction and inconfiderate"nefs that I complain; of that cruel "levity, which fports with what is "dearer than life."
Nay, now you urge your fenfibility "too far. It is weakness, not delicacy, "to put our happiness fo much in the power of others. Have you forgot"ten that beautiful fentiment, The