The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 10.

London, Nov. 25, 1710.

I will tell you something that’s plaguy silly: I had forgot to say on the 23d in my last, where I dined; and because I had done it constantly, I thought it was a great omission, and was going to interline it; but at last the silliness of it made me cry, Pshah, and I let it alone. I was to-day to see the Parliament meet; but only saw a great crowd; and Ford and I went to see the tombs at Westminster, and sauntered so long I was forced to go to an eating-house for my dinner. Bromley1 is chosen Speaker, nemine contradicente: Do you understand those two words? And Pompey, Colonel Hill’s2 black, designs to stand Speaker for the footmen.3 I am engaged to use my interest for him, and have spoken to Patrick to get him some votes. We are now all impatient for the Queen’s speech, what she will say about removing the Ministry, etc. I have got a cold, and I don’t know how; but got it I have, and am hoarse: I don’t know whether it will grow better or worse. What’s that to you? I won’t answer your letter to-night. I’ll keep you a little longer in suspense: I can’t send it. Your mother’s cakes are very good, and one of them serves me for a breakfast, and so I’ll go sleep like a good boy.

26. I have got a cruel cold, and stayed within all this day in my nightgown, and dined on sixpennyworth of victuals, and read and writ, and was denied to everybody. Dr. Raymond4 called often, and I was denied; and at last, when I was weary, I let him come up, and asked him, without consequence, how Patrick denied me, and whether he had the art of it? So by this means he shall be used to have me denied to him; otherwise he would be a plaguy trouble and hindrance to me: he has sat with me two hours, and drank a pint of ale cost me fivepence, and smoked his pipe, and it is now past eleven that he is just gone. Well, my eighth is with you now, young women; and your seventh to me is somewhere in a post-boy’s bag; and so go to your gang of deans, and Stoytes, and Walls, and lose your money; go, sauceboxes: and so good-night, and be happy, dear rogues. Oh, but your box was sent to Dr. Hawkshaw by Sterne, and you will have it with Hawkshaw, and spectacles, etc., etc.

27. To-day Mr. Harley met me in the Court of Requests,5 and whispered me to dine with him. At dinner I told him what those bishops had done, and the difficulty I was under. He bid me never trouble myself; he would tell the Duke of Ormond the business was done, and that he need not concern himself about it. So now I am easy, and they may hang themselves for a parcel of insolent, ungrateful rascals. I suppose I told you in my last, how they sent an address to the Duke of Ormond, and a letter to Southwell, to call on me for the papers, after the thing was over; but they had not received my letter, though the Archbishop might, by what I writ to him, have expected it would be done. Well, there is an end of that; and in a little time the Queen will send them notice, etc. And so the methods will be settled; and then I shall think of returning, although the baseness of those bishops makes me love Ireland less than I did.

28. Lord Halifax sent to invite me to dinner; where I stayed till six, and crossed him in all his Whig talk, and made him often come over to me. I know he makes court to the new men, although he affects to talk like a Whig. I had a letter to-day from the Bishop of Clogher; but I writ to him lately, that I would obey his commands to the Duke of Ormond. He says I bid him read the London “Shaver,” and that you both swore it was “Shaver,” and not “Shower.”6 You all lie, and you are puppies, and can’t read Presto’s hand. The Bishop is out entirely in his conjectures of my share in the Tatlers. — I have other things to mind, and of much greater importance;7 else I have little to do to be acquainted with a new Ministry, who consider me a little more than Irish bishops do.

29. Now for your saucy, good dear letter: let me see, what does it say? come then. I dined to-day with Ford, and went home early; he debauched8 me to his chamber again with a bottle of wine till twelve: so good-night. I cannot write an answer now, you rogues.

30. To-day I have been visiting, which I had long neglected; and I dined with Mrs. Barton alone; and sauntered at the Coffee-house till past eight, and have been busy till eleven, and now I’ll answer your letter, saucebox. Well, let me see now again. My wax candle’s almost out, but however I’ll begin. Well then, do not be so tedious, Mr. Presto; what can you say to MD’s letter? Make haste, have done with your preambles — Why, I say I am glad you are so often abroad; your mother thinks it is want of exercise hurts you, and so do I. (She called here to-night, but I was not within, that’s by the bye.) Sure you do not deceive me, Stella, when you say you are in better health than you were these three weeks; for Dr. Raymond told me yesterday, that Smyth of the Blind Quay had been telling Mr. Leigh that he left you extremely ill; and in short, spoke so, that he almost put poor Leigh into tears, and would have made me run distracted; though your letter is dated the 11th instant, and I saw Smyth in the city above a fortnight ago, as I passed by in a coach. Pray, pray, don’t write, Stella, until you are mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty well in your eyes, and are sure it won’t do you the least hurt. Or come, I’ll tell you what; you, Mistress Stella, shall write your share at five or six sittings, one sitting a day; and then comes Dingley all together, and then Stella a little crumb towards the end, to let us see she remembers Presto; and then conclude with something handsome and genteel, as your most humblecumdumble, or, etc. O Lord! does Patrick write word of my not coming till spring? Insolent man! he know my secrets? No; as my Lord Mayor said, No; if I thought my shirt knew, etc. Faith, I will come as soon as it is any way proper for me to come; but, to say the truth, I am at present a little involved with the present Ministry in some certain things (which I tell you as a secret); and soon as ever I can clear my hands, I will stay no longer; for I hope the First-Fruit business will be soon over in all its forms. But, to say the truth, the present Ministry have a difficult task, and want me, etc. Perhaps they may be just as grateful as others: but, according to the best judgment I have, they are pursuing the true interest of the public; and therefore I am glad to contribute what is in my power. For God’s sake, not a word of this to any alive. — Your Chancellor?9 Why, madam, I can tell you he has been dead this fortnight. Faith, I could hardly forbear our little language about a nasty dead Chancellor, as you may see by the blot.10 Ploughing? A pox plough them; they’ll plough me to nothing. But have you got your money, both the ten pounds? How durst he pay you the second so soon? Pray be good huswifes. Ay, well, and Joe, why, I had a letter lately from Joe, desiring I would take some care of their poor town,11 who, he says, will lose their liberties. To which I desired Dr. Raymond would return answer, that the town had behaved themselves so ill to me, so little regarded the advice I gave them, and disagreed so much among themselves, that I was resolved never to have more to do with them; but that whatever personal kindness I could do to Joe, should be done. Pray, when you happen to see Joe, tell him this, lest Raymond should have blundered or forgotten — Poor Mrs. Wesley! — Why these poligyes12 for being abroad? Why should you be at home at all, until Stella is quite well? — So, here is Mistress Stella again, with her two eggs, etc. My “Shower” admired with you; why, the Bishop of Clogher says, he has seen something of mine of the same sort, better than the “Shower.” I suppose he means “The Morning”;13 but it is not half so good. I want your judgment of things, and not your country’s. How does MD like it? and do they taste it ALL? etc. I am glad Dean Bolton14 has paid the twenty pounds. Why should not I chide the Bishop of Clogher for writing to the Archbishop of Cashel,15 without sending the letter first to me? It does not signify a ——; for he has no credit at Court. Stuff — they are all puppies. I will break your head in good earnest, young woman, for your nasty jest about Mrs. Barton.16 Unlucky sluttikin, what a word is there! Faith, I was thinking yesterday, when I was with her, whether she could break them or no, and it quite spoilt my imagination. “Mrs. Walls, does Stella win as she pretends?” “No indeed, Doctor; she loses always, and will play so VENTERSOMELY, how can she win?” See here now; an’t you an impudent lying slut? Do, open Domville’s letter; what does it signify, if you have a mind? Yes, faith, you write smartly with your eyes shut; all was well but the n. See how I can do it; MADAM STELLA, YOUR HUMBLE SERVANT.17 O, but one may look whether one goes crooked or no, and so write on. I will tell you what you may do; you may write with your eyes half shut, just as when one is going to sleep: I have done so for two or three lines now; it is but just seeing enough to go straight. — Now, Madam Dingley, I think I bid you tell Mr. Walls that, in case there be occasion, I will serve his friend as far as I can; but I hope there will be none. Yet I believe you will have a new Parliament; but I care not whether you have or no a better. You are mistaken in all your conjectures about the Tatlers. I have given him one or two hints, and you have heard me talk about the Shilling.18 Faith, these answering letters are very long ones: you have taken up almost the room of a week in journals; and I will tell you what, I saw fellows wearing crosses to-day,19 and I wondered what was the matter; but just this minute I recollect it is little Presto’s birthday; and I was resolved these three days to remember it when it came, but could not. Pray, drink my health to-day at dinner; do, you rogues. Do you like “Sid Hamet’s Rod”? Do you understand it all? Well, now at last I have done with your letter, and so I will lay me down to sleep, and about, fair maids; and I hope merry maids all.

Dec. 1. Morning. I wish Smyth were hanged. I was dreaming the most melancholy things in the world of poor Stella, and was grieving and crying all night. — Pshah, it is foolish: I will rise and divert myself; so good-morrow; and God of His infinite mercy keep and protect you! The Bishop of Clogher’s letter is dated Nov. 21. He says you thought of going with him to Clogher. I am heartily glad of it, and wish you would ride there, and Dingley go in a coach. I have had no fit since my first, although sometimes my head is not quite in good order. — At night. I was this morning to visit Mr. Pratt, who is come over with poor, sick Lord Shelburne: they made me dine with them; and there I stayed, like a booby, till eight, looking over them at ombre, and then came home. Lord Shelburne’s giddiness is turned into a colic, and he looks miserably.

2. Steele, the rogue, has done the imprudentest thing in the world: he said something in a Tatler,20 that we ought to use the word Great Britain, and not England, in common conversation, as, “The finest lady in Great Britain,” etc. Upon this, Rowe, Prior, and I sent him a letter, turning this into ridicule. He has to-day printed the letter,21 and signed it J.S., M.P., and N.R., the first letters of all our names. Congreve told me to-day, he smoked it immediately. Congreve and I, and Sir Charles Wager, dined to-day at Delaval’s, the Portugal Envoy; and I stayed there till eight, and came home, and am now writing to you before I do business, because that dog Patrick is not at home, and the fire is not made, and I am not in my gear. Pox take him! — I was looking by chance at the top of this side, and find I make plaguy mistakes in words; so that you must fence against that as well as bad writing. Faith, I can’t nor won’t read what I have written. (Pox of this puppy!) Well, I’ll leave you till I am got to bed, and then I will say a word or two. — Well, ’tis now almost twelve, and I have been busy ever since, by a fire too (I have my coals by half a bushel at a time, I’ll assure you), and now I am got to bed. Well, and what have you to say to Presto now he is abed? Come now, let us hear your speeches. No, ’tis a lie; I an’t sleepy yet. Let us sit up a little longer, and talk. Well, where have you been to-day, that you are but just this minute come home in a coach? What have you lost? Pay the coachman, Stella. No, faith, not I, he’ll grumble. — What new acquaintance have you got? come, let us hear. I have made Delaval promise to send me some Brazil tobacco from Portugal for you, Madam Dingley. I hope you will have your chocolate and spectacles before this comes to you.

3. Pshaw, I must be writing to these dear saucy brats every night, whether I will or no, let me have what business I will, or come home ever so late, or be ever so sleepy; but an old saying, and a true one,

“Be you lords, or be you earls,
You must write to naughty girls.”

I was to-day at Court, and saw Raymond among the Beefeaters, staying to see the Queen: so I put him in a better station, made two or three dozen of bows, and went to church, and then to Court again, to pick up a dinner, as I did with Sir John Stanley; and then we went to visit Lord Mountjoy, and just now left him; and ’tis near eleven at night, young women; and methinks this letter comes pretty near to the bottom, and ’tis but eight days since the date, and don’t think I’ll write on the other side, I thank you for nothing. Faith, if I would use you to letters on sheets as broad as this room, you would always expect them from me. O, faith, I know you well enough; but an old saying, etc.,

“Two sides in a sheet,
And one in a street.”

I think that’s but a silly old saying; and so I’ll go to sleep, and do you so too.

4. I dined to-day with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, and then came home, and studied till eleven. No adventure at all to-day.

5. So I went to the Court of Requests (we have had the Devil and all of rain by the bye) to pick up a dinner; and Henley made me go dine with him and one Colonel Bragg22 at a tavern; cost me money, faith. Congreve was to be there, but came not. I came with Henley to the Coffee-house, where Lord Salisbury23 seemed mighty desirous to talk with me; and, while he was wriggling himself into my favour, that dog Henley asked me aloud, whether I would go to see Lord Somers as I had promised (which was a lie); and all to vex poor Lord Salisbury, who is a high Tory. He played two or three other such tricks; and I was forced to leave my lord, and I came home at seven, and have been writing ever since, and will now go to bed. The other day I saw Jack Temple24 in the Court of Requests: it was the first time of seeing him; so we talked two or three careless words, and parted. Is it true that your Recorder and Mayor, and fanatic aldermen, a month or two ago, at a solemn feast, drank Mr. Harley’s, Lord Rochester’s,25 and other Tory healths? Let me know; it was confidently said here. — The scoundrels! It shan’t do, Tom.

6. When is this letter to go, I wonder? harkee, young women, tell me that. Saturday next for certain, and not before: then it will be just a fortnight; time enough for naughty girls, and long enough for two letters, faith. Congreve and Delaval have at last prevailed on Sir Godfrey Kneller to entreat me to let him draw my picture for nothing; but I know not yet when I shall sit.26 — It is such monstrous rainy weather, that there is no doing with it. Secretary St. John sent to me this morning, that my dining with him to-day was put off till to-morrow; so I peaceably sat with my neighbour Ford, dined with him, and came home at six, and am now in bed as usual; and now it is time to have another letter from MD, yet I would not have it till this goes; for that would look like two letters for one. Is it not whimsical that the Dean has never once written to me? And I find the Archbishop very silent to that letter I sent him with an account that the business was done. I believe he knows not what to write or say; and I have since written twice to him, both times with a vengeance.27 Well, go to bed, sirrahs, and so will I. But have you lost to-day? Three shillings! O fie, O fie!

7. No, I won’t send this letter to-day, nor till Saturday, faith; and I am so afraid of one from MD between this and that; if it comes, I will just say I received a letter, and that is all. I dined to-day with Mr. Secretary St. John, where were Lord Anglesea,28 Sir Thomas Hanmer, Prior, Freind, etc., and then made a debauch after nine at Prior’s house, and have eaten cold pie, and I hate the thoughts of it, and I am full, and I don’t like it, and I will go to bed, and it is late, and so good-night.

8. To-day I dined with Mr. Harley and Prior; but Mr. St. John did not come, though he promised: he chid me for not seeing him oftener. Here is a damned, libellous pamphlet come out against Lord Wharton, giving the character first, and then telling some of his actions: the character is very well, but the facts indifferent.29 It has been sent by dozens to several gentlemen’s lodgings, and I had one or two of them; but nobody knows the author or printer. We are terribly afraid of the plague; they say it is at Newcastle.30 I begged Mr. Harley for the love of God to take some care about it, or we are all ruined. There have been orders for all ships from the Baltic to pass their quarantine before they land; but they neglect it. You remember I have been afraid these two years.

9. O, faith, you are a saucy rogue. I have had your sixth letter just now, before this is gone; but I will not answer a word of it, only that I never was giddy since my first fit; but I have had a cold just a fortnight, and cough with it still morning and evening; but it will go off. It is, however, such abominable weather that no creature can walk. They say here three of your Commissioners will be turned out, Ogle, South, and St. Quintin;31 and that Dick Stewart32 and Ludlow will be two of the new ones. I am a little soliciting for another: it is poor Lord Abercorn,33 but that is a secret; I mean, that I befriend him is a secret; but I believe it is too late, by his own fault and ill fortune. I dined with him to-day. I am heartily sorry you do not go to Clogher, faith, I am; and so God Almighty protect poor, dear, dear, dear, dearest MD. Farewell till to-night. I’ll begin my eleventh to-night; so I am always writing to little MD.

1 William Bromley (died 1732) was M.P. for the University of Oxford. A good debater and a strong High Churchman, he was Secretary of State from August 1713 until the Queen’s death in the following year.

2 Colonel, afterwards Major-General, John Hill (died 1735) was younger brother of Mrs. Masham, the Queen’s favourite, and a poor relation of the Duchess of Marlborough. He was wounded at Mons in 1709, and in 1711 was sent on an unsuccessful expedition to attack the French settlements in North America. In 1713 he was appointed to command the troops at Dunkirk.

3 “The footmen in attendance at the Houses of Parliament used at this time to form themselves into a deliberative body, and usually debated the same points with their masters. It was jocularly said that several questions were lost by the Court party in the menial House of Lords which were carried triumphantly in the real assembly; which was at length explained by a discovery that the Scottish peers whose votes were sometimes decisive of a question had but few representatives in the convocation of lacqueys. The sable attendant mentioned by Swift, being an appendage of the brother of Mrs. Masham, the reigning favourite, had a title to the chair, the Court and Tory interest being exerted in his favour” (Scott). Steele alludes to the “Footmen’s Parliament” in No. 88 of the Spectator.

4 See Letter 1, note 3.

5 A Court of Equity abolished in the reign of Charles I. It met in the Camera Alba, or Whitehall, and the room appears to have retained the name of the old Court.

6 See Letter 6, note 2.

7 Swift’s first contribution to the Examiner (No. 13) is dated Nov. 2, 1710.

8 Seduced, induced. Dryden (Spanish Friar) has “To debauch a king to break his laws.”

9 Freeman (see Letter 9, note 10).

10 “To make this intelligible, it is necessary to observe, that the words ‘this fortnight’, in the preceding sentence, were first written in what he calls their little language, and afterwards scratched out and written plain. It must be confessed this little language, which passed current between Swift and Stella, has occasioned infinite trouble in the revisal of these papers” (Deane Swift).

11 Trim. An attack upon the liberties of this corporation is among the political offences of Wharton’s Lieutenancy of Ireland set forth in Swift’s Short Character of the Earl of Wharton.

12 Apologies.

13 “A Description of the Morning,” in No. 9 of the Tatler.

14 See Letter 6, note 19.

15 William Palliser (died 1726).

16 See Letter 4, note 15.

17 “Here he writ with his eyes shut; and the writing is somewhat crooked, although as well in other respects as if his eyes had been open” (Deane Swift).

18 Tatler, No. 249; cf. p. 93. During this visit to London Swift contributed to only three Tatlers, viz. Nos. 230, 238, and 258.

19 St. Andrew’s Day.

20 No. 241.

21 Tatler, No. 258.

22 Lieutenant-General Philip Bragg, Colonel of the 28th Regiment of Foot, and M.P. for Armagh, died in 1759.

23 James Cecil, fifth Earl of Salisbury, who died in 1728.

24 See Letter 2, note 13.

25 See Letter 8, note 22.

26 Kneller seems never to have painted Swift’s portrait.

27 On Nov. 25 and 28.

28 Arthur Annesley, M.P. for Cambridge University, had recently become fifth Earl of Anglesea, on the death of his brother (see Letter 3, note 35). Under George I. he was Joint Treasurer of Ireland, and Treasurer at War.

29 A Short Character of the Earl of Wharton, by Swift himself, though the authorship was not suspected at the time. “Archbishop King,” says Scott, “would have hardly otherwise ventured to mention it to Swift in his letter of Jan. 9, 1710, as ‘a wound given in the dark.’” Elsewhere, however, in a note, Swift hints that Archbishop King was really aware of the authorship of the pamphlet.

30 A false report. (See Letter 11, note 4.)

31 None of these Commissioners of Revenue lost their places at this time. Samuel Ogle was Commissioner from 1699 to 1714; John South from 1696 until his death in 1711; and Sir William St. Quintin, Bart., from 1706 to 1713. Stephen Ludlow succeeded South in September 1711.

32 See Letter 7, note 35.

33 James Hamilton, sixth Earl of Abercorn (1656-1734), a Scotch peer who had strongly supported the Union of 1706.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 23:20