The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 4.

London, Sept. 21, 1710.

Here must I begin another letter, on a whole sheet, for fear saucy little MD should be angry, and think MUCH that the paper is too LITTLE. I had your letter this night, as told you just and no more in my last; for this must be taken up in answering yours, saucebox. I believe I told you where I dined to-day; and to-morrow I go out of town for two days to dine with the same company on Sunday; Molesworth1 the Florence Envoy, Stratford, and some others. I heard to-day that a gentlewoman from Lady Giffard’s house had been at the Coffee-house to inquire for me. It was Stella’s mother, I suppose. I shall send her a penny-post letter2 to-morrow, and contrive to see her without hazarding seeing Lady Giffard, which I will not do until she begs my pardon.

22. I dined to-day at Hampstead with Lady Lucy, etc., and when I got home found a letter from Joe, with one enclosed to Lord Wharton, which I will send to his Excellency, and second it as well as I can; but to talk of getting the Queen’s order is a jest. Things are in such a combustion here, that I am advised not to meddle yet in the affair I am upon, which concerns the clergy of a whole kingdom; and does he think anybody will trouble the Queen about Joe? We shall, I hope, get a recommendation from the Lord Lieutenant to the trustees for the linen business, and I hope that will do; and so I will write to him in a few days, and he must have patience. This is an answer to part of your letter as well as his. I lied; it is to-morrow I go to the country, and I won’t answer a bit more of your letter yet.

23. Here is such a stir and bustle with this little MD of ours; I must be writing every night; I can’t go to bed without a word to them; I can’t put out my candle till I have bid them good-night: O Lord, O Lord! Well, I dined the first time to-day, with Will Frankland and his fortune: she is not very handsome. Did I not say I would go out of town to-day? I hate lying abroad and clutter; I go tomorrow in Frankland’s chariot, and come back at night. Lady Berkeley has invited me to Berkeley Castle, and Lady Betty Germaine3 to Drayton in Northamptonshire; and I’ll go to neither. Let me alone, I must finish my pamphlet. I have sent a long letter to Bickerstaff:4 let the Bishop of Clogher smoke5 it if he can. Well, I’ll write to the Bishop of Killala; but you might have told him how sudden and unexpected my journey was though. Deuce take Lady S—-; and if I know D—-y, he is a rawboned-faced fellow, not handsome, nor visibly so young as you say: she sacrifices two thousand pounds a year, and keeps only six hundred. Well, you have had all my land journey in my second letter, and so much for that. So, you have got into Presto’s lodgings; very fine, truly! We have had a fortnight of the most glorious weather on earth, and still continues: I hope you have made the best of it. Ballygall6 will be a pure7 good place for air, if Mrs. Ashe makes good her promise. Stella writes like an emperor: I am afraid it hurts your eyes; take care of that pray, pray, Mrs. Stella. Can’t you do what you will with your own horse? Pray don’t let that puppy Parvisol sell him. Patrick is drunk about three times a week, and I bear it, and he has got the better of me; but one of these days I will positively turn him off to the wide world, when none of you are by to intercede for him. — Stuff — how can I get her husband into the Charter-house? get a —— into the Charter-house. — Write constantly! Why, sirrah, don’t I write every day, and sometimes twice a day to MD? Now I have answered all your letter, and the rest must be as it can be: send me my bill. Tell Mrs. Brent what I say of the Charter-house. I think this enough for one night; and so farewell till this time to-morrow.

24. To-day I dined six miles out of town at Will Pate’s, with Stratford, Frankland, and the Molesworths,8 and came home at night, and was weary and lazy. I can say no more now, but good-night.

25. I was so lazy to-day that I dined at next door,9 and have sat at home since six, writing to the Bishop of Clogher, Dean Sterne, and Mr. Manley: the last, because I am in fear for him about his place, and have sent him my opinion, what I and his other friends here think he ought to do. I hope he will take it well. My advice was, to keep as much in favour as possible with Sir Thomas Frankland, his master here.

26. Smoke how I widen the margin by lying in bed when I write. My bed lies on the wrong side for me, so that I am forced often to write when I am up. Manley, you must know, has had people putting in for his place already; and has been complained of for opening letters. Remember that last Sunday, September 24, 1710, was as hot as midsummer. This was written in the morning; it is now night, and Presto in bed. Here’s a clutter, I have gotten MD’s second letter, and I must answer it here. I gave the bill to Tooke, and so — Well, I dined to-day with Sir John Holland the Comptroller, and sat with him till eight; then came home, and sent my letters, and writ part of a lampoon,10 which goes on very slow: and now I am writing to saucy MD; no wonder, indeed, good boys must write to naughty girls. I have not seen your mother yet; my penny-post letter, I suppose, miscarried: I will write another. Mr. S—— came to see me; and said M—— was going to the country next morning with her husband (who I find is a surly brute); so I could only desire my service to her.

27. To-day all our company dined at Will Frankland’s, with Steele and Addison too. This is the first rainy day since I came to town; I cannot afford to answer your letter yet. Morgan,11 the puppy, writ me a long letter, to desire I would recommend him for purse-bearer or secretary to the next Lord Chancellor that would come with the next Governor. I will not answer him; but beg you will say these words to his father Raymond,12 or anybody that will tell him: That Dr. Swift has received his letter; and would be very ready to serve him, but cannot do it in what he desires, because he has no sort of interest in the persons to be applied to. These words you may write, and let Joe, or Mr. Warburton,13 give them to him: a pox on him! However, it is by these sort of ways that fools get preferment. I must not end yet, because I cannot say good-night without losing a line, and then MD would scold; but now, good-night.

28. I have the finest piece of Brazil tobacco for Dingley that ever was born.14 You talk of Leigh; why, he won’t be in Dublin these two months: he goes to the country, then returns to London, to see how the world goes here in Parliament. Good-night, sirrahs; no, no, not night; I writ this in the morning, and looking carelessly I thought it had been of last night. I dined to-day with Mrs. Barton15 alone at her lodgings; where she told me for certain, that Lady S—— was with child when she was last in England, and pretended a tympany, and saw everybody; then disappeared for three weeks, her tympany was gone, and she looked like a ghost, etc. No wonder she married when she was so ill at containing. Connolly16 is out; and Mr. Roberts in his place, who loses a better here, but was formerly a Commissioner in Ireland. That employment cost Connolly three thousand pounds to Lord Wharton; so he has made one ill bargain in his life.

29. I wish MD a merry Michaelmas. I dined with Mr. Addison, and Jervas the painter, at Addison’s country place; and then came home, and writ more to my lampoon. I made a Tatler since I came: guess which it is, and whether the Bishop of Clogher smokes it. I saw Mr. Sterne17 to-day: he will do as you order, and I will give him chocolate for Stella’s health. He goes not these three weeks. I wish I could send it some other way. So now to your letter, brave boys. I don’t like your way of saving shillings: nothing vexes me but that it does not make Stella a coward in a coach.18 I don’t think any lady’s advice about my ear signifies twopence: however I will, in compliance to you, ask Dr. Cockburn. Radcliffe19 I know not, and Barnard20 I never see. Walls will certainly be stingier for seven years, upon pretence of his robbery. So Stella puns again; why, ’tis well enough; but I’ll not second it, though I could make a dozen: I never thought of a pun since I left Ireland. — Bishop of Clogher’s bill? Why, he paid it to me; do you think I was such a fool to go without it? As for the four shillings, I will give you a bill on Parvisol for it on t’other side of this paper; and pray tear off the two letters I shall write to him and Joe, or let Dingley transcribe and send them; though that to Parvisol, I believe, he must have my hand for. No, no, I’ll eat no grapes; I ate about six the other day at Sir John Holland’s; but would not give sixpence for a thousand, they are so bad this year. Yes, faith, I hope in God Presto and MD will be together this time twelvemonth. What then? Last year I suppose I was at Laracor; but next I hope to eat my Michaelmas goose at my two little gooses’ lodgings. I drink no aile (I suppose you mean ale); but yet good wine every day, of five and six shillings a bottle. O Lord, how much Stella writes! pray don’t carry that too far, young women, but be temperate, to hold out. To-morrow I go to Mr. Harley.21 Why, small hopes from the Duke of Ormond: he loves me very well, I believe, and would, in my turn, give me something to make me easy; and I have good interest among his best friends. But I don’t think of anything further than the business I am upon. You see I writ to Manley before I had your letter, and I fear he will be out. Yes, Mrs. Owl, Bligh’s corpse22 came to Chester when I was there; and I told you so in my letter, or forgot it. I lodge in Bury Street, where I removed a week ago. I have the first floor, a dining-room, and bed-chamber, at eight shillings a week; plaguy deep, but I spend nothing for eating, never go to a tavern, and very seldom in a coach; yet after all it will be expensive. Why do you trouble yourself, Mistress Stella, about my instrument? I have the same the Archbishop gave me; and it is as good now the bishops are away. The Dean friendly! the Dean be poxed: a great piece of friendship indeed, what you heard him tell the Bishop of Clogher; I wonder he had the face to talk so: but he lent me money, and that’s enough. Faith, I would not send this these four days, only for writing to Joe and Parvisol. Tell the Dean that when the bishops send me any packets, they must not write to me at Mr. Steele’s; but direct for Mr. Steele, at his office at the Cockpit, and let the enclosed be directed for me: that mistake cost me eighteenpence the other day.

30. I dined with Stratford to-day, but am not to see Mr. Harley till Wednesday: it is late, and I send this before there is occasion for the bell; because I would have Joe have his letter, and Parvisol too; which you must so contrive as not to cost them double postage. I can say no more, but that I am, etc.

1 John Molesworth, Commissioner of the Stamp Office, was sent as Envoy to Tuscany in 1710, and was afterwards Minister at Florence, Venice, Geneva, and Turin. He became second Viscount Molesworth in 1725, and died in 1731.

2 Misson says, “Every two hours you may write to any part of the city or suburbs: he that receives it pays a penny, and you give nothing when you put it into the Post; but when you write into the country both he that writes and he that receives pay each a penny.” The Penny Post system had been taken over by the Government, but was worked separately from the general Post.

3 The Countess of Berkeley’s second daughter, who married, in 1706, Sir John Germaine, Bart. (1650-1718), a soldier of fortune. Lady Betty Germaine is said to have written a satire on Pope (Nichols’ Literary Anecdotes, ii. 11), and was a constant correspondent of Swift’s. She was always a Whig, and shortly before her death in 1769 she made a present of 100 pounds to John Wilkes, then in prison in the Tower. Writing of Lady Betty Butler and Lady Betty Germaine, Swift says elsewhere, “I saw two Lady Bettys this afternoon; the beauty of one, the good breeding and nature of the other, and the wit of either, would have made a fine woman.” Germaine obtained the estate at Drayton through his first wife, Lady Mary Mordaunt — Lord Peterborough’s sister — who had been divorced by her first husband, the Duke of Norfolk. Lady Betty was thirty years younger than her husband, and after Sir John’s death she remained a widow for over fifty years.

4 The letter in No. 280 of the Tatler.

5 Discover, find out. Cf. Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well, iii. 6: “He was first smoked by the old Lord Lafeu.”

6 A village near Dublin.

7 Excellent.

8 John Molesworth, and, probably, his brother Richard, afterwards third Viscount Molesworth, who had saved the Duke of Marlborough’s life at the battle of Ramillies, and had been appointed, in 1710, colonel of a regiment of foot.

9 Presumably at Charles Ford’s.

10 The Virtues of Sid Hamet the Magician’s Rod, published as a single folio sheet, was a satire on Godolphin.

11 Apparently Marcus Antonius Morgan, steward to the Bishop of Kildare (Craik). Swift wrote to the Duke of Montagu on Aug. 12, 1713 (Buccleuch MSS., 1899, i. 359). “Mr. Morgan of Kingstrope is a friend, and was, I am informed, put out of the Commission of justice for being so.”

12 Dr. Raymond is called Morgan’s “father” because he warmly supported Morgan’s interests.

13 The Rev. Thomas Warburton, Swift’s curate at Laracor, whom Swift described to the Archbishop as “a gentleman of very good learning and sense, who has behaved himself altogether unblamably.”

14 The tobacco was to be used as snuff. About this time ladies much affected the use of snuff, and Steele, in No. 344 of the Spectator, speaks of Flavilla pulling out her box, “which is indeed full of good Brazil,” in the middle of the sermon. People often made their own snuff out of roll tobacco, by means of rasps. On Nov. 3, 1711, Swift speaks of sending “a fine snuff rasp of ivory, given me by Mrs. St. John for Dingley, and a large roll of tobacco.”

15 Katherine Barton, second daughter of Robert Barton, of Brigstock, Northamptonshire, and niece of Sir Isaac Newton. She was a favourite among the toasts of the Kit-Cat Club, and Lord Halifax, who left her a fortune, was an intimate friend. In 1717 she married John Conduitt, afterwards Master of the Mint.

16 William Connolly, appointed a Commissioner of the Revenue in 1709, was afterwards Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. He died in 1729. Francis Robarts, appointed a Commissioner of the Revenue in 1692, was made a Teller of the Exchequer in England in 1704, and quitted that office, in September 1710, on his reappointment, in Connolly’s place, as Revenue Commissioner in Ireland. In 1714 Robarts was removed, and Connolly again appointed Commissioner.

17 Enoch Sterne, Collector of Wicklow and Clerk to the Irish House of Lords. Writing to Dr. Sterne on Sept. 26, Swift said, “I saw Collector Sterne, who desired me to present his service to you, and to tell you he would be glad to hear from you, but not about business.”

18 In his “Character of Mrs. Johnson” Swift says, “She was never known to cry out, or discover any fear, in a coach.” The passage in the text is obscure. Apparently Esther Johnson had boasted of saving money by walking, instead of riding, like a coward.

19 John Radcliffe (1650-1714), the well-known physician and wit, was often denounced as a clever empiric. Early in 1711 he treated Swift for his dizziness. By his will, Radcliffe left most of his property to the University of Oxford.

20 Charles Barnard, Sergeant-Surgeon to the Queen, and Master of the Barber Surgeons’ Company. His large and valuable library, to which Swift afterwards refers, fetched great prices. Luttrell records Barnard’s death in his diary for Oct. 12, 1710.

21 Robert Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, had been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in August 1710. In May 1711 he was raised to the peerage and made Lord High Treasurer; and he is constantly referred to in the Journal as “Lord Treasurer.” He was impeached in 1715, but was acquitted to 1717; he died in 1724.

22 The Right Hon. Thomas Bligh, M.P., of Rathmore, County Meath, died on Aug. 28, 1710. His son, mentioned later in the Journal, became Earl of Darnley.

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