Lady Delacour’s history, and the manner in which it was related, excited in Belinda’s mind astonishment – pity – admiration – and contempt. – Aston-ishment at her inconsistency – pity for her misfortunes – admiration of her talents – and contempt for her conduct. – To these emotions succeeded the recollection of the promise which she had made, not to leave her in her last illness at the mercy of an insolent attendant. This promise Belinda thought of with terrour – she dreaded the sight of sufferings, which she knew must end in death – she dreaded the sight / of that affected gaiety, and of that real levity, which so ill became the condition of a dying woman. – She trembled at the idea of being under the guidance of one who was so little able to conduct herself; and she could not help blaming her aunt Stanhope severely, for placing her in such a perilous situation. It was obvious that some of lady Delacour’s history must have been known to Mrs Stanhope; and Belinda, the more she reflected, was the more surprised at her aunt’s having chosen such a chaperon for a young woman just entering into the world. When the understanding is suddenly roused and forced to exert itself, what a multitude of deductions it makes in a short time. – Belinda saw things in a new light; and for the first time in her life she reasoned for herself upon what she saw and felt. – It is sometimes safer for young people to see, than to hear of certain characters. – At a distance, lady Delacour had appeared to miss Portman the happiest person in the world; upon a nearer view, she discovered / that her ladyship was one of the most miserable of human beings. – To have married 56her niece to such a man as lord Delacour, Mrs Stanhope would have thought the most fortunate thing imaginable; but it was now obvious to Belinda, that neither the title of viscountess, nor the pleasure of spending three fortunes, could ensure felicity. Lady Delacour confessed, that in the midst of the utmost luxury and dissipation she had been a constant prey to ennui; 190 that the want of domestic happiness could never be supplied by that public admiration, of which she was so ambitious; and that the immoderate indulgence of her vanity had led her, by inevitable steps, into follies and imprudence, which had ruined her health, and destroyed her peace of mind. – ‘If lady Delacour, with all the advantages of wealth, rank, wit, and beauty, has not been able to make herself happy in this life of fashionable dissipation,’ said Belinda to herself, ‘why should I follow the same course, and expect to be more fortunate?’ /