Journal to Stella

Source: Letter from Jonathan Swift to Esther Johnson (‘Stella’) and Rebecca Dingley, 21 March 1713 in Jonathan Swift (ed. George A. Aitken), Journal to Stella (London: Methuen, 1901), Letter 62, p. 530

Text: I dined to-day with a mixture of people at a Scotchman’s, who made the invitation to Mr. Lewis and me, and has some design upon us, which we know very well. I went afterwards to see a famous moving picture, and I never saw anything so pretty. You see a sea ten miles wide, a town on t’other end, and ships sailing in the sea, and discharging their cannon. You see a great sky, with moon and stars, etc. I’m a fool. Nite, dee MD.

Comments: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Irish satirist, essayist and novelist, best known for Gulliver’s Travels. His Journal to Stella is a collection of letters to his friend Esther Johnson and sometimes jointly to her companion Rebecca Dingley, which was posthumously published in 1766. ‘MD’ stands for ‘my dears’. The ‘moving picture’ to which he refers was shown in a house next to the Grecian Head coffee house in the Strand, London. Sixpence and a shilling were charged for admission. It was a fixed picture probably with clockwork moving parts. Mechanical pictures of German origin are reported as being shown in London by The Tatler around this time (see nos. 113 and 129) and were witnessed by diarist Ralph Thoresby in 1709 (qv).

Links: Copy at Internet Archive