The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Journal to Stella – Letter 5


London, Sept. 30, 1710.

HAVE not I brought myself into a fine premunire to begin writing letters in whole sheets, and now I dare not leave it off. I cannot tell whether you like these journal letters: I believe they would be dull to me to read them over; but, perhaps, little MD is pleased to know how Presto passes his time in her absence. I always begin my last the same day I ended the former. I told you where I dined to day at a tavern with Stratford: Lewis, who is a great favourite of Harley's, was to have been with us; but he was hurried to Hampton court, and sent his excuse, and that next Wednesday he would introduce me to Harley. It is good to see what a lamentable confession the whigs all make me of my ill usage: but I mind them not. I am already represented to Harley as a discontented person, that was used ill for not being whig enough; and I hope for good usage from him. The tories dryly tell me, I may make my fortune, if I please; but I do not understand them, or rather, I do understand them.

Oct. 1. To day I dined at Molesworth's, the Florence envoy; and sat this evening with my friend Darteneuf, whom you have heard me talk of; the greatest punner of this town next myself. Have you smoked the Tatler that I writ? it is much liked here, and I think it a pure one. To morrow I go with Delaval the Portugal envoy, to dine with lord Halifax near Hampton court. Your Manley's brother, a Parliament man here, has gotten an employment; and I am informed uses much interest to preserve his brother: and, to day, I spoke to the elder Frankland to engage his father, (postmaster here) and I hope he will be safe, although he is cruelly hated by all the tories of Ireland. I have almost finished my lampoon, and will print it for revenge on a certain great person[1]. It has cost me but three shillings in meat and drink since I came here, as thin as the town is. I laugh to see myself so disengaged in these revolutions. Well, I must leave off and go write to sir John Stanley, to desire him to engage lady Hyde, as my mistress to engage lord Hyde, in favour of Mr. Pratt.

2. Lord Halifax was at Hampton court at his lodgings, and I dined with him there with Methuen[2] and Delaval, and the late attorney general. I went to the drawing room before dinner, (for the queen was at Hampton court) and expected to see nobody: but I met acquaintance enough. I walked in the gardens, saw the cartons of Raphael, and other things, and with great difficulty got from lord Halifax, who would have kept me to morrow to show me his house and park, and improvements. We left Hampton court at sun set, and got here in a chariot and two horses time enough by star light. That's something charms me mightily about London: that you go dine a dozen miles off in October, stay all day, and return so quickly: you cannot do any thing like this in Dublin[3]. I writ a second penny post letter to your mother, and hear nothing of her. Did I tell you that earl Berkeley died last Sunday was sennight, at Berkley castle, of a dropsy? lord Halifax began a health to me to day: it was the resurrection of the whigs, which I refused unless he would add their reformation too: and I told him he was the only whig in England I loved, or had any good opinion of.

3. This morning Stella's sister came to me with a letter from her mother, who is at Sheen; but will soon be in town, and will call to see me: she gave me a bottle of palsy water, a small one, and desired I would send it you by the first convenience, as I will; and she promises a quart bottle of the same: your sister looked very well, and seems a good modest sort of girl. I went then to Mr. Lewis, first secretary to lord Dartmouth, and favourite to Mr. Harley, who is to introduce me to morrow morning. Lewis had with him one Mr. Dyet, a justice of peace, worth twenty thousand pounds, a commissioner of the stampoffice, and married to a sister of sir Philip Meadows, envoy to the emperor. I tell you this, because it is odds but this Mr. Dyet will be hanged[4]; for he is discovered to have counterfeited stamp paper, in which he was a commissioner: and, with his accomplices, has cheated the queen of a hundred thousand pounds. You will hear of it before this come to you, but may be not so particularly; and it is a very odd accident in such a man. Smoke Presto writing news to MD. I dined to day with lord Mountjoy at Kensington, and walked from thence this evening to town like an emperor. Remember that yesterday, October 2, was a cruel hard frost, with ice; and six days ago I was dying with heat. As thin as the town is, I have more dinners than ever, and am asked this month by some people, without being able to come for preengagements. Well, but I should write plainer, when I consider Stella cannot read, and Dingley is not so skilful at my ugly hand. I had, to night, a letter from Mr. Pratt, who tells me, Joe will have his money when there are trustees appointed by the lord lieutenant for receiving and disposing the linen fund; and whenever those trustees are appointed, I will solicit whoever is lord lieutenant, and am in no fear of succeeding. So pray tell or write him word, and bid him not be cast down; for Ned Southwell[5] and Mr. Addison both think Pratt in the right. Do not lose your money at Manley's to night sirrahs.

4. After I had put out my candle last night, my landlady came into my room, wuth a servant of lord Halifax, to desire I would go dine with him at his house near Hampton court; but I sent him word I had business of great importance that hindered me, &c. And, to day, I was brought privately to Mr. Harley, who received me with the greatest respect and kindness imaginable: he has appointed me an hour on Saturday at four, afternoon, when I will open my business to him; which expression I would not use if I were a woman. I know you smoked it; but I did not till I writ it. I dined to day at Mr. Delaval's, the envoy of Portugal, with Nic. Rowe the poet, and other friends; and I gave my lampoon to be printed. I have more mischief in my heart; and I think it shall go round with them all, as this hits, and I can find hints. I am certain I answered your 2d letter, and yet I do not find it here. I suppose it was in my 4th; and why N. 2d, 3d; is it not enbugh to say, as I do, 1, 2, 3? &c. I am going to work at another Tatler: I will be far enough but I say the same thing over two or three times, just as I do when I am talking to little MD; but what care I? they can read it as easily as I can write it: I think I have brought these lines pretty straight again. I fear it will be long before I finish two sides at this rate. Pray, dear MD, when I occasionally give you a little commission mixed with my letters, do not forget it, as that to Morgan and Joe, &c. for I write just as I can remember, otherwise I would put them all together. I was to visit Mr. Sterne to day, and gave him your commission about handkerchiefs; that of chocolate I will do myself, and send it him when he goes, and you will pay me when the givers bread, &c. To night I will read a pamphlet, to amuse myself. God preserve your dear healths.

5. This morning Delaval came to see me, and we went to Kneller's[6], who was not in town. In the way we met the electors for parliamentmen: and the rabble came about our coach, crying a Colt, a Stanhope, &c. We were afraid of a dead cat, or our glasses broken, and so were always of their side. I dined again at Delaval's; and in the evening, at the coffeehouse, heard sir Andrew Fountaine was come to town. This has been but an insipid sort of day, and I have nothing to remark upon it worth three pence: I hope MD had a better, with the dean, the bishop, or Mrs. Walls. Why, the reason you lost four and eight pence last night but one at Manley's, was because you played bad games; I took notice of six that you had ten to one against you: Would any but a mad lady go out twice upon manilio, basto, and two small diamonds? Then in that game of spades, you blundered when you had ten ace; I never sa the like of you: and now you are in a huff because I tell you this. Well, here is two and eight pence halfpenny toward your loss.

6. Sir Andrew Fountaine came this morning, and caught me writing in bed. I went into the city with him; and we dined at the chophouse with Will Pate, the learned woollendraper: then we sauntered at chinashops and booksellers; went to the tavern, drank two pints of white wine, and never parted till ten: and now I am come home, and must copy out some papers I intend for Mr. Harley, whom I am to see, as I told you, to morrow afternoon: so that this night I shall say little to MD, but that I heartily wish myself with them, and will come as soon as I either fail, or compass my business. We now hear daily of elections; and, in a list I saw yesterday of about twenty, there are seven or eight more tories than in the last parliament; so that I believe they need not fear a majority, with the help of those who will vote as the court pleases. But I have been told, that Mr. Harley himself would not let the tories be too numerous, for fear they should be insolent, and kick against him; and for that reason they have kept several whigs in employments, who expected to be turned out every day; as sir John Holland the comptroller, and many others. And so get you gone to your cards, and your claret and orange, at the dean's[7], and I will go write.

7. I wonder when this letter will be finished: it must go by Tuesday, that is certain; and if I have one from MD before, I will not answer it, that is as certain too! It is now morning, and I did not finish my papers for Mr. Harley last night; for you must understand Presto was sleepy, and made blunders and blots. Very pretty that I must be writing to young women in a morning fresh and fasting, faith. Well, good morrow to you; and so I go to business, and lay aside this paper till night, sirrahs. At night. Jack How told Harley, that if there were a lower place in Hell than another, it was reserved for his porter, who tells lies so gravely, and with so civil a manner. This porter I have had to deal with, going this evening at four to visit Mr. Harley, by his own appointment. But the fellow told me no lie, though I suspected every word he said. He told me his master was just gone to dinner, with much company, and desired I would come an hour hence, which I did, expecting to hear Mr. Harley was gone out; but they had just done dinner. Mr. Harley came out to me, brought me in, and presented me to his son-in-law, lord Doblane[8] (or some such name) and his own son, and among others, Will Penn the quaker: we sat two hours drinking as good wine as you do; and two hours more he and I alone; where he heard me tell my business: entered into it with all kindness; asked for my powers, and read them; and read likewise a memorial I had drawn up, and put it in his pocket to show the queen; told me the measures he would take; and, in short, said every thing I could wish: told me he must bring Mr. St. John (secretary of state) and me acquainted; and spoke so many things of personal kindness and esteem for me, that I am inclined half to believe what some friends have told me, That he would do every thing to bring me over. He has desired to dine with me (what a comical mistake was that) I mean he has desired me to dine with him on Tuesday; and after four hours being with him, set me down at St. James's coffeehouse, in a hackney coach. All this is odd and comical, if you consider him and me. He knew my christian name very well. I could not forbear saying thus much upon this matter, although you will think it tedious. But I will tell you; you must know, it is fatal to me to be a scoundrel and a prince the same day: for being to see him at four, I could not engage myself to dine at any friend's; so I went to Tooke, to give him a ballad and dine with him; but he was not at home: so I was forced to go to a blind chophouse, and dine for ten pence upon gill ale, bad broth, and three chops of mutton; and then go reeking from thence to the first minister of state. And now I am going in charity to send Steele a Tatler, who is very low of late. I think I am civiller than I used to be; and have not used the expression of (you in Ireland) and (we in England) as I did when I was here before, to your great indignation. They may talk of the you know what[9]; but, gad, if it had not been for that, I should never have been able to get the access I have had; and if that helps me to succeed, then that same thing will be serviceable to the church. But how far we must depend upon new friends, I have learnt by long practice, though I think among great ministers, they are just as good as old ones. And so I think this important day has made a great hole in this side of the paper; and the fiddle faddles of to morrow and Monday will make up the rest; and, besides, I shall see Harley on Tuesday before this letter goes.

8. I must tell you a great piece of refinement of Harley. He charged me to come to him often; I told him I was loth to trouble him in so much business as he had, and desired I might have leave to come at his levee; which he immediately refused, and said, That was not a place for friends to come to. It is now but morning, and I have got a foolish trick, I must say something to MD when I wake, and wish them a good morrow; for this is not a shaving day, Sunday, so I have time enough: but get you gone, you rogues, I must go write; yes, it will vex me to the blood if any of these long letters should miscarry: if they do, I will shrink to half sheets again; but then what will you do to make up the journal? there will be ten days of Presto's life lost; and that will be a sad thing, faith and troth. At night. I was at a loss to day for a dinner, unless I would have gone a great way, so I dined with some friends that board hereabout, as a spunger; and this evening sir Andrew Fountaine would needs have me go to the tavern, where, for two bottles of wine, Portugal and Florence, among three of us, we had sixteen shillings to pay; but if ever he catches me so again, I will spend as many pounds; and therefore I have put it among my extraordinaries: but we had a neck of mutton dressed à la Maintenon, that the dog could not eat: and it is now twelve o'clock, and I must go sleep. I hope this letter will go before I have MD's third. Do you believe me? and yet, faith, I long for MD's third too: and yet I would have it to say, that I write five for two. I am not fond at all of St. James's coffeehouse, as I used to be. I hope it will mend in winter; but now they are all out of town at elections, or not come from their country houses. Yesterday I was going with Dr. Garth to dine with Charles Main, near the Tower, who has an employment there: he is of Ireland: the bishop of Clogher knows him well: an honest, goodnatured fellow, a thorough hearty laugher, mightily beloved by the men of wit: his mistress is never above a cook maid. And so, good night, &c.

9. I dined to day at sir John Stanley's; my lady Stanley is one of my favourites: I have as many here as the bishop of Killala has in Ireland. I am thinking what scurvy company I shall be to MD when I come back: they know every thing of me already: I will tell you no more, or I shall have nothing to say, no story to tell, nor any kind of thing. I was very uneasy last night with ugly, nasty, filthy wine, that turned sour on my stomach. I must go to the tavern: O, but I told you that before. To morrow I dine at Harley's, and will finish this letter at my return; but I can write no more now, because of the archbishop: faith it is true; for I am going now to write to him an account of what I have done in the business with Harley: and, faith, young women, I will tell you what you must count upon, that I never will write one word on the third side in these long letters.

10. Poor MD's letter was lying so huddled up among papers I could nor find it: I mean poor Presto's letter. Well, I dined with Mr. Harley to day, and hope some things will be done; but I must say no more: and this letter must be sent to the posthouse, and not by the belman. I am to dine again there on Sunday next; I hope to some good issue. And so now, soon as ever I can in bed, I must begin my 6th to MD, as gravely as if I had not written a word this month: fine doings, faith. Methinks I do not write as I should, because I am not in bed; see the ugly wide lines. God Almighty ever bless you, &c.

Faith, this is a whole treatise; I will go reckon the lines on the other sides. I have reckoned them[10].

  1. The earl of Godolphin.
  2. Sir Paul Methuen, a very ingenious gentleman, who was ambassador at the court of Portugal. His collection of pictures is esteemed one of the finest in England.
  3. When this letter was written there were no turnpike roads in Ireland: but the case now is quite altered.
  4. He was tried at the Old Bailey, Jan. 15, 1710-11; and was acquitted.
  5. A privy counsellor, and secretary of State for Ireland.
  6. Sir Godfrey Kneller's, the painter.
  7. Dr. Sterne. He bequeathed 1200l. to build a spire on St. Patrick's cathedral.
  8. George Henry Hay, viscount Dupplin, eldest son to the earl of Kinnoul, to which title he afterward succeeded.
  9. These words plainly refer to some particular publication of Swift's, which he supposes induced the ministers to court him. It is certain, that after he had become intimate with the ministry, they freely acknowledged to him in conversation, that he was the only man in England they were afraid of.
  10. Seventy-three lines in folio upon one page, and in a very small hand.