The Journal to Stella, by Jonathan Swift

Letter 8.

London, Oct. 31, 1710.

So, now I have sent my seventh to your fourth, young women; and now I will tell you what I would not in my last, that this morning, sitting in my bed, I had a fit of giddiness: the room turned round for about a minute, and then it went off, leaving me sickish, but not very: and so I passed the day as I told you; but I would not end a letter with telling you this, because it might vex you: and I hope in God I shall have no more of it. I saw Dr. Cockburn1 to-day, and he promises to send me the pills that did me good last year; and likewise has promised me an oil for my ear, that he has been making for that ailment for somebody else.

Nov. 1. I wish MD a merry new year. You know this is the first day of it with us.2 I had no giddiness to-day; but I drank brandy, and have bought a pint for two shillings. I sat up the night before my giddiness pretty late, and writ very much; so I will impute it to that. But I never eat fruit, nor drink ale; but drink better wine than you do, as I did to-day with Mr. Addison at Lord Mountjoy’s: then went at five to see Mr. Harley, who could not see me for much company; but sent me his excuse, and desired I would dine with him on Friday; and then I expect some answer to this business, which must either be soon done, or begun again; and then the Duke of Ormond and his people will interfere for their honour, and do nothing. I came home at six, and spent my time in my chamber, without going to the Coffee-house, which I grow weary of; and I studied at leisure, writ not above forty lines, some inventions of my own, and some hints, and read not at all, and this because I would take care of Presto, for fear little MD should be angry.

2. I took my four pills last night, and they lay an hour in my throat, and so they will do to-night. I suppose I could swallow four affronts as easily. I dined with Dr. Cockburn to-day, and came home at seven; but Mr. Ford has been with me till just now, and it is near eleven. I have had no giddiness to-day. Mr. Dopping3 I have seen; and he tells me coldly, my “Shower” is liked well enough; there’s your Irish judgment! I writ this post to the Bishop of Clogher. It is now just a fortnight since I heard from you. I must have you write once a fortnight, and then I will allow for wind and weather. How goes ombre? Does Mrs. Walls4 win constantly, as she used to do? And Mrs. Stoyte;5 I have not thought of her this long time: how does she? I find we have a cargo of Irish coming for London: I am sorry for it; but I never go near them. And Tighe is landed; but Mrs. Wesley,6 they say, is going home to her husband, like a fool. Well, little monkeys mine, I must go write; and so goodnight.

3. I ought to read these letters I write, after I have done; for, looking over thus much, I found two or three literal mistakes, which should not be when the hand is so bad. But I hope it does not puzzle little Dingley to read, for I think I mend: but methinks, when I write plain, I do not know how, but we are not alone, all the world can see us. A bad scrawl is so snug, it looks like a PMD.7 We have scurvy Tatlers of late: so pray do not suspect me. I have one or two hints I design to send him, and never any more: he does not deserve it. He is governed by his wife most abominably,8 as bad as ——. I never saw her since I came; nor has he ever made me an invitation: either he dares not, or is such a thoughtless Tisdall9 fellow, that he never minds10 it. So what care I for his wit? for he is the worst company in the world, till he has a bottle of wine in his head. I cannot write straighter in bed, so you must be content. — At night in bed. Stay, let me see where’s this letter to MD among these papers? Oh! here. Well, I will go on now; but I am very busy (smoke the new pen.) I dined with Mr. Harley to-day, and am invited there again on Sunday. I have now leave to write to the Primate and Archbishop of Dublin, that the Queen has granted the First-Fruits; but they are to take no notice of it, till a letter is sent them by the Queen’s orders from Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State, to signify it. The bishops are to be made a corporation, to dispose of the revenue, etc.; and I shall write to the Archbishop of Dublin to-morrow (I have had no giddiness to-day). I know not whether they will have any occasion for me longer to be here; nor can I judge till I see what letter the Queen sends to the bishops, and what they will do upon it. If despatch be used, it may be done in six weeks; but I cannot judge. They sent me to-day a new Commission, signed by the Primate and Archbishop of Dublin,11 and promise me letters to the two archbishops here; but mine a —— for it all. The thing is done, and has been so these ten days; though I had only leave to tell it to-day. I had this day likewise a letter from the Bishop of Clogher, who complains of my not writing; and, what vexes me, says he knows you have long letters from me every week. Why do you tell him so? ’Tis not right, faith: but I won’t be angry with MD at distance. I writ to him last post, before I had his; and will write again soon, since I see he expects it, and that Lord and Lady Mountjoy12 put him off upon me, to give themselves ease. Lastly, I had this day a letter from a certain naughty rogue called MD, and it was N. 5; which I shall not answer to-night, I thank you. No, faith, I have other fish to fry; but to-morrow or next day will be time enough. I have put MD’s commissions in a memorandum paper. I think I have done all before, and remember nothing but this to-day about glasses and spectacles and spectacle cases. I have no commission from Stella, but the chocolate and handkerchiefs; and those are bought, and I expect they will be soon sent. I have been with, and sent to, Mr. Sterne, two or three times to know; but he was not within. Odds my life, what am I doing? I must go write and do business.

4. I dined to-day at Kensington, with Addison, Steele, etc., came home, and writ a short letter to the Archbishop of Dublin, to let him know the Queen has granted the thing, etc. I writ in the Coffee-house, for I stayed at Kensington till nine, and am plaguy weary; for Colonel Proud13 was very ill company, and I will never be of a party with him again; and I drank punch, and that and ill company has made me hot.

5. I was with Mr. Harley from dinner to seven this night, and went to the Coffee-house, where Dr. Davenant14 would fain have had me gone and drink a bottle of wine at his house hard by, with Dr. Chamberlen,15 but the puppy used so many words, that I was afraid of his company; and though we promised to come at eight, I sent a messenger to him, that Chamberlen was going to a patient, and therefore we would put it off till another time: so he, and the Comptroller,16 and I, were prevailed on by Sir Matthew Dudley to go to his house, where I stayed till twelve, and left them. Davenant has been teasing me to look over some of his writings that he is going to publish; but the rogue is so fond of his own productions, that I hear he will not part with a syllable; and he has lately put out a foolish pamphlet, called The Third Part of Tom Double; to make his court to the Tories, whom he had left.

6. I was to-day gambling17 in the City to see Patty Rolt, who is going to Kingston, where she lodges; but, to say the truth, I had a mind for a walk to exercise myself, and happened to be disengaged: for dinners are ten times more plentiful with me here than ever, or than in Dublin. I won’t answer your letter yet, because I am busy. I hope to send this before I have another from MD: it would be a sad thing to answer two letters together, as MD does from Presto. But when the two sides are full, away the letter shall go, that is certain, like it or not like it; and that will be about three days hence, for the answering-night will be a long one.

7. I dined to-day at Sir Richard Temple’s, with Congreve, Vanbrugh, Lieutenant-General Farrington,18 etc. Vanbrugh, I believe I told you, had a long quarrel with me about those verses on his house;19 but we were very civil and cold. Lady Marlborough used to tease him with them, which had made him angry, though he be a good-natured fellow. It was a Thanksgiving-day,20 and I was at Court, where the Queen passed us by with all Tories about her; not one Whig: Buckingham,21 Rochester,22 Leeds,23 Shrewsbury, Berkeley of Stratton, Lord Keeper Harcourt, Mr. Harley, Lord Pembroke, etc.; and I have seen her without one Tory. The Queen made me a curtsey, and said, in a sort of familiar way to Presto, “How does MD?” I considered she was a Queen, and so excused her.24 I do not miss the Whigs at Court; but have as many acquaintance there as formerly.

8. Here’s ado and a clutter! I must now answer MD’s fifth; but first you must know I dined at the Portugal Envoy’s25 to-day, with Addison, Vanbrugh, Admiral Wager,26 Sir Richard Temple,27 Methuen,28 etc. I was weary of their company, and stole away at five, and came home like a good boy, and studied till ten, and had a fire, O ho! and now am in bed. I have no fireplace in my bed-chamber; but ’tis very warm weather when one’s in bed. Your fine cap,29 Madam Dingley, is too little, and too hot: I will have that fur taken off; I wish it were far enough; and my old velvet cap is good for nothing. Is it velvet under the fur? I was feeling, but cannot find: if it be, ’twill do without it else I will face it; but then I must buy new velvet: but may be I may beg a piece. What shall I do? Well, now to rogue MD’s letter. God be thanked for Stella’s eyes mending; and God send it holds; but faith you writ too much at a time: better write less, or write it at ten times. Yes, faith, a long letter in a morning from a dear friend is a dear thing. I smoke a compliment, little mischievous girls, I do so. But who are those WIGGS that think I am turned Tory? Do you mean Whigs? Which WIGGS and WAT do you mean? I know nothing of Raymond, and only had one letter from him a little after I came here.[Pray remember Morgan.) Raymond is indeed like to have much influence over me in London, and to share much of my conversation. I shall, no doubt, introduce him to Harley, and Lord Keeper, and the Secretary of State. The Tatler upon Ithuriel’s spear30 is not mine, madam. What a puzzle there is betwixt you and your judgment! In general you may be sometimes sure of things, as that about STYLE,31 because it is what I have frequently spoken of; but guessing is mine a — — and I defy mankind, if I please. Why, I writ a pamphlet when I was last in London, that you and a thousand have seen, and never guessed it to be mine. Could you have guessed the “Shower in Town” to be mine? How chance you did not see that before your last letter went? but I suppose you in Ireland did not think it worth mentioning. Nor am I suspected for the lampoon; only Harley said he smoked me; (have I told you so before?) and some others knew it. ’Tis called “The Rod of Sid Hamet.” And I have written several other things that I hear commended, and nobody suspects me for them; nor you shall not know till I see you again. What do you mean, “That boards near me, that I dine with now and then?” I know no such person: I do not dine with boarders. What the pox! You know whom I have dined with every day since I left you, better than I do. What do you mean, sirrah? Slids, my ailment has been over these two months almost. Impudence, if you vex me, I will give ten shillings a week for my lodging; for I am almost st — k out of this with the sink, and it helps me to verses in my “Shower.”32 Well, Madam Dingley, what say you to the world to come? What ballad? Why go look, it was not good for much: have patience till I come back: patience is a gay thing as, etc. I hear nothing of Lord Mountjoy’s coming for Ireland. When is Stella’s birthday? in March? Lord bless me, my turn at Christ Church;33 it is so natural to hear you write about that, I believe you have done it a hundred times; it is as fresh in my mind, the verger coming to you; and why to you? Would he have you preach for me? O, pox on your spelling of Latin, Johnsonibus atque, that is the way. How did the Dean get that name by the end? ’Twas you betrayed me: not I, faith; I’ll not break his head. Your mother is still in the country, I suppose; for she promised to see me when she came to town. I writ to her four days ago, to desire her to break it to Lady Giffard, to put some money for you in the Bank, which was then fallen thirty per cent. Would to God mine had been here, I should have gained one hundred pounds, and got as good interest as in Ireland, and much securer. I would fain have borrowed three hundred pounds; but money is so scarce here, there is no borrowing, by this fall of stocks. ’Tis rising now, and I knew it would: it fell from one hundred and twenty-nine to ninety-six. I have not heard since from your mother. Do you think I would be so unkind not to see her, that you desire me in a style so melancholy? Mrs. Raymond,34 you say, is with child: I am sorry for it; and so is, I believe, her husband. Mr. Harley speaks all the kind things to me in the world; and, I believe, would serve me, if I were to stay here; but I reckon in time the Duke of Ormond may give me some addition to Laracor. Why should the Whigs think I came to England to leave them? Sure my journey was no secret. I protest sincerely, I did all I could to hinder it, as the Dean can tell you, although now I do not repent it. But who the Devil cares what they think? Am I under obligations in the least to any of them all? Rot ’em, for ungrateful dogs; I will make them repent their usage before I leave this place. They say here the same thing of my leaving the Whigs; but they own they cannot blame me, considering the treatment I have had. I will take care of your spectacles, as I told you before, and of the Bishop of Killala’s; but I will not write to him, I have not time. What do you mean by my fourth, Madam Dinglibus? Does not Stella say you have had my fifth, Goody Blunder? You frighted me till I looked back. Well, this is enough for one night. Pray give my humble service to Mrs. Stoyte and her sister, Kate is it, or Sarah?35 I have forgot her name, faith. I think I will even (and to Mrs. Walls and the Archdeacon) send this to-morrow: no, faith, that will be in ten days from the last. I will keep it till Saturday, though I write no more. But what if a letter from MD should come in the meantime? Why then I would only say, “Madam, I have received your sixth letter; your most humble servant to command, Presto”; and so conclude. Well, now I will write and think a little, and so to bed, and dream of MD.

9. I have my mouth full of water, and was going to spit it out, because I reasoned with myself, how could I write when my mouth was full? Han’t you done things like that, reasoned wrong at first thinking? Well, I was to see Mr. Lewis this morning, and am to dine a few days hence, as he tells me, with Mr. Secretary St. John; and I must contrive to see Harley soon again, to hasten this business from the Queen. I dined to-day at Lord Mountrath’s,36 with Lord Mountjoy,37 etc.; but the wine was not good, so I came away, stayed at the Coffee-house till seven, then came home to my fire, the maidenhead of my second half-bushel, and am now in bed at eleven, as usual. ’Tis mighty warm; yet I fear I should catch cold this wet weather, if I sat an evening in my room after coming from warm places: and I must make much of myself, because MD is not here to take care of Presto; and I am full of business, writing, etc., and do not care for the Coffee-house; and so this serves for all together, not to tell it you over and over, as silly people do; but Presto is a wiser man, faith, than so, let me tell you, gentlewomen. See, I am got to the third side; but, faith, I will not do that often; but I must say something early to-day, till the letter is done, and on Saturday it shall go; so I must leave something till to-morrow, till to-morrow and next day.

10. O Lord, I would this letter was with you with all my heart! If it should miscarry, what a deal would be lost! I forgot to leave a gap in the last line but one for the seal, like a puppy; but I should have allowed for night, goodnight; but when I am taking leave, I cannot leave a bit, faith; but I fancy the seal will not come there. I dined to-day at Lady Lucy’s, where they ran down my “Shower”; and said, “Sid Hamet” was the silliest poem they ever read; and told Prior so, whom they thought to be author of it. Don’t you wonder I never dined there before? But I am too busy, and they live too far off; and, besides, I do not like women so much as I did. (MD, you must know, are not women.) I supped to-night at Addison’s, with Garth, Steele, and Mr. Dopping; and am come home late. Lewis has sent to me to desire I will dine with some company I shall like. I suppose it is Mr. Secretary St. John’s appointment. I had a letter just now from Raymond, who is at Bristol, and says he will be at London in a fortnight, and leave his wife behind him; and desires any lodging in the house where I am: but that must not be. I shall not know what to do with him in town: to be sure, I will not present him to any acquaintance of mine; and he will live a delicate life, a parson and a perfect stranger! Paaast twelvvve o’clock,38 and so good-night, etc. Oh! but I forgot, Jemmy Leigh is come to town; says he has brought Dingley’s things, and will send them with the first convenience. My parcel, I hear, is not sent yet. He thinks of going for Ireland in a month, etc. I cannot write tomorrow, because — what, because of the Archbishop; because I will seal my letter early; because I am engaged from noon till night; because of many kind of things; and yet I will write one or two words to-morrow morning, to keep up my journal constant, and at night I will begin my ninth.

11. Morning by candlelight. You must know that I am in my nightgown every morning between six and seven, and Patrick is forced to ply me fifty times before I can get on my nightgown; and so now I will take my leave of my own dear MD for this letter, and begin my next when I come home at night. God Almighty bless and protect dearest MD. Farewell, etc.

This letter’s as long as a sermon, faith.

1 See Letter 3, note 1.

2 Swift, Esther Johnson, and Mrs. Dingley seem to have begun their financial year on the 1st of November. Swift refers to “MD’s allowance” in the Journal for April 23, 1713.

3 Samuel Dopping, an Irish friend of Stella’s, who was probably related to Anthony Dopping, Bishop of Meath (died 1697), and to his son Anthony (died 1743), who became Bishop of Ossory.

4 See Letter 2, note 17.

5 The wife of Alderman Stoyte, afterwards Lord Mayor of Dublin. Mrs. Stoyte and her sister Catherine; the Walls; Isaac Manley and his wife; Dean Sterne, Esther Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, and Swift, were the principal members of a card club which met at each other’s houses for a number of years.

6 See Letter 1, note 12.

7 “This cypher stands for Presto, Stella, and Dingley; as much as to say, it looks like us three quite retired from all the rest of the world” (Deane Swift).

8 Steele’s “dear Prue,” Mary Scurlock, whom he married as his second wife in 1707, was a lady of property and a “cried-up beauty.” She was somewhat of a prude, and did not hesitate to complain to her husband, in and out of season, of his extravagance and other weaknesses. The other lady to whom Swift alludes is probably the Duchess of Marlborough.

9 See Letter 7, note 7.

10 Remembers: an Irish expression.

11 This new Commission, signed by Narcissus Marsh, Archbishop of Armagh, and William King, was dated Oct. 24, 1710. In this document Swift was begged to take the full management of the business of the First-Fruits into his hands, the Bishops of Ossory and Killala — who were to have joined with him in the negotiations — having left London before Swift arrived. But before this commission was despatched the Queen had granted the First-Fruits and Twentieth Parts to the Irish clergy.

12 Lady Mountjoy, wife of the second Viscount Mountjoy (see Letter 1), was Anne, youngest daughter of Murrough Boyle, first Viscount Blessington, by his second wife, Anne, daughter of Charles Coote, second Earl of Mountrath. After Lord Mountjoy’s death she married John Farquharson, and she died in 1741.

13 Forster suggests that Swift wrote “Frond “ or “Frowde” and there is every reason to believe that this was the case. No Colonel Proud appears in Dalton’s Army Lists. A Colonel William Frowde, apparently third son of Sir Philip Frowde, Knight, by his third wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Ashburnham, was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel in Colonel Farrington’s (see note 18) Regiment of Foot in 1694. He resigned his commission on his appointment to the First Life Guards in 1702, and he was in this latter regiment in 1704. In November and December 1711 Swift wrote of Philip Frowde the elder (Colonel William Frowde’s brother) as “an old fool,” in monetary difficulties. It is probable that Swift’s Colonel Proud (? Frowde) was not Colonel William Frowde, but his nephew, Philip Frowde, junior, who was Addison’s friend at Oxford, and the author of two tragedies and various poems. Nothing seems known of Philip Frowde’s connection with the army, but he is certainly called “Colonel” by Swift, Addison, and Pope (see Forster’s Swift, 159; Addison’s Works, v. 324; Pope’s Works, v. 177, vi. 227). Swift wrote to Ambrose Philips in 1705, “Col. Frond is just as he was, very friendly and grand reveur et distrait. He has brought his poems almost to perfection.” It will be observed that when Swift met Colonel “Proud” he was in company with Addison, as was also the case when he was with Colonel “Freind” (see Letter 3, note 25).

14 Charles Davenant, LL.D., educated at Balliol College, Oxford, was the eldest son of Sir William Davenant, author of Gondibert. In Parliament he attacked Ministerial abuses with great bitterness until, in 1703, he was made secretary to the Commissioners appointed to treat for a union with Scotland. To this post was added, in 1705, an Inspector-Generalship of Exports and Imports, which he retained until his death in 1714. Tom Double, a satire on his change of front after obtaining his place, was published in 1704. In a Note on Macky’s character of Davenant, Swift says, “He ruined his estate, which put him under a necessity to comply with the times.” Davenant’s True Picture of a Modern Whig, in Two Parts, appeared in 1701-2; in 1707 he published “The True Picture of a Modern Whig revived, set forth in a third dialogue between Whiglove and Double,” which seems to be the piece mentioned in the text, though Swift speaks of the pamphlet as “lately put out.”

15 Hugh Chamberlen, the younger (1664-1728), was a Fellow of the College of Physicians and Censor in 1707, 1717, and 1721. Atterbury and the Duchess of Buckingham and Normanby were among his fashionable patients. His father, Hugh Chamberlen, M.D., was the author of the Land Bank Scheme of 1693-94.

16 Sir John Holland (see Letter 3, note 28).

17 Swift may mean either rambling or gambolling.

18 Thomas Farrington was appointed Colonel of the newly raised 29th Regiment of Foot in 1702. He was a subscriber for a copy of the Tatler on royal paper (Aitken, Life of Steele, i. 329, 330).

19 In The History of Vanbrugh’s House, Swift described everyone as hunting for it up and down the river banks, and unable to find it, until at length they —

“— in the rubbish spy
A thing resembling a goose pie.”

Sir John Vanbrugh was more successful as a dramatist than as an architect, though his work at Blenheim and elsewhere has many merits.

20 For the successes of the last campaign.

21 John Sheffield, third Earl of Mulgrave, was created Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703, and died in 1721. On Queen Anne’s accession he became Lord Privy Seal, and on the return of the Tories to power in 1710 he was Lord Steward, and afterward (June 1710) Lord President of the Council. The Duke was a poet, as well as a soldier and statesman, his best known work being the Essay on Poetry. He was Dryden’s patron, and Pope prepared a collected edition of his works.

22 Laurence Hyde, created Earl of Rochester in 1682, died in 1711. He was the Hushai of Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, “the friend of David in distress.” In 1684 he was made Lord President of the Council, and on the accession of James II., Lord Treasurer; he was, however, dismissed in 1687. Under William III. Rochester was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, an office he resigned in 1703; and in September 1710 he again became Lord President. His imperious temper always stood in the way of popularity or real success.

23 Sir Thomas Osborne, Charles II.‘s famous Minister, was elevated to the peerage in 1673, and afterwards was made successively Earl of Danby, Marquis of Caermarthen, and Duke of Leeds. On Nov. 29, 1710, a few days after this reference to him, the Duke was granted a pension of 3500 pounds a year out of the Post Office revenues. He died in July 1712, aged eighty-one, and soon afterwards his grandson married Lord Oxford’s daughter.

24 This is, of course, a joke; Swift was never introduced at Court.

25 Captain Delaval (see Letter 5, note 6).

26 Admiral Sir Charles Wager (1666-1743) served in the West Indies from 1707 to 1709, and gained great wealth from the prizes he took. Under George I. he was Comptroller of the Navy, and in 1733 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, a post which he held until 1742.

27 See Letter 7, note 27.

28 See Letter 5, note 13.

29 Isaac Bickerstaff’s “valentine” sent him a nightcap, finely wrought by a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth (Tatler, No. 141). The “nightcap” was a periwig with a short tie and small round head, and embroidered nightcaps were worn chiefly by members of the graver professions.

30 Tatler, No. 237.

31 Tatler, No. 230.


“Returning home at night, you’ll find the sink
Strike your offended sense with double stink.”
(“Description of a City Shower, 11. 5, 6.)

33 Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

34 See Letter 1, note 3.

35 See Letter 8, note 5.

36 See Letter 6, note 4.

37 See Letter 1, note 11.

38 The bellman’s accents. Cf. Pepys’ Diary, Jan. 16, 1659-60: “I staid up till the bellman came by with his bell just under my window as I was writing of this very line, and cried, ‘Past one of the clock, and a cold, frosty, windy morning.’”

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