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Stanhope answered Belinda's letter in a very guarded style; she rebuked her niece severely for her imprudence in mentioning names in such a manner, in a letter sent by the common post; assured her that her reputation was in no danger; that she hoped no niece of hers would set up for a prude a character more suspected by men of the world than even that of a coquette; that the person alluded to was a perfectly fit chaperon for any young lady to appear with in public, as long as she was visited by the first people in town; that as to any thing in the private conduct of that person, and as to any private brouillieries between her and her lord, Belinda should observe on these dangerous topics a profound silence, both in her letters and her conversation; that as long as the lady continued under the protection of her husband, the world might whisper, but would not speak out; that as to Belinda's own principles, she would be utterly inexcusable if, after the education she had received, they could be hurt by any bad examples; that she could not be too cautious in her management of a man of 's character; that she could have no serious cause for jealousy in the quarter she apprehended, as marriage there could not be the object; and there was such a difference of age, that no permanent influence could probably be obtained by the lady; that the most certain method for Miss Portman to expose herself to the ridicule of one of the parties, and to the total neglect of the other, would be to betray anxiety or jealousy; that, in short, if she were fool enough to lose her own heart, there would be little chance of her being wise enough to win that of , who was evidently a man of gallantry rather than of sentiment, and who was known to play his cards well, and to have good luck whenever hearts were trumps.