Mary Jane Mackenzie.

Geraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) online

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♦* Oh ! if it is only a lovers' quarrel,^*



162 GERALDINE.

continued he, "I have nothing more to say.
It will all be made up again, I dare say ;
only the sooner the better, in my opinion.'*

Desirous of rectifying the mistake, she
again attempted an explanation, but it
served only to make * confusion worse
confounded,' and Mr. Wentworth at
length left the room, exclaiming, —

" I believe the deuce is in all the youn^
girls now^ a-days. They don't know their
own minds about any thing."

Geraldine found Mr. Wentw^orth's fa-
mily in a still more divided state than for-
merly.

'The discord between Mr. Latimer and
Miss Wentworth, had reached its highest
point. Miss Wentworth inveighed against
Mr. Latimer's preaching, both publicly
and privately, and he avenged himself by
railing against her temper, with equal per-
severance. Mr. Latimer, piqued by some
observations she had made, studied contro-
versial divinity for the laudable purpose of
opposing her opinions j and after an argw-



GERALDINF. 1 63

ment, earned on v.ith more than usual as-
perity, the lady declared that she would
never more listen to the public teachuig of a
man, whose principles and judgment, were
equally defective.

After this declaration, she renounced
all attendance at church ; and soon disco-
vered a substitute for Mr. Latimer, in a
pastor of very different character.

In a small town about three miles from
Wentworth Hall, a chapel had been re-
cently erected ; and the fame of its officiat-
ing minister soon travelled to Miss Went-
worth.

He was not one of that upright and con-
scientious class, who, if we are not fortu-
nate enough to number them among the
friends of the church, are still the cham-
pions of Christianity ; the friends of piu-e
and undefiled religion, to whom we may
with pleasure extend the right hand of fel-
lowship ; but a self-constituted ignorant
teacher; metamorphosed from] an ' un-



l64



GERALDINE.



washed artificer,' into a minister of the
Gospel of Christ. With unhallowed and
unprepared hand, he ventured to touch the
holy ark ; and as * fools rush in, where an-
gels fear to tread,' to expound ' the deep,'
and reveal the hidden things of God ; mis-
taking fluency for eloquence, and presump-
tion for inspiration, he poured forth his
Antinomian exposition of Christianity, with
the zeal and authority of an apostle.
Hearers flocked around him, and they were
rapidly transformed into converts. His
doctrines were too gratifying to the pride,
and too soothing to the indolence of human
nature, not to be acceptable. To obtain
pardon for sin, without repenting, or for-
saking it, and heaven without holiness,
were terms too easy and agreeable, not to
be eagerly embraced.

Miss Wentworth was at first rather
startled, at the bold and unqualified style
in which his opinions were delivered ; but
the transition, from h^r yiew of Christianity



GERALDINE. . l65

to hisy was by no means difficult : the land-
mark was removed with facility, the line of
separation easily effaced.

She satisfied herself with remarking, that
his view of the privileges of Cliristianity,
was more enlarged than hers ; and without
the slightest wish on her part to indulge in
sin, she sanctioned and supported an in-
terpretation of Scripture, equally fatal to
moral purity and spiritual progress.

Mr. Wentworth repeatedly expostulated
with his daughter on her secession from the
church, and proposed (as her dislike to
Mr. Latimer was insurmountable) that she
should attend the ministry of Mr. Fullarton ;
but she was, as usual, perfectly unpersuad-
able. She acknowledged that Mr. Ful-
larton and his curate were very respectable
men, and very orthodox preachers ; but
they were too legal to please her.

Mr. Wentworth could not argue with his
daughter ; he could only feel and lament
the ill effects of her example. Half his
servants, and many of his tenants, won by



166 GEiiAirbiN^'jbl.

the charm of novelty, and influenced by thiS
example, crowded to the chapel ; and the
schism in the neighbourhood rapidly ex-
tended*

Mr» Latimer remonstrated. Miss Went*
worth persisted* She distributed tracts and
catechisms through the parish, which he
denounced as heretical and pernicious^
The poor, in whose hands they were placed,
could not judge very nicely upon this point ;
but they pei'ceived that the lady and gen-
tleman had an inveterate hatred to each
other, and this conviction was not very-
likely to foster a spirit of Christian love.

Mrs. Wentworth alone remained tran-
quil and passive. She merely remarkedj
that the path to the chapel w^as dirty in
the winter, and exposed in the summer.

Helen, disgusted with her sister's new
favourite, dissatisfied with Mr. Latimer,
and still more with herself, again yielded to
depression and despondency.

Edmund had been partially successful
in his attempts to relieve and divert hei



GERALDINE. 167

mind; but he was not sufficiently acquainted
with the nature of the malady to prescribe
an effectual remedy : the root of the evil re^
mained : his was a palliative, but not a cure*
Every visit he paid at Wentworth Hall
unfortunately strengthened his prejudices
against earnest piety. Finding Jwme not
what the poet has so sweetly pictured it,—*

The seat of love, of joy, of tenderness,
Where pohshed friends, and dear reJations,
Mingle into bliss ;

but the very abode of gloom and discord,
he adopted the false and pernicious
notion, that earnestness in religion de*
stroys the ease and charm of social in-
tercourse, chills the glow of feeling, and
checks the play of intellect ; and returned
with redoubled eagerness to companions
who had more wit than piety, and more
gaiety than wisdom.

Geraldine had now learned to discrimii
nate ; and while she lamented the false im-
pressions thus produced, was no longer in
danger of sharing them.



16s GERALDINK.

She had been taught to cultivate hu-
miUty, to exercise watch fuhiess, to aim at
consistency ; not to talk of her sins and im-
perfections, but to combat them. But as
she adopted no pecuHar phrases, was silent
when controversial points were discussed,
and practised the duties of Christianity
more than she talked of them, Miss Went-
worth classed her among the lukewarm and
indifferent.

The modest firmness with which she re-
pelled this charge, and avowed her love and
reverence of religion, won tlie admiration
of the timid but candid Helen ; and the
gentleness of her manner invited con-
fidence.

They read and conversed together j and
Geraldine succeeded in some degree, in
calming her mind, and stimulating her to
active exertion.

The plain and simple instructions she
had received, were communicated to Helen j
and upon any difficult point, she referred



GBRALDINE. l69

her to the friend to whose wise counsel she
herself was so much indebted.

This occupation gave an interest to her
visit, which it would not otherwise have
possessed ; and in soothing and fortifying
tlie mind of Helen, her own became insen-
mbly strengthened and improved.



VOL. N[.



170 GERALD INE,



CHAP. XVIIL

This tranquillity was interrupted by the
receipt of a billet from Montague, an-
nouncing his arrival at Woodlands, and
requesting, or rather demanding, an inter-
view.

From the moment the intelligence of
Geraldine's loss of fortune had reached him
his mind had been in a state of irritation,
almost amounting to frenzy. The claims
of Matilda appeared light as air compared
with those of Geraldine ; every generous
and delicate feeling of his nature was
roused into action ; every fond and tender
sentiment revived. To resign her at such
a moment would be base and disgraceful,
destructive of his happiness, and fatal to
his reputation as a man of honour.

Perpetually harassed by these reflections,
his manner towards Matilda became un-



GERALDINE. 171

equal and embarrassed; still he had not
courage, in the present state of her spirits,
to reveal the truth.

During their voyage he passed hour
after hour in silent misery, pondering over
his own perplexing situation ; distracted
between pity for Matilda, love for Geral-
dine, and detestation of his own folly.

Thouojh from the uncer taint v of Mon-
tague's manner, a secret dread of his incon-
stancy had sometimes stolen over the heart
of Matilda, she instantly repelled it, as a
cruel injustice to him, whom her youthful
fancy had invested with full perfection.
With generous confidence she awaited the
moment when he should impart to her the
source of his grief; and regretted his
silence and abstraction, chiefly because it
prevented her disclosing all the sympathy
and tenderness with which her heart was
overflowing.

That circumstances might retard, and
his family oppose their union, she could
easily imagine ; but that Montague should
I 2



17^ GERALDINE.

not be the very soul of honour, she would
not, for an instant, believe.

Little prepared for the impending blow,
her heart beat high with hope as she
approached the shores of England 5 and
while memory recalled the kind and tender
protector, of whom death had deprived
her, the soothing conviction that she still
possessed one with whom, in a closer tie,
and more endearing intimacy, she should
pass many a year of peace and joy, shed
so bright a beam over the future, that the
gloom of the past was forgotten.

The relation, to whose care she was
to be consigned, resided about thirty mile*
from Falmouth ; and, on their arrival there,
they prepared to proceed immediately to
her destined home.

Montague instantly dispatched a mes-
senger for letters, and tearing the packet
open the moment it arrived, read them in
a tumult of agitation, which alarmed
Matilda.

Geraldine's gentle but decided rejection.



GERALDINE. 173

her sympathy for Matilda, the generosity
with which she had abstained from a single
word of upbraiding, at once stimulated the
reproaches of his conscience and quickened
the tenderness of his feelings.

The coolness of Mrs. Mowbray, in speak-
ing of this separation, irritated him past
endurance. It was not difficult to discover
that if she had no hope, she had also no
wish, that the connection should take place ;
and his generous feelings revolted from the
idea of meanness so degrading. .

In a moment of uncontrollable emotion,
he confessed the sad truth to Matilda;
sought neither to conceal nor excuse the
imprudence and cruelty of his conduct,
implored her pardon, and threw himself
upon her generosity. He felt that though
not bound to her, by the formal tie of prose
and parchment, he had pledged himself
again and again, by the more seductive one
of looks, — by < thoughts that breathe, and
words that burn -/ and, too candid to take
refuge in evasion and subterfuge, his self-
I S



174 GERALDINE.

^condemnation was as vehement as it was
sincere.

Matilda listened, and

< Looked like one that would deny,



That such a thing could be beneath the sky.'

The blush of shame which for a mo-
ment diffused itself over her counte-
nance, quickly faded ; and the conflict-
ing feelings of love and despair gave
it an expression that pierced the heart
of Montague. His self-reproaches became
still more violent ; but Matilda heard as
though she heard him not. Years of en-
joyment could scarcely balance the exqui-
site pain of such a moment. Every fond
hope in an instant crushed, the sensitive
delicacy of womanly feeling deeply
wounded, she continued silent and motion-
less, believing that the world did not con-
tain so wretched a being as herself.

Montague dared not attempt to soothe
or console her ; he could neither disguise
nor retract the fatal truth, that another was
preferred to her ; but so powerfully was he
affected by her despair, that he offered to



GERALDINE. TJ5

live for her, and her alone. Still she
neitlier spoke nor moved ; and when the
carriage was announced, seemed to have
forgotten for w^hat purpose it had been or-
dered. She shuddered, as Montague placed
her in it ; and throwing herself back, and
hiding her face with both hands, tears of
agony flowed down her cheeks.

Their journey was perfomied nearly in
silence. Montague could only reiterate his
unavailing self-reproaches, and lament the
impetuosity which had betrayed him into
revealing the truth at such a time.

Heart-broken as Matilda now was, he
must commit her to the hands of strangers,
who would neither understand nor care for
her feelings, and from whom she could
expect neither affection nor sympathy.

As they drew near the close of their jour-
ney, he ventured to intreat that he might
be permitted to enquire after her on the
following day, vehemently declaring that
he would never quit the neighbourhood, till
he could leave her tranquil and composed.
I 4



176 GERAIDINE.

The next morning before it was practi-
cable to call at the house of a stranger, he
received the following note from Matilda: —

" I earnestly entreat you to spare me
the pain of an interview. I cannot acquit,
and I will not condemn you ; let me rather
bewail my own vanity — my own credulity 5
but I knew nothing of human nature ; I
had been educated by the most generous,
the most honourable of men, and I thought
the whole world resembled him. I sincerely
wish you happy ; and to prove this since-
jity, I promise to neglect no means of pre-
serving my health, and regaining the peace
I have lost. Farewell ; this is probably
the last communication we shall have ; let
me therefore assure you, that I think of
you without resentment, and let us both
hope, that the day will come when I shall
learn to think of you without pain.

" Matilda Courtland."

Montague read this note with consider-
able emotion, and again muttered impre-
cations on himself 5 but amidst all his pitj



GERALDINE. 177

for Matilda, he felt secretly relieved by the
conviction that the business was now over.
He recalled all that he had heard on the
subject of hopeless attachments, and the
utter impossibility of their duration ; and
at length succeeded in persuading himself,
that after the first burst of grief had sub-
sided, Matilda would gradually recover
composure, and ultimately be restored, to
happiness. Dismissing the subject, there-
fore, as speedily as possible from his
mind, he rapidly pursued his journey
towards Woodlands, and on his way thither
had in idea combated every obstacle, rea-
soned away every argument, and van-
quished all opposition that might be offered
to the renewal and fulfilment of his en-
gagement with Geraldine.

Again he read her letter ; and notwith-
standing the calm and decided rejection it
contained, flattered himself that she could
not resist his pleadings ; that she must be
touched by his disinterestedness, and affect-
ed by his deep and unfeigned repentance.
I 5



17S GERALDINE.



CHAP. XIX.

Jrlis disappointment was keen, when, upon
arriving at Woodlands, he found Geraldine
absent : and this disappointment was ag-
gravated by the coolness with which Mrs.
r^^ Mowbray listened to his regrets and la-
" mentations, and by her positive assurances,
that any application to Geraldine would be
fruitless.

Roused nearly to fury, he accused her
of the most paltry feelings and mercenary
views, vowed that Geraldine was ten thou-
sand times dearer to him than ever, and
that he would move heaven and earth, to
recover her.

In this spirit, he dictated the note which
was forwarded to Wentworth Hall ; and,
to prevent the possibility of a refusal, pre-



GERALDINE. 179

sented himself there, ten minutes after it
had been delivered.

Nothing could be more trying than the
interview that followed. Montague pleaded
with all the eloquence of love, all the
earnestness of sincerity, all the vehemence
of passion. Never had he displayed a ten-
derness so devoted, a disinterestedness so
perfect, a candour so winning. Geraldine's
heart was deeply touched, but she conti-
nued firm : even the present vehemence of
Montague's manner, — the unrepressed ar-
dour of his feelings, convinced her that he
was a stranger to all self-command ; his
vows, his protestations, his regrets, sincere
as they were, would again be forgotten.
He was still unchanged — still the same ar-
dent, engaging, impetuous being, governed
only by feelings as mutable as they were-,
intense. Whilst he hung over her with in-
describable fondness ; alternately assailing?
her with soft reproaches and breathing
vows of constancy and love, Geraldine's
I 6



180 GERALDINE.

courage nearly failed ; but the image of
Matilda pining away her hours in loneliness
and misery, presented itself j and the charm
was dissolved.

When Montague perceived that his ten-
der pleadings were ineffectual, that her re-
solution was inflexible, be became irritated
by opposition ; and accusing her of heart-
less and deliberate cruelty, passed from an
extreme of tenderness to an expression of
the fiercest displeasure.
• Eut it was far more easy to repel accu-
sation, than to resist entreaty ; and he soon
discovered that the resolution which ten-
derness could not subdue, injustice would
but confirm. Again he had recourse to
earnest supplications, and finding them un-
availing, abruptly left the house in a state
of irritation little short of madness.

Geraldine had suffered nearly as much
as himself during the interview ; but in the
golitude of her chamber, when she reviewed
her own conduct, judgment confirmed her



GERALDINE. 181

decision. The meed of self-approbation
was hers, yet her heart ached with the
conflict.

The sight of Montague had revived feel-
ings which had lately been quiescent : the
soft whispers of love had sounded sweetly ;
and the idea that she had listened to them
for the last time, was painful and depress-
ing ; but she felt that a husband should be
something more than a passionate admirer,
or even than an engaging companion :
that he should be the friend in whom slie
could entirely confide ; the guide whom
she could delightedly follow ; the Christian,
with whom she could hope and rejoice.
Alas ! how remote from such a character
was Montague. Capricious as he had been
as a lover, could he, as a husband, inspire
her with that fearless confidence in hig
faith and truth, which is at once the
charm of married life, and the chief secu-
rity for its happiness.

Whilst Geraldine was occupied in these
pensive reflections Montague had been



182 GERALDINE.

galloping furiously towards Woodlands.
Having reached the park-gate he slackened
his pace, feeling reluctant to meet the
triumphant glance of Mrs. Mowbray, upon
this accomplishment of her predictions.
To whom could he look for comfort ? In
whom could he place confidence? He
recollected his tried friend Maitland, and
dismounting, gave his horse to his servant,
and walked rapidly on to the cottage in
which he lived.

Mr. Maitland received him with the
warmest kindness.

" Had I known of your arrival at Wood-
lands,'* said he, " I should have been too
eager to congratulate and w^elcome you to
have waited for this kind visit.'*

" Congratulate and welcome me !" ex-
claimed Montague; "oh! use not such
words to a being so miserable, so wretched
as myself; they are but mockery."

" Wretched and miserable!'* echoed
Mr. Maitland, in great amazement, ** to



GERALDINE. 185

what do you allude? What can have
happened ?"

« Enough has happened to make me
hate myself in the first place, and hang
myself in the second," exclaimed Mon-
tague, with great vehemence.

" No, no,'' said Mr. Maitland, " I will
not believe you ; the mischief, whatever it
may be, is not, I hope, irreparable.''

" It is irreparable, utterly irreparable,"
repeated Montague ; *' and I am a wretch
for life: a forlorn rejected wretch."

Mr. Maitland requested an explanation.

** I did not wTite a history of my follies
to you," said Montague ; " but you will
have no great difficulty in believing me,
when I confess that 1 have been a fool,- — a
vain, selfish, cruel fool."

" Pardon me," said Mr. Maitland, «< I
have great difficidty in believing it."

** Half in sport, — half in earnest,"
continued Montague, ** I wrote soft non-
sense to a pretty girl, who was silly enough



184 GERALDINE*

to mistake it for truth and sense; and
because I was so unlucky as to win hei'
heart, Geraldine has cruelly resolved upon
breaking mine.'*

" And how and when did all this
happen?" enquired Mr. Maitland.

" Ask me no questions," replied Mon-
tague, impatiently ; ** I can only repeat,
that, thanks to my own folly, and the heart-
less cruelty of Geraldine, I am the most
miserable fellow breathing."

" Be less unjust, Montague," said Mr.
Maitland ; *' do not mistake firmness for
cruelty."

** It is cruelty, the most barbarous
cruelty. She knows, she sees the pangs I
suffer J she feels her power; she is con-
scious that I love her to distraction, — that
my repentance is sincere, poignant, bitter ;
and yet she persists in her refusal — her
inhuman refusal."

" And do you believe, Montague, that
it has cost her no effort to decide against
you? With what tenderness did she love ?



GERALDINE. 185

With what patience did she bear with you ?
With how warm and fond a hope did she
await your return? Depend upon it, you
are not the only sufferer."

" No, no," exclaimed Montague, " she
does not, cannot suffer, or she could not be
thus firm, thus resolute ; but if you have
any pity, any compassion for your unhappy
friend, plead my cause with her ; she
respects your judgment, she will listen to
your arguments."

Mr. Maitland changed colour — ** What
could I urge that would be at all effectual ?^'
said he, rising and walking up and down
the room as he spoke ; " her acceptance or
rejection depended upon yourself. What
can I say to inspire her with confidence ?
How could I plead against my conscience,
against my convictions ?'*

*' Are you too my enemy ?" said Mon-
tague, looking at him fiercely.

" No; I am your faithful friend," re-
plied Mr. Maitland, " and would sacrifice
any thing but my truth and honesty to



186 GERALDINE,

prove my friendship ; but I am also/' he
added, in a lower tone, " the faithful friend
of Miss Beresford ; and can I, in honour,
urge her to a union in which I fear her
happiness would be the sacrifice ?"

Montague fixed his eyes on Mr. Mait-
land's countenance, and was struck with
the agitation it expressed.

" Is it your low opinion of me, or your
high opinion of Geraldine," said he, in a
tone of bitterness, ** that makes you thus
lukewarm in my cause ?"

" My opinion of you," returned Mr.
Maitland, with spirit, " varies with your
varying conduct. My opinion of Miss Be-
resford is fixed and permanent. Her prin-
ciples are as high as her conduct is ad-
mirable."

" You speak with enthusiasm," said
Montague, in a tone of smothered passion.

" And with sincerity," added Mr. Mait-
land, calmly.

" I should be sorry," continued Mon-
tague, in the same accent of suppressed



GERALDINE. 187

rage, *« to do you injustice ; but such warm,
such enthusiastic admiration in so young a
man, is somewhat suspicious."

Mr. Maitland's countenance again be-
trayed extreme agitation.

** By heaven !" exclaimed Montague,
" my suspicions are just ; deny them, if you
can."

<^< Deny what?" said Mr. Maitland, with
a strong effort to speak cahialy.

*' Deny that you love her. Deny that
you are my rival," continued, Montague,
furiously.

*< Be less violent — less peremptory,
Montague," said Mr. Maitland, " if you
expect an answer from me."

" Practise no subterfuge, no evasion. Sir,"
said Montague, with increasing fury ; '* the
most consummate hypocrisy will now avail
you nothing."

Skilled as Mr. Maitland was in the
science of self-government, he could not
listen, without keen emotion, to language
such as this. A crimson flush covered his
face, as he exclaimed, —



188 GERALDINE.

«< Leave me, Sir, I conjure you. Insult
me no longer, lest I forget what is due to
you and to myself."

<« Disprove my accusations ; say that you
do not love her, and I will sue like a slave
for your pardon," said Montague.

Mr. Maitland was again silent for a few
moments.

« I will not forfeit my integrity," said he ;
** I cannot deny that I love her, but — "

" No more, Sir," exclaimed Montague j
" you have said enough. This stroke is, in-
deed, too much," added he. — *< You, whom
I trusted, whose principles I venerated,
whose honour I believed to be bright as
the sun. — To be thus meanly, thus cruelly


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