Part 2 out of 4
much good sense to practise its arts. She received your letter very
graciously, asked leave to retire a few moments, and returned with a
smile of complacency on her brow, which I construe favorably to you.
There was a Mr. Lawrence, with his lady and daughter, and a certain
Major Sanford, at the house. The latter, I believe, in the modern sense
of the phrase, _is much of a gentleman_; that is, a man of show and
Miss Wharton asked me when I should leave town, and when I should
return, or have an opportunity of conveyance to Hampshire. I told her I
should write by the next post, and, if she had any commands, would be
happy to execute them. She would send a line to her friend, she said, if
I would take the trouble to enclose it in my letter. I readily
consented, and told her that I would call and receive her favor
to-morrow morning. This chitchat was a little aside; but I could not but
observe that the aforesaid Major Sanford had dropped his part in the
conversation of the rest of the company, and was attending to us, though
he endeavored to conceal his attention by looking carelessly over a
play which lay on the window by him. Yet he evidently watched every word
and action of Miss Wharton, as if he were really interested in her
It is said she has many admirers, and I conceive it very possible that
this may be one of them; though, truly, I do not think that she would
esteem such a conquest any great honor. I now joined in the general
topic of conversation, which was politics; Mrs. Richman and Miss Wharton
judiciously, yet modestly, bore a part; while the other ladies amused
themselves with Major Sanford, who was making his sage remarks on the
play, which he still kept in his hand. General Richman at length
observed that we had formed into parties. Major Sanford, upon, this,
laid aside his book. Miss Lawrence simpered, and looked as if she was
well pleased with being in a party with so fine a man; while her mother
replied that she never meddled with politics. "Miss Wharton and I," said
Mrs. Richman, "must beg leave to differ from you, madam. We think
ourselves interested in the welfare and prosperity of our country; and,
consequently, claim the right of inquiring into those affairs which may
conduce to or interfere with the common weal. We shall not be called to
the senate or the field to assert its privileges and defend its rights,
but we shall feel, for the honor and safety of our friends and
connections who are thus employed. If the community flourish and enjoy
health and freedom, shall we not share in the happy effects? If it be
oppressed and disturbed, shall we not endure our proportion of the evil?
Why, then, should the love of our country be a masculine passion only?
Why should government, which involves the peace and order of the society
of which we are a part, be wholly excluded from our observation?" Mrs.
Lawrence made some slight reply, and waived the subject. The gentlemen
applauded Mrs. Richman's sentiments as truly Roman, and, what was more,
they said, truly republican.
I rose to take leave, observing to Miss Wharton that I should call
to-morrow, as agreed. Upon this, General Richman politely requested the
favor of my company at dinner. I accepted his invitation, and bade them
good night. I shall do the same to you for the present, as I intend,
to-morrow, to scribble the cover, which is to enclose your Eliza's
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
I resume my pen, having just returned from General Richman's; not with
an expectation, however, of your reading this till you have perused and
reperused the enclosed. I can bear such neglect in this case, as I have
been alike interested myself.
I went to General Richman's at twelve o'clock. About a mile from thence,
upon turning a corner, I observed a gentleman and lady on horseback,
some way before me, riding at a very moderate pace, and seemingly in
close conversation. I kept at the same distance from them till I saw
them stop at the general's gate. I then put on, and, coming up with them
just as they alighted, was surprised to find them no other than Major
Sanford and Miss Wharton. They were both a little disconcerted at my
salutation: I know not why. Miss Wharton invited him in; but he
declined, being engaged to dine. General Richman received us at the
door. As I handed Miss Wharton in, he observed, jocosely, that she had
changed company. "Yes, sir," she replied, "more than once since I went
out, as you doubtless observed." "I was not aware," said Mrs. Richman,
"that Major Sanford was to be of your party to-day." "It was quite
accidental, madam," said Miss Wharton. "Miss Lawrence and I had agreed,
last evening, to take a little airing this forenoon. A young gentleman,
a relation of hers, who is making them a visit, was to attend us.
"We had not rode more than two miles when we were overtaken by Major
Sanford, who very politely asked leave to join our party. Miss Lawrence
very readily consented; and we had a very sociable ride. The fineness of
the day induced me to protract the enjoyment of it abroad; but Miss
Lawrence declined riding so far as I proposed, as she had engaged
company to dine. We therefore parted till the evening, when we are to
meet again." "What, another engagement!" said Mrs. Richman. "Only to
the assembly, madam." "May I inquire after your gallant, my dear? But I
have no right, perhaps, to be inquisitive," said Mrs. Richman. Miss
Wharton made no reply, and the conversation took a general turn. Miss
Wharton sustained her part with great propriety. Indeed, she discovers a
fund of useful knowledge and extensive reading, which render her
peculiarly entertaining; while the brilliancy of her wit, the fluency of
her language, the vivacity and ease of her manners are inexpressibly
engaging. I am going myself to the assembly this evening, though I did
not mention it to General Richman. I therefore took my leave soon after
I have heard so much in praise of Miss Wharton's penmanship, in
addition to her other endowments, that I am almost tempted to break the
seal of her letter to you; but I forbear. Wishing you much happiness in
the perusal of it, and more in the possession of its writer, I subscribe
myself yours, &c.,
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
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
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
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,
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
I am perplexed and embarrassed, my friend, by the assiduous attentions
of this Major Sanford. I shall write circumstantially and frankly to
you, that I may have the benefit of your advice. He came here last
Monday in company with Mr. Lawrence, his wife, and daughter, to make us
a visit. While they were present, a Mr. Selby, a particular friend of
Mr. Boyer, came in, and delivered me a letter from him. I was really
happy in the reception of this proof of his affection. His friend gave a
very flattering account of his situation and prospects.
The watchful eye of Major Sanford traced every word and action
respecting Mr. Boyer with an attention which seemed to border on
anxiety. That, however, did not restrain, but rather accelerated, my
vivacity and inquisitiveness on the subject; for I wished to know
whether it would produce any real effect upon him or not.
After Mr. Selby's departure, he appeared pensive and thoughtful the
remainder of the evening, and evidently sought an opportunity of
speaking to me aside, which I studiously avoided. Miss Lawrence and I
formed an engagement to take an airing in the morning on horseback,
attended by a relation of hers who is now with them. They called for me
about ten, when we immediately set out upon our preconcerted excursion.
We had not proceeded far before we were met by Major Sanford. He was
extremely polite, and finding our destination was not particular, begged
leave to join our party. This was granted; and we had an agreeable tour
for several miles, the time being passed in easy and unstudied remarks
upon obvious occurrences. Major Sanford could not, however, conceal his
particular attention to me, which rather nettled Miss Lawrence. She grew
somewhat serious, and declined riding so far as we had intended,
alleging that she expected company to dine.
Major Sanford, understanding that she was going to the assembly in the
evening with Mr. Gordon, solicited me to accept a ticket, and form a
party with them. The entertainment was alluring, and I consented. When
we had parted with Miss Lawrence, Major Sanford insisted on my riding a
little farther, saying he must converse with me on a particular subject,
and if I refused him this opportunity, that he must visit me at my
residence, let it offend whom it would. I yielded to his importunity,
and we rode on. He then told me that his mind was in a state of suspense
and agitation which was very painful to bear, and which I only could
relieve; that my cheerful reception of Mr. Boyer's letter yesterday, and
deportment respecting him, had awakened in his breast all the pangs of
jealousy which the most ardent love could feel; that my treatment of Mr.
Boyer's friend convinced him that I was more interested in his affairs
than I was willing to own; that he foresaw himself to be condemned to an
eternal separation, and the total loss of my favor and society, as soon
as time and circumstances would allow.
His zeal, his pathos, alarmed me. I begged him to be calm. "To you,"
said I, "as a friend, I have intrusted my situation in relation to Mr.
Boyer. You know that I am under no special obligation to him, and I do
not intend to form any immediate connection." "Mr. Boyer must have
different ideas, madam; and he has reason for them, if I may judge by
appearances. When do you expect another visit from him?" "In about a
fortnight." "And is my fate to be then decided? and so decided, as I
fear it will be, through the influence of your friends, if not by your
own inclination?" "My friends, sir, will not control, they will only
advise to what they think most for my interest, and I hope that my
conduct will not be unworthy of their approbation." "Pardon me, my dear
Eliza," said he, "if I am impertinent; it is my regard for you which
impels me to the presumption. Do you intend to give your hand to Mr.
Boyer?" "I do not intend to give my hand to any man at present. I have
but lately entered society, and wish, for a while, to enjoy my freedom
in the participation of pleasures suited to my age and sex." "These,"
said he, "you are aware, I suppose, when you form a connection with that
man, you must renounce, and content yourself with a confinement to the
tedious round of domestic duties, the pedantic conversation of
scholars, and the invidious criticisms of a whole town." "I have been
accustomed," said I, "and am therefore attached, to men of letters; and
as to the praise or censure of the populace, I hope always to enjoy that
approbation of conscience which will render me superior to both. But you
forget your promise not to talk in this style, and have deviated far
from the character of a friend and brother, with, which you consented to
rest satisfied." "Yes; but I find myself unequal to the task. I am not
stoic enough tamely to make so great a sacrifice. I must plead for an
interest in your favor till you banish me from your presence, and tell
me plainly that you hate me." We had by this time reached the gate, and
as we dismounted, were unexpectedly accosted by Mr. Selby, who had come,
agreeably to promise, to dine with us, and receive my letter to Mr.
Major Sanford took his leave as General Richman appeared at the door.
The general and his lady rallied me on my change of company, but very
prudently concealed their sentiments of Major Sanford while Mr. Selby
was present. Nothing material occurred before and during dinner, soon
after which Mr. Selby went away. I retired to dress for the assembly,
and had nearly completed the labor of the toilet when Mrs. Richman
entered. "My friendship for you, my dear Eliza," said she, "interests
me so much in your affairs that I cannot repress my curiosity to know
who has the honor of your hand this evening." "If it be any honor," said
I, "it will be conferred on Major Sanford." "I think it far too great to
be thus bestowed," returned she. "It is perfectly astonishing to me that
the virtuous part of my sex will countenance, caress, and encourage
those men whose profession it is to blast their reputation, destroy
their peace, and triumph in their infamy." "Is this, madam, the avowed
design of Major Sanford?" "I know not what he avows, but his practice
too plainly bespeaks his principles and views." "Does he now practise
the arts you mention? or do you refer to past follies?" "I cannot answer
for his present conduct; his past has established his character." "You,
madam, are an advocate for charity; that, perhaps, if exercised in this
instance, might lead you to think it possible for him to reform, to
become a valuable member of society, and, when connected with a lady of
virtue and refinement, to be capable of making a good husband." "I
cannot conceive that such a lady would be willing to risk her all upon
the slender prospect of his reformation. I hope the one with whom I am
conversing has no inclination to so hazardous an experiment." "Why, not
much." "Not much! If you have any, why do you continue to encourage Mr.
Boyer's addresses?" "I am not sufficiently acquainted with either, yet,
to determine which to take. At present, I shall not confine myself in
any way. In regard to these men, my fancy and my judgment are in scales;
sometimes one preponderates, sometimes the other; which will finally
prevail, time alone can reveal." "O my cousin, beware of the delusions
of fancy! Reason must be our guide if we would expect durable
happiness." At this instant a servant opened the door, and told me that
Major Sanford waited in the parlor. Being ready, I wished Mrs. Richman a
good evening, and went down. Neither General Richman nor his lady
appeared. He therefore handed me immediately into his phaeton, and we
were soon in the assembly room.
I was surprised, on my entrance, to find Mr. Selby there, as he did not
mention, at dinner, his intention of going. He attached himself to our
party, and, in the intervals of dancing, took every opportunity of
conversing with me. These, however, were not many; for Major Sanford
assiduously precluded the possibility of my being much engaged by any
one else. We passed the evening very agreeably; but the major's
importunity was rather troublesome as we returned home. He insisted upon
my declaring whether Mr. Boyer really possessed my affections, and
whether I intended to confer myself on him or not. "If," said he, "you
answer me in the affirmative, I must despair; but if you have not
absolutely decided against me, I will still hope that my persevering
assiduity, my faithful love, may at last be rewarded." I told him that I
was under no obligation to give him any account of my disposition
towards another, and that he must remember the terms of our present
association to which he had subscribed. I therefore begged him to waive
the subject now, if not forever. He asked my pardon, if he had been
impertinent, but desired leave to renew his request that I would receive
his visits, his friendly visits. I replied that I could not grant this,
and that he must blame himself, not me, if he was an unwelcome guest at
General Richman's. He lamented the prejudices which my friends had
imbibed against him, but flattered himself that I was more liberal than
to be influenced by them without any positive proof of demerit, as it
was impossible that his conduct towards me should ever deviate from the
strictest rules of honor and love.
What shall I say now, my friend? This man to an agreeable person has
superadded graceful manners, an amiable temper, and a fortune sufficient
to insure the enjoyments of all the pleasing varieties of social life.
Perhaps a gay disposition and a lax education may have betrayed him into
some scenes of dissipation. But is it not an adage generally received,
that "_a reformed rake makes the best husband_"? My fancy leads me for
happiness to the festive haunts of fashionable life. I am at present,
and know not but I ever shall be, too volatile for a confinement to
domestic avocations and sedentary pleasures. I dare not, therefore,
place myself in a situation where these must be indispensable. Mr.
Boyer's person and character are agreeable. I really esteem the man. My
reason and judgment, as I have observed before, declare for a connection
with him, as a state of tranquillity and rational happiness. But the
idea of relinquishing those delightful amusements and flattering
attentions which wealth and equipage bestow is painful. Why were not the
virtues of the one and the graces and affluence of the other combined? I
should then have been happy indeed. But, as the case now stands, I am
loath to give up either; being doubtful which will conduce most to my
Pray write me impartially; let me know your real sentiments, for I rely
greatly upon your opinion. I am, &c.,
TO THE REV. MR. BOYER.
I am quite a convert to Pope's assertion, that
"Every woman is at heart a rake."
How else can we account for the pleasure which they evidently receive
from the society, the flattery, the caresses of men of that character?
Even the most virtuous of them seem naturally prone to gayety, to
pleasure, and, I had almost said, to dissipation. How else shall we
account for the existence of this disposition in your favorite fair? It
cannot be the result of her education. Such a one as she has received is
calculated to give her a very different turn of mind. You must forgive
me, my friend, for I am a little vexed and alarmed on your-account. I
went last evening to the assembly, as I told you in my last that I
intended. I was purposely without a partner, that I might have the
liberty to exercise my gallantry as circumstances should invite. Indeed
I must own that my particular design was to observe Miss Wharton's
movements, being rather inclined to jealousy in your behalf. She was
handed into the assembly room by Major Sanford. The brilliance of their
appearance, the levity of their manners, and the contrast of their
characters I found to be a general subject of speculation. I endeavored
to associate with Miss Wharton, but found it impossible to detach her a
moment from the coxcomb who attended her. If she has any idea of a
connection with you, why does she continue to associate with another,
especially with one of so opposite a description? I am seriously afraid
that there is more intimacy between them than there ought to be,
considering the encouragement she has given you.
I hope you will not be offended by my freedom in this matter. It
originates in a concern for your honor and future happiness. I am
anxious lest you should be made the dupe of a coquette, and your peace
of mind fall a sacrifice to an artful debauchee. Yet I must believe that
Miss Wharton has, in reality, all that virtue and good sense of which
she enjoys the reputation; but her present conduct is mysterious.
I have said enough (more than I ought, perhaps) to awaken your attention
to circumstances which _may_ lead to important events. If they appear of
little or no consequence to you, you will at least ascribe the mention
of them to motives of sincere regard in your friend and humble servant,
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
I go on finely with my amour. I have every encouragement that I could
wish. Indeed my fair one does not verbally declare in my favor; but
then, according to the vulgar proverb, that "_actions speak louder than
words,_" I have no reason to complain; since she evidently approves my
gallantry, is pleased with my company, and listens to my flattery. Her
sagacious friends have undoubtedly given her a detail of my vices. If,
therefore, my past conduct has been repugnant to her notions of
propriety, why does she not act consistently, and refuse at once to
associate with a man whose character she cannot esteem? But no; that,
Charles, is no part of the female plan; our entrapping a few of their
sex only discovers the gayety of our dispositions, the insinuating
graces of our manners, and the irresistible charms of our persons and
address. These qualifications are very alluring to the sprightly fancy
of the fair. They think to enjoy the pleasures which result from this
source, while their vanity and ignorance prompt each one to imagine
herself superior to delusion, and to anticipate the honor of reclaiming
the libertine and reforming the rake. I don't know, however, but this
girl will really have that merit with me; for I am so much attached to
her that I begin to suspect I should sooner become a convert to sobriety
than lose her. I cannot find that I have made much impression on her
heart as yet. Want of success in this point mortifies me extremely, as
it is the first time I ever failed. Besides, I am apprehensive that she
is prepossessed in favor of the other swain, the clerical lover, whom I
have mentioned to you before. The chord, therefore, upon which I play
the most, is the dissimilarity of their dispositions and pleasures. I
endeavor to detach her from him, and disaffect her towards him; knowing
that, if I can separate them entirely, I shall be more likely to succeed
in my plan. Not that I have any thoughts of marrying her myself; that
will not do at present. But I love her too well to see her connected
with another for life. I must own myself a little revengeful, too, in
this affair. I wish to punish her friends, as she calls them, for their
malice towards me, for their cold and negligent treatment of me whenever
I go to the house. I know that to frustrate their designs of a
connection between Mr. Boyer and Eliza would be a grievous
disappointment. I have not yet determined to seduce her, though, with
all her pretensions to virtue, I do not think it impossible. And if I
should, she can blame none but herself, since she knows my character,
and has no reason to wonder if I act consistently with it. If she will
play with a lion, let her beware of his paw, I say. At present, I wish
innocently to enjoy her society; it is a luxury which I never tasted
before. She is the very soul of pleasure. The gayest circle is
irradiated by her presence, and the highest entertainment receives its
greatest charms from her smiles. Besides, I have purchased the seat of
Captain Pribble, about a mile from her mother's; and can I think of
suffering her to leave the neighborhood just as I enter it? I shall
exert every nerve to prevent that, and hope to meet with the usual
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
You desire me to write to you, my friend; but if you had not, I should
by no means have refrained. I tremble at the precipice on which you
stand, and must echo and reecho the seasonable admonition of the
excellent Mrs. Richman, "Beware of the delusions of fancy." You are
strangely infatuated by them! Let not the magic arts of that worthless
Sanford lead you, like an _ignis fatuus_, from the path of rectitude and
I do not find, in all your conversations with him, that one word about
marriage drops from his lips. This is mysterious. No, it is
characteristic of the man. Suppose, however, that his views are
honorable; yet what can you expect, what can you promise yourself, from
such a connection? "A reformed rake," you say, "makes the best
husband"--a trite, but a very erroneous maxim, as the fatal experience
of thousands of our sex can testify. In the first place, I believe that
rakes very seldom _do_ reform while their fortunes and constitutions
enable them to pursue their licentious pleasures. But even allowing this
to happen; can a woman of refinement and delicacy enjoy the society of a
man whose mind has been corrupted, whose taste has been vitiated, and
who has contracted a depravity, both of sentiment and manners, which no
degree of repentance can wholly efface? Besides, of true love they are
absolutely incapable. Their passions have been much too hackneyed to
admit so pure a flame. You cannot anticipate sincere and lasting respect
from them. They have been so long accustomed to the company of those of
our sex who deserve no esteem, that the greatest dignity and purity of
character can never excite it in their breasts. They are naturally prone
to jealousy. Habituated to an intercourse with the baser part of the
sex, they level the whole, and seldom believe any to be incorruptible.
They are always hardhearted and cruel. How else could they triumph in
the miseries which they frequently occasion? Their specious manners may
render them agreeable companions abroad, but at home the evil
propensities of their minds will invariably predominate. They are
steeled against the tender affections which render domestic life
delightful; strangers to the kind, the endearing sympathies of husband,
father, and friend. The thousand nameless attentions which soften the
rugged path of life are neglected, and deemed unworthy of notice, by
persons who have been inured to scenes of dissipation and debauchery.
And is a man of this description to be the partner, the companion, the
bosom friend of my Eliza? Forbid it, Heaven! Let not the noble qualities
so lavishly bestowed upon her be thus unworthily sacrificed!
You seem to be particularly charmed with the fortune of Major Sanford,
with the gayety of his appearance, with the splendor of his equipage,
with the politeness of his manners, with what you call the graces of
his person. These, alas! are superficial, insnaring endowments. As to
fortune, prudence, economy, and regularity are necessary to preserve it
when possessed. Of these Major Sanford is certainly destitute--unless
common fame (which more frequently tells the truth than some are willing
to allow) does him great injustice. As to external parade, it will not
satisfy the rational mind when it aspires to those substantial pleasures
for which yours is formed. And as to the graces of person and manners,
they are but a wretched substitute for those virtues which adorn and
dignify human life. Can you, who have always been used to serenity and
order in a family, to rational, refined, and improving conversation,
relinquish them, and launch into the whirlpool of frivolity, where the
correct taste and the delicate sensibility which you possess must
constantly be wounded by the frothy and illiberal sallies of licentious
This, my dear, is but a faint picture of the situation to which you seem
inclined. Reverse the scene, and you will perceive the alternative which
is submitted to your option in a virtuous connection with Mr. Boyer.
Remember that you are acting for life, and that your happiness in this
world, perhaps in the next, depends on your present choice.
I called last evening to see your mamma. She is fondly anticipating
your return, and rejoicing in the prospect of your agreeable and speedy
settlement. I could not find it in my heart to distress her by
intimating that you had other views. I wish her benevolent bosom
nevermore to feel the pangs of disappointed hope.
I am busily engaged in preparing for my nuptials. The solemn words, "As
long as ye both shall live," render me thoughtful and serious. I hope
for your enlivening presence soon, which will prove a seasonable cordial
to the spirits of your
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
I believe your spirits need a cordial indeed, my dear Lucy, after
drawing so dreadful a portrait of my swain. But I call him mine no
longer. I renounce him entirely. My friends shall be gratified; and if
their predictions are verified, I shall be happy in a union with a man
of their choice. General Richman and lady have labored abundantly to
prove that my ruin was inevitable if I did not immediately break all
intercourse with Major Sanford. I promised a compliance with their
wishes, and have accomplished the task, though a hard one I found it.
Last Thursday he was here, and desired leave to spend an hour with me. I
readily consented, assuring my friends it should be the last hour which
I would ever spend in his company.
He told me that he was obliged to leave town for a few days; and as I
should probably see Mr. Boyer before his return, he could not depart in
peace without once more endeavoring to interest me in his favor, to
obtain some token of esteem, some glimpse of hope that I would not
utterly reject him, to support him in his absence. I thanked him for the
polite attention he had paid me since our acquaintance, told him that I
should ever retain a grateful sense of his partiality to me, that he
would ever share my best wishes, but that all connection of the kind to
which he alluded must from that time forever cease.
He exerted all his eloquence to obtain a retraction of that sentence,
and ran with the greatest volubility through all the protestations,
prayers, entreaties, professions, and assurances which love could feel
or art contrive. I had resolution, however, to resist them, and to
command my own emotions on the occasion better than my natural
sensibility gave me reason to expect.
Finding every effort vain, he rose precipitately, and bade me adieu. I
urged his tarrying to tea; but he declined, saying that he must retire
to his chamber, being, in his present state of mind, unfit for any
society, as he was banished from mine. I offered him my hand, which he
pressed with ardor to his lips, and, bowing in silence, left the room.
Thus terminated this affair--an affair which, perhaps, was only the
effect of mere gallantry on his part, and of unmeaning pleasantry on
mine, and which, I am sorry to say, has given my friends so much anxiety
and concern. I am under obligations to them for their kind solicitude,
however causeless it may have been.
As an agreeable companion, as a polite and finished gallant, Major
Sanford is all that the most lively fancy could wish. And as you have
always affirmed that I was a little inclined to coquetry, can you wonder
at my exercising it upon so happy a subject? Besides, when I thought
more seriously, his liberal fortune was extremely alluring to me, who,
you know, have been hitherto confined to the rigid rules of prudence and
economy, not to say necessity, in my finances.
Miss Lawrence called on me yesterday, as she was taking the air, and
asked me whether Major Sanford took leave of me when he left town. "He
was here last week," said I, "but I did not know that he was gone away."
"O, yes," she replied, "he is gone to take possession of his seat which
he has lately purchased of Captain Pribble. I am told it is superb; and
it ought to be, if it has the honor of his residence." "Then you have a
great opinion of Major Sanford," said I. "Certainly; and has not every
body else?" said she. "I am sure he is a very fine gentleman." Mrs.
Richman smiled rather contemptuously, and I changed the subject. I
believe that the innocent heart of this simple girl is a little taken
I have just received a letter from Mr. Boyer in the usual style. He
expects the superlative happiness of kissing my hand next week. O, dear!
I believe I must begin to fix my phiz. Let me run to the glass, and try
if I can make up one that will look _madamish_. Yes, I succeeded very
I congratulate you on your new neighbor; but I advise friend George to
have the Gordian knot tied immediately, lest you should be insnared by
this bewitching squire.
I have been trying to seduce General Richman to accompany me to the
assembly this evening, but cannot prevail. Were Mrs. Richman able to go
with us, he would be very happy to wait on us together; but, to tell the
truth, he had rather enjoy her company at home than any which is to be
found abroad. I rallied him on his old-fashioned taste, but my heart
approved and applauded his attachment. I despise the married man or
woman who harbors an inclination to partake of separate pleasures.
I am told that a servant man inquires for me below--the messenger of
some enamoured swain, I suppose. I will step down and learn what message
Nothing extraordinary; it is only a card of compliments from a Mr.
Emmons, a respectable merchant of this city, requesting the honor to
wait on me to the assembly this evening--a welcome request, which I made
no hesitation to grant. If I must resign these favorite amusements, let
me enjoy as large a share as possible till the time arrives. I must
repair to the toilet, and adorn for a new conquest the person of
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
I am very happy to find you are in so good spirits, Eliza, after parting
with your favorite swain; for I perceive that he is really the favorite
of your fancy, though your heart cannot esteem him; and, independent of
that, no sensations can be durable.
I can tell you some news of this strange man. He has arrived, and taken
possession of his seat. Having given general invitations, he has been
called upon and welcomed by most of the neighboring gentry. Yesterday he
made an elegant entertainment. Friend George (as you call him) and I
were of the number who had cards. Twenty-one couple went, I am told. We
did not go. I consider my time too valuable to be spent in cultivating
acquaintance with a person from whom neither pleasure nor improvement is
to be expected. His profuseness may bribe the unthinking multitude to
show him respect; but he must know that, though
"Places and honors have been bought for gold,
Esteem and love were never to be sold."
I look upon the vicious habits and abandoned character of Major Sanford
to have more pernicious effects on society than the perpetrations of the
robber and the assassin. These, when detected, are rigidly punished by
the laws of the land. If their lives be spared, they are shunned by
society, and treated with every mark of disapprobation and contempt.
But, to the disgrace of humanity and virtue, the assassin of honor, the
wretch who breaks the peace of families, who robs virgin innocence of
its charms, who triumphs over the ill-placed confidence of the
inexperienced, unsuspecting, and too credulous fair, is received and
caressed, not only by his own sex, to which he is a reproach, but even
by ours, who have every conceivable reason to despise and avoid him.
Influenced by these principles, I am neither ashamed nor afraid openly
to avow my sentiments of this man, and my reasons for treating him with
the most pointed neglect.
I write warmly on the subject; for it is a subject in which I think the
honor and happiness of my sex concerned. I wish they would more
generally espouse their own cause. It would conduce to the public, weal,
and to their personal respectability. I rejoice, heartily, that you have
had resolution to resist his allurements, to detect and repel his
artifices. Resolution in such a case is absolutely necessary; for,
"In spite of all the virtue we can boast,
The woman that deliberates is lost."
As I was riding out yesterday I met your mamma. She wondered that I was
not one of the party at our new neighbor's. "The reason, madam," said I,
"is, that I do not like the character of the man." "I know nothing of
him," said she; "he is quite a stranger to me, only as he called at my
house last week to pay me his respects, as he said, for the sake of my
late husband, whose memory he revered, and because I was the mother of
Miss Eliza Wharton, with whom he had the honor of some little
acquaintance. His manners are engaging, and I am sorry to hear that his
morals are corrupt."
This, my dear, is a very extraordinary visit. I fear that he has not yet
laid aside his arts. Be still on your guard, is the advice of your
sincere and faithful friend,
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
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
reestablishment 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
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
My dear friend: I believe I must begin to assume airs of gravity; and
they will not be quite so foreign to my feelings now as at some other
times. You shall know the reason. I have been associated for three days
with sentiment and sobriety in the person of Mr. Boyer. I don't know but
this man will seduce me into matrimony. He is very eloquent upon the
subject; and his manners are so solemn that I am strongly tempted--yet I
dare not--to laugh. Really, Lucy, there is something extremely engaging,
and soothing, too, in virtuous and refined conversation. It is a source
of enjoyment which cannot be realized by the dissolute and unreflecting.
But then this particular theme of his is not a favorite one to me; I
mean as connected with its consequences--care and confinement. However,
I have compounded the matter with him, and conditioned that he shall
expatiate on the subject, and call it by what name he pleases,
_platonic_ or _conjugal_, provided he will let me take my own time for
the consummation. I have consented that he shall escort me next week to
see my mamma and my Lucy. O, how the idea of returning to that revered
mansion, to those beloved friends, exhilarates my spirits!
General Richman's politeness to me has induced him to invite a large
party of those gentlemen and ladies who have been particularly attentive
to me during my residence here to dine and take tea to-morrow. After
that, I expect to be engaged in making farewell visits till I leave the
place. I shall, therefore, forego the pleasure of telling you any
occurrences subsequent to this date until you see and converse with your
TO MRS. RICHMAN.
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
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
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
I write a line, at Mrs. Richman's request, just to inform you, Eliza,
that, yesterday, that lovely and beloved woman presented me with a
daughter. This event awakens new sensations in my mind, and calls into
exercise a kind of affection which had before lain dormant. I feel
already the tenderness of a parent, while imagination fondly traces the
mother's likeness in the infant form. Mrs. Richman expects to receive
your congratulations in a letter by the next post. She bids me tell
you, moreover, that she hopes soon to receive an invitation, and be able
to attend, to the consummation you talk of. Give Mrs. Richman's and my
particular regards to your excellent mother and to the worthy Mr. Boyer.
With sentiments of esteem and friendship, I am, &c.,
TO MRS. RICHMAN.
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
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Dear Charles: My hopes begin to revive. I am again permitted to
associate with my Eliza--invited to the same entertainment. She does not
refuse to join with me in the mazy dance, and partake the scenes of
festive mirth. Nay, more; she allows me to press her hand to my lips,
and listens to the sighing accents of love. Love her I certainly do.
Would to Heaven I could marry her! Would to Heaven I had preserved my
fortune, or she had one to supply its place! I am distracted at the idea
of losing her forever. I am sometimes tempted to solicit her hand in
serious earnest; but if I should, poverty and want must be the
consequence. Her disappointment in the expectation of affluence and
splendor, which I believe her ruling passion, would afford a perpetual
source of discontent and mutual wretchedness.
She is going to Boston with her friend, Mrs. Sumner. I must follow her.
I must break the connection which is rapidly forming between her and Mr.
Boyer, and enjoy her society a while longer, if no more.
I have had a little intimation from New Haven that Miss Lawrence is
partial to me, and might easily be obtained, with a handsome property
into the bargain. I am neither pleased with nor averse to the girl; but
she has money, and that may supply the place of love, by enabling me to
pursue independent pleasures. This she must expect, if she marries a man
of my cast. She, doubtless, knows my character; and if she is so vain of
her charms or influence as to think of reforming or confining me, she
must bear the consequences.
However, I can keep my head up at present without recourse to the noose
of matrimony, and shall therefore defer any particular attention to her
till necessity requires it. I am, &c.,
TO MRS. M. WHARTON.
You commanded me, my dear mamma, to write to you. That command I
cheerfully obey, in testimony of my ready submission and respect. No
other avocation could arrest my time, which is now completely occupied
in scenes of amusement.
Mrs. Sumner is agreeably settled and situated. She appears to be
possessed of every blessing which can render life desirable. Almost
every day since our arrival has been engrossed by visitants. Our
evenings we have devoted to company abroad; and that more generally than
we should otherwise have done, as my stay is limited to so short a
period. The museum, the theatres, the circus, and the assemblies have
Mrs. Sumner has made me several presents; notwithstanding which, the
articles requisite to a fashionable appearance have involved me in
considerable expense. I fear that you will think me extravagant when you
are told how much.
Mr. Boyer tarried in town about a week, having business. He appeared a
little concerned at my taste for dissipation, as he once termed it. He
even took the liberty to converse seriously on the subject.
I was displeased with his freedom, and reminded him that I had the
disposal of my own time as yet, and that, while I escaped the censure of
my own heart, I hoped that no one else would presume to arraign it. He
apologized, and gave up his argument.
I was much surprised, the first time I went to the play, to see Major
Sanford in the very next box. He immediately joined our party; and
wherever I have been since, I have been almost sure to meet him.
Mr. Boyer has taken his departure; and I do not expect to see him again
till I return home.
O mamma, I am embarrassed about this man. His worth I acknowledge; nay,
I esteem him very highly. But can there be happiness with such a
disparity of dispositions?
I shall soon return to the bosom of domestic tranquillity, to the arms
of maternal tenderness, where I can deliberate and advise at leisure
about this important matter. Till when, I am, &c.,
TO MR. T. SELBY.
Dear sir: I believe that I owe you an apology for my long silence. But
my time has been much engrossed of late, and my mind much more so. When
it will be otherwise I cannot foresee. I fear, my friend, that there is
some foundation for your suspicions respecting my beloved Eliza. What
pity it is that so fair a form, so accomplished a mind, should be
tarnished in the smallest degree by the follies of coquetry! If this be
the fact, which I am loath to believe, all my regard for her shall never
make me the dupe of it.
When I arrived at her residence at New Haven, where I told you in my
last I was soon to go, she gave me a most cordial reception. Her whole
behavior to me was correspondent with those sentiments of esteem and
affection which she modestly avowed. She permitted me to accompany her
to Hartford, to restore her to her mother, and to declare my wish to
receive her again from her hand. Thus far all was harmony and happiness.
As all my wishes were consistent with virtue and honor, she readily
indulged them. She took apparent pleasure in my company, encouraged my
hopes of a future union, and listened to the tender accents of love.
But the scenes of gayety which invited her attention reversed her
conduct. The delightful hours of mutual confidence, of sentimental
converse, and of the interchange of refined affection were no more.
Instead of these, parties were formed unpleasing to my taste, and every
opportunity was embraced to join in diversions in which she knew I could
not consistently take a share. I, however, acquiesced in her pleasure,
though I sometimes thought myself neglected, and even hinted it to her
mother. The old lady apologized for her daughter, by alleging that she
had been absent for a long time; that her acquaintances were rejoiced
at her return, and welcomed her by striving to promote her amusement.
One of her most intimate friends was married during my stay, and she
appeared deeply interested in the event. She spent several days in
assisting her previous to the celebration. I resided, in the mean time,
at her mamma's, visiting her at her friend's, where Major Sanford, among
others, was received as a guest. Mrs. Sumner acquainted me that she had
prevailed on Miss Wharton to go and spend a few weeks with her at
Boston, whither she was removing, and urged my accompanying them. I
endeavored to excuse myself, as I had been absent from my people a
considerable time, and my return was now expected. But their importunity
was so great, and Eliza's declaration that it would be very agreeable to
her so tempting, that I consented. Here I took lodgings, and spent about
a week, taking every opportunity to converse with Eliza, striving to
discover her real disposition towards me. I mentioned the inconvenience
of visiting her so often as I wished, and suggested my desire to enter,
as soon as might be, into a family relation. I painted, in the most
alluring colors, the pleasures resulting from domestic tranquillity,
mutual confidence, and conjugal affection, and insisted on her declaring
frankly whether she designed to share this happiness with me, and when
it should commence. She owned that she intended to give me her hand,
but when she should be ready she could not yet determine. She pretended
a promise from me to wait her time, to consent that she should share the
pleasures of the fashionable world as long as she chose, &c.
I then attempted to convince her of her mistaken ideas of pleasure; that
the scenes of dissipation, of which she was so passionately fond,
afforded no true enjoyment; that the adulation of the coxcomb could not
give durability to her charms, or secure the approbation of the wise and
good; nor could the fashionable amusements of brilliant assemblies and
crowded theatres furnish the mind with
"That which nothing earthly gives or can destroy--
The soul's calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy."
These friendly suggestions, I found, were considered as the theme of a
priest, and my desire to detach her from such empty pursuits as the
selfishness of a lover. She was even offended at my freedom, and warmly
affirmed that no one had a right to arraign her conduct. I mentioned
Major Sanford, who was then in town, and who (though she went to places
of public resort with Mr. and Mrs. Sumner) always met and gallanted her
home. She rallied me upon my jealousy, as she termed it, wished that I
would attend her myself, and then she should need no other gallant. I
answered that I had rather resign that honor to another, but wished, for
her sake, that he might be a gentleman whose character would not
disgrace the company with which he associated. She appeared mortified
and chagrined in the extreme. However, she studiously suppressed her
emotions, and even soothed me with the blandishments of female softness.
We parted amicably. She promised to return soon and prepare for a
compliance with my wishes. I cannot refuse to believe her. I cannot
cease to love her. My heart is in her possession. She has a perfect
command of my passions. Persuasion dwells on her tongue. With all the
boasted fortitude and resolution of our sex, we are but mere machines.
Let love once pervade our breasts, and its object may mould us into any
form that pleases her fancy, or even caprice.
I have just received a letter from Eliza, informing me of her return to
Hartford. To-morrow I shall set out on a visit to the dear girl; for, my
friend, notwithstanding all her foibles, she is very dear to me. Before
you hear from me again I expect that the happy day will be fixed--the
day which shall unite in the-most sacred bands this lovely maid and your
TO MR. T. SELBY.
I have returned; and the day, indeed, is fixed; but O, how different
from my fond expectations! It is not the day of union, but the day of
final separation; the day which divides me from my charmer; the day
which breaks asunder the bands of love; the day on which my reason
assumes its empire, and triumphs over the arts of a finished coquette.
Congratulate me, my friend, that I have thus overcome my feelings, and
repelled the infatuating wiles of a deceitful girl. I would not be
understood to impeach Miss Wharton's virtue; I mean her chastity.
Virtue, in the common acceptation of the term, as applied to the sex, is
confined to that particular, you know. But in my view, this is of little
importance where all other virtues are wanting.
When I arrived at Mrs. Wharton's, and inquired for Eliza, I was told
that she had rode out, but was soon expected home. An hour after, a
phaeton stopped at the door, from which my fair one alighted, and was
handed into the house by Major Sanford, who immediately took leave. I
met her, and offered my hand, which she received with apparent
When the family had retired after supper, and left us to talk on our
particular affairs, I found the same indecision, the same loathness to
bring our courtship to a period, as formerly. Her previous excuses were
renewed, and her wishes to have a union still longer delayed were
zealously urged. She could not bear the idea of confinement to the cares
of a married life at present, and begged me to defer all solicitation on
that subject to some future day. I found my temper rise, and told her
plainly that I was not thus to be trifled with; that if her regard for
me was sincere, if she really intended to form a connection with me, she
could not thus protract the time, try my patience, and prefer every
other pleasure to the rational interchange of affection, to the calm
delights of domestic life. But in vain did I argue against her false
notions of happiness, in vain did I represent the dangerous system of
conduct which she now pursued, and urge her to accept, before it was too
late, the hand and heart which were devoted to her service. That, she
said, she purposed ere long to do, and hoped amply to reward my faithful
love; but she could not fix the time this evening. She must consider a
little further, and likewise consult her mother. "Is it not Major
Sanford whom you wish to consult, madam?" said I. She blushed, and gave
me no answer. "Tell me, Eliza," I continued, "tell me frankly, if he has
not supplanted me in your affections--if he be not the cause of my being
thus evasively, thus cruelly, treated." "Major Sanford, sir," replied
she, "has done you no harm. He is a particular friend of mine, a polite
gentleman, and an agreeable neighbor, and therefore I treat him with
civility; but he is not so much interested in my concerns as to alter my
disposition towards any other person." "Why," said I, "do you talk of
friendship with a man of his character? Between his society and mine
there is a great contrast. Such opposite pursuits and inclinations
cannot be equally pleasing to the same taste. It is, therefore,
necessary that you renounce the one to enjoy the other; I will give you
time to decide which. I am going to a friend's house to spend the night,
and will call on you to-morrow, if agreeable, and converse with you
further upon the matter." She bowed assent, and I retired.
The next afternoon I went, as agreed, and found her mamma and her alone
in the parlor. She was very pensive, and appeared to have been in tears.
The sight affected me. The idea of having treated her harshly the
evening before disarmed me of my resolution to insist on her decision
that day. I invited her to ride with me and visit a friend, to which
she readily consented. We spent our time agreeably. I forbore to press
her on the subject of our future union, but strove rather to soothe her
mind, and inspire her with sentiments of tenderness towards me. I
conducted her home, and returned early in the evening to my friend's,
who met me at the door, and jocosely told me that he expected that I
should now rob them of their agreeable neighbor. "But," added he, "we
have been apprehensive that you would be rivalled if you delayed your
visit much longer." "I did not suspect a rival," said I. "Who can the
happy man be?" "I can say nothing from personal observation," said he;
"but fame, of late, has talked loudly of Major Sanford and Miss Wharton.
Be not alarmed," continued he, seeing me look grave; "I presume no harm
is intended; the major is a man of gallantry, and Miss Wharton is a gay
lady; but I dare say that your connection will be happy, _if it be
formed_" I noticed a particular emphasis on the word _if_; and, as we
were alone, I followed him with questions till the whole affair was
developed. I informed him of my embarrassment, and he gave me to
understand that Eliza's conduct had, for some time past, been a subject
of speculation in the town; that, formerly, her character was highly
esteemed; but that her intimacy with a man of Sanford's known
libertinism, more especially as she was supposed to be engaged to
another, had rendered her very censurable; that they were often
together; that wherever she went he was sure to follow, as if by
appointment; that they walked, talked, sung, and danced together in all
companies; that some supposed he he would marry her; others, that he
only meditated adding her name to the black catalogue of deluded
wretches, whom he had already ruined!
I rose, and walked the room in great agitation. He apologized for his
freedom; was sorry if he had wounded my feelings; but friendship alone
had induced him frankly to declare the truth, that I might guard against
duplicity and deceit.
I thanked him for his kind intensions; and assured him that I should not
quit the town till I had terminated this affair, in one way or another.
I retired to bed, but sleep was a stranger to my eyes. With the dawn I
rose; and after breakfast walked to Mrs. Wharton's, who informed me,
that Eliza was in her chamber, writing to a friend, but would be down in
a few minutes. I entered into conversation with the old lady on the
subject of her daughter's conduct; hinted my suspicions of the cause,
and declared my resolution of knowing my destiny immediately. She
endeavored to extenuate, and excuse her as much as possible; but frankly
owned that her behavior was mysterious; that no pains had been wanting,
on her part, to alter and rectify it; that she had remonstrated,
expostulated, advised and entreated, as often as occasion required. She
hoped that my resolution would have a good effect, as she knew that her
daughter esteemed me very highly.
In this manner we conversed till the clock struck twelve; and, Eliza not
appearing, I desired her mamma to send up word that I waited to see her.
The maid returned with an answer that she was indisposed, and had lain
down. Mrs. Wharton observed that she had not slept for several nights,
and complained of the headache in the morning. The girl added that she
would wait on Mr. Boyer in the evening. Upon this information I rose,
and abruptly took my leave. I went to dine with a friend, to whom I had
engaged myself the day before; but my mind was too much agitated to
enjoy either the company or the dinner. I excused myself from tarrying
to tea, and returned to Miss Wharton's. On inquiry, I was told that
Eliza had gone to walk in the garden, but desired that no person might
intrude on her retirement. The singularity of the request awakened my
curiosity, and determined me to follow her. I sought her in vain in
different parts of the garden, till, going towards an arbor, almost
concealed from sight by surrounding shrubbery, I discovered her sitting
in close conversation with Major Sanford! My blood chilled in my veins,
and I stood petrified with astonishment at the disclosure of such
baseness and deceit. They both rose in visible confusion. I dared not
trust myself to accost them. My passions were raised, and I feared that
I might say or do something unbecoming my character. I therefore gave
them a look of indignation and contempt, and retreated to the house. I
traversed the parlor hastily, overwhelmed with chagrin and resentment.
Mrs. Wharton inquired the cause. I attempted to tell her, but my tongue
refused utterance. While in this situation, Eliza entered the room. She
was not less discomposed than myself. She sat down at the window and
wept. Her mamma wept likewise. At length she recovered herself, in a
degree, and desired me to sit down. I answered, No, and continued
walking. "Will you," said she, "permit me to vindicate my conduct, and
explain my motives?" "Your conduct," said I, "cannot be vindicated; your
motives need no explanation; they are too apparent. How, Miss Wharton,
have I merited this treatment from you? But I can bear it no longer.
Your indifference to me proceeds from an attachment to another, and,
forgive me if I add, to one who is the disgrace of his own sex and the
destroyer of yours. I have been too long the dupe of your dissimulation
and coquetry--too long has my peace of mind been sacrificed to the arts
of a woman whose conduct has proved her unworthy of my regard;
insensible to love, gratitude, and honor.
"To you, madam," said I, turning to her mother, "I acknowledge my
obligations for your friendship, politeness, and attention. I once hoped
for the privilege of rocking for you the cradle of declining age. I am
deprived of that privilege; but I pray that you may never want a child
whose love and duty shall prove a source of consolation and comfort.
"Farewell. If we never meet again in this life, I hope and trust we
shall in a better--where the parent's eye shall cease to weep for the
disobedience of a child, and the lover's heart to bleed for the
infidelity of his mistress."
I turned to Eliza, and attempted to speak; but her extreme emotion
softened me, and I could not command my voice. I took her hand, and
bowing, in token of an adieu, went precipitately out of the house. The
residence of my friend, with whom I lodged, was at no great distance,
and thither I repaired. As I met him in the entry, I rushed by him, and
betook myself to my chamber. The fever of resentment and the tumult of
passion began now to give place to the softer emotions of the soul. I
found myself perfectly unmanned. I gave free scope to the sensibility
of my heart; and the effeminate relief of tears materially lightened the
load which oppressed me.
After this arduous struggle I went to bed, and slept more calmly than
for several nights before. The next morning I wrote a farewell letter to
Eliza, (a copy of which I shall enclose to you,) and, ordering my horse
to be brought, left town immediately.
My resentment of her behavior has much assisted me in erasing her image
from my breast. In this exertion I have succeeded beyond my most
sanguine expectations. The more I reflect on her temper and disposition,
the more my gratitude is enlivened towards the wise Disposer of all
events for enabling me to break asunder the snares of the deluder. I am
convinced that the gayety and extravagance of her taste, the frivolous
levity of her manners, disqualify her for the station in which I wished
to have placed her. These considerations, together with that resignation
to an overruling Providence which the religion I profess and teach
requires me to cultivate, induce me cheerfully to adopt the following
lines of an ingenious poet:--
"Since all the downward tracts of time
God's watchful eye surveys,
O, who so wise to choose our lot,
Or regulate our ways?
"Since none can doubt his equal love,
To his unerring, gracious will
Be every wish, resigned.
"Good when he gives, supremely good;
Not less when he denies;
E'en crosses from his sovereign hand
Are blessings in disguise."
I am, &c., J. BOYER.
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
[_Enclosed in the foregoing_.]
Madam: Fearing that my resolution may not be proof against the eloquence
of those charms which has so long commanded me, I take this method of
bidding you a final adieu. I write not as a lover,--that connection
between us is forever dissolved,--but I address you as a friend; as a
friend to your happiness, to your reputation, to your temporal and
eternal welfare. I will not rehearse the innumerable instances of your
imprudence and misconduct which have fallen under my observation. Your
own heart must be your monitor. Suffice it for me to warn you against
the dangerous tendency of so dissipated a life, and to tell you that I
have traced (I believe aright) the cause of your dissimulation and
indifference to me. They are an aversion to the sober, rational, frugal
mode of living to which my profession leads; a fondness for the parade,
the gayety, not to say the licentiousness, of a station calculated to
gratify such a disposition; and a prepossession for Major Sanford,
infused into your giddy mind by the frippery, flattery, and artifice of
that worthless and abandoned man. Hence you preferred a connection with
him, if it could be accomplished; but a doubt whether it could, together
with the advice of your friends, who have kindly espoused my cause, has
restrained you from the avowal of your real sentiments, and led you to
continue your civilities to me. What the result of your coquetry would
have been had I waited for it, I cannot say; nor have I now any desire
or interest to know. I tear from my breast the idea which I have long
cherished of future union and happiness with you in the conjugal state.
I bid a last farewell to these fond hopes, and leave you forever.
For your own sake, however, let me conjure you to review your conduct,
and, before you have advanced beyond the possibility of returning to
rectitude and honor, to restrain your steps from the dangerous path in
which you now tread.
Fly Major Sanford. That man is a deceiver. Trust not his professions.
They are certainly insincere, or he would not affect concealment; he
would not induce you to a clandestine intercourse. Many have been the
victims to his treachery. O Eliza, add not to the number. Banish him
from your society if you wish to preserve your virtue unsullied, your
character unsuspicious. It already begins to depreciate. Snatch it from
the envenomed tongue of slander before it receive an incurable wound.
Many faults have been visible to me, over which my affection once drew a
veil. That veil is now removed; and acting the part of a disinterested
friend, I shall mention some few of them with freedom. There is a levity
in your manners which is inconsistent with the solidity and decorum
becoming a lady who has arrived to years of discretion. There is also an
unwarrantable extravagance betrayed in your dress. Prudence and economy
are such necessary, at least such decent, virtues, that they claim the
attention of every female, whatever be her station or her property. To
these virtues you are apparently inattentive. Too large a portion of
your time is devoted to the adorning of your person.
Think not that I write thus plainly from resentment. No, it is from
benevolence. I mention your foibles, not to reproach you with them, but
that you may consider their nature and effects, and renounce them.
I wish you to regard this letter as the legacy of a friend, and to
improve it accordingly. I shall leave town before you receive it. O, how
different are my sensations at going from what they were when I came!
But I forbear description. Think not, Eliza, that I leave you with
indifference. The conquest is great, the trial more than I can calmly
support; yet the consciousness of duty affords consolation---a duty I
conceive it to be which I owe to myself and to the people of my charge,
who are interested in my future connection.
I wish not for an answer; my resolution is unalterably fixed. But should
you hereafter be convinced of the justice of my conduct, and become a
convert to my advice, I shall be happy to hear it.
That you may have wisdom to keep you from falling, and conduct you
safely through this state of trial to the regions of immortal bliss, is
the fervent prayer of your sincere friend and humble servant,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
The retirement of my native home is not so gloomy, since my return from
Boston, as I expected, from the contrast between them. Indeed, the
customs and amusements of this place are materially altered since the
residence of Major Sanford among us. The dull, old-fashioned sobriety
which formerly prevailed is nearly banished, and cheerfulness, vivacity,
and enjoyment are substituted in its stead. Pleasure is now diffused
through all ranks of the people, especially the rich; and surely it
ought to be cultivated, since the wisest of men informs us that a merry
heart "doth good like a medicine." As human life hath many diseases
which require medicines, are we not right in selecting the most
agreeable and palatable? Major Sanford's example has had great influence
upon our society in general; and though some of our old ones think him
rather licentious, yet, for aught I can see, he is as strict an observer
of decorum as the best of them. True, he seldom goes to church; but
what of that? The Deity is not confined to temples made with hands. He
may worship him as devoutly elsewhere, if he chooses; and who has a
right to say he does not?
His return from Boston was but a day or two after mine. He paid me an
early visit, and, indeed, has been very attentive ever since. My mamma
is somewhat precise in her notions of propriety, and, of course, blames
me for associating so freely with him. She says that my engagements to
Mr. Boyer ought to render me more sedate, and more indifferent to the
gallantry of mere pleasure _hunters_, to use her phrase. But I think
otherwise. If I am to become a recluse, let me at least enjoy those
amusements which are suited to my taste a short time first. Why should I
refuse the polite attentions of this gentleman? They smooth the rugged
path of life, and wonderfully accelerate the lagging wheels of time.
Indeed, Lucy, he has an admirable talent for contributing to vary and
increase amusement. We have few hours unimproved. Some new plan of
pleasure and sociability is constantly courting our adoption. He lives
in all the magnificence of a prince: and why should I, who can doubtless
share that magnificence if I please, forego the advantages and
indulgences it offers, merely to gratify those friends who pretend to
be better judges of my happiness than I am myself? I have not yet told
my mamma that he entertains me with the lover's theme, or, at least,
that I listen to it. Yet I must own to you, from whom I have never
concealed an action or idea, that his situation in life charms my
imagination; that the apparent fervor and sincerity of his passion
affect my heart. Yet there is something extremely problematical in his
conduct. He is very urgent with me to dissolve my connection with Mr.
Boyer, and engage not to marry him without his consent, or knowledge, to
say no more. He warmly applauds my wish still longer to enjoy the
freedom and independence of a single state, and professedly adopts it
for his own. While he would disconnect me from another, he mysteriously
conceals his own intentions and views. In conversation with him
yesterday, I plainly told him that his conduct was unaccountable; that,
if his professions and designs were honorable, he could not neglect to
mention them to my mamma; that I should no longer consent to carry on a
clandestine intercourse with him; that I hourly expected Mr. Boyer, whom
I esteemed, and who was the favorite of my friends; and that, unless he
acted openly in this affair before his arrival, I should give my hand to
He appeared thunderstruck at this declaration. All his words and actions
were indicative of the most violent emotions of mind. He entreated me
to recall the sentence; for I knew not, he said, his motives for
secrecy; yet he solemnly swore that they were honorable. I replied in
the words of the poet,--
"Trust not a man; they are by nature cruel,
False, deceitful, treacherous, and inconstant.
When a man talks of love, with caution hear him;
But if he swear, he'll certainly deceive you."
He begged that he might know by what means he had provoked my
suspicions; by what means he had forfeited my confidence. His
importunity vanquished my fortitude; and before we parted, I again
promised to make him acquainted, from time to time, with the progress of
my connection with Mr. Boyer.
Now, my dear friend, I want your advice more than ever. I am
inadvertently embarrassed by this man; and how to extricate myself I
know not. I am sensible that the power is in my hands; but the
disposition (shall I confess it?) is wanting.
"I know the right; and I approve it too;
I know the wrong, and yet the wrong pursue."
I have just received a card from Major Sanford, inviting me to ride
this afternoon. At first I thought of returning a negative answer; but,
recollecting that Mr. Boyer must soon be here, I concluded it best to
embrace this opportunity of talking further with him. I must now prepare
to go, but shall not close this letter, for I intend writing in
continuation, as events occur, till this important business is decided.
_Tuesday evening_.--The little tour which I mentioned to you this
afternoon was not productive of a final determination. The same plea was
repeated over and over again without closing the cause. On my return I
found Mr. Boyer waiting to receive me. My heart beat an involuntary
welcome. I received him very cordially, though with a kind of pleasure
mixed with apprehension. I must own that his conversation and manners
are much better calculated to bear the scrutinizing eye of a refined
understanding and taste than Major Sanford's. But whether the fancy
ought not to be consulted about our settlement in life, is with me a
When we parted last I had promised Mr. Boyer to inform him positively,
at this visit, when my hand should be given. He therefore came, as he
told me in the course of our conversation, with the resolution of
claiming the fulfilment of this promise.
I begged absolution, told him that I could not possibly satisfy his
claim, and sought still to evade and put off the important decision. He
grew warm, and affirmed that I treated him ungenerously and made
needless delays. He even accused me of indifference towards him, and of
partiality to another. Major Sanford, he believed, was the man who
robbed him of the affection which he had supposed his due. He warned me
against any intercourse with him, and insisted that I must renounce the
society of the one or the other immediately.
He would leave me, he said, this evening, and call to-morrow to know the
result of my determination. It was late before he bade me good night,
since which I have written these particulars. It is now time to lay
aside my pen, and deliberate what course to take.
_Wednesday evening_.--Last night I closed not my eyes. I rose this
morning with the sun, and went into the garden till breakfast. My mamma
doubtless saw the disorder of my mind, but kindly avoided any inquiry
about it. She was affectionately attentive to me, but said nothing of my
particular concerns. I mentioned not my embarrassment to her. She had
declared herself in favor of Mr. Boyer; therefore I had no expectation
that she would advise impartially. I retired to my chamber, and
remained in a kind of revery for more than an hour, when I was roused by
the rattling of a carriage at the door. I hastened to the window, and
saw Major Sanford just driving away. The idea of his having been to
converse with my mamma gave me new sensations. A thousand perplexities
occurred to my mind relative to the part most proper for me to act in
this critical situation. All these might have been avoided, had I gone
down and inquired into the matter; but this I delayed till dinner. My
mamma then informed me that Major Sanford had been with her, and
inquired for me, but that she thought it unnecessary to call me, as she
presumed I had no particular business with him. I knew the motives by
which she was actuated, and was vexed at her evasions. I told her
plainly that she would never carry her point in this way; that Thought
myself capable of conducting my own affairs, and wished her not to
interfere, except by her advice, which I should always listen to and
comply with when I could possibly make it consistent with my inclination
and interest. She wept at my undutiful anger, (of which I have severely
repented since,) and affectionately replied, that my happiness was the
object of her wishes and prayers; conformably to which she felt
constrained freely to speak her mind, though it incurred my displeasure.
She then went through again with all the comparative circumstances and
merits of the two candidates for my favor, which have perpetually rung
in my ears for months. I shed tears at the idea of my embarrassment; and
in this condition Mr. Boyer found us. He appeared to be affected by my
visible disorder, and, without inquiring the cause, endeavored to
dissipate it. This was kindly done. He conversed upon indifferent
subjects, and invited me to ride, and take tea with your mamma, to which
I readily consented. We found her at home, and passed the time
agreeably, excepting the alloy of your absence. Mr. Boyer touched
lightly on the subject of our last evening's debate, but expatiated
largely on the pleasing power of love, and hoped that we should one day
both realize and exemplify it in perfection. When we returned he
observed that it was late, and took his leave, telling me that he should
call to-morrow, and begged that I would then relieve his suspense. As I
was retiring to bed, the maid gave me a hint that Major Sanford's
servant had been here and left a letter. I turned instantly back to my
mamma, and, telling her my information, demanded the letter. She hesitated,
but I insisted on having it; and seeing me resolute, she reluctantly gave it
into my hand. It contained the following words:--
"Am I forsaken? am I abandoned? O my adorable Eliza, have you sacrificed
me to my rival? have you condemned me to perpetual banishment without a
"I came this day to plead my cause at your feet, but was cruelly denied
the privilege of seeing you. My mind is all anarchy and confusion. My
soul is harrowed up with jealousy. I will be revenged on those who
separate us, if that distracting event take place. But it is from your
lips only that I can hear my sentence. You must witness its effects. To
what lengths my despair may carry me I know not. You are the arbitress
of my fate.
"Let me conjure you to meet me in your garden to-morrow at any hour you
shall appoint. My servant will call for an answer in the morning. Deny
me not an interview, but have pity on your faithful SANFORD."
I wrote for answer that I would meet him to-morrow, at five o'clock in
I have now before me another night for consideration, and shall pass it
in that employment. I purpose not to see Mr. Boyer till I have conversed
with Major Sanford.
_Thursday morning_.--The morning dawns, and ushers in the day--a day,
perhaps, big with the fate of your friend. What that fate may be is
wrapped in the womb of futurity--that futurity which a kind Providence
has wisely concealed from the penetration of mortals.
After mature consideration, after revolving and re-revolving every
circumstance on both sides of the question, I have nearly determined, in
compliance with the advice of my friends and the dictates of my own
judgment, to give Mr. Boyer the preference, and with him to tread the
future round of life.
As to the despair of Major Sanford, it does not much alarm me. Such
violent passions are seldom so deeply rooted as to produce lasting
effects. I must, however, keep my word, and meet him according to
Mr. Boyer is below. My mamma has just sent me word that he wished to see
me. My reply was, that I had lain down, which was a fact.
_One o'clock._--My mamma, alarmed by my indisposition, has visited my
apartment. I soon convinced her that it was but trifling, owing
principally to the want of sleep, and that an airing in the garden,
which I intended towards night, would restore me.
_Ten o'clock at night_.--The day is past; and such a day it has been as
I hope nevermore to see. At the hour appointed, I went, tolerably
composed and resolute, into the garden. I had taken several turns, and
retired into the little arbor, where you and I have spent so many happy
hours, before Major Sanford entered. When he appeared, a consciousness
of the impropriety of this clandestine intercourse suffused my cheek,
and gave a coldness to my manners. He immediately penetrated the cause,
and observed that my very countenance told him he was no longer a
welcome guest to me. I asked him if he ought so to be, since his motives
for seeking admission were unworthy of being communicated to my friends.
That, he said, was not the case, but that prudence in the present
instance required a temporary concealment. He then undertook to
exculpate himself from blame, assuring me that as soon as I should
discountenance the expectations of Mr. Boyer, and discontinue the
reception of his address, his intentions should be made known. He was
enlarging upon this topic, when we heard a footstep approaching us, and,
looking up, saw Mr. Boyer within a few paces of the arbor. Confusion
seized us both. We rose involuntarily from our seats, but were mute as
statues. He spoke not a word, but casting a look of indignant accusation
at me,--a glance which penetrated my very soul,--turned on his heel,
and walked hastily back to the house.
I stood a few moments, considering what course to take, though shame and
regret had almost taken from me the power of thought.
Major Sanford took my hand. I withdrew it from him. "I _must_ leave
you," said I. "Where will you go?" said he. "I will go and try to
retrieve my character. It has suffered greatly by this fatal interview."
He threw himself at my feet, and exclaimed, "Leave me not, Eliza; I
conjure you not to leave me." "Let me go now," I rejoined, "or I bid you
farewell forever." I flew precipitately by him, and went into the
parlor, where I found Mr. Boyer and my mamma, the one traversing the
room in the greatest agitation, the other in a flood of tears. Their
appearance affected me, and I wept like an infant. When I had a little
recovered myself, I begged him to sit down. He answered, No. I then told
him that however unjustifiable my conduct might appear, perhaps I might
explain it to his satisfaction if he would hear me; that my motives were
innocent, though they doubtless wore the aspect of criminality in his
view. He sternly replied, that no palliation could avail; that my
motives were sufficiently notorious. He accused me of treating him ill,
of rendering him the dupe of coquetting artifice, of having an intrigue
with Major Sanford, and declared his determination to leave me forever,
as unworthy of his regard, and incapable of love, gratitude, or honor.
There was too much reason in support of his accusations for me to
gainsay them, had his impetuosity suffered me to attempt it.
But, in truth, I had no inclination to self-defence. My natural vivacity
had forsaken me, and I listened without interrupting him to the fluency
of reproachful language which his resentment inspired. He took a very
solemn and affectionate leave of my mamma, thanking her for her
politeness, and wishing her much future felicity. He attempted to
address me, I suppose, somewhat in the same way; but his sensibility
somewhat overcame him, and he only took my hand, and, bowing in silence,
The want of rest for two long nights together, the exercise of mind, and
conflict of passions which now tortured my breast, were too much for me
When I saw that he was gone, that he had actually forsaken me, I
fainted. My mamma, with the assistance of the maid, soon restored me.
When I opened my eyes and beheld this amiable and tender parent watching
and attending me with the most anxious concern, without one reproachful
word, without one accusing look, my reflections upon the part I had
acted, in defeating her benevolent wishes, were exquisitely afflictive.
But we mutually forbore to mention the occasion of my illness; and I
complied with her advice to take some refreshment, and retire to my
chamber. I am so much fatigued by the exertions of the day that rest is
absolutely necessary; and I lay aside my pen to seek it.
_Friday morning_.--When I shall again receive the balmy influence of
sleep, I know not. It has absolutely forsaken me at present. I have had
a most restless night. Every awakening idea presented itself to my
imagination; whether I had sustained a real loss in Mr. Boyer's
departure, reflections on my own misconduct, with the censure of my
friends, and the ill-natured remarks of my enemies, excited the most
painful anxiety in my mind.
I am going down; but how shall I see my mamma? To her I will confess my
faults, in her maternal breast repose my cares, and by her friendly
advice regulate my conduct. Had I done this before, I might have escaped
this trouble, and saved both her and myself many distressing emotions.
_Friday evening_'.--I have had a long conversation with my mamma, which
has greatly relieved my mind. She has soothed me with the most endearing
Mr. Atkins, with whom Mr. Boyer lodged while in town, called here this
afternoon. I did not see him; but he told my mamma that Mr. Boyer had
returned home, and left a letter for me, which he had promised to convey
with his own hand. By this I am convinced that the die is absolutely
cast with respect to him, and that no attempts on my part to bring about
a reconciliation would be either prudent or successful. He has
penetrated the cause of my proceedings; and such is his resentment, that
I am inclined not much to regret his avoiding another interview.
My excuses would be deemed utterly insufficient, and truth would not
befriend and justify me.
As I know you are impatient to hear from me, I will now despatch this
long letter without any other addition than that I am your sincere
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Well, Charles, the show is over, as we Yankees say, and the girl is my
own; that is, if I will have her. I shall take my own time for that,
however. I have carried my point, and am amply revenged on the whole
posse of those dear friends of hers. She was entangled by a promise (not
to marry this priest without my knowledge) which her conscience would
not let her break. Thank God, I have no conscience. If I had, I believe
it would make wretched work with me. I suppose she intended to have one
or the other of us, but preferred me. I have escaped the noose this
time, and I'll be fairly hanged if I ever get so near it again; for
indeed, Charles, I was seriously alarmed. I watched all their motions,
and the appearance of harmony between them awakened all my activity and
zeal. So great was my infatuation, that I verily believe I should have
asked her in marriage, and risked the consequences, rather than to have
I went to the house while Mr. Boyer was in town; but her mamma refused
to call her, or to acquaint her that I was there. I then wrote a
despairing letter, and obtained a conference with her in the garden.
This was a fortunate event for me. True, Eliza was very haughty, and
resolutely insisted on an immediate declaration or rejection; and I
cannot say what would have been the result if Mr. Boyer had not
surprised us together. He gave us a pretty harsh look, and retired
without speaking a word.
I endeavored to detain Eliza, but in vain. She left me on my knees,
which are always ready to bend on such occasions.
This finished the matter, it seems. I rose, and went into a neighbor's
to observe what happened, and in about half an hour saw Mr. Boyer come
out and go to his lodgings. "This," said I to myself, "is a good omen."
I went home, and was informed, next day, that he had mounted his horse
I heard nothing more of her till yesterday, when I determined to know
how she stood affected towards me. I therefore paid her a visit, her
mamma being luckily abroad.
She received me very placidly, and told me, on inquiry, that Mr.
Boyer's resentment at her meeting me in the garden was so great that he
had bade her a final adieu. I congratulated myself on having no rival,
hoped that her favor would now be unbiased, and that in due time I
should reap the reward of my fidelity. She begged me not to mention the
subject, said she had been perplexed by our competition, and wished not
to hear any thing further about it at present. I bowed in obedience to
her commands, and changed the discourse.
I informed her that I was about taking a tour to the southward; that I
should be absent several months, and trusted that on my return her
embarrassments would be over.
I left her with regret After all, Charles, she is the _summum bonum_ of
my life. I must have her in some way or other. Nobody else shall, I am
I am making preparations for my journey, which, between you and me, is
occasioned by the prospect of making a speculation, by which I hope to
mend my affairs. The voyage will at least lessen my expenses, and screen
me from the importunity of creditors till I can look about me.
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
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
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.,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
I am extremely depressed, my dear Lucy. The agitating scenes through
which I have lately passed have broken my spirits, and rendered me unfit
for society. Major Sanford has visited me, and taken his leave. He is
gone to the southward on a tour of two or three months. I declined any
further conversation with him on the subject of love. At present I wish
not to hear it mentioned by any one.
I have received a very friendly and consolatory letter from Mrs.
Richman. She invites me to spend a few months with her, which, with my
mamma's consent, I shall do. I hope the change of situation and company
will dissipate the gloom which hangs over my mind.
It is a common observation, that we know not the value of a blessing but
by deprivation. This is strictly verified in my case. I was insensible
of my regard for Mr. Boyer till this fatal separation took place. His
merit and worth now appear in the brightest colors. I am convinced of
that excellence which I once slighted, and the shade of departed
happiness haunts me perpetually. I am sometimes tempted to write to him
and confess my faults; to tell him the situation of my mind, and to
offer him my hand; but he has precluded all hopes of success by the
severity of his letter to me. At any rate, I shall do nothing of the
kind till my return from New Haven.
I am the more willing to leave home as my affairs are made a town talk.
My mamma persuades me to disregard it; but how can I rise superior to
"the world's dread laugh, which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn"?
Pray remember me to Mr. Sumner. You are happy, my friend, in the love
and esteem of a worthy man, but more happy still in deserving them.
TO THE SAME.
I have returned to the once smiling seat of maternal affection; but I
find not repose and happiness even here.
In the society of my amiable friends at New Haven, I enjoyed every thing
that friendship could bestow; but rest to a disturbed mind was not in
I was on various parties of pleasure, and passed through different
scenes of amusement; but with me they have lost their charms. I relished
them not as formerly.
Mrs. Richman advises me to write to Mr. Boyer, and I have concluded to
act accordingly. If it answer no other purpose, it will be a relief to
my mind. If he ever felt for me the tenderness and regard which he
professed, I think they cannot be entirely obliterated. If they still
remain, perhaps I may rekindle the gentle flame, and we may both be
happy. I may at least recall his esteem, and that will be a satisfaction
to my conscious mind.
I wonder what has become of Major Sanford. Has he, too, forsaken me? Is
it possible for him wilfully to neglect me? I will not entertain so
injurious a suspicion. Yet, if it were the case, it would not affect me
like Mr. Boyer's disaffection; for I frankly own that my fancy, and a
taste for gayety of life, induced me to cherish the idea of a connection
with Major Sanford; while Mr. Boyer's real merit has imprinted those
sentiments of esteem and love in my heart which time can never efface.
Instead of two or three, more than twelve months have elapsed, and I
have not received a line from Major Sanford in all that time, which I
fully expected, though he made no mention of writing; nor have I heard a
syllable about him, except a report circulated by his servants, that he
is on the point of marrying, which I do not believe. No; it is
impossible. I am persuaded that his passion for me was sincere, however
deceitful he may have been with others. But I will not bestow an anxious
thought upon him. My design relative to Mr. Boyer demands my whole
My hopes and fears alternately prevail, and my resolution is extremely
fluctuating. How it finally terminates you shall hear in my next. Pray
write to me soon. I stand in need of the consoling power of friendship.
Nothing can beguile my pensive hours, and exhilarate my drooping
spirits, like your letters.
Let me know how you are to be entertained this winter at the theatre.
That, you know, is a favorite amusement of mine. You see I can step out
of myself a little. Afford an assisting hand, and perhaps I may again be
fit for society.
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
Sir: It is partly in compliance with your desire, in your last letter to
me, in which you tell me "that when I am convinced of the justice of
your conduct, and become a convert to your advice, you shall be happy to
hear it," and partly from a wish to inform you that such is in truth my
present state of mind, that I now write to you.
I cannot but hope that this letter, coming from the hand which you once
sought, will not be unacceptable.
Pope very justly observes, that "every year is a critic on the last."
The truth of this observation is fully exemplified in my years. How
severely this condemns the follies of the preceding, my own heart alone
I shall not offer any palliation or apology for my misconduct. You told
me it admitted none. I frankly confess it; and if the most humble
acknowledgment of my offences, with an assurance that they have cost me
the deepest repentance, can in any degree atone for them, I now make
that atonement. Casting off the veil of dissimulation, I shall write
with frankness, believing you possessed of more honor than to make any
ungenerous use of the confidence reposed in you.
To say that I ever esteemed you may, perhaps, appear paradoxical when
compared with certain circumstances which occurred during our
acquaintance; but to assert that I loved you may be deemed still more
so. Yet these are real facts--facts of which I was then sensible, and by
which I am now more than ever affected.