The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 30

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Windsor, Sept. 8, 1711.

I MADE the coachman stop, and put in my twenty-ninth at the postoffice at two o'clock to day, as I was going to lord treasurer, with whom I dined, and came here by a quarter past eight; but the moon shone, and so we were not in much danger of overturning, which however he values not a straw, and only laughs when I chide at him for it. There was nobody but he and I, and we supped together, with Mr. Masham, and Dr. Arbuthnot, the queen's favourite physician, a Scotchman. I could not keep myself awake after supper, but did all I was able to disguise it, and thought I came off clear; but at parting he told me, I had got my nap already. It is now one o'clock; but he loves sitting up late.

9. The queen is still in the gout, but recovering; she saw company in her bedchamber after church; but the crowd was so great, I could not see her. I dined with my brother, sir William Wyndham, and some others of our society, to avoid the great tables on Sunday at Windsor, which I hate. The usual company supped to night at lord treasurer's, which was lord keeper, Mr. secretary, George Granville, Masham, Arbuthnot and I. But showers have hindered me from walking to day, and that I don't love. Noble fruit, and I dare not eat a bit. I ate one fig to day, and sometimes a few mulberries, because it is said they are wholesome, and you know, a good name does much. I shall return to town to morrow, though I thought to have staid a week, to be at leisure for something I am doing. But I have put it off till next; for I shall come here again on Saturday, when our society are to meet at supper at Mr. secretary's. My life is very regular here: on Sunday morning I constantly visit lord keeper, and sup at lord treasurer's with the same set of company. I was not sleepy to night; I resolved I would not; yet it is past midnight at this present writing.

London, 10. Lord treasurer and Masham and I left Windsor at three this afternoon; we dropped Masham at Kensington with his lady, and got home by six. It was seven before we sat down to dinner, and I staid till past eleven. Patrick came home with the secretary: I am more plagued with Patrick and my portmantua than with myself. I forgot to tell you, that when I went to Windsor on Saturday, I overtook lady Gifford and Mrs. Fenton in a chariot going, I suppose, to Sheen. I was then in a chariot too, of lord treasurer's brother, who had business with the treasurer; and my lord came after, and overtook me at Turnham green, four miles from London, and then the brother went back, and I went in the coach with lord treasurer: so it happened that those people saw me, and not with lord treasurer. Mrs. F. was to see me about a week ago; and desired I would get her son into the Charterhouse.

11. This morning the printer sent me an account of Prior's journey; it makes a twopenny pamphlet; I suppose you will see it, for I dare engage it will run; 'tis a formal grave lie, from the beginning to the end. I writ all but about the last page, that I dictated, and the printer writ. Mr. secretary sent to me to dine where he did; it was at Prior's; when I came in Prior showed me the pamphlet, seemed to be angry, and said, here is our English liberty: I read some of it, and said I liked it mightily, and envied the rogue the thought; for had it come into my head, I should have certainly done it myself. We staid at Prior's till past ten, and then the secretary received a packet with the news of Bouchain being taken, for which the guns will go off to morrow. Prior owned his having been in France, for it was past denying; it seems he was discovered by a rascal at Dover, who had positive orders to let him pass. I believe we shall have a peace.

12. It is terrible rainy weather, and has cost me three shillings in coaches and chairs to day, yet I was dirty into the bargain. I was three hours this morning with the secretary about some business of moment, and then went into the city to dine. The printer tells me he sold yesterday a thousand of Prior's journey, and had printed five hundred more. It will do rarely, I believe, and is a pure bite. And what is MD doing all this while? got again to their cards, their Walls, their deans, their Stoytes, and their claret? pray present my service to Mr. Stoyte and Catherine. Tell goody Stoyte, she owes me a world of dinners, and I will shortly come over and demand them. Did I tell you of the archbishop of Dublin's last letter? he had been saying in several of his former, that he would shortly write to me something about myself, and it looked to me as if he intended something for me: at last out it comes, and consists of two parts. First, he advises me to strike in for some preferment now I have friends; and secondly, he advises me, since I have parts, and learning, and a happy pen, to think of some new subject in divinity not handled by others, which I should manage better than any body. A rare spark this, with a pox! but I shall answer him as rarely. Methinks he should have invited me over, and given me some hopes or promises. But, hang him! and so good night, &c.

13. It rained most furiously all this morning till about twelve, and sometimes thundered; I trembled for my shillings, but it cleared up, and I made a shift to get a walk in the park, and then went with the secretary to dine with lord treasurer. Upon Thursdays there is always a select company; we had the duke of Shrewsbury, lord Rivers, the two secretaries, Mr. Granville, and Mr. Prior. Half of them went to council at six; but Rivers, Granville, Prior and I staid till eight. Prior was often affecting to be angry at the account of his journey to Paris; and indeed the two last pages, which the printer had got somebody to add, are so romantick, they spoil all the rest. Dilly Ashe pretended to me that he was only going to Oxford and Cambridge for a fortnight, and then would come back. I could not see him, as I appointed t'other day; but some of his friends tell me, he took leave of them as going to Ireland; and so they say at his lodging. I believe the rogue was ashamed to tell me so, because I advised him to stay the winter, and he said he would. I find he had got into a good set of scrub acquaintance, and I thought passed his time very merrily; but I suppose he languished after Balderig, and the claret of Dublin: and, after all, I think he is in the right; for he can eat, drink and converse better there than here. Bernage was with me this morning: he calls now and then; he is in terrible fear of a peace. He said, he never had his health so well as in Portugal. He is a favourite of his colonel.

14. I was mortified enough to day, not knowing where in the world to dine, the town is so empty; I met H. Coote, and thought he would invite me, but he did not: sir John Stanley did not come into my head; so I took up with Mrs. Van, and dined with her and her damned landlady, who, I believe, by her eyebrows, is a bawd. This evening I met Addison and pastoral Philips in the park, and supped with them at Addison's lodgings; we were very good company; and yet know no man half so agreeable to me as he is. I sat with them till twelve, so you may think 'tis late, young women; however, I would have some little conversation with MD before your Presto goes to bed, because it makes me sleep and dream, and so forth. Faith this letter goes on slowly enough, sirrahs, but I can't write much at a time till you are quite settled after your journey you know, and have gone all your visits, and lost your money at ombre. You never play at chess now, Stella. That puts me in mind of Dick Tighe; I fancy I told you he used to beat his wife here; and she deserved it; and he resolves to part with her; and they went to Ireland in different coaches. O Lord, I said all this before, I'm sure. Go to bed, sirrahs.

Windsor, 15. I made the secretary stop at Brentford, because we set out at two this afternoon, and fasting would not agree with me. I only designed to eat a bit of bread and butter, but he would light, and we ate roast beef like dragons. And he made me treat him and two more gentlemen; faith it cost me a guinea; I don't like such jesting, yet I was mightily pleased with it too. To night our society met at the secretary's, there were nine of us; and we have chosen a new member, the earl of Jersey, whose father died lately. 'Tis past one, and I have stolen away.

16. I design to stay here this week by myself, about some business that lies on my hands, and will take up a great deal of time. Dr. Adams, one of the canons, invited me to day to dinner. The tables are so full here on Sunday, that it is hard to dine with a few, and Dr. Adams knows I love to do so, which is very obliging. The queen saw company in her bedchamber; she looks very well, but she sat down. I supped with lord treasurer as usual, and staid till past one as usual, and with our usual company, except lord keeper, who did not come this time to Windsor. I hate these suppers mortally; but I seldom eat any thing.

17. Lord treasurer and Mr. secretary stay here till to morrow, some business keeps them, and I am sorry for it, for they hinder me a day. Mr. Lewis and I were going to dine soberly with a little court friend at one. But lord Harley and lord Dupplin kept me by force, and said we should dine at lord treasurer's, who intended to go at four to London; I staid like a fool, and went with the two young lords to lord treasurer; who very fairly turned us all three out of doors. They both were invited to the duke of Somerset, but he was gone to a horserace, and would not come till five: so we were forced to go to a tavern, and send for wine from lord treasurer's, who at last we were told did not go to town till the morrow, and at lord treasurer's we supped again; and I desired him to let me add four shillings to the bill I gave him. We sat up till two, yet I must write to little MD.

18. They are all gone early this morning; and I am alone to seek my fortune; but Dr. Arbuthnot engages me for my dinners; and he yesterday gave me my choice of place, person, and victuals for to day. So I chose to dine with Mrs. Hill, who is one of the dressers, and Mrs. Masham's sister; no company but us three, and to have a shoulder of mutton, a small one, which was exactly, only there was too much victuals besides; and the Dr's wife was of the company. And to morrow Mrs. Hill and I are to dine with the doctor. I have seen a fellow often about court, whom I thought I knew; I asked who he was, and they told me it was the gentleman porter; then I called him to mind; he was Killy's acquaintance (I won't say yours) I think his name is Lovet, or Lovel, or something like it. I believe he does not know me, and in my present posture I shall not be fond of renewing old acquaintance; I believe I used to see him with the Bradleys; and by the way, I have not seen Mrs. Bradley since I came to England. I left your letter in London, like a fool; and cannot answer it till I go back, which will not be until Monday next: so this will be above a fortnight from my last; but I will fetch it up in my next; so go and walk to the dean's for your health this fine weather.

19. The queen designs to have cards and dancing here next week, which makes us think she will stay here longer than we believed. Mrs. Masham is not well after her lying in: I doubt she got some cold: she is lame in one of her legs with a rheumatick pain. Dr. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Hill go to morrow to Kensington to see her, and return the same night. Mrs. Hill and I dined with the doctor to day. I rode out this morning with the doctor to see Cranburn, a house of lord Ranelagh's, and the duchess of Marlborough's lodge, and the park; the finest places they are for nature, and plantations, that ever I saw; and the finest riding upon artificial roads, made on purpose for the queen. Arbuthnot made me draw up a sham subscription for a book, called a history of the maids of honour since Harry the Eighth, showing they make the best wives, with a list of all the maids of honour since, &c. to pay a crown in hand, and t'other crown upon delivery of the book; and all in the common forms of those things. We got a gentleman to write it fair, because my hand is known, and we sent it to the maids of honour, when they came to supper. If they bite at it, 'twill be a very good court jest; and the queen will certainly have it; we did not tell Mrs. Hill.

20. To day I was invited to the green cloth by colonel Godfrey, who married the duke of Marlborough's sister, mother to the duke of Berwick by king James: I must tell you those things that happened before you were born: but I made my excuses, and young Harcourt (lord keeper's son) and I dined with my next neighbour Dr. Adams. Mrs. Masham is better, and will be here in three or four days. She had need; for the duchess of Somerset is thought to gain ground daily. — We have not yet sent you over all your bills; and I think we have altered your money bill. The duke of Ormond is censured here by those in power for very wrong management in the affair of the mayoralty. He is governed by fools; and has usually much more sense than his advisers, but never proceeds by it. I must know how your health continues after Wexford. Walk and use exercise, sirrahs both; and get somebody to play at shuttlecock with you, madam Stella, and walk to the dean's and Donnybrook.

21. Colonel Godfrey sent to me again to day; so I dined at the green cloth, and we had but eleven at dinner, which is a small number there, the court being always thin of company till Saturday night. — This new ink and pen make a strange figure; I must write larger, yes I must, or Stella won't be able to read this[1]. S. S. S. there's your S s for you, Stella. The maids of honour are bit, and have all contributed their crowns, and are teasing others to subscribe for the book. I will tell lord keeper and lord treasurer to morrow; and I believe the queen will have it. After a little walk this evening, I squandered away the rest of it in sitting at Lewis's lodging, while he and Dr. Arbuthnot played at picquet. I have that foolish pleasure, which I believe nobody has beside me, except old lady Berkeley. But I fretted when I came away; I will loiter so no more, for I have a plaguy deal of business upon my hands, and very little time to do it. The pamphleteers begin to be very busy against the ministry: I have begged Mr. secretary to make examples of one or two of them; and he assures me he will. They are very bold and abusive.

22. This being the day the ministry comes to Windsor, I ate a bit or two at Mr. Lewis's lodgings, because I must sup with lord treasurer; and at half an hour after one, I led Mr. Lewis a walk up the avenue, which is two miles long: we walked in all about five miles; but I was so tired with his slow walking, that I left him here, and walked two miles toward London, hoping to meet lord treasurer, and return with him; but it grew darkish, and I was forced to walk back, so I walked nine miles in all; and lord treasurer did not come till after eight; which is very wrong, for there was no moon, and I often tell him how ill he does to expose himself so; but he only makes a jest of it. I supped with him, and staid till now, when it is half an hour after two. He is as merry, and careless, and disengaged as a young heir at one and twenty. 'Tis late indeed.

23. The secretary did not come last night, but at three this afternoon; I have not seen him yet; but I verily think they are contriving a peace as fast as they can, without which it will be impossible to subsist. The queen was at church to day, but was carried in a chair. I and Mr. Lewis dined privately with Mr. Lowman, clerk of the kitchen. I was to see lord keeper this morning, and told him the jest of the maids of honour, and lord treasurer had it last night. That rogue Arbuthnot puts it all upon me. The court was very full to day; I expected lord treasurer would have invited me to supper; but he only bowed to me, and we had no discourse in the drawingroom. 'Tis now seven at night, and I am at home, and I hope lord treasurer will not send for me to supper; if he does not, I will reproach him, and he will pretend to chide me for not coming. So farewell till I go to bed, for I am going to be busy. 'Tis now past ten, and I went down to ask the servants about Mr. secretary; they tell me the queen is yet at council, and that she went to supper, and came out to the council afterward. 'Tis certain they are managing a peace. I will go to bed, and there's an end. 'Tis now eleven, and a messenger is come from lord treasurer to sup with them; but I have excused myself, and am glad I am in bed; for else I should sit up till two, and drink till I was hot. Now I'll go sleep.

London, 24. I came to town by six with lord treasurer, and have staid till ten. That of the queen's going out to sup, and commg in again, is a lie, as the secretary told me this morning: but I find the ministry are very busy with Mr. Prior, and I believe he will go again to France. I am told so much, that we shall certainly have a peace very soon. I had charming weather all last week at Windsor; but we have had a little rain to day, and yesterday was windy. Prior's Journey sells still; they have sold two thousand, although the town is empty. I found a letter from Mrs. Fenton here, desiring me in lady Gifford's name to come and pass a week at Sheen, while she is at Moor park. I will answer it with a vengeance: and now you talk of answering, there is MD's N. 20 is yet to be answered: I had put it up so safe I could hardly find it; but here it is, faith, and I am afraid I cannot send this till Thursday; for I must see the secretary to morrow morning, and be in some other place in the evening.

25. Stella writes like an emperor, and gives such an account of her journey, never saw the like. Let me see; stand away, let us compute; you staid four days at Inish-Corthy; two nights at Mrs. Proby's mother's; and yet was but six days in journey; for your words are, "We left Wexford this day se'nnight, and came here last night." I have heard them say, that travellers may lie by authority. Make up this, if you can. How far is it from Wexford to Dublin? how many miles did you travel in a day[2]? Let me see thirty pounds in two months, is nine score pounds a year; a matter of nothing in Stella's purse. I dreamed Billy Swift was alive, and that I told him, you writ me word he was dead, and that you had been at his funeral, and I admired at your impudence, and was in mighty haste to run and let you know what lying rogues you were. Poor lad, he is dead of his mother's former folly and fondness, and yet now I believe as you say, that her grief will soon wear off. yes, madam Dingley, mightily tired of the company, no doubt of it, at Wexford! and your description of it is excellent; clean sheets, but bare walls; suppose then you lay upon the walls. Mrs. Walls has got her tea; but who pays me the money? come, I shall never get it; so I make a present of it to stop some gaps, &c. Where's the thanks of the house? so, that's well; why, it cost four and thirty shillings English You must adjust that with Mrs. Walls; I think that is so many pence more with you. No, Leigh and Sterne, I suppose, were not at the waterside; I fear Sterne's business will not be done; I have not seen him this good while. I hate him for the management of that box; and I was the greatest fool in nature for trusting to such a young jackanapes; I will speak to him once more about it, when I see him. Mr. Addison and I met once more since, and I supped with him: I believe I told you so somewhere in this letter. The archbishop chose an admiirable messenger in Walls to send to me, yet I think him fitter for a messenger than any thing. The d she[3] has! I did not observe her looks. Will she rot out of modesty with lady Gifford? I pity poor Jenny[4] but her husband is a dunce, and with respect to him she loses little by her deafness. I believe, madam Stella, in your accounts you mistook one liquor for another, and it was a hundred and forty quarts of wine, and thirty-two of water. This is all written in the morning before I go to the secretary, as I am now doing. I have answered your letter a little shorter than ordinary; but I have a mind it should go to day, and I will give you my journal at night in my next; for I'm so afraid of another letter before this goes: I will never have two together again unanswered. What care I for Dr. Tisdall and Dr. Raymond, or how many children they have? I wish they had a hundred apiece. Lord treasurer promises me to answer the bishops' letter to morrow, and show it me; and I believe it will confirm all I said, and mortify those that threw the merit on the duke of Ormond. For I have made him jealous of it; and t'other day talking of the matter, he said, I am your witness you got it for them before the duke was lord lieutenant. My humble service to Mrs. Walls, Mrs. Stoyte, and Catherine. Farewell, &c.

What do you do when you see any literal mistakes in my letters? how do you set them right? for I never read them over to correct them. Farewell again.

Pray send this note to Mrs. Brent, to get the money when Parvisol comes to town, or she can send to him.

  1. These words in Italicks are written enormously large.
  2. The doctor was always a bad reckoner, either of money or any thing else; and this is one of his rapid computations. For as Stella was seven days in journey, although Dr. Swift says only six, she might well have spent four days at Inish-Corthy, and two nights at Mr. Proby's mother's, the distance from Wexford to Dublin being but two easy day's journeys.
  3. Somewhat or other which Stella's mother had consented to.
  4. Mrs. Fenton, the dean's sister.