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[135] Ergo ego sum virtus, &c. Helen's reasoning is admirably ealealated to excuse her weakness, and quiet the alarms and checks which her own reflection would be apt to give her. She dresses up the merit of Paris, and what he had done for her, in the most bewitching light, to make her compliance appear a point of gratitude. When the mind has once determined upon a thing, it is never at a loss to find out excuses and palliating reasons to avoid its own reproaches. What would appear horrid and shocking to it when well-disposed and untainted, will now be decorated with such circumstances. as will disarm it of all its terrors and guilt. This is exemplified in the most lively manner in Helen. How different does she now appear from what she was at the beginning of this Epistle? There she is full of resentment, accuses Paris accuses Paris of violating the sacred rights of hospitality, and wonders at his insolence in offering to make any attempt upon her honor. How much is the case changed here? She views every thing he had done with a different eye. His preferring her to valor and a kingdom, exposing himself to the dangers of the sea for her sake, and suffering all the anguish of a smothered love, are now placed to the account of merit. She no longer considers him as an enemy to her virtue and honor, one who intended to rob her of what should be most valuable and dear to her, and expose her to eternal infamy: but as a suffering lover, one more deserving of pity and compassion, than severity and frowns. By this she is led to think that gratitude and humanity require her to make some returns, and would, if possible, persuade herself, that her weakness in not rejecting at once his addresses, was rather a virtue than a crime.

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