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you a part of the reflections that engross and occupy my thoughts.”
Geraldine had heard lady Louisa universally praised for her benevolence of heart and expansiveness of mind, but at the same time represented as a woman of a restless, scheming disposition, undaunted by difficulties, unawed by opinion, and entering, with equal readiness, into concerns of a public or private nature. She therefore was silent, awaiting with patience that this singular and energetic character should gradually unfold itself.
Lady Louisa resumed—“ I have said enough to convince you that the interest I take in this young man is not one of those flights of which my well-meaning neighbours are so ready to accuse me; suffice it to say, Montfort's immediate presence in Dublin was absolutely necessary. I have assisted him to the best of my power; the rest is rather the secret of another than my own.
He plays a deep game. On the one hand, fame, honours,
fortune; on the other - But we will look only to the bright side,” continued her ladyship:
« The worst, I trust, is past. All the misfortunes of Montfort's life originated in the unprincipled conduct of the man to whom, in early youth, his mother thoughtlessly united herself. Oh, Geraldine !" continued lady Louisa, led by a natural transition to reflect upon her own wayward fate,“ how much is it to be regretted, that no young mind will ever benefit by the bitter experience of another! Could I hope to give a lesson calculated to moderate the ardour of passion, I should insist on the virtues of the heart as the only foundation for connubial happiness. If asked what was the quality essential in the chosen companion of our lives, I should answer, goodness; and if again demanded what farther excellence was required, should continue, like the ancient orator's thrice-repeated precept, to echo, goodness. And yet,” she continued, with increasing animation, “ I deserved a happier lot. In making choice of sir Charles Southwell, I was not caught by commonplace attractions. Neither the beauty of his person, though at that time unequalled, nor the elegance of his manners, though unsurpassed, would have proved sufficient to interest me, if to those had not been united the lustre of talents the most distinguished—the fascinations of taste, and powers of conversation, such as I have never seen united in any other man, and such as, I fondly flattered myself, could never inhabit a mind devoid of the nobler virtues. He has destroyed the sweet illusion that I could forgive; but what I cannot forgive is, that it has been one of the unworthy objects of his life to alienate my daughter's affections from me, by forming Miss Southwell after the model of himself. In all that was bad he has but too fatally succeeded: without his fascinating suavity of manners, Matilda has imbibed his principles; and the seeds of vanity, levity, and scepticism, have
taken firm root in a mind but too well calculated to receive them. Thus disappointed in my dearest affections, in what have I found consolation? A coquette would have sought it in laying snares for general admiration-a mere fine lady, in distinguishing herself by the superior elegance of her house, dress, and equipageI discover it in administering to the more urgent distresses of others in increasing my usefulness, in multiplying the objects of my interest. I am aware that, by such conduct, I ineur the imputation of a mas. culine and decided character, but those censures are indifferent to me. I know that I do good. I know that my exertions ultimately benefit my family, while they interest and employ my mind. I appeal to ,
you, my generous and amiable young friend, from the occasional injustice of the world. This disclosure is no thoughtless burst of peevish passion : pure, and yet firm and distinguishing, I have discovered
in yours a mind worthy to be united to my own. Say, will you be my friend ?”
Surprised, yet gratified, Geraldine accepted lady Louisa's confidence, with the frankness and sensibility with which it was offered.
“ You must have often thought me a strange creature,” her ladyship resumed; 6 but the fact is, I have received an education very different from the rest of my
Sole heiress to the large property of my father, the best and most honourable of men, it was his wish that I should know how to defend my rights from injustice, and (contrary to the fate of many heiresses) preserve, whether married or single, a degree of independence and respectability. For this reason, I was carefully instructed in the laws of my country, and early made familiar with all the ordinary forms of transacting business. Had I equally followed his counsel in other instances, all would have been well. Lord