The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 38

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London, December 29, 1711.

I PUT my letter in this evening, after coming from dinner at Ned Southwell's, where I drank very good Irish wine, and we were in great joy at this happy turn of affairs. The queen has been at last persuaded to her own interest and security, and I freely think she must have made both herself and kingdom very unhappy, if she had done otherwise. It is still a mighty secret that Masham is to be one of the new lords; they say he does not yet know it himself; but the queen is to surprise him with it. Mr. secretary will be a lord at the end of the session; but they want him still in parliament. After all, it is a strange unhappy necessity of making so many peers together; but the queen has drawn it upon herself, by her confounded trimming and moderation. Three, as I told you, are of our society.

30. I writ the dean and you a lie yesterday; for the duke of Somerset is not yet turned out. I was to day at court, and resolved to be very civil to the whigs; but saw few there. When I was in the bedchamber talking to lord Rochester, he went up to lady Burlington, who asked him, who I was; and lady Sunderland and she whispered about me: I desired lord Rochester to tell lady Sunderland, I doubted she was not as much in love with me as I was with her; but he would not deliver my message. The duchess of Shrewsbury came running up to me, and clapped her fan up to hide us from the company, and we gave one another joy of this change; but sighed, when we reflected on the Somerset family not being out. The secretary and I, and brother Bathurst, and lord Windsor, dined with the duke of Ormond. Bathurst and Windsor are to be two of the new lords. I desired my lord Radnor's brother, at court to day, to let my lord know I would call on him at six, which I did, and was arguing with him three hours to bring him over to us, and I spoke so closely, that I believe he will be tractable; but he is a scoundrel, and though I said I only talked for my love to him, I told a lie; for I did not care if he were hanged: but every one gained over is of consequence. The duke of Marlborough was at court to day, and nobody hardly took notice of him. Masham's being a lord begins to take wind: nothing at court can be kept a secret. Wednesday will be a great day: you shall know more.

31. Our frost is broken since yesterday, and it is very slabbery; yet I walked to the city and dined, and ordered some things with the printer. I have settled Dr. King in the Gazette, it will be worth two hundred pounds a year to him. Our new lords patents are passed: I don't like the expedient, if we could have found any other. I see I have said this before. I hear the duke of Marlborough is turned out of all his employments: I shall know to morrow, when I am to carry Dr. King to dine with the secretary. These are strong remedies; pray God the patient is able to bear them. The last ministry people are utterly desperate.

Jan. 1. Now I wish my dearest little MD many happy new years; yes, both Dingley and Stella, ay and Presto too, many happy new years. I dined with the secretary, and it is true that the duke of Marlborough is turned out of all. The duke of Ormond has got his regiment of foot-guards, I know not who has the rest. If the ministry be not sure of a peace, I shall wonder at this step, and do not approve it at best. The queen and lord treasurer mortally hate the duke of Marlborough, and to that he owes his fall, more than to his other faults: unless he has been tampering too far with his party, of which I have not heard any particulars; however it be, the world abroad will blame us. I confess my belief, that he has not one good quality in the world beside that of a general, and even that I have heard denied by several great soldiers. But we have had constant success in arms while he commanded. Opinion is a mighty matter in war, and I doubt the French think it impossible to conquer an army that he leads, and our soldiers think the same; and how far even this step may encourage the French to play tricks with us, no man knows. I do not love to see personal resentment mix with publick affairs.

2. This being the day the lords meet, and the new peers to be introduced, I went to Westminster to see the sight; but the crowd was too great in the house. So I only went into the robing room, to give my four brothers joy, and sir Thomas Mansel, and lord Windsor; the other six I am not acquainted with. It was apprehended the whigs would have raised some difficulties, but nothing happened. I went to see lady Masham at noon, and wish her joy of her new honour, and a happy new year. I found her very well pleased; for peerage will be some sort of protection to her upon any turn of affairs. She engaged me to come at night, and sup with her and lord treasurer; I went at nine, and she was not at home, so I would not stay. No, no, I won't answer your letter yet, young women. I dined with a friend in the neighbourhood. I see nothing here like Christmas, except brawn or mincepies in places where I dine, and giving away my half crowns like farthings to great men's porters and butlers. Yesterday I paid seven good guineas to the fellow at the tavern, where I treated the society. I have a great mind to send you the bill. I think I told you some articles. I have not heard whether any thing was done in the house of lords after introducing the new ones. Ford has been sitting with me till peeast tweeleve a clock.

3. This was our society day, lord Dupplin was president; we choose every week; the last president treats and chooses his successor. I believe our dinner cost fifteen pounds beside wine. The secretary grew brisk, and would not let me go, nor lord Lansdown, who would fain have gone home to his lady, being newly married to lady Mary Thynne. It was near one when we parted; so you must think I can't write much to night. The adjourning of the house of lords yesterday, as the queen desired, was just carried by the twelve new lords, and one more. Lord Radnor was not there; I hope I have cured him. Did I tell you, that I have brought Dr. King in to be Gazetteer? it will be worth above two hundred pounds a year to him: I believe I told you so before, but I am forgetful. Go, get you gone to ombre, and claret, and toasted oranges. I'll go sleep.

4. I cannot get rid of the leavings of my cold. I was in the city to day, and dined with my printer, and gave him a ballad made by several hands, I know not whom. I believe lord treasurer had a finger in it; I added three stanzas; I suppose Dr. Arbuthnot had the greatest share. I have been overseeing some other little prints, and a pamphlet made by one of my understrappers. Somerset is not out yet. I doubt not but you will have the Prophecy in Ireland, although it is not published here, only printed copies given to friends. Tell me, do you understand it? No, faith, not without help. Tell me what you stick at, and I'll explain. We turned out a member of our society yesterday for gross neglect and nonattendance. I writ to him by order to give him notice of it. It is Tom Harley, secretary to the treasurer, and cousin-german to lord treasurer. He is going to Hanover from the queen. I am to give the duke of Ormond notice of his election as soon as I can see him.

5. I went this morning with a parishioner of mine, one Nuttal, who came over here for a legacy of one hundred pounds, and a roguish lawyer had refused to pay him, and would not believe he was the man. I writ to the lawyer a sharp letter, that I had taken Nuttal into my protection, and was resolved to stand by him; and the next news was, that the lawyer desired I would meet him, and attest he was the man, which I did, and his money was paid upon the spot. I then visited lord treasurer, who is now right again, and all well, only that the Somerset family is not out yet. I hate that; I don't like it, as the man said by, &c. Then I went and visited poor Will. Congreve, who had a French fellow tampering with one of his eyes; he is almost blind of both. I dined with some merchants in the city, but could not see Stratford, with whom I had business. Presto, leave off your impertinence, and answer our letter, saith MD. Yes, yes; one of these days, when I have nothing else to do. O, faith, this letter is a week written, and not one side done yet. These ugly spots are not tobacco, but this is the last gilt sheet I have of large paper, therefore hold your tongue. Nuttal was surprised, when they gave him bits of paper instead of money; but I made Ben Tooke put him in his geers: he could not reckon ten pounds, but was puzzled with the Irish way. Ben Tooke and my printer have desired me to make them stationers to the ordnance, of which lord Rivers is master instead of the duke of Marlborough. It will be a hundred pounds a year a piece to them, if I can get it. I will try to morrow.

6. I went this morning to earl Rivers, gave him joy of his new employment, and desired him to prefer my printer and bookseller to be stationers to his office. He immediately granted it me; but, like an old courtier, told me it was wholly on my account, but that he heard I had intended to engage Mr. secretary to speak to him, and desired I would engage him to do so; but that however he did it only for my sake. This is a court trick, to oblige as many as you can at once. I read prayers to poor Mrs. Wesley (who is very much out of order) instead of going to church; and then I went to court, which I found very full, in expectation of seeing prince Eugene, who landed last night, and lies at Leicester house; he was not to see the queen till six this evening. I hope and believe he comes too late to do the whigs any good. I refused dining with the secretary, and was like to lose my dinner, which was at a private acquaintance's. I went at six to see the prince at court; but he was gone in to the queen: and when he came out, Mr. secretary who introduced him, walked so near him, that he quite screened me from him with his great periwig. I'll tell you a good passage: as prince Eugene was going with Mr. secretary to court, he told the secretary, that Hoffman, the emperor's resident, said to his highness, that it was not proper to go to court without a long wig, and his was a tied up one; now, says the prince, I knew not what to do: for I never had a long periwig in my life; and I have sent to all my valets and footmen to see whether any of them have one, that I might borrow it; but none of them has any. Was not this spoken very greatly with some sort of contempt? But the secretary said; it was a thing of no consequence, and only observed by gentlemen ushers. I supped with lord Masham, where lord treasurer and Mr. secretary supped with us; the first left us at twelve, but the rest did not part till two: yet I have written all this, because it is fresh: and now I'll go sleep, if I can; that is, I believe I shall, because I have drank a little.

7. I was this morning to give the duke of Ormond notice of the honour done him to make him one of our society, and to invite him on Thursday next to the Thatched house: he has accepted it with the gratitude and humility such a preferment deserves; but cannot come till the next meeting, because prince Eugene is to dine with him that day; which I allowed for a good excuse, and will report accordingly. I dined with lord Masham, and sat there till eight this evening; and came home, because I was not very well, but a little griped: but now I am well again, I will not go, at least but very seldom, to lord Masham's suppers. Lord treasurer is generally there, and that tempts me; but late sitting up does not agree with me: there's the short and the long, and I won't do it: so take your answer, dear little young women; and I have no more to say to you to night, because of the archbishop; for I am going to write a long letter to him; but not so politickly as formerly: I won't trust him.

8. Well then, come, let us see this letter; if I must answer it, I must. What's here now? yes faith, I lamented my birthday[1] two days after, and that's all: and you rhyme, madam Stella, were those verses made upon my birthday? faith, when I read them, I had them running in my head all the day, and said them over a thousand times; they drank your health in all their glasses, and wished, &c. I could not get them out of my head. What; no, I believe it was not; what do I say upon the eighth of December? Compare, and see whether I say so. I am glad of Mrs. Stoyte's recovery, heartily glad: your Dolly Manley's and bishop of Cloyne's child I have no concern about: I am sorry in a civil way, that's all. Yes, yes, sir George St. George dead. Go, cry, madam Dingley; I have written to the dean. Raymond will be rich, for he has the building itch. I wish all he has got may put him out of debt. Poh, I have fires like light'ning; they cost me twelvepence a week, beside small coal. I have got four new caps, madam, very fine and convenient, with striped cambrick, instead of muslin; so Patrick need not mend them, but take the old ones. Stella snatched Dingley's word out of her pen; Presto a cold; why all the world here is dead with them: I never had any thing like it in my life; 'tis not gone in five weeks. I hope Leigh is with you before this, and has brought your box: how do you like the ivory rasp? Stella is angry; but I'll have a finer thing for her. Is not the apron as good? I am sure I shall never be paid it; so all's well again. What the quarrel with sir John Walters? why we had not one word of quarrel; only he railed at me when I was gone. And lord keeper and treasurer teased me for a week: it was nuts to them: a serious thing with a vengeance. The whigs may sell their estates then, or hang themselves, as they are disposed; for a peace there will be. Lord treasurer told me, that Conolly was going to Hanover. Your provost is a coxcomb. Stella is a good girl for not being angry when I tell her of spelling; I see none wrong in this. God Almighty be praised that your disorders lessen, it increases my hopes mightily that they will go off. And have you been plagued with the fear of the plague? never mind those reports; I have heard them five hundred times. Replevi? Replevin, simpleton, 'tis Dingley I mean;, but it is a hard word, and so I'll excuse it. I stated Dingley's accounts in my last. I forgot Catherine's sevenpenny dinner. I hope it was the beef-steaks; I'll call and eat them in spring: but goody Stoyte must give me coffee, or green tea, for I drink no bohea. Well, ay, the pamphlet; but there are some additions to the fourth edition: the fifth edition was of four thousand, in a smaller print, sold for sixpence. Yes, I had the twenty pound bill from Parvisol: and what then? Pray now eat the Laracor apples; I beg you not to keep them, but tell me what they are. You have had Tooke's bill in my last. And so there now, your whole letter is answered. I tell you what I do; I lay your letter before me, and take it in order, and answer what is necessary; and so and so. Well; when I expected we were all undone, I designed to retire for six months, and then steal over to Laracor; and I had in my mouth a thousand times two lines of Shakspeare, where cardinal Wolsey says;

"A weak old man battered with storms of state,
"Is come to lay his weary bones among you."

I beg your pardon, I have cheated you all this margin: I did not perceive it; and I went on wider and wider like Stella; awkward sluts, she writes so so, there[2]: that's as like as two eggs a penny. A weak old man, now I am saying it, and shall till to morrow. The duke of Marlborough says, there is nothing he now desires so much as to contrive some way how to soften Dr. Swift. He is mistaken; for those things that have been hardest against him were not written by me. Mr. secretary told me this from a friend of the duke's; and I'm sure now he is down, I shall not trample on him; although I love him not, I dislike his being out. Bernage was to see me this morning, and gave some very indifferent excuses for not calling here so long. I care not twopence. Prince Eugene did not dine with the duke of Marlborough on Sunday, but was last night at lady Betty Germain's assemblee, and a vast number of ladies to see him. Mr. Lewis and I dined with a private friend. I was this morning to see the duke of Ormond, who appointed me to meet him at the cockpit at one, but never came. I sat too some time with the duchess. We don't like things very well yet. I am come home early, and going to be busy. I'll go write.

9. I could not go sleep last night till past two, and was waked before three by a noise of people endeavouring to break open my window; for a while I would not stir, thinking it might be my imagination; but hearing the noise continued, I rose and went to the window, and then it ceased: I went to bed again, and heard it repeated more violently; then I rose and called up the house, and got a candle: the rogues had lifted up the sash a yard; there are great sheds before my windows, although my lodgings be a story high; and if they get upon the sheds they are almost even with my window. We observed their track, and panes of glass fresh broken. The watchmen told us to day, they saw them, but could not catch them: they attacked others in the neighbourhood, about the same time, and actually robbed a house in Suffolk street, which is the next street but one to us. It is said they are seamen discharged from service. I went up to call my man, and found his bed empty; it seems he often lies abroad. I challenged him this morning as one of the robbers. He is a sad dog; and the minute I come to Ireland I will discard him. I have this day got double iron bars to every window in my diningroom and bedchamber; and I hide my purse in my thread stocking between the bed's head and the wainscot. Lewis and I dined with an old Scotch friend, who brought the duke of Douglas, and three or four more Scots upon us.

10. This was our society day you know: but the duke of Ormond could not be with us, because he dined with prince Eugene. It cost me a guinea contribution to a poet, who had made a copy of verses upon monkies, applying the story to the duke of Marlborough; the rest gave two guineas, except the two physicians, who followed my example. I don't like this custom: the next time I will give nothing. I sat this evening at lord Masham's with lord treasurer: I don't like his countenance, nor I don't like the posture of things well. We cannot be stout, Till Somerset's out: as the old saying is.

11. Mr. Lewis and I dined with the chancellor of the exchequer, who eats the most elegantly of any man I know in town: I walked lustily in the park by moonshine till eight, to shake off my dinner and wine; and then went to sup at Mr. Domville's with Ford, and staid till twelve. It is told me to day as a great secret, that the duke of Somerset will be out soon; that the thing is fixed; but what shall we do with the duchess? they say the duke will make her leave the queen out of spite, if he be out. It has stuck upon that fear a good while already. Well, but Lewis gave me a letter from MD, N. 25. O Lord, I did not expect one this fortnight, faith. You are mighty good, that's certain: but I won't answer it, because this goes to morrow, only what you say of the printer being taken up; I value it not; all's safe there; nor do I fear any thing, unless the ministry be changed; I hope that danger is over. However, I shall be in Ireland before such a change; which could not be, I think, till the end of the session, if the whigs designs had gone on. Have not you an apron by Leigh, madam Stella? have you all I mentioned in a former letter?

12. Morning. This goes to day as usual. I think of going into the city; but of that at night. 'Tis fine moderate weather these two or three days last. Farewell, &c. &c.

  1. Dr. Swift, upon his birthday, used always to read the third chapter of Job.
  2. These words in the manuscript imitate Stella's writing, and are sloped the wrong way.