Journal to Stella

Journal to Stella.


[Swift arrived in London in September, 1710, having been sent thither by the Irish bishops to look after the interests of the Irish (Protestant) Church. He remained until April, 1713, when he received his appointment as Dean of St. Patrick's, in recognition of his services both to the Church and to the Tory party, with whose leaders he had enjoyed two years of close intimacy. During his entire stay he wrote a daily letter, in journal form, to two women friends in Ireland. One of these friends was Esther Johnson (Stella), to whom he was attached by a long and peculiar friendship; the other was her companion Mrs. Dingley. Swift's relations with Stella have been a constant puzzle to his biographers. There seems little if any evidence to prove that a marriage ceremony took place, as has been alleged, in 1716. It is certain that they never lived together, and quite unnecessary to believe that they were bound by any tie save that of natural affection. Of the sincerity of that affection, the Journal is ample proof.

These daily letters contain many abbreviations and catchwords whose significance is not always clear. They are full of the “little language,” such as is spoken by a child. Swift often uses, instead of his own name, the letters Pdfr (possibly Poor dear foolish rogue). Stella is Ppt (Poor pretty thing). MD (my dears) usually stands for þoth Stella and Mrs. Dingley, but sometimes for Stella alone. Mrs. Dingley is indicated by ME (Madam Elderly), D, or DD. (Dear Dingley).

For full explanation of such details, and for comment upon the mass of persons and events casually referred to in the Journal, the reader should consult the excellent annotated editions of Ryland and Aitken. The passages selected for this volume, however, need little or no comment. They give an unrivalled picture of London in the ast years of Queen Anne. They show the great men of that age in their habit as they lived. But above all the pages of the Journal, opened any. where, reveal the heart of the strange and gifted man who penned them.]

SEPTEMBER 10,1710. To-day I dined with lord Mountjoy at Kensington; saw my mistress, Ophy Butler's wife, who is grown a little charmless. I sat till ten in the evening with Addison and Steele: Steele will certainly lose his gazetteer's place, all the world detesting his engaging in parties. At ten I went to the coffee-house, hoping to find lord Radnor, whom I had not seen. there; for an hour and a half we talked treason heartily against the Whigs, their baseness and ingratitude. And I am come home rolling resentments in my mind, and framing schemes of revenge: full of which (having written down some hints) I go to bed. I am afraid MD dined at home, because it is Sunday; and there was the little halfpint of wine; for God's sake be good girls, and all will be well. Ben Tooke was with me this morning.

September 11. Seven morning. I am rising to go to Jervis, to finish my picture, and

He was

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