The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 2.

London, Sept. 9, 1710.

Got here last Thursday,1 after five days’ travelling, weary the first, almost dead the second, tolerable the third, and well enough the rest; and am now glad of the fatigue, which has served for exercise; and I am at present well enough. The Whigs were ravished to see me, and would lay hold on me as a twig while they are drowning,2 and the great men making me their clumsy apologies, etc. But my Lord Treasurer3 received me with a great deal of coldness, which has enraged me so, I am almost vowing revenge. I have not yet gone half my circle; but I find all my acquaintance just as I left them. I hear my Lady Giffard4 is much at Court, and Lady Wharton5 was ridiculing it t’other day; so I have lost a friend there. I have not yet seen her, nor intend it; but I will contrive to see Stella’s mother6 some other way. I writ to the Bishop of Clogher from Chester; and I now write to the Archbishop of Dublin.7 Everything is turning upside down; every Whig in great office will, to a man, be infallibly put out; and we shall have such a winter as hath not been seen in England. Everybody asks me, how I came to be so long in Ireland, as naturally as if here were my being; but no soul offers to make it so: and I protest I shall return to Dublin, and the Canal at Laracor,8 with more satisfaction than ever I did in my life. The Tatler9 expects every day to be turned out of his employment; and the Duke of Ormond,10 they say, will be Lieutenant of Ireland. I hope you are now peaceably in Presto’s11 lodgings; but I resolve to turn you out by Christmas; in which time I shall either do my business, or find it not to be done. Pray be at Trim by the time this letter comes to you; and ride little Johnson, who must needs be now in good case. I have begun this letter unusually, on the post-night, and have already written to the Archbishop; and cannot lengthen this. Henceforth I will write something every day to MD, and make it a sort of journal; and when it is full, I will send it, whether MD writes or no; and so that will be pretty: and I shall always be in conversation with MD, and MD with Presto. Pray make Parvisol pay you the ten pounds immediately; so I ordered him. They tell me I am grown fatter, and look better; and, on Monday, Jervas12 is to retouch my picture. I thought I saw Jack Temple13 and his wife pass by me to-day in their coach; but I took no notice of them. I am glad I have wholly shaken off that family. Tell the Provost,14 I have obeyed his commands to the Duke of Ormond; or let it alone, if you please. I saw Jemmy Leigh15 just now at the Coffee-house, who asked after you with great kindness: he talks of going in a fortnight to Ireland. My service to the Dean,16 and Mrs. Walls, and her Archdeacon.17 Will Frankland’s18 wife is near bringing to-bed, and I have promised to christen the child. I fancy you had my Chester letter the Tuesday after I writ. I presented Dr. Raymond to Lord Wharton19 at Chester. Pray let me know when Joe gets his money.20 It is near ten, and I hate to send by the bellman.21 MD shall have a longer letter in a week, but I send this only to tell I am safe in London; and so farewell, etc.

1. In some MS. Accounts of Swift’s, in the Forster Collection at South Kensington there is the following entry:—“Set out for England Aug. 31st on Thursday, 10 at night; landed at Parkgate Friday 1st at noon. Sept. 1, 1710, came to London. Thursday at noon, Sept. 7th, with Lord Mountjoy, etc. Mem.: Lord Mountjoy bore my expenses from Chester to London.”

2. In a letter to Archbishop King of the same date Swift says he was “equally caressed by both parties; by one as a sort of bough for drowning men to lay hold of, and by the other as one discontented with the late men in power.”

3. The Earl of Godolphin, who was severely satirised by Swift in his Sid Hamet’s Rod, 1710. He had been ordered to break his staff as Treasurer on August 8. Swift told Archbishop King that Godolphin was “altogether short, dry, and morose.”

4. Martha, widow of Sir Thomas Giffard, Bart., of County Kildare, the favourite sister of Sir William Temple, had been described by Swift in early pindaric verses as “wise and great.” Afterwards he was to call her “an old beast” (Journal, Nov. 11, 1710). Their quarrel arose, towards the close of 1709, out of a difference with regard to the publication of Sir William Temple’s Works. On the appearance of vol. v. Lady Giffard charged Swift with publishing portions of the writings from an unfaithful copy in lieu of the originals in his possession, and in particular with printing laudatory notices of Godolphin and Sunderland which Temple intended to omit, and with omitting an unfavourable remark on Sunderland which Temple intended to print. Swift replied that the corrections were all made by Temple himself.

5. Lord Wharton’s second wife, Lucy, daughter of Lord Lisburn. She died in 1716, a few months after her husband. See Lady M. W. Montagu’s Letters.

6. Mrs. Bridget Johnson, who married, as her second husband, Ralph Mose or Moss, of Farnham, an agent for Sir William Temple’s estate, was waiting-woman or companion to Lady Giffard. In her will (1722) Lady Giffard left Mrs. Moss 20 pounds, “with my silver cup and cover.” Mrs. Moss died in 1745, when letters of administration were granted to a creditor of the deceased.

7. Dr. William King (1650-1729), a Whig and High Churchman, had more than one difference with Swift during the twenty years following Swift’s first visit to London in connection with the First-Fruits question.

8. Swift’s benefice, in the diocese of Meath, two miles from Trim.

9. Steele, who had been issuing the Tatler thrice weekly since April 1709. He lost the Gazetteership in October.

10. James, second Duke of Ormond (1665-1745) was appointed Lord Lieutenant on the 26th of October. In the following year he became Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief. He was impeached of high treason and attainted in 1715; and he died in exile.

11. “Presto,” substituted by the original editor for “Pdfr,” was suggested by a passage in the Journal for Aug. 2, 1711, where Swift says that the Duchess of Shrewsbury “could not say my name in English, but said Dr. Presto, which is Italian for Swift.”

12. Charles Jervas, the popular portrait-painter, has left two portraits of Swift, one of which is in the National Portrait Gallery, and the other in the Bodleian Library.

13. Sir William Temple’s nephew, and son of Sir John Temple (died 1704), Solicitor and Attorney-General, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. “Jack” Temple acquired the estate of Moor Park, Surrey, by his marriage with Elizabeth, granddaughter of Sir William Temple, and elder daughter of John Temple, who committed suicide in 1689. As late as 1706 Swift received an invitation to visit Moor Park.

14. Dr. Benjamin Pratt, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed Dean of Down in 1717. Swift calls him “a person of wit and learning,” and “a gentleman of good birth and fortune,. . very much esteemed among us” (Short Character of Thomas, Earl of Wharton). On his death in 1721 Swift wrote, “He was one of the oldest acquaintance I had, and the last that I expected to die. He has left a young widow, in very good circumstances. He had schemes of long life. . . . What a ridiculous thing is man!” (Unpublished Letters of Dean Swift, 1899, p. 106).

15. A Westmeath landlord, whom Swift met from time to time in London. The Leighs were well acquainted with Esther Johnson.

16. Dr. Enoch Sterne, appointed Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, in 1704. Swift was his successor in the deanery on Dr. Sterne’s appointment as Bishop of Dromore in 1713. In 1717 Sterne was translated to the bishopric of Clogher. He spent much money on the cathedrals, etc., with which he was connected.

17. Archdeacon Walls was rector of Castle Knock, near Trim. Esther Johnson was a frequent visitor at his house in Queen Street, Dublin.

18. William Frankland, Comptroller of the Inland Office at the Post Office, was the second son of the Postmaster-General, Sir Thomas Frankland, Bart. Luttrell (vi. 333) records that in 1708 he was made Treasurer of the Stamp Office, or, according to Chamberlayne’s Mag. Brit. Notitia for 1710, Receiver-General.

19. Thomas Wharton, Earl and afterwards Marquis of Wharton, had been one of Swift’s fellow-travellers from Dublin. Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under the Whig Government, from 1708 to 1710, Wharton was the most thorough-going party man that had yet appeared in English politics; and his political enemies did not fail to make the most of his well-known immorality. In his Notes to Macky’s Characters Swift described Wharton as “the most universal villain that ever I knew.” On his death in 1715 he was succeeded by his profligate son, Philip, who was created Duke of Wharton in 1718.

20. This money was a premium the Government had promised Beaumont for his Mathematical Sleying Tables, calculated for the improvement of the linen manufacture.

21. The bellman was both town-crier and night-watchman.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00