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guilt, in fearch of an unattainable perfection, their views terminate at last in that fallacious opiate which infidelity prefents," the eternal fleep of death."
When pofterity fhall know that thefe principles characterize the clofe of the eighteenth century, it will ceafe to wonder at the calamities which history will then have recorded. Such engines are fufficiently powerful to overturn governments, and to fhake the deep-founded bafe of the firmeft empires. Should it therefore be told to future ages, that the capricious diffolubility (if not the abfolute nullity) of the nuptial tie and the annihilation of parental authority are among the blafphemies uttered by the moral inftructors of thefe times: fhould they hear, that law was branded as a vain and even unjust attempt to bring individual actions under the restrictions of general rule; that chastity was de
fined to mean only individuality of affection; that religion was degraded into a fentimental effufion; and that thefe doctrines do not proceed from the pen of avowed profligates, but from perfons apparently actuated by the defire of improving the happiness of the world: fhould, I fay, generations yet unborn hear this, they will not afcribe the annihilation of thrones and altars to the fuccefsful arms of France, but to thofe principles which, by dif folving domeftic confidence and undermining private worth, paved the way for univerfal confufion.
Stimulated by that zeal for making profelytes which marks the miffionaries of thefe doctrines, Fitzofborne had hoped to goad his victim into the fnares of infidelity by the corroding pangs of previous guilt. Her unaffected agony at the idea of her husband's doubting the propriety of her conduct
and the rectitude of her heart, could only be infpired by connubial tendernefs and real delicacy. The blush of generous indignation which kindled upon her cheek at the fuppofition that Edward's infinuations might proceed from finifter views, and the calm contempt with which the treated the little arts of feduction to which female vanity has fometimes yielded, convinced him that all his attempts to overturn her high-feated honour would be ineffectual, unless he could weaken the bonds of conjugal attachment, or remove the ftrong bulwark of conscious immortality, which gave energy to her principles and ftability to her virtue. Her native fagacity affured him, that all these attempts must be made with caution; but his poifonous noftrums, once introduced, would work with filent vigour. If the conflict of the paffions fhould not be fufficiently ftormy in her
temperate mind to erase the belief of future retribution, her thirst after knowledge might entangle her in metaphyfical fubtilties. The love of diftinction and the allurements of example might induce her to add one more to those courageous females who conceive that the character of a woman is not entirely divested of weakness till the defies Omnipotence; while unrequited tenderness and unrewarded defert muft eftrange an exquifitely fufceptible heart from its unworthy master, and direct its affections to the fpecious blandishments of an unprincipled impoftor.
Fitzofborne's anfwer to Geraldine's fpirited appeal was dictated by the most confummate art. He protefted that he had no fecret to divulge but what the already knew; namely, that lord Monteith had unwarily imbibed fome fufpicious apprehenfions from the marked
admiration which fir Richard Vernon had paid to her at the opera, and to which the incidental circumftance of her being in remarkably good fpirits that evening might contribute. He fcarcely wondered at his friend's alarm, when he confidered the free notions of the age, the baronet's libertine principles, the impetuofity of lord Monteith's temper, and his extreme fufceptibility in a point of honour, which in his opinion probably proceeded from the warmth of his conjugal attachment. He begged pardon for too deeply fympathizing in her uneafinefs, but owned that his feelings were never proof against the magic influence of female tears. The term "injured," which he perceived had alarmed her, was heedlessly uttered, without any reference, at least any defigned one, unless it alluded to thofe illiberal flanderers who attempted to afperfe