Eliza writes to Lucy and tells her she had a visit from Major Sanford. He had sent Eliza a letter requesting a visit once he returned to Hartford, and after Julia said there was no harm in it, Eliza agreed to meet him. He admitted that he was married but wished that Eliza was his wife instead. “Why, then,” Eliza asked him, “did you marry her?” Sanford admitted his “embarrassing state of affairs” and claimed he married only for money. He also claimed to love Eliza “most ardently” and wept. “Yes, Lucy,” Eliza writes, “this libertine; this man of pleasure and gallantry wept!”
Sanford is very clearly in love with Eliza and now openly admits that he is both financially and morally bankrupt. This passage also highlights how important wealth is in eighteenth century society. Sanford is willing to sacrifice his happiness and love for Eliza just to retain his class standing and perceived wealth.
Sanford went on to ask Eliza to be a friend to his wife, Nancy. She is “a stranger” in Harford after all, and she would appreciate Eliza’s friendship. Eliza claimed that she “could not grant, at present,” Sanford’s request, although she may at 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.”
Eliza finds some comfort in Sanford’s misery, just as Boyer found some comfort in insulting Eliza. Of course, Sanford cares very little if his wife has friends, he simply wants to keep Eliza close and part of his life for as long as possible and having her befriend his wife is the perfect opportunity.