The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 1.1

Chester, Sept. 2, 1710.

Joe2 will give you an account of me till I got into the boat; after which the rogues made a new bargain, and forced me to give them two crowns, and talked as if we should not be able to overtake any ship: but in half an hour we got to the yacht; for the ships lay by [to] wait for my Lord Lieutenant’s steward. We made our voyage in fifteen hours just. Last night I came to this town, and shall leave it, I believe, on Monday. The first man I met in Chester was Dr. Raymond.3 He and Mrs. Raymond were here about levying a fine, in order to have power to sell their estate. They have found everything answer very well. They both desire to present their humble services to you: they do not think of Ireland till next year. I got a fall off my horse, riding here from Parkgate,4 but no hurt; the horse understanding falls very well, and lying quietly till I get up. My duty to the Bishop of Clogher.5 I saw him returning from Dunleary; but he saw not me. I take it ill he was not at Convocation, and that I have not his name to my powers.6 I beg you will hold your resolution of going to Trim, and riding there as much as you can. Let the Bishop of Clogher remind the Bishop of Killala7 to send me a letter, with one enclosed to the Bishop of Lichfield.8 Let all who write to me, enclose to Richard Steele, Esq., at his office at the Cockpit, near Whitehall.9 But not MD; I will pay for their letters at St. James’s Coffee-house,10 that I may have them the sooner. My Lord Mountjoy11 is now in the humour that we should begin our journey this afternoon; so that I have stole here again to finish this letter, which must be short or long accordingly. I write this post to Mrs. Wesley,12 and will tell her, that I have taken care she may have her bill of one hundred and fifteen pounds whenever she pleases to send for it; and in that case I desire you will send it her enclosed and sealed, and have it ready so, in case she should send for it: otherwise keep it. I will say no more till I hear whether I go to-day or no: if I do, the letter is almost at an end. My cozen Abigail is grown prodigiously old. God Almighty bless poo dee richar MD; and, for God’s sake, be merry, and get oo health. I am perfectly resolved to return as soon as I have done my commission, whether it succeeds or no. I never went to England with so little desire in my life. If Mrs. Curry13 makes any difficulty about the lodgings, I will quit them and pay her from July 9 last, and Mrs. Brent14 must write to Parvisol15 with orders accordingly. The post is come from London, and just going out; so I have only time to pray God to bless poor richr MD FW FW MD MD ME ME ME.

1. Addressed “To Mrs. Dingley, at Mr. Curry’s house over against the Ram in Capel Street, Dublin, Ireland,” and endorsed by Esther Johnson, “Sept. 9. Received.” Afterwards Swift added, “MD received this Sept. 9,” and “Letters to Ireland from Sept.1710, begun soon after the change of Ministry. Nothing in this.”

2. Beaumont is the “grey old fellow, poet Joe,” of Swift’s verses “On the little house by the Churchyard at Castlenock.” Joseph Beaumont, a linen-merchant, is described as “a venerable, handsome, grey-headed man, of quick and various natural abilities, but not improved by learning.” His inventions and mathematical speculations, relating to the longitude and other things, brought on mental troubles, which were intensified by bankruptcy, about 1718. He was afterwards removed from Dublin to his home at Trim, where he rallied; but in a few years his madness returned, and he committed suicide.

3. Vicar of Trim, and formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. In various places in his correspondence Swift criticises the failings of Dr. Anthony Raymond, who was, says Scott, “a particular friend.” His unreliability in money matters, the improvidence of his large family, his peculiarities in grammar, his pride in his good manners, all these points are noticed in the journal and elsewhere. But when Dr. Raymond returned to Ireland after a visit to London, Swift felt a little melancholy, and regretted that he had not seen more of him. In July 1713 Raymond was presented to the Crown living of Moyenet.

4. A small township on the estuary of the Dee, between twelve and thirteen miles north-west of Chester. In the early part of the eighteenth century Parkgate was a rival of Holyhead as a station for the Dublin packets, which started, on the Irish side, from off Kingsend.

5. Dr. St. George Ashe, afterwards Bishop of Derry, who had been Swift’s tutor at Trinity College, Dublin. He died in 1718. It is this lifelong friend who is said to have married Swift and Esther Johnson in 1716.

6. The Commission to solicit for the remission of the First-Fruits and twentieth parts, payable to the Crown by the Irish clergy, was signed by the Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, and Cashel, and the Bishops of Kildare, Meath, and Killala.

7. Dr. William Lloyd was appointed Bishop of Killala in 1690. He had previously been Dean of Achonry.

8. Dr. John Hough (1651-1743). In 1687 he had been elected President of Magdalen College, Oxford, in place of the nominee of James II. Hough was Bishop of Oxford, Lichfield, and Worcester successively, and declined the primacy in 1715.

9. Steele was at this time Gazetteer. The Cockpit, in Whitehall, looked upon St. James’s Palace, and was used for various Government purposes.

10. This coffee-house, the resort of the Whig politicians, was kept by a man named Elliot. It is often alluded to in the Tatler and Spectator.

11. William Stewart, second Viscount Mountjoy, a friend and correspondent of Swift’s in Ireland. He was the son of one of William’s generals, and was himself a Lieutenant-General and Master-General of the Ordnance; he died in 1728.

12. Catherine, daughter of Maurice Keating, of Narraghmore, Kildare, and wife of Garret Wesley, of Dangan, M.P. for Meath. She died in 1745. On the death of Garret Wesley without issue in 1728, the property passed to a cousin, Richard Colley, who was afterwards created Baron Mornington, and was grandfather to the Duke of Wellington.

13. The landlady of Esther Johnson and Mrs. Dingley.

14. Swift’s housekeeper at Laracor. Elsewhere Swift speaks of his “old Presbyterian housekeeper,” “who has been my Walpole above thirty years, whenever I lived in this kingdom.” “Joe Beaumont is my oracle for public affairs in the country, and an old Presbyterian woman in town.”

15. Isaiah Parvisol, Swift’s tithe-agent and steward at Laracor, was an Irishman of French extraction, who died in 1718 (Birkbeck’s Unpublished Letters of Dean Swift, 1899, p.85).

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