The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 27

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London, July 19, 1711.

I HAVE just sent my 26th, and have nothing to say, because I have other letters to write; (pshaw, I begin too high) but I must lay the beginning like a nestegg; to morrow I'll say more, and fetch up this line to be straight. This is enough at present for two dear saucy naughty girls.

20. Have I told you that Walls has been with me, and leaves the town in three days. He has brought no gown with him. Dilly carried him to a play. He has come upon a foolish errand, and goes back as he comes. I was this day with lord Peterborow, who is going another ramble: I believe I told you so. I dined with lord treasurer, but cannot get him to do his own business with me; he has put me off till to morrow.

21, 22. I dined yesterday with lord treasurer, who would needs take me along with him to Windsor, although I refused him several times, having no linen, &c. I had just time to desire lord Forbes to call at my lodging, and order my man to send my things to day to Windsor, by his servant. I lay last night at the secretary's lodgings at Windsor, and borrowed one of his shirts to go to court in. The queen is very well. I dined with Mr. Masham; and not hearing any thing of my things, I got lord Winchelsea to bring me to town. Here I found that Patrick had broke open the closet to get my linen and nightgown, and sent them to Windsor, and there they are; and he not thinking I would return so soon, is gone upon his rambles: so here I am left destitute, and forced to borrow a nightgown of my landlady, and have not a rag to put on to morrow: faith, it gives me the spleen.

23. Morning. It is a terrible rainy day, and rained prodigiously on Saturday night. Patrick lay out last night, and is not yet returned: faith, poor Presto is a desolate creature; neither servant nor linen, nor any thing Night. Lord Forbes's man has brought back my portmantua, and Patrick is come; so I am in Christian circumstances: I shall hardly commit such a frolick again. I just crept out to Mrs. Van's, and dined, and staid there the afternoon: it has rained all this day. Windsor is a delicious place: I never saw it before, except for an hour about seventeen years ago. Walls has been here in my absence, I suppose to take his leave; for he designed not to stay above five days in London. He says, he and his wife will come here for some months next year; and, in short, he dares not stay now for fear of her.

24. I dined to day with a hedge friend in the city; and Walls overtook me in the street, and told me he was just getting on horseback for Chester. He has as much curiosity as a cow: he lodged with his horse in Aldersgate street: he has bought his wife a silk gown, and himself a hat. And what are you doing? what is poor MD doing now? how do you pass your time at Wexford? how do the waters agree with you? let Presto know soon; for Presto longs to know, and must know. Is not madam Proby curious company? I am afraid this rainy weather will spoil your waters. We have had a great deal of wet these three days. Tell me all the particulars of Wexford; the place, the company, the diversions, the victuals, the wants, the vexations. Poor Dingley never saw such a place in her life; sent all over the town for a little parsley to a boiled chicken, and it was not to be had: the butter is stark naught, except an old English woman's; and it is such a favour to get a pound from her now and then. I am glad you carried down your sheets with you, else you must have lain in sackcloth. O Lord!

25. I was this afternoon with Mr. secretary at his office, and helped to hinder a man of his pardon, who is condemned for a rape. The under secretary was willing to save him, upon an old notion that a woman cannot be ravished: but I told the secretary, he could not pardon him without a favourable report from the judge; besides he was a fidler, and consequently a rogue, and deserved hanging for something else; and so he shall swing. What: I must stand up for the honour of the fair sex? 'Tis true, the fellow had lain with her a hundred times before; but what care I for that? what! must a woman be ravished because she is a whore? The secretary and I go on Saturday to Windsor for a week. I dined with lord treasurer, and staid with him till past ten. I was to day at his levee, where I went against my custom, because I had a mind to do a good office for a gentleman: so I talked with him before my lord, that he might see me, and then found occasion to recommend him this afternoon. I was forced to excuse my coming to the levee, that I did it to see the sight; for he was going to chide me away: I had never been there before but once, and that was long before he was treasurer. The rooms were all full, and as many whigs as tories. He whispered me a jest or two, and bid me come to dinner. I left him but just now, and 'tis late.

26. Mr. Addison and I have at last met again. I dined with him and Steele to day at young Jacob Tonson's. The two Jacobs think it is I who have made the secretary take from them the printing of the gazette, which they are going to lose, and Ben Tooke and another are to have it. Jacob came to me t'other day, to make his court; but I told him, it was too late, and that it was not my doing. I reckon they will lose it in a week or two. Mr. Addison and I talked as usual, and as if we had seen one another yesterday; and Steele and I were very easy, though I writ him a biting letter, in answer to one of his, where he desired me to recommend a friend of his to lord treasurer. Go, get you gone to your waters, sirrah. Do they give you a stomach? Do you eat heartily? We had much rain to day and yesterday.

27. I dined to day in the city, and saw poor Patty Rolt, and gave her a pistole to help her a little forward against she goes to board in the country. She has but eighteen pounds a year to live on, and is forced to seek out for cheap places. Sometimes they raise their price, and sometimes they starve her, and then she is forced to shift. Patrick, the puppy, put too much ink in my standish, and carrying too many things together, I spilled it on my paper and floor. The town is dull, and wet, and empty: Wexford is worth two of it; I hope so at least, and that poor little MD finds it so. I reckon upon going to Windsor to morrow with Mr. secretary, unless he changes his mind, or some other business prevents him. I shall stay there a week, I hope.

28. Morning. Mr. secretary sent me word he will call at my lodgings by two this afternoon, to take me to Windsor, so I must dine no where; and I promised lord treasurer to dine with him to day; but I suppose we shall dine at Windsor at five, for we make but three hours there. I am going abroad, but have left Patrick to put up my things, and to be sure to be at home half an hour before two. —— Windsor, at night. We did not leave London till three, and dined here between six and seven; at nine I left the company, and went to see lord treasurer, who is just come, I chid him for coming so late; he chid me for not dining with him; said, he staid an hour for me. Then I went and sat an hour with Mr. Lewis till just now, and 'tis past eleven. I lie in the same house with the secretary, one of the prebendary's houses. The secretary is not come from his apartment in the castle. Do you think that abominable dog Patrick was out after two to day, and I in a fright every moment for fear the chariot should come; and when he came in he had not put up one rag of my things: I never was in a greater passion, and would certainly have cropt one of his ears, if I had not looked every moment for the secretary, who sent his equipage to my lodging before, and came in a chair from Whitehall to me, and happened to stay half an hour later than he intended. One of lord treasurer's servants gave me a letter from *****, with an offer of fifty pounds to be paid me in what manner I pleased; because, he said, he desired to be well with me. I was in a rage: but my friend Lewis cooled me, and said, it is what the best men sometimes meet with; and I have been not seldom served in the like manner, although not so grossly. In these cases I never demur a moment; nor ever found the least inclination to take any thing. Well, I'll go try to sleep in my new bed, and to dream of poor Wexford MD, and Stella that drinks water, and Dingley that drinks ale.

29. I was at court and church to day, as I was this day se'nnight; I generally am acquainted with about thirty in the drawingroom, and am so proud I make all the lords come up to me; one passes half an hour pleasant enough. We had a dunce to preach before the queen to day, which often happens. Windsor is a delicious situation, but the town is scoundrel. I have this morning got the gazette for Ben Tooke and one Barber a printer; it will be about three hundred pounds a year between them. T'other fellow was printer of the Examiner, which is now laid down. I dined with the secretary, we were a dozen in all, three Scotch lords, and lord Peterborow. Duke Hamilton would needs be witty, and hold up my train as I walked up stairs. It is an ill circumstance, that on Sundays much company meet always at the great tables. Lord treasurer told at court, what I said to Mr. secretary on this occasion. The secretary showed me his bill of fare, to encourage me to dine with him. Poh, said I, show me a bill of company, for I value not your dinner. See how this is all blotted[1], I can write no more here, but to tell you I love MD dearly, and God bless them.

30. In my conscience I fear I shall have the gout. I sometimes feel pains about my feet and toes; I never drank till within these two years, and I did it to cure my head. I often sit evenings with some of these people, and drink in my turn; but I am now resolved to drink ten times less than before; but they advise me to let what I drink be all wine, and not to put water to it. Tooke and the printer staid to day to finish their affair, and treated me, and two of the under secretaries, upon their getting the gazette. Then I went to see lord treasurer, and chid him for not taking notice of me at Windsor: he said, he kept a place for me yesterday at dinner, and expected me there; but I was glad I did not come, because the duke of Buckingham was there, and that would have made us acquainted; which I have no mind to. However, we appointed to sup at Mr. Masham's, and there staid till past one o'clock; and that is late, sirrahs: and I have much business.

31. I have sent a noble haunch of venison this afternoon to Mrs. Vanhomrigh: I wish you had it sirrahs: I dined gravely with my landlord the secretary. The queen was abroad to day in order to hunt, but finding it disposed to rain she kept in her coach: she hunts in a chaise with one horse, which she drives herself, and drives furiously, like Jehu, and is a mighty hunter, like Nimrod. Dingley has heard of Nimrod, but not Stella, for it is in the Bible. I was to day at Eaton, which is but just cross the bridge, to see my lord Kerry's son, who is at school there. Mr. secretary has given me a warrant for a buck; I can't send it to MD. It is a sad thing faith, considering how Presto loves MD, and how MD would love Presto's venison for Presto's sake. God bless the two dear Wexford girls.

Aug. 1. We had for dinner the fellow of that haunch of venison I sent to London; 'twas mighty fat and good, and eight people at dinner; that was bad. The queen and I were going to take the air this afternoon, but not together; and were both hindered by a sudden rain. Her coaches and chaises all went back, and the guards too: and I secured into the market place for shelter. I intended to have walked up the finest avenue I ever saw, two miles long, with two rows of elms on each side. I walked in the evening a little upon the terrace, and came home at eight: Mr. secretary came soon after, and we were engaging in deep discourse, and I was endeavouring to settle some points of the greatest consequence; and had wormed myself pretty well into him, when his under secretary came in (who lodges in the same house with us) and interrupted all my scheme. I have just left him; 'tis late, &c.

2. I have been now five days at Windsor, and Patrick has been drunk three times that I have seen, and oftener I believe. He has lately had clothes that have cost me five pounds, and the dog thinks he has the whip hand of me; he begins to master me; so now I am resolved to part with him, and will use him without the least pity. The secretary and I have been walking three or four hours to day. The duchess of Shrewsbury asked him, was not that Dr. Dr. and she could not say my name in English, but said Dr. Presto, which is Italian for Swift. Whimsical enough, as Billy Swift says. I go to morrow with the secretary to his house at Buckleberry, twenty-five miles from hence, and return early on Sunday morning. I will leave this letter behind me locked up, and give you an account of my journey when I return. I had a letter yesterday from the bishop of Clogher, who is coming up to Dublin to his parliament. Have you any correspondence with him at Wexford? Methinks I now long for a letter from you, dated Wexford, July 24, &c. O Lord, that would be so pretending; and then says you, Stella can't write much, because it is bad to write when one drinks the waters; and I think, says you, I find myself better already, but I cannot tell yet, whether it be the journey or the waters. Presto is so silly to night; yes he be; but Presto loves MD dearly, as hope saved.

3. Morning. I am to go this day at noon, as I told you, to Buckleberry; we dine at twelve, and expect to be there in four hours; I cannot bid you good night now, because I shall be twenty-five miles from this paper to night, and so my journal must have a break; so good morrow, &c.

4, 5. I dined yesterday at Buckleberry, where we lay two nights, and set out this morning at eight, and were here at twelve, in four hours we went twenty-six miles. Mr. secretary was a perfect country gentleman at Buckleberry; he smoked tobacco with one or two neighbours; he inquired after the wheat in such a field; he went to visit his hounds; and knew all their names; he and his lady saw me to my chamber just in the country fashion. His house is in the midst of near three thousand pounds a year he had by his lady, who is descended from Jack Newbury, of whom books and ballads are written; and there is an old picture of him in the house. She is a great favourite of mine. I lost church to day; but I dressed, and shaved, and went to court, and would not dine with the secretary, but engaged myself to a private dinner with Mr. Lewis, and one friend more. We go to London to morrow; for lord Dartmouth, the other secretary, is come, and they are here their weeks by turns.

6. Lord treasurer comes every Saturday to Windsor, and goes away on Monday or Tuesday. I was with him this morning at his levee, for one cannot see him otherwise here, he is so hurried: we had some talk, and I told him I would stay this week at Windsor by myself, where I can have more leisure to do some business that concerns them. Lord treasurer and the secretary thought to mortify me, for they told me, they had been talking a great deal of me to day to the queen, and she said, she had never heard of me; I told them, That was their fault, and not hers, &c. and so we laughed. I dined with the secretary, and let him go to London at five without me; and here am I all alone in the prebendary's house, which Mr. secretary has taken; only Mr. Lewis is in my neighbourhood, and we shall be good company. The vice chamberlain[2], and Mr. Masham, and the green cloth, have promised me dinners. I shall want but four till Mr. secretary returns. We have a musick meeting in our town to night. I went to the rehearsal of it, and there was Margarita, and her sister, and another drab, and a parcel of fiddlers; I was weary, and would not go to the meeting, which I am sorry for, because I heard it was a great assembly. Mr. Lewis came from it, and sat with me till just now: and 'tis late.

7. I can do no business, I fear, because Mr. Lewis, who has nothing or little to do here, sticks close to me. I dined to day with the gentlemen ushers, among scurvy company; but the queen was hunting the stag till four this afternoon, and she drove in her chaise above forty miles, and it was five before we went to dinner. Here are fine walks about this town. I sometimes walk up the avenue.

8. There was a drawingroom to day at court; but so few company, that the queen sent for us into her bedchamber, where we made our bows, and stood about twenty of us round the room, while she looked at us round with her fan in her mouth, and once a minute said about three words to some that were nearest her, and then she was told dinner was ready, and went out. I dined at the green cloth, by Mr. Scarborow's invitation, who is in waiting. It is much the best table in England, and costs the queen a thousand pounds a month while she is at Windsor or Hampton court; and is the only mark of magnificence or hospitality I can see in the queen's family: it is designed to entertain foreign ministers, and people of quality, who come to see the queen, and have no place to dine at.

9. Mr. Coke, the vice chamberlain, made me a long visit this morning, and invited me to dinner, but the toast, his lady, was unfortunately engaged to lady Sunderland. Lord treasurer stole here last night, but did not lie in his lodgings in the castle; and after seeing the queen, went back again. I just drank a dish of chocolate with him. I fancy I shall have reason to be angry with him very soon: but what care I? I believe I shall die with ministries in my debt. This night I received a certain letter from a place called Wexford, from two dear naughty girls of my acquaintance; but faith I won't answer it here, no in troth. I will send this to Mr. Reading, supposing it will find you returned; and I hope better for the waters.

10. Mr. vice chamberlain lent me his horses to ride about and see the country this morning. Dr. Arbuthnot, the queen's physician and favourite, went out with me to show me the places: we went a little after the queen, and overtook miss Forester, a maid of honour, on her palfry taking the air: we made her go along with us. We saw a place they have made for a famous horse race to morrow, where the queen will come. We met the queen coming back, and miss Forester stood, like us, with her hat off while the queen went by. The Dr. and I left the lady where we found her, but under other conductors, and we dined at a little place he has taken, about a mile off. When I came back, I found Mr. Scarborow had sent all about to invite me to the green cloth, and lessened his company on purpose to make me easy. It is very obliging, and will cost me thanks. Much company is come to town this evening, to see to morrow's race. I was tired with riding a trotting mettlesome horse a dozen miles, having not been on horseback this twelvemonth. And miss Forester[3] did not make it easier; she is a silly true maid of honour, and I did not like her, although she be a toast, and was dressed like a man.

11. I will send this letter to day. I expect the secretary by noon. I will not go to the race, unless I can get room, in some coach. It is now morning. I must rise, and fold up and seal my letter. Farewell;, and God preserve dearest MD.

I believe I shall leave this town on Monday.

  1. This refers to the ink mentioned above, which blotted his paper.
  2. Thomas Coke, esq.
  3. See the "Counsellor's Plea for the Divorce of sir G. D. [ George Downing] and Mrs. F. 1715." This couple were married in the year 1701; sir George being then 15, and miss F. but 13. The youth went upon his travels; and on his return, both parties having contracted an invincible aversion, application was mutually made for a divorce.