The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 6.

London, Oct. 10, 1710.

So, as I told you just now in the letter I sent half an hour ago, I dined with Mr. Harley to-day, who presented me to the Attorney-General, Sir Simon Harcourt, with much compliment on all sides, etc. Harley told me he had shown my memorial to the Queen, and seconded it very heartily; and he desires me to dine with him again on Sunday, when he promises to settle it with Her Majesty, before she names a Governor:1 and I protest I am in hopes it will be done, all but the forms, by that time; for he loves the Church. This is a popular thing, and he would not have a Governor share in it; and, besides, I am told by all hands, he has a mind to gain me over. But in the letter I writ last post (yesterday) to the Archbishop, I did not tell him a syllable of what Mr. Harley said to me last night, because he charged me to keep it secret; so I would not tell it to you, but that, before this goes, I hope the secret will be over. I am now writing my poetical “Description of a Shower in London,” and will send it to the Tatler.2 This is the last sheet of a whole quire I have written since I came to town. Pray, now it comes into my head, will you, when you go to Mrs. Walls, contrive to know whether Mrs. Wesley3 be in town, and still at her brother’s, and how she is in health, and whether she stays in town. I writ to her from Chester, to know what I should do with her note; and I believe the poor woman is afraid to write to me: so I must go to my business, etc.

11. To-day at last I dined with Lord Mountrath,4 and carried Lord Mountjoy, and Sir Andrew Fountaine with me; and was looking over them at ombre till eleven this evening like a fool: they played running ombre half-crowns; and Sir Andrew Fountaine won eight guineas of Mr. Coote;5 so I am come home late, and will say but little to MD this night. I have gotten half a bushel of coals, and Patrick, the extravagant whelp, had a fire ready for me; but I picked off the coals before I went to bed. It is a sign London is now an empty place, when it will not furnish me with matter for above five or six lines in a day. Did you smoke in my last how I told you the very day and the place you were playing at ombre? But I interlined and altered a little, after I had received a letter from Mr. Manley, that said you were at it in his house, while he was writing to me; but without his help I guessed within one day. Your town is certainly much more sociable than ours. I have not seen your mother yet, etc.

12. I dined to-day with Dr. Garth and Mr. Addison, at the Devil Tavern6 by Temple Bar, and Garth treated; and ’tis well I dine every day, else I should be longer making out my letters: for we are yet in a very dull state, only inquiring every day after new elections, where the Tories carry it among the new members six to one. Mr. Addison’s election7 has passed easy and undisputed; and I believe if he had a mind to be chosen king, he would hardly be refused. An odd accident has happened at Colchester: one Captain Lavallin,8 coming from Flanders or Spain, found his wife with child by a clerk of Doctors’ Commons, whose trade, you know, it is to prevent fornications: and this clerk was the very same fellow that made the discovery of Dyot’s9 counterfeiting the stamp-paper. Lavallin has been this fortnight hunting after the clerk, to kill him; but the fellow was constantly employed at the Treasury, about the discovery he made: the wife had made a shift to patch up the business, alleging that the clerk had told her her husband was dead and other excuses; but t’other day somebody told Lavallin his wife had intrigues before he married her: upon which he goes down in a rage, shoots his wife through the head, then falls on his sword; and, to make the matter sure, at the same time discharges a pistol through his own head, and died on the spot, his wife surviving him about two hours, but in what circumstances of mind and body is terrible to imagine. I have finished my poem on the “Shower,” all but the beginning; and am going on with my Tatler. They have fixed about fifty things on me since I came: I have printed but three.10 One advantage I get by writing to you daily, or rather you get, is, that I shall remember not to write the same things twice; and yet, I fear, I have done it often already: but I will mind and confine myself to the accidents of the day; and so get you gone to ombre, and be good girls, and save your money, and be rich against Presto comes, and write to me now and then: I am thinking it would be a pretty thing to hear sometimes from saucy MD; but do not hurt your eyes, Stella, I charge you.

13. O Lord, here is but a trifle of my letter written yet; what shall Presto do for prattle-prattle, to entertain MD? The talk now grows fresher of the Duke of Ormond for Ireland; though Mr. Addison says he hears it will be in commission, and Lord Galway11 one. These letters of mine are a sort of journal, where matters open by degrees; and, as I tell true or false, you will find by the event whether my intelligence be good; but I do not care twopence whether it be or no. — At night. To-day I was all about St. Paul’s, and up at the top like a fool, with Sir Andrew Fountaine and two more; and spent seven shillings for my dinner like a puppy: this is the second time he has served me so; but I will never do it again, though all mankind should persuade me, unconsidering puppies! There is a young fellow here in town we are all fond of, and about a year or two come from the University, one Harrison,12 a little pretty fellow, with a great deal of wit, good sense, and good nature; has written some mighty pretty things; that in your 6th Miscellanea,13 about the Sprig of an Orange, is his: he has nothing to live on but being governor to one of the Duke of Queensberry’s14 sons for forty pounds a year. The fine fellows are always inviting him to the tavern, and make him pay his club. Henley15 is a great crony of his: they are often at the tavern at six or seven shillings reckoning, and he always makes the poor lad pay his full share. A colonel and a lord were at him and me the same way to-night: I absolutely refused, and made Harrison lag behind, and persuaded him not to go to them. I tell you this, because I find all rich fellows have that humour of using all people without any consideration of their fortunes; but I will see them rot before they shall serve me so. Lord Halifax is always teasing me to go down to his country house, which will cost me a guinea to his servants, and twelve shillings coach-hire; and he shall be hanged first. Is not this a plaguy silly story? But I am vexed at the heart; for I love the young fellow, and am resolved to stir up people to do something for him: he is a Whig, and I will put him upon some of my cast Whigs; for I have done with them; and they have, I hope, done with this kingdom for our time. They were sure of the four members for London above all places, and they have lost three in the four.16 Sir Richard Onslow,17 we hear, has lost for Surrey; and they are overthrown in most places. Lookee, gentlewomen, if I write long letters, I must write you news and stuff, unless I send you my verses; and some I dare not; and those on the “Shower in London” I have sent to the Tatler, and you may see them in Ireland. I fancy you will smoke me in the Tatler I am going to write; for I believe I have told you the hint. I had a letter sent me tonight from Sir Matthew Dudley, and found it on my table when I came in. Because it is extraordinary, I will transcribe it from beginning to end. It is as follows: “Is the Devil in you? Oct. 13, 1710.” I would have answered every particular passage in it, only I wanted time. Here is enough for to-night, such as it is, etc.

14. Is that tobacco at the top of the paper,18 or what? I do not remember I slobbered. Lord, I dreamt of Stella, etc., so confusedly last night, and that we saw Dean Bolton19 and Sterne20 go into a shop: and she bid me call them to her, and they proved to be two parsons I know not; and I walked without till she was shifting, and such stuff, mixed with much melancholy and uneasiness, and things not as they should be, and I know not how: and it is now an ugly gloomy morning. — At night. Mr. Addison and I dined with Ned Southwell, and walked in the Park; and at the Coffee-house I found a letter from the Bishop of Clogher, and a packet from MD. I opened the Bishop’s letter; but put up MD’s, and visited a lady just come to town; and am now got into bed, and going to open your little letter: and God send I may find MD well, and happy, and merry, and that they love Presto as they do fires. Oh, I will not open it yet! yes I will! no I will not! I am going; I cannot stay till I turn over.21 What shall I do? My fingers itch; and now I have it in my left hand; and now I will open it this very moment. — I have just got it, and am cracking the seal, and cannot imagine what is in it; I fear only some letter from a bishop, and it comes too late; I shall employ nobody’s credit but my own. Well, I see though — Pshaw, ’tis from Sir Andrew Fountaine. What, another! I fancy that’s from Mrs. Barton;22 she told me she would write to me; but she writes a better hand than this: I wish you would inquire; it must be at Dawson’s23 office at the Castle. I fear this is from Patty Rolt, by the scrawl. Well, I will read MD’s letter. Ah, no; it is from poor Lady Berkeley, to invite me to Berkeley Castle this winter; and now it grieves my heart: she says, she hopes my lord is in a fair way of recovery;24 poor lady! Well, now I go to MD’s letter: faith, it is all right; I hoped it was wrong. Your letter, N.3, that I have now received, is dated Sept. 26; and Manley’s letter, that I had five days ago, was dated Oct. 3, that’s a fortnight difference: I doubt it has lain in Steele’s office, and he forgot. Well, there’s an end of that: he is turned out of his place;25 and you must desire those who send me packets, to enclose them in a paper directed to Mr. Addison, at St. James’s Coffee-house: not common letters, but packets: the Bishop of Clogher may mention it to the Archbishop when he sees him. As for your letter, it makes me mad: slidikins, I have been the best boy in Christendom, and you come with your two eggs a penny. — Well; but stay, I will look over my book: adad, I think there was a chasm between my N.2 and N.3. Faith, I will not promise to write to you every week; but I will write every night, and when it is full I will send it; that will be once in ten days, and that will be often enough: and if you begin to take up the way of writing to Presto, only because it is Tuesday, a Monday bedad it will grow a task; but write when you have a mind. — No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no — Agad, agad, agad, agad, agad, agad; no, poor Stellakins.26 Slids, I would the horse were in your — chamber! Have not I ordered Parvisol to obey your directions about him? And han’t I said in my former letters that you may pickle him, and boil him, if you will? What do you trouble me about your horses for? Have I anything to do with them? — Revolutions a hindrance to me in my business? Revolutions to me in my business? If it were not for the revolutions, I could do nothing at all; and now I have all hopes possible, though one is certain of nothing; but to-morrow I am to have an answer, and am promised an effectual one. I suppose I have said enough in this and a former letter how I stand with new people; ten times better than ever I did with the old; forty times more caressed. I am to dine to-morrow at Mr. Harley’s; and if he continues as he has begun, no man has been ever better treated by another. What you say about Stella’s mother, I have spoken enough to it already. I believe she is not in town; for I have not yet seen her. My lampoon is cried up to the skies; but nobody suspects me for it, except Sir Andrew Fountaine: at least they say nothing of it to me. Did not I tell you of a great man who received me very coldly?27 That’s he; but say nothing; ’twas only a little revenge. I will remember to bring it over. The Bishop of Clogher has smoked my Tatler,28 about shortening of words, etc. But, God So!29 etc.

15. I will write plainer if I can remember it; for Stella must not spoil her eyes, and Dingley can’t read my hand very well; and I am afraid my letters are too long: then you must suppose one to be two, and read them at twice. I dined to-day with Mr. Harley: Mr. Prior30 dined with us. He has left my memorial with the Queen, who has consented to give the First-Fruits and Twentieth Parts,31 and will, we hope, declare it to-morrow in the Cabinet. But I beg you to tell it to no person alive; for so I am ordered, till in public: and I hope to get something of greater value. After dinner came in Lord Peterborow:32 we renewed our acquaintance, and he grew mightily fond of me. They began to talk of a paper of verses called “Sid Hamet.” Mr. Harley repeated part, and then pulled them out, and gave them to a gentleman at the table to read, though they had all read them often. Lord Peterborow would let nobody read them but himself: so he did; and Mr. Harley bobbed33 me at every line, to take notice of the beauties. Prior rallied Lord Peterborow for author of them; and Lord Peterborow said he knew them to be his; and Prior then turned it upon me, and I on him. I am not guessed at all in town to be the author; yet so it is: but that is a secret only to you.34 Ten to one whether you see them in Ireland; yet here they run prodigiously. Harley presented me to Lord President of Scotland,35 and Mr. Benson,36 Lord of the Treasury. Prior and I came away at nine, and sat at the Smyrna37 till eleven, receiving acquaintance.

16. This morning early I went in a chair, and Patrick before it, to Mr. Harley, to give him another copy of my memorial, as he desired; but he was full of business, going to the Queen, and I could not see him; but he desired I would send up the paper, and excused himself upon his hurry. I was a little baulked; but they tell me it is nothing. I shall judge by next visit. I tipped his porter with half a crown; and so I am well there for a time at least. I dined at Stratford’s in the City, and had Burgundy and Tokay: came back afoot like a scoundrel: then went with Mr. Addison and supped with Lord Mountjoy, which made me sick all night. I forgot that I bought six pounds of chocolate for Stella, and a little wooden box; and I have a great piece of Brazil tobacco for Dingley,38 and a bottle of palsy-water39 for Stella: all which, with the two handkerchiefs that Mr. Sterne has bought, and you must pay him for, will be put in the box, directed to Mrs. Curry’s, and sent by Dr. Hawkshaw,40 whom I have not seen; but Sterne has undertaken it. The chocolate is a present, madam, for Stella. Don’t read this, you little rogue, with your little eyes; but give it to Dingley, pray now; and I will write as plain as the skies: and let Dingley write Stella’s part, and Stella dictate to her, when she apprehends her eyes, etc.

17. This letter should have gone this post, if I had not been taken up with business, and two nights being late out; so it must stay till Thursday. I dined to-day with your Mr. Sterne,41 by invitation, and drank Irish wine;42 but, before we parted, there came in the prince of puppies, Colonel Edgworth;43 so I went away. This day came out the Tatler, made up wholly of my “Shower,” and a preface to it. They say it is the best thing I ever writ, and I think so too. I suppose the Bishop of Clogher will show it you. Pray tell me how you like it. Tooke is going on with my Miscellany.44 I’d give a penny the letter to the Bishop of Killaloe45 was in it: ‘twould do him honour. Could not you contrive to say, you hear they are printing my things together; and that you with the bookseller had that letter among the rest: but don’t say anything of it as from me. I forget whether it was good or no; but only having heard it much commended, perhaps it may deserve it. Well, I have to-morrow to finish this letter in, and then I will send it next day. I am so vexed that you should write your third to me, when you had but my second, and I had written five, which now I hope you have all: and so I tell you, you are saucy, little, pretty, dear rogues, etc.

18. To-day I dined, by invitation, with Stratford and others, at a young merchant’s in the City, with Hermitage and Tokay, and stayed till nine, and am now come home. And that dog Patrick is abroad, and drinking, and I cannot I get my night-gown. I have a mind to turn that puppy away: he has been drunk ten times in three weeks. But I han’t time to say more; so good-night, etc.

19. I am come home from dining in the city with Mr. Addison, at a merchant’s; and just now, at the Coffee-house, we have notice that the Duke of Ormond was this day declared Lord Lieutenant at Hampton Court, in Council. I have not seen Mr. Harley since; but hope the affair is done about First-Fruits. I will see him, if possible, to-morrow morning; but this goes to-night. I have sent a box to Mr. Sterne, to send to you by some friend: I have directed it for Mr. Curry, at his house; so you have warning when it comes, as I hope it will soon. The handkerchiefs will be put in some friend’s pocket, not to pay custom. And so here ends my sixth, sent when I had but three of MD’s: now I am beforehand, and will keep so; and God Almighty bless dearest MD, etc.

1. I.e., Lord Lieutenant.

2 Tatler, No. 238.

3 See Letter 1, note 12.

4 Charles Coote, fourth Earl of Mountrath, and M.P. for Knaresborough. He died unmarried in 1715.

5 Henry Coote, Lord Mountrath’s brother. He succeeded to the earldom in 1715, but died unmarried in 1720.

6 The Devil Tavern was the meeting-place of Ben Jonson’s Apollo Club. The house was pulled down in 1787.

7 Addison was re-elected M.P. for Malmesbury in Oct. 1710, and he kept that seat until his death in 1719.

8 Captain Charles Lavallee, who served in the Cadiz Expedition of 1702, and was appointed a captain in Colonel Hans Hamilton’s Regiment of Foot in 1706 (Luttrell, v. 175, vi. 640; Dalton’s English Army Lists, iv. 126).

9 See Letter 5.

10 The Tatler, No. 230, Sid Hamet’s Rod, and the ballad (now lost) on the Westminster Election.

11 The Earl of Galway (1648-1720), who lost the battle of Almanza to the Duke of Berwick in 1707. Originally the Marquis de Ruvigny, a French refugee, he had been made Viscount Galway and Earl of Galway successively by William III.

12 William Harrison, the son of a doctor at St. Cross, Winchester, had been recommended to Swift by Addison, who obtained for him the post of governor to the Duke of Queensberry’s son. In Jan. 1711 Harrison began the issue of a continuation of Steele’s Tatler with Swift’s assistance, but without success. In May 1711, St. John gave Harrison the appointment of secretary to Lord Raby, Ambassador Extraordinary at the Hague, and in Jan. 1713 Harrison brought the Barrier Treaty to England. He died in the following month, at the age of twenty-seven, and Lady Strafford says that “his brother poets buried him, as Mr. Addison, Mr. Philips, and Dr. Swift.” Tickell calls him “that much loved youth,” and Swift felt his death keenly. Harrison’s best poem is Woodstock Park, 1706.

13 The last volume of Tonson’s Miscellany, 1708.

14 James Douglas, second Duke of Queensberry and Duke of Dover (1662-1711), was appointed joint Keeper of the Privy Seal in 1708, and third Secretary of State in 1709. Harrison must have been “governor” either to the third son, Charles, Marquis of Beverley (born 1698), who succeeded to the dukedom in 1711, or to the fourth son, George, born in 1701.

15 Anthony Henley, son of Sir Robert Henley, M.P. for Andover, was a favourite with the wits in London. He was a strong Whig, and occasionally contributed to the Tatler and Maynwaring’s Medley. Garth dedicated The Dispensary to him. Swift records Henley’s death from apoplexy in August 1711.

16 Sir William Ashurst, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, and Mr. John Ward were replaced by Sir Richard Hoare, Sir George Newland, and Mr. John Cass at the election for the City in 1710. Scott was wrong in saying that the Whigs lost also the fourth seat, for Sir William Withers had been member for the City since 1707.

17 Sir Richard Onslow, Bart., was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in 1708. Under George I. he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was elevated to the peerage as Baron Onslow in 1716. He died in the following year.

18 “The upper part of the letter was a little besmeared with some such stuff; the mark is still on it” (Deane Swift).

19 John Bolton, D.D., appointed a prebendary of St. Patrick’s in 1691, became Dean of Derry in 1699. He died in 1724. Like Swift, Bolton was chaplain to Lord Berkeley, the Lord Lieutenant, and, according to Swift, he obtained the deanery of Derry through Swift having declined to give a bribe of 1000 pounds to Lord Berkeley’s secretary. But Lord Orrery says that the Bishop of Derry objected to Swift, fearing that he would be constantly flying backwards and forwards between Ireland and England.

20 See Letter 2, note 16.

21 “That is, to the next page; for he is now within three lines of the bottom of the first” (Deane Swift).

22 See Letter 4, note 15.

23 Joshua Dawson, secretary to the Lords Justices. He built a fine house in Dawson Street, Dublin, and provided largely for his relatives by the aid of the official patronage in his hands.

24 He had been dead three weeks (see Letters 3 and 5).

25 In The Importance of the Guardian Considered, Swift says that Steele, “to avoid being discarded, thought fit to resign his place of Gazetteer.”

26 As Swift never used the name “Stella” in the Journal, this fragment of his “little language” must have been altered by Deane Swift, the first editor. Forster makes the excellent suggestion that the correct reading is “sluttikins,” a word used in the Journal on Nov. 28, 1710. Swift often calls his correspondents “sluts.”

27 Godolphin, who was satirised in Sid Hamel’s Rod (see Letter 2, note 3).

28 No. 230.

29 “This appears to be an interjection of surprise at the length of his journal” (Deane Swift).

30 Matthew Prior, poet and diplomatist, had been deprived of his Commissionership of Trade by the Whigs, but was rewarded for his Tory principles in 1711 by a Commissionership of Customs.

31 “The twentieth parts are 12 pence in the pound paid annually out of all ecclesiastical benefices as they were valued at the Reformation. They amount to about 500 pounds per annum; but are of little or no value to the Queen after the offices and other charges are paid, though of much trouble and vexation to the clergy” (Swift’s “Memorial to Mr. Harley”).

32 Charles Mordaunt, the brilliant but erratic Earl of Peterborough, had been engaged for two years, after the unsatisfactory inquiry into his conduct in Spain by the House of Lords in 1708, in preparing an account of the money he had received and expended. The change of Government brought him relief from his troubles; in November he was made Captain-General of Marines, and in December he was nominated Ambassador Extraordinary to Vienna.

33 Tapped, nudged.

34 I.e., told only to you.

35 Sir Hew Dalrymple (1652-1737), Lord President of the Court of Session, and son of the first Viscount Stair.

36 Robert Benson, a moderate Tory, was made a Lord of the Treasury in August 1710, and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the following June, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Bingley in 1713. He died in 1731.

37 The Smyrna Coffee-house was on the north side of Pall Mall, opposite Marlborough House. In the Tatler (Nos. 10, 78) Steele laughed at the “cluster of wise heads” to be found every evening at the Smyrna; and Goldsmith says that Beau Nash would wait a whole day at a window at the Smyrna, in order to receive a bow from the Prince or the Duchess of Marlborough, and would then look round upon the company for admiration and respect.

38 See Letter 4, note 14.

39 See Letter 5, note 17.

40 An Irish doctor, with whom Swift invested money.

41 Enoch Sterne, Collector of Wicklow and Clerk to the House of Lords in Ireland.

42 Claret.

43 Colonel Ambrose Edgworth, a famous dandy, who is supposed to have been referred to by Steele in No. 246 of the Tatler. Edgworth was the son of Sir John Edgworth, who was made Colonel of a Regiment of Foot in 1689 (Dalton, iii, 59). Ambrose Edgworth was a Captain in the same regiment, but father and son were shortly afterwards turned out of the regiment for dishonest conduct in connection with the soldiers’ clothing. Ambrose was, however, reappointed a Captain in General Eric’s Regiment of Foot in 1691. He served in Spain as Major in Brigadier Gorge’s regiment; was taken prisoner in 1706; and was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of Colonel Thomas Allen’s Regiment of Foot in 1707.

44 This volume of Miscellanies in Prose and Verse was published by Morphew in 1711.

45 Dr. Thomas Lindsay, afterwards Bishop of Raphoe.

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