The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 58.1

London, Jan. 4, 1712-13.

I ended my last with the melancholy news of poor Lady Ashburnham’s death. The Bishop of Clogher and Dr. Pratt made me dine with them to-day at Lord Mountjoy’s, pursuant to an engagement, which I had forgot. Lady Mountjoy told me that Maccartney was got safe out of our clutches, for she had spoke with one who had a letter from him from Holland. Others say the same thing. ’Tis hard such a dog should escape. — As I left Lord Mountjoy’s I saw the Duke d’Aumont, the French Ambassador, going from Lord Bolingbroke’s, where he dined, to have a private audience of the Queen. I followed, and went up to Court, where there was a great crowd. I was talking with the Duke of Argyle by the fireside in the bed-chamber, when the Ambassador came out from the Queen. Argyle presented me to him, and Lord Bolingbroke and we talked together a while. He is a fine gentleman, something like the Duke of Ormond, and just such an expensive man. After church to-day I showed the Bishop of Clogher, at Court, who was who. Nite my two dee logues, and. . .2

5. Our frost is broke, but it is bloody cold. Lord Treasurer is recovered, and went out this evening to the Queen. I dined with Lady Oxford, and then sat with Lord Treasurer while he went out. He gave me a letter from an unknown hand, relating to Dr. Brown,3 Bishop of Cork, recommending him to a better bishopric, as a person who opposed Lord Wharton, and was made a bishop on that account, celebrating him for a great politician, etc.: in short, all directly contrary to his character, which I made bold to explain. What dogs there are in the world! I was to see the poor Duke and Duchess of Ormond this morning. The Duke was in his public room, with Mr. Southwell4 and two more gentlemen. When Southwell and I were alone with him, he talked something of Lord Ashburnham, that he was afraid the Whigs would get him again. He bore up as well as he could, but something falling accidentally in discourse, the tears were just falling out of his eyes, and I looked off to give him an opportunity (which he took) of wiping them with his handkerchief. I never saw anything so moving, nor such a mixture of greatness of mind, and tenderness, and discretion. Nite MD.

6. Lord Bolingbroke and Parnell and I dined, by invitation, with my friend Darteneuf,5 whom you have heard me talk of. Lord Bolingbroke likes Parnell mightily; and it is pleasant to see that one who hardly passed for anything in Ireland makes his way here with a little friendly forwarding. It is scurvy rainy weather, and I have hardly been abroad to-day, nor know anything that passes. — Lord Treasurer is quite recovered, and I hope will be careful to keep himself well. The Duchess of Marlborough is leaving England to go to her Duke, and makes presents of rings to several friends, they say worth two hundred pounds apiece. I am sure she ought to give me one, though the Duke pretended to think me his greatest enemy, and got people to tell me so, and very mildly to let me know how gladly he would have me softened toward him. I bid a lady of his acquaintance and mine let him know that I had hindered many a bitter thing against him; not for his own sake, but because I thought it looked base; and I desired everything should be left him, except power. Nite MD.

7. I dined with Lord and Lady Masham to-day, and this evening played at ombre with Mrs. Vanhom, merely for amusement. The Ministers have got my papers, and will neither read them nor give them to me; and I can hardly do anything. Very warm slabby weather, but I made a shift to get a walk; yet I lost half of it, by shaking off Lord Rochester,6 who is a good, civil, simple man. The Bishop of Ossory will not be Bishop of Hereford,7 to the great grief of himself and his wife. And hat is MD doing now, I wonder? Playing at cards with the Dean and Mrs. Walls? I think it is not certain yet that Maccartney is escaped. I am plagued with bad authors, verse and prose, who send me their books and poems, the vilest trash I ever saw; but I have given their names to my man, never to let them see me. I have got new ink, and ’tis very white; and I don’t see that it turns black at all. I’ll go to seep; ’tis past twelve. — Nite, MD.

8. Oo must understand that I am in my geers, and have got a chocolate-pot, a present from Mrs. Ashe of Clogher, and some chocolate from my brother Ormond, and I treat folks sometimes. I dined with Lord Treasurer at five o’clock to-day, and was by while he and Lord Bolingbroke were at business; for it is fit I should know all that passes now, because, etc. The Duke of Ormond employed me to speak to Lord Treasurer to-day about an affair, and I did so; and the Duke had spoke himself two hours before, which vexed me, and I will chide the Duke about it. I’ll tell you a good thing; there is not one of the Ministry but what will employ me as gravely to speak for them to Lord Treasurer as if I were their brother or his; and I do it as gravely: though I know they do it only because they will not make themselves uneasy, or had rather I should be denied than they. I believe our peace will not be finished these two months; for I think we must have a return from Spain by a messenger, who will not go till Sunday next. Lord Treasurer has invited me to dine with him again to-morrow. Your Commissioner, Keatley,8 is to be there. Nite dee richar MD.9

9. Dr. Pratt drank chocolate with me this morning, and then we walked. I was yesterday with him to see Lady Betty Butler, grieving for her sister Ashburnham. The jade was in bed in form, and she did so cant, she made me sick. I meet Tom Leigh every day in the Park, to preserve his health. He is as ruddy as a rose, and tells me his Bishop of Dromore10 recovers very much. That Bishop has been very near dying. This day’s Examiner talks of the play of “What is it like?”11 and you will think it to be mine, and be bit; for I have no hand in these papers at all. I dined with Lord Treasurer, and shall again to-morrow, which is his day when all the Ministers dine with him. He calls it whipping-day. It is always on Saturday, and we do indeed usually rally him about his faults on that day. I was of the original Club, when only poor Lord Rivers, Lord Keeper, and Lord Bolingbroke came; but now Ormond, Anglesea, Lord Steward,12 Dartmouth, and other rabble intrude, and I scold at it; but now they pretend as good a title as I; and, indeed, many Saturdays I am not there. The company being too many, I don’t love it. Nite MD.

10. At seven this evening, as we sat after dinner at Lord Treasurer’s, a servant said Lord Peterborow was at the door. Lord Treasurer and Lord Bolingbroke went out to meet him, and brought him in. He was just returned from abroad, where he has been above a year. Soon as he saw me, he left the Duke of Ormond and other lords, and ran and kissed me before he spoke to them; but chid me terribly for not writing to him, which I never did this last time he was abroad, not knowing where he was; and he changed places so often, it was impossible a letter should overtake him. He left England with a bruise, by his coach overturning, that made him spit blood, and was so ill, we expected every post to hear of his death; but he outrode it or outdrank it, or something, and is come home lustier than ever. He is at least sixty, and has more spirits than any young fellow I know in England. He has got the old Oxford regiment of horse, and I believe will have a Garter. I love the hang-dog dearly. Nite dee MD.

11. The Court was crammed to-day to see13 the French Ambassador; but he did not come. Did I never tell you that I go to Court on Sundays as to a coffee-house, to see acquaintance, whom I should otherwise not see twice a year? The Provost14 and I dined with Ned Southwell, by appointment, in order to settle your kingdom, if my scheme can be followed; but I doubt our Ministry will be too tedious. You must certainly have a new Parliament; but they would have that a secret yet. Our Parliament here will be prorogued for three weeks. Those puppies the Dutch will not yet come in, though they pretend to submit to the Queen in everything; but they would fain try first how our session begins, in hopes to embroil us in the House of Lords: and if my advice had been taken, the session should have begun, and we would have trusted the Parliament to approve the steps already made toward the peace, and had an Address perhaps from them to conclude without the Dutch, if they would not agree. — Others are of my mind, but it is not reckoned so safe, it seems; yet I doubt whether the peace will be ready so soon as three weeks, but that is a secret. Nite MD.

12. Pratt and I walked into the City to one Bateman’s,15 a famous bookseller, for old books. There I laid out four pounds like a fool, and we dined at a hedge ale-house, for two shillings and twopence, like emperors. Let me see, I bought Plutarch, two volumes, for thirty shillings, etc. Well, I’ll tell you no more; oo don’t understand Greek.16 We have no news, and I have nothing more to say to-day, and I can’t finish my work. These Ministers will not find time to do what I would have them. So nite, nown dee dallars.

13. I was to have dined to-day with Lord Keeper, but would not, because that brute Sir John Walter17 was to be one of the company. You may remember he railed at me last summer was twelvemonth at Windsor, and has never begged my pardon, though he promised to do it; and Lord Mansel, who was one of the company, would certainly have set us together by the ears, out of pure roguish mischief. So I dined with Lord Treasurer, where there was none but Lord Bolingbroke. I stayed till eight, and then went to Lady Orkney’s, who has been sick, and sat with her till twelve, from whence you may consider it is late, sollahs. The Parliament was prorogued to-day, as I told you, for three weeks. Our weather is very bad and slobbery, and I shall spoil my new hat (I have bought a new hat), or empty my pockets. Does Hawkshaw pay the interest he owes? Lord Abercorn plagues me to death. I have now not above six people to provide for, and about as many to do good offices to; and thrice as many that I will do nothing for; nor can I if I would. Nite dee MD.

14. To-day I took the circle of morning visits. I went to the Duchess of Ormond, and there was she, and Lady Betty, and Lord Ashburnham together: this was the first time the mother and daughter saw each other since Lady Ashburnham’s death. They were both in tears, and I chid them for being together, and made Lady Betty go to her own chamber; then sat a while with the Duchess, and went after Lady Betty, and all was well. There is something of farce in all these mournings, let them be ever so serious. People will pretend to grieve more than they really do, and that takes off from their true grief. I then went to the Duchess of Hamilton, who never grieved, but raged, and stormed, and railed.18 She is pretty quiet now, but has a diabolical temper. Lord Keeper and his son, and their two ladies, and I, dined to-day with Mr. Caesar,19 Treasurer of the Navy, at his house in the City, where he keeps his office. We happened to talk of Brutus, and I said something in his praise, when it struck me immediately that I had made a blunder in doing so; and, therefore, I recollected myself, and said, “Mr. Caesar, I beg your pardon.” So we laughed, etc. Nite, my own deelest richar logues, MD.

15. I forgot to tell you that last night I had a present sent me (I found it, when I came home, in my chamber) of the finest wild fowl I ever saw, with the vilest letter, and from the vilest poet in the world, who sent it me as a bribe to get him an employment. I knew not where the scoundrel lived, so I could not send them back, and therefore I gave them away as freely as I got them, and have ordered my man never to let up the poet when he comes. The rogue should have kept the wings at least for his muse. One of his fowls was a large capon pheasant, as fat as a pullet. I ate share of it to-day with a friend. We have now a Drawing-room every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at one o’clock. The Queen does not come out; but all her Ministers, foreigners, and persons of quality are at it. I was there to-day; and as Lord Treasurer came towards me, I avoided him, and he hunted me thrice about the room. I affect never to take notice of him at church or Court. He knows it, for I have told him so; and to-night, at Lord Masham’s, he gave an account of it to the company; but my reasons are, that people seeing me speak to him causes a great deal of teasing. I tell you what comes into my head, that I never knew whether MD were Whigs or Tories, and I value our conversation the more that it never turned on that subject. I have a fancy that Ppt is a Tory, and a violent one. I don’t know why; but methinks she looks like one, and DD a sort of a Trimmer. Am I right? I gave the Examiner a hint about this prorogation, and to praise the Queen for her tenderness to the Dutch in giving them still more time to submit.20 It fitted the occasions at present. Nite MD.

16. I was busy to-day at the Secretary’s office, and stayed till past three. The Duke of Ormond and I were to dine at Lord Orkney’s. The Duke was at the Committee, so I thought all was safe. When I went there, they had almost dined; for the Duke had sent to excuse himself, which I never knew. I came home at seven, and began a little whim, which just came into my head; and will make a threepenny pamphlet.21 It shall be finished and out in a week; and if it succeeds, you shall know what it is; otherwise, not. I cannot send this to-morrow, and will put it off till next Saturday, because I have much business. So my journals shall be short, and Ppt must have patience. So nite, dee sollahs.

17. This rogue Parnell has not yet corrected his poem, and I would fain have it out. I dined to-day with Lord Treasurer, and his Saturday company, nine of us in all. They went away at seven, and Lord Treasurer and I sat talking an hour after. After dinner he was talking to the lords about the speech the Queen must make when the Parliament meets. He asked me how I would make it. I was going to be serious, because it was seriously put; but I turned it to a jest. And because they had been speaking of the Duchess of Marlborough going to Flanders after the Duke, I said the speech should begin thus: “My Lords and Gentlemen, In order to my own quiet, and that of my subjects, I have thought fit to send the Duchess of Marlborough abroad after the Duke.” This took well, and turned off the discourse. I must tell you I do not at all like the present situation of affairs, and remember I tell you so. Things must be on another foot, or we are all undone. I hate this driving always to an inch. Nite MD.

18. We had a mighty full Court to-day. Dilly was with me at the French church, and edified mightily. The Duke of Ormond and I dined at Lord Orkney’s; but I left them at seven, and came home to my whim. I have made a great progress. My large Treatise22 stands stock still. Some think it too dangerous to publish, and would have me print only what relates to the peace. I cannot tell what I shall do. — The Bishop of Dromore is dying. They thought yesterday he could not live two hours; yet he is still alive, but is utterly past all hopes. Go to cards, sollahs, and nite.

19. I was this morning to see the Duke and Duchess of Ormond. The Duke d’Aumont came in while I was with the Duke of Ormond, and we complimented each other like dragons. A poor fellow called at the door where I lodge, with a parcel of oranges for a present for me. I bid my man know what his name was, and whence he came. He sent word his name was Bun, and that I knew him very well. I bid my man tell him I was busy, and he could not speak to me; and not to let him leave his oranges. I know no more of it, but I am sure I never heard the name, and I shall take no such presents from strangers. Perhaps he might be only some beggar, who wanted a little money. Perhaps it might be something worse. Let them keep their poison for their rats. I don’t love it.23 That blot is a blunder. Nite dee MD . . . .

20. A Committee of our Society dined to-day with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Our Society does not meet now as usual, for which I am blamed: but till Lord Treasurer will agree to give us money and employments to bestow, I am averse to it; and he gives us nothing but promises. The Bishop of Dromore is still alive, and that is all. We expect every day he will die, and then Tom Leigh must go back, which is one good thing to the town. I believe Pratt will drive at one of these bishoprics. Our English bishopric24 is not yet disposed of. I believe the peace will not be ready by the session. Nite MD.

21. I was to-day with my printer, to give him a little pamphlet I have written, but not politics. It will be out by Monday. If it succeeds, I will tell you of it; otherwise, not. We had a prodigious thaw to-day, as bad as rain; yet I walked like a good boy all the way. The Bishop of Dromore still draws breath, but cannot live two days longer. My large book lies flat. Some people think a great part of it ought not to be now printed. I believe I told you so before. This letter shall not go till Saturday, which makes up the three weeks exactly; and I allow MD six weeks, which are now almost out; so oo must know I expect a rettle vely soon, and that MD is vely werr;25 and so nite, dee MD.

22. This is one of our Court days, and I was there. I told you there is a Drawing-room, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The Hamiltons and Abercorns have done teasing me. The latter, I hear, is actually going to France. Lord Treasurer quarrelled with me at Court for being four days without dining with him; so I dined there to-day, and he has at last fallen in with my project (as he calls it) of coining halfpence and farthings, with devices, like medals, in honour of the Queen, every year changing the device. I wish it may be done. Nite MD.

23. The Duke of Ormond and I appointed to dine with Ned Southwell to-day, to talk of settling your affairs of Parliament in Ireland, but there was a mixture of company, and the Duke of Ormond was in haste, and nothing was done. If your Parliament meets this summer, it must be a new one; but I find some are of opinion there should be none at all these two years. I will trouble myself no more about it. My design was to serve the Duke of Ormond. Dr. Pratt and I sat this evening with the Bishop of Clogher, and played at ombre for threepences. That, I suppose, is but low with you. I found, at coming home, a letter from MD, N.37. I shall not answer it zis bout, but will the next. I am sorry for poo poo Ppt. Pray walk hen oo can. I have got a terrible new cold before my old one was quite gone, and don’t know how. Pay. . . . 26 I shall have DD’s money soon from the Exchequer. The Bishop of Dromore is dead now at last. Nite, dee MD.

24. I was at Court to-day, and it was comical to see Lord Abercorn bowing to me, but not speaking, and Lord Selkirk the same.27 I dined with Lord Treasurer and his Saturday Club, and sat with him two hours after the rest were gone, and spoke freer to him of affairs than I am afraid others do, who might do more good. All his friends repine, and shrug their shoulders; but will not deal with him so freely as they ought. It is an odd business; the Parliament just going to sit, and no employments given. They say they will give them in a few days. There is a new bishop made of Hereford;28 so Ossory29 is disappointed. I hinted so to his friends two months ago, to make him leave off deluding himself, and being indiscreet, as he was. I have just time to send this, without giving to the bellman. Nite deelest richar MD. . . . dee MD MD MD FW FW FW ME ME ME Lele Lele Lele.

My second cold is better now. Lele lele lele lele.

1 To “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “Feb. 4.”

2 This sentence is scribbled over. Forster reads the last word as “lastalls,” i.e. rascals, but it seems rather to be “ledles.”

3 Dr. Peter Brown was appointed Bishop of Cork in 1709.

4 See Letter 5, note 22.

5 See Letter 5, note 3.

6 See Letter 5, note 11.

7 Dr. H. Humphreys, Bishop of Hereford, died on Nov. 20, 1712. His successor was Dr. Philip Bisse (1667-1721), Bishop of St. David’s (see Letter 3, note 36).

8 Thomas Keightley, a Commissioner of the Great Seal in Ireland.

9 Nearly obliterated. Mr. Ryland reads, “deelest MD.”

10 See Letter 57, note 14.

11 In the Examiner for Jan. 5 to 9, 1712[-13], there is an account of the game of Similitudes. One person thinks of a subject, and the others, not knowing what it is, name similitudes, and when the subject is proclaimed, must make good the comparisons. On the occasion described, the subject chosen was Faction. The prize was given to a Dutchman, who argued that Faction was like butter, because too much fire spoiled its consistency.

12 Earl Poulett (see Letter 20, note 7).

13 “Say” (MS.).

14 Dr. Pratt.

15 See Letter 13, Jan. 6, 1710-11.

16 This sentence is partially obliterated.

17 See Letter 31, note 10 and, in the same letter, Oct. 5, 1711.

18 Cf. the account of Beatrix’s feelings on the death of the Duke in “Esmond”, book iii. chaps. 6 and 7.

19 See Letter 21, note 3.

20 “Her Majesty is all goodness and tenderness to her people and her Allies. She has now prorogued the best Parliament that ever assembled in her reign and respited her own glory, and the wishes, prayers, and wants of her people, only to give some of her Allies an opportunity to think of the returns they owe her, and try if there be such a thing as gratitude, justice, or humanity in Europe. The conduct of Her Majesty is without parallel. Never was so great a condescension made to the unreasonable clamours of an insolent faction now dwindled to the most contemptible circumstances.”— Examiner, Jan. 12-16, 1712[-13].

21 Mr. Collins’s “Discourse of Freethinking, put into plain English by way of Abstract, for the use of the Poor,” an ironical pamphlet on Arthur Collins’s Discourse of Freethinking, 1713.

22 The History of the Peace of Utrecht.

23 A line here has been erased. Forster imagined that he read, “Nite dear MD, drowsy drowsy dear.”

24 Hereford.

25 Very well.

26 Sentence obliterated. Forster professes to read, “Pay can oo walk oftener — oftener still?”

27 See Letter 57, note 15.

28 Dr. Bisse, translated from St. David’s.

29 See Letter 58, note 7 and Letter 19, note 1.

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