The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 35

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London, Nov. 17, 1711.

I PUT my last this evening in the postoffice. I dined with Dr. Cockburn. This being queen Elizabeth's birthday, we have the d and all to do among us. I just heard of the stir as my letter was sealed this morning; and was so cross I would not open it to tell you. I have been visiting lady Oglethorp and lady Worsley; the latter is lately come to town for the winter, and with child, and what care you? This is queen Elizabeth's birthday, usually kept in this town by apprentices, &c. but the whigs designed a mighty procession by midnight, and had laid out a thousand pounds to dress up the pope, devil, cardinals, Sacheverell, &c. and carry them with torches about, and burn them. They did it by contribution. Garth gave five guineas, Dr. Garth I mean, if ever you heard of him. But they were seized last night, by order from the secretary: you will have an account of it, for they bawl it about the streets already. They had some very foolish and mischievous designs; and it was thought they would have put the rabble upon assaulting my lord treasurer's house, and the secretary's; and other violences. The militia was raised to prevent it, and now, I suppose all will be quiet. The figures are now at the secretary's office at Whitehall. I design to see them if I can.

18. I was this morning with Mr. secretary, who just came from Hampton court. He was telling me more particulars about this business of burning the pope. It cost a great deal of money, and had it gone on, would have cost three times as much: but the town is full of it, and half a dozen Grub street papers already. The secretary and I dined at brigadier Britton's, but I left them at six, upon an appointment with some sober company of men and ladies, to drink punch at sir Andrew Fountaine's. We were not very merry; and I don't love rack punch, I love it better with brandy; are you of my opinion? Why then, twelvepenny weather; sirrahs, why don't you play at shuttlecock? I have thought of it a hundred times; faith Presto will come over after Christmas, and will play with Stella before the cold weather is gone. Do you read the Spectators? I never do; they never come in my way; I go to no coffeehouses. They say abundance of them are very pretty: they are going to be printed in small volumes; I'll bring them over with me. I shall be out of my hurry in a week, and if Leigh be not gone over, I will send you by him what I am now finishing. I don't know where Leigh is; I have not seen him this good while, though he promised to call: I shall send to him. The queen comes to town on Thursday for good and all.

19. I was this morning at lord Dartmouth's office, and sent out for him from the committee of council, about some business. I was asking him more concerning this bustle about the figures in wax work of the pope, and devil, &c. He was not at leisure, or he would have seen them. I hear the owners are so impudent, that they design to replevin them by law. I am assured that the figure of the devil is made as like lord treasurer as they could. Why; I dined with a friend in St. James's street. Lord treasurer I am told, was abroad to day; I will know to morrow how he does after it. The duke of Marlborough is come, and was yesterday at Hampton court with the queen; no, it was t'other day; no, it was yesterday; for to day I remember Mr. secretary was going to see him, when I was there, not at the duke of Marlborough's, but at the secretary's; the duke is not so fond of me. What care I? I won seven shillings to night at picquet: I play twice a year or so.

20. I have been so teased with whiggish discourse by Mrs. Barton and lady Betty Germain, never saw the like. They turn all this affair of the pope burning into ridicule; and indeed they have made too great a clutter about it, if they had no real reason to apprehend some tumults. I dined with lady Betty. I hear Prior's commission is passed to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for the peace; my lord privy seal, who you know is bishop of Bristol, is the other; and lord Strafford, already ambassador at the Hague, the third: I am forced to tell you ignorant sluts who is who. I was punning scurvily with sir Andrew Fountaine and lord Pembroke this evening; do you ever pun now? Sometimes the dean, or Tom Leigh. Prior puns very well. Odso, I must go see his excellency, 'tis a noble advancement: but they could do no less, after sending him to France. Lord Strafford is as proud as Hell, and how he will bear one of Prior's mean birth on an equal character with him, I know not. And so I go to my business, and bid you good night.

21. I was this morning busy with my printer; I gave him the fifth sheet, and then I went and dined with him in the city, to correct something, and alter, &c. and I walked home in the dusk, and the rain overtook me: and I found a letter here from Mr. Lewis; well, and so I opened it; and he says, the peace is past danger, &c. Well; and so there was another letter enclosed in his; well; and so I looked on the outside of this t'other letter. Well; and so who do you think this t'other letter was from? Well; and so I'll tell you, it was from little MD, N. 23, 23, 23, 23. I tell you it is no more, I have told you so before[1]: but I just looked again to satisfy you. Hie, Stella, you write like an emperor, a great deal together; a very good hand, and but four false spellings in all. Shall I send them to you? I am glad you did not take my correction ill. Well; but I won't answer your letter now, sirrah saucy boxes, no, no; not yet; just a month and three days from the last, which is just five weeks: you see it comes just when I begin to grumble.

22. Morning. Tooke has just brought me Dingley's money. I will give you a note for it at the end of this letter. There was half a crown for entering the letter of attorney: but I swore to stop that. I'll spend your money bravely here. Morrow, dear sirrahs. —— At night. I dined to day with sir Thomas Hanmer; his wife, the duchess of Grafton, dined with us: she wears a great high headdress, such as was in fashion fifteen years ago, and looks like a mad woman in it; yet she has great remains of beauty. I was this evening to see lord Harley, and thought to have sat with lord treasurer; but he was taken up with the Dutch envoy and such folks; and I would not stay. One particular in life here different from what I have in Dublin, is, that whenever I come home I expect to find some letter for me, and seldom miss; and never any worth a farthing, but often to vex me. The queen does not come to town till Saturday. Prior is not yet declared; but these ministers being at Hampton court I know nothing; and if I write news from common hands, it is always lies. You will think it affectation; but nothing has vexed me more for some months past, than people I never saw, pretending to be acquainted with me, and yet speak ill of me too; at least some of them. An old crooked Scotch countess, whom I never heard of in my life, told the duchess of Hamilton t'other day, that I often visited her. People of worth never do that; so that a man only gets the scandal of having scurvy acquaintance. Three ladies were railing against me some time ago, and said they were very well acquainted with me; two of which I had never heard of; and the third I had only seen twice where I happened to visit. A man who has once seen me in a coffeehouse will ask me how I do, when he sees me talking at court with a minister of state; who is sure to ask me, how I came acquainted with that scoundrel. But come, sirrahs, this is all stuff to you, so I'll say no more on this side the paper, but turn over.

23. My printer invited Mr. Lewis[2] and me to dine at a tavern to day, which I have not done five times since I came to England; I never will call it Britain, pray don't call it Britain. My week is not out, and one side of this paper is out, and I have a letter to answer of MD's into the bargain: must I write on the third side? faith that will give you an ill habit. I saw Leigh last night: he gives a terrible account of Sterne; he reckons he is seduced by some wench; he is over head and ears in debt, and has pawned several things. Leigh says he goes on Monday next for Ireland, but believes Sterne will not go with him; Sterne has kept him these three months. Leigh has got the apron and things, and promises to call for the box at Chester; but I despair of it. Good night, sirrahs; I have been late abroad.

24. I have finished my pamphlet to day, which has cost me so much time and trouble; it will be published in three or four days, when the parliament begins sitting. I suppose the queen is come to town, but know nothing, having been in the city finishing and correcting with the printer. When I came home I found letters on my table as usual, and one from your mother, to tell me, that you desire your writings and a picture should be sent to me, to be sent over to you. I have just answered her letter, and promised to take care of them if they be sent to me. She is at Farnham: it is too late to send them by Leigh; besides, I will wait your orders, madam Stella. I am going to finish a letter to lord treasurer about reforming our language; but first I must put an end to a ballad; and go you to your cards, sirrahs, this is card season.

25. I was early with the secretary to day, but he was gone to his devotions, and to receive the sacrament; several rakes did the same; it was not for piety, but employments; according to act of parliament. I dined with lady Mary Dudley; and past my time since insipidly, only I was at court at noon, and saw fifty acquaintance I had not met this long time: that is the advantage of a court, and I fancy I am better known than any man that goes there. Sir John Walters' quarrel with me has entertained the town ever since; and yet we never had a word, only he railed at me behind my back. The parliament is again to be prorogued for eight or nine days; for the whigs are too strong in the house of lords: other reasons are pretended, but that is the truth. The prorogation is not yet known, but will be to morrow.

26. Mr. Lewis and I dined with a friend of his, and unexpectedly there dined with us an Irish knight, one sir John St. Leger[3], who follows the law here, but at a great distance: he was so pert, I was forced to take him down more than once. I saw to day the pope, and devil, and the other figures of cardinals, &c. fifteen in all, which have made such a noise. I have put an understrapper upon writing a twopenny pamphlet to give an account of the whole design. My large pamphlet will be published to morrow, copies are sent to the great men this night. Domville[4] is come home from his travels; I am vexed at it: I have not seen him yet; I design to present him to all the great men.

27. Domville came to me this morning, and we dined at Pontack's, and were all day together, till six this evening; he is perfectly as fine a gentleman as I know; he set me down at lord treasurer's, with whom I staid about an hour, till monsieur Buys, the Dutch envoy, came to him about business. My lord treasurer is pretty well; but stiff in the hips with the remains of the rheumatism. I am to bring Domville to my lord Harley in a day or two. It was the dirtiest rainy day that ever I saw. The pamphlet[5] is published; lord treasurer had it by him on the table, and was asking me about the mottoes in the title page; he gave me one of them himself. I must send you the pamphlet if I can.

28. Mrs. Van sent to me to dine with her to day, because some ladies of my acquaintance were to be there; and there I dined. I was this morning to return Domville his visit, and went to visit Mrs. Masham, who was not within. I am turned out of my lodging by my landlady: it seems her husband and her son are coming home; but I have taken another lodging hard by, in Leicester fields. I presented Mr. Domville to Mr. Lewis and Mr. Prior this morning. Prior and I are called the two Sosias in a whig newspaper. Sosias, can you read it? The pamphlet begins to make a noise: I was asked by several whether I had seen it, and they advised me to read it, for it was something very extraordinary. I shall be suspected; and it will have several paltry answers. It must take its fate, as Savage said of his sermon that he preached at Farnham on sir William Temple's death. Domville saw Savage in Italy, and says he is a coxcomb, and half mad: he goes in red, and with yellow waistcoats, and was at ceremony kneeling to the pope on a Palm Sunday, which is much more than kissing his toe; and I believe it will ruin him here when 'tis told. I'll answer your letter in my new lodgings: I have hardly room; I must borrow from the other side.

29. New lodgings. My printer came this morning to tell me he must immediately print a second edition, and lord treasurer made one or two small additions: they must work day and night to have it out on Saturday; they sold a thousand in two days. Our society met to day, nine of us were present, we dined at our brother Bathurst's: we made several regulations, and have chosen three new members, lord Orrery, Jack Hill, who is Mrs. Masham's brother, he that lately miscarried in the expedition to Quebec, and one colonel Disney. We have taken a room in a house near St. James's to meet in. I left them early about correcting the pamphlet, &c. and am now got home, &c.

30. This morning I carried Domville to see my lord Harley, and I did some business with lord treasurer, and have been all this afternoon with the printer, adding something to the second edition. I dined with the printer; the pamphlet makes a world of noise, and will do a great deal of good: it tells abundance of most important facts which were not at all known. I'll answer your letter to morrow morning; or suppose I answer it just now, though it is pretty late. Come then You say you are busy with parliaments, &c. that's more than ever I will be when I come back; but you will have none these two years. Lord Santry[6], &c. yes, I have had enough on't. I am glad Dilly is mended; does he not thank me for showing him the court and the great people's faces? He had his glass out at the queen and the rest. 'Tis right what Dilly says; I depend upon nothing from my friends; but to go back as I came. Never fear Laracor, 'twill mend with a peace; or surely they'll give me the Dublin parish. Stella is in the right; the bishop of Ossory is the silliest, best natured wretch breathing, of as little consequence as an egg shell. Well, the spelling I have mentioned before; only the next time say at least, and not at lest. Pox on your Newbury: what can I do for him? I'll give his case (I am glad it is not a woman's) to what members I know; that's all I can do. Lord treasurer's lameness goes off daily. Pray God preserve poor good Mrs. Stoyte, she would be a great loss to us all; pray give her my service, and tell her she has my heartiest prayers. I pity poor Mrs. Manley; but I think the child is happy to die, considering how little provision it would have had. Poh, every pamphlet abuses me, and for things that I never writ. Joe should have written me thanks for his two hundred pounds: I reckon he got it by my means; and I must thank the duke of Ormond, who I dare swear will say he did it on my account. Are they golden pippins, those seven apples? We have had much rain every day as well as you: 7l. 17s. 8d. old blunderer, not 18s. I have reckoned it 18 times. Hawkshaw's eight pounds is not reckoned: and if it be secure, it may lie where it is, unless they desire to pay it: so Parvisol may let it drop till farther orders; for I have put Mrs. Wesley's money into the bank, and will pay her with Hawkshaw's. —— I mean that Hawkshaw's money goes for an addition to MD, you know; but be good housewives. Bernage never comes now to see me; he has no more to ask: but I hear he has been ill. A pox on Mrs. South's affair; I can do nothing in it, but by way of assisting any body else that solicits it, by dropping a favourable word, if it comes in my way. Tell Walls I do no more for any body with my lord treasurer, especially a thing of this kind. Tell him I have spent all my discretion, and have no more to use. —— And so I have answered your letter fully and plainly And so I have got to the third side of my paper, which is more than belongs to you, young women. It goes to morrow, To nobody's sorrow. You are silly, not I; I'm a poet, If I had but, &c. —— Who's silly now? rogues and lasses, tinderboxes and buzzards. O Lord, I am in a high vein of silliness; methought I was speaking to dearest little MD face to face. There; so lads, enough for to night; to cards with the blackguards. Good night, my delight, &c.

Dec. 1. Pish, sirrahs, put a date always at the bottom of your letter as well as the top, that I may know when you send it; your last is of Nov. 3d, yet I had others at the same time written a fortnight after. Whenever you would have any money, send me word three weeks before, and in that time you will certainly have an answer, with a bill on Parvisol: pray do this; for my head is full, and it will ease my memory. Why, I think I quoted to you some of ——'s letter, so you may imagine how witty the rest was; for it was all of a bunch, as goodman Peesley says. Pray let us have no more bussiness, but busyness: the deuse take me if I know how to spell it, your wrong spelling, madam Stella, has put me out: it does not look right; let me see, bussiness, busyness, business, bisyness, bisness, bysness; faith, I know not which is right, I think the second; I believe I never writ the word in my life before; yes, sure I must though; business, busyness, bisyness. —— I have perplexed myself, and can't do it. Prithee ask Walls. Business, I fancy that's right. Yes it is; I looked in my own pamphlet, and found it twice in ten lines, to convince you that I never writ it before. O, now I see it as plain as can be, so yours is only an s too much. The parliament will certainly meet on Friday next; the whigs will have a great majority in the house of lords; no care is taken to prevent it; there is too much neglect; they are warned of it, and that signifies nothing: it was feared there would be some peevish address from the lords against a peace. 'Tis said about the town, that several of the allies begin now to be content that a peace should be treated. This is all the news I have. The queen is pretty well; and so now I bid poor dearest MD farewell till to night, then I will talk with them again.

The fifteen images that I saw were not worth forty pounds, so I stretched a little when I said a thousand. The Grub street account of that tumult is published. The devil is not like lord treasurer: they were all in your odd antick masks, bought in common shops. I fear Prior will not be one of the plenipotentiaries.

I was looking over this letter, and find I make many mistakes of leaving out words; so 'tis impossible to find any meaning, unless you be conjurers. I will take more care for the future, and read over every day just what I have written that day; which will take up no time to speak of.

  1. Nothing was ever more in Swift's style and manner of conversation, than these repetitions and the words following.
  2. The dean's great regard for Mr. Lewis appears from the following memorandum, written by him on the back of one of that gentleman's letters: "Lewis, who is wiser than ever he was; the best of husbands; I am sure I can say, from my own experience, that he is the best of friends; he was so to me, when I had little hopes I should ever live to thank him." Mr. Lewis was also distinguished by the friendship of Mr. Pope, who left him a legacy for a ring.
  3. He was made a judge in Ireland by king George I.
  4. William Domville, of Longman's town, in the county of Dublin, esq.
  5. This pamphlet was "The Conduct of the Allies."
  6. Lord Santry was as violent a whig as Dick Tighe [Vid. Letter 59 in Dodsley's Collection, dated Feb. 10, 1711]; and Dr. Higgins, who is in this place hinted at by the &c., much such another as Sacheverell; consequently my lord was an outrageous enemy and persecutor of Higgins. However, it happened one day that lord Santry was looking out of the great window at Lucas's coffeehouse when Higgins was passing by; "How do you do, doctor?" said my lord, in a sneering contemptuous manner. "Very well, I thank you, little master," said Higgins. "Let me out, let me out to him," cried Santry in a rage, pretending to leap out of the window, which was not far from the ground. "Ay, do," said Higgins, "let him out, I'll soon pitch him in to you again."