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ftrong alarm which lady. Monteith's danger excited; but as the returning health of the charming countess relieved all anxiety for her fafety, her husband grew weary of the trouble of thinking for himself, and, voluntarily furrendering the intellectual liberty of which he was fo tenacious, permitted his falfe friend again "with devilish art," to "reach the organs of his fancy."
The most accurate judges of human nature have obferved, that we feldom forgive thofe whom we have injured; and though the word forgiveness may be here misplaced, it is certain, that the pride of human nature, fond of justifying itself, always endeavours to find an excufe for its own mifconduct in the behaviour of thofe who are fufferers from its faults. Almoft perfuaded that his infidelity and extravagance had efcaped difcovery, lord Mon
teith wished to filence the pain of felfaccufation by excufes better calculated to ftifle remorse than the poor apology which the more enormous guilt of others fupplies. While his imagination continued to unite the ideas of Geraldine and perfection, the behaviour of his grace the duke or the most noble marquis to their respective ladies afforded no extenuation of his own folly. But when his jaundiced eye began to think her mirth levity, and her gravity fullennefs, the load of his own guilt was at once removed. Though the opinion of the world ftill prefcribes forbearance and decorum to the wife, it allows the hufband to recriminate, and a defect in temper on the part of the lady is a received excufe for the vices of the gentleman:-a cruel and unjust conclufion, yet recommended by its univerfal prevalence to the most ferious
ferious confideration of the inftru&tors of female youth.
Fitzofborne increased all Monteith's extravagance by faint praife, affected filence, or ftifled obfervations. But his chief attention was now directed to the countess. Her forced gaiety and frequent abfence of mind plainly told him, that the newspaper paragraph had done its office, and he not unfuccessfully endeavoured to communicate to her his knowledge of her fituation, and his commiferation for her fufferings. Every inftance of her lord's neglect or inattention was rendered more excruciating to Geraldine by Fitzofborne's watching her countenance, or marking Monteith's behaviour by fome flight fign of difpleafure. In his converfations with her, he frequently introduced fubjects which he knew must harrow up her foul. Reverting again to his favourite maxim, that
"the conscious mind is its own awful world," he commented on the prefent perverted state of fociety, in which merit generally mourns in filence, from the injustice or misconception of others. The omnipotence of beauty, when united with its rare affociates, fenfibility and intelligence, was another favourite theme. He ridiculed the illiberality of annexing an idea of guilt to the allowable admiration of what is " perfect, fair, and good." And he continually affirmed, that minds of a superior stamp ought to shape their conduct by their own intuitive fenfe of decorum, and not by the rules intended for more grovelling capacities. He condemned the indelicacy and want of tafte of many men of fashion with warmth bordering on severity, for deserting the fociety of women of refinement and information, and forming grofs attachments, in which
intellect could have no fhare. But the only remedy which he could devife for this evil was, he faid, to relax, instead of bracing, the feverity of our fyftem of divorce; and he frequently concluded with expatiating upon the folly of legislators, in not accommodating their inftitutions to the varying humours of the people whom they meant to control. To fome of thefe fuggeftions lady Monteith's mind gave an unqualified affent. She doubted the tendency of others; but they were fo difguifed in the veil of fuperior zeal for the improvement and happiness of the world, and fo fweetened by the adroit mixture of oblique flattery, that she feemed rather willing to blame the limited powers of her own understanding, than to question the infallibility of Fitzofborne's all-fapient mind. Sir William, who was fometimes