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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Journal to Stella – Letter 7

LETTER VII.


London, Oct. 19, 1710.


O 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 a letter to day where I had been, and how the day past; and so, &c.

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, and went to wait on the two lady Butlers; but the porter answered, they were not at home; the meaning was, the youngest, lady Mary[1], is to be married to morrow to lord Ashburnham, 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 any thing pass better here. I spent the evening with Wortley Mountague and Mr. Addison, over a bottle of Irish wine. Do they know any thing in Ireland of my greatness among the tories? Every body 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 any body suspects me for them, only they think no body 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[2], 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 coffeehouse. God Almighty bless poor 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 any thing else, and I will write plainer for Dingley to read, from henceforward, though my pen is apt to ramble when I think who 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 Sterling, a Scotch lord; and in the evening came in lord Peterborow. I staid till nine before Mr. Harley would let me go, or tell me any thing of my affair. He says, the queen has now granted the first-fruits and twentieth parts; but he will not yet 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, &c. 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 farther: 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 any thing 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[3]. 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[4]. 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 it is late.

22. I was this morning with Mr. Lewis, the under secretary to lord Dartmouth, two hours talking politicks, 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, 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 any thing I said. So I stopped short in my overture, and we parted very dryly; 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, &c.

23. I know it is 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 coffeehouse, 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, &c.

25. I was to day to see the duke of Ormond and coming out, met lord Berkeley of Stratton, who told me, that Mrs. Temple, 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 Mr. Addison and Steele, and a sister of Mr. Addison, who is married to one mons. Sartre[5], a Frenchman, prebendary of Westminster, who has a delicious house and garden; yet I thought it was a sort of a monastick 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, &c.

26. I was to day to see Mr. Congreve, 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[6], 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; 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, &c. 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 not! 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, that is the short of it. As fond as the dean is of my letter, he has not written to me. I would only know whether dean Bolton[7] 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. It is 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. 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's death before, but not the foolish circumstance that hastened his end. No, I have taken care that captain Pratt shall not suffer by lord Anglesea's death. I will try some contrivance to get a copy of my picture from Jervas. I will make sir Andrew Fountain 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 Parvisol has been in town? Humm. Why, Tighe 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 so in some former letter. And so you only want some sallad dishes, and plates, and, &c. 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[8]: 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 coffeehouse: 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, &c. 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, with a pox, in the city: he is a printer, and prints the Postman, oh oh, and is my cousin, God knows how, and he married Mrs. Baby Aires of Leicester; and my cousin Thompson was with us: and my cousin Leach offers to bring me acquainted with the author of the Postman; 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 twelve penny 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, 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; 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 get in my money. I hope Stratford will do me that kindness. I will ask him to morrow or next day.

27. Mr. Rowe 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 any thing that has been written of the kind? there never was such a Shower since Danae's, &c. 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, where Congreve, sir Richard Temple, Eastcourt, and Charles Main were over a bowl of bad punch. The knight sent for six flasks of his own wine for me, and we staid 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, &c.

28. Garth and Addison and I dined to day at a hedge 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 visted lord Pembroke, 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 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 coffeehouse, and Ford desired me to sit with him at next door, which I did, like a fool, chattering 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 farther 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 coffeehouse, 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, who writes to us, but is God knows where, and will not tell any body 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, they say, is taken, though the Whitehall letters this morning say quite the contrary: it is good, if it be true. I dined with Mr. Addison and Dick Stuart, lord Mountjoy's brother; 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 belman, 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 next time. Pox take that D; I will blot it to dry it.


  1. Youngest daughter of the duke of Ormond. See an account of her death and character vol. XVIII; and of her sister, in volume under XV, June 21, 1711.
  2. See Oct. 5, p. 218.
  3. 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. See vol. XVIII, page 1, &c.
  4. There is a particular compliment to Stella couched in these words. Stella was herself an Englishwoman, born at Richmond in Surry; nevertheless she respected the interest and the honour of Ireland, where she had lived for some years, with a generous patriotick spirit.
  5. M. Sartre died September 30, 1713. His widow (afterward married to Daniel Combes, esq.) died March 2, 1750.
  6. Congreve was born in the year 1672: consequently he was between four and five years younger than Dr. Swift.
  7. This gentleman, as well as Dr. Swift, was one of the chaplains to lord Berkeley, when lord lieutenant; and was promoted to the deanery of Derry, which had been previously promised to Dr. Swift; but Mr. Bushe, the principal secretary, for weighty reasons best known to himself, laid Dr. Swift aside, unless he would pay him a large sum, which the doctor refused with the utmost contempt and scorn. He was afterward promoted to the archbishoprick of Cashel. He was one of the most eloquent speakers of his time, and was a very learned man, especially in church history.
  8. It is actually better written, and in a plainer hand.