Daniel Defoe (1660?–1731)
Pat Rogers, University of South Florida
The best known fact about Daniel Defoe is that he wrote the life of Robinson Crusoe, who ended up after various adventures stuck on a small island off the coast of South America for twenty-eight years. In a less famous sequel, Crusoe became a world traveller, visiting the East Indies, China, and Siberia. Defoe also wrote a novel called A New Voyage Round the World, whose central action takes place around Argentina and Chile. He was responsible for part, if not all, of the main text in a huge compilation entitled Atlas Maritimus & Commercialis. His Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain is the most comprehensive survey of the nation published in his era. In his own life, when he worked as a political agent and spy, this had taken him through most regions of the country, including a long spell in Edinburgh promoting the Union of the English and Scottish parliaments, which occurred in 1707 and survived in this form until 1999. On top of all this, Defoe had owned and insured ships involved in oversea trade.
Yet all this is misleading. Defoe was a Londoner born and bred. He may have turned himself into a citizen of the modern world, as a prominent biography describes him, but before that he was a citizen of London, officially recognised as a member of an ancient guild, the Butchers’ Company, which he joined by patrimony (that is, by virtue of his father’s membership). He felt pride in the association, insisting in his journal The Review that, “being born a Freeman, and for having been near 30 Years a Livery-man of this City,” he had therefore “Claim of Right to be concern’d in the Preservation of the Priviledges of the said City.” Moreover, he was elected to parochial offices, and even when he moved out much later to the village of Stoke Newington he served as a surveyor of the highways. In his early childhood he was around when the Great Plague struck (though he may have been temporarily evacuated), which provided the basis for his wonderful evocation in A Journal of the Plague Year of a city under siege. A year later he was back in time to witness the Great Fire of 1666. Most of his significant education took place around the capital, while the dissenting community within which he grew up worshipped in meeting-houses dotted around the urban spaces close to the site of his birth. He married a local girl who came from another family involved in commerce. The couple had six surviving children, most of whom spent their lives in or around the capital. Meanwhile their father seesawed between success and failure, in his literary career and in his private existence—according to his biographer John Robert Moore, “At least seven times he was confined in Newgate, the Queen’s Bench Prison, some debtors’ prison, or the house of a Queen’s messenger.” More than almost any other great British writer, he shared in the experiences of those who were down and out in London.
At the end of this hectic and sometimes deeply troubled life, Defoe died in hiding from creditors. The setting was Ropemakers Alley, “a passage to Grub Street,” in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, not far from his birthplace, and he would be buried a short distance away in Bunhill Fields cemetery, a site popular with nonconformists in the city, that was owned by the Corporation. Most of his books, aside from a few issued in Edinburgh, had been published in his hometown, and many titles among these were associated with members of the trade such as John Baker, James Roberts, and Charles Rivington, whose business premises clustered around the traditional centre of English bookselling close to St Paul’s cathedral. This fact affords an emblem both of the commercial history of the industry and of Defoe’s own activity at the heart of London life.
For convenience, we may summarise the writer’s packed career by dividing it into a sequence of six phases.
(1) Childhood and youth, 1660–80. He was born Daniel Foe, though it has not proved possible to establish firmly either the date (probably late 1660), or the place (very likely in Fore Steet, Cripplegate, on the northern edge of the City, just outside the line of the ancient walls). His father, James Foe, was a tallow chandler and freeman active in municipal affairs. The minister of the parish church, St. Giles, was Samuel Annesley, one of the numerous clergy—perhaps as many as 2,000—who were forced to resign their post in 1662 after the Restoration of Charles II. The Foe family went with him to his new charge, a Presbyterian chapel just off Bishopsgate, less than half a mile to the east. After a brief spell at school in Dorking, Surrey, under another ejected minster, Rev. James Fisher, the young Daniel began his major period of education around the age of fourteen at the dissenting academy in Newington Green. Here the master was Rev. Charles Morton (1627–98), a distinguished teacher who was yet one more to have been removed from his living in the established church. Morton’s views were radical enough to result in his later excommunication and his flight to Massachusetts, where he became a significant figure in the early years of Harvard College. The influence of figures such as Annesley and Morton was sufficient for Daniel to contemplate a career in the ministry. However, he ultimately abandoned these plans and followed his father into life as a trader.
(2) Some false starts, 1680–90. At the beginning of the decade, Defoe’s worldly prospects looked good. He set up as a merchant off Cornhill, near the great commercial centre of the Royal Exchange owned by the City Corporation. His main activity was a wholesaler in the hosiery business, but he also engaged in the import/export trade more widely. He enjoyed some success but had fluctuating fortunes in all his ventures over the years. On 1 January 1684 he married a woman of about twenty, Mary Tuffley, who brought him a huge dowry of £3,700 (equivalent to hundreds of thousands today) from her prosperous father, a wine cooper in the large parish of St. Botolph, Aldgate, where the ceremony was held. This might have set him up for life, but he was already getting involved in politics in opposition to the King. Quixotically, in 1685, he had headed off to join the army of the Protestant claimant to the throne, the Duke of Monmouth. He does not appear to have witnessed much, if any, military action, but after the defeat of the rebels at Sedgemoor he still needed a royal pardon in 1687 to get back on his feet at his day job in Freeman’s Yard. Things took a turn for the better when he was admitted to the livery a year later, meaning that he had full occupational and civic status. This became more relevant when the occupying forces of William of Orange arrived to drive James from the throne. Daniel Foe (as he still was known) went to meet the troops as they neared London, and later joined a company of volunteers to escort William and Queen Mary to the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the Guildhall. These events gave promise of a more auspicious decade to come.
(3) More ups and downs, 1690–1700. Still around thirty, Daniel did indeed establish some links with the king and queen, and obtained his first official posts: one as an accountant for the window taxes, the other as a manager of the royal lotteries. He felt solidly enough established in his genteel status to tack the particle “De” to his name. But his business career was floundering. He lost a lot of money on insuring ships (a risky venture in wartime), rashly took a share in a project involving diving bells for marine salvage, and invested in a scheme to breed civet cats in Newington Green for use in perfumery, bilking his mother-in-law in the process. The legal suits began to mount up, and he underwent his first, but not last, bankruptcy in 1692. He was actually committed to the Fleet Prison and had to find recognisances more than once before he could be discharged. This was the beginning of a lifelong pattern which saw Defoe making desperate efforts to avoid the claims of creditors, not all of which he had shaken off at his death. But, characteristically, while his financial affairs in the words of his biographer Paula Backscheider “continued to unravel,” he was embarking on the career that would inmortalise his name. In particular, he came out with his first significant book in 1697. Aptly for one with his inventive flair and entrepreneurial ambitions, this was called An Essay upon Projects. The text abounds with original and sometimes prescient schemes to usher in the great age of improvement for a Britain that Defoe himself would not live to see. They include an academy for women, friendly societies for seamen and for widows, a pensions office, a modernised road system, and—unsurprisingly—reform of the bankruptcy laws.
(4) The rise to fame, 1700–1710. At the outset of the new century, Defoe was not very widely known outside the business community and the world of government functionaries (although courtroom officials had seen plenty of him). By the end of the opening decade, he was pretty much a household name. This visibility he achieved in his forties, partly by reason of some spectacular interventions into major public debates on topics such as religion, politics, and crime. But most of these were published anonymously, and it was also his appearances in the full glow of notoriety which that brought him to attention, whether presenting a petition to parliament, becoming a wanted man with a price on his head, or most conspicuously ending up in the pillory when captured by the authorities. Even on his missions as a spy for the leading politicians Robert Harley and Sidney Godolphin, his cover was sometimes broken, leading to a search by the local justices in Devon, or threats against his person from the Jacobite mob in Edinburgh.
At first Defoe’s literary reputation hinged mainly on his verse. The best of his poems was one of the earliest, The True-Born Englishman (1701), a savagely comic attack on Anglocentric attitudes. Among its localised thrusts against writers and politicians, the work delivers a wider interrogation of nationhood, deconstructing familiar stereotypes that were applied to major countries in Europe. After this, he scored some hits with items in various forms, such as a satire which is mostly a panegyric on William III, The Mock Mourners (1702); a kind of poème à clef. The Dyet of Poland (1705); and a ballad on Scottish politics called The Vision (1706). Rather less successful is a work in twelve long books, Jure Divino (1706), a versified tract on constitutional theory that lacks the wit and bite of his best productions.
Among the prose from this period, a notable piece of scissors and paste reportage, The Storm, collects numerous firsthand accounts of the hurricane that struck southern Britain in 1703, allowing Defoe to expatiate on one of his favourite themes, natural disasters. He wrote a political satire in the guise of the time honoured “journey to the moon” genre, The Consolidator (1705). However, the most famous item with the biggest effect on his career is The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters (1702), a parody of inflammatory High Church rhetoric, which provoked a massive furore and forced Defoe to go into hiding when a price of £5 (again, worth thousands today) was set on his head. After he was caught in the house of a Spitalfields weaver, he was arrested and convicted of a seditious libel. The indictment described him “a Seditious man and of a disordered mind, and a person of bad name, reputation and Conversation” (legalese for bad egg). He spent several months In Newgate goal, was fined about £133, and stood in the pillory outside the Royal Exchange, a humiliating distance of barely thirty yards from his business premises. These events helped to throw Defoe into bankruptcy again, as he could not attend to a firm making bricks and tiles he had set up along the Thames estuary at Tilbury. Partial salvation came when he began to travel the land on political fact-finding journeys for Harley and Godolphin. From 1706 much of his time was passed in Edinburgh, as part before-and-after efforts to promote the Union with a widely sceptical Scottish public, in the course of which he wrote pamphlets, poems, and historical studies.
His most important single work initiated in this phase, and arguably the most central production of his entire career, was a journal named The Review, which ran for some 13 issues covering more than 5, pages. He did this single-handedly from 1704 to 1713. The original aim was to support the war against France, but over time this topic had to share space with myriad other topics, some of serious import such as the Union, others relatively flippant.
Anecdotes abound, but just as often analysis. A small selection of matters touched on its pages, drawn from a long list of index entries under the letter M, goes as follows: Madagascar pirates; magistrates; the malt tax; manufacture; maréchals of France; the Duke of Marlborough; marriage; Andrew Marvell; maypoles; Mexico; John Milton; Mine Adventurers; nonconformist ministers; the mob; Mohawk riots; money; monopoly; mother in law; mourning; murder; Muscovites; music. On such topics he regularly produced full discussions that demonstrate his knowledgeable and intelligent appraisal of the key concepts. Defoe may not have been prudent in business dealings or tactful in political affairs, but he was a superb journalist. If we need a source that best reveals his interests and literary talents, the rule should be, new readers start here.
(5) Triumphs and disasters, 1710–1720. The rise of Harley to power in 1710 ought to have been good news for Defoe, and he did continue to serve his master loyally in a number of pamphlets and in the Review. This meant sometimes compromising his Whig principles, and welcoming a piece that was opposed by many of his natural constituency. By this date he was writing for other newspapers, and the need to hedge his bets led to tortuous political arguments that went against government policy. The result was that once more he was found living north of the city at Stoke Newington. Eventually he received a royal pardon, but only after extensive manouevres, including a humble petition to the Queen.
On the whole things got easier when George I came to the throne in 1714, though Defoe still had to mind his p’s and q’s. His opponents had long argued that he was prone to writing on either side of a question according to economic necessity, and some of his activities in the next few years lend weight to that claim. For a time he fed material to Nathaniel Mist’s Weekly Journal, with the object of toning town the vehemence of this fervent Jacobite organ. He did not however disguise his intense opposition of the Stuart rising in 1715–16, producing some of the strongest Hanoverian propaganda against the Pretender’s doomed invasion. Away from politics in the narrow sense, he successfully expanded his already large repertoire with interventions into religious disputes, notably the so called Bangorian controversies; manuals of domestic conduct, especially The Family Instructor (1718); spy stories; mock prophecies; and an increasing body of writing on economic issues, which grew more urgent when the South Sea Company took on bigger commitments. The outcome was more or less what Defoe predicted in the light of its dishonest practices and collusion by highly placed politicians: a total collapse, engendering the notorious Bubble of 1720. By now he had started to live in a more genteel fashion, though events would show that he had not put all his financial problems behind him.
Then, as the decade approached its end, he came up with the work that was to transform his reputation for all time.
(6) The closing years, 1720–31. In April 1719 appeared the first part of a book entitled The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner, the archetypal desert island story that has given rise to so many hundreds of imitations and reinterpretations. It achieved instant celebrity, and was soon followed by the second volume, which traced the globetrotting hero’s subsequent odyssey, as well as another sequel cashing in on his marketability by presenting his “serious reflections” on the good life and pious thoughts on spiritual matters. Defoe saw his chance, and followed up with a whole series of novels that helped to establish the centrality of fiction within the literary canon. They comprise Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720); Captain Singleton (1720); Moll Flanders (1722); A Journal of the Plague Year (1722); Col. Jacque (1722); The Fortunate Mistress, better known as Roxana (1724); and A New Voyage Round the World (1724). Several of them deal with outsiders, outcasts or the criminals who were to figure recurrently in the things he wrote in this decade. All display Defoe’s grasp of the qualities that readers sought in the new mode of narrative, but Crusoe draws more widely than any other on his accumulated experience as a writer on religion, politics, travel, commerce and much more.
As if that was not enough, he was developing his oeuvre in other directions at the same juncture. There were more items inspired by the financial crisis, such as a searing indictment of the behaviour of stockjobbers who manipulated the market, and discussions of John Law, the monetarist “wizard” who had led France into her own Mississippi Bubble. He took up the case of the poor Spitalfields weavers who had been hit by the importation of Indian calicos. He recommended “due preparations” to combat the threat of a spread of plague that was raging in Marseille. He produced more books on family life, including one on “religious courtship,” one on the insolence of servants, and later one on “conjugal lewdness.” In addition, he went on to write a political history of the devil, a system of magic, and an essay on the reality of apparitions—all expressions of an absorption in spiritual matters that may seem paradoxical in such a hardheaded man of the world.
Perhaps the most astounding phase in his development as a writer began around 1724. He compiled another series of influential works. This time they belonged to a different category, that is nonfictional guides to trade, commerce, and industry. These topics lie at the heart of his Tour thro’ the Whole lsland of Great Britain (three volumes, 1724–26), a fascinating survey that transcends its homely role as a guidebook to portray the workings of the nation in a masterly sweep. They figure centrally in further books that emerged in rapid succession: The Complete English Tradesman (two volumes, 1725–26); A General History of Discoveries and Improvements (1725–26); and A Plan of the English Commerce (1728).
Between his mid sixties and the age of almost seventy, Defoe embarked on a final career switch. This involved a group of pamphlets on contemporary social issues. Many of them were written under the pseudonym of “Andrew Moreton,” a persona that allows his creator to grouse about increasing problems specifically linked to urban life. Beginning in 1725, Moreton was allowed to grumble on subjects including grasping footmen and idle street sellers, the pertness and insolence of young people towards their elders, the enormities of vestries who controlled parochial business, and the ever-present danger of street robberies. The most effective of these is Augusta Triumphans: or, The Way to Make London the most Flourishing City in the Universe (1728). This modest ambition Moreton will achieve by measures such as setting up a home for foundlings (a task that was not fulfilled for another decade); suppressing private madhouses; getting rid of prostitutes and gaming houses; preventing the scourge of gin-drinking; and a plan to curb the importation of foreign musicians, such as opera stars. We are reminded of some visionary ideas in the Essay upon Projects, at the outset of Defoe’s career. Early and late, he seldom took his eyes off London.
He had only a few years left to live, and they were not entirely happy. There were family issues, more complicated business affairs, and finally the remorseless pursuit by a creditor from a long time before. His last surviving letter was written “about two Miles from Greenwich, Kent,” lamenting that he has not been able to see his family, including a new grandchild, or to show himself in public. “I am so near my Journey’s end,” he wrote, “and am hastening to the Place where the Weary are at rest, and where the Wicked cease to trouble.” The cause of his death was given as a “lethargy,” meaning a paralysing apoplectic fit. Lethargic is the very last word you could use about Defoe’s life or character.
There are three very good modern biographies. Paula Backscheider, Daniel Defoe: His Life (Baltimore, 1989) is the most detailed and complete account of events. Maximillian E. Novak, Daniel Defoe, Master of Fictions: His Life and Ideas (Oxford, 2001) is the fullest analysis of the range of Defoe’s writings. John Richetti, The Life of Daniel Defoe: A Critical Biography (Malden, MA, 2005), is the most concise and direct in its approach.
Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900)
DEFOE, DANIEL (1661?–1731), journalist and novelist, was born in 1660 or 1661 in the parish of St. Giles's, Cripplegate. This date is fixed by his statement in the preface to the ‘Protestant Monastery,’ published 1727, that he was then in his sixty-seventh year. His grandfather, James Foe, kept a pack of hounds (Review, vol. vii. preface) and farmed his own estate at Elton, Northamptonshire. His father, James Foe, was a younger son, who became a butcher in St. Giles's, retired upon a competency, was living in 1705, and is called my ‘late father’ by his son on 23 Sept. 1708 (ib. ii. 150, iv. 306). Foe changed his name to De Foe or Defoe about 1703, for unascertained reasons (see Wilson's De Foe, i. 231). The parish register contains no entry of his baptism. His parents were non-conformists, and joined the congregation in Bishopsgate Street formed by Samuel Annesley [q. v.], the ejected minister of Cripplegate. Defoe's respect for his pastor is shown by an ‘elegy’ upon Annesley's death in 1697. It is supposed, though on very slight evidence, that he married Annesley's daughter (Wilson, i. 345). He was thus brought up as a dissenter, and at the age of fourteen sent to the academy at Newington Green kept by Charles Morton, another ejected divine. Defoe speaks well of the school (Present State of Parties, 316–20). The lessons were all given in English, and many of the pupils, according to Defoe, distinguished themselves by their mastery of the language. Here he acquired the foundation of the knowledge of which he afterwards boasts in answer to Swift, who had called him and Tutchin (Examiner, No. 16) ‘two stupid illiterate scribblers.’ He ‘understood’ Latin, Spanish, and Italian, ‘could read’ Greek, and could speak French ‘fluently.’ He knew something of mathematics, had a wide acquaintance with geography, the modern history, and especially of the commercial condition of all countries (Applebee's Journal, 1725; in Lee's Defoe, iii. 435; and Review, vii. 455). He had also gone through the theological and philosophical courses necessary to qualify him for the ministry. He gave up the career for which he had been intended, thinking that the position of a dissenting minister was precarious and often degrading (Present State of Parties, 319). He went into business about 1685, and on 26 Jan. 1687–8 became a liveryman of the city of London. He denied (Review, ii. 149, 150) that he had been a ‘hosier,’ and appears to have been a ‘hose factor,’ or middleman between the manufacturer and the retailer. Defoe imbibed the political principles of his teachers and friends. During the ‘popish plot’ he joined in meetings to protect the witnesses from intimidation (ib. vii. 297). He was out with Monmouth in 1685 (Appeal to Honour and Justice) when some of his fellow-students at Newington lost their lives. Defoe's precise share in the rebellion does not appear. In 1701 he wrote a curious pamphlet on the succession, proposing to investigate the claim of Monmouth and his descendants. Defoe speaks of an early writing, which Mr. Lee identified with a ‘Letter … on his Majesty's Declaration for Liberty of Conscience,’ 1687. This seems really to belong to Bishop Burnet (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iv. 253, 307). Earlier writings, ‘Speculum Crapegownorum,’ pts. i. and ii. 1682, attacking the clergy, and a tract attacking the Turks during the siege of Vienna (1683), are regarded as spurious by Mr. Lee (i. 15), though attributed to Defoe by Wilson (i. 85–93). In 1688 he joined William's army at Henley during the advance to London (Tour through Great Britain, vol. ii. let. i. pp. 64–70). He appeared as a trooper in a volunteer regiment of horse which escorted William and Mary to a great banquet in the city, 29 Oct. 1689 (Oldmixon, iii. 36). His political or literary distractions or his speculative tendencies were probably the cause of a bankruptcy, which took place about 1692 (Review, iii. 399). He had been engaged in foreign trade. He had visited France, had been at Aix-la-Chapelle, and had resided for a time in Spain (Tour, vol. i. let. ii. pp. 16, 121, iii. let. i. p. 54; Review, vii. 527). His debts were considerable, and he says that he had in 1705 reduced them, ‘exclusive of composition, from 17,000l. to less than 5,000l.’ (Reply to Haversham's Vindication; see also letter to Fransham, Notes and Queries, 5th ser. iii. 283). Tutchin, though an opponent, also bears testimony to his having honourably discharged in full debts for which composition had been accepted (Dialogue between a Dissenter and the Observator, 1703). Defoe characteristically turned his experience to account by soon afterwards writing an ‘Essay upon Projects,’ which did not appear, however, till 1698 (Lee, i. 28, 38), containing suggestions for a national bank, for a system of assurance, for friendly societies, for ‘pension offices’ or savings banks, for idiot asylums, for a reform of the bankruptcy laws, and for various academies. The suggestions, though of course already in the air, place him among the most intelligent observers of the social conditions of the day. About 1694 he was invited to take charge of a commercial agency in Spain, but refused the offer in order to take part ‘with some eminent persons’ in suggesting ways and means to government, then struggling to meet the requirements of the war. In 1695 he was appointed ‘accountant to the commissioners of the glass duty,’ an office which he held until the suppression of the commission (1 Aug. 1699); and he also became secretary to a factory started at Tilbury in Essex to compete with the Dutch in making pantiles. He had a share in the business, and its prosperity seems to be proved by the reduction of his debts. Defoe became prominent in the last years of William as a writer in defence of the king's character and policy. In 1697 he had argued vigorously for a standing army. His most remarkable production was ‘The Two great Questions considered’ (1700), being a vigorous defence of the expected war, upon the ground of the danger to our commercial interests of a French acquisition of the Spanish dominions in America. A French translation, with a reply, appeared in 1701. In the same year Tutchin accused William of being a Dutchman in a poem called ‘The Foreigners.’ Defoe was ‘filled with a kind of rage,’ and retorted in ‘The True-born Englishman, a Satyr,’ published January 1701. In rough verses, sometimes rising to the level of exceedingly vigorous prose, he declares that Englishmen are a race of mongrels, bred from the offscourings of Europe in all ages. The sturdy sense of this shrewd assault upon the vanity of his countrymen secured a remarkable success. Defoe declares (Collected Writings, vol. ii. preface) in 1705 that nine genuine and twelve pirated editions had been printed, and eighty thousand copies sold in the streets. He described himself on the title-pages of many subsequent works as ‘author of the True-born Englishman,’ and he had the honour of an introduction to William. He had ‘attended’ Queen Mary when she gave orders for laying out Kensington Gardens (Tour, vol. ii. letter iii. p. 14), but apparently without becoming personally known to her. William now treated him with a confidence of which he often boasted in later years. His gratitude appears in several pamphlets, and in annual articles in the ‘Review’ upon anniversaries of William's birthday. He wrote a pamphlet, ‘Six Distinguishing Characters of a Parliament-Man,’ on the election of the parliament in January 1701, calling attention to the serious questions involved and denouncing stockjobbers. The tory majority impeached William's chief whig supporters, and imprisoned five gentlemen who presented the famous ‘Kentish petition’ on behalf of the whig policy. Hereupon Defoe drew up the ‘Legion Memorial’—so called from the signature, ‘Our name is Legion, and we are many’—audaciously rebuking the House of Commons. It was accompanied by a letter to the speaker, delivered, according to various accounts, by Defoe himself, on 14 May 1701, either disguised as a woman or ‘guarded by sixteen gentlemen of quality’ (see Wilson, i. 395–406, where the documents are printed). The house was unable or afraid to vindicate its dignity; and the petitioners, being liberated on the rising of parliament (24 June 1701), were entertained at the Mercers' Hall, where Defoe was placed by their side. The controversy gave rise to a ‘Vindication of the Rights of the Commons of England’ by Sir Humphry Mackworth (1701), to which Defoe replied in his most noteworthy discussion of political theories, ‘The Original Power of the Collective Body of the People of England examined and asserted’ (dated 1702, but published 27 Dec. 1701). When war became imminent in 1701, Defoe discussed the question in a pamphlet called characteristically ‘Reasons against a War with France’ (1701). Though ostensibly arguing that the French sanction of an empty title was no sufficient ground for a war, his real purpose was to urge that the solid interests of England lay in securing for itself the colonial empire of Spain. Objection to continental alliances and a preference of colonial enterprise were the characteristic sentiments of the tory party. Defoe took a line of his own, and staunchly adhered to this opinion throughout his career. William died 8 March 1702. Defoe showed his sincere regard for the king's memory in a poem called the ‘Mock Mourners,’ ridiculing the insincerity of the official lamentations, and attacked the high church party, now coming into power, in a ‘New Test of the Church of England's Loyalty.’ He now got into a singular difficulty, which has suggested various judgments of his conduct. A bill to suppress the practice of ‘occasional conformity’ was the favourite measure of the high church party throughout the reign of Queen Anne. In 1697 the lord mayor had given offence by attending the services both of the church and his chapel with his official paraphernalia. Defoe had then attacked this inconsistency, arguing that as the vital principle of dissent was the sinfulness of conformity, a desire to qualify for office could not justify an act of conformity for that particular purpose. In November 1700 he reprinted his tract, with a preface addressed to the eminent divine, John Howe; and in December published a rejoinder to a reply from Howe. In 1702 the high church party now in power introduced a bill for suppressing the practice, which passed the House of Commons in November. Defoe joined in the controversy by ‘an inquiry,’ audaciously arguing, in consistency with his previous tracts, that the dissenters were not concerned in the matter. The bill, as he urged, though not intended, was really calculated to purge them of a scandal. It would only touch the equivocating dissenter, who claimed a right to practise what he asserted to be a sin. Defoe's reasoning was undeniably forcible. Like the early dissenters in general, he did not object to the church establishment on principle. On the contrary, he steadily maintained the church to be a necessary barrier against popery and infidelity. He did not even object to some tests. He desired that they should be such as to exclude the smallest number of protestants, and asserted (Dissenters' Answer to High Church Challenge) that the dissenters would at once conform if the church would cease to insist upon the ceremonies to which they objected. He declared it to be a hardship that dissenters should be excluded from preferment while forced to serve as common sailors and soldiers. But his arguments told for a modification rather than for a repeal or evasion of the tests. The dissenters, however, who saw that in fact the measure against occasional conformity would depress their interest, naturally held him to be a deserter. Defoe himself perceived that the bill was supported by appeals to intolerance, and though his peculiar attitude weakened his argument against the measure, he was heartily opposed to the spirit by which it was dictated. To put himself right, he published ‘The Shortest Way with the Dissenters,’ while the bill was struggling with the direct and indirect opposition of the whig lords. Ostensibly adopting the character of a ‘high-flyer,’ he called for an extirpation of the dissenters, like the extirpation of protestants by the French king. The more vehement tories, it is said, approved the pamphlet in sober earnest, and a clergyman declared it to come next to the Bible in his estimation (Review, ii. 277). Defoe boasts that they were soon brought to their senses, and were forced to disavow the principles thus nakedly revealed. He was prosecuted for libelling the church by thus misrepresenting its principles. The Earl of Nottingham was especially active in the matter (Leslie, Rehearsal (1750), i. 62, 264). A reward was offered for his apprehension in the ‘Gazette,’ 10 Jan. 1702–3. He is, it is said, ‘a middle-sized spare man, about forty years old, of a brown complexion, and dark brown-coloured hair, but wears a wig; a hooked nose, a sharp chin, grey eyes, and a large mole near his mouth.’ The House of Commons ordered the book to be burnt. He was indicted at the Old Bailey 24 Feb. 1703, and tried at the July sessions following. He acknowledged the authorship, and was sentenced to pay a fine of two hundred marks, to stand three times in the pillory, to be imprisoned during the queen's pleasure, and to find securities for good behaviour during seven years. Before his trial Defoe published a ‘Brief Explanation,’ and during the next two years several other pamphlets endeavouring to set forth his principles, and to reconcile his objections to the measure with his previous assertion that it did not affect dissenters. How far he succeeded in maintaining a consistent ground may be disputed. Defoe always sought to gain piquancy by diverging from the common track in the name of common sense, and tried to be paradoxical without being subtle. But he never ceased to advocate toleration, though demanding only such a liberal application of the law as would spare tender consciences. Defoe stood in the pillory on 29, 30, and 31 July 1703. The people formed a guard, covered the pillory with flowers, and drank his health. He published a ‘Hymn to the Pillory,’ which was sold among the crowd in large numbers, marked by the really fine lines—
Tell them the men that placed him here
Are scandals to the times;
Are at a loss to find his guilt,
And can't commit his crimes.
Defoe was now imprisoned in Newgate. His business at Tilbury had to be abandoned, and he says that he lost 3,500l. invested in it (Review, viii. 495–6). He had a wife and six children; and though he was able to continue his writings his position was precarious and trying. He continued to write upon occasional conformity; he attacked Asgill's queer doctrine about ‘translation’ [see Asgill, John]; he had a controversy with Charles Davenant [q. v.] upon the right of appeals to the people; he published a ‘Layman's Sermon’ upon the great storm (27 Nov. 1703), and afterwards a full account of it (17 July 1704). His notoriety had led to a spurious publication of his writings; and in 1703 he published the first volume of a ‘true collection,’ which was followed by a second (with a second edition of the first) in 1705. His most laborious undertaking, the ‘Review,’ was also begun during his imprisonment. The full title of the paper was ‘A Review of the Affairs of France and of all Europe, as influenced by that Nation.’ After the first volume the last clause became ‘with Observations on Transactions at Home.’ The first number appeared 17 Feb. 1704. It was first a weekly paper; after the eighth number it appeared twice a week; and after the eighth number of the second volume thrice a week. An imaginary ‘Scandal Club’ contributed to its pages; ‘Advices from the Scandal Club’ filled five monthly supplements in 1704; and for half a year in 1705 this part appeared twice a week as ‘The Little Review.’ At the end of July 1712 the ‘Review’ ceased in its old form, but a new series, called simply ‘The Review,’ appeared twice a week until 11 June 1713. The whole was written by Defoe, none of his absences ever preventing its regular appearance. During its appearance he published eighty other works, equalling the ‘Review’ in bulk. The only complete copy known belonged to James Crossley [q. v.], and is now in the British Museum. The ‘Review’ is a landmark in the history of English periodical literature, and its success no doubt helped to suggest the ‘Tatler’ and ‘Spectator.’ Tutchin's ‘Observator,’ begun 1 April 1702, and Leslie's ‘Rehearsal,’ 2 Aug. 1704, were his chief rivals, representing the extreme whigs and extreme tories respectively. The ‘Review’ included discussions of all the chief political questions of the day. Throughout Defoe affected the attitude of an independent critic, criticising all parties, although with a special antipathy to the ‘high-flyers.’ He was really, however, working in chains. In the spring of 1704 the ministry had been modified by the expulsion of the high church Earl of Nottingham, Defoe's special enemy, and the admission of Harley as secretary of state. The Occasional Conformity Bill was no longer supported by the government. Harley, the first of English ministers to appreciate the influence of the press, sent a message to Defoe in prison. The result was that a sum of money was sent from the treasury to Defoe's family and his fine discharged. Four months later, in August 1704, he was released from prison. He tells Halifax (Letter of 5 April 1705) that he had ‘scorned to come out of Newgate at the price of betraying a dead master or discovering those things which nobody would have been the worse for’ (Lee, i. 107). But it is clear that the final release implied some conditions, or ‘capitulations,’ as Defoe calls them. He frequently denied that he received a pension, although he admits that some appointment was bestowed upon him for a special service. He also asserts that he wrote ‘without the least direction, assistance, or encouragement’ (Review, vol. iii. preface). But his bond for good behaviour was still in force. If he was not directly inspired, it was partly because his discretion could be trusted. Few ‘Grub Street authors’ could afford a conscience. Defoe's pen was the chief means of support for himself and his family. To use it against the government was to run the risk of imprisonment, the pillory, and even the gallows, or at least of being left to the mercy of his creditors. He therefore compromised with his conscience by distinguishing between reticence and falsehood. He would defend what was defensible without attacking errors which could only be attacked at his personal risk. If he was led into questionable casuistry, it must be admitted that journalists in far less precarious situations have not always been more scrupulous, and further that for some years he could speak in full accordance with his conscience. After his liberation Defoe retired for a time to Bury St. Edmunds, and after his return to London in October suffered from a severe illness in the winter. He was able, however, to continue his literary occupations. A remarkable pamphlet, called ‘Giving Alms no Charity,’ provoked by a bill of Sir Humphry Mackworth for employing the poor, appeared in November 1704; and in 1705 his prose satire, ‘The Consolidator, or Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon,’ which was followed by several appendices. Three letters to Lord Halifax in the spring and summer of 1705 show that he was communicating with one of the whig junto and receiving money through him from some ‘unknown benefactor,’ together with hints for his ‘Review’ (Letters in Lee, i. 106, 115–18, from Addit. MS. 7121). Harley about the same time employed him in ‘several honourable, though secret, services’ (Appeal to Honour and Justice). From the same pamphlet it appears that he was at one time employed in a ‘foreign country.’ No such employment is known, unless the phrase is intended to cover Scotland. He was sent into the country during the elections which began in May 1705, taking a satire, ‘The Dyet of Poland,’ in which he attacked the high church party and praised William and the whigs. Some phrases in a letter to Harley (Wilson, ii. 357–60) show that he was discussing a scheme for a ‘secret intelligence’ office. His ‘Review’ meanwhile was warmly supporting the war, calling for the election of sound supporters of the ministry and denouncing the ‘tackers’ who in the previous session had tried to force the Occasional Conformity Bill through parliament by ‘tacking’ it to a money bill. In July 1706 appeared his ‘True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. Veal’ and his long political satire, in twelve books of verse, called ‘Jure Divino.’ It may be noticed that the common story that ‘Mrs. Veal’ was designed to help off Drelincourt's book on the ‘Fear of Death’ is disproved by facts. Drelincourt's book was already popular, and Defoe's pamphlet was only added to the fourth edition (Lee, i. 127, 128). The union with Scotland was now becoming prominent in the political world. In August or September 1706 Defoe was sent to Edinburgh by the ministry, kissing the queen's hand on his appointment. His duties were apparently to act as a secret agent with the party favourable to the union. He published six essays ‘towards removing national prejudices’ against the measure both in England and Scotland, and exerted himself vigorously for an object which was thoroughly congenial to his sympathies. His ‘History of the Union’ ultimately appeared in 1709, and contains some useful historical documents. He was consulted by committees upon many questions of trade, and was once in some danger from a hostile mob. His absence in Scotland was partly due to the demands of creditors, who still persecuted him, after he had surrendered to the commissioners appointed for the relief of debtors under an act of 1706 (see letters to Fransham of this period in Notes and Queries, 5th ser. iii. 261, 282). He stayed in Scotland throughout 1707, replying with spirit to various attacks upon his supposed dependence on the ministry, which he denied at the cost of some equivocation. In the beginning of 1708 he returned to England. A settlement with his creditors seemed possible, and his political position was again doubtful. His patron, Harley, was now ejected from the ministry, being at deadly feud with Godolphin and Marlborough. Defoe, by his own account, was allowed by Harley himself ‘in the most engaging terms’ to offer his services to Godolphin. Substantially, of course, this was to treat Defoe as a mere hireling or ‘under-spur-leather’ in the cant phrase of the time, instead of an ally who would have a claim upon future support if asked to resign with his employer. Defoe went to Godolphin and boasts that he had no correspondence with Harley for the next three years. Godolphin received him civilly; he again kissed the queen's hand in confirmation of an appointment, previously made through Harley ‘in consideration of a special service … in which I had run as much risk of my life as a grenadier upon a counterscarp.’ He was again sent to Scotland, then threatened by the invasion of 1708, and, after visiting England during the elections, returned for another mission in the summer. The ‘Review’ was at this time printed in Edinburgh as well as in London, and he had at one time thoughts of settling in Scotland altogether (Lee, i. 139). Some letters to Godolphin and Sunderland, written from Edinburgh in May and August 1708, printed by the ‘Historical MSS. Commission’ (8th Rep. pp. 44, 48), show Defoe's complete dependence on the government. A letter to Harley of 2 Nov. 1706 (9th Rep. p. 469) suggests that his plan of settling in Scotland was a mere pretence. The ‘Review’ was now staunchly whig, and during the elections of 1708 Defoe declared that if we ever had a tory parliament the nation would be undone (Review, v. 139). He supported Marlborough and Godolphin against the growing discontent with the war. Sacheverell's famous sermon (5 Nov. 1709) gave him an opportunity for attacking an old enemy, who had already hung out ‘a bloody flag and banner of defiance’ against the dissenters (a phrase frequently quoted by Defoe and others at the time) in a sermon of 1702. Defoe first declared that Sacheverell's violence should be encouraged rather than suppressed, as the serious acceptance by high churchmen of the ironical arguments of the ‘Shortest Way’ would most effectually expose the high church spirit (ib. vi. 421). The impeachment, however, was carried out, and was then supported by Defoe. He attacked Sacheverell's principles in the ‘Review,’ while disavowing any personal motive, and so vigorously that, as he says, he was threatened with assassination. The fall of the whigs followed. Defoe supported them, and eulogised Sunderland, the most violent of the party, on his dismissal (ib. vii. 142, 145). When Godolphin was at last dismissed, Defoe, as he puts it, was ‘providentially cast back upon his original benefactor,’ Harley. In other words, he was handed back again to his old employer as a mere hanger-on of the office. The spirit of the ‘Review’ changed abruptly, though Defoe taxed all his ingenuity to veil the change under an air of impartiality. The whig argument, that credit would be injured by the expulsion of Godolphin, had been urged in the ‘Review.’ Defoe had now to prove that all patriots were bound to support the national credit even under a tory ministry. In August and October 1710 he published two essays upon ‘Public Credit’ and ‘Loans,’ arguing that whigs would be playing the game of the Jacobites by selling out of the funds. These pamphlets were so clearly in Harley's interest that they have been attributed to him (Lee, i. 171). Defoe denied that the ministry would favour the ‘high-flyers,’ and tried hard to prove that, if not whigs already, they would be forced into whiggism by the necessity of their position (Review, vii. 245). He received, as he tells us (ib. 257), scurrilous letters calling him a renegade, which is hardly surprising. He urged the election of a ‘moderate’ parliament (ib. 348), as he had previously urged the election of a whig parliament. He became awake to the terrible expensiveness of the war. He declared (truly enough) that he had always held that the true interest of England lay chiefly in the American trade; and after the death of the emperor, enforced the common argument that the issue was now changed, and that it would be as foolish to give the Spanish Indies to the emperor as it would have been to leave them to the French. Though apparently not quite satisfied with the peace actually made, he urged acquiescence instead of joining in the whig denunciations; and his arguments for the necessity of a peace were so vigorous that Mesnager, the French agent, had one of his pamphlets translated into French, and sent the author one hundred pistoles. Defoe informed the government of the present. Mesnager, finding that he was in government employment, refrained from further intercourse (Minutes of Negotiations of M. Mesnager, &c., possibly translated by Defoe; see Lee, i. 269). Defoe, however, continued, if with diminished vigour, to be an opponent of high-flyers and Jacobites. He attacked the ‘October Club,’ which was trying to force ministers into extreme measures, in a vigorous pamphlet (1711), while Swift remonstrated with them as a friend. At the end of the same year his old adversary, Nottingham, made a compact with the whigs, who agreed to carry the Occasional Conformity Bill on condition of Nottingham's voting against the peace. Defoe wrote passionately but vainly against the measure, both in his ‘Review’ and in separate pamphlets. He had gone too far with the tories to be accepted as a genuine supporter even of his old cause. The imposition of the new tax in July 1712 injured Defoe's ‘Review.’ In the preface to the eighth volume then issued he eloquently asserts his independence and his suffering in the cause of truth. He continued the ‘Review,’ however, through another volume; and after its final suppression he took the chief part in the ‘Mercator,’ started in Harley's (now Lord Oxford's) interest, although he was not the proprietor or editor. It was devoted to arguing the questions aroused by the treaty of commerce which was to follow the peace of Utrecht. Defoe has been credited, upon the strength of this work, with anticipating modern theories of free trade. In fact, however, he accepted the ordinary theory of the time, and only endeavoured to prove that the balance of trade would be in favour of England under the proposed arrangement. Defoe had retired on being again sent to Scotland during the later months of 1712. There he wrote some anti-Jacobite pamphlets. In the beginning of 1713 he continued this controversy in some pamphlets to which, following his old plan, he gave titles ostensibly Jacobite: ‘Reasons against the Succession of the House of Hanover;’ ‘What if the Pretender should come?’ and ‘An Answer to a Question which Nobody thinks of, viz. But what if the Queen should die?’ These writings, although clearly anti-Jacobite, gave offence to the whigs. They were, no doubt, a sincere defence of Defoe's permanent principles, though, as Professor Minto has pointed out, they were, in some respects, calculated to serve Oxford. They explicitly denied that Oxford was in the Pretender's interest. Oxford, in fact, was being thrown over by the Jacobite wing of his party, though upon joining the ministry he had made overtures to the exiled court. The existence of such overtures was, of course, a secret to be carefully concealed from Defoe, and even from Oxford's far more confidential friend, Swift; and both Defoe and Swift were probably quite sincere in denying their existence. The whigs, however, who suspected Oxford, and regarded Defoe as a hireling renegade, would not forgive Oxford's supporter, though he might be a sincere defender of the Hanoverian succession. Defoe was prosecuted for a libel. The judges declared that the pamphlets were treasonable, and Defoe was committed to prison (22 April 1713), but obtained a pardon under the great seal. During the following year, besides writing the ‘Mercator,’ he published various pamphlets, which were chiefly in Oxford's interest. In a ‘Letter to the Dissenters’ (December 1713) he exhorted them to neutrality, and intimated that they were in danger of severe measures. He had probably received some hint of the Schism Act, passed in the next session, in spite of Oxford's opposition, by the extremer tories. In April he replied warmly to Swift's attack upon the Scots in his ‘Public Spirit of the Whigs,’ though Swift was supported by Oxford; but in the same month he published a defence of Oxford in a tract called ‘Reasons for im[peaching] the L[or]d H[igh] T[reasurer].’ The ‘Mercator’ dropped with the fall of Oxford and the consequent want of official information. A bookseller named Hurt had long published the ‘Flying Post,’ written by Ridpath, a bitter enemy of Defoe's. Hurt was suspected by Ridpath's patrons of some communication with Defoe, and the ‘Flying Post’ was instantly taken out of his hands. Hurt hereupon engaged Defoe to issue a rival ‘Flying Post,’ which took the whig side. Defoe warmly eulogised the new king upon the death of Anne (1 Aug. 1714), and soon afterwards declared that Lord Annesley, who had been sent to Ireland by Bolingbroke, had gone to remodel the forces in the Jacobite interest. The assertion produced an immediate prosecution for libel. While his trial was pending, Defoe wrote, apparently in September (Lee, i. 236, 240), his remarkable ‘Appeal to Honour and Justice,’ to meet the odium now accumulating from all parties. Soon afterwards appeared ‘Advice to the People of Great Britain,’ exhorting to moderation, and ‘A Secret History of One Year,’ the first, namely, of William's reign, pointing out, with obvious application, how William had been compelled to part with his whig supporters by their insatiable rapacity. He was probably also author of ‘The Secret History of the White Staff.’ This was written to all appearances to defend Lord Oxford, now a prisoner in the Tower. Oxford thought it necessary to disavow any complicity in the book, and even stated that it was intended to ‘do him a prejudice.’ But this was in all probability a merely prudential disavowal, which leaves to Defoe the credit of defending his patron in distress. A later pamphlet, called ‘Minutes of the Negotiations of M. Mesnager, … done out of the French,’ was published during the proceedings against Oxford in 1717, and clearly intended in his favour. Oldmixon says that Defoe composed it by Oxford's direction, and it is assigned to him by Mr. Lee (i. 269). He denied the authorship, however, emphatically, in the ‘Mercurius Politicus’ (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 548, v. 177, 202, 393). The ‘Appeal to Honour and Justice’ appeared in the first week of January 1715, with a ‘conclusion by the publisher,’ saying that the author had been struck by a ‘violent fit of apoplexy’ six weeks before and was still in a precarious state. Yet at the end of March appeared his ‘Family Instructor,’ a book of about 450 pages, which presumably had been written before, and was now published hastily and incorrectly ‘by reason of the author's absence from the press.’ During his illness Defoe was visited by a quaker, and he adopted the quaker style in several pamphlets which followed, reproving Sacheverell, the Duke of Ormonde, and others. On 1 July appeared a ‘History of the Wars of his present Majesty, Charles XII of Sweden.’ On 12 July he was brought to trial for the libel on Lord Annesley, and found guilty. Immediately afterwards he published a ‘Hymn to the Mob,’ occasioned by Jacobite disturbances, and in October a ‘View of the Scots' Rebellion,’ and another quaker pamphlet addressed to ‘John Eriskine, called by the men of the world, Duke of Mar.’ In November, Defoe's fellow-prisoners received sentence. Defoe himself escaped by a singular arrangement. According to his own account (Visions of the Angelick World, 48–50), a ‘strong impulse darted into his mind,’ ordering him to write to the judge, Chief-justice Parker, afterwards Lord Macclesfield. Parker, who had been one of his judges in 1713, put him in communication with Lord Townshend, then secretary of state. Letters addressed to Charles De la Faye, of the secretary of state's office, found in the State Paper Office in 1864, and first published in the ‘London Review’ 4 and 11 June 1864, reveal the transaction which followed. Defoe again entered the employment of the government. He first wrote a monthly paper called ‘Mercurius Politicus,’ which began in May 1716 and continued till at least September 1720. In June 1716 he acquired from one Dormer a share in the ‘News Letter,’ a weekly paper which had been managed by Dyer, now dead. It was not published, but circulated in manuscript, and was a favourite organ of the high church party. Defoe undertook that while the ‘style should continue tory,’ he would so manage it as entirely to ‘take the sting out of it.’ He continued this until August 1718, but no copies of the work are known. Soon afterwards, about August 1717, he undertook a similar position in the management of ‘Mist's Journal,’ a Jacobite organ started in the previous year. On 13 Dec. 1717 he acknowledges the receipt of 25l. from the Earl of Sunderland (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. 24). He introduced himself to Mist ‘in the disguise of a translator of foreign news.’ Mist had not the least suspicion of his connection with government, and Defoe contrived to regulate the paper, and make himself essential to its success. Mist published a Jacobite letter in spite of Defoe's protest on 25 Oct. 1718. He was arrested, but released by Defoe's influence. He flatly denied, in answer to contemporary attacks in ‘Read's Journal,’ that Defoe was employed by him, and a separation took place. Read observed that Defoe's share was sufficiently proved by the ‘agreeableness of the style … the little art he is truly a master of, of forging a story and imposing it on the world for truth,’ a remark which shows Defoe's reputation just before the appearance of ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ Defoe's defection caused the journal to decline, and in January 1719 Mist restored him to the virtual management of the journal. Mist was again arrested in June 1720. Defoe managed the paper during his imprisonment, but from this time took comparatively little share in the paper. His last article appeared 24 Oct. 1724. Defoe contributed to other papers at the same time. He started the ‘Whitehall Evening Post,’ a tri-weekly journal, in September 1718, and wrote for it till June 1720. In October 1719 he started the ‘Daily Post,’ for which he wrote till April 1725; and, on dropping his connection with the ‘Whitehall Evening Post,’ he began to contribute weekly articles to ‘Applebee's Journal,’ in which he wrote regularly till 12 March 1726. From the date of his second period of employment under Harley, Defoe became anonymous. The reason clearly was that he was from that time regarded as a renegade. His connection with Mist forced him to pass himself off as one of the Jacobites, ‘a generation who, I profess,’ as he says in his letter in the State Paper Office of 26 April 1718, ‘my very soul abhors.’ He had, therefore, to abandon his claims to integrity, and submit to pass for a traitor. No man has a right to make such a sacrifice; and if not precisely a spy, Mist and Mist's friends would hardly draw the distinction. The political questions were now less absorbing than in the earlier period, and Defoe's writings were in great part of a non-political character. He was an adept in all the arts of journalism, and with amazing fertility wrote upon every topic likely to attract public curiosity. His power had already been shown in comparative trifles, such as the ‘History of the Great Storm,’ ‘Mrs. Veal's Ghost,’ and a curious imaginary history of an earthquake in St. Vincent, contributed to ‘Mist's Journal’ in 1718. On 25 April 1719 he published the first volume of ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ founded on the four years' residence of Alexander Selkirk in the island of Juan Fernandez. Captain Rogers, who released Selkirk, had told the story, which was also told by Steele in the ‘Englishman,’ from Selkirk's own account. Defoe sold his book to William Taylor, a publisher, who made a large sum by it. A fourth edition appeared on 8 Aug. 1719, and was immediately succeeded by a second volume. In 1720 appeared a sequel called ‘Serious Reflections during the life … of Robinson Crusoe.’ The extraordinary success of the book was proved by piracies, by numerous imitations (a tenth, according to Mr. Lee, i. 300, appeared in 1727), and by translations into many languages. Gildon, who attacked it in the ‘Life and strange surprizing Adventures of Mr. D—— De F——, of London, Hosier’ (1719), says that every old woman bought it and left it as a legacy with the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ the ‘Practice of Piety,’ and ‘God's Revenge against Murther.’ Swift had it in his mind when writing ‘Gulliver's Travels.’ An absurd story, preserved by T. Warton, is given in Sir Henry Ellis's ‘Letters of Eminent Literary Men’ (Camden Soc. 1843), to the effect that ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was written by Lord Oxford in the Tower. It needs no confutation. Defoe has also been accused of appropriating Selkirk's (non-existent) papers (see WILSON, iii. 456–8). Defoe published the ‘Anatomy of Exchange Alley,’ an attack upon stockjobbers, in the interval between the first and second volumes of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and the ‘Chimera,’ an attack upon Law's system, in January 1720. He was much occupied in the following year with the various developments of the South Sea mania. But he tried to work the vein opened by ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ His unrivalled skill in mystification has made it difficult to distinguish the purely fictitious from the authentic part of his admitted narratives, and in some cases to separate genuine histories from stories composed by him. In October 1719 he published ‘The Dumb Philosopher,’ an account of one Dickory Cronke, who acquired the power of speech just before his death, and prophesied as to the state of Europe; and in December 1719 ‘The King of the Pirates,’ an ostensible autobiography of Captain Avery, a well-known pirate of the time. In 1720 he published two pamphlets about another deaf and dumb soothsayer, Duncan Campbell [q. v.] The first included a story of a ghost which appeared at Launceston in Cornwall. A manuscript transcript of this came into the hands of C. S. Gilbert, who published it in his ‘History of Cornwall’ as an original document; and it has been used in Mrs. Bray's ‘Trelawney of Trelawney’ and Hawker's ‘Footprints of Former Men.’ Between 1722 and 1725 Defoe wrote various accounts of the criminals, Cartouche, the ‘Highland Rogue’ (Rob Roy), Jack Sheppard, and Jonathan Wild. He ingeniously induced Sheppard, when actually under the gallows, to give a paper to a friend, apparently Defoe himself, with which the published pamphlet professed to be identical (Lee, i. 387). In other books he dispensed with an historical basis. The adventures of ‘Captain Singleton,’ in which Avery again appears, was published in 1720. ‘Moll Flanders’ and ‘Colonel Jacque’ both appeared in 1722, and ‘Roxana’ in 1724. Mr. Lee attributes a moral purpose to Defoe in these accounts of rogues and harlots, and it must be admitted that Defoe tacks some kind of moral to stories which show no great delicacy of moral feeling, and the publication of which is easily explicable by lower motives. One of his most remarkable performances, the ‘Journal of the Plague Year,’ appeared in 1722. It was suggested by the dread of the plague which had recently broken out in France; and the narrative has an air of authenticity which imposed upon Dr. Mead, who had been appointed to report upon desirable precautions. He quotes it as an authority in his ‘Discourse on the Plague’ (1744). Two other remarkable books have been assigned to Defoe. The ‘Memoirs of a Cavalier’ appeared in 1720. The preface states that the memoirs had been found ‘in the closet of an eminent publick minister … one of King William's secretaries of state.’ The publisher identifies the author with Andrew Newport, second son of Richard Newport of High Ercall, Shropshire, created Lord Newport, 1642. Andrew Newport (d. 1699) was the younger brother of the Earl of Bradford, who was born in 1620. As the cavalier says that he was born in 1608, and served under Gustavus Adolphus, the identification is impossible (some letters of Andrew Newport are given in Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep.). The account of the civil wars contains many errors, and might have been easily compiled from published documents, while the personal anecdotes introduced are much in the style of Defoe. The authorship must be doubtful. The memoirs of Captain George Carleton [q. v.], often attributed to Defoe, are certainly genuine. The ‘New Voyage round the World,’ 1725, is the last of these fictitious narratives which need be mentioned. Defoe wrote memoirs of Daniel Williams, founder of the library for Curll in 1718; and Curll also published the history of Duncan Campbell in 1720. It is remarkable that at this period, Defoe (if Mr. Lee is right in attributing the article to him) published a bitter attack upon Curll in ‘Mist's Journal’ for 5 April 1718 (Lee, ii. 32, where 1719 is given in error). The author complains of the indecency of contemporary literature in a strain which comes rather oddly from the author of catch-penny lives of criminals. Defoe, however, was in his own view a sincere and zealous moralist. His books upon such topics were voluminous and popular. To his ‘Family Instructor,’ published in 1715, he added a second volume in 1718; and in 1727 he published a new ‘Family Instructor,’ directed chiefly against popery and the growing tendency to Socinianism and Deism. Two volumes of the ‘Complete English Tradesman’ appeared in 1725 and 1727. Lamb (‘The Good Clerk,’ first published in Leigh Hunt's ‘Reflector,’ 1811) has pronounced an unusually severe judgment on the morality of these volumes, which, it must be admitted, is not of an elevated tendency; but perhaps it should rather be called prosaic and prudential than denounced as base. It is of the kind current in his class, and apparently sincere as far as it goes. The same may be said of the ‘Religious Courtship,’ 1722, and the ‘Treatise concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed,’ 1727. Defoe's religious views, otherwise those of the orthodox dissenters, were marked by a queer admixture of popular superstition. His love of the current ghost stories and delight in the vulgar supernaturalism appear in these treatises: ‘The Political History of the Devil,’ the ‘System of Magic,’ and an ‘Essay on the Reality of Apparitions,’ afterwards called ‘The Secrets of the Invisible World disclosed,’ which appeared in May 1726, December 1726, and March 1727. At the same time, his intimate knowledge of contemporary life and manners gives interest to books of a different class; the ‘Tour through Great Britain,’ of which three volumes appeared in 1724–5–6; the ‘Augusta Triumphans, or the Way to make London the most flourishing City in the Universe,’ 1728; a ‘Plan of English Commerce,’ 1728, and various pamphlets dealing with schemes for improving the London police. Defoe's writings are of the highest value as an historical indication of the state of the middle and lower classes of his time. Defoe had been a diligent journalist until 1725. The attacks in the press provoked by his apparent apostasy had died out about 1719 (Lee, i. 309), as his energies had been diverted from exciting political controversy. At the end of 1724, Mist was for a fourth time in prison. While there he drew his sword upon Defoe, who repelled the attack, wounded Mist, and then brought a surgeon to dress the wound (Lee, i. 394; for Defoe's account see Applebee's Journal). In all probability Mist had discovered Defoe's relations with the government, and failed to see that they called for gratitude. Soon afterwards Defoe's writings in newspapers ceased. His last regular article in ‘Applebee's Journal’ appeared 12 March 1726, and in the following November he complains (preface to tract on Street Robberies) that he could not obtain admission to the journals ‘without feeing the journalists or publishers.’ Mr. Lee plausibly conjectures that Mist had revealed Defoe's secret to them, and that they thereupon ‘boycotted’ him as a recognised agent of ministers. In June 1725 he had adopted the pseudonym of Andrew Moreton, which he afterwards used frequently for purposes of concealment. He appears at this period to have been fairly prosperous. In a ‘character of Defoe’ (Add. MS. 28094, f. 165), apparently the report of some hostile agent about 1705, it is said that he lives at Newington Green, at the house of his father-in-law, who is ‘lay elder in a conventicle.’ If Defoe married Annesley's daughter, this must have been the father of a second wife. He apparently had some permanent connection with Newington. Henry Baker, F.R.S. [q. v.], who became his son-in-law, made his acquaintance in 1724. Defoe, as Baker tells us, had then newly built a ‘very handsome house’ at Stoke Newington (Robinson, History of Stoke Newington). It was surrounded by four acres of ground; it had a coachhouse and stables, and Defoe amused himself with his garden, and ‘in the pursuit of his studies, which he found means of making very profitable.’ He had three lovely daughters, and his ‘way of living’ was ‘very genteel.’ He had probably a fair income, though he had not much realised estate. He paid 10l. in 1721 to be excused from serving a parish office. Some transactions, fully detailed by Mr. Lee from the original deeds (Lee, i. 361–364), show that in 1722 he invested about 1,000l. in an estate called Kingswood Heath, at Colchester, for the benefit of his daughter Hannah. An advertisement in the ‘Daily Courant’ of 15 March 1726, for some documents lost in a pocket-book, shows that Defoe was then engaged in commercial transactions, probably as an agent for the sale of cloth. When Baker proposed to marry his daughter, Defoe had some difficulty in providing ready money for the settlements, but ultimately gave sufficient securities. Baker began a paper called the ‘Universal Spectator,’ of which Defoe wrote the first number (12 Oct. 1728), and on 30 April 1729 married the daughter, Sophia Defoe. Some catastrophe which must have happened soon afterwards is only known from a letter written to Baker (first printed by Wilson), and dated 12 Aug. 1730. The letter, expressing profound depression, shows that for some reason Defoe had gone into hiding; that he had trusted all his property to his son (Benjamin Norton Defoe) for the benefit of the two unmarried daughters and their ‘poor dying mother,’ and that the son suffered them ‘to beg their bread at his door.’ He still confides in Baker's affection, proposes a secret meeting with his family, but sees great difficulties, and is in expectation of death. The allusions are far from clear, and the letter gives ground for some suspicion that Defoe's intellect was partly unsettled. It refers, however, to a blow from a ‘wicked, perjured, and contemptible enemy,’ and Mr. Lee's conjectural explanation is certainly not improbable. Mist had escaped to France in the beginning of 1728, where he lived with the Duke of Wharton. He may have revenged himself upon his old enemy by somehow conveying to the English government a charge of disloyalty against Defoe. Defoe's letters in 1718 show his sense that such a misinterpretation of his dealings with the Jacobites was possible, as the letters are intended to place his true position on record. Those who had been privy to the original compact were dead or out of office. Defoe may have feared that he would be seriously charged with treason and be unable to prove that he was only treacherous to the Jacobites. This, however, is conjectural. It is certain that he still retained enough mental power to write an ‘Effectual Scheme for the immediate Preventing of Street Robberies,’ which appeared in 1731. In the previous winter he had returned to London, and died ‘of a lethargy,’ in Ropemakers' Alley, Moorfields (not then a miserable quarter), on 26 April 1731. He was buried in Bunhill Fields. His wife was buried in the same place on 19 Dec. 1732. His library, with a ‘curious collection of books on history and politics,’ was sold in November 1731 (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ix. 142). An obelisk was erected in Bunhill Fields in 1870. A full account of his descendants till 1830 is given by Wilson (iii. 641–50). His eldest son, Daniel, appears to have been in business, and to have finally emigrated to Carolina. His second son, Benjamin Norton, was editor of the ‘London Journal,’ in succession to Thomas Gordon, a well-known writer, and was prosecuted for libel in 1721. He opposed his father, with whom he was personally on bad terms. Pope refers to him in the ‘Dunciad,’ and repeats a scandal, derived from Savage (Author to be Let, preface), that he was Defoe's illegitimate son by an oyster-seller. The letters of Defoe and his daughter to Baker imply that he had then only one son, or only one in England; and Benjamin is probably the son accused of a breach of trust. In 1726 he succeeded Ridpath as editor of the ‘Flying Post,’ and he wrote a life of Alderman Barber and memoirs of the Princes of Orange. Defoe's daughters were Maria, afterwards a Mrs. Langley; Hannah, who died unmarried at Wimborne Minster on 25 April 1759; Henrietta, married to John Boston of Much Hadham, and afterwards excise officer at Wimborne, where she died a widow in 1760; and Sophia, baptised on 24 Dec. 1701, who married Henry Baker, F.R.S. [q. v.], and died on 4 Jan. 1762. Her son, David Erskine [q. v.], was author of the ‘Companion to the Playhouse;’ her second son, Henry (1734–1766) [q. v.], was grandfather to the Rev. Henry Defoe Baker, vicar of Greetham, Rutlandshire, who gave information to Wilson and communicated the letter to Henry Baker. Wilson also received information from James Defoe, grandson of a grandson named Samuel. One of this family was hanged for highway robbery in 1771, another was cook in a ship-of-war in 1787. Some notice of later descendants is in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 2nd ser. viii. 51, 94, 197, 299, xi. 303. A James Defoe, said to be a great-grandson, died in 1857, leaving some children, on whose behalf an appeal was made to Lord Palmerston (see Times, 25 March 1861). A portrait of Defoe by Taverney, engraved by Vandergucht, is prefixed to the first volume of the collected writings (1703), and is probably the best. Another engraved by W. Skelton is prefixed to the ‘History of the Union.’ Mr. J. C. Laud states in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th ser. v. 465, that he had recently acquired a fine portrait by Kneller. Lists of Defoe's works are given by Chalmers, Wilson, Hazlitt, and in Lowndes's ‘Manual,’ and were carefully tested and corrected by Mr. Lee, who states that all previous errors were accumulated and new errors added in Lowndes. Lee's final list includes 254 works, 64 of which were added by him, while many were rejected. The full titles are given in Lee (i. xxvii–lv). The following is a brief statement of the most important, classified according to subjects. Contributions to periodicals have been noticed above. Political tracts: 1. ‘The Englishman's Choice,’ 1694. 2. ‘Reflections on a Pamphlet upon a Standing Army,’ 1697. 3. ‘Argument for a Standing Army,’ 1698. 4. ‘Two great Questions considered,’ 1700 (sequel in same year). 5. ‘Six distinguishing Characters of a Parliament-Man,’ 1700. 6. ‘Danger of Protestant Religion,’ 1701. 7. ‘Freeholder's Plea,’ 1701. 8. ‘Villainy of Stock-jobbers,’ 1701. 9. ‘Succession to the Crown of England considered,’ 1701. 10. ‘History of Kentish Petition,’ 1701. 11. ‘Present State of Jacobitism,’ 1701. 12. ‘Reasons against a War with France,’ 1701. 13. ‘Original Power of the Collective Body of the People of England,’ 1701. 14. ‘Legion's New Paper,’ 1702. 15. ‘On Regulation of the Press,’ 1704. 16. ‘Tracts against Lord Haversham,’ 1705. 17. Six ‘Essays at removing National Prejudices against a Union with Scotland,’ first two in London, others in Edinburgh, 1706–7. 18. ‘The Union Proverb, “If Skiddaw has a cap,” &c.,’ 1708. 19. ‘The Scots Narrative examined’ (case of episcopal ministers), 1709. 20. ‘Letter from Captain Tom to the Sacheverell Mob,’ 1710. 21. ‘Instructions from Rome … inscribed to Don Sacheverelleo,’ 1710. 22. ‘Essay upon Public Credit,’ 1710 (August). 23. ‘A Word against a New Election,’ 1710 (October). 24. ‘Essay upon Loans,’ 21 Oct. 1710. 25. ‘Eleven Opinions upon Mr. H[arley],’ 1711. 26. ‘Secret History of the October Club’ (2 parts), 1711. 27. ‘Reasons why this Nation ought to put a speedy end to this expensive War,’ 1711. 28. ‘Armageddon,’ 1711. 29. ‘The Balance of Europe,’ 1711. 30. ‘A plain Exposition of that difficult phrase, “a Good Peace,”’ 1711. 31. ‘Reasons against Fighting,’ 1712. 32. ‘Seasonable Warning against the insinuations of Jacobites,’ 1712. 33. ‘Hannibal at the Gates,’ 1712. 34. ‘Reasons against the Succession of the House of Hanover,’ 1713. 35. ‘And what if the Pretender should come?’ 1713. 36. ‘An Answer to a Question that nobody thinks of, viz. What if the Queen should die?’ 1713. 37. ‘Essay on Treaty of Commerce,’ 1713. 38. ‘Whigs turned Tories, and Hanoverian Tories proved Whigs,’ 1713. 39. ‘Scots Nation vindicated from an Infamous Libel, entitled “Public Spirit of the Whigs”’ (by Swift), 1714. 40. ‘Real Danger of Protestant Succession,’ 1714. 41. ‘Reasons for Im[peaching] the L[ord] H[igh] T[reasurer],’ 1714. 42. ‘Advice to the People of Great Britain,’ 1714. 43. ‘Secret History of one Year,’ 1714. 44. ‘Secret History of White Staff’ (3 parts), 1714–15. 45. ‘An Appeal to Honour and Justice, though it be of his Worst Enemies. By Daniel Defoe,’ 1715. 46. ‘Tracts in Character of a Quaker to Thomas Bradbury, Sacheverell, the Duke of Ormonde, and the Duke of Mar,’ 1715; and ‘to Hoadley,’ 1717. 47. ‘Two Tracts on the Triennial Act,’ 1716. 48. ‘Minutes of the Negotiations of Mons. Mesnager … “done out of French,”’ 1717. 49. ‘Charity still a Christian Virtue’ (on the prosecution for a charity sermon), 1719. 50. ‘Reasons for a War,’ 1729. Verse: 1. ‘New Discovery of an Old Intrigue,’ 1691. 2. ‘Character of Dr. Samuel Annesley,’ 1697. 3. ‘The Pacificator,’ 1700. 4. ‘True-born Englishman,’ 1701. 5. ‘The Mock Mourners,’ 1702. 6. ‘Reformation of Manners,’ 1702. 7. ‘Ode to the Athenian Society,’ 1703. 8. ‘More Reformation,’ 1703. 9. ‘Hymn to the Pillory,’ 1703. 10. ‘Elegy on Author of True-born Englishman,’ 1704. 11. ‘Hymn to Victory,’ 1704. 12. ‘The Dyet of Poland,’ 1705. 13. ‘Jure Divino’ (in twelve books), 1706 (a surreptitious edition of first seven books at same time). 14. ‘Caledonia,’ 1706. 15. ‘Hymn to the Mob,’ 1715. 16. Du Fresnoy's ‘Compleat Art of Painting,’ translated, 1720. Upon dissent and occasional conformity: 1. ‘Occasional Conformity of Dissenters in Cases of Preferment,’ 1698. 2. ‘Letter to Mr. How,’ 1701. 3. ‘New Test of Church of England's Loyalty,’ 1702. 4. ‘Enquiry into Occasional Conformity,’ 1702. 5. ‘Shortest Way with the Dissenters,’ 1702. 6. ‘A Brief Explanation of the Test,’ 1703. 7. ‘King William's Affection to the Church of England,’ 1703. 8. ‘Shortest Way to Peace and Union,’ 1703. 9. ‘Sincerity of Dissenters Vindicated,’ 1703. 10. ‘A Challenge of Peace,’ 1703. 11. ‘Peace without Union’ (answer to Mackworth), 1703. 12. ‘Dissenters' Answer to High Church Challenge,’ 1704. 13. ‘Serious Inquiry,’ 1704. 14. ‘More short Ways with Dissenters,’ 1704. 15. ‘Dissenters Misrepresented and Represented,’ 1704. 16. ‘New Test of Church of England's Honesty,’ 1704. 17. ‘Persecution Anatomised,’ 1705. 18. ‘The Experiment’ (case of Abraham Gill), 1705. 19. ‘Party Tyranny’ (conformity in Carolina), 1705 (continuation in 1706). 20. ‘Dissenters in England Vindicated,’ 1707. 21. ‘Essay on History of Parties and Persecution in Great Britain,’ 1711. 22. ‘The Present State of Parties,’ 1712. 23. ‘A Letter to the Dissenters,’ 1713. 24. ‘Remedy worse than the Disease’ (on the Schism Act), 1714. 25. ‘A Letter to the Dissenters’ (on the Salters' Hall controversy), 1719. Economical and social tracts: 1. ‘Essay upon Projects,’ 1698. 2. ‘The Poor Man's Plea in relation to Proclamations … for a Reformation of Manners,’ 1698. A ‘History of the Societies for the Reformation of Manners’ has been attributed to Defoe, but apparently is not his (WILSON, i. 302). 3. ‘Giving Alms no Charity,’ 1704. 4. ‘Remarks on Bankruptcy Bill,’ 1706. 5. ‘A General History of Trade,’ 1713. 6. ‘A Tour through Great Britain,’ 1724–6. 7. ‘The Complete English Tradesman,’ 1725; vol. ii. 1727. 8. ‘Parochial Tyranny,’ 1727. 9. ‘Augusta Triumphans,’ 1728. 10. ‘Plan of English Commerce,’ 1728. 11. ‘Second Thoughts are Best’ (on street robberies), 1728. 12. ‘Street Robberies considered,’ 1728. 13. ‘Humble Proposal to People of England for Increase of Trade,’ &c., 1729. 14. ‘Effectual Scheme for Preventing Street Robberies,’ 1731. Didactic: 1. ‘Enquiry into Asgill's “General Translation,”’ 1703. 2. ‘Layman's Sermon on the Late Storm,’ 1704. 3. ‘The Consolidator,’ 1704 (three sequels in same year). 4. ‘Sermon on the fitting up of Dr. Burgess's Meeting-house,’ 1706. 5. ‘The Family Instructor’ (3 parts), March 1715; 2nd edition, corrected by author, September 1715. 6. ‘The Family Instructor’ (2 parts), 1718 (2nd volume of preceding). 7. ‘Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe,’ 1720. 8. ‘The Supernatural Philosopher, or the Mysteries of Magick,’ 1720. 9. ‘Religious Courtship,’ 1722. 10. ‘The great Law of Subordination considered,’ 1724. 11. ‘Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business’ (on servants), 1725. 12. ‘The Complete English Tradesman,’ 1725; vol. ii. 1727. 13. ‘Political History of the Devil,’ 1726. 14. ‘Essay upon Literature,’ 1726. 15. ‘History of Discoveries,’ 1726–7. 16. ‘The Protestant Monastery,’ 1726. 17. ‘A System of Magic,’ 1726. 18. ‘Conjugal Lewdness,’ and with new title, ‘Treatise concerning Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed,’ 1727. 19. ‘History and Reality of Apparitions,’ with new title (1728), ‘Secrets of Invisible World disclosed,’ 1727. 20. ‘A new Family Instructor,’ 1727. 21. Preface to ‘Servitude’ (a poem by Robert Dodsley), 1729. 22. ‘The Compleat English Gentleman’ (partly printed, not published), 1729; first edited in full and published from Defoe's autograph (Brit. Mus. MS. Addit. 32555) by Dr. K. D. Bülbring (London, 1890). 23. ‘Of Royall Educacion,’ a fragment, first printed from the same MS. by the same editor (London, 1895). Narratives (real and fictitious): 1. ‘The Storm,’ 1704. 2. ‘Apparition of Mrs. Veal,’ 1706. 3. ‘The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner,’ 25 April 1719. 4. ‘The further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe,’ 20 Aug. 1719. 5. ‘The Dumb Philosopher, or Great Britain's Wonder’ (Dickory Cronke), 1719. 6. ‘The King of Pirates’ (Avery), 1719. 7. ‘Life and Adventures of Duncan Campbell,’ 1720. 8. ‘Mr. Campbell's Pacquet,’ 1720. 9. ‘Memoirs of a Cavalier’ (?), 1720. 10. ‘Life … of Captain Singleton,’ 1720. 11. ‘Moll Flanders,’ 1722. 12. ‘Journal of the Plague Year,’ 1722. 13. ‘Due Preparations for the Plague,’ 1722 (see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 402, 444). 14. ‘Life of Cartouche,’ 1722. 15. ‘History of Colonel Jacque,’ 1722. 16. ‘The Highland Rogue’ (Rob Roy), 1723. 17. ‘The Fortunate Mistress’ (Roxana), 1724. 18. ‘Narrative of Murders at Calais,’ 1724. 19. ‘Life of John Sheppard,’ 1724. 20. ‘Robberies, Escapes, &c., of John Sheppard,’ 1724. 21. ‘New Voyage round the World,’ 1725. 22. ‘Account of Jonathan Wild,’ 1725. 23. ‘Account of John Gow,’ 1725. 24. ‘The Friendly Damon,’ 1726. 25. ‘Mere Nature delineated’ (Peter the Wild Boy), 1726. Historical and biographical: 1. ‘History of the Union of Great Britain,’ 1709. 2. ‘Short Enquiry into a late Duel’ (Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun), 1713. 3. ‘Wars of Charles III,’ 1715. 4. ‘Memoirs of the Church of Scotland,’ 1717. 5. ‘Life and Death of Count Patkul,’ 1717. 6. ‘Memoirs of Duke of Shrewsbury,’ 1718. 7. ‘Daniel Williams,’ 1718. 8. ‘Baron de Goertz,’ 1719. 9. ‘History of Peter the Great,’ 1723. An edition of Defoe's ‘Works’ in 3 vols. royal 8vo, with life by W. Hazlitt, was published in 1840, and another in 20 vols. 12mo in 1840–1.
[The chief authorities for Defoe's life are his Appeal to Honour and Justice and incidental statements in his Review and other works. John Dunton's Life and Errors and Oldmixon's History give contemporary notices. The first Life was prefixed by G. Chalmers to an edition of Defoe's History of the Union, 1786, and Robinson Crusoe (Stockdale), 1790. An elaborate and ponderous Life by Walter Wilson, in 3 vols., appeared in 1830. The Life by W. Hazlitt prefixed to the 1840 collection of Defoe's Works is chiefly founded upon Wilson. William Lee's Life of Defoe, forming the first of three volumes of Life and Newly Discovered Writings, appeared in 1869. See also Life and Times of Daniel Defoe by William Chadwick, 1859; John Forster's Historical and Biogeraphical Essays, 1858; Professor Minto's Daniel Defoe, in English Men of Letters.]
Encyclopædia Britannica 11th edition (1911)
DEFOE, DANIEL (c. 1659–1731), English author, was born in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, London, in the latter part of 1659 or early in 1660, of a nonconformist family. His grandfather, Daniel Foe, lived at Etton, Northamptonshire, apparently in comfortable circumstances, for he is said to have kept a pack of hounds. As to the variation of name, Defoe or Foe, its owner signed either indifferently till late in life, and where his initials occur they are sometimes D. F. and sometimes D. D. F. Three autograph letters of his are extant, all addressed in 1705 to the same person, and signed respectively D. Foe, de Foe and Daniel Defoe. His father, James Foe, was a butcher and a citizen of London. Daniel was well educated at a famous dissenting academy, Mr Charles Morton’s of Stoke Newington, where many of the best-known nonconformists of the time were his schoolfellows. With few exceptions all the known events of Defoe’s life are connected with authorship. In the older catalogues of his works two pamphlets, Speculum Crapegownorum, a satire on the clergy, and A Treatise against the Turks, are attributed to him before the accession of James II., but there seems to be no publication of his which is certainly genuine before The Character of Dr Annesley (1697). He had, however, before this, taken up arms in Monmouth’s expedition, and is supposed to have owed his lucky escape from the clutches of the king’s troops and the law, to his being a Londoner, and therefore a stranger in the west country. On the 26th of January 1688 he was admitted a liveryman of the city of London, having claimed his freedom by birth. Before his western escapade he had taken up the business of hosiery factor. At the entry of William and Mary into London he is said to have served as a volunteer trooper “gallantly mounted and richly accoutred.” In these days he lived at Tooting, and was instrumental in forming a dissenting congregation there. His business operations at this period appear to have been extensive and various. He seems to have been a sort of commission merchant, especially in Spanish and Portuguese goods, and at some time to have visited Spain on business. In 1692 he failed for £17,000. His misfortunes made him write both feelingly and forcibly on the bankruptcy laws; and although his creditors accepted a composition, he afterwards honourably paid them in full, a fact attested by independent and not very friendly witnesses. Subsequently, he undertook first the secretaryship and then the management and chief ownership of some tile-works at Tilbury, but here also he was unfortunate, and his imprisonment in 1703 brought the works to a standstill, and he lost £3000. From this time forward we hear of no settled business in which he engaged. The course of Defoe’s life was determined about the middle of the reign of William III. by his introduction to that monarch and other influential persons. He frequently boasts of his personal intimacy with the “glorious and immortal” king, and in 1695 he was appointed accountant to the commissioners of the glass duty, an office which he held for four years. During this time he produced his Essay on Projects (1698), containing suggestions on banks, road-management, friendly and insurance societies of various kinds, idiot asylums, bankruptcy, academies, military colleges, high schools for women, &c. It displays Defoe’s lively and lucid style in full vigour, and abounds with ingenious thoughts and apt illustrations, though it illustrates also the unsystematic character of his mind. In the same year Defoe wrote the first of a long series of pamphlets on the then burning question of occasional conformity. In this, for the first time, he showed the unlucky independence which, in so many other instances, united all parties against him. While he pointed out to the dissenters the scandalous inconsistency of their playing fast and loose with sacred things, yet he denounced the impropriety of requiring tests at all. In support of the government he published, in 1698, An Argument for a Standing Army, followed in 1700 by a defence of William’s war policy called The Two Great Questions considered, and a set of pamphlets on the Partition Treaty. Thus in political matters he had the same fate as in ecclesiastical; for the Whigs were no more prepared than the Tories to support William through thick and thin. He also dealt with the questions of stock-jobbing and of electioneering corruption. But his most remarkable publication at this time was The True-Born Englishman (1701), a satire in rough but extremely vigorous verse on the national objection to William as a foreigner, and on the claim of purity of blood for a nation which Defoe chooses to represent as crossed and dashed with all the strains and races in Europe. He also took a prominent part in the proceedings which followed the Kentish petition, and was the author, some say the presenter, of the Legion Memorial, which asserted in the strongest terms the supremacy of the electors over the elected, and of which even an irate House of Commons did not dare to take much notice. The theory of the indefeasible supremacy of the freeholders of England, whose delegates merely, according to this theory, the Commons were, was one of Defoe’s favourite political tenets, and he returned to it in a powerfully written tract entitled The Original Power of the Collective Body of the People of England examined and asserted (1701). At the same time he was occupied in a controversy on the conformity question with John How (or Howe) on the practice of “occasional conformity.” Defoe maintained that the dissenters who attended the services of the English Church on particular occasions to qualify themselves for office were guilty of inconsistency. At the same time he did not argue for the complete abolition of the tests, but desired that they should be so framed as to make it possible for most Protestants conscientiously to subscribe to them. Here again his moderation pleased neither party. The death of William was a great misfortune to Defoe, and he soon felt the power of his adversaries. After publishing The Mock Mourners, intended to satirize and rebuke the outbreak of Jacobite joy at the king’s death, he turned his attention once more to ecclesiastical subjects, and, in an evil hour for himself, wrote the anonymous Shortest Way with the Dissenters (1702), a statement in the most forcible terms of the extreme “high-flying” position, which some high churchmen were unwary enough to endorse, without any suspicion of the writer’s ironical intention. The author was soon discovered; and, as he absconded, an advertisement was issued offering a reward for his apprehension, and giving the only personal description we possess of him, as “a middle-sized spare man about forty years old, of a brown complexion and dark brown-coloured hair, but wears a wig; a hooked nose, a sharp chin, grey eyes, and a large mole near his mouth.” In this conjuncture Defoe had really no friends, for the dissenters were as much alarmed at his book as the high-flyers were irritated. He surrendered, and his defence appears to have been injudiciously conducted; at any rate he was fined 200 marks, and condemned to be pilloried three times, to be imprisoned indefinitely, and to find sureties for his good behaviour during seven years. It was in reference to this incident that Pope, whose Catholic rearing made him detest the abettor of the Revolution and the champion of William of Orange, wrote in the Dunciad—
“Earless on high stands unabash’d Defoe”
—though he knew that the sentence to the pillory had long ceased to entail the loss of ears. Defoe’s exposure in the pillory (July 29, 30, 31) was, however, rather a triumph than a punishment, for the populace took his side; and his Hymn to the Pillory, which he soon after published, is one of the best of his poetical works. Unluckily for him his condemnation had the indirect effect of destroying his business at Tilbury. He remained in prison until August 1704, and then owed his release to the intercession of Robert Harley, who represented his case to the queen, and obtained for him not only liberty but pecuniary relief and employment, which, of one kind or another, lasted until the termination of Anne’s reign. Defoe was uniformly grateful to the minister, and his language respecting him is in curious variance with that generally used. There is no doubt that Harley, who understood the influence wielded by Defoe, made some conditions. Defoe says he received no pension, but his subsequent fidelity was at all events indirectly rewarded; moreover, Harley’s moderation in a time of the extremest party-insanity was no little recommendation to Defoe. During his imprisonment he was by no means idle. A spurious edition of his works having been issued, he himself produced a collection of twenty-two treatises, to which some time afterwards he added a second group of eighteen more. He also wrote in prison many short pamphlets, chiefly controversial, published a curious work on the famous storm of the 26th of November 1703, and started in February 1704 perhaps the most remarkable of all his projects, The Review. This was a paper which was issued during the greater part of its life three times a week. It was entirely written by Defoe, and extends to eight complete volumes and some few score numbers of a second issue. He did not confine himself to news, but wrote something very like finished essays on questions of policy, trade and domestic concerns; he also introduced a “Scandal Club,” in which minor questions of manners and morals were treated in a way which undoubtedly suggested the Tatlers and Spectators which followed. Only one complete copy of the work is known to exist, and that is in the British Museum. It is probable that if bulk, rapidity of production, variety of matter, originality of design, and excellence of style be taken together, hardly any author can show a work of equal magnitude. After his release Defoe went to Bury St Edmunds, though he did not interrupt either his Review or his occasional pamphlets. One of these, Giving Alms no Charity, and Employing the Poor a Grievance to the Nation (1704), is extraordinarily far-sighted. It denounces both indiscriminate alms-giving and the national work-shops proposed by Sir Humphrey Mackworth. In 1705 appeared The Consolidator, or Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon, a political satire which is supposed to have given some hints for Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; and at the end of the year Defoe performed a secret mission, the first of several of the kind, for Harley. In 1706 appeared the True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs Veal, long supposed to have been written for a bookseller to help off an unsaleable translation of Drelincourt, On Death, but considerable doubt has been cast upon this by William Lee. Defoe’s next work was Jure divino, a long poetical argument in (bad) verse; and soon afterwards (1706) he began to be much employed in promoting the union with Scotland. Not only did he write pamphlets as usual on the project, and vigorously recommend it in The Review, but in October 1706 he was sent on a political mission to Scotland by Sidney Godolphin, to whom Harley had recommended him. He resided in Edinburgh for nearly sixteen months, and his services to the government were repaid by a regular salary. He seems to have devoted himself to commercial and literary as well as to political matters, and prepared at this time his elaborate History of the Union, which appeared in 1709. In this year Henry Sacheverell delivered his famous sermons, and Defoe wrote several tracts about them and attacked the preacher in his Review. In 1710 Harley returned to power, and Defoe was placed in a somewhat awkward position. To Harley himself he was bound by gratitude and by a substantial agreement in principle, but with the rest of the Tory ministry he had no sympathy. He seems, in fact, to have agreed with the foreign policy of the Tories and with the home policy of the Whigs, and naturally incurred the reproach of time-serving and the hearty abuse of both parties. At the end of 1710 he again visited Scotland. In the negotiations concerning the Peace of Utrecht, Defoe strongly supported the ministerial side, to the intense wrath of the Whigs, displayed in an attempted prosecution against some pamphlets of his on the all-important question of the succession. Again the influence of Harley saved him. He continued, however, to take the side of the dissenters in the questions affecting religious liberty, which played such a prominent part towards the close of Anne’s reign. He naturally shared Harley’s downfall; and, though the loss of his salary might seem a poor reward for his constant support of the Hanoverian claim, it was little more than his ambiguous, not to say trimming, position must have led him to expect. Defoe declared that Lord Annesley was preparing the army in Ireland to join a Jacobite rebellion, and was indicted for libel; and prior to his trial (1715) he published an apologia entitled An Appeal to Honour and Justice, in which he defended his political conduct. Having been convicted of the libel he was liberated later in the year under circumstances that only became clear in 1864, when six letters were discovered in the Record Office from Defoe to a Government official, Charles Delafaye, which, according to William Lee, established the fact that in 1718 at least Defoe was doing not only political work, but that it was of a somewhat equivocal kind—that he was, in fact, sub-editing the Jacobite Mist’s Journal, under a secret agreement with the government that he should tone down the sentiments and omit objectionable items. He had, in fact, been released on condition of becoming a government agent. He seems to have performed the same not very honourable office in the case of two other journals—Dormer’s Letter and the Mercurius Politicus; and to have written in these and other papers until nearly the end of his life. Before these letters were discovered it was supposed that Defoe’s political work had ended in 1715. Up to that time Defoe had written nothing but occasional literature, and, except the History of the Union and Jure Divino, nothing of any great length. In 1715 appeared the first volume of The Family Instructor, which was very popular during the 18th century. The first volume of his most famous work, the immortal story—partly adventure, partly moralizing—of The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, was published on the 25th of April 1719. It ran through four editions in as many months, and then in August appeared the second volume. Twelve months afterwards the sequel Serious Reflections, now hardly ever reprinted, appeared. Its connexion with the two former parts is little more than nominal, Crusoe being simply made the mouth-piece of Defoe’s sentiments on various points of morals and religion. Meanwhile the first two parts were reprinted as a feuilleton in Heathcote’s Intelligencer, perhaps the earliest instance of the appearance of such a work in such a form. The story was founded on Dempier’s Voyage round the World (1697), and still more on Alexander Selkirk’s adventures, as communicated by Selkirk himself at a meeting with Defoe at the house of Mrs Damaris Daniel at Bristol. Selkirk afterwards told Mrs Daniel that he had handed over his papers to Defoe. Robinson Crusoe was immediately popular, and a wild story was set afloat of its having been written by Lord Oxford in the Tower. A curious idea, at one time revived by Henry Kingsley, is that the adventures of Robinson are allegorical and relate to Defoe’s own life. This idea was certainly entertained to some extent at the time, and derives some colour of justification from words of Defoe’s, but there seems to be no serious foundation for it. Robinson Crusoe (especially the story part, with the philosophical and religious moralizings largely cut out) is one of the world’s classics in fiction. Crusoe’s shipwreck and adventures, his finding the footprint in the sand, his man “Friday,”—the whole atmosphere of romance which surrounds the position of the civilized man fending for himself on a desert island—these have made Defoe’s great work an imperishable part of English literature. Contemporaneously appeared The Dumb Philosopher, or Dickory Cronke, who gains the power of speech at the end of his life and uses it to predict the course of European affairs. In 1720 came The Life and Adventures of Mr Duncan Campbell. This was not entirely a work of imagination, its hero, the fortune-teller, being a real person. There are amusing passages in the story, but it is too desultory to rank with Defoe’s best. In the same year appeared two wholly or partially fictitious histories, each of which might have made a reputation for any man. The first was the Memoirs of a Cavalier, which Lord Chatham believed to be true history, and which William Lee considers the embodiment at least of authentic private memoirs. The Cavalier was declared at the time to be Andrew Newport, made Lord Newport in 1642. His elder brother was born in 1620 and the Cavalier gives 1608 as the date of his birth, so that the facts do not fit the dates. It is probable that Defoe, with his extensive acquaintance with English history, and his astonishing power of working up details, was fully equal to the task of inventing it. As a model of historical work of a certain kind it is hardly surpassable, and many separate passages—accounts of battles and skirmishes—have never been equalled except by Carlyle. Captain Singleton, the last work of the year, has been unjustly depreciated by most of the commentators. The record of the journey across Africa, with its surprising anticipations of subsequent discoveries, yields in interest to no work of the kind known to us; and the semi-piratical Quaker who accompanies Singleton in his buccaneering expeditions is a most life-like character. There is also a Quaker who plays a very creditable part in Roxana (1724), and Defoe seems to have been well affected to the Friends. In estimating this wonderful productiveness on the part of a man sixty years old, it should be remembered that it was a habit of Defoe’s to keep his work in manuscript sometimes for long periods. In 1721 nothing of importance was produced, but in the next twelvemonth three capital works appeared. These were The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, The Journal of the Plague Year, and The History of Colonel Jack. Moll Flanders and The Fortunate Mistress (Roxana), which followed in 1724, have subjects of a rather more than questionable character, but both display the remarkable art with which Defoe handles such subjects. It is not true, as is sometimes said, that the difference between the two is that between gross and polished vice. The real difference is much more one of morals than of manners. Moll is by no means of the lowest class. Notwithstanding the greater degradation into which she falls, and her originally dependent position, she has been well educated, and has consorted with persons of gentle birth. She displays throughout much greater real refinement of feeling than the more high-flying Roxana, and is at any rate flesh and blood, if the flesh be somewhat frail and the blood somewhat hot. Neither of the heroines has any but the rudiments of a moral sense; but Roxana, both in her original transgression and in her subsequent conduct, is actuated merely by avarice and selfishness—vices which are peculiarly offensive in connexion with her other failing, and which make her thoroughly repulsive. The art of both stories is great, and that of the episode of the daughter Susannah in Roxana is consummate; but the transitions of the later plot are less natural than those in Moll Flanders. It is only fair to notice that while the latter, according to Defoe’s more usual practice, is allowed to repent and end happily, Roxana is brought to complete misery; Defoe’s morality, therefore, required more repulsiveness in one case than in the other. In the Journal of the Plague Year, more usually called, from the title of the second edition, A History of the Plague, the accuracy and apparent veracity of the details is so great that many persons have taken it for an authentic record, while others have contended for the existence of such a record as its basis. But here too the genius of Mrs Veal’s creator must, in the absence of all evidence to the contrary, be allowed sufficient for the task. The History of Colonel Jack is an unequal book. There is hardly in Robinson Crusoe a scene equal, and there is consequently not in English literature a scene superior, to that where the youthful pickpocket first exercises his trade, and then for a time loses his ill-gotten gains. But a great part of the book, especially the latter portion, is dull; and in fact it may be generally remarked of Defoe that the conclusions of his tales are not equal to the beginning, perhaps from the restless indefatigability with which he undertook one work almost before finishing another. To this period belong his stories of famous criminals, of Jack Sheppard (1724), of Jonathan Wild (1725), of the Highland Rogue i.e. Rob Roy (1723). The pamphlet on the first of these Defoe maintained to be a transcript of a paper which he persuaded Sheppard to give to a friend at his execution. In 1724 appeared also the first volume of A Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain, which was completed in the two following years. Much of the information in this was derived from personal experience, for Defoe claims to have made many more tours and visits about England than those of which we have record; but the major part must necessarily have been dexterous compilation. In 1725 appeared A New Voyage round the World, apparently entirely due to the author’s own fertile imagination and extensive reading. It is full of his peculiar verisimilitude and has all the interest of Anson’s or Dampier’s voyages, with a charm of style superior even to that of the latter. In 1726 Defoe published a curious and amusing little pamphlet entitled Everybody’s Business is Nobody’s Business, or Private Abuses Public Grievances, exemplified in the Pride, Insolence, and Exorbitant Wages of our Women-Servants, Footmen, &c. This subject was a favourite one with him, and in the pamphlet he showed the immaturity of his political views by advocating legislative interference in these matters. Towards the end of this same year The Complete English Tradesman, which may be supposed to sum up the experience of his business life, appeared, and its second volume followed two years afterwards. This book has been variously judged. It is generally and traditionally praised, but those who have read it will be more disposed to agree with Charles Lamb, who considers it “of a vile and debasing tendency,” and thinks it “almost impossible to suppose the author in earnest.” The intolerable meanness advocated for the sake of the paltriest gains, the entire ignoring of any pursuit in life except money-getting, and the representation of the whole duty of man as consisting first in the attainment of a competent fortune, and next, when that fortune has been attained, in spending not more than half of it, are certainly repulsive enough. But there are no reasons for thinking the performance ironical or insincere, and it cannot be doubted that Defoe would have been honestly unable even to understand Lamb’s indignation. To 1726 also belongs The Political History of the Devil. This is a curious book, partly explanatory of Defoe’s ideas on morality, and partly belonging to a series of demonological works which he wrote, and of which the chief others are A System of Magic (1726), and An Essay on the History of Apparitions (1728), issued the year before under another title. In all these works his treatment is on the whole rational and sensible; but in The History of the Devil he is somewhat hampered by an insufficiently worked-out theory as to the nature and personal existence of his hero, and the manner in which he handles the subject is an odd and not altogether satisfactory mixture of irony and earnestness. A Plan of English Commerce, containing very enlightened views on export trade, appeared in 1728. During the years from 1715 to 1728 Defoe had issued pamphlets and minor works too numerous to mention. The only one of them perhaps which requires notice is Religious Courtship (1722), a curious series of dialogues displaying Defoe’s unaffected religiosity, and at the same time the rather meddling intrusiveness with which he applied his religious notions. This was more flagrantly illustrated in one of his latest works, The Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed (1727), which was originally issued with a much more offensive name, and has been called “an excellent book with an improper title.” The Memoirs of Captain Carleton (1728) were long attributed to Defoe, but the internal evidence is strongly against his authorship. They have been also attributed to Swift, with greater probability as far as style is concerned. The Life of Mother Ross, reprinted in Bohn’s edition, has no claim whatever to be considered Defoe’s. There is little to be said of Defoe’s private life during this period. He must in some way or other have obtained a considerable income. In 1724 he had built himself a large house at Stoke Newington, which had stables and grounds of considerable size. From the negotiations for the marriage of his daughter Sophia it appears that he had landed property in more than one place, and he had obtained on lease in 1722 a considerable estate from the corporation of Colchester, which was settled on his unmarried daughter at his death. Other property was similarly allotted to his widow and remaining children, though some difficulty seems to have arisen from the misconduct of his son, to whom, for some purpose, the property was assigned during his father’s lifetime, and who refused to pay what was due. There is a good deal of mystery about the end of Defoe’s life; it used to be said that he died insolvent, and that he had been in jail shortly before his death. As a matter of fact, after great suffering from gout and stone, he died in Ropemaker’s Alley, Moorfields, on Monday the 26th of April 1731, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. He left no will, all his property having been previously assigned, and letters of administration were taken out by a creditor. How his affairs fell into this condition, why he did not die in his own house, and why in the previous summer he had been in hiding, as we know he was from a letter still extant, are points not clearly explained. He was, however, attacked by Mist, whom he wounded, in prison in 1724. It is most likely that Mist had found out that Defoe was a government agent and quite probable that he communicated his knowledge to other editors, for Defoe’s journalistic employment almost ceased about this time, and he began to write anonymously, or as “Andrew Moreton.” It is possible that he had to go into hiding to avoid the danger of being accused as a real Jacobite, when those with whom he had contracted to assume the character were dead and could no longer justify his attitude. Defoe married, on New Year’s Day, 1684, Mary Tuffley, who survived until December 1732. They had seven children. His second son, Bernard or Benjamin Norton, has, like his father, a scandalous niche in the Dunciad. In April 1877 public attention was called to the distress of three maiden ladies, directly descended from Defoe, and bearing his name; and a crown pension of £75 a year was bestowed on each of them. His youngest daughter, Sophia, who married Henry Baker, left a considerable correspondence, now in the hands of her descendants. There are several portraits of Defoe, the principal one being engraved by Vandergucht. In his lifetime, Defoe, as not belonging to either of the great parties at a time of the bitterest party strife, was subjected to obloquy on both sides. The great Whig writers leave him unnoticed. Swift and Gay speak slightingly of him,—the former, it is true, at a time when he was only known as a party pamphleteer. Pope, with less excuse, put him in the Dunciad towards the end of his life, but he confessed to Spence in private that Defoe had written many things and none bad. At a later period he was unjustly described as “a scurrilous party writer,” which he certainly was not; but, on the other hand, Johnson spoke of his writing “so variously and so well,” and put Robinson Crusoe among the only three books that readers wish longer. From Sir Walter Scott downwards the tendency to judge literary work on its own merits to a great extent restored Defoe to his proper place, or, to speak more correctly, set him there for the first time. Lord Macaulay’s description of Roxana, Moll Flanders and Colonel Jack as “utterly nauseous and wretched” must be set aside as a freak of criticism. Scott justly observed that Defoe’s style “is the last which should be attempted by a writer of inferior genius; for though it be possible to disguise mediocrity by fine writing, it appears in all its naked inanity when it assumes the garb of simplicity.” The methods by which Defoe attains his result are not difficult to disengage. They are the presentment of all his ideas and scenes in the plainest and most direct language, the frequent employment of colloquial forms of speech, the constant insertion of little material details and illustrations, often of a more or less digressive form, and, in his historico-fictitious works, as well as in his novels, the most rigid attention to vivacity and consistency of character. Plot he disregards, and he is fond of throwing his dialogues into regular dramatic form, with by-play prescribed and stage directions interspersed. A particular trick of his is also to divide his arguments after the manner of the preachers of his day into heads and subheads, with actual numerical signs affixed to them. These mannerisms undoubtedly help and emphasize the extraordinary faithfulness to nature of his fictions, but it would be a great mistake to suppose that they fully explain their charm. Defoe possessed genius, and his secret is at the last as impalpable as the secret of genius always is. The character of Defoe, both mental and moral, is very clearly indicated in his works. He, the satirist of the true-born Englishman, was himself a model, with some notable variations and improvements, of the Englishman of his period. He saw a great many things, and what he did see he saw clearly. But there were also a great many things which he did not see, and there was often no logical connexion whatever between his vision and his blindness. The most curious example of this inconsistency, or rather of this indifference to general principle, occurs in his Essay on Projects. He there speaks very briefly and slightingly of life insurance, probably because it was then regarded as impious by religionists of his complexion. But on either side of this refusal are to be found elaborate projects of friendly societies and widows’ funds, which practically cover, in a clumsy and roundabout manner, the whole ground of life insurance. In morals it is evident that he was, according to his lights, a strictly honest and honourable man. But sentiment of any “high-flying” description—to use the cant word of his time—was quite incomprehensible to him, or rather never presented itself as a thing to be comprehended. He tells us with honest and simple pride that when his patron Harley fell out, and Godolphin came in, he for three years held no communication with the former, and seems quite incapable of comprehending the delicacy which would have obliged him to follow Harley’s fallen fortunes. His very anomalous position in regard to Mist is also indicative of a rather blunt moral perception. One of the most affecting things in his novels is the heroic constancy and fidelity of the maid Amy to her exemplary mistress Roxana. But Amy, scarcely by her own fault, is drawn into certain breaches of definite moral laws which Defoe did understand, and she is therefore condemned, with hardly a word of pity, to a miserable end. Nothing heroic or romantic was within Defoe’s view; he could not understand passionate love, ideal loyalty, aesthetic admiration or anything of the kind; and it is probable that many of the little sordid touches which delight us by their apparent satire were, as designed, not satire at all, but merely a faithful representation of the feelings and ideas of the classes of which he himself was a unit. His political and economical pamphlets are almost unmatched as clear presentations of the views of their writer. For driving the nail home no one but Swift excels him, and Swift perhaps only in The Drapier’s Letters. There is often a great deal to be said against the view presented in those pamphlets, but Defoe sees nothing of it. He was perfectly fair but perfectly one-sided, being generally happily ignorant of everything which told against his own view. The same characteristics are curiously illustrated in his moral works. The morality of these is almost amusing in its downright positive character. With all the Puritan eagerness to push a clear, uncompromising, Scripture-based distinction of right and wrong into the affairs of every-day life, he has a thoroughly English horror of casuistry, and his clumsy canons consequently make wild work with the infinite intricacies of human nature. He is, in fact, an instance of the tendency, which has so often been remarked by other nations in the English, to drag in moral distinctions at every turn, and to confound everything which is novel to the experience, unpleasant to the taste, and incomprehensible to the understanding, under the general epithets of wrong, wicked and shocking. His works of this class therefore are now the least valuable, though not the least curious, of his books.
The earliest regular life and estimate of Defoe is that of Dr Towers in the Biographia Britannica. George Chalmers’s Life, however (1786), added very considerable information. In 1830 Walter Wilson wrote the standard Life (3 vols.); it is coloured by political prejudice, but is a model of painstaking care, and by its abundant citations from works both of Defoe and of others, which are practically inaccessible to the general reader, is invaluable. In 1859 appeared a life of Defoe by William Chadwick, an extraordinary rhapsody in a style which is half Cobbett and half Carlyle, but amusing, and by no means devoid of acuteness. In 1864 the discovery of the six letters stirred up William Lee to a new investigation, and the results of this were published (London, 1869) in three large volumes. The first of these (well illustrated) contains a new life and particulars of the author’s discoveries. The second and third contain fugitive writings assigned by Lee to Defoe for the first time. For most of these, however, we have no authority but Lee’s own impressions of style, &c.; and consequently, though the best qualified judges will in most cases agree that Defoe may very likely have written them, it cannot positively be stated that he did. There is also a Life by Thomas Wright (1894). The Earlier Life and Chief Earlier Works of Defoe (1890) was included by Henry Morley in the “Carisbrooke Library.” Charles Lamb’s criticisms were made in three short pieces, two of which were written for Wilson’s book, and the third for The Reflector. The volume on Defoe (1879) in the “English Men of Letters” series is by W. Minto. There is considerable uncertainty about many of Defoe’s writings; and even if all contested works be excluded, the number is still enormous. Besides the list in Bohn’s Lowndes, which is somewhat of an omnium gatherum, three lists drawn with more or less care were compiled in the 19th century. Wilson’s contains 210 distinct works, three or four only of which are marked as doubtful; Hazlitt’s enumerates 183 “genuine” and 52 “attributed” pieces, with notes on most of them; Lee’s extends to 254, of which 64 claim to be new additions. The reprint (3 vols.) edited for the “Pulteney Library” by Hazlitt in 1840–1843 contains a good and full life mainly derived from Wilson, the whole of the novels (including the Serious Reflections now hardly ever published with Robinson Crusoe), Jure Divino, The Use and Abuse of Marriage, and many of the more important tracts and smaller works. There is also an edition, often called Scott’s, but really edited by Sir G. C. Lewis, in twenty volumes (London, 1840–1841). This contains the Complete Tradesman, Religious Courtship, The Consolidator and other works not comprised in Hazlitt’s. Scott had previously in 1809 edited for Ballantyne some of the novels, in twelve volumes. Bohn’s “British Classics” includes the novels (except the third part of Robinson Crusoe), The History of the Devil, The Storm, and a few political pamphlets, also the undoubtedly spurious Mother Ross. In 1870 Nimmo of Edinburgh published in one volume an admirable selection from Defoe. It contains Chalmers’s Life, annotated and completed from Wilson and Lee, Robinson Crusoe, pts. i. and ii., Colonel Jack, The Cavalier, Duncan Campbell, The Plague, Everybody’s Business, Mrs Veal, The Shortest Way with Dissenters, Giving Alms no Charity, The True-Born Englishman, Hymn to the Pillory, and very copious extracts from The Complete English Tradesman. An edition of Defoe’s Romances and Narratives in sixteen volumes by G. A. Aitken came out in 1895. If we turn to separate works, the bibliography of Defoe is practically confined (except as far as original editions are concerned) to Robinson Crusoe. Mrs Veal has been to some extent popularized by the work which it helped to sell; Religious Courtship and The Family Instructor had a vogue among the middle class until well into the 19th century, and The History of the Union was republished in 1786. But the reprints and editions of Crusoe have been innumerable; it has been often translated; and the eulogy pronounced on it by Rousseau gave it special currency in France, where imitations (or rather adaptations) have also been common. In addition to the principal authorities already mentioned see John Forster, Historical and Biographical Essays (1858); G. Saintsbury, “Introduction” to Defoe’s Minor Novels; and valuable notes by G. A. Aitken in The Contemporary Review (February 1890), and The Athenaeum (April 30, 1889; August 31, 1890). A facsimile reprint (1883) of Robinson Crusoe has an introduction by Mr Austin Dobson. Dr Karl T. Bülbring edited two unpublished works of Defoe, The Compleat English Gentleman (London, 1890) and Of Royall Educacion (London, 1905), from British Museum Add. MS. 32,555. Further light was thrown on Defoe’s work as a political agent by the discovery (1906) of an unpublished paper of his in the British Museum by G. F. Warner. This was printed in the English Historical Review, and afterwards separately.