« AnkstesnisTęsti »
When Providence gratifies the clamorous wishes of us fhort-fighted mortals, it must not only give us the good that we afk, but it must also adapt the time of its bounty to the moment of our defires. Eight months ago lord Monteith thought nothing but a fon wanting to gratify all his wifhes. He now started with deep remorfe and difmay at the birth of a being, who feemed to rush into existence to reproach him for having wafted the fair poffeffions to which his ancestors had left him heir, in the frenzy of the gamingtable and the haunts of diffipation. The too fufceptible countess-read in his embarraffed manner a refutation of all the hopes which a defcription of his lively emotions on his return had infpired. She could no longer flatter herself with the idea that envy and falfehood had fabricated the paragraph fo fatal to her 5
peace, and nearly fo to her life. She covered her beautiful face, pale as the pillow on which it refted, and, fobbing out an apology for an hysterical weaknefs which would not permit her to support the fight fhe had fo earnestly defired, the entreated to be left alone. To recruit her enfeebled spirits was the plea that the urged; but her real defign was to lament unobferved the peculiar hardships of her prefent fate.
The obfervations fhe had made upon her lord's character had hitherto difclofed much inconfiftency, weakness, and imperfection; but he had ever been confoled by the conviction, that his heart retained many traits of native goodness, and that his ftormy paffions, even in their wildeft uproar, confeffed the power of her gentle influence. Her delicacy fhrunk at the thought of dividing his affections with a venal
wanton; and the rectitude of her principles infpired the livelieft concern, when he recollected the guilt which her ftill-beloved lord incurred by pursuing an illicit attachment. Weak in body; enfeebled in mind; reduced by fufferings, and difappointed in her deareft hopes; her pride wounded in its most fufceptible part; flighted by him whom the most wished to pleafe; and traduced by that world whofe applause she had fo fedulously courted; what was there to bind lady Monteith to life? Surely I might now call in Arria's dagger, Portia's fire brand, or fome more fashionable quietus, with every good effect. But my Heroine was a mother; and though man, poffeffed of firmer nerves and a colder heart, is often unjust to female merit, and falfely fuppofes that name to be fynonymous with weak fufceptibility, maternal feelings have frequently
frequently inspired fuch long-fuffering, quiet fortitude as would add luftre to the annals of a martyr.
Four innocent helpless creatures, who derived their exiftence from her, taught Geraldine that he had more to do than to lie down and die. In proportion to the hazard of their being deprived of paternal tendernefs and protection, they poffeffed ftronger claims upon their mother's heart, and urged her to exert every faculty to preferve their morals, their fortune, and their happiness. Hope revived with the determination of difcharging thefe folemn duties, and whifpered, that patience, gentleness, and undeviating rectitude of conduct, fometimes produce a further reward, over and above the certain eulogy of approving confcience. A reclaimed hufband has been reftored to virtue by the mild allurements of a blamelefs wife;
and a joyful mother has had the glory of leading back a repentant father to his abandoned children. "Be fuch my lot!" faid the countefs. "How poor is all "other praife! How contemptible every " other pursuit!"
These refolutions, though formed in the fecure privacy of a fick chamber, might have refifted common temptations; and lord Monteith, if left to his own natural character, would have evinced his penitence for his paft faults by a more attentive tenderness; but Fitzofborne knew too well the advantages of difunion to permit the wounds which he had inflicted on the conjugal felicity of the Monteiths to be thoroughly healed. His influence over his lordship's mind was as unbounded as vigour, duplicity, and craft can acquire over a weak, open, unreflecting character. It had been interrupted by the