Hannah Webster Foster (1759–1840). The Coquette, or The History of Eliza Wharton. 1855.

Letter L


My Julia Granby has arrived. She is all that I once was—easy, sprightly, debonnaire. Already has she done much towards relieving my mind. She endeavors to divert and lead my thoughts into a different channel from that to which they are now prone. Yesterday we had each an invitation to a ball. She labored hard to prevail on me to go, but I obstinately refused. I cannot yet mix with gay and cheerful circles. I therefore alleged that I was indisposed, and persuaded her to go without me.

The events of my life have always been unaccountably wayward. In many instances I have been ready to suppose that some evil genius presided over my actions, which has directed them contrary to the sober dictates of my own judgment. I am sometimes tempted to adopt the sentiment expressed in the following lines of the poet:—

  • “To you, great gods, I make my last appeal;
  • O, clear my conscience, or my crimes reveal!
  • If wandering through the paths of life I’ve run,
  • And backward trod the steps I sought to shun,
  • Impute my errors to your own decree;
  • My feet were guilty, but my heart was free.”
  • I suppose you will tell me that the fate I accuse through the poet is only the result of my own imprudence. Well, be it what it may,—either the impulse of my own passions or some higher efficiency,—sure I am that I pay dear for its operation.

    I have heard it remarked that experience is the preceptor of fools, but that the wise need not its instruction. I believe I must be content to rank accordingly, and endeavor to reap advantage from its tuition.

    Julia urges me to revisit the scenes of amusements and pleasure, in which, she tells me, she is actuated by selfish motives. She wishes it for her own sake. She likes neither to be secluded from them nor to go alone. I am sometimes half inclined to seek in festive mirth a refuge from thought and reflection. I would escape, if possible, from the idea of Mr. Boyer. This I have never been able to accomplish since he dropped a tear upon my hand and left me. I marked the spot with my eye, and twenty times in a day do I view it, and fondly imagine it still there. How could I give him pain! I hope his happy Maria never will. I hope she will reward that merit which I have slighted. But I forbear. This theme carries away my pen if I but touch upon it. And no wonder, for it is the sole exercise of my thoughts. Yet I will endeavor to divert them. Send me some new books; not such, however, as will require much attention. Let them be plays and novels, or any thing else that will amuse or extort a smile. Julia and I have been rambling in the garden. She insisted upon my going with her into the arbor, where I was surprised with Major Sanford. What a crowd of painful ideas rushed upon my imagination! I believe she repented of her rashness. But no more of this. I must lay aside my pen, for I can write nothing else.