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

Letter XXXVI


From the scenes of festive mirth, from the conviviality of rejoicing friends, and from the dissipating amusements of the gay world, I retire with alacrity, to hail my beloved friend on the important charge which she has received; on the accession to her family, and, may I not say, on the addition to her care? since that care will be more than counterbalanced by the pleasure it confers. Hail, happy babe! ushered into the world by the best of mothers; entitled by birthright to virtue and honor; defended by parental love from the weakness of infancy and childhood, by guardian wisdom from the perils of youth, and by affluent independence from the griping hand of poverty in more advanced life! May these animating prospects be realized by your little daughter, and may you long enjoy the rich reward of seeing her all that you wish.

Yesterday, my dear friend, Lucy Freeman, gave her hand to the amiable and accomplished Mr. George Sumner. A large circle of congratulating friends were present. Her dress was such as wealth and elegance required. Her deportment was every thing that modesty and propriety could suggest. They are, indeed, a charming couple. The consonance of their dispositions, the similarity of their tastes, and the equality of their ages are a sure pledge of happiness. Every eye beamed with pleasure on the occasion, and every tongue echoed the wishes of benevolence. Mine only was silent. Though not less interested in the felicity of my friend than the rest, yet the idea of a separation, perhaps of an alienation of affection, by means of her entire devotion to another, cast an involuntary gloom over my mind. Mr. Boyer took my hand after the ceremony was past. “Permit me, Miss Wharton,” said he, “to lead you to your lovely friend; her happiness must be heightened by your participation of it.” “O, no,” said I, “I am too selfish for that. She has conferred upon another that affection which I wished to engross. My love was too fervent to admit a rival.” “Retaliate, then,” said he, “this fancied wrong by doing likewise.” I observed that this was not a proper time to discuss that subject, and, resuming my seat, endeavored to put on the appearance of my accustomed vivacity. I need not relate the remaining particulars of the evening’s entertainment. Mr. Boyer returned with my mamma, and I remained at Mrs. Freeman’s.

We are to have a ball here this evening. Mr. Boyer has been with us, and tried to monopolize my company; but in vain. I am too much engaged by the exhilarating scenes around for attending to a subject which affords no variety. I shall not close this till to-morrow.

I am rather fatigued with the amusements of last night, which were protracted to a late hour. Mr. Boyer was present; and I was pleased to see him not averse to the entertainment, though his profession prevented him from taking an active part. As all the neighboring gentry were invited, Mr. Freeman would by no means omit Major Sanford, which his daughter earnestly solicited. It happened (unfortunately, shall I say?) that I drew him for a partner. Yet I must own that I felt very little reluctance to my lot. He is an excellent dancer, and well calculated for a companion in the hours of mirth and gayety. I regretted Mr. Boyer’s being present, however, because my enjoyment seemed to give him pain. I hope he is not inclined to the passion of jealousy. If he is, I fear it will be somewhat exercised.

Lucy Freeman, now Mrs. Sumner, removes next week to Boston. I have agreed to accompany her, and spend a month or two in her family. This will give variety to the journey of life. Be so kind as to direct your next letter to me there.

Kiss the dear little babe for me. Give love, compliments, &c., as respectively due; and believe me, with every sentiment of respect, your affectionate