The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Anne Long to Jonathan Swift - 1

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NOVEMBER 18, 1711.


IF you will again allow me the pleasure of hearing from you, without murmuring, I will let you enjoy that of laughing at me for any foolish word I misapply; for I know you are too reasonable to expect me to be nicely right in the matter; but then when you take a fancy to be angry, pray let me know it quietly, that I may clear my meanings, which are always far from offending my friends, however unhappy I may be in my expressions. Could I expect you to remember any part of my letters so long ago, I would ask you, that you should know where to find me when you had a mind to it; but I suppose you were in a romantick strain, and designed to have surprised me talking to myself in a wood, or by the sea. Forgive the dullness of my apprehension, and if telling you that I am at Linn will not do, I will print it, however inconvenient it may yet be to me; for I am not the better for the old lady's death, but am put in hopes of being easy at Christmas, however, I shall still continue to be Mrs. Smyth, near St. Nicholas's church in the town aforesaid; so much for my affairs. Now as to my health, that was much out of order last Summer; my distemper was a dropsy or asthma (you know what I mean, but I cannot spell it right) or both, lazy distempers, which I was too lazy to molest while they would let me sit in quiet; but when they grew so unreasonable as not to let me do that, I applied myself to doctor Inglis, by whose advice I am now well enough. To give you the best account I can of this place, the ladies will make any returns, if one may believe what they say of one another; the men I know little of, for I am here, what you have often upbraided me with, a prude in every thing but censuring my neighbours. A couple of divines, two aldermen, and a custom-house officer, are all my men acquaintance; the gay part of the town I know nothing of, and although for the honour of the place I will suppose there are good poets, yet that I never inquired after. I have a shelf pretty well filled at home, but want a Miscellany Mr. Steele put out last year; Miss Hessy promised it me, but has forgot it: I fancy you have interest enough with him to get it for me. I wish too at your leisure you would make a pedigree for me; the people here want sadly to know what I am; I pretend to no more than being of George Smyth's family of Nitly, but do not talk much of it, for fear of betraying myself; so they fancy some mystery to be in the matter, and would give their rivals place to be satisfied. At first they thought I came hither to make my fortune, by catching up some of their young fellows; but having avoided that sort of company, I am still a riddle they know not what to make of. Many of them seem to love me well enough; for I hear all they say of one another without making mischief among them, and give them tea and coffee when I have it, which are the greatest charms I can boast of: the fine lady I have left to Moll (who I suppose was at the Bath) or any other that will take it up; for I am grown a good housewife; I can pot and pickle, sir, and handle a needle very prettily; see Miss Hessy's scarf, I think that is improving mightily. If Miss Hessy keeps company with the eldest Hatton, and is still a politician, she is not the girl I took her for; but to me she seems melancholy. Sure Mr. St. John is not so altered but he will make returns; but how can I pretend to judge of any thing, when my poor cousin is taken for an hermaphrodite; a thing I as little suspected her for as railing at any body; I know so little cause for it, that I must be silent. I hear but little of what is done in the world, but should be glad the ministry did themselves the justice to distinguish men of merit: may I wish you joy of any preferment? I shall do it heartily: but if you have got nothing, I am busy to as much purpose as you, although my employments are next to picking straws. Oh, but you are acquainted with my lord Fitzharding, for which I rejoice with you, and am your most obedient servant,

ANNE LONG.

  1. Thus indorsed by the doctor; Poor Mrs. Long's last letter, written five weeks before she died.