Major Sanford writes his friend, Charles Deighton, and tells him of his date with Eliza, “a young lady whose agreeable person, polished manners, and refined talents have 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 Eliza is “a coquette.” If she is, Sanford writes, “I shall avenge my sex, by retaliating the mischiefs, she mediates against us.” Sanford’s intentions are not of an “ill design,” he only wishes to “play off [Eliza’s] own artillery, by using a little unmeaning gallantry. And let her beware of the consequences.”
Sanford implies that Mrs. Richman is envious of Eliza’s social freedom. As the poster woman for eighteenth-century marriage, Mrs. Richman is not allowed to behave in such a free and open way, and she appears to resent Eliza for it. Sanford is not put off by Eliza’s coquetry, and since Sanford is himself a libertine, he considers it all in good fun. “The consequences” Sanford mentions are that Eliza stands to be socially ostracized for entering a relationship with him, but he cares very little if Eliza’s reputation is tarnished.