The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 7.

London, Oct. 19, 1710.

Faith, I am undone! this paper is larger than the other, and yet I am condemned to a sheet; but, since it is MD, I did not value though I were condemned to a pair. I told you in my letter to-day where I had been, and how the day passed; and so, etc.

20. To-day I went to Mr. Lewis, at the Secretary’s office, to know when I might see Mr. Harley; and by and by comes up Mr. Harley himself, and appoints me to dine with him to-morrow. I dined with Mrs. Vanhomrigh,1 and went to wait on the two Lady Butlers;2 but the porter answered they were not at home: the meaning was, the youngest, Lady Mary, is to be married to-morrow to Lord Ashburnham,3 the best match now in England, twelve thousand pounds a year, and abundance of money. Tell me how my “Shower” is liked in Ireland: I never knew anything pass better here. I spent the evening with Wortley Montagu4 and Mr. Addison, over a bottle of Irish wine. Do they know anything in Ireland of my greatness among the Tories? Everybody reproaches me of it here; but I value them not. Have you heard of the verses about the “Rod of Sid Hamet”? Say nothing of them for your life. Hardly anybody suspects me for them; only they think nobody but Prior or I could write them. But I doubt they have not reached you. There is likewise a ballad full of puns on the Westminster Election,5 that cost me half an hour: it runs, though it be good for nothing. But this is likewise a secret to all but MD. If you have them not, I will bring them over.

21. I got MD’s fourth to-day at the Coffee-house. God Almighty bless poor, dear Stella, and her eyes and head! What shall we do to cure them? poor, dear life! Your disorders are a pull-back for your good qualities. Would to Heaven I were this minute shaving your poor, dear head, either here or there! Pray do not write, nor read this letter, nor anything else; and I will write plainer for Dingley to read from henceforward, though my pen is apt to ramble when I think whom I am writing to. I will not answer your letter until I tell you that I dined this day with Mr. Harley, who presented me to the Earl of Stirling,6 a Scotch lord; and in the evening came in Lord Peterborow. I stayed till nine before Mr. Harley would let me go, or tell me anything of my affair. He says the Queen has now granted the First-Fruits and Twentieth Parts; but he will not give me leave to write to the Archbishop, because the Queen designs to signify it to the Bishops in Ireland in form; and to take notice, that it was done upon a memorial from me; which, Mr. Harley tells me he does to make it look more respectful to me, etc.; and I am to see him on Tuesday. I know not whether I told you that, in my memorial which was given to the Queen, I begged for two thousand pounds a year more, though it was not in my commission; but that, Mr. Harley says, cannot yet be done, and that he and I must talk of it further: however, I have started it, and it may follow in time. Pray say nothing of the First-Fruits being granted, unless I give leave at the bottom of this. I believe never anything was compassed so soon, and purely done by my personal credit with Mr. Harley, who is so excessively obliging, that I know not what to make of it, unless to show the rascals of the other party that they used a man unworthily who had deserved better. The memorial given to the Queen from me speaks with great plainness of Lord Wharton. I believe this business is as important to you as the Convocation disputes from Tisdall.7 I hope in a month or two all the forms of settling this matter will be over; and then I shall have nothing to do here. I will only add one foolish thing more, because it is just come into my head. When this thing is made known, tell me impartially whether they give any of the merit to me, or no; for I am sure I have so much, that I will never take it upon me. — Insolent sluts! because I say Dublin, Ireland, therefore you must say London, England: that is Stella’s malice. — Well, for that I will not answer your letter till to-morrow-day, and so and so: I will go write something else, and it will not be much; for ’tis late.

22. I was this morning with Mr. Lewis, the under-secretary to Lord Dartmouth, two hours, talking politics, and contriving to keep Steele in his office of stamped paper: he has lost his place of Gazetteer, three hundred pounds a year, for writing a Tatler,8 some months ago, against Mr. Harley, who gave it him at first, and raised the salary from sixty to three hundred pounds. This was devilish ungrateful; and Lewis was telling me the particulars: but I had a hint given me, that I might save him in the other employment: and leave was given me to clear matters with Steele. Well, I dined with Sir Matthew Dudley, and in the evening went to sit with Mr. Addison, and offer the matter at distance to him, as the discreeter person; but found party had so possessed him, that he talked as if he suspected me, and would not fall in with anything I said. So I stopped short in my overture, and we parted very drily; and I shall say nothing to Steele, and let them do as they will; but, if things stand as they are, he will certainly lose it, unless I save him; and therefore I will not speak to him, that I may not report to his disadvantage. Is not this vexatious? and is there so much in the proverb of proffered service? When shall I grow wise? I endeavour to act in the most exact points of honour and conscience; and my nearest friends will not understand it so. What must a man expect from his enemies? This would vex me, but it shall not; and so I bid you good-night, etc.

23. I know ’tis neither wit nor diversion to tell you every day where I dine; neither do I write it to fill my letter; but I fancy I shall, some time or other, have the curiosity of seeing some particulars how I passed my life when I was absent from MD this time; and so I tell you now that I dined to-day at Molesworth’s, the Florence Envoy, then went to the Coffee-house, where I behaved myself coldly enough to Mr. Addison, and so came home to scribble. We dine together to-morrow and next day by invitation; but I shall alter my behaviour to him, till he begs my pardon, or else we shall grow bare acquaintance. I am weary of friends; and friendships are all monsters, but MD’s.

24. I forgot to tell you, that last night I went to Mr. Harley’s, hoping — faith, I am blundering, for it was this very night at six; and I hoped he would have told me all things were done and granted: but he was abroad, and came home ill, and was gone to bed, much out of order, unless the porter lied. I dined to-day at Sir Matthew Dudley’s, with Mr. Addison, etc.

25. I was to-day to see the Duke of Ormond; and, coming out, met Lord Berkeley of Stratton,9 who told me that Mrs. Temple,10 the widow, died last Saturday, which, I suppose, is much to the outward grief and inward joy of the family. I dined to-day with Addison and Steele, and a sister of Mr. Addison, who is married to one Mons. Sartre,11 a Frenchman, prebendary of Westminster, who has a delicious house and garden; yet I thought it was a sort of monastic life in those cloisters, and I liked Laracor better. Addison’s sister is a sort of a wit, very like him. I am not fond of her, etc.

26. I was to-day to see Mr. Congreve,12 who is almost blind with cataracts growing on his eyes; and his case is, that he must wait two or three years, until the cataracts are riper, and till he is quite blind, and then he must have them couched; and, besides, he is never rid of the gout, yet he looks young and fresh, and is as cheerful as ever. He is younger by three years or more than I; and I am twenty years younger than he. He gave me a pain in the great toe, by mentioning the gout. I find such suspicions frequently, but they go off again. I had a second letter from Mr. Morgan,13 for which I thank you: I wish you were whipped, for forgetting to send him that answer I desired you in one of my former, that I could do nothing for him of what he desired, having no credit at all, etc. Go, be far enough, you negligent baggages. I have had also a letter from Parvisol, with an account how my livings are set; and that they are fallen, since last year, sixty pounds. A comfortable piece of news! He tells me plainly that he finds you have no mind to part with the horse, because you sent for him at the same time you sent him my letter; so that I know not what must be done. It is a sad thing that Stella must have her own horse, whether Parvisol will or no. So now to answer your letter that I had three or four days ago. I am not now in bed, but am come home by eight; and, it being warm, I write up. I never writ to the Bishop of Killala, which, I suppose, was the reason he had not my letter. I have not time, there is the short of it. — As fond as the Dean14 is of my letter, he has not written to me. I would only know whether Dean Bolton15 paid him the twenty pounds; and for the rest, he may kiss — And that you may ask him, because I am in pain about it, that Dean Bolton is such a whipster. ’Tis the most obliging thing in the world in Dean Sterne to be so kind to you. I believe he knows it will please me, and makes up, that way, his other usage.16 No, we have had none of your snow, but a little one morning; yet I think it was great snow for an hour or so, but no longer. I had heard of Will Crowe’s17 death before, but not the foolish circumstance that hastened his end. No, I have taken care that Captain Pratt18 shall not suffer by Lord Anglesea’s death.19 I will try some contrivance to get a copy of my picture from Jervas. I will make Sir Andrew Fountaine buy one as for himself, and I will pay him again, and take it, that is, provided I have money to spare when I leave this. — Poor John! is he gone? and Madam Parvisol20 has been in town! Humm. Why, Tighe21 and I, when he comes, shall not take any notice of each other; I would not do it much in this town, though we had not fallen out. — I was to-day at Mr. Sterne’s lodging: he was not within; and Mr. Leigh is not come to town; but I will do Dingley’s errand when I see him. What do I know whether china be dear or no? I once took a fancy of resolving to grow mad for it, but now it is off; I suppose I told you in some former letter. And so you only want some salad-dishes, and plates, and etc. Yes, yes, you shall. I suppose you have named as much as will cost five pounds. — Now to Stella’s little postscript; and I am almost crazed that you vex yourself for not writing. Cannot you dictate to Dingley, and not strain your little, dear eyes? I am sure it is the grief of my soul to think you are out of order. Pray be quiet; and, if you will write, shut your eyes, and write just a line, and no more, thus, “How do you do, Mrs. Stella?” That was written with my eyes shut. Faith, I think it is better than when they are open: and then Dingley may stand by, and tell you when you go too high or too low. — My letters of business, with packets, if there be any more occasion for such, must be enclosed to Mr. Addison, at St. James’s Coffee-house: but I hope to hear, as soon as I see Mr. Harley, that the main difficulties are over, and that the rest will be but form. — Take two or three nutgalls, take two or three —-galls, stop your receipt in your — I have no need on’t. Here is a clutter! Well, so much for your letter, which I will now put up in my letter-partition in my cabinet, as I always do every letter as soon as I answer it. Method is good in all things. Order governs the world. The Devil is the author of confusion. A general of an army, a minister of state; to descend lower, a gardener, a weaver, etc. That may make a fine observation, if you think it worth finishing; but I have not time. Is not this a terrible long piece for one evening? I dined to-day with Patty Rolt at my cousin Leach’s,22 with a pox, in the City: he is a printer, and prints the Postman, oh hoo, and is my cousin, God knows how, and he married Mrs. Baby Aires of Leicester; and my cousin Thomson was with us: and my cousin Leach offers to bring me acquainted with the author of the Postman;23 and says he does not doubt but the gentleman will be glad of my acquaintance; and that he is a very ingenious man, and a great scholar, and has been beyond sea. But I was modest and said, may be the gentleman was shy, and not fond of new acquaintance; and so put it off: and I wish you could hear me repeating all I have said of this in its proper tone, just as I am writing it. It is all with the same cadence with “Oh hoo,” or as when little girls say, “I have got an apple, miss, and I won’t give you some.” It is plaguy twelvepenny weather this last week, and has cost me ten shillings in coach and chair hire. If the fellow that has your money will pay it, let me beg you to buy Bank Stock with it, which is fallen near thirty per cent. and pays eight pounds per cent. and you have the principal when you please: it will certainly soon rise. I would to God Lady Giffard would put in the four hundred pounds she owes you,24 and take the five per cent. common interest, and give you the remainder. I will speak to your mother about it when I see her. I am resolved to buy three hundred pounds of it for myself, and take up what I have in Ireland; and I have a contrivance for it, that I hope will do, by making a friend of mine buy it as for himself, and I will pay him when I can get in my money. I hope Stratford will do me that kindness. I’ll ask him tomorrow or next day.

27. Mr. Rowe25 the poet desired me to dine with him to-day. I went to his office (he is under-secretary in Mr. Addison’s place that he had in England), and there was Mr. Prior; and they both fell commending my “Shower” beyond anything that has been written of the kind: there never was such a “Shower” since Danae’s, etc. You must tell me how it is liked among you. I dined with Rowe; Prior could not come: and after dinner we went to a blind tavern,26 where Congreve, Sir Richard Temple,27 Estcourt,28 and Charles Main,29 were over a bowl of bad punch. The knight sent for six flasks of his own wine for me, and we stayed till twelve. But now my head continues pretty well; I have left off my drinking, and only take a spoonful mixed with water, for fear of the gout, or some ugly distemper; and now, because it is late, I will, etc.

28. Garth and Addison and I dined to-day at a hedge30 tavern; then I went to Mr. Harley, but he was denied, or not at home: so I fear I shall not hear my business is done before this goes. Then I visited Lord Pembroke,31 who is just come to town; and we were very merry talking of old things; and I hit him with one pun. Then I went to see the Ladies Butler, and the son of a whore of a porter denied them: so I sent them a threatening message by another lady, for not excepting me always to the porter. I was weary of the Coffee-house, and Ford32 desired me to sit with him at next door; which I did, like a fool, chatting till twelve, and now am got into bed. I am afraid the new Ministry is at a terrible loss about money: the Whigs talk so, it would give one the spleen; and I am afraid of meeting Mr. Harley out of humour. They think he will never carry through this undertaking. God knows what will come of it. I should be terribly vexed to see things come round again: it will ruin the Church and clergy for ever; but I hope for better. I will send this on Tuesday, whether I hear any further news of my affair or not.

29. Mr. Addison and I dined to-day with Lord Mountjoy; which is all the adventures of this day. — I chatted a while to-night in the Coffee-house, this being a full night; and now am come home, to write some business.

30. I dined to-day at Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s, and sent a letter to poor Mrs. Long,33 who writes to us, but is God knows where, and will not tell anybody the place of her residence. I came home early, and must go write.

31. The month ends with a fine day; and I have been walking, and visiting Lewis, and concerting where to see Mr. Harley. I have no news to send you. Aire,34 they say, is taken, though the Whitehall letters this morning say quite the contrary: ’tis good, if it be true. I dined with Mr. Addison and Dick Stewart, Lord Mountjoy’s brother;35 a treat of Addison’s. They were half-fuddled, but not I; for I mixed water with my wine, and left them together between nine and ten; and I must send this by the bellman, which vexes me, but I will put it off no longer. Pray God it does not miscarry. I seldom do so; but I can put off little MD no longer. Pray give the under note to Mrs. Brent.

I am a pretty gentleman; and you lose all your money at cards, sirrah Stella. I found you out; I did so.

I am staying before I can fold up this letter, till that ugly D is dry in the last line but one. Do not you see it? O Lord, I am loth to leave you, faith — but it must be so, till the next time. Pox take that D; I will blot it, to dry it.

1 The first mention of the Vanhomrighs in the Journal. Swift had made their acquaintance when he was in London in 1708.

2 Lady Elizabeth and Lady Mary (see Letter 3, note 40 and below).

3 John, third Lord Ashburnham, and afterwards Earl of Ashburnham (1687-1737), married, on Oct. 21, 1710, Lady Mary Butler, younger daughter of the Duke of Ormond. She died on Jan. 2, 1712-3, in her twenty-third year. She was Swift’s “greatest favourite,” and he was much moved at her death.

4 Edward Wortley Montagu, grandson of the first Earl of Sandwich, and M.P. for Huntingdon. He was a great friend of Addison’s, and the second volume of the Tatler was dedicated to him. In 1712 he married the famous Lady Mary Pierrepont, eldest daughter of the Duke of Kingston, and under George I. he became Ambassador Extraordinary to the Porte. He died in 1761, aged eighty.

5 See Letter 5, note 27. No copy of these verses is known.

6 Henry Alexander, fifth Earl of Stirling, who died without issue in 1739. His sister, Lady Judith Alexander, married Sir William Trumbull, Pope’s friend.

7 “These words, notwithstanding their great obscurity at present, were very clear and intelligible to Mrs. Johnson: they referred to conversations, which passed between her and Dr. Tisdall seven or eight years before; when the Doctor, who was not only a learned and faithful divine, but a zealous Church-Tory, frequently entertained her with Convocation disputes. This gentleman, in the year 1704, paid his addresses to Mrs. Johnson” (Deane Swift). The Rev. William Tisdall was made D.D. in 1707. Swift never forgave Tisdall’s proposal to marry Esther Johnson in 1704, and often gave expression to his contempt for him. In 1706 Tisdall married, and was appointed Vicar of Kerry and Ruavon; in 1712 he became Vicar of Belfast. He published several controversial pieces, directed against Presbyterians and other Dissenters.

8 No. 193 of the Tatler, for July 4, 1710, contained a letter from Downes the Prompter in ridicule of Harley’s newly formed Ministry. This letter, the authorship of which Steele disavowed, was probably by Anthony Henley.

9 William Berkeley, fourth Baron Berkeley of Stratton, was sworn of the Privy Council in September 1710, and was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He married Frances, youngest daughter of Sir John Temple, of East Sheen, Surrey, and died in 1740.

10 Probably the widow of Sir William Temple’s son, John Temple (see Letter 2, note 13). She was Mary Duplessis, daughter of Duplessis Rambouillet, a Huguenot.

11 The Rev. James Sartre, who married Addison’s sister Dorothy, was Prebendary and Archdeacon of Westminster. He had formerly been French pastor at Montpelier. After his death in 1713 his widow married a Mr. Combe, and lived until 1750.

12 William Congreve’s last play was produced in 1700. In 1710, when he was forty, he published a collected edition of his works. Swift and Congreve had been schoolfellows at Kilkenny, and they had both been pupils of St. George Ashe — afterwards Bishop of Clogher — at Trinity College, Dublin. On Congreve’s death, in 1729, Swift wrote, “I loved him from my youth.”

13 See Letter 4, note 11.

14 Dean Sterne.

15 See Letter 6, note 19.

16 When he became Dean he withheld from Swift the living of St. Nicholas Without, promised in gratitude for the aid rendered by Swift in his election.

17 Crowe was a Commissioner for Appeals from the Revenue Commissioners for a short time in 1706, and was Recorder of Blessington, Co. Wicklow. In his Short Character of Thomas, Earl of Wharton, 1710, Swift speaks of Whartons “barbarous injustice to . . . poor Will Crowe.”

18 See Letter 3, note 10.

19 See Letter 3, note 35.

20 See Letter 1, note 15.

21 Richard Tighe, M.P. for Belturbet, was a Whig, much disliked by Swift. He became a Privy Councillor under George I.

22 Dryden Leach, of the Old Bailey, formerly an actor, was son of Francis Leach. Swift recommended Harrison to employ Leach in printing the continuation of the Tatler; but Harrison discarded him. (See Journal, Jan. 16, 1710-11, and Timperley’s Literary Anecdotes, 600, 631).

23 The Postman, which appeared three days in the week, written by M. Fonvive, a French Protestant, whom Dunton calls “the glory and mirror of news writers, a very grave, learned, orthodox man.” Fonvive had a universal system of intelligence, at home and abroad, and “as his news is early and good, so his style is excellent.”

24 Sir William Temple left Esther Johnson the lease of some property in Ireland.

25 See Letter 5, note 23.

26 An out-of-the-way or obscure house. So Pepys (Diary, Oct. 15, 1661) “To St. Paul’s Churchyard to a blind place where Mr. Goldsborough was to meet me.”

27 Sir Richard Temple, Bart., of Stowe, a Lieutenant-General who saw much service in Flanders, was dismissed in 1713 owing to his Whig views, but on the accession of George I. was raised to the peerage, and was created Viscount Cobham in 1718. He died in 1749. Congreve wrote in praise of him, and he was the “brave Cobham” of Pope’s first Moral Essay.

28 Richard Estcourt, the actor, died in August 1712, when his abilities on the stage and as a talker were celebrated by Steele to No. 468 of the Spectator. See also Tatler, Aug. 6, 1709, and Spectator, May 5, 1712. Estcourt was “providore” of the Beef-Steak Club, and a few months before his death opened the Bumper Tavern in James Street, Covent Garden.

29 See Letter 5, note 49.

30 Poor, mean. Elsewhere Swift speaks of “the corrector of a hedge press in Little Britain,” and “a little hedge vicar.”

31 Thomas Herbert, eighth Earl of Pembroke, was Lord Lieutenant from April 1707 to December 1708. A nobleman of taste and learning, he was, like Swift, very fond of punning, and they had been great friends in Ireland.

32 See Letter 3, note 11.

33 See Letter 3, note 18.

34 A small town and fortress in what is now the Pas de Calais.

35 Richard Stewart, third son of the first Lord Mountjoy (see Letter 1, note 11), was M.P. at various times for Castlebar, Strabane, and County Tyrone. He died in 1728.

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