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"the authenticity of the Old Testa"ment?"
"I fhall efteem it a particular favour "if you would inform me," replied Fitzosborne. "Can you give me your "company in the library for that pur"pose to-morrow morning? The ladies "will thank us for adjourning the de"bate for the prefent."
"Ifhould conceive, fir," faid Powerf court," that the ladies are interested "in the authenticity of their bibles; "and when any doubts are ftarted, "explanations should follow of course. "By your calling forth a lady to debate "these points, you must certainly join "in my opinion, that the cause of in
fpiration is perfectly fafe in the hands "of that fex, who are accustomed to "argue from the feelings of an unvi"tiated heart, rather than from the
"cold deductions of the understand
"No one," refumed the evasive Fitzofborne," can have a greater respect
for female excellence than myself; "and before you profefs yourself the "champion of fentiment, as opposed "to argumentative deductions, you "fhould foften the afperity which ap
pears in your manner, by remember"ing that I never attacked the fair."
"Not in a direct way, I believe," faid Henry in a moft animated voice, and at the fame time leading the eye of his antagonist to the countess, who fat netting near them, feemingly engroffed by fome country vifitors, but really attentive to this conversation.
Edward felt ftruck as by an electrical fhock. Habitual referve could not prevent a fudden crimson from flushing his face; and his quickly withdrawn
drawn eye told a truth which he would willingly have concealed; namely, that he understood Powerscourt's allufion.
Unable to pursue a theme where difcovery menaced every word, and precluded from the fubterfuge which availed him in his former difpute with Mr. Evans, (I mean a reference of the argument to fome future time, which it depended upon himself to procrastinate,) Fitzofborne muft either have waited for Henry's attack on deistical principles, or have renewed his own charge against the authenticity of the fcriptures. He chose the latter.
to lead back the converfation by fome flourishing compliments on the peculiar fuitability of religion to the female character; and the impreffion which every thing fupernatural and elevated always made upon the delicate organs of their imaginations. His zeal to cor
ret the facred text-(he ufed the term correct upon the prefent occafion, in preference to his ufual expreffions of reform or improve)-proceeded from a fincere perfuafion of the merits of feveral parts of the received canon, and a wish to expunge from it whatever might corrupt the delicacy of female readers, or harden their exquifite fenfibility by the narration of fome acts of more than favage brutality.
"The fimple manners and unrefined "language of the earlier ages," replied Henry," are recorded by their faithful "hiflorians in characters of undisguised "veracity. Our ideas of decorum vary "with the customs of the time and
country; but vice and virtue are sta❝tionary. It may be a fubject of re
gret, that tranflators who render au"thors of very remote antiquity should "think themfelves compelled to give "a verbal
a verbal tranfcript of paffages which "might be fafely paraphrafed; yet, "with refpect to the bible, I observe,
that fome of thofe interpreters who "profefs to avoid the faults which many
years obfervation have discovered in "our prefent copy, have fubftituted a "fort of gay licentiousness in the place "of the objectional groffness, much
more offenfive to the purity of the "heart. Refpecting your fecond obfervation, as I do not recollect any "inftance in which the vindictive fpi"rit of the Jews is pointed out to the "imitation of fucceeding ages, I should
fuppofe their history might be ftudied " even in a critical or historical point "of view as an authentic monument "of ages but for infpiration wholly
obliterated, with lefs danger of ren"dering the feelings obdurate, than the page of Homer, or even the epic