The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 61

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LETTER LXI.


London, March 1, 1712-13.


IT is out of my head whether I answered all your letter in my last yesterday or no. I think I was in haste, and could not: but now I see I answered a good deal of it; no, only about your brother, and Me's bill. I dined with lady Orkney, and we talked politicks till eleven at night; and, as usual, found every thing wrong, and put ourselves out of humour. Yes, I have lady Giffard's picture sent me by your mother. It is box'd up at a place where my other things are. I have goods in two or three places; and when I leave a lodging, I box up the books I get (for I always get some) and come naked into a new lodging; and so on. Talk not to me of deaneries; I know less of that than ever by much. Night, MD.

2. I went into the city to see Pat Rolt, who lodges with a city cousin, a daughter of cousin Cleve; (you are much the wiser), I had never been at her house before. My he-cousin Thomson the butcher is dead, or dying. I dined with my printer, and walked home, and went to sit with lady Clarges. I found four of them at whist; lady Godolphin was one. I sat by her, and talked of her cards, &c.; but she would not give one look, nor say a word to me. She refused some time ago to be acquainted with me. You know she is lord Marlborough's eldest daughter. She is a fool for her pains, and I'll pull her down. What can I do for Dr. Smith's daughter's husband? I have no personal credit with any of the commissioners. I will speak to Keatley; but I believe it will signify nothing. In the customs people must rise by degrees, and he must at first take what is very low, if he be qualified for that. Ppt mistakes me; I am not angry at your recommending any one to me, provided you will take my answer. Some things are in my way, and then I serve those I can. But people will not distinguish, but take things ill, when I have no power; but Ppt is wiser. And employments in general are very hard to be got. Night, MD.

3. I dined to day with lord treasurer, who chid me for my absence, which was only from Saturday last. The parliament was again prorogued for a week, and I suppose the peace will be ready by then, and the queen will be able to be brought to the house, and make her speech. I saw Dr. Griffith two or three months ago, at a Latin play at Westminster; but did not speak to him. I hope he will not die; I should be sorry for Ppt's sake; he is very tender of her. I have long lost all my colds, and the weather mends a little. I take some steel drops, and my head is pretty well. I walk when I can, but am grown very idle; and, not finishing my thing, I ramble abroad, and play at ombre. I shall be more careful in my physick than Mrs. Price: 'tis not a farthing matter her death, I think; and so I say no more to night, but will read a dull book, and go sleep. Night, dear MD.

4. Mr. Ford has been this half year inviting me to dine at his lodgings: so I did to day, and brought the provost and Dr. Parnell with me, and my friend Lewis was there. Parnell went away, and the other three played at ombre, and I looked on; which I love, and would not play. Tisdall is a pretty fellow, as you say, and when I come back to Ireland with nothing, he will condole with me with abundance of secret pleasure. I believe I told you what he wrote to me, "That I have saved England and he Ireland:" but I can bear that. I have learned to hear and see, and say nothing. I was to see the duchess of Hamilton to day, and met Blith of Ireland just going out of her house into his coach. I asked her how she came to receive young fellows. It seems he had a ball in the duke of Hamilton's house when the duke died; and the duchess got an advertisement put in the Postboy, reflecting on the ball, because the Marlborough daughters were there; and Blith came to beg the duchess's pardon, and clear himself. He is a sad dog. Night, dear MD.

5. Lady Masham has miscarried; but is almost well again. I have paid many visits to day. I met Blith at the duke of Ormond's; and he begged me to carry him to the duchess of Hamilton, to beg her pardon again. I did on purpose to see how the blunderbuss behaved himself; but I begged the duchess to use him mercifully, for she is the devil of a teaser. The good of it is, she ought to beg his pardon, for he meant no harm; yet she would not allow him to put in an advertisement to clear himself from hers, though hers was all a lie. He appealed to me, and I gravely gave it against him. I was at court to day, and the foreign ministers have got a trick of employing me to speak for them to lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke; which I do when the case is reasonable. The college need not fear; I will not be their governor. I dined with sir Thomas Hanmer and his duchess. The duke of Ormond was there, but we parted soon, and I went to visit lord Pembroke for the first time; but it was to see some curious books. Lord Cholmondeley came in: but I would not talk to him, though he made many advances. I hate the scoundrel for all he is your Griffith's friend. Yes, yes, I am abused enough, if that be all. Night, MD.

6. I was to day at an auction of pictures with Pratt, and laid out two pounds five shillings for a picture of Titian, and if it were a Titian, it would be worth twice as many pounds. If I am cheated, I'll part with it to lord Masham: if it be a bargain, I'll keep it to myself. That's my conscience. But I made Pratt buy several pictures for lord Masham. Pratt is a great virtuoso that way. I dined with lord treasurer, but made him go to court at eight. I always tease him to be gone. I thought to have made Parnell dine with him, but he was ill; his head is out of order like mine, but more constant, poor boy! I was at lord treasurer's levee with the provost, to ask a book for the college. I never go to his levee, unless it be to present somebody.

7. Yes, I hope Leigh will soon be gone, a p on him! I met him once, and he talked gravely to me of not seeing the Irish bishops here, and the Irish gentlemen; but I believe my answers fretted him enough. I would not dine with lord treasurer to day, though it was Saturday (for he has engaged me for to morrow); but went and dined with lord Masham, and played at ombre, sixpenny running ombre, for three hours. There were three voles against me, and I was once a great loser, but came off for three shillings and sixpence. One may easily lose five guineas at it. Lady Orkney is gone out of town to day, and I I could not see her for laziness, but wrote to her. She has left me some physick. I knew MD's politicks before, and I think it pretty extraordinary, and a great compliment to you, and I believe never three people conversed so much with so little politicks. I avoid all conversation with the other party; it is not to be born, and I am sorry for it. O yes, things are very dear. DD must come in at last with her two eggs a penny. There the provost was well applied. Parvisol has sent me a bill of fifty pounds, as I ordered him, which, I hope, will serve me, and bring me over. Pray God MD does not be delayed for it; but I have had very little from him this long time. I was not at court to day; a wonder! Night, dear MD. Love Pdfr.

8. You must know, I give chocolate almost every day to two or three people that I suffer to come to see me in a morning. My man begins to lie pretty well. 'Tis nothing for people to be denied ten times. My man knows all I will see, and denies me to every body else. This is the day of the queen's coming to the crown, and the day lord treasurer was stabbed by Guiscard. I was at court, where every body had their birthday clothes on, and I dined with lord treasurer, who was very fine. He showed me some of the queen's speech, which I corrected in several places, and penned the vote of address of thanks for the speech; but I was of opinion the house should not sit on Tuesday next, unless they hear the peace is signed; that is, provided they are sure it will be signed the week after, and so have one scolding for all. Night, MD.

9. Lord treasurer would have had me dine with him to day; he desired me last night, but I refused, because he would not keep the day of his stabbing with all the cabinet, as he intended: so I dined with my friend Lewis; and the provost, and Parnell, and Ford, were with us. I lost sixteen shillings at ombre; I don't like it. At night Lewis brought us word, that the parliament does not sit to morrow. I hope they are sure of the peace by next week, and then they are right, in my opinion: otherwise I think they have done wrong, and might have sat three weeks ago. People will grumble but lord treasurer cares not a rush. Lord keeper is suddenly taken ill of a quinsy, and some lords are commissioned, I think lord treasurer, to prorogue the parliament in his stead. You never saw a town so full of ferment and expectation. Mr. Pope has published a fine poem, called Windsor Forest, Read it. Night, MD.

10. I was early this morning to see lord Bolingbroke. I find he was of opinion the parliament should sit; and says, they are not sure the peace will be signed next week. The prorogation is to this day sennight. I went to look on a library I am going to buy, if we can agree. I have offered a hundred and twenty pounds, and will give ten pounds more. Lord Bolingbroke will lend me the money. I was two hours poring over the books. I will sell some of them, and keep the rest; but I doubt they won't take the money. I dined in the city, and sate an hour in the evening with lord treasurer, who was in very good humour; but reproached me for not dining with him yesterday and to day. What will all this come to? Lord keeper had a pretty good night, and is better. I was in pain for him. **** Night, MD.

11. I was this morning to visit the duke and duchess of Ormond, and the duchess of Hamilton, and went with the provost to an auction of pictures, and laid out fourteen shillings. I am in for it, if I had money; but I doubt I shall be undone; for sir Andrew Fountaine invited the provost and me to dine with him, and play at ombre, when I fairly lost fourteen shillings. It won't do; and I shall be out of conceit with play this good while. I am come home; and it is late, and my puppy let out my fire, and I am gone to bed, and writing there, and it is past twelve a good while. Went out four matadores and a trump in black, and yet was beasted. Very sad, faith! Night, my dear rogues, MD.

12. I was at another auction of pictures to day, and a great auction it was. I made lord Masham lay out forty pounds. There were pictures sold of twice as much value apiece. Our society met to day at the duke of Beaufort's: a prodigious fine dinner, which I hate; but we did some business. Our printer was to attend us, as usual; and the chancellor of the exchequer[1] sent the author of the Examiner[2] twenty guineas. He is an ingenious fellow, but the most confounded vain coxcomb in the world, so that I dare not let him see me, nor am acquainted with him. I had much discourse with the duke of Ormond this morning, and am driving some points, to secure *****. I left the society at seven. I can't drink now at all with any pleasure. I love white Portugal wine better than claret, champaign, or burgundy. I have a sad vulgar appetite. I remember Ppt used to maunder, when I came from a great dinner, and DD had but a bit of mutton. I cannot endure above one dish; nor ever could since I was a boy, and loved stuffing. It was a fine day, which is a rarity with us, I assure you. Never fair two days together. Night, dear MD.

13. I had a rabble of Irish parsons this morning drinking my chocolate. I cannot remember appointments. I was to have supped last night with the Swedish envoy at his house, and some other company; but forgot it, and he rallied me to day at lord Bolingbroke's, who excused me, saying, the envoy ought not to be angry, because I serve lord treasurer and him the same way. For that reason, I very seldom promise to go any where. I dined with lord treasurer, who chid me for being absent so long, as he always does if I miss a day. I sat three hours this evening with lady Jersey; but the first two hours she was at ombre with some company. I left lord treasurer at eight; I fancied he was a little thoughtful, for he was playing with an orange by fits, which I told him, among common men, looked like the spleen. This letter shall not go to morrow: no haste, young women; nothing that presses. I promised but once in three weeks, and I am better than my word. I wish the peace may be ready, I mean that we have notice it is signed, before Tuesday; otherwise the grumbling will much increase. Night, dear MD.

14. It was a lovely day this, and I took the advantage of walking a good deal in the park, before I went to court. Colonel Disney, one of our society, is ill of a fever, and, we fear, in great danger. We all love him mightily, and he would be a great less. I doubt I shall not buy the library; for a roguish bookseller has offered sixty pounds more than I designed to give; so you see I meant to have a good bargain. I dined with lord treasurer and his Saturday company; but there were but seven at table. Lord Peterborow is ill, and spits blood, with a bruise he got before he left England; but, I believe, an w:Italy:Italian lady he has brought over is the cause that his illness returns. You know old lady Bellasis is dead at last? She has left lord Berkeley of Stratton one of her executors, and it will be of great advantage to him; they say above ten thousand pounds. I staid with lord treasurer upon business, after the company was gone; but I dare not tell you upon what. My letters would be good memoirs, if I durst venture to say a thousand things that pass; but I hear so much of letters opening at your postoffice, that I am fearful, &c. and so good night. Love Pdfr and MD.

15. Lord treasurer engaged me to dine with him again to day, and I had ready what he wanted; but he would not see it, but put me off till to morrow. The queen goes to chapel now. She is carried in an open chair, and will be well enough to go to parliament on Tuesday, if the houses meet, which is not yet certain; neither, indeed, can the ministers themselves tell; for it depends on winds and weather, and circumstances of negotiation. However, we go on as if it was certainly to meet; and I am to be at lord treasurer's to morrow, upon that supposition, to settle some things relating that way. Ppt may understand me. The doctors tell me, that if poor colonel Disney does not get some sleep to night, he must die. What care you? Ah! but I do care. He is one of our society; a fellow of abundance of humour; an old battered rake; but very honest: not an old man, but an old rake. It was he that said of Jenny Kingdom, the maid of honour, who is a little old, "that, since she could not get a husband, the queen should give her a brevet to act as a married woman." You don't understand this. They give brevets to majors and captains, to act as colonels in the army. Brevets are commissions. Ask soldiers, dear sirrahs. Night, MD.

16. I was at lord treasurer's before he came; and, as he entered, he told me, the parliament was prorogued till Thursday sennight. They have had some expresses, by which they count that the peace may be signed by that time; at least that France, Holland, and we will sign some articles, by which we shall engage to sign the peace when it is ready: but Spain has no minister there; for Monteleon, who is to be their ambassador at Utrecht, is not yet gone from hence; and till he is there, the Spaniards can sign no peace: and one thing take notice, that a general peace can hardly be finished these two months, so as to be proclaimed here; for, after signing, it must be ratified; that is, confirmed by the several princes at their courts, which to Spain will cost a month; for we must have notice that it is ratified in all courts, before we can proclaim it. So be not in too much haste. Night, MD.

17. The Irish folks were disappointed, that the parliament did not meet to day, because it was St. Patrick's day; and the mall was so full of crosses, that I thought all the world was Irish. Miss Ashe is almost quite well, and I see the bishop, but shall not yet go to his house[3]. I dined again with lord treasurer; but the parliament being prorogued, I must keep what I have till next week; for I believe he will not see it till just the evening before the session. He has engaged me to dine with him again to morrow, though I did all I could to put it off; but I don't care to disoblige him. **** Night, MD.

18. I have now dined six days successively with lord treasurer; but to night I stole away while he was talking with somebody else, and so am at liberty to morrow. There was a flying report of a general cessation of arms: every body had it at court; but, I believe, there is nothing in it. I asked a certain French minister how things went? And he whispered me in French, "Your plenipotentiaries and ours play the fool." None of us indeed approve of the conduct of either at this time; but lord treasurer was in full good humour for all that. He had invited a good many of his relations; and, of a dozen at table, they were all of the Harley family but myself. Disney is recovering, though you don't care a straw. Dilly murders us with his if puns. You know them. **** Night, MD.

19. The bishop of Clogher has made an if pun, that he is mighty proud of, and designs to send it over to his brother Tom. But sir Andrew Fountaine has wrote to Tom Ashe last post, and told him the pun, and desired him to send it over to the bishop as his own; and, if it succeeds, it will be a pure bite. The bishop will tell it us as a wonder, that he and his brother should jump so exactly. I'll tell you the pun. If there was a hackney coach at Mr. Pooley's door, what town in Egypt would it be? Why, it would be Hecatompolis; Hack at Tom Pooley's, Silly, says Ppt. I dined with a private friend to day; for our society, I told you, meet but once a fortnight. I have not seen Fanny Manley yet; I can't help it. Lady Orkney is come to town: why, she was at her country house, what care you? Night, MD.

20. Dilly read me a letter to day, from Ppt. She seems to have scratched her head when she wrote it. 'Tis a sad thing to write to people without taste. There you say, you hear I was going to Bath. No such thing; I am pretty well, I thank God. The town is now sending me to Savoy. Forty people have given me joy of it, yet there is not the least truth that I know in it. I was at an auction of pictures, but bought none. I was so glad of my liberty, that I would dine no where; but, the weather being fine, I sauntered into the city, and ate a bit about five, and then supped at Mr. Burke's, your accomptant general, who had been engaging me this month. The bishop of Clogher was to have been there, but was hindered by lord Paget's funeral. The provost and I sat till one o'clock; and, if that be not late, I don't know what is late. Parnell's poem will be published on Monday, and to morrow I design he shall present it lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke at court. The poor lad is almost always out of order with his head. Burke's wife is his sister. She has a little of the pert Irish way. Night, MD.

21. Morning. I will now finish my letter; for company will come, and a stir, and a clutter; and I'll keep the letter in my pocket, and give it into the post myself I must go to court, and you know on Saturday I dine with lord treasurer of course. Farewell, dearest MD, FW, Me, Lele.


  1. Robert Benson, esq.
  2. Mr. Oldisworth.
  3. Swift never had the smallpox.