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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 15/Journal to Stella – Letter 59

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 15

LETTER LIX.


London, January 25, 1712-1713.


WE had such a terrible storm to day, that going to lord Bolingbroke's, I saw a hundred tiles fallen down; and one swinger fell about forty yards before me, that would have killed a horse: so after church and court, I walked through the park, and took a chair to lord treasurer's. Next door to his house a tin chimney top had fallen down, with a hundred bricks. It is grown calm this evening. I wonder had you such a wind to day? I hate it as much as any hog does. Lord treasurer has engaged me to dine again with him to morrow. He has those tricks sometimes of inviting me from day to day, which I am forced to break through. My little pamphlet is out: 'tis not politicks. If it takes I say again you shall hear of it.

26. This morning I felt a little touch of giddiness, which has disordered and weakened me with its ugly remains all this day. **** After dinner at lord treasurer's, the French ambassador duke d'Aumont sent lord treasurer word, that his house was burnt down to the ground. It took fire in the upper rooms, while he was at dinner with Monteleon the Spanish ambassador, and other persons; and soon after lord Bolingbroke came to us with the same story. We are full of speculations upon it, but I believe it was the carelessness of his French rascally servants. It is odd that this very day lord Somers, Wharton, Sunderland, Halifax, and the whole club of whig lords, dined at Pontac's in the city, as I received private notice. They have some damned design. I tell you another odd thing; I was observing it to lord treasurer that he was stabbed on the day king William died; and the day I saved his life, by opening the bandbox, was king William's birthday. My friend Mr. Lewis[1] has had a lie spread on him by the mistake of a man, who went to another of his name, to give him thanks for passing his privy seal to come from France. That other Lewis spread about, that the man brought him thanks from lord Perth and lord Melfort, (two lords with the pretender) for his great services, &c. The lords will examine that other Lewis to morrow in council; and I believe you will hear of it in the prints, for I will make Abel Roper give a relation of it. Pray tell me if it be necessary to write a little plainer; for I looked over a bit of my last letter, and could hardly read it. I'll mend my hand, if you please: but "you are more used to it nor I," as Mr. Raymond says. Night, MD.

27. I dined to day with lord treasurer: this makes four days together; and he has invited me again to morrow, but I absolutely refused him. I was this evening at a christening with him of lord Dupplin's daughter. He went away at ten; but they kept me and some others till past twelve; so you may be sure 'tis late, as they say. We have now stronger suspicions, that the duke d'Aumont's house was set on fire by malice. I was to day to see lord keeper, who has quite lost his voice with a cold. There Dr. Radcliffe told me, that it was the ambassador's confectioner set the house on fire by boiling sugar, and going down and letting it boil over. Yet others still think differently; so I know not what to judge. Night, my own dearest MD.

28. I was to day at court, where the ambassador talked to me as if he did not suspect any design in burning d'Aumont's house: but the abbé Gautier, secretary for France here, said quite otherwise; and that d'Aumont had a letter the very same day, to let him know his house should be burnt, and tells several other circumstances too tedious to write. One is, that a fellow mending the tiles just when the fire broke out, saw a pot with wildfire in the room. I dined with lord Orkney. Neither lord Abercorn nor Selkirk will now speak with me. I have disobliged both sides. Night, dear MD.

29. Our society met to day, fourteen of us, and at a tavern. We now resolve to meet but once a fortnight, and have a committee every other week of six or seven to consult about doing some good. I proposed another message to lord treasurer by three principal members, to give a hundred guineas to a certain person, and they are to urge it as well as they can. We also raised sixty guineas upon our own society; but I made them do it by assessors, and I was one of them, and we fitted our tax to the several estates. The duke of Ormond pays ten guineas, and I the third part of a guinea; at that rate, they may tax as often as they please. Well, but I must answer your letter, young women: not yet; it is late now, and I can't find it. Night, dearest MD.

30. I have drank Spa waters these two or three days; but they do not pass, and make me very giddy. I am not well; faith, I will take them no more. I sauntered after church with the provost to day, to see a library to be sold, and dined at five with lord Orkney. We still think there was malice in burning d'Aumont's house. I hear little Harrison is come over; it was he I sent to Utrecht. He is now queen's secretary to the embassy, and has brought with him the Barrier Treaty, as it is now corrected by us, and yielded to by the Dutch, which was the greatest difficulty to retard the peace. I hope he will bring over the peace a month hence, for we will send him back as soon as possible. I long to see the little brat, my own creature. His pay is in all a thousand pounds a year, and they have never paid him a groat, though I have teased their hearts out. He must be three or four hundred pounds in debt at least. Poor brat! Let me go to bed, sirrahs. Night, dear MD.

31. Harrison was with me this morning; we talked three hours, and then I carried him to court. When we went down to the door of my lodging, I found a coach waited for him. I chid him for it; but he whispered me, it was impossible to do otherwise; and in the coach he told me, he had not one farthing in his pocket to pay it; and therefore took the coach for the whole day, and intended to borrow money somewhere or other. So there was the queen's minister intrusted in affairs of the greatest importance, without a shilling in his pocket to pay a coach. I paid him while he was with me seven guineas, in part of a dozen of shirts he bought me in Holland[2]. I presented him to the duke of Ormond, and several lords at court; and I contrived it so, that lord treasurer came to me, and asked (I had Parnell by me) whether that was Dr. Parnell, and came up and spoke to him with great kindness, and invited him to his house. I value myself upon making the ministry desire to be acquainted with Parnell, and not Parnell with the ministry. His poem is almost fully corrected, and shall be soon out. Here is enough for to day: only to tell you, that I was in the city with my printer to alter an Examiner[3] about my friend Lewis's story, which will be told with remarks.

Sunday, February 1. I could do nothing till to day about the Examiner, but the printer came this morning, and I dictated to him what was fit to be said, and then Mr. Lewis came, and corrected it as he would have it; so I was neither at church nor court. The duke of Ormond and I dined at lord Orkney's. I left them at seven, and sat with sir Andrew Fountaine, who has a very bad sore leg, for which he designs to go to France. Here is a week gone, and one side of this letter not finished. O, but I will write now but once in three weeks. Yes, faith, this shall go sooner. The parliament is to sit on the third, but will adjourn for three or four days; for the queen is laid up with the gout, and both speakers out of order, though one of them, the lord keeper, is almost well. I spoke to the duke of Ormond a good deal about Ireland. We do not altogether agree, nor am I judge enough of Irish affairs; but I will speak to lord treasurer to morrow, that we three may settle some way or other.

2. I had a letter some days ago from Moll Gery; her name is now Wigmore, and her husband is turned parson. She desires nothing, but that I would get lord keeper to give him a living; but I will send her no answer, though she desires it much. She still makes mantuas at Farnham. It rained all this day, and Dilly came to me, and was coaching it into the city; so I went with him for a shaking, because it would not cost me a farthing. There I met my friend Stratford, the merchant, who is going abroad to gather up his debts, and be clear in the world. He begged that I would dine with some merchant friends of ours there, because it was the last time I should see him: so I did, and thought to have seen lord treasurer in the evening, but he happened to go out at five; so I visited some friends, and came home. And now I have the greatest part of your letter to answer; and yet I will not do it to night, say what you please. The parliament meets to morrow, but will be prorogued for a fortnight; which disappointment, will, I believe, vex abundance of them, though they are not whigs for they are forced to be in town at expense for nothing: but we want an answer from Spain, before we are sure of every thing being right for the peace and God knows whether we can have that answer this month. It is a most ticklish juncture of affairs; we are always driving to an inch: I am weary of it. Night, MD.

3. The parliament met, and was prorogued, as I said, and I found some cloudy faces, and heard some grumbling. We have got over all our difficulties with France, I think. They have now settled all the articles of commerce between us and them, wherein they were very much disposed to play the rogue if we had not held them to; and this business we wait for from Spain, is to prevent some other rogueries of the French, who are finding an evasion to trade to the Spanish West Indies: but I hope we shall prevent it. I dined with lord treasurer, and he was in good humour enough. I gave him that part of my book in manuscript to read, where his character was, and drawn pretty freely. He was reading and correcting it with his pencil, when the bishop of St. David's[4] (now removing to Hereford) came and interrupted us. I left him at eight, and sat till twelve with the provost and bishop of Clogher.

[Wednesday] 4. I was to day at court, but kept out of lord treasurer's way, because I was engaged to the duke of Ormond, where I dined, and, I think, eat and drank too much. I sat this evening with lady Masham, and then with lord Masham and lord treasurer at lord Masham's. It was last year, you may remember, my constant evening place. I saw lady Jersey with lady Masham, who has been laying out for my acquaintance, and has forced a promise for me to drink chocolate with her in a day or two, which I know not whether I shall perform (I have just mended my pen, you see) for I do not much like her character; but she is very malicious, and therefore I think I must keep fair with her. I cannot send this letter till Saturday next, I find; so I will answer yours now. I see no different days of the month; yet it is dated January 3. So it was long a coming. I did not write to Dr. Coghill that I would have nothing in Ireland; but that I was soliciting nothing any where, and that is true. I have named Dr. Sterne[5] to lord treasurer, lord Bolingbroke, and the duke of Ormond, for a bishoprick, and I did it heartily. I know not what will come of it; but I tell you as a great secret, that I have made the duke of Ormond promise me to recommend nobody till he tells me, and this for some reasons too long to mention. My head is still in no good order. I am heartily sorry for Ppt. I am sure her head is good for ****. I'll answer more to morrow. Night, dearest MD.

5. [6.] I must go on with your letter. I dined to day with sir Andrew Fountaine and the provost, and played at ombre with him all the afternoon. I won, yet sir Andrew is an admirable player. Lord Pembroke came in, and I gave him three or four scurvy Dilly puns, that begin with an if. Well, but your letter, well, let me see. No; I believe I shall write no more this good while, nor publish what I have done. **** I did not suspect you would tell Filby. You are so ****. Turns and visitations what are these? I'll preach and visit as much for Mr. Walls. Pray God mend people's health; mine is but very indifferent. I have left off Spa water; it makes my legs swell. Night, dearest MD.

6. [7.] This is the queen's birthday, and I never saw it celebrated with so much hurry and fine clothes. I went to court to see them, and I dined with lord keeper, where the ladies were fine to admiration. I passed the evening at Mrs. Vanhomrigh's, and came home pretty early, to answer your letter again. Pray God keep the queen. She was very ill about ten days ago, and had the gout in her stomach. When I came from lord keeper's, I called at lord treasurer's, because I heard he was very fine, and that was a new thing; and it was true, for his coat and waistcoat were embroidered. I have seen the provost often since, and never spoke to him to speak to the Temples about Daniel Carr, nor will; I don't care to do it. I have writ lately to Parvisol. You did well to let him make up his accompts. All things grow dear in Ireland, but corn to the parsons; for my livings are fallen much this year by Parvisol's account. Night, dearest rogues, MD.

7. [8.] I was at court to day, but saw no birthday clothes; the great folks never wear them above once or twice. I dined with lord Orkney, and sat the evening with sir Andrew Fountaine, whose leg is in a very dubious condition. Pray let me know when DD's money is near due: always let me know it beforehand. This, I believe, will hardly go till Saturday; for I tell you what, being not very well, I dare not study much: so I let company come in a morning, and the afternoon pass in dining and sitting somewhere. Lord treasurer is angry, if I don't dine with him every second day, and I cannot part with him till late: he kept me last night till near twelve. Our weather is constant rain above these two months, which hinders walking, so that our spring is not like yours. I have not seen Fanny Manley yet; I cannot find time. I am in rebellion with all my acquaintance, but I will mend with my health and the weather. Clogher make a figure! Clogher make a ——. Colds! why we have been all dying with colds; but now they are a little off, and my second is almost off. I can do nothing for Swanton indeed. It is a thing impossible, and wholly out of my way. If he buys, he must buy. So now I have answered your letter; and there's an end of that now; and I'll say no more; but bid you night, dear MD.

8. [9.] It was terribly rainy to day from morning till night. I intended to have dined with lord treasurer, but went to see sir Andrew Fountaine, and he kept me to dinner, which saved coach-hire; and I staid with him all the afternoon, and lost thirteen shillings and sixpence at ombre. There was management! and lord treasurer will chide; but I'll dine with him to morrow. The bishop of Clogher's daughter has been ill some days, and it proves the smallpox. She is very full; but it comes out well, and they apprehend no danger. Lady Orkney has given me her picture; a very fine original of sir Godfrey Kneller's; it is now a mending. He has favoured her squint admirably; and you know I love a cast in the eye. I was to see lady Worsley to day, who is just come to town; she is full of rheumatick pains. All my acquaintance grow old and sickly. She lodges in the very house in King street, between St. James's street and St. James's square, where DD's brother bought the sweetbread, when I lodged there, and DD came to see me. Short ****. Night, MD.

9. [10.] I thought to have dined with lord treasurer to day, but he dined abroad at Tom Harley's; so I dined at lord Masham's, and was winning all I had lost playing with lady Masham at crown piquet, when we went to pools, and I lost it again. Lord treasurer came in to us, and chid me for not following him to Tom Harley's. Miss Ashe is still the same, and they think her not in danger; my man calls there daily after I am gone out, and tells me at night. I was this morning to see lady Jersey, and we have made twenty parties about dining together, and I shall hardly keep one of them. She is reduced after all her greatness to seven servants, and a small house, and no coach. I like her tolerably as yet. Night, MD.

10. [11.] I made visits this morning to the duke and duchess of Ormond, and lady Betty, and the duchess of Hamilton. (When I was writing this near twelve o'clock, the duchess of Hamilton sent to have me dine with her to morrow. I am forced to give my answer through the door, for my man has got the key, and is gone to bed; but I cannot obey her, for our society meets to morrow.) I stole away from lord treasurer by eight, and intended to have passed the evening with sir Thomas Clarges and his lady; but met them in another place, and have there sate till now. My head has not been ill to day. I was at court, and made lord Mansel walk with me in the park before we went to dinner. Yesterday and to day have been fair, but yet it rained all last night. I saw Sterne staring at court to day. He has been often to see me, he says: but my man has not yet let him up. He is in deep mourning; I hope it is not for his wife. I did not ask him. Night, MD.

12. I have reckoned days wrong all this while[6]; for this is the twelfth. I do not know when I lost it. I dined to day with our society, the greatest dinner I have ever seen. It was at Jack Hill's, the governor of Dunkirk. I gave an account of sixty guineas I had collected, and am to give them away to two authors to morrow; and lord treasurer has promised me a hundred pounds to reward some others. I found a letter on my table last night, to tell me, that poor little Harrison, the queen's secretary that came lately from Utrecht with the Barrier Treaty, was ill, and desired to see me at night; but it was late, and I could not go till to day. I have often mentioned him in my letters, you may remember. **** I went in the morning, and found him mighty ill, and got thirty guineas for him from lord Bolingbroke, and an order for a hundred pounds from the treasury to be paid him to morrow; and I have got him removed to Knightsbridge for the air. He has a fever and inflammation on his lungs; but I hope will do well. Night, MD.

13. I was to see a poor poet, one Mr. Diaper, in a nasty garret, very sick. I gave him twenty guineas from lord Bolingbroke, and disposed the other sixty to two other authors, and desired a friend to receive the hundred pounds for poor Harrison, and will carry it to him to morrow morning, I sent to see how he did, and he is extremely ill; and I am very much afflicted for him, as he is my own creature, and in a very honourable post, and very worthy of it. I dined in the city. I am much concerned for this poor lad. His mother and sister attend him, and he wants nothing. Night, dear MD.

14. I took Parnell this morning, and we walked to see poor Harrison. I had the hundred pounds in my pocket. I told Parnell I was afraid to knock at the door, my mind misgave me. I knocked; and his man in tears told me his master was dead an hour before. Think what grief this is to me! I went to his mother, and have been ordering things for his funeral with as little cost as possible, to morrow at ten at night. Lord treasurer was much concerned when I told him. I could not dine with lord treasurer, nor any where else; but got a bit of meat toward evening. No loss ever grieved me so much: poor creature! Pray God Almighty bless poor MD. Adieu. I send this away to night, and am sorry it must go while I am in so much grief.


  1. Erasmus Lewis, secretary to the earl of Dartmouth, one of the secretaries of state, and afterward to the earl of Oxford, lord high treasurer. He was member for Lestwithiel, in Cornwall, in the parliament, which began April 9, 1713. A particular account of this affair may be seen in the Examiner, vol. iii. No. 10, for Feb. 2, 1712-13, and in Boyer's Political State, vol. v, p. 25, et seq.
  2. At this time very small quantities of linen were made in Ireland.
  3. See Examiner, No. 10, vol. iii.
  4. Dr. Philip Bisse.
  5. Dean of St. Patrick's.
  6. He had omitted Thursday the fifth.