The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 57


London, Dec. 18, 1712.

OUR society was to meet to day; but lord Harley, who was president this week, could not attend, being gone to Wimbleton with his new brother-in-law, the young marquis of Caermarthen, who married lady Betty Harley on Monday last; and lord treasurer is at Wimbleton too. However, half a dozen of us met, and I propose our meetings should be once a fortnight; for, between you and me, we do no good. It cost me nineteen shillings to day for my club dinner; I don't like it. We have terrible snowy slobbery weather. Lord Abercorn is come to town, and will see me, whether I will or not. You know he has a pretence to a dukedom in France, which duke Hamilton was soliciting for; but Abercorn resolves to spoil their title, if they will not allow him a fourth part; and I have advised the duchess to compound with him, and have made the ministry of my opinion. Night, dear sirrahs, MD.

19. How agreeable it is in a morning for Pdfr to write journals again! It is as natural as mother's milk, now I am got into it. Lord treasurer is returned from Wimbleton ('tis not above eight miles off) and sent for me to dine with him at five; but I had the grace to be abroad, and dined with some others, with honest Ben Tooke, by invitation. The duchess of Ormond promised me her picture, and coming home to night, I found hers and the duke's both in my chamber. Was not that a pretty civil surprise? Yes, and they are in fine glided frames too. I am writing a letter to thank her; which I will send to morrow morning. I will tell her, she is such a prude, that she will not let so much as her picture be alone in a room with a man, unless the duke's be with it; and so forth. We are full of snow, and dabbling. Lady Masham has come abroad these three days, and seen the queen. I dined with her the other day at her sister Hill's. I hope she will remove in a few days to her new lodgings at St. James's from Kensington. 'Night, dearest rogues, MD.

20. I lodge up two pair of stairs, have but one room, and deny myself to every body almost, yet I cannot be quiet; and all my mornings are lost with people, who will not take answers below stairs; such as Dilly, and the bishop, and provost, &c. Lady Orkney invited me to dinner to day, which hindered me from dining with lord treasurer. This is his day, that his chief friends in the ministry dine with him. However, I went there about six, and sat with him till past nine, when they all went off; but he kept me back, and told me the circumstances of lady Betty's match. The young fellow has 60000l. ready money, three great houses furnished, 7000l. a year at present, and about five more after his father and mother die. I think lady Betty's portion is not above 8000l. I remember Tisdall writ to me in somebody's letter, or you did it for him, that I should mention him on occasion to lord Anglesey, with whom, he said, he had some little acquaintance. Lord Anglesey was with me to night at lord treasurer's; and then I asked him about Tisdall, and described him. He said, he never saw him, but that he had sent him his book. See what it is to be a puppy. Pray tell Mr. Walls, that lord Anglesey thanked me for recommending Clements to him; that he says, he is 20000l. the better for knowing Clements. But pray don't let Clements go and write a letter of thanks, and tell my lord, that he hears so and so, &c. Why, it is but like an Irish understanding to do so. Sad weather; two shillings in coaches to day, and yet I am dirty. I am now going to read over something, and correct it. So, night.

21. Puppies have got a new way of plaguing me. I find letters directed for me at lord treasurer's, sometimes with enclosed ones to him, and sometimes with projects, and sometimes with libels. I usually keep them three or four days without opening. I was at court to day, as I always am on Sundays, instead of a coffeehouse, to see my acquaintance. This day sennight, after I had been talking at court with sir William Wyndham, the Spanish ambassador came to him, and said, he heard that was Dr. Swift, and desired him to tell me, that his master, and the king of France, and the queen;, were more obliged to me than any man in Europe; so we bowed, and shook hands, &c. I took it very well of him. I dined with lord treasurer, and must again to morrow, though I had rather not (as DD says); but now the queen is in town, he does not keep me so late. I have not had time to see Fanny Manley since she came; but intend it one of these days. Her uncle, Jack Manley, I hear, cannot live a month, which will be a great loss to her father in Ireland, for I believe he is one of his chief supports. Our peace now will soon be determined; for lord Bolingbroke tells me this morning, that four provinces of Holland have complied with the queen, and we expect the rest will do so immediately. Night, MD.

22. Lord keeper promised me yesterday the first convenient living to poor Mr. Gery[1], who is married, and wants some addition to what he has. He is a very worthy creature. I had a letter some weeks ago from Elwick, who married Betty Gery. It seems the poor woman died some time last summer. Elwick grows rich, and purchases lands. I dined with lord treasurer to day, who has engaged me to come again to morrow. I gave lord Bolingbroke a poem of Parnell's. I made Parnell insert some compliments in it to his lordship. He is extremely pleased with it, and read some parts of it to day to lord treasurer, who liked it as much. And indeed he outdoes all our poets here a bar's length. Lord Bolingbroke has ordered me to bring him to dinner on Christmas day, and I made lord treasurer promise to see him; and it may one day do Parnell a kindness. You know Parnell. I believe I have told you of that poem. Night, dear MD.

23. This morning I presented one Diaper[2], a poet, to lord Bolingbroke, with a new poem, which is a very good one; and I am to give him a sum of money from my lord; and I have contrived to make a parson of him, for he is half one already, being in deacon's orders, and serves a small cure in the country; but has a sword at his tail here in town. It is a poor, little, short wretch, but will do best in a gown, and we will make lord keeper give him a living. Lord Bolingbroke writ to lord treasurer to excuse me to day; so I dined with the former and Monteleon, the Spanish ambassador, who made me many compliments. I staid till nine, and now it is past ten, and my man has locked me up, and I have just called to mind that I shall be in disgrace with Tom Leigh. That coxcomb had got into acquaintance with one Eckershall, clerk of the kitchen to the queen, who was civil to him at Windsor on my account; for I had done some service to Eckershall. Leigh teases me to pass an evening at his lodgings with Eckershall. I put it off several times, but was forced at last to promise I would come to night; and it never was in my head till I was locked up, and I have called and called, but my man is gone to bed; so I will write an excuse to morrow, I detest that Tom Leigh, and am as formal to him as I can when I happen to meet him in the park. The rogue frets me if he knew it. He asked me, "Why I did not wait on the bishop of Dromore[3]?" I answered, "I had not the honour to be acquainted with him, and would not presume," &c. He takes me seriously; and says, "The bishop is no proud man," &c. He tells me of a judge in Ireland, that has done ill things. I ask, "Why he is not out?" Says he, "I think the bishops, and you, and I, and the rest of the clergy, should meet and consult about it." I beg his pardon, and say, "I cannot be serviceable that way." He answers, "Yes, every body may help something." Don't you see how curiously he continues to vex me; for the dog knows, that with half a word I could do more than all of them together. But he only does it from the pride and envy of his own heart, and not out of a humorous design of teasing. He is one of those that would rather a service should not be done, than done by a private man, and of his own country. You take all this; don't you. Night, dearest sirrahs! I will go to sleep.

24. I dined to day with the chancellor of the exchequer[4], in order to look over some of my papers; but nothing was done. I have been also mediating between the Hamilton family and lord Abercorn, to have them compound with him; and I believe they will do it. Lord Selkirk, the late duke's brother, is to be in town, in order to go to France, to make the demands; and the ministry are of opinion, they will get some satisfaction, and they empowered me to advise the Hamilton side to agree with Abercorn, who asks a fourth part, and will go to France and spoil all if they don't yield it. Night, dearest sirrahs.

25. **** I carried Parnell to dine at lord Bollingbroke's, and he behaved himself very well; and lord Bolingbroke is mightily pleased with him. I was at St. James's chapel by eight this morning; and church and sacrament were done by ten. The queen has got the gout in her hand, and did not come to church to day; and I staid so long in my chamber, that I missed going to court. Did I tell you, that the queen designs to have a drawingroom and company every day? Night, dear rogues.

26. I was to wish the duke of Ormond a happy Christmas, and give half a crown to his porter. It will cost me a dozen half crowns among such fellows. I dined with lord treasurer, who chid me for being absent three days. Mighty kind with a p; less of civility, and more of interest! We hear Macartney[5] is gone over to Ireland. Was it not comical for a gentleman to be set upon by highwaymen, and to tell them he was Macartney? Upon which they brought him to a justice of peace, in hopes of a reward, and the rogues were sent to gaol. Was it not great presence of mind? But may be you heard of this already; for there was a Grub street of it. Lord Bolingbroke told me I must walk away to day when dinner was done, because lord treasurer and he, and another were to enter upon business; but I said, it was as fit I should know their business as any body, for I was to justify. So the rest went, and I staid, and it was so important, I was like to sleep over it. I left them at nine, and it is now twelve. Night, MD.

27. I dined to day with general Hill, governor of Dunkirk. Lady Masham and Mrs. Hill, his two sisters, were of the company, and there have I been sitting this evening till eleven, looking over others at play; for I have left off loving play myself; and I think Ppt is now a great gamester. I have a great cold on me, not quite at its height. I have them seldom, and therefore ought to be patient. I met Mr. Addison and pastoral Philips on the mall to day, and took a turn with them; but they both looked terribly dry and cold. A curse of party! And do you know I have taken more pains to recommend the whig wits to the favour and mercy of the ministers, than any other people. Steele I have kept in his place. Congreve I have got to be used kindly, and secured. Rowe I have recommended, and got a promise of a place. Philips I should certainly have provided for, if he had not run party mad, and made me withdraw my recommendations. I set Addison so right at first, that he might have been employed, and have partly secured him the place he has; yet I am worse used by that faction than any man. Well, go to cards, sirrah Ppt, and dress the wine and orange, sirrah Me[6], and I'll go sleep. It is late, Night, MD.

28. My cold is so bad, that I could not go to church to day, nor to court; but I was engaged to lord Orkney's, with the duke of Ormond, at dinner; and ventured, because I could cough and spit there as I pleased. The duke and lord Arran left us, and I have been sitting ever since with lord and lady Orkney till past eleven; and my cold is worse, and makes me giddy. I hope it is only my cold. O, says Ppt, every body is giddy with a cold; I hope it is no more; but I'll go to bed, for the fellow has bawled past twelve. Night, dears.

29. I got out early to day, and escaped all my duns. I went to see lord Bolingbroke about some business, and truly he was gone out too. I dined in the city, upon the broiled leg of a goose and a bit of bacon, with my printer. Did I tell you that I forbear printing what I have in hand, till the court decides something about me? I will contract no more enemies, at least I will not imbitter worse those I have already, till I have got under shelter; and the ministers know my resolution, so that you may be disappointed in seeing this thing as soon as you expected. I hear lord treasurer is out of order. My cold is very bad. Every body has one. Night, dear rogues.

30. I suppose this will be full by Saturday. Duke of Ormond, lord Arran, and I, dined privately to day at an old servant's house of his. The council made us part at six. One Mrs. Ramsay dined with us; an old lady of about fifty-five, that we are all very fond of. I called this evening at lord treasurer's, and sat with him two hours. He has been cupped for a cold, and has been very ill. He cannot dine with Parnell and me at lord Bolingbroke's to morrow; but says he will see Parnell some other time. I hoise up Parnell partly to spite the envious Irish folks here, particularly Tom Leigh. I saw the bishop of Clogher's family to day; miss is mighty ill of a cold, and coughs incessantly. Night, MD.

31. To day Parnell and I dined with lord Bolingbroke, to correct Parnell's poem. I made him show all the places he disliked; and when Parnell has corrected it fully, he shall print it. I went this evening to sit with lord treasurer. He is better, and will be out in a day or two. I sat with him while the young folks went to supper; and then went down, and there were the young folks merry together, having turned lady Oxford up to my lord, and I staid with them till twelve. There was the young couple, lord and lady Caermarthen, and lord and lady Dupplin, and lord Harley and I; and the old folks were together above. It looked like what I have formerly done so often; stealing together from the old folks, though indeed it was not from poor lord treasurer, who is as young a fellow as any of us: but lady Oxford is a silly mere old woman. My cold is still so bad, that I have not the least smelling. I am just got home, and 'tis past twelve; and I'll go to bed, and settle my head, heavy as lead.

Jan. 1. A great many new years to dearest MD. Pray God Almighty bless you, and send you ever happy! I forgot to tell you, that yesterday lord Abercorn was here, teasing me about his French duchy, and suspecting my partiality to the Hamilton family, in- such a whimsical manner, that Dr. Pratt who was by, thought he was mad. He was no sooner gone, but lord Orkney sent to know, whether he might come and sit with me half an hour upon some business. I returned answer that I would wait on him; which I did. We discoursed awhile, and he left me with lady Orkney; and in came the earl of Selkirk, whom I had never seen before. He is another brother of duke Hamilton, and is going to France, by a power from his mother the old duchess, to negotiate their pretensions to the duchy of Châttelleraut. He teased me for two hours in spite of my teeth, and held my hand when I offered to stir; would have had me engage the ministry to favour him against lord Abercorn, and to convince them, that lord Abercorn had no pretensions; and desired I would also convince lord Abercorn himself so; and concluded, he was sorry I was a greater friend to Abercorn than Hamilton. I had no patience, and used him with some plainness. Am not I purely handled between a couple of puppies? Ay, says Ppt, you must be meddling in other folk's affairs. I appeal to the bishop of Clogher whether Abercorn did not complain, that I would not let him see me last year, and that he swore he would take no denial from my servant when he came again. The ministers gave me leave to tell the Hamilton family, it was their opinion, that they ought to agree with Abercorn. Lord Anglesey was then by, and told Abercorn; upon which he gravely tells me, I was commissioned by the ministers, and ought to perform my commission, &c. But I'll have done with them. I have warned lord treasurer, and lord Bolingbroke to beware of Selkirk's teasing on him! yet Abercorn vexes me more. The whelp owes to me all the kind receptions he has had from the ministry. I dined to day at lord treasurer's with the young folks, and sat with lord treasurer till nine, and then was forced to lady Masham's, and sat there till twelve, talking of affairs, till I am out of humour, as every one must, that knows them inwardly. A thousand things wrong, most of them easy to mend; yet our schemes availing at best but little, and sometimes nothing at all. Ont evil, which I twice patched up with the hazard of all the credit I had, is now spread more than ever. But burn politicks, and send me from courts and ministers! Night, dearest little MD.

2. I sauntered about this morning, and went with Dr. Pratt to a picture auction, where I had like to be drawn in to buy a picture that I was fond of; but, it seems, was good for nothing. Pratt was there to buy some pictures for the bishop of Clogher, who resolves to lay out ten pounds to furnish his house with curious pieces. We dined with the bishop, I being by chance disengaged. And this evening I sate with the bishop of Ossory[7] who is laid up with the gout. The French ambassador, duke d'Aumont, came to town to night, and the rabble conducted him home with shouts. I cannot smell yet, though my cold begins to break. It continues cruel hard frosty weather. Go and be merry, little sirrahs.

3. Lord Dupplin and I went with lord and lady Orkney this morning at ten to Wimbleton, six miles off, to see lord and lady Caermarthen. It is much the finest place about this town. Did you never see it? I was once there before, about five years ago. You know lady Caermarthen is lord treasurer's daughter, married about three weeks ago. I hope the young fellow will be a good husband. I must send this away now. I came back just by night fall, cruel cold weather; **** I'll take my leave. I forgot how MD's accounts are. Pray let me know always timely before MD wants; and pray give the bill on the other side to Mrs. Brent as usual. I believe I have not paid her this great while. Go, play at cards. **** Love Pdfr. Night, MD, FW, Me, Lele. The six odd shillings, tell Mrs. Brent, are for her new year's gift. I am just now told, that poor dear lady Ashburnham, the duke of Ormond's daughter, died yesterday at her country house. The poor creature was with child. She was my greatest favourite, and I am in excessive concern for her loss. I hardly knew a more valuable person on all accounts. You must have heard me talk of her. I am afraid to see the duke and duchess. She was naturally very healthy; I fear has been thrown away for want of care. Pray condole with me. 'Tis extremely moving[8]. Her lord is a puppy; and I shall never think it worth my while to be troubled with him, now he has lost all that was valuable in his possession; yet, I think he used her pretty well. I hate life, when I think it exposed to such accidents; and to see so many thousand wretches burdening the earth, while such as her die, makes me think God did never intend life for a blessing. Farewell.

  1. Mr. Gery, rector of Litcombe, in Berks, to whose house Dr. Swift retired about ten weeks before queen Anne's death, upon occasion of the incurable breach between the earl of Oxford and lord viscount Bolingbroke.
  2. Author of the Sea Eclogues, mentioned before.
  3. Dr. Tobias Pullen, 1695—1713.
  4. Robert Benson, esq.
  5. Macartney was lord Mohun's second, in the duel between him and duke Hamilton, and fled on that occasion.
  6. Here Me plainly means Dingley.
  7. Dr. John Harstonge, translated to Derry in 1714.
  8. From these expressions, and those he uses in the account of the duchess of Hamilton's affliction on the death of her husband, Swift appears to have had a strong sympathy in the distress of others; which he has generally, even by his advocates, been supposed to want.