The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 49.1

Kensington, July 1, 1712.

I never was in a worse station for writing letters than this, especially for writing to MD, since I left off my journals. For I go to town early; and when I come home at night, I generally go to Lord Masham, where Lord Treasurer comes, and we stay till past twelve. But I am now resolved to write journals again, though my shoulder is not yet well; for I have still a few itching pimples, and a little pain now and then. It is now high cherry-time with us; take notice, is it so soon with you? And we have early apricots, and gooseberries are ripe. On Sunday Archdeacon Parnell came here to see me. It seems he has been ill for grief of his wife’s death,2 and has been two months at the Bath. He has a mind to go to Dunkirk with Jack Hill,3 and I persuade him to it, and have spoke to Hill to receive him; but I doubt he won’t have spirit to go. I have made Ford4 Gazetteer, and got two hundred pounds a year settled on the employment by the Secretary of State, beside the perquisites. It is the prettiest employment in England of its bigness; yet the puppy does not seem satisfied with it. I think people keep some follies to themselves, till they have occasion to produce them. He thinks it not genteel enough, and makes twenty difficulties. ’Tis impossible to make any man easy. His salary is paid him every week, if he pleases, without taxes or abatements. He has little to do for it. He has a pretty office, with coals, candles, papers, etc.; can frank what letters he will; and his perquisites, if he takes care, may be worth one hundred pounds more. I hear the Bishop of Clogher is landing, or landed, in England; and I hope to see him in a few days. I was to see Mrs. Bradley5 on Sunday night. Her youngest son is married to somebody worth nothing, and her daughter was forced to leave Lady Giffard, because she was striking up an intrigue with a footman, who played well upon the flute. This is the mother’s account of it. Yesterday the old Bishop of Worcester,6 who pretends to be a prophet, went to the Queen, by appointment, to prove to Her Majesty, out of Daniel and the Revelations, that four years hence there would be a war of religion; that the King of France would be a Protestant, and fight on their side; that the Popedom would be destroyed, etc.; and declared that he would be content to give up his bishopric if it were not true. Lord Treasurer, who told it me, was by, and some others; and I am told Lord Treasurer confounded him sadly in his own learning, which made the old fool very quarrelsome. He is near ninety years old. Old Bradley is fat and lusty, and has lost his palsy. Have you seen Toland’s Invitation to Dismal?7 How do you like it? But it is an imitation of Horace, and perhaps you don’t understand Horace. Here has been a great sweep of employments, and we expect still more removals. The Court seems resolved to make thorough work. Mr. Hill intended to set out to-morrow for Dunkirk, of which he is appointed Governor; but he tells me to-day that he cannot go till Thursday or Friday. I wish it were over. Mr. Secretary tells me he is [in] no fear at all that France will play tricks with us. If we have Dunkirk once, all is safe. We rail now all against the Dutch, who, indeed, have acted like knaves, fools, and madmen. Mr. Secretary is soon to be made a viscount. He desired I would draw the preamble of his patent; but I excused myself from a work that might lose me a great deal of reputation, and get me very little. We would fain have the Court make him an earl, but it would not be; and therefore he will not take the title of Bullenbrook,8 which is lately extinct in the elder branch of his family. I have advised him to be called Lord Pomfret; but he thinks that title is already in some other family;9 and, besides, he objects that it is in Yorkshire, where he has no estate; but there is nothing in that, and I love Pomfret. Don’t you love Pomfret? Why? ’Tis in all our histories; they are full of Pomfret Castle. But what’s all this to you? You don’t care for this. Is Goody Stoyte come to London? I have not heard of her yet. The Dean of St. Patrick’s never had the manners to answer my letter. I was t’other day to see Sterne10 and his wife. She is not half so handsome as when I saw her with you at Dublin. They design to pass the summer at a house near Lord Somers’s, about a dozen miles off. You never told me how my “Letter to Lord Treasurer” passes in Ireland. I suppose you are drinking at this time Temple-something’s11 waters. Steele was arrested the other day for making a lottery directly against an Act of Parliament. He is now under prosecution; but they think it will be dropped out of pity.12 I believe he will very soon lose his employment, for he has been mighty impertinent of late in his Spectators; and I will never offer a word in his behalf. Raymond writes me word that the Bishop of Meath13 was going to summon me, in order to suspension, for absence, if the Provost had not prevented him. I am prettily rewarded for getting them their First-Fruits, with a p —. We have had very little hot weather during the whole month of June; and for a week past we have had a great deal of rain, though not every day. I am just now told that the Governor of Dunkirk has not orders yet to deliver up the town to Jack Hill and his forces, but expects them daily. This must put off Hill’s journey a while, and I don’t like these stoppings in such an affair. Go, get oo gone, and drink oo waters, if this rain has not spoiled them, sauci doxi. I have no more to say to oo at plesent; but rove Pdfr, and MD, and ME. And Podefr will rove Pdfr, and MD and ME. I wish you had taken any account when I sent money to Mrs. Brent. I believe I han’t done it a great while. And pray send me notice when ME . . . to have it when it is due.14 Farewell, dearest MD FW FW FW ME ME ME.

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley.” Endorsed “July 8.”

2 See Letter 28, note 24.

3 See Letter 10, note 2.

4 See Letter 3, note 11.

5 See Letter 48, note 4.

6 Dr. William Lloyd — one of the Seven Bishops of 1688 — was eighty-four years of age at this time; he died five years later. He was a strong antipapist, and a great student of the Apocalypse, besides being a hard-working bishop. A curious letter from him to Lord Oxford about a coming war of religion is given in the Welbeck Papers (Hist. MSS. Comm.) v. 128.

7 “Toland’s Invitation to Dismal to dine with the Calf’s Head Club.” The Earl of Nottingham (Dismal) had deserted the Tories, and Swift’s imitation of Horace (Epist. I. v.) is an invitation from Toland to dine with “his trusty friends” in celebration of the execution of Charles I. The Calf’s Head Club was in the habit of toasting “confusion to the race of kings.”

8 Bolingbroke.

9 George Fitzroy, Duke of Northumberland (died 1716), a natural son of Charles II., was also Viscount Falmouth and Baron of Pontefract. See Notes and Queries, viii. i. 135.

10 Enoch Sterne.

11 Templeoag (see Letter 48, Jun. 17, 1712).

12 Swift probably was only repeating an inaccurate rumour, for there is no evidence that Steele was arrested. His gambling scheme was withdrawn directly an information was laid under the new Act of Parliament against gambling (Aitken’s Life of Steele, i. 347).

13 Dr. William Moreton (1641-1715), Swift’s diocesan, was translated from the see of Kildare to that of Meath in 1705.

14 Words obliterated. Forster reads conjecturally, “when ME wants me to send. She ought to have it,” etc.

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