Puslapio vaizdai

As lady Monteith had by retirement fubdued the acrimony of competition, even the candour of her rivals returned, and the tide of popular opinion grew fill ftronger in her favour. Large allowances were made for a little vanity and a little indifcretion. Most people fincerely believed that, after all, her marked predilection for Fitzofborne was nothing more than a harmless flirtation, perhaps entered into out of frolic, or with a view to mortify Arabella. Thefe delicate extenuations were generally concluded by a laugh at his lordfhip's ftaying in town to vindicate her character, and a fear, that fuch uncom mon good-humour on his part might encourage her to go greater lengths in her mirth than fhe at first intended.

The annihilation of domeftic happiness opening the faireft views for Fitzofborne's fuccefs, he determined to employ every

engine for its deftruction. The guarded honour of Geraldine had hitherto rejected his infinuations to the difadvantage of her lord with the warmth of confirmed affection, and the indignation which a conscioufnefs of the infeparable union between his reputation and her own must inspire. But various inftances had convinced him, that this "God of her idolatry" was vulnerable in a thousand points; eafily deceived, easily feduced, foon irritated, and as quickly pacified. The presence of the countess, her fuperior judgment, and the respect for the decencies of life which his ftrong attachment to her had infpired, had hitherto preferved him from any grofs acts of immorality, and given a decorum to his conduct which juftified the confidence fhe always placed in his behaviour. Fitzofborne too plainly faw that there was no innate principle to preferve

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preferve Monteith in the hour of temptation, when his guardian, angel was abfent from her charge. Thofe temptations he refolved to fupply; he doubted not his own ability to environ him with fuares, from which even a firmer virtue would find it difficult to escape; and yet at the fame time to conceal his infidious interference, and to cover his machinations with the proftituted names of friendship, fentiment, and morality. Though lady Monteith's enlarged understanding had fufficient difcernment to difcover calumny, and to treat unfounded fufpicions with contempt, could the refift the evidence of truth? or could her feeling heart fupport that cruel indifference which a diffipated husband always affes to fhow to the amiable wife whom he injures by his vices? Her ftrong fufceptibility at every cir cumftance which threatened the dimi

nution of their mutual regard convinced him that he could not. And furely the refentment which a young and beautiful woman muft feel at fuch injurious negligence would render her an eafy prey to the wiles of a feducer. fuppofe the contrary, was a paradox which his knowledge of the human character would not admit.


It is not my intention to pollute my page by a description of thofe fucceffful plans of iniquity by which Fitzofborne fubverted the principles of the man who really loved him, and felt anxious to render him effential fervices. Unhappily, the world prefents too often the fpectacle of one immortal being alluring another to inebriety, or plunging it in depravity, for me to excite furprize, by adding, that fuch actions are not deemed incompatible with the facred title of a friend. These feducers have


have not indeed always the deeper motives which I afcribe to Fitzofborne; but let it be remembered, that the principles he profeffed gave a fanction to his more monftrous atrocity. Private vices are public benefits. Is it not a general advantage; that property should be traníferred from an indolent fenfualift to an active intelligent enterprising citizen, who would turn it to beneficial purposes? Monteith would be juft as happy with his dogs and horfes, the only fphere of enjoyment which his limited understanding feemed capable of relishing, though his beautiful wife and the fair poffeffions with which he was endowed, were refigned to fome clever fellow who had wit enough to acquire them. Suppofing the reftraint of confcience conveniently filenced by that fcepticism which is now efteemed fo liberal, what other principle will you fubftitute to prevent fuch practices?

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