The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 32.

London, Oct. 9, 1711.

I was forced to lie down at twelve to-day, and mend my night’s sleep: I slept till after two, and then sent for a bit of mutton and pot of ale from the next cook’s shop, and had no stomach. I went out at four, and called to see Biddy Floyd, which I had not done these three months: she is something marked, but has recovered her complexion quite, and looks very well. Then I sat the evening with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, and drank coffee, and ate an egg. I likewise took a new lodging to-day, not liking a ground-floor, nor the ill smell, and other circumstances. I lodge, or shall lodge, by Leicester Fields, and pay ten shillings a week; that won’t hold out long, faith. I shall lie here but one night more. It rained terribly till one o’clock to-day. I lie, for I shall lie here two nights, till Thursday, and then remove. Did I tell you that my friend Mrs. Barton has a brother1 drowned, that went on the expedition with Jack Hill? He was a lieutenant-colonel, and a coxcomb; and she keeps her chamber in form, and the servants say she receives no messages. — Answer MD’s letter, Presto, d’ye hear? No, says Presto, I won’t yet, I’m busy; you’re a saucy rogue. Who talks?

10. It cost me two shillings in coach-hire to dine in the City with a printer. I have sent, and caused to be sent, three pamphlets out in a fortnight. I will ply the rogues warm; and whenever anything of theirs makes a noise, it shall have an answer. I have instructed an under spur-leather to write so, that it is taken for mine. A rogue that writes a newspaper, called The Protestant Postboy, has reflected on me in one of his papers; but the Secretary has taken him up, and he shall have a squeeze extraordinary. He says that an ambitious tantivy,2 missing of his towering hopes of preferment in Ireland, is come over to vent his spleen on the late Ministry, etc. I’ll tantivy him with a vengeance. I sat the evening at home, and am very busy, and can hardly find time to write, unless it were to MD. I am in furious haste.

11. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer. Thursdays are now his days when his choice company comes, but we are too much multiplied. George Granville sent his excuses upon being ill; I hear he apprehends the apoplexy, which would grieve me much. Lord Treasurer calls Prior nothing but Monsieur Baudrier, which was the feigned name of the Frenchman that writ his Journey to Paris.3 They pretend to suspect me, so I talk freely of it, and put them out of their play. Lord Treasurer calls me now Dr. Martin, because martin4 is a sort of a swallow, and so is a swift. When he and I came last Monday from Windsor, we were reading all the signs on the road.5 He is a pure trifler; tell the Bishop of Clogher so. I made him make two lines in verse for the Bell and Dragon, and they were rare bad ones. I suppose Dilly is with you by this time: what could his reason be of leaving London, and not owning it? ’Twas plaguy silly. I believe his natural inconstancy made him weary. I think he is the king of inconstancy. I stayed with Lord Treasurer till ten; we had five lords and three commoners. Go to ombre, sirrahs.

12. Mrs. Vanhomrigh has changed her lodging as well as I. She found she had got with a bawd, and removed. I dined with her to-day; for though she boards, her landlady does not dine with her. I am grown a mighty lover of herrings; but they are much smaller here than with you. In the afternoon I visited an old major-general, and ate six oysters; then sat an hour with Mrs. Colledge,6 the joiner’s daughter that was hanged; it was the joiner was hanged, and not his daughter; with Thompson’s wife, a magistrate. There was the famous Mrs. Floyd of Chester, who, I think, is the handsomest woman (except MD) that ever I saw. She told me that twenty people had sent her the verses upon Biddy,7 as meant to her: and, indeed, in point of handsomeness, she deserves them much better. I will not go to Windsor to-morrow, and so I told the Secretary to-day. I hate the thoughts of Saturday and Sunday suppers with Lord Treasurer. Jack Hill is come home from his unfortunate expedition, and is, I think, now at Windsor: I have not yet seen him. He is privately blamed by his own friends for want of conduct. He called a council of war, and therein it was determined to come back. But they say a general should not do that, because the officers will always give their opinion for returning, since the blame will not lie upon them, but the general. I pity him heartily. Bernage received his commission to-day.

13. I dined to-day with Colonel Crowe,8 late Governor of Barbadoes; he is a great acquaintance of your friend Sterne, to whom I trusted the box. Lord Treasurer has refused Sterne’s business, and I doubt he is a rake; Jemmy Leigh stays for him, and nobody knows where to find him. I am so busy now I have hardly time to spare to write to our little MD, but in a fortnight I hope it will be over. I am going now to be busy, etc.

14. I was going to dine with Dr. Cockburn, but Sir Andrew Fountaine met me, and carried me to Mrs. Van’s, where I drank the last bottle of Raymond’s wine, admirable good, better than any I get among the Ministry. I must pick up time to answer this letter of MD’s; I’ll do it in a day or two for certain. — I am glad I am not at Windsor, for it is very cold, and I won’t have a fire till November. I am contriving how to stop up my grate with bricks. Patrick was drunk last night; but did not come to me, else I should have given him t’other cuff. I sat this evening with Mrs. Barton; it is the first day of her seeing company; but I made her merry enough, and we were three hours disputing upon Whig and Tory. She grieved for her brother only for form, and he was a sad dog. Is Stella well enough to go to church, pray? no numbings left? no darkness in your eyes? do you walk and exercise? Your exercise is ombre. — People are coming up to town: the Queen will be at Hampton Court in a week. Lady Betty Germaine, I hear, is come; and Lord Pembroke is coming: his wife9 is as big with child as she can tumble.

15. I sat at home till four this afternoon to-day writing, and ate a roll and butter; then visited Will Congreve an hour or two, and supped with Lord Treasurer, who came from Windsor to-day, and brought Prior with him. The Queen has thanked Prior for his good service in France, and promised to make him a Commissioner of the Customs. Several of that Commission are to be out; among the rest, my friend Sir Matthew Dudley. I can do nothing for him, he is so hated by the Ministry. Lord Treasurer kept me till twelve, so I need not tell you it is now late.

16. I dined to-day with Mr. Secretary at Dr. Coatesworth’s,10 where he now lodges till his house be got ready in Golden Square. One Boyer,11 a French dog, has abused me in a pamphlet, and I have got him up in a messenger’s hands: the Secretary promises me to swinge him. Lord Treasurer told me last night that he had the honour to be abused with me in a pamphlet. I must make that rogue an example, for warning to others. I was to see Jack Hill this morning, who made that unfortunate expedition; and there is still more misfortune; for that ship, which was admiral of his fleet,12 is blown up in the Thames, by an accident and carelessness of some rogue, who was going, as they think, to steal some gunpowder: five hundred men are lost. We don’t yet know the particulars. I am got home by seven, and am going to be busy, and you are going to play and supper; you live ten times happier than I; but I should live ten times happier than you if I were with MD. I saw Jemmy Leigh to-day in the street, who tells me that Sterne has not lain above once these three weeks in his lodgings, and he doubts he takes ill courses; he stays only till he can find Sterne to go along with him, and he cannot hear of him. I begged him to inquire about the box when he comes to Chester, which he promises.

17. The Secretary and I dined to-day with Brigadier Britton,13 a great friend of his. The lady of the house is very gallant, about thirty-five; she is said to have a great deal of wit; but I see nothing among any of them that equals MD by a bar’s length, as hope saved. My Lord Treasurer is much out of order; he has a sore throat, and the gravel, and a pain in his breast where the wound was: pray God preserve him. The Queen comes to Hampton Court on Tuesday next; people are coming fast to town, and I must answer MD’s letter, which I can hardly find time to do, though I am at home the greatest part of the day. Lady Betty Germaine and I were disputing Whig and Tory to death this morning. She is grown very fat, and looks mighty well. Biddy Floyd was there, and she is, I think, very much spoiled with the smallpox.

18. Lord Treasurer is still out of order, and that breaks our method of dining there to-day. He is often subject to a sore throat, and some time or other it will kill him, unless he takes more care than he is apt to do. It was said about the town that poor Lord Peterborow was dead at Frankfort; but he is something better, and the Queen is sending him to Italy, where I hope the warm climate will recover him: he has abundance of excellent qualities, and we love one another mightily. I was this afternoon in the City, ate a bit of meat, and settled some things with a printer. I will answer your letter on Saturday, if possible, and then send away this; so to fetch up the odd days I lost at Windsor, and keep constant to my fortnight. Ombre time is now coming on, and we shall have nothing but Manley, and Walls, and Stoytes, and the Dean. Have you got no new acquaintance? Poor girls; nobody knows MD’s good qualities. —’Tis very cold; but I will not have a fire till November, that’s pozz. — Well, but coming home to-night, I found on my table a letter from MD; faith, I was angry, that is, with myself; and I was afraid too to see MD’s hand so soon, for fear of something, I don’t know what: at last I opened it, and it was over well, and a bill for the two hundred guineas. However, ’tis a sad thing that this letter is not gone, nor your twenty-first answered yet.

19. I was invited to-day to dine with Mrs. Van, with some company who did not come; but I ate nothing but herrings; you must know I hardly ever eat of above one thing, and that the plainest ordinary meat at table; I love it best, and believe it wholesomest. You love rarities; yes you do; I wish you had all that I ever see where I go. I was coming home early, and met the Secretary in his chair, who persuaded me to go with him to Britton’s; for he said he had been all day at business, and had eaten nothing. So I went, and the time passed so, that we stayed till two, so you may believe ’tis late enough.

20. This day has gone all wrong, by sitting up so late last night. Lord Treasurer is not yet well, and can’t go to Windsor. I dined with Sir Matthew Dudley, and took occasion to hint to him that he would lose his employment, for which I am very sorry. Lord Pembroke and his family are all come to town. I was kept so long at a friend’s this evening that I cannot send this to-night. When I knocked at my lodgings, a fellow asked me where lodged Dr. Swift? I told him I was the person: he gave me a letter he brought from the Secretary’s office, and I gave him a shilling: when I came up, I saw Dingley’s hand: faith, I was afraid, I do not know what. At last it was a formal letter, from Dingley about her exchequer business. Well, I’ll do it on Monday, and settle it with Tooke. And now, boys, for your letter, I mean the first, N.21. Let’s see; come out, little letter. I never had the letter from the Bishop that Raymond mentions; but I have written to Ned Southwell, to desire the Duke of Ormond to speak to his reverence, that he may leave off his impertinence. What a pox can they think I am doing for the Archbishop here? You have a pretty notion of me in Ireland, to make me an agent for the Archbishop of Dublin. — Why! do you think I value your people’s ingratitude about my part in serving them? I remit them their first-fruits of ingratitude, as freely as I got the other remitted to them. The Lord Treasurer defers writing his letter to them, or else they would be plaguily confounded by this time. For he designs to give the merit of it wholly to the Queen and me, and to let them know it was done before the Duke of Ormond was Lord Lieutenant. You visit, you dine abroad, you see friends; you pilgarlick;14 you walk from Finglas, you a cat’s foot. O Lord — Lady Gore15 hung her child by the WAIST; what is that waist?16 I don’t understand that word; he must hang on till you explain or spell it. — I don’t believe he was pretty, that’s a liiii. — Pish! burn your First-Fruits; again at it. Stella has made twenty false spellings in her writing; I’ll send them to you all back again on the other side of this letter, to mend them; I won’t miss one. Why, I think there were seventeen bishops’ names to the letter Lord Oxford received. — I will send you some pamphlets by Leigh; put me in mind of it on Monday, for I shall go then to the printer; yes, and the Miscellany. I am mightily obliged to Walls, but I don’t deserve it by any usage of him here, having seen him but twice, and once en passant. Mrs. Manley forsworn ombre! What! and no blazing star appear? no monsters born? no whale thrown up? have you not found out some evasion for her? She had no such regard to oaths in her younger days. I got the books for nothing, Madam Dingley; but the wine I got not; it was but a promise. — Yes, my head is pretty well in the main, only now and then a little threatening or so. — You talk of my reconciling some great folks. I tell you what. The Secretary told me last night that he had found the reason why the Queen was cold to him for some months past; that a friend had told it him yesterday; and it was, that they suspected he was at the bottom with the Duke of Marlborough. Then he said he had reflected upon all I had spoken to him long ago, but he thought it had only been my suspicion, and my zeal and kindness for him. I said I had reason to take that very ill, to imagine I knew so little of the world as to talk at a venture to a great Minister; that I had gone between him and Lord Treasurer often, and told each of them what I had said to the other, and that I had informed him so before. He said all that you may imagine to excuse himself, and approve my conduct. I told him I knew all along that this proceeding of mine was the surest way to send me back to my willows in Ireland, but that I regarded it not, provided I could do the kingdom service in keeping them well together. I minded him how often I had told Lord Treasurer, Lord Keeper, and him together, that all things depended on their union, and that my comfort was to see them love one another; and I had told them all singly that I had not said this by chance, etc. He was in a rage to be thus suspected; swears he will be upon a better foot, or none at all; and I do not see how they can well want him in this juncture. I hope to find a way of settling this matter. I act an honest part, that will bring me neither honour nor praise. MD must think the better of me for it: nobody else shall ever know of it. Here’s politics enough for once; but Madam DD gave me occasion for it. I think I told you I have got into lodgings that don’t smell ill — O Lord! the spectacles: well, I’ll do that on Monday too; although it goes against me to be employed for folks that neither you nor I care a groat for. Is the eight pounds from Hawkshaw included in the thirty-nine pounds five shillings and twopence? How do I know by this how my account stands? Can’t you write five or six lines to cast it up? Mine is forty-four pounds per annum, and eight pounds from Hawkshaw makes fifty-two pounds. Pray set it right, and let me know; you had best. — And so now I have answered N.21, and ’tis late, and I will answer N.22 in my next: this cannot go to-night, but shall on Tuesday: and so go to your play, and lose your money, with your two eggs a penny; silly jade; you witty? very pretty.

21. Mrs. Van would have me dine with her again to-day, and so I did, though Lady Mountjoy has sent two or three times to have me see and dine with her, and she is a little body I love very well. My head has ached a little in the evenings these three or four days, but it is not of the giddy sort, so I do not much value it. I was to see Lord Harley to-day, but Lord Treasurer took physic; and I could not see him. He has voided much gravel, and is better, but not well: he talks of going on Tuesday to see the Queen at Hampton Court; I wish he may be able. I never saw so fine a summer day as this was: how is it with you, pray? and can’t you remember, naughty packs? I han’t seen Lord Pembroke yet. He will be sorry to miss Dilly: I wonder you say nothing of Dilly’s being got to Ireland; if he be not there soon, I shall have some certain odd thoughts: guess them if you can.

22. I dined in the City to-day with Dr. Freind, at one of my printers: I inquired for Leigh, but could not find him: I have forgot what sort of apron you want. I must rout among your letters, a needle in a bottle of hay. I gave Sterne directions, but where to find him Lord knows. I have bespoken the spectacles; got a set of Examiners, and five pamphlets, which I have either written or contributed to, except the best, which is the vindication of the Duke of Marlborough, and is entirely of the author of the Atalantis.17 I have settled Dingley’s affair with Tooke, who has undertaken it, and understands it. I have bespoken a Miscellany: what would you have me do more? It cost me a shilling coming home; it rains terribly, and did so in the morning. Lord Treasurer has had an ill day, in much pain. He writes and does business in his chamber now he is ill: the man is bewitched: he desires to see me, and I’ll maul him, but he will not value it a rush. I am half weary of them all. I often burst out into these thoughts, and will certainly steal away as soon as I decently can. I have many friends, and many enemies; and the last are more constant in their nature. I have no shuddering at all to think of retiring to my old circumstances, if you can be easy; but I will always live in Ireland as I did the last time; I will not hunt for dinners there, nor converse with more than a very few.

23. Morning. This goes to-day, and shall be sealed by and by. Lord Treasurer takes physic again to-day: I believe I shall dine with Lord Dupplin. Mr. Tooke brought me a letter directed for me at Morphew’s the bookseller. I suppose, by the postage, it came from Ireland. It is a woman’s hand, and seems false spelt on purpose: it is in such sort of verse as Harris’s petition;18 rallies me for writing merry things, and not upon divinity; and is like the subject of the Archbishop’s last letter, as I told you. Can you guess whom it came from? It is not ill written; pray find it out. There is a Latin verse at the end of it all rightly spelt; yet the English, as I think, affectedly wrong in many places. My plaguing time is coming. A young fellow brought me a letter from Judge Coote,19 with recommendation to be lieutenant of a man-of-war. He is the son of one Echlin,20 who was minister of Belfast before Tisdall, and I have got some other new customers; but I shall trouble my friends as little as possible. Saucy Stella used to jeer me for meddling with other folks’ affairs; but now I am punished for it. — Patrick has brought the candle, and I have no more room. Farewell, etc. etc.

Here is a full and true account of Stella’s new spelling:— 21

Plaguely, Plaguily. Dineing, Dining. Straingers, Strangers. Chais, Chase. Waist, Wast. Houer, Hour. Immagin, Imagine. A bout, About. Intellegence, Intelligence. Merrit, Merit. Aboundance, Abundance. Secreet, Secret. Phamphlets, Pamphlets. Bussiness, Business.

Tell me truly, sirrah, how many of these are mistakes of the pen, and how many are you to answer for as real ill spelling? There are but fourteen; I said twenty by guess. You must not be angry, for I will have you spell right, let the world go how it will. Though, after all, there is but a mistake of one letter in any of these words. I allow you henceforth but six false spellings in every letter you send me.

1 Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of Colonel Kane’s regiment.

2 A nickname for the High Church party.

3 See Letter 29, note 10.

4 “From this pleasantry of my Lord Oxford, the appellative Martinus Scriblerus took its rise” (Deane Swift).

5 Cf. the Imitation of the Sixth Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 1714, where Swift says that, during their drives together, Harley would

“gravely try to read the lines
Writ underneath the country signs.”

6 See Letter 23, note 15.

7 See Letter 18, note 4.

8 See Letter 23, note 17.

9 Lord Pembroke (see Letter 7, note 31) married, in 1708, as his second wife, Barbara, Dowager Baroness Arundell of Trerice, formerly widow of Sir Richard Mauleverer, and daughter of Sir Thomas Slingsby. She died in 1722.

10 Caleb Coatesworth, who died in 1741, leaving a large fortune.

11 Abel Boyer, Whig journalist and historian, attacked Swift in his pamphlet, An Account of the State and Progress of the Present Negotiations for Peace. Boyer says that he was released from custody by Harley; and in the Political State for 1711 (p. 646) he speaks of Swift as “a shameless and most contemptible ecclesiastical turncoat, whose tongue is as swift to revile as his mind is swift to change.” The Postboy said that Boyer would “be prosecuted with the utmost severity of the law” for this attack.

12 The “Edgar.” Four hundred men were killed.

13 William Bretton, or Britton, was made Lieutenant-Colonel in 1702, Colonel of a new Regiment of Foot 1705, Brigadier-General 1710, and Colonel of the King’s Own Borderers in April 1711 (Dalton, Army Lists, iii. 238). In December 1711 he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the King of Prussia (Postboy, Jan. 1, 1712), and he died in December 1714 or January 1715.

14 See Letter 24, note 14.

15 It is not clear which of several Lady Gores is here referred to. It may be (1) the wife of Sir William Gore, Bart., of Manor Gore, and Custos Rotulorum, County Leitrim, who married Hannah, eldest daughter and co-heir of James Hamilton, Esq., son of Sir Frederick Hamilton, and niece of Gustavus Hamilton, created Viscount Boyne. She died 1733. Or (2) the wife of Sir Ralph Gore, Bart. (died 1732), M.P. for County Donegal, and afterwards Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. He married Miss Colville, daughter of Sir Robert Colville, of Newtown, Leitrim, and, as his second wife, Elizabeth, only daughter of Dr. Ashe, Bishop of Clogher. Or (3) the wife of Sir Arthur Gore, Bart. (died 1727), of Newtown Gore, Mayo, who married Eleanor, daughter of Sir George St. George, Bart., of Carrick, Leitrim, and was ancestor of the Earls of Arran.

16 “Modern usage has sanctioned Stella’s spelling” (Scott). Swift’s spelling was “wast.”

17 Mrs. Manley.

18 Swift’s own lines, “Mrs. Frances Harris’s Petition.”

19 Thomas Coote was a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, in Ireland, from 1692 until his removal in 1715.

20 Probably a relative of Robert Echlin, Dean of Tuam, who was killed by some of his own servants in April 1712, at the age of seventy-three. His son John became Prebendary and Vicar-General of Tuam, and died in 1764, aged eighty-three. In August 1731 Bolingbroke sent Swift a letter by the hands of “Mr. Echlin,” who would, he said, tell Swift of the general state of things in England.

21 “This column of words, as they are corrected, is in Stella’s hand” (Deane Swift).

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