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London, December 23, 1710. I have sent my 11th to-night as usual, and begin the dozenth, and told you I dined with Stratford at Lord Mountjoy's, and I will tell you no more at present, guess for why; because I am going to mind things, and mighty affairs, not your nasty first-fruits : I let them alone till Mr Harley gets the queen's letter, but other things of greater moment, that you shall know one day, when the ducks have eaten up all the dirt. So sit still a while just by me while I am studying, and do not say a word, I charge you, and when I am going to bed, I will take you along, and talk with you a little while, so there, sit there.-Come then, let us see what we have to say to these saucy brats, that will not let us go sleep at past eleven. Why, I am a little impatient to know how you do; but that I take it for a standing maxim, that when you are silent, all is pretty well, because that is the way I will deal with you ;- and if there was any thing you ought to know now, I would write by the first post, although I had written but the day before. Remember this, young women, and God Almighty preserve you both, and make us happy together; and tell me how accounts stand between us, that you may be paid long before it is due, not to want. I will return no more money while I stay, so that you need not be in pain to be paid; but let me know at least a month before you can want. Observe this, do you hear, little dear sirrahs, and love Presto as Presto loves MD, &c.
24. You will have a merrier Christmas eve than we
here. I went up to court before church, and in one of the rooms, there being but little company, a fellow in a red coat without a sword came up to me, and after words of course, asked me how the ladies did. I asked what ladies? He said Mrs Dingley and Mrs Johnson: very well, said I, when I heard from them last : and
pray, when came you from thence, sir ? He said, I never was in Ireland ; and just at that word Lord Winchelsea comes up to me, and the man went off : as I went out I saw him again, and recollected him ; it was Vedeau with a pox.
I then went and made my apologies, that my head was full of something I had to say to Lord Winchelsea, &c. and I asked after his wife, and so all was well, and he inquired after my lodging, because he had some favour to desire of me in Ireland, to recommend somebody to somebody, I know not what it is. When I came from church I went up to court again, where Sir Edmund Bacon told me the bad news from Spain, † which you will hear before this reaches you ; as we have it now, we are undone there, and it was odd to see the whole countenances of the court changed so in two hours. Lady Mountjoy carried me home to dinner, where I staid not long after, and came home early, and now am got into bed, for you must always write to your MDs in bed, that is a maxim.
* This Vedeau seems to have been a shopkeeper, but abandoned his trade for the army. See Journal for March 28th, and April 4th, 1710-11.
† The loss of the battle of Villa Viciosa, and with it all the fruits of Lord Peterborough's unprecedented success. General Stanhope was made prisoner at Brihuega with all his English forces.
Mr White and Mr Red,
Write to MD on your pillow. What is this? faith I smell fire ; what can it be? this house has a thousand s-ks in it. I think to leave it on Thursday, and lodge over the way. Faith I must rise, and look at my chimney, for the smell grows stronger ; stay—I have been up, and in my room, and found all safe, only a mouse within the fender to warm himself, which I could not catch. I smelt nothing there, but now in my bed-chamber I smell it again ; I believe I have singed the woollen curtains, and that is all, though I cannot smoke it. Presto's plaguy silly to-night ; is not he ? Yes, and so he be. Ay, but if I should wake and see fire. Well; I will venture ; so good night, &c.
25. Pray, young women, if I write so much as this every day, how will this paper hold a fortnight's work, and answer one of yours into the bargain ? You never think of this, but let me go on like a simpleton. I wish you a merry Christmas, and many, many a one with
poor Presto at some pretty place. I was at church to-day by eight, and received the sacrament, and came home by ten; then went to court at two. It was a collar-day, that is, when the knights of the Garter wear their collars; but the queen staid so late at sacrament, that I came back, and dined with my neighbour Ford, because all people dine at home on this day. This is likewise a col. lar-day all over England in every house, at least where there is brawn: that is very well.-I tell you a good pun; a fellow hard by pretends to cure agues, and has set out a sign, and spells it egoes ; a gentleman and I
observing it, he said, How does that fellow pretend to cure agues ? I said, I did not know, but I was sure it was not by a spell. That is admirable. And so you asked the bishop about that pun of Lord Stawell's brother. Bite. Have I caught you, young women ? Must you pretend to ask after roguish puns, and Latin ones too? O but you smoke me, and did not ask the bishop. O you are a fool, and you did. I met Vedeau again at court to-day, and I observed he had a sword on; I fancy he was broke, * and has got a commission, but I never asked him. Vedeau I think his name is, yet Parvisol's man is Vedel, that is true. Bank stock will fall like stockfish by this bad news, and two days ago I could have got L.12 by my bargain ; but do not intend to sell, and in time it will rise. It is odd, that my Lord Peterborow foretold this loss two months ago, one night at Mr Harley's, when I was there ; he bid us count upon it, that Stanhope would lose Spain before Christmas, that he would venture his head upon it, and give us reasons ; and though Mr Harley argued the contrary, he still held to his opinion. I was telling my Lord Anglesea this at court this morning, and a gentleman by said, he had heard my Lord Peterborow affirm the same thing. I have heard wise folks say, An ill tongue may do much. And it is an old saying,
Once I guessed right,
No, it is you are sorry, not I.
* i. e. as a shopkeeper.
26. By the Lord Harry I shall be undone here with Christmas boxes. The rogues at the coffeehouse have raised their tax, every one giving a crown, and I gave mine for shame, besides a great many half-crowns to great men's porters, &c. I went to-day by water into the city, and dined with no less a man than the city printer. There is an enmity between us, built upon reasons that you shall know when I see you : but the rain caught me within twelve-penny length of home. I called at Mr Harley's, who was not within, dropped my half crown with his porter, droye to the coffeehouse, where the rain kept me till nine. I had letters to-day from the Archbishop of Dublin, and Mr Bernage; the latter sends me a melancholy account of Lady Shelburn's death, and his own disappointments, and would gladly be a captain ; if I can help him I will.
27. Morning. I bespoke a lodging over the way for to-morrow, and the dog let it yesterday to another; I gave him no earnest, so it seems he could do it; Patrick would have had me give him earnest to bind him but I would not. So I must go saunter to-day for a lodging somewhere else.
Did you ever see so open a winter in England ? We have not had two frosty days; but it pays it off in rain: we have not had three fair days these six weeks. O faith, I dreamed mightily of MD last night; but so confused I cannot tell a word. I have made Ford acquainted with Lewis, and, to-day we dined together; in the evening I called at one or two neighbours, hoping to spend a Christmas evening ; but none were at home, they were all gone to be merry with others. I have often observed this, that in merry times every body is abroad ; where the deuce are they? So I went to the coffeehouse, and talked with Mr Addison