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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 unjuft conclufion, yet recommended by its univerfal prevalence to the moft serious
ferious confideration of the inftructors 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 fre quent abfence of mind plainly told him, that the newfpaper 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 muft harrow up her foul. Revert ing again to his favourite maxim, that " the
"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 injuftice 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 fuperior stamp ought to fhape 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 deferting the fociety of women of refinement and information, and forming grofs attachments, in which intellect
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 the 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 prefent at thefe
thefe orations, was at first extremely puzzled to know what the gentleman meant; but when he found that fomething was wrong in that palladium of juftice which he had ever been accuftomed to venerate, the British Conftitution, and heard the propofed improvement, his full conviction of his own incapacity for fupporting an argument could fcarcely prevent him from telling the declaimer, that the remedy was worse than the disease.
Fitzofborne's contempt for the difpofition and abilities of fir William betrayed him into an indifcretion which his masterly addrefs could fcarcely repair. From his first arrival at Powerfcourt he had ftudied the characters of the Evans's with jealous difcrimination; and as their talents and manners were alike undisguised, he foon found, that they would prove moft formidable opponents