The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Journal to Stella – Letter 16


London, Feb. 10, 1710-11.

I HAVE just dispatched my fifteenth to the post; I tell you how things will be, after I have got a letter from MD. I am in furious haste to finish mine, for fear of having two of MD's to answer in one of Presto's, which would be such a disgrace, never saw the like; but before you write to me I write at my leisure, like a gentleman, a little every day, just to let you know how matters go, and so, and so; and I hope before this comes to you, you will have got your box and chocolate, and Presto will take more care another time.

11. Morning. I must rise and go see my lord keeper, which will cost me two shillings in coachhire. Do not call them two thirteens[1]? At night. It has rained all day, and there was no walking. I read prayers to sir Andrew Fountaine in the afternoon, and I dined with three Irishmen at one Mr. Cope's[2] lodgings; the other two were one Morris an archdeacon, and Mr. Ford. When I came home this evening, I expected that little jackanapes Harrison would have come to get help about his Tatler for Tuesday: I have fixed two evenings in the week which I allow him to come. The toad never came, and I expecting him fell a reading, and left off other business. Come, what are you doing? how do you pass your time this ugly weather? Gaming and drinking, I suppose: fine diversions for young ladies, truly. I wish you had some of our Seville oranges, and we some of your wine. We have the finest oranges for two pence a piece, and the basest wine for six shillings a bottle. They tell me wine grows cheap with you. I am resolved to have half a hogshead when I get to Ireland, if it be good and cheap, as it used to be; and I will treat MD at my table in an evening, oh hoa, and laugh at great ministers of state.

12. The days are grown fine and long, —— be thanked. O faith, you forget all our little sayings, and I am angry. I dined to day with Mr. Secretary St. John: I went to the court of requests at noon, and sent Mr. Harley into the house to call the secretary, to let him know I would not dine with him if he dined late. By good luck the duke of Argyle was at the lobby of the house too, and I kept him in talk till the secretary came out, then told them I was glad to meet them together, and that I had a request to the duke which the secretary must second, and his grace must grant. The duke said, he was sure it was something insignificant, and wished it was ten times greater. At the secretary's house I writ a memorial, and gave it to the secretary to give the duke, and shall see that he does it. It is, that his Grace will please to take Mr. Bernage into his protection; and if he finds Bernage answers my character, to give him all encouragement. Colonel Masham and colonel Hill (Mrs. Masham's brother) tell me my request is reasonable, and they will second it heartily to the duke too: so I reckon Bernage is on a very good foot when he goes to Spain. Pray tell him this, though perhaps I will write to him before he goes; yet where shall I direct? for I suppose he has left Conolly's.

13. I have left off lady Kerry's bitter, and got another box of pills. I have no fits of giddiness, but only some little disorders toward it: and I walk as much as I can. Lady Kerry is just as I am, only a great deal worse: I dined to day at lord Shelburn's, where she is, and we con ailments, which makes us very fond of each other. I have taken Mr Harley into favour again, and called to see him, but he was not within; I will use to visit him after dinner, for he dines too late for my head: then I went to visit poor Congreve, who is just getting out of a severe fit of the gout, and I sat with him till near nine o'clock. He gave me a Tatler he had written out, as blind as he is, for little Harrison. It is about a scoundrel that was grown rich, and went and bought a coat of arms at the Herald's, and a set of ancestors at Fleet ditch; it is well enough, and shall be printed in two or three days, and if you read those kind of things, this will divert you. It is now between ten and eleven, and I am going to bed.

14. This was Mrs. Vanhomrigh's daughter's birthday, and Mr. Ford and I were invited to dinner to keep it, and we spent the evening there drinking punch. That was our way of beginning Lent; and in the morning lord Shelburn, lady Kerry, Mrs. Pratt and I went to Hyde Park, instead of going to church; for till my head is a little settled, I think it better not to go; it would be so silly and troublesome to go out sick. Dr. Duke died suddenly two or three nights ago; he was one of the wits when we were children, but turned parson, and left it, and never writ farther than a prologue or recommendatory copy of verses. He had a fine living given him by the bishop of Winchester about three months ago; he got his living suddenly, and he got his dying so too.

15. I walked purely to day about the park, the rain being just over, of which we have had a great deal, mixed with little short frosts. I went to the court of requests, thinking if Mr. Harley dined early, to go with him. But meeting Leigh and Sterne, they invited me to dine with them, and away we went. When we got into his room, one H——, a worthless Irish fellow, was there ready to dine with us, so I stepped out and whispered them, that I would not dine with that fellow; they made excuses, and begged me to stay, but away I went to Mr. Harley's, and he did not dine at home, and at last I dined at sir John Germain's, and found lady Betty but just recovered of a miscarriage. I am writing an inscription for lord Berkeley's tomb: you know the young rake his son, the new earl, is married, to the duke of Richmond's daughter, at the duke's country house, and are now coming to town. She will be fluxed in two months, and they will be parted in a year. You ladies are brave, bold, ventersome folks; and the chit is but seventeen, and is ill natured, covetous, vicious, and proud in extremes. And so get you gone to Stoyte to morrow.

16. Faith this letter goes on but slow, it is a week old, and the first side not written. I went to day into the city for a walk, but the person I designed to dine with was not at home; so I came back and called at Congreve's, and dined with him and Estcourt[3] and laughed till six, then went to Mr. Harley's, who was not gone to dinner; there I staid till nine, and we made up our quarrel, and he has invited me to dinner to morrow, which is the day of the week (Saturday) that lord keeper and secretary St. John dine with him privately, and at last they have consented to let me among them on that day. Atterbury and Prior went to bury poor Dr. Duke. Congreve's nasty white wine has given me the heartburn.

17. I took some good walks in the park to day, and then went to Mr. Harley. Lord Rivers was got there before me, and I chid him for presuming to come on a day when only lord keeper and the secretary and I were to be there; but he regarded me not; so we all dined together, and sat down at four; and the secretary has invited me to dine with him to morrow. I told them I had no hopes they could ever keep in, but that I saw they loved one another so well, as indeed they seem to do. They call me nothing but Jonathan; and I said, I belived they would leave me Jonathan as they found me; and that I never knew a ministry do any thing for those whom they make companions of their pleasures; and I believe you will find it so; but I care not, I am upon a project of getting five hundred pounds, without being obliged to any body; but that is a secret, till I see my dearest MD; and so hold your tongue, and do not talk, sirrahs, for I am now about it.

18. My head has no fits, but a little disordered before dinner; yet I walk stoutly, and take pills, and hope to mend. Secretary St. John would needs have me dine with him to day, and there I found three persons I never saw, two I had no acquaintance with, and one I did not care for: so I left them early and came home, it being no day to walk, but scurvy rain and wind. The secretary tells me he has put a cheat on me; for lord Peterborow sent him twelve dozen flasks of Burgundy, on condition that I should have my share; but he never was quiet till they were all gone, so I reckon he owes me thirty-six pounds. Lord Peterborow is now got to Vienna, and I must write to him to morrow. I begin now to be toward looking for a letter from some certain ladies of Presto's acquaintance, that live at St Mary's, and are called in a certain language our little MD. No, stay, I do not expect one these six days, that will be just three weeks; an't I a reasonable creature? We are plagued here with an October club; that is, a set of above a hundred parliamentmen of the country, who drink October beer at home, and meet every evening at a tavern near the parliament, to consult affairs, and drive things on to extremes against the whigs, to call the old ministry to account, and get off five or six heads. The ministry seem not to regard them, yet one of them in confidence told me, that there must be something thought on to settle things better. I will tell you one great state secret; the queen, sensible how much she was governed by the late ministry, runs a little into the other extreme, and is jealous in that point, even of those who got her out of the others hands. The ministry is for gentler measures, and the other tories for more violent. Lord Rivers, talking to me the other day, cursed the paper called the Examiner, for speaking civilly of the duke of Marlborough; this I happened to talk of to the secretary, who blamed the warmth of that lord, and some others, and swore, that if their advice were followed they would be blown up in twenty-four hours. And I have reason to think, that they will endeavour to prevail on the queen to put her affairs more into the hands of a ministry than she does at present; and there are, I believe, two men thought on, one of them you have often met the name of in my letters. But so much for politicks.

19. This proved a terrible rainy day, which prevented my walk into the city, and I was only able to run and dine with my neighbour Vanhomrigh, where sir Andrew Fountaine dined too, who has just began to sally out, and has shipped his mother and sister, who were his nurses, back to the country. This evening was fair, and I walked a little in the Park, till Prior made me go with him to the Smyrna coffeehouse, where I sat a while, and saw four or five Irish persons, who are very handsome genteel fellows, but I know not their names. I came away at seven, and got home. Two days ago I writ to Bernage, and told him what I had done, and directed the letter to Mr. Curry's to be left with Dingley. Brigadiers Hill and Masham, brother and husband to Mrs. Masham, the queen's favourite, colonel Disney and I have recommended Bernage to the duke of Argyle; and secretary St. John has given the duke my memorial; and besides, Hill tells me, that Bernage's colonel, Fielding, designs to make him his captain lieutenant: but I believe I said this to you before, and in this letter, but I will not look.

20. Morning. It snows terribly again, and it is mistaken, for I now want a little good weather: I bid you good morrow, and if it clear up, get you gone to poor Mrs. Walls, who has had a hard time of it, but is now pretty well again; I am sorry it is a girl; the poor archdeacon too, see how simply he looked when they told him: what did it cost Stella to be gossip? I will rise, so do you hear, let me see you at night, and do not stay late out, and catch cold, sirrahs. At night. It grew good weather, and I got a good walk, and dined with Ford upon his opera day: but now all his wine is gone, I shall dine with him no more. I hope to send this letter before I hear from MD: methinks there is something great in doing so, only I cannot express where it lies; and faith this shall go by Saturday, as sure as you are a rogue. Mrs. Edgworth was to set out but last Monday, so you will not have your box so soon perhaps as this letter; but Sterne told me since, that it is safe at Chester, and that she will take care of it. I would give a guinea you had it.

21. Morning. Faith I hope it will be fair for me to walk into the city, for I take all occasions of walking. I should be plaguy busy at Laracor if I were there now, cuttting down willows, planting others, scouring my canal, and every kind of thing. If Raymond goes (illegible text) this summer, you must submit, and make them a visit, that we may have another eel and trout fishing; and that Stella may ride by and see Presto in his morning-gown in the garden, and so go up with Joe to the Hill of Bree, and round by Scurlock's Town; O Lord, how I remember names; faith it gives me short sighs: therefore no more of that if you love me. Good morrow, I will go rise like a gentleman, my pills say I must. At night. Lady Kerry sent to desire me to engage some lords about an affair she has in their house here: I called to see her, but found she had already engaged every lord I knew, and that there was no great difficulty in the matter, and it rained like a dog; so I took coach, for want of better exercise, and dined privately with a hangdog in the city, and walked back in the evening. The days are now long enough to walk in the Park after dinner; and so I do whenever it is fair. This walking is a strange remedy; Mr. Prior walks to make himself fat, and I to bring myself down; he has generally a cough, which he only calls a cold: we often walk round the Park together. So I will go sleep.

22. It snowed all this morning prodigiously, and was some inches thick in three or four hours. I dined with Mr. Lewis of the secretary's office at his lodgings: the chairmen that carried me squeezed a great fellow against a wall, who wisely turned his back, and broke one of the side glasses in a thousand pieces. I fell a scolding, pretended I was like to be cut to pieces, and made them set down the chair in the Park, while they picked out the bits of glasses: and when I paid them, I quarrelled still, so they dared not grumble, and I came off for my fare: but I was plaguy afraid they would have said, God bless your honour, will not you give us something for our glass? Lewis and I were forming a project how I might get three or four hundred pounds, which I suppose may come to nothing. I hope Smyth has brought you your palsy drops; how does Stella do? I begin more and more to desire to know. The three weeks since I had your last is over within two days, and I will allow three for accidents.

23. The snow is gone every bit, except the remainder of some great balls made by the boys. Mr. Sterne was with me this morning about an affair he has before the treasury. That drab Mrs. Edgworth is not yet set out, but will infallibly next Monday, and this is the third infallible Monday, and pox take her! So you will have this letter first; and this shall go to morrow; and if I have one from MD in that time, I will not answer it till my next; only I will say, madam, I received your letter, and so, and so. I dined to day with my Mrs. Butler, who grows very disagreeable.

24. Morning. This letter certainly goes this evening, sure as you are alive, young women, and then you will be so ashamed that I have had none from you; and if I was to reckon like you, I would say, I were six letters before you, for this is N. 16, and I have had your N. 10. But I reckon you have received but fourteen and have sent eleven. I think to go to day a minister of state hunting in the court of requests; for I have something to say to Mr. Harley. And it is fine cold sunshiny weather; I wish dear MD would walk this morning in your Stephen's green: it is as good as our Park, but not so large[4]. Faith this summer we will take a coach for sixpence[5] to the Green Well, the two walks, and thence all the way to Stoyte's[6]. My hearty service to goody Stoyte and Catherine, and I hope Mrs. Walls had a good time. How inconstant I am? I cannot imagine I was ever in love with her. Well, I am going; what have you to say? I do not care how I write now[7]. I do not design to write on this side, these few lines are but so much more than your due, so I will write large or small as I please. O, faith, my hands are starving in bed; I believe it is a hard frost. I must rise, and bid you good bye, for I will seal this letter immediately, and carry it ia my pocket, and put it into the postoffice with my own fair hands. Farewell.

This letter is just a fortnight's journal to day. Yes, and so it is, I am sure, says you, with your two eggs a penny.

There, there, there[8].

O Lord, I am saying there, there, to myself in all our little keys: and now you talk of keys, that dog Patrick broke the key general of the chest of drawers with six locks, and I have been so plagued to get a new one, beside my good two shillings.

  1. A shilling passes for thirteen pence in Ireland.
  2. Robert Cope, esq., a gentleman of learning, good fortune, and family; and a correspondent of Dr. Swift's. See vol. XII of this collection.
  3. Mr. Richard Estcourt; a player and dramatick writer celebrated in the Spectator, and in the Miscellaneous Works of Dr. King, vol. III, pages 86, 307.
  4. It was a measured mile round the outer wall; and far beyond any the finest square in London.
  5. The common fare for a set down in Dublin.
  6. Mrs. Stoyte lived at Donnybrook, the road to which from Stephen's green ran into the country about a mile from the southeast corner.
  7. Those words in italicks are written in a very large hand, and so is the word in one of the next lines.
  8. In his cypher way of writing to Stella, he writes the word There, Lele.