The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 58


London, Jan. 4, 1712-13.

I ENDED my last with the melancholy news of poor lady Ashburnham's death. The bishop of Clogher and Dr. Pratt made me dine with them to day at lord Mountjoy's, pursuant to an engagement, which I had forgot. Lady Mountjoy told me, that Macartney was got safe out of our clutches, for she had spoke with one who had a letter from him from Holland. Others say the same thing. As I left lord Mountjoy's, I saw the duke d'Aumont, the French ambassador, going from lord Bolingbroke's, where he dined, to have a private audience of the queen. I followed, and went up to court, where there was a great crowd. I was talking with the duke of Argyle, by the fireside in the bedchamber, when the ambassador came out from the queen. Argyle presented me to him, and lord Bolingbroke and we talked together a while. He is a fine gentleman, something like the duke of Ormond, and just such an expensive man. After church to day, I showed the bishop of Clogher, at court, who was who. Night, my two dear rogues.

5. Our frost is broke, but it is bloody cold. Lord treasurer is recovered, and went out this evening to the queen. I dined with lady Oxford, and then sate with lord treasurer till he went out. He gave me a letter from an unknown hand, relating to Dr. Brown, bishop of Cork, recommending him to a better bishoprick, as a person who opposed lord Wharton, and was made a bishop on that account, celebrating him for a great politician, &c. In short, all directly contrary to his character, which I made bold to explain. What dogs there are in the world! I was to see the poor duke and duchess of Ormond this morning. The duke was in his publick room, with Mr. Southwell and two more gentlemen. When Southwell and I were alone with him, he talked something of lord Ashburnham, that he was afraid the whigs would get him again. He bore up as well as he could, but something falling accidentally in discourse, the tears were just falling out of his eyes, and I looked off to give him an opportunity (which he took) of wiping them with his handkerchief I never saw any thing so moving, nor such a mixture of greatness of mind, and tenderness and discretion. Night, dearest MD.

6. Lord Bolingbroke, and Parnell, and I dined, by invitation, with my friend Dartineuf[1], whom you have heard me talk of. Lord Bolingbroke likes Parnell mightily; and it is pleasant to see, that one, who hardly passed for any thing in Ireland, makes his way here with a little friendly forwarding. It is scurvy rainy weather, and I have hardly been abroad to day, nor know any thing that passes. Lord treasurer is quite recovered, and I hope will take care to keep himself well. The duchess of Marlborough is leaving England, to go to her duke, and makes presents of rings to several friends, they say worth two hundred pounds a piece. I am sure she ought to give me one, though the duke pretended to think me his greatest enemy, and got people to tell me so, and very mildly to let me know how gladly he would have me softened toward him. I bid a lady of his acquaintance and mine let him know, that I had hindered many a bitter thing against him; not for his own sake, but because I thought it looked base; and I desired every thing should be left him, except power. Night, MD.

7. I dined with lord and lady Masham to day, and this evening played at Ombre|ombre with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, merely for amusement. The ministers have got my papers, and will neither read them, nor give them to me; and I can hardly do any thing. Very warm slabby weather, but I made a shift to get a walk; yet I lost half of it, by shaking off lord Rochester[2], who is a good, civil, simple man. The bishop of Ossory[3] will not be bishop of Hereford, to the great grief of himself and his wife. And what is MD doing now, I wonder? Playing at cards with the dean and Mrs. Walls? I think it is not certain yet that Macartney is escaped. I am plagued with bad authors verse and prose, who send me their books and poems, the vilest trash I ever saw; but I have given their names to my man, never to let them see me. I have got weak ink, and it is very white[4]; and I don't see that it turns black at all. I'll go to sleep; it is past twelve. Night, MD.

8. You must understand that I am in my geers, and have got a chocolate-pot, a present from Mrs. Ash of Clogher, and some chocolate from my brother Ormond, and I treat folks sometimes. I dined with lord treasurer at five o'clock to day, and was by while he and lord Bolingbroke were at business; for it is fit I should know all that passes now, because, &:c. The duke of Ormond employed me to speak to lord treasurer to day about an affair, and I did so; and the duke spoke himself two hours before; which vexed me, and I will chide the duke about it. I'll tell you a good thing; there is not one of the ministry but what will employ me, as gravely to speak for them to lord treasurer, as if I were their brother or his; and I do it as gravely: though I know they do it only because they will not make themselves uneasy, or had rather I should be denied than they. I believe our peace will not be finished these two months; for I think we must have a return from Spain by a messenger, who will not go till Sunday next. Lord treasurer has invited me to dine with him again to morrow. Your commissioner, Keatley, is to be there. Night, dearest MD.

9. Dr. Pratt drank chocolate with me this morning, and then we walked. I was yesterday with him to see lady Betty Butler, grieving for her sister Ashburnham. The jade was in bed in form, and she did so cant, she made me sick. I meet Tom Leigh every day in the park, to preserve his health. He is as ruddy as a rose, and tells me his bishop of Dromore recovers very much. That bishop has been very near dying. This day's Examiner talks of the play of What is it like? and you will think it to be mine, and be bit; for I have no hand in these papers at all. I dined with lord treasurer, and shall again to morrow, which is his day when all the ministers dine with him. He calls it whipping day. It is always on Saturday, and we do indeed usually rally him about his faults on that day. I was of the original club, when only poor lord Rivers, lord keeper, and lord Bolingbroke came; but now Ormond, Anglesey, lord steward, Dartmouth, and other rabble intrude, and I scold at it; but now they pretend as good a title as I; and indeed many Saturdays I am not there. The company being too many, I don't love it. Night, MD.

10. At seven this evening, as we sat after dinner at lord treasurer's, a servant said, lord Peterborow was at the door. Lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke went out to meet him, and brought him in. He was just returned from abroad, where he has been above a year. As soon as he saw me, he left the duke of Ormond and other lords, and ran and kissed me before he spoke to them[5]; but chid me terribly for not writing to him, which I never did this last time he was abroad, not knowing where he was; and he changed places so often, it was impossible a letter should overtake him. He left England with a bruise, by his coach overturning, that made him spit blood, and was so ill, we expected every post to hear of his death; but he outrode it, or outdrank it, or something, and is come home lustier than ever. He is at least sixty, and has more spirits than any young fellow I know of England. He has sot the old Oxford regiment of horse, and I believe will have a garter. I love the hang-dog dearly. Night, dearest MD.

11. The court was crammed to day, to see the French ambassador; but he did not come. Did I never tell you, that I go to court on Sundays as to a coffeehouse, to see acquaintance, whom I should not otherwise see twice a year? The provost and I dine with Ned Southwell, by appointment, in order to settle your kingdom, if my scheme can be followed; but I doubt our ministry will be too tedious. You must certainly have a new parliament; but they would have that a secret yet. Our parliament here will be prorogued for three weeks. Those puppies the Dutch will not yet come in, though they pretend to submit to the queen in every thing; but they would fain try first how our session begins, in hopes to embroil us in the house of lords: and if my advice had been taken, the session should have begun, and we would have trusted the parliament to approve the steps already made toward the peace, and had an address perhaps from them to conclude without the Dutch, if they would not agree. Others are of my mind, but it is not reckoned so safe, it seems; yet I doubt whether the peace will be ready so soon as three weeks, but that is a secret. Night, MD.

12. Pratt and I walked into the city to one Bateman's, a famous bookseller for old books. There I laid out four pounds like a fool, and we dined at a hedge alehouse, for two shillings and twopence, like emperors. Let me see, I bought Plutarch, two volumes, for thirty shillings, &c. Well, I'll tell you no more; you don't understand Greek. We have no news, and I have nothing more to say to day, and I can't finish my work. These ministers will not find time to do what I would have them. So night, own dear dallars.

13. I was to have dined to day with lord keeper, but would not, because that brute sir John Walter was to be one of the company. You may remember he railed at me last summer was twelvemonth at Windsor, and has never begged my pardon, though he promised to do it; and lord Mansel, who was one of the company, would certainly have set us together by the ears, out of pure roguish mischief. So I dined with lord treasurer, where there was none but lord Bolingbroke. I staid till eight, and then went to lady Orkney's, who has been sick, and sat with her till twelve. The parliament was prorogued to day, as I told you, for three weeks. Our weather is very bad, and slobbery, and I shall spoil my new hat (I have bought a new hat) or empty my pockets. Does Hawkshaw pay the interest he owes? Lord Abercorn plagues me to death. I have now not above six people to provide for, and about as many to do good offices to; and thrice as many that I will do nothing for; nor can I if I would. Night, dear MD.

14. To day I took the circle of morning visits. I went to the duchess of Ormond, and there was she, and lady Betty, and lord Ashburnham together: this was the first time the mother and daughter saw each other since lady Ashburnham's death. They were both in tears, and I chid them for being together, and made lady Betty go to her own chamber; then sat a while with the duchess, and went after lady Betty, and all was well. There is something of farce in all these mournings, let them be ever so serious. People will pretend to grieve more than they really do, and that takes off from their true grief. I then went to the duchess of Hamilton, who never grieved[6], but raged, and stormed, and railed. She is pretty quiet now, but has a diabolical temper. Lord keeper and his son, and their two ladies, and I, dined to day with Mr. Cæsar, treasurer of the navy, at his house in the city, where he keeps his office. We happened to talk of Brutus, and I said something in his praise, when it struck me immediately, that I had made a blunder in doing so; and therefore I recollected myself, and said, Mr. Cæsar, I beg your pardon. So we laughed, &c. Night, my own dearest little rogues, MD.

15. I forgot to tell you, that last night I had a present sent me (I found it when I came home in my chamber) of the finest wild fowl I ever saw, with the vilest letter, and from the vilest poet in the world, who sent it me as a bribe to get him an employment. I knew not where the scoundrel lived, so I could not send them back; and therefore I gave them away as freely as I got them, and have ordered my man never to let up the poet when he comes. The rogue should have kept the wings at least for his muse. One of his fowls was a large capon pheasant, as fat as a pullet. I ate share of it to day with a friend. We have now a drawingroom every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at one o'clock. The queen does not come out; but all her ministers, foreigners, and persons of quality, are at it. I was there to day: and as lord treasurer came toward me, I avoided him, and he hunted me thrice about the room. I affect never to take notice of him at church or court. He knows it, for I have told him so; and to night, at lord Masham's, he gave an account of it to the company; but my reasons are, that people seeing me speak to him, causes a great deal of teasing. I tell you what comes into my head, that I never knew whether you were whigs or tories, and I value our conversation the more, that it never turned on that subject. I have a fancy that Ppt is a tory, and a rigid one. I don't know why; but methinks she looks like one, and DD a sort of a trimmer. Am I right? I gave the Examiner a hint about this prorogation, and to praise the queen for her tenderness to the Dutch, in giving them still more time to submit. It fitted the occasions at present.

16. I was busy to day at the secretary's office, and staid till past three. The duke of Ormond and I were to dine at lord Orkney's. The duke was at the committee, so I thought all was safe. When I went there, they had almost dined; for the duke had sent to excuse himself, which I never knew. I came home at seven, and began a little whim, which just came into my head, and will make a threepenny pamphlet. It shall be finished and out in a week; and if it succeeds, you shall know what it is; otherwise not. I cannot send this to morrow, and will put it off till next Saturday, because I have much business. So my journals shall be short, and Ppt must have patience.

17. This rogue Parnell has not yet corrected his poem, and I would fain have it out. I dined to day with lord treasurer, and his Saturday's company, nine of us in all. They went away at seven, and lord treasurer and I sat talking an hour after. After dinner, he was talking to the lords about the speech the queen must make when the parliament meets. He asked me how I would make it? I was going to be serious, because it was seriously put; but I turned it to a jest. And because they had been speaking of the duchess of Marlborough going to Flanders after the duke, I said, the speech should begin thus: My Lords and Gentlemen, In order to my own quiet, and that of my subjects, I have thought fit to send the duchess of Marlborough abroad, after the duke. This took well, and turned off the discourse. I must tell you, I do not at all like the present situation of affairs, and remember I tell you so. Things must be on another foot, or we are all undone. I hate this driving always to an inch.

18. We had a mighty full court to day. Dilly was with me at the French church, and edified mightily. Duke of Ormond and I dined at lord Orkney's; but I left them at seven, and came home to my whim. I have made a great progress. My large treatise[7] stands stock still. Some think it too dangerous to publish, and would have me print only what relates to the peace. I cannot tell what I shall do. The bishop of Dromore is dying. They thought yesterday he could not live two hours: yet he is still alive, but is utterly past all hopes. Go to cards, dearest MD.

19. I was this morning to see the duke and duchess of Ormond. The duke d'Aumont came in while I was with the duke of Ormond, and we complimented each other like dragons. A poor fellow called at the door where I lodge, with a parcel of oranges for a present for me. I bid my man learn what his name was, and whence it came. He sent word his name was Bun, and that I knew him very well. I bid my man tell him I was busy, and he could not speak to me; and not to let him leave his oranges. I know no more of it, but I am sure I never heard the name, and I shall take no such presents from strangers. Perhaps he might be only some beggar, who wanted a little money. Perhaps it might be something worse. Let them keep their poison for their rats. I don't love it. That blot[8] is a blunder. Night, dear MD.

20. A committee of our society dined to day with the chancellor of the exchequer. Our society does not meet now as usual, for which I am blamed; but till lord treasurer will agree to give us money and employments to bestow, I am averse to it; and he gives us nothing but promises. Bishop of Dromore is still alive, and that is all. We expect every day he will die, and then Tom Leigh must go back, which is one good thing to the town. I believe Pratt will drive at one of these bishopricks. Our English bishoprick[9] is not yet disposed of. I believe the peace will not be ready by the session.

21. I was to day with my printer, to give him a little pamphlet I have written, but not politicks. It will be out by Monday. If it succeeds, I will tell you of it; otherwise not. We had a prodigious thaw to day, as bad as rain; yet I walked like a good boy all the way. The bishop of Dromore still draws breath, but cannot live two days longer. My large book lies flat. Some people think a great part of it ought not to be now printed. I believe I told you so before. This letter shall not go till Saturday, which makes up the three weeks exactly, and I allow MD six weeks, which are now almost out; so you must know I expect a letter very soon, and that MD is very well; and so night, dear MD.

22. This is one of our court days, and I was there. I told you there is a drawingroom Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The Hamiltons and Abercorns have done teasing me. The latter, I hear, is actually going to France. Lord treasurer quarrelled with me at court, for being four days without dining with him; so I dined there to day, and he has at last fallen in with my project (as he calls it) of coining halfpence and farthings with devices, like medals, in honour of the queen, every year changing the device. I wish it may be done. Night, MD.

23. Duke of Ormond and I appointed to dine with Ned Southwell to day, to talk of settling your affairs of parliament in Ireland, but there was a mixture of company, and the duke of Ormond was in haste, and nothing was done. If your parliament meets this summer, it must be a new one; but I find some are of opinion there should be none at all these two years. I will trouble myself no more about it. My design was to serve the duke of Ormond. Dr. Pratt and I sat this evening with the bishop of Clogher, and played at ombre for threepence. That I suppose is but low with you. I found, at coming home, a letter from MD, N. 37. I shall not answer it this bout, but will the next. I am sorry for poor Ppt. Pray walk if you can. I have got a terrible new cold, before my old one was quite gone, and don't know how. **** I shall have DD's money soon from the exchequer. The bishop of Dromore is dead now at last. Night, MD.

24. I was at court to day, and it was comical to see lord Abercorn bowing to me, but not speaking, and lord Selkirk the same. I dined with lord treasurer, and his Saturday club, and sat with him two hours after the rest were gone, and spoke freer to him of affairs than I am afraid others do, who might do more good. All his friends repine, and shrug their shoulders; but will not deal with him so freely as they ought. It is an odd business; the parliament just going to sit, and no employments given. They say they will give them in a few days. There is a new bishop made of Hereford; so Ossory is disappointed. I hinted so to his friends two months ago, to make him leave off deluding himself and being indiscreet, as he was. I have just time to send this, without giving it to the bellman. My second cold is better now. Night, dearest little MD, FW, Me, Lele.

  1. This gentleman, whose name was spelt Dartiquenave, is mentioned, on account of his taste for good eating, by Mr. Pope, in his Imitation of the second Epistle of the second Book of Horace, ver. 87.

    When Oldfield loves what Dartineuf detests."

  2. Henry Hyde, son of Laurence, earl of Rochester, younger son of the lord chancellor Clarendon. This Henry succeeded to the title of earl of Clarendon, March 31, 1723, on the death of Edward, the third earl of Clarendon.
  3. Dr. John Harstonge, 1693—1714.
  4. It still remains so. N.
  5. The dean had addressed some verses to him in the year 1706. See vol. vii, page 35.
  6. The dean expresses different sentiments of this lady, in a preceding letter, dated Nov. 15, 1712; but it is probable he had then very little acquaintance with her.
  7. His History of the Peace of Utrecht.
  8. A line erased by himself.
  9. Probably that of Hereford, vacant by the death of Dr. Humphry Humphreys, on the 20th of November, 1712, who was succeeded by Dr. Philip Bisse, translated from the see of St. David's.