The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Anne Donnellan to Jonathan Swift - 1

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LONDON, SEPT. 22, 1733.

KNOWING your great esteem and tenderness for miss Kelly, and that there is no one whom she has so high an opinion of, or whose advice would sway so much with her, I cannot forbear letting you know my thoughts about her at this time; that I think she wants the assistance and counsel of her best and wisest friend. As she has been so good to distinguish me among her female acquaintance, and to show more confidence than in any other, I think I can better tell her mind: but, as she has a natural closeness, I judge chiefly by hints; for I believe she does not open herself entirely to any one. Her health I think in a much worse way than when she came to London: she has still a slow fever, a violent cough, great and almost continual sickness in her stomach[1], and, added to all these, a very great dejection of spirit; which last, I cannot but think, proceeds in a good measure from discontent and uneasiness of mind; and the physicians are of the same opinion. I have endeavoured, by all the means I could think of, to find out the cause, hoping, that if it were known, it might, by the assisrance of friends, be remedied. I know when a young person shows any discontent, people are apt to imagine there can be no cause for it but a disappointment in love: I really think that is not miss Kelly's case: I have tried her to the uttermost on that subject, and I cannot find she has any attachment to any particular person, but that the whole world, except a few friends, is indifferent to her: but what I take her present uneasiness to proceed from, is the unkindness in general of her parents, and the fear of not being supported by her father in the way she likes, and as her present bad state of health indeed requires. She has a high spirit, and cannot bear to be obliged to her friends, and she has not been much used to management. She is here in a very expensive way, with her sickness, her servants, and horses; and I believe she would be greatly mortified, after appearing in this manner, to be obliged to fall below it; and at the same time she has reason to fear, from her father's behaviour, that he thinks little of her, and will not support her in it: she has not heard from him these two months; and the letters she had from him at Bristol, were warning her not to marry without his consent, enjoining her not to go to publick places, and above all, to spend little money; very odd subjects to one in her condition. Now, what I would beg of you, sir, is to endeavour to find out what are his resolutions in relation to her, and if there be any that has an influence over him, to get them to convince him, that his child's life is in the greatest danger; and then, perhaps, he may not think his time and money ill employed to save it. If at the same time, sir, you would join your good advice to her, I believe it might be of great use, either to make her bear, with less uneasiness, the ills of this life, or, if it please God to take her from us, to prepare her for another, and a better. Her humour is much changed; her spirits are low; and upon every little disappointment, her passions rise high: you know, sir, how best to apply to these. She is at Hampstead quite alone; and although her physicians desire much she should come to town, she cannot be prevailed on to think of it; she desires to be alone: even Mrs. Rooke and I, whom she calls her best friends, are troublesome to her. I believe I need not tell you, sir, that I desire this letter may be a secret, and especially to the person concerned. If you have any thing to tell me, that can be of use on this subject, and will honour me with your commands, direct if you please for me, under cover, To Mrs. Anne Shuttleworth, at Mr. Jourdain's, in Conduit street. I should beg pardon, sir, for troubling you with this long letter; but I hope my friendship to miss Kelly will be my excuse. I am sorry to write on so melancholy a subject, and which I am sure must give you uneasiness; but, pleased with any opportunity of assuring you that I am, sir, your very great admirer, and most obedient humble servant,

  1. Miss Kelly died the last week in October, 1733.