4. AA's concern and admonitions as expressed in this letter sprang from two different but related causes. Lovell in his correspondence with her habitually indulged in a queer sort of gallantry, imitative of Laurence Sterne's writings, which she in turn indulged him in without protest and thus apparently found acceptable. However, in his letter of 8 Jan.
, which she found indiscreet (see note 2
above), he spoke of her as one of the “most lovely of the Loveliest Sex,” and at the same time blandly mentioned that recent letters of his, including one to her (dated 21 Nov. 1780, not found), had fallen into the hands of “Jemmy Rivington,” the tory newspaper printer in New York. This naturally suggested to her that the combination of what she here calls Lovell's “exuberances” and the increasingly frequent British interception of American mails made her reputation more vulnerable than was pleasant to contemplate. Six weeks or so elapsed between Lovell's writing his letter of 8 Jan.
and her receipt of it in late February, and meanwhile AA learned that Rivington and other loyalist printers had
published one or more of Lovell's private letters, specifically one to Elbridge Gerry, 20 Nov. 1780, containing enough indiscretions to excite talk in Boston. Though she had not seen the paper or papers in question, she was bound to wonder what further epistolary indiscretions her correspondent might have committed and she was still to hear about. Waiting for several weeks, and still without sight of what Rivington had printed, AA here phrased her multiple rebukes to Lovell with care and tact. In a letter of 10 May
, below (and perhaps in others intervening but not found), and still
not having seen the offending letter to Gerry, AA renewed her “Stricktures” on Lovell's conduct in severe terms; see the notes and references there.