Mrs. (Jane) West.

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but .iCL contra<l;cd fon;;nes, fin-iiar taftes, and
moderate defires ! How blank were her own
views ! Nat ihe vmcontrolied poiTcffion of an
extenfive doixiain, not the pomp and fuperiority
of feudal grcatnefs, cloud-cp.pped mountains
crowned with fo?en. s of nine, lakes beRudded
wi'.n \'crcla!it iilands, and fringed with odori- '
ferous ilirubs, could now afFoid her any plea-
fure. The f]:)acious tnanfion, numerous ef-
tabhfliment, feemcd bat mementos of their
abfent Lord Even the fociety of her lovely
children could not give the expe-fted confola-
tion. They fpoke and looked like their faithlcfs
father, and the tear of angruini mingled with
the fmile of m.aternal rapcurc.

The correfpondence of Fitzofborne afforded
no fatisfaftory intelligence. If one letter an-
nounced a plan which it was hoped might de-
tach him from Mrs. Hariey, the next epiftle
proclaimed its failure, and only detailed fome
mutilated convcrfations which ,mplie<l a more
total alienation of his Icrdfhip's affections than
the writer thought it was prudent to commu-
nicate. Her tearful eyes fixed upon thefe par-
ticulars, and pafTed over with cold and vacant
g^zc the compliments which Edward addrefled '
to her perfon, mind, and conduct. She fcarcely
obferved even the fym.pathy that he exprefied
for her fuflerings \ and the advice he gave her
to detach her affecfions from a man who he
feared would never again return her tendernefs,
was rejected with a convM^ion that it was im-
pra£f icablei -



The frequency of lady INIonteith^s receiving
letters in a male character very diiTimilar to her
lord's, at length excited INIifs Evans's curiofity ;
and it even rofe to anxiety upon perceiving, that
they were always reTerved for a private perufal.
Her attention, thus cafually fixed, was conti-
nually revived by feme frefti nnyilery which
every polt-day revealed. The countefs feemed
almcft fretfully impatient till the mail arrived j
and if any company were prefent at the found-
ing of the horn, fr.e always made fome excufe
to leave the, room. More than once Lucy per-
ceived her fele6l: the letter of this favoured
correfpondent, and retire to read it, while even
her lord's ]?iy unopened. Yet they appeared
rather to increafe her melancholy than to re->
li^ve it ; and conH'antly, after having (hut her-^
felf in h' r own apartment to anfwer them, her
face bore unequivocal marks of having been
bathed in tears.

Difdaining to fntisfy her doubts by indirect
means, and unable to purfue any plan of rail-
lery or playful artihce on what fhe feared was
a very ferious fubjecft, Lucy determined to give
her friend an impreffive hint of a very apparent
impropriety •, but unfortunately the interference
of the Evans's was always fo ill-timed as rather
to. affid than to frultrate Fitsofborne's diabolical
views. In reply to a letter in which the coun-
tefs, like the artlefs placable Defdemona, had
profefl'ed that it was impofhble for her afiefiions
ever to change their objsft, Edward announced
the welcome tidings of her lord's fpeedy return.
The merit of this reformation was, however,
wholly owing to his friendly monitor's contri-
vance. He had cut out that part of Gcraldine's
letter which contained thofe afFecTbing expreflions


A-'iALiL Of THE TlIviES. ' IC^

of inviolable attachment, and pretending, that
it was addrefTed to one of her London corref -
pondents, v/ith whom he was intimate, he had'
ihewn it to lord Monteith, and To ftrongly
worked up his feelings of compuncftion and
fliame, that a rupture with Mrs. Harley was
the confcquence. Fitzofborne regretted, that
he was not likely to witnefs the reconciliatrort
which he had (o anxioully laboured toprlbmote ;
but the Miniiter had jull given an abfolute pro-
mife in his favour, and his long experience of
courtly forgetfulnefs convinced him of the pofi-
tive necefiity of reviving recoI!e£i:ion by conftant
attendance. He however added, that if his
friend fiiould not be in a defirable flate of mind
when he left London, he wotild renounce all
his hopes of an eftablifhment tather than rifk
the (labiliry of recent refolutions by leaving
him, during his long journey, to the fuggeftions
of Iiis wayward fancy.

Ah exclamation, or rather fhriek of furprize
and tranu^ort, which foilowed rheperufalof this
letter, drew Mifs Evans inro^ the countefb*s
chamber. She found her friend funk upon her
knees, her hands and eyes lifted up as in a
flrong tranfport of devotion, while the palenefs
of her countenr.iice indicated immediate danger
of faintip.Gf. Lucv flew to aiTift her < No,'
faid lady Monteith, gently rejecling the proffered
falts, * I am not ill. — A fudden furprife has

* overwhelmed me — leave me to myfelf a little

* — I flrali foon be compofed.' Llifs Evans
filently withdrew*

Contrary to the ufual hofpital'ty of Mohteirh
caRle, the friends fat down tke-c-tfte to dinner. -
The noble hoftsfs was recovered from her iiift
emotion: but her manner indicated that- feme ■*

E-3 important*-


important event demanded all her thoughts,
which rcludlantly fubmittcd to p?.v a fcanty atten-
tion to palling objects. The Tervants were no
fooner withdjuwn, than up.alvleany longer to re -
flrain her full-fiaught heirt, fne told her friord
that they {hcmld focwi have a welcome aildition to
their party in the company of lord Monttich, and
j^erhaj^s Mr. Fitzofoorne alio.
. *i. (incerelv rejoice in my lord's return,' (.^Id
IVIifs Evans ; ' but 1 thou.'ht his friend was fuilv
* occup'.cd either ui atteiidinr the Miniller's le-

V vee, or in difcharging the duties of the office-
' which you told me his lorddiip's intereit would

V procure liim.'

' He will facrifice every thing, to the deArc of
^ |5roving his fmcere attachment to me,' faid lady
avionteith, too much engrofied by the lively paf-
ffon of gratitude to attend to th_s caution which
ilie had hitherto ufed upon the fubjevSl of her cor-
refj)ond sncc w : th Ed ward .

Alarmed atthefe expreiiionFy M:Ts Evans perfe-
vered in acu'ricfuy which (lie wculd have reprobat-
ed upon any othercccafion ; and Geraldine, drawn
by her ijiterrogatories to he more explicit than fhe
at firit defigned, at length confided the whole
ilory^ of her latent forrows. She fpoke the pre-
fent feelings of her heart j and though fl:ie fuppofed
it flill attuned to gentle complacency acfd forgiv-
ing fwet tnefs, diftrefs had for fome time prevented
her lro!ii ejigaging in her cuftomary duty of felf-
examination ; and the indignant fenfations of
flighied beauty, and offended defert, gave an air
ofrefeniment to her narrative of her hufband's
pcrfidv, wiiich the limited merit of his relu6lant
leturn and irrcfolute repentance could not fubdue.
Bi)e haftened from this painful fubjedl to the more
^leafing theme of Fitzofborne's difcernment,


A." TAt'E' OF THE TIlViES* lO'j

zeal, ^ivvl fidelity; his Yit^'x\zi^ delicacy, correcl
jij;:lgmc:n, and all the capacious poweis of his
f-xaited foul.

' Pollibly he rr,3y meairwell,' obferved Mifs
Evans, after having, v>Mth marked artentioiij
twice read Fitzcrbome's letter. Surprifed at a
ruj:eeftion which feemed deficient of her ufual
candour, lady Montelth replied, that the inte-
grity could not be doubtful which fpoke by the
moii: noble aclions. ' Wiiat,' faid fhe, ' but
'■ difinterefted virtue could thus dire6): his unwea-
' lied afiiduity to attempt the reftoration of my
' doiT)eii"ic happinefs r'

" There is a mvuerv in this bufinefs,'' conti-
nued Lucy, " which 1 cannot penetrate. It is to
'^ me aftonifhinf^. tnat lord Moiitcith, after hav-
'^ ing been feveral -years vour happy hufband,
'' fhouid, unfolicited and ielf-feduced, abandon
" you for a woman, whole v\^eak pretenflons to
*• ni? notice muii arife from iome faint tranfcript
'' of that intelligent beauty whicii animates your
" couiitenance, or fome Gontemi)tibie imiratioii
" of the play(ul.wit v.hich irradiates your con-
" verfation."

" My dear fecluded fiiend/' replied the coun-
tcfs, >' knows nothing of the corrupt manners of
*' the world-i of the eclat which general opinion
" attaches to novelty, or of the celebrity which is
" oftener fhared by eccentricity and a bold defi-
" ance of decorum, than awarded to real de-
" ferr."

" True,'* 'faid Lucy ; *' happily both for my
" temper and my heart, I am ignorant of the
" manners you defcribe. But how could lord
" Montcith fee this Mrs. Harley ? A woman
" of her defcription rauft be a ftranger to the
*' parties he would frequent : I mean, while he

" continued



"continued unfetluced by the allurements of
u vice."

Ladv Monteith obferved, that though women-
of chnradter never vifitcd ccurte7/ans ; yet unlefs
they were very low, or very audacious, the lat-
ter always api)eared in public places; and if a
certain degree of faftiion was annexed to them,,
either on account of their own wit and elegance,
or for the rank or talents of their admirers, gen-
tlemen felt themfelves notdifgraced by being Cten
ii\ their parties. It was, therefore, very poiTibl-i
for her lord to fee Mrs. Harley fufHcientlv to lie
allured by her perfon and ccnverfation, without
his frequenting any fcenes unbecoming his rank
cr injurious to his reputation.

Lucy fighed at the relaxed manners which
feem.ed to ufher in the triumphs of relaJted prin-
ciples. But her fufpicions of fome nefarious
preceedings on the part of Fiizofborne were not
vet entirely removed. '' 1 muft not then," faid
Ihe, *' fuppofe my lord quite changed ; but (till
'' 1 know you are the fame. Your feeling heart
•"' Vv'ill not allow you to eftimate the degree of re-
*' gard which you fliould bear to the tiufband of
"-your youth and the father of your children by
** the cold p!ea of defert. Your forgivenefs
"would outllep his folicitations ; and every
" time you fpoke or wrote to him, the fentimems
" of your full-fraught heart would give a digni-
" lied tendernefs to your expreflions, remote
" from reproach, and better calculated to awaken
" Gompun6lion. How came ir, my love, that
*' this fufFering gentlenefs, exerted at Powcrf-
" court, or the affedionate letters that you ha^-e
*' written to him fince you have been here, have
" had noefFed; but that the mighty good (hould
•^at length be accompli£hed by the fkilful contri-

*' vance


*^vance and arrful inferpontion oP Mr. Fitzof-
" borne ? Has he a greater influence over your-
" hufband than you could acquire ? You, uho-
^' are fo much intercfied to exert the refiftlefj • '
" power of your many invincible charms ! Hov\r
'^ diflimilar mud. lord Monteith's charadler be v
^^ from what it appears !"

Geraldine pleaded, that the people are- differ- -
ently difpofed at different times ; and that fimilar >
a£i:ionsand fentiments frequently fail of producing- ■
correfpondent efFe6ls ; and fhe accounted for the
inefficacy of her pen by ownine, that fhe had on-
ly written (h-ort and in fome f)rt formal letters to
her lord fince her return to Scotland. " No *
" longer able," faid (he, '' to pour i\nth my
"whole heart, I was glad of fome extraneous'
'*- fubje61: which v«> ould occupy the vacant page.*'

"And how did you then hope to reclaim
" him ?" inquired Lucy^ " 1 fliould think that
" if he perceived anv coldnefsin your manner he
" would turn that difcovery into an apology for
"" his behaviour."

" I could not help the conffruclion he might'
" put- upon my letters. Sorrow cannot be- ciif-
" fufe, unlefs where it may unbofom its woes."

"Did you. not write at large to ^li. Fitzof- •
*' borne ?

*' Ldid. He knew my fecret, and in his in-
" terpofuion was my only hope."

" Do women of fafhion, my Geraldine, coun-
^^ tenance one another in the cuftom of having
" male confidants as well as male attendants ?"

" 1 here is a little pique," ihougijt the coun-
tefs in that oblervation j " but friendfhip warm
" as my Lucy 'sis very fufceptible, and 1 will not
" refent her .well-meant acrimony."

" Be


" Be afTured," faid fli?, clafplng Mifs Evanses'
hand with a fmile of tender iweetnels, •' that ac-
" cident alone gav-^e him pofTefiijn of what pru-
'* dence tauLihr nne to conceal from vou." She
then related tlie principal particulars of what
pafled in lord Monteith's drelling-rocm at Pow-
erfcourt : but though all her communications
were intendv^d to place Fitzofborne in a fairer
point of view, the fufpicicus Luey only difco-
vered increafin^ myttery, if not abfolute dupli-

■ "It is plain," faid (he, in reply to lady Mon-
teith's narrative, " that Fitz-'.lborne early kmw
" of your lord's ' inconftancy. It is plain- too,
" that he has all along; been afliired that he pof-
*' fefTes a coni"ider*bIc influence over his mind.
" Your admirable conduct, my Geraldine, has
" convinced the world, that, though your huf-
" banc^^'spaliions are hafty and impetuous, they
" may be dire61ed bv 2:entle manasement. Is it
'' not wonderful ther., that all Mr. Fitzofborne 's'
*' boafled penttraiion, judgment, and felf-com-
" mand, Ihould not have ftruck at the root of
" this fatal connei^lion before it was confirmed
" by habit; or that it mould continue fo long,
" after he had fet all his acknowledged abilities to


'' Vv'ork for its annihilation, . when ne had him to
" himfelf too, v/irh uninterrupted pouter to act
" as he thought moft expedient r"

" But he has fucceeded at laft," obferved the
countefs, rathsr fretted than conviiKjed by the
evident drift of her friend's converfation.

" He has : but how ? By means incoinpatible
*' with the frank ingenuoufncfs ofyour churadier,
" and which mull either fubje6f you to the ap-
" prehenfion of your lord's difcovery of a pi cme-
" ditated fraud, or force youtoconfefs that, de-

" fpairing


^^ rpairing of your own influence, you have ap-
** plied to a knight-errant for afiiftance. Only
" confuler too, how inadequate are the means, if
" the vi6lorv were indeed fo difficult. Did lord
" Montcith doubt your afFe(51:ion, your conftancy,
*■' your foraiivenefs r Who infpircd thofe doubts?
" Or how came it, that your champion's elo-
" quence could not difp^l them ? But I perceive
<-' I diftrefs you, my Gcraldifie. Pity, love, and
" admiration for you, are the predom.inant feel-
" ings of my foul, which exults in your bright—
" ening profpects. See, lor once I tranfgrefs
" againll my ufual abftemioufnefs : this glafs of.
" Champagne is, to the (peetW ^nd happy return
" of the agreeable lord Monteith. You pledge me, .
'* I know, in that fentiment. I have not, how-
" ever, quite finished it. Obferve what follows :
" — But no Fitzofborne v.'ith him."

The countef?, fmilinp^, wiped a Parting tear,
" I perceive," thought (lie, ^' -a hence Lucy's pre-
" judices againfl this amiable man arife. Her
" father fufpe6lshim ofiniidelity. It is a pity,
'* indeed, that he does not add the luftre of piety
" to his acknowledged virtues; but it is more un-
" fortunate, .when religion gives its champions a
" tin6lure of bi2;otrv and cenforioufnefs.'^ Her
children, enterinfrthe room at that moment, made
the images of Fitzofborne and his opponents
yield to the tender recolledlion of their returning

That much defired event fpeedily took place,
aiid received an additional recommendation from
its happening fooner than even lady Monteich's
calculations judged to be pofTible. Her lord met
her with a glow of tendernefs, which quickly
made her trembling agitation yield to the molt
delightful compofurcy. while Lucy's fympathetic



bofom fwelled with grateful rapture. She turned'-
her head afide to utter a prayer for the continu-
ance of this renewed affedtion, and perceived that'
a/I her wifhcs were not fuirilled. FitZL-'fborne
was oF the party. H? made her a moft profound
bow. An abruprcurtefy was her return, as [her*
glided by him to her own apartment.

" It is hut fui'picion," faid (he to herfelf, driv-
ing to calm her agitated thouohts ; " and I am'
" certainly very wrong in acting upon it as if if

were certainfty. I think 1 fee invidious oruile iiV

every feature of his countenance. Yet fuppo-'
" fmg my conje6i:ure right, is it prudent for rre'^
" to put him upon his guard, by {blowing hiiu'
" that i dJilke him ? I Ihall be better able to'
" warn my friend of his depravity, by at leaf} ap-'
" pearing to receive that imprtluon- which lie'
" ciioofts to o-ive me of his charaiiei."

Mifs Evans'o natural hncerity, and the ardour of
lier attachment to the countefs, prevented her from'
purfuin2:thelineof condu6i:whichfhehad orefcrib - -
ed. As her itrojig (cn(G arid exienfive reading enab-
led her eafily to dete6^ the fallacious fophifms which'
Fitzofborne eahlv pafied u}X)n his more partial or
lefsdifcerningauditors; foherfrank ingenuoufnefs,.
undiiguired by the habits of polifhed life, height-
ened by her early imprinted reverence for (acred
truths, and her anxious appreheniions for the fe-
curity cf her beloved Gpraldine, again-ft whom
/he faw that the infernal artillery waschicTiy di-
reeled, fcarcely allowed her to confine her ii-.dig-
nation within the bounds which her iinaiFected
propriety of manners would otheruife have ob-
ferved. But violence generally defeats its own
intentions. The horror fhe conceived againft
Fitzoltorne's fuppofed deilgns induced her to view
his every vyord and action v/ith fufpicion : and



her eagcrnefs to convifl him not unfrequently
produced a fahe accufation, cf Vvhich lady Men-
tcith's anxiety to clear the wounded honour of
her friend conftantly took advantage.

The refill r, therefore, of this vigilant fcrutiny
was not what Lucy hoped i t would be. ( j eraldine,
inll"ead of beino; convinced that ihe harboured a
bofom- traitor, faw in the friend of her early youth
another inftance of the ufual effeels of a fecluded
way of life, pertinacity of opiiiion and aufterity
of manners.

7'he reconciliation of the earl and his countef?,
though apparently cordial, was not attended with
that tranquil confidence which preceded the dif-
aftrous period of his lordQjip's enormities. He
feemed to fr^el degraded by the virtues of his wife.
He difcovered reproach in her obfervations, and
feverity in herconducSt, No longer able to flat-
ter himfelf with the hopes that his faults were not
trumpeted to the winds, he fometimes conflrued
her behaviour into contempt and indifference;
and though the exquifite anguiib which that idea
caufed mignthave lold him that a tranfient infa-
tuation cannot difplace rooted regard, he always
fancied that he could retort fcorn with fcorn ; and
as h:s decifions and actions followed each other
with rapid pace, he foon determined to relinquifh
that tendernefs of manner which compunction
had impofed on his firft return, and which, he
thought, had roo much the air of felf-accufatiori
to fuit the dignity of a huiband's charadier. She,
on the oilier hand, though affured by Fitzofoorne
that the breach with Mrs. Harley was irreconcile-
able, could not reprefs her fears, left a heart
which once had wondered might be again in-
thralled. It was plain that Fiizofborne had the
r^Gie ai>prehenficn. His vifit to Monteith proved,'



that, to ufe ii5s own word?, " his friend was not
" infuch adefirable flate of miid as t(>j)erm;t his
"■ dependance upon the (lability of recent refolu-
" tions." Thus age:ravated, Geraldine's dread
ofellranging her hufband by her behaviour, or
giving him an excufe for lUture infidelity, far ex-
ceeded the bounds which afFedlion alone would have
prefcribed ; and her manner had an air of re-
flraint which the increafing gloom of her lord's
did not relieve.

Befide the accufations of confcience, Mon-
tefth's foul firuggled with other forrows. His
initiation into the myUerJee'of the gaming- houfes
had been attended by (evere lodes ; and while
the extravagance of a mercenary courtezan had
been fupplied with the fums appropriated to his
tradefmeji, he had fatlsfiedhis debts of honour by
granting annuities upon his eftate to that fet of
harpies who glory in the wealth which they have
acquired by adminiftering to the vices of man-
kind. For the firft time fince his marriage, the
earl was informed by his fteward, that the yearly
expenditure v.'ould greatly oxced his renr-roll.
Impatient of enduring the blame of any fuilt
v/hich he could transfer to another, he determined
to place this defalcation to the' fnms which ladv
Monteith had expended in the improvement of
the adjacent countrv, and in Tome freOi ere6i.ions
at James-town, with which fhe had amufed her-
felf during his abfence. He read her a long lec-
ture of ceconomy; reprobated her turn for ex-
penfive alterations ; and affirmed, that it would
be the means of compelling him to leave the feat of
his anceRors. Thefe reproofs were new, ili-
difguiCed by the pretence of providing for his fon's
education, and iil-timed : for, relying upon his
wcnted liberality, G^eraldine had not only endea-



voured to occupy her mind by Tome expenfive
ere<5lions in the park, but had alfo fet on foot
fome ne.vv chaiitahle inftitutions which her bene-
volent heart could not abandon without feeling
the mofl lively regret. Forgetting, or perh<ips
wanting fortitude to ufe the guiding clue by
which Ihe had formerly been accuftomed to in-
fluence his opinions, fhe attempted to remon-
flrate, but was foon filenced by a reply which her
enfeebled fpirits could not fupport. She retired
in rears.

The reader will not believe 'that Firzofborne
had been fmcere in his wiihes of effeding an
entire reconciliation. It anfwered his purpofc
to bring the earl back, freed from his connexion
with Mrs. Harlcy ; he had performed that un-
dertaking, and taught the countefs that fhe owed
him an indeliWe debt of gratitude. He now
generally left his lordfhip to that mifery which
muft be the natural effe6l of a perturbed con-
fcierce and perplexed circumftances upon a mind
which wanted wifdom to plan and fortitude to
perfevere in a fy/lem of ce.conomical retrench-
ment, or to efface error by fincere repentance,
Ke faw with pleafure the gay, carelefs, generous
earl of Monieith, become gloomy, ahfent, mo-
rofe, and penurious. He faw too, that the Dot-.
tie wasconllantly applied to, not, as formerly, to
be an auxiliary to mirth, but as an opiate to fi-
lence care. Affc6lion could no longer bind the
heart of Geraldine to fuch a partner. Continual
provccation muft: weaken the claims of duty;
and there neeced nothing more than that himfelf
ihould exhibit the full efttS: of contraft, by a dif-
})l>iy of the virtues mod oppofite to Monteith's
vices, and to prcceed in his defign of enfeebling
the power of religious principles.^ to render the

unfuf - .


unfufpediinj countefs his eafyprev. Fler op—
p-ofitioii to what ilie thought the extreme rigidity
of fomeof iVIifs Evans's opinions^ and her tacit
acquiefcence to feveral of his tenets, convinced-
him, that he had made a conGderable progref*^.
Ke continued filent upon the fuhjedl of her lord's
conduct. An air of pity and refpec}-, mingled-
with the uniform attention of his manner, fp:)ke'
a language far plainer than


I hate when Vice can bolt her argumentsi
And Virtue has no tongqe to check het* pride.



H AV E already obferved, that rnifs Evans's-
impetuofity was of dilTervice to the noble canfs
which fhe confcientiouily efpoufed ; and Firz-
ofborne, certain that her zeal would defeat her
intentions, pa/Ted her in filence, as an ene;i]y
whom he could only render formidable by ap-
pearing to fear. But the caufe of principle was
now defended by the arrival of another champion.
Mr. Powerfcourt availed himfelf of the countefs's.
invitation to chide his Lucy for a tyrannical ex-
ercife of female prerogative, in compelling him
to take a journey of two hundred miles to whif -
per a love-t?le which might have been more
agreeably told in a little woodbine bower which
fhe had ere6red, in ftricl conformity to the ruJes-
prefcribed by her favourite poet Mafon, in the
parfonage garden at Powerfcourt. Kenry had
r.ii.Tied it alter the Nerina of that elegant bard,,.



ami decorated it vvirh the following infwription
and motto :

I onlv besrrrM a little woodbine bower :

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Online LibraryMrs. (Jane) WestA tale of the times (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 18)