The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 40

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London, Jan. 26, 1711-12.

I HAVE no gilt paper left of this size, so you must be content with plain. Our society dined together to day, for it was put off, as I told you, upon lord Marlborough's business on Thursday. The duke of Ormond dined with us to day, the first time; we were thirteen at table; and lord Lansdown came in after dinner, so that we wanted but three. The secretary proposed the duke of Beaufort, who desires to be one of our society; but I stopped it, because the duke of Ormond doubts a little about it; and he was gone before it was proposed. I left them at seven, and sat this evening with poor Mrs. Wesley, who has been mightily ill to day with a fainting fit: she has often convulsions too; she takes a mixture with asafœtida, which I have now in my nose; and every thing smells of it. I never smelt it before; 'tis abominable. We have eight packets, they say, due from Ireland.

27. I could not see prince Eugene at court to day, the crowd was so great. The whigs contrive to have a crowd always about him, and employ the rabble to give the word, when he sets out from any place. When the duchess of Hamilton came from the queen after church, she whispered me that she was going to pay me a visit: I went to lady Oglethorp's, the place appointed; for ladies always visit me in third places, and she kept me till near four: she talks too much, is a plaguy detractor, and I believe I shall not much like her. I was engaged to dine with lord Masham; they staid as long as they could, yet had almost dined, and were going in anger to pull down the brass peg for my hat, but lady Masham saved it. At eight I went again to lord Masham's; lord treasurer is generally there at night: we sat up till almost two. Lord treasurer has engaged me to contrive some way to keep the archbishop of York from being seduced by lord Nottingham. I will do what I can in it to morrow. 'Tis very late, so I must go sleep.

28. Poor Mrs. Manley the author is very ill of a dropsy and sore leg; the printer tells me he is afraid she cannot live long. I am heartily sorry for her; she has very generous principles for one of her sort; and a great deal of good sense and invention: she is about forty, very homely and very fat. Mrs. Van made me dine with her to day. I was this morning with the duke of Ormond, and the prolocutor, about what lord treasurer spoke to me yesterday; I know not what will be the issue. There is but a slender majority in the house of lords; and we want more. We are sadly mortified at the news of the French taking the town in Brasil from the Portuguese. The sixth edition of three thousand of the Conduct of the Allies is sold, and the printer talks of a seventh; eleven thousand of them have been sold; which is a prodigious run. The little twopenny Letter of Advice to the October Club does not sell; I know not the reason; for it is finely written, I assure you; and, like a true author, I grow fond of it, because it does not sell: you know that is usual to writers, to condemn the judgment of the world: if I had hinted it to be mine, every body would have bought it, but it is a great secret.

29. I borrowed one or two idle books of Contes des Fées[1], and have been reading them these two days, although I have much business upon my hands. I loitered till one at home; then went to Mr. Lewis at his office; and the vice chamberlain told me, that lady Ryalton had yesterday resigned her employment of lady of the bedchamber, and that lady Jane Hyde, lord Rochester's daughter, a mighty pretty girl, is to succeed; he said too, that lady Sunderland would resign in a day or two. I dined with Lewis, and then went to see Mrs. Wesley, who is better to day. But you must know, that Mr. Lewis gave me two letters, one from the bishop of Cloyne, with an enclosed from lord Inchequin to lord treasurer; which he desires I would deliver and recommend. I am told, that lord was much in with lord Wharton, and I remember he was to have been one of the lords justices by his recommendation; yet the bishop recommends him as a great friend to the church, &c. I'll do what I think proper. T'other letter was from little saucy MD, N. 26. O Lord, never saw the like, under a cover too, and by way of journal; we shall never have done. Sirrahs, how durst you write so soon, sirrahs? I won't answer it yet.

30. I was this morning with the secretary, who was sick, and out of humour; he would needs drink champaign some days ago, on purpose to spite me, because I advised him against it, and now he pays for it; Stella used to do such tricks formerly; he put me in mind of her. Lady Sunderland has resigned her place too. It is lady Catherine Hyde that succeeds lady Ryalton; and not lady Jane. Lady Catherine is the late earl of Rochester's daughter. I dined with the secretary, then visited his lady; and sat this evening with lady Masham; the secretary came to us; but lord treasurer did not; he dined with the master of the rolls, and staid late with him. Our society does not meet till to morrow se'nnight, because we think the parliament will be very busy to morrow upon the state of the war; and the secretary, who is to treat as president, must be in the house. I fancy my talking of persons and things here, must be very tedious to you, because you know nothing of them; and I talk as if you did. You know Kevin's street, and Werburgh street, and (what do you call the street where Mrs. Walls lives?) and Ingoldsby, and Higgins, and lord Santry; but what care you for lady Catherine Hyde? why do you say nothing of your health, sirrah? I hope it is well.

31. Trimnel, bishop of Norwich, who was with this lord Sunderland at Moor park in their travels, preached yesterday before the house of lords; and to day the question was put to thank him, and print his sermon; but passed against him; for it was a terrible whig sermon. The bill to repeal the act for naturalizing protestant foreigners, passed the house of lords to day by a majority of twenty, though the Scotch lords went out, and would vote neither way, in discontent about duke Hamilton's patent, if you know any thing of it. A poem is come out to day inscribed to me, by way of a flirt; for it is a whiggish poem, and good for nothing. They plagued me with it in the court of requests. I dined with lord treasurer at five alone, only with one Dutchman. Prior is now a commissioner of the customs. I told you so before, I suppose. When I came home to night, I found a letter from Dr. Sacheverell, thanking me for recommending his brother to lord treasurer and Mr. secretary for a place. Lord treasurer sent to him about it: so good a solicitor was I, although I once hardly thought I should be a solicitor for Sacheverell.

Feb. 1. Has not your dean of St. Patrick received my letter? you say nothing of it, although I writ above a month ago. My printer has got the gout, and I was forced to go to him to day, and there I dined. It was a most delicious day; why don't you observe whether the same days be fine with you? to night at six Dr. Atterbury and Prior, and I, and Dr. Freind, met at Dr. Robert Freind's house at Westminster, who is master of the school: there we sat till one, and were good enough company. I here take leave to tell politick Dingley, that the passage in the Conduct of the Allies is so far from being blamable, that the secretary designs to insist upon it in the house of commons, when the Treaty of Barrier is debated there, as it now shortly will, for they have ordered it to be laid before them. The pamphlet of Advice to the October Club begins now to sell: but I believe its fame will hardly reach Ireland: 'tis finely written, I assure you. I long to answer your letter; but won't yet; you know 'tis late, &c.

2. This ends Christmas; and what care I? 1 have neither seen, nor felt, nor heard any Christmas this year. I passed a lazy dull day: I was this morning with lord treasurer, to get some papers from him, which he will remember as much as a cat, although it be his own business. It threatened rain, but did not much; and Prior and I walked an hour in the park, which quite put me out of my measures. I dined with a friend hard by; and in the evening sat with lord Masham till twelve. Lord treasurer did not come; this is an idle dining day usually with him. We want to hear from Holland how our peace goes on; for we are afraid of those scoundrels the Dutch, lest they should play us tricks. Lord Marr, a Scotch earl, was with us at lord Masham's; I was arguing with him about the stubbornness and folly of his countrymen: they are so angry about the affair of duke Hamilton, whom the queen has made a duke of England, and the house of lords will not admit him: he swears he would vote for us, but dare not; because all Scotland would detest him if he did; he should never be chosen again, nor be able to live there.

3. I was at court to day to look for a dinner; but did not like any that were offered me; and I dined with lord Mountjoy. The queen has the gout in her knee, and was not at chapel. I hear we have a Dutch mail, but I know not what news, although I was with the secretary this morning. He showed me a letter from the Hanover envoy, Mr. Bothmar, complaining that the Barrier Treaty is laid before the house of commons; and desiring that no infringement may be made in the guarantee of the succession; but the secretary has written him a peppering answer. I fancy you understand all this, and are able states-girls, since you have read the Conduct of the Allies. We are all preparing against the birthday, I think it is Wednesday next. If the queen's gout increases, it will spoil sport. Prince Eugene has two fine suits made against it; and the queen is to give him a sword worth four thousand pounds, the diamonds set transparent.

4. I was this morning soliciting at the house of commons' door for Mr. Vesey, a son of the archbishop of Tuam, who has petitioned for a bill to relieve him in some difficulty about his estate; I secured him above fifty members. I dined with lady Masham. We have no packet from Holland, as I was told yesterday: and this wind will hinder many people from appearing at the birthday, who expected clothes from Holland. I appointed to meet a gentleman at the secretary's to night, and they both failed. The house of commons have this day made many severe votes about our being abused by our allies. Those who spoke, drew all their arguments from my book, and their votes confirm all I writ; the court had a majority of a hundred and fifty: all agree, that it was my book that spirited them to these resolutions; I long to see them in print. My head has not been as well as I could wish it for some days past, but I have not had any giddy fit, and I hope it will go over.

5. The secretary turned me out of his room this morning, and showed me fifty guineas rolled up, which he was going to give some French spy. I dined with four Irishmen at a tavern to day; I thought I had resolved against it before, but I broke it. I played at cards this evening at lady Masham's, but I only played for her while she was waiting; and I won her a pool; and supped there. Lord treasurer was with us, but went away before twelve. The ladies and lords have all their clothes ready against to morrow: I saw several mighty fine, and I hope there will be a great appearance, in spite of that spiteful French fashion of the whiggish ladies not to come, which they have all resolved to a woman; and I hope it will more spirit the queen against them for ever.

6. I went to dine at lord Masham's at three, and met all the company just coming out of court; a mighty crowd: they staid long for their coaches: I had an opportunity of seeing several lords and ladies of my acquaintance in their fineries. Lady Asburnham looked the best in my eyes. They say the court was never fuller nor finer. Lord treasurer, his lady, and two daughters, and Mrs. Hill dined with lord and lady Masham; the five ladies were monstrous fine. The queen gave prince Eugene the diamond sword to day; but nobody was by when she gave it, except my lord chamberlain. There was an entertainment of opera songs at night, and the queen was at all the entertainment, and is very well after it. I saw lady Wharton, as ugly as the devil, coming out in the crowd all in an undress; she had been with the Marlborough daughters and lady Bridgwater in St. James's, looking out of the window all undressed to see the sight. I do not hear that one whig lady was there, except those of the bedchamber. Nothing has made so great a noise as one Kelson's chariot, that cost nine hundred and thirty pounds, the finest was ever seen. The rabble huzzaed him as much as they did prince Eugene. This is birthday chat.

7. Our society met to day, the duke of Ormond was not with us; we have lessened our dinners, which were grown so extravagant, that lord treasurer and every body else cried shame. I left them at seven, visited for an hour, and then came home, like a good boy. The queen is much better after yesterday's exercise: her friends wish she would use a little more. I opposed lord Jersey's election into our society, and he is refused: I likewise opposed the duke of Beaufort; but I believe he will be chosen in spite of me: I don't much care: I shall not be with them above two months; for I resolve to set out for Ireland the beginning of April next (before I treat them again) and see my willows.

8. I dined to day in the city; this morning a scoundrel dog, one of the queen's musick, a German, whom I had never seen, got access to me in my chamber by Patrick's folly, and gravely desired me to get an employment in the customs for a friend of his, who would be very grateful; and likewise to forward a project of his own, for raising ten thousand pounds a year upon operas: I used him civiller than he deserved; but it vexed me to the pluck. He was told, I had a mighty interest with lord treasurer, and one word of mine, &c. —— Well; I got home early on purpose to answer MD's letter, N. 26; for this goes to morrow. Well; I never saw such a letter in all my life; so saucy, so journalish, so sanguine, so pretending, so every thing. I satisfied all your fears in my last; all is gone well, as you say; yet you are an impudent slut to be so positive; you will swagger so upon your sagacity that we shall never have done. Pray don't mislay your reply; I would certainly print it, if I had it here: how long is it? I suppose half a sheet: was the answer written in Ireland? yes, yes, you shall have a letter when you come from Baligall[2]. I need not tell you again who's out and who's in: we can never get out the duchess of Somerset. So, they say Presto writ the Conduct, &c. do they like it? I don't care whether they do or no; but the Resolutions printed t'other day in the Votes, are almost quotations from it, and would never have passed, if that book had not been written. I will not meddle with the Spectator, let him fair-sex it to the world's end. My disorder is over, but blood was not from the ples. —— Well, madam Dingley, the frost; why we had a great frost, but I forget how long ago; it lasted above a week or ten days: I believe about six weeks ago; but it did not break so soon with us I think as December 29; yet I think it was about that time, on second thoughts. MD can have no letter from Presto, says you, and yet four days before you own you had my thirty-seventh, unreasonable sluts! The bishop of Gloucester is not dead, and I am as likely to succeed the duke of Marlborough as him if he were; there's enough for that now. It is not unlikely that the duke of Shrewsbury will be your governor; at least I believe the duke of Ormond will not return. Well, Stella again: why really three editions of the Conduct, &c. is very much for Ireland; it is a sign you have some honest among you. Well; I will do Mr. Manley all the service I can: but he will ruin himself. What business had he to engage at all about the city? can't he wish his cause well, and be quiet, when he finds that stirring will do it no good, and himself a great deal of hurt; I cannot imagine who should open my letter; it must be done at your side. If I hear of any thoughts of turning out Mr. Manley, I will endeavour to prevent it. I have already had all the gentlemen of Ireland here upon my back often, for defending him. So now I have answered your saucy letter. My humble service to goody Stoyte and Catherine; I will come soon for my dinner.

9. Morning. My cold goes off at last; but I think I have got a small new one. I have no news since last. They say we hear by the way of Calais, that peace is very near concluding, I hope it may be true. I'll go and seal up my letter, and give it myself to night into the postoffice; and so I bid my dearest MD farewell till to night. I heartily wish myself with them, as hope saved. My willows and quicksets, and trees will be finely improved, I hope, this year. It has been fine hard frosty weather yesterday and to day. Farewell, &c. &c. &c.

  1. Tales of the Fairies.
  2. A village near Dublin.