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. After dinner, Sanford “gave [Nancy’s] hand” to Mr. Grey, a stranger, and took Eliza’s for himself. Sanford was kind and spoke only of friendship, and he again asked Eliza to befriend his wife. Eliza assured him that she was much too depressed to be a suitable friend to his wife. Eliza closes her letter and thanks Lucy for her previous entertainment update. “I think it a pity they have not female managers for the theater,” Eliza writes. “I believe it would be under much better regulation, than at present.”
Sanford continues his open pursuit of Eliza, despite the presence of his wife. He willingly hands his wife off to a stranger so that he is free to spend time with Eliza. Foster’s use of the phrase “he gave her hand” to another man harkens to their own marriage and implies that Sanford would have no problems giving her away completely under the right circumstances—like in the event that Eliza was also wealthy and could solve his financial problems. Sanford’s indifference to his wife is more evidence of his despicable character.