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

Letter XLIII


My dear Eliza: Through the medium of my friends at Hartford, I have been informed of the progress of your affairs as they have transpired. The detail which my sister gave me of your separation from Mr. Boyer was painful, as I had long contemplated a happy union between you; but still more disagreeable sensations possessed my breast when told that you had suffered your lively spirits to be depressed, and resigned yourself to solitude and dejection.

Why, my dear friend, should you allow this event thus to affect you? Heaven, I doubt not, has happiness still in store for you—perhaps greater than you could have enjoyed in that connection. If the conviction of any misconduct on your part gives you pain, dissipate it by the reflection that unerring rectitude is not the lot of mortals; that few are to be found who have not deviated, in a greater or less degree, from the maxims of prudence. Our greatest mistakes may teach lessons which will be useful through life.

But I will not moralize. Come and see us, and we will talk over the matter once, and then dismiss it forever. Do prevail on your mamma to part with you a month or two at least. I wish you to witness how well I manage my nursery business. You will be charmed with little Harriet. I am already enough of the mother to think her a miniature of beauty and perfection.

How natural and how easy the transition from one stage of life to another! Not long since, I was a gay, volatile girl, seeking satisfaction in fashionable circles and amusements; but now I am thoroughly domesticated. All my happiness is centred within the limits of my own walls, and I grudge every moment that calls me from the pleasing scenes of domestic life. Not that I am so selfish as to exclude my friends from my affection or society. I feel interested in their concerns, and enjoy their company. I must own, however, that conjugal and parental love are the mainsprings of my life. The conduct of some mothers, in depriving their helpless offspring of the care and kindness which none but a mother can feel, is to me unaccountable. There are many nameless attentions which nothing short of maternal tenderness and solicitude can pay, and for which the endearing smiles and progressive improvements of the lovely babe are an ample reward.

How delightful to trace from day to day the expansion of reason and the dawnings of intelligence! O, how I anticipate the time when these faculties shall be displayed by the organs of speech, when the lisping accent shall heighten our present pleasure, and the young idea be capable of direction “how to shoot”! General Richman is not less interested by these enjoyments than myself. All the father beams in his eye; all the husband reigns in his heart and pervades his every action.

Miss Lawrence is soon to be married to Mr. Laiton. I believe he is a mere fortune hunter. Indeed, she has little to recommend her to any other. Nature has not been very bountiful either to her body or mind. Her parents have been shamefully deficient in her education, but have secured to her what they think the chief good—not considering that happiness is by no means the invariable attendant of wealth.

I hope this incoherent scrawl will amuse, while it induces you speedily to favor us with another visit.

My best wishes attend your honored mamma, while I subscribe myself, &c.,