The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 56

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London, Dec. 12, 1712.

HERE is now a strange thing; a letter from MD unanswered: never was before. I am slower, and MD is faster: but the last was owing to DD's certificate. Why could it not be sent before, pray now? Is it so hard for DD to prove she is alive? I protest solemnly I am not able to write to MD for other business, but I will renew my journal method next time. I find it is easier, though it contains nothing but where I dine, and the occurrences of the day. I will write now but once in three weeks, till this business is off my hands, which must be in six, I think, at farthest. O! Ppt, I remember your reprimanding me for meddling in other people's affairs: I have enough of it now with a vengeance. Two women have been here six times apiece; I never saw them yet. The first I have dispatched with a letter; the other I must see, and tell her I can do nothing for her: she is wife of one Mr. Connor, an old college acquaintance, and comes on a foolish errand, for some old pretensions, that will succeed when I am lord treasurer. I am got up two pair of stairs in a private lodging, and have ordered all my friends not to discover where I am; yet every morning two or three sets are plaguing me, and my present servant has not yet his lesson perfect of denying me. I have written a hundred and thirty pages in folio to be printed, and must write thirty more, which will make a large book of four shillings[1]. I wish I knew an opportunity of sending you some snuff. I will watch who goes to Ireland, and do it if possible. I had a letter from Parvisol, and find he has set my livings very low. Colonel Hamilton, who was second to duke Hamilton, is tried to day. I suppose he is come off, but have not heard. I dined with lord treasurer, but left him by nine, and visited some people. Lady Betty his daughter will be married on Monday next (as I suppose) to the marquis of Caermarthen. I did not know your country place had been Portraine[2] till you told me so in your last. Has Swanton taken it of Wallis? That Wallis was a grave, wise coxcomb. God be thanked that Ppt is better of her disorders. God keep her so. The pamphlet of Political Lying is written by Dr. Arbuthnot, the author of John Bull; 'tis very pretty, but not so obvious to be understood. Higgins, first chaplain to duke Hamilton? Why, duke Hamilton never dreamt of a chaplain, nor I believe ever heard of Higgins. You are glorious newsmongers in Ireland Dean Francis, sir Richard Levinge, stuff, stuff: and Pratt, more stuff. We have lost our fine frost here; and Abel Roper tells me you have had floods in Dublin; ho, have you? Oh ho! Swanton seized Portraine, now I understand you. Ay, ay, now I see Portraine at the top of your letter. I never minded it before. Nor to your second, N. 36. So, you read one of the Grub streets about the bandbox. The whig papers have abused me about the bandbox. God help me, what could I do? I fairly ventured my life. There is a particular account of it in the Post Boy, and Evening Post of that day. Lord treasurer has had the seal sent him that sealed the box, and directions where to find the other pistol in a tree in St. James's park, which lord Bolingbroke's messenger found accordingly; but who sent the present is not yet known. Duke Hamilton avoided the quarrel as much as possible, according to the foppish rules of honour in practice. What signified your writing angry to Filby? I hope you said nothing of hearing any thing from me. Heigh! do you write by candlelight! naughty, naughty, naughty, dallah, a hundred times, for doing so. O, faith, DD, I'll take care of myself! The queen is in town, and lady Masham's month of lying in is within two days of being out. I was at the christening on Monday. I could not get the child named Robin after lord treasurer; it is Samuel, after the father. My brother Ormond sent me some chocolate to day. I wish you had share of it: they say it is good for me, and I design to drink some in the morning. Our society meets next Thursday, now the queen is in town; and lord treasurer assures me, that the society for reforming the language shall soon be established. I have given away ten shillings to day to servants. What a stir is here about your company and visits! Charming company, no doubt; now I keep no company, nor have I any desire to keep any. I never go to a coffeehouse nor a tavern, nor have touched a card since I left Windsor. I make few visits, nor go to levees; my only debauch is sitting late where I dine, if I like the company. I have almost dropped the duchesses of Shrewsbury and Hamilton, and several others. Lord treasurer, the duke of Ormond, and lady Orkney, are all that I see very often. O yes, and lady Masham and lord Bolingbroke, and one or two private friends. I make no figure but at court, where I affect to turn from a lord to the meanest of my acquaintance, and I love to go there on Sundays to see the world. But, to say the truth, I am growing weary of it. I dislike a million of things in the course of publick affairs; and if I were to stay here much longer, I am sure I should ruin myself with endeavouring to mend them. I am every day invited into schemes of doing this, but I cannot find any, that will probably succeed. It is impossible to save people against their own will; and I have been too much engaged in patchwork already. Do you understand all this stuff? No. Well, then, you are now returned to ombre and the dean, and Christmas; I wish you a very merry one; and pray don't lose your money, nor play upon Watt Welch's game. Night, sirrahs, it is late, I'll go to sleep; I don't sleep well, and therefore never dare to drink coffee or tea after dinner: but I am very sleepy in a morning. This is the effect of wine and years. Night, dearest MD.

13, Morning. I am so very sleepy in the morning, that my man wakens me above ten times; and now I can tell you no news of this day. (Here is a restless dog, crying cabbages and savoys, plagues me every morning about this time; he is now at it. I wish his largest cabbage were sticking in his throat.) I lodge over against the house in Little Rider street, where DD lodged. Don't you remember, mistress? To night I must see the abbe Gautier, to get some particulars for my history. It was he, who was first employed by France in the overtures of peace, and I have not had time this month to see him; he is but a puppy too. Lady Orkney has just sent to invite me to dinner; she has not given me the bed nightgown; besides, I am come very much off from writing in bed, though I am doing it this minute; but I stay till my fire is burnt up. My grate is very large; two bushels of coals in a week: but I save it in lodgings. Lord Abercorn is come to London, and he will plague me, and I can do him no service. The duke of Shrewsbury goes in a day or two for France, perhaps to day. We shall have a peace very soon; the Dutch are almost entirely agreed, and if they stop, we shall make it without them; that has been resolved. One squire Jones, a scoundrel in my parish, has writ to me, to desire I would engage Joe Beaumont to give him his interest for parliament man for him: pray tell Joe this; and if he designed to vote for him already, then he may tell Jones, that I received his letter, and that I writ to Joe to do it. If Joe be engaged for any other, then he may do what he will: and Parvisol may say he spoke to Joe, and Joe is engaged, &c. I received three pair of fine thread stockings from Joe lately. Pray thank him when you see him; and that I say they are very fine and good. (I never looked at them yet, but that's no matter.) This is a fine day. I am ruined with coaches and chairs this twelvepenny weather. I must see my brother Ormond at eleven, and then the duchess of Hamilton, with whom I doubt I am in disgrace, not having seen her these ten days. I send this to day, and must finish it now; and perhaps some people may come and hinder me; for it is ten o'clock (but not shaving day); and I must be abroad at eleven. Abbe Gautier sends me word I cannot see him to night; p take him! I don't value any thing but one letter he has of Petecum's showing the roguery of the Dutch. Did not the Conduct of the Allies make you great politicians? Faith, I believe, you are not quite so ignorant as I thought you. I am glad to hear you walked so much in the country. Does DD ever read to you, young woman? O, faith, I shall find strange doings when I come home! Here is somebody coming that I must see that wants a little place; the son of cousin Rooke's eldest daughter, that died many years ago. He is here. Farewell, dearest MD, FW, Me, Lele.

  1. This seems to be his History of the Peace of Utrecht, not published till after his death.
  2. Or Portraen, about seven miles from Dublin.