I put in my letter this evening myself. I was to-day inquiring at the Secretary’s office of Mr. Lewis how things went: I there met Prior, who told me he gave all for gone, etc., and was of opinion the whole Ministry would give up their places next week: Lewis thinks they will not till spring, when the session is over; both of them entirely despair. I went to see Mrs. Masham, who invited me to dinner; but I was engaged to Lewis. At four I went to Masham’s. He came and whispered me that he had it from a very good hand that all would be well, and I found them both very cheerful. The company was going to the opera, but desired I would come and sup with them. I did so at ten, and Lord Treasurer was there, and sat with us till past twelve, and was more cheerful than I have seen him these ten days. Mrs. Masham told me he was mightily cast down some days ago, and he could not indeed hide it from me. Arbuthnot is in good hopes that the Queen has not betrayed us, but only has been frightened, and flattered, etc. But I cannot yet be of his opinion, whether my reasons are better, or that my fears are greater. I do resolve, if they give up, or are turned out soon, to retire for some months, and I have pitched upon the place already: but I will take methods for hearing from MD, and writing to them. But I would be out of the way upon the first of the ferment; for they lay all things on me, even some I have never read.
16. I took courage to-day, and went to Court with a very cheerful countenance. It was mightily crowded; both parties coming to observe each other’s faces. I have avoided Lord Halifax’s bow till he forced it on me; but we did not talk together. I could not make less than fourscore bows, of which about twenty might be to Whigs. The Duke of Somerset is gone to Petworth, and, I hear, the Duchess too, of which I shall be very glad. Prince Eugene,1 who was expected here some days ago, we are now told, will not come at all. The Whigs designed to have met him with forty thousand horse. Lord Treasurer told me some days ago of his discourse with the Emperor’s Resident, that puppy Hoffman, about Prince Eugene’s coming; by which I found my lord would hinder it, if he could; and we shall be all glad if he does not come, and think it a good point gained. Sir Andrew Fountaine, Ford, and I dined to-day with Mrs. Van, by invitation.
17. I have mistaken the day of the month, and been forced to mend it thrice. I dined to-day with Mr. Masham and his lady, by invitation. Lord Treasurer was to be there, but came not. It was to entertain Buys, the Dutch Envoy, who speaks English well enough: he was plaguily politic, telling a thousand lies, of which none passed upon any of us. We are still in the condition of suspense, and I think have little hopes. The Duchess of Somerset is not gone to Petworth; only the Duke, and that is a poor sacrifice. I believe the Queen certainly designs to change the Ministry, but perhaps may put it off till the session is over: and I think they had better give up now, if she will not deal openly; and then they need not answer for the consequences of a peace, when it is in other hands, and may yet be broken. They say my Lord Privy Seal sets out for Holland this week: so the peace goes on.
18. It has rained hard from morning till night, and cost me three shillings in coach-hire. We have had abundance of wet weather. I dined in the City, and was with the printer, who has now a fifth edition of the Conduct, etc.: it is in small, and sold for sixpence; they have printed as many as three editions, because they are to be sent in numbers into the country by great men, etc., who subscribe for hundreds. It has been sent a fortnight ago to Ireland: I suppose you will print it there. The Tory Lords and Commons in Parliament argue all from it; and all agree that never anything of that kind was of so great consequence, or made so many converts. By the time I have sent this letter, I expect to hear from little MD: it will be a month, two days hence, since I had your last, and I will allow ten days for accidents. I cannot get rid of the leavings of a cold I got a month ago, or else it is a new one. I have been writing letters all this evening till I am weary, and I am sending out another little thing, which I hope to finish this week, and design to send to the printer in an unknown hand. There was printed a Grub Street speech of Lord Nottingham;2 and he was such an owl to complain of it in the House of Lords, who have taken up the printer for it. I heard at Court that Walpole3 (a great Whig member) said that I and my whimsical Club writ it at one of our meetings, and that I should pay for it. He will find he lies: and I shall let him know by a third hand my thoughts of him. He is to be Secretary of State, if the Ministry changes; but he has lately had a bribe proved against him in Parliament, while he was Secretary at War. He is one of the Whigs’ chief speakers.
19. Sad dismal weather. I went to the Secretary’s office, and Lewis made me dine with him. I intended to have dined with Lord Treasurer. I have not seen the Secretary this week. Things do not mend at all. Lord Dartmouth despairs, and is for giving up; Lewis is of the same mind; but Lord Treasurer only says, “Poh, poh, all will be well.” I am come home early to finish something I am doing; but I find I want heart and humour, and would read any idle book that came in my way. I have just sent away a penny paper to make a little mischief. Patrick is gone to the burial of an Irish footman, who was Dr. King’s4 servant; he died of a consumption, a fit death for a poor starving wit’s footman. The Irish servants always club to bury a countryman.
20. I was with the Secretary this morning, and, for aught I can see, we shall have a languishing death: I can know nothing, nor themselves neither. I dined, you know, with our Society, and that odious Secretary would make me President next week; so I must entertain them this day se’nnight at the Thatched House Tavern,5 where we dined to-day: it will cost me five or six pounds; yet the Secretary says he will give me wine. I found a letter when I came home from the Bishop of Clogher.
21. This is the first time I ever got a new cold before the old one was going: it came yesterday, and appeared in all due forms, eyes and nose running, etc., and is now very bad; and I cannot tell how I got it. Sir Andrew Fountaine and I were invited to dine with Mrs. Van. I was this morning with the Duke of Ormond; and neither he nor I can think of anything to comfort us in present affairs. We must certainly fall, if the Duchess of Somerset be not turned out; and nobody believes the Queen will ever part with her. The Duke and I were settling when Mr. Secretary and I should dine with him, and he fixes upon Tuesday; and when I came away I remembered it was Christmas Day. I was to see Lady — — who is just up after lying-in; and the ugliest sight I have seen, pale, dead, old and yellow, for want of her paint. She has turned my stomach. But she will soon be painted, and a beauty again.
22. I find myself disordered with a pain all round the small of my back, which I imputed to champagne I had drunk; but find it to have been only my new cold. It was a fine frosty day, and I resolved to walk into the City. I called at Lord Treasurer’s at eleven, and stayed some time with him. — He showed me a letter from a great Presbyterian parson6 to him, complaining how their friends had betrayed them by passing this Conformity Bill; and he showed me the answer he had written, which his friends would not let him send; but was a very good one. He is very cheerful; but gives one no hopes, nor has any to give. I went into the City, and there I dined.
23. Morning. As I was dressing to go to church, a friend that was to see me advised me not to stir out; so I shall keep at home to-day, and only eat some broth, if I can get it. It is a terrible cold frost, and snow fell yesterday, which still remains: look there, you may see it from the penthouses. The Lords made yesterday two or three votes about peace, and Hanover, of a very angry kind to vex the Ministry, and they will meet sooner by a fortnight than the Commons; and they say, are preparing some knocking addresses. Morrow, sirrahs. I’ll sit at home, and when I go to bed I will tell you how I am. — I have sat at home all day, and eaten only a mess of broth and a roll. I have written a Prophecy,7 which I design to print; I did it to-day, and some other verses.
24. I went into the City to-day in a coach, and dined there. My cold is going. It is now bitter hard frost, and has been so these three or four days. My Prophecy is printed, and will be published after Christmas Day; I like it mightily: I don’t know how it will pass. You will never understand it at your distance, without help. I believe everybody will guess it to be mine, because it is somewhat in the same manner with that of “Merlin”8 in the Miscellanies. My Lord Privy Seal set out this day for Holland: he’ll have a cold journey. I gave Patrick half a crown for his Christmas box, on condition he would be good, and he came home drunk at midnight. I have taken a memorandum of it, because I never design to give him a groat more. ’Tis cruel cold.
25. I wish MD a merry Christmas, and many a one; but mine is melancholy: I durst not go to church to-day, finding myself a little out of order, and it snowing prodigiously, and freezing. At noon I went to Mrs. Van, who had this week engaged me to dine there to-day: and there I received the news that poor Mrs. Long9 died at Lynn in Norfolk on Saturday last, at four in the morning: she was sick but four hours. We suppose it was the asthma, which she was subject to as well as the dropsy, as she sent me word in her last letter, written about five weeks ago; but then said she was recovered. I never was more afflicted at any death. The poor creature had retired to Lynn two years ago, to live cheap, and pay her debts. In her last letter she told me she hoped to be easy by Christmas; and she kept her word, although she meant it otherwise. She had all sorts of amiable qualities, and no ill ones, but the indiscretion of too much neglecting her own affairs. She had two thousand pounds left her by an old grandmother,10 with which she intended to pay her debts, and live on an annuity she had of one hundred pounds a year, and Newburg House, which would be about sixty pounds more. That odious grandmother living so long, forced her to retire; for the two thousand pounds was settled on her after the old woman’s death, yet her brute of a brother, Sir James Long,11 would not advance it for her; else she might have paid her debts, and continued here, and lived still: I believe melancholy helped her on to her grave. I have ordered a paragraph to be put in the Postboy,12 giving an account of her death, and making honourable mention of her; which is all I can do to serve her memory: but one reason was spite; for her brother would fain have her death a secret, to save the charge of bringing her up here to bury her, or going into mourning. Pardon all this, for the sake of a poor creature I had so much friendship for.
26. I went to Mr. Secretary this morning, and he would have me dine with him. I called at noon at Mrs. Masham’s, who desired me not to let the Prophecy be published, for fear of angering the Queen about the Duchess of Somerset; so I writ to the printer to stop them. They have been printed and given about, but not sold. I saw Lord Treasurer there, who had been two hours with the Queen; and Mrs. Masham is in hopes things will do well again. I went at night again, and supped at Mr. Masham’s, and Lord Treasurer sat with us till one o’clock. So ’tis late, etc.
27. I entertained our Society at the Thatched House Tavern to-day at dinner; but brother Bathurst sent for wine, the house affording none. The printer had not received my letter, and so he brought up dozens apiece of the Prophecy; but I ordered him to part with no more. ’Tis an admirable good one, and people are mad for it. The frost still continues violently cold. Mrs. Masham invited me to come to-night and play at cards; but our Society did not part till nine. But I supped with Mrs. Hill, her sister, and there was Mrs. Masham and Lord Treasurer, and we stayed till twelve. He is endeavouring to get a majority against next Wednesday, when the House of Lords is to meet, and the Whigs intend to make some violent addresses against a peace, if not prevented. God knows what will become of us. — It is still prodigiously cold; but so I told you already. We have eggs on the spit, I wish they may not be addled. When I came home tonight I found, forsooth, a letter from MD, N.24, 24, 24, 24; there, do you know the numbers now? and at the same time one from Joe,13 full of thanks: let him know I have received it, and am glad of his success, but won’t put him to the charge of a letter. I had a letter some time ago from Mr. Warburton,14 and I beg one of you will copy out what I shall tell you, and send it by some opportunity to Warburton. ’Tis as follows: The Doctor has received Mr. Warburton’s letter, and desires he will let the Doctor know where15 that accident he mentions is like soon to happen, and he will do what he can in it. — And pray, madam, let them know that I do this to save myself the trouble, and them the expense of a letter. And I think that this is enough for one that comes home at twelve from a Lord Treasurer and Mrs. Masham. Oh, I could tell you ten thousand things of our mad politics, upon what small circumstances great affairs have turned. But I will go rest my busy head.
28. I was this morning with brother Bathurst to see the Duke of Ormond. We have given his Grace some hopes to be one of our Society. The Secretary and I and Bathurst are to dine with him on Sunday next. The Duke is not in much hopes, but has been very busy in endeavouring to bring over some lords against next Wednesday. The Duchess caught me as I was going out; she is sadly in fear about things, and blames me for not mending them by my credit with Lord Treasurer; and I blame her. She met me in the street at noon, and engaged me to dine with her, which I did; and we talked an hour after dinner in her closet. If we miscarry on Wednesday, I believe it will be by some strange sort of neglect. They talk of making eight new lords by calling up some peers’ eldest sons; but they delay strangely. I saw Judge Coote16 to-day at the Duke of Ormond’s: he desires to come and see me, to justify his principles.
29. Morning. This goes to-day. I will not answer yours, your 24th, till next, which shall begin to-night, as usual. Lord Shelburne has sent to invite me to dinner, but I am engaged with Lewis at Ned Southwell’s. Lord Northampton and Lord Aylesbury’s sons17 are both made peers; but we shall want more. I write this post to your Dean. I owe the Archbishop a letter this long time. All people that come from Ireland complain of him, and scold me for protecting him. Pray, Madam Dingley, let me know what Presto has received for this year, or whether anything is due to him for last: I cannot look over your former letters now. As for Dingley’s own account of her exchequer money, I will give it on t’other side. Farewell, my own dearest MD, and love Presto; and God ever bless dearest MD, etc. etc. I wish you many happy Christmases and new years.
I have owned to the Dean a letter I just had from you, but that I had not one this great while before.
Received of Mr. Tooke . . 6 17 6 Deducted for entering the letter of attorney . 0 2 6 For the three half-crowns it used to cost you, I don’t know why nor wherefore . . 0 7 6 For exchange to Ireland . . 0 10 0 For coach-hire. . 0 2 6
So there’s your money, and we are both even: for I’ll pay you no more than that eight pounds Irish, and pray be satisfied.
Churchwarden’s accounts, boys.
Saturday night. I have broke open my letter, and tore it into the bargain, to let you know that we are all safe: the Queen has made no less than twelve lords,18 to have a majority; nine new ones, the other three peers’ sons; and has turned out the Duke of Somerset. She is awaked at last, and so is Lord Treasurer: I want nothing now but to see the Duchess out. But we shall do without her. We are all extremely happy. Give me joy, sirrahs. This is written in a coffee-house. Three of the new lords are of our Society.
1 The proposed visit to London of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the renowned General, and friend of Marlborough, was viewed by the Government with considerable alarm.
2 Swift’s “An excellent new Song; being the intended Speech of a famous orator against Peace,” a ballad “two degrees above Grub Street” (see Letter 36, note 11).
3 Robert Walpole was then M.P. for King’s Lynn, and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. He had been Secretary at War from February 1708 to September 1710, and the Commissioners of Public Accounts having reported, on Dec. 21, 1711, that he had been guilty of venality and corruption, he was expelled from the House of Commons, and taken to the Tower.
4 William King, D.C.L., author of the Journey to London in 1698, Dialogues of the Dead, The Art of Cookery, and other amusing works, was, at the end of the month, appointed Gazetteer, in succession to Steele, on Swift’s recommendation. Writing earlier in the year, Gay said that King deserved better than to “languish out the small remainder of his life in the Fleet Prison.” The duties of Gazetteer were too much for his easy-going nature and failing health, and he resigned the post in July 1712. He died in the following December.
5 At the bottom of St. James’s Street, on the west side.
6 The Rev. John Shower, pastor of the Presbyterian Congregation at Curriers’ Hall, London Wall.
7 The Windsor Prophecy, in which the Duchess of Somerset (see Letter 17, note 10) is attacked as “Carrots from Northumberland.”
8 Merlin’s Prophecy, 1709, written in pseudo-mediaeval English.
9 See Letter 3, note 18.
10 Dorothy, daughter of Sir Edward Leach, of Shipley, Derbyshire.
11 Sir James Long, Bart. (died 1729), was at this time M.P. for Chippenham.
12 The number containing this paragraph is not in the British Museum.
13 Joseph Beaumont (see Letter 1, note 2, Letter 26, Jul. 6, 1711 and Letter 35, note 26)
14 See Letter 4, note 13.
15 Apparently a misprint for “whether.”
16 See Letter 32, note 19.
17 James Compton, afterwards fifth Earl of Northampton (died 1754), was summoned to the House of Lords as Baron Compton in December 1711. Charles Bruce, who succeeded his father as third Earl of Aylesbury in 1741, was created Lord Bruce, of Whorlton, at the same time.
18 James, Lord Compton, eldest son of the Earl of Northampton; Charles, Lord Bruce, eldest son of the Earl of Aylesbury; Henry Paget, son of Lord Paget; George Hay, Viscount Dupplin, the son-in-law of the Lord Treasurer, created Baron Hay; Viscount Windsor, created Baron Montjoy; Sir Thomas Mansel, Baron Mansel; Sir Thomas Willoughby, Baron Middleton; Sir Thomas Trevor, Baron Trevor; George Granville, Baron Lansdowne; Samuel Masham, Baron Masham; Thomas Foley, Baron Foley; and Allen Bathurst, Baron Bathurst.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00