The Amelia Alderson Opie Archive
1790 Dangers of Coquetry
The English Review, 17 (March 1791): 234.


“For the perusal of the thoughtless and the young is this tale given to the world … it teaches that indiscretion may produce as fatal effects as ACTUAL GUILT, and that even the appearance of impropriety cannot be too carefully avoided.”  Such is the object of this sensible and moral novel.  The characters are well drawn; the incidents rising naturally from each other exhibit in their fatal catastrophe a solemn warning to the fair sex to avoid the dangers of coquetry.  The following portrait of a coquette is sketched with truth and good sense:

            “A coquette in your sex is, in my opinion, as detestable as a libertine in ours, and has certainly less excuse for her fault that the latter can boast.  The libertine has passion for his excuse; and those who know the force of it in the bosom of youth, should make some allowances for its effects; but in cold blood to take pains to destroy the happiness of others, to wound an inexperienced heart, for the sake of wounding it, as an un-whip’d urchin torments a worm for the pleasures of seeing it writhe about in torture; to seduce lovers from their affianced brides, husbands from their wives, and all to gratify a thirst of admiration, and a despicable vanity, with but a grain of passion to plead her excuse; this is the condut of a finished conquette; and this is the character, though gilded over by beauty and accomplishments, which will ever deserve and ever meet my abhorrence.”


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