The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 26.

Chelsea, June 30, 1711.

See what large paper I am forced to take, to write to MD; Patrick has brought me none clipped; but, faith, the next shall be smaller. I dined to-day, as I told you, with Dilly at Sir Andrew Fountaine’s: there were we wretchedly punning, and writing together to Lord Pembroke. Dilly is just such a puppy as ever; and it is so uncouth, after so long an intermission. My twenty-fifth is gone this evening to the post. I think I will direct my next (which is this) to Mr. Curry’s, and let them send it to Wexford; and then the next enclosed to Reading. Instruct me how I shall do. I long to hear from you from Wexford, and what sort of place it is. The town grows very empty and dull. This evening I have had a letter from Mr. Philips, the pastoral poet, to get him a certain employment from Lord Treasurer. I have now had almost all the Whig poets my solicitors; and I have been useful to Congreve, Steele, and Harrison: but I will do nothing for Philips; I find he is more a puppy than ever, so don’t solicit for him. Besides, I will not trouble Lord Treasurer, unless upon some very extraordinary occasion.

July 1. Dilly lies conveniently for me when I come to town from Chelsea of a Sunday, and go to the Secretary’s; so I called at his lodgings this morning, and sent for my gown, and dressed myself there. He had a letter from the Bishop, with an account that you were set out for Wexford the morning he writ, which was June 26, and he had the letter the 30th; that was very quick: the Bishop says you design to stay there two months or more. Dilly had also a letter from Tom Ashe, full of Irish news; that your Lady Lyndon1 is dead, and I know not what besides of Dr. Coghill2 losing his drab, etc. The Secretary was gone to Windsor, and I dined with Mrs. Vanhomrigh. Lord Treasurer is at Windsor too; they will be going and coming all summer, while the Queen is there, and the town is empty, and I fear I shall be sometimes forced to stoop beneath my dignity, and send to the ale-house for a dinner. Well, sirrahs, had you a good journey to Wexford? did you drink ale by the way? were you never overturned? how many things did you forget? do you lie on straw in your new town where you are? Cudshoe,3 the next letter to Presto will be dated from Wexford. What fine company have you there? what new acquaintance have you got? You are to write constantly to Mrs. Walls and Mrs. Stoyte: and the Dean said, “Shall we never hear from you?” “Yes, Mr. Dean, we’ll make bold to trouble you with a letter.” Then at Wexford; when you meet a lady, “Did your waters pass well this morning, madam?” Will Dingley drink them too? Yes, I warrant; to get her a stomach. I suppose you are all gamesters at Wexford. Do not lose your money, sirrah, far from home. I believe I shall go to Windsor in a few days; at least, the Secretary tells me so. He has a small house there, with just room enough for him and me; and I would be satisfied to pass a few days there sometimes. Sirrahs, let me go to sleep, it is past twelve in our town.

2. Sterne came to me this morning, and tells me he has yet some hopes of compassing his business: he was with Tom Harley, the secretary of the Treasury, and made him doubt a little he was in the wrong; the poor man tells me it will almost undo him if he fails. I called this morning to see Will Congreve, who lives much by himself, is forced to read for amusement, and cannot do it without a magnifying-glass. I have set him very well with the Ministry, and I hope he is in no danger of losing his place. I dined in the City with Dr. Freind, not among my merchants, but with a scrub instrument of mischief of mine, whom I never mentioned to you, nor am like to do. You two little saucy Wexfordians, you are now drinking waters. You drink waters! you go fiddlestick. Pray God send them to do you good; if not, faith, next summer you shall come to the Bath.

3. Lord Peterborow desired to see me this morning at nine; I had not seen him before since he came home. I met Mrs. Manley4 there, who was soliciting him to get some pension or reward for her service in the cause, by writing her Atalantis, and prosecution, etc., upon it. I seconded her, and hope they will do something for the poor woman. My lord kept me two hours upon politics: he comes home very sanguine; he has certainly done great things at Savoy and Vienna, by his negotiations: he is violent against a peace, and finds true what I writ to him, that the Ministry seems for it. He reasons well; yet I am for a peace. I took leave of Lady Kerry, who goes to-morrow for Ireland; she picks up Lord Shelburne and Mrs. Pratt at Lord Shelburne’s house. I was this evening with Lord Treasurer: Tom Harley was there, and whispered me that he began to doubt about Sterne’s business; I told him he would find he was in the wrong. I sat two or three hours at Lord Treasurer’s; he rallied me sufficiently upon my refusing to take him into our Club, and told a judge who was with us that my name was Thomas Swift. I had a mind to prevent Sir H. Belasyse5 going to Spain, who is a most covetous cur, and I fell a railing against avarice, and turned it so that he smoked me, and named Belasyse. I went on, and said it was a shame to send him; to which he agreed, but desired I would name some who understood business, and do not love money, for he could not find them. I said there was something in a Treasurer different from other men; that we ought not to make a man a Bishop who does not love divinity, or a General who does not love war; and I wondered why the Queen would make a man Lord Treasurer who does not love money. He was mightily pleased with what I said. He was talking of the First-Fruits of England, and I took occasion to tell him that I would not for a thousand pounds anybody but he had got them for Ireland, who got them for England too. He bid me consider what a thousand pounds was; I said I would have him to know I valued a thousand pounds as little as he valued a million. — Is it not silly to write all this? but it gives you an idea what our conversation is with mixed company. I have taken a lodging in Suffolk Street, and go to it on Thursday; and design to walk the Park and the town, to supply my walking here: yet I will walk here sometimes too, in a visit now and then to the Dean.6 When I was almost at home, Patrick told me he had two letters for me, and gave them to me in the dark, yet I could see one of them was from saucy MD. I went to visit the Dean for half an hour; and then came home, and first read the other letter, which was from the Bishop of Clogher, who tells me the Archbishop of Dublin mentioned in a full assembly of the clergy the Queen’s granting the First-Fruits, said it was done by the Lord Treasurer, and talked much of my merit in it: but reading yours I find nothing of that: perhaps the Bishop lies, out of a desire to please me. I dined with Mrs. Vanhomrigh. Well, sirrahs, you are gone to Wexford; but I’ll follow you.

4. Sterne came to me again this morning, to advise about reasons and memorials he is drawing up; and we went to town by water together; and having nothing to do, I stole into the City to an instrument of mine, and then went to see poor Patty Rolt,7 who has been in town these two months with a cousin of hers. Her life passes with boarding in some country town as cheap as she can, and, when she runs out, shifting to some cheaper place, or coming to town for a month. If I were rich, I would ease her, which a little thing would do. Some months ago I sent her a guinea, and it patched up twenty circumstances. She is now going to Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire. It has rained and hailed prodigiously to-day, with some thunder. This is the last night I lie at Chelsea; and I got home early, and sat two hours with the Dean, and ate victuals, having had a very scurvy dinner. I’ll answer your letter when I come to live in town. You shall have a fine London answer: but first I will go sleep, and dream of MD.

London, July 5. This day I left Chelsea for good (that’s a genteel phrase), and am got into Suffolk Street. I dined to-day at our Society, and we are adjourned for a month, because most of us go into the country: we dined at Lord Keeper’s with young Harcourt, and Lord Keeper was forced to sneak off, and dine with Lord Treasurer, who had invited the Secretary and me to dine with him; but we scorned to leave our company, as George Granville did, whom we have threatened to expel: however, in the evening I went to Lord Treasurer, and, among other company, found a couple of judges with him; one of them, Judge Powell,8 an old fellow with grey hairs, was the merriest old gentleman I ever saw, spoke pleasant things, and laughed and chuckled till he cried again. I stayed till eleven, because I was not now to walk to Chelsea.

6. An ugly rainy day. I was to visit Mrs. Barton, then called at Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s, where Sir Andrew Fountaine and the rain kept me to dinner; and there did I loiter all the afternoon, like a fool, out of perfect laziness, and the weather not permitting me to walk: but I’ll do so no more. Are your waters at Wexford good in this rain? I long to hear how you are established there, how and whom you visit, what is your lodging, what are your entertainments. You are got far southwards; but I think you must eat no fruit while you drink the waters. I ate some Kentish cherries t’other day, and I repent it already; I have felt my head a little disordered. We had not a hot day all June, or since, which I reckon a mighty happiness. Have you left a direction with Reading for Wexford? I will, as I said, direct this to Curry’s, and the next to Reading; or suppose I send this at a venture straight to Wexford? It would vex me to have it miscarry. I had a letter to-night from Parvisol, that White has paid me most of my remaining money; and another from Joe, that they have had their election at Trim, but not a word of who is chosen portreeve.9 Poor Joe is full of complaints, says he has enemies, and fears he will never get his two hundred pounds; and I fear so too, although I have done what I could. — I’ll answer your letter when I think fit, when saucy Presto thinks fit, sirrahs. I am not at leisure yet; when I have nothing to do, perhaps I may vouchsafe. — O Lord, the two Wexford ladies; I’ll go dream of you both.

7. It was the dismallest rainy day I ever saw: I went to the Secretary in the morning, and he was gone to Windsor. Then it began raining, and I struck in to Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s, and dined, and stayed till night very dull and insipid. I hate this town in summer; I’ll leave it for a while, if I can have time.

8. I have a fellow of your town, one Tisdall,10 lodges in the same house with me. Patrick told me Squire Tisdall and his lady lodged here. I pretended I never heard of him; but I knew his ugly face, and saw him at church in the next pew to me, and he often looked for a bow, but it would not do. I think he lives in Capel Street, and has an ugly fine wife in a fine coach. Dr. Freind and I dined in the City by invitation, and I drank punch, very good, but it makes me hot. People here are troubled with agues by this continuance of wet, cold weather; but I am glad to find the season so temperate. I was this evening to see Will Congreve, who is a very agreeable companion.

9. I was to-day in the City, and dined with Mr. Stratford, who tells me Sir Alexander Cairnes makes difficulties about paying my bill; so that I cannot give order yet to Parvisol to deliver up the bond to Dr. Raymond. To-morrow I shall have a positive answer: that Cairnes is a shuffling scoundrel; and several merchants have told me so: what can one expect from a Scot and a fanatic? I was at Bateman’s the bookseller’s, to see a fine old library he has bought; and my fingers itched, as yours would do at a china-shop; but I resisted, and found everything too dear, and I have fooled away too much money that way already. So go and drink your waters, saucy rogue, and make yourself well; and pray walk while you are there: I have a notion there is never a good walk in Ireland.11 Do you find all places without trees? Pray observe the inhabitants about Wexford; they are old English; see what they have particular in their manners, names, and language: magpies have been always there, and nowhere else in Ireland, till of late years. They say the cocks and dogs go to sleep at noon, and so do the people. Write your travels, and bring home good eyes and health.

10. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer: we did not sit down till four. I despatched three businesses with him, and forgot a fourth. I think I have got a friend an employment; and besides I made him consent to let me bring Congreve to dine with him. You must understand I have a mind to do a small thing, only turn out all the Queen’s physicians; for in my conscience they will soon kill her among them. And I must talk over that matter with some people. My Lord Treasurer told me the Queen and he between them have lost the paper about the First-Fruits, but desires I will let the bishops know it shall be done with the first opportunity.

11. I dined to-day with neighbour Van, and walked pretty well in the Park this evening. Stella, hussy, don’t you remember, sirrah, you used to reproach me about meddling in other folk’s affairs? I have enough of it now: two people came to me to-night in the Park to engage to speak to Lord Treasurer in their behalf, and I believe they make up fifty who have asked me the same favour. I am hardened, and resolve to trouble him, or any other Minister, less than ever. And I observe those who have ten times more credit than I will not speak a word for anybody. I met yesterday the poor lad I told you of, who lived with Mr. Tenison,12 who has been ill of an ague ever since I saw him. He looked wretchedly, and was exceeding thankful for half a crown I gave him. He had a crown from me before.

12. I dined to-day with young Manley13 in the City, who is to get me out a box of books and a hamper of wine from Hamburg. I inquired of Mr. Stratford, who tells me that Cairnes has not yet paid my two hundred pounds, but shams and delays from day to day. Young Manley’s wife is a very indifferent person of a young woman, goggle-eyed, and looks like a fool: yet he is a handsome fellow, and married her for love after long courtship, and she refused him until he got his last employment. — I believe I shall not be so good a boy for writing as I was during your stay at Wexford, unless I may send my letters every second time to Curry’s; pray let me know. This, I think, shall go there: or why not to Wexford itself? That is right, and so it shall this next Tuesday, although it costs you tenpence. What care I?

13. This toad of a Secretary is come from Windsor, and I cannot find him; and he goes back on Sunday, and I can’t see him to-morrow. I dined scurvily to-day with Mr. Lewis and a parson; and then went to see Lord Treasurer, and met him coming from his house in his coach: he smiled, and I shrugged, and we smoked each other; and so my visit is paid. I now confine myself to see him only twice a week: he has invited me to Windsor, and betwixt two stools, etc. I will go live at Windsor, if possible, that’s pozzz. I have always the luck to pass my summer in London. I called this evening to see poor Sir Matthew Dudley, a Commissioner of the Customs; I know he is to be out for certain: he is in hopes of continuing: I would not tell him bad news, but advised him to prepare for the worst. Dilly was with me this morning, to invite me to dine at Kensington on Sunday with Lord Mountjoy, who goes soon for Ireland. Your late Chief-Justice Broderick14 is here, and they say violent as a tiger. How is party among you at Wexford? Are the majority of ladies for the late or present Ministry? Write me Wexford news, and love Presto, because he is a good boy.

14. Although it was shaving-day, I walked to Chelsea, and was there by nine this morning; and the Dean of Carlisle and I crossed the water to Battersea, and went in his chariot to Greenwich, where we dined at Dr. Gastrell’s, and passed the afternoon at Lewisham, at the Dean of Canterbury’s;15 and there I saw Moll Stanhope,16 who is grown monstrously tall, but not so handsome as formerly. It is the first little rambling journey I have had this summer about London, and they are the agreeablest pastimes one can have, in a friend’s coach, and to good company. Bank Stock is fallen three or four per cent. by the whispers about the town of the Queen’s being ill, who is however very well.

15. How many books have you carried with you to Wexford? What, not one single book? Oh, but your time will be so taken up; and you can borrow of the parson. I dined to-day with Sir Andrew Fountaine and Dilly at Kensington with Lord Mountjoy; and in the afternoon Stratford came there, and told me my two hundred pounds were paid at last; so that business is over, and I am at ease about it; and I wish all your money was in the Bank too. I will have my other hundred pounds there, that is in Hawkshaw’s hands. Have you had the interest of it paid yet? I ordered Parvisol to do it. What makes Presto write so crooked? I will answer your letter to-morrow, and send it on Tuesday. Here’s hot weather come again, yesterday and to-day: fine drinking waters now. We had a sad pert dull parson at Kensington to-day. I almost repent my coming to town; I want the walks I had.

16. I dined in the City to-day with a hedge17 acquaintance, and the day passed without any consequence. I will answer your letter to-morrow.

17. Morning. I have put your letter before me, and am going to answer it. Hold your tongue: stand by. Your weather and ours were not alike; we had not a bit of hot weather in June, yet you complain of it on the 19th day. What, you used to love hot weather then? I could never endure it: I detest and abominate it. I would not live in a hot country, to be king of it. What a splutter you keep about my bonds with Raymond, and all to affront Presto! Presto will be suspicious of everything but MD, in spite of your little nose. Soft and fair, Madam Stella, how you gallop away, in your spleen and your rage, about repenting my journey, and preferment here, and sixpence a dozen, and nasty England, and Laracor all my life. Hey-dazy, will you never have done? I had no offers of any living. Lord Keeper told me some months ago he would give me one when I pleased; but I told him I would not take any from him; and the Secretary told me t’other day he had refused a very good one for me, but it was in a place he did not like; and I know nothing of getting anything here, and, if they would give me leave, I would come over just now. Addison, I hear, has changed his mind about going over; but I have not seen him these four months. — Oh ay, that’s true, Dingley; that’s like herself: millions of businesses to do before she goes. Yes, my head has been pretty well, but threatening within these two or three days, which I impute to some fruit I ate; but I will eat no more: not a bit of any sort. I suppose you had a journey without dust, and that was happy. I long for a Wexford letter, but must not think of it yet: your last was finished but three weeks ago. It is d —— d news you tell me of Mrs. F——; it makes me love England less a great deal. I know nothing of the trunk being left or taken; so ’tis odd enough, if the things in it were mine; and I think I was told that there are some things for me that my mother left particularly to me. I am really sorry for ——-; that scoundrel ——— will have his estate after his mother’s death. Let me know if Mrs. Walls has got her tea: I hope Richardson18 stayed in Dublin till it came. Mrs. Walls needed not have that blemish in her eye; for I am not in love with her at all. No, I do not like anything in the Examiner after the 45th, except the first part of the 46th;19 all the rest is trash; and if you like them, especially the 47th, your judgment is spoiled by ill company and want of reading, which I am more sorry for than you think: and I have spent fourteen years in improving you to little purpose. (Mr. Tooke is come here, and I must stop.)— At night. I dined with Lord Treasurer to-day, and he kept me till nine; so I cannot send this to-night, as I intended, nor write some other letters. Green,20 his surgeon, was there, and dressed his breast; that is, put on a plaster, which is still requisite: and I took an opportunity to speak to him of the Queen; but he cut me short with this saying, “Laissez faire a Don Antoine,” which is a French proverb, expressing, “Leave that to me.” I find he is against her taking much physic; and I doubt he cannot persuade her to take Dr. Radcliffe. However, she is very well now, and all the story of her illness, except the first day or two, was a lie. We had some business, that company hindered us from doing, though he is earnest for it, yet would not appoint me a certain day, but bids me come at all times till we can have leisure. This takes up a great deal of my time, and I can do nothing I would do for them. I was with the Secretary this morning, and we both think to go to Windsor for some days, to despatch an affair, if we can have leisure. Sterne met me just now in the street by his lodgings, and I went in for an hour to Jemmy Leigh, who loves London dearly: he asked after you with great respect and friendship. — To return to your letter. Your Bishop Mills21 hates me mortally: I wonder he should speak well of me, having abused me in all places where he went. So you pay your way. Cudsho: you had a fine supper, I warrant; two pullets, and a bottle of wine, and some currants. — It is just three weeks to-day since you set out to Wexford; you were three days going, and I do not expect a letter these ten days yet, or rather this fortnight. I got a grant of the Gazette22 for Ben Tooke this morning from Mr. Secretary: it will be worth to him a hundred pounds a year.

18. To-day I took leave of Mrs. Barton, who is going into the country; and I dined with Sir John Stanley,23 where I have not been this great while. There dined with us Lord Rochester, and his fine daughter, Lady Jane,24 just growing a top-toast. I have been endeavouring to save Sir Matthew Dudley,25 but fear I cannot. I walked the Mall six times to-night for exercise, and would have done more; but, as empty as the town is, a fool got hold of me, and so I came home, to tell you this shall go to-morrow, without fail, and follow you to Wexford, like a dog.

19. Dean Atterbury sent to me to dine with him at Chelsea. I refused his coach, and walked, and am come back by seven, because I would finish this letter, and some others I am writing. Patrick tells me the maid says one Mr. Walls, a clergyman, a tall man, was here to visit me. Is it your Irish Archdeacon? I shall be sorry for it; but I shall make shift to see him seldom enough, as I do Dilly. What can he do here? or is it somebody else? The Duke of Newcastle26 is dead by the fall he had from his horse. God send poor Stella her health, and keep MD happy! Farewell, and love Presto, who loves MD above all things ten million of times. God bless the dear Wexford girls. Farewell again, etc. etc.

1 The widow of Sir John Lyndon, who was appointed a justice of the Court of King’s Bench in Ireland in 1682, and died in 1699.

2 “Marmaduke Coghill, LL.D., was judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland. About this time he courted a lady, and was soon to have been married to her; but unfortunately a cause was brought to trial before him, wherein a man was sued for beating his wife. When the matter was agitated, the Doctor gave his opinion, ‘That although a man had no right to beat his wife unmercifully, yet that, with such a little cane or switch as he then held in his hand, a husband was at liberty, and was invested with a power, to give his wife moderate correction’; which opinion determined the lady against having the Doctor. He died an old man and a bachelor” (Deane Swift). See also Lascelles, Liber Muner. Hibern., part ii. p. 80.

3 This was a common exclamation of the time, but the spelling varies in different writers. It seems to be a corruption of “God so,” or “God ho,” but there may have been a confusion with “cat-so,” derived from the Italian “cazzo.”

4 See Letter 9, note 28. Mrs. Manley was now editing the Examiner.

5 Sir Henry Belasyse was sent to Spain as Commissioner to inquire into the state of the English forces in that country. The son of Sir Richard Belasyse, Knight of Ludworth, Durham, Sir Henry finished a chequered career in 1717, when he was buried in Westminster Abbey (Dalton’s Army Lists, ii. 228). In his earlier years he served under the United Provinces, and after the accession of William was made a Brigadier-General in the English army, and in 1694, Lieutenant-General. In 1702 he was second in command of the expedition to Cadiz, but he was dismissed the service in consequence of the looting of Port St. Mary. Subsequently he was elected M.P. for Durham, and in 1713 was appointed Governor of Berwick.

6 Atterbury.

7 See Letter 3, note 20.

8 Sir John Powell, a Judge of the Queen’s Bench, died in 1713, aged sixty-eight. He was a kindly as well as able judge.

9 See June 7th, 1711.

10 This Tisdall has been described as a Dublin merchant; but in all probability he was Richard Tisdall, Registrar of the Irish Court of Chancery, and M.P. for Dundalk (1707-1713) and County Louth (1713-1727). He married Marian, daughter of Richard Boyle, M.P., and died in 1742. Richard Tisdall was a relative of Stella’s suitor, the Rev. William Tisdall, and years afterwards Swift took an interest in his son Philip, who became a Secretary of State and Leader of the Irish House of Commons.

11 “In Ireland there are not public paths from place to place, as in England” (Deane Swift).

12 See Letter 24, note 6.

13 Probably a son of John Manley, M.P. (see Letter 5, note 8).

14 See Letter 11, note 45.

15 Dr. George Stanhope, who was Vicar of Lewisham as well as of Deptford. He was a popular preacher and a translator of Thomas a Kempis and other religious writers.

16 See Letter 3, note 17.

17 A favourite word with Swift, when he wished to indicate anything obscure or humble.

18 See Letter 17, note 11.

19 See June 7th, 1711 and notes.

20 See Letter 17, note 23.

21 Thomas Mills (1671-1740) was made Bishop of Waterford and Lismore in 1708. A man of learning and a liberal contributor to the cost of church restorations, he is charged by Archbishop King with giving all the valuable livings in his gift to his non-resident relatives.

22 Tooke was appointed printer of the London Gazette in 1711 (see Letter 3, note 8).

23 See Letter 5, note 10

24 Lady Jane Hyde, the elder daughter of Henry Hyde, Earl of Rochester (see Letter 5, note 11), married William Capel, third Earl of Essex. Her daughter Charlotte’s husband, the son of the Earl of Jersey, was created Earl of Clarendon in 1776. Lady Jane’s younger sister, Catherine, who became the famous Duchess of Queensberry, Gay’s patroness, is represented by Prior, in The Female Phaeton, as jealous, when a young girl, of her sister, “Lady Jenny,” who went to balls, and “brought home hearts by dozens.”

25 See Letter 3, note 2.

26 John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, had held the Privy Seal from 1705, and was regarded by the Ministers as a possible plenipotentiary in the event of their negotiations for a peace being successful. He married Lady Margaret Cavendish, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Cavendish, second Duke of Newcastle, and was one of the richest nobles in England. His death, on July 15, 1711, was the result of a fall while stag-hunting. The Duke’s only daughter married, in 1713, Edward, Lord Harley, the Earl of Oxford’s son.

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