The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Journal to Stella – Letter 6


London, Oct. 10, 1710.

SO as I told you just now in the letter I sent half an hour ago, I dined with Mr. Harley to day, who presented me to the attorney general sir Simon Harcourt, with much compliment on all sides, &c. Harley told me he had shown my memorial to the queen, and seconded it very heartily; and he desires me to dine with him again on Sunday, when he promises to settle it with her majesty, before she names a governor; and I protest I am in hopes it will be done, all but the forms, by that time; for he loves the church: this is a popular thing, and he would not have a governor share in it; and, besides, I am told by all hands, he has a mind to gain me over. But in the letter I writ last post (yesterday) to the archbishop I did not tell him a syllable of what Mr. Harley said to me last night, because he charged me to keep it secret; so I would not tell it to you, but that before this goes, I hope the secret will be over. I am now writing my poetical description of a shower in London, and will send it to the Tatler. This is the last sheet of a whole quire I have written since I came to town. Pray, now it comes into my head, will you, when you go to Mrs. Wall, contrive to know whether Mrs. Wesley be in town, and still at her brother's, and how she is in health, and whether she stays in town. I writ to her from Chester, to know what I should do with her note; and I believe the poor woman is afraid to write to me: so I must go to my business, &c.

11. To day at last I dined with lord Montrath, and carried lord Mountjoy and sir Andrew Fountain with me; and was looking over them at ombre till eleven this evening like a fool: they played running ombre half crowns; and sir Andrew Fountain won eight guineas of Mr. Coote: so I am come home late, and will say but little to MD this night. I have gotten half a bushel of coals, and Patrick, the extravagant whelp, had a fire ready for me; but I picked off the coals before I went to bed. It is a sign London is now an empty place, when it will not furnish me with matter for above five or six lines in a day. Did you smoke in my last how I told you the very day and the place you were playing ombre? But I interlined and altered a little, after I had received a letter from Mr. Manley, that said you were at it in his house, while he was writing to me; but without his help I guessed within one day. Your town is certainly much more sociable than ours. I have not seen your mother yet, &c.

12. I dined to day with Dr. Garth and Mr. Addison, at the Devil tavern by Temple Bar, and Garth treated; and it is well I dine ever day, else I should be longer making out my letters: for we are yet in a very dull state, only inquiring every day after new elections, where the tories carry it among the new members six to one. Mr. Addison's election has passed easy and undisputed; and I believe, if he had a mind to be chosen king, he would hardly be refused. An odd accident has happened at Colchester: one captain Lavallin coming from Flanders or Spain, found his wife with child by a clerk of Doctor's Commons, whose trade, you know, it is to prevent fornication: and this clerk was the very same fellow that made the discovery of Dyet's counterfeiting the stamp paper. Lavallin has been this fortnight hunting after the clerk to kill him; but the fellow was constantly employed at the Treasury about the discovery he made: the wife had made a shift to patch up the business, alleging that the clerk had told her her husband was dead, and other excuses; but the other day somebody told Lavallin his wife had intrigues before he married her: upon which he goes down in a rage, shoots his wife through the head, then falls on his sword; and, to make the matter sure, at the same time discharges a pistol through his own head, and died on the spot, his wife surviving him about two hours; but in what circumstances of mind and body is terrible to imagine. I have finished my poem on the Shower, all but the beginning, and am going on with my Tatler. They have fixed about fifty things on me since I came: I have printed but three. One advantage I get by writing to you daily, or rather you get, is, that I remember not to write the same things twice; and yet I fear I have done it often already: but I will mind and confine myself to the accidents of the day; and so get you gone to ombre, and be good girls, and save your money, and be rich against Presto comes, and write to me now and then: I am thinking it would be a pretty thing to hear something from saucy MD; but do not hurt your eyes Stella, I charge you.

13. O Lord, here is but a trifle of my letter written yet; what shall Presto do for prittle prattle to entertain MD? The talk now grows fresher of the duke of Ormond for Ireland, though Mr. Addison says he hears it will be in commission, and lord Galway[1] one. These letters of mine are a sort of journal, where matters open by degrees; and, as I tell true or false, you will find by the event whether my intelligence be good; but I do not care two pence whether it be or no. At night. To day I was all about St. Paul's, and up at the top like a fool, with sir Andrew Fountain and two more; and spent seven shillings for my dinner like a puppy: this is the second time he has served me so; but I will never do it again, though all mankind should persuade me, unconsidering puppies! There is a young fellow here in town we are all fond of, and about a year or two come from the university, one Harrison, a little pretty fellow, with a great deal of wit, good sense, and good nature; has written some mighty pretty things; that in your 6th Miscellanea, about the Sprig of an Orange, is his: he has nothing to live on but being governor to one of the duke of Queensberry's sons for forty pounds a year. The fine fellows are always inviting him to the tavern, and make him pay his club. Henley is a great crony of his: they are often at the tavern at six or seven shillings reckoning, and always make the poor lad pay his full share. A colonel and a lord were at him and me the same way to night: I absolutely refused, and made Harrison lag behind, and persuaded him not to go to them. I tell you this, because I find all rich fellows have that humour of using all people without any consideration of their fortunes; but I will see them rot before they shall serve me so. Lord Halifax is always teazing me to go down to his country house, which will cost me a guinea to his servants, and twelve shillings coachhire; and he shall be hanged first. Is not this a plaguy silly story? But I am vexed at the heart; for I love the young fellow, and am resolved to stir up people to do something for him: he is a whig, and I will put him upon some of my cast whigs; for I have done with them, and they have, I hope, done with this kingdom for our time. They were sure of the four members for London above all places, and they have lost three in the four. Sir Richard Onslow, we hear, has lost for Surry: and they are overthrown in most places. Lookee, gentlewomen, if I write long letters, I must write you news and stuff, unless I send you my verses; and some I dare not; and those on the Shower in London I have sent to the Tatler, and you may see them in Ireland. I fancy you will smoke me in the Tatler[2] I am going to write; for I believe I have told you the hint. I had a letter sent me to night from sir Matthew Dudley, and found it on my table when I came in. Because it is extraordinary I will transcribe it from beginning to end. It is as follows ["Is the devil in you? Oct. 13, 1710."] I would have answered every particular passage in it, only I wanted time. Here is enough for to night, such as it is, &c.

14. Is that tobacco at the top of the paper[3], or what? I do not remember I slobbered. Lord, I dreamed of Stella, &c. so confusedly last night, and that we saw dean Bolton and Sterne go into a shop; and she bid me call them to her, and they proved to be two parsons I knew not; and I walked without till she was shifting, and such stuff, mixed with much melancholy and uneasiness, and things not as they should be, and I know not how; and it is now an ugly gloomy morning. At night, Mr. Addison and I dined with Ned Southwell, and walked in the Park; and at the coffeehouse I found a letter from the bishop of Clogher, and a packet from MD. I opened the bishop's letter; but put up MD's, and visited a lady just come to town, and am now got into bed, and going to open your little letter: and God send I may find MD well, and happy, and merry, and that they love Presto as they do fires. O, I will not open it yet! yes I will! no I will not; I am going; I cannot stay till I turn over[4]: what shall I do? my fingers itch; and I now have it in my left hand; and now I will open it this very moment. I have just got it, and am cracking the seal, and cannot imagine what is in it; I fear only some letter from a bishop, and it comes too late: I shall employ nobody's credit but my own. Well, I see though Pshaw, it is from sir Andrew Fountain: what, another! I fancy that is from Mrs. Barton; she told me she would write to me; but she writes a better hand than this: I wish you would inquire; it must be at Dawson's[5] office at the castle. I fear this is from Patty Rolt, by the scrawl. Well, I will read MD's letter. Ah, no; it is from poor lady Berkeley, to invite me to Berkeley castle this winter; and now it grieves my heart: she says she hopes my lord is in a fair way of recovery; poor lady. Well, now I go to MD's letter: faith it is all right; I hoped it was wrong. Your letter, N 3, that I have now received, is dated Sept. 26, and Manley's letter, that I had five days ago, was dated Oct. 3, that is a fortnight difference: I doubt it has lain in Steele's office, and he forgot. Well, there is an end of that: he is turned out of his place; and you must desire those who send me packets, to enclose them in a paper directed to Mr. Addison, at St. James's coffeehouse: not common letters, but packets: the bishop of Clogher may mention it to the archbishop when he sees him. As for your letter, it makes me mad: flidikins, I have been the best boy in Christendom, and you come with your two eggs a penny. Well; but stay, I will look over my book; adad, I think there was a chasm between my N 2 and N 3. Faith, I will not promise to write to you every week; but I will write every night, and when it is full I will send it; that will be once in ten days, and that will be often enough: and if you begin to take up the way of writing to Presto, only because it is Tuesday, a Monday bedad, it will grow a task; but write when you have a mind. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no Agad, agad, agad, agad, agad, agad; no, poor Stellakins. Slids, I would the horse were in your chamber. Have I not ordered Parvisol to obey your directions about him? and have not I said in my former letters, that you may pickle him, and boil him, if you will? what do you trouble me about your horses for? have I any thing to do with them? Revolutions a hindrance to me in my business; revolutions to me in my business? if it were not for the revolutions, I could do nothing at all; and now I have all hopes possible, though one is certain of nothing; but to morrow I am to have an answer, and am promised an effectual one. I suppose I have said enough in this and a former letter how I stand with new people; ten times better than ever I did with the old; forty times more caressed. I am to dine to morrow at Mr. Harley's; and if he continues as he has begun, no man has been ever better treated by another. What you say about Stella's mother, I have spoken enough to it already. I believe she is not in town; for I have not yet seen her. My lampoon is cried up to the skies; but nobody suspects me for it, except sir Andrew Fountain: at least they say nothing of it to me. Did not I tell you of a great man who received me very coldly? that is he; but say nothing; it was only a little revenge: I will remember to bring it over. The bishop of Clogher has smoked my Tatler[6], about shortening of words, &c. But, God so[7]! &c.

15. I will write plainer if I can remember it; for Stella must not spoil her eyes, and Dingley cannot read my hand very well; and I am afraid my letters are too long: then you must suppose one to be two, and read them at twice. I dined to day with Mr. Harley: Mr. Prior dined with us. He has left my memorial with the queen, who has consented to give the first-fruits and twentieth parts, and will, we hope, declare it to morrow in the cabinet. But I beg you to tell it to no person alive; for so I am ordered, till in publick: and I hope to get something of greater value. After dinner came in lord Peterborow: we renewed our acquaintance, and he grew mightily fond of me. They began to talk of a paper of verses called Sid Hamet. Mr. Harley repeated part, and then pulled them out, and gave them to a gentleman at the table to read, though they had all read them often: lord Peterborow would let nobody read them but himself: so he did; and Mr. Harley bobbed me at every line to take notice of the beauties. Prior rallied lord Peterborow for author of them; and lord Peterborow said, he knew them to be his; and Prior then turned it upon me, and I on him. I am not guessed at all in town to be the author; yet so it is: but that is a secret only to you. Ten to one whether you see them in Ireland; yet here they run prodigiously. Harley presented me to lord president of Scotland, and Mr. Benson, lord of the treasury. Prior and I came away at nine, and sat at the Smyrna till eleven, receiving acquaintance.

16. This morning early I went in a chair, and Patrick before it, to Mr. Harley, to give him another copy of my memorial, as he desired; but he was full of business, going to the queen, and I could not see him; but he desired I would send up the paper, and excused himself upon his hurry. I was a little balked, but they tell me it is nothing. I shall judge by next visit. I tipt his porter with a halfcrown; and so I am well there for a time at least. I dined at Stratford's in the city, and had burgundy and tokay: came back afoot like a scoundrel; then went to Mr. Addison and supped with lord Mountjoy, which made me sick all night. I forgot that I bought six pounds of chocolate for Stella, and a little wooden box: and I have a great piece of Brazil tobacco for Dingley, and a bottle of palsy water for Stella: all which, with the two handkerchiefs that Mr. Sterne has bought, and you must pay him for, will be put in the box directed to Mrs. Curry's, and sent by Dr. Hawkshaw, whom I have not seen; but Sterne has undertaken it. The chocolate is a present, madam, for Stella. Do not read this, you little rogue, with your little eyes; but give it to Dingley, pray now; and I will write as plain as the skies: and let Dingley write Stella's part, and Stella dictate to her, when she apprehends her eyes, &c.

17. This letter should have gone this post, if I had not been taken up with business, and two nights being late out so it must stay till Thursday. I dined to day with your Mr. Sterne, by invitation, and drank Irish wine[8]; but, before we parted, there came in the prince of puppies, colonel Edgworth[9]; so I went away. This day came out the Tatler made up wholly of my Shower, and a preface to it. They say it is the best thing I ever writ, and I think so too. I suppose the bishop of Clogher will show it you. Pray tell me how you like it. Tooke is going on with my miscellany. I would give a penny the letter to the bishop of Killaloe was in it: it would do him honour. Could not you contrive to say you hear they are printing my things together; and that you wish the bookseller had that letter among the rest: but do not say any thing of it as from me. I forgot whether it was good or no; but only having heard it much commended, perhaps it may deserve it. Well, I have to morrow to finish this letter in, and then I will send it next day. I am so vexed that you should write your third to me, when you had but my second, and I had written five, which now I hope you have all I and so I tell you, you are saucy, little, pretty, dear rogues, &c.

18. To day I dined, by invitation, with Stratford and others, at a young merchant's in the city, with hermitage and tokay, and staid till nine, and am now come home. And that dog Patrick is abroad, and drinking, and I cannot get my nightgown. I have a mind to turn that puppy away: he has been drunk ten times in three weeks. But I had not time to say more; so good night, &c.

19. I am come home from dining in the city with Mr. Addison, at a merchant's: and just now, at the coffeehouse, we have notice that the duke of Ormond was this day declared lord lieutenant, at Hampton court, in council. I have not seen Mr. Harley since; but hope the affair is done about first-fruits. I will see him, if possible, to morrow morning; but this goes to night. I have sent a box to Mr. Sterne, to send to you by some friend; I have directed it for Mr. Curry, at his house; so you have warning when it comes, as I hope it will soon. The handkerchiefs will be put in some friend's pocket, not to pay custom. And so here ends my sixth, sent when I had but three of MD's: now I am beforehand, and will keep so; and God Almighty bless dearest MD, &c.

  1. A French protestant nobleman, who fled from France to avoid persecution on account of his religion.
  2. Perhaps No. 258; which will be found in vol. XVIII.
  3. The upper part of the letter was a little besmeared with some such stuff; the mark is still on it.
  4. That is, to the next page; for he is now within three lines of the bottom of the first.
  5. Joshua Dawson, esq., secretary to the lord justices of Ireland. He built a very fine house in a street called by his own name, which is now the mansion house of the lord mayor of Dublin.
  6. No. 230, printed in vol. V.
  7. This appears to be an interjection of surprise at the length of his journal.
  8. Claret.
  9. It is reported of this colonel Ambrose Edgworth, that he once made a visit to one of his brothers, who lived at the distance of about one day's journey from his house, and that he travelled to see him with his led horse, portmantuas, &c. As soon as he arrived at his brother's, the portmantuas were unpacked, and three suits of fine clothes, one finer than another, hung upon chairs in his bedchamber, together with his nightgown, and shaving plate, disposed in their proper places. The next morning, upon his coming down to breakfast, with his boots on, his brother asked him where he proposed riding before dinner: I am going directly home, said the colonel. Lord! said his brother, I thought you intended to stay some time with us. No, replied the colonel, I cannot stay with you at present; I only just came to see you and my sister, and must return home this morning. And accordingly his clothes, &c. were packed up, and off he went.
    But what merit soever the colonel might have had to boast of, his son Talbot Edgworth excelled him by at least fifty bars length. Talbot never thought of any thing but fine clothes, splendid furniture for his horse, and exciting, as he flattered himself, universal admiration. In these pursuits he expended his whole income, which, at best, was very inconsiderable; in other respects he cared not how he lived. To do him justice, he was an exceeding handsome fellow, well shaped, and of a good height, rather tall than of the middle size. He began very early in his life, even before he was of age, to shine forth in the world, and continued to blaze during the whole reign of George the First. He bethought himself very happily of one extravagance, well suited to his disposition: he insisted upon an exclusive right to one board at Lucas's coffeehouse, where he might walk backward and forward, and exhibit his person to the gaze of all beholders; in which particular he was indulged almost universally: but now and then some arch fellow would usurp on his privilege, take possession of the board, meet him, and dispute his right; and when this happened to be the case, he would chafe, bluster, ask the gentleman his name, and immediately set him down in his tablebook, as a man that he would fight when he came to age. With regard to the female world, his common phrase was, They may look and die. In short, he was the jest of the men, and the contempt of the women. D S. This unhappy man, being neglected by his relations in his lunacy, was taken into custody during his illness, and confined in Bridewell, Dublin, where he died.