The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 60.1

London, Feb. 15 [1712-13].

I dined to-day with Mr. Rowe2 and a projector, who has been teasing me with twenty schemes to get grants; and I don’t like one of them; and, besides, I was out of humour for the loss of poor Harrison. At ten this night I was at his funeral, which I ordered to be as private as possible. We had but one coach with four of us; and when it was carrying us home after the funeral, the braces broke; and we were forced to sit in it, and have it held up, till my man went for chairs,3 at eleven at night in terrible rain. I am come home very melancholy, and will go to bed. Nite . . . MD.4

16. I dined to-day with Lord Dupplin and some company to divert me; but left them early, and have been reading a foolish book for amusement. I shall never have courage again to care for making anybody’s fortune. The Parliament meets to-morrow, and will be prorogued another fortnight, at which several of both parties were angry; but it cannot be helped, though everything about the peace is past all danger. I never saw such a continuance of rainy weather. We have not had two fair days together these ten weeks. I have not dined with Lord Treasurer these four days, nor can I till Saturday; for I have several engagements till then, and he will chide me to some purpose. I am perplexed with this hundred pounds of poor Harrison’s, what to do with it. I cannot pay his relations till they administer, for he is much in debt;5 but I will have the staff in my own hands, and venture nothing. Nite poo dee MD.

17. Lady Jersey and I dined by appointment to-day with Lord Bolingbroke. He is sending his brother6 to succeed Mr.7 Harrison. It is the prettiest post in Europe for a young gentleman. I lose my money at ombre sadly; I make a thousand blunders. I play but8 threepenny ombre; but it is what you call running ombre. Lady Clarges,9 and a drab I hate, won a dozen shillings of me last night. The Parliament was prorogued to-day; and people grumble; and the good of it is the peace cannot be finished by the time they meet, there are so many fiddling things to do. Is Ppt an ombre lady yet? You know all the tricks of it now, I suppose. I reckon you have all your cards from France, for ours pay sixpence a pack taxes, which goes deep to the box. I have given away all my Spa water, and take some nasty steel drops, and my head has been better this week past. I send every day to see how Miss Ashe does: she is very full, they say, but in no danger. I fear she will lose some of her beauty. The son lies out of the house. I wish he had them too, while he is so young. — Nite MD.

18. The Earl of Abingdon10 has been teasing me these three months to dine with him; and this day was appointed about a week ago, and I named my company; Lord Stawel,11 Colonel Disney,12 and Dr. Arbuthnot; but the two last slipped out their necks, and left Stawell and me to dine there. We did not dine till seven, because it is Ash Wednesday. We had nothing but fish, which Lord Stawell could not eat, and got a broiled leg of a turkey. Our wine was poison; yet the puppy has twelve thousand pound a year. His carps were raw, and his candles tallow. He13 shall not catch me in haste again, and everybody has laughed at me for dining with him. I was to-day to let Harrison’s mother know I could not pay till she administers; which she will do. I believe she is an old bawd,14 and her daughter a ——-. There were more Whigs to-day at Court than Tories. I believe they think the peace must be made, and so come to please the Queen. She is still lame with the gout. Nite MD.

19. I was at Court to-day, to speak to Lord Bolingbroke to look over Parnell’s poem since it is corrected; and Parnell and I dined with him, and he has shown him three or four more places to alter a little. Lady Bolingbroke came down to us while we were at dinner, and Parnell stared at her as if she were a goddess. I thought she was like Parnell’s wife, and he thought so too. Parnell is much pleased with Lord Bolingbroke’s favour to him, and I hope it may one day turn to his advantage. His poem will be printed in a few days. Our weather continues as fresh raining as if it had not rained at all. I sat to-night at Lady Masham’s, where Lord Treasurer came and scolded me for not dining with him. I told him I could not till Saturday. I have stayed there till past twelve. So nite dee sollahs, nite.

20. Lady Jersey, Lady Catherine Hyde,15 the Spanish Ambassador, the Duke d’Atree,16 another Spaniard, and I, dined to-day by appointment with Lord Bolingbroke; but they fell a drinking so many Spanish healths in champagne that I stole away to the ladies, and drank tea till eight; and then went and lost my money at ombre with Sir Andrew Fountaine, who has a very bad leg. Miss Ashe is past all danger; and her eye, which was lately bad (I suppose one effect of her distemper), is now better. I do not let the Bishop see me, nor shall this good while. Good luck! when I came home, I warrant, I found a letter from MD, No.38; and oo write so small nowadays, I hope oo poor eyes are better. Well, this shall go to-morrow se’nnight, with a bill for MD. I will speak to Mr. Griffin17 to-morrow about Ppt’s brother Filby, and desire, whether he deserves or no, that his employment may be mended; that is to say, if I can see Griffin; otherwise not; and I’ll answer oo rettle hen I Pdfr think fit. Nite MD.

21. Methinks I writ a little saucy last night. I mean the last . . . 18 I saw Griffin at Court. He says he knows nothing of a salt-work at Recton; but that he will give Filby a better employment, and desires Filby will write to him. If I knew how to write to Filby, I would; but pray do you. Bid him make no mention of you; but only let Mr. Griffin know that he has the honour to be recommended by Dr. S— — etc.; that he will endeavour to deserve, etc.; and if you dictated a whole letter for him, it would be better; I hope he can write and spell well. I’ll inquire for a direction to Griffin before I finish this. I dined with Lord Treasurer and seven lords to-day. You know Saturday is his great day, but I sat with them alone till eight, and then came home, and have been writing a letter to Mrs. Davis, at York. She took care to have a letter delivered for me at Lord Treasurer’s; for I would not own one she sent by post. She reproaches me for not writing to her these four years; and I have honestly told her it was my way never to write to those whom I am never likely to see, unless I can serve them, which I cannot her, etc. Davis the schoolmaster’s widow. Nite MD.

22. I dined to-day at Lord Orkney’s, with the Duke of Ormond and Sir Thomas Hanmer.19 Have you ever heard of the latter? He married the Duchess of Grafton in his youth (she dined with us too). He is the most considerable man in the House of Commons. He went last spring to Flanders, with the Duke of Ormond; from thence to France, and was going to Italy; but the Ministry sent for him, and he has been come over about ten days. He is much out of humour with things: he thinks the peace is kept off too long, and is full of fears and doubts. It is thought he is designed for Secretary of State, instead of Lord Dartmouth. We have been acquainted these two years; and I intend, in a day or two, to have an hour’s talk with him on affairs. I saw the Bishop of Clogher at Court; Miss is recovering. I know not how much she will be marked. The Queen is slowly mending of her gout, and intends to be brought in a chair to Parliament when it meets, which will be March 3; for I suppose they will prorogue no more; yet the peace will not be signed then, and we apprehend the Tories themselves will many of them be discontented. Nite dee MD.

23. It was ill weather to-day, and I dined with Sir Andrew Fountaine, and in the evening played at ombre with him and the Provost, and won twenty-five shillings; so I have recovered myself pretty well. Dilly has been dunning me to see Fanny Manley; but I have not yet been able to do it. Miss Ashe is now quite out of danger; and hope will not be much marked. I cannot tell how to direct to Griffin; and think he lives in Bury Street, near St. James’s Street, hard by me; but I suppose your brother may direct to him to the Salt Office, and, as I remember, he knows his Christian name, because he sent it me in the list of the Commissioners. Nite dee MD.

24. I walked this morning to Chelsea, to see Dr. Atterbury, Dean of Christ Church. I had business with him about entering Mr. Fitzmaurice,20 my Lord Kerry’s son, into his College; and Lady Kerry21 is a great favourite of mine. Lord Harley, Lord Dupplin, young Bromley22 the Speaker’s son, and I, dined with Dr. Stratford23 and some other clergymen; but I left them at seven to go to Lady Jersey, to see Monteleon the Spanish Ambassador play at ombre. Lady Jersey was abroad, and I chid the servants, and made a rattle; but since I came home she sent me a message that I was mistaken, and that the meeting is to be to-morrow. I have a worse memory than when I left you, and every day forget appointments; but here my memory was by chance too good. But I’ll go to-morrow; for Lady Catherine Hyde and Lady Bolingbroke are to be there by appointment, and I listed24 up my periwig, and all, to make a figure. Well, who can help it? Not I, vow to . . .!25 Nite MD.

25. Lord Treasurer met me last night at Lord Masham’s, and thanked me for my company in a jeer, because I had not dined with him in three days. He chides me if I stay away but two days together. What will this come to? Nothing. My grandmother used to say, “More of your lining, and less of your dining.” However, I dined with him, and could hardly leave him at eight, to go to Lady Jersey’s, where five or six foreign Ministers were, and as many ladies. Monteleon played like the English, and cried “gacco,” and knocked his knuckles for trump, and played at small games like Ppt. Lady Jersey whispered me to stay and sup with the ladies when the fellows were gone; but they played till eleven, and I would not stay. I think this letter must go on Saturday; that’s certain; and it is not half full yet. Lady Catherine Hyde had a mighty mind I should be acquainted with Lady Dalkeith,26 her sister, the Duke of Monmouth’s eldest son’s widow, who was of the company to-night; but I did not like her; she paints too much. Nite MD.

26. This day our Society met at the Duke of Ormond’s, but I had business that called me another way; so I sent my excuses, and dined privately with a friend. Besides, Sir Thomas Hanmer whispered me last night at Lady Jersey’s that I must attend Lord Treasurer and Duke of Ormond at supper at his house to-night; which I did at eleven, and stayed till one, so oo may be sure ’tis late enough. There was the Duchess of Grafton, and the Duke her son; nine of us in all. The Duke of Ormond chid me for not being at the Society to-day, and said sixteen were there. I said I never knew sixteen people good company in my life; no, fais, nor eight either. We have no news in this town at all. I wonder why I don’t write you news. I know less of what passes than anybody, because I go to27 no coffee-house, nor see any but Ministers, and such people; and Ministers never talk politics in conversation. The Whigs are forming great schemes against the meeting of Parliament, which will be next Tuesday, I still think, without fail; and we hope to hear by then that the peace is ready to sign. The Queen’s gout mends daily. Nite MD.

27. I passed a very insipid day, and dined privately with a friend in the neighbourhood. Did I tell you that I have a very fine picture of Lady Orkney,28 an original, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, three-quarters length? I have it now at home, with a fine frame. Lord Bolingbroke and Lady Masham have promised to sit for me; but I despair of Lord Treasurer; only I hope he will give me a copy, and then I shall have all the pictures of those I really love here; just half a dozen; only I’ll make Lord Keeper give me his print in a frame. This letter must go to-morrow, because of sending ME a bill; else it should not till next week, I assure oo. I have little to do now with my pen; for my grand business stops till they are more pressing, and till something or other happens; and I believe I shall return with disgust to finish it, it is so very laborious. Sir Thomas Hanmer has my papers now. And hat is MD doing now? Oh, at ombre with the Dean always on Friday night, with Mrs. Walls. Pray don’t play at small games. I stood by, t’other night, while the Duke d’Atree29 lost six times with manilio, basto, and three small trumps; and Lady Jersey won above twenty pounds. Nite dee richar30 MD.

28. I was at Court to-day, when the Abbe Gaultier whispered me that a courier was just come with an account that the French King had consented to all the Queen’s demands, and his consent was carried to Utrecht, and the peace will be signed in a few days. I suppose the general peace cannot be so soon ready; but that is no matter. The news presently ran about the Court. I saw the Queen carried out in her chair, to take the air in the garden. I met Griffin at Court, and he told me that orders were sent to examine Filby; and, if he be fit, to make him (I think he called it) an assistant; I don’t know what, Supervisor, I think; but it is some employment a good deal better than his own. The Parliament will have another short prorogation, though it is not known yet. I dined with Lord Treasurer and his Saturday company, and left him at eight to put this in the post-office time enough. And now I must bid oo farewell, deelest richar Ppt. God bless oo ever, and rove Pdfr. Farewell MD MD MD FW FW FW FW ME ME ME Lele Lele.

1 Addressed to “Mrs. Dingley,” etc. Endorsed “Mar. 7.”

2 See Letter 5, note 23.

3 Sedan chairs were then comparatively novel (see Gay’s Trivia).

4 Some words obliterated. Forster reads, “Nite MD, My own deelest MD.”

5 Peter Wentworth wrote to Lord Strafford, on Feb. 17, 1713, “Poor Mr. Harrison is very much lamented; he died last Saturday. Dr. Swift told me that he had told him . . . he owed about 300 pounds, and the Queen owed him 500 pounds, and that if you or some of your people could send an account of his debts, that I might give it to him, he would undertake to solicit Lord Treasurer and get this 500 pounds, and give the remainder to his mother and sister” (Wentworth Papers, 320).

6 George St. John (eldest son of Sir Harry St. John by his second marriage) was Secretary to the English Plenipotentiaries at Utrecht. He died at Venice in 1716 (Lady Cowper’s Diary, 65).

7 Forster wrongly reads, “poor.”

8 “Putt” (MS.).

9 See Letter 59, note 26.

10 Montagu Bertie, second Earl of Abingdon (died 1743), was a strong Tory.

11 See Letter 11, note 61. These friends were together again on an expedition to Bath in 1715, when Jervas wrote to Pope (Aug. 12, 1715) that Arbuthnot, Disney, and he were to meet at Hyde Park Corner, proceed to Mr. Hill’s at Egham, meet Pope next day, and then go to Lord Stawell’s to lodge the night. Lord Stawell’s seat, Aldermaston, was seventeen miles from Binfield.

12 See Letter 16, note 20.

13 “I” (MS.).

14 Obliterated. Forster reads, “devil,” and Mr. Ryland, “bitch.”

15 See Letter 40, note 6.

16 Victor Marie, duc d’Estrees, Marshal of France (died 1727).

17 See Letter 55, note 18.

18 Several words are obliterated. Forster reads, “the last word, God ‘give me”; but “‘give me” is certainly wrong.

19 See Letter 9, note 13. Sir Thomas Hanmer married, in 1698, at the age of twenty-two, Isabella, Dowager Duchess of Grafton, daughter of Henry, Earl of Arlington, and Countess of Arlington in her own right. Hanmer was not made Secretary of State, but he succeeded Bromley as Speaker of the House of Commons.

20 William Fitzmaurice (see Letter 11, note 19 and Letter 27, note 11) entered Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on March 10, 1712-13, at the age of eighteen.

21 See Letter 11, note 11.

22 William Bromley, second son of Bromley the Speaker (see Letter 10, note 1), was a boy of fourteen at this time. In 1727 he was elected M.P. for Warwick, and he died in 1737, shortly after being elected Member for Oxford University.

23 See Letter 14, note 12.

24 Sometimes “list” means to border or edge; at others, to sew together, so as to make a variegated display, or to form a border. Probably it here means the curling of the bottom of the wig.

25 The last eight words have been much obliterated, and the reading is doubtful.

26 Lady Henrietta Hyde, second daughter of Laurence Hyde, first Earl of Rochester (see Letter 8, note 22), married James Scott, Earl of Dalkeith, son of the Duke of Monmouth. Lord Dalkeith died in 1705, leaving a son, who succeeded his grandmother (Monmouth’s widow) as second Duke of Buccleuch. Lady Catherine Hyde (see Letter 40, note 6) was a younger sister of Lady Dalkeith.

27 Swift first wrote “I frequent.”

28 See Letter 52, note 5.

29 D’Estrees.

30 Little (almost illegible).

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