The Amelia Alderson Opie Archive
1790 Dangers of Coquetry
The European Magazine, and London Review, 17 (May 1790): 352.


THE Author of these volumes professes to have written them for the perusal of the thoughtless and the young, with a view to teach the unexperienced minds of females, that “indiscretions may produce as fatal effects as actual guilt, and that even the appearance of impropriety cannot be too carefully avoided.”  The Tale however by which these lessons are inculcated, possesses a double aspect; for while it attributes the most mischievous and dreadful consequences to a little innocent coquetry in the character of a wife, it shews them to have proceeded from an idle, ridiculous, and unfounded jealousy on the part of her husband.  Louisa Conolly marries Mr. Mortimer, and, contrary to her promise, attends a partie to Almack’s, without the permission of her husband; where, to match the pride and arrogance of a rival beauty, she permits Lord Ormington to whisper soft nonsense in her ear.  Vanity and female revenge blow, through the trumpet Fame “the horrid deed to every eye;” and it at length reaches the knowledge of her husband in the shape of conjugal infidelity.  The jealous feelings of his heart represent the picture of injured honour to his mind.  He challenges the supposed seducer, and falls a victim to his own credulity, in having too rashly given credit to a report derogatory to the virtue of his innocent wife. [Note that the reviewer confuses Lord Ormington and Lord Bertie here.]  The style in which this Novel is written, is simple and unadorned, and the language in general very correct; but it does not possess sufficient interest to move the heart, nor a sufficient probability to convince the understanding.  There are, however, many virtuous sentiments and moral reflections interspersed throughout the work.


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