The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 28.

Windsor, Aug. 11, 1711.

I sent away my twenty-seventh this morning in an express to London, and directed to Mr. Reading: this shall go to your lodgings, where I reckon you will be returned before it reaches you. I intended to go to the race1 to-day, but was hindered by a visit: I believe I told you so in my last. I dined to-day at the Green Cloth, where everybody had been at the race but myself, and we were twenty in all, and very noisy company; but I made the Vice-Chamberlain and two friends more sit at a side table, to be a little quiet. At six I went to see the Secretary, who is returned; but Lord Keeper sent to desire I would sup with him, where I stayed till just now: Lord Treasurer and Secretary were to come to us, but both failed. ’Tis late, etc.

12. I was this morning to visit Lord Keeper, who made me reproaches that I had never visited him at Windsor. He had a present sent him of delicious peaches, and he was champing and champing, but I durst not eat one; I wished Dingley had some of them, for poor Stella can no more eat fruit than Presto. Dilly Ashe is come to Windsor; and after church I carried him up to the drawing-room, and talked to the Keeper and Treasurer, on purpose to show them to him; and he saw the Queen and several great lords, and the Duchess of Montagu;2 he was mighty happy, and resolves to fill a letter to the Bishop.3 My friend Lewis and I dined soberly with Dr. Adams,4 the only neighbour prebendary. One of the prebendaries here is lately a peer, by the death of his father. He is now Lord Willoughby of Broke,5 and will sit in the House of Lords with his gown. I supped to-night at Masham’s with Lord Treasurer, Mr. Secretary, and Prior. The Treasurer made us stay till twelve, before he came from the Queen, and ’tis now past two.

13. I reckoned upon going to London to-day; but by an accident the Cabinet Council did not sit last night, and sat to-day, so we go to-morrow at six in the morning. I missed the race to-day by coming out too late, when everybody’s coach was gone, and ride I would not: I felt my last riding three days after. We had a dinner to-day at the Secretary’s lodgings without him: Mr. Hare,6 his Under Secretary, Mr. Lewis, Brigadier Sutton,7 and I, dined together; and I made the Vice-Chamberlain take a snap with us, rather than stay till five for his lady, who was gone to the race. The reason why the Cabinet Council was not held last night was because Mr. Secretary St. John would not sit with your Duke of Somerset.8 So to-day the Duke was forced to go to the race while the Cabinet was held. We have music-meetings in our town, and I was at the rehearsal t’other day; but I did not value it, nor would go to the meeting. Did I tell you this before?

London, 14. We came to town this day in two hours and forty minutes: twenty miles are nothing here. I found a letter from the Archbishop of Dublin, sent me the Lord knows how. He says some of the bishops will hardly believe that Lord Treasurer got the Queen to remit the First-Fruits before the Duke of Ormond was declared Lord Lieutenant, and that the bishops have written a letter to Lord Treasurer to thank him. He has sent me the address of the Convocation, ascribing, in good part, that affair to the Duke, who had less share in it than MD; for if it had not been for MD, I should not have been so good a solicitor. I dined to-day in the City, about a little bit of mischief, with a printer. — I found Mrs. Vanhomrigh all in combustion, squabbling with her rogue of a landlord; she has left her house, and gone out of our neighbourhood a good way. Her eldest daughter is come of age, and going to Ireland to look after her fortune, and get it in her own hands.9

15. I dined to-day with Mrs. Van, who goes to-night to her new lodgings. I went at six to see Lord Treasurer; but his company was gone, contrary to custom, and he was busy, and I was forced to stay some time before I could see him. We were together hardly an hour, and he went away, being in haste. He desired me to dine with him on Friday, because there would be a friend of his that I must see: my Lord Harley told me, when he was gone, that it was Mrs. Masham his father meant, who is come to town to lie-in, and whom I never saw, though her husband is one of our Society. God send her a good time! her death would be a terrible thing.10 — Do you know that I have ventured all my credit with these great Ministers, to clear some misunderstandings betwixt them; and if there be no breach, I ought to have the merit of it. ’Tis a plaguy ticklish piece of work, and a man hazards losing both sides. It is a pity the world does not know my virtue. — I thought the clergy in Convocation in Ireland would have given me thanks for being their solicitor; but I hear of no such thing. Pray talk occasionally on that subject, and let me know what you hear. Do you know the greatness of my spirit, that I value their thanks not a rush, but at my return shall freely let all people know that it was my Lord Treasurer’s action, wherein the Duke of Ormond had no more share than a cat? And so they may go whistle, and I’ll go sleep.

16. I was this day in the City, and dined at Pontack’s11 with Stratford, and two other merchants. Pontack told us, although his wine was so good, he sold it cheaper than others; he took but seven shillings a flask. Are not these pretty rates? The books he sent for from Hamburg are come, but not yet got out of the custom-house. My library will be at least double when I come back. I shall go to Windsor again on Saturday, to meet our Society, who are to sup at Mr. Secretary’s; but I believe I shall return on Monday, and then I will answer your letter, that lies here safe underneath; — I see it; lie still: I will answer you when the ducks have eaten up the dirt.

17. I dined to-day at Lord Treasurer’s with Mrs. Masham, and she is extremely like one Mrs. Malolly, that was once my landlady in Trim. She was used with mighty kindness and respect, like a favourite. It signifies nothing going to this Lord Treasurer about business, although it be his own. He was in haste, and desires I will come again, and dine with him to-morrow. His famous lying porter is fallen sick, and they think he will die: I wish I had all my half-crowns again. I believe I have told you he is an old Scotch fanatic, and the damn’dest liar in his office alive.12 I have a mind to recommend Patrick to succeed him: I have trained him up pretty well. I reckon for certain you are now in town. The weather now begins to alter to rain.

Windsor, 18. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer, and he would make me go with him to Windsor, although I was engaged to the Secretary, to whom I made my excuses: we had in the coach besides, his son and son-in-law, Lord Harley and Lord Dupplin, who are two of our Society, and seven of us met by appointment, and supped this night with the Secretary. It was past nine before we got here, but a fine moonshiny night. I shall go back, I believe, on Monday. ’Tis very late.

19. The Queen did not stir out to-day, she is in a little fit of the gout. I dined at Mr. Masham’s; we had none but our Society members, six in all, and I supped with Lord Treasurer. The Queen has ordered twenty thousand pounds to go on with the building at Blenheim, which has been starved till now, since the change of the Ministry.13 I suppose it is to reward his last action of getting into the French lines.14 Lord Treasurer kept me till past twelve.

London, 20. It rained terribly every step of our journey to-day: I returned with the Secretary after a dinner of cold meat, and went to Mrs. Van’s, where I sat the evening. I grow very idle, because I have a great deal of business. Tell me how you passed your time at Wexford; and are not you glad at heart you have got home safe to your lodgings at St. Mary’s, pray? And so your friends come to visit you; and Mrs. Walls is much better of her eye; and the Dean is just as he used to be: and what does Walls say of London? ’tis a reasoning coxcomb. And Goody Stoyte, and Hannah what d’ye call her; no, her name an’t Hannah, Catherine I mean; they were so glad to see the ladies again! and Mrs. Manley wanted a companion at ombre.

21. I writ to-day to the Archbishop of Dublin, and enclosed a long politic paper by itself. You know the bishops are all angry (smoke the wax-candle drop at the bottom of this paper) I have let the world know the First-Fruits were got by Lord Treasurer before the Duke of Ormond was Governor. I told Lord Treasurer all this, and he is very angry; but I pacified him again by telling him they were fools, and knew nothing of what passed here; but thought all was well enough if they complimented the Duke of Ormond. Lord Treasurer gave me t’other day a letter of thanks he received from the bishops of Ireland, signed by seventeen; and says he will write them an answer. The Dean of Carlisle sat with me to-day till three; and I went to dine with Lord Treasurer, who dined abroad, so did the Secretary, and I was left in the suds. ’Twas almost four, and I got to Sir Matthew Dudley, who had half dined. Thornhill, who killed Sir Cholmley Dering,15 was murdered by two men, on Turnham Green, last Monday night: as they stabbed him, they bid him remember Sir Cholmley Dering. They had quarrelled at Hampton Court, and followed and stabbed him on horseback. We have only a Grub Street paper of it, but I believe it is true. I went myself through Turnham Green the same night, which was yesterday.

22. We have had terrible rains these two or three days. I intended to dine at Lord Treasurer’s, but went to see Lady Abercorn, who is come to town, and my lord; and I dined with them, and visited Lord Treasurer this evening. His porter is mending. I sat with my lord about three hours, and am come home early to be busy. Passing by White’s Chocolate-house,16 my brother Masham called me, and told me his wife was brought to bed of a boy, and both very well. (Our Society, you must know, are all brothers.) Dr. Garth told us that Mr. Henley17 is dead of an apoplexy. His brother-in-law, Earl Poulett, is gone down to the Grange, to take care of his funeral. The Earl of Danby,18 the Duke of Leeds’s eldest grandson, a very hopeful young man of about twenty, is dead at Utrecht of the smallpox. — I long to know whether you begin to have any good effect by your waters. — Methinks this letter goes on slowly; ’twill be a fortnight next Saturday since it was begun, and one side not filled. O fie for shame, Presto! Faith, I’m so tosticated to and from Windsor, that I know not what to say; but, faith, I’ll go to Windsor again on Saturday, if they ask me, not else. So lose your money again, now you are come home; do, sirrah.

Take your magnifying-glass, Madam Dingley.

You shan’t read this, sirrah Stella; don’t read it for your life, for fear of your dearest eyes.

There’s enough for this side; these Ministers hinder me. Pretty, dear, little, naughty, saucy MD.

Silly, impudent, loggerhead Presto.

23. Dilly and I dined to-day with Lord Abercorn, and had a fine fat haunch of venison, that smelt rarely on one side: and after dinner Dilly won half a crown of me at backgammon at his lodgings, to his great content. It is a scurvy empty town this melancholy season of the year; but I think our weather begins to mend. The roads are as deep as in winter. The grapes are sad things; but the peaches are pretty good, and there are some figs. I sometimes venture to eat one, but always repent it. You say nothing of the box sent half a year ago. I wish you would pay me for Mrs. Walls’s tea. Your mother is in the country, I suppose. Pray send me the account of MD, Madam Dingley, as it stands since November,19 that is to say, for this year (excluding the twenty pounds lent Stella for Wexford), for I cannot look in your letters. I think I ordered that Hawkshaw’s interest should be paid to you. When you think proper, I will let Parvisol know you have paid that twenty pounds, or part of it; and so go play with the Dean, and I will answer your letter to-morrow. Good-night, sirrahs, and love Presto, and be good girls.

24. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer, who chid me for not dining with him yesterday, for it seems I did not understand his invitation; and their Club of the Ministry dined together, and expected me. Lord Radnor20 and I were walking the Mall this evening; and Mr. Secretary met us, and took a turn or two, and then stole away, and we both believed it was to pick up some wench; and to-morrow he will be at the Cabinet with the Queen: so goes the world! Prior has been out of town these two months, nobody knows where, and is lately returned. People confidently affirm he has been in France, and I half believe it. It is said he was sent by the Ministry, and for some overtures towards a peace. The Secretary pretends he knows nothing of it. I believe your Parliament will be dissolved. I have been talking about the quarrel between your Lords and Commons with Lord Treasurer, and did, at the request of some people, desire that the Queen’s answer to the Commons’ address might express a dislike of some principles, etc.; but was answered dubiously. — And so now to your letter, fair ladies. I know drinking is bad; I mean writing is bad in drinking the waters; and was angry to see so much in Stella’s hand. But why Dingley drinks them, I cannot imagine; but truly she’ll drink waters as well as Stella: why not? I hope you now find the benefit of them since you are returned; pray let me know particularly. I am glad you are forced upon exercise, which, I believe, is as good as the waters for the heart of them. ’Tis now past the middle of August; so by your reckoning you are in Dublin. It would vex me to the dogs that letters should miscarry between Dublin and Wexford, after ‘scaping the salt seas. I will write no more to that nasty town in haste again, I warrant you. I have been four Sundays together at Windsor, of which a fortnight together; but I believe I shall not go to-morrow, for I will not, unless the Secretary asks me. I know all your news about the Mayor: it makes no noise here at all, but the quarrel of your Parliament does; it is so very extraordinary, and the language of the Commons so very pretty. The Examiner has been down this month, and was very silly the five or six last papers; but there is a pamphlet come out, in answer to a letter to the seven Lords who examined Gregg.21 The Answer22 is by the real author of the Examiner, as I believe; for it is very well written. We had Trapp’s poem on the Duke of Ormond23 printed here, and the printer sold just eleven of them. ’Tis a dull piece, not half so good as Stella’s; and she is very modest to compare herself with such a poetaster. I am heartily sorry for poor Mrs. Parnell’s24 death; she seemed to be an excellent good-natured young woman, and I believe the poor lad is much afflicted; they appeared to live perfectly well together. Dilly is not tired at all with England, but intends to continue here a good while: he is mighty easy to be at distance from his two sisters-in-law. He finds some sort of scrub acquaintance; goes now and then in disguise to a play; smokes his pipe; reads now and then a little trash, and what else the Lord knows. I see him now and then; for he calls here, and the town being thin, I am less pestered with company than usual. I have got rid of many of my solicitors, by doing nothing for them: I have not above eight or nine left, and I’ll be as kind to them. Did I tell you of a knight who desired me to speak to Lord Treasurer to give him two thousand pounds, or five hundred pounds a year, until he could get something better? I honestly delivered my message to the Treasurer, adding, the knight was a puppy, whom I would not give a groat to save from the gallows. Cole Reading’s father-in-law has been two or three times at me, to recommend his lights to the Ministry, assuring me that a word of mine would, etc. Did not that dog use to speak ill of me, and profess to hate me? He knows not where I lodge, for I told him I lived in the country; and I have ordered Patrick to deny me constantly to him. — Did the Bishop of London25 die in Wexford? poor gentleman! Did he drink the waters? were you at his burial? was it a great funeral? so far from his friends! But he was very old: we shall all follow. And yet it was a pity, if God pleased. He was a good man; not very learned: I believe he died but poor. Did he leave any charity legacies? who held up his pall? was there a great sight of clergy? do they design a tomb for him? — Are you sure it was the Bishop of London? because there is an elderly gentleman here that we give the same title to: or did you fancy all this in your water, as others do strange things in their wine? They say these waters trouble the head, and make people imagine what never came to pass. Do you make no more of killing a Bishop? are these your Whiggish tricks? — Yes, yes, I see you are in a fret. O, faith, says you, saucy Presto, I’ll break your head; what, can’t one report what one hears, without being made a jest and a laughing-stock? Are these your English tricks, with a murrain? And Sacheverell will be the next Bishop? He would be glad of an addition of two hundred pounds a year to what he has, and that is more than they will give him, for aught I see. He hates the new Ministry mortally, and they hate him, and pretend to despise him too. They will not allow him to have been the occasion of the late change; at least some of them will not: but my Lord Keeper owned it to me the other day. No, Mr. Addison does not go to Ireland this year: he pretended he would; but he is gone to Bath with Pastoral Philips, for his eyes. — So now I have run over your letter; and I think this shall go to-morrow, which will be just a fortnight from the last, and bring things to the old form again, after your rambles to Wexford, and mine to Windsor. Are there not many literal faults in my letters? I never read them over, and I fancy there are. What do you do then? do you guess my meaning, or are you acquainted with my manner of mistaking? I lost my handkerchief in the Mall to-night with Lord Radnor; but I made him walk with me to find it, and find it I did not. Tisdall26 (that lodges with me) and I have had no conversation, nor do we pull off our hats in the streets. There is a cousin of his (I suppose,) a young parson, that lodges in the house too; a handsome, genteel fellow. Dick Tighe27 and his wife lodged over against us; and he has been seen, out of our upper windows, beating her two or three times: they are both gone to Ireland, but not together; and he solemnly vows never to live with her. Neighbours do not stick to say that she has a tongue: in short, I am told she is the most urging, provoking devil that ever was born; and he a hot, whiffling28 puppy, very apt to resent. I’ll keep this bottom till to-morrow: I’m sleepy.

25. I was with the Secretary this morning, who was in a mighty hurry, and went to Windsor in a chariot with Lord Keeper; so I was not invited, and am forced to stay at home, but not at all against my will; for I could have gone, and would not. I dined in the City with one of my printers, for whom I got the Gazette, and am come home early; and have nothing to say to you more, but finish this letter, and not send it by the bellman. Days grow short, and the weather grows bad, and the town is splenetic, and things are so oddly contrived that I cannot be absent; otherwise I would go for a few days to Oxford, as I promised. — They say it is certain that Prior has been in France,29 nobody doubts it: I had not time to ask the Secretary, he was in such haste. Well, I will take my leave of dearest MD for a while; for I must begin my next letter to-night: consider that, young women; and pray be merry, and good girls, and love Presto. There is now but one business the Ministry want me for, and when that is done, I will take my leave of them. I never got a penny from them, nor expect it. In my opinion, some things stand very ticklish; I dare say nothing at this distance. Farewell, dear sirrahs, dearest lives: there is peace and quiet with MD, and nowhere else. They have not leisure here to think of small things, which may ruin them; and I have been forward enough. Farewell again, dearest rogues; I am never happy but when I write or think of MD. I have enough of Courts and Ministries, and wish I were at Laracor; and if I could with honour come away this moment, I would. Bernage30 came to see me to-day; he is just landed from Portugal, and come to raise recruits; he looks very well, and seems pleased with his station and manner of life. He never saw London nor England before; he is ravished with Kent, which was his first prospect when he landed. Farewell again, etc. etc.

1 Horse-racing was much encouraged by Charles II., who, as Strutt tells us, appointed races to be made in Datchet Mead, when he was residing at Windsor. By Queen Anne’s time horse-racing was becoming a regular institution: see Spectator, No. 173.

2 John Montagu, second Duke of Montagu, married Lady Mary Churchill, youngest daughter of the Duke of Marlborough.

3 Of Clogher.

4 John Adams, Prebendary of Canterbury and Canon of Windsor. He was made Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1712, and died in 1720.

5 The Hon. and Rev. George Verney, Canon of Windsor (died 1728), became fourth Lord Willoughby de Broke on the death of his father (Sir Richard Verney, the third Baron), in July 1711. Lord Willoughby became Dean of Windsor in 1713.

6 Thomas Hare, Under Secretary of State in Bolingbroke’s office.

7 Richard Sutton was the second son of Robert Sutton, the nephew of the Robert Sutton who was created Viscount Lexington by Charles I. Sutton served under William III. and Marlborough in Flanders, and was made a Brigadier-General in 1710, in which year also he was elected M.P. for Newark. In 1711 he was appointed Governor of Hull, and he died, a Lieutenant-General, in 1737 (Dalton’s Army Lists, iii. 153)

8 Charles Seymour, sixth Duke of Somerset (1662-1748), known as “the proud Duke of Somerset.” Through the influence which his wife — afterwards Mistress of the Robes (see Letter 17, note 10)— had obtained over the Queen, he bore no small part in bringing about the changes of 1710. His intrigues during this period were, however, mainly actuated by jealousy of Marlborough, and he had really no sympathies with the Tories. His intrigues with the Whigs caused the utmost alarm to St. John and to Swift.

9 The third and last reference to Vanessa in the Journal.

10 “Pray God preserve her life, which is of great importance” (Swift to Archbishop King, Aug. 15, 1711). St. John was at this moment very anxious to conciliate Mrs. Masham, as he felt that she was the only person capable of counteracting the intrigues of the Duchess of Somerset with the Queen.

11 Pontack, of Abchurch Lane, son of Arnaud de Pontac, President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, was proprietor of the most fashionable eating-house in London. There the Royal Society met annually at dinner until 1746. Several writers speak of the dinners at a guinea a head and upwards served at Pontack’s, and Swift comments on the price of the wine.

12 “His name was Read” (Scott).

13 Up to the end of 1709 the warrants for the payment of the works at Blenheim had been regularly issued by Godolphin and paid at the Treasury; over 200,000 pounds was expended in this manner. But after the dismissal of the Whigs the Queen drew tight the purse-strings. The 20,000 pounds mentioned by Swift was paid in 1711, but on June 1, 1712, Anne gave positive orders that nothing further should be allowed for Blenheim, though 12,000 pounds remained due to the contractors.

14 The piercing of the lines before Bouchain, which Villars had declared to be the non plus ultra of the Allies, one of the most striking proofs of Marlborough’s military genius.

15 See Letter 22, note 15.

16 A fashionable gaming-house in St. James’s Street.

17 See Letter 6, note 15. The Grange, near Alresford, Hampshire, was Henley’s seat. His wife (see Letter 12, note 24) was the daughter of Peregrine Bertie, son of Montagu Bertie, second Earl of Lindsey; and Earl Poulett (see Letter 20, note 7) married Bridget, an elder daughter of Bertie’s.

18 William Henry Hyde, Earl of Danby, grandson of the first Duke of Leeds (see Letter 8, note 22), and eldest son of Peregrine Osborne, Baron Osborne and Viscount Dunblane, who succeeded to the dukedom in 1712. Owing to this young man’s death (at the age of twenty-one), his brother, Peregrine Hyde, Marquis of Caermarthen, who married Harley’s daughter Elizabeth, afterwards became third Duke of Leeds.

19 See Letter 8, note 2.

20 See Letter 3, note 7.

21 William Gregg was a clerk in Harley’s office when the latter was Secretary of State under the Whig Administration. In 1707-8 he was in treasonable correspondence with M. de Chamillart, the French Secretary of State. When he was detected he was tried for high treason, and hanged on April 28. The Lords who examined Gregg did their utmost to establish Harley’s complicity, which Gregg, however, with his dying breath solemnly denied.

22 By Swift himself. The title was, Some Remarks upon a Pamphlet entitled, A Letter to the Seven Lords of the Committee appointed to examine Gregg.

23 See Letter 13, note 10. There is no copy in the British Museum.

24 Thomas Parnell, the poet, married, in 1706, Anne, daughter of Thomas Minchin, of Tipperary. In 1711 Parnell was thirty-two years of age, and was Archdeacon of Clogher and Vicar of Clontibret. Swift took much trouble to obtain for Parnell the friendship of Bolingbroke and other persons of note, and Parnell became a member of the Scriblerus Club. In 1716 he was made Vicar of Finglas, and after his death in 1718 Pope prepared an edition of his poems. The fits of depression to which Parnell was liable became more marked after his wife’s death, and he seems to have to some extent given way to drink. His sincerity and charm of manner made him welcome with men of both parties.

25 Dr. Henry Compton had been Bishop of London since 1675. He was dangerously ill early in 1711, but he lived until 1713, when he was eighty-one.

26 See Letter 26, note 10.

27 See Letter 7, note 21.

28 L’Estrange speaks of “a whiffling fop” and Swift says, “Every whiffler in a laced coat, who frequents the chocolate-house, shall talk of the Constitution.”

29 Prior’s first visit to France with a view to the secret negotiations with that country which the Ministers were now bent on carrying through, had been made in July, when he and Gaultier reached Calais in a fishing-boat and proceeded to Fontainbleau under assumed names. He returned to England in August, but was recognised at Dover, whence the news spread all over London, to the great annoyance of the Ministers. The officer who recognised Prior was John Macky, reputed author of those Characters upon which Swift wrote comments. Formerly a secret service agent under William III., Macky had been given the direction of the Ostend mail packets by Marlborough, to whom he communicated the news of Prior’s journey. Bolingbroke threatened to hang Macky, and he was thrown into prison; but the accession of George I. again brought him favour and employment.

30 See Letter 12, note 7.

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