The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 44.1

London, March 22, 1711-12.

Ugly, nasty weather. I was in the City to-day with Mrs. Wesley and Mrs. Perceval, to get money from a banker for Mrs. Wesley, who goes to Bath on Thursday. I left them there, and dined with a friend, and went to see Lord Treasurer; but he had people with him I did not know: so I went to Lady Masham’s, and lost a crown with her at picquet, and then sat with Lord Masham and Lord Treasurer, etc., there till past one; but I had my man with me, to come home. I gave in my forty-third, and one for the Bishop of Clogher, to the post-office, as I came from the City; and so oo know ’tis late now, and I have nothing to say for this day. Our Mohocks are all vanished; however, I shall take care of my person. Nite my own two deelest nuntyes MD.

23. I was this morning, before church, with the Secretary, about Lord Abercorn’s business, and some others. My soliciting season is come, and will last as long as the session. I went late to Court, and the company was almost gone. The Court serves me for a coffee-house; once a week I meet acquaintance there, that I should not otherwise see in a quarter. There is a flying report that the French have offered a cessation of arms, and to give us Dunkirk, and the Dutch Namur, for security, till the peace is made. The Duke of Ormond, they say, goes in a week. Abundance of his equipage is already gone. His2 friends are afraid the expense of this employment will ruin him, since he must lose the government of Ireland. I dined privately with a friend, and refused all dinners offered me at Court; which, however, were but two, and I did not like either. Did I tell you of a scoundrel about the Court that sells employments to ignorant people, and cheats them of their money? He lately made a bargain for the Vice-Chamberlain’s place, for seven thousand pounds, and had received some guineas earnest; but the whole thing was discovered t’other day, and examination taken of it by Lord Dartmouth, and I hope he will be swinged. The Vice-Chamberlain told me several particulars of it last night at Lord Masham’s. Can DD play at ombre yet, enough to hold the cards while Ppt steps into the next room? Nite deelest sollahs.3

24. This morning I recommended Newcomb again to the Duke of Ormond, and left Dick Stewart4 to do it further. Then I went to visit the Duchess of Hamilton, who was not awake. So I went to the Duchess of Shrewsbury, and sat an hour at her toilet. I talked to her about the Duke’s being Lord Lieutenant. She said she knew nothing of it; but I rallied her out of that, and she resolves not to stay behind the Duke. I intend to recommend the Bishop of Clogher to her for an acquaintance. He will like her very well: she is, indeed, a most agreeable woman, and a great favourite of mine. I know not whether the ladies in Ireland will like her. I was at the Court of Requests, to get some lords to be at a committee to-morrow, about a friend’s Bill: and then the Duke of Beaufort gave me a poem, finely bound in folio, printed at Stamford, and writ by a country squire. Lord Exeter5 desired the Duke to give it the Queen, because the author is his friend; but the Duke desired I would let him know whether it was good for anything. I brought it home, and will return it to-morrow, as the dullest thing I ever read; and advise the Duke not to present it. I dined with Domville at his lodgings, by invitation; for he goes in a few days for Ireland. Nite dee MD.

25. There is a mighty feast at a Tory sheriff’s to-day in the City: twelve hundred dishes of meat. — Above five lords, and several hundred gentlemen, will be there, and give four or five guineas apiece, according to custom. Dr. Coghill and I dined, by invitation, at Mrs. Van’s. It has rained or mizzled all day, as my pockets feel. There are two new answers come out to the Conduct of the Allies. The last year’s Examiners, printed together in a small volume, go off but slowly. The printer over-printed himself by at least a thousand; so soon out of fashion are party papers, however so well writ. The Medleys are coming out in the same volume, and perhaps may sell better. Our news about a cessation of arms begins to flag, and I have not these three days seen anybody in business to ask them about it. We had a terrible fire last night in Drury Lane, or thereabouts, and three or four people destroyed. One of the maids of honour has the smallpox; but the best is, she can lose no beauty; and we have one new handsome maid of honour. Nite MD.

26. I forgot to tell you that on Sunday last, about seven at night, it lightened above fifty times as I walked the Mall, which I think is extraordinary at this time of the year, and the weather was very hot. Had you anything of this in Dublin? I intended to dine with Lord Treasurer to-day; but Lord Mansel and Mr. Lewis made me dine with them at Kit Musgrave’s.6 I sat the evening with Mrs. Wesley, who goes to-morrow morning to the Bath. She is much better than she was. The news of the French desiring a cessation of arms, etc., was but town talk. We shall know in a few days, as I am told, whether there will be a peace or not. The Duke of Ormond will go in a week for Flanders, they say. Our Mohocks go on still, and cut people’s faces every night; fais, they shan’t cut mine, I like it better as it is. The dogs will cost me at least a crown a week in chairs. I believe the souls of your houghers of cattle have got into them, and now they don’t distinguish between a cow and a Christian. I forgot to wish you yesterday a happy New Year. You know the twenty-fifth of March is the first day of the year, and now you must leave off cards, and put out your fire. I’ll put out mine the first of April, cold or not cold. I believe I shall lose credit with you by not coming over at the beginning of April; but I hoped the session would be ended, and I must stay till then; yet I would fain be at the beginning of my willows growing. Perceval tells me that the quicksets upon the flat in the garden do not grow so well as those famous ones on the ditch. They want digging about them. The cherry-trees, by the river-side, my heart is set upon. Nite MD.

27. Society day. You know that, I suppose. Dr. Arthburnett7 was President. His dinner was dressed in the Queen’s kitchen, and was mighty fine. We ate it at Ozinda’s Chocolate-house,8 just by St. James’s. We were never merrier, nor better company, and did not part till after eleven. I did not summon Lord Lansdowne: he and I are fallen out. There was something in an Examiner a fortnight ago that he thought reflected on the abuses in his office (he is Secretary at War), and he writ to the Secretary that he heard I had inserted that paragraph. This I resented highly, that he should complain of me before he spoke to me. I sent him a peppering letter, and would not summon him by a note, as I did the rest; nor ever will have anything to say to him, till he begs my pardon. I met Lord Treasurer to-day at Lady Masham’s. He would fain have carried me home to dinner, but I begged his pardon. What! upon a Society day! No, no. ’Tis rate, sollahs. I an’t dlunk. Nite MD.

28. I was with my friend Lewis to-day, getting materials for a little mischief; and I dined with Lord Treasurer, and three or four fellows I never saw before. I left them at seven, and came home, and have been writing to the Archbishop of Dublin, and cousin Deane,9 in answer to one of his of four months old, that I spied by chance, routing among my papers. I have a pain these two days exactly upon the top of my left shoulder. I fear it is something rheumatic; it winches10 now and then. Shall I put flannel to it? Domville is going to Ireland; he came here this morning to take leave of me, but I shall dine with him to-morrow. Does the Bishop of Clogher talk of coming for England this summer? I think Lord Molesworth told me so about two months ago. The weather is bad again; rainy and very cold this evening. Do you know what the longitude is? A projector11 has been applying himself to me, to recommend him to the Ministry, because he pretends to have found out the longitude. I believe he has no more found it out than he has found out mine. . .12 However, I will gravely hear what he says, and discover him a knave or fool. Nite MD.

29. I am plagued with these pains in my shoulder; I believe it is rheumatic; I will do something for it to-night. Mr. Lewis and I dined with Mr. Domville, to take our leave of him. I drank three or four glasses of champagne by perfect teasing, though it is bad for my pain; but if it continue, I will not drink any wine without water till I am well. The weather is abominably cold and wet. I am got into bed, and have put some old flannel, for want of new, to my shoulder, and rubbed it with Hungary water.13 It is plaguy hard. I never would drink any wine, if it were not for my head, and drinking has given me this pain. I will try abstemiousness for a while. How does MD do now; how does DD and Ppt? You must know I hate pain, as the old woman said. But I’ll try to go seep. My flesh sucks up Hungary water rarely. My man is an awkward rascal, and makes me peevish. Do you know that t’other day he was forced to beg my pardon, that he could not shave my head, his hand shook so? He is drunk every day, and I design to turn him off soon as ever I get to Ireland. I’ll write no more now, but go to sleep, and see whether sleep and flannel will cure my shoulder. Nite deelest MD.

30. I was not able to go to church or Court to-day for my shoulder. The pain has left my shoulder, and crept to my neck and collar-bone. It makes me think of poo Ppt’s bladebone. Urge, urge, urge; dogs gnawing. I went in a chair at two, and dined with Mrs. Van, where I could be easy, and came back at seven. My Hungary water is gone; and to-night I use spirits of wine, which my landlady tells me is very good. It has rained terribly all day long, and is extremely cold. I am very uneasy, and such cruel twinges every moment! Nite deelest MD.

31. April 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. All these days I have been extremely ill, though I twice crawled out a week ago; but am now recovering, though very weak. The violence of my pain abated the night before last: I will just tell you how I was, and then send away this letter, which ought to have gone Saturday last. The pain increased with mighty violence in my left shoulder and collar-bone, and that side my neck. On Thursday morning appeared great red spots in all those places where my pain was, and the violence of the pain was confined to my neck behind, a little on the left side; which was so violent that I had not a minute’s ease, nor hardly a minute’s sleep in three days and nights. The spots increased every day, and bred little pimples, which are now grown white, and full of corruption, though small. The red still continues too, and most prodigious hot and inflamed. The disease is the shingles. I eat nothing but water-gruel; am very weak; but out of all violent pain. The doctors say it would have ended in some violent disease if it had not come out thus. I shall now recover fast. I have been in no danger of life, but miserable torture. I must not write too much. So adieu, deelest MD MD MD FW FW, ME ME ME, Lele. I can say lele yet, oo see. Fais, I don’t conceal a bit, as hope saved.14

I15 must purge and clyster after this; and my next letter will not be in the old order of journal, till I have done with physic. An’t oo surprised to see a letter want half a side?

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “Apr. 14.”

2 “Is” (MS.).

3 The words after “yet” are partially obliterated.

4 See Letter 7, note 35.

5 John Cecil, sixth Earl of Exeter (died 1721).

6 See Letter 22, note 5.

7 Arbuthnot.

8 A resort of the Tories.

9 Deane Swift, a son of Swift’s uncle Godwin, was a merchant in Lisbon.

10 Winces. Lyly says, “Rubbe there no more, least I winch.”

11 Probably William Whiston, who was deprived of the Lucasian professorship at Cambridge in 1710 for his heterodox views. Parliament having offered a reward for the discovery of means of finding the longitude, Whiston made several attempts (1714 and 1721).

12 Word obliterated.

13 Distilled water prepared with rosemary flowers. In Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, a lady gives up to a highway robber, in her fright, a silver bottle which, the ruffian said, contained some of the best brandy he had ever tasted; this she “afterwards assured the company was a mistake of her maid, for that she had ordered her to fill the bottle with Hungary water.”

14 As I hope to be saved.

15 Added on the fourth page, as the letter was folded.

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