The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 61.1

London, March 1, 1712-13.

’Tis 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 politics till eleven at night; and, as usual, found everything wrong, and put ourselves out of humour. Yes, I have Lady Giffard’s picture sent me by your mother. It is boxed 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. Nite MD.

2. I went to-day into the City to see Pat Rolt,2 who lodges with a City cousin, a daughter of coz Cleve; (you are much the wiser). I had never been at her house before. My he-coz Thompson 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 Godolphin3 was one. I sat by her, and talked of her cards, etc., but she would not give me 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’ll speak to Keatley;4 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 anyone 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. Nite 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. Griffith5 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 gamble6 abroad and play at ombre. I shall be more careful in my physic 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. Nite dee 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;7 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 Blith8 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,9 reflecting on the ball, because the Marlborough daughters10 were there; and Blith came to beg the Duchess’s pardon, and clear himself. He’s a sad dog. Nite poo dee deelest MD.

5. Lady Masham has miscarried; but is well almost again. I have 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 College11 need not fear; I will not be their Governor. I dined with Sir Thomas Hanmer and his Duchess.12 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 Cholmondeley13 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. Nite sollahs.

6. I was to-day at an auction of pictures with Pratt,14 and laid out two pound 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 to present somebody. For all oor rallying, saucy15 Ppt, as hope saved, I expected they would have decided about me long ago; and as hope saved, as soon as ever things are given away and I not provided for, I will be gone with the very first opportunity, and put up bag and baggage. But people are slower than can be thought. Nite MD.

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 voles16 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 could not see her for laziness, but writ to her. She has left me some physic. Fais, I never knew MD’s politics 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 politics. I avoid all conversation with the other party; it is not to be borne, and I am sorry for it. O yes, things [are] very dear. DD must come in at last with DD’s two eggs a penny. There the proverb 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! Nite sollahs . . . Pdfr.

8. Oo 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 everybody 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 everybody 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. Nite 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, was with us. I lost sixteen shillings at ombre; I don’t like it, as etc. 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 Trevor,17 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.18 Read it. Nite.

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 se’nnight. 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 more. Lord Bolingbroke will lend me the money. I was two hours poring on 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 sat 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. How do oo do sollahs? . . . Nite MD.19

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. Fais, 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 was bested. Vely bad, fais! Nite my deelest logues 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 sent the author of the Examiner20 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 us all in case of accidents, etc.21 I left the Society at seven. I can’t drink now at all with any pleasure. I love white Portugal wine better than claret, champagne, 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. Nite dee 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 anywhere. 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, ung oomens; 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. Nite logues.

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 loss. I doubt I shall not buy the library; for a roguey 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 Peterborrow is ill, and spits blood, with a bruise he got before he left England; but, I believe, an Italian lady he has brought over is the cause that his illness returns. You know old Lady Bellasis22 is dead at last? She has left Lord Berkeley of Stratton23 one of her executors, and it will be of great advantage to him; they say above ten thousand pounds. I stayed 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 post-office that I am fearful, etc., and so good-nite, sollahs, rove Pdfr, 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. Ppt24 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,25 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, dull sollahs. Nite MD.

16. I was at Lord Treasurer’s before he came; and, as he entered, he told me the Parliament was prorogued till Thursday se’nnight. 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 [of] 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. Nite 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. 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. Nite dee sollahs ’tis late. Nite 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: everybody 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. . . . 26 Nite 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, ’twill 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’s27 door, what town in Egypt would it be? Why, it would be Hecatompolis; Hack at Tom Pooley’s. “Sillly,” 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; hat28 care you? Nite darling (?) dee MD.

20. Dilly read me a letter to-day from Ppt. She seems to have scratched her head when she writ it. ’Tis a sad thing to write to people without tact. 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.29 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 nowhere; but, the weather being fine, I sauntered into the City, and ate a bit about five, and then supped at Mr. Burke’s30 your Accountant-General, who had been engaging me this month. The Bishop of Clogher was to have been there, but was hindered by Lord Paget’s31 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 to 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. Nite 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 pottick,32 and give it into the post myself. I must go to Court, and you know on Saturdays I dine with Lord Treasurer, of course. Farewell, deelest MD MD MD, FW FW FW, MD ME ME ME Lele sollahs.33

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “Mar. 27.”

2 See Letter 3, note 20.

3 Formerly Lady Rialton (see Letter 40, note 3).

4 See Letter 58, note 8.

5 See Letter 11, note 39 and Letter 41, note 27.

6 Pun on “gambol.”

7 See Letter 57, note 4.

8 See Letter 41, note 7.

9 “Upon Tuesday last, the house where His Grace the late Duke of Hamilton and Brandon lived was hired for that day, where there was a fine ball and entertainment; and it is reported in town, that a great lady, lately gone to travel, left one hundred guineas, with orders that it should be spent in that manner, and in that house” (Postboy, Feb. 26-28, 1712-13). The “great lady” was, presumably, the Duchess of Marlborough.

10 See Letter 36, note 14 and Letter 40, note 21.

11 Trinity College, Dublin.

12 See Letter 60, note 19.

13 See Letter 36, note 15.

14 Dr. Pratt, Provost of Trinity College.

15 Obliterated, and doubtful.

16 A deal at cards, that draws the whole tricks.

17 Previous editors have misread “Trevor” as “Treasurer.” Thomas Trevor, Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas, was created Baron Trevor, of Bromham, in January 1712. By commission of March 9, 1713, he occupied the woolsack during the illness of the Lord Keeper, Harcourt.

18 This is the only reference to Pope in the Journal. In his “Windsor Forest” the young poet assisted the Tories by his reference to the peace of Utrecht, then awaiting ratification.

19 Several words have been obliterated. Forster reads, “Rove Pdfr, poo Pdfr, Nite MD MD MD,” but this is more than the space would contain.

20 William Oldisworth (1680-1734), a Tory journalist and pamphleteer, who published various works, including a translation of the Iliad. He died in a debtors’ prison.

21 Some words obliterated. The reading is Forster’s, and seems to be correct.

22 Susan Armine, elder daughter of Sir William Armine, Bart., of Osgodby, Lincolnshire, was created a life peeress in 1674, as Baroness Belasyse of Osgodby. She died March 6, 1713. Her first husband was the Honourable Sir Henry Belasyse, son and heir of John, Baron Belasyse, of Worlaby; and her second, Mr. Fortney, of Chequers.

23 See Letter 7, note 9.

24 A word before “Ppt” is illegible. Forster’s reading, “yes,” does not seem right.

25 In November 1711 it was reported that Miss Kingdom was privately married to Lord Conway (Wentworth Papers, 207), but this was not the case. Lord Conway was a widower in 1713, but he married an Irish lady named Bowden.

26 Forster reads, “Nite, my own dee sollahs. Pdfr roves MD”; but the last three words, at least, do not seem to be in the MS.

27 Probably the Bishop of Raphoe’s son (see Letter 29, note 20).

28 What.

29 As Master of the Savoy.

30 William Burgh was Comptroller and Accountant-General for Ireland from 1694 to 1717, when his patent was revoked. He was succeeded by Eustace Budgell.

31 William Paget, sixth Lord Paget, died in March 1713, aged seventy-six. He spent a great part of his life as Ambassador at Vienna and Constantinople.

32 Pocket.

33 Forster reads, “Lele lele logues”; Mr. Ryland, “Lele lele . . . ”

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