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14 and 16 Vesey Street. 


There are three considerable biographies of Defoe — the first by George 
Chalmers, published in 1786 ; the second by Walter Wilson,, published in 
1830 ; the third, by William Lee, published in 1869. All three are thor- 
ough and painstaking works, justified by independent research and dis- 
covery. The labour of research in the case of an author supposed to 
have written some two hundred and fifty separate books and pamphlets, 
very few of them under his own name, is naturally enormous ; and when 
it is done, the results are open to endless dispute. Probably two men 
could not be found who would read through the vast mass of contempo- 
rary anonymous and pseudonymous print, and agree upon a complete list 
of Defoe's writings. Fortunately, however, for those who wish to get a 
clear idea of his life and character, the identification is not pure guess- 
work on internal evidence. He put his own name or initials to some of 
his productions, and treated the authorship of others as open secrets. 
Enough is ascertained as his to provide us with the means for a complete 
understanding of his opinions and his conduct. It is Defoe's misfortune 
that his biographers on the large scale have occupied themselves too 
much with subordinate details, and have been misled from a true appre- 
ciation of his main lines of thought and action by religious, political, and 
hero-worshipping bias. For the following sketch, taking Mr. Lee's elab- 
orate work as my chronological guide, I have read such of Defoe's un- 
doubted writings as are accessible in the Library of the British Museum 
— there is no complete collection, I believe, in existence — and endeavoured 
to connect them and him with the history of the time. 

W. M. 




























The life of a man of letters is not as a rule eventful. It may 
be rich in spiritual experiences, but it seldom is rich in active ad- 
venture. We ask his biographer to tell us what were his habits of 
composition, how he talked, how he bore himself in the discharge 
of his duties to his family, his neighbours, and himself ; what were 
his beliefs on the great questions that concern humanity. We de- 
sire to know what "he said and wrote, not what he did beyond the 
study and the domestic or the social circle. The chief external 
facts' in his career are the dates of the publication of his succes- 
sive books. 

Daniel Defoe is an exception to this rule. He was a man of 
action as well as a man of letters. The writing of the books which 
have given him immortality was little more than an accident in his 
career, a comparatively trifling and casual item in the total expen- 
diture of his many-sided energy. He was nearly sixty when he 
wrote Robinson Crusoe. Before that event he had been a rebel, a 
merchant, a manufacturer, a writer of popular satires in verse, a 
bankrupt ; had acted as secretary to a public commission, been 
employed in secret services by five successive Administrations, 
written innumerable pamphlets, and edited more than one news- 
paper. He had led, in fact, as adventurous a life as any of his 
own heroes, and had met quickly succeeding difficulties with equally 
ready and fertile ingenuity. 

For many of the incidents in Defoe's life we are indebted to 
himself. He had all the vaingloriousness of exuberant vitality, 
and was animated in the recital of his own adventures. Scattered 
throughout his various works are the materials for a tolerably com- 
plete autobiography. This is in one respect an advantage for any 
one who attempts to give an account of his life. But it has a 
counterbalancing disadvantage in the circumstance that there is 
grave reason to doubt his veracity. Defoe was a great story-teller 


in more senses than one. We can hardly believe a word that he 
says about himself without independent confirmation. 

Defoe was born in London, in 1661. It is a characteristic cir- 
cumstance that his name is not his own, except in the sense that it 
was assumed by himself. The name of his father, who was a 
butcher in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, was Foe. His 
grandfather was a Northamptonshire yeoman. In his True Bom 
Englishman, Defoe spoke very contemptuously of families that 
professed to have come over with "the Norman bastard," defying 
them to prove whether their ancestors were drummers or colonels; 
but apparently he was not above the vanity of making the world 
believe that he himself was of Norman-French origin. Yet such 
was the restless energy of the man that he could not leave even 
his adopted name alone ; he seems to have been about forty when 
he first changed his signature " D. Foe" into the surname of 
" Defoe ; " but his patient biographer, Mr. Lee, has found several 
later instances of his subscribing himself " D. Foe," " D. F.," and 
" De Foe " in alternation with the " Daniel De Foe," or " Daniel 
Defoe," which has become his accepted name in literature. 

In middle age, when Defoe was taunted with his want of learn- 
ing, he retorted that if he was a blockhead it was not the fault of 
his father, who had " spared nothing in his education that might 
qualify him to match the accurate Dr. Browne, or the learned 
Observator." His father was a Nonconformist, a member of the 
congregation of Dr. Annesley, and the son w s originally intended 
for the Dissenting ministry. "It was his disaster," he said after- 
wards, " first to be set apart for, and then to be set apart from, 
that sacred employ." He was placed at an academy for the train- 
ing of ministers at the age, it is supposed, of about fourteen, and 
probably remained there for the full course of five years. He has 
himself explained why, when his training was completed, he did not 
proceed to the office of the pulpit, but changed his views and re- 
solved to engage in business as a hose-merchant. The sum of the 
explanation is that the ministry seemed to him at the time to be 
neither honourable, agreeable, nor profitable. It was degraded, he 
thought, by the entrance of men who had neither physical nor 
intellectual qualification for it, who had received out of a denomi- 
national fund only such an education as made them pedants rather 
than Christian gentleman of high learning, and who had conse- 
quently to submit to shameful and degrading practices in their 
efforts to obtain congregations and subsistence. Besides, the be- 
haviour of congregations to their ministers, who were dependent, 
was often objectionable and un-Christian. And finally, far-flown 
birds having fine feathers, the prizes of the ministry in London 
were generally given to strangers, "eminent ministers called irom 
all parts of England," some even from Scotland, finding acceptance 
in the metropolis before having received any formal ordination. 

Though the education of his " fund bred " companions, as he 
calls them, at Mr. Morton's Academy in Newington Green, was 
such as to excite Defoe's contempt, he bears testimony to Mr. 


Morton's excellence as a teacher, and instances the names of sev- 
eral pupils who did credit to his labours. In one respect Mr. 
Morton's system was better than that which then prevailed at the 
Universities; all dissertations were written and all disputations 
held in English ; and hence it resulted, Defoe says, that his pupils, 
though they were "not destitute in the languages," were "made 
masters of the English tongue, and more of them excelled in that 
particular than of any school at that time." Whether Defoe ob- 
tained at Newington the rudiments of all the learning which he 
afterwards claimed to be possessed of, we do not know ; but the 
taunt frequently levelled at him by University men of being an 
"illiterate fellow" and no scholar, was one that he bitterly re- 
sented, and that drew from him many protestations and retorts. 
In 1705, he angrily challenged John Tutchin "to translate with 
him any Latin, French, or Italian author, and after that to retrans- 
late them crosswise for twenty pounds each book ; " and he replied 
to Swift, who had spoken of him scornfully as "an illiterate fellow, 
whose name I forget," that "he had been in his time pretty well 
master of five languages, and had not lost them yet, though he 
wrote no bill at his door, nor set Latin quotations on the front of 
the Review." To the end of his days Defoe could not forget this 
taunt of want of learning. In one of the papers in Applebee's 
Journal identified by Mr. Lee (below, Chapter VIII.), he dis- 
cussed what is to be understood by " learning," and drew the fol- 
lowing sketch of his own attainments : — 

" I remember an Author in the WorleKsome years ago, who was gen- 
erally upbraided with Ignorance, and called an " Illiterate Fellow,' by 
some of the Beau-Monde of the last Age. . . . 

" I happened to come into this Person's Study once, and I found him 
busy translating a Description of the Course of the River Boristhenes, 
out of B lean's Geography, written in Spanish. Another time I found him 
translating some Latin Paragraphs out of Leubinitz Theatri Comelici, be- 
ing a learned Discourse upon Comets; and that I might see whether it 
was genuine, I looked on some part of it that he had finished, and found 
by it that he understood the Latin very well, and had perfectly taken the 
sense of that difficult Author. In short, I found he understood the Latin, 
the Spanish, the Italian, and could read the Greek, and I knew before that 
he spoke French fluently — yet this Man was no Scholar. 

"As to Science, on another Occasion, I heard him dispute (in such a 
manner as surprised me) upon the motions of the Heavenly bodies, the 
Distance, Magnitude, Revolutions, and especially the Influences of the 
Planets, the Nature and probable Revolutions of Comets, the excellency 
of the New Philosophy, and the like ; but this Man was no Scholar. 

" In Geography and History he had all the World at his Finger's 
ends. He talked of the most distant Countries with an inimitable Ex- 
actness; and changing from one Place to another, the Company thought, 
of every Place or Country he named, that certainly he must have been 
born there. He knew not only where every Thing was, but what every- 
body did in every Part of the World : I mean, what Businesses, what 
Trade, what Manufacture, was carrying on in every Part of the World; 
and had the History of almost all the Nations of the World in his Head 
— yet this Man was no Scholar. 


"This put me upon wondering, ever so long ago, what this strange 
Thing called a Man of Learning ?uas, and what is it that constitutes a 
Scholar? For, said I, here's a man speaks rive Languages and reads the 
Sixth, is a master of Astronomy, Geography, History, and abundance of 
other useful Knowledge (which I do not mention, that you may not guess 
at the Man, who is too Modest to desire it), and yet, they say this Man is 
no Scholar. 

How much of this learning Defoe acquired at school, and how 
much he picked up afterwards under the pressure of the necessities 
of his business, it is impossible to determine, but at any rate it was 
at least as good a qualification for writing on public affairs as the 
more limited and accurate scholarship of his more academic rivals. 
Whatever may have been the extent of his knowledge when he 
passed from Mr. Morton's tuition, qualified but no longer willing 
to become a Dissenting preacher, he did not allow it to rust un- 
used ; he at once mobilised his forces for active service. They 
were keen politicians, naturally, at the Newington Academy, and 
the times furnished ample materials for their discussions. As Non- 
conformists they were very closely affected by the struggle between 
Charles II. ancf the defenders of Protestantism and popular liber- 
ties. What part Defoe took in the excitement of the closing years 
of the reign of Charles must be matter of conjecture, but theu can 
be little doubt that he was active on the popular side. He had but 
one difference then, he afterwards said in one of his tracts, with 
his party. He would not join them in wishing for the success of 
the Turks in besieging Vienna, because, though the Austrians 
were Papists, and though the Turks were ostensibly on the side 
of the Hungarian reformers whom the Austrian Government had 
persecuted, he had read the history of the Turks and could 
not pray for their victory over Christians of any denomination. 
"Though then but a young man, and a younger author" (this was 
in 1683), "he opposed it and wrote against it. which was taken 
very unkindly indeed." From these words it would seem that De- 
foe had thus early begun to write pamphlets on questions of the 
hour. As he was on the weaker side, and any writing might have 
cost him his life, it is probable that he did not put his name to any 
of these tracts ; none of them have been identified ; but his youth 
was strangely unlike his mature manhood if he was not justified in 
speaking of himself as having been then an "author." Nor was 
he content merely with writing. It would have been little short of 
a miracle if his restless energy had allowed him to lie quiet while 
the air was thick with political intrigue. We may be sure that he 
had a voice in some of the secret associations in which plans were 
discussed of armed resistance to the tyranny of the King. We 
have his own word for it that he took part in the Duke of Mon- 
mouth's rising, when the whips of Charles were exchanged for the 
scorpions of James. He boasted of this when it became safe to 
do so, and the truth of the boast derives incidental confirmation 
from the fact that the names of three of his fellow-students a/ 
Newington appear in the list f.f the victims of Jeffreys and Kirke. 


Escaping the keen hunt that was made for all participators in 
the rebellion, Defoe, towards the close of 1685, began business as 
a hosier or hose-factor in Freeman's Court, Cornhill. The precise 
nature of his trade has been disputed; and it does not particularly 
concern us here. When taunted afterwards with having been ap- 
prentice to a hosier, he indignantly denied the fact, and explained 
that though he had been a trader in hosiery he had never been a 
shopkeeper. A passing illustration in his Essay on Projects, drawn 
from his own experience, shows that he imported goods in the 
course of his business from abroad ; he speaks of sometimes hav- 
ing paid more in insurance premios than he had cleared by a voy- 
age. From a story which he tells in his Complete English Trades- 
man, recalling the cleverness with which he defeated an attempt 
to outwit him about a consignment of brandy, we learn that his 
business sometimes took him to Spain. This is nearly all that we 
know about his first adventure in trade, except that after seven 
years, in 1692, he had to flee from his creditors. He hints in one 
of his Reviews that this misfortune was brought about by the 
frauds of swindlers, and it deserves to be recorded that he made 
the honourable boast that he afterwards paid off his obligations. 
The truth of the boast is independently confirmed jy the admission 
of a controversial enemy, that very Tutchin whom he challenged 
to translate Latin with him. That Defoe should have referred so 
little to his own experience in the Complete English Tradesman, 
a series of Familiar Letters which he published late in life "for the 
instruction of our Inland Tradesmen, and especially of Young Be- 
ginners," is accounted for when we observe the class of persons to 
whom the letters were addressed. He distinguishes with his usual 
clearness between the different ranks of those employed in the 
production and exchange of goods, and intimates that his advice is 
not intended for the highest grade of traders, the merchants, whom 
he defines by what he calls the vulgar expression, as being "such 
as trade beyond sea." Although he was eloquent in many books and 
pamphlets in upholding the dignity of trade, and lost no opportunity 
of scoffing at pretentious gentility, he never allows us to forget that 
this was the grade to which he himself belonged, and addresses the 
petty trader from a certain altitude. He speaks in the preface to the 
CompleteTradesman of unfortunate creatures who have blown them- 
selves up in trade, whether "for want of wit or from too much wit;" 
but lest he should be supposed to allude to his own misfortunes, he 
does not say that he miscarried himself, but that he "had seen in a 
few years' experience many young tradesmen miscarry." At the 
same time it is fair to conjecture that when Defoe warns the young 
tradesman against fancying himself a politician or a man of letters, 
running off to the coffee-house when he ought to be behind the 
counter, and reading Virgil and Horace when he should be busy 
over his journal and his ledger, he was glancing at some of the 
causes which conduced to his own failure as a merchant. And 
when he cautions the beginner against going too fast, and holds up 
to him as a type and exemplar the carrier's waggon, which "keeps 


wagging and always goes on," " and as softly as it goes " can yet 
in time go far, we may be sure that he was thinking of the over- 
rashness with which he had himself embarked in speculation. 

There can be no doubt that eager and active as Defoe was in 
his trading enterprises, he was not so wrapt up in them as to be an 
unconcerned spectator of the intense political life of the time. 
When King James aimed a blow at the Church of England by 
removing the religious disabilities of all dissenters, Protestant and 
Catholic, in his Declaration of Indulgence, some of Defoe's co- 
religionists were ready to catch at the boon without thinking of its 
consequences. He differed from them, he afterwards stated, and 
"as he used to say that he had rather the Popish House of Austria 
should ruin the Protestants in Hungaria, than the infidel House of 
Ottoman should ruin both Protestants and Papists by overrunning 
Germany," so now " he told the Dissenters he had rather the Church 
of England should pull our clothes off by fines and forfeitures, than 
the Papists should fall both upon the Church and the Dissenters, 
and pull our skins off by fire and faggot." He probably embodied 
these conclusions of his vigorous common sense in a pamphlet, 
though no pamphlet on the subject known for certain to be his has 
been preserved. Mr. Lee is over-rash in identifying as Defoe's a 
quarto sheet of that date entitled " A Letter containing some reflec- 
tions on His Majesty's declaration for Liberty of Conscience." De- 
foe may have written many pamphlets on the stirring events of the 
time, which have not come down to us. It may have been then that 
he acquired, or made a valuable possession by practice, that mar- 
vellous facility with his pen which stood him in such stead in after- 
life. It would be no wonder if he wrote dozens of pamphlets, every 
one of which disappeared. The pamphlet then occupied the place 
of the newspaper leading article. The newspapers of the time 
were veritable chronicles of news, and not organs of opinion. The 
expression of opinion was not then associated with the dissemination 
of facts and rumours. A man who wished to influence public opin- 
ion wrote a pamphlet, small or large, a single leaf or a tract of a few 
pages, and had it hawked about the streets and sold in the bookshops. 
These pamphlets issued from the press in swarms, were thrown 
aside when read, and hardly preserved except by accident. That 
Defoe, if he wrote any or many, should not have reprinted them when 
fifteen years afterwards he published a collection of his works, is 
intelligible ; he republished only such of his tracts as had not lost 
their practical interest. If, however, we indulge in the fancy, war- 
ranted so far by his describing himself as having been a young 
"author" in 1683, that Defoe took an active part in polemical liter- 
ature under Charles and James, we must remember that the censor- 
ship of the press was then active, and that Defoe must have pub- 
lished under greater disadvantages than those who wrote on the 
side of the Court. 

At the Revolution, in 1688, Defoe lost no time in making his 
adhesion to the new monarch conspicuous. He was, according to 
Oldmixon, one of " a royal regiment of volunteer horse, made up 


of the chief citizens, who, being gallantly mounted and richly 
accoutred, were led by the Earl of Monmouth, now Earl of Peter- 
borough, and attended their Majesties from Whitehall to a banquet 
criven by the Lord Mayor and Corporation of the City. lhree 
years afterwards, on the occasion of the Jacobite plot in which 
Lord Preston was the leading figure, he published the first pam- 
phlet that is known for certain to be his. It is in verse, and is 
entitled A New Discovery of an Old Intrigue, a Satire levelled at 
Treachery and Ambition. In the preface, the author said that 
"he had never drawn his pen before," and that he would never 
write ao-ain unless this effort produced a visible reformation. If 
we take this literally, we must suppose that his claim to have been 
an author eighteen years before had its origin in his fitful vanity. 
The literary merits of the satire, when we compare it with the 
powerful verse of Dryden : s Absalom and Achitophel, to which he 
refers in the exordium, are not great. Defoe prided himself upon 
his verse, and in a catalogue of 'the Poets in one of his later pieces 
assigned himself the special province of "lampoon." He possibly 
believed that his clever doggerel was a better title to immortality 
than Robinson Crusoe. The immediate popular effect of his satires 
gave some encouragement to this belief, but they are comparatively 
dull reading for posterity. The clever hits at living City func- 
tionaries, indicated by their initials and nicknames, the rough 
ridicule and the biting innuendo, were telling in their day, but the 
lampoons have perished with their objects. The local celebrity of 
Sir Ralph and Sir Peter, Silly Will and Captain Tom the Tailor, 
has vanished, and Defoe's hurried and formless lines, incisive as 
their vivid force must have been, are not redeemed from dulness 
for modern readers by the few bright epigrams with which they are 




Defoe's first business catastrophe happened about 1692. He 
is said to have temporarily absconded, and to have parleyed with 
his creditors from a distance till they agreed to accept a composi- 
tion. Bristol is named as having been his place of refuge, and 
there is a story that he was known there as the Sunday Gentleman, 
because he appeared on that day, and that day only, in fashionable 
attire, being kept indoors during the rest of the week by fear of the 
bailiffs. But he was of too buoyant a temperament to sink under 
his misfortune from the sense of having brought it on himself, and 
the cloud soon passed away. A man so fertile in expedients, and 
ready, according to his own ideal of a thoroughbred trader, to turn 
himself to anything, could not long remain unemployed. He had 
various business offers, and among others an invitation from some 
merchants to settle at Cadiz as a commission agent, " with offers 
of very good commissions." But Providence, he tells us, and we 
may add, a shrewd confidence in his own powers, " placed a secret 
aversion in his mind to quitting England upon any account, and 
made him refuse the best offers of thaf kind." He stayed at home, 
" to be concerned with some eminent persons in proposing ways 
and means to the Government for raising money to supply the 
occasions of the war then newly begun." He also wrote a vigorous 
and loyal pamphlet, entitled, The Englishman's Choice and True 
Interest : in the vigorous prosecution of the war against France, 
and serving K. William and Q. Alary, and acknowledging their 
right. As a reward for his literary or his financial services, or for 
both, he was appointed, " without the least application " of his own, 
Accountant to the Commissioners of the G/ass Duty, and held this 
post till the duty was abolished in 1699. 

From 1694 to the end of William's reign was the most pros- 
perous and honourable period in Defoe's life. His services to the 
Government did not absorb the whole of his restless energy. He 
still had time for private enterprise, and started a manufactory of 
bricks and pantiles at Tilbury, where, Mr. Lee says, judging from 
fragments recently dug up, he made good sound sonorous bricks, 
although according to another authority such a thing was impossi- 
ble out of any material existing in the neighbourhood. Anyhow, 


Defoe prospered, and set up a coach and a pleasure-boat. Nor 
must we forget what is so much to his honour, that he set himself 
to pay his creditors in full, voluntarily disregarding the composition 
which they had accepted. In 1705 he was able to boast that he 
had reduced his debts in spite of many difficulties from 17.000/, to 
5,000/., but these sums included liabilities resulting from the failure 
of his pantile factory. 

Defoe's first conspicuous literary service to King William, after 
he obtained Government employment, was a pamphlet on the ques- 
tion of a Standing Army raised after the Peace of Ryswickin 1697. 
This Pen and Ink War, as he calls it, which followed close on the 
heels of the great European struggle, had been raging for some 
time before Defoe took the field. Hosts of writers had appeared 
to endanger the permanence of the triumph of William's arms and 
diplomacy by demanding the disbandment of his tried troops, as 
being a menace to domestic liberties. Their arguments had been 
encountered by no less zealous champions of the King's cause. 
The battle, in fact, had been won when Defoe \ssuedh\s Argument 
showing that a Standing Army, with consent, of 'Parliament, is tiot 
inconsistent with a Free Government. He was able to boast in 
his preface that " if books and writings would not, God be thanked 
the Parliament would confute " his adversaries. Nevertheless, 
though coming late in the day, Defoe's pamphlet was widely read, 
and must have helped to consolidate the victory. 

Thus late in life did Defoe lay the first stone of his literary 
reputation. He was now in the thirty-eighth year of his age, his 
controversial genius in full vigour, and his mastery of language 
complete. None of his subsequent tracts surpass this as a piece 
of trenchant and persuasive reasoning. It shows at their very 
highest his marvellous powers of combining constructive with 
destructive criticism. He dashes into the lists with good-humoured 
confidence, bearing the banner of clear common sense, and dis- 
claiming sympathy with extreme persons of either side. He puts 
his case with direct and plausible force, addressing his readers 
vivaciously as plain people like himself, among whom as reasonable 
men there cannot be two opinions. He cuts rival arguments to 
pieces with dexterous strokes, representing them as the confused 
reasoning of well-meaning but dull intellects, and dances with lively 
mockery on the fragments. If the authors of such arguments knew 
their own minds, they would be entirely on his side. He echoes 
the pet prejudices of his readers as the props and mainstays of his 
thesis, and boldly laughs away misgivings of which they are likely 
to be half ashamed. He makes no parade of logic; he is only a 
plain freeholder like the mass whom he addresses, though he knows 
twenty times as much as many writers of more pretension. He 
never appeals to passion or imagination ; what he strives to enlist 
on his side is homely self-interest, and the ordinary sense of what 
is right and reasonable. There is little regularity of method in the 
development of his argument ; that he leaves to more anxious and 
elaborate masters of style. For himself he is content to start from 

|j6 Daniel defoe. 

a bold and clear statement of his own opinion, and proceeds buoy* 
antly and discursively to engage and scatter his enemies as they 
turn up, without the least fear of being able to fight his way back 
to his original base. He wrote for a class to whom a prolonged 
intellectual operation, however comprehensive and complete, was 
distasteful. To persuade the mass of the freeholders was his ob- 
ject, and for such an object there are no political tracts in the 
language at all comparable to Defoe's. He bears some resemblance 
to Cobbett, but he had none of Cobbett's brutality ; his faculties 
were more adroit, and his range of vision infinitely wider. Cobbett 
was a demagogue, Defoe a popular statesman. The one was quali- 
fied to lead the people, the other to guide them. Cobbett is con- 
tained in Defoe as the less is contained in the greater. 

King William obtained a standing army from Parliament, but 
not so large an army as he wished, and it was soon afterwards still 
further reduced. Meantime, Defoe employed his pen in promoting 
objects which were dear to the King's heart. His Eisay on Pro~ 
jects — which " relate to Civil Polity as well as matters of negoce " 
— was calculated, in so far as it advocated joint-stock enterprise, 
to advance one of the objects of the statesmen of the Revolution, 
the committal of the moneyed classes to the established Govern- 
ment, and against a dynasty which might plausibly be mistrusted of 
respect for visible accumulations of private wealth. Defoe's pro- 
jects were of an extremely varied kind. The classification was not 
strict. His spirited definition of the word " projects " included 
Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel, as well as Captain Phipps's 
scheme for raising the wreck of a Spanish ship laden with silver. 
He is sometimes credited with remarkable shrewdness in having 
anticipated in this Essay some of the greatest public improvements 
of modern times — the protection of seamen, the higher education 
of women, the establishment of banks and benefit societies, the 
construction of highways. But it is not historically accurate to 
give him the whole credit of these conceptions. Most of them 
were floating about at the time, so much so that he had to defend 
himself against a charge of plagiarism, and few of them have been 
carried out in accordance with the essential features of his plans. 
One remarkable circumstance in Defoe's projects, which we may 
attribute either to his own natural bent or to his compliance with 
the King's humour, is the extent to which he advocated Govern- 
ment interference. He proposed, for example, an income-tax, and 
the appointment of a commission who should travel through the 
country and ascertain by inquiry that the tax was not evaded. In 
making this proposal he shows* an acquaintance with private in- 
comes in the City, which raises some suspicion as to the capacity 
in which he was " associated with certain eminent persons in pro- 
posing ways and means to the Government." In his article on 
Banks, he expresses himself dissatisfied that the Government did 
not fix a maximum rate of interest for the loans made by chartered 
banks ; they were otherwise, he complained, of no assistance to 
the poor trader, who might as well go to the goldsmiths as before. 



His Highways project was a scheme for making national highways 
on a scale worthy of Baron Haussmann. There is more fervid 
imagination and daring ingenuity than business talent in Defoe's 
essav ; if his trading speculations were conducted with equal rash- 
ness', it is not difficult to understand their failure. The most 
notable of them are the schemes of a dictator, rather than of the 
adviser of a free Government. The essay is chiefly interesting a? 
a monument of Defoe's marvellous force of mind, and strange 
mixture of steady sense with incontinent flightiness. There are 
ebullient sallies in it which we generally find only in the productions 
of madmen and charlatans, and yet it abounds in suggestions which 
statesmen might profitably have set themselves with due adapta- 
tions to carry into effect. The Essay on Projects might alone be 
adduced in proof of Defoe's title to genius. 

One of the first projects to which the Government of the 
Revolution addressed itself was the reformation of manners — a 
purpose at once commendable in itself and politically useful as 
distinguishing the new Government from the old. Even while the 
King was absent in Ireland at the beginning of his reign, the 
Queen issued a letter calling upon all justices of the peace and 
other servants of the Crown to exert themselves in suppressing 
the luxuriant growth of vice, which had been fostered by the ex- 
ample of the Court of Charles. On the conclusion of the war in 
1697, William issued a most elaborate proclamation to the same 
effect, and an address was voted by Parliament, asking his Majesty 
to see that wickedness was discouraged in high places. The lively 
pamphlet in which Defoe lent his assistance to the good work 
entitled The Poor Mail's Plea, was written in the spirit of the 
parliamentary address. It was of no use to pass laws and make 
declarations and proclamations for the reform of the common 
filebeii. the poor man pleaded, so long as the mentors of the laws 
were themselves corrupt. His argument was spiced with amusing 
anecdotes to show the prevalence of swearing and drunkenness 
among members of the judicial bench. Defoe appeared several 
times afterwards in the character of a reformer of manners, some- 
times in verse, sometimes in prose. When the retort was made 
that his own manners were not perfect, he denied that this invali- 
dated the worth of his appeal, but at the same time challenged 
his accusers to prove him guilty of any of the vices thpi he had 

It is impossible now to ascertain what induced Defoe to break 
with the Dissenters, among whom he had been brought up, but 
break with them he did in his pamphlet against the practice of 
Occasional Conformity. This practice of occasionally tiking com- 
munion with the Established Church, as a qualification for public 
office, had grown up after the Revolution, and had attracted very 
little notice till a Dissenting lord mayor, after attending church 
one Sunday forenoon, went in the afternoon with all the insignia of 
his office to a Conventicle. Defoe's objection to this is indicated in 
his quotation, "If the T.ord be God, follow Him, but if Ekal, then 



follow him." A man, he contended, who could reconcile it with 
his conscience to attend the worship of the Church, had no busi- 
ness to be a Dissenter. Occasional conformity was "either a sin- 
ful act in itself, or else his dissenting before was sinful." The 
Dissenters naturally did not like this intolerant logical dilemma, 
and resented its being forced upon them by one of their own num- 
ber against a practical compromise to which the good sense of the 
majority of them assented. No reply was made to the pamphlet 
when first issued in 1698; and two or three years afterwards De- 
foe, exulting in the unanswerable lo^ic of his position, reprinted 
it with a prefatory challenge to Mr. Howe, an eminent Dissenting 
minister. During the next reign, however, when a bill was intro- 
duced to prohibit the practice of occasional conformity, Defoe 
strenuously wrote against it as a breach of the Toleration Act and 
a measure of persecution. In strict logic it is possible to make 
out a case for his consistency, but the reasoning must be fine, and 
he cannot be acquitted of having in the first instance practically 
justified a persecution which he afterwards condemned. In neither 
case does he point at the repeal of the Test Act as his object, and 
it is impossible to explain his attitude in both cases on the ground 
of principle. However much he objected to see the sacrament 
taken as a matter of form, it was hardly his province, in the cir- 
cumstances in which Dissenters then stood, to lead an outcry 
against the practice ; and if he considered it scandalous and sin- 
ful^ he could not with much consistency protest against the pro- 
hibition of it as an act of persecution. Of this no person was 
better aware than Defoe himself, and it is a curious circumstance 
'.mat, in his first pamphlet on the bill for putting down occasional con- 
formity, he ridiculed the idea of its being persecution to suppress 
politic or state Dissenters, and maintained that the bill did not con- 
cern true Dissenters at all. To this, however, we must refer again 
in connection with his celebrated tract, The Shortest Way with 

The troubles into which the European system was plunged 
by the death of the childless King of Spain, and that most drama- 
tic of historical surprises, the bequest of his throne by a death- 
bed will to the Duke of Anjou, the second grandson of Louis XIV., 
furnished Defoe with a great opportunity for his controversial 
genius. In Charles II.'s will, if the legacy was accepted, William 
saw the ruin of a life-long policy. Louis, though he was doubly 
pledged against acknowledging the will, having renounced all pre- 
tensions to the throne of Spain for himself and his heirs in the 
Treaty of the Pyrenees, and consented in two successive treaties 
of partition to a different plan of succession, did not long hesitate; 
the news that he had saluted his grandson King of Spain followed 
close upon the news of Charles's death. The balance of the great 
Catholic Powers which William had established by years of anx- 
ious diplomacy and costly war, was toppled over by a stroke of the 
*an. With Spain and Italy virtually added to his dominions, the 
"rench King would now be supreme upon the Continent. Louis 


soon showed that this was his view of what had happened, by saying 
that the Pyrenees had ceased to exist. He gave a practical illus 
tration of the same view by seizing, with the authority of his grand 
son, the frontier towns of the Spanish Netherlands, which were 
garrisoned under a special treaty by Dutch troops. Though deeply 
enraged at the bad faith of the most Christian King, William was 
not dismayed. The stone which he had rolled up the hill with 
such effort had suddenly rolled down again, but he was eager to 
renew his labours. Before, however, he could act, he found him- 
self, to his utter astonishment and mortification, paralysed by the 
attitude of the English Parliament. His alarm at the accession of 
a Bourbon to the Spanish throne was not shared by the ruling 
classes in England. They declared that they liked the Spanish 
King's will better than William's partition. France, they argued, 
would gain much less by a dynastic alliance with Spain, which 
would exist no longer than their common interests dictated, than 
by the complete acquisition of the Spanish provinces in Italy. 

William lost no time in summoning a new Parliament. An over- 
whelming majority opposed the idea of vindicating the Partition 
Treaty by arms. They pressed him to send a message of recognition 
to Philip V. Even the occupation of the Flemish fortresses did not 
change their temper. That, they said, was the affair of the Dutch ; 
it did not concern England . I n vain William tried to convince them 
that the interests of the two Protestant States were identical. In 
the numerous pamphlets that were hatched by the ferment, it was 
broadly insinuated that the English people might pay too much for 
the privilege of having a Dutch King, who had done nothing for 
them that they could not have done for themselves, and who was 
perpetually sacrificing the interests of his adopted country to the 
necessities of his beloved Holland. What had England gained by 
the peace of Ryswick ? Was England to be dragged into another 
exhausting war, merely to secure a strong frontier for the Dutch ? 
The appeal found ready listeners among a people in whose minds 
the recollections of the last war were still fresh, and who still felt 
the burdens it had left behind. William did not venture to take 
any steps to form an alliance against France, till a new incident 
emerged to shake the country from its mood of surly calculation. 
When James II. died and Louis recognised the Pretender as King 
of England, all thoughts of isolation from a Continental confederacy 
were thrown to the winds. William dissolved his Long Parliament, 
and found the new House as warlike as the former had been peace- 
ful. " Of all the nations in the world," cried Defoe, in commenting 
on this sudden change of mood, "there is none that I know of so 
entirely governed bv their humour as the English." 

For ten months Defoe had been vehemently but vainly striving 
to accomplish by argument what had been wrought in an instant 
by the French King's insufferable insult. It is one of the most 
brilliant periods of his political activity. Comparatively undis- 
tinguished before, he now, at the age of forty, stepped into the 
foremost rank of publicists. He lost not a moment in throwing 


himself into the fray as the champion of the king's policy. Charles 
of Spain died on the 22nd of October, 1701 ; by the middle of No- 
vember, a few days after the news had reached England, and before 
the French King's resolve to acknowledge the legacy was known, 
Defoe was ready with a pamphlet to the clear and stirring title of 
— The Two Great questions considered. I. What the French King 
will do with respect to the Spanish Monarch y. II. What Measures 
the English ought to take. If the French King were wise, he 
argued, he would reject the dangerous gift for his grandson. But 
if he accepted it, England had no choice but to combine with her 
late allies the Emperor and the States, and compel the Duke of 
Anjou to withdraw his claims. This pamphlet being virulently 
attacked, and its author accused of bidding for a place at Court, 
Defoe made a spirited rejoinder, and seized the occasion to place 
his arguments in still clearer light. Between them the two pam- 
phlets are a masterly exposition, from the point of view of English 
interests, of the danger of permitting the Will to be fulfilled. He 
tears the arguments of his opponents to pieces with supreme scorn. 
What matters it to us who is King of Spain ? asks one adversary. 
As well ask, retorts Defoe, what it matters to us who is King of 
Ireland. All this talk about the Balance of Power, says another, 
is only "a shoeing-horn to draw on a standing army." We do not 
want an army ; only let us make our fleet strong enough and we 
may defy the world ; our militia is perfectly able to defend us 
against invasion. If our militia is so strong, is Defoe's reply, why 
should a standing-army make us fear for our domestic liberties? 
But if you object to a standing-army in England, avert the danger 
by subsidising allies and raising and paying troops in Germany and 
the Low Countries. Even if we are capable of beating off invasion, 
it is always wise policy to keep the war out of our own country, and 
not trust to such miracles as the dispersion of the Armada. In 
war, Defoe says, repeating a favourite axiom of his, " it is not 
the longest sword but the longest purse that conquers," and if the 
French get the Spanish crown, they get the richest trade in the 
world into their hands. The French would prove better husbands 
of the wealth of Mexico and Peru than the Spaniards. They 
would build fleets with it, which would place our American plan- 
tations at their mercy. Our own trade with Spain, one of the most 
profitable fields of our enterprise, would at once be ruined. Our 
Mediterranean trade would be burdened with the impost of a toll at 
Gibraltar. In short Defoe contended, if the French acquired the 
upper hand in Spain, nothing but a miracle could save England 
from becoming practically a French province. 

Defoe's appeal to the sense of self-interest fell, however, upon 
deaf ears. No eloquence or ingenuity of argument could have availed 
to stem the strong current of growling prepossession. He was equally 
unsuccessful in his attempt to touch deeper feelings by exhibiting 
in a pamphlet, which is perhaps the ablest of the series, The danger 
of the Protestant Religion, from the present prospect of a Religious 
War in Europe. " Surely you cannot object to a standing army 


for the defence of your religion ? " he argued ; " for if you do, then 
you stand convicted of valuing your liberties more than your relig- 
ion, which ought to be your first and highest concern." Such 
scraps of rhetorical logic were but as straws in the storm of anti- 
warlike passion that was then raging. Nor did Defoe succeed in 
turning the elections by addressing "to the good people of Eng- 
land" his Six Distinguishing Characters of a Parliament Man, 
or by protesting as a freeholder against the levity of making the 
strife between the new and the old East India Companies a testing 
question, when the very existence of the kingdom was at stake. 
His pamphlets were widely distributed, but he might as soon have 
tried to check a tempest by throwing handfuls of leaves into it. 
One great success, however, he had, and that, strangely enough, in 
a direction in which it was least to be anticipated. No better proof 
could be given that the good-humoured magnanimity and sense of 
fair-play on which English people pride themselves is more than 
an empty boast than the reception accorded to Defoe's True-Born 
Englishman. King William's unpopularity was at its height. A 
party writer of the time had sought to inflame the general dislike 
to his Dutch favourites by "a vile pamphlet in abhorred verse," 
entitled The Foreigners, in which they are loaded with scurrilous 
insinuations. It required no ordinary courage in the state of the 
national temper at that moment to venture upon the line of retort 
that Defoe adopted. What were the English, he demanded, that 
they should make a mock of foreigners ? They were the most 
mongrel race that ever lived upon the face of the earth ; there was 
no such thing as a true-born Englishman ; they were all the off' 
spring of foreigners ; what was more, of the scum of foreigners. 

" For Englishman to boast of generation 
Cancels their knowledge, and lampoons the nation. 
A true-born Englishman's a contradiction, 
In speech an ironv, in fact a fiction. 

* * ' * * * * 

And here begins the ancient pedigree 
That so exalts our poor nobility. 

'Tis that from some French trooper they derive, x j 
Who with the Norman bastard did arrive ; 
The trophies of the families appear, 
Some show the sword, the bow, and some the spear 
Which their great ancestor, forsooth, did wear. 
These in the herald's register remain, 
Their noble mean extraction to explain, 
Yet who the hero was no man can tell, 
Whether a drummer or colonel ; 
The silent record blushes to reveal 
Their undescended dark original. 

¥fc Tft ¥fc ^e ¥fc # 

" These are the heroes that despise the Dutch 
And rail at new-come foreigners so much ; 
Forgetting that themselves are all derived 
From the most scoundrel race that ever lived ; 


A horrid crowd of rambling thieves and drones, 
Who ransacked kingdoms and dispeopled towns; 
The Pict and painted Briton, treacherous Scot, 
Bv hunger, theft, and rapine hither brought; 
Norwegian pirates, buccaneering Danes, 
Whose red-haired offspring everywhere remains; 
Who joined with Norman French compound the breed 
From whence your true-born Englishmen proceed. 

" And lest, by length of time, it be pretended, 
The climate may this modern breed have mended, 
Wise Providence, to keep us where we are, 
Mixes us daily with exceeding care ; 
We have been Europe's sink, the jakes where she 
Voids all her offal outcast progeny ; 
From our fifth Henry's time the strolling bands 
Of banished fugitives from neighbouring lands 
Have here a certain sanctuary found : 
The eternal refuge of the vagabond, 
Wherein but half a common age of time, 
Borrowing new b'>od and manners from the clime, 
Proudly they learn all mankind to contemn, 
And all their race are true-burn Englishmen." 

As may be judged from this specimen, there is little delicacy in 
Defoe's satire. The lines run on from beginning to end in the 
same strain of bold, broad, hearty banter, as if the whole piece 
had been written off at a heat. The mob did not lynch the 
audacious humourist. In the very height of their fury against for- 
eigners, they stopped short to laugh at themselves. They were 
tickled by the hard blows as we may suppose a rhinoceros to be 
tickled by the strokes of an oaken cudgel. Defoe suddenly woke 
to find himself the hero of the hour, at least with the London pop- 
ulace. The pamphlet was pirated, and eighty thousand copies, ac- 
cording to his own calculation, were sold in the streets. Hence- 
forth he described himself in his title-pages as the author of the 
True-Born Englishman, and frequently did himself the honour 
of quoting from the work as from a well-established classic. It 
was also, he has told us, the means of his becoming personally 
known to the King, whom he had hitherto served from a distance. 
Defoe was not the man to be abashed by his own popularity. 
He gloried in it, and added to his reputation by taking a prominent 
part in the proceedings connected with the famous Kentish Peti- 
tion, which marked the turn of the tide in favour of the King's 
foreign policy. Defoe was said to be the author of " Legion's 
Memorial " to the House of Commons, sternly warning the rep- 
resentatives of the freeholders that they had exceeded their pow- 
ers in imprisoning the men who had prayed them to " turn their 
loyal addresses into Bills of Supply." When the Kentish Peti- 
tioners were liberated from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, 
and feasted by the citizens of Mercers' Hall, Defoe was seated 
next to them as an honoured guest. 



Unfortunately for Defoe, William did not live long after he had 
been honoured with his Majesty's confidence. He declared after* 
wards that he had often been privately consulted by the King. 
The pamphlets which he wrote during the close of the reign are 
all such as might have been directly inspired. That on the Suc- 
cession is chiefly memorable as containing a suggestion that the 
heirs of the Duke of Monmouth should be heard as to Kino- 
Charles's alleged marriage with Lucy Walters. It is possible that 
this idea may have been sanctioned by the King, who had had 
painful experience of the disadvantages attending a ruler of for- 
eign extraction, and besides had reason to doubt the attachment 
of the Princess Sophia to the Protestant faith. When the passion- 
ate aversion to war in the popular mind was suddenly changed by 
the recognition of the Pretender into an equally passionate thirst 
for it, and the King seized the opportunity to dissolve Parliament 
and get a new House in accord with the altered temper of the 
people, Defoe justified the appeal to the freeholders by an examina- 
tion and assertion of "the Original Power of the Collective Body 
of the People of England." His last service to the King was a 
pamphlet bearing the paradoxical title, Reasons against a War 
with France. As Defoe had for nearly a year been zealously 
working the public mind to a warlike pitch, this title is at first sur- 
prising, but the surprise disappears when we find that the pam- 
phlet is an ingenious plea for beginning with a declaration of war 
against Spain, showing that not only was there just cause for such 
war, but that it would be extremely profitable, inasmuch as it 
would afford occasion for plundering the Spaniards in the West 
Indies, and thereby making up for whatever losses our trade might 
suffer from the French privateers. And it was more than a mere 
plundering descent that Defoe had in view ; his object was that 
England should take actual possession of the Spanish Indies, and 
so rob Spain of its chief source of wealth. There was a most pow- 
erful buccaneering spirit concealed under the peacful title of this 
pamphlet. The trick of arresting attention by an unexpected thesis, 
such as this promise of reasons for peace when everybody was 
dreaming of war, is an art in which Defoe has never been sur- 
passed. As we shall have occasion to see, he practised it more 
than once too often for his comfort. 




From the death of the King in March, 1702, we must date a 
change in Defoe's relations with the ruling powers. Under 
William, his position as a political writer had been distinct and 
honourable. He supported William's policy warmly and straight- 
forwardly, whether he divided it by his own judgment, or learned 
it by direct or indirect instructions or hints. When charged with 
writing for a place, he indignantly denied that he held eitherplace or 
pension at Court, but at another time he admitted that he had been 
employed by the King and rewarded by him beyond his deserts. Any 
reward that he received for his literary services was well earned, 
and there was nothing dishonourable in accepting it. For conceal- 
ing the connexion while the King was alive, he might plead the 
custom of the time. But in the confusion of parties and the un- 
certainty of government that followed William's death, Defoe slid 
into practices which cannot be justified by any standard of morality. 

It was by accident that Defoe drifted into this equivocal 
position. His first writings under the new reign were in staunch 
consistency with what he had written before. He did not try to 
flatter the Queen as many others did by slighting her predecessors ; 
on the contrary, he wrote a poem called The Mock Mourners, in 
which he extolled "the glorious memory " — a phrase which he did 
much to bring into use — and charged those who spoke disrespect- 
fully of William with the vilest insolence and ingratitude. He 
sang the praises of the Queen also, but as he based his joy at her 
accession on an assurance that she would follow in William's foot- 
steps, the compliment might be construed as an exhortation. 
Shortly afterwards, in another poem, The Spanish Descent, he took 
his revenge upon the fleet for not carrying out his West Indian 
scheme by ridiculing unmercifully their first fruitless cruise on the 
Spanish coast, taking care at the same time to exult in the capture 
of the galleons at Vigo. In yet another poem — the success of the 
Trite Born Englishman seems to have misguided him into the 
belief that he had a genius for verse — he reverted to the Refor- 
mation of Manners, and angered the Dissenters by belabouring 
certain magistrates of their denomination. A pamphlet entitled 



A New Test of the Church of England s Loyalty — in which he 
twitted the High-Church party with being neither more nor less 
loval than the Dissenters, inasmuch as they consented to the dis- 
position of James and acquiesced in the accession of Anne — was 
better received by his co-religionists. 

But when the Bill to prevent occasional conformity was intro- 
duced by some hot-headed partisans of the High Church, towards 
the close of 1702, with the Queen's warm approval, Defoe took a 
course which made the Dissenters threaten to cast him altogether 
out of the synagogue. We have already seen how Defoe had 
taken the lead in attacking the practice of occasional conformity. 
While his co-religionists were imprecating him as the man who 
had brought this persecution upon them, Defoe added to their ill- 
feeling by issuing a jaunty pamphlet in which he proved with pro- 
voking unanswerableness that all honest Dissenters were noways 
concerned in the Bill. Nobody, he said, with his usual bright 
audacity, but himself "who was altogether born in sin," saw the 
true scope of the measure. " All those people who designed the 
Act as a blow to the Dissenting interests in England are mistaken. 
All those who take it as a prelude or introduction to the further 
suppressing of the Dissenters, and a step to repealing the Toler- 
ation, or intend it as such, are mistaken All those 

phlegmatic Dissenters who fancy themselves undone, and that per- 
secution and desolation is at the door again, are mistaken. All 
those Dissenters who are really at all disturbed at it, either as an 
advantage gained by their enemies or as a real disaster upon them- 
selves, are mistaken. All those Dissenters who deprecate it as a 
judgment, or would vote against it as such if it were in their power, 
are mistaken." In short, though he did not suppose that the 
movers of the Bill " did it in mere kindness to the Dissenters, in 
order to refine and purge them from the scandals which some 
people had brought upon them," nevertheless it was calculated to 
effect this object. The Dissenter being a man that was " some- 
thing desirous of going to Heaven," ventured the displeasure of 
the civil magistrate at the command of his conscience, which 
warned him that there were things in the Established form of 
worship not agreeable to the Will of God as revealed in Scripture. 
There is nothing in the Act to the prejudice of this Dissenter ; it 
affects only the Politic Dissenter, or State Dissenter, who if he can 
attend the Established worship without offending his conscience, 
has no cause to be a Dissenter. An act against occasional con- 
formity would rid the Dissenting body of these lukewarm mem- 
bers, and the riddance would be a good thing for all parties. 

It may have been that this cheerful argument, the legitimate 
development of Defoe's former writings on the subject, was in- 
tended to comfort his co-religionists at a moment when the passing 
of the Act seemed certain. They did not view it in that light; 
they resented it bitterly, as an insult in the hour of their misfortune 
from the man who had shown their enemies where to strike. 
When, however, the Bill, after passing the Commons, was opposed 


and modified by the Lords, Defoe suddenly appeared on a new 
tack, publishing the most famous of his political pamphlets. Tht 
Shortest Way with the Dissenters, which has, by a strange freak 
of circumstances, gained him the honour of being enshrined as one 
of the martyrs of Dissent. In the "brief explanation" of the 
pamphlet which he gave afterwards, he declared that it had no 
bearing whatever upon the Occasional Conformity Bill, pointing to 
his former writings on the subject, in which he had denounced the 
practice, and welcomed the Bill as a useful instrument for purging 
the Dissenting bodies of half-and-half professors. It was in- 
tended, he said, as a banter upon the High-flying Tory Churchmen, 
putting into plain English the drift of their furious invectives 
against the Dissenters, and so, "by an irony not unusual," answer- 
ing them out of their own mouths. 

The Shortest Way is sometimes spoken of as a piece of ex- 
quisite irony, and on the other hand Mr. Saintsbury * has raised 
the question whether the representation of an extreme case, in 
which the veil is never lifted from the writer's own opinions, can 
properly be called irony at all. This last is, perhaps, a question 
belonging to the strict definition of the figures of speech ; but, how- 
ever that might be settled, it is a mistake to describe Defoe's art 
in this pamphlet as delicate. There are no subtle strokes of wit in 
it such as we find in some of Swift's ironical pieces. Incom- 
parably more effective as an engine of controversy, it is not en- 
titled to the same rank as a literary exercise. Its whole merit and 
its rousing political force lay in the dramatic genius with which 
Defoe personated the temper of a thorough-going High-flier, put- 
ting into plain and spirited English such sentiments as a violent 
partisan would not dare to utter except in the unguarded heat of 
familiar discourse, or the half-humorous ferocity of intoxication. 
Have done, he said, addressing the Dissenters, with this cackle 
about Peace and Union, and the Christian duties of moderation, 
which you raise now that you find "your day is over, your power 
gone, and the throne of this nation possessed by a Royal, English, 
true, and ever-constant member of and friend to the Church of 
England. . . . We have heard none of this lesson for fourteen 
years past. We have been huffed and bullied with your Act of 
Toleration ; you have told us that you are the Church established 
by law as well as others ; have set up your canting synagogues at 
our Church doors, and the Church and members have been loaded 
with reproaches, with oaths, associations, abjurations, and what 
not. Where has been the mercy, the forbearance, the charity, you 
have shown to tender consciences of the Church of England, that 
could not take oaths as fast as you made them ; that having sworn 
allegiance to their lawful and rightful King, could not dispense 
with that oath, their King being still alive, and swear to your new 
hodge-podge of a Dutch constitution ? . . . Now that the tables 
are turned upon you, you must not be persecuted ; 'tis not a 

* In an admirable article on Defoe in the Encyclopedia Br itnnnica. 



Christian spirit." You talk of persecution; what persecution have 
you to complain of ? " The first execution of the laws against Dis- 
senters in England was in the days of King James I. And what 
did it amount to ? Truly the worst they suffered was at their own 
request to let them go to New England and erect a new colony, 
and give them great privileges, grants, and suitable powers, keep 
them under protection, and defend them against all invaders, and 
receive no taxes or revenue from them. This was the cruelty of 
the Church of England — fatal lenity ! 'Twas the ruin of that ex- 
cellent prince, King Charles I. Had King James sent all the 
Puritans in England away to the West Indies, we had been a 
national, unmixed Church ; the Church of England had been kept 
undivided and entire. To requite the lenity of the father, they 
take up arms against the son ; conquer, pursue, take, imprison, and 
at last put to death the Anointed of God, and destroy the very 
being and nature of government, setting up a sordid impostor, who 
had neither title to govern, nor understanding to manage, but sup- 
plied that want with power, bloody and desperate councils, and 
craft, without conscience." How leniently had King Charles 
treated these barbarous regicides, coming in all mercy and love, 
cherishing them, preferring them, giving them employment in his 
service. As for King James, " as if mercy was the inherent quality 
of the familv, he began his reign with unusual favour to them, nor 
could their joining with the Duke of Monmouth against him move 
him to do himself justice upon them, but that mistaken prince 
thought to win them by gentleness and love, proclaimed a universal 
liberty to them, and rather discountenanced the Church of England 
than them. How they requited him all they world knows." Under 
King William, "a king of their own," they "crope into all places 
of trust and profit," engrossed the ministry, and insulted the 
Church. But they must not expect this kind of thing to continue. 
"No. gentlemen, the time of mercy is past ; your day of grace is 
over; you should have practised peace, and moderation, and charity, 
if you expected any yourselves." 

In this heroic strain the pamphlet proceeds, reaching at length 
the suggestion that " if one severe law were made, and punctually 
executed, that whoever was found at a conventicle should be 
banished the nation, and the preacher be hanged, we should soon 
see an end of the tale — they would all come to church, and one age 
would make us all one again." That was the mock churchman's 
shortest way for the suppression of Dissent. He supported his 
argument by referring to the success with which Louis XIV. had 
put down the Huguenots. There was no good in half-measures, 
fines of five shillings a month for not coming to the Sacrament, and 
one shilling a week for not coming to church. It was vain to 
expect compliance from such trifling. " The light, foolish handling 
of them by mulcts, fines, etc., 'tis their glory and their advantage. 
If the gallows instead of the counter, and the galleys instead of the 
fines, were the reward of going to a conventicle, to preach or hear, 
there would not be so many sufferers — the spirit of martyrdom is 


over. They that will go to church to be chosen sheriffs and 
mayors, would go to forty churches rather than be hanged." 
" Now let us crucify the thieves," said the author of this truculent 
advice in conclusion. " And may God Almighty put it into the 
hearts of all friends of truth to lift up a standard against pride and 
Antichrist, that the posterity of the sons of error may be rooted 
out from the face of this land for ever." 

Defoe's disguise was so complete, his caricature of the fero- 
cious High-flier so near to life, that at first people doubted whether 
the Shortest Way was the work of a satirist or a fanatic. When 
the truth leaked out, as it soon did, the Dissenters were hardly 
better pleased than while they feared that the proposal was serious. 
With the natural timidity of precariously situated minorities, they 
could not enter into the humour of it. The very title was enough 
to make them shrink and tremble. The only people who were 
really in a position to enjoy the jest were the Whigs. The High- 
Churchmen, some of whom, it is said, were at first so far taken in 
as to express their warm approval, were furious when they discov- 
ered the trick that had been played upon them. The Tory minis- 
ters of the Queen felt themselves bound to take proceedings 
against the author, whose identity seems to have soon become an 
open secret. Learning this, Defoe went into concealment. A proc- 
lamation offering a reward for his discovery was advertised in the 
Gazette. The description of the fugitive is interesting ; it is the 
only extant record of Defoe's personal appearance, except the por- 
trait prefixed to his collected works, in which the mole is faithfully 
reproduced: — 

" He is a middle-aged spare man, about forty years old, of a brown com- 
plexion, and dark-brown coloured hair, but wears a wig; a hooked nose, a 
sharp chin, grey eyes, and a large mole near his mouth : was born in Lon- 
don, and for many years was a hose-factor in Freeman's Yard in Cornhill, 
and now is the owner of the brick and pantile works near Tilbury Fort in 

This advertisement was issued on the ioth of January, 1703. 
Meantime the printer and the publisher were seized. From his 
safe hiding, Defoe put forth an explanation, protesting, as we have 
seen, that his pamphlet had not the least retrospect to or concern 
in the public bills in Parliament now depending, or any other pro- 
ceeding of either House or of the Government relating to the Dis- 
senters, whose occasional conformity the author has constantly op- 
posed. It was merely, he pleaded, the cant of the Non-juring 
party exposed ; and he mentioned several printed books in which 
the same objects were expressed, though not in words so plain, 
and at length. But the Government would not take this view ; he 
had represented virulent partisans as being supreme in the Queen's 
counsels, and his design was manifest " to blacken the Church 
party as men of a persecuting spirit, and to prepare the mob fot 
what further service he had for them to do." Finding that they 



would not listen to him, Defoe surrendered himself, in order that 
others might not suffer for his offence. He was indicted on the 
24th of February. On the 25th, the Shortest Way was brought 
under the notice of the House of Commons, and ordered to be 
burnt by the common hangman. His trial came on in July. He 
was found guilty of a seditious libel, and sentenced to pay a fine of 
200 marks to the Queen, stand three times in the pillory, be impris- 
oned during the Queen's pleasure, and find sureties for his good 
behaviour for seven years. 

Defoe complained that three Dissenting ministers, whose poor 
he had fed in the days of his prosperity, had refused to visit him 
during his confinement in Newgate. There was, doubtless, a want 
of charity in their action, but there was also a want of honesty in 
his complaint. If he applied for their spiritual ministrations, they 
had considerable reason for treating his application as a piece of 
provoking effrontery, Though Defoe was in prison for this banter 
upon the High-fliers, it is a mistake to regard him as a martyr, ex- 
cept by accident, to the cause of Toleration as we understand it 
now, and as the Dissenters bore the brunt of the battle for it then. 
Before his trial and conviction, while he lay in prison, he issued 
an exposition of his views of a fair Toleration in a tract entitled 
The Shortest Way to Peace and Union. The Toleration which he 
advised, and which commended itself to the moderate Whigs with 
whom he had acted under King William and was probably acting 
now, was a purely spiritual Toleration. His proposal, in fact, was 
identical with that of Charles Leslie's in the New Association, one 
of the pamphlets which he professed to take off in his famous squib. 
Leslie had proposed that the Dissenters should be excluded from 
all civil employments, and should be forced to remain content with 
liberty of worship. Addressing the Dissenters, Defoe, in effect, 
urged them to anticipate forcible exclusion by voluntary withdrawal. 
Extremes on both sides should be industriously crushed and dis- 
couraged, and the extremes on the Dissenting side were those 
who, not being content to worship after their own fashion, had also 
a hankering after the public service. It is the true interest of the 
Dissenters in England, Defoe argued, to be governed by a Church 
of England magistracy; and with his usual paradoxical hardihood, 
he told his co-religionists bluntly that " the first reason of his prop- 
osition was that they were not qualified to be trusted with the gov- 
ernment of themselves." When we consider the active part Defoe 
himself took in public affairs, we shall not be surprised that offence 
was given by his countenancing the civil disabilities of Dissenters, 
and that the Dissenting preachers declined to recognize him as 
properly belonging to their body. It was not, indeed, as a Dissen- 
ter that Defoe was prosecuted by the violent Tories then in power, 
but as the suspected literary instrument of the great Whig leaders. 

This, of course, in no way diminishes the harsh and spiteful 
impolicy of the sentence passed on Defoe. Its terms were duly 
put in execution. The offending satirist stood in the pillory on 
the three last days of July, 1703, before the Royal Exchange in 



Cornhill, near the Conduit in Cheapside, and at Temple Bar. It 
is incorrect, however, to say with Pope that 

" Earless on high stood unabashed Defoe." 

His ears were not cropped, as the barbarous phrase went, and he 
had no reason to he abashed. His reception by the mob was very 
different from that accorded to the anti-Jacobite Fuller, a scurril- 
ous rogue who had tried to make a few pounds by a Plain Proof 
that the Chevalier was a suppositious child. The author of the 
True-Borti Englishman was a popular favourite, and his exhibi- 
tion in the pillory was an occasion of triumph and not of ignominy 
to him. A ring of admirers was formed round the place of punish- 
ment, and bunches of flowers instead of handfuls of garbage were 
thrown at the criminal. Tankards of ale and stoups of wine were 
drunk in his honour by the multitude whom he had delighted 
with his racy verse and charmed by his bold defiance of the 

The enthusiasm was increased by the timely publication of a 
Hymn to the Pillory, in which Defoe boldly declared the iniquity 
of his sentence, and pointed out to the Government more proper 
objects of their severity. Atheists ought to stand there, he said, 
profligate beaux, swindling stock-jobbers, fanatic Jacobites, and 
the commanders who had brought the English fleet into disgrace. 
As for him, his only fault lay in his not being understood ; but he 
was perhaps justly punished for being such a fool as to trust his 
meaning to irony. It would seem that though the Government 
had committed Defoe to Newgate, they did not dare, even before 
the manifestation of popular feeling in his favour, to treat him as a 
common prisoner. He not only had liberty to write, but he found 
means to convev his manuscripts to the printer. Of these priv- 
ileges he had availed himself with that indomitable energy and fer- 
tility of resource which we find reason to admire at every stage in 
his career, and most of all now that he was in straits. In the short 
interval between his arrest and his conviction he carried on a vig- 
orous warfare with both hands, — with one hand seeking to propiti- 
ate the Government, with the other attracting support outside 
among the people. He proved to the Government incontestably, 
by a collection of his writings, that he was a man of moderate 
views, who had no aversion in principle even to the proposals of 
the New Association. He proved the same thing to the people at 
large by publishing this Collection of the writings of the author of 
the T}'ue-Born Englisiunan, but he accompanied the proof by a 
lively appeal to their svmpathy under the title of More Refo>7nation, 
a Satire on himself a lament over his own folly which was calcu- 
lated to bring pressure on the Government against prosecuting a 
man so innocent of public wrong. When, in spite of his efforts, a 
conviction was recorded against him, he adopted a more defiant 
tone towards the Government. He wrote the Hymn to the Pillory. 
This daring effusion was hawked in the streets among the crowd 
that had assembled to witness his penance in the 


" hieroglyphic State-machine, 
Contrived to punish Fancy in." 

"Come," he cried, in the concluding lines — 

" Tell "em the M that placed him here 

Are Sc Is to the times, 

Are at a loss to find his guilt, 
And can't commit his crimes." 

« M » stands for Men, and " Sc Is " for Scandals. Defoe 

delighted in this odd use of methods of reserve, more common in 
his time than in ours. 

The dauntless courage of Defoe's Hymn to the Pillory can 
only be properly appreciated when we remember with what savage 
outrage it was the custom of the mob to treat those who were thus 
exposed to make a London holiday. From the pillory he was 
taken back to Newgate, there to be imprisoned during her Maj- 
esty's pleasure. His confinement must have been much less dis- 
agreeable to him than it would have been to one of less hardy 
temperament. Defoe was not the man to shrink with loathing 
from the companionship of thieves, highwaymen, forgers, coiners, 
and pirates. Curiosity was a much stronger power with him than 
disgust. Newgate had something of the charm for Defoe that a 
hospital full of hideous diseases has for an enthusiastic surgeon. 
He spent many pleasant hours in listening to the tales_ of his ad- 
venturous fellow-prisoners. Besides, the Government did not dare 
to deprive him of the liberty of writing and publishing. This priv- 
ilege enabled him to appeal to the public, whose ear he had gained 
in the character of an undismayed martyr, an enjoyment which to 
so buoyant a man must have compensated for a great deal of irk- 
some suffering. Fie attributed the failure of his pantile works at 
Tilbury to his removal from the management of them ; but bear- 
ing in mind the amount of success that had attended his efforts 
when he was free, it is fair to suppose that he was not altogether 
sorry for the excuse. It was by no means the intention of his 
High-Church persecutors that Defoe should enjoy himself in New- 
gate, and he himself lamented loudly the strange reverse by which 
he had passed within a few months from the closet of a king to a 
prisoner's cell ; but on the whole he was probably as happy in New- 
gate as he had been at Whitehall. His wife and six children were 
most to be commiserated, and their distress was his heaviest trial. 

The first use which Defoe made of his pen after his exhibition 
in the pillory was to reply to a Dissenting minister who had justi- 
fied the practice of occasional conformity. He thereby marked 
once more his separation from the extreme Dissenters, who were 
struggling against having their religion made a disqualification for 
offices of public trust. But in the changes of parties at Court he 
soon found a reason for marking his separation from the opposite 
extreme, and facing the other way. Under the influence of the 

3 2 


moderate Tories, Marlborough, Godolphin, and their invaluable 
ally, the Duchess, the Queen was gradually losing faith in the vio- 
lent Tories. According to Swift, she began to dislike her bosom 
friend, Mrs. Freeman, from the moment of her accession, but 
though she may have chafed under the yoke of her favourite, she 
could not at once shake off the domination of that imperious will. 
The Duchess, finding the extreme Tories unfavourable to the war 
in which her husband's honour and interests were deeply engaged, 
became a hot partisan against them, and used all their blunders to 
break down their power at Court. Day by day she impressed upon 
the Queen the necessity of peace and union at home in the face of 
the troubles abroad. The moderate men of both parties must be 
rallied round the throne. Extremes on both sides must be dis- 
couraged. Spies were set to work to take note of such rash ex- 
pressions among "the hot and angry men " as would be likely to 
damage them in the Queen's favour. Queen Anne had not a little 
of the quiet tenacity and spitefulness of enfeebled constitutions, 
but in the end reason prevailed, resentment at importunity was 
overcome, and the hold of the High-Churchmen on her affections 
gave way. 

Nobody, Swift has told us, could better disguise her feelings 
than the Queen. The first intimation which the High-Church party 
had of her change of views was her opening speech to Parliament 
on the 9th November, 1703, in which she earnestly desired parties 
in both Houses to avoid heats and divisions. Defoe at once 
threw himself in front of the rising tide. Whether he divined for 
himself that the influence of the Earl of Nottingham, the Secretary 
of State, to whom he owed his prosecution and imprisonment, was 
waning, or obtained a hint to that effect from his Whig friends, we 
do not know, but he lost no time in issuing from his prison a bold 
attack upon the High-Churchmen. In his Challenge of Peace, ad 
dressed to the whole Nation r he denounced them as Church Vul 
tures and Ecclesiastical Harpies. It was they and not the Dis- 
senters that were the prime movers of strife and dissension. How 
are peace and union to be obtained, he asks. He will show 
people first how peace and union cannot be obtained. 

" First, Sacheverell's Bloody Flag of Defiance is not the way to Peace 
and Union. The shortest may to destroy is not the shortest way to unite. 
Persecution, Laws to compel, restrain or force the Conscience of one 
another, is not the way to this Union, which her Majesty has so earnestly 

" Secondly, to repeal or contract the late Act of Toleration is not the 
way for this so much wished-for happiness ; to have laws revived that 
should set one party a plundering, excommunicating and unchurching 
another, that should renew the oppressions and devastations of late reigns, 
this will not by any means contribute to this Peace, which all good men 

" New associations and proposals to divest men of their freehold right 
for differences in opinion, and take away the right of Dissenters voting in 
elections of Members ; this is not the way to Peace and Union. 



"Railing pamphlets, buffooning our brethren as a party to be sup- 
pressed, and dressing them up in the Bear's skin for all the dogs in the 
street to bait them, is not the way to Peace and Union. 

" Railing sermons, exciting people to hatred and contempt of their 
brethren, because they differ in opinions, is not the way to Peace and 

" Shutting all people out of employment and the service of their Prince 
and Country, unless they can comply with indifferent ceremonies of relig- 
ion, is far from the way to Peace and Union. 

" Reproaching the Succession settled by Parliament, and reviving the 
abdicated title of the late King James, and his supposed family, cannot 
tend to this Peace and Union. 

" Laws against Occasional Conformity, and compelling people who 
bear offices to a total conformity, and yet force them to take and serve in 
those public employments, cannot contribute to this Peace and Union." 

In this passage Defoe seems to ally himself more closely with 
his Dissenting brethren than he had done before. It Was difficult 
for him, with his published views on the objectionableness of oc- 
casional conformity, and the propriety of Dissenters leaving the 
magistracy in the hands of the Church, to maintain his new posi- 
tion without incurring the charge of inconsistency. The charge 
was freely made, and his own writings were collected as a testimony 
against him, but he met the charge boldly. The Dissenters ought 
not to practise occasional conformity, but if they could reconcile it 
with their consciences, they ought not to receive temporal punish- 
ment for practising it. The Dissenters ought to withdraw from 
the magistracy, but it was persecution to exclude them. In tract 
after tract of brilliant and trenchant argument, he upheld these 
views, with his usual courage attacking most fiercely those antag- 
onists who went most nearly on the lines of his own previous 
writings. Ignoring what he had said before, he now proved clearly 
that the Occasional Conformity Bill was a breach of the Act of 
Toleration. There was little difference between his own Shortest 
Way to Peace and Union and Sir Humphrey Mackworth's Peace 
at Home, but he assailed the latter pamphlet vigorously, and 
showed that it had been the practice in all countries for Dis- 
senters from the established religion to have a share in the business 
of the State. At the same time he never departed so far from the 
" moderate " point of view, as to insist that Dissenters ought to 
be admitted to a share in the business of the State. Let the High- 
Church ministers be dismissed, and moderate men summoned to 
the Queen's councils, and the Dissenters would have every reason 
to be content. They would acquiesce with pleasure in a ministry 
and magistracy of Low-Churchmen. 

Defoe's assaults upon the High-Church Tories were neither in- 
terdicted nor resented by the Government, though he lay in prison 
at their mercy. Throughout the winter of 1703-4 the extreme 
members of the Ministry, though they had still a majority in the 
House of Commons, felt the Queen's coldness increase. Their 
former high place in her regard and their continued hold upon Par- 



liament tempted them to assume airs of independence which gave 
deeper offence than her unruffled courtesy led either them or their 
rivals to suspect. At last the crisis came. The Earl of Notting- 
ham took the rash step of threatening to resign unless the Whig 
Dukes of Somerset and Devonshire were dismissed from the 
Cabinet. To his surprise and chagrin, his resignation was accepted 
(1704), and two more of his party were dismissed from office at the 
same time. 

The successor of Nottingham was Robert Harley, afterwards 
created Earl of Oxford and Mortimer. He gave evidence late in 
life of his love for literature by forming the collection of manu- 
scripts known as the Harleian, and we know from Swift that he 
was deeply impressed with the importance of having allies in the 
Press. He entered upon office in May, 1704, and one of his first 
acts was to convey to Defoe the message, " Pray ask that gentle- 
man what I can do for him." Defoe replied by likening himself to 
the blind man in the parable, and paraphrasing his prayer, 
" Lord, that I may receive my sight ! " He would not seem to 
have obtained his liberty immediately, but, through Harley's influ- 
ence, he was set free towards the end of July or the beginning of 
August. The Queen also, he afterwards said, " was pleased par- 
ticularly to inquire into his circumstances and family, and by Lord 
Treasurer Godolphin to send a considerable supply to his wife and 
family, and to send him to the prison money to pay his fine and the 
expenses of his discharge." 

On what condition was Defoe released ? On condition, accord- 
ing to the Elegv on the Author of the True-Born Englishman, 
which he published immediately after his discharge, that he should 
keep silence for seven years, or at least " not write what some 
people might not like." To the public he represented himself as a 
martyr grudgingly released by the Government, and restrained 
from attacking them only by his own bond and the fear of leeal 
penalties. to 

" Memento Mori here I stand, 

With silent lips but speaking hand; 

A walking shadow of a Poet, 
But bound to hold my tongue and never show it. 

A monument of injury, 

A sacrifice to legal t(yrann)y." 

"For shame, gentlemen," he humourously cries to his enemies 
do not strike a dead man ; beware, scribblers, of fathering y0 ur 
pasquinades against authority upon me; for seven years the True- 
Born Englishman is tied under sureties and penalties not to write. 

" To seven long years of silence I betake, 
Perhaps by then I may forget to speak." 

This elegy he has been permitted to publish as his last speech and 
dying confession — 


" When malefactors come to die 
They claim uncommon liberty : 
Freedom of speech gives no distaste, 
They let them talk at large, because they talk their last." 

The public could hardly have supposed from this what Defoe after, 
wards admitted to have been the true state of the case, namely, 
that on leaving prison he was taken into the service of the Govern- 
ment. He obtained an appointment, that is to say a pension, from 
the Queen, and was employed on secret services. When charged 
afterwards with having written by Harley's instructions, he denied 
this, but admitted the existence of certain "capitulations," in which 
he stipulated for liberty to write according to his own judgment, 
guided only by a sense of gratitude to his benefactor. There is 
reason to believe that even this is not the whole truth. Documents 
which Mr. Lee recently brought to light make one suspect that 
Defoe was all the time in private relations with the leaders of the 
Whig party. Of this more falls to be said in another place. The 
True-Born Englishman was, indeed, dead. Defoe was no longer 
the straightforward advocate of King William's policy. He was 
engaged henceforward in serving two masters, persuading each 
that he served him alone, and persuading the public, in spite of 
numberless insinuations, that he served nobody but them and him- 
self, and wrote simply as a free lance under the jealous sufferance 
of the Government of the day. 

I must reserve for a separate chapter some account of Defoe's 
greatest political work, which he began while he still lay at New- 
gate, the Review. Another work which he wrote and published at 
the same period deserves attention on different grounds. His 
history of the great storm of November, 1703, A Collection of the 
most remarkable Casualties and Disasters which happened in the 
late Dreadful Tempest, both by Sea and Land, may be set down as 
the first of his works of invention. It is a most minute and cir- 
cumstantial record, containing many letters from eye-witnesses of 
what happened in their immediate neighbourhood. Defoe could 
have seen little of the storm himself from the interior of Newgate, 
but it is possible that the letters are genuine, and that he compiled 
other details from published accounts. Still, we are justified in 
suspecting that his 'annals of the storm are no more authentic his- 
tory than his Journal of the Plague, or his Memoirs of a Cavalier. 
and that for many of the incidents he is equally indebted to his 




It was a bold undertaking for a prisoner in Newgate to engage 
to furnish a newspaper written wholly by himself, "purged from 
the errors and partiality of news-writers and petty statesmen of all 
sides." It would, of course, have been an impossible undertaking 
if the Review had been, either in size or in contents, like a news- 
paper of the present time. The Review was, in its first stage, a 
sheet of eight small quarto pages. After the first two numbers, it 
was reduced in size to four pages, but a smaller type was used, so 
that the amount of matter remained nearly the same — about equal 
in bulk to two modern leading articles. At first the issue was 
weekly ; after four numbers it became bi-weekly, and so remained 
for a year. 

For the character of the Review it is difficult to find a parallel. 
There was nothing like it at the time, and nothing exactly like 
it has been attempted since. The nearest approach to it among 
its predecessors was the Observator, a small weekly journal writ- 
ten by the erratic John Tutchin, in which passing topics, political 
and social, were discussed in dialogues. Personal scandals were 
a prominent feature in the Obseivator. Defoe was not insensible 
to the value of this element to a popular journal. He knew, he 
said, that people liked to be amused ; and he supplied this want in 
a section of his paper entitled '• Mercure Scandale ; or, Advice 
from the Scandalous Club, being a weekly history of Nonsense, 
Impertinence, Vice, and Debauchery." Under this attractive head- 
ing, Defoe noticed current scandals, his club being represented as 
a tribunal before which offenders were brought, their cases heard, 
and sentence passed upon them. Slanderers of the True-Born 
Englishman frequently figure in its proceedings. It was in this 
section also that Defoe exposed the errors of contemporary news- 
writers, the Post-man, the Post-Boy, the London Post, the Flying 
Post, and the Daily Courant. He could not in his prison pretend 
to superior information regarding the events of the day ; the errors 
which he exposed were chiefly blunders in geography and history. 
The Mercure Scandale was avowedly intended to amuse the frivol- 
ous. The lapse of time has made its artificial sprightliness dreary. 
It was in the serious portion of the Review, the Review proper, 


that Defoe showed most of his genius. The design of this was 
nothing less than to give a true picture, drawn with " an impartial 
and exact historical pen," of the domestic and foreign affairs of all 
the States of Europe. It was essential, he thought, that at such a 
time of commotion Englishmen should be thoroughly informed of 
the strength and the political interests and proclivities of the vari- 
ous Eurobean Powers. He could not undertake to tell his readers 
what was passing from day to day, but he could explain to them 
the policy of the Continental Courts ; he could show how that 
policy was affected by their past history and present interests ; he 
could calculate the forces at their disposal, set forth the grounds 
of their alliances, and generally put people in a position to follow 
the great game that was being played on the European chess- 
board. In the Review, in fact, as he himself described his task, 
he was writing a history sheet by sheet, and letting the world see 
it as it went on. 

This excellent plan of instruction was carried out with in- 
comparable brilliancy of method, and vivacity of style. Defoe was 
thoroughly master of his subject ; he had read every history that 
he could lay his hands on, and his connexion with King William 
haa guided him to the mainsprings of political action, and fixed in 
his mind clear principles for England's foreign policy. Such a 
mass of facts and such a maze of interests would have encumbered 
and perplexed a more commonplace intellect, but Defoe handled 
them with experienced and buoyant ease. He had many arts for 
exciting attention. His confinement in Newgate, from which the 
first number of the Review was issued on the 19th February, 1704, 
had in no way impaired his clear-sighted daring and self-confident 
skill. There was a sparkle of paradox and a significant lesson 
in the very title of his journal — A Review of the Affairs of France. 
When, by and bv. he digressed to the affairs of Sweden and Po- 
land, and filled number after number with the history of Hungary, 
people kept asking, " What has this to do with France ? " " How 
little you understand my design," was Defoe's retort. "Patience 
till my work is completed, and then you will see that, however 
much I may seem to have been digressing, I have always kept 
strictly to the point. Do not judge me as you judged St. Paul's 
before the roof was put on. It is not affairs in France that I have 
undertaken to explain, but the affairs of France ; and the affairs of 
France are the affairs of Europe. So great is the power of the 
French money, the artifice of their conduct, the terror of their 
arms, that they can bring the greatest kings in Europe to promote 
their interest and grandeur at the expense of their own." 

Defoe delighted to brave common prejudice by throwing full in 
its face paradoxes expressed in the most unqualified language. 
While we were at war with France, and commonplace hunters after 
popularity were doing their utmost to flatter the national vanity, 
Defoe boldly announced his intention of setting forth the wonder- 
ful greatness of the French nation, the enormous numbers of their 
armies, the immense wealth of their treasury, the marvellous vigour 


i>f their administration. He ridiculed loudly those writers who 
pretended that we should have no difficulty in beating them, and 
filled their papers with dismal stories about the poverty and de- 
population of the country. " Consider the armies that the French 
King has raised," cried Defoe, " and the reinforcements and subsi- 
dies^he has sent to the King of Spain ; does that look like a depop- 
ulated country and an impoverished exchequer?" It was per- 
haps a melancholy fact, but what need to apologise for telling the 
truth? At once, of course, a shout was raised against him for 
want of patriotism ; he was a French pensioner, a Jacobite, a hire- 
ling of the Peace-party. This was the opportunity on which the 
chuckling paradox-monger had counted. He protested that he was 
not drawing a map of the French power to terrify the English. But, 
he said, "there are two cheats equally hurtful to us; the first to 
terrify us. the last to make us too easy and consequently too secure ; 
'tis equally dangerous. for us to be terrified into despair and bullied 
into more terror of our enemies than we need, or to be so exalted 
in conceit of our own force as to undervalue and contemn the 
power which we cannot reduce." To blame him for making clear 
the greatness of the French power, was to act as if the Romans 
had killed the geese in the Capitol for frightening them out of their 
sleep. " If I, like an honest Protestant goose, have gaggled too 
loud of the French power, and raised the country, the French 
indeed may have reason to cut my throat if they could ; but 'tis 
hard my own countrvmen, to whom I have shown their danger, 
and whom I have endeavoured to wake out of their sleep, should 
take offence at the timely discover}'." 

If we open the first volume, or indeed any volume of the Review, 
at random, we are almost certain to meet with some electric shock 
of paradox designed to arouse the attention of the torpid. In one 
number we find the writer, ever daring and alert, setting out with 
an euiogium on "the wonderful benefit of arbitrary power" in 
France. He runs on in this vein for some time, accumulating ex- 
amples of the wonderful benefit, till the patience of his liberty-lov- 
ing readers is sufficiently exasperated, and then he turns round 
with a grin of mockery and explains that he means benefit to the 
monarch, not to the subject. " If any man ask me what are the 
benefits of arbitrary power to the subject, I answer these two, 
poverty and subjection." But to an ambitious monarch unlimited 
power is a necessity ; unless he can count upon instant obedience 
to his will, he only courts defeat if he embarks in schemes of 
aggression and conquest. 

" When a Prince must court his subjects to give him leave to raise an 
army, and when that's done, tell him when he must disband them ; that if 
he wants money, he must assemble the States of his country, and not only 
give them good words to get it, and tell them what 'tis for, but give them 
an account how it is expended before he asks for more. The subjects in 
such a government are certainly happy in having their property and privi- 
leges secured, but if I were of his Privy Council, I would advise such a 
Prince to content himself within the compass of his own government, and 



never think of invading his neighbours or increasing his dominions, for 
subjects who stipulate with their Princes, and make conditions of govern- 
ment, who claim to be governed by laws aud make those laws themselves, 
who need not pay their money but when they see cause, and may refuse 
to pay it when demanded without their consent ; such subjects will never 
empty their purses upon foreign wars for enlarging the glory of their 

This glory he describes as "the leaf-gold which the devil has laid 
over the backside of ambition, to make it glitter to the world." 

Defoe's knowledge of the irritation caused among the Dissenters 
by his Shortest Way, did not prevent him from shocking them 
and annoying the high Tories by similar jcnx ifesftrtt. He had no 
tenderness for the feelings of such of his brethren as had not his 
own robust sense of humour and boyish glee in the free handling 
of dangerous weapons. Thus we find him, among his eulogies of 
the Grand Monarque, particularly extolling him lor the revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes. By the expulsion of the Protestants, 
Louis impoverished and unpeopled part of his country, but rt was 
" the most politic action the French King ever did." " I don't 
think fit to engage here in a dispute about the honesty of it," says 
Defoe ; "but till he had first cleared the country of that numerous 
injured people, he could never have ventured to carry an offensive 
war into all the borders of Europe." And Defoe was not content 
with shocking the feelings of his nominal co-religionists by a light 
treatment of matters in which he agreed with them. He upheld 
with all his might the opposite view from theirs on two important 
questions of foreign policy. While the Confederates were doing 
battle on all sides against France, the King of Sweden was making 
war on his own account against Poland for the avowed purpose of 
placing a Protestant prince on the throne. Extreme Protestants 
in England were disposed to think that Charles XII. was fighting 
the Lord's battle in Poland. But Defoe was strongly of opinion 
that the work in which all Protestants ought at that moment to be 
engaged was breaking down the power of France, and as Charles 
refused to join the Confederacy, and the Catholic prince against 
Whom he was fighting was a possible adherent, the ardent preacher 
of union among the Protestant powers insisted upon regarding 
him as a practical ally of France, and urged that the English fleet 
should be sent into the Baltic to interrupt his communications. 
Disunion among Protestants, argued Defoe, was the main cause of 
French greatness; if the Swedish King would not join the Con- 
federacy of his own free will, he should be compelled to join it, or 
at least to refrain from weakening it. 

Defoe treated the revolt of the Hungarians against the Em- 
peror with the same regard to the interests of the Protestant cause. 
Some uneasiness was felt in England at co-operating with an ally 
who so cruelly oppressed his Protestant subjects, and some scruple 
of conscience at seeming to countenance the oppression. Defoe 
fully admitted the wrongs of the Hungarians, but argued that this 
was not the time for them to press their claims for redress. He 



would not allow that they were justified at such a moment in call- 
ing in the aid of the Turks against the Emperor. " It is not 
enough that a nation be Protestant and the people our friends ; if 
they will join with our enemies, they are Papists, Turks, and Hea- 
thens, to us." "If the Protestants in Hungary will make the 
Protestant religion in Hungary clash with the Protestant religion 
in all the rest of Europe, we must prefer the major interest to the 
minor." Defoe treats every foreign question from the cool high- 
political point of view, generally taking up a position from which 
he can expose the unreasonableness of both sides. In the case of 
the Cevennois insurgents, one party had used the argument that it 
was unlawful to encourage rebellion even among the subjects of a 
prince with whom we were at war. With this Defoe dealt in one 
article, proving with quite, a superfluity of illustration that we were 
justified by all the precedents of recent history in sending support 
to the rebellious subjects of Louis XIV. It was the general cus- 
tom of Europe to " assist the malcontents of our neighbours." Then 
in another article he considered whether, being lawful, it was also 
expedient, and he answered this in the negative, treating with scorn 
a passionate appeal for the Cevennois entitled " Europe enslaved 
if the Camisars are not relieved." " What nonsense is this," he 
cried, " about a poor despicable handful of men who have only made 
a little diversion in the great war ! " " The haste these men are in 
to have that done which they cannot show us the way to do ! " he 
cried ; and proceeded to prove in a minute discussion of conceiv- 
able strategic movements that it was impossible for us in the cir 
cumstances to send the Camisards the least relief. 

There is no reference in the Review to Defoe's release from 
prison. Two numbers a week were issued with the same punc- 
tuality before and after, and there is no perceptible difference either 
in tone or in plan. Before he left prison, and before the fall of 
the high Tory Ministers, he had thrown in his lot boldly with the 
moderate men, and he did not identify himself more closely with 
any political section after Harley and Godolphin recognized the 
value of his support and gave him liberty and pecuniary help. In 
the first number of the Review he had declared his freedom from 
party ties, and his unreserved adherence to truth and the public in- 
terest, and he made frequent protestation of this independence. 
" I am not a party man," he kept saying; "at least, I resolve this 
shall not be a party paper." In discussing the affairs of France, 
he took more than one side-glance homewards, but always with the 
protest that he had no interest to serve but that of his country. 
The absolute power ofi Louis, for example, furnished him with an 
occasion for lamenting the disunited counsels of Her Majesty's 
Cabinet. Without imitating the despotic form of the French Gov- 
ernment, he said, there are ways by which we might secure under 
our own forms greater decision and promptitude on the part of the 
Executive. When Nottingham was dismissed, he rejoiced openly, 
not because the ex-Secretary had been his persecutor, but because 
at last there was unity of views among the Queen's Ministers. He 


joined naturally in the exultation over Marlborough's successes, 
but in the Review, and in his Hy?nn to Victory, separately pub- 
lished, he courteously diverted some part of the credit to the new 
Ministry. " Her Majesty's measures, moved by new and polished 
councils have been pointed more directly at the root of the French 
power than ever we have seen before. I hope no man will sup- 
pose I reflect on the memory of King William ; I know 'tis impos- 
sible the Queen should more sincerely wish the reduction of France 
than his late Majesty ; but if it is expected I should say he was 
not worse served, oftener betrayed, and consequently hurried into 
more mistakes and disasters, than her Majesty now is, this must be 
by somebody who believes I know much less of the public matters 
of those days than I had the honour to be informed of." But this 
praise, he represented, was not the praise of a partisan ; it was an 
honest compliment wrung from a man whose only connexion with 
the Government was a bond for his good behaviour, an undertak- 
ing " not to write what some people might not like." • 

Defoe's hand being against every member of the writing brother- 
hood, it was natural that his reviews should not pass without severe 
criticisms. He often complained of the insults, ribaldry, Billings- 
gate, and Bear-garden language to which he was exposed ; and 
some of his biographers have taken these lamentations seriously, 
and expressed their regret that so good a man should have been 
so much persecuted. But as he deliberately provoked these as- 
saults, and never missed a chance of effective retort, it is difficult 
to sympathise with him on any ground but his manifest delight in 
the strife of tongues. Infinitely the superior of his antagonists in 
power, he could affect to treat them with good humour, but this 
good humour was not easy to reciprocate when combined with an 
imperturbable assumption that they were all fools or knaves. When 
we find him, after humbly asking pardon for all his errors of the 
press, errors of the pen, or errors of opinion, expressing a wish 
that "all gentlemen on the other side would give him equal occa- 
sion to honour them for their charity, temper, and gentlemanlike 
dealing, as for their learning and virtue," and offering to " capitu- 
late with them, and enter into a treaty or cartel for exchange of 
good language," we may, if we like, admire his superior mastery of 
the weapons of irritation, but pity is out of place. 

The number of February 17, 1705, was announced by Defoe as 
being "the last Review of this volume, and designed to be so of 
this work." But on the following Tuesday, the regular day for the 
appearance of the Review, he issued another number, declaring that 
he could not quit the volume without some remarks on " charity 
and poverty." On Saturday yet another last number appeared, 
dealing with some social subjects which he had been urged by cor- 
respondents to discuss. Then on Tuesday, February 27, apolo- 
gising for the frequent turning of his design, he issued a Preface 
to a new volume of the Review, with a slight change of title. He 
would overtake sooner or later all the particulars of French great- 
ness which he had promised to survey, but as the course of his nap 


rative had brought him to England, and he might stay there for some 
time, it was as well that this should be indicated in the title, which 
was henceforth to be A Review of the Affairs of France, with Ob- 
servations on Affairs at Home. He had intended, he said, to 
abandon the work altogether, but some gentlemen had prevailed 
with him to go on, and had promised that he should not be at a 
loss by it. It was now to be issued three times a week. 




In putting forth the prospectus f the second volume of hi9 
Review, Defoe intimated that its prevailing topic would be the 
Trade of England — a vast subject, with many branches, all closely 
interwoven with one another and with the general well-being of the 
kingdom. It grieved him, he said, to see the nation involved in 
such evils while remedies lay at hand which blind guides could not, 
and wicked guides would not, see— trade decaying, yet within 
reach of the greatest improvements, the navy flourishing, yet fear- 
fully mismanaged, rival factions brawling and fighting when they 
ought to combine for the common good. " Nothing could have 
induced him to undertake the ungrateful office of exposing these 
things, but the fidl persuasion that he was capable of convincing 
anything of an Englishmin that had the least angle of his soul 
untainted with partiality, and that had the least concern left for the 
good of his country, that even the worst of these evils were easy to 
be cured ; that if ever this nation were shipwrecked and undone, 
it must be at the very entrance of her port of deliverance, in the 
sight of her safety that Providence held out to her, in the sight of 
her safe establishment, a prosperous trade, a regular, easily supplied 
navv, and a general reformation both in manners and methods in 
Church and State." 

Defoe began as usual by laying down various clear heads, under 
which lie promised to deal with the whole field of trade. But as 
usual he did not adhere to this systematic plan. He discussed 
some topics of the day with brillant force, and then he suddenly 
digressed to a subject only collaterally connected with trade. The 
Oueen, in opening the session of 1704-5, had exhorted her Parlia- 
ment to peace and union ; but the High-Churchmen were too hot 
to listen to advice even from her. The Occasional Conformity Bill 
was again introduced and carried in the Commons. The Lords 
rejected it. The Common persisted, and to secure the passing of 
the measure, tacked it to a Bill of Supply. The Lords refused to 
pass the Money Bill till the tack was withdrawn. Soon afterwards 
the Parliament — Parliaments were then triennial — was dissolved, 
and the canvass for a general election set in amidst unusual ex- 
citement. Defoe abandoned the quiet topic of trade, and devoted 
the Review to electioneering: articles. 



But he did not take a side, at least not a party side. He took 
the side of peace and his country. " I saw with concern," he said, 
in afterwards explaining his position, " the weighty juncture of a 
new election for members approach, the variety of wheels and 
engines see to work in the nation, and the furious methods to form 
interests on either hand and put the temper of men on all sides 
into an unusual motion ; and things seemed acted with so much 
animosity and party fury that I confess it gave me terrible appre- 
hensions of the consequences." On both sides " the methods 
seemed to him very scandalous." " In many places most horrid 
and villainous practices were set on foot to supplant one another. 
The parties stooped to vile and unbecoming meannesses ; infinite 
briberies, forgeries, perjuries, and all manner of debauchings of 
the principles and manners of the electors were attempted. All 
sorts of violences, tumults, riots, breaches of the peace, neighbour- 
hood, and good manners were made use of to support interests 
and carry elections." In short, Defoe saw the nation " running 
directly on the steep precipice of confusion.'' In these circum- 
stances, he seriously reflected what he should do. He came to the 
conclusion that he must " immediately set himself in the Review 
to exhort, persuade, entreat, and in the most moving terms he was 
capable of, prevail on all people in general to study Peace." 

Under cover of this profession of impartiality, Defoe issued 
most effective attacks upon the High-Church party. In order to 
promote peace, he said, it was necessary to ascertain first of all 
who were the enemies of peace. On the surface, the questions at 
stake in the elections were the privileges of the Dissenters and 
the respective rights of the Lords and the Commons in the matter 
of Money Bills. But people must look beneath the surface. 
" King James, French power, and a general turn of affairs was at 
the bottom, and the quarrels between Church and Dissenters only 
a polilic noose they had hooked the parties on both sides into." 
Defoe lashed the Tackers into fury by his exhortations to the 
study of peace. He professed the utmost good-will to them per- 
sonally, though he had not words strong enough to condemn their 
conduct in tacking the Occasional Bill to a Money Bill when they 
knew that the Lords would reject it, and so in a moment of grave 
national peril leave the army without supplies. The Queen in dis- 
solving Parliament, had described this tacking as a dangerous 
experiment, and Defoe explained the experiment as being " wheth- 
er losing the Money Bill, breaking up the Houses, disbanding the 
Confederacy, and opening the door to the French, might not have 
been for the interest of the High-Church." Far be it from him to 
use Billingsgate language to the Tackers, but " the effect of their 
action, which, and not their motive, he had to consider, would un- 
doubtedly be to let in the French, depose the Queen, bring in the 
Prince of Wales, abdicate the Protestant religion, restore Popery, 
repeal the Toleration, and persecute the Dissenters." Still it was 
probable that the Tackers meant no harm. Humamun est errare. 
He was certain that if he showed them their error, they would re- 



pent and be converted. All the same, he could not recommend 
them to the electors. " A Tacker is a man of passion, a man of 
heat, a man that is for ruining the nation upon any hazards to 
obtain his ends. Gentlemen freeholders, you must not choose a 
Tacker, unless you will destroy our peace, divide our strength, pull 
down the Church, let in the French, and depose the Queen." 

From the dissolution of Parliament in April till the end of the 
year Defoe preached from this text with infinite variety and Vigour. 
It is the chief subject of the second volume of the Review. The 
elections, powerfully influenced by Marlborough's successes as 
well as by the eloquent championship of Defoe, resulted in the 
entire defeat of the High Tories, and a further weeding of them 
out of high places in the Administration. Defoe was able to close 
this volume of the Review with expressions of delight at the attain- 
ment of the peace for which he had laboured, and, the victory 
being gained and the battle over, to promise a return to the inter- 
mitted subject of Trade. He returned to this subject in the 
beginning of his third volume. But he had not pursued it long 
when lie was again called away. The second diversion, as he 
pointed out. was strictly analogous to the first. It was a summons 
to him to do his utmost to promote the union of the two kingdoms 
of England and Scotland. " From the same zeal," Defoe said, 
" with which I first pursued this blessed subject of peace, I found 
myself embarked in the further extent of it, I mean the Union. 
If I thought myself obliged in duty to the public interest to use 
my tftmost endeavour to quiet the minds of enraged parties, I 
found myself under a stronger necessity to embark in the same 
design between two most enraged nations." 

The union of the two kingdoms had become an object of press- 
ing and paramount importance towards the close of William's reign. 
He had found little difficulty in getting the English Parliament to 
agree to settle the succession of the House of Hanover, but the 
proposal that the succession to the throne of Scotland should be 
settled on the same head was coldly received by the Scottish Par- 
liament. It was not so much that the politicians of Edinburgh 
were averse to a common settlement, or positively eager for a King 
and Court of their own, but they were resolved to hold back till 
they were assured of commercial privileges which would go to 
compensate them for the drain of wealth that was supposed to have 
followed the King southwards. This was the policy of the wiser 
heads, not to accept the Union without as advantageous terms as 
they could secure. They had lost an opportunity at the Revo- 
lution, and were determined not to lose another. But among the 
mass of the population the feeling was all in favour of a separate 
kingdom. National animosity had been inflamed to a passionate 
pitch by the Darien disaster and the Massacre of Glencoe. The 
people listened readily to the insinuations of hot-headed men that 
the English wished to have everything their own way. The 
counter-charge about the Scotch found equally willing hearers 
among the mass in England. Never had cool-headed statesmen a 


harder task in preventing two nations from coming to blows. All 
the time that the Treaty of Union was being negotiated which 
King William had earnestly urged from his deathbed, throughout 
the first half of Queen Anne's reign they worked under a con- 
tinual apprehension lest the negotiations should end in a violent 
and irreconcilable rupture. 

Defoe might well say that he was pursuing the same blessed 
subject of Peace in trying to reconcile these two most enraged 
nations, and writing with all his might for the Union. An Act en- 
abling the Queen to appoint Commissioners on the English side 
to arrange the terms of the Treaty had been passed in the first 
year of her reign, but difficulties had arisen about the appointment 
of the Scottish Commissioners, and it was not till the Spring of 
1706 that the two Commissions came together. When they did at 
last meet, they found each other much more reasonable and prac- 
tical in spirit than had appeared possible during the battle over the 
preliminaries. But while the statesmen sat concocting the terms 
of the Treaty almost amicably, from April to July, the excitement 
raged fiercely out of doors. Amidst the blaze of recriminations 
and counter-recriminations, Defoe moved energetically as the 
Apostle of Peace, making his Review play like a fireman's hose 
upon the flames. He did not try to persuade the Scotch to peace 
by the same methods which he had used in the case of the High- 
fliers and Tackers. His Reviews on this subject, full of spirit as 
ever, are models of the art of conciliation. He wrestled ardently 
with national prejudices on both sides, vindicating the Scottish 
Presbyterians from the charge of religious intolerance, labouring 
to prove that the English were not all to blame for the collapse of 
the Darien expedition and the Glencoe tragedy, expounding what 
was fair to both nations in matters concerning trade. Abuse was 
heaped upon him plentifully by hot partisans ; he was charged with 
want of patriotism from the one side, and with too much of it from 
the other; but he held on his way manfully, allowing no blow from 
his aspersers to pass unreturned. Seldom has so bold and skilful 
a soldier been enlisted in the cause of peace. 

Defoe was not content with the Review as a literary instrument 
of pacification. He carried on the Avar in both capitals, answering 
the pamphlets of the Scotch patriots with counter-pamphlets from 
the Edinburgh press. He published also a poem, " in honour of 
Scotland," entitled Caledonia, with an artfully flattering preface, 
in which he declared the poem to be a simple tribute to the great- 
ness of the people and the country without any reference whatever 
to the Union. Presently he found it expedient to make Edinburgh 
his head-quarters, though he continued sending the Review three 
times a week to his London printer. When the Treaty of Union 
had been elaborated by the Commissioners and had passed the 
English Parliament, its difficulties were not at an end. It had 
still to pass the Scotch Parliament, and a strong faction there, 
riding on the storm of popular excitement, insisted on discussing it 
clause by clause. Moved partly by curiosity, partly by earnesf 


desire for the public good, according to his own account in the 
Review and in his History of the Union, Defoe resolved to under- 
take the " long, tedious, and hazardous journey " to Edinburgh, 
and use all his influence to push the Treaty through. It was a 
task of no small danger, for the prejudice against the Union went 
so high in the Scottish capital that he ran the risk of being torn to 
pieces by the populace. In one riot of which he gives an account, 
his lodging was beset, and for a time he was in as much peril " as 
a grenadier on a counter-scarp." Still he went on writing pam- 
phlets, and lobbying members of Parliament. Owing to his intimate 
knowledge of all matters relating to trade, he also '' had the 
honour to be frequently sent for into the several Committees of 
Parliament which were appointed to state some difficult points re- 
lating to equalities, taxes, prohibitions, &c." Even when the 
Union was agreed to by the Parliaments of both kingdoms, and 
took effect formally in May, 1707, difficulties arose in putting the 
details in operation, and Defoe prolonged his stay in Scotland 
through the whole of that year. 

In this visit to Scotland Defoe protested to the world at the 
time that he had gone as a diplomatist on his own account? purely 
in the interests of peace. But a suspicion arose and was very free 
expressed, that both in this journey and in previous journeys to the 
West and the North of England during the elections, he was serv- 
ing as the agent, if not as the spy, of the Government. These re- 
proaches he denied with indignation, declaring it particularly hard 
that he should be subjected to such despiteful and injurious treat- 
ment even by writers "embarked in the same cause, and pretend- 
ing to write for the same public good." " I contemn," he said in 
his History, " as not worth mentioning, the suggestions of some 
people, of my being employed thither to carry on the interest of 
a party. I have never loved any parties, but with mv utmost zeal 
have sincerely espoused the great ani original interest of this 
nation, and all nations— I mean truth and liberty, — and whoever 
are of that party, I desire to be with them." He took up the same 
charges more passionately in the Preface to the third volume of 
the Review, and dealt with them in some brilliant passages of apol- 
ogetic eloquence. 

" I must confess," he said, "I have sometimes thought it very hard, 
that having voluntarily, without the least direction, assistance, or encour- 
agement, in spite of all that has been suggested, taken upon me the most 
necessary work of removing national prejudices against the two most cap- 
ital blessings of the world, Peace and Union. I should have the disaster 
to have the nations receive the doctrine and damn the teacher. 

" Should I descend to particulars, it would hardly appear credible 
that in a Christian, a Protestant, and a Reformed nation, any man should 
receive such treatment as I have done, even from those verv people whose 
consciences and judgments have stooped to the venerable truth, owned it 
has been useful, serviceable, and seasonable. 

" I am charged with partiality, bribery, pensions, and payments — a 
thing the circumstances, family, and fortunes of a man devoted to hi3 


country's peace clears me of. If paid, gentlemen, for writing, if hired if 
employed why still harassed with merciless and malicious men, why p'ur- 
sued to all extremities by law for old accounts, which you clear other men 
of every day? Why oppressed, distressed, and driven from his family 
and from all his prospects of delivering them or himself? Is this the fate 
of men employed and hired ? Is this the figure the agents of Courts and 
Princes make ? Certainly had I been hired or employed, those peonl" 
who own the service would by this time have set their servant free from 
the little and implacable malice of litigious persecutions, murthering war- 
rants, and men whose mouths are to be stopt by trifles. Let this suffice 
emtlTed 1 " *" ^ ^ ^ scandalous char S es of bei "g ^ed and 

But then, people ask, if he was not officially employed, what had he 
to do with these affairs ? Why should he meddle with them ? To 
this he answers : — 

„\!\v niIy ' S e, ? t]emen > ! his is J ust the case. - 1 saw a parcel of people 
caballing together to ruin property, corrupt the laws, invade the Govern- 
ment, debauch the people, and in short, enslave and embroil the nation 
and I cried Fire! ; or rather I cried ' Water ! ' for the fire was begun 
already. I see all the nation running into confusions and directly flyino- 
in the face of one another, and cried out ' Peace ! ' I called upon all sorts 
ot people that had any senses to collect them together and judge for them- 
selves what they were going to do, and excited them to lay hold of the 
madmen and take from them the wicked weapon, the knife with which 
they were going to destroy their mother, rip up the bowels of their coun- 
try, and at last effectually ruin themselves. 

" And what had I to do with this ? Why, yes, gentlemen, I had the 
same right as every man that has a footing in his country, or that has a 
posterity to possess liberty and claim right, must have, to preserve the 
laws, liberty, and government of that country to which he belongs, and 
he that charges me with meddling in what does not concern me, meddles 
himself with what 'tis plain he does not understand." 

"I am not the first," Defoe said in another place, "that has 
been stoned for saying the truth. I cannot but think that as time 
and the conviction of their senses will restore men to love the 
peace now established in this nation, so they will gradually see I 
have acted no part but that of a lover of my country, and an 
honest man." 

Time has undeniably shown that in these efforts to promote 
party peace and national union Defoe acted like a lover of his 
country, and that his aims were the aims of a statesmanlike as well 
as an honest man. And yet his protestations of independence 
and spontaneity of action, with all their ring of truth and all their 
solemnity of asseveration, were merely diplomatic blinds. He was 
all the time, as he afterwards admitted, when the admission could 
do no harm except to his own passing veracity, acting as the agent 
of Hai-ley. and in enjoyment of an " appointment "from the Queen. 
What exactly the nature of his secret services in Scotland and else- 
where were, he very properly refused to reveal. His business 
probably was to ascertain and report the opinions of influential 



persons, and keep the Government informed as far as he could of 
the general state of feeling. At any rate it was not as he alleged, 
mere curiosity, or the fear of his creditors, or private enterprise, 
or pure and simple patriotic zeal that took Defoe to Scotland. 
The use he made of his debts as diplomatic instruments is curious. 
He not merely practised his faculties in the management of his 
creditors, which one of Lord Beaconsfield's characters commends 
as an incomparable means to a sound knowledge of human nature ; 
but he made his debts actual pieces in his political game. His 
poverty, apparent, if not real, served as a screen for his employ- 
ment under Government. When he was despatched on secret 
missions, he could depart wiping his eyes at the hardship of hav* 
ing to flee from his creditors. 





Some of Defoe's biographers have claimed for him that he 
anticipated the doctrines of Free Trade. This is an error. It is 
true that Defoe was never tired of insisting, in pamphlets, books, 
and number after number of the Review, on the all-importance of 
trade to the nation. Trade was the foundation of England's great- 
ness ; success in trade was the most honourable patent of nobility ; 
next to the maintenance of the Protestant religion, the encourage- 
ment of trade should be the chief care of English statesmen. On 
these heads Defoe's enthusiasm was boundless, and his eloquence 
inexhaustible. It is true also that he supported with all his might 
the commercial clauses of the Treaty of Utrecht, which sought to 
abolish the prohibitory duties on our trade with France. It is 
this last circumstance which has earned for him the repute of 
being a pioneer of Free Trade. But his title to that repute does 
not bear examination. He was not so far in advance of his age as 
to detect the fallacy of the mercantile system. On the contrary, 
he avowed his adherence to it against those of his contemporaries 
who were inclined to call it in question. How Defoe came to sup- 
port the new commercial treaty with France, and the grounds on 
lvhich he supported it, can only be understood by looking at his 
relations with the Government. 

While Defoe was living in Scotland in 1707, and filling the 
Review so exclusively with Scotch affairs that his readers, accord- 
ing to his own account, began to say that the fellow could talk of 
nothing but the Union, and had grown mighty dull of late, Harley's 
position in the Ministry was gradually becoming very insecure. 
He was suspected of cooling in his zeal for the war, and of keep- 
ing up clandestine relations with the Tories ; and when Marl- 
borough returned from his campaign at the close of the year he 
insisted upon the Secretary's dismissal. The Queen, who secretly 
resented the Marlborough yoke, at first refused her consent. 
Presently an incident occurred which gave them an excuse for 
more urgent pressure. One Gregg, a clerk in Harlev's office, was 
discovered to be in secret correspondence with the French Court, 
furnishing Louis with the contents of important State papers. 
Harley was charged with complicity. This charge was groundless, 



but he could not acquit himself of gross negligence in the custody 
of his papers. Godolphin and Marlborough threatened to resign 
unless he was dismissed. Then the Queen yielded. 

When Harley fell, Defoe, according to his own account in the 
Appeal to Honour and Justice, looked upon himself as lost, tak- 
ing it for granted that " when a great officer fell, all who came in 
by his interest fall with him." But when his benefactor heard of 
this, and of Defoe's "resolution never to abandon the fortunes of 
the man to whom he owed so much," he kindly urged the devoted 
follower to think rather of his own interest than of any romantic 
obligation. "My lord Treasurer," he said, "will employ you in 
nothing but what is for the public service, and agreeably to your own 
sentiments of things ; and besides, it is the Queen you are serving, 
who has been very good to you. Pray apply yourself as you used 
to do ; I shall not take it ill from you in the least." To Godolphin 
accordingly Defoe applied himself, and was by him introduced a 
second time to Her Majesty and to the honour of kissing her hand, 
and obtained "the continuance of an apointment which Her 
Majesty had been pleased to make in consideration of a former 
special service he had done." This was the appointment which 
he held while he was challenging his enemies to say whether his 
outward circumstances looked like the figure the agents of Courts 
and Princes make. 

The services on which Defoe was employed were, as before, of 
two kinds, active and literary. Shortly after the change in the 
Ministry early in 1708, news came of the gathering of the French 
expedition at Dunkirk, with a view, it was suspected, of trying to 
effect a landing in Scotland. Defoe was at once despatched to 
Edinburgh on an errand which, he says, was "far from being unfit 
for a sovereign to direct or an honest man to perform." If his 
duties were to mix with the people and ascertain the state of pub- 
lic feeling, and more specifically to sound suspected characters, to 
act. in short, as a political detective or spy, the service was one 
which it was essential that the Government should get some trust- 
worthy person to undertake, and which any man at such a crisis 
might'perform if he could, without any discredit to his honesty or 
his patriotism. The independence of the sea-girt realm was never 
in greater peril. The French expedition was a well-conceived 
diversion, and it was imperative that the Government should know 
on what amount of support the invaders might rely in the bitter- 
ness prevailing in Scotland after the Union. Fortunately the 
loyalty of the Scotch Jacobites was not put to the test. As in the 
case of the Spanish Armada, accident fought on our side. The 
French fleet succeeded in reaching the coast of Scotland before 
the ships of the defenders ; but it overshot its arranged landing- 
point, and had no hope but to sail back ingloriously to Dunkirk. 
Meanwhile, Defoe had satisfactorily discharged himself of his 
mission. Godolphin showed his appreciation of his services by 
recalling him as soon as Parliament was dissolved, to travel through 
the counties and serve the cause of the Government in the general 


elections. He was frequently sent to Scotland again on similarly 
secret errands, and seems to have established a printing business 
there, made arrangements for the simultaneous issue of the Review 
in Edinburgh and London, besides organizing Edinburgh news- 
papers, executing commissions for English merchants, and setting 
on foot a linen manufactory. 

But we are more concerned with the literary labours of this 
versatile and indefatigable genius. These, in the midst of his 
multifarious commercial and diplomatic concerns, he never inter- 
mitted. All the time the Review continued to give a brilliant sup- 
port to the Ministry. The French expedition had lent a new inter- 
est to the affairs of Scotland, and Defoe advertised, that though 
he never intended to make the Review a newspaper, circumstances 
enabled him to furnish exceptionally correct intelligence from Scot- 
land as well as sound impartial opinions. The intelligence which 
he communicated was all with a purpose — the promotion of a better 
understanding between the united nations. He never had a better 
opportunity for preaching from his favourite text of Peace and 
Union, and he used it characteristically, championing the cause 
of the Scotch Presbyterians, asserting the firmness of their loy- 
alty, smoothing over trading grievances by showing elaborately 
how both sides benefited from the arrangements of the Union, 
launching shafts in every direction at his favourite butts, and never 
missing a chance of exulting in his own superior wisdom. In what 
a posture would England have been now, he cried, if those wise- 
acres had been listened to, who were for trusting the defence of 
England solely to the militia and the fleet ! Would our fleet 
have kept the French from landing if Providence had not inter- 
posed; and if they landed, would a militia, undermined by disaffec- 
tion, have been able to beat them back ? The French king 
deserved a vote of thanks for opening the eyes of the nation 
against foolish advisers, and for helping it to heal internal divis- 
ions. Louis, poor gentleman, was much to be pitied, for his in- 
formers had evidently served him badly, and had led him to 
expect a greater amount of support from disloyal factions than 
they had the will or the courage to give him. 

During the electoral canvass, Defoe surpassed himself in the 
lively vigour of his advocacy of the Whig cause. " And now, gen- 
tlemen of Englan 1," he began in the Review — as it went on he 
became more and more direct and familiar in his manner of address 
ing his readers — " now we are a-going to choose Parliament men, I 
will tell you a story." And he proceeded to tell how in a certain 
borough a great patron procured the election of a " shock dog " 
as its parliamentary representative. Money and ale, Defoe says, 
could do anything. " God knows I speak it with regret for you all 
and for your posterity, it is not an impossible thing to debauch this 
nation into a choice of thieves, knaves, devils, shock dogs, or any- 
thing comparatively speaking, by the power of various intoxica- 
tions." He spent several numbers of the Review in an ironical 
advice to the electors to choose Tories, showing with all his skill 


" the mighty and prevailing reason why we should have a Tory 
Parliament." " O gentlemen," he cried, " if we have any mind to 
buy some more experience, be sure and choose Tories." " We 
want a little instruction, we want to go to school to knaves and 
fools." Afterwards, dropping this thin mask, he declared that 
among the electors only " the drunken, the debauched, the swear- 
ing, the persecuting " would vote for the High-fliers. " The grave, 
the sober, the thinking, the prudent," would vote for the Whigs. 
" A House of Tories is a House of Devils." " If ever we have a 
Tory Parliament, the nation is undone." In his Appeal to Honour 
and Justice Defoe explained, that while he was serving Godolphin, 
" being resolved to remove all possible ground of suspicion that 
he kept any secret correspondence, he never visited, or wrote to, 
or any way corresponded with his principal benefactor for above 
three years." Seeing that Harley was at that time the leader of 
the party which Defoe was denouncing with such spirit, it would 
have been strange indeed if there had been much intercourse be- 
tween them. 

Though regarded after his fall from office as the natural leader 
of the Tory party, Harley was a very reserved politician, who kept 
his own counsel, used instruments of many shapes and sizes, 
steered clear of entangling engagements, and left himself free to 
take advantage of various opportunities, To wage war against the 
Ministry was the work of more ardent partisans. He stood by 
and waited while Bolingbroke and Rochester and their allies in the 
press cried out that the Government was now in the hands of the 
enemies of the Church, accused the Whigs of protracting the war 
to fill their own pockets with the plunder of the Supplies, and called 
upon the nation to put an end to their jobbery and mismanagement. 
The victory of Oudenarde in the summer of 1708 gave them a new 
handle. " What is the good," they cried, " of these glorious vic- 
tories, if they do not bring peace ? What do we gain by beating 
the French in campaign after campaign, if we never bring them 
nearer to submission? It is incredible that the French King is not 
willing to make peace, if the Whigs did not profit too much by the 
war to give peace any encouragement." To these arguments for 
peace, Defoe opposed himself steadily in the Review. " Well, 
gentlemen," he began, when the news came of the battle of Oude- 
narde, " have the French noosed themselves again ? Let us pray the 
Duke of Marlborough that a speedy peace may not follow, for what 
would become of us ?" He was as willing for a peace on honour- 
able terms as any man, but a peace till the Protestant Succession 
was secured and the balance of power firmly settled, " would be 
fatal to peace at home." " If that fatal thing called Peace abroad 
should happen, we shall certainly be undone." Presently, however, 
the French King began to make promising overtures for peace ; 
the Ministry, in hopes of satisfactory terms, encouraged them ; the 
talk through the nation was all of peace, and the Whigs con- 
tented themselves with passing an address to the Crown through 
Parliament urging the queen to make no peace till the Pretender 



should be disowned by the French Court, and the Succession guar- 
anteed by a compact with the Allies. Throughout the winter the 
Review expounded with brilliant clearness the only conditions on 
which an honourable peace could be founded, and prepared the 
nation to doubt the sincerity with which Louis had enteied into 
negotiations. Much dissatisfaction was felt, and that dissatisfac- 
tion was eagerly fanned by the Tories when the negotiations fell 
through, ia consequence of the distrust with which the allies re- 
garded Louis, and their imposing upon him too hard a test of his 
honesty. Defoe fought vigorously against the popular discontent. 
The charges against Marlborough were idle rhodomontade. We 
had no reason to be discouraged with the progress of the war un- 
less we had formed extravagant expectations. Though the French 
King's resources had been enfeebled, and he might reasonably 
have been expected to desire peace, he did not care for the welfare 
of France so much as for his own glory ; he would fight to gain his 
purpose while there was a pistole in his treasury, and we must not 
expect Paris to be taken in a week. Nothing could be more ad- 
mirable than Godolphin's management of our own Treasury; he 
deserved almost more credit than the Duke himself. " Your Treas- 
urer has been your general of generals ; without his exquisite 
management of the cash the Duke of Marlborough must have been 

The Sacheverell incident, which ultimately led to the overthrow 
of the Ministry, gave Defoe a delightful opening for writing in 
their defence. A collection of his articles on this subject would 
show his controversial style at its best and brightest. Sacheverell 
and he were old antagonists. Sacheverell's " bloody flag and banner 
of defiance," and other High-flying truculencies, had furnished him 
with the main basis of his Shortest Way with the Dissenters. The 
laugh of the populace was then on Defoe's side, partly, perhaps, 
because the Government had prosecuted him. But in the changes 
of the troubled times, the Oxford Doctor, nurtured in " the scolding 
of the ancients," had found a more favourable opportunity. His 
literary skill was of the most mechanical kind ; but at the close of 
1709, when hopes of peace had been raised only to be disappointed, 
and the country was suffering from the distress of a prolonged 
war, people were more in a mood to listen to a preacher who dis- 
dained to check the sweep of his rhetoric by qualifications or abate- 
ments, and luxuriated in denouncing the Queen's Ministers from 
the pulpit under scriptural allegories. He delivered a tremendous, 
philippic about the Perils of False Brethren, as a sermon before 
the Lord Mayor in November. It would have been a wise tiling 
for the Ministry to have left Sacheverell to be dealt with by their 
supporters in the press and in the pulpit. But in an avil hour 
Godolphin, stung by a nickname thrown at him by the rhetorical 
priest — a singularly comfortable-looking man to have so virulent a 
tongue, one of those orators who thrive on ill-conditioned language 
— resolved, contrary to the advice of more judicious colleagues, to 
have him impeached by the House of Commons. The Commons 



readily voted the sermon seditious, scandalous, and malicious, and 
agreed to a resolution for his impeachment ; the Lords ordered 
that the case should be heard at their bar ; and Westminster Hall 
was prepared to be the scene of a great public trial. At first Defoe, 
in heaping contemptuous ridicule upon the High-flying Doctor, 
had spoken as if he would consider prosecution a blunder. The 
man ought rather to be encouraged to go on exposing himself and 
his party. " Let him go on," lie said, " to bully Moderation, ex- 
plode Toleration, and damn the Union ; the gain will be ours." 

" You should use him as we do a hot horse. When he first frets and 
pulls, keep a stiff rein and hold him in if you can ; but if he grows mad 
and furious, slack your hand, clap your heels to him, and let him go. 
Give him his belly full of it. Away goes the beast like a fury over hedge 
and ditch, till he runs himself off his mettle ; perhaps bogs himself, and 
then he grows quiet of course. . . . Besides, good people, do you not 
know the nature of the barking creatures ? If you pass but by, and take 
no notice, they will yelp and make a noise, and perhaps run a little after 
you; but turn back, offer to strike them or throw stones at them, and 
you'il never have done — nay, you'll raise all the dogs of the parish upon 

This last was precisely what the Government did, and they 
found reason to regret that they did not take Defoe's advice and 
let Sachevereil alone. When, however, they did resolve to 
prosecute him, Defoe immediately turned round, and exulted in the 
prosecution, as the very thing which he had foreseen. " Was not 
the Review right when he said you ought to let such people run on 
till they were out of breath ? Did I not note to you that precipi- 
tations have always ruined them and served us ? . . . Not a 
hound in the pack opened like him. He has clone the work effect- 
ually. . . . He has raised the house and waked the landlady. . . . 
Thank him, good people, thank him and clap him on the back ; let 
all his party do but this, and the day is our own." Nor did Defoe 
omit to remind the good people that he had been put in the pillory 
for satirically hinting that the High-Church favoured such doc- 
trines as Sachevereil was now prosecuted for. In his Hymn io 
the Pillory he had declared that Sachevereil ought to stand there 
in his place. His wish was now gratified ; " the bar of the House 
of Commons is the worst pillory in the nation." In the two months 
which elapsed before the trial, during which the excitement was 
steadily growing, Sachevereil and • his doctrines were the main 
topic of the Review. If a popular tempe*st could have been allayed 
by brilliant argument, Defoe's papers ought to have done it. He 
was a manly antagonist, and did not imitate coarser pamphleteers 
in raking up scandals about the Doctor's private life — at least not 
under his own name. There was, indeed, a pamphlet issued by 
"a Gentleman of Oxford," which bears many marks of Defoe's 
authorship, and contains an account of some passages in Sache- 
verell's life not at all to the clergyman's credit. But the only pam- 
phlet outside the Review which the biographers have ascribed to 



Defoe s activity, is a humorous Letter from the Pope to Don 
Sacheverellio, giving him instructions how to advance the interest 
of the Pretender. In the Review Defoe, treating Sacheverell with 
riotously mirthful contempt, calls for the punishment of the doc- 
trines rather than the man. During the trial, which lasted more 
than a fortnight, a mob attended the Doctor's carriage every day 
from his lodgings in the Temple to Westminster Hall, huzzaing, 
and pressing to kiss his hand, and spent the evenings in rabbling 
the Dissenters' meeting-houses, and hooting before the residences 
of prominent Whigs. Defoe had always said that the High-fliers 
would use violence to their opponents if they had the power, and 
here was a confirmation of his opinion on which he did not fail to 
insist. The sentence on Sacheverell, that his sermon and vin- 
dication should be burnt by the common hangman and himself sus- 
pended from preaching for three years, was hailed by the mob as 
an acquittal, and celebrated by tumultuous gatherings and bonfires. 
Defoe reasoned hard and joyfully to prove that the penalty was 
everything that could be wished, and exactly what he had all along 
advised and contemplated, but he did not succeed in persuading 
the masses that the Government had not suffered a defeat. 

The impeachment of Sacheverell turned popular feeling violently 
against the Whigs. The break up of the Gertruydenberg Con- 
ference without peace gave a strong push in the same direction. 
It was all due, the Tories shouted, and the people were now wil- 
ling to believe, to the folly of our Government in insisting upon 
impossible conditions from the French King, and their shameless 
want of patriotism in consulting the interests of the Allies rather 
than of England. The Queen, who for some time had been long- 
ing to get rid of her Whig Ministers, did not at once set sail with 
this breeze. She dismissed the Earl of Sunderland in June, and 
sent word to her allies that she meant to make no further changes. 
Their ambassadors, with what was even then resented as an 
impertinence, congratulated her on this resolution, and then in 
August she took the momentous step of dismissing Godolphin, and 
putting the Treasury nominally in commission, but really under the 
management of Harley. For a few weeks it seems to have been 
Harley's wish to conduct the administration in concert with the re- 
maining Whig members, but the extreme Tories, with whom 
he had been acting, overbore his moderate intentions. They 
threatened to desert him unless he broke clearly and definitely with 
the Whigs. In Ootober accordingly the Whigs were all turned 
out of the Administration", Tories put in their places, Parliament 
dissolved, and writs issued for new elections. " So sudden and 
entire a change of the Ministry," Bishop Burnet remarks, " is 
scarce to be found in our history, especially where men of great 
abilities had served both with zeal and success." That the Queen 
should dismiss one or all of her Ministers in the face of a Parlia- 
mentary majority excited no surprise ; but that the whole Ad- 
ministration should be changed at a stroke from one party to the 
other was a new and strange thing. The old Earl of Sunderland's 


suggestion to William III. had not taken root in constitutional 
practice; this was the fulfilment of it under the gradual pressure of 

Defoe's conduct while the political balance was rocking, and 
after the Whig side had decisively kicked the beam, is a curious 
study. One hardly knows which to admire most, the loyalty with 
which he stuck to the falling house till the moment of its collapse, 
or the adroitness with which he escaped from the ruins. Censure 
of his shiftiness is partly disarmed by the fact that there were so 
many in that troubled and uncertain time who would have acted 
like him if they had had the skill. Besides, he acted so steadily and 
with such sleepless vigilance and energy on the principle that the 
appearance of honesty is the best policy, that at this distance of 
time it is not easy to catch him tripping, and if we refuse to be 
guided by the opinion of his contemporaries, we almost inevitably 
fall victims to his incomparable plausibility. Deviations in his 
political writings from the course of the honest patriot are almost 
as difficult to detect as flaws in the verisimilitude of Robinson 
Crusoe or the Joutyial of the Plague. 

During the two months' interval between the substitution of 
Dartmouth for Sunderland and the fall of Godolphin, Defoe used 
all his powers of eloquence and argument to avert the threatened 
changes in the Ministry, and keep the Tories out. He had a per- 
sonal motive for this, he confessed. "My own share in the rav- 
ages they shall make upon our liberties is like to be as severe as 
any man's, from the rage and fury of a party who are in them- 
selves implacable, and whom God has not been pleased to bless me 
with a talent to flatter and submit to." Of the dismissed minister 
Sunderland, with whom Defoe had been in personal relations dur- 
ing the negotiations for the Union, he spoke in terms of the 
warmest praise, always with a formal profession of challenging the 
Queen's judgment in discharging her servant. " My Lord Sun- 
derland," he said, "leaves the Ministry with the most unblemished 
character that ever I read of any statesman in the world." '■ I am 
making no court to my Lord Sunderland. The unpolished author 
of this paper never had the talent of making his court to the great 
men of the age." But where is the objection against his conduct ? 
Not a dog of the party can bark against him. " They cannot show 
me a man of their party that ever did act like him, or of whom 
they can say we should believe he would if he had the opportuni- 
ty." The Tories were clamouring for the dismissal of all the 
other Whigs. High-Church addresses to the Queen were pouring 
in, claiming to represent the sense of the nation, and hinting an 
absolute want of confidence in the Administration. Defoe exam- 
ined the conduct of the ministers severally and collectively, and 
demanded where was the charge against them, where the com- 
plaint, where the treasure misapplied ? 

As for the sense of the nation, there was one sure way of test- 
ing this better than any got-up addresses, namely, the rise and fall 
of the public credit. The public stocks fell immediately on the 



news of Sunderland's dismissal, and were only partially revived 
upon Her Majesty's assurance to the Directors' of the Bank that 
she meant to keep the Ministry otherwise unchanged. A rumour 
that Parliament was to be dissolved had sent them down again. 
If the public credit is thus affected by the mere apprehension of 
a turn of affairs in England, Defoe said, the thing itself will be a 
fatal blow to it. The coy Lady Credit had been wavering in her 
attachment to England ; any sudden change would fright her away 
altogether. As for the pooh-pooh cry of the Tories that the na- 
tional credit was of no consequence, that a nation could not be in 
debt to itself, and that their moneyed men would come forward 
with nineteen shillings in the pound for the support of the war, 
Defoe treated this clap-trap with proper ridicule. 

But in spite of all Defoe's efforts, the crash came. On the loth 
of August the Queen sent to Godolphin for the Treasurer's staff, and 
Harley became her Prime Minister. How did Defoe behave then ? 
The first two numbers of the Reviexu after the Lord Treasurer's 
fall are among the most masterly of his writings. He was not a 
small, mean, timid time-server and turn-coat. He faced about with 
bold and steady caution, on the alert to give the lie to anybody who 
dared to accuse him of facing about at all. He frankly admitted 
that he was in a quandary what to say about the change that had 
taken place. "If a man could be found that could sail north and 
south, that could speak (.ruth and falsehood, that could turn to the 
right hand and the left, all at the same time, he would be the man, 
he would be the only proper person that should now speak." Of 
one thing only he was certain. " We are sure honest men go out." 
As for their successors, 4i it is our business to hope, and time must 
answer for those that come in. If Tories, if Jacobites, if High- 
fliers, if madmen of any kind are to come in, I am against them ; 
I ask them no favour, I make no court to them, nor am I going 
about to please them." But the question was, what was to be 
done in the circumstances ? Defoe stated plainly two courses, 
with their respective dangers. To cry out about the new Minis- 
try was to ruin public credit. To profess cheerfulness was to en- 
courage the change and strengthen the hands of those that desired 
to push it farther. On the whole, for himself he considered the 
first danger the most to be dreaded of the two. Therefore he an- 
nounced his intention of devoting his whole energy to maintaining 
the public credit, and advised all true Whigs to do likewise. 
"Though I don't like the crew, I won't sink the ship. I'll do my 
best to save the ship. I'll pump and heave and haul, and do any- 
thing I can, though he that pulls with me were my enemy. The 
reason is plain. We are all in the ship, and must sink or swim 

What could be more plausible ? W T hat conduct more truly pat- 
riotic ? Indeed, it would be difficult to find fault with Defoe's be- 
haviour, were it not for the rogue's protestations of inability to 
court the favour of great men, and his own subsequent confessions 
in his Appeal to Honour and Justice, as to what took place be< 


hind the scenes. Immediately on the turn of affairs he took steps 
to secure that connexion with the Government, the existence ol 
which he was always denying. The day after Godolphin's dis- 
placement, he tells us, lie waited on him, and "humbly asked his 
lordship's direction what course he should take." Goclolphin at 
once assured him, in very much the same words that Harley had 
used before, that the change need make no difference to him ; he 
was the Queen's servant, and all that had been done for him was 
by Her Majesty's special and particular direction; his business 
was to wait till he saw things settled, and then apply himself to the 
Ministers of State to receive Her Majesty's commands from them. 
Thereupon Defoe resolved to guide himself by the following prin- 
ciple : — 

" It occurred to me immediately, as a principle for my conduct, that it 
was not material to me what ministers Her Majesty was pleased to em- 
ploy ; my duty was to go along with every Ministry, so far as they did 
not break in upon the Constitution, and the laws and liberties of my coun- 
try ; my part being only the duty of a subject, viz., to submit to all lawful 
commands, and to enter into no service which was not justifiable by the 
laws ; to all which I have exactly obliged myself." 

Defoe was thus, as he says, providentially cast back upon his 
original benefactor. That he received any consideration, pension, 
gratification, or reward for his services to Harley, " except that 
old appointment which Her Majesty was pleased to make him," he 
strenuously denied. The denial is possibly true, and it is extremely 
probable that he was within the truth when he protested in the 
most solemn manner that he had never " received any instructions, 
directions, orders, or let them call it what they will, of that kind, 
for the writing of any part of what he had written, or any mate- 
rials for the putting together, for the forming any book or pam- 
phlet whatsoever, from the said Earl of Oxford, late Lord Treas- 
urer," or from any person by his order or direction, since the time 
that the late Earl of Godolphin was Lord Treasurer." Defoe de- 
clared that " in all his writing, he evercapitulated for his liberty to 
speak according to his own judgment of things," and we may 
easily believe him. He was much too clever a servant to need in- 

His secret services to Harley in the new elections are probably 
buried in oblivion. In the Review he pursued a strain which to 
the reader who does not take his articles in connection with the 
politics of the time, might appear to be thoroughly consistent with 
his advice to the electors on previous occasions. He meant to 
confine himself, he said at starting, rather to the manner of choos- 
ing than to the persons to be chosen, and he never denounced 
bribery, intimidation, rioting, rabbling, and every form of interfer- 
ence with the electors' freedom of choice, in more energetic lan- 
guage. As regarded the persons to be chosen, his advice was as 
before, to choose moderate men — men of sense and temper, not 


men of fire and fury. But he no longer asserted, as he had done 
before, the exclusive possession of good qualities by the Whigs. 
He now recognised that there were hot Whigs as well as moderate 
Whigs, moderate Tories as well as hot Tories. It was for the 
nation to avoid both extremes and rally round the men of modera- 
tion, whether Whig or Tory. ' l li we have a Tory High-flying 
Parliament, we Tories are undone. If we have a hot Whig Parlia- 
ment, we Whigs are undone." 

The terms of Defoe's advice were unexceptionable, but the 
Whigs perceived a change from the time when he declared that if 
ever we have a Tory Parliament the nation is undone. It was as 
if a Republican writer, after the coup d'etat of the 16th May, 1877, 
had warned the French against electing extreme Republicans, and 
had echoed the Marshal-President's advice to give their votes to 
moderate men of all parties. Defoe did not increase the conviction 
of his party loyalty when a Tory Parliament was returned, by try- 
ing to prove that whatever the new members might call themselves, 
they must inevitably be Whigs. He admitted in the most unquali- 
fied way that the elections had been disgracefully riotous and dis- 
orderly, and lectured the constituencies freely on their conduct. 
"It is not," he said, "a Free Parliament that you have chosen. 
You have met, mobbed, rabbled, and thrown dirt at one another, 
but election by mob is no more free election than Oliver's election 
by a standing army. Parliaments and rabbles are contrary things." 
Yet he had hopes of the gentlemen who had been thus chosen. 

" I have it upon many good grounds, as I think I told you, that there 
are some people who are shortly to come together, of whose character, 
let the people that send them up think what they will, when they come 
thither they will not run the mad length that is expected of them ; they 
will act upon the Revolution principle, keep within the circle of the law, 
proceed with temper, moderation, and justice, to support the same interest 
we have all carried on — and this I call being Whiggish, or acting as 

" I shall not trouble you with further examining why they will be so, 
or why they will act thus ; I think it is so plain from the necessity of the 
Constitution and the circumstances of things before them, that it needs 
no further demonstration — they will be Whigs, they must be Whigs ; 
there is no remedy, for the Constitution is a Whig." 

The new members of Parliament must either be Whigs or traitors, 
for everybody who favours the Protestant succession is a Whig, 
and evervbody who does not is a traitor. Defoe used the same in- 
genuity in playing upon words in his arguments in support of the 
public credit. Every true Whig, he argued, in the Review and in 
separate essays, was bound to uphold the public credit, for to per- 
mit it to be impaired was the surest way to let in the Pretender. 
The Whigs were accused of withdrawing their money from the 
public stocks, to mark their distrust of the Government. " Non- 
sense ! " Defoe said, " in that case they would not be Whigs." 
Naturally enough, as the Review now practically supported a Min* 


iStry in which extreme Tories had the predominance, he was up- 
braided for having gone over to that party. " Why, gentlemen," he 
retorted, " it would be more natural for you to think I am turned 
Turk than High flier ; and to make me a' Mahometan would not be 
half so ridiculous as to make me say the Whigs are running down 
credit, when, on the contrary, I am still satisfied if there were no 
Whigs at this time, there would hardly be any such thing as credit 
left among us." " If the credit of the nation is to be maintained, 
we must all act as Whigs, because credit can be maintained upon no 
other foot. Had the doctrine of non-resistance of tyranny been 
voted, had the Prerogative been exalted above the Law, and prop- 
erty subjected to absolute will, would Parliament have voted the 
funds ? Credit supposes Whigs lending and a Whig Government 
borrowing. It is nonsense to talk of credit and passive sub- 

Had Defoe confined himself to lecturing those hot Whigs who 
were so afraid of the secret Jacobitism of Harley's colleagues that 
they were tempted to withdraw their money from the public stocks, 
posterity, unable to judge how far these fears were justified, and 
how far it was due to a happy accident that they were not realised, 
might have given him credit for sacrificing partisanship to patriot- 
ism. This plea could hardly be used for another matter in which, 
with every show of reasonable fairness, he gave a virtual support 
to the Ministry. We have seen how he spoke of Marlborough, 
and Godolphin's management of the army and the finances 
when the Whigs were in office. When the Tories came in, they at 
once set about redeeming their pledges to inquire into the malver- 
sation of their predecessors. Concerning this proceeding, Defoe 
spoke with an approval which, though necessarily guarded in view 
of his former professions of extreme satisfaction, was none the less 
calculated to recommend. 

" Inquiry into miscarriages in things so famous and so fatal as war 
and battle is a thing so popular that no man can argue against it ; and 
had we paid well, and hanged well, much sooner, as some men had not 
been less in a condition to mistake, so some- others might not have been 
here to find fault. But it is better late than never; when the inquiry is set 
about heartily, it may be useful on several accounts, both to unravel past 
errors and to prevent new. For mv part, as we have for many vears past 
groaned for want of justice upon wilful mistakes, yet, in hopes som° of 
the careful and mischievous designing gentlemen may come in for a share, 
1 am glad the work is begun. " 

With equal good humour and skill in leaving open a double inter- 
pretation, he commented on the fact that the new Parliament did 
not, as had been customary, give a formal vote of thanks to Marl- 
borough for his conduct of his last campaign. 

" We have had a mighty pother here in print about rewarding of 
generals. Some think great men too much rewarded, and some think 
them too little rewarded. The case is so nice, neither side will bear me to 


speak my mind ; but I am persuaded of this, that there is no general has 
or ever will merit great things of us, but he has received and will receive 
all the grateful acknowledgments he ought to expect." 

But his readers would complain that he had not defined the word 
"ought." That, he said, with audacious pleasantry, he left to 
them. And while they were on the subject of mismanagement, he 
would give them a word of advice which he had often given them 
before. " While you bite and devour one another, you are all mis- 
managers. Put an end to your factions, your tumults, your rabbles, 
or you will not be able to make war upon anybody." Previously, 
however, his way of making peace at home was to denounce the 
High-fliers. He was still pursuing the same object, though by a 
different course, now that the leaders of the High-fliers were in 
office, when he declared that "those Whigs who say that the new 
Ministry is entirely composed of Tories and High-fliers are fool- 
Whigs." The remark was no doubt perfectly true, but yet if Defoe 
had been thoroughly consistent he ought at least, instead of support- 
ing the Ministry on account of the small moderate element it con- 
tained, to have urged its purification from dangerous ingredients. 

This, however, it must be admitted, he also did, though indi- 
rectly and at a somewhat later stage, when Harley's tenure of the 
Premiership was menaced by High-fliers who thought him much 
too lukewarm a leader. A " cave," the famous October Club, was 
formed in the autumn of 171 1, to urge more extreme measures upon 
the ministry against Whig officials, and to organise a High-Church 
agitation throughout the country. It consisted chiefly of country 
squires, who wished to see members of the late Ministry impeached, 
and the Duke of Marlborough dismissed from the command of the 
army. At Harley's instigation Swift wrote an "advice "to these 
hot partisans, beseeching them to have patience and trust the 
Ministry, and everything that they wished would happen in due 
time. Defoe sought to break their ranks by a direct onslaught in 
his most vigorous style, denouncing them in the Review as Jaco- 
bites in disguise and an illicit importation from France, and writing 
their " secret history," "with some friendly characters of the il- 
lustrious members of that honourable society " in two separate 
tracts. This skirmish served the double purpose ol strengthening 
Harley against the reckless zealots of his party, and keeping up 
Defoe's appearance of impartiality. Throughout the fierce struggle 
of parties, never so intense in any period of our history as during 
those years when the Constitution itself hung in the balance, itwas 
as a True-born Englishman first and a Whig and Dissenter after- 
wards, that Defoe gave his support to the Tory Ministry. It may 
not have been his fault ; he may have been most unjustly sus- 
pected ; but nobody at the time would believe his protestations 
of independence. When his former High-flying persecutor, the 
Earl of Nottingham, went over to the Whigs, and with their acqui- 
escence, or at least without their active opposition, introduced 
another Bill to put down Occasional Conformity, Defoe wrote 
trenchantly against it. But even then the Dissenters, as he loudly 


lamented, repudiated his alliance. The Whigs were not so much 
pleased on this occasion with his denunciations of the persecuting 
spirit of the High-Churchmen, as they were enraged by his sting- • 
ing taunts levelled at themselves for abandoning the Dissenters to 
their persecutors. The Dissenters must now see, Defoe said, that 
they would not be any better off under a Low-Church ministry than 
under a High-Church ministry. But the Dissenters, considering 
that the Whigs were too much in a minority to prevent the passing 
of the Bill, however willing to do so, would only see in their pro- 
fessed champion an artful supporter of the men in power. 

A curious instance has been preserved of the estimate of Defoe's 
character at this time.* M. Mesnager, an agent sent by the French 
King to sound the Ministry and the country as to terms of peace, 
wanted an able pamphleteer to promote the French interest. The 
Swedish Resident recommended Defoe, who had just issued a 
tract, entitled Reasons why this Nation ought to put an end to this 
expensive IVar. Mesnager was delighted with the tract, at once 
had it translated into French and circulated through the Nether- 
lands, employed the Swede to treat with Defoe, and sent him a 
hundred pistoles, by way of earnest. Defoe kept the pistoles, but 
told the Queen, M. Mesnager recording that though "he missed 
his aim in this person, the money perhaps was not wholly lost ; for 
I afterwards understood that the man was in the service of the 
state, and that he had let the Queen know of the hundred pistoles 
he had received ; so I was obliged to sit still, and be very well sa- 
tisfied that I had not discovered myself to him, for it was not our 
season yet." The anecdote at once shows the general opinion en- 
tertained of Defoe, and the fact that he was less corruptible than 
was supposed. There can be little doubt that our astute intriguer 
would have outwitted the French emissary if he had not been 
warned in time, pocketed his bribes, and wormed his secrets out 
of him for the information of the Government. 

During Godolphin's Ministry, Defoe's cue had been to reason 
with the nation against too impatient a longing for peace. Let us 
have peace by all means, had been his text, but not till honourable 
terms have been secured, and meantime the war is going on as 
prosperously as any but madmen can desire. He repeatedly chal- 
lenged adversaries'who compared what he wrote then with what he 
wrote under the new Ministry, to prove him guilty of inconsistency. 
He stood on safe ground when he made this challenge, for circum- 
stances had changed sufficiently to justify any change of opinion. 
The plans of the confederates were disarranged by the death of the 
Emperor, and the accession of his brother, the Archduke Charles, 
to the vacant crown. To give the crown of Spain in these new 
circumstances to the Archduke, as had been the object of the Allies 
when they began the war, would have been as dangerous to the 
balance of power as to let Spain pass to Louis's grandson, Philip 

* I doubt whether it adds to the credibility of the story in all points that the minutes of 
M. Mesnager's Negotiations were "translated," and probably composed by Defoe him- 
self. See. p. 87. 


of Anjou. It would be more dangerous, Defoe argued; and by fat 
the safest course would be to give Spain to Philip and his posterity, 
who "would be as much Spaniards in a very short time, as ever 
Philip II. was or any of his other predecessors." This was the 
main argument which had been used in the latter days of King 
William against going to war at all, and Defoe had then refuted it 
scornfully ; but circumstances had changed, and he not only 
adopted it, but also issued an essay "proving that it was always the 
sense both of King William and of all the Confederates, and even 
of the Grand Alliance itself, that the Spanish monarchy should 
never be united in the person of the Emperor." Partition the 
Spanish dominions in Europje between France and Germany, and 
the West Indies between England and Holland — such was Defoe's 
idea of a proper basis of peace. 

But while Defoe expounded in various forms the conditions of 
a good peace, he devoted his main energy to proving that peace 
under some conditions was a necessity. He dilated on the enor 
mous expense of the war, and showed by convincing examples that 
it was ruining the trade of the country. Much that he said was 
perfectly true, but if he had taken M. Mesnager's bribes and 
loyally carried out his instructions, he could not more effectually 
have served the French King's interests than by writing as he did 
at that juncture. The proclaimed necessity under which England 
lay to make peace, offered Louis an advantage which he was not 
slow to take. The proposals which he made at the Congress of 
Utrecht, and which he had ascertained would be accepted by the 
English Ministry and the Queen, were not unjustly characterised 
by the indignant Whigs as being such as he might have made at 
the close of a successful war. The territorial concessions to Eng- 
land and Holland were insignificant ; the States were to have the 
right of garrisoning certain barrier towns in Flanders, and England 
was to have some portions of Canada. But there was no mention 
of dividing the West Indies between them — the West Indies were 
to remain attached to Spain. It was the restoration of their trade 
that was their main desire in these great commercial countries, and 
even that object Louis agreed to promote in a manner that seemed, 
according to the ideas of the time, to be more to his own advantage 
than to theirs. In the case of England, he was to remove prohibi- 
tions against our imports, and in return we engaged to give the 
French imports the privileges of the most favoured nations. In 
short, we were to have free trade with France, which the commer- 
cial classes of the time looked upon as a very doubtful blessing. 

It is because Defoe wrote in favour of this free trade that he is 
supposed to have been superior to the commercial fallacies of the 
time. But a glance at his arguments shows that this is a ver*' 
hasty inference. It was no part of Defoe's art as a controversialist 
to seek to correct popular prejudices ; on the contrary, it was his 
habit to take them for granted as the bases of his arguments, to 
work from them as premisses towards his conclusion. He expressly 
avowed himself a prohibitionist in principle : — 


•' I afti far from being of their mind who say that all prohibitions are 
destructive to trade, and that wise nations, the Dutch, make no prohibi- 
tions at all. 

" Where any nation has, by the singular blessing of God, a produce 
given to their country from which such a manufacture can be made as 
other nations cannot be without, and none can make that produce but 
themselves, it would be distraction in that nation not to prohibit the ex- 
portation of that original produce till it is manufactured." 

He had been taunted with flying in the face of what he had 
himself said in King William's time in favor of prohibition. But 
he boldly undertakes to prove that prohibition was absolutely 
necessary in King William's time, and not only so, but that " the 
advantages we may make of taking off a prohibition now are all 
founded upon the advantages we did make of laying on a prohibi- 
tion then : that the same reason which made a prohibition then the 
best thing, makes it now the maddest thing a nation could do or 
ever did in the matter of trade." In Kin<jf William's time, the 
balance of trade was against us to the extent of 850,000/., in con- 
sequence of the French King's laying extravagant duties upon the 
import of all our woollen manufactures. 

" Whoever thinks that by opening the French trade I should mean 
that we should come to trade with them 850,000/. per annum 
to our loss, must think me as mad as I think him for suggesting it ; but 
if, on the contrary, I prove that as we traded then 850,000/. a year to our 
loss, we can trade now with them 600,000/. to our gain, then I will ven- 
ture to draw this consequence, that we are distracted, speaking of our 
trading wits, if we do not trade with them." 

In a preface to the Eighth Volume of the Review (July 29, 171 2), 
Defoe announced his intention of discontinuing the publication, in 
consequence of the tax then imposed on newspapers. We can 
hardly suppose that this was his real motive, and as a matter of 
fact the Review, whose death had been announced, reappeared 
in due course in the form of a single leaf, and was published in 
that form till the nth of June, 1 713. By that time a new 
project was on foot which Defoe had frequently declared his 
intention of starting, a paper devoted exclusively to the discussion 
of the affairs of trade. The Review at one time had declared its 
main subject to be trade, but had claimed a liberty of digression 
under which the main subject had all but disappeared. At last, 
however, in May, 17 13, when popular excitement and hot Parlia- 
mentary debates were expected on the Commercial Treaty with 
France, an exclusivelv trading paper was established, entitled 
Mercator. Defoe denied being the author — that is conductor or 
editor of this paper — and said that he had not power to put what 
he would into it ; which may have been literally true. Every num- 
ber, however, bears traces of his hand or guidance ; Mercator is 
identical in opinions, style, and spirit with the Review, differing 
only in the greater openness of its attacks upon the opposition of 


the Whigs to the Treaty of Commerce. Party spirit was so violent 
that summer, after the publication of the terms of the Treaty of 
Utrecht, that Defoe was probably glad to shelter himself under the 
responsibility of another name ; he had flaunted the cloak of im- 
partial advice till it had become a thing of shreds and patches. 

To prove that the balance of trade, in spite of a prevailing im- 
pression to the contrary, not only might be, but had been, on the 
side of England, was the chief purpose of Mercator. The Whig 
Flying Post chaffed Mercator ior trying to reconcile impossibilities, 
but Mercator held stoutly on with an elaborate apparatus of com- 
parative tables of exports and imports, and ingenious schemes for 
the development of various branches of the trade with France. 
Defoe was too fond of carrying the war into the enemy's country, 
to attack prohibitions or the received doctrine as to the balance of 
trade in principle ; he fought the enemy spiritedly on their own 
ground. " Take a medium of three years for above forty years 
past, and calculate the exports and imports to and from France, 
and it shall appear the balance of trade was always on the English 
side, to the loss and disadvantage of the French." It followed, 
upon the received commercial doctrines, that the French King was 
making a great concession in consenting to take off high duties 
upon English goods. This was precisely what Defoe was labour- 
ing to prove. " The French King in taking off the said high duties 
ruins all his own manufactures." The common belief was that 
the terms of peace would ruin English manufacturing industry ; 
full in the teeth of this, Defoe, as was his daring custom, flung the 
paradox of the extreme opposite. On this occasion he acted 
purely as a party writer. That he was never a free-trader, at least 
in principle, will appear from the following extract from his Plan 
of the English Co7>i7>ierce, published in 1728 : — 

" Seeing trade then is the fund of wealth and power, we cannot wonder 
that we see the wisest Princes and States anxious and concerned for the 
increase of the commerce and trade of their subjects, and of the growth of 
the country ; anxious to propagate the sale of such goods as are the manu- 
facture of their own subjects, and that employs their own people ; espe- 
cially of such as keep the money of their dominions at home ; and on 
the contrary, for prohibiting the importation from abroad of such things 
as are the product of other countries, and of the labour of other people, 
or which carry money back in return, and not merchandise in exchange. 

" Nor can we wonder that we see such Princes and States endeavour- 
ing to set up such manufactures in their own countries, which they see 
successfully and profitably carried on by their neighbours, and to en- 
deavour to procure the materials proper for setting up those manufactures 
by all just and possible methods from other countries. 

" Hence we cannot blame the French or Germans for endeavouring to 
get over the British wool into their hands, by the help of which they may 
bring their people to imitate our manufactures, which are so esteemed in 
the world, as well as so gainful at home. 

" Nor can we blame any foreign nation for prohibiting the use and 
wearing of our manufactures, if they can either make them at home, ot 
make any which they can shift with in their stead. 


" The reason is plain. 'Tis the interest of every nation to encourage 
their own trade, to encourage those manufactures that will employ their 
own subjects, consume their own growth of provisions, as well as materi- 
als of commerce, and such as will keep their money or species at home. 

" 'Tis from this just principle that the French prohibit the English 
woollen manufacture, and the English again prohibit, or impose a tax 
equal to a prohibition, on the French silks, paper, linen, and several 
other of their manufactures. 'Tis from the same just reason in trade that 
we prohibit the wearing of East India wrought silks, printed calicoes, 
&c. ; that we prohibit the importation of French brandy, Brazil sugars, 
and Spanish tobacco; and so of several other things." 




Defoe's unwearied zeal in the service of Harley had excited 
the bitterest resentment among his old allies, the Whigs. He 
often complained of it, more in sorrow than in anger. He had no 
right to look for any other treatment ; it was a just punishment 
upon him for seeking the good of his country without respect of 
parties. An author that wrote from principle had a very hard task 
in those dangerous times. If he ventured on the dangerous preci- 
pice of telling unbiassed truth, he must expect martyrdom from 
both sides. The resignation of the simple single-minded patriot to 
the pains and penalties of honesty, naturally added to the rage of 
the party with whose factious proceedings he would have nothing 
to do ; and yet it has always been thought an extraordinary in- 
stance of party spite that the Whigs should have instituted a 
prosecution against him, on the alleged ground that a certain re- 
markable series of Tracts were written in favour of the Pretender. 
Towards the end of 1 71 2 Defoe had issued A Seasonable Warning 
and Caution against the Insinuations of Papists and Jacobites in 
favour of the Pretender. No charge of Jacobitism could be made 
against a pamphlet containing such a sentence as this : — 

"Think, then, dear Britons! what a King this Pretender must be! a 
papist by inclination ; a tvrant by education; a Frenchman by honour 
and obligation ; — and how long will your liberties last you in this con- 
dition ? And when your liberties are gone, how long will your religion re- 
main ? When your hands are tied ; when armies bind you ; when power 
oppresses you ; when a tyrant disarms vou ; when a Popish French tyrant 
reigns over you; by what means or methods can you pretend to maintain 
your Protestant religion ? " 

A second pamphlet, Hannibal at the Gates, strongly urging 
party union and the banishment of factious spirit, was equally un- 
mistakable in tone. The titles of the following three of the series 
were more startling: — Reasons against the Successio7i of the House 
of Hanover — And what if the Pretender should come? or Some 
considerations of the advantages and real conseqtiences of the Pre- 
tender's possessing the Crown of Great Britain — An Answer to 
a Question that nobody thinks of, viz. But what if the Queen 
should die ? The contents, however, were plainly ironical. The 


main reason against the Succession of the Prince of Hanover was 
that it might be wise for the nation to take a short turn of a French, 
Popish, hereditary-right regime in the first place as an emetic. 
Emetics were good for the health of individuals, and there could 
be no better preparative for a healthy constitutional government 
than another experience of arbitrary power. Defoe had used the 
same ironical argument for putting Tories in office in 1708. The 
advantages of the Pretender's possessing the Crown were that we 
should be saved from all further danger of a war with France, and 
should no longer hold the exposed position of a Protestant State 
among the great Catholic Powers of Europe. The point of the 
last pamphlet of the series was less distinct ; it suggested the 
possibility of the English people losing their properties, their 
estates, inheritance, lands, goods, lives, and liberties, unless they 
were clear in their own minds what course to take in the event of 
the Queen's death. But none of the three Tracts contain anything 
that could possibly be interpreted as a serious argument in' favor 
of the Pretender. They were all calculated to support the Succes- 
sion of the Elector of Hanover. Why, then, should the Whigs 
have prosecuted the author? It was a strange thing, as Defoe did 
not fail to complain, that they should try to punish a man for 
writing in their own interest. 

The truth, however, is that although Defoe afterwards tried to 
convince the Whig leaders that he had written these pamphlets in 
their interest, they were written in the interest of Harley. They 
were calculated to recommend that Minister to Prince George, in 
the event of his accession to the English throne. We see this at 
once when we examine their contents by the light of the personal 
intrigues of the time. Harley was playing a double game. It was 
doubtful who the Queen's successor would be, and he aimed at 
making- himself safe in either of the two possible contingencies. 
Very soon after his accession to power in 1710. he made vague 
overtures for the restoration of the Stuarts under guarantees for 
civil and religious liberty, When pressed to take definite steps in 
pursuance of this plan he deprecated haste, and put off and put 
off, till the Pretender's adherents lost patience. All the time he 
was making protestations of fidelity to the Court of Hanover. The 
increasing vagueness of his promises to the Jacobites seems to 
show that, as time went on, he became convinced that the Hano- 
verian was the winning cause. No man could better advise him 
as to the feeling of the English people than Defoe, who was con- 
stantly perambulating the country on secret services, in all prob- 
ability for the direct purpose of sounding the general opinion. It 
was towards the end of 171 2, by which time Harley's shilly-shallying 
had effectually disgusted the Jacobites, that the first of Defoe's 
series of Anti-Jacobite tracts appeared. It professed to be written 
by An Englishman at the Court of Hanover, which affords some 
ground, though it must be confessed slight, for supposing that 
Defoe had visited Hanover, presumably as the bearer of some of 
Harley's assurances of loyalty. The Seasonable Warning and 


Caution was circulated, Defoe himself tells us, in thousands among 
the poor people by several of his friends. Here was a fact to 
which Harley could appeal as a circumstantial proof of his zeal in 
the Hanoverian cause. Whether Defoe's Anti-Jacobite tracts 
really served his benefactor in this way, can only be matter of 
conjecture. However that may be, they were upon the surface 
written in Harley's interest. The warning and caution was ex- 
pressly directed against the insinuations that the Ministry were in 
favour of the Pretender. All who made these insinuations were 
assumed by the writer to be Papists, Jacobites, and enemies of 
Britain. As these insinuations were the chief war-cry of the 
Whigs, and we now know that they were not without foundation, 
it is easy to understand why Defoe's pamphlets, though Anti- 
Jacobite, were resented by the party in whose interest he had 
formerly written. He excused himself afterwards by saying that 
he was not aware of the Jacobite leanings of the Ministry ; that 
none of them ever said one word in favour of the Pretender to him ; 
that he saw no reason to believe that they did favour the Pretender. 
As for himself, he said, they certainly never employed him in any 
Jacobite intrigue. He defied his enemies to "prove that he ever 
kept company or had any society, friendship, or conversation with 
any Jacobite. So averse had he been to the interest and the 
people, that he had studiously a/oided their company on all occa- 
sions." Within a few months of his making these protestations, 
Defoe was editing a Jacobite newspaper under secret instructions 
from a Whig Government. But this is anticipating. 

That an influential Whig should have set on foot a prosecution 
of Defoe as the author of " treasonable libels against the House of 
Hanover," although the charge had no foundation in the language 
of the incriminated pamphlets, is intelligible enough. The Whig 
party writers were delighted with the prosecution, one of them 
triumphing over Defoe as being caught at last, and put " in Lob's 
pound," and speaking of him as " the vilest of all the writers that 
have prostituted their pens either to encourage faction, oblige a 
party, or serve their own mercenary ends." But that the Court of 
Queen's Bench, before whom Defoe was brought — with some diffi- 
culty, it would appear, for he had fortified his house at Newing- 
ton like Robinson Crusoe's castle — should have unanimously de- 
clared his pamphlets co be treasonable, and that one of them, on 
his pleading that they were ironical, should have told him it was 
a kind of irony for which he might come to be hanged, drawn, and 
quartered, is not so easy to understand, unless we suppose that, 
in these tempestuous times, judges like other men were powerfully 
swayed by party feeling. It is possible, however, that they deemed 
the mere titles of the pamphlets offences in themselves, disturbing 
cries raised while the people were not yet clear of the forest of 
anarchy, and still subject to dangerous panics — offences of the 
same nature as if a man should shout fire in sport in a crowded 
theatre. Possibly, also, the severity of the Court was increased by 
Defoe's indiscretion in commenting upon the case in the Review, 


while it was still sub judice. At any rate he escaped punishment. 
The Attorney-General was ordered to prosecute him, but before 
the trial came off Defoe obtained a pardon under the royal seal. 

The Whigs were thus baulked of revenge upon their renegade. 
Their loyal writers attributed Defoe's pardon to the secret Jacob- 
itism of the Ministry — quite wrongly — as we have just seen he was 
acting for Harley as a Hanoverian and not as a Jacobite. Curiously 
enough, when Defoe next came before the Queen's Bench, the 
instigator of the prosecution was a Tory, and the Government was 
Whig, and he again escaped from the clutches of the law by the 
favour of the Government. Till Mr. William Lee's remarkable 
discovery, fourteen years ago, of certain letters in Defoe's hand- 
writing in the State Paper Office, it was generally believed that on 
the death of Queen Anne, the fall of the Tory Administration, and 
the complete discomfiture of Harley's trimming policy, the veteran 
pamphleteer and journalist, now fifty-three years of age, withdrew 
from political warfare, and spent the evening of his life in the com- 
position of those works of fiction which have made his name im- 
mortal. His biographers had misjudged his character and under- 
rated his energy. When Harley fell from power, Defoe sought 
service under the Whigs. He had some difficulty in regaining 
their favour, and when he did obtain employment from them, it 
was of a kind little to his honour. 

In his Appeal to Honour and Justice, published early in 171 5, 
in which he defended himself against the charges copiously and 
virulently urged of being a party-writer, a hireling, and a turncoat, 
and explained everything that was doubtful in his conduct by 
alleging the obligations of gratitude to his first benefactor Harley, 
Defoe declared that since the Queen's death he had taken refuge 
in absolute silence. He found, he said, that if he offered to say a 
word in favour of the Hanoverian settlement, it was called fawning 
and turning round again, and therefore he resolved to meddle 
neither one way nor the other. He complained sorrowfully that in 
spite of this resolution, and though he had not written one book 
since the Queen's death, a great many things were called by his 
name. In that case, he had no resource but to practice a Chris- 
tian spirit and pray for the forgiveness of his enemies. This was 
Defoe's own account, and it was accepted as the whole truth, till 
Mr. Lee's careful research and good fortune gave adifferent colour 
to his personal history from the time of Harley's displacement.* 

During the dissensions, in the last days of the Queen which 
broke up the Tory Ministry, Mercator was dropped. Defoe seems 
immediately to have entered into communication with the printer 
of the Whig Flying Post, one William Hurt. The owner of the Post 
was abroad at the time, but his managers, whether actuated by 
personal spite or reasonable suspicion, learning that Hurt was in 

* In making mention of Mr. Lee's valuable researches and discoveries, I ought to add 
that his manner o£ connecting the facts for which I am indebted to him, and the construc- 
tion he puts upon them, is entirely different from mine. For the view here implied of 
Defoe's character and motives, Mr. Lee is in no way responsible. 



communication with one whom they looked upon as their enemy, 
decided at once to change their printer. There being no copyright 
in newspaper titles in those days, Hurt retaliated by engaging Defoe 
to write another paper under the same title, advertising that, from 
the arrangements he had made, readers would find the new Flying 
Post better than the old. It was in his labours on this sham Fly- 
ing Post, as the original indignantly called it in an appeal to Hurt's 
sense of honour and justice against the piracy, that Defoe came 
into collision with the law. His new organ was warmly loyal. 
On the 14th of August it contained a highly-coloured panegyric of 
George I., which alone would refute Defoe's assertion that he 
knew nothing of the arts of the courtier. His Majesty was de- 
scribed as a combination of more graces, virtues, and capacities than 
the world had ever seen united in one individual, a man " born for 
council and fitted to command the world." Another number 
of the Flying Post, a few days afterwards, contained an attack 
on one of the few Tories among the Lords of the Regency, 
nominated for the management of affairs till the King's ar- 
rival. During Bolingbroke's brief term of ascendency, he had 
despatched the Earl of Anglesey on a mission to Ireland. The 
Earl had hardly landed at Dublin when news followed him of the 
Queen's death, and he returned to act as one of the Lords Regent. 
In the Flying Post Defoe asserted that the object of his journey 
to Ireland was " to new model the Forces there, and particularly 
to break no less than seventy of the honest officers of the army, 
and to fill up their places with the tools and creatures of Con. 
Phipps, and such a rabble of cut-throats as were fit for the work 
that they had for them to do.'' That there was some truth in the 
allegation is likely enough ; Sir Constantine Phipps was, at least, 
shortly afterwards dismissed from his offices. But Lord Anglesey 
at once took action against it as a scandalous libel. Defoe was 
brought before the Lords Justices, and committed for trial. 

He was liberated, however, on bail, and in spite of what he says 
about his resolution not to meddle on either side, made an ener- 
getic use of his liberty. He wrote The Secret History of One 
Year — the year after William's accession — vindicating the King's 
clemency towards the abettors of the arbitrary government of 
James, and explaining that he was compelled to employ many of 
them by the rapacious scrambling of his own adherents for places 
and pensions. The indirect bearing of this tract is obvious. In 
October three pamphlets came from Defoe's fertile pen; an Ad- 
vice to the People of England its lay aside feuds and faction, and 
live together under the new King like good Christians; and two 
parts, in quick succession of a Secret History of the White Staff. 
This last work was an account of the circumstances under which 
the Treasurer's White Staff was taken from the Earl of Oxford, 
and put his conduct in a favourable light, exonerating him from the 
suspicion of Jacobitism, and affirming — not quite accurately as 
other accounts of the transaction seem to imply — that it was 
by Harley's advice that the Staff was committed to the Earl of 



Shrewsbury. One would be glad to accept this as proof of Defoe's 
attachment to the cause of his disgraced benefactor; yet Harley, 
as he lay in the Tower awaiting his trial on an impeachment of 
high treason, issued a disclaimer concerning the Secret History 
and another pamphlet, entitled An Account of the Conduct of 
Robert, Earl of Oxford. These pamphlets, he said, were not 
written with his knowledge, or by his -direction or encouragement; 
"on the contrary, he had reason to believe from several passages 
therein contained that it was the intention of the author, or authors, 
to do him a -prejudice." This disclaimer may have been dictated 
by a wish not to appear wanting in respect to his judges ; at any 
rate, Defoe's Secret History bears no trace on the surface of a 
design to prejudice him by its recital of facts. An Appeal to 
Honour and justice was Defoe's next production. While writing 
it, he was seized with a violent apoplectic fit, and it was issued with 
a Conclusion by the Publisher, mentioning this circumstance, 
explaining that the pamphlet was consequently incomplete, and 
adding : " If he recovers, he may be able to finish what he began ; 
if not, it is the opinion of most that know him that the treatment 
which he here complains of, and some others that he would have 
spoken of, have been the apparent cause of his disaster." There 
is no sign of incompleteness in the Appeal; and the Conclusion 
by the Publisher, while the author lay "in a weak and languishing 
condition, neither able to go on nor likely to recover, at least in 
any short time," gives a most artistic finishing stroke to it. Defoe 
never interfered with the perfection of it after his recovery, which 
took place very shortly. The Appeal was issued in the first week 
of January; before the end of the month the indomitable writer 
was ready with a Third Part of the Secret History, and a reply to 
Atterbury's Advice to the Freeholders of England 'in view of the 
approaching elections. A series of tracts written in the character 
of a Quaker quickly followed, one rebuking a Dissenting preacher 
for inciting the new Government to vindictive severities, another 
rebuking Sacheverell for hypocrisy and perjury in taking the oath 
of abjuration, a third rebuking the Duke of Ormond for encouraging 
Jacobite and High-Church mobs. In March, Defoe published his 
Family Instructor, a book of 450 pages ; in July, his History, by 
a Scots Gentleman in the Swedish Service, of the Wars of Charles 

Formidable as the list of these works seems, it does not 
represent more than Defoe's average rate of production for thirty 
years of his life. With grave anxieties added to the strain of such 
incessant toil, it is no wonder that nature should have raised its 
protest in an apoplectic fit. Even nature must have owned herself 
vanquished, when she saw this very protest pressed intothes ervice 
of the irresistible and triumphant worker. All the time he was at 
large upon bail, awaiting his trial. The trial took place in July, 
1 71 5, and he was found guilty. But sentence was deferred till 
next term. October came round, but Defoe did not appear to 
receive his sentence. He had made his peace with the Govern- 



ment, upon " capitulations " of which chance has preserved the 
record in his own handwriting. He represented privately to Lord 
Chief Justice Parker that he had always been devoted to the Whig 
interest, and that any seeming departure from it had been due to 
errors of judgment, not to want of attachment. Whether the Whig 
leaders believed this representation we do not know, but they 
agreed to pardon " all former mistakes " if he would now enter 
faithfully into their service. Though the Hanoverian succession 
had been cordially welcomed by the steady masses of the nation, 
the Mar Rebellion in Scotland and the sympathy shown with this 
movement in the south warned them that their enemies were not 
to be despised. There was a large turbulent element in the pop- 
ulation, upon which agitators might work with fatal effect. The 
Jacobites had still a hold upon the Press, and the past years had 
been fruitful of examples of the danger of trying to crush sedition 
with the arm of the law. Prosecution had been proved to be the 
surest road to popularity. It occurred therefore that Defoe might 
be useful if he still passed as an opponent of the Government, 
insinuating himself as such into the confidence of Jacobites, ob- 
tained control of their publications, and nipped mischief in the bud. 
It was a dangerous and delicate service, exposing the emissary to 
dire revenge if he were detected, and to suspicion and miscon- 
truction from his employers in his efforts to escape detection. But 
Defoe, delighting in his superior wits, and happy in the midst of 
dangerous intrigues, boldly undertook the task. 




FOR the discovery of this " strange and surprising " chapter 
in Defoe's life, which clears up much that might otherwise have 
been disputable in his character, the world is indebted solely to Mr. 
William Lee. Accident put Mr. Lee on the right scent, from which 
previous biographers had been diverted by too literal and implicit 
a faith in the arch-deceiver's statements, and too comprehensive an 
application of his complaint that his name was made the hackney 
title of the times, upon which all sorts of low scribblers fathered 
their vile productions. Defoe's secret services on Tory papers 
exposed him, as we have seen, to misconstruction. Nobody knew 
this better than himself, and nobody could have guarded against 
it with more sleepless care. In the 'fourth year of King George's 
reign a change took place in the Ministry. Lord Townshend was 
succeeded in the Home Secretary's office by Lord Stanhope. 
Thereupon Defoe judged it expedient to write to a private secre- 
tary, Mr. de la Faye, explaining at length his position. This let- 
ter along with five others, also designed to prevent misconstruction 
by his employers, lay in the State Paper Office till the year 1864, 
when the whole packet fell into the hands of Mr. Lee. The fol- 
lowing succinct fragment of autobiography is dated April 26, 1718. 

" Though I doubt not but you have acquainted my Lord Stanhope 
with what humble sense of his lordship's goodness I received the account 
you were pleased to give me, that my little services are accepted, and that 
his lordship is satisfied to go upon the foot of former capitulations, etc. ; 
yet I confess, Sir, I have been anxious upon many accounts, with respect 
as well to the service itself as my own safety, lest my lord may think him- 
self ill-served by me, even when I have best performed my duty. 

" I thought 'it therefore not only a debt to myself, but a duty to his 
lordship, that I should give his lordship a short account, as clear as I can, 
how far my former instructions empowered me to act, and in a word what 
this little piece of service is, for which I am so much a subject of his 
lordship's present favour and bounty. 

" It was in the Ministry of my Lord Townshend, when my Lord Chief 
Justice Parker, to whom I stand obliged for the favour, was pleased so 
far to state my case, that notwithstanding the misrepresentations under 
which I had suffered, and notwithstanding some mistakes which I was the 


first to acknowledge, I was so h2ppy as to be believed in the professions 
I made of a sincere attachment to the interest of the present Government, 
and, speaking with all possible humility, I hope I have not dishonoured 
my Lord Parker's recommendation. 

" In considering, after this, which way I might be rendered most use- 
ful to the Government, it was proposed by my Lord Townshend that I 
should still appear as if I were, as before, under the displeasure of the 
Government, and separated from the Whigs ; and that I might be more 
serviceable in a kind of disguise than if I appeared openly ; and upon 
this foot a weekly paper, which I was at first directed to write, in opposi- 
tion to a scandalous paper called the Shift Shifted, was laid asicl ', and the 
first thing I engaged in was a monthly book called Mercurius Politicus, of 
which presently. In the interval of this, Dyer, the Neios-Letter writer, 
having been dead, and Dormer, his successor, being unable by his troubles 
to carry on that work, I had an offer of a share in the property, as well 
as in the management of that work. 

" I immediately acquainted my Lord Townshend of it, who, by Mr. 
Buckley, let me know it would be a very acceptable piece of service ; for 
that letter was really very prejudicial to the public, and the most difficult 
to come at in a judicial way in case of offence given. My lord was pleased 
to add, by Mr. Buckley, that he would consider my service in that case, as 
he afterwards did. 

" Upon this I engaged in it ; and that so far, that though the property 
was not wholly my own, yet the conduct and government of the style and 
news was so entirely in me, that I ventured to assure his lordship the 
sting of that mischievous paper should be entirely taken out, though it 
was granted that the style should continue Tory as it was, that the party 
might be amused and not set up another, which would have destroyed the 
design, and this part I therefore take entirely on myself still. 

" This went on for a year, before my Lord Townshend went out of the 
office; and his lordship, in consideration of this service, made me the ap- 
pointment which Mr. Buckley knows of, with promise of a further allow- 
ance as service presented. 

" My Lord Sunderland, to whose goodness I had many years ago been 
obliged, when I Was in a secret commission sent to Scotland, was pleased 
to approve and continue this service, and the appointment annexed ; and 
with his lordship's approbation, I introduced myself, in the disguise of a 
translator of the foreign news, to be so far concerned in this weekly paper 
of Mist's as to be able to keep it within the circle of a secret management, 
also prevent the mischievous part of it ; and yet neither Mist, or any of 
those concerned with him, have the least guess or suspicion by whose 
direction I do it. 

" But here it becomes necessary to acquaint my lord (as I hinted to 
you, Sir), that this paper, called the Journal, is not in myself in property, 
as the other, only in management ; with this express difference, that if 
anything happens to be put in without my knowledge, which may give 
offence, or if anything slips my observation which may be ill-taken, his 
lordship shall be sure always to know whether he has a servant to reprove 
or a stranger to correct. 

" Upon the whole, however, this is the consequence, that by this man- 
agement, the weekly Journal and Dortner's Letter, as also the Mercurius 
Politicus, which is in the same nature of management as the Journal, will 
be always kept (mistakes excepted) to pass as Tory papers and, yet be 
disabled and enervated, so as to do no mischief or give any offence to the 



Others of the tell-tale letters show us in detail how Defoe ac- 
quitted himself of his engagements to the Government — bowing, 
as he said, in the house of Rimmon. In one he speaks of a trai- 
torous pamphlet which he has stopped at the press, and begs the 
Secretary to assure his superiors that he has the original in safe 
keeping, and that no eye but his own has seen it. In another he 
apologises for an obnoxious paragraph which had crept into 
Mists Journal, avowing that " Mr. Mist did it, after I had looked 
over what he had gotten together," that he [Defoe] had no con- 
cern in it, directly or indirectly, and that he thought himself 
obliged to notice this, to make good what he said in his last, viz. 
that if any mistake happened, Lord Stanhope should always know 
whether he had a servant to reprove or a stranger to punish. In 
another he expresses his alarm at hearing of a private suit against 
Morphew, the printer of the Mercurius Politicus, for a passage in 
that paper, and explains, first, that the obnoxious passage appeared 
two years before, and was consequently covered by a capitulation 
giving him idcmnity for all former mistakes; secondly, that the 
thing itself was not his, neither could any one pretend to charge it 
on him, and consequently it could not be adduced as proof of any 
failure in his duty. In another letter he gives an account of a new 
tieaty with Mist. " I need not trouble you," he says, " with the 
particulars, but in a word he professes himself convinced that he 
has been wrong, that the Government has treated him with lenity 
and forbearance, and he solemnly engages to me to give no more 
offence. The liberties Mr. Buckley mentioned, viz. to seem on 
the same side as before, to rally the Flying Post, the Whig writers, 
and even the word ' Whig,' &c, and to admit foolish and trifling 
things in favour of the Tories. This, as I represented it to him, 
he agrees is liberty enough, and resolves his paper shall, for the 
future, amuse the Tories, but not affront the Government." If 
Mist should break through this understanding, Defoe hopes it will 
be understood that it is not his fault ; he can only say that the 
printer's resolutions of amendment seem to be sincere. 

" In pursuance also of this reformation, he brought me this morning the 
enclosed letter, which, indeed, I was glad to see, because, though it seems 
couched in terms which might have been made public, yet has a secret 
gall in it, and a manifest tendency to reproach the Government with par- 
tiality and injustice, and (as it acknowledges expressly) was written to 
serve a present turn. As this is an earnest of his just intention, I hope 
he will go on to your satisfaction. 

" Give me leave, Sir, to mention here a circumstance which concerns 
myself, and which, indeed, is a little hardship upon me, viz. that I seem 
to merit less, when I intercept a piece of barefaced treason at the Press, 
than when I stop such a letter as the enclosed ; because one seems to be 
of a kind which no man would dare to meddle with. But I would per- 
suade myself, Sir, that stopping such notorious things is not without its 
good effect, particularly because, as it is true that some people are gener- 
ally found who do venture to print anything that offers, so stopping them 
here is some discouragement and disappointment to them, and they often 
die in our hands. 


" I speak this, Sir, as well on occasion of what you were pleased to say 
upon that letter which I sent you formerly about Killing no Murder, as 
upon another with verses in it, which Mr. Mist gave me yesterday ; which, 
upon my word, is so villainous and scandalous that I scarce dare to send 
it without your order, and an assurance that my doing so shall be taken 
well, for I confess it has a peculiar insolence in it against His Majesty's 
person which (as blasphemous words against God) are scarce fit to be re- 

In the last of the series (of date June 13, 1718), Defoe is able 
to assure his employers that "he believes the time is come when 
the journal, instead of affronting and offending the Government, 
may many ways be made serviceable to the Government; and he 
has Mr. M. so absolutely resigned to proper measures for it, that 
he is persuaded he may answer for it." 

Following up the clue afforded by these letters, Mr. Lee has 
traced the history of Mis fs Journal under Defoe's surveillance. 
Mist did not prove so absolutely resigned to proper measures as 
his supervisor had begun to hope. On the contrary, he had fre- 
quent fits of refractory obstinacy, and gave a good deal of trouble 
both to Defoe and to the Government. Between them, however, 
they had the poor man completely in their power. When he 
yielded to the importunity of his Jacobite correspondents, or kicked 
against the taunts of the Whig organs about his wings being clipped 
— they, no more than he, knew how — his secret controllers had 
two ways of bringing him to reason. Sometimes the Government 
prosecuted him, wisely choosing occasions for their displeasure on 
which they were likely to have popular feeling on their side. At 
other times Defoe threatened to withdraw and have nothing more to 
do with the Journal. Once or twice he carried this threat into ex- 
ecution. His absence soon told on the circulation, and Mist en- 
treated him to return, making promises of good behaviour for 
the future. Further, Defoe commended himself to the gratitude 
of his unconscious dupe by sympathising with him in his troubles, 
undertaking the conduct of the paper while he lay in prison, and 
editing two volumes of a selection of Miscellany Letters from its 
columns. At last, however, after eight years of this partnership, 
during which Mist had no suspicion of Defoe's connexion with the 
Government, the secret somehow seems to have leaked out. Such 
at least is Mr. Lee's highly probable explanation of a murderous 
attack made by Mist upon his partner. 

Defoe, of course, stoutly denied Mist's accusations, and pub- 
lished a touching account of the circumstances, describing his as- 
sailant as a lamentable instance of ingratitude. Here was a man 
whom he had saved from the gallows, and befriended at his own 
risk in the utmost distress, turning round upon him, " basely 
using, insulting, and provoking him, and at last drawing his sword 
upon his benefactor." Defoe disarmed him, gave him his life, and 
sent for a surgeon to dress his wounds. But even this was not 
enough. Mist would give him nothing but abuse of the grossest 
nature. It almost shook Defoe's faith in human nature. Was 



there ever such ingratitude known before ? The most curious 
thing is that Mr. Lee, who has brought all these facts to light, 
seems to share Defoe's ingenuous astonishment at this " strange 
instance of ungrateful violence," and conjectures that it might have 
proceeded from imaginary wrong of a very grievous nature, such 
as a suspicion that Defoe had instigated the Government to pros- 
ecute him. It is perhaps as well that it should have fallen to so 
loyal an admirer to exhume Defoe's secret services and public 
protestations ; the record might otherwise have been rejected as 

Mr. Lee's researches were not confined to Defoe's relations 
with Mist and his journal, and the other publications mentioned in 
the precious letter of Mr. de la Faye. Once assured that Defoe did 
not withdraw from newspaper-writing in 171 5, he ransacked the 
journals of the period for traces of his hand and contemporary al- 
lusions to his labours. A rich harvest rewarded Mr. Lee's zeal. 
Defoe's individuality is so marked that it thrusts itself through 
every disguise. A careful student of the Reznew. who had com- 
pared it with the literature of the time, and learnt his peculiar 
tricks of style and vivid ranges of interest, could not easily be at 
fault in identifying a composition of any length. Defoe's incom- 
parable clearness of statement would alone betray him ; that was a 
gift of nature which no art could successfully imitate. Contempo- 
raries also were quick at recognising their Proteus in his many 
shapes, and their gossip gives a strong support to internal evidence, 
resting as it probably did on evidences which were not altogether 
internal. Though Mr. Lee may have been rash sometimes in 
quoting little scraps of news as Defoe's, he must be admitted to 
have established that, prodigious as was the number and extent of 
the veteran's separate publications during the reign of the First 
George, if: was also the most active period of his career as a jour- 
nalist. Mangaing Mist and writing for his journal would have been 
work enough for an ordinary man ; but Defoe founded, conducted, 
and wrote for a host of other newspapers — the monthly Mercurius 
Politicus, an octavo of sixty-four pages (1716 — 1720); the weekly 
Dormer's News-Letter (written, not printed, 1 716— 1 718); the 
Whitehall Evening Post (a tri-weekly quarto-sheet, established 
1718); the Daily Post (a daily single leaf, folio, established 1 7 1 9) ; 
and ApplebeSs J.-imal (with which his connexion began in 1720 
and enderl in 1726). 

The cj ributions to these newspapers which Mr. Lee has as- 
signed, with great judgment it seems to me, to Defoe, range over 
a wide field of topics, from piracy and highway robberies to suicide 
and the Divinity of Christ. Defoe's own test of a good writer was 
that he should at once please and serve his readers, and he kept 
this double object in view in his newspaper writings, as much as in 
Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, and the Family Instructor. 
Great as is the variety of the subjects in the selections which Mr. 
Lee has made upon internal evidence, they are all of them subjects 
in which Defoe showed a keen interest in his acknowledged works. 


In providing amusement for his readers, he did not soar above his 
age in point of refinement; and in providing instruction, he did 
not fall below his age in point of morality and religion. It is a 
notable circumstance that one of the marks by which his contempo- 
raries traced his hand was "the little art he is truly master of, 
of forging a story and imposing it on the world for truth." Of this 
he gave a conspicuous instance in Misf* Journal in an account of 
the marvellous blowing up of the island of St. Vincent, which in 
circumstantial invention and force of description must be ranked 
among his master-pieces. But Defoe did more than embellish 
stories of strange events for his newspapers. He was a master of 
journalistic art in all its branches, and a fertile inventor and organ- 
iser of new devices. It is to him, Mr. Lee says, and his researches 
entitle him to authority, that we owe the prototype of the leading 
article, a Letter Introductory, as it became the' fashion to call it, 
written on some subject of general interest and placed at the com- 
ment of each number. The writer of this Letter Introductory was 
known as the "author" of the paper. 

Another feature in journalism which Defoe greatly helped to 
develop, if he did not actually invent, was the Journal of Society. 
In the Review he had provided for the amusement of his readers 
by the device of a Scandal Club, whose transactions he professed 
to report. But political excitement was intense throughout the 
whole of Queen Anne's reign ; Defoe could afford but small space 
for scandal, and his Club was often occupied with fighting his mi- 
nor political battles. When, however, the Hanoverian succession 
was secured, and the land had rest from the hot strife of parties, 
light gossip was more in request. Newspapers became less politi- 
cal, and their circulation extended from the coffee-houses, inns, 
and ale-houses to a new class of readers. " They have of late," a 
writer in Applebee^s Journal says in 1725, "been taken in much 
by the women, especially the political ladies, to assist at the tea- 
table." Defoe seems to have taken an active part in making 
Misfs Journal and Applebee's Journal, both Tory organs, suit- 
able for this more frivolous section of the public. This fell in with 
his purpose of diminishing the political weight of these journals, 
and at the same time increased their sale. He converted them 
from rabid party agencies into registers of domestic news and ve- 
hicles of social disquisitions, sometimes grave, sometimes gay in 
subject, but uniformly bright and spirited in tone. 

The raw materials of several of Defoe's elaborate tales, such as 
Moll Flanders and Colonel Jack, are to be found in the columns 
of Misfs and Applebee's. In connexion with Applebee's more 
particularly, Defoe went some way towards anticipating the work 
of the modern Special Correspondent. He apparently interviewed 
distinguished criminals in Newgate, and extracted from them the 
stories of their lives. Part of what he thus gathered he communi- 
cated to Applebee ; sometimes, when the notoriety of the case jus- 
tified it, he drew up longer narratives and published them sepa- 
rately as pamphlets. He was an adept in the art of puffing his 


own productions, whether books or journals. It may be doubted 
whether any American editor ever mastered this art more thor- 
oughly than Defoe. Nothing, for instance, could surpass the bold- 
ness of Defoe's plan for directing public attention to his narrative 
of the robberies and escapes of Jack Sheppard. He seems to have 
taken a particular interest in this daring gaol-breaker. Mr. Lee, 
in fact, finds evidence that he had gained Sheppard's affectionate 
esteem. He certainly turned his acquaintance to admirable ac- 
count. He procured a letter for Applebee's Journal from Jack, 
with "kind love," and a copy of verses of his own composi- 
tion. Both letter and verses probably came from a more prac- 
tised pen, but, to avert suspicion, the original of the letter was 
declared to be on view at Applebee's, and " well known to be in 
the handwriting of John Sheppard." Next Defoe prepared a 
thrilling narrative of Jack's adventures, which was of course de- 
scribed as written by the prisoner himself, and printed at his par- 
ticular desire. But this was not all. The artful author further ar- 
ranged that when Sheppard reached his place of execution, he should 
send for a friend to the cart as he stood under the gibbet, and de- 
liver a copy of the pamphlet as his last speech and dying confes- 
sion. A paragraph recording this incident was duly inserted in 
the newspapers. It is a crowning illustration of the inventive dar- 
ing with which Defoe practised the tricks of his trade. 

One of Defoe's last works in connection with journalism was 
to write a prospectus for a new weekly periodical, the Universal 
Spectator, which was started by his son-in-law, Henry Baker, in 
October, 1728. There is more than internal and circumstantial 
evidence that this prospectus was Defoe's composition. When 
Baker retired from the paper five years afterwards, he drew up a 
list of the articles which had appeared under his editorship, with 
the names of the writers attached. This list has been preserved, 
and from it we learn that the first number, containing a prospec- 
tus and an introductory essay on the qualifications of a good writer, 
was written by Defoe. That experienced journalist naturally tried 
to give an air of novelty to the enterprise. "If this paper," the 
first sentence runs, " was not intended to be what no paper at 
present is, we should never attempt to crowd in among such a 
throng of public writers as at this time oppress the town." In 
effect the scheme of the Universal Spectator was to revive the 
higher kind of periodical essays which made the reputation of the 
earlier Spectator. Attempts to follow in the wake of Addison and 
Steele had for so long ceased to be features in journalism ; their 
manner had been so effectually superseded by less refined purvey- 
ors of light literature — Defoe himself going heartily with the 
stream— that the revival was opportune, and in point of fact proved 
successful, the Universal Spectator continuing to exist for nearly 
twenty years. It shows how quickly the Spectator took its place 
among the classics, that the writer of the prospectus considered it 
necessary to deprecate a charge of presumption in seeming to 
challenge comparison. 



" Let no man envy us the celebrated title we have assumed, or charge 
us with arrogance, as if we bid the world expect great things from us. 
Must we have no power to please, unless we come up to the full height of 
those inimitable performances? Is there no wit or humour left because 
they are gone? Is the spirit of the Spectators all lost, and their mantle 
fallen upon nobody? Have they said all that can be said ? Has the world 
offered no variety, and presented no new scenes, since they retired from 
us ? Or did they leave off, because they were quite exhausted, and had no 
more to say ? " 

Defoe did not always speak so respectfully of the authors of 
the Spectator. If he had been asked why they left off. he would 
probably have given the reason contained in the last sentence, and 
backed his opinion by contemptuous remarks about the want of 
fertility in the scholarly brain. He himself could have gone on 
producing for ever ; he was never gravelled for lack of matter, had 
no nice ideas about manner, and was sometimes sore about the 
superior respectability of those who had. But here he was on 
business, addressing people who looked back regretfully from the 
vulgarity of Mist's and Applebee's to the refinement of earlier peri- 
odicals, and making a bid for their custom. A few more sentences 
from his advertisement will show how well he understood their 
prejudices : — 

" The main design of this work is, to turn your thoughts a little off 
from the clamour of contending parties, which has so long surfeited you 
with their ill-timed politics, and restore your taste to things truly superior 
and sublime. 

" In order to this, we shall endeavour to present you with such sub- 
jects as are capable, if well handled, both to divert and to instruct you; 
such as shall render conversation pleasant, and help to make mankind 
agreeable to one another. 

" As for our management of them, not to promise too much for our- 
selves, we shall only say we hope, at least, to make our work acceptable 
to everybody, because we resolve, if possible, to displease nobody. 

" We assure the world, by way of negative, that we shall engage in no 
quarrels, meddle with no parties, deal in no scandal, nor endeavour to 
make any men merry at the expense of their neighbours. In a word, we 
shall set nobody together by the ears. And though we have encouraged 
the ingenious world to correspond with us by letters, we hope they will 
not take it ill, that we say beforehand, no letters will be taken notice of 
by us which contain any personal reproaches, intermeddle with family 
breaches, or tend to scandal or indecency of any kind. 

" The current papers are more than sufficient to carry on all the dirty 
work the town can have for them to do ; and what with party strife, 
politics, poetic quarrels, and all the other consequences of a wrangling 
age, they are in no danger of wanting employment ; and those readers 
who delight in such things, may divert themselves there. But our views, 
as is said above, lie another way." 

Good writing is what Defoe promises the readers of the Uni- 
versal Spectator, and this leads him to consider what particular 
qualifications go to the composition, or, in a word, " what is re- 


quired to denominate a man a good writer.' 1 '' His definition 
worth quoting as a statement of his principles of composition. 


"One says this is a polite author; another says, that is an excellent 
good writer ; and generally we find some oblique strokes pointed sideways 
at themselves ; intimating that whether we think fit to allow it or not, 
they take themselves to be very good writers. And, indeed, I must ex- 
cuse them their vanity ; for if a poor author had not some good opinion 
of himself, especially when under the discouragement of having nobody 
else to be of his mind, he would never write at all ; nay, he could not; it 
would take off all the little dull edge that his pen might have on it before, 
and he would not be able to say one word to the purpose. 

" Now whatever may be the lot of this paper, be that as common fame 
shall direct, yet without entering into the enquiry who writes better, or 
who writes worse, I shall lay down one specific, by which you that read 
shall impartially determine who are, or are not, to be called good writers. 
In a word, the character of a good writer, wherever he is to be found, is 
this, viz., that he writes so as to please and serve at the Fame time. 

" If he writes to please, and not to serve, he is a flatterer and a hypo- 
crite ; if to seme, and not to please, he turns cynic and satirist. The first 
deals in smooth falsehood, the last in rough scandal ; the last may do some 
good, though little ; the first does no good, and may do mischief, not a 
little; the last provokes your rage, the first provokes your pride; and in 
a word either of them is hurtful rather than useful. But the writer that 
strives to be useful, writes to serve you, and at the same time, by an im- 
perceptible art, draws you on to be pleased also. He represents truth with 
plainness, virtue with praise; he even reprehends with a softness that car- 
ries the force of a satire without the salt of it ; and he insensibly screws 
himself into your good opinion, that as his writings merit your regard, so 
they fail not to obtain it. 

" This is part of the character by which I define a good writer ; I say 
'tis but part of it, for it is not a half sheet that would contain the full de- 
scription; a large volume would hardly suffice it. His fame requires in- 
deed, a very good writer to give it due praise ; and for that reason (and 
a good reason too) I go no farther with it." 




Those of my readers who have thought of Defoe only as a writer 
of stories which young and old still love to read, must not be sur- 
prised that so few pages of this little book should be left for an 
account of his work in that field. No doubt Defoe's chief claim to 
the world's interest is that he is the author of Robinson Crusoe. 
But there is little to be said about this or any other of Defoe's tales 
in themselves. Their art is simple, unique, incommunicable, and 
they are too well known to need description. On the other hand, 
there is much that is worth knowing and not generally known about 
the relation of these works to his life, and the place that they oc- 
cupy in the sum total of his literary activity. Hundreds of thou- 
sands since Defoe's death, and millions in ages to come, would 
never have heard his name but for Robinson Crusoe. To his con- 
temporaries the publication of that work was but a small incident 
in a career which for twenty years had claimed and held their in- 
terest. People in these days are apt to imagine, because Defoe 
wrote the most fascinating of books for children, that he was him- 
self simple, child-like, frank, open, and unsuspecting. He has been 
so described by more than one historian of literature. It was not 
so that he appeared to his contemporaries, and it is not so that 
he can appear to us when we know his life, unless we recognise 
that he took a child's delight in beating with their own weapons the 
most astute intriguers in the most intriguing period of English 

Defoe was essentially a journalist. He wrote for the day, and 
for the greatest interest of the greatest number of the clay. He 
always had some ship sailing with the passing breeze, and laden 
with a useful cargo for the coast upon which the wind chanced to 
be blowing. If the Tichborne trial had happened in his time, we 
should certainly have had from him an exact history of the boy- 
hood and surprising adventures of Thomas Castro, commonly 
known as Sir Roger, which would have come down to us as a true 
record, taken, perhaps, by the chaplain of Portland prison from the 
convict's own lips. It would have had such an air of authenticity, 
and would have been corroborated by such an array of trustworthy 
witnesses, that nobody in later times could have doubted its truth. 


Defoe always wrote what a large number of people were in a mood 
to read. All his writings, with so few exceptions that they may 
reasonably be supposed to fall within the category, were pieces de 
circonstance. Whenever any distinguished person died or other- 
wise engaged public attention, no matter how distinguished, 
whether as a politician, a criminal, or a divine, Defoe lost no time 
in bringing out a biography. It was in such emergencies that he 
produced his memoirs of Charles XII., Peter the Great, Count 
Patkul, the Duke of Shrewsbury, Baron de Goertz, the Rev. 
Daniel Williams, Captain Avery the King of the Pirates, Domi- 
nique Cartouche, Rob Roy, Jonathan Wild, Jack Sheppard, Duncan 
Campbell. When the day had been fixed for the Earl of Oxford's 
trial for high treason, Defoe issued the fictitious Minutes of the 
Secret A T egotiations of Mons. Mesnager at the English Court dur- 
ing his ministry. We owe the Journal of the Plague in 1665 to a 
visitation which fell upon France in 1721, and caused much appre- 
hension in England. The germ which in his fertile mind grew 
into Robinson Crusoe fell from the real adventures of Alexander 
Selkirk, whose solitary residence of four years on the island of 
Juan Fernandez was a nine days' wonder in the reign of Queen 
Anne. Defoe was too busy with his politics at the moment to turn 
it to account; it was recalled to him later on, in the year 1 719, 
when the exploits of famous pirates had given a vivid interest to 
the chances of adventures in far-away islands on the American 
and African coasts. The Life. Adventures, and Piracies Qf the 
famous Captain Singleton, who was set on shore in Madagascar, 
traversed the continent of Africa from east to west past the sources 
of the Nile, and went roving again in the company of the famous 
Captain Avery, was produced to satisfy the same demand. Such 
biographies as those of Moll Flanders and the Lady Roxana were 
of a kind, as he himself illustrated by an amusing anecdote, that 
interested all times and all professions and degrees; but we have 
seen to what accident he owed their suggestion and probably part 
of their materials. He had tested the market for such wares in his 
Journals of Society. 

In following Defoe's career, we are constantly reminded 
that he was a man of business, and practised the profession of 
letters with a shrewd eye to the main chance. He scoffed at the 
idea of practising it with any other object, though he had aspira- 
tions after immortal fame as much as any of his more decorous 
contemporaries. Like Thomas Fuller, he frankly avowed that he 
wrote "for some honest profit to himself." Did any man, he 
asked, do anything without some regard to his own advantage ? 
Whenever he hit upon a profitable vein, he worked it to exhaus- 
tion, putting the ore into various shapes to attract different pur- 
chasers. Robinson Crusoe made a sensation ; he immediately fol- 
lowed up the original story with a Second Part, and the Second 
Part with a volume of Serious Reflections. He had discovered the 
keenness of the public appetite for stories of the supernatural, in 
1706, by means of his True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. 


Veal* When, in 1720, he undertook to write the life of the pop- 
ular fortune-teller, Duncan Campbell — a puff which illustrates 
almost better than anything else Defoe's extraordinary ingenuity 
in putting a respectable face upon the most disreputable materials 
— he had another proof of the avidity with which people run to 
hear marvels. He followed up this clue with A System of Magic, 
or a History of the Black Art ; The Secrets of the Invisible 
World disclosed, or a Universal History of Apparitions ; and a 
humorous History of the Devil, in which last work he subjected 
Paradise Lost, to which Addison had drawn attention by his papers 
in the Spectator, to very sharp criticism. In his books and pam- 
phlets on the Behaviour of Servants, and his works of more formal 
instruction, the Family Instructor, the Plan of English Com- 
merce, the Complete English Tradesman, the Complete English 
Gentleman (his last work, left unfinished and unpublished), he wrote 
with a similar regard to what was for the moment in demand. 

Defoe's novel-writing thus grew naturally out of his general 
literary trade, and had not a little in common with the rest of his 
abundant stock. All his productions in this line, his masterpiece, 
Robinson Crusoe, as well as what Charles Lamb calls his "second- 
ary novels," Captain Singleton, Colonel Jack, Moll Flanders, and 
Roxana, were manufactured from material for which he had ascer- 
tained that there was a market ; the only novelty lay in the mode 
of preparation. From writing biographies with real names 
attached to them, it was but a short step to writing biographies 
with fictitious names. Defoe is sometimes spoken of as the 
inventor of the realistic novel ; realistic biography would, perhaps, 
be a more strictly accurate description. Looking at the character 
of his professed records of fact, it seems strange that he should 
ever have thought of writing the lives of imaginary heroes, and 
should not have remained content with " forging stories and impos- 
ing them on the world for truth " about famous and notorious per- 
sons in real life. The purveyors of news in those days could use 
without fear of detection a licence which would not be tolerated 
now. Thev could not, indeed, satisfy the public appetite for news 
without taking liberties with the truth. They had not special cor- 
respondents in all parts of the world, to fill their pages with reports 
from the spot of things seen and heard. The public had acquired 
the habit of looking to the press, to periodical papers and casual 
books and pamphlets, for information about passing events and 
prominent men before sufficient means had been organised for 
procuring information which should approximate to correctness. 
In such circumstances, the temptation to invent and embellish was 
irresistible. " Why," a paragraph-maker of the time is made to 

* Mr. Lee has'disposed conclusively of the myth that this tale was written to promote 
the sale of a dull book by one Drelincoui t on the Fear of Death, which Mrs. Veal's 
ghost earnestly recommended her friend to read. It was first published separately as a 
pamphlet without any reference to Drelincourt. It was not printed with Drelincourt's 
Fear of Death till the fourth edition of that work, which was already popular. Further, 
the sale of Drelincourt does not appear to hare been increased by the addition of Defoe's 
pamphlet to the book, and of Mrs. Veal's recommendation to the pamphlet. 


say, " if we will write nothing but truth, we must bring you no 
news ; we are bound to bring you such as we can find." Yet it 
was not lies but truth that the public wanted as much as they do 
now. Hence arose the necessity of fortifying reports with circum- 
stantial evidence of their authenticity. Nobody rebuked unprin- 
cipled news-writers more strongly than Defoe, and no news-writer 
was half as copious in his guarantees for the accuracy of his infor- 
mation. When a report reached England that the island of St. 
Vincent had been blown into the air, Defoe wrote a description of 
the calamity, the most astonishing thing that had happened in the 
world "since the Creation, or at least since the destruction of the 
earth by water in the general Deluge," and prefaced his descrip- 
tion by saying : — 

" Our accounts of this come from so many several hands and several 
places that it would he impossible to bring the letters all separately into 
this journal ; and when we had done so or attempted to do so, would leave 
the story confused, and the world not perfectly informed. We have there- 
fore thought it better to give the substance of this amazing accident in 
one collection ; making together as full and as distinct an account of the 
whole as we believe it possible to come at by any intelligence whatsoever, 
and at the close of this account we shall give some probable guesses at 
the natural cause of so terrible an operation." 

Defoe carried the same system of vouching for the truth of his 
narratives by referring them to likely sources, into pamphlets and 
books which really served the purpose of newspapers, being written 
for the gratification of passing interests. The History of the Wars 
of Charles XII., which Mr. Lee ascribes to him, was "written by 
a Scot's gentleman, in the Swedish service." The short narrative 
of the life and death of Count Patkul was "written by the Lutheran 
Minister who assisted him in his last hours, and faithfully trans- 
lated out of a High Dutch manuscript." M. Mesnager's minutes 
of his negotiations were "written by himself," and " done out of 
French." Defoe knew that the public would read such narratives 
more eagerly if they believed them to be true, and ascribed them 
to authors whose position entitled them to confidence. There can 
be little doubt that he drew upon his imagination for more than the 
title-pages. But why, when he had so many eminent and notorious 
persons to serve as his subjects, with all the advantage of bearing 
names about which the public were already curious, did he turn to 
the adventures of new and fictitious heroes and heroines ? One 
can only suppose that he was attracted by the greater freedom of 
of movement in pure invention ; he made the venture with Robinson 
Crusoe, it was successful, and he repeated it. But after the success 
of Robinson Crusoe, he by no means abandoned his old fields. It 
was after this that he produced autobiographies and other prima 
facie authentic lives of notorious thieves and pirates. With all his 
records of heroes, real or fictitious, he practised the same devices 
for ensuring credibility. In all alike he took for granted that the 
first question people would ask about a story was whether it was 


true. The novel, it must be remembered, was then in its infancy, 
and Defoe, as we shall presently see, imagined, probably not with- 
out good reason, that his readers would disapprove of story-telling 
for the mere pleasure of the thing, as an immorality. 

In writing, for the entertainment of his own time, Defoe took 
the surest way of writing for the entertainment of all time. Yet if 
he had never chanced to write Robinson Crusoe, he would now 
have a very obscure place in English literature. His "natural 
infirmity of homely plain writing," as he humorously described it, 
might have drawn students to his works, but they ran considerable 
risk of lying in utter oblivion. He was at war with the whole guild 
of respectable writers who have become classics ; they despised 
him as an illiterate fellow, a vulgar huckster, and never alluded to 
him except in terms of contempt. He was not slow to retort their 
civilities ; but the retorts might very easily have sunk beneath the 
waters, while the assaults were preserved by tlieir mutual support. 
The vast mass of Defoe's writing received no kindly aid from dis- 
tinguished contemporaries to float them down the stream ; every- 
thing was done that bitter dislike and supercilious indifference 
could do to submerge them. Robinson Crusoe was their sole life- 

It would be a mistake to suppose that the vitality of Robinson 
Crusoe is a happy accident, and that others of Defoe's tales have 
as much claim in point of merit to permanence. Robinson Crusoe 
has lived longest, because it lives most, because it was detached 
as it were from its own time and organised for separate existence. 
It is the only one of Defoe's tales that shows what he could do as an 
artist. We might have seen from the others that he had the genius 
of a great artist ; here we have the possibility realised, the convinc- 
ing proof of accomplished work. Moll Flanders is in some respects 
superior as a novel. Moll is a much more complicated character 
than the simple, open-minded, manly mariner of York; a strangely 
mixed compound of craft and impulse, selfishness and generosity — 
in short, a thoroughly bad woman, made bad by circumstances. 
In tracing the vigilant resolution with which she plays upon human 
weakness, the spasms of compunction which shoot across her wily 
designs, the selfish after thoughts which paralyse her generous im- 
pulses, her fits of dare-devil courage and uncontrollable panic, and 
the steady current of good-humoured satisfaction with herself which 
makes her chuckle equally over mishaps and successes, Defoe has 
gone much more deeply into the springs of action, and sketched a 
much richer page in the natural history of his species than in Rob- 
inson Crusoe. True, it is a more repulsive page, but that is not the 
only reason why it has fallen into comparative oblivion, and exists 
as a parasite upon the more popular work. It is not equally well 
constructed for the struggle of existence among books. No book 
can live for ever which is not firmly organised round some central 
principle of life, and that principle in itself imperishable. It must 
have a heart and members ; the members must be soundly com- 
pacted and the heart superior to decay. Compared with Robinson 



Crusoe, Moll Flanders is only a string of diverting incidents, the 
lowest type of book organism, very brilliant while it is fresh and 
new, but not qualified to survive competitors for the world's in- 
terests. There is no unique creative purpose in it to bind the whole 
together; it might be cut into pieces, each capable of wriggling 
amusingly by itself. The gradual corruption of the heroine's vir- 
tue, which is the encompassing scheme of the tale, is too thin as 
well as too common an artistic envelope ; the incidents burst through 
it at so many points that it becomes a shapeless mass. But in 
Robinson Crusoe we have real growth from a vigorous germ. The 
central idea round which the tale is organised, the position of a 
man cast ashore on a desert island, abandoned to his own resources, 
suddenly shot beyond help or counsel from his fellow-creatures, is 
one that must live as long as the uncertainty of human life. 

The germ of Robinson Crusoe, the actual experience of Alex- 
ander Selkirk, went floating about for several years, and more than 
one artist dallied with it, till it finally settled and took root in tl e 
mind of the one man of his generation most capable of giving it a 
home and working out its artistic possibilities. Defoe was the 
only man of letters in his time who might have been thrown on a 
desert island without finding himself at a loss what to do. The 
art required for developing the position in imagination was not of 
a complicated kind, and yet it is one of the rarest of gifts. Some- 
thing more was wanted than simply conceiving what a man in such 
a situation would probably feel and probably do. Above all, it was 
necessary that his perplexities should be unexpected, and his ex- 
pedients for meeting them unexpected ; yet both perplexities and 
expedients so real and life-like that, when we were told them, we 
should wonder we had not thought of them before. One gift was 
indispensable for this, however many might be accessory, the 
genius of circumstantial invention — not a very exalted order of 
genius, perhaps, but quite as rare as any other intellectual prodigy.* 

Defoe was fifty-eight years old when he wrote Robinson Crusoe. 
If the invention of plausible circumstances is the great secret in 
the art of that tale, it would have been a marvellous thing if this 
had been the first instance of its exercise, and it had broken out 
suddenly in a man of so advanced an age. When we find an artist 
of supreme excellence in any craft, we generally find that he has 
been practising it all his life. To say that he has a genius for it, 
means that he has practised it, and concentrated his main force 
upon it, and that he has been driven irresistibly to do so by sheer 
bent of nature. It was so with Defoe and his power of circum- 
stantial invention, his unrivalled genius for "lying like truth." 
For years upon years of his life it had been his chief occupation. 
From the time of his first connexion with Harley, at least, he had 
addressed his countrymen through the press, and had perambulated 
the length and breadth of the land in assumed characters and on 
factitious pretexts. His first essay in that way in 1704, when he 

* Mr. Leslie Stephen seems to me to underrate the rarity of this peculiar gift, in his 
brilliant essay on Defoe's novels in Hours in a Library. 

9 o 


left prison in the service of the Government, appealing to the 
general compassion because he was under government displeasure, 
was skilful enough to suggest great native genius if not extensive 
previous practice. There are passages of circumstantial invention 
in the Review, as ingenious as anything in Robinson Crusoe ; and 
the mere fact that at the end of ten years of secret service under 
successive Governments, and in spite of a widespread opinion of 
his untrustworthiness, he was able to pass himself off for ten years 
more as a Tory with Tories and with the Whig Government as a 
loyal servant, is a proof of sustained ingenuity of invention greater 
than many volumes of fiction. 

Looking at Defoe's private life, it is not difficult to understand 
the peculiar fascination which such a problem as he solved in 
Robinson Crusoe must have had for him. It was not merely that he 
had passed a life of uncertainty, often on the verge of precipices, 
and often saved from ruin by a buoyant energy which seems almost 
miraculous ; not merely that, as he said of himself in one of his 
diplomatic appeals for commiseration, 

"No man hath tasted differing fortunes more, 
For thirteen times have I been rich and poor." 

But when he wrote Robinson Crusoe, it was one of the actual 
chances of his life, and by no means a remote one, that he might 
be cast all alone on an uninhabited island. We see from his let- 
ters to De la Faye how fearful he was of having "mistakes" laid 
to his charge by the Government in the course of his secret 
services. His former changes of party had exposed him, as he 
well knew, to suspicion. A false step, a misunderstood paragraph, 
might have had ruinous consequences for him. If the Government 
had prosecuted him for writing anything offensive to them, re- 
fusing to believe that it was put in to amuse the Tories, trans- 
portation might very easily have been the penalty. He had made 
so many enemies in the Press that he might have been transported 
without a voice being raised in his favour, and the mob would not 
have interfered to save a Government spy from the plantations. 
Shipwreck among the islands of the West Indies was a possibility 
that stood not far from his own door, as he looked forward into the 
unknown, and prepared his mind, as men in dangerous situations 
do, for the worst. When he drew up for Moll Flanders and her 
husband a list of the things necessary for starting life in a new 
country, or when he described Colonel Jack's management of his 
plantation in Virginia, the subject was one of more than general 
curiosity to him ; and when he exercised his imagination upon the 
fate of Robinson Crusoe, he was contemplating a fate which a few 
movements of the wheel of Fortune might make his own. 

But whatever it was that made the germ idea of Robinson 
Crusoe take root in Defoe's mind, he worked it out as an artist. 
Artists of a more emotional type might have drawn much more 
elaborate and affecting word-pictures of the mariner's feelings in 



various trying situations, gone much deeper into his changing 
moods, and shaken our souls with pity and terror over the solitary 
castaway's alarms and fits of despair. Defoe's aims lay another 
way. His Crusoe is not a man given to the luxury of grieving. 
If he had begun to pity himself, he would have been undone. 
Perhaps Defoe's imaginative force was not of a kind that could 
have done justice to the agonies of a shipwrecked sentimentalist; 
he has left no proof that it was ; but if he had represented Crusoe 
bemoaning his misfortunes, brooding over his fears, or sighing 
with Ossianic sorrow over his lost companions and friends, he 
would have spoiled the consistency of the character. The lonely 
man had his moments of panic and his days of dejection, but they 
did not dwell in his memory. Defoe no doubt followed his own 
natural bent, but he also showed true art in confining Crusoe's rec- 
ollections as closely as he does to his efforts to extricate himself 
from difficulties that would have overwhelmed a man of softer tem- 
perament. The subject had fascinated him, and he found enough 
in it to engross his powers without travelling beyond its limits for 
d verting episodes, as he does more or less in all the rest of his 
tales. The diverting episodes in Robinson Crusoe all help the ver- 
isimilitude of the story. 

When, however, the ingenious inventor had completed the story 
artistically, carried us through all the outcast's anxieties and 
efforts, and shown him triumphant over all difficulties, prosperous, 
and again in communication with the outer world, the spirit of the 
iterary trader would not let the finished work alone. The story, as 
a work of art, ends with Crusoe's departure from the island, or at 
any rate with his return to England. Its unity is then complete. 
But Robinson Crusoe at once became a popular hero, and Defoe 
was too keen a man of business to miss the chance of further profit 
from so lucrative a vein. He did not mind the sneers of hostile 
critics. They made merry over the trifling inconsistencies in the 
tale. How, for example, they asked, could Crusoe have stuffed 
his pockets with biscuits when he had taken off all his clothes 
before swimming to the wreck ? How could he have been at such 
a loss for clothes after those he had put off were washed away by 
the rising tide, when he had the ship's stores to choose from ? 
How could he have seen the goat's eyes in the cave when it was 
pitch dark ? How could the Spaniards give Friday's father an 
agreement in writing, when they had neither paper nor ink ? How 
did Friday come to know so intimately the habits of bears, the 
bear not being a denizen of the West Indian island ? On the 
ground of these and such-life trifles, one critic declared that the 
book seems calculated for the mob. and will not bear the eve of a 
rational reader, and that "all but the very canaille are satisfied of 
the worthlessness of the performance." Defoe, we may suppose, 
was not much moved by these strictures, as edition after edition of 
the work was demanded. He corrected one or two little inaccur- 
acies, and at once set about writing a Second Part, and a volume of 
Serious Reflections which had occurred to Crusoe amidst his 

9 2 


adventures. These were purely commercial excrescences upon the 
original work. They were popular enough at the time, but those 
who are tempted now to accompany Crusoe in his second visit to 
his island and his enterprising travels in the East, agree that the 
Second Part is of inferior interest to the first, and very few now 
read the Serious Reflectio?is. 

The Serious Reflections, however, are well worth reading in 
connexion with the author's personal history. In the preface we 
are told that Robinso/i Crusoe is an allegory, and in one of the 
chapters we are told why it is an allegory. The explanation is 
given in a homily against the vice of talking falsely- By talking 
falsely the moralist explains that he does not mean telling lies, that 
is, falsehoods concocted with an evil object; these he puts aside 
as sins altogether beyond the pale of discussion. But there is a 
minor vice of falsehood which he considers it his duty to reprove, 
namely, telling stories, as too many people do, merely to amuse. 
"This supplying a story by invention," he says, "is certainly a 
most scandalous crime, and yet very little regarded in that part. 
It is a sort of lying that makes a great hole in the heart, in which 
by degrees a habit of lying enters in. Such a man comes quickly 
up to a total disregarding the truth of what he says, looking upon 
it as a trifle, a thing of no import, whether any story he tells be 
true or not." How empty a satisfaction is this "purchased at so 
great an expense as that of conscience, and of a dishonour done to 
truth ! " And the crime is so entirely objectless. A man who 
tells a lie, properly so called, has some hope of reward by it. But 
to lie for sport is to play at shuttlecock with your soul, and load 
your conscience for the mere sake of being a fool. "With what 
temper should I speak of those people ? What words can express 
the meanness and baseness of the mind that can do this?" In 
making this protest against frivolous story-telling, the humour of 
which must have been greatly enjoyed by his journalistic colleagues, 
Defoe anticipated that his readers would ask why, if he so dis- 
approved of the supplying a story by invention, he had written 
Robinson Crusoe. His answer was that Robinson Crusoe was an 
allegory, and that the telling or writing a parable or an allusive 
allegorical history is quite a different case. " I, Robinson Crusoe, 
do affirm that the story, though allegorical, is also historical, and 
that it is the beautiful representation of a life of unexampled mis- 
fortunes, and of a variety not to be met with in this world." This 
life was his own. He explains at some length the particulars of 
the allegory : — 

" Thus the fright and fancies which succeeded the story of the print of 
a man's foot, and surprise of the old goat, and the thing rolling on my 
bed, and my jumping up in a fright, are all histories and real stories; as 
are likewise the dream of being taken by messengers, being arrested by 
officers, the manner of being driven on shore by the surge of the sea, the 
ship on fire, the description of starving, the story of my man Friday, and 
many more most natural passages observed here, and on which any re- 
ligious reflections are made, are all historical and true in fact. It is most 


real that I had a parrot, and taught it to call me by my name, such a ser- 
vant a savage and afterwards a Christian, and that his name was called 
Friday, and that he was ravished from me by force, and died in the hands 
that took him, which I represent by being killed; this is all literally true; 
and should I enter into discoveries many alive can testify them. His 
other conduct and assistance to me also have just references in all their 
parts to the helps I had from that faithful savage in my real solitudes and 

" The story of the bear in the tree, and the fight with the wolves in 
the snow, is likewise matter of real history; and in a word, the adventures 
of Robinson Crusoe are a whole scheme'of a life of twenty-eight years 
spent in the most wandering, desolate, and afflicting circumstances that 
ever man went through, and in which I have lived so long in a life of 
wonders, in continued storms, fought with the worst kind of savages and 
man-eaters, by unaccountable surprising incidents; fed by miracles 
greater than that of the ravens, suffered all manner of violences and op- 
pressions, injurious reproaches, contempt of men, attacks of devils, cor- 
rections from Heaven, and oppositions on earth; and had innumerable 
ups and downs in matters of fortune, been in slavery worse than Turkish, 
escaped by an exquisite management, as that in the story of Xury and the 
boat of Sallee, been taken up at sea in distress, raised again and de- 
pressed again, and that oftener perhaps in one man's life than ever was 
known before; shipwrecked often, though more by land than by sea;_ in 
a word, there is not a circumstance in the imaginary story but has its just 
allusion to a real story, and chimes part for part, and step for step, with 
the inimitable life of Robinson Crusoe." 

But if Defoe had such a regard for the strict and literal truth, 
why did he not tell his historyin his own person ? Why convey 
the facts allusively in an allegory ; To this question also he had an 
answer. He wrote for the instruction of mankind, for the purpose 
of recommending " invincible patience under the worst of misery ; 
indefatigable application and undaunted resolution under the great- 
est and most discouraging circumstances." 

" Had the common way of writing a man's private history been taken, 
and I had given you the conduct or life of a man you knew, and whose 
misfortunes and infirmities perhaps you had sometimes unjustly triumphed 
over, all I could have said would have yielded no diversion, and perhaps 
scarce have obtained a reading, or at best no attention ; the teacher, like 
a greater, having no honour in his own country." 

For all Defoe's profession that Robinson Crusoe is an allegory 
of his own life, it would be rash to take what he says too literally. 
The reader who goes to the tale in search of a close allegory, in 
minute chronological correspondence with the facts of the alleged 
original, will find, I expect, like myself, that he has gone on a wild- 
goose chase. There is a certain general correspondence. Defoe's 
own life is certainly as instructive as Crusoe's in the lesson of in- 
vincible patience and undaunted resolution. The shipwreck per- 
haps corresponds with his first bankruptcy, with which it coincides 
in point of time, having happened just twenty-eight years before. 
If Defoe had a real man Friday, who had learned all his arts till 


he could practice them as well as himself, the fact might go to ex- 
plain his enormous productiveness as an author. But I doubt 
whether the allegory can be pushed into such details. Defoe's 
fancy was quick enough to give an allegorical meaning to any tale. 
He might nave found in Moll Flanders, with her five marriages 
and ultimate prostitution, corresponding to his own five political 
marriages and the dubious conduct of his later years, a closer 
allegory in some respects than in the life of the shipwrecked sailor. 
The idea of calling Robinson Crusoe an allegory was in all prob- 
ability an after-thought, perhaps suggested by a derisive parody 
which had appeared, entitled The life and sfrange surprising ad- 
ventures of Daniel de Foe, of London, Hosier, who lived all alone 
in the uninhabited isla-nd of Great Britain, and so forth. 

If we study any writing of Defoe's in connexion with the cir- 
cumstances of its production, we find that it is manysided in its 
purposes, as full of side aims as a nave is full of spokes. These 
supplementary moral chapters to Robinson Crusoe, admirable as 
the reflections are in themselves, and naturally as they are made 
to arise out of the incidents of the hero's life, contain more than 
meets the eye till we connect them with the author's position. Call- 
ing the tale an allegory served him in two ways. In the first place, 
it added to the interest of the tale itself by presenting it in the light 
of a riddle, which was left but half-revealed, thou '' % e decla/ed 
after such explanation as he gave that •' the . iduie was now ex- 
pounded, and the intelligent reader might see clearly the end and 
design of the whole work." In the second place, the allegory was 
such an image of his life as he wished, for good reasons, to im- 
press on the public mind. He had all along, as we have seen, 
while in the secret service of successive governments, vehemently 
protested his independence, and called Heaven and Earth to 
witness that he was a poor struggling, unfortunate, calumniated 
man. It was more than ever necessary now when people believed 
him to be under the insuperable displeasure of the Whigs, and he 
was really rendering them such dangerous service in connexion 
with the Tory journals, that he should convince the world of his 
misfortunes and his honesty. The Serious Reflections consist 
mainly of meditations on Divine Providence in times of trouble, 
and discourses on the supreme importance of honest dealing. They 
are put into the mouth of Robinson Crusoe, but the reader is 
warned that they occurred to the author himself in the midst of 
real incidents in his own life. Knowing what public repute said of 
him, he does not profess never to have strayed from the paths of 
virtue,, but he implies that he is sincerely repentant, and is now a 
reformed character. " Wild wicked Robinson Crusoe does not 
pretend to honesty himself." He acknowledges his early errors. 
Not to do so would be a mistaken piece of false bravery. " All 
shame is cowardice. The bravest spirit is the best qualified for a 
penitent. He, then, that will be honest, must dare to confess that 
he has been a knave." But the man that has been sick is half a 
physician, and therefore he is both well fitted to counsel others, 



and being convinced of the sin and folly of his former errors, is of 
all men the least likely to repeat them. Want of courage was not 
a feature in Defoe's diplomacy. He thus boldly described the 
particular form of dishonesty with which, when he wrote the de- 
scription, he was practising upon the unconscious Mr. Mist. 

" There is an ugly word called cunning, which is very pernicious to it 
[honesty], and which particularly injures it by hiding it from our discovery 
and making it hard to find. This is so like honesty that many a man has 
been deceived with it, and have taken one for t'other in the markets : nay, 
I have heard of some who have planted this wild honesty, as we may call 
it, in their own ground, have made use of it in their friendship and deal- 
ings, and thought it had been the true plant. But they always lost credit 
by it, and that was not the worst neither, for they had the loss who dealt 
with them, and who chaffered for a counterfeit commodity ; and we find 
many deceived so still, which is the occasion there is such an outcry about 
false friends, and about sharping and tricking in men's ordinary dealings 
with the world." 

A master-mind in the art of working a man, as Bacon calls it, 
is surely apparent here. Who could have suspected the moralist 
of concealing the sins he was inclined to, by exposing and lamenting 
those very sins ? There are other passages in the Serious Reflcc 
tions which seem to have been particularly intended for Mist's 
edification. In reflecting what a fine thing honesty is, Crusoe ex 
presses an opinion that it is much more common than is generally 
supposed, and gratefully recalls how often he has met with it in his 
own experience. He asks the reader to note how faithfully he was 
served by the English sailor's widow, the Portuguese captain, the 
boy Xury, and his man Friday. From these allegoric types, Mist 
might select a model for his own behaviour. When we consider 
the tone of these Serious Reflections, so eminently pious, moral, 
and unpretending, so obviously the outcome of a wise, simple, 
ingenuous nature, we can better understand the fury with which 
Mist turned upon Dofoe when at last he discovered his treachery. 
They are of use also in throwing light upon the prodigious versa- 
tility which could dash off a masterpiece in fiction, and, before the 
printer's ink was dry, be already at work making it a subordinate 
instrument in a much wider and more wonderful scheme of activity, 
his own restless life. 

It is curious to find among the Serious Reflections a passage 
which may be taken as an apology for the practices into which 
Defoe, gradually, we may reasonably believe, allowed himself to 
fall. The substance of the apology has been crystallized into an 
aphorism by the author of Becky Sharp, but it has been, no doubt, 
the consoling philosophy of dishonest persons not altogether 
devoid of conscience in all ages. 

" Necessity makes an honest man a knave ; and if the world was to 
be the judge, according to the common received notion, there would not 
be an honest poor man alive. 

9 6 


" A rich man is an honest man, no thanks to him, for he would be a 
double knave to cheat mankind when he had no need of it. He lias no 
occasion to prey upon his integrity, nor so much as to touch upon the 
borders of dishonesty. Tell me of a man that is a very honest man ; 
for he pays everybody punctually, runs into nobody's debt, does no man 
any wrong ; very well, what circumstances is he in ? Why, he has a 
good estate, a fine yearly income, and no business to do. The Devil must 
have full possession of this man, if he should be a knave ; for no man 
commits evil for the sake of it ; even the Devil himself has some farther 
design in sinning, than barely the wicked part of it. No man is so hardened 
in crimes as to commit them for the mere pleasure of the fact ; there 
is always some vice gratified ; ambition, pride, or avarice makes rich men 
knaves, and necessity the poor." 

This is Defoe's excuse for his backslidings put into the mouth 
of Robinson Crusoe. It might be inscribed also on the threshold 
of each of his fictitious biographies. Colonel Jack, Moll Flanders, 
Roxana, are not criminals from malice ; they do not commit crimes 
for the mere pleasure of the fact. They all believe that but for the 
force of circumstances they might have been orderly, contented, 
virtuous members of society. 

A Colonel, a London Arab, a child of the criminal regiment, 
began to steal before he knew that it was not the approved way of 
making a livelihood. Moll and Roxana were overreached by acts 
against which they were too weak to cope. Even after they were 
tempted into taking the wrong turning, they did not pursue the 
downward road without compunction. Many good people might 
say of them, " There, but for the grace of God, goes myself." But 
it was not from the point of view of a Baxter or a Bunyan that De- 
foe regarded them, though he credited them with many edifying 
reflections. He was caroful to say that he would never have writ- 
ten the stories of their lives, if he had not thought that they would 
be useful as awful examples of the effects of bad education and the 
indulgence of restlessness and vanity ; but he enters into their in- 
genious shifts and successes with a joyous sympathy that would 
have been impossible if their reckless adventurous living by their 
wits had not had a strong charm for him. We often find peeping 
out in Defoe's writings that roguish cynicism which we should ex- 
pect in a man whose own life was so far from being straightfor- 
ward. He was too much dependent upon the public acceptance of 
honest professions to be eager in depreciating the value of the ar- 
ticle, but when he found other people protesting disinterested mo- 
tives, he could not always resist reminding them that they were no 
more disinterested than the Jack-pudding who avowed that he 
cured diseases from mere love of his kind. Having yielded to cir- 
cumstances himself, and finding life enjoyable in dubious paths, he 
had a certain animosity against those who had maintained their in- 
tegrity and kept to the highroad, and a corresponding pleasure in 
showing that the motives of the sinner were not after all so very 
different from the motives of the saint. 



The aims in life of Defoe's thieves and pirates are at bottom 
very little different from the ambition which he undertakes to di- 
rect in the Complete English Tradesman, and their maxims of con- 
duct have much in common with this ideal. Self-interest is on 
the look-out, and Self-reliance at the helm. 

"A tradesman behind his counter must have no flesh and blood about 
him, no passions, no resentment ; he must never be angry — no, not so 
much as seem to be so, if a customer tumbles him five hundred pounds' 
worth of goods, and scarce bids money for anything ; nay, though they 
really come to his shop with no intent to buy, as many do, only to see 
what is to be sold, and though he knows they cannot be better pleased 
than they are at some other shop where they intend to buy, 'tis all one ; 
the tradesman must take it, he must place it to the account of his calling, 
that 'tis his business to be ill-used, and resent nothing ; and so must answer 
as obligingly to those who give him an hour or two's trouble, and buy 
nothing, as he does to those who, in half the time, lay out ten or twenty 
pounds. The case is plain ; and if some do give him trouble, and do not 
buy, others make amends and do buy; and as for the trouble, 'tis the busi- 
ness of the shop." 

All Defoe's heroes and heroines are animated by this practical 
spirit, this thoroughgoing subordination of means to ends. When 
they have an end in view, the plunder of a house, the capture of a 
ship, the ensnaring of a dupe, they allow neither passion, nor resent- 
ment, nor sentiment in any shape or form to stand in their way. 
Every other consideration is put on one side when the business of 
the shop has to be attended to. They are all tradesmen who have 
strayed into unlawful courses. They have nothing about them of 
the heroism of sin ; their crimes are not the result of ungovern- 
able passion, or even of antipathy to conventional restraints ; cir- 
cumstances and not any law-defying bias of disposition have made 
them criminals. How is it that the novelist contrives to make them 
so interesting ? Is it because we are a nation of shopkeepers, and 
enjoy following lines of business which are a little out of our ordi- 
nary routine ? Or is it simply that he makes us enjoy their cour- 
age and cleverness without thinking of the purposes with which 
these qualities are displayed? Defoe takes such delight in tracing 
their bold expedients, their dexterous intriguing and manoeuvring, 
that he seldom allows us to think of anything but the success or 
failure of their enterprises. Our attention is concentrated on the 
game, and we pay no heed for the moment to the players or the 
stakes. Charles Lamb says of The Complete English Tradesman 
that "such is the bent of the book to narrow and to degrade the 
heart, that if such maxims were as catching and infectious as those 
of a licentious cast, which happily is not the case, had I been living 
at that time, I certainly should have recommended to the grand 
jury of Middlesex, who presented the Fable of the Bees, to have 
presented this book of Defoe's in preference, as of a far more vile 
and debasing tendency. Yet if Defoe had thrown the substance 
of this book into the form of a novel, and shown us a tradesman 


rising by the sedulous practice of its maxims from errand-bov to 
gigantic capitalist, it would have hardly been less interesting than 
his lives of successful thieves and tolerably successful harlots, and 
its interest would have been very much of the same kind, the in- 
terest of dexterous adaptation of means to ends. 





" The best step," Defoe says, after describing the character of 
a deceitful talker, " such a man can take is to lie on, and this shows 
the singularity of the crime ; it is a strange expression, but I shall 
make it out ; their way is, I say, to lie on till their character is 
completely known, and then they can lie no longer, for he whom 
nobody deceives can deceive nobody, and the essence of lying is 
removed; for the description of a lie is that it is spoken to deceive, 
or the design is to deceive. Now he that nobody believes can 
never lie any more, because nobody can be deceived by him." 

Something like this seems to have happened to Defoe himself. 
He touched the summit of his worldly prosperity about the time of 
the publication of Robinson Crusoe (1719). He was probably 
richer then than when he enjoyed the confidence of King William, 
and was busy with projects of manufacture and trade. He was no 
longer solitary in journalism. Like his hero, he had several plan- 
tations, and companions to help him in working them. He was 
connected with four journals, and from this source alone his in- 
come must have been considerable. Besides this, he was produ- 
cing separate works at the rate, on an average, of six a year, some 
of them pamphlets, some of them considerable volumes, all of them 
calculated to the wants of the time, and several of them extremely 
popular, running through three or four editions in as many months. 
Then he had his salary from the Government, which he delicately 
hints at in one of his extant letters as being over-due. Further, 
the advertisement of a lost pocket-book in 1726, containing a list 
of Notes and Bills in which Defoe's name twice appears, seems to 
show that he still found time for commercial transactions outside 
literature.* Altogether Defoe was exceedingly prosperous, dropped 
all pretence of poverty, built a large house at Stoke Newington, 
with stables and pleasure-grounds, and kept a coach. 

We get a pleasant glimpse of Defoe's life at this period from 
the notes of Henry Baker, the naturalist, who married one of his 
daughters and received his assistance, as we have seen, in starting 
The Unive7sal Spectator. Baker, originally a bookseller, in 1724 
set up a school for the deaf and dumb at Newington. There, ac- 

* Lee's Life, vol. i. pp. 406-7- 


cording to the notes which he left of his courtship, he made the 
acquaintance of " Mr. Defoe, a gentleman well known by his writ- 
ings, who had newly built there a very handsome house, as a retire- 
ment from London, and amused his time either in the cultivation of a 
large and pleasant garden, or in the pursuit of his studies, which he 
found means of making very profitable." Defoe " was now at least 
sixty years of age, afflicted with the gout and stone, but retained all 
his mental faculties entire." The diarist goes on to say that he " met 
usually at the tea-table his three lovely daughters, who were ad- 
mired for their beauty, their education, and their prudent conduct; 
and if sometimes if Mr. Defoe's disorders made company incon- 
venient, Mr. Baker was entertained by them either singly or to- 
gether, and that commonly in the garden when the weather was 
favourable." Mr. Baker fixed his choice on Sophia, the youngest 
daughter, and, being a prudent lover, began negotiations about the 
marriage portion, Defoe's part in which is also characteristic. 
" He knew nothing of Mr. Defoe's circumstances, only imagined, 
from his very genteel way of living, that he must be able to give 
his daughter a decent portion ; he did not suppose a large one. 
On speaking to Mr. Defoe, he sanctioned his proposals, and said 
he hoped he should be able to give her a certain sum specified ; 
but when urged to the point some time afterwards, his answer was 
that formal articles he thought unnecessary ; that he could confide 
in the honour of Mr. Baker ; that when they talked before, he did 
not know the true state of his own affairs ; that he found he could 
not part with any money at present ; but at his death his daugh- 
ter's portion would be more than he had promised ; and he offered 
his own bond as security." The prudent Mr. Baker would not 
take his bond, and the marriage was not arranged till two years 
afterwards, when Defoe gave a bond for ^500 payable at his death, 
engaging his house at Newington as security. 

Very little more is known about Defoe's family, except that his 
eldest daughter married a person of the name of Langley, and that 
he speculated successfully in South .Sea Stock in the name of his 
second daughter, and afterwards settled upon her an estate at Col- 
chester worth ;£io2o. His second son, named Benjamin, became 
a journalist, was the editor of the London Journal, and got into 
temporary trouble for writing a scandalous and seditious libel in 
that newspaper in 172 1. A writer in Applebee's Journal, whom 
Mr. Lee identifies with Defoe himself, commenting upon this cir- 
cumstance, denied the rumour of its being the well-known Daniel 
Defoe that was committed for the offence. The same writer 
declared that it was known "that the young Defoe was but a stalk- 
ing-horse and a tool, to bear the lash and the pillory in their stead, 
for his wages ; that he was the author of the most scandalous part, 
but was only made sham proprietor of the whole, to screen the 
true proprietors from justice. 

This son doe:; not appear in a favourable light in the troubles 
which soon after fell upon Defoe, when Mist discovered his con- 
nexion with the Government. Foiled in his assault upon him, 


Mist seems to have taken revenge by spreading the fact abroad 
and all Defoe's indignant denials and outcries against Mist's ingrat- 
itude do not seem to have cleared him from suspicion. Thenceforth 
the printers and editors of journals held aloof from him. Such is Mr 
Lee's fair interpretation of the fact that his connexion with Apple- 
bee's Journal terminated. abruptly in March, 1726, and that he is 
found soon after, in the preface to a pamphlet on Street Robberies 
complaining that none of the journals will accept his communica- 
tions. "Assure yourself, gentle reader," he savs,* "I had not 
published my project in this pamphlet, could I have got it inserted in 
any of the journals without feeing the journalists or publishers 
I cannot but have the vanity to think they might as well have in- 
serted what I send them, gratis, as many things I have since seen 
in their papers. But I have not only had the mortification to find 
what I sent rejected, but to lost my originals, not havino- taken 
copies of what I wrote." In this preface Defoe' makes tSuchino- 
allusion to his age and infirmities. He begs his readers to " excuse 
the vanity of an over-officious old man. if. like Cato. he inquires 
whether or no before he goes hence and is no more, he can yet do 
anything for the service of his country." " The' old man can- 
not trouble you long; take, then, in good part his best intentions 
and impute his defects to age and weakness." 

This preface was written in 1728; what happened to Defoe in the 
following year is much more difficult to understand, and is oreatly 
complicated by a long letter of his own which has been preserved. 
Something had occurred, or was imagined by him to have occurred, 
which compelled him to fly from his home and go into hidino- He 
was at work on a book to be entitled The Complete English ^Gentle- 
man. Part of it was already in type when he broke off abruptly in 
September, 1729, and fled. In August, 1730, he sent from a hiding- 
place, cautiously described as being about two miles from Greenwich, 
a letter to his son-in-law, Baker, which is our only clue to what had 
taken place. It is so incoherent as to suggest that the old man's 
prolonged toils and anxieties had at last shaken his reason, though 
not his indomitable self-reliance. Baker apparently had written 
complaining that he was debarred from seeing him. "Depend 
upon my sincerity for this," Defoe answers, ""that I am far from 
debarring you. On the contrary, it would be a greater comfort to 
me than any I now enjoy that I could have your agreeable visits 
with safety, and could see both you and my dear Sophia, could it 
be without giving her the grief of seeing her father in tcnebris, 
and under the load of insupportable sorrows." He gives a touch- 
ing description of the griefs which are preying upon his mind. 

" It is not the blow I received from a wicked, perjured, and contempt- 
lble enemy that has broken in upon my spirit ; which, as she well knows 
r>as earned me on through greater disasters than these. But it has been 
the injustice, imkmdness, and, I must say inhuman, dealing of my own 

* Lee's Life, vol. i. p. 418. 


son, which has both ruined my family, and in a word has broken my heart. 
. . . I depended upon him, I trusted him, I gave up my two dear un- 
provided children into his hands ; but he has no compassion, but suffers 
them and their poor dying mother to beg their bread at his door, and to 
crave, as it were an alms, what he is bound under hand and seal, besides 
the most sacred promises, to supply them with, himself at the same time 
living in a profusion of plenty. It is too much for me. Excuse my in- 
firmity, I can say no more ; my heart is too full. I only ask one thing of 
you as a dying request. Stand by them when I am gone, and let them 
not be wronged while he is able to do them right. Stand by them as 
a brother ; and if you have anything within you owing to my memory, 
who have bestowed on you the best gift I have to give, let them not be 
injured and trampled on by false pretences and unnatural reflections. I 
hope they will want no help but that of comfort and council ; but that 
they will indeed want, being too easy to be managed by words and 

The postscript to the letter shows that Baker had written to him 
about selling the house, which, it may be remembered, was the 
security for Mrs. Baker's portion, and had inquired about a policy 
of assurance. " I wrote you a letter some months ago, in answer 
to one from you, about selling the house ; but you never signified 
to me whether you received it. I have not the policy of assurance ; 
I suppose my wife, or Hannah, may have it." Baker's ignoring 
the previous letter about the house seems to signify that it was 
unsatisfactory. He apparently wished for a personal interview 
with Defoe. In the beginning of the present letter Defoe had 
said that, though far from debarring a visit from his son-in-law, cir- 
cumstances, much to his sorrow, made it impossible that he could 
receive a visit from anybody. After the charge against his son, 
which we have quoted, he goes on to explain that it is impossible 
for him to go to see Mr. Baker. His family apparently had been 
ignorant of his movements for some time. " I am at a distance 
from London, in Kent ; nor have I a lodging in London, nor have 
I been at that place in the Old Bailey since I wrote you I was 
removed from it. At present I am weak, having had some fits of 
a fever that has left me low." He suggests, indeed, a plan by 
which he might see his son-in-law and daughter. He could not 
bear to make them a single flying visit. "Just to come and look 
at you and retire immediately, 'tis a burden too heavy. The part- 
ing will be a price beyond the enjoyment. But if they could find 
a retired lodging for him at Enfield, "where he might not be 
known, and might have the comfort of seeing them both now and 
then, upon such a circumstance he could gladly give the days to 
solitude to have the comfort of half an hour now and then with 
them both for two or three weeks." Nevertheless, as if he con- 
sidered this plan out of the question, he ends with a touching ex- 
pression of grief that, being near his journey's end, he may never 
see them again. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that he 
did not wish to see his son-in-law, and that Baker wished to see 
him about money matters, and suspected him of evading an inter- 



Was this evasion the cunning of incipient madness ? Was his 
concealing his hiding-place from his son-in-law an insane develop- 
ment of that self-reliant caution, which for so many years of his 
life he had been compelled to make a habit, in the face of the most 
serious risks ? Why did he give such an exaggerated colour to the 
infamous conduct of his son? It is easy to make out from the 
passage I have quoted, what his son's guilt really consisted in. 
Defoe had assigned certain property to the son to be held in trust 
for his wife and daughters. The son had not secured them in the 
enjoyment of this provision, but maintained them, and gave them 
words and promises, with which they were content, that he would 
continue to maintain them. It was this that Defoe called making 
them " beg their bread at his door, and crave as if it were an alms " 
the provision to which they were legally entitled. Why did Defoe 
vent his grief at this conduct in such strong language to his son-in- 
law, at the same time enjoining him to make a prudent use of it ? 
Baker had written to his father-in-law making inquiry about the se- 
curities for his wife's portion ; Defoe answers with profuse expres- 
sions of affection, a touching picture of his old age and feebleness, 
and the imminent ruin of his family through the possible treachery 
of the son to whom he has entrusted their means of support, and 
an adjuration to his son-in-law to stand by them with comfort and 
counsel when he is gone. The inquiry about the securities he 
dismisses in a postscript. He will not sell the house, and he does 
not know who has the policy of assurance. 

One thing and one thing only shines clearly out of the obscurity 
in which Defoe's closing years are wrapt — his earnest desire to 
make provision for those members of his family who could not pro- 
vide for themselves. The pursuit from which he was in hiding, 
was in all probability the pursuit of creditors. We have seen that 
his income must have been large from the year 171 8 or there- 
abouts, till his utter loss of credit in journalism about the year 
1726; but he may have had old debts. It is difficult to explain 
otherwise why he should have been at such pains, when he became 
prosperous, to assign property to his children. There is evidence, 
as early as 1720, of his making over property to his daughter Han- 
nah, and the letter from which I have quoted shows that he did 
not hold his Newington estate in his own name. In this letter lie 
speaks of a perjured, contemptible enemv as the cause of his mis- 
fortunes. Mr. Lee conjectures that this was Mist, that Mist had 
succeeded in embroiling him with the Government by convincing 
them of treachery in his secret services, and that this was the hue 
and cry from which he fled. But it is hardly conceivable that the 
Government could have listened to charges brought by a man whom 
they had driven from the countrv for his seditious practices. It is 
much more likely that Mist and his supporters had sufficient inter- 
est to instigate the revival of old pecuniary claims against Defoe. 

It would have been open to suppose that the fears which made 
the old man a homeless wanderer and fugitive for the last two years 
of his life, were wholly imaginary, but for the circumstances of his 


death. He died of a lethargy on the 26th of April, 173 1, at a lodg- 
ing in Ropemaker's Alley, Moorfields. In September, 1733, as the 
books in Doctors' Commons show, letters of administration on his 
goods and chattels -were granted to Mary Brooks, widow, a credi- 
trix, after summoning in official form the next of kin to appear. 
Now, if Defoe had been driven from his home by imaginary fears, 
and had baffled with the cunning of insane suspicion the efforts of 
his family to bring him back, there is no apparent reason why they 
should not have claimed his effects after his death. He could not 
have died unknown to them, for place and time were recorded in 
the newspapers. His letter to his son-in-law, expressing the warm- 
est affection for all his family except his son, is sufficient to prevent 
the horrible notion that he might have been driven forth like Lear 
by his undutiful childien after he had parted his goods among 
them. If they had been capable of such unnatural conduct, they 
would not have failed to secure his remaining property. Why, 
then, were his goods and chattels left to a creditrix ? Mr. Lee in- 
geniously suggests that Mary Brooks was the keeper of the lodging 
where he died, and that she kept his personal property to pay rent 
and perhaps funeral expenses. A much simpler explanation, which 
covers most of the known facts without casting any unwarranted 
reflections upon Defoe's childien, is that when his last illness over- 
took him he was still keeping out of the way of his creditors, and 
that everything belonging to him in his own name was legally 
seized. But there are doubts and difficulties attending any expla- 

Mr. Lee has given satisfactory reasons for believing that Defoe 
did not, as some of his biographers have supposed, die in actual 
distress. Ropemaker's Alley in Moorfields was a highly respect- 
able street at the beginning of last century ; a lodging there was 
far from squalid. The probability is that Defoe subsisted on his 
pension from the Government during his last two years of wander- 
ing; and suffering though he was from the infirmities of age, yet 
wandering was less of a hardship than it would have been toother 
men, to one who had been a wanderer for the greater part of his 
life. At the best it was a painful and dreary ending for so vigor- 
ous a life, and unless we pitilessly regard it as a retribution for his 
moral defects, it is some comfort to think that the old man's in- 
firmities and anxieties were not aggravated by the pressure of hope- 
less and helpless poverty. Nor do I think that he was as dis- 
tressed as he represented to his son-in-law by apprehensions of 
ruin to his family after his death, and suspicions of the honesty of 
his son's intentions. There is a half insane tone about his letter to 
Mr. Baker, but a certain method may be discerned in his incoher- 
encies. My own reading of it is that it was a clever evasion of his 
son-in-law's attempts to make sure of his share of the inheritance. 
We have seen how shifty Defoe was in the original bargaining 
about his daughter's portion, and we know from his novels what 
his views were about fortune-hunters, and with what delight he 
dwelt upon the arts of outwitting them. He probably considered 


that his youngest daughter was sufficiently provided for by her 
marriage, and he had set his heart upon making provision for her 
unmarried sisters. The letter seems to me to be evidence, not so 
much of fears for their future welfare, as of a resolution to leave 
them as much as he could. Two little circumstances seem to show 
that, in spite of his professions of affection, there was a coolness 
between Defoe and his son-in-law. He wrote only the prospectus 
and the first article for Baker's paper, the Universal Spectator, 
and when he died, Baker contented himself with a simple intima- 
tion of the fact. 

If my reading of this letter is right, it might stand as a type of 
the most strongly marked characteristic in Defoe's political writings. 
It was a masterly and utterly unscrupulous piece of diplomacy for 
the attainment of a just and benevolent end. This may appear 
strange after what I have said about Defoe's want of honesty, yet 
one cannot help coming to this conclusion in looking back at his 
political career before his character underwent its final degradation. 
He was a great, a truly great liar, perhaps the greatest liar that 
ever lived. His dishonesty went too deep to be called superficial, 
yet, if we go deeper still in his rich and strongly mixed nature, we 
come upon stubborn foundations of conscience. Among con- 
temporary comments on the occasion of his death, there was one 
which gave perfect expression to his political position. " His 
knowledge of men, especially those in high life (with whom he was 
formerly very conversant) had weakened his attachment to any 
political party ; but, in the main, he was in the interest of civil and 
religious liberty, in behalf of which he appeared on several remark- 
able occasions." The men of the time with whom Defoe was 
brought into contact, were not good examples to him. The stand- 
ard of political morality was probably never so low in England as 
during his lifetime. Places were dependent on the favour of the 
Sovereign, and the Sovereign's own seat on the throne was insecure ; 
there was no party cohesion to keep politicians consistent, and 
every man fought for his own hand. Defoe had been behind the 
scenes, witnessed many curious changes of service, and heard 
many authentic tales of jealousy, intrigue, and treachery. He had 
seen Jacobites take office under William, join zealously in the 
scramble for his favours, and enter into negotiations with the* 
emissaries of James either upon some fancied slight, or from no 
other motive than a desire to be safe, if by any chance the sceptre 
should again change hands. Under Anne he had seen Whig turn 
Tory and Tory turn Whig, and had seen statesmen of the highest 
rank hold out one hand to Hanover and another to St. Germains. 
The most single-minded man he had met had been King William 
himself, and of his memory he always spoke with the most affec- 
tionate honour. Shifty as Defoe was, and admirably as he used 
his genius for circumstantial invention to cover his designs, 
there was no other statesman of his generation who remained 
more true to the principles of the Revolution, and to the cause of 
civil and religious freedom. No other public man saw more clearly 


what was for the good of the country, or pursued it more steadily. 
Even when he was the active servant of Harley, and turned 
round upon men who regarded him as their own, the part which he 
played was to pave the way for his patron's accession to office un- 
der the House of Hanover. Defoe did as much as any one man, 
partly by secret intrigue, partly through the public press, perhaps 
as much as any ten men outside those in the immediate direction 
of affairs, to accomplish the two great objects which William 
bequeathed to English statesmanship — the union of England and 
Scotland, and the succession to the United Kingdom of a Pro- 
testant dynasty. Apart from the field of high politics, his power- 
ful advocacy was enlisted in favour of almost every practicable 
scheme of social improvement that came to the front in his time. 
Defoe cannot be held up as an exemplar of moral conduct, yet if 
he is judged by the measures that he laboured for and not by the 
means that he employed, few Englishmen have lived more deserv- 
ing than he of their country's gratitude. He may have been self- 
seeking and vain-glorious, but in his political life self-seeking and 
vain-glory were elevated by their alliance with higher and wider 
aims. Defoe was a wonderful mixture of knave and patriot. 
Sometimes pure knave seems to be uppermost, sometimes pure 
patriot ; but the mixture is so complex, and the energy of the man 
so restless, that it almost passes human skill to unravel the two 
elements. The author of Robinson Crusoe, is entitled to the bene- 
fit of every doubt. 



C LB AN 3 









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No. 104, liOVEIiii'S LIBRARY, Paper Covers, 20 Cents, 

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Mrs. Lillie Devereuz Blake last evening entertained an audience that filled 
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185. Mysterious Island, PtII.15 
Mysterious Island, Pt 1 1 1. i 5 

186. Tom Brown at Oxford, 

2 Parts, each 15 

187. Thicker than Water.... 20 

188. In Silk Attire 20 

189. Scottish Chiefs, Part I.. 20 
Scottish Chiefs, Part II. 20 

190. Willy Reilly 20 

191. The Nautz Family 20 

192. Great Expectations 20 

193. Hist.of Pendennis.Pt I.. 20 
Hist.of Pendennis,Pt II 20 

194. Widow Bedott Papers ..20 

195. Daniel Deronda,Part I . .20 
Daniel Deronda, Part II. 20 

196. Altiora Peto 20 

197. By the Gate of the Sea.. 15 

198. Tales of a Traveller 20 

199. Life and Voyages of Co- 

lumbus, 2 Parts, each. 20 

200. The Pilgrim's Progress . . 20 

201. MartinChuzzlewit,P'rt 1. 20 
MartinChuzzlewit.P't II. 20 

202. Theophrastus Such 10 

103. Disarmed 15 

204. Eugene Aram 20 

20s. The Spanish Gypsy, &C.20 

206. Cast up by the Sea 20 

207. Mill on the Floss, Part 1. 15 
Mill on the Floss, P't II. 15 

208. Brother Jacob, etc 10 

209. The Executor 20 

210. American Notes 15 

211. The Newcomes, Part I.. 20 
The Newcomes, Part II. 20 

212. The Privateersman 20 

213. The Three Feathers 20 

214. Phantom Fortune 20 

2 r 5. The Red Eric 20 

2 16. Lady Silverdale's Sweet- 

heart 10 

217. The Four Macnicol's. ..10 
219. Dombeyand Son, Part I.20 

Dombey and Son, Part II. 20 
210. Book of Snobs 10 

221. Fairy Tales, Illustrated . . 20 

222. The Disowned 20 

223. Little Dorrit, Part 1 20 

Little Dorrit, Part II 20 

124. Abbotsford and New- 
stead Abbey 10 

225, Oliver Goldsmith, Black 10 

226. The Fire Brigade 20 

127. Rifle and Hound in Cey- 
lon 20 

228. Our Mutual Friend, P't 1. 20 
OurMutualFriend.P't II. 20 

229. Paris Sketches 15 

230. Belinda 20 

231. Nicholas Nickleby.P't 1. 20 
NicholasNickleby.P't 1 1. 20 

232. Monarch of Mincing 

Lane 20 

233. Eight Years' Wanderings 

in Ceylon 20 

234. Pictures from Italy 15 

23 5. Adventures of Philip, Pt 1. 15 

Adventures of Philip, Pt II. 15 
236. Knickerbocker History 

of New York. . . . ; .... 20 

237. The Boy at Mugby 10 

238. The Virginians, Part I.. 20 
The Virginians, Part II. 20 

239. Erling the Bold 20 

240. Kenelm Chillingly 20 

241. Deep Down 20 

242. Samuel Brohl & Co 20 

243. Gautran 20 

244. Bleak House, Part I 20 

Bleak House, Part 1 1... 20 

245. What Will He Do With 

It ? 2 Parts, each 20 

246. Sketchesof YoungCouples. 10 

247. De vereux 20 

248. Life of Webster, Part 1. 15 
Life of Webster, Pt. II. 15 

249. The Crayon Papers 20 

250. The Caxtons, Part I .... 15 
The Caxtons, Part II ... 15 

251. Autobiography of An- 

thony Trollope 20 

252. Critical Reviews, etc. ...10 

253. Lucretia 20 

254. Peter the Whaler 20 

255. Last of the Barons. Pt Lis 
Last of the Barons, Pt. 1 1. 15 

256. Eastern Sketches.. 15 

257. All in a Garden Fair.. ..20 

258. File No. 113 20 

259. The Parisians, Part I... 20 
The Parisians, Part 1 1.. 20 

260. Mrs. Darling's Letters. ..20 

261. Master Humphrey's 
Clock 10 

262. Fatal Boots, etc 10 

263. The Alhambra 15 

264. The Four Georges 10 

265. Plutarch's Lives, 5 Pts. Si. 

266. Under the Red Flag 10 

267. TheHaunted House, etc. 10 

268. When the Ship Comes 
Home 10 

269. One False, both Fair 20 

270. The Mudfog Papers, etc. 10 

271. My Novel, 3 Parts, each.20 

272. Conquest of Granada. ..20 

273. Sketches by Boz 20 

274. A Christmas Carol, etc . 15 

275. lone Stewart 20 

276. Harold, 2 Parts, each... 15 

277. Dora Thome 20 

278. Maid of Athens. 20 

279. Conquest of Spain 10 

280. Fitzboodle Papers, etc.. 10 

281. Bracebridge Hall 20 

282. Uncommercial Traveller.20 

283. Roundabout Papers 20 

284. Rossmoyne 20 

285. A Legend of the Rhine, 

etc 10 

286. Cox's Diary, etc 10 

287. Beyond Pardon 20 

288. Somebody' 

289. Godolphin 20 

290. Salmagundi 20 

291. Famous Funny Fellows. 20 

292. Irish Sketches, etc 20 

293. The Battle of Life, etc... 10 

294. Pilgrims of the Rhine.. . 15 

295. Random Shots 20 

296. Men's Wives 10 

297. Mystery of Edwin Drood.20 

298. Reprinted Pieces 20 

299. Astoria ....20 

300. Novels by Eminent Handsio 

301. Companions of Columbus20 

302. No Thoroughfare 10 

303. Character Sketches, etc. 10 

304. Christmas Books 20 

305. A Tour on the Prairies... 10 

306. Ballads 15 

307. Yellowplush Papers 10 

308. Life of Mahomet, Part 1. 15 
Life of Mahomet, Pt. II.15 

309. Sketches and Travels in 

London 10 

310. Oliver Goldsmith,Irving.2o 

311. Captain Bonneville .... 20 

312. Golden Girls 20 

313. English Humorists 15 

314. Moorish Chronicles 10 

315. Winifred Power 20 

316. Great Hoggarty Diamond 10 

317. Pausanias 15 

318. The New Abelard 20 

3 19. A Real Queen 20 

320. The Rose and the Ring.20 

321. Wolf ert's Roost and Mis- 

cellanies, by Irving-- • • 10 

322. Mark Seaworth 20 

323. Life of Paul Jones 20 

324. Round the World 20 

325. Elbow Room 20 

326. The Wizard's Son 25 

327. Harry Lorrequer 20 

328. How It All Came Round.20 

329. Dante Rosetti's Poems. 20 

330. The Canon's Ward 20 

331. Lucile, by O. Meredith. 20 

332. Every Day Cook Book.. 20 

333. Lays of Ancient Rome .. 20 

334. Life of Burns 20 

335. The Young Foresters. .. 20 

336. John Bull andHis Island 20 

337. Salt Water, by Kingston. 20 

338. The Midshipman 20 

339. Proctor's Poems 20 

340. Clayton's Rangers »o 

341. Schiller's Poems 20 

342. Goethe's Faust 20 

343. Goethe's Poems 20 

344. Life of Thackeray 10 

345. Dante's Vision of Hell, 
Purgatory and Paradise.. 20 

346. An Interesting Case 20 

347. Life of Byron, Nichol... 10 

348. Life of Bunyan 10 

349. Valerie's Fate 10 

350. Grandfather Lickshingle. 20 

351. Lays of the Scottish Ca- 

valiers 20 

352. Willis' Poems 20 

353. Tales of the French Re- 

volution 15 

354. Loom and Lugger ...... 20 

355. More Leaves from a Life 

in the Highlands.... ..15 

356. Hygiene of the Brain. ..25 

357. Berkeley the Banker 20 

358. Homes Abroad 15 

359. Scott's Lady of the Lake, 

with notes 20 

360. Modern Christianity a 
civilized Heathenism. ... 15 


Grand, Square and Upright 


The demands now made by an educated musical public are bo exaeting that very few 
Pianoforte Manufacturers can produce Instruments that will stand the test which merit 
requires. SOHMER & CO., as Manufacturers, rank amongst these chosen few, who are 
acknowledged to be makers of standard instruments. In these days, when Manufacturers 
urge the low price of their wares rather than tbeir superior quality as an inducement to 
purchase, it may not be amiss to suggest that, in a Piano, quality aud price are too in- 
separably joined to expect the one without the other. 

Every Piano ought to be judged as to the quality of its tone, its tonch, and its work- 
manship; if any one of these is wanting in excellence, however good the others may be, 
the instrument will be imperfect. It is the combination of these qualities in the highest 
degree that constitutes the perfect Piano, and it is this combination that has given the 
" SOHMER " its honorable position with the trade and the public. 

Received First Prize Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876. 
Received First Prize at Exhibition, Montreal, Canada, 1881 & 1882. 

SOHMER & CO., Manufacturers, 

149-155 E. 14th St., New York. 

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