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"flect," said he, " on the evanefcent "nature of reputation; that it is acqui"red without folicitude, and loft without "guilt; that it is the fport of calumny, and "the battery from which envy mortally. "wounds the peace of innocence, 1 feel "convinced that it is beneath the at"tention of a well-governed mind."
The converfation had been previously. confined to the caprices of fashion, and Mifs Evans wis furprized that it should produce fuch a ferious conclufion; for to this genu ne child of Nature the eclat annexed to the invention of a becoming turban, or even the honour of an innumerable party, feemed unworthy of a moment's anxiety. She therefore fixed her intelligent eyes upon her friend, and afked her to what fhe alluded in this reflection?
"My own fad ftory," faid Geraldine, "is ever predominant in my mind.
"Even while I am enjoying the delights of thefe beloved peaceful fcenes, "I cannot for one moment forget that "I am now a mark for public ridicule; "and I am endeavouring to derive "fome confolation from thofe fenti"ments which a gentleman, a very '" fenfible man and a friend of lord "Monteith's, has frequently fuggefted."
"They can only apply," faid Lucy, "to the cafe of those who place their « ultimate hopes in the applause of the "world. They have nothing to do
with the well-grounded mind; which, "while it purfues the fteady path of
duty, is pleafed with being encouraged "on its journey by the modeft voice of "well earned praife. Far be it from "me, my Geraldine, to feek to diminish "your confolations. Innocence allows you to poffefs a very fuperior one; and while your life difproves accufa
"tions, you have no caufe to be depreffed. Yet the watchful fufceptibility of female honour cannot but "feel every attack upon its character; " and it most impatiently longs to refute "the cenfures which its purity abhors. "Lord Monteith's friend, I fuppofe, only made general obfervations. He "could not allude to your particular "story."
They were the obfervations of "Fitzofborne," faid lady Monteith gravely.
"Of Fitzofborne ?" interrogated Lucy. "I have heard you defcribe "him as one of the most enlightened, "uncorrupted, and amiable of men: "the perfon too, refpecting whom your " conduct is cenfured."
"It is exactly as you defcribe. He "is thus deferving, and I am fo ac"cufed."
"Does a fixed contempt for the good"will of that mafs of his fellow-crea"tures which is called the world, imply this fuperior merit? The world, "I have heard my dear father often fay, judges right, but from wrong pre"mifes. It is hafty and rafh, not difpaffionate and reflecting. It kindles "into indignation at a fpecious tale: it "loads a fufpected character with op"probrium; but however falfe its in"ference, however mistaken its judg"ment, its errors always lean to the "fide of justice and virtue. And I am "the more inclined to pay a deference "to my father's opinion, because I find "his idea of that aggregate body of “which I am an individual, confirmed "by my own feelings."
"I fhall only join the general decifion "of the world, which you to reverence," replied the countels," when I found the
"praises of Mr. Fitzofborne. To the "manners and the exterior of the moft "finished gentleman, he adds the in"formation of the fcholar and the pro
fundity of the philofopher. Perhaps "his ardent love of truth may urge him "to too great a contempt for eftablished "rules; and you know, Lucy, we must "not expect fuperior minds to pay a "fcrupulous attention to the little "punctilios which cuftom exacts from "ordinary characters. He is actuated "by the most exalted views, and his "life is the nobleft comment upon his " opinions."
The limited obfervation of Mifs Evans had never difcovered fuch a being as lady Monteith defcribed; and The regarded the delineation of its diftinguished properties with fomewhat of the fame kind of fcrupulous curiofity with which we perufe the defcription of