The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 39

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London, Jan. 12, 1711-12.

WHEN I sealed up my letter this morning, I looked upon myself to be not worth a groat in the world. Last night, after Mr. Ford and I left Domville, Ford desired me go with him for a minute upon earnest business, and then told me that both he and I were ruined: for he had trusted Stratford with five hundred pounds for tickets for the lottery, and he had been with Stratford, who confessed he had lost fifteen thousand pounds by sir Stephen Evans, who broke last week; that he concluded Stratford must break too; that he could not get his tickets, but Stratford made him several excuses, which seemed very blind ones, &c. And Stratford had near four hundred pounds of mine, to buy me five hundred pounds in the South Sea company. I came home reflecting a little; nothing concerned me but MD. I called all my philosophy and religion up; and, I thank God, it did not keep me awake beyond my usual time above a quarter of an hour. This morning I sent for Tooke, whom I had employed to buy the stock of Stratford, and settle things with him. He told me, I was secure; for Stratford had transferred it to me in form in the South Sea house, and he had accepted it for me, and all was done on stamped parchment, However, he would be farther informed; and, at night, sent me a note to confirm me. However, I am not yet secure; and, besides, am in pain for Ford, whom I first brought acquainted with Stratford. I dined in the city.

13. Domville and I dined with Ford to day by appointment: the lord Mansel told me at court to day, that I was engaged to him: but Stratford had promised Ford to meet him and me to night at Ford's lodgings. He did so; said he had hopes to save himself in his affair with Evans. Ford asked him for his tickets: he said he would send them to morrow; but looking in his pocket book, said he believed he had some of them about him, and gave him as many as came to two hundred pounds, which rejoiced us much; besides, he talked so frankly, that we might think there is no danger. I asked him, Was there any more to be settled between us in my affair? He said. No; and answering my questions just as Tooke had got them from others; so I hope I am safe. This has been a scurvy affair. I believe Stella would have half laughed at me, to see a suspicious fellow, like me, overreached. I saw prince Eugene to day at court: I don't think him an ugly faced fellow, but well enough, and a good shape.

14. The parliament was to sit to day; and met; but were adjourned by the queen's directions till Thursday. She designs to make some important speech then. She pretended illness; but I believe they were not ready, and they expect some opposition: and the Scotch lords are angry, and must be pacified. I was this morning to invite the duke of Ormond to our society on Thursday, where he is then to be introduced. He has appointed me at twelve to morrow about some business: I would fain have his help to impeach a certain lord: but I doubt we shall make nothing of it. I intended to have dined with lord treasurer, but I was told he would be busy: so I dined with Mrs. Van; and at night I sat with lord Masham till one. Lord treasurer was there, and chid me for not dining with him: he was in very good humour: I brought home two flasks of burgundy in my chair: I wish MD had them. You see it is very late; so I'll go to bed, and bid MD good night.

15. This morning I presented my printer and bookseller to lord Rivers; to be stationers to the ordnance; stationers, that's the word; I did not write it plain at first. I believe it will be worth three hundred pounds a year between them. This is the third employment I have got for them. Rivers told them, the doctor commanded him, and he durst not refuse it. I would have dined with lord treasurer to day again, but lord Mansel would not let me, and forced me home with him. I was very deep with the duke of Ormond to day at the cockpit, where we met to be private; but I doubt I cannot do the mischief I intended. My friend Penn came there, Will. Penn the quaker, at the head of his brethren, to thank the duke for his kindness to their people in Ireland. To see a dozen scoundrels with their hats on, and the duke complimenting with his off, was a good sight enough. I sat this evening with sir William Robinson, who has mighty often invited me to a bottle of wine: and it is past twelve.

16. This being fast day, Dr. Freind and I went into the city to dine late, like good fasters. My printer and bookseller want me to hook in another employment for them in the Tower, because it was enjoyed before by a stationer, although it be to serve the ordnance with oil, tallow, &c. and is worth four hundred pounds per annum more: I will try what I can do. They are resolved to ask several other employments of the same nature to other offices; and I will then grease fat sows, and see whether it be possible to satisfy them. Why am not I a stationer? The parliament sits to morrow, and Walpole, late secretary at war, is to be swinged for bribery, and the queen is to communicate something of great importance to the two houses, at least they say so. But I must think of answering your letter in a day or two.

17. I went this morning to the duke of Ormond about some business; and he told me he could not dine with us to day, being to dine with prince Eugene. Those of our society of the house of commons could not be with us, the house sitting late on Walpole. I left them at nine, and they were not come. We kept some dinner for them. I hope Walpole will be sent to the Tower, and expelled the house: but, this afternoon the members I spoke with in the court of requests talked dubiously of it. It will be a leading card to maul the duke of Marlborough for the same crime, or at least to censure him. The queen's message was only to give them notice of the peace she is treating, and to desire they will make some law to prevent libels against the government; so farewell to Grub street.

18. I heard to day, that the commoners of our society did not leave the parliament till eleven at night, then went to those I left, and staid till three in the morning. Walpole is expelled, and sent to the Tower. I was this morning again with lord Rivers, and have made him give the other employment to my printer and bookseller; 'tis worth a great deal. I dined with my friend Lewis privately, to talk over affairs. We want to have this duke of Somerset out, and he apprehends it will not be; but I hope better. They are going now at last to change the commissioners of the customs: my friend sir Matthew Dudley will be out, and three more, and Prior will be in. I have made Ford copy out a small pamphlet, and send it to the press, that I might not be known for author; 'tis A Letter to the October Club, if ever you heard of such a thing. —— Methinks this letter goes on but slowly for almost a week; I want some little conversation with MD, and to know what they are doing just now. I am sick of politicks. I have not dined with lord treasurer these three weeks: he chides me, but I don't care: I don't.

19. I dined to day with lord treasurer; this is his day of choice company; where they sometimes admit me, but pretend to grumble. And to day they met on some extraordinary business; the keeper, steward, both secretaries, lord Rivers, and lord Anglesey: I left them at seven, aand came away, and have been writing to the bishop of Clogher. I forgot to know where to direct to him since sir George St. George's death; but I have directed to the same house: you must tell me better; for the letter is sent by the bellman. Don't write to me again till this is gone, I charge you; for I won't answer two letters together. The duke of Somerset is out, and was with his yellow liveries at parliament to day. You know he had the same with the queen, when he was master of the horse: we hope the duchess will follow, or that he will take her away in spite. Lord treasurer, I hope, has now saved his head. Has the dean received my letter? ask him at cards to night.

20. There was a world of people to day at court to see prince Eugene, but all bit, for he did not come. I saw the duchess of Somerset talking with the duke of Buckingham; she looked a little down, but was extremely courteous. The queen has the gout, but is not in much pain. Must I fill this line too[1]? well then, so let it be. The duke of Beaufort has a mighty mind to come into our society; shall we let him? I spoke to the duke of Ormond about it, and he doubts a little whether to let him in or no. They say the duke of Somerset is advised by his friends to let his wife stay with the queen; I am sorry for it. I dined with the secretary to day, with mixed company; I don't love it. Our society does not meet till Friday, because Thursday will be a busy day in the house of commons; for then the duke of Marlborough's bribery is to be examined into about the pension paid him by those that furnished bread to the army.

21. I have been five times with the duke of Ormond about a perfect trifle, and he forgets it: I used him like a dog this morning for it. I was asked to day by several in the court of requests, whether it was true that the author of the Examiner[2] was taken up in an action of twenty thousand pounds by the duke of Marlborough? I dined in the city, where my printer showed me a pamphlet called Advice to the October Club, which he said was sent him by an unknown hand, I commended it mightily; he never suspected me; 'tis a twopenny pamphlet. I came home and got timely to bed; but about eleven one of the secretary's servants came to me, to let me know that lord treasurer would immediately speak to me at lord Masham's upon earnest business; and that if I was a bed, I should rise and come. I did so; lord treasurer was above with the queen: and when he came down he laughed, and said it was not he that sent for me: the business was of no great importance, only to give me a paper, which might have been done to morrow. I staid with them till past one, and then got to bed again. Pize take their frolicks. I thought to have answered your letter.

22. Doctor Gastrel was to see me this morning; he is an eminent divine, one of the canons of Christchurch, and one I love very well: he said, he was glad to find I was not with James Broad. I asked what he meant; Why, says he, have you not seen the Grub street paper, that says Dr. Swift was taken up as author of the Examiner on an action of twenty thousand pounds, and was now at James Broad's? (who, I suppose, is some bailiff.) I knew nothing of this; but at the court of requests twenty people told me they heard I had been taken up. Lord Lansdown observed to the secretary and me, that the whigs spread three lies yesterday[3]; that about me; and another, that Macartney, who was turned out last summer, is again restored to his places in the army; and the third, that Jack Hill's commission for lieutenant of the tower is stopped, and that Cadogan is to continue. Lansdown thinks they have some design by these reports; I cannot guess It. Did I tell you that Sacheverell has desired mightily to come and see me; but I have put it off: he has heard that I have spoken to the secretary in behalf of a brother whom he maintains, and who desires an employment. T'other day at the court of requests Dr. Yalden saluted me by name: Sacheverell, who was just by, came up to me, and made me many acknowledgments and compliments. Last night I desired lord treasurer to do something for that brother of Sacheverell's: he said he never knew he had a brother; but thanked me for telling him, and immediately put his name in his tablebook. I will let Sacheverell know this, that he may take his measures accordingly; but he shall be none of my acquaintance. I dined to day privately with the secretary, left him at six, paid a visit or two, and came home.

23. I dined again to day with the secretary; but could not dispatch some business I had with him, he has so much besides upon his hands at this juncture; and preparing against the great business to morrow, which we are top full of. The minister's design is, that the duke of Marlborough shall be censured as gently as possible, provided his friends will not make head to defend him; but if they do, it may end in some severer votes. A gentleman who was just now with him, tells me he is much cast down, and fallen away; but he is positive, if he has but ten friends in the house, that they shall defend him to the utmost, and endeavour to prevent the least censure upon him; which I think cannot be, since the bribery is manifest: sir Solomon Medina paid him six thousand pounds a year to have the employment of providing bread for the army, and the duke owns it in his letter to the commissioners of accounts. I was to night at lord Masham's; lord Dupplin took out my new little pamphlet, and the secretary read a great deal of it to lord treasurer; they all commended it to the skies, and so did I, and they began a health to the author. But I doubt lord treasurer suspected; for he said, This is Dr. Davenant's style; which is his cant when he suspects me. But I carried the matter very well. Lord treasurer put the pamphlet in his pocket to read at home. I'll answer your letter to morrow.

24. The secretary made me promise to dine with him to day after the parliament was up; I said I would come; but I dined at my usual time; knowing the house would sit late on this great affair. I dined at a tavern with Mr. Domville and another gentleman; I have not done so before these many months. At ten this evening I went to the secretary, but he was not come home; I sat with his lady till twelve, then came away; and he just came as I was gone, and he sent to my lodgings, but I would not go back; and so I know not how things have passed; but hope all is well; and I will tell you to morrow day. It is late, &c.

25. The secretary sent to me this morning to know whether we should dine together; I went to him, and there I learned, that the question went against the duke of Marlborough by a majority of a hundred; so the ministry is mighty well satisfied, and the duke will now be able to do no hurt. The secretary and I and lord Masham, &c. dined with lieutenant general Withers, who is just going to look after the army in Flanders: the secretary and I left them a little after seven, and I am come home, and will now answer your letter, because this goes to morrow: let me see. —— The box at Chester; O, burn that box, and hang that Sterne; I have desired one to inquire for it who went toward Ireland last Monday, but I am in utter despair of it. No, I was not splenetick; you see what plunges the court has been at to set all right again. And that duchess is not out yet, and may one day cause more mischief. Somerset shows all about a letter from the queen, desiring him to let his wife continue with her. Is not that rare! I find Dingley smelled a rat; because the whigs are upish; but if ever I hear that word again, I'll uppish you. I am glad you got your rasp safe and sound; does Stella like her apron? Your criticks about guarantees of succession are puppies; that's an answer to the objection. The answerers here made the same objection, but it is wholly wrong. I am of your opinion, that lord Marlborough is used too hardly: I have often scratched out passages from papers and pamphlets sent me before they were printed; because I thought them too severe. But, he is certainly a vile man, and has no sort of merit beside the military. The Examiners are good for little: I would fain have hindered the severity of the two or three last, but could not. I will either bring your papers over, or leave them with Tooke, for whose honesty I will engage. And I think it is best not to venture them with me at sea. Stella is a prophet, by foretelling so very positively that all would be well. Duke of Ormond speak against peace? No, simpleton: he is one of the stanchest we have for the ministry. Neither trouble yourself about the printer: he appeared the first day of term, and is to appear when summoned again; but nothing else will come of it. Lord chief justice is cooled since this new settlement. No; I will not split my journals in half; I will write but once a fortnight: but you may do as you will; which is, read only half at once, and t'other half next week. So now your letter is answered. (Pox on these blots!) What must I say more? I will set out in March, if there be a fit of fine weather; unless the ministry desire me to stay till the end of the session, which may be a month longer; but I believe they will not: for I suppose the peace will be made, and they will have no farther service for me. I must make my canal fine this summer, as fine as I can. I am afraid I shall see great neglects among my quicksets. I hope the cherry trees on the river walk are fine things now. But no more of this.

26. I forgot to finish this letter this morning, and am come home so late I must give it to the bellman; but I would have it go to night, lest you should think there is any thing in the story of my being arrested in an action of twenty thousand pounds by lord Marlborough, which I hear is in Dyer's letter, and consequently, I suppose, gone to Ireland. Farewell, dearest MD, &c. &c.

  1. It is the last of the page, and written close to the edge of the paper.
  2. Upon the 10th and 17th of this month the Examiner was very severe upon the duke of Marlborough, and in consequence of this report pursued him with great virulence in the following course of his papers. But Swift was not the writer of the Examiner at that period.
  3. These lies are all particularly mentioned by the Examiner, N. 10. dated Feb. 7, 1711-12.