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

Letter XXV


Sir: Your favor of the 4th instant came to hand yesterday. I received it with pleasure, and embrace this early opportunity of contributing my part to a correspondence tending to promote a friendly and social intercourse. An epistolary communication between the sexes has been with some a subject of satire and censure; but unjustly, in my opinion. With persons of refinement and information, it may be a source of entertainment and utility. The knowledge and masculine virtues of your sex may be softened and rendered more diffusive by the inquisitiveness, vivacity, and docility of ours, drawn forth and exercised by each other.

In regard to the particular subject of yours, I shall be silent. Ideas of that kind are better conveyed, on my part, by words than by the pen.

I congratulate you on your agreeable settlement, and hope it will be productive of real and lasting happiness. I am convinced that felicity is not confined to any particular station or condition in life; yet, methinks, some are better calculated to afford it to me than others.

Your extract from a favorite poet is charmingly descriptive; but is it not difficult to ascertain what we can pronounce “an elegant sufficiency”? Perhaps you will answer, as some others have done, we can attain it by circumscribing our wishes within the compass of our abilities. I am not very avaricious; yet I must own that I should like to enjoy it without so much trouble as that would cost me.

Excuse my seeming levity. You have flattered my cheerfulness by commending it, and must, therefore, indulge me in the exercise of it. I cannot conveniently be at the pains of restraining its sallies when I write in confidence.

Is a sprightly disposition, in your view, indicative of a giddy mind or an innocent heart? Of the latter, I presume; for I know you are not a misanthrope.

We expect the pleasure of Mr. Selby’s company to dinner. You are certainly under obligations to his friendship for the liberal encomiums he bestowed on you and your prospects yesterday. Mrs. Richman rallied me, after he was gone, on my listening ear. The general and she unite in requesting me to present their respects.

Wishing you health and happiness, I subscribe myself your friend,