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

Letter XXXIV


Dear madam: The day after I left your hospitable dwelling brought me safe to that of my honored mamma; to the seat of maternal and filial affection; of social ease and domestic peace; of every species of happiness which can result from religion and virtue, from refinement in morals and manners.

I found my brother and his wife, with Lucy Freeman and Mr. Sumner, waiting to receive and bid me welcome. I flew with ecstasy to the bosom of my mamma, who received me with her accustomed affection, testified by the expressive tears of tenderness which stole silently down her widowed cheek. She was unable to speak. I was equally so. We therefore indulged a moment the pleasing emotions of sympathizing sensibility. When disengaged from her fond embrace, I was saluted by the others in turn; and, having recovered myself, I presented Mr. Boyer to each of the company, and each of the company to him. He was cordially received by all, but more especially by my mamma.

The next day I was called upon and welcomed by several of my neighboring acquaintance; among whom I was not a little surprised to see Major Sanford. He came in company with Mr. Stoddard and lady, whom he overtook, as he told me, near by; and, as they informed him that the design of their visit was to welcome me home, he readily accepted their invitation to partake of the pleasure which every one must receive on my return. I bowed slightly at his compliment, taking no visible notice of any peculiarity of expression either in his words or looks.

His politeness to Mr. Boyer appeared to be the result of habit; Mr. Boyer’s to him to be forced by respect to the company to which he had gained admission. I dare say that each felt a conscious superiority—the one on the score of merit, the other on that of fortune. Which ought to outweigh the judicious mind will easily decide. The scale, as I once observed to you, will turn as fancy or reason preponderates. I believe the esteem which I now have for Mr. Boyer will keep me steady; except, perhaps, some little eccentricities now and then, just by way of variety. I am going to-morrow morning to spend a few days with Lucy Freeman, to assist in the preparation for, and the solemnization of, her nuptials. Mr. Boyer, in the mean time, will tarry among his friends in town. My mamma is excessively partial to him, though I am not yet jealous that she means to rival me. I am not certain, however, but it might be happy for him if she should; for I suspect, not withstanding the disparity of her age, that she is better calculated to make him a good wife than I am or ever shall be.

But to be sober. Please, madam, to make my compliments acceptable to those of your neighbors, whose politeness and attention to me while at your house have laid me under particular obligations of gratitude and respect. My best regards attend General Richman. Pray tell him that, though I never expect to be so good a wife as he is blessed with, yet I intend, after a while, (when I have sowed all my wild oats,) to make a tolerable one.

I am anxious to hear of a wished-for event, and of your safety. All who know you feel interested in your health and happiness, but none more warmly than your obliged and affectionate