The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 24.

Chelsea, May 24, 1711.

Morning. Once in my life the number of my letters and of the day of the month is the same; that’s lucky, boys; that’s a sign that things will meet, and that we shall make a figure together. What, will you still have the impudence to say London, England, because I say Dublin, Ireland? Is there no difference between London and Dublin, saucyboxes? I have sealed up my letter, and am going to town. Morrow, sirrahs. — At night. I dined with the Secretary to-day; we sat down between five and six. Mr. Harley’s patent passed this morning: he is now Earl of Oxford, Earl Mortimer, and Lord Harley of Wigmore Castle. My letter was sealed, or I would have told you this yesterday; but the public news may tell it you. The Queen, for all her favour, has kept a rod1 for him in her closet this week; I suppose he will take it from her, though, in a day or two. At eight o’clock this evening it rained prodigiously, as it did from five; however, I set out, and in half-way the rain lessened, and I got home, but tolerably wet; and this is the first wet walk I have had in a month’s time that I am here but, however, I got to bed, after a short visit to Atterbury.

25. It rained this morning, and I went to town by water; and Ford and I dined with Mr. Lewis by appointment. I ordered Patrick to bring my gown and periwig to Mr. Lewis, because I designed to go to see Lord Oxford, and so I told the dog; but he never came, though I stayed an hour longer than I appointed; so I went in my old gown, and sat with him two hours, but could not talk over some business I had with him; so he has desired me to dine with him on Sunday, and I must disappoint the Secretary. My lord set me down at a coffee-house, where I waited for the Dean of Carlisle’s chariot to bring me to Chelsea; for it has rained prodigiously all this afternoon. The Dean did not come himself, but sent me his chariot, which has cost me two shillings to the coachman; and so I am got home, and Lord knows what is become of Patrick. I think I must send him over to you; for he is an intolerable rascal. If I had come without a gown, he would have served me so, though my life and preferment should have lain upon it: and I am making a livery for him will cost me four pounds; but I will order the tailor to-morrow to stop till further orders. My Lord Oxford can’t yet abide to be called “my lord”; and when I called him “my lord,” he called me “Dr. Thomas Swift,”2 which he always does when he has a mind to tease me. By a second hand, he proposed my being his chaplain, which I by a second hand excused; but we had no talk of it to-day: but I will be no man’s chaplain alive. But I must go and be busy.

26. I never saw Patrick till this morning, and that only once, for I dressed myself without him; and when I went to town he was out of the way. I immediately sent for the tailor, and ordered him to stop his hand in Patrick’s clothes till further orders. Oh, if it were in Ireland, I should have turned him off ten times ago; and it is no regard to him, but myself, that has made me keep him so long. Now I am afraid to give the rogue his clothes. What shall I do? I wish MD were here to entreat for him, just here at the bed’s side. Lady Ashburnham3 has been engaging me this long time to dine with her, and I set to-day apart for it; and whatever was the mistake, she sent me word she was at dinner and undressed, but would be glad to see me in the afternoon: so I dined with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, and would not go to see her at all, in a huff. My fine Florence is turning sour with a vengeance, and I have not drunk half of it. As I was coming home to-night, Sir Thomas Mansel and Tom Harley4 met me in the Park, and made me walk with them till nine, like unreasonable whelps; so I got not here till ten: but it was a fine evening, and the foot-path clean enough already after this hard rain.

27. Going this morning to town, I saw two old lame fellows, walking to a brandy-shop, and when they got to the door, stood a long time complimenting who should go in first. Though this be no jest to tell, it was an admirable one to see. I dined to-day with my Lord Oxford and the ladies, the new Countess, and Lady Betty,5 who has been these three days a lady born. My lord left us at seven, and I had no time to speak to him about some affairs; but he promises in a day or two we shall dine alone; which is mighty likely, considering we expect every moment that the Queen will give him the staff, and then he will be so crowded he will be good for nothing: for aught I know he may have it to-night at Council.

28. I had a petition sent me t’other day from one Stephen Gernon, setting forth that he formerly lived with Harry Tenison,6 who gave him an employment of gauger, and that he was turned out after Harry’s death, and came for England, and is now starving, or, as he expresses it, THAT THE STAFF OF LIFE HAS BEEN OF LATE A STRANGER TO HIS APPETITE. Today the poor fellow called, and I knew him very well, a young slender fellow with freckles in his face: you must remember him; he waited at table as a better sort of servant. I gave him a crown, and promised to do what I could to help him to a service, which I did for Harry Tenison’s memory. It was bloody hot walking to-day, and I was so lazy I dined where my new gown was, at Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s, and came back like a fool, and the Dean of Carlisle has sat with me till eleven. Lord Oxford has not the staff yet.

29. I was this morning in town by ten, though it was shaving-day, and went to the Secretary about some affairs, then visited the Duke and Duchess of Ormond; but the latter was dressing to go out, and I could not see her. My Lord Oxford had the staff given him this morning; so now I must call him Lord Oxford no more, but Lord Treasurer: I hope he will stick there: this is twice he has changed his name this week; and I heard to-day in the City (where I dined) that he will very soon have the Garter. — Pr’ythee, do not you observe how strangely I have changed my company and manner of living? I never go to a coffee-house; you hear no more of Addison, Steele, Henley, Lady Lucy, Mrs. Finch,7 Lord Somers, Lord Halifax, etc. I think I have altered for the better. Did I tell you the Archbishop of Dublin has writ me a long letter of a squabble in your town about choosing a Mayor, and that he apprehended some censure for the share he had in it?8 I have not heard anything of it here; but I shall not be always able to defend him. We hear your Bishop Hickman is dead;9 but nobody here will do anything for me in Ireland; so they may die as fast or slow as they please. — Well, you are constant to your deans, and your Stoyte, and your Walls. Walls will have her tea soon; Parson Richardson is either going or gone to Ireland, and has it with him. I hear Mr. Lewis has two letters for me: I could not call for them to-day, but will to-morrow; and perhaps one of them may be from our little MD, who knows, man? who can tell? Many a more unlikely thing has happened. — Pshaw, I write so plaguy little, I can hardly see it myself. WRITE BIGGER, SIRRAH10 Presto. No, but I won’t. Oh, you are a saucy rogue, Mr. Presto, you are so impudent. Come, dear rogues, let Presto go to sleep; I have been with the Dean, and ’tis near twelve.

30. I am so hot and lazy after my morning’s walk, that I loitered at Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s, where my best gown and periwig are, and out of mere listlessness dine there very often; so I did to-day; but I got little MD’s letter, N.15 (you see, sirrahs, I remember to tell the number), from Mr. Lewis, and I read it in a closet they lend me at Mrs. Van’s; and I find Stella is a saucy rogue and a great writer, and can write finely still when her hand is in, and her pen good. When I came here to-night, I had a mighty mind to go swim after I was cool, for my lodging is just by the river; and I went down with only my nightgown and slippers on at eleven, but came up again; however, one of these nights I will venture.

31. I was so hot this morning with my walk, that I resolve to do so no more during this violent burning weather. It is comical that now we happen to have such heat to ripen the fruit there has been the greatest blast that was ever known, and almost all the fruit is despaired of. I dined with Lord Shelburne: Lady Kerry and Mrs. Pratt are going to Ireland. I went this evening to Lord Treasurer, and sat about two hours with him in mixed company; he left us, and went to Court, and carried two staves with him, so I suppose we shall have a new Lord Steward or Comptroller to-morrow; I smoked that State secret out by that accident. I will not answer your letter yet, sirrahs; no I won’t, madam.

June 1. I wish you a merry month of June. I dined again with the Vans and Sir Andrew Fountaine. I always give them a flask of my Florence, which now begins to spoil, but it is near an end. I went this afternoon to Mrs. Vedeau’s, and brought away Madam Dingley’s parchment and letter of attorney. Mrs. Vedeau tells me she has sent the bill a fortnight ago. I will give the parchment to Ben Tooke, and you shall send him a letter of attorney at your leisure, enclosed to Mr. Presto. Yes, I now think your mackerel is full as good as ours, which I did not think formerly. I was bit about two staves, for there is no new officer made to-day. This letter will find you still in Dublin, I suppose, or at Donnybrook, or losing your money at Walls’ (how does she do?).

2. I missed this day by a blunder and dining in the City.11

3. No boats on Sunday, never: so I was forced to walk, and so hot by the time I got to Ford’s lodging that I was quite spent; I think the weather is mad. I could not go to church. I dined with the Secretary as usual, and old Colonel Graham12 that lived at Bagshot Heath, and they said it was Colonel Graham’s house. Pshaw, I remember it very well, when I used to go for a walk to London from Moor Park. What, I warrant you do not remember the Golden Farmer13 neither, figgarkick soley?14

4. When must we answer this letter, this N.15 of our little MD? Heat and laziness, and Sir Andrew Fountaine, made me dine to-day again at Mrs. Van’s; and, in short, this weather is unsupportable: how is it with you? Lady Betty Butler and Lady Ashburnham sat with me two or three hours this evening in my closet at Mrs. Van’s. They are very good girls; and if Lady Betty went to Ireland, you should let her be acquainted with you. How does Dingley do this hot weather? Stella, I think, never complains of it; she loves hot weather. There has not been a drop of rain since Friday se’ennight. Yes, you do love hot weather, naughty Stella, you do so; and Presto can’t abide it. Be a good girl then, and I will love you; and love one another, and don’t be quarrelling girls.

5. I dined in the City to-day, and went from hence early to town, and visited the Duke of Ormond and Mr. Secretary. They say my Lord Treasurer has a dead warrant in his pocket; they mean a list of those who are to be turned out of employment; and we every day now expect those changes. I passed by the Treasury to-day, and saw vast crowds waiting to give Lord Treasurer petitions as he passes by. He is now at the top of power and favour: he keeps no levees yet. I am cruel thirsty this hot weather. — I am just this minute going to swim. I take Patrick down with me, to hold my nightgown, shirt, and slippers, and borrow a napkin of my landlady for a cap. So farewell till I come up; but there is no danger, don’t be frighted. — I have been swimming this half-hour and more; and when I was coming out I dived, to make my head and all through wet, like a cold bath; but, as I dived, the napkin fell off and is lost, and I have that to pay for. O, faith, the great stones were so sharp, I could hardly set my feet on them as I came out. It was pure and warm. I got to bed, and will now go sleep.

6. Morning. This letter shall go to-morrow; so I will answer yours when I come home to-night. I feel no hurt from last night’s swimming. I lie with nothing but the sheet over me, and my feet quite bare. I must rise and go to town before the tide is against me. Morrow, sirrahs; dear sirrahs, morrow. — At night. I never felt so hot a day as this since I was born. I dined with Lady Betty Germaine, and there was the young Earl of Berkeley15 and his fine lady. I never saw her before, nor think her near so handsome as she passes for. — After dinner, Mr. Bertue16 would not let me put ice in my wine, but said my Lord Dorchester17 got the bloody flux with it, and that it was the worst thing in the world. Thus are we plagued, thus are we plagued; yet I have done it five or six times this summer, and was but the drier and the hotter for it. Nothing makes me so excessively peevish as hot weather. Lady Berkeley after dinner clapped my hat on another lady’s head, and she in roguery put it upon the rails. I minded them not; but in two minutes they called me to the window, and Lady Carteret18 showed me my hat out of her window five doors off, where I was forced to walk to it, and pay her and old Lady Weymouth19 a visit, with some more beldames. Then I went and drank coffee, and made one or two puns, with Lord Pembroke,20 and designed to go to Lord Treasurer; but it was too late, and beside I was half broiled, and broiled without butter; for I never sweat after dinner, if I drink any wine. Then I sat an hour with Lady Betty Butler at tea, and everything made me hotter and drier. Then I walked home, and was here by ten, so miserably hot, that I was in as perfect a passion as ever I was in my life at the greatest affront or provocation. Then I sat an hour, till I was quite dry and cool enough to go swim; which I did, but with so much vexation that I think I have given it over: for I was every moment disturbed by boats, rot them; and that puppy Patrick, standing ashore, would let them come within a yard or two, and then call sneakingly to them. The only comfort I proposed here in hot weather is gone; for there is no jesting with those boats after it is dark: I had none last night. I dived to dip my head, and held my cap on with both my hands, for fear of losing it. Pox take the boats! Amen. ’Tis near twelve, and so I’ll answer your letter (it strikes twelve now) to-morrow morning.

7. Morning. Well, now let us answer MD’s letter, N.15, 15, 15, 15. Now have I told you the number? 15, 15; there, impudence, to call names in the beginning of your letter, before you say, How do you do, Mr. Presto? There is your breeding! Where is your manners, sirrah, to a gentleman? Get you gone, you couple of jades. — No, I never sit up late now; but this abominable hot weather will force me to eat or drink something that will do me hurt. I do venture to eat a few strawberries. — Why then, do you know in Ireland that Mr. St. John talked so in Parliament?21 Your Whigs are plaguily bit; for he is entirely for their being all out. — And are you as vicious in snuff as ever? I believe, as you say, it does neither hurt nor good; but I have left it off, and when anybody offers me their box, I take about a tenth part of what I used to do, and then just smell to it, and privately fling the rest away. I keep to my tobacco still,22 as you say; but even much less of that than formerly, only mornings and evenings, and very seldom in the day. — As for Joe,23 I have recommended his case heartily to my Lord Lieutenant; and, by his direction, given a memorial of it to Mr. Southwell, to whom I have recommended it likewise. I can do no more, if he were my brother. His business will be to apply himself to Southwell. And you must desire Raymond, if Price of Galway comes to town, to desire him to wait on Mr. Southwell, as recommended by me for one of the Duke’s chaplains, which was all I could do for him; and he must be presented to the Duke, and make his court, and ply about, and find out some vacancy, and solicit early for it. The bustle about your Mayor I had before, as I told you, from the Archbishop of Dublin. Was Raymond not come till May 18? So he says fine things of me? Certainly he lies. I am sure I used him indifferently enough; and we never once dined together, or walked, or were in any third place; only he came sometimes to my lodgings, and even there was oftener denied than admitted. — What an odd bill is that you sent of Raymond’s! A bill upon one Murry in Chester, which depends entirely not only upon Raymond’s honesty, but his discretion; and in money matters he is the last man I would depend on. Why should Sir Alexander Cairnes24 in London pay me a bill, drawn by God knows who, upon Murry in Chester? I was at Cairnes’s, and they can do no such thing. I went among some friends, who are merchants, and I find the bill must be sent to Murry, accepted by him, and then returned back, and then Cairnes may accept or refuse it as he pleases. Accordingly I gave Sir Thomas Frankland the bill, who has sent it to Chester, and ordered the postmaster there to get it accepted, and then send it back, and in a day or two I shall have an answer; and therefore this letter must stay a day or two longer than I intended, and see what answer I get. Raymond should have written to Murry at the same time, to desire Sir Alexander Cairnes to have answered such a bill, if it come. But Cairnes’s clerks (himself was not at home) said they had received no notice of it, and could do nothing; and advised me to send to Murry. — I have been six weeks to-day at Chelsea, and you know it but just now. And so Dean ——— thinks I write the Medley. Pox of his judgment! It is equal to his honesty. Then you han’t seen the Miscellany yet?25 Why, ’tis a four-shilling book: has nobody carried it over? — No, I believe Manley26 will not lose his place; for his friend27 in England is so far from being out that he has taken a new patent since the Post Office Act; and his brother Jack Manley28 here takes his part firmly; and I have often spoken to Southwell in his behalf, and he seems very well inclined to him. But the Irish folks here in general are horribly violent against him. Besides, he must consider he could not send Stella wine if he were put out. And so he is very kind, and sends you a dozen bottles of wine AT A TIME, and you win eight shillings AT A TIME; and how much do you lose? No, no, never one syllable about that, I warrant you. — Why, this same Stella is so unmerciful a writer, she has hardly left any room for Dingley. If you have such summer there as here, sure the Wexford waters are good by this time. I forgot what weather we had May 6th; go look in my journal. We had terrible rain the 24th and 25th, and never a drop since. Yes, yes, I remember Berested’s bridge; the coach sosses up and down as one goes that way, just as at Hockley-in-the-Hole.29 I never impute any illness or health I have to good or ill weather, but to want of exercise, or ill air, or something I have eaten, or hard study, or sitting up; and so I fence against those as well as I can: but who a deuce can help the weather? Will Seymour,30 the General, was excessively hot with the sun shining full upon him; so he turns to the sun, and says, “Harkee, friend, you had better go and ripen cucumbers than plague me at this rate,” etc. Another time, fretting at the heat, a gentleman by said it was such weather as pleased God: Seymour said, “Perhaps it may; but I am sure it pleases nobody else.” Why, Madam Dingley, the First-Fruits are done. Southwell told me they went to inquire about them, and Lord Treasurer said they were done, and had been done long ago. And I’ll tell you a secret you must not mention, that the Duke of Ormond is ordered to take notice of them in his speech in your Parliament: and I desire you will take care to say on occasion that my Lord Treasurer Harley did it many months ago, before the Duke was Lord Lieutenant. And yet I cannot possibly come over yet: so get you gone to Wexford, and make Stella well. Yes, yes, I take care not to walk late; I never did but once, and there are five hundred people on the way as I walk. Tisdall is a puppy, and I will excuse him the half-hour he would talk with me. As for the Examiner, I have heard a whisper that after that of this day,31 which tells us what this Parliament has done, you will hardly find them so good. I prophesy they will be trash for the future; and methinks in this day’s Examiner the author talks doubtfully, as if he would write no more.32 Observe whether the change be discovered in Dublin, only for your own curiosity, that’s all. Make a mouth there. Mrs. Vedeau’s business I have answered, and I hope the bill is not lost. Morrow. ’Tis stewing hot, but I must rise and go to town between fire and water. Morrow, sirrahs both, morrow. — At night. I dined to-day with Colonel Crowe, Governor of Jamaica, and your friend Sterne. I presented Sterne to my Lord Treasurer’s brother,33 and gave him his case, and engaged him in his favour. At dinner there fell the swingingest long shower, and the most grateful to me, that ever I saw: it thundered fifty times at least, and the air is so cool that a body is able to live; and I walked home to-night with comfort, and without dirt. I went this evening to Lord Treasurer, and sat with him two hours, and we were in very good humour, and he abused me, and called me Dr. Thomas Swift fifty times: I have told you he does that when he has mind to make me mad.34 Sir Thomas Frankland gave me to-day a letter from Murry, accepting my bill; so all is well: only, by a letter from Parvisol, I find there are some perplexities. — Joe has likewise written to me, to thank me for what I have done for him; and desires I would write to the Bishop of Clogher, that Tom Ashe35 may not hinder his father36 from being portreve. I have written and sent to Joe several times, that I will not trouble myself at all about Trim. I wish them their liberty, but they do not deserve it: so tell Joe, and send to him. I am mighty happy with this rain: I was at the end of my patience, but now I live again. This cannot go till Saturday; and perhaps I may go out of town with Lord Shelburne and Lady Kerry to-morrow for two or three days. Lady Kerry has written to desire it; but tomorrow I shall know farther. — O this dear rain, I cannot forbear praising it: I never felt myself to be revived so in my life. It lasted from three till five, hard as a horn, and mixed with hail.

8. Morning. I am going to town, and will just finish this there, if I go into the country with Lady Kerry and Lord Shelburne: so morrow, till an hour or two hence. — In town. I met Cairnes, who, I suppose, will pay me the money; though he says I must send him the bill first, and I will get it done in absence. Farewell, etc. etc.

1 The Lord Treasurer’s staff.

2 Swift’s “little parson cousin,” the resident chaplain at Moor Park. He pretended to have had some part in The Tale of a Tub, and Swift always professed great contempt for him. Thomas Swift was son of an Oxford uncle of Swift’s, of the same name, and was at school and college with Swift. He became Rector of Puttenham, Surrey, and died in 1752, aged eighty-seven.

3 The Duke of Ormond’s daughter, Lady Mary Butler (see Letter 7, notes 2 and 3.)

4 Thomas Harley, the Lord Treasurer’s cousin, was secretary to the Treasury.

5 Lord Oxford’s daughter Elizabeth married, in 1712, the Marquis of Caermarthen.

6 Henry Tenison, M.P. for County Louth, was one of the Commissioners of the Revenue in Ireland from 1704 until his death in 1709 (Luttrell, v. 381, vi. 523). Probably he was related to Dr. Tenison, Bishop of Meath, who died in 1705.

7 Anne Finch (died 1720), daughter of Sir William Kingsmill, and wife of Heneage Finch, who became fourth Earl of Winchelsea in 1712. Lady Winchelsea published a volume of poems in 1713, and was a friend of Pope and Rowe. Wordsworth recognised the advance in the growth of attention to “external nature” shown in her writings.

8 See Letter 23, note 24 and Letter 30, note 13.

9 This was a mistake. Charles Hickman, D.D., Bishop of Derry, died in November 1713.

10 “These words in italics are written in a large round hand” (Deane Swift). [Italics replaced by capitals for the transcription of this etext.]

11 “This entry is interlined in the original” (Deane Swift).

12 Colonel James Graham (1649-1730) held various offices under James II., and was granted a lease of a lodge in Bagshot Park. Like his brother, Viscount Preston, he was suspected of treasonable practices in 1691, and he was arrested in 1692 and 1696. Under Queen Anne and George I., Colonel Graham was M.P. for Appleby and Westmorland.

13 Mr. Leslie Stephen has pointed out that this is the name of an inn (now the Jolly Farmer) near Frimley, on the hill between Bagshot and Farnborough. This inn is still called the Golden Farmer on the Ordnance map.

14 “Soley” is probably a misreading for “sollah,” a form often used by Swift for “sirrah,” and “figgarkick” may be “pilgarlick” (a poor creature) in Swift’s “little language” (cf. 20th Oct. 1711).

15 See Letter 14, note 14.

16 Probably a misprint for “Bertie.” This Mr. Bertie may have been the Hon. James Bertie, second son of the first Earl of Abingdon, and M.P. for Middlesex.

17 Evelyn Pierrepont, fifth Earl of Kingston, was made Marquis of Dorchester in 1706. He became Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull in 1715, and died in 1726. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was his daughter.

18 See Letter 12, note 22.

19 Sir Thomas Thynne, first Viscount Weymouth, who died in 1714, aged seventy-four, married Frances, daughter of Heneage Finch, second Earl of Winchelsea.

20 See Letter 7, note 31.

21 Swift is referring to St. John’s defence of Brydges (see Letter 21, note 14.)

22 “He does not mean smoking, which he never practised, but snuffing up cut-and-dry tobacco, which sometimes was just coloured with Spanish snuff; and this he used all his life, but would not own that he took snuff” (Deane Swift).

23 Beaumont (see Letter 1, note 2).

24 Sir Alexander Cairnes, M.P. for Monaghan, a banker, was created a baronet in 1706, and died in 1732.

25 See Letter 6, note 44 and Letter 17, note 4.

26 Isaac Manley (see Letter 3, note 3.)

27 Sir Thomas Frankland.

28 See Letter 5, note 8.

29 Hockley-in-the-Hole, Clerkenwell, a place of public diversion, was famous for its bear and bull baitings.

30 Sir William Seymour, second son of Sir Edward Seymour, Bart., of Berry Pomeroy, retired from the army in 1717, and died in 1728 (Dalton’s Army Lists). He was wounded at Landen and Vigo, and saw much service between his appointment as a Captain of Fusiliers in 1686 and his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1707.

31 No. 45.

32 “And now I conceive the main design I had in writing these papers is fully executed. A great majority of the nation is at length thoroughly convinced that the Queen proceeded with the highest wisdom, in changing her Ministry and Parliament” (Examiner, No. 45).

33 Edward Harley (see Letter 13, note 17).

34 See Letter 24, note 2.

35 Tom Ashe was an elder brother of the Bishop of Clogher. He had an estate of more than 1000 pounds a year in County Meath, and Nichols describes him as of droll appearance, thick and short in person: “a facetious, pleasant companion, but the most eternal unwearied punster that ever lived.”

36 “Even Joseph Beaumont, the son, was at this time an old man, whose grey locks were venerable; yet his father lived until about 1719” (Deane Swift).

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