Mrs. (Jane) West.

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Nor fhall the pile of hope God's mercy rear'd,

By vain philofophy he e'er dcftroy'd :
Efernity, by all or wifli'd or fear'd,

Shall be by all or fuffer'd or fenjcy'd.

Ma son' J Elegy on the Death of Lady Coventry.


«^ c^ c^> c^>






CHAP. r.

Then gay id?as crowd the vacant brain,
While peers and dukes, ai.d all their fwecping train,
And garters, ftirs, -and coronets appear,
And in foft founds " Your Grace" falutes the ear.


ITZOSBORNE's thoughts were now fo
engroH'ed by his intended attack on the principles
and honour of lady Monteith, that he felt as lit-
tle interefted about the event of his engagements
with lady Arabella as if the marriage ceremony
had really taken place. He was roufed from this
infeafibility by the noble vifccunt his broiher,
who, Having pr-cured a copy of the redoubtable
fertlement, which I have before mentioned, fwore
upoii his honour (his lordihip, thougu very fond
of this oath, was never knov/n to beforiivorn)
that the terms u-ere too hard for any man ^l)ove
a (hoe-black to abide by. " i would have you
« by ali means, Ned,*' faid he, " make a belter
" bargain tor yourfelf. T he girl is imaie.ifely
" fond of you, that is evident ; and a fellow witli

A 2 '^ a


" a tenth p.irt of your add; efs wcuUl make Cne
** pretiv driveller accede to any thing. Can't
'^ you give, her a iitile Kiitiment upon the ccca-
t' fion, and tell h'fv^ that by refervir.g all her for-
" tune in her own power, it will be abfoluteiy
'' impciTible for her ever to enjoy the fubJime
*' gratificntion of receiving obligcUions from the
'' perfon (lie loves ? Caii't vou flomifb too upon
'^ the provifion in c.;ifc of lepuration and divorce,
*' and declare that the fri:;'JviHc idea petriHes
'' your whole fiame ? Be [naH:er of her fortune^
'' hov/ever, at all events ; for let me tell you,
." my dear lad, a wife's afi'ccSiions in this age are *
*' l)ut a transferable comm(dity of little pcrma-
" nent value, I afiure you."

Edward ftlc too well convinced of his irfiti-
ence to doubt the pofl-bility of his acquiring the
glittering prize uporj h:s own terms ; and he
ficetchcd in hi> mind the only (7onditions upoa
which he would coufcjit to give the Indy the ho-
nour of his name. Thefe conditions were re-
markable for iKHhing hut their being a dire6t
cor;tradiction to \i\6y Mudelina's p'ai). But on
his firft converiDlinn wiih lady Arabella upon the
fubjt£l: he difcovcred, that he had greatly mif-
taken her character when he attributed to it any
degree of pliabiliry in pecuriiuTV matters. She^
indeed, loved to fquander with thoughtlefs pro-
ifufion ; but that very love of fquandering fug-
gefted the jvioprielv of retaining the pov/er of
doing fo ; and the lovers parted with great mu-
tual diilatiiftciion : Ed\\"ard convinced that his
merits would confer honour upon any lady oo
whom he bcftowed his hand, ar;d lady Arabella
perfuadtd that a you!)ger brother has no right to .
expeift a ofhce than to_be his wife's itew-
ard, if he be fo lucky as to engage the good opi-
liitiii cf a woman of fortune.. Both fccmed in-

A T. A L E Ct TH2 T I M £ S . 5

eliiif^J to brirjg t''.eir mnfrimonial prL'tenflons to a
frcih m?* lie rhoni?;ht thar his perfon ir.i^'^c
attraCt ionie tail" one t-qaaliy rich anJ his mer-
cenary ; nnd (he knew, tint when people calcu-
late upon good matches, there is always as giejt
a difFsrence between prefent poiTciIiofi and rever-
fionary expeclarion, as there is between the coin-
parative Tplendor of a baronial and a ducaj coro-
net. The gentleman pondered upon tlie pro-
priety' of dilcoht inning h\s addrelTes ; but thei
lady h:^iiened his deliberations by informing him,
that if his vjjlrs at Portiand-place were upon iv-r
account, fhe heti-fred ilie mi^ht not in fui(!i%*
interrupt his important avocatiojis j ai:d tiius -
Mr. Firzofborne was fiiddenly, reduced to the (itsi-
ation of a rcjecled Avain, a condition which the
verfatility of his taJents knew how to improve.

Lady Arabella's frivoliry, f^lfiihncfs, and awrv. -
ed expectation of making fupoior con.qaeiis,.did
not difcredit the tale which Fif-snCborne jtiyll-
of his diflniilion. The blunt integrity ofi<i^d..
Monteith's charatS:cr.took fire at his inter's evi-
dent dereli<5tion of the priuaiples f/i^ honour, can -
llancy, and female delicacy ; and th.e reluctaiico
with which the fpccious EJward appeared to dii-
cover her caprice irrltatcdhis ardeiit temper iiill
more. He charged her with bafe inlidelicy and
grofs indecorum ; and ihe evaded the charge by
urging, that fhe was a free independant being,
and accountable tcjio one for, her a<5tion?, whicti -
were i\\q refult of her opinions ; and no one had
any right to fcrurinize the opinions of Olivers.
The earl raved ngainft this heterodox doctrine,
becaufe it militated ao-ainll: his Vvdili of fuorc-
macy, without difcovering that there was a de-
gree of ingratitude in the application of thefe
principles againil the intereft of the m.aRer from
whom fhe had acquired them j and her ladyihip

refolved .


refolved never to mifleac] her hufband by fur-
nifhing a previous iiiflance cf her fubmif-
fion to her brother's authority. She removed on
the very eveniiig of the (lifpute to the houfe of
3ord vifcount Fltzofbonie.

in order to explain the reafon of her choofing
that afyJum, I muft unriddle a little Machiavc-
lian policy. The fituation of the noble houfe of
P iizofoorne was become fo very precarious in
point of credit, that the repre'fentative of its
honours, like Shakefpeare's Percy, had long "cad
'•^ manv a northern look to fee the Frazer brinjr
*' up his powers." The illiifliious vifcount in-
deed could not give himfclf a legal title to that
fimcioiis inheritance which now centered in \zi\y
Arabella i but his fraternal wifh of transferring
it to his own family was not quite difinterefted.
Edward had ever appeared too abftra6led, too ge-
jjerous, and too fuperler to low mercenary viewSji
to deny a brother ihp loan of a hw thoufands,
and his indiiFerence to money was in the vif-
count's opinion the caufe of h's prefent difap-
pointm.ent; for had his whole heart been en-
grofTed by the defire of advancing his fortune, the
pretty bird might have beat her gay plumage in
kjfelefs vexation, at finding herfelf furrounded by
iot> manv toils ever to hope for recovered liberty.

In oppofition to thofe faturnine cenfors who
affirm that a ge^iteel pair never thijik or a6l in
concert, i have to relate a fcheme in which ihe
vifcount and his lady cordially co-operated, and
which, though it might not terminate in an in-
vocation of Venus's antique dove?, promifed to
produce a modern pigeon. The farce commenc-
ed with a vifit from the vifcountefs to her dear
friend ; during Mhich fhe heard with mingled fur-
prife 'and grief that Mr. Fitzofoornc's expec-


rations were (o very illiberal, and his temper fo
very uncomplying, that the conne6lion vi^as dif-
folved. She commended the laudable fpirit which
dictated lady Arabella's refolution of fooner break-
ing her heart than fubmltting to unjuftifiable
demands ; but when fhe a-lded, that, by thus adl-
ing with proper regard to female dignity, (he had
excited the refentment of her brother, the indig-
nation of her fympathizing friend exceeded all
bounds. With bitter farcafms on the ii^delicacv
of lord Monteith's interference, {he ifltreated
her to remove dire<5lly to lord Fitzofb erne's, and
aflured her, that offended beauty would find a
protestor in the vifcount^ who would either com-
pel Edward to make proper conceflions, or dif-
own him for a brother. There was fomething
truly Roman ifi'this fentiment. It- was exp''efied
with becoming dignity ; and the vifcountef'=', (liU
farther to enforce it, added, *'' You will get a
" little more into the 'A'or!d,my dear, from wh 'ch,
" it*. is* certain, you have lately been too much
" fecllided. We have frequently little private
" parties, at which you cannot obje6i: to taking a
'* card, for nobody will know any thing about it,
""fo that there cannot be any indecor\im. I pro-
" tefl:, I think you grow more bewitching Qvcry
" hour. Your mourning becomes you fo ex-
'' quifitely, that in pity to the world 1 ought to
'' propofe keeping you fhut up, that other belles
" may have a little chance ; but I own I am ma-
" licious enough to vAih to give a little fillip to
" Edward's fears. Nothina: is fo ajiimatino- as a
" ftrong fit of jealoulV, and I know that to make
•* frefh conquelh you need only appear." So
fri end fhip urged ; and its arguments were con-

The parties might now be faid to be fairly
drawn up in battle array; for, not to yield to tire

A 4 — Fitz-


Filzofbornes in hofpitality, lord Monteith had
infifled that Edward fhould become his giiell ;
and, though their taRes and difpolltions were by
no means in uniion, he fancied hin^felf highly
gratified with the companion he had feledled ;.
and he was much too warm an advocate for what
he efteemed an injured chara6ler to permit the
countefs to continue neuter. Fitzoft>orne*s af-
fedled dejection foon intereftedher feeling heart ;
and, though (he could fcarcely confider the iofs of
sn Arabella to be a misfortune, ("he felt that great
^ilowance fhould be made for the force of difap-
poiutment upen a mind fo llrongly fufceptible,
Siill incitiduious as to the "reality of his attach-
ment, i}>e was inclined to believe, that after he
had acceded to tlie propofals of his friend*, a
itnk of honour and the force of habit had pro-
duced in his r-efined difpofition a recurrence of
thQ fame images, which might be almoft fuppof-
ed equivalent to preference. The void which
female caprice had Itft in his imagination muil
be at prefent painful, and, though an enlighten-
ed underftanding would foon occupy the chafm
with a more brilliant fet of ideas, delicafe fenfi-
biiity might be allowed to ftart at the illiberal
ridicule v^hich a cenforious world Is ever ready
to beflow on a jilted fwain or a forfaken damfel,
Belide, without being mercerary, might not a
prudent man regret the Iofs of a fplendid edabllfli-
ment ? To foften that regret fhe exerted all
the brilliant powers of her mind, and all the faf-
cinating graces of her numerous accomplifh-
ments. Charmed out of his pretended melan-
cholv, Fitzofborne feemed to beflov/ a liftlefs
attention, varying the contour of his expreffions
as the lt:yle of her attractions required : Some-
times terminating his fiknt adulation by exclaim-


ing, " Flappy Monteith !" At another expatiat-
ing in praife of friendfhip; or, if he aimed at^
making the moft forcible impreflion, he only in-
terrupted the vivacity of her tones by the frequen-
cy of his fighs. But in either inftance he was
equally careful that lord Monteith fiiould hear
both the exclamations and the fighs.

Difappointed by perceiving t!iat his dejeiliori
did net yield to time, and nvtrc thnn ever con-
vinced that love could not have made fuch an in-
curable wound^ the countefs !)cgan to fufpeclthat
this diforder was conilitutional, and fhe propofed
his applying to fociety and change of fcene, the
uuial recipe for a melancholic humour. His con-
flant rej-6lion of invitations induced her to
pique his pride. "Do you kno'A','* faid Tne,
*^ that lad V Arabella flourillies in-tlie firft circle?,
*' and is become fo very irrefiilible, that not onlv
*' wits and beaus v/rite madrigals to her, bur a
"certain young duke of our acquaintaix.e is
*^ thought to be feriouily entangled ? Thsy arc
" to be at the opera tore. her to-night in his
" 2:t'ac€'s box. Now I intend to ^o, and take
*' vou for mv cecifheo. What f.:y you to n^r/
" Icheme ? It will be generous to lliew th^-.
" vouna: adventurer liowArmida metamorohofes-
" her knights bcfoxe he is irrecoverably enchanr -
« cd."

" I am very willing to exhibit my woe -begone
" face, if the publicr.tion of it will *ifford you any
** amufemenr," returned FirzoilDorne. " The
" duke and I (hall not exchan2:2 any ansrv
*' glances, and I honour lady Arabella's fincerity
*' too much to feel aay refencment r^r her conduct.
" She has only exc-rcifcd the indubitable riorht of
" every hmnan being, her heart Ikis cri;;nc;ed
**.iis pvfi^jTor, arul Ihe h*s obeyed it«; dictates."

•.V j;).,^5



'' Does not your candour grant rather too
" great a latitude here ?" inquired the coun-

Confiderlng the prejudices of the times, I
certainly do. But is there not a great degree
of cruelty in requiring conftancy from thof:;
" minds that have ivjt rufficient fortitude to be
*' really immutable ? And after all, as we can
only afiume the appearance of it, is it not alfo
unjuft, and wicked too, as we create a necef-
fity for hypocrify ? To difeafes in different
*' conftitutions we prefcribe different remedies i
*' hut the diforders of the mind mull b3 all cured
" by one univerfal panacea. Surely it is only
" the tyranny of cultom that prcyents us from
*' adapting our moral code to every charadl'er,
*^ inilead of flretchinn: diilimilar minds on the
*' pjgantic iron couch defigned lor a Procruf-
*^ tcs.''

Lady Monteith felt ffartled. She recc^llecfted
that where much was given much ivouKi be re-
quired; yet this text related to di^Timilar powers
of doing good, and could not poilibly be urged
in extenuation of anv vicious adtion. But Fitz-
ofborne interrupted her mufings by afiluning a
gayer air than he had lately exhibited. *' I fee,"
laid he, " I ihaJi have (ome diiBculty to recon-
*■'• cile you to /?// my opinions; But, no matter;
•* when i Icgiflate for the world, dori^t flatter
*' yourfelf, that I fliall propofe a lax fyltcm to
*' vou. I know how to eftimate your mental
*^ ability, and your code Ihall be rigorous and
<*^ coercive.*'

" Dare you repeat this fpeech to-night at the
^^ opsra in the hearing of lady Arabella ?'' faid
the countefs,

" There requires no courage to repeat an un-
*• difputed tjuta in the hearing of the whole

" Wofld."


*' world." Lady Monteith forgot her dlfappro-
bation of the novelty, fingularlty, and laxity of
Fitzofborne's opinions ; and as (lie drove to form
her party for the evening, flie only remembered
his happy talent at a compliment.


It is Jealoufy's peculiar nature

To fwell fmall things to great j nay out of nothing

To conjure nauch...


%1 HE polite world Were (o engroiTed by en-
gagemenls, that lady Monteith ^ found it im~
poifible to form a party to her fatisfadlion. Ex-
cluhve of the pale votaries^ who faciihce peace.,
health, fortune, and honour at the fhrine of Pha-
ro^ feveral were enga^^ed to thg- ()iiizz?s, and
more lo the Cabinet of Monkies, which was iuii:
opened. 'i he fair countefs could fcarcely ^'■ec
any body into her party but thofe who were tcit
out of all others ; and they who refilled her fe-
tretiy laughed at the rui'licity of fuppohng anv
body, who lived in the world, couKl dtfer till
two o'clock the important buhnefsof fix'mo- the
evening occupation. She was forced to he'con^
tented with an antiquated belle of the laft aa^^
and a would-be fine Jady of the prefent, to whoin
(he was lucky enough to add a beau, fir Har-
grave Nappy, a gentleman, who thoucr'i knowii
by eveiy body to b.^ incurably dea^'^.-ad jo:;.-
Inboured under the tantalifuig defire of wijlnn^
to be thought a connoiireur in mufic. \Vir-
iRis d<.^i]gn he coiiiiainiy aitendtd, :hc opaa^



M-here his unvarying countenance and fixed pof-
ture procured him the apptllatiou of the pillar of

Surrounded by the group I have defcribed, and
efcorted by the gallant Fdvvard Frizofborne, lady
JVionteith entered a fide-box oppofite to that
which vvcis occupied by lady Arabella's party.
Had Geraldine intended to have felected foils for
her own perfon, the females iii her train were
nicfl happily gifted by nature for that purpofe -^
and'in point of celebrity they were juft er.ough
known to make it difiicult for any lady to decline
being their companion. Repeated mortifications
had laught them the arcana of high hfe ; and the
protet^lion of a countefs vas fuJiiciently flatter-
ing to confine them to that hun ble part which
they fuppofcd her ladyfiiip intended they fhould
iuftain. Claiming iir Harprave for ti.eirihare
of the beaus, thev invited hirrt to feat himfeif
between them, and thi-y addreHed all their ob -
fervations to him, uithcut orce turning their
heads to liften to tb.e converfrticn which pafied
bfhind them. But fir Hargrave wes fo abforbed
in opera tc/^acies, that uniel's nis e\e happened
to inform him that he was peculiarly addrefied,
ail the/mart things pafiied utterly unnoticed. In-
deed the only honour that they ever received was
a. half bend, after which the amateur refumed his
former erecl pofition, and v.ith one hand in his
bofom, and the other (on which was a fine an-
tique) time on the front of the box, he
repeated, like Shakefpeare's Lor-enzc, " Mark
*' the mufic.'*

Jt is a very f^reat pity that thefe unfortunate
fm^rt things ihould be wholly loiK The pre-
icicnt mufc at leaft muit be fuppofed to have
heard them J but I f-el fo anxic'us to return to



the red of the party, ihat I mun: defer the re-
capitiil-ulon of them to i.nnc other opportunity^,
proir.irmg, if pofTible, either to interweave them
with [he hi (lor V of my travels, or, if 1 liave no
other means of introclurflion, to crive them to the
world in the torm of " More laf} words of i\lrs.

The blooming Geraidiiie never appeared To
enchajitins;. She perceived, with a degree of
.pleafurc, in which the did not fufpecl any ciiini—
nality, that the adventures of her box proved in-
finitely more interefting to lady Arabella, than
-ihs devoirs of die- noble duke whom fne wiined
to exhibit as her caprive. Fitzon>:)rne was in
excellent fpii its. H;ie countefs enjoyed the cir-
cumftance. She thought he had been extremely
ill ul'ed, and (he applauded the fpirit which could
return ir.fult wi'th contempt. His attentions to %
herfe]''\, coniidered in ti.s point of view, gave her
iinccre fatisfaciion. She "reiurned them. Htr
liatural vivacity, combining wi'^h accidental cir-
cumi-1-ances, hurried her iiuo a degree of mirth,
which, to tnofe who were unacquainted with its
motives, appeared to boriler upon coquetry, more
than the innocence of her heart and the retStkude
of her principles would have permitted.

But while the lamb., balking in the blaze of
xioon, bounds over the flowery hillock, the wolf
vyatche3 its haunts and m^editates its deftruc^ion.
To exemplify my padoral furnle : Fitzofborne
faw with diabolical exultaiion, that Geraldine's
behaviour had attracted general attention. He
doubted not but calumny would be ready to fram;^
fome malignaiit whifper, and he underflood the
maxim Vv'hich teaches that " virtue rarely furvives
the lofs of Reputation." Though he conceived
that the powers of his own inventiop v.'cre fully



equal to overthrow any defence which lady Mon-
teich mi'.',ht make, he did not difdain adventitious
aid. His watchful eve, though feemingly only
{heed on the lovely form which was feated by him,
had difcovered lord JMonteith in the pit. He
perceived too that he was attentive to his lady's
behaviour, and he fancied he read difpleafure in
his countenance.- " Can this thoughrlefs ani-
" mal," faid Fi^zofbornc to himfclf," " have
" any thing like jealonfy in his compofition ? He
" feems leis carelefs than ufual. If fo, it is iii-
•' deed above mv hopes."

While he ruminated on this idea, the door of
the box opened, and a young man of fafhiori
ftepped in. He was an intimate friend of lord
Monteith's ; and, feeing the countt-fs in what
he thought a new point of view, he was defir-
ous of fharing the pleafure which her converfa-
tioii afforded. This did not increafe the gaiety
of the party. The appearance of a ftranger cauf-
ed a temporary interruption, Geraldine recol-
levied her thoughts, and her naturaT delicacy
feemed to fhrink from an intrufion which, though
fandlioned by the freedom of our prefent fydem
of manners, feemed inconfiftent Vv'ith ftricl po-
litenefs. His ftyle of addrefs too was bold and
familiar, very different from tht inrmu-ating fen-
fibility of Fitzofborne, who, though confcious
of diftindlion, never appeared to prefume Hpori.
favour. She determined to mark her approba-
tion of his behaviour by her own conduit, and,
inftead of the confidence and vivacity which
marked her deportment previous to ?he entrance
of her new gueft, (he became as cold and cir-
cumlcribed in her anfwer-s as the rules cf civility
could poffibly admit.



Lord Montelth now entered the box; and, as
he never concealed any fentiment, the difpieafure
he felt was ftrongly marked in his countenance.
He had heard his lady pointed out as uncommon-
ly beautiful by a flranger who fat next him ; and
though he was very v/ell pleafed with that plau-
dit, the fubfequent obfervntions uere not fatis-
facSlory. To the words " Charming creature !'*
were added " and {l:> gay, fo lively too in her
*»• manners ! what a happy man that gentleman
" muit be !'* The itranger was juil arrived
fi-om the country, and unwittingly fuppofed that
a married pair would not forfeit their claims to
celebrity by appearing at the fame entertainment
in the fame party. Every exclamation which he
uttered in compliment of the aftcdionate atten-
tion of- this peerlefs couple increafed the earl'S
reliklTnefs ; and, no longer able to conceal his
own right to the charmer uho thus fafcinated
all eyes, he luddenly rofe and joined her. He
had feen nothing in her manner which cuftom
did notjuftify, and Fitzofborne was of all others
the friend in whom he could m.oft confide. Yer,
without knowing vvhat to blame, he thought the
laws of cuftom required revlfa).

Geraldine had not that fpecies of fortitude
which fees difpieafure on a hufband's brow with-
out any fentiment but exultation. She was ig-
norant of thofe principles which teach the diffi-
pated wife who has long renounced the power of
pleanng to exult in the capacity of givino- pain.
The light heart v.hich had prompted the gay re-
partee became loaded with fudden depreffian,
and the frolic fmiie vanifhed with the unaffected
vivacity which had given it birth.

The world had much to fay on the adventures
of this evening. Poor Arabella ! every body


j6 a tale of the time?.

v/as very forry for her. Lady Montcith had cer-
tainly fpirlted away her h:)ver. Her exuhatloa
upon the occafion v/as rather, too marked for a
woman of prodigious decorum; and really^ if (lie
did continue to flirt it fo notoriouilv in public, (lie
muft renounce her pretenfions to fuch very ftridl
propriety, and confent to be thought no better
than other people.

At coming out of the opera Fitzofborne
tapped lord Alonteith upon the fhouldcr, and
a iked him, how he difpofed of himfelf for the
evening. " At home, if you have nothing-better
" to propofe:" vvas the ai^fwer. ^'There is a
'• fpiriteii fet juft gone to Brookes'?," continued
Fitzofborne ; " fuppofe we follow them to ob-
" ferve manners and charadlers.'* His- lordfhio^
had no objcclio!!.-

Early in lord Montcith's life his name was-
unfortunately familiar tcj the frequenters of the
gaming-table and the heroes of the turf. His
attachment to the lovely Geraldine leflened that
dangerous propenfity^ and, though ihe had fail-
ed in her endeavours to infpire a love of cletr;mt
pleafuret, indifference for hisfoimer purfuits had
gradually increafed to difgult : the lefs pernicious
I'ports of the field, and a boylQi turn cf amufc-
ment, fucceeding in occupying a mind too vo-
latile to feek pleafure out of its own refources.
Uut fince his lordfhip's difguft and forbearance
arofe more from the abfence cf temptation than
from any fixed principle, the fight of the card-
table and the rattle of the dice-box excited paf-

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Online LibraryMrs. (Jane) WestA tale of the times (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 18)