The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 43.1

London, March 8, 1711-12.

I carried my forty-second letter in my pocket till evening, and then put it in the general post. — I went in the morning to see Lord Treasurer, who had taken physic, and was drinking his broth. I had been with the Secretary before, to recommend a friend, one Dr. Freind,2 to be Physician-General; and the Secretary promised to mention it to the Queen. I can serve everybody but myself. Then I went to Court, and carried Lord Keeper and the Secretary to dine with Lord Masham, when we drank the Queen and Lord Treasurer with every health, because this was the day of his stabbing. — Then I went and played pools at picquet with Lady Masham and Mrs. Hill; won ten shillings, gave a crown to the box, and came home. I met at my lodgings a letter from Joe, with a bit annexed from Ppt. What Joe asks is entirely out of my way, and I take it for a foolish whim in him. Besides, I know not who is to give a patent: if the Duke of Ormond, I would speak to him; and if it come in my head I will mention it to Ned Southwell. They have no patents that I know of for such things here, but good security is all; and to think that I would speak to Lord Treasurer for any such matter at random is a jest. Did I tell you of a race of rakes, called the Mohocks,3 that play the devil about this town every night, slit people’s noses, and beat them, etc.? Nite, sollahs, and rove Pdfr. Nite, MD.

9. I was at Court to-day, and nobody invited me to dinner, except one or two, whom I did not care to dine with; so I dined with Mrs. Van. Young Davenant4 was telling us at Court how he was set upon by the Mohocks, and how they ran his chair through with a sword. It is not safe being in the streets at night for them. The Bishop of Salisbury’s son5 is said to be of the gang. They are all Whigs; and a great lady sent to me, to speak to her father and to Lord Treasurer, to have a care of them, and to be careful likewise of myself; for she heard they had malicious intentions against the Ministers and their friends. I know not whether there be anything in this, though others are of the same opinion. The weather still continues very fine and frosty. I walked in the Park this evening, and came home early to avoid the Mohocks. Lord Treasurer is better. Nite, my own two deelest MD.

10. I went this morning again to the Lord Treasurer, who is quite recovered; and I stayed till he went out. I dined with a friend in the City, about a little business of printing; but not my own. You must buy a small twopenny pamphlet, called Law is a Bottomless Pit.6 ’Tis very prettily written, and there will be a Second Part. The Commons are very slow in bringing in their Bill to limit the press, and the pamphleteers make good use of their time; for there come out three or four every day. Well, but is not it time, methinks, to have a letter from MD? ’Tis now six weeks since I had your Number 26. I can assure oo I expect one before this goes; and I’ll make shorter day’s journals than usual, ‘cause I hope to fill up a good deal of t’other side with my answer. Our fine weather lasts yet, but grows a little windy. We shall have rain soon, I dispose. Go to cards, sollahs, and I to seep. Nite, MD.

11. Lord Treasurer has lent the long letter I writ him7 to Prior, and I can’t get Prior to return it. I want to have it printed, and to make up this Academy for the improvement of our language. Faith, we never shall improve it so much as FW has done; sall we? No, faith, ourrichar gangridge.8 I dined privately with my friend Lewis, and then went to see Ned Southwell, and talk with him about Walls’s business, and Mrs. South’s. The latter will be done; but his own not. Southwell tells me that it must be laid before Lord Treasurer, and the nature of it explained, and a great deal of clutter, which is not worth the while; and maybe Lord Treasurer won’t do it [at] last; and it is, as Walls says himself, not above forty shillings a year difference. You must tell Walls this, unless he would have the business a secret from you: in that case only say I did all I could with Ned Southwell, and it can’t be done; for it must be laid before Lord Treasurer, etc., who will not do it; and besides, it is not worth troubling his lordship. So nite, my two deelest nuntyes nine MD.9

12. Here is the D—— and all to do with these Mohocks. Grub Street papers about them fly like lightning, and a list printed of near eighty put into several prisons, and all a lie; and I begin almost to think there is no truth, or very little, in the whole story. He that abused Davenant was a drunken gentleman; none of that gang. My man tells me that one of the lodgers heard in a coffee-house, publicly, that one design of the Mohocks was upon me, if they could catch me; and though I believe nothing of it, I forbear walking late, and they have put me to the charge of some shillings already. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer and two gentlemen of the Highlands of Scotland, yet very polite men. I sat there till nine, and then went to Lord Masham’s, where Lord Treasurer followed me, and we sat till twelve; and I came home in a chair for fear of the Mohocks, and I have given him warning of it too. Little Harrison,10 whom I sent to Holland, is now actually made Queen’s Secretary at The Hague. It will be in the Gazette to-morrow. ’Tis worth twelve hundred pounds a year. Here is a young fellow has writ some Sea Eclogues, poems of Mermen, resembling pastorals of shepherds, and they are very pretty, and the thought is new. Mermen are he-mermaids; Tritons, natives of the sea. Do you understand me? I think to recommend him to our Society to-morrow. His name is Diaper.11 P— on him, I must do something for him, and get him out of the way. I hate to have any new wits rise, but when they do rise I would encourage them; but they tread on our heels and thrust us off the stage. Nite deelest MD.

13. You would laugh to see our printer constantly attending our Society after dinner, and bringing us whatever new thing he has printed, which he seldom fails to do. Yet he had nothing to-day. Lord Lansdowne, one of our Society, was offended at a passage in this day’s Examiner, which he thinks reflects on him, as I believe it does, though in a mighty civil way. ’Tis only that his underlings cheat; but that he is a very fine gentleman every way, etc.12 Lord Orrery was President to-day; but both our dukes were absent. Brother Wyndham recommended Diaper to the Society. I believe we shall make a contribution among ourselves, which I don’t like. Lord Treasurer has yet done nothing for us, but we shall try him soon. The company parted early, but Freind, and Prior, and I, sat a while longer and reformed the State, and found fault with the Ministry. Prior hates his Commission of the Customs, because it spoils his wit. He says he dreams of nothing but cockets,13 and dockets, and drawbacks, and other jargon words of the custom-house. Our good weather went away yesterday, and the nights are now dark, and I came home before ten. Night nown . . . deelest sollahs.

14. I have been plagued this morning with solicitors, and with nobody more than my brother, Dr. Freind, who must needs have to get old Dr. Lawrence,14 the Physician-General, turned out and himself in. He has argued with me so long upon the reasonableness of it, that I am fully convinced it is very unreasonable; and so I would tell the Secretary, if I had not already made him speak to the Queen. Besides, I know not but my friend Dr. Arbuthnot would be content to have it himself, and I love him ten times better than Freind. What’s all this to you? but I must talk of things as they happen in the day, whether you know anything of them or no. I dined in the City, and, coming back, one Parson Richardson15 of Ireland overtook me. He was here last summer upon a project of converting the Irish and printing Bibles, etc., in that language, and is now returned to pursue it on. He tells me Dr. Coghill16 came last night [to] town. I will send to see how he does to-morrow. He gave me a letter from Walls about his old business. Nite, deelest MD.

15. I had intended to be early with the Secretary this morning, when my man admitted upstairs one Mr. Newcomb,17 an officer, who brought me a letter from the Bishop of Clogher, with four lines added by Mrs. Ashe, all about that Newcomb. I think, indeed, his case is hard, but God knows whether I shall be able to do him any service. People will not understand: I am a very good second, but I care not to begin a recommendation, unless it be for an intimate friend. However, I will do what I can. I missed the Secretary, and then walked to Chelsea to dine with the Dean of Christ Church,18 who was engaged to Lord Orrery with some other Christ Church men. He made me go with him whether I would or not, for they have this long time admitted me a Christ Church man. Lord Orrery, generally every winter, gives his old acquaintance of that college a dinner. There were nine clergymen at table, and four laymen. The Dean and I soon left them, and after a visit or two, I went to Lord Masham’s, and Lord Treasurer, Arbuthnot and I sat till twelve. And now I am come home and got to bed. I came afoot, but had my man with me. Lord Treasurer advised me not to go in a chair, because the Mohocks insult chairs more than they do those on foot. They think there is some mischievous design in those villains. Several of them, Lord Treasurer told me, are actually taken up. I heard at dinner that one of them was killed last night. We shall know more in a little time. I don’t like them, as the men said.19 Nite MD.

16. This morning, at the Secretary’s, I met General Ross,20 and recommended Newcomb’s case to him, who promises to join with me in working up the Duke of Ormond to do something for him. Lord Winchelsea21 told me to-day at Court that two of the Mohocks caught a maid of old Lady Winchelsea’s,22 at the door of their house in the Park, where she was with a candle, and had just lighted out somebody. They cut all her face, and beat her without any provocation. I hear my friend Lewis has got a Mohock in one of the messenger’s hands. The Queen was at church to-day, but was carried in an open chair. She has got an ugly cough, Arbuthnot, her physician, says. I dined with Crowe,23 late Governor of Barbados; an acquaintance of Sterne’s.24 After dinner I asked him whether he had heard of Sterne. “Here he is,” said he, “at the door in a coach:” and in came Sterne. He has been here this week. He is buying a captainship in his cousin Sterne’s25 regiment. He told me he left Jemmy Leigh playing at cards with you. He is to give 800 guineas for his commission. I suppose you know all this better than I. How shall I have room to answer oo rettle26 hen I get it, I have gone so far already? Nite, deelest logues MD.

17. Dr. Sacheverell came this morning to give me thanks for getting his brother an employment. It was but six or seven weeks since I spoke to Lord Treasurer for him. Sacheverell brought Trapp27 along with him. We dined together at my printer’s, and I sat with them till seven. I little thought, and I believe so did he, that ever I should be his solicitor to the present Ministry, when I left Ireland. This is the seventh I have now provided for since I came, and can do nothing for myself. I don’t care; I shall have Ministries and other people obliged to me. Trapp is a coxcomb, and the t’other is not very deep; and their judgment in things of wit or sense is miraculous. The Second Part of Law is a Bottomless Pit28 is just now printed, and better, I think, than the first. Night, my two deel saucy dallars.

18. There is a proclamation out against the Mohocks. One of those that are taken is a baronet. I dined with poor Mrs. Wesley, who is returning to the Bath. Mrs. Perceval’s29 young daughter has got the smallpox, but will do well. I walked this evening in the Park, and met Prior, who made me go home with him, where I stayed till past twelve, and could not get a coach, and was alone, and was afraid enough of the Mohocks. I will do so no more, though I got home safe. Prior and I were talking discontentedly of some managements, that no more people are turned out, which get Lord Treasurer many enemies: but whether the fault be in him, or the Queen, I know not; I doubt, in both. Ung omens, it is now seven weeks since I received your last; but I expect one next Irish packet, to fill the rest of this paper; but if it don’t come, I’ll do without it: so I wish oo good luck at ombre with the Dean. Nite, nuntyes nine.30

19. Newcomb came to me this morning, and I went to the Duke of Ormond to speak for him; but the Duke was just going out to take the oaths for General. The Duke of Shrewsbury is to be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I walked with Domville and Ford to Kensington, where we dined, and it cost me above a crown. I don’t like it, as the man said.31 It was very windy walking. I saw there Lord Masham’s children. The youngest, my nephew, I fear, has got the king’s evil; the other two are daughters of three and four years old. ’Twas very windy walking. The gardens there are mighty fine. I passed the evening at Lord Masham’s with Lord Treasurer and Arbuthnot, as usual, and we stayed till past one; but I had my man to come with me, and at home I found three letters; one from one Fetherston, a parson, with a postscript of Tisdall’s to recommend him: and Fetherston, whom I never saw, has been so kind to give me a letter of attorney to recover a debt for him. Another from Lord Abercorn, to get him the dukedom of Chatelherault32 from the King of France; in which I will do what I can, for his pretensions are very just. The third, I warrant you, from our MD. ’Tis a great stir this, of getting a dukedom from the King of France: but it is only to speak to the Secretary, and get the Duke of Ormond to engage in it, and mention the case to Lord Treasurer, etc., and this I shall do. Nite deelest richar MD.

20. I was with the Duke of Ormond this morning, about Lord Abercorn, Dr. Freind, and Newcomb. Some will do, and some will not do; that’s wise, marams.33 The Duke of Shrewsbury is certainly to be your Governor. I will go in a day or two, and give the Duchess joy, and recommend the Archbishop of Dublin to her. I writ to the Archbishop, some months ago, that it would be so, and told him I would speak a good word for him to the Duchess; and he says he has a great respect for her, etc. I made our Society change their house, and we met to-day at the Star and Garter in the Pall Mall. Lord Arran was President. The other dog was so extravagant in his bills, that for four dishes and four, first and second course, without wine or dessert, he charged twenty-one pounds, six shillings, and eightpence, to the Duke of Ormond. We design, when all have been Presidents this turn, to turn it into a reckoning of so much a head; but we shall break up when the session ends. Nite deelest MD.

21. Morning. Now I will answer MD’s rettle, N.27; you that are adding to your number and grumbling, had made it 26, and then altered34 it to 27. I believe it is above a month since your last; yes, it is above seven weeks since I had your last: but I ought to consider that this was twelve days right,35 so that makes it pretty even. O, the sirry zade,36 with her excuses of a fortnight at Ballygall, seeing their friends, and landlord running away. O Rold, hot a cruttle37 and a bustle! — No — if you will have it — I am not Dean of Wells,38 nor know anything of being so; nor is there anything in the story; and that’s enough. It was not Roper39 sent that news: Roper is my humble slave. — Yes, I heard of your resolves, and that Burton was embroiled. Stratford spoke to me in his behalf; but I said I hated the rascal. Poor Catherine gone to Wales? But she will come back again, I hope. I would see her in my journey, if she were near the road; and bring her over. Joe40 is a fool; that sort of business is not at all in my way, pray put him off it. People laugh when I mention it. Bed ee paadon, Maram; I’m drad oo rike ee aplon:41 no harm, I hope. And so . . . DD wonders she has not a letter at the day; oo’ll have it soon. . . . The D—— he is! married to that vengeance! Men are not to be believed. I don’t think her a fool. Who would have her? Dilly will be governed like an ass; and she will govern like a lion. Is not that true, Ppt? Why, Sterne told me he left you at ombre with Leigh; and yet you never saw him. I know nothing of his wife being here: it may cost her a c —-42 (I don’t care to write that word plain). He is a little in doubt about buying his commission. Yes, I will bring oo over all the little papers I can think on. I thought I sent you, by Leigh, all that were good at that time. The author of the Sea Eclogues sent books to the Society yesterday, and we gave him guineas apiece; and, maybe, will do further from him (for him, I mean). So the Bishop of Clogher, and lady, were your guests for a night or two. Why, Ppt, you are grown a great gamester and company keeper. I did say to myself, when I read those names, just what you guess; and you clear up the matter wonderfully. You may converse with those two nymphs if you please, but the ——— take me if ever I do. Iss, fais, it is delightful to hear that Ppt is every way Ppt now, in health, and looks, and all. Pray God keep her so, many, many, many years. I doubt the session will not be over till the end of April; however, I shall not wait for it, if the Ministry will let me go sooner. I wish I were just now in my garden at Laracor. I would set out for Dublin early on Monday, and bring you an account of my young trees, which you are better acquainted with than the Ministry, and so am I. Oh, now you have got Number 41, have you so? Why, perhaps, I forgot, and kept it to next post in my pocket: I have done such tricks. My cold is better, but not gone. I want air and riding. Hold ee tongue, oo Ppt, about colds at Moor Park! the case is quite different. I will do what you desire me for Tisdall, when I next see Lord Anglesea. Pray give him my service. The weather is warm these three or four days, and rainy. I am to dine to-day with Lewis and Darteneuf at Somers’s,43 the Clerk of the Kitchen at Court. Darteneuf loves good bits and good sups. Good mollows richar sollohs. — At night. I dined, as I said; and it cost me a shilling for a chair. It has rained all day, and is very warm. Lady Masham’s young son, my nephew, is very ill; and she is out of mind44 with grief. I pity her mightily. I am got home early, and going to write to the Bishop of Clogher, but have no politics to send him. Nite my own two deelest saucy d[ear] ones.

22. I am going into the City this morning with a friend about some business; so I will immediately seal up this, and keep it in my pottick till evening, and zen put it in the post. The weather continues warm and gloomy. I have heard no news since I went to bed, so can say no more. Pray send . . . that I may have time to write to. . .45 about it. I have here underneath given order for forty shillings to Mrs. Brent, which you will send to Parvisol. Farewell, deelest deel MD, and rove Pdfr dearly dearly. Farewell, MD, MD, FW, FW, FW, ME, ME, ME, Lele lele lele lele lele lele, and lele aden.

1 Addressed “To Mrs. Johnson, at her lodgings over against St. Mary’s Church, near Capel Street, Dublin, Ireland.” Endorsed “Mar. 30.”

2 See Letter 9, note 1.

3 The Mohocks succeeded the Scowrers of William III.‘s reign. Gay (Trivia, iii. 325) says

“Who has not heard the Scowrers’ midnight fame?
Who has not trembled at the Mohocks’ name?”

Lady Wentworth (Wentworth Papers, 277) says: “They put an old woman into a hogshead, and rolled her down a hill; they cut off some noses, others’ hands, and several barbarous tricks, without any provocation. They are said to be young gentlemen; they never take any money from any.” See also the Spectator, Nos. 324, 332, and 347 (where Budgell alludes to “the late panic fear”), and Defoe’s Review for March 15, 1712. Swift was in considerable alarm about the Mohocks throughout March, and said that they were all Whigs. The reports that numbers of persons, including men of figure, had joined together to commit assaults in the streets, made many fear to leave their houses at night. A proclamation was issued for the suppressing of riots and the discovery of those guilty of the late outrages; but it seems probable that the disorders were not more frequent than might be expected from time to time in a great city.

4 Henry Davenant, son of Charles Davenant (see Letter 8, note 14), was Resident at Frankfort. Macky described him as “very giddy-headed, with some wit,” to which Swift added, “He is not worth mentioning.”

5 Thomas Burnet, youngest son of Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, was at this time a young man about town of no good reputation. Afterwards he turned his attention to the law, and was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1741. He was knighted in 1745, and died in 1753.

6 By Arbuthnot, written to recommend the peace proposals of the Government. The full title was, Law is a Bottomless Pit. Exemplified in the case of the Lord Strutt, John Bull, Nicholas Frog, and Lewis Baboon; who spent all they had in a Law Suit.

7 See Letter 25, note 6 and Letter 41, note 35.

8 Our little language.

9 Forster reads, “two deelest nauty nown MD.”

10 See Letter 6, note 12.

11 William Diaper, son of Joseph Diaper of Bridgewater, was sent to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1699, at the age of fourteen. He entered the Church, and was curate at Brent, Somerset; but he died in 1717, aged twenty-nine.

12 The Examiner (vol. ii. No. 15) complained of general bribery and oppression on the part of officials and underlings in the public service, especially in matters connected with the army; but the writer said that the head (Lord Lansdowne) was just and liberal in his nature, and easy in his fortune, and a man of honour and virtue.

13 Sealed documents given to show that a merchant’s goods are entered.

14 Thomas Lawrence, First Physician to Queen Anne, and Physician-General to the Army, died in 1714 (Gentleman’s Magazine, 1815, ii. 17). His daughter Elizabeth was second wife to Lord Mohun.

15 See Letter 17, note 11.

16 See Letter 26, note 2.

17 No officer named Newcomb appears in Dalton’s Army Lists; but the allusion to General Ross, further on in Letter 43, adds to the probability that Swift was referring to one of the sons of Sir Thomas Newcomen, Bart., who was killed at the siege of Enniskillen. Beverley Newcomen (Dalton, iii. 52, iv. 60), who was probably Swift’s acquaintance, was described in a petition of 1706 as a Lieutenant who had served at Killiecrankie, and had been in Major-General Ross’s regiment ever since 1695.

18 Atterbury.

19 Evidently a familiar quotation at the time. Forster reads, incorrectly, “But the more I lite MD.”

20 See Letter 41, note 5.

21 See Letter 12, note 1.

22 In 1681, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of John Ayres, of the City of London, then aged about twenty, became the fourth and last wife of Heneage Finch, Earl of Winchelsea, who died in 1689. She lived until 1745.

23 See Letter 23, note 17.

24 Enoch Sterne (see Letter 4, note 17).

25 Lieut.-Col. Robert Sterne was in Col. Frederick Hamilton’s Regiment in 1695.

26 Letter.

27 See Letter 13, note 10.

28 The title was, John Bull in his Senses: being the Second Part of Law is a Bottomless Pit.

29 See Letter 36, note 6.

30 Cf. note 9 above. Forster reads “nautyas,” when the words would mean “as naughty as nine,” apparently.

31 See note 19 above.

32 In 1549, James, second Earl of Arran, was made Duke of Chatelherault by Henry II. of France. His eldest son died without issue; the second, John, became first Marquis of Hamilton, and was great-grandfather of Lady Anne Hamilton (Duchess of Hamilton), mother of the Duke of Swift’s Journal. The Earl of Abercorn, on the other hand, was descended from Claud, third son of the Earl of Arran, but in the male line; and his claim was therefore the stronger, according to the French law of inheritance.

33 Madams.

34 This word is doubtful. Forster reads “cobbled.”

35 A mistake, apparently, for “writing.” The letter was begun on March 8.

36 Silly jade.

37 O Lord, what a clutter.

38 On the death of Dr. William Graham, Dean of Wells, it was reported that Swift was to be his successor. Dr. Brailsford, however, received the appointment.

39 Abel Roper (1665-1726), a Tory journalist, published, thrice weekly, the Postboy, to which Swift sometimes sent paragraphs. Boyer (Political State, 1711, p. 678) said that Roper was only the tool of a party; “there are men of figure and distinction behind the curtain, who furnish him with such scandalous reflections as they think proper to cast upon their antagonists.”

40 Joe Beaumont.

41 Beg your pardon, Madams, I’m glad you like your apron (see Letter 41, note 18).

42 This word was smudged by Swift.

43 I cannot find Somers in contemporary lists of officials. Cf. Letter 30, note 16 and Letter 17, note 3.

44 Obliterated and doubtful.

45 Words obliterated and illegible. Forster reads, conjecturally, “Pray send Pdfr the ME account that I may have time to write to Parvisol.”

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