The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 41.1

London, Feb. 9, 1711-12.

When my letter is gone, and I have none of yours to answer, my conscience is so clear, and my shoulder so light, and I go on with such courage to prate upon nothing to deerichar MD, oo would wonder. I dined with Sir Matthew Dudley, who is newly turned out of Commission of the Customs. He affects a good heart, and talks in the extremity of Whiggery, which was always his principle, though he was gentle a little, while he kept in employment. We can yet get no packets from Holland. I have not been with any of the Ministry these two or three days. I keep out of their way on purpose, for a certain reason, for some time, though I must dine with the Secretary to-morrow, the choosing of the company being left to me. I have engaged Lord Anglesea2 and Lord Carteret,3 and have promised to get three more; but I have a mind that none else should be admitted: however, if I like anybody at Court to-morrow, I may perhaps invite them. I have got another cold, but not very bad. Nite . . . MD.

10. I saw Prince Eugene at Court to-day very plain; he’s plaguy yellow, and tolerably ugly besides. The Court was very full, and people had their Birthday clothes. I dined with the Secretary to-day. I was to invite five, but I only invited two, Lord Anglesea and Lord Carteret. Pshaw, I told you this but yesterday. We have no packets from Holland yet. Here are a parcel of drunken Whiggish lords, like your Lord Santry,4 who come into chocolate-houses and rail aloud at the Tories, and have challenges sent them, and the next morning come and beg pardon. General Ross5 was like to swinge the Marquis of Winchester6 for this trick t’other day; and we have nothing else now to talk of till the Parliament has had another bout with the state of the war, as they intended in a few days. They have ordered the Barrier Treaty to be laid before them; and it was talked some time ago, as if there was a design to impeach Lord Townshend, who made it. I have no more politics now. Nite dee MD.

11. I dined with Lord Anglesea to-day, who had seven Irishmen to be my companions, of which two only were coxcombs; one I did not know, and t’other was young Blith,7 who is a puppy of figure here, with a fine chariot. He asked me one day at Court, when I had been just talking with some lords who stood near me, “Doctor, when shall we see you in the county of Meath?” I whispered him to take care what he said, for the people would think he was some barbarian. He never would speak to me since, till we met to-day. I went to Lady Masham’s to-night, and sat with Lord Treasurer and the Secretary there till past two o’clock; and when I came home, found some letters from Ireland, which I read, but can say nothing of them till to-morrow, ’tis so very late; but I8 must always be. . .,9 late or early. Nite deelest sollahs.10

12. One letter was from the Bishop of Clogher last night, and t’other from Walls, about Mrs. South’s11 salary, and his own pension of 18 pounds for his tithe of the park. I will do nothing in either; the first I cannot serve in, and the other is a trifle; only you may tell him I had his letter, and will speak to Ned Southwell about what he desires me. You say nothing of your Dean’s receiving my letter. I find Clements,12 whom I recommended to Lord Anglesea last year, at Walls’s desire, or rather the Bishop of Clogher’s, is mightily in Lord Anglesea’s favour. You may tell the Bishop and Walls so; I said to Lord Anglesea that I was [glad] I had the good luck to recommend him, etc. I dined in the City with my printer, to consult with him about some papers Lord Treasurer gave me last night, as he always does, too late; however, I will do something with them. My third cold is a little better; I never had anything like it before, three colds successively; I hope I shall have the fourth.13 Those messengers come from Holland to-day, and they brought over the six packets that were due. I know not the particulars yet, for when I was with the Secretary at noon they were just opening; but one thing I find, that the Dutch are playing us tricks, and tampering with the French; they are dogs; I shall know more tomollow . . . MD.14

13. I dined to-day privately with my friend Lewis, at his lodgings, to consult about some observations on the Barrier Treaty. Our news from Holland is not good. The French raise difficulties, and make such offers to the Allies as cannot be accepted. And the Dutch are uneasy that we are likely to get anything for ourselves; and the Whigs are glad at all this. I came home early, and have been very busy three or four hours. I had a letter from Dr. Pratt15 to-day by a private hand, recommending the bearer to me, for something that I shall not trouble myself about. Wesley16 writ to recommend the same fellow to me. His expression is that, hearing I am acquainted with my Lord Treasurer, he desires I would do so and so: a matter of nothing. What puppies are mankind! I hope I shall be wiser when I have once done with Courts. I think you han’t troubled me much with your recommendations. I would do you all the saavis17 I could.

Pray have you got your aplon,18 maram Ppt? I paid for it but yesterday; that puts me in mind of it. I writ an inventory of what things I sent by Leigh in one of my letters; did you compare it with what you got? I hear nothing of your cards now; do you never play? Yes, at Ballygall. Go to bed. Nite, deelest MD.19

14. Our Society dined to-day at Mr. Secretary’s house. I went there at four; but hearing the House of Commons would sit late upon the Barrier Treaty, I went for an hour to Kensington, to see Lord Masham’s children. My young nephew,20 his son of six months old, has got a swelling in his neck; I fear it is the evil. We did not go to dinner till eight at night, and I left them at ten. The Commons have been very severe on the Barrier Treaty, as you will find by their votes. A Whig member took out the Conduct of the Allies, and read that passage about the succession with great resentment; but none seconded him. The Church party carried every vote by a great majority. The A.B.21 Dublin is so railed at by all who come from Ireland that I can defend him no longer. Lord Anglesea assured me that the story of applying Piso out of Tacitus22 to Lord Treasurer’s being wounded is true. I believe the Duke of Beaufort will be admitted to our Society next meeting. To-day I published the Fable of Midas,23 a poem, printed in a loose half-sheet of paper. I know not how it will sell; but it passed wonderfully at our Society to-night; and Mr. Secretary read it before me the other night to Lord Treasurer, at Lord Masham’s, where they equally approved of it. Tell me how it passes with you. I think this paper is larger than ordinary; for here is six days’ journal, and no nearer the bottom. I fear these journals are very dull. Nite my deelest lives.

15. Mr. Lewis and I dined by invitation with a Scotch acquaintance, after I had been very busy in my chamber till two afternoon. My third cold is now very troublesome on my breast, especially in the morning. This is a great revolution in my health; colds never used to return so soon with me, or last so long. ’Tis very surprising this news to-day of the Dauphin and Dauphiness both dying within six days. They say the old King is almost heart-broke. He has had prodigious mortifications in his family. The Dauphin has left two little sons, of four and two years old; the eldest is sick. There is a foolish story got about the town that Lord Strafford, one of our Plenipotentiaries, is in the interests of France; and it has been a good while said that Lord Privy Seal24 and he do not agree very well. They are both long practised in business, but neither of them of much parts. Strafford has some life and spirit, but is infinitely proud, and wholly illiterate. Nite, MD.

16. I dined to-day in the City with my printer, to finish something I am doing about the Barrier Treaty;25 but it is not quite done. I went this evening to Lord Masham’s, where Lord Treasurer sat with us till past twelve. The Lords have voted an Address to the Queen, to tell her they are not satisfied with the King of France’s offers. The Whigs brought it in of a sudden; and the Court could not prevent it, and therefore did not oppose it. The House of Lords is too strong in Whigs, notwithstanding the new creations; for they are very diligent, and the Tories as lazy: the side that is down has always most industry. The Whigs intended to have made a vote that would reflect on Lord Treasurer; but their project was not ripe. I hit my face such a rap by calling the coach to stop to-night, that it is plaguy sore, the bone beneath the eye. Nite dee logues.

17. The Court was mighty full to-day, and has been these many Sundays; but the Queen was not at chapel. She has got a little fit of the gout in her foot. The good of going to Court is that one sees all one’s acquaintance, whom otherwise I should hardly meet twice a year. Prince Eugene dines with the Secretary to-day, with about seven or eight General Officers, or foreign Ministers. They will be all drunk, I am sure. I never was in company with this Prince: I have proposed to some lords that we should have a sober meal with him; but I can’t compass it. It is come over in the Dutch news prints that I was arrested on an action of twenty thousand pounds by the Duke of Marlborough. I did not like my Court invitation to-day; so Sir Andrew Fountaine and I went and dined with Mrs. Van. I came home at six, and have been very busy till this minute, and it is past twelve. So I got into bed to write to MD . . . MD.26 We reckon the Dauphin’s death will put forward the peace a good deal. Pray is Dr. Griffith27 reconciled to me yet? Have I done enough to soften him? . . . 28 Nite deelest logues.

18. Lewis had Guiscard’s picture: he bought it, and offered it to Lord Treasurer, who promised to send for it, but never did; so I made Lewis give it me, and I have it in my room; and now Lord Treasurer says he will take it from me: is that fair? He designs to have it at length in the clothes he was when he did the action, and a penknife in his hand; and Kneller is to copy it from this that I have. I intended to dine with Lord Treasurer to-day, but he has put me off till to-morrow; so I dined with Lord Dupplin. You know Lord Dupplin very well; he is a brother of the Society. Well, but I have received a letter from the Bishop of Cloyne, to solicit an affair for him with Lord Treasurer, and with the Parliament, which I will do as soon as fly. I am not near so keen about other people’s affairs as . . . 29 Ppt used to reproach me about; it was a judgment on me. Harkee, idle dearees both, meetinks I begin to want a rettle flom30 MD: faith, and so I do. I doubt you have been in pain about the report of my being arrested. The pamphleteers have let me alone this month, which is a great wonder: only the third part of the Answer to the Conduct, which is lately come out. (Did I tell you of it already?) The House of Commons goes on in mauling the late Ministry and their proceedings. Nite deelest MD.31

19. I dined with Lord Treasurer to-day, and sat with him till ten, in spite of my teeth, though my printer waited for me to correct a sheet. I told him of four lines I writ extempore with my pencil, on a bit of paper in his house, while he lay wounded. Some of the servants, I suppose, made waste-paper of them, and he never had heard of them. Shall I tell them you? They were inscribed to Mr. Harley’s physician. Thus

On Britain Europe’s safety lies;32
Britain is lost, if Harley dies.
Harley depends upon your skill:
Think what you save, or what you kill.

Are not they well enough to be done off-hand; for that is the meaning of the word extempore, which you did not know, did you? I proposed that some company should dine with him on the 8th of March, which was the day he was wounded, but he says he designs that the Lords of the Cabinet, who then sat with him, should dine that day with him:33 however, he has invited me too. I am not got rid of my cold; it plagues me in the morning chiefly. Nite, MD,

20. After waiting to catch the Secretary coming out from Sir Thomas Hanmer, for two hours, in vain, about some business, I went into the City to my printer, to correct some sheets of the Barrier Treaty and Remarks, which must be finished to-morrow: I have been horrible busy for some days past, with this and some other things; and I wanted some very necessary papers, which the Secretary was to give me, and the pamphlet must now be published without them. But they are all busy too. Sir Thomas Hanmer is Chairman of the Committee for drawing up a Representation of the state of the nation34 to the Queen, where all the wrong steps of the Allies and late Ministry about the war will be mentioned. The Secretary, I suppose, was helping him about it to-day; I believe it will be a pepperer. Nite, deel MD.

21. I have been six hours to-day morning writing nineteen pages of a letter to Lord Treasurer, about forming a Society or Academy to correct and fix the English language.35 (Is English a speech or a language?) It will not be above five or six more. I will send it to him to-morrow, and will print it, if he desires me. I dined, you know, with our Society to-day: Thursday is our day. We had a new member admitted; it was the Duke of Beaufort. We had thirteen met: brother Ormond was not there, but sent his excuse that Prince Eugene dined with him. I left them at seven, being engaged to go to Sir Thomas Hanmer, who desired I would see him at that hour. His business was that I would hoenlbp ihainm itavoi dsroanws ubpl tohne sroegporaensiepnotlastoigobn,36 which I consented to do; but know not whether I shall succeed, because it is a little out of my way. However, I have taken my share. Nite, MD.

22. I finished the rest of my letter to Lord Treasurer today, and sent it to him about one o’clock; and then dined privately with my friend Mr. Lewis, to talk over some affairs of moment. I had gotten the thirteenth volume of Rymer’s Collection of the Records of the Tower for the University of Dublin.37 I have two volumes now. I will write to the Provost, to know how I shall send them to him; no, I won’t, for I will bring them myself among my own books. I was with Hanmer this morning, and there were the Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer38 very busy with him, laying their heads together about the representation. I went to Lord Masham’s to-night, and Lady Masham made me read to her a pretty twopenny pamphlet, called The St. Albans Ghost.39 I thought I had writ it myself; so did they; but I did not. Lord Treasurer came down to us from the Queen, and we stayed till two o’clock. That is the best night-place I have. The usual40 company are Lord and Lady Masham, Lord Treasurer, Dr. Arbuthnot, and I; sometimes the Secretary, and sometimes Mrs. Hill of the bed-chamber, Lady Masham’s sister. I assure oo, it im vely rate now; but zis goes to-morrow: and I must have time to converse with own richar MD. Nite, deelest sollahs.41

23. I have no news to tell you this last day, nor do I know where I shall dine. I hear the Secretary is a little out of order; perhaps I may dine there, perhaps not. I sent Hanmer what he wanted from me, I know not how he will approve of it. I was to do more of the same sort; I am going out, and must carry zis in my pottick to give it at some general post-house. I will talk further with oo at night. I suppose in my next I shall answer a letter from MD that will be sent me. On Tuesday it will be four weeks since I had your last, N.26. This day se’nnight I expect one, for that will be something more than a full month. Farewell, MD . . . deelest . . . MD MD MD . . . ME ME ME . . . logues . . . lele.42

1 This letter, the first of the series published by Hawkesworth, of which we have the originals (see Preface), was addressed “To Mrs. Johnson at her Lodgings over against St. Mary’s Church, near Capell Street, Dublin, Ireland”; and was endorsed by her “Recd. Mar. 1st.”

2 See Letter 10, note 28.

3 See Letter 12, note 22.

4 See Letter 23, note 2.

5 Charles Ross, son of the eleventh Baron Ross, was Colonel of the Royal Irish Dragoons from 1695 to 1705. He was a Lieutenant-General under the Duke of Ormond in Flanders, and died in 1732 (Dalton, ii. 212, iii. 34).

6 Charles Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, succeeded his father (see Letter 31, note 2) as third Duke of Bolton in 1722. He married, as his second wife, Lavinia Fenton, the actress who took the part of Polly Peacham in Gay’s Beggars Opera in 1728, and he died in 1754.

7 John Blith, or Bligh, son of the Right Hon. Thomas Bligh, M.P. of Rathmore, Co. Meath (see Letter 4, note 22). In August 1713 he married Lady Theodosia Hyde, daughter of Edward, third Earl of Clarendon. Lord Berkeley of Stratton wrote, “Lady Theodosia Hyde . . . is married to an Irish Mr. Blythe, of a good estate, who will soon have enough of her, if I can give any guess” (Wentworth Papers, 353). In 1715 Bligh was made Baron Clifton, of Rathmore, and Earl of Darnley in 1725. He died in 1728.

8 Obliterated.

9 Word obliterated; probably “found.” Forster reads “oors, dee MD.”

10 Words obliterated.

11 See Letter 31, note 1 and Letter 10, note 31.

12 See Letter 20, Apr. 13-14, 1711 and Letter 9, note 20.

13 Words obliterated. Forster reads “fourth. Euge, euge, euge.”

14 Words obliterated; one illegible.

15 See Letter 2, note 14.

16 See Letter 1, note 12.

17 Service.

18 “Aplon”— if this is the right word — means, of course, apron — the apron referred to on Letter 39, Jan. 25, 1711-12.

19 Words obliterated.

20 As the son of a “brother” of the Club.

21 The Archbishop, Dr. King.

22 See Tacitus, Annals, book ii. Cn. Calpurnius Piso, who was said to have poisoned Germanicus, was found with his throat cut.

23 This satire on Marlborough concludes —

“And Midas now neglected stands,
With asses’ ears and dirty hands.”

24 Dr. Robinson, Bishop of Bristol.

25 Some Remarks on the Barrier Treaty.

26 Several words are obliterated. Forster reads “MD MD, for we must always write to MD MD MD, awake or asleep;” but the passage is illegible.

27 See Letter 11, note 39 and Letter 61, note 5.

28 A long erasure. Forster reads “Go to bed. Help pdfr. Rove pdfr. MD MD. Nite darling rogues.”

29 Word obliterated. Forster reads “saucy.”

30 Letter from.

31 Words partially obliterated.

32 Swift wrote by mistake, “On Europe Britain’s safety lies”; the slip was pointed out by Hawkesworth. All the verse is written in the MSS. as prose.

33 “Them” (MS.).

34 See Wyons Queen Anne, ii. 366-7.

35 A Proposal for Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining the English Tongue, in a Letter to the Most Honourable Robert, Earl of Oxford, 1712.

36 “Help him to draw up the representation” (omitting every other letter).

37 See Letter 23, note 13.

38 Robert Benson.

39 The Story of the St. Albans Ghost, 1712.

40 “Usually” (MS.).

41 These words are partially obliterated.

42 This sentence is obliterated. Forster reads, “Farewell, mine deelest rife deelest char Ppt, MD MD MD Ppt, FW, Lele MD, ME ME ME ME aden FW MD Lazy ones Lele Lele all a Lele.”

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