The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 41

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London, Feb. 9, 1711-12.

WHEN my letter is gone, and I have none of yours to answer, my conscience is so clear, and my shoulder so light, and I go on with such courage to prate upon nothing to dear charming MD you would wonder. I dined to day with sir Matthew Dudley, who is newly turned out of the commission of the customs. He affects a good heart, and talks in the extremity of whiggery, which was always his principle, though he was gentle a little, while he kept in employment. We can get no packets from Holland. I have not been with any of the ministry these two or three days. I keep out of their way on purpose, for a certain reason, for some time, though I must dine with the secretary[2] to morrow, the choosing of the company being left to me. I have engaged lord Anglesey and lord Carteret, and have promised to get three more; but I have a mind that none else should be admitted. However, if I like any body at court to morrow, I may perhaps invite them. I have got another cold, but not very bad.******

10. I saw prince Eugene at court to day very plain. He is plaguy yellow, and literally ugly besides. The court was very full, and people had their birthday clothes. I was to have invited five; but I only invited two, lord Anglesey and lord Carteret. Pshaw, I told you but yesterday. We have no packets from Holland yet. Here are a parcel of drunken whiggish lords, like your lord Santry, who come into chocolatehouses, and rail aloud at the tories, and have challenges sent them, and the next morning come and beg pardon. General Ross[3] was like to swinge the marquis of Winchester for this trick, the other day; and we have nothing else now to talk of till the parliament has had another bout with the state of the war, as they intend in a few days. They have ordered the Barrier Treaty to be laid before them; and it was talked some time ago, as if there was a design to impeach lord Townshend, who made it. I have no more politicks now. Night, dear MD.

11. I dined with lord Anglesey to day, who had seven Irishmen to be my companions, of which two only were coxcombs. One I did not know, and the other was young Bligh, who is a puppy of figure here, with a fine chariot. He asked me one day at court, when I had just been talking with some lords, who stood near me, doctor, when shall we see you in the county of Meath? I whispered him to take care what he said, for the people would think he was some barbarian. He never would speak to me since, till we met to day. I went to lady Masham's to night, and sat with lord treasurer and the secretary there till past two o'clock; and when I came home, found some letters from Ireland, which I read, but can say nothing of them till to morrow, it is so very late; but I must always be, late or early, MD's, &c.

12. One letter was from the bishop of Clogher last night, and the other from Walls[4], about Mrs. South's[5] salary, and his own pension of eighteen pounds for his tithes of the park. I will do nothing in either. The first I cannot serve in, and the other is a trifle; only you may tell him I had his letter,, and will speak to Ned Southwell about what he desires me. You say nothing of your dean's receiving my letter.

I find, Clements, whom I recommended to lord Anglesey[6] last year, at Walls' desire, or rather the bishop of Clogher's, is mightily in lord Anglesey's favour. You may tell the bishop and Walls so. I said to lord Anglesey, that I was glad I had the good luck to recommend him, &c.

I dined in the city with my printer, to consult with him about some papers lord treasurer gave me last night, as he always does, too late. However, I will do something with them. My third cold is a little better, I never had any thing like it before, three colds successively; I hope I shall have the fourth. ****Three messengers come from Holland to day, and they brought over the six packets that were due. I know not the particulars yet for when I was with the secretary at noon, they were just opening. But one thing I find, the Dutch are playing us tricks, and tampering with the French; they are dogs; I shall know more[7]. *****

13. I dined to day privately with my friend Lewis, at his lodgings, to consult about some observations on the Barrier Treaty. Our news from Holland is not good. The French raise difficulties, and make such offers to the allies as cannot be accepted: and the Dutch are uneasy that we are likely to get any thing for ourselves; and the whigs are glad at all this. I came home early, and have been very busy three or four hours. I had a letter from Dr. Pratt to day by a private hand, recommending the bearer to me, for something I shall not trouble myself about. Wesley writ to recommend the same fellow to me. His expression is, that hearing I am acquainted with my lord treasurer, he desires I would do so and so. A matter of nothing. What puppies are mankind! I hope I shall be wiser when I have once done with courts. I think you have not troubled me much with your recommendations. I would do you all the service I could. Pray have you got your apron, Mrs. Ppt? I paid for it but yesterday; that puts me in mind of it. I writ an inventory of what things I sent by Leigh in one of my letters. Did you compare it with what you got? I hear nothing of your cards now: do you never play; yes, at Baligall. Go to bed. ***** Night, dearest MD.

14. Our society dined to day at Mr. secretary's house. I went there at four; but hearing the house of commons would sit late upon the Barrier Treaty, I went for an hour to Kensington, to see lord Masham's children. My young nephew[8], his son of six months old, has got a swelling in his neck. I fear it is the evil. We did not go to dinner till eight at night, and I left them at ten. The commons have been very severe on the Barrier Treaty, as you will find by their votes. A whig member took out the Conduct of the Allies, and read that passage about the succession with great resentment; but none seconded him. The church party carried every vote by a great majority. The archbishop of Dublin is so railed at by all who come from Ireland, that I can defend him no longer. Lord Anglesey assured me, that the story of applying Piso out of Tacitus to lord treasurer being wounded is true. I believe the duke of Beaufort will be admitted to our society next meeting. To day I published the Fable of Midas, a poem, printed in a loose half sheet of paper. I know not how it will take; but it passed wonderfully at our society to night; and Mr. secretary read it before me the other night, to lord treasurer, at lord Masham's, where they equally approved of it. Tell me how it passes with you? I think this paper is larger than ordinary; for here is a six day's journal, and no nearer the bottom. I fear these journals are very dull. Note my dullest lines.

15. Mr. Lewis and I dined by invitation with a Scotch acquaintance, after I had been very busy in my chamber, till two in the afternoon. My third cold is now very troublesome on my breast, especially in the morning. This is a great revolution in my health; colds never used to return so soon with me, or last so long. It is very surprising this news to day of the dauphin and dauphiness, both dying within six days. They say the old king is almost heartbroke: he has had prodigious mortifications in his family. The dauphin has left two little sons, of four and two years old; the eldest is sick. There is a foolish story got about the town, that lord Strafford, one of our plenipotentiaries, is in the interest of France: and it has been a good while said, that lord privy seal[9] and he do not agree very well; they are both long practised in business, but neither of them of much parts. Strafford has some life and spirit; but is infinitely proud, and wholly illiterate.**** Night MD.

16. I dined to day in the city with my printer, to finish something I am doing about the Barrier Treaty but it is not quite done[10]. I went this evening to lord Masham's, where lord treasurer sat with us till past twelve. The lords have voted an address to the queen, to tell her they are not satisfied with the king of France's offers. The whigs brought it in of a sudden; and the court could not prevent it, and therefore did not oppose it. The house of lords is too strong in whigs, notwithstanding the new creations: for they are very diligent, and the tories as lazy: the side that is down has always most industry. The whigs intended to have made a vote, that would reflect on lord treasurer; but their project was not ripe. I hit my face such a rap by calling the coach to stop to night, that it is plaguy sore, the bone beneath the eye. Night, dearest MD.

17. The court was mighty full to day, and has been these many Sundays; but the queen was not at chapel. She has got a little fit of the gout in her foot. The good of going to court is, that one sees all one's acquaintance, whom otherwise I should hardly meet twice a year. Prince Eugene dines with the secretary to day, with about seven or eight general officers, or foreign ministers. They will be all drunk, 1 am sure. I never was in company with this prince. I have proposed to some lords, that we should have a sober meal with him; but I cannot compass it. It is come over in the Dutch new prints, that I was arrested on an action of 20000l. by the duke of Marlborough. I did not like my court invitations to day; so sir Andrew Fountaine and I went and dined with Mrs. Vanhomrigh. I came home at six, and have been very busy till this minute, and it is past twelve, so I got into bed to write to MD. We reckon the dauphin's death will set forward the peace a good deal. Pray, is Dr. Griffith reconciled to me yet? Have I done enough to soften him? ****

18. Lewis had Guiscard's picture; he bought it, and offered it to lord treasurer, who promised to send for it, but never did; so I made Lewis give it me, and I have it in my room; and now lord treasurer says, he will take it from me. Is that fair? he designs to have it in length in the clothes he wore when he did the action, and a penknife in his hand; and Kneller is to copy it from this that I have. I intended to dine with lord treasurer to day, but he has put me off till to morrow; so I dined with lord Dupplin. You know lord Dupplin very well; he is a brother of the society. Well, but I have received a letter from the bishop of Clogher, to solicit an affair for him with lord treasurer, and with the parliament, which I will do as soon as fly. I am not near so keen about other people's affairs as Ppt used to reproach me about. It was a judgment on me. Hearkee, idle dearees both, methinks I begin to want a letter from MD: faith, and so I do. I doubt you have been in pain about the report of my being arrested. The pamphleteers have let me alone this month, which is a great wonder: only the third part of the answer to the Conduct, which is lately come out. (Did I tell you of it already?) The house of commons goes on in mauling the late ministry and their proceedings.

19. I dined with lord treasurer to day, and sat with him till ten in spite of my teeth, though my printer waited for me to correct a sheet. I told him of four lines I writ extempore with my pencil, on a bit of paper in his house, while he lay wounded. Some of the servants, I suppose, made waste paper of them, and he never heard of them. They were inscribed to Mr. Harley's physician thus:

On Britain Europe's safety lies;
Britain is lost, if Harley dies:
Harley depends upon your skill:
Think what you save, or what you kill.

I proposed that some company should dine with him on the eighth of March, which was the day he was wounded; but he says he designs that the lords of the cabinet, who then sate with him, should dine that day with him: however, he has invited me to dine. I am not yet rid of my cold; it plagues me in the morning chiefly. Night, MD.

20. After waiting to catch the secretary coming out from sir Thomas Hanmer, for two hours in vain, about some business, I went into the city to my printer, to correct some sheets of the Barrier Treaty, and Remarks, which must be finished to morrow. I have been terribly busy for some days past, with this and some other things; and I wanted some very necessary papers, which the secretary was to give me, and the pamphlet must not be published without them; but they are all busy too. Sir Thomas Hanmer is chairman of the committee, for drawing up a representation of the state of the nation to the queen, where all the wrong steps of the allies and late ministry about the war, will be mentioned. The secretary, I suppose, was helping him about it to day; I believe it will be a pepperer. Night, dear MD.

21. I have been six hours to day morning writing nineteen pages of a letter to lord treasurer, about forming a society or academy, to correct and fix the English language. (Is English a speech, or a language?) It will not be above five or six more. I will send it him to morrow, and will print it, if he desires me. I dined, you know, with our society to day; Thursday is our day. We had a new member admitted; it was the duke of Beaufort. We were thirteen met; brother Ormond was not there, but sent his excuse, that prince Eugene dined with him. I left them at seven, being engaged to go to sir Thomas Hanmer, who desired I would see him at that hour. His business was, that I would hoenlbp ihainm itaoi dsroanws ubpl tohne sroeqporaensiepnotlastoiqobn[11], which I consented to do; but do not know whether I shall succeed, because it is a little out of my way: however, I have taken my share. Night, MD.

22. I finished the rest of my letter to lord treasurer to day, and sent it to him about one o'clock; and then dined privately with my friend Mr. Lewis, to talk over some affairs of moment. I have gotten the 13th volume of Rymer's Collection of the Records of the Tower, for the university of Dublin. I have two volumes now. I will write to the provost, to know how I shall send them to him; no, I won't, for I will bring them myself among my own books. I was with Hanmer this morning, and there was the secretary and chancellor of the exchequer[12] very busy with him, laying their heads together about the representation. I went to lord Masham's to night, and lady Masham made me read her a pretty twopenny pamphlet, called the St. Alban's Ghost[13]. I thought I had writ it myself; so did they; but I did not. Lord treasurer came down to us from the queen, and we staid till two o'clock. That is the best night place I have. The usual company are lord and lady Masham, lord treasurer, Dr. Arbuthnot, and I; sometimes the secretary[14], and sometimes Mrs. Hill of the bedchamber, lady Masham's sister. I assure you, it is very late now; but this goes to morrow: and I must have time to converse with our little MD. Night, dear MD.

23. I have no news to tell you this last day, nor do I know where I shall dine. I hear the secretary is a little out of order. Perhaps I may dine there, perhaps not. I sent Hanmer what he wanted from me. I know not how he will approve of it. I was to do more of the same sort. I am going out, and must carry this in my pocket to give it at some general posthouse. I will talk farther with you at night. I suppose in my next I shall answer a letter from MD that will be sent me on Tuesday. On Tuesday it will be four weeks since I had your last. No. 26. This day se'nnight I expect one, for that will be something more than a full month. Farewell, MD.

  1. Endorsed, 9 Feb. to 23, inclusive; received March 1.
  2. St. John.
  3. Charles Ross, esq., appointed lieutenant general of the horse under the duke of Ormond in Flanders, April 5, 1712.
  4. Archdeacon Walls, rector of Castleknock.
  5. Widow of Mr. South, a commissioner of the revenue in Ireland, and one of the rangers of the Phœnix park.
  6. Secretary of state for Ireland.
  7. A few words are here erased in the original letter; which is the case wherever asterisks are printed.
  8. Lord Masham was one of the sixteen brothers; which accounts for Swift's calling his son nephew.
  9. Dr John Robinson, bishop of Bristol.
  10. It was published under the title of, "Remarks on the Barrier Treaty."
  11. Thus deciphered, "help him to draw up the representation."
  12. Robert Benson, esq., afterward created lord Bingley.
  13. The title is, "The Story of St. Alban's Ghost; or the Apparition of Mother Haggy, collated from the best Manuscripts."
  14. Mr. St. John.