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an hour, who at last remembered to give me two letters, which I cannot answer to-night, nor to-morrow neither, I can assure you, young women, count upon that. I have other things to do than to answer naughty girls, an old saying and true.
Letters from MDs
It is but bad rhyme, * &c.
28. To-day I had a message from Sir Thomas Hanmer to dine with him : the famous Dr Smallridge t was of the company, and we sat till six, and I came home to my new lodgings in St Alban Street, where I
the same rent (eight shillings a week) for an apartment two pair of stairs ; but I have the use of the parlour to receive persons of quality, and I am got into my new bed, &c.
29. Sir Andrew Fountaine has been very ill this week; and sent to me early. this morning to have prayers, which you know is the last thing. I found the doctors and all in despair about him.
I read prayers to him, found he had settled all things; and when I came out the nurse asked me, whether I thought it possible he could live ; for the doctors thought not. I said, I believed he would live ; for I found the seeds of life in him, which l observe seldom fail ; (and I found them in poor dearest Stella, when she was ill many years ago,) and to-night I was with him again, and he was mightily recovered, and I hope he will do well, and the doctor approved my reasons ; but if he should die, I should come off scurvily. The secretary of state (Mr St John) sent to me to dine with him ; Mr Harley and Lord Peterborow dined there too, and at night caine Lord Rivers. Lord Peterborow goes to Vienna in a day or two; he has promised to make me write to him. Mr Harley went away at six, but we staid till seven. I took the secretary aside, and complained to him of Mr Harley, that he had got the queen to grant the firstfruits, promised to bring me to her, and get her letter to the bishops of Ireland ; but the last part he had not done in six weeks, and I was in danger to lose reputation, &c. *
* In which Swift, even in these metrical effusions, was usually very accurate.
† Afterwards Bishop of Bristol, and remarkable as well for polite learning as for controversial skill. He was at this time a pillar of the high church.
He took the matter right, desired me to be with him on Sunday morning, and promises me to finish the affair in four days; so I shall know in a little time what I have to trust to.-It is nine o'clock, and I must go study, you little rogues ; and so good night, &c.
30. Morning. The weather grows cold, you sauceboxes. Sir Andrew Fountaine, they bring me word, is better. I will go rise, for my hands are starving while I write in bed.-Night. Now Sir Andrew Fountaine is recovering, he desires to be at ease ; for I called in the morning to read prayers, but he had given orders not to be disturbed. I have lost a legacy by his living; for he told me he had left me a picture and some books, &c. I called to see my quondam neighbour Ford, (do you know what quondam is though ?) and he engaged me to dine with him ; for he always dines at home on opera days. I came home at six, writ to the archbishop, then studied till past eleven, and stole to bed, to write to MD these few lines to let you know I am in good health at the present writing hereof, and hope in God MD is so too. I wonder I never write politics to you : I could make you the profoundest politician in all the lane.- Well, but when shall we answer this letter, N. 8, of MD's ? Not till next year, faith. O Lord—bobut that will be a Monday next. Cod's so, is it ? and so it is : never saw the like.--I made a pun the other day to Ben Portlack about a pair of drawers. Poh, said he, that is mine a—all over. Pray, pray, Dingley, let me go sleep ; pray, pray, Stella, let me go slumber, and put out my wax candle.
* Harley's great defect as a statesman was his miserable spirit of procrastination.
31. Morning. It is now seven, and I have got a fire, but am writing abed in my bedchamber. It is not shaving day, so I shall be ready early to go before church to Mr St John, and to-morrow I will answer our MD's letter.
Would you answer MD's letter,
These proverbs have always old words in them ; lins is leave off.
But if on New-year you write nones,
But Patrick says I must rise.— Night. I was early this morning with Secretary St John, and gave him a memorial to get the queen's letter forthe first-fruits, who has
promised to do it in a very few days. He told me he had been with the Duke of Marlborough, * who was lamenting his former wrong steps in joining with the Whigs, and said he was worn out with age, fatigues, and misfortunes. I swear it pitied me; and I really think they will not do well in too much mortifying that man, although indeed it is his own fault. He is covetous as Hell, and ambitious as the prince of it: he would fain have been general for life, and has broken all endeavours for peace, to keep his greatness and get money. He told the
he was neither covetous nor ambitious. She said, if she could have conveniently turned about, she would have laughed, and could hardly forbear it in his face. He fell in with all the abominable measures of the late ministry, because they gratified him for their own designs. † Yet he has been a successful general, and I hope he will continue his command. O Lord, smoke the politics to MD. Well; but if
you like them, I will scatter a little now and then, and mine are all fresh from the chief hands. Well, I dined with Mr Harley, and came away at six : there was much company, and I was not merry at all. Mr Harley made me read a paper of verses of Prior's. I read them plain without any fine manner, and Prior swore I should never read any of his again ; but he would be revenged, and read some of mine as bad. I excused myself, and said, I was famous for reading verses the worst in the world, and that every body snatched them from me when I offered to begin. *
* The Duke of Marlborough arrived in England on the 28th December, and immediately waited on the queen, with whom he had a private audience of half an hour.
† It must be remembered, that at one time the duke was accounted a Tory, and imprisoned as a Jacobite in the Tower, upon a calumnious accusation. With some moderate management, it is possible he might have been induced to serve under the Tory administration of 1710. But the hatred which subsisted between his duchess and Mrs Masham, who had succeeded her in Queen Anne's favour, prevented even an attempt at keeping measures with this great general.
So we laughed.—Sir Andrew Fountaine still continues ill. He is plagued with some sort of bile.
January 1. Morning. I wish my dearest pretty Dingley and Stella a happy new year, and health, and mirth, and good stomachs, and Fr's company. Faith, I did not know how to write Fr. I wondered what was the matter; but now I remember I always write Pdfr. t Patrick wishes me a happy new year, and desires I would rise, for it is a good fire, and faith it is cold. I was so politic last night with MD, never saw the like. Get the Examiners, and read them; the last nine or ten are full of the reasons for the late change, and of the abuses of the last ministry ; and the great men assure me they are all true. They are written by their encouragement and direction. I I must rise and go see Sir Andrew Fountaine ; but perhaps to-night I may answer MD's letter; so good morrow, my mistresses all, good morrow.
I wish you both a merry new year,
* Swift did not read very well. In a lively letter to Bolingbroke, he threatens, among other denunciations, to read verses to him till he should snatch them out of his hand.