The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Esther Vanhomrigh - 6 (Translation)
MAY 12, 1719.
I MAKE you my compliments on your perfection in the French language. It is necessary to know you long, in order to know all your accomplishments: by perpetually seeing and hearing you, new ones appear, which before were concealed. It is a reproach to me, that I know only the Gascon and Patois in comparison of you. There is nothing to be objected, either as to the orthography, propriety, elegance, ease, or spirit. And what a blockhead am I to answer you in the same language, you who are incapable of any folly, unless it be the esteem that you are pleased to entertain for me; for it is no merit, nor any proof of my good taste, to find out in you all that nature has bestowed on a mortal; that is to say, honour, virtue, good sense, wit, sweetness, agreeableness, and firmness of soul; but by concealing yourself, as you do, the world knows you not, and you lose the eulogy of millions. Ever since I have had the honour of knowing you, I have always remarked, that neither in private, nor in general conversation, has one word ever escaped you, which could be better expressed. And I protest, that after making frequently the most severe criticisms, I never have been able to find the least fault, either in your actions, or your words. Coquetry, affectation, prudery, are imperfections which you never knew. And with all this, do you think it possible not to esteem you above the rest of humankind? What beasts in petticoats are the most excellent of those, whom I see dispersed throughout the world, in comparison of you! On seeing, on hearing them, I say a hundred times a day, speak not, look not, think not, do nothing like those wretches. What a misfortune to be the occasion of bringing down contempt on so many women; who, but for the thoughts of you, would be a little tolerable! But it is time to put an end to this trouble, and to bid you adieu. I am, and ever shall remain, with all possible respect, sincerity and esteem, yours.