Journal to Stella "Will She Pass In A Crowd?"

Jonathan Swift

"Will She Pass In A Crowd?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: When Swift abandoned Dublin in 1710 for London, he left behind two dear friends, both unmarried but called, according to the customs of the times, Madame, or Mistress (or Mrs.). One was Esther Johnson, the other, Rebecca Dingley. Biographers are not sure of the relationship of "Mrs." Johnson and Swift, whether he ever married her or not. To the two women, Swift wrote regularly in the form of a journal recounting news from London. Though addressed to the two of them, the installments of the diary were preserved by Esther Johnson, whom Swift called Stella. After her death in 1728, they were returned to Swift and were finally published under the title of Journal to Stella. Letter XV covers the month of February 1710/1711. The double date is due to the fact that England at that time had not adopted the Gregorian calendar, and did not, until 1752. By the Julian or Old Style calendar, the new year did not begin till March 25th. By present terminology, this part covers February, 1711. In the entry for Feb. 9, Swift wrote:

. . . Poor Stella's eyes, God bless them, and send them better.
Pray spare them, and write not above two lines aday in broad daylight. How does Stella look, Madame Dingley? Pretty well; a handsome woman still. Will she pass in a crowd? Will she make a figure in a country church?