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

Letter LVI


I begin to hope we shall come to rights here by and by. Major Sanford has returned, has made us a visit, and a treaty of peace and amity (but not of commerce) is ratified. Eliza appears to be rapidly returning to her former cheerfulness—if not gayety. I hope she will not diverge too far from her present sedateness and solidity; yet I am not without apprehensions of danger on that score. One extreme commonly succeeds another. She tells me that she assiduously cultivates her natural vivacity; that she finds her taste for company and amusements increasing; that she dreads being alone, because past scenes arise to view which vex and discompose her.

These are indications of a mind not perfectly right. I flatter myself, however, that the time is not far distant when her passions will vibrate with regularity.

I need not repeat to you any thing relative to Major Sanford’s conciliatory visit. Eliza has given you a particular, and, I believe, a faithful detail. I was called down to see this wonderful man, and disliked him exceedingly. I am astonished that Eliza’s penetrating eye has not long since read his vices in his very countenance. I am told by a friend, who has visited them, that he has an agreeable wife; and I wish she may find him a husband of the same description; but I very much doubt the accomplishment of my wish, for I have no charity for these reformed rakes.

We were walking abroad the other afternoon, and met Major Sanford and lady. Eliza did not see them till they were very near us. She started, turned pale, and then colored like crimson. I cannot but think a little envy rankled in her heart. Major Sanford very politely accosted us, and congratulated Mrs. Sanford on this opportunity of introducing her to a particular friend, presenting Eliza. She received her with an easy dignity, and bade her welcome to this part of the country. Mrs. Sanford answered her modestly, hoped for the pleasure of a further acquaintance, and urged us, as we were not far from their house, to return with them to tea. We declined, and wishing each other good evening, parted. Major Sanford’s eyes were riveted on Eliza the whole time we were together, and he seemed loath to remove them when we separated. I suspect there is some truth in his tale of love. I shall therefore discourage Eliza from associating with him under any pretext whatever. She appeared more pensive and thoughtful than common as we returned home, and said little the rest of the evening, but next morning was as chatty as ever.

She is warm in the praises of Mrs. Sanford, thinks her an accomplished woman, and wonders that the major could suggest an idea of marrying her for her money. She intends, she says, to visit her soon, and wishes me to accompany her. This, for her own sake, I shall defer as long as possible.

I am, &c.,