Part 3 out of 4
I think you formerly remarked that absence served but to heighten real
love. This I find by experience. Need I blush to declare these
sentiments, when occasion like this calls for the avowal? I will go even
further, and offer you that heart which you once prized, that hand which
you once solicited. The sentiments of affection which you then
cultivated, though suppressed, I flatter myself are not wholly
obliterated. Suffer me, then, to rekindle the latent flame, to revive
that friendship and tenderness which I have so foolishly neglected. The
endeavor of my future life shall be to reward your benevolence, and
perhaps we may yet be happy together.
But let not this offer of myself constrain you. Let not pity influence
your conduct. I would have your return, if that pleasing event take
place, a voluntary act. Receive, or consent not to confer, happiness.
I thought it a duty which I owed to you, and to myself, to make this
expiation, this sacrifice of female reserve, for the wrongs I have done
you. As such I wish you to accept it; and if your affections are
entirely alienated or otherwise engaged, if you cannot again command the
respect and love which I would recall, do not despise me for the
concessions I have made. Think as favorably of my past faults and of my
present disposition as charity will allow. Continue, if possible, to be
my friend, though you cease to be my lover.
Should this letter find you in the full possession of happiness, let not
the idea of your once loved Eliza, thus intruding itself again upon your
thoughts, interrupt your enjoyments. May some distinguished female, as
deserving as fair, partake with you of that bliss which I have
Whatever may be my destiny, my best wishes shall ever attend you, and a
pleasing remembrance of your honorable attentions preside, till death,
in the breast of
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
Madam: As I was sitting last evening in my study, a letter was handed me
by a servant; upon which I no sooner cast my eye than I recognized, with
surprise, the hand and seal of my once loved, but to me long lost,
Eliza. I opened it hastily, and with still greater surprise read the
You write with frankness; I shall answer in the same manner.
On reviewing our former intercourse, be assured that I have not an
accusing thought in my heart. The regard which I felt for you was tender
and animated, but it was not of that passionate kind which ends in
death or despair. It was governed by reason, and had a nobler object in
view than mere sensual gratification. It was excited by the appearance
of excellent qualities. Your conduct, at length, convinced me it was
misplaced; that you possessed not in reality those charms which I had
fondly ascribed to you. They were inconsistent, I conceived, with that
artifice and dissimulation of which you strove to render me the dupe.
But, thank Heaven, the snare was broken. My eyes were open to discover
your folly; and my heart, engaged as it was, exerted resolution and
strength to burst asunder the chain by which you held me enslaved, and
to assert the rights of an injured man.
The parting scene you remember. I reluctantly bade you adieu. I tore
myself from you, determined to eradicate your idea from my breast. Long
and severe was the struggle; at last I vanquished, as I thought, every
tender passion of my soul, (for they all centred in you,) and resigned
myself to my God and my duty, devoting those affections to friendship
which had been disappointed in love. But they are again called into
exercise. The virtuous, the amiable, the accomplished Maria Selby
possesses my entire confidence and esteem; and I trust I am not deceived
when I think her highly deserving of both. With her I expect soon to be
united in the most sacred and endearing of human relations, with her to
pass my future days in serenity and peace.
Your letter, therefore, came too late, were there no other obstacle to
the renewal of our connection. I hope at the close of life, when we take
a retrospect of the past, that neither of us shall have reason to regret
Permit me to add, that for your own sake, and for the sake of your
ever-valued friends, I sincerely rejoice that your mind has regained its
native strength and beauty; that you have emerged from the shade of
fanciful vanity. For although, to adopt your own phrase, I cease to
style myself your lover, among the number of your friends I am happy to
be reckoned. As such, let me conjure you, by all that is dear and
desirable, both in this life and another, to adhere with undeviating
exactness to the paths of rectitude and innocence, and to improve the
noble talents which Heaven has liberally bestowed upon you in rendering
yourself amiable and, useful to your friends. Thus will you secure your
own, while you promote the happiness of all around you.
I shall ever cherish sentiments of kindness towards you, and with
gratitude remember your condescension in the testimony of regard which
you have given me in your last letter.
I hope soon to hear that your heart and hand are bestowed on some worthy
man, who deserves the happiness you are formed to communicate. Whatever
we may have called errors will, on my part, be forever buried in
oblivion; and for your own peace of mind I entreat you to forget that
any idea of a connection between us ever existed.
I shall always rejoice at the news of your welfare, and my ardent
prayers will daily arise for your temporal and eternal felicity.
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
Health, placid serenity, and every domestic pleasure are the lot of my
friend; while I, who once possessed the means of each, and the capacity
of tasting them, have been tossed upon the waves of folly, till I am
shipwrecked on the shoals of despair.
O my friend, I am undone. I am slighted, rejected, by the man who once
sought my hand, by the man who still retains my heart. And what adds an
insupportable poignancy to the reflection is self-condemnation. From
this inward torture where shall I flee? Where shall I seek that
happiness which I have madly trifled away?
The enclosed letters[A] will show you whence this tumult of soul arises.
But I blame not Mr. Boyer. He has acted nobly. I approve his conduct,
though it operates my ruin.
He is worthy of his intended bride, and she is---what I am not--worthy
of him. Peace and joy be their portion both here and hereafter. But what
are now my prospects? What are to be the future enjoyments of my life?
O that I had not written to Mr. Boyer! By confessing my faults, and by
avowing my partiality to him, I have given him the power of triumphing
in my distress; of returning to my tortured heart all the pangs of
slighted love. And what have I now to console me? My bloom is
decreasing, my health is sensibly impaired. Those talents, with the
possession of which I have been flattered, will be of little avail when
unsupported by respectability of character. My mamma, who knows too well
the distraction of my mind, endeavors to soothe and compose me on
Christian principles; but they have not their desired effect. I dare not
converse freely with her on the subject of my present uneasiness, lest I
should distress her. I am therefore obliged to conceal my disquietude,
and appear as cheerful as possible in her company, though my heart is
ready to burst with grief. O that you were near me, as formerly, to
share and alleviate my cares!. To have some friend in whom I could
repose confidence, and with whom I could freely converse and advise on
this occasion, would be an unspeakable comfort. Such a one, next to
yourself, I think Julia Granby to be. With your leave and consent, I
should esteem it a special favor if she would come and spend a few
months with me. My mamma joins in this request. I would write to her on
the subject, but cannot compose myself at present. Will you prefer my
petition for me?
If I have not forfeited your friendship, my dear Mrs. Sumner, write to
me, and pour its healing balm into the wounded mind of your
[Footnote A: See the two preceding letters.]
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
Your truly romantic letter came safe to hand. Indeed, my dear, it would
make a very pretty figure in a novel. A bleeding heart, slighted love,
and all the _et ceteras_ of romance enter into the composition.
Excuse this raillery, and I will now write more seriously. You refer
yourself to my friendship for consolation. It shall be exerted for the
purpose. But I must act the part of a skilful surgeon, and probe the
wound which I undertake to heal.
Where, O Eliza Wharton, where is that fund of sense and sentiment which
once animated your engaging form? Where that strength of mind, that
independence of soul, that alacrity and sprightliness of deportment,
which formerly raised you superior to every adverse occurrence? Why have
you resigned these valuable endowments, and suffered yourself to become
the sport of contending passions?
You have now emerged from that mist of fanciful folly which in a measure
obscured the brilliance of your youthful days.
True, you figured among the first-rate coquettes, while your friends,
who knew your accomplishments, lamented the misapplication of them; but
now they rejoice at the returning empire of reason.
True, you have erred; misled by the gayety of your disposition, and that
volatility and inconsideration which were incident to your years; but
you have seen and nobly confessed your errors. Why do you talk of
slighted love? True, Mr. Boyer, supposing you disregarded him,
transferred his affections to another object; but have you not your
admirers still among men of real merit? Are you not esteemed and
caressed by numbers who know you capable of shining in a distinguished
sphere of life? Turn then, my friend, from the gloomy prospect which
your disturbed imagination has brought into view. Let reason and
religion erect their throne in your breast; obey their dictates, and be
happy. Past experience will point out the quicksands which you are to
avoid in your future course.
Date then, from this, a new era of life; and may every moment be
attended with felicity. Follow Mr. Boyer's advice and forget all former
Julia accepts your invitation. Nothing short of your request could
induce me to part with her. She is a good girl, and her society will
amuse and instruct you. I am, &c.,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
My Julia Granby has arrived. She is all that I once was--easy,
sprightly, _debonnaire_. Already has she done much towards relieving my
mind. She endeavors to divert and lead my thoughts into a different
channel from that to which they are now prone. Yesterday we had each an
invitation to a ball. She labored hard to prevail on me to go, but I
obstinately refused. I cannot yet mix with gay and cheerful circles. I
therefore alleged that I was indisposed, and persuaded her to go without
The events of my life have always been unaccountably wayward. In many
instances I have been ready to suppose that some evil genius presided
over my actions, which has directed them contrary to the sober dictates
of my own judgment. I am sometimes tempted to adopt the sentiment
expressed in the following lines of the poet:--
"To you, great gods, I make my last appeal;
O, clear my conscience, or my crimes reveal!
If wandering through the paths of life I've run,
And backward trod the steps I sought to shun,
Impute my errors to your own decree;
My feet were guilty, but my heart was free."
I suppose you will tell me that the fate I accuse through the poet is
only the result of my own imprudence. Well, be it what it may,--either
the impulse of my own passions or some higher efficiency,--sure I am
that I pay dear for its operation.
I have heard it remarked that experience is the preceptor of fools, but
that the wise need not its instruction. I believe I must be content to
rank accordingly, and endeavor to reap advantage from its tuition.
Julia urges me to revisit the scenes of amusements and pleasure, in
which, she tells me, she is actuated by selfish motives. She wishes it
for her own sake. She likes neither to be secluded from them nor to go
alone. I am sometimes half inclined to seek in festive mirth a refuge
from thought and reflection. I would escape, if possible, from the idea
of Mr. Boyer. This I have never been able to accomplish since he dropped
a tear upon my hand and left me. I marked the spot with my eye, and
twenty times in a day do I view it, and fondly imagine it still there.
How could I give him pain! I hope his happy Maria never will. I hope she
will reward that merit which I have slighted. But I forbear. This theme
carries away my pen if I but touch upon it. And no wonder, for it is the
sole exercise of my thoughts. Yet I will endeavor to divert them. Send
me some new books; not such, however, as will require much attention.
Let them be plays and novels, or any thing else that will amuse or
extort a smile. Julia and I have been rambling in the garden. She
insisted upon my going with her into the arbor, where I was surprised
with Major Sanford. What a crowd of painful ideas rushed upon my
imagination! I believe she repented of her rashness. But no more of
this. I must lay aside my pen, for I can write nothing else.
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
Dear madam: You commanded me to write you respecting Miss Wharton, and I
obey. But I cannot describe to you the surprising change which she has
undergone. Her vivacity has certainly forsaken her; and she has actually
become, what she once dreaded above all things, a recluse. She flies
from company as eagerly as she formerly sought it; her mamma is
exceedingly distressed by the settled melancholy which appears in her
darling child; but neither of us think it best to mention the subject to
her. We endeavor to find means to amuse her; and we flatter ourselves
that the prospect of success rather increases. It would add greatly to
my happiness to contribute, in any degree, to restore her to herself, to
her friends, and to society.
We are all invited to dine abroad to-morrow; and, to oblige me, she has
consented to go.
Pray, madam, write to her often. Your letters may do much for her. She
is still feelingly alive to the power of friendship; and none can
exercise it upon her to greater acceptance or with more advantage than
Major Sanford's house is undergoing a complete repair. The report is,
that he is soon to be married. Miss Wharton has heard, but does not
believe it. I hope for her sake it will prove true; for, at any rate, he
is about returning; and from her mamma's account of his past conduct
towards Eliza, were he to return unconnected, he would probably renew
his attentions; and though they might end in marriage, her happiness
would not be secured. She has too nice a sense of love and honor to
compound with his licentious principles. A man who has been dissolute
before marriage will very seldom be faithful afterwards.
I went into Eliza's chamber the other day, and found her with a
miniature picture in her hand. "You pretend to be a physiognomist,
Julia," said she. "What can you trace in that countenance?" I guessed
whose it was; and looking wistfully at it, replied, "I believe the
original is an artful, designing man. He looks to me like a
Chesterfieldian. Pray who is he?" "Major Sanford," said she; "and I am
afraid you have hit his character exactly. Sure I am that the appearance
of those traits in it has made my heart ache." She wept as she spoke it.
Poor girl, I wish he may never give you greater cause to weep! She is
strongly blind to the vices and imperfections of this man. Though
naturally penetrating, he has somehow or other cast a deceptious mist
over her imagination with respect to himself. She professes neither to
love nor esteem him, and owns that his ungenerous artifice misled her in
her treatment of Mr. Boyer. Yet she has forgiven him, and thinks him a
How prone to error is the human mind! how much lighter than the breath
of zephyrs the operations of fancy! Strange, then, it should ever
preponderate over the weightier powers of the understanding.
But I will not moralize. My business here is to dissipate, not to
collect, ideas; and I must regulate myself accordingly.
I am endeavoring to prepare Eliza, by degrees, to accompany me to Boston
the ensuing winter, but think it doubtful whether I shall succeed. I
shall, however, return myself: till when, I am, &c.,
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
My dear Eliza: I received yours of the 24th ult., and thank you for it,
though it did not afford me those lively sensations of pleasure which I
usually feel at the perusal of your letters. It inspired me both with
concern and chagrin--with concern lest your dejection of mind should
affect your health, and with chagrin at your apparent indulgence of
melancholy. Indeed, my friend, your own happiness and honor require you
to dissipate the cloud which hangs over your imagination.
Rise then above it, and prove yourself superior to the adverse
occurrences which have befallen you. It is by surmounting difficulties,
not by sinking under them, that we discover our fortitude. True courage
consists not in flying from the storms of life, but in braving and
steering through them with prudence. Avoid solitude. It is the bane of a
disordered mind, though of great utility to a healthy one. Your once
favorite amusements court your attention. Refuse not their
solicitations. I have contributed my mite by sending you a few books,
such as you requested. They are of the lighter kind of reading, yet
perfectly chaste, and, if I mistake not, well adapted to your taste.
You wish to hear from our theatre. I believe it will be well supplied
with performers this winter. Come and see whether they can afford you
any entertainment. Last evening I attended a tragedy; but never will I
attend another. I have not yet been able to erase the gloom which it
impressed upon my mind. It was Romeo and Juliet. Distressing enough to
sensibility this! Are there not real woes (if not in our own families,
at least among our own friends and neighbors) sufficient to exercise our
sympathy and pity, without introducing fictitious ones into our very
diversions? How can that be a diversion which racks the soul with grief,
even though that grief be imaginary? The introduction of a funeral
solemnity upon the stage is shocking indeed!
Death is too serious a matter to be sported with. An opening grave
cannot be a source of amusement to any considerate mind. The closing
scene of life can be no pastime when realized. It must therefore awaken
painful sensations in the representation.
The circus is a place of fashionable resort of late, but not agreeable
to-me. I think it inconsistent with the delicacy of a lady even to
witness the indecorums which are practised there, especially when the
performers of equestrian feats are of our own sex. To see a woman depart
so far from the female character as to assume the masculine habit and
attitude, and appear entirely indifferent even to the externals of
modesty, is truly disgusting, and ought not to be countenanced by our
attendance, much less by our approbation. But, setting aside the
circumstance, I cannot conceive it to be a pleasure to sit a whole
evening trembling with apprehension lest the poor wight of a horseman,
or juggler, or whatever he is to be called, should break his neck in
contributing to our entertainment.
With Mr. Bowen's museum I think you were much pleased. He has made a
number of judicious additions to it since you were here. It is a source
of rational and refined amusement. Here the eye is gratified, the
imagination charmed, and the understanding improved. It will bear
frequent reviews without palling on the taste. It always affords
something new; and, for one, I am never a weary spectator. Our other
public and private places of resort are much as you left them.
I am happy in my present situation; but when the summer returns, I
intend to visit my native home. Again, my Eliza, will we ramble together
in those retired shades which friendship has rendered so delightful to
us. Adieu, my friend, till then. Be cheerful, and you will yet be happy.
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
Gracious Heaven! What have I heard? Major Sanford is married! Yes; the
ungrateful, the deceitful wretch is married. He has forsworn, he has
perjured and given himself to another. That, you will say, is nothing
strange. It is characteristic of the man. It may be so; but I could not
be convinced of his perfidy till now.
Perhaps it is all for the best. Perhaps, had he remained unconnected, he
might still have deceived me; but now I defy his arts.
They tell me he has married a woman of fortune. I suppose he thinks, as
I once did, that wealth can insure happiness. I wish he may enjoy it.
This event would not affect me at all were it not for the depression of
spirits which I feel in consequence of a previous disappointment; since
which every thing of the kind agitates and overcomes me. I will not see
him. If I do, I shall betray my weakness, and flatter his vanity, as he
will doubtless think he has the power of mortifying me by his
connection with another.
Before this news discomposed me, I had attained to a good degree of
cheerfulness. Your kind letter, seconded by Julia's exertions, had
assisted me in regulating my sensibility. I have been frequently into
company, and find my relish for it gradually returning.
I intend to accept the pleasure, to which you invite me, of spending a
little time with you this winter. Julia and I will come together.
Varying the scene may contribute effectually to dissipate the gloom of
my imagination. I would fly to almost any resort rather than my own
mind. What a dreadful thing it is to be afraid of one's own reflections,
which ought to be a constant source of enjoyment! But I will not
moralize. I am sufficiently melancholy without any additional cause to
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Dear Deighton: Who do you think is writing to you? Why, it is your old
friend, metamorphosed into a _married man_! You stare, and can hardly
credit the assertion. I cannot realize it myself; yet I assure you,
Charles, it is absolutely true. Necessity, dire necessity, forced me
into this dernier resort. I told you some time ago it would come to
I stood aloof as long as possible; but in vain did I attempt to shun the
noose. I must either fly to this resource or give up all my show,
equipage, and pleasure, and degenerate into a downright, plodding money
catcher for a subsistence. I chose the first; and who would not? Yet I
feel some remorse at taking the girl to wife from no better motives. She
is really too good for such an imposition. But she must blame herself if
she suffer hereafter; for she was visibly captivated by my external
appearance, and wanted but very little solicitation to confer herself
and fortune on so charming a fellow. Her parents opposed her inclination
for a while, because I was a stranger, and rather too gay for their
taste. But she had not been used to contradiction, and could not bear
it, and therefore they ventured not to cross her. So I bore off the
prize; and a prize she really is--five thousand pounds in possession,
and more in reversion, if I do not forfeit it. This will compensate for
some of my past mistakes, and set matters right for the present. I think
it doing much better than to have taken the little Lawrence girl I told
you of with half the sum. Besides, my Nancy is a handsomer and more
agreeable person; but that is of little consequence to me, you know.
"Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover." Were I a lover, it would be
of no great avail. A lover I am, yet not of my wife. The dart which I
received from Miss Wharton sticks fast in my heart; and, I assure you, I
could hardly persuade myself even to appear unfaithful to her. O Eliza!
accuse me not of infidelity; for your image is my constant companion. A
thousand times have I cursed the unpropitious stars which withheld from
her a fortune. That would have enabled me to marry her; and with her
even wedlock would have been supportable.
I am told that she is still single. Her sober lover never returned. Had
he loved as I did, and do, he could not have been so precipitate. But
these stoic souls are good for nothing, that I know of, but,
"Fixed, like a plant, to one peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot."
I want to see Eliza, and I must see her; yet I dread an interview. I
shall frankly confess my motives for marrying, and the reasons of my
conduct before I went away. I shall own that my circumstances would not
allow me to possess her, and yet that I could not resign her to another.
When I make up the matter with her, I shall solicit her friendship for
my wife. By this means I may enjoy her society, at least, which will
alleviate the confinement of a married state. To my spouse I must be as
civil as possible. I really wish she had less merit, that I might have a
plausible excuse for neglecting her.
To-morrow I shall go to Mrs. Wharton's. I am very much taken up with
complimental visits at present. What deference is always paid to
equipage! They may talk of their virtue, their learning, and what not;
but, without either of them, I shall bear off the palm of respect from
those who have them, unadorned with gold and its shining appendages.
Every thing hereabouts recalls Eliza to my mind. I impatiently
anticipate the hour which will convey me to her presence.
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
A new scene has opened upon us to-day, my dear Mrs. Sumner--a visit from
Major Sanford. My mamma, Miss Granby, and myself were sitting together
in the chamber. Miss Granby was entertaining us by reading aloud in
Millot's Elements of History, when a servant rapped at the door, and
handed in the following billet:--
"Will Miss Wharton condescend to converse a few moments with her
once-favored Sanford? He is but too sensible that he has forfeited all
claim to the privilege. He therefore presumes not to request it on the
score of merit, nor of former acquaintance, but solicits it from her
benevolence and pity."
I read and showed it to my mamma and Julia. "What," said I, "shall I do?
I wish not to see him. His artifice has destroyed my peace of mind, and
his presence may open the wounds which time is closing." "Act," said my
mamma, "agreeably to the dictates of your own judgment." "I see no harm
in conversing with him," said Julia. "Perhaps it may remove some
disagreeable thoughts which now oppress and give you pain. And as he is
no longer a candidate for your affections," added she with a smile, "it
will be less hazardous than formerly. He will not have the insolence to
speak, nor you the folly to hear, the language of love."
He was accordingly invited in. When I rose to go down, I hesitated, and
even trembled. "I fear," said I to myself, "it will be too much for me;
yet why should it? Conscious innocence will support me. This he has
not." When I entered the room he stepped forward to meet me. Confusion
and shame were visibly depicted in his countenance. He approached me
hastily and without uttering a word, took my hand. I withdrew it. "O
Miss Wharton," said he, "despise me not. I am convinced that I deserve
your displeasure and disdain; but my own heart has avenged your cause."
"To your own heart, then," said I, "I will leave you. But why do you
again seek an interview with one whom you have endeavored to
mislead--with one whom you have treated with unmerited neglect?"
"Justice to myself required my appearing before you, that, by confessing
my faults and obtaining your forgiveness, I might soften the reproaches
of my own mind." "Will you be seated, sir?" said I. "Will you," rejoined
he, "condescend to sit with me, Eliza?" "I will, sir," answered I "The
rights of hospitality I shall not infringe. In my own house, therefore,
I shall treat you with civility." "Indeed," said he, "you are very
severe; but I have provoked all the coldness and reserve which you can
"I am a married man, Eliza." "So I understand," said I; "and I hope you
will never treat your wife with that dissimulation and falsehood which
you have exercised towards me." "Would to Heaven," exclaimed he, "that
you were my wife. I should not, then, fail in my love or duty as a
husband; yet she is an amiable girl, and, had I a heart to give her, I
might still be happy; but that, alas! I can never recall." "Why, then,"
said I, "did you marry her? You were, doubtless, master of your own
actions." "No," said he, "I was not. The embarrassed state of my affairs
precluded the possibility of acting as I wished. Loving you most
ardently, I was anxious to prevent your union with another, till I could
so far improve my circumstances as to secure you from poverty and want
in a connection with me. My regard was too sincere to permit me to
deceive you by a marriage which might have proved unhappy for us both.
My pride forbade my telling you the motives of my delay; and I left you
to see if I could place myself in a situation worthy of your acceptance.
This I could not effect, and, therefore, have run the risk of my future
happiness by marrying a lady of affluence. This secures to me the
externals of enjoyment, but my heart, I fear, will never participate it;
yet it affords me some degree of satisfaction that I have not involved
you in distress. The only alleviation of which my banishment from you is
capable, is your forgiveness. In compassion, then, refuse it not. It
cannot injure you. To me it will be worth millions." He wept. Yes, Lucy,
this libertine, this man of pleasure and gallantly, wept. I really
pitied him from my heart. "I forgive you," said I, "and wish you happy;
yet on this condition only, that you never again pollute my ears with
the recital of your infamous passion. Yes, infamous I call it; for what
softer appellation can be given to such professions from a married man?
Harbor not an idea of me, in future, inconsistent with the love and
fidelity which you owe your wife; much less presume to mention it, if
you wish not to be detested by me, and forever banished from my
presence." He expressed gratitude for his absolution, even upon these
terms, and hoped his future conduct would entitle him to my friendship
and esteem. "That," I replied, "time only can determine."
One favor more he begged leave to solicit; which was, that I would be a
neighbor to his wife. "She was a stranger," he said, "and would deem my
society a particular privilege." This, I told him, I could not grant at
present, whatever I might do hereafter. He did not urge it any further,
but inquired after my mamma, and expressed a wish to see her. I rang the
bell, and ordered her and Miss Granby to be called. When they came he
was very polite to them both, and, after usual compliments, told my
mamma that he was happy in having obtained my forgiveness, to which he
was anxious to have her seal affixed. "My daughter," said she, "is the
injured party; and if she be satisfied, I shall not complain." He
thanked her for her condescension, informed her that he was married, and
requested her to visit his wife. We then conversed upon different
subjects for a short time, and he took his leave. A sigh escaped him as
he departed, and a gloom was visible in his countenance which I never
I must acknowledge that this interview has given me satisfaction. I have
often told you, that if I married Major Sanford, it would be from a
predilection for his situation in life. How wretched must have been my
lot, had I discovered, too late, that he was by no means possessed of
the independence which I fondly anticipated! I knew not my own heart,
when I contemplated a connection with him. Little did I think that my
regard for Mr. Boyer was so deeply rooted as I now find it. I foolishly
imagined that I could turn my affections into what channel I pleased.
What, then, must have been my feelings, when I found myself deprived
both of inward peace and outward enjoyment! I begin now to emerge from
the darkness in which I have been long benighted. I hope the tragic
comedy, in which I have acted so conspicuous a part, will come to a
Julia and I talk, now and then, of a journey to Boston. As yet, I have
not resolution to act with much decision upon the subject; but, wherever
I am, and whatever may be my fate, I shall always be yours in truth,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
I begin to hope we shall come to rights here by and by. Major Sanford
has returned, has made us a visit, and a treaty of peace and amity (but
not of commerce) is ratified. Eliza appears to be rapidly returning to
her former cheerfulness--if not gayety. I hope she will not diverge too
far from her present sedateness and solidity; yet I am not without
apprehensions of danger on that score. One extreme commonly succeeds
another. She tells me that she assiduously cultivates her natural
vivacity; that she finds her taste for company and amusements
increasing; that she dreads being alone, because past scenes arise to
view which vex and discompose her.
These are indications of a mind not perfectly right. I flatter myself,
however, that the time is not far distant when her passions will vibrate
I need not repeat to you any thing relative to Major Sanford's
conciliatory visit. Eliza has given you a particular, and, I believe, a
faithful detail. I was called down to see this wonderful man, and
disliked him exceedingly. I am astonished that Eliza's penetrating eye
has not long since read his vices in his very countenance. I am told by
a friend, who has visited them, that he has an agreeable wife; and I
wish she may find him a husband of the same description; but I very much
doubt the accomplishment of my wish, for I have no charity for these
We were walking abroad the other afternoon, and met Major Sanford and
lady. Eliza did not see them till they were very near us. She started,
turned pale, and then colored like crimson. I cannot but think a little
envy rankled in her heart. Major Sanford very politely accosted us, and
congratulated Mrs. Sanford on this opportunity of introducing her to a
particular friend, presenting Eliza. She received her with an easy
dignity, and bade her welcome to this part of the country. Mrs. Sanford
answered her modestly, hoped for the pleasure of a further acquaintance,
and urged us, as we were not far from their house, to return with them
to tea. We declined, and wishing each other good evening, parted. Major
Sanford's eyes were riveted on Eliza the whole time we were together,
and he seemed loath to remove them when we separated. I suspect there is
some truth in his tale of love. I shall therefore discourage Eliza from
associating with him under any pretext whatever. She appeared more
pensive and thoughtful than common as we returned home, and said little
the rest of the evening, but next morning was as chatty as ever.
She is warm in the praises of Mrs. Sanford, thinks her an accomplished
woman, and wonders that the major could suggest an idea of marrying her
for her money. She intends, she says, to visit her soon, and wishes me
to accompany her. This, for her own sake, I shall defer as long as
possible. I am, &c.,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
By Julia's advice we have neglected the repeated invitations of Major
Sanford to visit and commence neighborhood with them till yesterday,
when we received a polite billet requesting the honor of our company to
dine. My mamma declined going, but said she had no objection to our
compliance with the message if we thought proper. Julia and I
accordingly went. We found a large company assembled in a spacious hall,
splendidly furnished and decorated. They were all very polite and
attentive to me, but none more so than Major Sanford and his lady, who
jointly strove to dissipate the pensiveness of my mind, which I found it
impossible to conceal. When we were summoned to dinner, the major, being
near me, offered his hand, and, leading me into the dining room, seated
me at a table furnished with all the variety which could please the eye
or regale the taste of the most luxurious epicure. The conversation
turned on various subjects--literary, political, and miscellaneous. In
the evening we had a ball. Major Sanford gave the hand of his wife to a
Mr. Grey, alleging that he was a stranger, and therefore entitled to
particular attention, and then solicited mine himself. I was on the
point of refusing him, but recollecting that it might have the
appearance of continued resentment, contrary to my declaration of
forgiving what was past, I complied. He was all kindness and assiduity;
the more so, I imagined, with a view to make amends for his former
ingratitude and neglect. Tenderness is now peculiarly soothing to my
wounded heart. He took an opportunity of conversing with his wife and me
together, hoped she would be honored with my friendship and
acquaintance, and begged for her sake that I would not be a stranger at
his house. His Nancy, he said, was far removed from her maternal
friends, but I could supply their place if I would generously undertake
the task. She joined in expressing the same sentiments and wishes.
"Alas! sir," said I, "Eliza Wharton is not now what she once was. I
labor under a depression of spirits which must render my company rather
painful than pleasing to my friends." The idea of what I had been,
contrasted with what I then was, touched my sensibility, and I could not
restrain the too officious tear from stealing down my cheek. He took me
by the hand, and said, "You distress me, Miss Wharton; indeed you
distress me. Happiness must and shall attend you. Cursed be the wretch
who could wound a heart like yours."
Julia Granby now joined us. An inquisitive concern was visible in her
I related this conversation to her after we returned home; but she
approved it not.
She thought Major Sanford too particularly attentive to me, considering
what had previously happened. She said it would be noticed by others,
and the world would make unfavorable remarks upon any appearance of
intimacy between us. "I care not for that," said I; "it is an
ill-natured, misjudging world, and I am not obliged to sacrifice my
friends to its opinion. Were Major Sanford a single man, I should avoid
his society; but since he is married, since his wife is young,
beautiful, and lovely, he can have no temptation to injure me. I
therefore see no evil which can arise from the cultivation of friendship
with her at least. I relish company so little, that I may surely be
indulged in selecting that which is most agreeable to my taste, to
prevent my becoming quite a misanthrope." I thank you, my dear Mrs.
Sumner, for your kind letter. It was a seasonable cordial to my mind,
and I will endeavor to profit by your advice. Your remarks on the public
entertainments are amusing, and, as far as I am a judge, perfectly
just. I think it a pity they have not female managers for the theatre. I
believe it would be under much better regulations than at present.
With cordial respects to Mr. Sumner, I subscribe myself, yours in
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Rejoice with me, my friend, that I have made my peace with the mistress
of my heart. No devotee could have been more sincere in his penitence
than I was in mine. Indeed, Charles, I never knew I had so much
sensibility before. Why, I was as much a woman as the very weakest of
But I dealt very plainly and sincerely with her, to be sure; and this
atones for all past offences, and procures absolution for many others
yet to be committed.
The dear girl was not inexorable; she was as placable and condescending
as I could expect, considering the nature of the crime, which was
apparently slighting her person and charms by marrying another. This,
you know, is one of the nicest points with the ladies. Attack their
honor, that is, their chastity, and they construe it to be the effect of
excessive love, which hurries you a little beyond the bounds of
prudence. But touch their vanity by preferring another, and they will
seldom pardon you. You will say I am very severe upon the sex; and have
I not reason to be so, since I have found so many frail ones among them?
This, however, is departing from my subject.
Eliza is extremely altered. Her pale, dejected countenance, with the
sedateness of her manners, so different from the lively glow of health,
cheerfulness, and activity which formerly animated her appearance and
deportment, struck me very disagreeably.
With all my gallantry and fluency in love matters, I was unable to
acquit myself tolerably, or to address her with any degree of ease and
confidence. She was very calm, and spoke with great indifference about
my marriage, &c., which mortified me exceedingly. Yet I cannot consent
to believe that her present depression of spirits arises solely from
Mr. Boyer's infidelity. I flatter myself that I am of sufficient
consequence to her to have contributed in a degree.
When I inquired after her health, she told me she had been indisposed;
but was now much better. This indisposition, I am informed, was purely
mental; and I am happy to observe her recovering from it. I frequently
visit her, sometimes with and sometimes without my wife, of whom,
through my mediation, she has become a favorite. I have married, and
according to the general opinion reformed. Yet I suspect my reformation,
like most others of the kind, will prove instable as "the baseless
fabric of a vision," unless I banish myself entirely from her society.
But that I can never do; for she is still lovely in my eyes, and I
cannot control my passions.
When absent from her I am lost to every thing but her idea. My wife
begins to rally me on my fondness for Miss Wharton. She asked me the
other day if she had a fortune. "No," said I; "if she had I should have
married her." This wounded her sensibility. I repented of my sincerity,
and made my peace for that time. Yet I find myself growing extremely
irritable, and she must take heed how she provokes me; for I do not love
her, and I think the name of wife becomes more and more distasteful to
me every day.
In my mind, Eliza has no competitor. But I must keep up appearances,
though I endeavor to regain her love. I imagine that the enjoyment of
her society as a neighbor and friend may content me for the present, and
render my condition supportable.
Farewell, Charles. I hope you will never be embarrassed with a wife, nor
lack some favorite nymph to supply the place of one.
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
Dear Lucy: I intended this week to have journeyed to Boston with Julia
Granby; but my resolution fails me. I find it painful even to think of
mixing again with the gay multitude. I believe the melancholy
reflections by which I am oppressed will be more effectually, if not
more easily, surmounted by tarrying where they are rendered familiar,
than by going from them awhile and then returning.
Julia will therefore go without me. I envy her no enjoyment there,
except your company.
The substitution of friendship, in the place of love, for Major Sanford,
I find productive of agreeable sensations. With him, he assures me, it
is a far more calm and rational pleasure. _He_ treats me with the
affection and tenderness of a brother, and his _wife,_ who exceeds him
in professions of regard, with all the consoling softness and attention
of a sister. Indeed, their politeness has greatly contributed to revive
the cheerfulness of my natural disposition. I believe the major's former
partiality to me as a lover is entirely obliterated; and for my part, I
feel as little restraint in his company and his lady's as in that of any
other in the neighborhood.
I very much regret the departure of Julia, and hope you will permit her
to return to me again as soon as possible. She is a valuable friend. Her
mind is well cultivated, and she has treasured up a fund of knowledge
and information which renders her company both agreeable and useful in
every situation of life. We lately spent the afternoon and evening at
Mr. Smith's. They had a considerable number of visitants, and among the
rest Major Sanford. His wife was expected, but did not come, being
I believe, my friend, you must excuse me if my letters are shorter than
formerly. Writing is not so agreeable to me as it used to be. I love my
friends as well as ever, but I think they must be weary of the gloom and
dulness which pervade my present correspondence. When my pen shall have
regained its original fluency and alertness, I will resume and prolong
the pleasing task.
I am, my dear Lucy, yours most affectionately,
TO THE SAME.
Dear madam: Agreeably to your desire every art has been tried, every
allurement held out, every argument used, and every plan adopted, which
Mrs. Wharton and I could devise to induce Eliza to accompany me to
Boston; but all in vain. Sometimes she has been almost persuaded to a
compliance with our united request, but soon has resolutely determined
against it. I have observed her sentiments to be suddenly changed after
being in company with Major Sanford. This alarms us exceedingly. Indeed,
the major seems to have insinuated himself into her good opinion more
than ever. She is flattered into the belief that his attention to her is
purely the result of friendship and benevolence.
I have not so favorable an opinion of the man as to suppose him capable
of either. He has become very familiar here. He calls in almost every
day. Sometimes he but just inquires after our health, and sometimes
makes long visits. The latter is his invariable practice when he finds
Eliza alone. Mrs. Wharton always avoids seeing him if she can. She
dreads, she says, his approaching the house.
I entered the parlor the other day, somewhat suddenly, and found him
sitting very near Eliza, in a low conversation. They both rose in
apparent confusion, and he soon retired.
When he was gone, "I suspect," said I, "that the major was whispering a
tale of love, Eliza." "Do you imagine," said she, "that I would listen
to such a theme from a married man?" "I hope not," said I, "but his
conduct towards you indicates a revival of his former sentiments, at
least." "I was not aware of that," said she. "As yet I have observed
nothing in his behavior to me inconsistent with the purest friendship."
We drank tea not long since at Mr. Smith's. Late in the afternoon Major
Sanford made his appearance, to apologize, as he said, for Mrs. Sanford,
who was indisposed, and could not enjoy the pleasure of the visit she
had contemplated. He was very gay the whole evening; and when the
company separated, he was the first to present his arm to Eliza, who
accepted it without hesitation. A Mr. Newhall attended me, and we
endeavored to keep them company; but they evidently chose to walk by
themselves. Mr. Newhall observed, that if Major Sanford were not married
he should suspect he still intended a union with Miss Wharton. I
replied, that their former intercourse, having terminated in friendship,
rendered them more familiar with each other than with the generality of
When we reached the house, Mr. Newhall chose not to go in, and took his
leave. I waited at the door for Eliza and Major Sanford. At some little
distance, I saw him press her hand to his lips. It vexed me exceedingly;
and no sooner had they come up, than I sullenly bade them good night,
and walked directly in. Eliza soon followed me. I sat down by the fire
in a thoughtful posture. She did the same. In this situation we both
remained for some time without speaking a word. At length she said, "You
seem not to have enjoyed your walk, Miss Granby: did you not like your
gallant?" "Yes," said I, "very well; but I am mortified that you were
not better provided for." "I make no complaint," rejoined she; "I was
very well entertained." "That is what displeases me," said I; "I mean
your visible fondness for the society of such a man. Were you averse to
it, as you ought to be, there would be no danger. But he has an alluring
tongue and a treacherous heart. How can you be pleased and entertained
by his conversation? To me it appears totally repugnant to that
refinement and delicacy for which you have always been esteemed.
"His assiduity and obtrusion ought to alarm you. You well know what his
character has been. Marriage has not changed his disposition. It is only
a cloak which conceals it. Trust him not, then, my dear Eliza; if you
do, depend upon it you will find his professions of friendship to be
mere hypocrisy and deceit. I fear that he is acting over again the same
unworthy arts which formerly misled you. Beware of his wiles. Your
friends are anxious for you. They tremble at your professed regard and
apparent intimacy with that unprincipled man." "My friends," said she,
"are very jealous of me lately. I know not how I have forfeited their
confidence, or incurred their suspicion." "By encouraging that
attention," I warmly replied, "and receiving those caresses, from a
married man which are due from him to none but his wife. He is a villain
if he deceived her into marriage by insincere professions of love. If he
had then an affection for her, and has already discarded it, he is
equally guilty. Can _you_ expect sincerity from the man who withholds it
from an amiable and deserving wife? No, Eliza; it is not love which
induces him to entertain you with the subject. It is a baser passion;
and if you disdain not his artifice, if you listen to his flattery, you
will, I fear, fall a victim to his evil machinations. If he conducted
like a man of honor, he would merit your esteem; but his behavior is
quite the reverse: yet, vile as he is, he would not dare to lisp his
insolent hopes of your regard if you punished his presumption with the
indignation it deserves; if you spurned from your presence the
ungrateful wretch who would requite your condescension by triumphing in
She now burst into tears, and begged me to drop the subject. Her mind,
she said, was racked by her own reflections. She could bear but little.
Kindness deceived, and censure distressed her.
I assured her of my good intentions; that, as I saw her danger, I
thought it a duty of the friendship and affection I bore her solemnly to
warn her against it before we parted. We talked over the matter more
calmly, till she professed herself resolved in future to avoid his
company, and reject his insinuations.
The next day, as I walked out, I met Major Sanford. He accosted me very
civilly. I barely bade him good morning, and passed on.
I made it in my way to call at his house, and bid Mrs. Sanford adieu;
not expecting another opportunity equally favorable. When I entered the
parlor, she was playing a melancholy air on the harpsichord. She rose,
and gave me a polite and graceful reception. I told her, as I was soon
to leave the town, I called to take my leave of her--a compliment which
her attention to me required. "Are you going to leave us then, Miss
Granby?" said she. "I shall regret your departure exceedingly. I have so
few friends in this part of the country, that it will give me sensible
pain to part with one I so highly value."
I told her, in the course of conversation, that I expected the pleasure
of seeing her yesterday at Mr. Smith's, and was very sorry for the
indisposition which prevented her favoring us with her company.
"Indeed," said she, "I did not know I was expected there. Were you
there, pray?" "Yes," said I; "and Major Sanford excused your not coming,
on the account I have mentioned." "Well," said she, "this is the first
word that I ever heard about it; he told me that business led him
abroad. Did he gallant any lady?" "O," said I, "he was with us all
together. We had no particular gallants."
Seeing her curiosity excited, I heartily repented saying any thing of
the matter, and waived the subject. Little did I suspect him to have
been guilty of so base an artifice. It was evidently contrived to
facilitate an interview with Eliza.
When I returned, I related this affair to Mrs. Wharton and her daughter.
The old lady and I expatiated largely on the vileness of this conduct,
and endeavored to expose it to Eliza's view in its true colors. She
pretended not to justify it; yet she looked as if she wished it in her
I am now preparing for my journey to Boston, which I must, however,
defer another week for the sake of a more agreeable passage in the
stage. I regret leaving Eliza. I tremble at her danger. She has not the
resolution to resist temptation which she once possessed. Her mind is
surprisingly weakened. She appears sensible of this, yet adds to it by
yielding to her own imbecility. You will receive a letter from her with
this, though I had much difficulty to persuade her to write. She has
unfortunately become very averse to this, her once favorite amusement.
As I shall soon have the pleasure of conversing with you personally, I
conclude without any other addition to this scrawl than the name of your
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
My dear friend: I have received your letters, and must own to you that
the perusal of them gave me pain. Pardon my suspicions, Eliza; they are
excited by real friendship. Julia, you say, approves not Major Sanford's
particular attention to you. Neither do I. If you recollect and examine
his conversation in his conciliatory visit, you will find it replete
with sentiments for the avowal of which he ought to be banished from all
Does he not insidiously declare that you are the only object of his
affections; that his union with another was formed from interested
views; and, though that other is acknowledged to be amiable and
excellent, still he has not a heart to bestow, and expects not happiness
with her? Does this discover even the appearance of amendment? Has he
not, by false pretensions, misled a virtuous woman, and induced her to
form a connection with him? She was a stranger to his manner of life,
and doubtless allured, as you have been, by flattery, deceit, and
external appearance, to trust his honor, little thinking him wholly
devoid of that sacred tie. What is the reward of her confidence?
Insensibility to her charms, neglect of her person, and professed
attachment to another!
Is he a man, my dear Eliza, whose friendship you wish to cultivate? Can
that heavenly passion reside in a breast which is the seat of treachery,
duplicity, and ingratitude? You are too sensible of its purity and worth
to suppose it possible. The confessions of his own mouth condemn him.
They convince me that he is still the abandoned libertine, and that
marriage is but the cloak of his intrigues. His officious attentions to
you are alarming to your friends. Your own mind weakened, and peculiarly
susceptible of tender impressions, beware how you receive them from
him. Listen not a moment to his flattering professions; it is an insult
upon your understanding for him to offer them; it is derogatory to
virtue for you to hear them.
Slight not the opinion of the world. We are dependent beings; and while
the smallest traces of virtuous sensibility remain, we must feel the
force of that dependence in a greater or less degree. No female, whose
mind is uncorrupted, can be indifferent to reputation. It is an
inestimable jewel, the loss of which can never be repaired. While
retained, it affords conscious peace to our own minds, and insures the
esteem and respect of all around us.
Blessed with the company of so disinterested and faithful a friend as
Julia Granby, some deference is certainly due to her opinion and advice.
To an enlarged understanding, a cultivated taste, and an extensive
knowledge of the world, she unites the most liberal sentiments with a
benevolence and candor of disposition, which render her equally
deserving of your confidence and affection.
I cannot relinquish my claim to a visit from you this winter. Marriage
has not alienated nor weakened my regard for my friends. Come, then, to
your faithful Lucy. Have you sorrows? I will soothe and alleviate them.
Have you cares? I will dispel them. Have you pleasures? I will heighten
them. Come, then, let me fold you to my expecting heart. My happiness
will be partly suspended till your society renders it complete. Adieu.
TO MISS JULIA GRANBY.
Dear Julia: I hope Mrs. Sumner and you will excuse my writing but one
letter in answer to the number I have received from you both. Writing is
an employment which suits me not at present. It was pleasing to me
formerly, and therefore, by recalling the idea of circumstances and
events which frequently occupied my pen in happier days, it now gives me
pain. Yet I have just written a long consolatory letter to Mrs. Richman.
She has buried, her babe--her little Harriet, of whom she was dotingly
It was a custom with some of the ancients, we are told, to weep at the
birth of their children. Often should we be impelled to a compliance
with this custom, could we foresee the future incidents of their lives.
I think, at least, that the uncertainty of their conduct and condition
in more advanced age may reconcile us to their removal to a happier
state before they are capable of tasting the bitterness of woe.
"Happy the babe, who, privileged by fate
To shorter labors and a lighter weight,
Received but yesterday the gift of breath,
Ordered to-morrow to return to death."
Our domestic affairs are much as when you left us. Nothing remarkable
has occurred in the neighborhood worth communicating. The company and
amusements of the town are as usual, I suppose. I frequent neither of
them. Having incurred so much censure by the indulgence of a gay
disposition, I am now trying what a recluse and solitary mode of life
will, produce. You will call me splenetic. I own it. I am pleased with
nobody; still less with myself. I look around for happiness, and find it
not. The world is to me a desert. If I indulge myself in temporary
enjoyment, the consciousness or apprehension of doing amiss destroys my
peace of mind. And when I have recourse to books, if I read those of
serious descriptions, they remind me of an awful futurity, for which I
am unprepared; if history, it discloses facts in which I have no
interest; if novels, they exhibit scenes of pleasure which I have no
prospect of realizing.
My mamma is solicitously attentive to my happiness; and though she fails
of promoting it, yet I endeavor to save her the pangs of disappointment
by appearing what she wishes.
I anticipate, and yet I dread, your return; a paradox this, which time
alone can solve.
Continue writing to me, and entreat Mrs. Sumner, in my name, to do
likewise. Your benevolence must be your reward.
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
A paradox, indeed, is the greater part of your letter to us, my dear
Eliza. We had fondly flattered ourselves that the melancholy of your
mind was exterminated. I hope no new cause has revived it. Little did I
intend, when I left you, to have been absent so long; but Mrs. Summer's
disappointment, in her plan of spending the summer at Hartford, induced
me, in compliance with her request, to prolong my residence here. But
for your sake, she now consents to my leaving her, in hopes I may be so
happy as to contribute to your amusement.
I am both pleased and instructed by the conduct of this amiable woman.
As I always endeavored to imitate her discreet, and modest behavior in a
single state, so likewise shall I take her for a pattern should I ever
enter a married life. She is most happily united. Mr. Sumner, to all the
graces and accomplishments of the gentleman, adds the still more
important and essential properties of virtue, integrity, and honor. I
was once present when a person was recommended to her for a husband. She
objected that he was a rake. "True," said the other, "he has been, but
he has reformed." "That will never do for me," rejoined she; "I wish my
future companion to need no reformation"--a sentiment worthy the
attention of our whole sex; the general adoption of which, I am
persuaded, would have a happy influence upon the manners of the other.
I hope neither you nor I, Eliza, shall ever be tried by a man of
debauched principles. Such characters I conceive to be totally unfit
for the society of women who have any claim to virtue and delicacy.
I intend to be with you in about a month. If agreeable to you, we will
visit and spend a few weeks with the afflicted Mrs. Richman. I sincerely
sympathize with her under her bereavement. I know her fondness for you
will render your company very consoling to her; and I flatter myself
that I should not be an unwelcome guest.
Make my respects to your mamma, and believe me ever yours,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
Dear madam: I have arrived in safety to the mansion of our once happy
and social friends. But I cannot describe to you how changed, how
greatly changed this amiable family appears since I left it. Mrs.
Wharton met me at the door, and, tenderly embracing, bade me a cordial
welcome. "You are come, Julia," said she, "I hope, to revive and comfort
us. We have been very solitary during your absence." "I am happy,
madam," said I, "to return; and my endeavors to restore cheerfulness and
content shall not be wanting. But where is Eliza?" By this time we had
reached the back parlor, whither Mrs. Wharton led me; and, the door
being open, I saw Eliza reclined on a settee, in a very thoughtful
posture. When I advanced to meet her, she never moved, but sat, "like
Patience on a monument, smiling at Grief."
I stopped involuntarily, and involuntarily raising my eyes to heaven,
exclaimed, "Is that Eliza Wharton?" She burst into tears, and attempted
to rise, but sank again into her seat. Seeing her thus affected, I sat
down by her, and, throwing my arm about her neck, "Why these tears?"
said I. "Why this distress, my dear friend? Let not the return of your
Julia give you pain; she comes to soothe you with the consolations of
friendship." "It is not pain," said she, clasping me to her breast; "it
is pleasure too exquisite for my weak nerves to bear. See you not,
Julia, how I am altered? Should you have known me for the sprightly girl
who was always welcome at the haunts of hilarity and mirth?" "Indeed,"
said I, "you appear indisposed; but I will be your physician. Company
and change of air will, I doubt not, restore you." "Will these cure
disorders of the mind, Julia?" "They will have a powerful tendency to
remove them, if rightly applied; and I profess considerable skill in
that art Come," continued I, "we will try these medicines in the
morning. Let us rise early, and step into the chaise, and, after riding
a few miles, call and breakfast with Mrs. Freeman. I have some
commissions from her daughter. We shall be agreeably entertained there,
Being summoned to supper, I took her by the hand, and we walked into
another room, where we found her brother and his wife, with her mamma,
waiting for us. We were all very chatty; even Eliza resumed, in a
degree, her former sociability. A settled gloom, notwithstanding,
brooded on her countenance; and a deep sigh often escaped her in spite
of her evident endeavors to suppress it. She went to bed before us, when
her mamma informed me that her health had been declining for some
months; that she never complained, but studiously concealed every
symptom of indisposition. Whether it were any real disorder of body, or
whether it arose from her depression of spirits, she could not tell, but
supposed they operated together, and mutually heightened each other.
I inquired after Major Sanford; whether he and Eliza had associated
together during my absence. Sometimes, she said, they seemed on good
terms, and he frequently called to see her; at others they had very
little, if any, correspondence at all. She told me that Eliza never went
abroad, and was very loath to see company at home; that her chief
amusement consisted in solitary walks; that the dreadful idea of her
meeting Major Sanford in these walks had now and then intruded upon her
imagination; that she had not the least evidence of the fact, however,
and, indeed, was afraid to make any inquiries into the matter, lest her
own suspicions should be discovered; that the major's character was
worse than ever; that he was much abroad, and frequently entertained
large parties of worthless bacchanalians at his house; that common
report said he treated his wife with indifference, neglect, and ill
nature; with many other circumstances which it is not material to
Adieu, my dear friend, for the present. When occasion requires, you
shall hear again from your affectionate
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Good news, Charles, good news! I have arrived to the utmost bounds of my
wishes--the full possession of my adorable Eliza. I have heard a
quotation from a certain book, but what book it was I have forgotten, if
I ever knew. No matter for that; the quotation is, that "stolen waters
are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." If it has reference
to the pleasures which I have enjoyed with Eliza, I like it hugely, as
Tristram Shandy's father said of Yorick's sermon; and I think it fully
I had a long and tedious siege. Every method which love could suggest,
or art invent, was adopted. I was sometimes ready to despair, under an
idea that her resolution was unconquerable, her virtue impregnable.
Indeed, I should have given over the pursuit long ago, but for the hopes
of success I entertained from her parleying with me, and, in reliance
upon her own strength, endeavoring to combat and counteract my designs.
Whenever this has been the case, Charles, I have never yet been defeated
in my plan. If a lady will consent to enter the lists against the
antagonist of her honor, she may be sure of losing the prize. Besides,
were her delicacy genuine, she would banish the man at once who presumed
to doubt, which he certainly does who attempts to vanquish it. But far
be it from me to criticize the pretensions of the sex. If I gain the
rich reward of my dissimulation and gallantry, that, you know, is all I
To return, then, to the point. An unlucky, but not a miraculous accident
has taken place which must soon expose our amour. What can be done? At
the first discovery, absolute distraction seized the soul of Eliza,
which has since terminated in a fixed melancholy. Her health, too, is
much impaired. She thinks herself rapidly declining, and I tremble when
I see her emaciated form.
My wife has been reduced very low of late. She brought me a boy a few
weeks past, a dead one though.
These circumstances give me neither pain nor pleasure. I am too much
engrossed by my divinity to take an interest in any thing else. True, I
have lately suffered myself to be somewhat engaged here and there by a
few jovial lads who assist me in dispelling the anxious thoughts which
my perplexed situation excites. I must, however, seek some means to
relieve Eliza's distress. My finances are low; but the last fraction
shall be expended in her service, if she need it.
Julia Granby is expected at Mrs. Wharton's every hour. I fear that her
inquisitorial eye will soon detect our intrigue and obstruct its
continuation. Now, there's a girl, Charles, I should never attempt to
seduce; yet she is a most alluring object, I assure you. But the dignity
of her manners forbids all assaults upon her virtue. Why, the very
expression of her eye blasts in the bud every thought derogatory to her
honor, and tells you plainly that the first insinuation of the kind
would be punished with eternal banishment and displeasure. Of her there
is no danger. But I can write no more, except that I am, &c.,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
O my friend, I have a tale to unfold--a tale which will rend every nerve
of sympathizing pity, which will rack the breast of sensibility, and
unspeakably distress your benevolent heart. Eliza--O, the ruined, lost
I want words to express the emotions of indignation and grief which
oppress me. But I will endeavor to compose myself, and relate the
circumstances as they came to my knowledge.
After my last letter Eliza remained much in the same gloomy situation as
I found her. She refused to go, agreeably to her promise, to visit your
mamma, and, under one pretext or another, has constantly declined
accompanying me any where else since my arrival.
Till last Thursday night she slept in the same bed with me, when she
excused herself by saying she was restless, and should disturb my
repose. I yielded to her humor of taking a different apartment, little
suspecting the real cause. She frequently walked out, and though I
sometimes followed, I very seldom found her. Two or three times, when I
happened to be awake, I heard her go down stairs; and, on inquiry in the
morning, she told me that she was very thirsty, and went down for water.
I observed a degree of hesitancy in her answers for which I could not
account. But last night the dreadful mystery was developed. A little
before day, I heard the front door open with great caution. I sprang
from my bed, and, running to the window, saw by the light of the moon a
man going from the house. Soon after, I perceived a footstep upon the
stairs, which carefully approached, and entered Eliza's chamber.
Judge of my astonishment, my surprise, my feelings upon this occasion. I
doubted not but Major Sanford was the person I had seen; and the
discovery of Eliza's guilt in this infamous intrigue almost deprived me
of thought and recollection. My blood thrilled with horror at this
sacrifice of virtue. After a while I recovered myself, and put on my
clothes. But what to do I knew not--whether to go directly to her
chamber, and let her know that she was detected, or to wait another
I resolved on the first. The day had now dawned. I tapped at her door,
and she bade me come in. She was sitting in an easy chair by the side of
her bed. As I entered she withdrew her handkerchief from her face, and,
looking earnestly at me, said, "What procures me the favor of a visit at
this early hour, Miss Granby?" "I was disturbed," said I, "and wished
not to return to my bed. But what breaks your rest, and calls you up so
unseasonably, Eliza?" "Remorse and despair," answered she, weeping.
"After what I have witnessed, this morning," rejoined I, "I cannot
wonder at it. Was it not Major Sanford whom I saw go from the house some
time ago?" She was silent, but tears flowed abundantly. "It is too
late," continued I, "to deny or evade. Answer my question sincerely;
for, believe me, Eliza, it is not malice, but concern for you, which
prompts it." "I will answer you, Julia," said she. "You have discovered
a secret which harrows up my very soul--a secret which I wished you to
know, but could not exert resolution to reveal. Yes, it was Major
Sanford--the man who has robbed me of my peace, who has triumphed in my
destruction, and who will cause my sun to set at noon."
"I shudder," said I, "at your confession! Wretched, deluded girl! Is
this a return for your parent's love and assiduous care; for your
friends' solicitude and premonitory advice? You are ruined, you say! You
have sacrificed your virtue to an abandoned, despicable profligate! And
you live to acknowledge and bear your infamy!" "I do," said she; "but
not long shall I support this burden. See you not, Julia, my decaying
frame, my faded cheek, and tottering limbs? Soon shall I be insensible
to censure and reproach. Soon shall I be sequestered in that mansion
'where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at
rest.'" "Rest!" said I; "can you expect to find rest, either in this
world or another, with such a weight of guilt on your head?" She
exclaimed, with great emotion, "Add not to the upbraidings of a wounded
spirit. Have pity upon me, O my friend, have pity upon me. Could you
know what I suffer, you would think me sufficiently punished." "I wish
you no other punishment," said I, "than what may effect your repentance
and reformation. But your mother, Eliza! She cannot long be ignorant of
your fall; and I tremble to think of her distress. It will break her
widowed heart. How has she loved, how has she doted upon you! Dreadful
is the requital which you have made." "My mother," rejoined she, "O,
name her not! The very sound is distraction to me. O my Julia, if your
heart be not shut against mercy and compassion towards me, aid me
through this trying scene. Let my situation call forth your pity, and
induce you, undeserving as I am, to exert it in my behalf."
During this time, I had walked the chamber. My spirits had been raised
above their natural key, and were exhausted. I sat down, but thought I
should have fainted, till a copious flood of tears gave me relief. Eliza
was extremely affected. The appearance of calamity which she exhibited
would have softened the most obdurate anger. Indeed, I feared some
immediate and fatal effect. I therefore seated myself beside her; and
assuming an air of kindness, "Compose yourself, Eliza," said I; "I
repeat what I told you before--it is the purest friendship which thus
interests me in your concerns. This, under the direction of charity,
induces me again to offer you my hand. Yet you have erred against
knowledge and reason, against warning and counsel. You have forfeited
the favor of your friends, and reluctant will be their forgiveness." "I
plead guilty," said she, "to all your charges. From the general voice I
expect no clemency. If I can make my peace with my mother, it is all I
seek or wish on this side the grave. In your benevolence I confide for
this. In you I hope to find an intercessor. By the remembrance of our
former affection and happiness, I conjure you, refuse me not At present,
I entreat you to conceal from her this distressing tale. A short,
reprieve is all I ask." "Why," said I, "should you defer it? When the
painful task is over, you may find relief in her lenient kindness."
"After she knows my condition, I cannot see her," resumed she, "till I
am assured of her forgiveness. I have not strength to support the
appearance of her anger and grief. I will write to her what I cannot
speak. You must bear the melancholy message, and plead for me, that her
displeasure may not follow me to the grave, whither I am rapidly
hastening." "Be assured," replied I, "that I will keep your secret as
long as prudence requires. But I must leave you now; your mamma will
wonder at our being thus closeted together. When opportunity presents,
we will converse further on the subject. In the mean time keep yourself
as composed as possible, if you would avoid suspicion." She raised her
clasped hands, and with a piteous look, threw her handkerchief over her
face, and reclined in her chair, without speaking a word. I returned to
my chamber, and endeavored to dissipate every idea which might tend to
disorder my countenance, and break the silence I wished to observe
relative to what had happened.
When I went down, Mrs. Wharton desired me to step up and inform Eliza
that breakfast was ready. She told me she could not yet compose herself
sufficiently to see her mamma, and begged me to excuse her absence as I
thought proper. I accordingly returned for answer to Mrs. Wharton, that
Eliza had rested but indifferently, and being somewhat indisposed, would
not come down, but wished me to bring her a bowl of chocolate, when we
had breakfasted. I was obliged studiously to suppress even my thoughts
concerning her, lest the emotions they excited might be observed. Mrs.
Wharton conversed much of her daughter, and expressed great concern
about her health and state of mind. Her return to this state of
dejection, after having recovered her spirits and cheerfulness in a
great degree, was owing, she feared, to some cause unknown to her; and
she entreated me to extract the secret, if possible. I assured her of my
best endeavors, and doubted not, I told her, but I should be able in a
few days to effect what she wished.
Eliza came down and walked in the garden before dinner; at which she
commanded herself much better than I expected. She said that a little
ride might, she imagined, be of service to her, and asked me if I would
accompany her a few miles in the afternoon. Her mamma was much pleased
with the proposition, and the chaise was accordingly ordered.
I observed to Eliza, as we rode, that with her natural and acquired
abilities, with her advantages of education, with her opportunities of
knowing the world, and of tracing the virtues and vices of mankind to
their origin, I was surprised at her becoming the prey of an insidious
libertine, with whose character she was well acquainted, and whose
principles, she was fully apprised, would prompt him to deceive and
betray her. "Your surprise is very natural," said she. "The same will
doubtless be felt and expressed by every one to whom my sad story is
related. But the cause may be found in that unrestrained levity of
disposition, that fondness for dissipation and coquetry, which alienated
the affections of Mr. Boyer from me. This event fatally depressed and
enfeebled my mind. I embraced with avidity the consoling power of
friendship, insnaringly offered by my seducer; vainly inferring, from
his marriage with a virtuous woman, that he had seen the error of his
ways, and forsaken his licentious practices, as he affirmed, and I, fool
that I was, believed it.
"It is needless for me to rehearse the perfidious arts by which he
insinuated himself into my affections and gained my confidence. Suffice
it to say, he effected his purpose. But not long did I continue in the
delusive dream of sensual gratification. I soon awoke to a most poignant
sense of his baseness, and of my own crime and misery. I would have fled
from him; I would have renounced him forever, and by a life of sincere
humility and repentance endeavored to make my peace with Heaven, and to
obliterate, by the rectitude of my future conduct, the guilt I had
incurred; but I found it too late. My circumstances called for
attention; and I had no one to participate my cares, to witness my
distress, and to alleviate my sorrows, but him. I could not therefore
prevail on myself wholly to renounce his society. At times I have
admitted his visits, always meeting him in the garden, or grove
adjoining; till, of late, the weather and my ill health induced me to
comply with his solicitations, and receive him into the parlor.
"Not long, however, shall I be subject to these embarrassments. Grief
has undermined my constitution. My health has fallen a sacrifice to a
disordered mind. But I regret not its departure. I have not a single
wish to live. Nothing which the world affords can restore my former
serenity and happiness.
"The little innocent I bear will quickly disclose its mother's shame.
God Almighty grant it may not live as a monument of my guilt, and a
partaker of the infamy and sorrow, which is all I have to bequeath it.
Should it be continued in life, it will never know the tenderness of a
parent; and, perhaps, want and disgrace may be its wretched portion. The
greatest consolation I can have will be to carry it with me to a state
of eternal rest; which, vile as I am, I hope to obtain, through the
infinite mercy of Heaven, as revealed in the gospel of Christ. I must
see Major Sanford again. It is necessary to converse further with him in
order to carry my plan of operation into execution."
"What is this plan of operation, Eliza?" said I. "I am on the rack of
anxiety for your safety." "Be patient," continued she, "and you shall
soon be informed. To-morrow I shall write my dreadful story to my
mother. She will be acquainted with my future intentions; and you shall
know, at the same time, the destination of your lost friend." "I hope,"
said I, "that you have formed no resolution against your own life." "God
forbid," rejoined she. "My breath is in his hands; let him do what
seemeth good in his sight! Keep my secret one day longer, and I will never
more impose so painful a silence upon you."
By this time we had reached home. She drank tea with composure, and soon
retired to rest. Mrs. Wharton eagerly inquired whether I had found out
the cause of Eliza's melancholy. "I have urged her," said I, "on the
subject; but she alleges that she has particular reasons for present
concealment. She has, notwithstanding, promised to let me know the day
after to-morrow." "O," said she, "I shall not rest till the period
arrives." "Dear, good woman," said I to myself, "I fear you will never
This is our present situation. Think what a scene rises to the view of
your Julia. She must share the distress of others, though her own
feelings on this unhappy occasion are too keen to admit a moment's
serenity. My greatest relief is in writing to you; which I shall do
again by the next post. In the mean time, I must beg leave to subscribe
myself sincerely yours,
TO THE SAME.
All is now lost; lost indeed! She is gone! Yes, my dear friend, our
beloved Eliza is gone! Never more shall we behold this once amiable
companion, this once innocent and happy girl. She has forsaken, and, as
she says, bid an everlasting adieu to her home, her afflicted parent,
and her friends. But I will take up my melancholy story where I left it
in my last.
She went, as she told me she expected, into the garden, and met her
detestable paramour. In about an hour she returned, and went directly to
her chamber. At one o'clock I went up, and found her writing, and
weeping. I begged her to compose herself, and go down to dinner. No, she
said, she should not eat; and was not fit to appear before any body. I
remonstrated against her immoderate grief, represented the injury she
must sustain by the indulgence of it, and conjured her to suppress the
violence of its emotions.
She entreated me to excuse her to her mamma; said she was writing to
her, and found it a task too painful to be performed with any degree of
composure; that she was almost ready to sink under the weight of her
affliction; but hoped and prayed for support both in this and another
trying scene which awaited her. In compliance with her desire, I now
left her, and told her mamma that she was very busy writing, wished not
to be interrupted at present, but would take some refreshment an hour or
two hence. I visited her again about four o'clock; when she appeared
more calm and tranquil.
"It is finished," said she, as I entered her apartment; "it is
finished." "What," said I, "is finished?" "No matter," replied she; "you
will know all to-morrow, Julia." She complained of excessive fatigue,
and expressed an inclination to lie down; in which I assisted her, and
then retired. Some time after, her mamma went up, and found her still on
the bed. She rose, however, and accompanied her down stairs. I met her
at the door of the parlor, and, taking her by the hand, inquired how she
did. "O Julia, miserably indeed," said she. "How severely does my
mother's kindness reproach me! How insupportably it increases my
self-condemnation!" She wept; she rung her hands, and walked the room in
the greatest agony. Mrs. Wharton was exceedingly distressed by her
appearance. "Tell me, Eliza," said she, "tell me the cause of your
trouble. O, kill me not by your mysterious concealment. My dear child,
let me by sharing alleviate your affliction." "Ask me not, madam," said
she; "O my mother, I conjure you not to insist on my divulging to-night
the fatal secret which engrosses and distracts my mind; to-morrow I will
hide nothing from you." "I will press you no further," rejoined her
mamma. "Choose your own time, my dear; but remember, I must participate
your grief, though I know not the cause."
Supper was brought in, and we endeavored to prevail on Eliza to eat, but
in vain. She sat down in compliance with our united importunities; but
neither of us tasted food. It was removed untouched. For a while, Mrs.
Wharton and I gazed in silent anguish upon the spectacle of woe before
us. At length Eliza rose to retire. "Julia," said she, "you will call at
my chamber as you pass to your own?" I assented. She then approached her
mamma, fell upon her knees before her, and clasping her hand, said, in
broken accents, "O madam, can you forgive a wretch, who has forfeited
your love, your kindness, and your compassion?" "Surely, Eliza," said
she, "you are not that being! No, it is impossible! But however great
your transgression, be assured of my forgiveness, my compassion, and my
continued love." Saying this, she threw her arms about her daughter's
neck, and affectionately kissed her. Eliza struggled from her embrace,
and looking at her with wild despair, exclaimed, "This is too much! O,
this unmerited goodness is more than I can bear!" She then rushed
precipitately out of the room, and left us overwhelmed in sympathy and
When Mrs. Wharton had recovered herself a little, she observed that
Eliza's brain was evidently disordered. "Nothing else," continued she,
"could impel her to act in this extraordinary manner." At first she was
resolved to follow her; but I dissuaded her from it, alleging that, as
she had desired me to come into her chamber, I thought it better for me
to go alone. She acquiesced, but said she should not think of going to
bed, but would, however, retire to her chamber, and seek consolation
there. I bade her good night, and went up to Eliza, who took me by the
hand, and led me to the toilet, upon which she laid the two enclosed
letters, the one to her mamma, and the other to me. "These," said she,
"contain what I had not resolution to express. Promise me, Julia, that
they shall not be opened till to-morrow morning." "I will," said I. "I
have thought and wept," continued she, "till I have almost exhausted my
strength and my reason. I would now obtain a little respite, that I may
prepare my mind for the account I am one day to give at a higher
tribunal than that of earthly friends. For this purpose, what I have
written, and what I shall yet say to you, must close the account between
you and me." "I have certainly no balance against you," said I. "In my
breast you are fully acquitted. Your penitential tears have obliterated
your guilt and blotted out your errors with your Julia. Henceforth, be
they all forgotten. Live, and be happy." "Talk not," said she, "of life;
it would be a vain hope, though I cherished it myself.
'That I must die, it is my only comfort;
Death is the privilege of human nature,
And life without it were not worth the taking.
Thither the poor, the prisoner, and the mourner
Fly for relief, and lay their burdens down.'
You have forgiven me, Julia; my mother has assured me of her
forgiveness; and what have I more to wish? My heart is much lightened by
these kind assurances; they will be a great support to me in the
dreadful hour which awaits me." "What mean you, Eliza?" said I. "I fear
some dreadful purpose labors in your mind." "O, no," she replied; "you
may be assured your fear is groundless. I know not what I say; my brain
is on fire; I am all confusion. Leave me, Julia; when I have had a
little rest, I shall be composed. These letters have almost distracted
me; but they are written, and I am comparatively easy." "I will not
leave you, Eliza," said I, "unless you will go directly to bed, and
endeavor to rest." "I will," said she, "and the sooner the better." I
tenderly embraced her, and retired, though not to bed. About an hour
after, I returned to her chamber, and opening the door very softly,
found her apparently asleep. I acquainted Mrs. Wharton with her
situation, which was a great consolation to us both, and encouraged us
to go to bed: having suffered much in my mind, and being much fatigued,
I soon fell asleep; but the rattling of a carriage, which appeared to
stop a little distance from the house, awoke me. I listened a moment,
and heard the door turn slowly on its hinges. I sprang from my bed, and
reached the window just in time to see a female handed into a chaise by
a man who hastily followed her, and drove furiously away. I at once
concluded they could be no other than Eliza and Major Sanford. Under
this impression I made no delay, but ran immediately to her chamber. A
candle was burning on the table, but Eliza was not there. I thought it
best to acquaint her mamma with the melancholy discovery, and, stepping
to her apartment for the purpose, found her rising. She had heard me
walk, and was anxious to know the cause. "What is the matter, Julia?"
said she; "what is the matter?" "Dear madam," said I, "arm yourself with
fortitude." "What new occurrence demands it?" rejoined she. "Eliza has
left us." "Left us! What mean you?" "She has just gone; I saw her handed
into a chaise, which instantly disappeared."
At this intelligence she gave a shriek, and fell back on her bed. I
alarmed the family, and by their assistance soon recovered her. She
desired me to inform her of every particular relative to her elopement,
which I did, and then delivered her the letter which Eliza had left for
her. "I suspect," said she, as she took it; "I have long suspected what
I dared not believe. The anguish of my mind has been known only to
myself and my God." I could not answer her, and therefore withdrew. When
I had read Eliza's letter to me, and wept over the sad fall, and, as I
fear, the total loss of this once amiable and accomplished girl, I
returned to Mrs. Wharton. She was sitting in her easy chair, and still
held the fatal letter in her hand. When I entered, she fixed her
streaming eyes upon me, and exclaimed, "O Julia, this is more than the
bitterness of death." "True, madam," said I, "your affliction must be
great; yet that all-gracious Being who controls every event is able, and
I trust disposed, to support you." "To him," replied she, "I desire
humbly to resign myself; but I think I could have borne almost any other
calamity with greater resignation and composure than this. With how much
comparative ease could I have followed her to the grave at any period
since her birth! O, my child, my child! dear, very dear, hast thou been
to my fond heart. Little did I think it possible for you to prepare so
dreadful a cup of sorrow for your widowed mother. But where," continued
she, "where can the poor fugitive have fled? Where can she find that
protection and tenderness, which, notwithstanding her great apostasy, I
should never have withheld? From whom can she receive those kind
attentions which her situation demands."
The agitation of her mind had exhausted her strength, and I prevailed on
her to refresh and endeavor to compose herself to rest, assuring her of
my utmost exertions to find out Eliza's retreat, and restore her to a
I am obliged to suppress my own emotions, and to bend all my thoughts
towards the alleviation of Mrs. Wharton's anxiety and grief.
Major Sanford is from home, as I expected; and I am determined, if he
return, to see him myself, and extort from him the place of Eliza's
concealment. Her flight in her present state of health is inexpressibly
distressing to her mother; and unless we find her soon, I dread the
I shall not close this till I have seen or heard from the vile
miscreant who has involved a worthy family in wretchedness.
_Friday morning._--Two days have elapsed without affording us much
relief. Last evening, I was told that Major Sanford was at home. I
immediately wrote him a billet, entreating and conjuring him to let me
know where the hapless Eliza had fled. He returned me the following
"Miss Granby need be under no apprehensions respecting the situation of
our beloved Eliza. She is well provided for, conveniently accommodated,
and has every thing to make her happy which love and affluence can give.
"Major Sanford has solemnly sworn not to discover her retreat. She
wishes to avoid the accusations of her friends till she is better able
to bear them.
"Her mother may rest assured of immediate information, should any danger
threaten her amiable daughter; and also of having seasonable notice of
Although little dependence can be placed upon this man, yet these
assurances have, in a great degree, calmed our minds. We are, however,
contriving means to explore the refuge of the wanderer, and hope, by
tracing his steps, to accomplish our purpose. This we have engaged a
friend to do.
I know, my dear Mrs. Sumner, the kind interest you will take in this
disastrous affair. I tremble to think what the event may be. To relieve
your suspense, however, I shall write you every circumstance as It
occurs; but at present, I shall only enclose Eliza's letters to her
mamma and me, and subscribe myself your sincere and obliged friend,
TO MRS. M. WHARTON.
My honored and dear mamma: In what words, in what language shall I
address you? What shall I say on a subject which deprives me of the
power of expression? Would to God I had been totally deprived of that
power before so fatal a subject required its exertion. Repentance comes
too late, when it cannot prevent the evil lamented: for your kindness,
your more than maternal affection towards me, from my infancy to the
present moment, a long life of filial duty and unerring rectitude could
hardly compensate. How greatly deficient in gratitude must I appear,
then, while I confess that precept and example, counsel and advice,
instruction and admonition, have been all lost upon me!
Your kind endeavors to promote my happiness have been repaid by the
inexcusable folly of sacrificing it. The various emotions of shame and
remorse, penitence and regret, which torture and distract my guilty
breast, exceed description. Yes, madam, your Eliza has fallen, fallen
indeed. She has become the victim of her own indiscretion, and of the
intrigue and artifice of a designing libertine, who is the husband of
another. She is polluted, and no more worthy of her parentage. She flies
from you, not to conceal her guilt, (that she humbly and penitently
owns,) but to avoid what she has never experienced, and feels herself
unable to support--a mother's frown; to escape the heart-rending sight
of a parent's grief, occasioned by the crimes of her guilty child.
I have become a reproach and disgrace to my friends. The consciousness
of having forfeited their favor and incurred their disapprobation and
resentment induces me to conceal from them the place of my retirement;
but lest your benevolence should render you anxious for my comfort in my
present situation, I take the liberty to assure you that I am amply
I have no claim even upon your pity; but from my long experience of your
tenderness. I presume to hope it will be extended to me. O my mother, if
you knew what the state of my mind is, and has been for months past, you
would surely compassionate my case. Could tears efface the stain which I
have brought upon my family, it would long since have been washed away;
but, alas! tears are in vain; and vain is my bitter repentance; it
cannot obliterate my crime, nor restore me to innocence and peace. In
this life I have no ideas of happiness. These I have wholly resigned.
The only hope which affords me any solace is that of your forgiveness.
If the deepest contrition can make an atonement,--if the severest pains,
both of body and mind, can restore me to your charity,--you will not be
inexorable. O, let my sufferings be deemed a sufficient punishment, and
add not the insupportable weight of a parent's wrath. At present I
cannot see you. The effect of my crime is too obvious to be longer
concealed, to elude the invidious eye of curiosity. This night,
therefore, I leave your hospitable mansion. This night I become a
wretched wanderer from my paternal roof. O that the grave were this
night to be my lodging! Then should I lie down and be at rest. Trusting
in the mercy of God, through the mediation of his Son, I think I could
meet my heavenly Father with more composure and confidence than my
Let not the faults and misfortunes of your daughter oppress your mind.
Rather let the conviction of having faithfully discharged your duty to
your lost child support and console you in this trying scene.
Since I wrote the above, you have kindly granted me your forgiveness,
though you knew not how great, how aggravated was my offence. You
forgive me, you say. O, the harmonious, the transporting sound! It has
revived my drooping spirits, and will enable me to encounter, with
resolution, the trials before me.
Farewell, my dear mamma! Pity and pray for your ruined child; and be
assured that affection and gratitude will be the last sentiments which
expire in the breast of your repenting daughter,
TO MISS JULIA GRANBY.
My dear friend: By that endearing title you permit me still to address
you, and such you have always proved yourself by a participation of my
distresses, as well as by the consoling voice of pity and forgiveness.
What destiny Providence designs for me I know not, but I have my
forebodings that this is the last time I shall ever accost you. Nor does
this apprehension arise merely from a disturbed imagination. I have
reason to think myself in a confirmed consumption, which commonly proves
fatal to persons in my situation. I have carefully concealed every
complaint of the kind from my mamma, for fear of distressing her; yet I
have never been insensible of their probable issue, and have bidden a
sincere welcome to them, as the harbingers of my speedy release from a
life of guilt and woe.
I am going from you, Julia. This night separates us, perhaps, forever. I
have not resolution to encounter the tears of my friends, and therefore
seek shelter among strangers, where none knows or is interested in my
melancholy story. The place of my seclusion I studiously conceal; yet I
shall take measures that you may be apprised of my fate.
Should it please God to spare and restore me to health, I shall return,
and endeavor, by a life of penitence and rectitude, to expiate my past
offences. But should I be called from this scene of action, and leave
behind me a helpless babe, the innocent sufferer of its mother's shame,
O Julia, let your friendship for me extend to the little stranger.
Intercede with my mother to take it under her protection, and transfer
to it all her affection for me; to train it up in the ways of piety and
virtue, that it may compensate her for the afflictions which I have
One thing more I have to request. Plead for me with my two best friends,
Mrs. Richman and Mrs. Sumner. I ask you not to palliate my faults,--that
cannot be done,--but to obtain, if possible, their forgiveness. I cannot
write all my full mind suggests on this subject. You know the purport,
and can better express it for me.
And now, my dear Julia, recommending myself again to your benevolence,
to your charity, and (may I add?) to your affection, and entreating that
the fatal consequences of my folly, now fallen upon my devoted head, may
suffice for my punishment, let me conjure you to bury my crimes in the
grave with me, and to preserve the remembrance of my former virtues,
which engaged your love and confidence; more especially of that ardent
esteem for you, which will glow till the last expiring breath of your
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
I have, at last, accomplished the removal of my darling girl from a
place where she thought every eye accused and every heart condemned her.
She has become quite romantic in her notions. She would not permit me to
accompany her, lest it should be reported that we had eloped together. I
provided amply for her future exigencies, and conveyed her by night to
the distance of ten or twelve miles, where we met the stage, in which I
had previously secured her a seat. The agony of her grief at being thus
obliged to leave her mother's house baffles all description.
It very sensibly affected me, I know. I was almost a penitent. I am
sure I acted like one, whether I were sincere or not. She chose to go
where she was totally unknown. She would leave the stage, she said,
before it reached Boston, and take passage in a more private carriage to
Salem, or its vicinity, where she would fix her abode; chalking the
initials of my name over the door, as a signal to me of her residence.
She is exceedingly depressed, and says she neither expects nor wishes to
survive her lying in. Insanity, for aught I know, must be my lot if she
should die. But I will not harbor the idea. I hope, one time or other,
to have the power to make her amends, even by marriage. My wife may be
provoked, I imagine, to sue for a divorce. If she should, she would find
no difficulty in obtaining it, and then I would take Eliza in her stead;
though I confess that the idea of being thus connected with a woman whom
I have been enabled to dishonor, would be rather hard to surmount. It
would hurt even my delicacy, little as you may think me to possess, to
have a wife whom I know to be seducible. And on this account I cannot be
positive that even Eliza would retain my love.
My Nancy and I have lived a pretty uncomfortable life of late. She has
been very suspicious of my amour with Eliza, and now and then expressed
her jealous sentiments a little more warmly than my patience would
bear. But the news of Eliza's circumstances and retirement, being
publicly talked of, have reached her ears, and rendered her quite
outrageous. She tells me she will no longer brook my indifference and
infidelity; intends soon to return to her father's house, and extricate
herself from me entirely. My general reply to all this is, that she knew
my character before we married, and could reasonably expect nothing less
than what has happened. I shall not oppose her leaving me, as it may
conduce to the execution of the plan I have hinted above.
To-morrow I shall set out to visit my disconsolate fair one. From my
very soul I pity her, and wish I could have preserved her virtue
consistently with the indulgence of my passion. To her I lay not the
principal blame, as in like cases I do the sex in general. My finesse
was too well planned for detection, and my snares too deeply laid for
any one to escape who had the least warmth in her constitution, or
affection in her heart. I shall, therefore, be the less whimsical about
a future connection, and the more solicitous to make her reparation,
should it ever be in my power.
Her friends are all in arms about her. I dare say I have the
imprecations of the whole fraternity. They may thank themselves in
part, for I always swore revenge for their dislike and coldness towards
me. Had they been politic, they would have conducted more like the
aborigines of the country, who are said to worship the devil out of
I am afraid I shall be obliged to remove my quarters, for Eliza was so
great a favorite in town that I am looked upon with an evil eye. I
pleaded with her, before we parted last, to forgive my seducing her,
alleged my ardent love, and my inability to possess her in any other
way. "How," said she, "can that be love which destroys its object? But
granting what you say, you have frustrated your own purpose. You have
deprived yourself-of my society, which might have been innocently
enjoyed. You have cut me off from life in the midst of my days. You have
rendered me the reproach of my friends, the disgrace of my family and a
dishonor to virtue and my sex. But I forgive you," added she. "Yes,
Sanford, I forgive you, and sincerely pray for your repentance and
reformation. I hope to be the last wretched female sacrificed by you to
the arts of falsehood and seduction. May my unhappy story serve as a
beacon to warn the American fair of the dangerous tendency and
destructive consequences of associating with men of your character, of
destroying their time and risking their reputation by the practice of
coquetry and its attendant follies. But for these I might have been
honorably connected, and capable, at this moment, of diffusing and
receiving happiness. But for your arts I might have remained a blessing
to society, as well as the delight and comfort of my friends. You being
a married man unspeakably aggravates both your guilt and mine. This
circumstance annexes indelible shame to our crime. You have rent asunder
the tenderest ties of nature. You have broken the bonds of conjugal
love, which ought ever to be kept sacred and inviolate. You have filled
with grief and discontent the heart of your amiable wife, whom
gratitude, if no other principle, should have induced you to cherish
with tenderness; and I, wretch that I am, have been your accomplice. But
I cease to reproach you. You have acted but too consistently with the
character which I was sufficiently apprised you sustained. The blame,
then, may be retorted on myself, for disregarding the counsels,
warnings, and admonitions of my best friends. You have prided yourself
in the character of a libertine. Glory no longer in your shame. You have
accomplished your designs, your dreadful designs, against me. Let this
suffice. Add not to the number of those deluded creatures who will one
day rise up in judgment against you and condemn you."