The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Coquette can help.
Eliza Wharton’s love interest for a short time and friend to Mr. Selby. Reverend Boyer first meets Eliza when she is visiting friends in New Haven, and he quickly becomes enamored with her. Eliza has a reputation of being a good and virtuous woman, and she is equally beautiful. Boyer is immediately drawn to Eliza’s “cheerful” and “gay disposition,” but he worries she may be a bit of a coquette. This doesn’t initially bother Boyer, however, as Eliza’s free and easy disposition will nicely augment his rather reserved life as a preacher. Boyer falls in love with Eliza and endeavors to marry her, but she is increasingly resistant to his advances. Boyer is insecure and frequently reacts with jealousy when Eliza is friendly with other men. She has multiple suitors, and one, a rake named Major Sanford, causes Boyer to become particularly suspicious. Eliza eventually agrees to marry Boyer, but she never does tell him when. He finds Eliza in the garden in close conversation with Sanford and leaves her in a jealous rage, convinced she is partial to Sanford. Boyer writes Eliza a scathing break-up letter in which, as a new and “disinterested friend,” he insults and berates her. Like Eliza’s other friends, Boyer refuses to hear Eliza’s side of the story and is harsh and unyielding in his treatment of her. Eliza tries to get him back, but he moves to Hampshire to take his final vows as a preacher, marries a “virtuous woman,” and Eliza never hears from him again.

Reverend J. Boyer Quotes in The Coquette

The The Coquette quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend J. Boyer or refer to Reverend J. Boyer. 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 4 Quotes

I was introduced to Miss Eliza Wharton; a young lady whose elegant person, accomplished mind, and polished manners have been much celebrated. […] You will think, that I talk in the style of a lover. I confess it, nor am I ashamed to rank myself among the professed admirers of this lovely fair one. I am in no danger, however, of becoming an enthusiastic devotee. No, I mean to act upon just and rational principles. Expecting soon to settle in an eligible situation, if such a companion as I am persuaded she will make me, may fall to my lot, I shall deem myself as happy as this state of imperfection will admit. She is now resident at Gen. Richman’s. The general and his lady are her particular friends. They are warm in her praises. They tell me, however, that she is naturally of a gay disposition. No matter for that; it is an agreeable quality, where there is discretion sufficient for its regulation. A cheerful friend, much more a cheerful wife is peculiarly necessary to a person of a studious and sedentary life.

Related Characters: Reverend J. Boyer (speaker), Miss Eliza Wharton, Mr. T. Selby
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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 short mobile
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 27 Quotes

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 gaiety, 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.

Page Number: 42-3
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Enclosed in the Foregoing Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Reverend J. Boyer (speaker), Miss Eliza Wharton, Mr. T. Selby
Page Number: 69
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.
The coquette.pdf.medium

Reverend J. Boyer Character Timeline in The Coquette

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend J. Boyer appears in The Coquette. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter III. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Yesterday, Eliza had gone to visit some neighbors, and there she met a man named Boyer. Boyer comes from a “worthy family” and studied divinity, and he will soon be moving... (full context)
Letter IV. to Mr. Selby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
“Am I in pursuit of truth, or lady?” Reverend Boyer writes to his friend, Mr. Selby. “I answer both.” His “respectable circle of acquaintances,” with... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Boyer is not “ashamed to rank [himself] among the professed admirers of this lovely fair one.”... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Boyer has had many occasions to speak to Eliza, and he has found her to have... (full context)
Letter V. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...has been “followed, flattered, and caressed,” but the only “serious lover” worth mentioning is Reverend Boyer. He has given Eliza much attention, although he has said nothing of his intentions. Eliza... (full context)
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 Boyer, and this is enough to... (full context)
Letter VII. to Mr. Selby.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“Divines need not declaim, not philosophers expatiate on the disappointments of human life!” Reverend Boyer writes to Mr. Selby. Boyer had been so excited at the prospect of spending more... (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,”... (full context)
Letter IX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...day’s excitement. Yesterday, just as Major Sanford arrived to take Eliza to the ball, Reverend Boyer called for a surprise visit. Eliza “blushed and stammered” in Boyer’s presence, though she doesn’t... (full context)
Letter XII. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...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 to be as “attentive and... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
When Eliza went down to dinner that evening, she found Reverend Boyer already waiting. After a nice dinner and pleasant conversation, they took a walk in the... (full context)
Letter XIII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...my dear friend.” Lucy reminds Eliza that a rake cannot be reformed, and that Reverend Boyer is a more respectable match. “His taste is undebauched,” Lucy says, and “his station in... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...Eliza “to lay aside those coquettish airs which [she] sometimes put on,” and remember that Boyer is not “a fop,” but a man of “sense and honor.” She implores her friend... (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... (full context)
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,”... (full context)
Letter XV. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...congratulate you, my dear Eliza,” Lucy writes, “on the stability of your conduct towards Mr. Boyer,” for a man of his “honor and good sense will never abridge any privileges which... (full context)
Letter XVI. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...charmingly here,” Eliza writes Lucy, “almost as soft and smooth as your ladyship.” Today, Reverend Boyer informed Eliza that he is leaving tomorrow for his new residence, where he will “put... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
After Sanford left, Boyer asked Eliza “to give him some assurance of [her] constancy,” but she “reminded him of... (full context)
Letter XVII. to Mr. Selby.
Reverend Boyer again writes Mr. Selby and tells him about Eliza. The time Boyer has spent with... (full context)
Letter XIX. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...rhapsodically to declare his passion.” He worried that Eliza was “forming a connection with Mr. Boyer, which would effectually destroy all his hopes of future happiness.” He reminded Eliza of “the... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Richman again warned Eliza of Sanford’s “arts,” and recommended she “remember [her] engagement to Mr. Boyer.” She instructed Eliza to let “sincerity and virtue be [her] guides,” which are sure to... (full context)
Letter XXII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“Your idea has been the solace of my retired moments,” Reverend Boyer tells Eliza in his next letter. He has been thinking fondly of their time together,... (full context)
Letter XXIII. to the Rev. J. Boyer.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“I have executed your commission,” Mr. Selby writes Reverend Boyer, and “I think [Eliza] fully justifies your partiality to her.” Selby tells Boyer that Eliza... (full context)
Letter XXIV. to the Rev. J. Boyer.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Mr. Selby resumes his letter to Reverend Boyer and encloses a letter from Eliza. He had gone to General Richman’s around noon to... (full context)
Letter XXV. to the Rev. J. Boyer.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“Sir,” writes Eliza to Boyer, “I congratulate you on your agreeable settlement, and hope it will be productive of real... (full context)
Letter XXVI. to Miss Lucy Freeman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
...embarrassed, my friend,” Eliza writes Lucy, “by the assiduous attentions of this Major Sanford.” Reverend Boyer’s friend, Mr. Selby, had recently come to visit, and Sanford watched all of Mr. Selby’s... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...Major Sanford told Eliza that he was struck with “jealousy” by the appearance of Reverend Boyer’s friend, Mr. Selby. Eliza reminded Sanford that she is “under no special obligation to him,”... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...“too volatile for a confinement to domestic avocation and sedentary pleasures,” but a relationship with Boyer does appeal to her in some respects. “But the idea of relinquishing those delightful amusements... (full context)
Letter XXVII. to the Rev. Mr. Boyer.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
“Every woman is at heart a rake,” Mr. Selby writes to Reverend Boyer. Selby assumes that all women must be rakes to “account for the pleasure which they... (full context)
Letter XXVIII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...and this encourages his behavior. He still worries that she is more interested in Reverend Boyer, however, and he plans to “detach her from him,” which is sure to anger her... (full context)
Letter XXXII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...Eliza’s home and family, Sanford hopes to continue his “plan of separating her from Mr. Boyer.” In a short aside, Sanford tells Charles that he was forced to mortgage his new... (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 to accept, but Boyer is so... (full context)
Letter XXXIV. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...as well, and while he has been exceedingly pleasant to Eliza, his respect of Mr. Boyer is a “result of habit.” Eliza plans to go to visit Lucy Freeman in the... (full context)
Letter XXXV. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...expanding family and hope to receive an invitation soon to attend Eliza’s marriage to Reverend Boyer. (full context)
Letter XXXVI. to Mrs. Richman.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...a “charming couple,” owing to a “similarity of tastes” and “consonance of their dispositions.” Reverend Boyer took the event as an occasion to ask Eliza to do “likewise,” but she ignored... (full context)
Letter XXXVIII. to Mrs. M. Wharton.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...will think me extravagant when you are told how much,” Eliza tells her mother. Mr. Boyer has since returned to his own home in Hampshire. “O mamma! I am embarrassed of... (full context)
Letter XXXIX. to Mr. T. Selby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Boyer writes Mr. Selby and apologizes for neglecting their friendship, but he has been preoccupied lately.... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Boyer made the mistake of mentioning Major Sanford to Eliza—who, incidentally, has purchased a home in... (full context)
Letter XL. to Mr. T. Selby.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
“I have returned; and the day, indeed, is fixed,” writes Boyer to Selby, “but Oh! how different from my fond expectations!” When Boyer arrived at Eliza’s... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
The next day, Boyer called on Eliza at home, but she was indisposed. Mrs. Wharton claimed that Eliza had... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Upset, Boyer ran from the garden and Eliza quickly followed. They met in the parlor where Eliza... (full context)
to Miss Eliza Wharton. ENCLOSED IN THE FOREGORING.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“I take this method of bidding you a final adieu,” Boyer writes Eliza. He writes Eliza “not as a lover” but as a “friend” who is... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Further acting in the role “of a disinterested friend,” Boyer informs Eliza that “there is a levity in [her] manners” that is “inconsistent with the... (full context)
Letter XLI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...Eliza has a wonderful time in his company, but she has decided to marry Reverend Boyer. Eliza’s relationship with Sanford is platonic, and while he frequently begs her for more, she... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...met with Major Sanford in the garden to inform him of her choice regarding Reverend Boyer, and when she did, she was surprised to see Boyer enter the garden as well.... (full context)
Letter XLII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...own.” Sanford tells Charles that he had gone to visit Eliza and that the Reverend Boyer had interrupted their talk. Boyer gave them “a pretty harsh look and retired without speaking... (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 long contemplated a happy union between you,” writes Mrs. Richman. While she is... (full context)
Letter XLIV. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Reverend Boyer’s recent rejection of Eliza has made him “appear in the brightest colors,” and this “fatal... (full context)
Letter XLV. to the same.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...not find joy in a social setting. Mrs. Richman suggested that Eliza write to Reverend Boyer, claiming it will be “a relief to [Eliza’s] mind,” and she agreed. Eliza hopes she... (full context)
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...asks Lucy. If he has, Eliza claims, that won’t be nearly as painful as Reverend Boyer’s continued rejection. She has heard gossip that Sanford will soon be married, but Eliza can... (full context)
Letter XLVI. to the Rev. J. Boyer.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...that this letter coming from the hand which you once sought,” Eliza writes to Reverend Boyer, “will not be unacceptable.” Instead of an apology, Eliza tells Boyer that she “frankly confesses”... (full context)
Letter XLVII. to Miss Eliza Wharton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
“Madam,” responds Boyer to Eliza. “The regard which I felt for you was tender and animated, but it... (full context)
Letter XLVIII. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
...shoals of despair!” Eliza writes to Lucy. Eliza encloses a copy of her letter to Boyer and his answer and tells her friend about Reverend Boyer’s rejection. “But I do not... (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
...to go alone, but Eliza can’t bear it. She is much too depressed over Mr. Boyer’s rejection (full context)
Letter LVIII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...Eliza “is extremely altered,” and that her depressed nature “mortifies [him] exceedingly.” He suspects Reverend Boyer is to blame for Eliza’s despair, but he “flatters” himself “to have contributed in a... (full context)