The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 34

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


London, Nov. 3, 1711.

MY thirty-third lies now before me just finished, and I am going to seal and send it, so let me know whether you would have me add any thing: I gave you my journal of this day; and it is now nine at night, and I am going to be busy for an hour or two.

4. I left a friend's house to day where I was invited, just when dinner was setting on, and pretended I was engaged, because I saw some fellows I did not know: and went to sir Matthew Dudley's, where I had the same inconvenience, but he would not let me go; otherwise I would have gone home, and sent for a slice of mutton and a pot of ale, rather than dine with persons unknown, as bad for aught I know, as your deans, parsons, and curates. Bad slabby weather to day. Now methinks I write at ease, when I have no letter of MD's to answer. But I mistook, and have got the large paper. The queen is laid up with the gout at Hampton court; she is now seldom without it any long time together; I fear it will wear her out in a very few years. I plainly find I have less twitchings about my toes since these ministers are sick and out of town, and that I don't dine with them. I would compound for a light easy gout to be perfectly well in my head. Pray walk when the frost comes, young ladies, go a frost-biting. It comes into my head, that from the very time you first went to Ireland I have been always plying you to walk and read. The young fellows here have begun a kind of fashion, to walk, and many of them have got swingeing strong shoes on purpose; it has got as far as several young lords; if it hold, it would be a very good thing. Lady Lucy and I are fallen out: she rails at me, and I have left visiting her.

5. MD was very troublesome to me last night in my sleep; I was a dreamed, methought, that Stella was here: I asked her after Dingley, and she said, she had left her in Ireland, because she designed her stay to be short, and such stuff. Monsieur Pontchartrain, the secretary of state in France, and monsieur Fontenelle, the secretary of the Royal Academy there (who writ the Dialogues des Morts, &c.) have sent letters to lord Pembroke, that the academy have, with the king's consent, chosen him one of their members, in the room of one who is lately dead. But the cautious gentleman has given me the letters to show my lord Dartmouth and Mr. St. John, our two secretaries, and let them see there is no treason in them; which I will do on Wednesday, when they come from Hampton court. The letters are very handsome, and it is a very great mark of honour and distinction to lord Pembroke. I hear the two French ministers are come over again about the peace; but I have seen nobody of consequence to know the truth. I dined to day with a lady of my acquaintance, who was sick, in her bedchamber, upon three herrings and a chicken; the dinner was my bespeaking. We begin now to have chesnuts and Seville oranges; have you the latter yet? 'Twas a terrible windy day, and we had processions in carts of the pope and the devil, and the butchers rang their cleavers; you know this is the fifth of November, popery and gunpowder.

6. Since I am used to this way of writing, I fancy I could hardly make out a long letter to MD without it. I think I ought to allow for every line taken up by telling you where I dined; but that will not be above seven lines in all, half a line to a dinner. Your Ingoldsby is going over, and they say here, he is to be made a lord. Here was I staying in my room till two this afternoon for that puppy sir Andrew Fountaine, who was to go with me into the city, and never came; and if I had not shot a dinner flying, with one Mr. Murray, I might have fasted, or gone to an alehouse. You never said one word of goody Stoyte in your letter; but I supoose these winter nights we shall hear more of her. Does the provost laugh as much as he used to do? we reckon him here a good-for-nothing fellow. I design to write to your dean one of these days, but I can never find time, nor what to say. I will think of something: but if DD[1] were not in Ireland, I believe seriously I should not think of the place twice a year. Nothing there ever makes the subject of talk in any company where I am.

7. I went to day to the city on business; but stopped at a printer's and staid there; it was a most delicious day. I hear the parliament is to be prorogued for a fortnight longer; I suppose, either because the queen has the gout, or that lord treasurer is not well, or that they would do something more toward a peace. I called at lord treasurer's at noon, and sat a while with lord Harley, but his father was asleep. A bookseller has reprinted or new-titled a sermon of Tom Swift's[2] printed last year, and publishes an advertisement calling it Dr. Swift's Sermon. Some friend of lord Galway has, by his directions, published a four shilling book about his conduct in Spain, to defend him; I have but just seen it. But what care you for books, except Presto's Miscellanies? Leigh promised to call and see me, but has not yet; I hope he will take care of his cargo, and get your Chester box. A murrain take that box; every thing is spoiled that is in it. How does the strong box do? you say nothing of Raymond: is his wife brought to bed again; or how? has he finished his house; paid his debts; and put out the rest of the money to use? I am glad to hear poor Joe is like to get his two hundred pounds. I suppose Trim is now reduced to slavery again. I am glad of it; the people were as great rascals as the gentlemen. But I must go to bed, sirrahs; the secretary is still at Hampton court with my papers, or is come only to night. They plague me with attending them.

8. I was with the secretary this morning, and we dined with Prior, and did business this afternoon till about eight, and I must alter and undo, and a clutter; I am glad the parliament is prorogued. I staid with Prior till eleven; the secretary left us at eight. Prior I believe, will be one of those employed to make the peace, when a congress is opened. Lord Ashburnham told to day at the coffeehouse, that lord Harley was yesterday morning married to the duke of Newcastle's daughter, the great heiress, and it got about all the town. But I saw lord Harley yesterday at noon in his nightgown, and he dined in the city with Prior and others; so it is not true: but I hope it will be so; for I know, it has been privately managing this long time: the lady will not have half her father's estate; for the duke left lord Pelham's son his heir; the widow duchess will not stand to the will, and she is now at law with Pelham. However, at worst, the girl will have about ten thousand pounds a year, to support the honour: for lord treasurer will never save a groat for himself. Lord Harley is a very valuable young gentleman; and they say the girl is handsome, and has good sense, but red hair.

9. I designed a jaunt into the city to day to be merry, but was disappointed; so one always is in this life; and I could not see lord Dartmouth to day, with whom I had some business. Business and pleasure both disappointed. You can go to your dean, and for want of him, goody Stoyte, or Walls, or Manley, and meet every where with cards and claret. I dined privately with a friend on a herring and chicken, and half a flask of bad Florence. I begin to have fires now, when the mornings are cold: I have got some loose bricks at the back of my grate for good husbandry. Fine weather. Patrick tells me, my caps are wearing out, I know not how to get others. I want a necessary woman strangely; I am as helpless as an elephant. I had three packets from the archbishop of Dublin, cost me four shillings, all about Higgins, printed stuff, and two long letters. His people forgot to enclose them to Lewis; and they were only directed to doctor Swift, without naming London or any thing else: I wonder how they reached me, unless the postmaster directed them. I have read all the trash, and am weary.

10. Why; if you must have it out, something is to be published of great moment, and three or four great people are to see there are no mistakes in point of fact: and 'tis so troublesome to send it among them, and get their corrections, that I am weary as a dog. I dined to day with the printer, and was there all the afternoon: and it plagues me, and there's an end, and what would you have? Lady Dupplin, lord treasurer's daughter, is brought to bed of a son. Lord treasurer has had an ugly return of his gravel. 'Tis good for us to live in gravel pits, but not for gravel pits to live in us: a man in this case should leave no stone unturned. Lord treasurer's sickness, the queen's gout, the forwarding the peace, occasion putting off the parliament a fortnight longer. My head has had no ill returns. I had good walking to day in the city, and take all opportunities of it on purpose for my health; but I can't walk in the park, because that is only for walking sake, and loses time, so I mix it with business: I wish MD walked half as much as Presto. If I was with you, I'd make you walk; I would walk behind or before you, and you should have masks on, and be tucked up like any thing, and Stella is naturally a stout walker, and carries herself firm, methinks I see her strut, and step clever over a kennel; and Dingley would do well enough if her petticoats were pinned up; but she is so embroiled, and so fearful, and then Stella scolds, and Dingley stumbles, and is so daggled. Have you got the whalebone petticoats among you yet? I hate them; a woman here may hide a moderate gallant under them. Pshaw, what's all this I'm saying? methinks I am talking to MD face to face.

11. Did I tell you that old Frowde, the old fool, is selling his estate at Pepperhara, and is sculking about the town nobody knows where? and who do you think manages all this for him, but that rogue Child, the double squire of Farnham? I have put Mrs. Masham, the queen's favourite, upon buying it; but that is yet a great secret, and I have employed lady Oglethorp to inquire about it. I was with lady Oglethorp to day, who is come to town for a week or two, and to morrow I will see to hunt out the old fool; he is utterly ruined, and at this present in some blind alley with some dirty wench. He has two sons that must starve, and he never gives them a farthing. If Mrs. Masham buys the land, I will desire her to get the queen to give some pension to the old fool, to keep him from absolutely starving. What do you meddle with other people's affairs for? says Stella. O, but Mr. Masham and his wife are very urgent with me, since I first put them in the head of it. I dined with sir Matthew Dudley, who, I doubt, will soon lose his employment.

12. Morning. I am going to hunt out old Frowde, and to do some business in the city. I have not yet called to Patrick to know whether it be fair. It has been past dropping these two days. Rainy weather hurts my pate and my purse. He tells me 'tis very windy, and begins to look dark; woe be to my shillings: an old saying and a true; Few fillings, many shillings. If the day be dark, my purse will be light. To my enemies be this curse; A dark day and a light purse. And so I'll rise, and go to my fire, for Patrick tells me I have a fire; yet it is not shaving day, nor is the weather cold; this is too extravagant. What is become of Dilly? I suppose you have him with you. Stella is just now showing a white leg, and putting it into the slipper. Present my service to her, and tell her I am engaged to the dean: and desire she will come too: or, Dingley, can't you write a note? This is Stella's morning dialogue, no, morning speech I mean. Morrow, sirrahs, and let me rise as well as you; but I promise you Walls can't dine with the dean to day, for she is to be at Mrs. Proby's just after dinner, and to go with Gracy Spencer to the shops to buy a yard of muslin, and a silver lace for an under petticoat. Morrow again, sirrahs. At night. I dined with Stratford in the city, but could not finish my affairs with him; but now I have resolved to buy five hundred pounds South Sea stock, which will cost me three hundred and eighty ready money; and I will make use of the bill of a hundred pounds you sent me, and transfer Mrs. Walls over to Hawkshaw; or, if she dislikes it, I will borrow a hundred pounds of the secretary, and repay her. Three shillings coach-hire to day. I have spoken to Frowde's brother, to get me the lowest price of the estate, to tell Mrs. Masham.

13. I dined privately with a friend to day in the neighbourhood. Last Saturday night I came home, and the drab had just washed my room, and my bedchamber was all wet, and I was forced to go to bed in my own defence, and no fire: I was sick on Sunday, and now have got a swingeing cold. I scolded like a dog at Patrick, although he was out with me; I detest washing of rooms: can't they wash them in a morning, and make a fire, and leave open the windows? I slept not a wink last night for hawking and spitting: and now every body has colds. Here's a clatter: I'll go to bed and sleep if I can.

14. Lady Mountjoy sent to me two days ago, so I dined with her to day, and in the evening went to see lord treasurer. I found Patrick had been just there with a how d'ye, and my lord had returned answer, that he desired to see me. Mrs. Masham was with him when I came; and they are never disturbed: 'tis well she is not very handsome: they sit alone together settling the nation. I sat with lady Oxford, and stopped Mrs. Masham as she came out, and told her what progress I had made, &c. and then went to lord treasurer: he is very well, only uneasy at rising or sitting, with some rheumatick pains in his thigh, and a foot weak. He showed me a small paper, sent by an unknown hand to one Mr. Cook, who sent it to my lord: it was written in plain large letters, thus;

Though G——d's knife did not succeed;
A F——n's yet may do the deed.

And a little below; Burn this you dog. My lord has frequently such letters as these: once he showed me one, which was a vision describing a certain man, his dress, his sword, and his countenance, who was to murder my lord. And he told me, he saw a fellow in the chapel at Windsor with a dress very like it. They often send him letters signed Your humble servant, The Devil, and such stuff. I sat with him till after ten, and have business to do.

15. The secretary came yesterday to town from Hampton court, so I went to him early this morning; but he went back last night again: and coming home to night I found a letter from him to tell me, that he was just come from Hampton court, and just returning, and will not be here till Saturday night. A pox take him; he stops all my business. I'll beg leave to come back when I have got over this; and hope to see MD in Ireland soon after Christmas. I'm weary of courts, and want my journies to Laracor; they did me more good than all the ministries these twenty years. I dined to day in the city, but did no business as I designed. Lady Mountjoy tells me, that Dilly is got to Ireland, and that the archbishop of Dublin was the cause of his returning so soon. The parliament was prorogued two days ago for a fortnight, which, with the queen's absence, makes the town very dull and empty. They tell me the duke of Ormond brings all the world away with him from Ireland. London has nothing so bad in it in winter, as your knots of Irish folks; but I go to no coffeehouse, and so I seldom see them. This letter shall go on Saturday; and then I am even with the world again. I have lent money, and cannot get it, and am forced to borrow for myself.

16. My man made a blunder this morning, and let up a visiter, when I had ordered to see nobody; so I was forced to hurry a hang dog instrument of mine into my bedchamber, and keep him cooling his heels there above an hour. —— I am going on fairly in the common forms of a great cold; I believe it will last me about ten days in all. —— I should have told you that in those two verses sent to lord treasurer, the G——d stands for Guiscard; that is easy; but we differed about F——n; I thought it was for Frenchman, because he hates them, and they him: and so it would be. That although Guiscard's knife missed its design, the knife of a Frenchman might yet do it. My lord thinks it stands for Felton, the name of him that stabbed the first duke of Buckingham. Sir Andrew Fountaine and I dined with the Vans to day, and my cold made me loiter all the evening. Stay, young women, don't you begin to owe me a letter? just a month to day since I had your N. 22. I'll stay a week longer, and then I'll expect like agog; till then you may play at ombre, and so forth, as you please. The whigs are still crying down our peace, but we will have it, I hope, in spite of them: the emperor comes now with his two eggs a penny, and promises wonders to continue the war; but it is too late; only I hope the fear of it will serve to spur on the French to be easy and sincere. Night, sirrahs; I'll go early to bed.

17. Morning. This goes to night; I will put it myself in the postoffice. I had just now a long letter from the archbishop of Dublin, giving me an account of the ending your sessions, how it ended a storm; which storm, by the time it arrives here, will be only half nature. I can't help it, I won't hide. I often advised the dissolution of that parliament, although I did not think the scoundrels had so much courage; but they have it only in the wrong, like a bully that will fight for a whore, and run away in an army. I believe, by several things the archbishop says, he is not very well either with the government or clergy. See how luckily my paper ends with a fortnight. God Almighty bless and preserve dearest little MD. I suppose your lord lieutenant is now setting out for England. I wonder the bishop of Clogher does not write to me; or let me know of his statues, and how he likes them: I will write to him again, as soon as I have leisure. Farewell, dearest MD, and love Presto, who loves MD infinitely above all earthly things, and who will. My service to Mrs. Stoyte, and Catherine. I'm sitting in my bed; but will rise to seal this. Morrow, dear rogues. Farewell again, dearest MD, &c.

  1. These two initial letters include both Stella and Dingley.
  2. A thanksgiving sermon, under the title of "Noah's Dove, an Exhortation to Peace, set forth in a Sermon, preached on the Seventh of November 1710." In other letters, Swift frequently mentions, "that the lord treasurer, when he had a mind to vex him, would call him, or introduce him to company, by the name of Dr. Thomas Swift." As a clew to this jealousy, or dislike, let it be remembered, that Tom Swift, "his little parson-cousin," as the dean styles him, affected to be thought author of the Tale of a Tub.