The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Frances Arabella Kelly to Jonathan Swift - 4


BRISTOL, JULY 8, 1733.

I CANNOT express how much pleasure your letter gave me; to say that it surpassed the anxiety your silence gave me, is all the description I am able to make. Indeed I had a thousand fears about you; your health was my first care, and yet I thought, that the Gods must take care of Cato; but I too fearfully apprehended that the whole club had quite forgotten the most unworthy member that ever entered into their society. For, though you writ to others, your hands were useless to me: and of all our little set none remained unblessed but myself: but as your letter has made me full amends for every thing beside, I must be lavish in my thanks.

I am apt to believe that I really died on the road, as it was reported; for I am certainly not the same creature I once was; for I am grown fonder of reading than of any other amusement, and except when health calls me on horseback, I find my only joys at home; but my life indeed has received great addition in its pleasures, by Mrs. Rooke's being so good to come down to me; she has all the qualities that can make an agreeable companion and friend: we live together without form, but have all the complacence for each other that true friendship inspires. You are sensible that two people cannot always like the same thing: this we make easy, by following our inclinations; for if she likes to walk, she walks, and I do whatever I like better. Would to God you were with us to complete our happiness. I had a letter from Mrs. Cleland to inquire about you; she says, she hears you are coming to England: surely if you were, you would tell me so; for few things in life could give me more true delight than the sight of you.

You are extremely good to enter into my affairs: all marks you give me of your friendship, increase my esteem for you, and make me bear the common rubs of life with patience. I have really been often tempted to let you into all my secrets; but the thought that you only could receive uneasiness from them, and that even your advice could not remove the least painful of them, hindered me from it; for to those I best love I still remain upon these heads reserved. Indeed the cause of my complaints is of such a nature, that it cannot well be told. The unhappy life of a near relation must give one a pain in the very repeating it, that cannot be described. For surely to be the daughter of a colonel Chartres, must, to a rational being, give the greatest anxiety; for who would have a father at seventy publickly tried for an attempt of a rape? Such a Dulcinea del Toboso is shocking, I think. For if a man must do wrong, he should aim a little higher than the enjoyment of a kitchen maid, that he finds obstinately virtuous. In short, dear sir, I have been fool enough to let such things make an impression on me, which, spite of a good constitution, much spirits, and using a great deal of exercise, have brought me to what I am. Were I without a mother (I mean, had I lost her in my infancy, and not known her goodness) I could still better have born the steps that were taken; but while I saw how lavish he was upon his dirty wenches, I had frequent accounts that my mother was half starved abroad. She brought him sixteen thousand pounds fortune, and having born severe usage for near twenty years, had resolution enough to part with him, and chose to take two hundred and fifty pounds per annum separate maintenance rather than bear any longer: and as she could not live here upon such an income, she has banished herself, and lives retired in a country town in France. — His late letters to me have been kind, and hitherto he has supplied me well; but in his last he tells me he shall not see me till September.

What you say is perfectly right, and I propose returning to the club as soon as my health will permit me; but how long this may prove I know not; for I must still pursue this cruel God[1] that flies me.

I shall go from hence, I believe, in a week; for Lane only pours down medicines for the sake of the apothecary, and though he reaps the benefit of them, I receive none; and as he has not allowed me to drink the waters these three weeks, I can have no business here; so shall follow Holling's advice, and remove to Kensington or Hampstead with the utmost expedition; therefore I must beg the favour of you to enclose your letters for me to William Cleland, esq., commissioner of taxes, in St. Stephen's Court, Westminster. I have disobeyed orders in writing so long a letter; but I will not do this again: so now be so good to excuse the tediousness of, sir, your most obliged and most faithful humble servant,

Write to me as often as you can, and make my compliments to all friends.
Mrs. Pendarves is gone down with lady Weymouth, whose fortune was five thousand pounds, and has for jointure two thousand five hundred a year, and five hundred a year pinmoney.

  1. The God of Health poetically expressed.