The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 51.1

London, Aug. 7, 1712.

I had your N.32 at Windsor: I just read it, and immediately sealed it up again, and shall read it no more this twelvemonth at least. The reason of my resentment at it is, because you talk as glibly of a thing as if it were done, which, for aught I know, is farther from being done than ever, since I hear not a word of it, though the town is full of it, and the Court always giving me joy and vexation. You might be sure I would have let you know as soon as it was done; but I believe you fancied I would affect not to tell it you, but let you learn it from newspapers and reports. I remember only there was something in your letter about ME’s money, and that shall be taken care of on the other side. I left Windsor on Monday last, upon Lord Bolingbroke’s being gone to France, and somebody’s being here that I ought often to consult with in an affair I am upon: but that person talks of returning to Windsor again, and I believe I shall follow him. I am now in a hedge-lodging very busy, as I am every day till noon: so that this letter is like to be short, and you are not to blame me these two months; for I protest, if I study ever so hard, I cannot in that time compass what I am upon. We have a fever both here and at Windsor, which hardly anybody misses; but it lasts not above three or four days, and kills nobody.2 The Queen has forty servants down of it at once. I dined yesterday with Treasurer, but could do no business, though he sent for me, I thought, on purpose; but he desires I will dine with him again to-day. Windsor is a most delightful place, and at this time abounds in dinners. My lodgings there look upon Eton and the Thames. I wish I was owner of them; they belong to a prebend. God knows what was in your letter; and if it be not answered, whose fault is it, sauci dallars? — Do you know that Grub Street is dead and gone last week? No more ghosts or murders now for love or money. I plied it pretty close the last fortnight, and published at least seven penny papers of my own, besides some of other people’s: but now every single half-sheet pays a halfpenny to the Queen.3 The Observator is fallen; the Medleys are jumbled together with the Flying Post; the Examiner is deadly sick; the Spectator keeps up, and doubles its price; I know not how long it will hold. Have you seen the red stamp the papers are marked with? Methinks it is worth a halfpenny, the stamping it. Lord Bolingbroke and Prior set out for France last Saturday. My lord’s business is to hasten the peace before the Dutch are too much mauled, and hinder France from carrying the jest of beating them too far. Have you seen the Fourth Part of John Bull?4 It is equal to the rest, and extremely good. The Bishop of Clogher’s son has been ill of St. Anthony’s fire, but is now quite well. I was afraid his face would be spoiled, but it is not. Dilly is just as he used to be, and puns as plentifully and as bad. The two brothers see one another; but I think not the two sisters. Raymond writ to me that he intended to invite you to Trim. Are you, have you, will you be there? Won’t oo see pool Laratol?5 Parvisol says I shall have no fruit. Blasts have taken away all. Pray observe the cherry-trees on the river-walk; but oo are too lazy to take such a journey. If you have not your letters in due time for two months hence, impute it to my being tosticated between this and Windsor. And pray send me again the state of ME’s money; for I will not look into your letter for it. Poor Lord Winchelsea6 is dead, to my great grief. He was a worthy honest gentleman, and particular friend of mine: and, what is yet worse, my old acquaintance, Mrs. Finch,7 is now Countess of Winchelsea, the title being fallen to her husband, but without much estate. I have been poring my eyes all this morning, and it is now past two afternoon, so I shall take a little walk in the Park. Do you play at ombre still? Or is that off by Mr. Stoyte’s absence, and Mrs. Manley’s grief? Somebody was telling me of a strange sister that Mrs. Manley has got in Ireland, who disappointed you all about her being handsome. My service to Mrs. Walls. Farewell, deelest MD MD MD, FW FW FW, ME ME ME ME ME. Lele, logues both; rove poo Pdfr.

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “Aug. 14.”

2 Perhaps this was influenza.

3 By the Stamp Act passed on June 10, 1712 — which was repealed in 1859 — a duty of one halfpenny was levied on all pamphlets and newspapers contained in half a sheet or less, and a duty of one penny on those of more than half but not exceeding a whole sheet. Swift opposed the idea in January 1711 (see Letter 15, note 1), and Defoe argued against the Bill in the Review for April 26, 1712, and following numbers. Addison, in the Spectator, No. 445, spoke of the mortality among authors resulting from the Stamp Act as “the fall of the leaf.”

4 The title is, “Lewis Baboon turned honest, and John Bull politician. Being the Fourth Part of Law is a Bottomless Pit.” This pamphlet — really the fifth of the series — appeared on July 31, 1712.

5 Poor Laracor.

6 See Letter 12, note 1.

7 On the death of the third Earl in 1712, the title of Earl of Winchelsea passed to his uncle, Heneage Finch, who had married Anne, daughter of Sir William Kingsmill (see Letter 24, note 7).

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