The Coquette

The Coquette

Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner Character Analysis

Eliza Wharton’s closest friend and Mr. Sumner’s wife. Lucy and Eliza grew up near each other in Harford, Connecticut, and they have been friends for years. Eliza writes Lucy far more than anyone else in The Coquette, and Eliza is constantly seeking her friend’s advice. Lucy is the epitome of eighteenth-century womanhood and virtue. She is described as “modest” and “discreet,” and she is the example that Eliza and their shared friend, Julia Granby, follow. Lucy marries Mr. Sumner near the middle of the novel, and they enjoy a happy marriage, which Foster implies is largely due to their similar tastes and social standing. Like Eliza’s other friends, Lucy is overly critical of Eliza’s coquettish behavior, and she frequently suggests that Eliza is lacking in virtue and morals because of her relationship with Major Sanford, a known rake and womanizer. Julia brags to Eliza that Lucy once rejected a rake before she was married to Mr. Sumner because a rake can never be reformed, and to consort with a rake in any way is to sacrifice one’s virtue. Lucy frequently lectures Eliza about her reputation, and she believes that chastity and virtue are one and the same. Lucy is so quick to condemn Eliza for not conforming to her narrow view of virtue, however, that she forgets that being virtuous, or moral and righteous, also includes being kind and tolerant.

Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner Quotes in The Coquette

The The Coquette quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner or refer to Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Coquette published in 2015.
Letter 5 Quotes

What, my dear, is your opinion of our favorite Mr. Boyer? Declaring him your favorite, madam, is sufficient to render me partial to him. But to be frank, independent of that, I think him an agreeable man. Your heart, I presume, is now free? Yes, and I hope it will long remain so. Your friends, my dear, solicitous for your welfare, wish to see you suitably and agreeably connected. I hope my friends will never again interpose in my concerns of that nature. You, madam, who have ever known my heart, are sensible, that had the Almighty spared life, in a certain instance, I must have sacrificed my own happiness, or incurred their censure. I am young, gay, volatile. A melancholy event has lately extricated me from those shackles, which parental authority had imposed on my mind. Let me then enjoy that freedom which I so highly prize. Let me have opportunity, unbiassed by opinion, to gratify my natural disposition in a participation of those pleasures which youth and innocence afford.

Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Of such pleasures, no one, my dear, would wish to deprive you. But beware, Eliza! —Though strowed with flowers, when contemplated by your lively imagination, it is, after all, a slippery, thorny path. The round of fashionable dissipation is dangerous. A phantom is often pursued, which leaves its deluded votary the real form of wretchedness. She spoke with an emphasis, and taking up her candle, wished me a good night. I had not power to return the compliment. Something seemingly prophetic in her looks and expressions, cast a momentary gloom upon my mind! But I despise those contracted ideas which confine virtue to a cell. I have no notion of becoming a recluse. Mrs. Richman has ever been a beloved friend of mine; yet I always thought her rather prudish.

Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 9 Quotes

My friends were waiting for me in the parlor. They received me sociably, inquired after my health, my last evening’s entertainment, the company, &c. When, after a little pause, Mrs. Richman said, and how do you like Major Sanford, Eliza? Very well indeed, madam: I think him a finished gentleman. Will you, who are a connoisseur, allow him that title? No, my dear: in my opinion, he falls far below it; since he is deficient in one of the great essentials of the character, and that is, virtue. I am surprised, said I: but how has he incurred so severe a censure? By being a professed libertine; by having but too successfully practiced the arts of seduction; by triumphing in the destruction of innocence and the peace of families!

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 12 Quotes

Marriage is the tomb of friendship. It appears to me a very selfish state. Why do people, in general, as soon as they are married, centre all their cares, their concerns, and pleasures in their own families? former acquaintances are neglected or forgotten. The tenderest ties between friends are weakened, or dissolved; and benevolence itself moves in a very limited sphere.

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 14 Quotes

From a scene of constraint and confinement, ill suited to my years and inclination, I have just launched into society. My heart beats high in expectation of its fancied joys. My sanguine imagination paints, in alluring colors, the charms of youth and freedom, regulated by virtue and innocence. Of these, I wish to partake. While I own myself under obligations for the esteem which you are pleased to profess for me, and in return, acknowledge, that neither your person nor manners are disagreeable to me, I recoil at the thought of immediately forming a connection, which must confine me to the duties of domestic life, and make me dependent for happiness, perhaps too, for subsistence, upon a class of people, who will claim the right of scrutinizing every part of my conduct; and by censuring those foibles, which I am conscious of not having prudence to avoid, may render me completely miserable.

Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 31 Quotes

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.

Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 52 Quotes

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 attitudes; 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.

Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 61 Quotes

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 ensures the esteem and respect of all around us.

Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 66 Quotes

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.

Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 71 Quotes

I foresee, my dear Mrs. Sumner, that this disastrous affair will suspend your enjoyments, as it has mine. But what are our feelings, compared with the pangs which rend a parent’s heart? This parent, I here behold, inhumanly stripped of the best solace of her declining years, by the ensnaring machinations of a profligate debauchee! Not only the life, but what was still dearer, the reputation and virtue of the unfortunate Eliza, have fallen victims at the shrine of libertinism! Detested be the epithet! Let it henceforth bear its true signature, and candor itself shall call it lust and brutality!

Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
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Letter 73 Quotes

How sincerely I sympathize with the bereaved parent of the dear, deceased Eliza, I can feel, but have not power to express. Let it be her consolation, that her child is at rest. The resolution which carried this deluded wanderer thus far from her friends, and supported her through her various trials, is astonishing! Happy would it have been, had she exerted an equal degree of fortitude in repelling the first attacks upon her virtue! But she is no more; and heaven forbid that I should accuse or reproach her!

Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
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Upon your reflecting and steady mind, my dear Julia, I need not inculcate the lessons which may be drawn from this woe-fraught tale; but for the sake of my sex in general, I wish it engraved upon every heart, that virtue alone, independent of the trappings of wealth, the parade of equipage, and the adulation of gallantry, can secure lasting felicity. From the melancholy story of Eliza Wharton, let the American fair learn to reject with disdain every insinuation derogatory to their true dignity and honor. Let them despise, and for ever banish the man, who can glory in the seduction of innocence and the ruin of reputation. To associate, is to approve; to approve, is to be betrayed!

Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner Character Timeline in The Coquette

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Lucy Freeman/Mrs. Lucy Sumner appears in The Coquette. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter I. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Miss Eliza Wharton writes a letter to her dear friend, Lucy. Eliza’s fiancé, Mr. Haly, has recently passed away, and she has suffered some depression because... (full context)
Letter II. to the same.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
“I have received your letter,” Eliza writes to Lucy, “your moral lecture rather; and be assured, my dear, your monitorial lessons and advice shall... (full context)
Letter III. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy again to speak of her “conquests.” “Or must I enjoy them in silence?” Eliza asks.... (full context)
Letter V. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“I am so pestered with these admirers,” Eliza writes Lucy. Since arriving in New Haven, Eliza has been “followed, flattered, and caressed,” but the only... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...not reciprocate. “I despise those contracted ideas which confine virtue to a cell,” Eliza writes Lucy. “I have no notion of becoming a recluse.” Eliza has always considered Mrs. Richman a... (full context)
Letter VI. to the same.
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza again writes Lucy and tells her that she has been invited to attend a ball with Major Sanford,... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The General and Mrs. Richman are a “happy pair,” Eliza tells Lucy, and if it is ever Eliza’s “fate to wear the hymenial chain,” she hopes to... (full context)
Letter IX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy to tell her of the previous day’s excitement. Yesterday, just as Major Sanford arrived to... (full context)
Letter X. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza again writes Lucy and tells her that Major Sanford was waiting for her in the parlor when she... (full context)
Letter XII. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“The heart of your friend is again besieged,” Eliza writes Lucy. “Sometimes I think of becoming a predestinarian, and submitting implicitly to fate, without any exercise... (full context)
Letter XIII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“Methinks I can gather from your letters,” Lucy writes Eliza, “a predilection for this Major Sanford. But he is a rake, my dear... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Lucy says that she knows Eliza’s “ambition is to make a distinguished figure in the first... (full context)
Letter XIV. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“This was the day fixed for deciding Mr. Boyer’s cause,” Eliza writes Lucy. He came to visit today, and after a bit of small talk, “he seemed eager... (full context)
Letter XV. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“I congratulate you, my dear Eliza,” Lucy writes, “on the stability of your conduct towards Mr. Boyer,” for a man of his... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...be uncorrupted” and his morals reflective of “probity and honor.” However, “if I mistake not,” Lucy writes, “this gallant of yours cannot boast” these qualities. Lucy hopes that neither she nor... (full context)
Letter XVI. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“We go on charmingly here,” Eliza writes Lucy, “almost as soft and smooth as your ladyship.” Today, Reverend Boyer informed Eliza that he... (full context)
Letter XIX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy and tells her that Major Sanford approached her as she walked alone in the garden... (full context)
Letter XXVI. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
“I am perplexed and embarrassed, my friend,” Eliza writes Lucy, “by the assiduous attentions of this Major Sanford.” Reverend Boyer’s friend, Mr. Selby, had recently... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Is it not true that “a reformed rake makes the best husband?” Eliza asks Lucy. Eliza admits that she may be “too volatile for a confinement to domestic avocation and... (full context)
Letter XXIX. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...worthless Sanford lead you, like an ignis fatuus from the path of rectitude and virtue!” Lucy Freeman writes Eliza. She tells Eliza that a rake can never be reformed; however, even... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Lucy questions how Eliza, a woman “used to serenity and order in family” who is also... (full context)
Letter XXX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes to Lucy and informs her that she has “renounced [Sanford] entirely.” In compliance with her friends wishes,... (full context)
Letter XXXI. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Lucy responds, pleased with Eliza’s decision to quit the company of Major Sanford. Lucy considers libertines... (full context)
Letter XXXIII. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza again writes Lucy and tells her of Reverend Boyer’s intention to “seduce [Eliza] into matrimony.” She is tempted... (full context)
Letter XXXIV. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...respect of Mr. Boyer is a “result of habit.” Eliza plans to go to visit Lucy Freeman in the following days to help her prepare for her upcoming wedding. “I am... (full context)
Letter XXXVI. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...her happiness regarding the newest addition to the Richman family, Eliza tells Mrs. Richman about Lucy Freeman’s wedding. She claims Lucy and her new husband are a “charming couple,” owing to... (full context)
Letter XXXVII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...be a “source of discontent.” Eliza is leaving tomorrow for Boston with the newly married Mrs. Sumner , Sanford says. “I must follow her.”  (full context)
Letter XXXVIII. to Mrs. M. Wharton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes her mother, Mrs. Wharton, from Boston and reports that Lucy is “agreeably settled and situated” and “possess of every blessing which can render life desirable.”... (full context)
Letter XLI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy and tells her that Hartford is “gloomy” after the excitement of Boston, but the addition... (full context)
Letter XLIV. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“I am extremely depressed, my dear Lucy!” Eliza writes. Major Sanford has recently gone southward for several months, and Eliza has “declined... (full context)
Letter XLV. to the same.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza has returned home to her mother, Mrs. Wharton, she writes to Lucy, but can’t find happiness even there. Eliza has been for some months vising Mrs. Richman... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...has not written Eliza in nearly twelve months. “Has he too forsaken me?” Eliza asks Lucy. If he has, Eliza claims, that won’t be nearly as painful as Reverend Boyer’s continued... (full context)
Letter XLVIII. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
“I am shipwrecked on the shoals of despair!” Eliza writes to Lucy. Eliza encloses a copy of her letter to Boyer and his answer and tells her... (full context)
Letter XLIX. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
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“You refer yourself to my friendship for consolation,” Lucy writes Eliza, “but I must act the part of a skillful surgeon, and probe the... (full context)
Letter L. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy and tells her that Julia has arrived. “She is all that I once was,” Eliza... (full context)
Letter LI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Friendship Theme Icon
“You commanded me to write you respecting Miss Wharton,” Julia writes to Lucy, “and I obey.” Julia claims that Eliza has completely changed, and that her previous “vivacity... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Julia tells Lucy that Major Sanford’s home is “undergoing a complete repair.” He is rumored to return soon,... (full context)
Letter LII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Friendship Theme Icon
Lucy writes to Eliza and begs her to “rise above” her present depression. “Avoid solitude,” Lucy... (full context)
Letter LIII. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“Gracious Heaven!” Eliza writes to Lucy. “What have I heard?” Eliza tells Lucy that Sanford is married. “Yes, the ungrateful, the... (full context)
Letter LV. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes to Lucy and tells her she had a visit from Major Sanford. He had sent Eliza a... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...some future date. “I must acknowledge that this interview has given me satisfaction,” Eliza tells Lucy. She is hopeful that this “tragic comedy […] will come to a happy end.” (full context)
Letter LVI. To Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“Major Sanford has returned,” Julia writes to Lucy, “and amity (but not commerce,) is ratified.” Julia reports that Eliza is lifting from her... (full context)
Letter LVII. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza and Julia recently went to dine at Major and Mrs. Sanford’s, and Eliza writes Lucy to tell her about it. The party was large, and Eliza found all guests agreeable.... (full context)
Letter LIX. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Eliza writes Lucy to tell her that, while Julia is headed to Boston, Eliza will not be joining... (full context)
Letter LX. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Julia writes Lucy and informs her that all her attempts to persuade Eliza to travel to Boston have... (full context)
Letter LXI. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“Julia, you say, approves not Major Sanford’s particular attention to you,” Lucy writes Eliza. “Neither do I.” Lucy begs Eliza to be careful with Sanford’s professed friendship... (full context)
Letter LXII. to Miss Julia Granby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Eliza writes one letter to both Julia and Lucy, who are both now in Boston. “Writing is an employment,” Eliza says, “which suits me... (full context)
Letter LXIII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...her condolences for Mrs. Richman’s baby. She speaks briefly about her time in Boston with Lucy and then tells Eliza about the time Lucy refused to date a reformed rake before... (full context)
Letter LXIV. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Julia writes Lucy and informs her that she has arrived back at Eliza’s in Hartford. When Eliza first... (full context)
Letter LXVI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
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“Oh, my friend,” Julia writes Lucy. “I have a tale to unfold!” While staying with Eliza, Julia noticed that Eliza had... (full context)
Letter LXVII. to the same.
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“She is gone!” Julia writes to Lucy. “Yes, my dear friend, our beloved Eliza, is gone!” A few days earlier, Eliza had... (full context)
Letter LXIX. to Miss Julia Granby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...take it under her protection.” She also asks Julia to apologize to Mrs. Richman and Mrs. Sumner on her behalf and “obtain, if possible, their forgiveness.” Eliza asks her friend to “bury... (full context)
Letter LXXI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
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“The drama is now closed!” Julia writes to Lucy. “A tragical one indeed it has proved.” Recently, in a Boston newspaper, Mrs. Wharton read... (full context)
Letter LXXIII. to Miss Julia Granby.
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Lucy immediately responds to Julia’s letter. She tells her that she “sincerely sympathizes” with Mrs. Wharton’s... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
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Lucy closes her letter, but first she tells Julia that she wishes “it engraved upon every... (full context)
Letter LXXIV. to Mrs. M. Wharton.
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“Dear Madam,” Julia writes Mrs. Wharton. Julia and Lucy have just returned from Danvers, where they visited Eliza’s final resting place. “The grave of... (full context)