The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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Eliza Wharton’s cousin and dear friend, and the wife of General Richman. The General and Mrs. Richman “are the picture of conjugal felicity,” and Eliza frequently visits their happy home in New Haven. Mrs. Richman’s blissful marriage is the example Eliza is expected to emulate, and she constantly pushes Eliza to follow in her footsteps. Mrs. Richman is wholly dedicated to the domestic sphere and claims that “all [her] happiness is centered within the limits of [her] own walls”—meaning her marriage and family are all she needs to be happy. She tells Eliza that “conjugal and maternal love are the main springs of [her] life,” and she disapproves of Eliza’s desire to avoid marriage and casually date instead. Mrs. Richman uses her friendship with Eliza to openly criticize her and her choices, and she frequently lectures Eliza about her relationship with Major Sanford, a self-professed libertine and rake. Mrs. Richman is overly judgmental of Eliza and implies that her flirtatious behavior is a mark upon her virtue and morality. Instead of supporting Eliza’s choice not to submit to the oppressive confines of eighteenth-century ideals of womanhood, Mrs. Richman’s intolerance exacerbates Eliza’s misery and leads to her subsequent alienation. Foster insinuates that Mrs. Richman is pregnant early in the novel, and she indeed gives birth to a baby girl, who sadly dies. After the death of Mrs. Richman’s infant daughter, she is obviously heartbroken, and it is through this sadness that Foster suggests even the happiest and most successful marriages are susceptible to despair.

Mrs. Richman Quotes in The Coquette

The The Coquette quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Richman or refer to Mrs. Richman. 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:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Letter 8 Quotes

I first saw [Miss Eliza Wharton] on a party of pleasure at Mr. Frazier’s where we walked, talked, sung, and danced together. I thought her cousin watched her with a jealous eye; for she is, you must know, a prude; and immaculate, more so than you or I must be the man who claims admission to her society. But I fancy this young lady is a coquette; and if so, I shall avenge my sex, by retaliating the mischiefs, she meditates against us. Not that I have any ill designs; but only to play off her own artillery, by using a little unmeaning gallantry. And let her beware of the consequences.

Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Letter 23 Quotes

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. Laurence 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.

Page Number: 34-5
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Letter 43 Quotes

How natural, and how easy the transition from one stage of life to another! Not long since I was a gay, volatile girl; seeking satisfaction in fashionable circles and amusements; but now I am thoroughly domesticated. All my happiness is centered within the limits of my own walls; and I grudge every moment that calls me from the pleasing scenes of domestic life. Not that I am so selfish as to exclude my friends from my affection or society. I feel interested in their concerns, and enjoy their company. I must own, however, that conjugal and parental love are the main springs of my life. The conduct of some mothers in depriving their helpless offspring of the care and kindness which none but a mother can feel, is to me unaccountable. There are many nameless attentions which nothing short of maternal tenderness, and solicitude can pay; and for which the endearing smiles, and progressive improvements of the lovely babe are an ample reward.

Related Characters: Mrs. Richman (speaker), Miss Eliza Wharton, Reverend J. Boyer
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire The Coquette LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Mrs. Richman Character Timeline in The Coquette

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Richman appears in The Coquette. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter II. to the same.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“My friends, here, are the picture of conjugal felicity,” Eliza writes of General and Mrs. Richman . Eliza is having a wonderful time in New Haven, and she can feel the... (full context)
Letter IV. to Mr. Selby.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...in an eligible situation.” She is staying at General Richman’s, and he and his wife, Mrs. Richman , are “warm in her praises” but claim “she is naturally of a gay disposition.”... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...seems studiously to avoid,” but he plans to speak of it soon. The General and Mrs. Richman have invited him to visit today, “as if by accident,” and when he arrives, they... (full context)
Letter V. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Mrs. Richman recently asked Eliza about Reverend Boyer. Eliza knows that Mrs. Richman is very fond of... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Mrs. Richman knows as well as anyone that, had Mr. Haly lived, Eliza would have forfeited her... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
“But beware, Eliza!” Mrs. Richman warned. Pursuing such freedoms may be tempting, but it is “a slippery, thorny path.” Mrs.... (full context)
Letter VI. to the same.
Friendship Theme Icon
...but seems “sufficiently respectable.” She immediately accepted his invitation, but senses that the General and Mrs. Richman disapprove. When Eliza entered the parlor where the couple sat, they seemed “better pleased with... (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... (full context)
Letter VII. to Mr. Selby.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...with the bitter rankings of jealousy and suspicion.” When Boyer went to the General and Mrs. Richman ’s for his “accidental” visit with Eliza, he found Major Sanford waiting on Eliza as... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Reverend Boyer asks Mrs. Richman if Major Sanford’s character is “unexceptionable.” Surely, Eliza, “a lady of delicacy,” would not spend... (full context)
Letter VIII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...rendered her the toast of the country.” She is staying with her friend and cousin, Mrs. Richman , in New Haven, although Mrs. Richman watches Eliza “with a jealous eye.” Sanford suspects... (full context)
Letter IX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...will be arriving soon. Last night, when Eliza returned home, she found the General and Mrs. Richman waiting in the parlor. Mrs. Richman asked how Eliza liked Sanford, and Eliza responded that... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...refuse him admission, if [Major Sanford] call, in compliance with the customary forms?” Eliza asked Mrs. Richman . “By no means,” Mrs. Richman responded, but Eliza must be careful. “A man of... (full context)
Letter X. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...estate in Eliza’s native town. Sanford soon left, and Eliza dressed for an engagement with Mrs. Richman to dine at Mr. Laurence’s, a local gentleman of “fortune and fashion.” His daughter, Miss... (full context)
Letter XI. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...gone to see Eliza earlier that morning and sensed that she was “vexed.” No doubt Mrs. Richman has warned her “of the vices of her gallant,” Sanford says. Eliza’s coldness soon warmed,... (full context)
Letter XII. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...seems to be a wayward one, I would counteract the operations of it, if possible.” Mrs. Richman told Eliza that Reverend Boyer would be calling this evening, and that she expects him... (full context)
Letter XIV. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
After Reverend Boyer had gone, Mrs. Richman told Eliza that she “should own [herself] somewhat engaged to him,” but Eliza told her... (full context)
Letter XIX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“I hope you have been agreeably entertained,” Mrs. Richman said to Eliza after Sanford left. “I did not choose my company, madam,” Eliza said.... (full context)
Letter XXIII. to the Rev. J. Boyer.
Women and Society Theme Icon
The dinner conversation soon turned to politics. Mrs. Richman and Eliza readily joined in, but Mrs. Laurence claimed she “never meddled with politics; she... (full context)
Letter XXXIV. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Eliza writes to Mrs. Richman from her mother, Mrs. Wharton’s, home in Hartford and tells her how happy she is... (full context)
Letter XXXV. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
General Richman writes Eliza at “ Mrs. Richman ’s request,” as she has just given birth to a baby girl. General and Mrs.... (full context)
Letter XXXVI. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“Hail happy babe!” Eliza writes to Mrs. Richman . After relaying her happiness regarding the newest addition to the Richman family, Eliza tells... (full context)
Letter XLIII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Friendship Theme Icon
Mrs. Richman writes to Eliza and offers her condolences regarding Eliza’s separation from Reverend Boyer. “I had... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Mrs. Richman goes on to talk about her family. “All my happiness is centered within the limits... (full context)
Letter XLV. to the same.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...to Lucy, but can’t find happiness even there. Eliza has been for some months vising Mrs. Richman in New Haven, but she could not find joy in a social setting. Mrs. Richman... (full context)
Letter LXII. to Miss Julia Granby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...is an employment,” Eliza says, “which suits me not at present.” Eliza reports that, sadly, Mrs. Richman “has buried her babe.” Eliza has just written Mrs. Richman a long letter but has... (full context)
Letter LXIII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Julia writes Eliza and expresses her condolences for Mrs. Richman ’s baby. She speaks briefly about her time in Boston with Lucy and then tells... (full context)
Letter LXIX. to Miss Julia Granby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...[her] mother to 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... (full context)