“Methinks I can gather from your letters,” Lucy writes Eliza, “a predilection for this Major Sanford. But he is a rake, 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 life is, perhaps, as elevated as you have a right to claim.” She asks Eliza to “forgive [her] plainness,” but “it is the task of friendship, sometimes to tell disagreeable truths.”
Lucy’s letters and lectures to Eliza are frequently harsh and offensive. Here, she warns Eliza about Sanford’s reputation, which is appropriate enough, but she also implies that Eliza should marry Boyer because he is the best man that she will ever secure. As both Eliza and Boyer are middle-class, to implies that Eliza isn’t good enough to pursue a wealthier man like Sanford, bad reputation or not.
Lucy says that she knows Eliza’s “ambition is to make a distinguished figure in the first class of polished society,” but these are “fading honors.” She encourages 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 to act with “modest freedom” and “dignified unreserve.”
Here, Lucy directly addresses Eliza’s desire to become upwardly mobile, and she basically tells her to forget it. To Lucy, Eliza should be more worried about her own reputation than securing a place in the upper class. Telling Eliza to “lay aside [her] coquettish airs” is another direct reference to Eliza’s flirtatiousness.