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" my dear ctlild will do well, don't make your-
" felf fo unhappy—ll'te will be very glad to fee
" you, I afilire you. She always nanub you
** with the greateft tendcrnefk."

" Dear injured excellence 1" feblseJ vAfy.\-
teith.

" She never made one complaint of your ay. -
" ing i'o long in London,'* continued fir Wil-
liam. " Sometimcsj indeed, ihe faid, Tiii^
" houfe fits late thefe turbulent times. Then,
" after parliament broke up, you had fome bufi"'
" nels to get through to ierve a friend, 'I'he
" phyficians give us great hope of her lo-day ;
" and when you are a little more compofcd, I
" will lee her know that you are come. Depend
" upon it, there v^'iil be no reproaches."

'■^ Reproaches," reiterated Monteilh, his eyes
fpaikling with indlgnaiioui " 1 cannot bt.ar re-
*^ pio.v.ht-s. TliC'ii^of my owa hf-a^t are (ulii-



6o A TALE OF THE TIMES.

*♦ ciently excruciating. 1 won't fee her. Order
" my horfes."

Fjt7ofb.:)rne, who had watched every expref-
fion with ferpent wili nefs, here ohferved to lir
William, tiiat travelling poll: with no rell:, and
Tcarcely any refreftiment, had greatly deranged
his friend's mind. " And I am Tearful," faid hr,
" of Come ha<l efFj£ls from the indifcretion uf a
'' fervant, who hurried into };idy Monteith's
'* y\un nent to announce the earl's arrival."

No ether hint was neceiiary to remove fir
William; while Monteith, with tienchsd fift-,
f raver fed the rooin in dn agosiy which iiicjeafed
every moment.

" Am I expe6Led to beg pardon r" exclaimed
he to Fiiz^.fbornc.

If you go on accusing yourftlf, and yield-
ing to theie exnavagarscus, ycu ifivite imper-
" tinencc, aiid mull expect m(^nific:uian. Lady
" Alonteirit niuft be cciruute of the iiilinti^ p«(-
iion of her fex, if llie docS not make vou ftel
*' tnat flie knov.'S \m^x power over you. Remorfe,
'' my lord, like religion, is certainly a bufinefs
^^ between a man and hiS oujn lieai: j ytt, poffi-
" biy, as fir Wiliiani le£:urts yi;u upon one
*' head, Mr. Evans may think it right to treat
*' you with a iiitle clerical Ueedcni upon the
*» other."

" It is all known then," faid Monteitli,
throvving hiir.felf upon a fota ; " and I am to be
" ftarcd at by country boors as a reprobate and
*•* a i:bertine."

** Nothing is known, or can be knov.n, if you
*' adl with comuion propriety. Sir Wilbam
** only taiKS of your iiaymg m tovif., and at-
*' ti^iiuing parlJaiiieiUary bufiiiefs, when you
'*■ ou"ht lo have been nu. .'.ny: vour vvife in the

country.



ifc
((



(C






A TALE OF THE TIMES, 6l

" country. Come, come, Monteith, go and
" alk her how (he docs, without entirely aban-
*■' doning all feiife of dignity. But that I fcorn
" to probe a penetrated heart, I could remind
*' you, that attention to my farmer counlcls
*' uould have prevented your prefent pangs."

Lord Alonteith fighed, and made anotner ef-
fort to vifit his countefs. Tne high tone of ec-
iiafy to which his feelings had been elevated oa
firii hearing of her fafety, was now confiderably
lowered ; and he almoft wiihed that the fepa-
raling diftance which he had fo rapidly paiTed
were llill between them, to protea: him from the
foul harrowing fight of an injured, yet llill be-
loved objed. " U;' faid he to himf.lf, '^ (he
'' utter one fevere expreiiion ; if fhe look at
" me with lefs tenderneis, nav, if ihe do but
" even betray a knowledge of my folly, I am
" loft."

His apprehcnfions, however, were groundlefs,
Geraldine received him wiih that fmile of inef-
fable fweetnefs which generally irradiated her
countenance. It was, indeed, no longer play-
fully animated j but its penfive languor conveyed
even to his alarmed attentioii the idea of bodily
fuiFering, rather than of mental anguiih. After
thanking him for the folicitude he had exprefTed,
and which, (he faid, her dear facher had pathe-
tically defcribed, llie congratulated him upon the
birth of a fon, who, though prematurely hurried
into the wojld by her indilpofition, (here fhs
flifled a figh,) was yet, fhe was happy to find,
likely to live.

When Providence gratifies the clamorous
wilhes of us fhort-iighted uiortals, it muft not.
only give us the good that we alk, but it mull
alfo adapt the time of its bounty to the moment

of



62 A TALE OF THE TIMES.

of our defires. Eight months ago lord Mon-
teith thought nothing but a fon wanting to gra-
tify all his wifhes. He now ftarted with deep
remorfe and difinay at the birth of a being, who
feemed to rufh into exigence to reproach him
for having wafted the fair pofleflions to which
his anceftors had left him heir, in the frenzy of
the gaming-table and the haunts of diflipation.
The too fufceptible countefs read in his embar-
rafTed manner a refutation of all the hopes which
a defcription of his lively emotions on his return
had infpired. She could no longer flatter herfelf
with the idea that envy and faifehood had fabri-
cated the para:::raph fo fatal to her peace, and
nearly lo to her life. She covered her beautiful
face, pale as the pillow on which it refted, and,
fobbing out an apology for an hyfterical weak-
nefs which would not permit her to fupport the
fight fhe had fo earnellly defired, fhe entreated
to be left alone. To rtci nit her enfeebled fpirits
was the plea th*r ihe urged ; but her real defign^
was to lament unobferved the peculiar hardfliips
of her prefent fate.

I'he obfeivations fhe made upon her lord*s
chara6tcr had hitherto difclofed much inconfiften-
cy, weaknefs, and imperfe6t;ion ; but fhe had
ever been confoled by the convi6lion, that his
heart retained many traits of native goodnefs,
and that his ftormy paflions, even in their wild-
eft uproar, confelfed the power of her gentle in-
fluence. Her delicacy ftirunk at the thought of
dividing his afFe(5^ions with a venal wanton ; and
the rectitude of her principles infpired the iive-
lieft concern, when fhe recolledted the guilt
which her ftill-beloved lord incurred by purfu-
ing an illicit attachment. Weak in body; en-
feebled in mind j reduced by fuiFcrings, and dif-

appointed



A TALE OF THE TIMES. 63

appointed in her deareft hopes ; her pride wound-
ed in its moft fufceptible part, flighted by him
whom (lie moft wifhed to pleafe j and traduced
by that world whofe applaufe (lie had (o fedu-
loufly courted, what was there to bind lady Mon-
teith to life ? Surely I might now call in Ar-
ria's dagger, Portia's firebrand, or fome more
fafhionable quietus, with very good efFc6l. But
my heroine was a mother^ and though man, pof-
fefTed of firmer nerves and a colder heart, is often
unjuft to female merit, and falfely fuppofes that
name to be fynonimous u'irh weak fuiceptihility,
maternal feelings have frequently infpired fucb
long-fuffering quiet fortitude as would add luftre
to the annals of a martyr.

Four innocent helplefs 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 pof-
fefied ftronger claims upon their mother's heart,
and urged her to exert every faculty to preferve
their morals, their fortune, and their happinefs.
Hope revived with the determination of difcharg-
ing thefe folemn duties, and whifpered, that pa-
tience, gentlenefs, and undeviating rectitude of
condu6l, fometimes produces a further reward,
over and above the certain eulogy of approving
confcience. A reclaimed hufband has been le-
ftored 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 praile f
*' How contemptible every other purfuit !"

Thefe refolutions, though formed in the fe-
cure privacy of a fick chumberj might have re-
filled



64 A TALE OF THE TIMES

fifted common temptations ; and lord Aloiiteith,
il 'eft to his own natural chara6ter, uould have
evinced his penitence for his pail faults by a more
attentive tendernefs ; 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 lordfhip's mind was as un-
bounded as vigour, duplicity, and craft can ac-
quire over a weak, open, unreflediing charad^er^
it had been interrupted by the ilrong alarm v/hich
lady Monteith's danger excited; but as the re-
turning; health of the charmino; countefs relieved
all anxiety for her fafety, her huiband grew weary
of the trouble of thinking for himfelf, and, vo-
luntarily furrendering the intelledtual liberty of
which he was fo tenacious, permitted his falfe
friend again, " with devililli art," to " reach,
the organs of his fancy.

The mofi: ace u. ace judges of human nature
have c^o' - ;''7'u, that \ve leldom forgive thofe
whom v,e have injured; and though the word
forglvenefs may be here mifplaced, it is certain
tliac the prideof human nature, fond ofjufHfying
itfelf, always endeavours to find an excufe for its
own mifcondu6b in the behaviour of thofe who
are fufferers from its faults. Almoft perfuaded
that his infidelity and extravagance had efcaped
difcovery, lord Montcith wifned to filcnce the
pain of felf-accufation by excules better calcula-
ted to ftifle remorfe than the poor apology which
the more enormous guilt cf others fupplies. —
While his imagination continued to ujiite the
ideas of Geraluine and perfection, the behaviour
of his grace the duke or the moft noble marquis
to their refpe6livc ladies aflbrded no extenuation
of his own follv. But when his jaundiced eye

began



A TALE OF THE TIMES. 6$

Legan to think her mirth levity, and her gra-
vity 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 recrimi-
nate, and a dcfc^i 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 mod ferious confideration of the inftruc-
tors of fetnale youth.

Fitzolborne increafed all Montelth's extrava-
gance by faint praife, afFe(fl:ed filence, or flifled
obfervarions. But his chief attention was now
direfled to the counters. Her forced gaiety
and frequent abfence of mind plainly told him,
that the newfpaper paragraph had done its of-
fice, and he not unfuccefsfully endeavoured to
comoiunicate to her his knowledge of her firua-
tion, and his commiferation for her fufferings.
Every inRance of her lord's negleft or inatten-
tion was rendered more excruciating to Geral-
dine by Fitzofborne's watching her coimtenance,
cr marking Monteith's behaviour by fome flight
fign of difpleafure. In liis converfarions with
her, he frequently introduced fubjedls which
he knew muft harrow up her foul. Reverting
again to his favourite maxim, that " the con-
** fcious mind is its own awful world," he com-
mented on the prefent perverted flate of focietyj
in ' which naerit generally mourns in filence,
from the injuflice or mifconception of others.
The omnipotence of beauty, when united with
its rare aflbciates fenfibility and intelhgence,^
was another favourite theme. He ridiculed the
illlberality of annexing an idea of guilt to the
allowable admiration of what is " perfect, fair,

" and



66 A TALE OF THE TIMES.

** and good." And he continually affirmed,
that minds of a fuperior ftamp ought to fhape
their condu(ft by their own innate fenfe of de-
corum, and not by the rules intended for more
grovelling capacities. He condemned the in-
delicacy and \^'ant of tafle of many men of
fafliion with warmth bordering on feverity, for
deferting the fociety of women of refinement
and information, and forming grofs attach-
ments, in which intelledl could have no fhare.-
But the only remedy which he could devife for
this evil was, he faid, to relax, inftead of brac-
ing, the feverity of our fyftem of divorce : and
he frequently concluded with expatiating upon
the folly of legiflators, in not accommodating
their inftitutions to the varying humours of the
people whom they meant to control. To fome
of thefe fiiggeftions lady Monteith's mind gave
an. unqualified afient. She doubted the ten-
dency of others ; but they were fo difguifed in
the veil of fuperior zeal for the improvement
and happinefs of the world, and fo fweetened
by the adroit mixture of oblique flattery, that
fhe feemed rather willing to blame the limited
powers of her own underftanding than to quef -
tion the infallibility of Fitzofborne^s all-fapient
mind. Sir William, who was fometimes pre-
fent at ihefe orations, was at fir (I extremely
puzzled to know what the gentleman meant j
but when he found that fomcthing was v/rong
in that palladium of juftice which he had ever"
been accuftomed to venerate, the Britifh Con -
llitation, and heard the propofed improvement,,
his full convicftion of his own incapacity for
fupportlng an argument could fcarcely prevent
him from telling the declaimer, that the remedy
was worfe than the difeafe.

Fitzofborne's



A TALE OF THE TIMES. 67

Fitzofborne's contempt for the difpofition and
abilities of fir William betrayed him into an in-
difcretion which his mafterly addrefs could
fcarcely repair. From his firft arrival at Powerf-
court he had fludied the charadlers of the
Evans's with jealous difcrimination ', and, as
their talents and manners w ere alike undifguifed,
he foon found, that they would prove molt for-
midable opponents to his iniquitous defigns.
He was, therefore, peculiarly careful to conceal
from them thofe nefarious principles which he
fancied he had fufBciently enveloped to efcape
the confufed apprehenfion of tlie good baronet.
He was, however, completely miftaken. Sir Wil-
liam's ruminations on Edward's aflertions dif-
Lovered confequences which were at firft un-
perceived ; and, his uneafinefs increafing, he
determined to difclofe it to his good friend the
re£\or, with a hope of being reaflured by his
fuperior learning.

At the conclufion of an unfucccfsful- rubber
at backgammon, by way of apology for bad
play, he frankly owned, that he had been think-
ing of fomething elfe all the time. " It is cer-
** tainly very wrong in me," faid he, " but I
<« almoft doubt of the truth of w^hat Solomon
♦* tells us, that there is nothing new under the
" fun." He then repeated Fitzofborne's theory,
and added, *< Is it not a new way of punifliing
** a man for ufmg one wife ill, by giving him
" leave to marry another ?"

Many years had elapfcd fince Mr. Evans's
knowledge of the great world had been folely
derived from the limited information of books
and newfpapers. The dafhing fpirits with
whom he had been formerly acquainted fought
celebrity by high phaetons, Pomona green

coats



68 A TALE OF THE TIMES.

coats, and xArtois buckles ; and feldom ventured
upon more profound Qifquifitiony tlian what
were necelTary to determine the height wliich
the younger Veltris could jump, or the diftance'
that Eciipfe could gain on a dray-horfe in a'
courfe of five m.inutes. The elegant tutor was-
now changed into the rural divine, and, in com -
mon with all lovers of literature, he rejoiced to
hear, that the frivoli'ty of fa{hion2.bie manners
was yielding to a fpirit of deep refearch and
difcriminating curiofity. Suppofing that Philo'
fophy Jl'ill retained her character of being the
handmaid of Truth, he felt inclined to pardon
a few extravagancies in her admirers ; and, be-
lieving the fountain pure, he repeated the po-
pular couplet ;

A little draught intoxicates the brain, t
But drinking largely fobers us again.

Neither the general philanthropv of Mr. Evans's
characf^cr, nor the prepoflefling ina^reflions which
lady Monteith's warm encomiums on Fitzof-
borne had made upon his mind, could induce
him to give a favourable interpretation to a
propofiiion that threatened to fever the grand
link which unites correcl: morals and focial hap-
pinefs. His candour could only point to one
conclufion, which was, that the natural im-
becillity of his revered palron^s underftanding
increafed with his vears, and that the conclu-
fion he had drawn from the arguments^ which
Edward had ufed, was diredlly contrary to
what the orator intended'.

The anfwer which he returned to fir William
was of a temporizing kind. But, after re-
volving the converfation in his own mind, he

determined



A TALE 0? THE TIMES.



^letermined to apply to that confidant to whom,
fince deprived of a ftiil dearer friend, he had
been accuflomed to intrufl all his perplexities.
•He was concerned to find that Lucy's opinion
of Mr. Fitzofborne was not in unifon with the
fentiments of the countefs. She exprcfftd her
diflike of the myfterious air which he generally
afFe(Sled ; and obferved, that Geraldine, who
knew his difpohtion thoroughly, apologized for
the eccentricity of fome of his fcntititients by
urging his foreign education, and affirming that
(he knew he pofTelTed the beft heart in the
world. « Perhaps he does," continued Mifs
Evans ; " but people who wifh well to any
" caufe feldom attempt to break down the bul-
« warks that defend it." Hsr alarmed father
eagerly inquired, if fhe fufpecled any thing
deiltical in his principles.

** Thank God," returned Lucy, « none of
«< my acquaintance are deilts ; therefore I do
♦♦ not know in what manner they would afl.
" Bat furely, my dear fir, when religious
<< truths are impreiTed deeply upon a cultivated
^< mind, they muft give a tincSlure to our ordi-
" nary converfuion. Subjccbi which we
" ellecm fa ere d are not dragged into table-talk
" controverfy ; and the narratives of holy writ
«' are not degraded by being drawn into a lu-
«' dicrous parallel with the light events of the
*' pifiing moment. Uut I am willing to allow
<* that I may be more fevere from being lefs
*' accuflomed to the freedom of falhionabla
" manners ; for I obferve my Geraldine, who
*< pofTeir-s the piety and the purity of an angel,
" is not (hocked at this fpecles of levity." ^

*< Does not Mr. Fitzofborne appear' to fhow
'' a very m.arked admiration of the countefs ?"
inquired Mr. Evans.

<' Every



70 A TALE or THE TIMES.

" Every body mufl admire her," returned
. Lucy, evading a dire(ft reply : " I do not mean
** merely on account of her perfonal charms,
« though {he is now lovelier than ever, but for
** her patient fweetnefs and her dignified refig-
<« nation."

«' When you ufe the term refignation, my
" dear," interrupted Mr. Evans, " you fhould
<* confine it to feverer trials than thofe which
** your enchanting friend has yet been called
*< upon to endure. Though we have often
•« lamented the capricious inattention of her
*< lord's behaviour, it is only one of thofe lefTer
<f confli£ls, by which Providence mercifully
<* prepares us for the more excruciating ftrug-
<* gles that we mull all fuftain before we are
*< liberated from this world. You know whofc
•« fentiments I now repeat. The harmonious
*« voice which once gave them utterance is
«* filent ; yet the will of Heaven calls for cheer-
** ful acquiefcence, and I obey."

Unwilling to deprefs her father at that mo-
ment, by repeating obfervations which might
probably be merely the creatures of her own
fancy, Mifs Evans dropped a tear to her mo-
therms memory, and was filent.



CHAP*



Jl TALE OF THE TIMES. 71



CHAP. \^II.



•Mark you this, Baflanio



"The- Devil can cite Scripture for his purpofe ;

An evil foul, producing holy witnefs.

Is like a villain with a fmiling cheek ;
.0, what a goodly outfidc falfehood hath !

Shakspeare.

IVlR. EVANS was not one of thofe fupinc
pallors who, contented with their own imme-
diate fecurity, forbear to warn their flock of
•the infidious approaches of the wolf. His
daughter's obfervations determined him to
watch Fitzofborne with fcrupulous attention ;
r.nd, if any thing fhould happen to confirm his
doubts, the hazard of being cenfured for imper-
tinent interference would not deter him from
ftating to lady Monteith the danger of an inti-
macy^with a man whofe paflions were not fub-
.jeOed by the rertraints which religion impofes.

Edward feemed rather to folicit than to fhun
this fcrutiny. Some cafual expreffions from Sir
William, and the turn which Mr. Evans gene-
rally gave to the converfation, convinced him,
•that his zeal to make profelytes had thrown
:him off his guard, and that in order to fecurc
one convert he mud allay the fufpicions which
a defire to gain many admirers had excited. He
faw in Mr. Evans a man pofTefTed of a fincere,
zealous, well-informed mind, occafionally the
dupe of its own excellence, fomewhat hafty in
its conclufion?, and difpofed to receive a few
ftrong expreffions as a fair definition of cha-

radler :



72 A TALE OF THE TIMES.

ra(J^cr : to which was added, a confidence In Irs
own attainments, not unfrequent in an educated
perfon long eilranged froin the invigorating
collifion of congenial fociety. Edward adapted
his behaviour to the rules which this difcovery
pointed out, and he feized tl:e opportunity
which Mr. Evans had given, by leading the
converfation to the finitenefi of human com-
prehenfion, to make what appeare<l like a can-
did difclofure of Lis fentimcnrs.

** I perceive fir," faid he, ** that you are anx-
'* ious to difcover my opinions ; and inltead of
** blaming, I highly admire the integrity of
•* mind which fuch curiofjty evinces. I will
** own, that during my refidence upon the
«« Continent I was foraewhat tinctured with
«* the fcepticifm fo prevalent there : and I will
** confefs too, that the converfation of the
<< higher circles in my own country, and above
<< all the manners of many of the clergy, have
•* not tended to remove my doubts. \Vhiie the
'* church appears to be more afiiduous to de-
*'• fend its emolam^nta, than to promote the
" falvation of its members, no wonder if w6
** rejeft its meagre doctrines. The chara£ler
<* of the gentleman and the divine arc not often
<* feen in unifon. If I had early pofRlled the
** opportunity of contemplating the happy mix-
'* ture, religion would liave appeared to me
*< more attractive from the refle£led beauty of
** its minifters •, but, iultead of lamenting what
** is pad, let me, by propitiating your candour,
*' improve my prcfent happy acquaintance."

" Religion," laid Mr. Evans, returning Fitz-
ofborne's bow, " cannot really fuftir by the mif-
** condu£l of its oihciils in the opinion of any
<* well difpofed, confiderate mind. Our at-

<* tendance



A TALE OF THE TIMES. 73

« tendance at the altar does not remove us
" from human temptations ; and with refpefl
«< to the fault to wliich you allude, a too great
" pertinacity refpecling our temporal rights,
" candour will remember that our pofTeffions
" are not hereditary. Mod of us have united
«* ourfelves to fociety by the flrong ties of huf-
'< band and father ; and the ftudy of thofe di-
" vine precepts which were meant to enlarge
" the focial aft'ecfbions may, by the infirmity of
<< human nature, which mixes error with our
<« « faireft aims,' fometimes extend to a culpa-
«< ble folicitude for the fortunes of thofe dear
" connections, and abate the reliance which a
" chriftian ought to place in the direction and
« fupport of the friend of the friendlefs."

«' I admit that your apology has weight,"
refumed Fitzofoorne ; " but what will you fay
«< of that avidity for field fports and lov^ of
** diffipation which fo ftrongly characlerife the
" divines of this ag?, and which you, fir, con-
" demn by your own example ?"

<* I blame every particular inftance," replied
Mr. Evans, '* without admitting the cenfare to
*« be determinate againft the luhoh order. We
<* are mariced by our habits from the reft of
<< fociety ; and the ' fox-hunting parfon,' or the
" infignificant * Bob Jerome,' is pointed out to
** fatire, while the pale'ftudent, who confames
" his healtli over the midniglvt lamp in the mvolt
*< important refearches, or the laborious in-
" ftru£lor of his village flock, are prevented
" by their obfcurity from counterpoifing the
*« weight of public odium by their ufeful un-
«* obtrufive virtues : but, granting the general
" conduct of the clergy to be as bad as their
<* fianderers .intimate, the fervice to which we


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