We then returned into the house. Mrs. Richman received us politely. During tea, the conversation turned on literary subjects, in which I cannot say that the major bore a very distinguished part. After he was gone, Mrs. Richman said, "I hope you have been agreeably entertained, Miss Wharton." "I did not choose my company, madam," said I. "Nor," said she, "did you refuse it, I presume." "Would you not have me respect the rights of hospitality towards your guests when you are absent, madam?" "If you had acted from that motive, I own my obligations to you, my dear; but even that consideration can hardly reconcile me to the sacrifice of time which you have made to the amusement of a seducer." "I hope, madam, you do not think me an object of seduction." "I do not think you seducible; nor was Richardson's Clarissa till she made herself the victim by her own indiscretion. Pardon me, Eliza—this is a second Lovelace. I am alarmed by his artful intrusions. His insinuating attentions to you are characteristic of the man. Come, I presume you are not interested to keep his secrets if you know them; will you give me a little sketch of his conversation?" "Most willingly," said I, and accordingly related the whole. When I had concluded, she shook her head, and replied, "Beware, my friend, of his arts. Your own heart is too sincere to suspect treachery and dissimulation in another; but suffer not your ear to be charmed by the siren voice of flattery, nor your eye to be caught by the phantom of gayety and pleasure. Remember your engagements to Mr. Boyer. Let sincerity and virtue be your guides, and they will lead you to happiness and peace." She waited not for an answer, but, immediately rising, begged leave to retire, alleging that she was fatigued. General Richman accompanied her, and I hastened to my apartment, where I have written thus far, and shall send it on for your comments. I begin to think of returning soon to your circle. One inducement is, that I may be free from the intrusions of this man. Adieu.
TO MRS. M. WHARTON.
From the conversation of the polite, the sedate, the engaging, and the gay,—from corresponding with the learned, the sentimental, and the refined,—my heart and my pen turn with ardor and alacrity to a tender and affectionate parent, the faithful guardian and guide of my youth, the unchanging friend of my riper years. The different dispositions of various associates sometimes perplex the mind which seeks direction; but in the disinterested affection of the maternal breast we fear no dissonance of passion, no jarring interests, no disunion of love. In this seat of felicity is every enjoyment which fancy can form, or friendship, with affluence, bestow; but still my mind frequently returns to the happy shades of my nativity. I wish there to impart my pleasures, and share the counsels of my best, my long-tried, and experienced friend. At this time, my dear mamma, I am peculiarly solicitous for your advice. I am again importuned to listen to the voice of love; again called upon to accept the addresses of a gentleman of merit and respectability. You will know the character of the man when I tell you it is Mr. Boyer. But his situation in life! I dare not enter it. My disposition is not calculated for that sphere. There are duties arising from the station which I fear I should not be able to fulfil, cares and restraints to which I could not submit. This man is not disagreeable to me; but if I must enter the connubial state, are there not others who may be equally pleasing in their persons, and whose profession may be more conformable to my taste? You, madam, have passed through this scene of trial with honor and applause. But, alas! can your volatile daughter ever acquire your wisdom—ever possess your resolution, dignity, and prudence?
I hope soon to converse with you personally upon the subject, and to profit by your precepts and example. I anticipate the hour of my return to your bosom with impatience. My daily thoughts and nightly dreams restore me to the society of my beloved mamma; and, till I enjoy in reality, I subscribe myself your dutiful daughter,
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
How welcome to me, my dear Eliza, are the tidings of your return! My widowed heart has mourned your absence, and languished for the company of its now dearest connection. When stripped of one dependence, the mind naturally collects and rests itself in another. Your father's death deprived me, for a while, of every enjoyment. But a reviving sense of the duties which I owed to a rising family roused me from the lethargy of grief. In my cares I found an alleviation of my sorrows. The expanding virtues of my children soothed and exhilarated my drooping spirits, and my attention to their education and interest was amply rewarded by their proficiency and duty. In them every hope, every pleasure, now centres. They are the axis on which revolves the temporal felicity of their mother. Judge, then, my dear, how anxiously I must watch, how solicitously I must regard, every circumstance which relates to their welfare and prosperity! Exquisitely alive to these sensations, your letter awakens my hopes and my fears. As you are young and charming, a thousand dangers lurk unseen around you. I wish you to find a friend and protector worthy of being rewarded by your love and your society. Such a one I think Mr. Boyer will prove. I am, therefore, sorry, since there can be no other, that his profession should be an objection in your mind. You say that I have experienced the scenes of trial connected with that station. I have, indeed; and I will tell you the result of this experience. It is, that I have found it replete with happiness. No class of society has domestic enjoyment more at command than clergymen. Their circumstances are generally a decent competency. They are removed alike from the perplexing cares of want and from the distracting parade of wealth. They are respected by all ranks, and partakers of the best company. With regard to its being a dependent situation, what one is not so? Are we not all links in the great chain of society, some more, some less important, but each upheld by others, throughout the confederated whole? In whatever situation we are placed, our greater or less degree of happiness must be derived from ourselves. Happiness is in a great measure the result of our own dispositions and actions. Let us conduct uprightly and justly; with propriety and steadiness; not servilely cringing for favor, nor arrogantly claiming more attention and respect than our due; let us bear with fortitude the providential and unavoidable evils of life, and we shall spend our days with respectability and contentment at least.
I will not expatiate on the topic of your letter till we have a personal interview, for which I am indeed impatient. Return, my daughter, as soon as politeness will allow, to your expecting friends; more especially to the fond embraces of your affectionate mother.
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
Can time, can distance, can absence allay or extinguish the sentiments of refined affection, the ardor of true love? No, my dear Eliza. If I may judge by my own heart, I shall say they cannot. Amidst the parade which has attended me, the interesting scenes in which I have been engaged, and the weighty cares which have occupied my attention, your idea has been the solace of my retired moments, the soother of every anxious thought. I recall with pleasure the conversation which we have shared. I dwell with rapture on the marks of favor which I have received from you. My first wish is the continuance and increase of these favors; my highest ambition, to deserve them. I look forward and anticipate with impatience the future enjoyment of your society, and hope we shall one day experience the reality of those beautiful lines of Thomson:—
"—an elegant sufficiency, Content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, Books, ease, and alternate labor; useful life, Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven; These are the matchless joys of virtuous love.
Mr. Selby, my particular friend, will have the honor of delivering this letter. He will be able to give you any information, relative to our public transactions, which you may wish. May I solicit the favor of a line, through him, in return? It will relieve, in some measure, the tediousness of this separation. I intend to pay my respects to you personally in about a fortnight; till when I subscribe myself your sincere and affectionate friend,
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
I have executed your commission, and been amply rewarded for my trouble by the pleasures I enjoyed in the society of the agreeable family to which I was introduced; especially of the amiable and accomplished lady who is the object of your particular regard. I think she fully justifies your partiality to her. She appears to possess both the virtues and the graces. Her form is fine, and her countenance interests us at once in her favor. There is a mixture of dignity and ease which commands respect and conciliates affection. After these encomiums, will you permit me to say there is an air of gayety in her appearance and deportment which savors a little of coquetry? I am persuaded, however, that she has too much good sense to practise its arts. She received your letter very graciously, asked leave to retire a few moments, and returned with a smile of complacency on her brow, which I construe favorably to you.
There was a Mr. Lawrence, with his lady and daughter, and a certain Major Sanford, at the house. The latter, I believe, in the modern sense of the phrase, is much of a gentleman; that is, a man of show and fashion.
Miss Wharton asked me when I should leave town, and when I should return, or have an opportunity of conveyance to Hampshire. I told her I should write by the next post, and, if she had any commands, would be happy to execute them. She would send a line to her friend, she said, if I would take the trouble to enclose it in my letter. I readily consented, and told her that I would call and receive her favor to-morrow morning. This chitchat was a little aside; but I could not but observe that the aforesaid Major Sanford had dropped his part in the conversation of the rest of the company, and was attending to us, though he endeavored to conceal his attention by looking carelessly over a play which lay on the window by him. Yet he evidently watched every word and action of Miss Wharton, as if he were really interested in her movements.
It is said she has many admirers, and I conceive it very possible that this may be one of them; though, truly, I do not think that she would esteem such a conquest any great honor. I now joined in the general topic of conversation, which was politics; Mrs. Richman and Miss Wharton judiciously, yet modestly, bore a part; while the other ladies amused themselves with Major Sanford, who was making his sage remarks on the play, which he still kept in his hand. General Richman at length observed that we had formed into parties. Major Sanford, upon, this, laid aside his book. Miss Lawrence simpered, and looked as if she was well pleased with being in a party with so fine a man; while her mother replied that she never meddled with politics. "Miss Wharton and I," said Mrs. Richman, "must beg leave to differ from you, madam. We think ourselves interested in the welfare and prosperity of our country; and, consequently, claim the right of inquiring into those affairs which may conduce to or interfere with the common weal. We shall not be called to the senate or the field to assert its privileges and defend its rights, but we shall feel, for the honor and safety of our friends and connections who are thus employed. If the community flourish and enjoy health and freedom, shall we not share in the happy effects? If it be oppressed and disturbed, shall we not endure our proportion of the evil? Why, then, should the love of our country be a masculine passion only? Why should government, which involves the peace and order of the society of which we are a part, be wholly excluded from our observation?" Mrs. Lawrence made some slight reply, and waived the subject. The gentlemen applauded Mrs. Richman's sentiments as truly Roman, and, what was more, they said, truly republican.
I rose to take leave, observing to Miss Wharton that I should call to-morrow, as agreed. Upon this, General Richman politely requested the favor of my company at dinner. I accepted his invitation, and bade them good night. I shall do the same to you for the present, as I intend, to-morrow, to scribble the cover, which is to enclose your Eliza's letter.
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
I resume my pen, having just returned from General Richman's; not with an expectation, however, of your reading this till you have perused and reperused the enclosed. I can bear such neglect in this case, as I have been alike interested myself.
I went to General Richman's at twelve o'clock. About a mile from thence, upon turning a corner, I observed a gentleman and lady on horseback, some way before me, riding at a very moderate pace, and seemingly in close conversation. I kept at the same distance from them till I saw them stop at the general's gate. I then put on, and, coming up with them just as they alighted, was surprised to find them no other than Major Sanford and Miss Wharton. They were both a little disconcerted at my salutation: I know not why. Miss Wharton invited him in; but he declined, being engaged to dine. General Richman received us at the door. As I handed Miss Wharton in, he observed, jocosely, that she had changed company. "Yes, sir," she replied, "more than once since I went out, as you doubtless observed." "I was not aware," said Mrs. Richman, "that Major Sanford was to be of your party to-day." "It was quite accidental, madam," said Miss Wharton. "Miss Lawrence and I had agreed, last evening, to take a little airing this forenoon. A young gentleman, a relation of hers, who is making them a visit, was to attend us.
"We had not rode more than two miles when we were overtaken by Major Sanford, who very politely asked leave to join our party. Miss Lawrence very readily consented; and we had a very sociable ride. The fineness of the day induced me to protract the enjoyment of it abroad; but Miss Lawrence declined riding so far as I proposed, as she had engaged company to dine. We therefore parted till the evening, when we are to meet again." "What, another engagement!" said Mrs. Richman. "Only to the assembly, madam." "May I inquire after your gallant, my dear? But I have no right, perhaps, to be inquisitive," said Mrs. Richman. Miss Wharton made no reply, and the conversation took a general turn. Miss Wharton sustained her part with great propriety. Indeed, she discovers a fund of useful knowledge and extensive reading, which render her peculiarly entertaining; while the brilliancy of her wit, the fluency of her language, the vivacity and ease of her manners are inexpressibly engaging. I am going myself to the assembly this evening, though I did not mention it to General Richman. I therefore took my leave soon after dinner.
I have heard so much in praise of Miss Wharton's penmanship, in addition to her other endowments, that I am almost tempted to break the seal of her letter to you; but I forbear. Wishing you much happiness in the perusal of it, and more in the possession of its writer, I subscribe myself yours, &c.,
TO THE REV. J. BOYER.
Sir: Your favor of the 4th instant came to hand yesterday. I received it with pleasure, and embrace this early opportunity of contributing my part to a correspondence tending to promote a friendly and social intercourse. An epistolary communication between the sexes has been with some a subject of satire and censure; but unjustly, in my opinion. With persons of refinement and information, it may be a source of entertainment and utility. The knowledge and masculine virtues of your sex may be softened and rendered more diffusive by the inquisitiveness, vivacity, and docility of ours, drawn forth and exercised by each other.
In regard to the particular subject of yours, I shall be silent. Ideas of that kind are better conveyed, on my part, by words than by the pen.
I congratulate you on your agreeable settlement, and hope it will be productive of real and lasting happiness. I am convinced that felicity is not confined to any particular station or condition in life; yet, methinks, some are better calculated to afford it to me than others.
Your extract from a favorite poet is charmingly descriptive; but is it not difficult to ascertain what we can pronounce "an elegant sufficiency"? Perhaps you will answer, as some others have done, we can attain it by circumscribing our wishes within the compass of our abilities. I am not very avaricious; yet I must own that I should like to enjoy it without so much trouble as that would cost me.
Excuse my seeming levity. You have flattered my cheerfulness by commending it, and must, therefore, indulge me in the exercise of it. I cannot conveniently be at the pains of restraining its sallies when I write in confidence.
Is a sprightly disposition, in your view, indicative of a giddy mind or an innocent heart? Of the latter, I presume; for I know you are not a misanthrope.
We expect the pleasure of Mr. Selby's company to dinner. You are certainly under obligations to his friendship for the liberal encomiums he bestowed on you and your prospects yesterday. Mrs. Richman rallied me, after he was gone, on my listening ear. The general and she unite in requesting me to present their respects.
Wishing you health and happiness, I subscribe myself your friend,
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
I am perplexed and embarrassed, my friend, by the assiduous attentions of this Major Sanford. I shall write circumstantially and frankly to you, that I may have the benefit of your advice. He came here last Monday in company with Mr. Lawrence, his wife, and daughter, to make us a visit. While they were present, a Mr. Selby, a particular friend of Mr. Boyer, came in, and delivered me a letter from him. I was really happy in the reception of this proof of his affection. His friend gave a very flattering account of his situation and prospects.
The watchful eye of Major Sanford traced every word and action respecting Mr. Boyer with an attention which seemed to border on anxiety. That, however, did not restrain, but rather accelerated, my vivacity and inquisitiveness on the subject; for I wished to know whether it would produce any real effect upon him or not.
After Mr. Selby's departure, he appeared pensive and thoughtful the remainder of the evening, and evidently sought an opportunity of speaking to me aside, which I studiously avoided. Miss Lawrence and I formed an engagement to take an airing in the morning on horseback, attended by a relation of hers who is now with them. They called for me about ten, when we immediately set out upon our preconcerted excursion. We had not proceeded far before we were met by Major Sanford. He was extremely polite, and finding our destination was not particular, begged leave to join our party. This was granted; and we had an agreeable tour for several miles, the time being passed in easy and unstudied remarks upon obvious occurrences. Major Sanford could not, however, conceal his particular attention to me, which rather nettled Miss Lawrence. She grew somewhat serious, and declined riding so far as we had intended, alleging that she expected company to dine.
Major Sanford, understanding that she was going to the assembly in the evening with Mr. Gordon, solicited me to accept a ticket, and form a party with them. The entertainment was alluring, and I consented. When we had parted with Miss Lawrence, Major Sanford insisted on my riding a little farther, saying he must converse with me on a particular subject, and if I refused him this opportunity, that he must visit me at my residence, let it offend whom it would. I yielded to his importunity, and we rode on. He then told me that his mind was in a state of suspense and agitation which was very painful to bear, and which I only could relieve; that my cheerful reception of Mr. Boyer's letter yesterday, and deportment respecting him, had awakened in his breast all the pangs of jealousy which the most ardent love could feel; that my treatment of Mr. Boyer's friend convinced him that I was more interested in his affairs than I was willing to own; that he foresaw himself to be condemned to an eternal separation, and the total loss of my favor and society, as soon as time and circumstances would allow.
His zeal, his pathos, alarmed me. I begged him to be calm. "To you," said I, "as a friend, I have intrusted my situation in relation to Mr. Boyer. You know that I am under no special obligation to him, and I do not intend to form any immediate connection." "Mr. Boyer must have different ideas, madam; and he has reason for them, if I may judge by appearances. When do you expect another visit from him?" "In about a fortnight." "And is my fate to be then decided? and so decided, as I fear it will be, through the influence of your friends, if not by your own inclination?" "My friends, sir, will not control, they will only advise to what they think most for my interest, and I hope that my conduct will not be unworthy of their approbation." "Pardon me, my dear Eliza," said he, "if I am impertinent; it is my regard for you which impels me to the presumption. Do you intend to give your hand to Mr. Boyer?" "I do not intend to give my hand to any man at present. I have but lately entered society, and wish, for a while, to enjoy my freedom in the participation of pleasures suited to my age and sex." "These," said he, "you are aware, I suppose, when you form a connection with that man, you must renounce, and content yourself with a confinement to the tedious round of domestic duties, the pedantic conversation of scholars, and the invidious criticisms of a whole town." "I have been accustomed," said I, "and am therefore attached, to men of letters; and as to the praise or censure of the populace, I hope always to enjoy that approbation of conscience which will render me superior to both. But you forget your promise not to talk in this style, and have deviated far from the character of a friend and brother, with, which you consented to rest satisfied." "Yes; but I find myself unequal to the task. I am not stoic enough tamely to make so great a sacrifice. I must plead for an interest in your favor till you banish me from your presence, and tell me plainly that you hate me." We had by this time reached the gate, and as we dismounted, were unexpectedly accosted by Mr. Selby, who had come, agreeably to promise, to dine with us, and receive my letter to Mr. Boyer.
Major Sanford took his leave as General Richman appeared at the door. The general and his lady rallied me on my change of company, but very prudently concealed their sentiments of Major Sanford while Mr. Selby was present. Nothing material occurred before and during dinner, soon after which Mr. Selby went away. I retired to dress for the assembly, and had nearly completed the labor of the toilet when Mrs. Richman entered. "My friendship for you, my dear Eliza," said she, "interests me so much in your affairs that I cannot repress my curiosity to know who has the honor of your hand this evening." "If it be any honor," said I, "it will be conferred on Major Sanford." "I think it far too great to be thus bestowed," returned she. "It is perfectly astonishing to me that the virtuous part of my sex will countenance, caress, and encourage those men whose profession it is to blast their reputation, destroy their peace, and triumph in their infamy." "Is this, madam, the avowed design of Major Sanford?" "I know not what he avows, but his practice too plainly bespeaks his principles and views." "Does he now practise the arts you mention? or do you refer to past follies?" "I cannot answer for his present conduct; his past has established his character." "You, madam, are an advocate for charity; that, perhaps, if exercised in this instance, might lead you to think it possible for him to reform, to become a valuable member of society, and, when connected with a lady of virtue and refinement, to be capable of making a good husband." "I cannot conceive that such a lady would be willing to risk her all upon the slender prospect of his reformation. I hope the one with whom I am conversing has no inclination to so hazardous an experiment." "Why, not much." "Not much! If you have any, why do you continue to encourage Mr. Boyer's addresses?" "I am not sufficiently acquainted with either, yet, to determine which to take. At present, I shall not confine myself in any way. In regard to these men, my fancy and my judgment are in scales; sometimes one preponderates, sometimes the other; which will finally prevail, time alone can reveal." "O my cousin, beware of the delusions of fancy! Reason must be our guide if we would expect durable happiness." At this instant a servant opened the door, and told me that Major Sanford waited in the parlor. Being ready, I wished Mrs. Richman a good evening, and went down. Neither General Richman nor his lady appeared. He therefore handed me immediately into his phaeton, and we were soon in the assembly room.
I was surprised, on my entrance, to find Mr. Selby there, as he did not mention, at dinner, his intention of going. He attached himself to our party, and, in the intervals of dancing, took every opportunity of conversing with me. These, however, were not many; for Major Sanford assiduously precluded the possibility of my being much engaged by any one else. We passed the evening very agreeably; but the major's importunity was rather troublesome as we returned home. He insisted upon my declaring whether Mr. Boyer really possessed my affections, and whether I intended to confer myself on him or not. "If," said he, "you answer me in the affirmative, I must despair; but if you have not absolutely decided against me, I will still hope that my persevering assiduity, my faithful love, may at last be rewarded." I told him that I was under no obligation to give him any account of my disposition towards another, and that he must remember the terms of our present association to which he had subscribed. I therefore begged him to waive the subject now, if not forever. He asked my pardon, if he had been impertinent, but desired leave to renew his request that I would receive his visits, his friendly visits. I replied that I could not grant this, and that he must blame himself, not me, if he was an unwelcome guest at General Richman's. He lamented the prejudices which my friends had imbibed against him, but flattered himself that I was more liberal than to be influenced by them without any positive proof of demerit, as it was impossible that his conduct towards me should ever deviate from the strictest rules of honor and love.
What shall I say now, my friend? This man to an agreeable person has superadded graceful manners, an amiable temper, and a fortune sufficient to insure the enjoyments of all the pleasing varieties of social life. Perhaps a gay disposition and a lax education may have betrayed him into some scenes of dissipation. But is it not an adage generally received, that "a reformed rake makes the best husband"? My fancy leads me for happiness to the festive haunts of fashionable life. I am at present, and know not but I ever shall be, too volatile for a confinement to domestic avocations and sedentary pleasures. I dare not, therefore, place myself in a situation where these must be indispensable. Mr. Boyer's person and character are agreeable. I really esteem the man. My reason and judgment, as I have observed before, declare for a connection with him, as a state of tranquillity and rational happiness. But the idea of relinquishing those delightful amusements and flattering attentions which wealth and equipage bestow is painful. Why were not the virtues of the one and the graces and affluence of the other combined? I should then have been happy indeed. But, as the case now stands, I am loath to give up either; being doubtful which will conduce most to my felicity.
Pray write me impartially; let me know your real sentiments, for I rely greatly upon your opinion. I am, &c.,
TO THE REV. MR. BOYER.
I am quite a convert to Pope's assertion, that
"Every woman is at heart a rake."
How else can we account for the pleasure which they evidently receive from the society, the flattery, the caresses of men of that character? Even the most virtuous of them seem naturally prone to gayety, to pleasure, and, I had almost said, to dissipation. How else shall we account for the existence of this disposition in your favorite fair? It cannot be the result of her education. Such a one as she has received is calculated to give her a very different turn of mind. You must forgive me, my friend, for I am a little vexed and alarmed on your-account. I went last evening to the assembly, as I told you in my last that I intended. I was purposely without a partner, that I might have the liberty to exercise my gallantry as circumstances should invite. Indeed I must own that my particular design was to observe Miss Wharton's movements, being rather inclined to jealousy in your behalf. She was handed into the assembly room by Major Sanford. The brilliance of their appearance, the levity of their manners, and the contrast of their characters I found to be a general subject of speculation. I endeavored to associate with Miss Wharton, but found it impossible to detach her a moment from the coxcomb who attended her. If she has any idea of a connection with you, why does she continue to associate with another, especially with one of so opposite a description? I am seriously afraid that there is more intimacy between them than there ought to be, considering the encouragement she has given you.
I hope you will not be offended by my freedom in this matter. It originates in a concern for your honor and future happiness. I am anxious lest you should be made the dupe of a coquette, and your peace of mind fall a sacrifice to an artful debauchee. Yet I must believe that Miss Wharton has, in reality, all that virtue and good sense of which she enjoys the reputation; but her present conduct is mysterious.
I have said enough (more than I ought, perhaps) to awaken your attention to circumstances which may lead to important events. If they appear of little or no consequence to you, you will at least ascribe the mention of them to motives of sincere regard in your friend and humble servant,
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
I go on finely with my amour. I have every encouragement that I could wish. Indeed my fair one does not verbally declare in my favor; but then, according to the vulgar proverb, that "actions speak louder than words," I have no reason to complain; since she evidently approves my gallantry, is pleased with my company, and listens to my flattery. Her sagacious friends have undoubtedly given her a detail of my vices. If, therefore, my past conduct has been repugnant to her notions of propriety, why does she not act consistently, and refuse at once to associate with a man whose character she cannot esteem? But no; that, Charles, is no part of the female plan; our entrapping a few of their sex only discovers the gayety of our dispositions, the insinuating graces of our manners, and the irresistible charms of our persons and address. These qualifications are very alluring to the sprightly fancy of the fair. They think to enjoy the pleasures which result from this source, while their vanity and ignorance prompt each one to imagine herself superior to delusion, and to anticipate the honor of reclaiming the libertine and reforming the rake. I don't know, however, but this girl will really have that merit with me; for I am so much attached to her that I begin to suspect I should sooner become a convert to sobriety than lose her. I cannot find that I have made much impression on her heart as yet. Want of success in this point mortifies me extremely, as it is the first time I ever failed. Besides, I am apprehensive that she is prepossessed in favor of the other swain, the clerical lover, whom I have mentioned to you before. The chord, therefore, upon which I play the most, is the dissimilarity of their dispositions and pleasures. I endeavor to detach her from him, and disaffect her towards him; knowing that, if I can separate them entirely, I shall be more likely to succeed in my plan. Not that I have any thoughts of marrying her myself; that will not do at present. But I love her too well to see her connected with another for life. I must own myself a little revengeful, too, in this affair. I wish to punish her friends, as she calls them, for their malice towards me, for their cold and negligent treatment of me whenever I go to the house. I know that to frustrate their designs of a connection between Mr. Boyer and Eliza would be a grievous disappointment. I have not yet determined to seduce her, though, with all her pretensions to virtue, I do not think it impossible. And if I should, she can blame none but herself, since she knows my character, and has no reason to wonder if I act consistently with it. If she will play with a lion, let her beware of his paw, I say. At present, I wish innocently to enjoy her society; it is a luxury which I never tasted before. She is the very soul of pleasure. The gayest circle is irradiated by her presence, and the highest entertainment receives its greatest charms from her smiles. Besides, I have purchased the seat of Captain Pribble, about a mile from her mother's; and can I think of suffering her to leave the neighborhood just as I enter it? I shall exert every nerve to prevent that, and hope to meet with the usual success of
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
You desire me to write to you, my friend; but if you had not, I should by no means have refrained. I tremble at the precipice on which you stand, and must echo and reecho the seasonable admonition of the excellent Mrs. Richman, "Beware of the delusions of fancy." You are strangely infatuated by them! Let not the magic arts of that worthless Sanford lead you, like an ignis fatuus, from the path of rectitude and virtue.
I do not find, in all your conversations with him, that one word about marriage drops from his lips. This is mysterious. No, it is characteristic of the man. Suppose, however, that his views are honorable; yet what can you expect, what can you promise yourself, from such a connection? "A reformed rake," you say, "makes the best husband"—a trite, but a very erroneous maxim, as the fatal experience of thousands of our sex can testify. In the first place, I believe that rakes very seldom do reform while their fortunes and constitutions enable them to pursue their licentious pleasures. But even allowing this to happen; can a woman of refinement and delicacy enjoy the society of a man whose mind has been corrupted, whose taste has been vitiated, and who has contracted a depravity, both of sentiment and manners, which no degree of repentance can wholly efface? Besides, of true love they are absolutely incapable. Their passions have been much too hackneyed to admit so pure a flame. You cannot anticipate sincere and lasting respect from them. They have been so long accustomed to the company of those of our sex who deserve no esteem, that the greatest dignity and purity of character can never excite it in their breasts. They are naturally prone to jealousy. Habituated to an intercourse with the baser part of the sex, they level the whole, and seldom believe any to be incorruptible. They are always hardhearted and cruel. How else could they triumph in the miseries which they frequently occasion? Their specious manners may render them agreeable companions abroad, but at home the evil propensities of their minds will invariably predominate. They are steeled against the tender affections which render domestic life delightful; strangers to the kind, the endearing sympathies of husband, father, and friend. The thousand nameless attentions which soften the rugged path of life are neglected, and deemed unworthy of notice, by persons who have been inured to scenes of dissipation and debauchery. And is a man of this description to be the partner, the companion, the bosom friend of my Eliza? Forbid it, Heaven! Let not the noble qualities so lavishly bestowed upon her be thus unworthily sacrificed!
You seem to be particularly charmed with the fortune of Major Sanford, with the gayety of his appearance, with the splendor of his equipage, with the politeness of his manners, with what you call the graces of his person. These, alas! are superficial, insnaring endowments. As to fortune, prudence, economy, and regularity are necessary to preserve it when possessed. Of these Major Sanford is certainly destitute—unless common fame (which more frequently tells the truth than some are willing to allow) does him great injustice. As to external parade, it will not satisfy the rational mind when it aspires to those substantial pleasures for which yours is formed. And as to the graces of person and manners, they are but a wretched substitute for those virtues which adorn and dignify human life. Can you, who have always been used to serenity and order in a family, to rational, refined, and improving conversation, relinquish them, and launch into the whirlpool of frivolity, where the correct taste and the delicate sensibility which you possess must constantly be wounded by the frothy and illiberal sallies of licentious wit?
This, my dear, is but a faint picture of the situation to which you seem inclined. Reverse the scene, and you will perceive the alternative which is submitted to your option in a virtuous connection with Mr. Boyer. Remember that you are acting for life, and that your happiness in this world, perhaps in the next, depends on your present choice.
I called last evening to see your mamma. She is fondly anticipating your return, and rejoicing in the prospect of your agreeable and speedy settlement. I could not find it in my heart to distress her by intimating that you had other views. I wish her benevolent bosom nevermore to feel the pangs of disappointed hope.
I am busily engaged in preparing for my nuptials. The solemn words, "As long as ye both shall live," render me thoughtful and serious. I hope for your enlivening presence soon, which will prove a seasonable cordial to the spirits of your
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
I believe your spirits need a cordial indeed, my dear Lucy, after drawing so dreadful a portrait of my swain. But I call him mine no longer. I renounce him entirely. My friends shall be gratified; and if their predictions are verified, I shall be happy in a union with a man of their choice. General Richman and lady have labored abundantly to prove that my ruin was inevitable if I did not immediately break all intercourse with Major Sanford. I promised a compliance with their wishes, and have accomplished the task, though a hard one I found it. Last Thursday he was here, and desired leave to spend an hour with me. I readily consented, assuring my friends it should be the last hour which I would ever spend in his company.
He told me that he was obliged to leave town for a few days; and as I should probably see Mr. Boyer before his return, he could not depart in peace without once more endeavoring to interest me in his favor, to obtain some token of esteem, some glimpse of hope that I would not utterly reject him, to support him in his absence. I thanked him for the polite attention he had paid me since our acquaintance, told him that I should ever retain a grateful sense of his partiality to me, that he would ever share my best wishes, but that all connection of the kind to which he alluded must from that time forever cease.
He exerted all his eloquence to obtain a retraction of that sentence, and ran with the greatest volubility through all the protestations, prayers, entreaties, professions, and assurances which love could feel or art contrive. I had resolution, however, to resist them, and to command my own emotions on the occasion better than my natural sensibility gave me reason to expect.
Finding every effort vain, he rose precipitately, and bade me adieu. I urged his tarrying to tea; but he declined, saying that he must retire to his chamber, being, in his present state of mind, unfit for any society, as he was banished from mine. I offered him my hand, which he pressed with ardor to his lips, and, bowing in silence, left the room.
Thus terminated this affair—an affair which, perhaps, was only the effect of mere gallantry on his part, and of unmeaning pleasantry on mine, and which, I am sorry to say, has given my friends so much anxiety and concern. I am under obligations to them for their kind solicitude, however causeless it may have been.
As an agreeable companion, as a polite and finished gallant, Major Sanford is all that the most lively fancy could wish. And as you have always affirmed that I was a little inclined to coquetry, can you wonder at my exercising it upon so happy a subject? Besides, when I thought more seriously, his liberal fortune was extremely alluring to me, who, you know, have been hitherto confined to the rigid rules of prudence and economy, not to say necessity, in my finances.
Miss Lawrence called on me yesterday, as she was taking the air, and asked me whether Major Sanford took leave of me when he left town. "He was here last week," said I, "but I did not know that he was gone away." "O, yes," she replied, "he is gone to take possession of his seat which he has lately purchased of Captain Pribble. I am told it is superb; and it ought to be, if it has the honor of his residence." "Then you have a great opinion of Major Sanford," said I. "Certainly; and has not every body else?" said she. "I am sure he is a very fine gentleman." Mrs. Richman smiled rather contemptuously, and I changed the subject. I believe that the innocent heart of this simple girl is a little taken in.
I have just received a letter from Mr. Boyer in the usual style. He expects the superlative happiness of kissing my hand next week. O, dear! I believe I must begin to fix my phiz. Let me run to the glass, and try if I can make up one that will look madamish. Yes, I succeeded very well.
I congratulate you on your new neighbor; but I advise friend George to have the Gordian knot tied immediately, lest you should be insnared by this bewitching squire.
I have been trying to seduce General Richman to accompany me to the assembly this evening, but cannot prevail. Were Mrs. Richman able to go with us, he would be very happy to wait on us together; but, to tell the truth, he had rather enjoy her company at home than any which is to be found abroad. I rallied him on his old-fashioned taste, but my heart approved and applauded his attachment. I despise the married man or woman who harbors an inclination to partake of separate pleasures.
I am told that a servant man inquires for me below—the messenger of some enamoured swain, I suppose. I will step down and learn what message he brings.
Nothing extraordinary; it is only a card of compliments from a Mr. Emmons, a respectable merchant of this city, requesting the honor to wait on me to the assembly this evening—a welcome request, which I made no hesitation to grant. If I must resign these favorite amusements, let me enjoy as large a share as possible till the time arrives. I must repair to the toilet, and adorn for a new conquest the person of
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
I am very happy to find you are in so good spirits, Eliza, after parting with your favorite swain; for I perceive that he is really the favorite of your fancy, though your heart cannot esteem him; and, independent of that, no sensations can be durable.
I can tell you some news of this strange man. He has arrived, and taken possession of his seat. Having given general invitations, he has been called upon and welcomed by most of the neighboring gentry. Yesterday he made an elegant entertainment. Friend George (as you call him) and I were of the number who had cards. Twenty-one couple went, I am told. We did not go. I consider my time too valuable to be spent in cultivating acquaintance with a person from whom neither pleasure nor improvement is to be expected. His profuseness may bribe the unthinking multitude to show him respect; but he must know that, though
"Places and honors have been bought for gold, Esteem and love were never to be sold."
I look upon the vicious habits and abandoned character of Major Sanford to have more pernicious effects on society than the perpetrations of the robber and the assassin. These, when detected, are rigidly punished by the laws of the land. If their lives be spared, they are shunned by society, and treated with every mark of disapprobation and contempt. But, to the disgrace of humanity and virtue, the assassin of honor, the wretch who breaks the peace of families, who robs virgin innocence of its charms, who triumphs over the ill-placed confidence of the inexperienced, unsuspecting, and too credulous fair, is received and caressed, not only by his own sex, to which he is a reproach, but even by ours, who have every conceivable reason to despise and avoid him. Influenced by these principles, I am neither ashamed nor afraid openly to avow my sentiments of this man, and my reasons for treating him with the most pointed neglect.
I write warmly on the subject; for it is a subject in which I think the honor and happiness of my sex concerned. I wish they would more generally espouse their own cause. It would conduce to the public, weal, and to their personal respectability. I rejoice, heartily, that you have had resolution to resist his allurements, to detect and repel his artifices. Resolution in such a case is absolutely necessary; for,
"In spite of all the virtue we can boast, The woman that deliberates is lost."
As I was riding out yesterday I met your mamma. She wondered that I was not one of the party at our new neighbor's. "The reason, madam," said I, "is, that I do not like the character of the man." "I know nothing of him," said she; "he is quite a stranger to me, only as he called at my house last week to pay me his respects, as he said, for the sake of my late husband, whose memory he revered, and because I was the mother of Miss Eliza Wharton, with whom he had the honor of some little acquaintance. His manners are engaging, and I am sorry to hear that his morals are corrupt."
This, my dear, is a very extraordinary visit. I fear that he has not yet laid aside his arts. Be still on your guard, is the advice of your sincere and faithful friend,
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
I am really banished and rejected—desired nevermore to think of the girl I love with a view of indulging that love or of rendering it acceptable to its object. You will perhaps dispute the propriety of the term, and tell me it is not love—it is only gallantry, and a desire to exercise it with her as a favorite nymph. I neither know nor care by what appellation you distinguish it; but it truly gives me pain. I have not felt one sensation of genuine pleasure since I heard my sentence; yet I acquiesced in it, and submissively took my leave; though I doubt not but I shall retaliate the indignity one time or other.
I have taken possession of my new purchase—an elegant and delightful residence. It is rendered more so by being in the vicinity of my charmer's native abode. This circumstance will conduce much to my enjoyment, if I can succeed in my plan of separating her from Mr. Boyer. I know that my situation and mode of life are far more pleasing to her than his, and shall therefore trust to my appearance and address for a reestablishment in her favor. I intend, if possible, to ingratiate myself with her particular friends. For this purpose I called last week at her mother's to pay my respects to her (so I told the good woman) as an object of my particular regard, and as the parent of a young lady whom I had the honor to know and admire. She received me very civilly, thanked me for my attention, and invited me to call whenever I had opportunity; which was the very thing I wanted. I intend, likewise, to court popularity. I don't know but I must accept, by and by, some lucrative office in the civil department; yet I cannot bear the idea of confinement to business. It appears to me quite inconsistent with the character of a gentleman; I am sure it is with that of a man of pleasure. But something I must do; for I tell you, in confidence, that I was obliged to mortgage this place because I had not wherewithal to pay for it. But I shall manage matters very well, I have no doubt, and keep up the appearance of affluence till I find some lady in a strait for a husband whose fortune will enable me to extricate myself from these embarrassments. Do come and see me, Charles; for, notwithstanding all my gayety and parade, I have some turns of the hypo, some qualms of conscience, you will call them; but I meddle not with such obsolete words. And so good by to you, says
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
My dear friend: I believe I must begin to assume airs of gravity; and they will not be quite so foreign to my feelings now as at some other times. You shall know the reason. I have been associated for three days with sentiment and sobriety in the person of Mr. Boyer. I don't know but this man will seduce me into matrimony. He is very eloquent upon the subject; and his manners are so solemn that I am strongly tempted—yet I dare not—to laugh. Really, Lucy, there is something extremely engaging, and soothing, too, in virtuous and refined conversation. It is a source of enjoyment which cannot be realized by the dissolute and unreflecting. But then this particular theme of his is not a favorite one to me; I mean as connected with its consequences—care and confinement. However, I have compounded the matter with him, and conditioned that he shall expatiate on the subject, and call it by what name he pleases, platonic or conjugal, provided he will let me take my own time for the consummation. I have consented that he shall escort me next week to see my mamma and my Lucy. O, how the idea of returning to that revered mansion, to those beloved friends, exhilarates my spirits!
General Richman's politeness to me has induced him to invite a large party of those gentlemen and ladies who have been particularly attentive to me during my residence here to dine and take tea to-morrow. After that, I expect to be engaged in making farewell visits till I leave the place. I shall, therefore, forego the pleasure of telling you any occurrences subsequent to this date until you see and converse with your sincere friend,
TO MRS. RICHMAN.
Dear madam: The day after I left your hospitable dwelling brought me safe to that of my honored mamma; to the seat of maternal and filial affection; of social ease and domestic peace; of every species of happiness which can result from religion and virtue, from refinement in morals and manners.
I found my brother and his wife, with Lucy Freeman and Mr. Sumner, waiting to receive and bid me welcome. I flew with ecstasy to the bosom of my mamma, who received me with her accustomed affection, testified by the expressive tears of tenderness which stole silently down her widowed cheek. She was unable to speak. I was equally so. We therefore indulged a moment the pleasing emotions of sympathizing sensibility. When disengaged from her fond embrace, I was saluted by the others in turn; and, having recovered myself, I presented Mr. Boyer to each of the company, and each of the company to him. He was cordially received by all, but more especially by my mamma.
The next day I was called upon and welcomed by several of my neighboring acquaintance; among whom I was not a little surprised to see Major Sanford. He came in company with Mr. Stoddard and lady, whom he overtook, as he told me, near by; and, as they informed him that the design of their visit was to welcome me home, he readily accepted their invitation to partake of the pleasure which every one must receive on my return. I bowed slightly at his compliment, taking no visible notice of any peculiarity of expression either in his words or looks.
His politeness to Mr. Boyer appeared to be the result of habit; Mr. Boyer's to him to be forced by respect to the company to which he had gained admission. I dare say that each felt a conscious superiority—the one on the score of merit, the other on that of fortune. Which ought to outweigh the judicious mind will easily decide. The scale, as I once observed to you, will turn as fancy or reason preponderates. I believe the esteem which I now have for Mr. Boyer will keep me steady; except, perhaps, some little eccentricities now and then, just by way of variety. I am going to-morrow morning to spend a few days with Lucy Freeman, to assist in the preparation for, and the solemnization of, her nuptials. Mr. Boyer, in the mean time, will tarry among his friends in town. My mamma is excessively partial to him, though I am not yet jealous that she means to rival me. I am not certain, however, but it might be happy for him if she should; for I suspect, not withstanding the disparity of her age, that she is better calculated to make him a good wife than I am or ever shall be.
But to be sober. Please, madam, to make my compliments acceptable to those of your neighbors, whose politeness and attention to me while at your house have laid me under particular obligations of gratitude and respect. My best regards attend General Richman. Pray tell him that, though I never expect to be so good a wife as he is blessed with, yet I intend, after a while, (when I have sowed all my wild oats,) to make a tolerable one.
I am anxious to hear of a wished-for event, and of your safety. All who know you feel interested in your health and happiness, but none more warmly than your obliged and affectionate
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
I write a line, at Mrs. Richman's request, just to inform you, Eliza, that, yesterday, that lovely and beloved woman presented me with a daughter. This event awakens new sensations in my mind, and calls into exercise a kind of affection which had before lain dormant. I feel already the tenderness of a parent, while imagination fondly traces the mother's likeness in the infant form. Mrs. Richman expects to receive your congratulations in a letter by the next post. She bids me tell you, moreover, that she hopes soon to receive an invitation, and be able to attend, to the consummation you talk of. Give Mrs. Richman's and my particular regards to your excellent mother and to the worthy Mr. Boyer. With sentiments of esteem and friendship, I am, &c.,
TO MRS. RICHMAN.
From the scenes of festive mirth, from the conviviality of rejoicing friends, and from the dissipating amusements of the gay world, I retire with alacrity, to hail my beloved friend on the important charge which she has received; on the accession to her family, and, may I not say, on the addition to her care? since that care will be more than counterbalanced by the pleasure it confers. Hail, happy babe! ushered into the world by the best of mothers; entitled by birthright to virtue and honor; defended by parental love from the weakness of infancy and childhood, by guardian wisdom from the perils of youth, and by affluent independence from the griping hand of poverty in more advanced life! May these animating prospects be realized by your little daughter, and may you long enjoy the rich reward of seeing her all that you wish.
Yesterday, my dear friend, Lucy Freeman, gave her hand to the amiable and accomplished Mr. George Sumner. A large circle of congratulating friends were present. Her dress was such as wealth and elegance required. Her deportment was every thing that modesty and propriety could suggest. They are, indeed, a charming couple. The consonance of their dispositions, the similarity of their tastes, and the equality of their ages are a sure pledge of happiness. Every eye beamed with pleasure on the occasion, and every tongue echoed the wishes of benevolence. Mine only was silent. Though not less interested in the felicity of my friend than the rest, yet the idea of a separation, perhaps of an alienation of affection, by means of her entire devotion to another, cast an involuntary gloom over my mind. Mr. Boyer took my hand after the ceremony was past. "Permit me, Miss Wharton," said he, "to lead you to your lovely friend; her happiness must be heightened by your participation of it." "O, no," said I, "I am too selfish for that. She has conferred upon another that affection which I wished to engross. My love was too fervent to admit a rival." "Retaliate, then," said he, "this fancied wrong by doing likewise." I observed that this was not a proper time to discuss that subject, and, resuming my seat, endeavored to put on the appearance of my accustomed vivacity. I need not relate the remaining particulars of-the evening's entertainment. Mr. Boyer returned with my mamma, and I remained at Mrs. Freeman's.
We are to have a ball here this evening. Mr. Boyer has been with us, and tried to monopolize my company; but in vain. I am too much engaged by the exhilarating scenes around for attending to a subject which affords no variety. I shall not close this till to-morrow.
I am rather fatigued with the amusements of last night, which were protracted to a late hour. Mr. Boyer was present; and I was pleased to see him not averse to the entertainment, though his profession prevented him from taking an active part. As all the neighboring gentry were invited, Mr. Freeman would by no means omit Major Sanford, which his daughter earnestly solicited. It happened (unfortunately, shall I say?) that I drew him for a partner. Yet I must own that I felt very little reluctance to my lot. He is an excellent dancer, and well calculated for a companion in the hours of mirth and gayety. I regretted Mr. Boyer's being present, however, because my enjoyment seemed to give him pain. I hope he is not inclined to the passion of jealousy. If he is, I fear it will be somewhat exercised.
Lucy Freeman, now Mrs. Sumner, removes next week to Boston. I have agreed to accompany her, and spend a month or two in her family. This will give variety to the journey of life. Be so kind as to direct your next letter to me there.
Kiss the dear little babe for me. Give love, compliments, &c., as respectively due; and believe me, with every sentiment of respect, your affectionate
TO MR. CHARLES DEIGHTON.
Dear Charles: My hopes begin to revive. I am again permitted to associate with my Eliza—invited to the same entertainment. She does not refuse to join with me in the mazy dance, and partake the scenes of festive mirth. Nay, more; she allows me to press her hand to my lips, and listens to the sighing accents of love. Love her I certainly do. Would to Heaven I could marry her! Would to Heaven I had preserved my fortune, or she had one to supply its place! I am distracted at the idea of losing her forever. I am sometimes tempted to solicit her hand in serious earnest; but if I should, poverty and want must be the consequence. Her disappointment in the expectation of affluence and splendor, which I believe her ruling passion, would afford a perpetual source of discontent and mutual wretchedness.
She is going to Boston with her friend, Mrs. Sumner. I must follow her. I must break the connection which is rapidly forming between her and Mr. Boyer, and enjoy her society a while longer, if no more.
I have had a little intimation from New Haven that Miss Lawrence is partial to me, and might easily be obtained, with a handsome property into the bargain. I am neither pleased with nor averse to the girl; but she has money, and that may supply the place of love, by enabling me to pursue independent pleasures. This she must expect, if she marries a man of my cast. She, doubtless, knows my character; and if she is so vain of her charms or influence as to think of reforming or confining me, she must bear the consequences.
However, I can keep my head up at present without recourse to the noose of matrimony, and shall therefore defer any particular attention to her till necessity requires it. I am, &c.,
TO MRS. M. WHARTON.
You commanded me, my dear mamma, to write to you. That command I cheerfully obey, in testimony of my ready submission and respect. No other avocation could arrest my time, which is now completely occupied in scenes of amusement.
Mrs. Sumner is agreeably settled and situated. She appears to be possessed of every blessing which can render life desirable. Almost every day since our arrival has been engrossed by visitants. Our evenings we have devoted to company abroad; and that more generally than we should otherwise have done, as my stay is limited to so short a period. The museum, the theatres, the circus, and the assemblies have been frequented.
Mrs. Sumner has made me several presents; notwithstanding which, the articles requisite to a fashionable appearance have involved me in considerable expense. I fear that you will think me extravagant when you are told how much.
Mr. Boyer tarried in town about a week, having business. He appeared a little concerned at my taste for dissipation, as he once termed it. He even took the liberty to converse seriously on the subject.
I was displeased with his freedom, and reminded him that I had the disposal of my own time as yet, and that, while I escaped the censure of my own heart, I hoped that no one else would presume to arraign it. He apologized, and gave up his argument.
I was much surprised, the first time I went to the play, to see Major Sanford in the very next box. He immediately joined our party; and wherever I have been since, I have been almost sure to meet him.
Mr. Boyer has taken his departure; and I do not expect to see him again till I return home.
O mamma, I am embarrassed about this man. His worth I acknowledge; nay, I esteem him very highly. But can there be happiness with such a disparity of dispositions?
I shall soon return to the bosom of domestic tranquillity, to the arms of maternal tenderness, where I can deliberate and advise at leisure about this important matter. Till when, I am, &c.,
TO MR. T. SELBY.
Dear sir: I believe that I owe you an apology for my long silence. But my time has been much engrossed of late, and my mind much more so. When it will be otherwise I cannot foresee. I fear, my friend, that there is some foundation for your suspicions respecting my beloved Eliza. What pity it is that so fair a form, so accomplished a mind, should be tarnished in the smallest degree by the follies of coquetry! If this be the fact, which I am loath to believe, all my regard for her shall never make me the dupe of it.
When I arrived at her residence at New Haven, where I told you in my last I was soon to go, she gave me a most cordial reception. Her whole behavior to me was correspondent with those sentiments of esteem and affection which she modestly avowed. She permitted me to accompany her to Hartford, to restore her to her mother, and to declare my wish to receive her again from her hand. Thus far all was harmony and happiness. As all my wishes were consistent with virtue and honor, she readily indulged them. She took apparent pleasure in my company, encouraged my hopes of a future union, and listened to the tender accents of love.
But the scenes of gayety which invited her attention reversed her conduct. The delightful hours of mutual confidence, of sentimental converse, and of the interchange of refined affection were no more. Instead of these, parties were formed unpleasing to my taste, and every opportunity was embraced to join in diversions in which she knew I could not consistently take a share. I, however, acquiesced in her pleasure, though I sometimes thought myself neglected, and even hinted it to her mother. The old lady apologized for her daughter, by alleging that she had been absent for a long time; that her acquaintances were rejoiced at her return, and welcomed her by striving to promote her amusement.
One of her most intimate friends was married during my stay, and she appeared deeply interested in the event. She spent several days in assisting her previous to the celebration. I resided, in the mean time, at her mamma's, visiting her at her friend's, where Major Sanford, among others, was received as a guest. Mrs. Sumner acquainted me that she had prevailed on Miss Wharton to go and spend a few weeks with her at Boston, whither she was removing, and urged my accompanying them. I endeavored to excuse myself, as I had been absent from my people a considerable time, and my return was now expected. But their importunity was so great, and Eliza's declaration that it would be very agreeable to her so tempting, that I consented. Here I took lodgings, and spent about a week, taking every opportunity to converse with Eliza, striving to discover her real disposition towards me. I mentioned the inconvenience of visiting her so often as I wished, and suggested my desire to enter, as soon as might be, into a family relation. I painted, in the most alluring colors, the pleasures resulting from domestic tranquillity, mutual confidence, and conjugal affection, and insisted on her declaring frankly whether she designed to share this happiness with me, and when it should commence. She owned that she intended to give me her hand, but when she should be ready she could not yet determine. She pretended a promise from me to wait her time, to consent that she should share the pleasures of the fashionable world as long as she chose, &c.
I then attempted to convince her of her mistaken ideas of pleasure; that the scenes of dissipation, of which she was so passionately fond, afforded no true enjoyment; that the adulation of the coxcomb could not give durability to her charms, or secure the approbation of the wise and good; nor could the fashionable amusements of brilliant assemblies and crowded theatres furnish the mind with
"That which nothing earthly gives or can destroy— The soul's calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy."
These friendly suggestions, I found, were considered as the theme of a priest, and my desire to detach her from such empty pursuits as the selfishness of a lover. She was even offended at my freedom, and warmly affirmed that no one had a right to arraign her conduct. I mentioned Major Sanford, who was then in town, and who (though she went to places of public resort with Mr. and Mrs. Sumner) always met and gallanted her home. She rallied me upon my jealousy, as she termed it, wished that I would attend her myself, and then she should need no other gallant. I answered that I had rather resign that honor to another, but wished, for her sake, that he might be a gentleman whose character would not disgrace the company with which he associated. She appeared mortified and chagrined in the extreme. However, she studiously suppressed her emotions, and even soothed me with the blandishments of female softness. We parted amicably. She promised to return soon and prepare for a compliance with my wishes. I cannot refuse to believe her. I cannot cease to love her. My heart is in her possession. She has a perfect command of my passions. Persuasion dwells on her tongue. With all the boasted fortitude and resolution of our sex, we are but mere machines. Let love once pervade our breasts, and its object may mould us into any form that pleases her fancy, or even caprice.
I have just received a letter from Eliza, informing me of her return to Hartford. To-morrow I shall set out on a visit to the dear girl; for, my friend, notwithstanding all her foibles, she is very dear to me. Before you hear from me again I expect that the happy day will be fixed—the day which shall unite in the-most sacred bands this lovely maid and your faithful friend,
TO MR. T. SELBY.
I have returned; and the day, indeed, is fixed; but O, how different from my fond expectations! It is not the day of union, but the day of final separation; the day which divides me from my charmer; the day which breaks asunder the bands of love; the day on which my reason assumes its empire, and triumphs over the arts of a finished coquette. Congratulate me, my friend, that I have thus overcome my feelings, and repelled the infatuating wiles of a deceitful girl. I would not be understood to impeach Miss Wharton's virtue; I mean her chastity. Virtue, in the common acceptation of the term, as applied to the sex, is confined to that particular, you know. But in my view, this is of little importance where all other virtues are wanting.
When I arrived at Mrs. Wharton's, and inquired for Eliza, I was told that she had rode out, but was soon expected home. An hour after, a phaeton stopped at the door, from which my fair one alighted, and was handed into the house by Major Sanford, who immediately took leave. I met her, and offered my hand, which she received with apparent tenderness.
When the family had retired after supper, and left us to talk on our particular affairs, I found the same indecision, the same loathness to bring our courtship to a period, as formerly. Her previous excuses were renewed, and her wishes to have a union still longer delayed were zealously urged. She could not bear the idea of confinement to the cares of a married life at present, and begged me to defer all solicitation on that subject to some future day. I found my temper rise, and told her plainly that I was not thus to be trifled with; that if her regard for me was sincere, if she really intended to form a connection with me, she could not thus protract the time, try my patience, and prefer every other pleasure to the rational interchange of affection, to the calm delights of domestic life. But in vain did I argue against her false notions of happiness, in vain did I represent the dangerous system of conduct which she now pursued, and urge her to accept, before it was too late, the hand and heart which were devoted to her service. That, she said, she purposed ere long to do, and hoped amply to reward my faithful love; but she could not fix the time this evening. She must consider a little further, and likewise consult her mother. "Is it not Major Sanford whom you wish to consult, madam?" said I. She blushed, and gave me no answer. "Tell me, Eliza," I continued, "tell me frankly, if he has not supplanted me in your affections—if he be not the cause of my being thus evasively, thus cruelly, treated." "Major Sanford, sir," replied she, "has done you no harm. He is a particular friend of mine, a polite gentleman, and an agreeable neighbor, and therefore I treat him with civility; but he is not so much interested in my concerns as to alter my disposition towards any other person." "Why," said I, "do you talk of friendship with a man of his character? Between his society and mine there is a great contrast. Such opposite pursuits and inclinations cannot be equally pleasing to the same taste. It is, therefore, necessary that you renounce the one to enjoy the other; I will give you time to decide which. I am going to a friend's house to spend the night, and will call on you to-morrow, if agreeable, and converse with you further upon the matter." She bowed assent, and I retired.
The next afternoon I went, as agreed, and found her mamma and her alone in the parlor. She was very pensive, and appeared to have been in tears. The sight affected me. The idea of having treated her harshly the evening before disarmed me of my resolution to insist on her decision that day. I invited her to ride with me and visit a friend, to which she readily consented. We spent our time agreeably. I forbore to press her on the subject of our future union, but strove rather to soothe her mind, and inspire her with sentiments of tenderness towards me. I conducted her home, and returned early in the evening to my friend's, who met me at the door, and jocosely told me that he expected that I should now rob them of their agreeable neighbor. "But," added he, "we have been apprehensive that you would be rivalled if you delayed your visit much longer." "I did not suspect a rival," said I. "Who can the happy man be?" "I can say nothing from personal observation," said he; "but fame, of late, has talked loudly of Major Sanford and Miss Wharton. Be not alarmed," continued he, seeing me look grave; "I presume no harm is intended; the major is a man of gallantry, and Miss Wharton is a gay lady; but I dare say that your connection will be happy, if it be formed" I noticed a particular emphasis on the word if; and, as we were alone, I followed him with questions till the whole affair was developed. I informed him of my embarrassment, and he gave me to understand that Eliza's conduct had, for some time past, been a subject of speculation in the town; that, formerly, her character was highly esteemed; but that her intimacy with a man of Sanford's known libertinism, more especially as she was supposed to be engaged to another, had rendered her very censurable; that they were often together; that wherever she went he was sure to follow, as if by appointment; that they walked, talked, sung, and danced together in all companies; that some supposed he he would marry her; others, that he only meditated adding her name to the black catalogue of deluded wretches, whom he had already ruined!
I rose, and walked the room in great agitation. He apologized for his freedom; was sorry if he had wounded my feelings; but friendship alone had induced him frankly to declare the truth, that I might guard against duplicity and deceit.
I thanked him for his kind intensions; and assured him that I should not quit the town till I had terminated this affair, in one way or another.
I retired to bed, but sleep was a stranger to my eyes. With the dawn I rose; and after breakfast walked to Mrs. Wharton's, who informed me, that Eliza was in her chamber, writing to a friend, but would be down in a few minutes. I entered into conversation with the old lady on the subject of her daughter's conduct; hinted my suspicions of the cause, and declared my resolution of knowing my destiny immediately. She endeavored to extenuate, and excuse her as much as possible; but frankly owned that her behavior was mysterious; that no pains had been wanting, on her part, to alter and rectify it; that she had remonstrated, expostulated, advised and entreated, as often as occasion required. She hoped that my resolution would have a good effect, as she knew that her daughter esteemed me very highly.
In this manner we conversed till the clock struck twelve; and, Eliza not appearing, I desired her mamma to send up word that I waited to see her. The maid returned with an answer that she was indisposed, and had lain down. Mrs. Wharton observed that she had not slept for several nights, and complained of the headache in the morning. The girl added that she would wait on Mr. Boyer in the evening. Upon this information I rose, and abruptly took my leave. I went to dine with a friend, to whom I had engaged myself the day before; but my mind was too much agitated to enjoy either the company or the dinner. I excused myself from tarrying to tea, and returned to Miss Wharton's. On inquiry, I was told that Eliza had gone to walk in the garden, but desired that no person might intrude on her retirement. The singularity of the request awakened my curiosity, and determined me to follow her. I sought her in vain in different parts of the garden, till, going towards an arbor, almost concealed from sight by surrounding shrubbery, I discovered her sitting in close conversation with Major Sanford! My blood chilled in my veins, and I stood petrified with astonishment at the disclosure of such baseness and deceit. They both rose in visible confusion. I dared not trust myself to accost them. My passions were raised, and I feared that I might say or do something unbecoming my character. I therefore gave them a look of indignation and contempt, and retreated to the house. I traversed the parlor hastily, overwhelmed with chagrin and resentment. Mrs. Wharton inquired the cause. I attempted to tell her, but my tongue refused utterance. While in this situation, Eliza entered the room. She was not less discomposed than myself. She sat down at the window and wept. Her mamma wept likewise. At length she recovered herself, in a degree, and desired me to sit down. I answered, No, and continued walking. "Will you," said she, "permit me to vindicate my conduct, and explain my motives?" "Your conduct," said I, "cannot be vindicated; your motives need no explanation; they are too apparent. How, Miss Wharton, have I merited this treatment from you? But I can bear it no longer. Your indifference to me proceeds from an attachment to another, and, forgive me if I add, to one who is the disgrace of his own sex and the destroyer of yours. I have been too long the dupe of your dissimulation and coquetry—too long has my peace of mind been sacrificed to the arts of a woman whose conduct has proved her unworthy of my regard; insensible to love, gratitude, and honor.
"To you, madam," said I, turning to her mother, "I acknowledge my obligations for your friendship, politeness, and attention. I once hoped for the privilege of rocking for you the cradle of declining age. I am deprived of that privilege; but I pray that you may never want a child whose love and duty shall prove a source of consolation and comfort.
"Farewell. If we never meet again in this life, I hope and trust we shall in a better—where the parent's eye shall cease to weep for the disobedience of a child, and the lover's heart to bleed for the infidelity of his mistress."
I turned to Eliza, and attempted to speak; but her extreme emotion softened me, and I could not command my voice. I took her hand, and bowing, in token of an adieu, went precipitately out of the house. The residence of my friend, with whom I lodged, was at no great distance, and thither I repaired. As I met him in the entry, I rushed by him, and betook myself to my chamber. The fever of resentment and the tumult of passion began now to give place to the softer emotions of the soul. I found myself perfectly unmanned. I gave free scope to the sensibility of my heart; and the effeminate relief of tears materially lightened the load which oppressed me.
After this arduous struggle I went to bed, and slept more calmly than for several nights before. The next morning I wrote a farewell letter to Eliza, (a copy of which I shall enclose to you,) and, ordering my horse to be brought, left town immediately.
My resentment of her behavior has much assisted me in erasing her image from my breast. In this exertion I have succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations. The more I reflect on her temper and disposition, the more my gratitude is enlivened towards the wise Disposer of all events for enabling me to break asunder the snares of the deluder. I am convinced that the gayety and extravagance of her taste, the frivolous levity of her manners, disqualify her for the station in which I wished to have placed her. These considerations, together with that resignation to an overruling Providence which the religion I profess and teach requires me to cultivate, induce me cheerfully to adopt the following lines of an ingenious poet:—
"Since all the downward tracts of time God's watchful eye surveys, O, who so wise to choose our lot, Or regulate our ways?
"Since none can doubt his equal love, Unmeasurably kind, To his unerring, gracious will Be every wish, resigned.
"Good when he gives, supremely good; Not less when he denies; E'en crosses from his sovereign hand Are blessings in disguise."
I am, &c., J. BOYER.
TO MISS ELIZA WHARTON.
[Enclosed in the foregoing.]
Madam: Fearing that my resolution may not be proof against the eloquence of those charms which has so long commanded me, I take this method of bidding you a final adieu. I write not as a lover,—that connection between us is forever dissolved,—but I address you as a friend; as a friend to your happiness, to your reputation, to your temporal and eternal welfare. I will not rehearse the innumerable instances of your imprudence and misconduct which have fallen under my observation. Your own heart must be your monitor. Suffice it for me to warn you against the dangerous tendency of so dissipated a life, and to tell you that I have traced (I believe aright) the cause of your dissimulation and indifference to me. They are an aversion to the sober, rational, frugal mode of living to which my profession leads; a fondness for the parade, the gayety, not to say the licentiousness, of a station calculated to gratify such a disposition; and a prepossession for Major Sanford, infused into your giddy mind by the frippery, flattery, and artifice of that worthless and abandoned man. Hence you preferred a connection with him, if it could be accomplished; but a doubt whether it could, together with the advice of your friends, who have kindly espoused my cause, has restrained you from the avowal of your real sentiments, and led you to continue your civilities to me. What the result of your coquetry would have been had I waited for it, I cannot say; nor have I now any desire or interest to know. I tear from my breast the idea which I have long cherished of future union and happiness with you in the conjugal state. I bid a last farewell to these fond hopes, and leave you forever.
For your own sake, however, let me conjure you to review your conduct, and, before you have advanced beyond the possibility of returning to rectitude and honor, to restrain your steps from the dangerous path in which you now tread.
Fly Major Sanford. That man is a deceiver. Trust not his professions. They are certainly insincere, or he would not affect concealment; he would not induce you to a clandestine intercourse. Many have been the victims to his treachery. O Eliza, add not to the number. Banish him from your society if you wish to preserve your virtue unsullied, your character unsuspicious. It already begins to depreciate. Snatch it from the envenomed tongue of slander before it receive an incurable wound.
Many faults have been visible to me, over which my affection once drew a veil. That veil is now removed; and acting the part of a disinterested friend, I shall mention some few of them with freedom. There is a levity in your manners which is inconsistent with the solidity and decorum becoming a lady who has arrived to years of discretion. There is also an unwarrantable extravagance betrayed in your dress. Prudence and economy are such necessary, at least such decent, virtues, that they claim the attention of every female, whatever be her station or her property. To these virtues you are apparently inattentive. Too large a portion of your time is devoted to the adorning of your person.
Think not that I write thus plainly from resentment. No, it is from benevolence. I mention your foibles, not to reproach you with them, but that you may consider their nature and effects, and renounce them.
I wish you to regard this letter as the legacy of a friend, and to improve it accordingly. I shall leave town before you receive it. O, how different are my sensations at going from what they were when I came! But I forbear description. Think not, Eliza, that I leave you with indifference. The conquest is great, the trial more than I can calmly support; yet the consciousness of duty affords consolation—-a duty I conceive it to be which I owe to myself and to the people of my charge, who are interested in my future connection.
I wish not for an answer; my resolution is unalterably fixed. But should you hereafter be convinced of the justice of my conduct, and become a convert to my advice, I shall be happy to hear it.
That you may have wisdom to keep you from falling, and conduct you safely through this state of trial to the regions of immortal bliss, is the fervent prayer of your sincere friend and humble servant,
TO MRS. LUCY SUMNER.
The retirement of my native home is not so gloomy, since my return from Boston, as I expected, from the contrast between them. Indeed, the customs and amusements of this place are materially altered since the residence of Major Sanford among us. The dull, old-fashioned sobriety which formerly prevailed is nearly banished, and cheerfulness, vivacity, and enjoyment are substituted in its stead. Pleasure is now diffused through all ranks of the people, especially the rich; and surely it ought to be cultivated, since the wisest of men informs us that a merry heart "doth good like a medicine." As human life hath many diseases which require medicines, are we not right in selecting the most agreeable and palatable? Major Sanford's example has had great influence upon our society in general; and though some of our old ones think him rather licentious, yet, for aught I can see, he is as strict an observer of decorum as the best of them. True, he seldom goes to church; but what of that? The Deity is not confined to temples made with hands. He may worship him as devoutly elsewhere, if he chooses; and who has a right to say he does not?