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"The uncommon fufceptibility and delicacy of her character would make "her feel painful alarms, while I fee " you only indulge a fine frenzy.' In "a converfation you lately had with "her, even fome of your guarded ex"preffions have caufed her the mot "diftreffing agitation."
Lady Monteith recollected that the was talking to a lover, and determined to endure a little puerility. She acknowledged, that it was natural for Arabella to feem depreffed immediately after the lofs of a friend who had acted the part of an adopted mother to her, and fhe promised to be very cautious in future. "But," continued fhe, " I mut "own that the invifible agency of fe
parated fpirits is a very favourite theme << with me; and though, contrary to "the opinion of the Abyffinian fage, I "could affirm, that we never have any " certain
"certain evidence that the dead are
permitted to become objects of our fenfes, I have long rejoiced in the "hope that our departed friends are "the agents employed by over-ruling "Providence to perform offices of care "and tenderness to their furviving con"nexions. This thought has most frequently occured to me, as I have bent over my fleeping children, and I "have fancied glorified beings watched our unconscious hours with fimilar "attention. When I was once threat"ened with the lofs of my eldeft darling, "I found fenfible confolation in the idea "of its becoming a guardian cherub to "fuftain the innocence of its fifters through a dangerous world, and to "receive my parting fpirit at the hour "of my diffolution."
While the countefs fpoke, her radiant eyes were fuffufed with tears.
borne, checking fome unfubdued ftruggles of confcience, which almoft tempted him to wish he could enjoy fuch vifionary delights, coolly replied to her energetic fpeech: "I fhould be very forry, ma"dam, to interrupt thofe agreeable re"veries which in minds of your tem
perature can rarely be prejudicial. I "fhall only ftate the dangerous confequences of fuch illufions becoming "general. What a tremendous fuper"structure of impofition might priest"craft erect upon fuch a vifionary basis! "You do not pretend, madam, to fay, "that your hopes rest upon any real "foundation. The nature of the foul "has hitherto eluded inquiry. It may "in time become capable of abfolute "definition; and though the age is not "at prefent fufficiently enlightened to "afford abfolute proof of this fuppofed "immaterial fubftance being only a
moreexquifite configuration of perish"able atoms, incapable of diftinct exift
ence, the glorious epocha of truth and " reafon is too near to allow us to believe
"the poffibility of spectral appearances, "or even of spiritual agency, in the "manner your imagination prompts you "to wish."
Though lady Monteith was no deep theologian, fhe had heard of the millenium, and the fufpenfion of consciousness in the difembodied foul; and the concluded that Fitzofborné was a convert to those doctrines. She was by no means aware of the deeper tendency of his views; yet, as fhe thought there was fomething peculiar in his opinions, she wished to fathom him upon these subjects. She knew enough of the world to be convinced, that divinity was not the favourite study of young men of fafhion; but he knew too, that deep learning
learning was equally excluded from polite circles. Fitzofborne had been announced to her as the "mirror of information;" and fhe faw nothing ridiculous in the idea, that a man of reading fhould devote a part of his attention to the ftudy of the nobleft truths. Indifference on ferious fubjects was, as far as her ob fervations extended, combined with ig norance and a general relaxation of mind. Fitzofborne's manner evinced energy and attention. She had often felt indignant at hearing the witling attempt to ridicule what he did not understand, or the libertine feek to invalidate what he feared to believe. But Fitzofborne poffeffed too much real talent to envy the wreath that fades upon the coxcomb's brow, and his conduct feemed too correct to fupply him with a motive for taking fhelter in infidelity. His fentiments on every fubject were moral and liberal.