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

Letter LXIII


A paradox, indeed, is the greater part of your letter to us, my dear Eliza. We had fondly flattered ourselves that the melancholy of your mind was exterminated. I hope no new cause has revived it. Little did I intend, when I left you, to have been absent so long; but Mrs. Summer’s disappointment, in her plan of spending the summer at Hartford, induced me, in compliance with her request, to prolong my residence here. But for your sake, she now consents to my leaving her, in hopes I may be so happy as to contribute to your amusement.

I am both pleased and instructed by the conduct of this amiable woman. As I always endeavored to imitate her discreet, and modest behavior in a single state, so likewise shall I take her for a pattern should I ever enter a married life. She is most happily united. Mr. Sumner, to all the graces and accomplishments of the gentleman, adds the still more important and essential properties of virtue, integrity, and honor. I was once present when a person was recommended to her for a husband. She objected that he was a rake. “True,” said the other, “he has been, but he has reformed.” “That will never do for me,” rejoined she; “I wish my future companion to need no reformation”—a sentiment worthy the attention of our whole sex; the general adoption of which, I am persuaded, would have a happy influence upon the manners of the other.

I hope neither you nor I, Eliza, shall ever be tried by a man of debauched principles. Such characters I conceive to be totally unfit for the society of women who have any claim to virtue and delicacy.

I intend to be with you in about a month. If agreeable to you, we will visit and spend a few weeks with the afflicted Mrs. Richman. I sincerely sympathize with her under her bereavement. I know her fondness for you will render your company very consoling to her; and I flatter myself that I should not be an unwelcome guest.

Make my respects to your mamma, and believe me ever yours,