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

Letter XXXII


I am really banished and rejected—desired nevermore to think of the girl I love with a view of indulging that love or of rendering it acceptable to its object. You will perhaps dispute the propriety of the term, and tell me it is not love—it is only gallantry, and a desire to exercise it with her as a favorite nymph. I neither know nor care by what appellation you distinguish it; but it truly gives me pain. I have not felt one sensation of genuine pleasure since I heard my sentence; yet I acquiesced in it, and submissively took my leave; though I doubt not but I shall retaliate the indignity one time or other.

I have taken possession of my new purchase—an elegant and delightful residence. It is rendered more so by being in the vicinity of my charmer’s native abode. This circumstance will conduce much to my enjoyment, if I can succeed in my plan of separating her from Mr. Boyer. I know that my situation and mode of life are far more pleasing to her than his, and shall therefore trust to my appearance and address for a reëstablishment in her favor. I intend, if possible, to ingratiate myself with her particular friends. For this purpose I called last week at her mother’s to pay my respects to her (so I told the good woman) as an object of my particular regard, and as the parent of a young lady whom I had the honor to know and admire. She received me very civilly, thanked me for my attention, and invited me to call whenever I had opportunity; which was the very thing I wanted. I intend, likewise, to court popularity. I don’t know but I must accept, by and by, some lucrative office in the civil department; yet I cannot bear the idea of confinement to business. It appears to me quite inconsistent with the character of a gentleman; I am sure it is with that of a man of pleasure. But something I must do; for I tell you, in confidence, that I was obliged to mortgage this place because I had not wherewithal to pay for it. But I shall manage matters very well, I have no doubt, and keep up the appearance of affluence till I find some lady in a strait for a husband whose fortune will enable me to extricate myself from these embarrassments. Do come and see me, Charles; for, notwithstanding all my gayety and parade, I have some turns of the hypo, some qualms of conscience, you will call them; but I meddle not with such obsolete words. And so good by to you, says