The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 50.1

Kensington, July 17, 1712.

I am weary of living in this place, and glad to leave it soon. The Queen goes on Tuesday to Windsor, and I shall follow in three or four days after. I can do nothing here, going early to London, and coming late from it, and supping at Lady Masham’s. I dined to-day with the Duke of Argyle at Cue [Kew], and would not go to the Court to-night, because of writing to MD. The Bishop of Clogher has been here this fortnight: I see him as often as I can. Poor Master Ashe has a sad redness in his face; it is St. Anthony’s fire; his face all swelled, and will break in his cheek, but no danger. Since Dunkirk has been in our hands, Grub Street has been very fruitful. Pdfr has writ five or six Grub Street papers this last week. Have you seen Toland’s Invitation to Dismal, or Hue and Cry after Dismal, or Ballad on Dunkirk, or Argument that Dunkirk is not in our Hands? Poh! you have seen nothing. I am dead here with the hot weather; yet I walk every night home, and believe it does me good: but my shoulder is not yet right; itchings, and scratchings, and small achings. Did I tell you I had made Ford Gazetteer, with two hundred pounds a year salary, beside perquisites? I had a letter lately from Parvisol, who says my canal looks very finely; I long to see it; but no apples; all blasted again. He tells me there will be a triennial visitation in August. I must send Raymond another proxy. So now I will answer oo rettle N.33,2 dated June 17. Ppt writes as well as ever, for all her waters. I wish I had never come here, as often and as heartily as Ppt. What had I to do here? I have heard of the Bishop’s making me uneasy, but I did not think it was because I never writ to him. A little would make me write to him, but I don’t know what to say. I find I am obliged to the Provost for keeping the Bishop3 from being impertinent. Yes, Maram DD, but oo would not be content with letters flom Pdfr of six lines, or twelve either, fais. I hope Ppt will have done with the waters soon, and find benefit by them. I believe, if they were as far off as Wexford, they would do as much good; for I take the journey to contribute as much as anything. I can assure you the Bishop of Clogher’s being here does not in the least affect my staying or going. I never talked to Higgins but once in my life in the street, and I believe he and I shall hardly meet but by chance. What care I whether my Letter to Lord Treasurer be commended there or no? Why does not somebody among you answer it, as three or four have done here? (I am now sitting with nothing but my nightgown, for heat.) Ppt shall have a great Bible. I have put it down in my memlandums4 just now. And DD shall be repaid her t’other book; but patience, all in good time: you are so hasty, a dog would, etc. So Ppt has neither won nor lost. Why, mun, I play sometimes too at picket, that is picquet, I mean; but very seldom. — Out late? why, ’tis only at Lady Masham’s, and that is in our town; but I never come late here from London, except once in rain, when I could not get a coach. We have had very little thunder here; none these two months. Why, pray, madam philosopher, how did the rain hinder the thunder from doing any harm? I suppose it ssquenched it. So here comes Ppt aden5 with her little watery postscript. O Rold, dlunken srut!6 drink Pdfr’s health ten times in a morning! you are a whetter, fais; I sup MD’s fifteen times evly molning in milk porridge. Lele’s fol oo now — and lele’s fol oo rettle, and evly kind of sing7 — and now I must say something else. You hear Secretary St. John is made Viscount Bullinbrook.8 I can hardly persuade him to take that title, because the eldest branch of his family had it in an earldom, and it was last year extinct. If he did not take it, I advised him to be Lord Pomfret, which I think is a noble title. You hear of it often in the Chronicles, Pomfret Castle: but we believed it was among the titles of some other lord. Jack Hill sent his sister a pattern of a head-dress from Dunkirk; it was like our fashion twenty years ago, only not quite so high, and looked very ugly. I have made Trapp9 chaplain to Lord Bullinbroke, and he is mighty happy and thankful for it. Mr. Addison returned me my visit this morning. He lives in our town. I shall be mighty retired, and mighty busy for a while at Windsor. Pray why don’t MD go to Trim, and see Laracor, and give me an account of the garden, and the river, and the holly and the cherry-trees on the river-walk?

19. I could not send this letter last post, being called away before I could fold or finish it. I dined yesterday with Lord Treasurer; sat with him till ten at night; yet could not find a minute for some business I had with him. He brought me to Kensington, and Lord Bulingbrook would not let me go away till two; and I am now in bed, very lazy and sleepy at nine. I must shave head and face, and meet Lord Bullinbrook at eleven, and dine again with Lord Treasurer. To-day there will be another Grub,10 A Letter from the Pretender to a Whig Lord. Grub Street has but ten days to live; then an Act of Parliament takes place that ruins it, by taxing every half-sheet at a halfpenny. We have news just come, but not the particulars, that the Earl of Albemarle,11 at the head of eight thousand Dutch, is beaten, lost the greatest part of his men, and himself a prisoner. This perhaps may cool their courage, and make them think of a peace. The Duke of Ormond has got abundance of credit by his good conduct of affairs in Flanders. We had a good deal of rain last night, very refreshing. ’Tis late, and I must rise. Don’t play at ombre in your waters, sollah. Farewell, deelest MD, MD MD MD FW FW ME ME ME Lele Lele Lele.

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “July 23.”

2 “N.33” seems a mistake. Letter No. 32 was received after Swift had left Kensington and gone to Windsor; see Letter 51, Aug. 7, 1712 and Letter 52, Sept. 18, 1712 (Ryland).

3 Dr. Moreton (see Letter 49, note 13).

4 Memoranda.

5 Again.

6 O Lord, drunken slut.

7 There’s for you now, and there’s for your letter, and every kind of thing.

8 Bolingbroke.

9 See Letter 13, note 10.

10 Grub Street pamphlet. The title was, A Supposed Letter from the Pretender to another Whig Lord.

11 Arnold Joost Van Keppel, created Earl of Albemarle in 1697. He died in 1718. The action referred to was at Denain, where the Dutch were defeated by Villars.

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