The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Journal to Stella – Letter 8


London, October 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. Cockburn 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. 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 coffeehouse, 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. Dopping I have seen, and he tells me coldly, my Shower is liked well enough; there is 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. Walls win constantly, as the used to do; and Mrs. Stoyte? 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, they say, is going home to her husband, like a fool, Well, little monkies mine, I must go write; and so good night.

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[1]. 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, 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 Tisdall fellow, that he never minds 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 is 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 order from lord Dartmouth, secretary of state, to signify it. The bishops are to be made a corporation to dispose of the revenue, &c. 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 dispatch 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, 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? it is not right, faith: but I will not be angry with MD at a 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 Mountjoy 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, &c. came home, and writ a short letter to the archbishop of Dublin, to let him know the queen has granted the thing, &c. I writ in the coffeehouse, for I staid at Kensington till nine, and am plaguy weary; for colonel Proud 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 coffeehouse, where Dr. d'Avenant would fain have had me gone and drink a bottle of wine at his house hard by, with Dr. Chamberlain; 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 Chamberlain was going to a patient, and therefore we would put it off till another time: so he, and the comptroller, and I were prevailed on, by sir Matthew Dudley, to go to his house, where I staid till twelve, and left them. D'Avenant 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 gambling 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 will not 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, &c. Vanbrugh, I believe I told you, had a long quarrel with me about those verses on his house; 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, and I was at court, where the queen past by us with all tories about her; not one whig: Buckingham, Rochester, Leeds, Shrewsbury, Berkeley of Stratton, lord keeper Harcourt, Mr. Harley, lord Pembroke, &c. and I have seen her without one tory. The queen made me a curtsy, and said, in a sort of familiar way to Presto, How does MD? I considered she was a queen, and so excused her. I do not miss the whigs at court; but have as many acquaintance there as formerly.

8. Here is ado and a clutter! I must now answer MD's fifth; but first you must know I dined at the Portugal envoy's to day, with addison, Vanbrugh, admiral Wager, sir Richard Temple, Methuen, &c. 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 fire place in my bed chamber; but it is very warm weather when one is in bed. Your fine cap, 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, it will 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 what 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 spear is not mine, madam. What a puzzle there is between you and your judgment? In general you may be sometimes sure of things, as that about style, 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[2]. 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. It is 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 stunk out of this with the sink, and it helps me to verses in my Shower. 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, &c. 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; 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. Jonsonibus atque, that is the way. How did the dean get that name by the end? It was you betrayed me: not I, faith; I will 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. It is 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 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 them, 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? 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 mean time? 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. Have not 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 Montrath's, with lord Mountjoy, &c. but the wine was not good, so I came away, staid at the coffeehouse till seven, then came home to my fire, the maidenhead of my second half bushel, and am now in bed at eleven, as usual. It is mighty warm; yet I fear I shall catch cold this wet weather, if I sit 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, &c, and do not care for the coffeehouse; 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 save 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, good night; 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 the author of it. Do not 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 and so good night, &c. O! but I forgot, Jemmy Leigh is come to town; says he has brought Dingley's things, and will send them by the first convenience. My parcel I hear is not sent yet. He thinks of going for Ireland in a month, &c. I cannot write to morrow, 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 the 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, &c.

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

  1. PMD. 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.
  2. Probably on Taste in Reading, addressed to sir Andrew Fountaine.