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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/From Jonathan Swift to Unknown - 3


LONDON, DEC. 26, 1711.

THAT you may not be surprised with a letter utterly unknown to you, I will tell you the occasion of it. The lady who lived near two years in your neighbourhood, and whom you was so kind to visit under the name of Mrs. Smyth, was Mrs. Ann Long, sister to sir James Long, and niece of col. Strangeways: she was of as good a private family as most in England, and had every valuable quality of body and mind that could make a lady loved and esteemed. Accordingly she was always valued here above most of her sex, and by most distinguished persons. But, by the unkindness of her friends and the generosity of her own nature, and depending upon the death of a very old grandmother, which did not happen till it was too late, contracted some debts that made her uneasy here, and in order to clear them was content to retire unknown to your town, where I fear her death has been hastened by melancholy, and perhaps the want of such assistance as she might have found here. I thought fit to signify this to you, partly to let you know how valuable a person you have lost, but chiefly to desire that you will please to bury her in some part of your church near a wall where a plain marble stone may be fixed, as a poor monument for one who deserved so well, and which, if God sends me life, I hope one day to place there, if no other of her friends will think fit to do it. I had the honour of an intimate acquaintance with her, and was never so sensibly touched with any one's death as with hers. Neither did I ever know a person of either sex with more virtues, or fewer infirmities; the only one she had, which was the neglect of her own affairs, arising wholly from the goodness of her temper. I write not this to you at all as a secret, but am content your town should know what an excellent person they have had among them. If you visited her any short time before her death, or knew any particulars about it, or of the state of her mind, or the nature of her disease, I beg you will be so obliging to inform me; for the letter we have seen from her poor maid is so imperfect by her grief for the death of so good a lady, that it only tells the time of her death; and your letter may, if you please, be directed to Dr. Swift, and put under a cover, which cover may be directed to Erasmus Lewis, esq., at the earl of Dartmouth's office, at Whitehall. I hope you will forgive this trouble for the occasion of it, and give some allowances to so great a loss not only to me, but to all who have any regard for every perfection that human nature can possess; and if any way I can serve or oblige you, I shall be glad of an opportunity of obeying your commands, I am, &c.