Page images

in the vicisitude of party, had been perfecuted by faĉion, and overpowered, though not conquered, by violence.

Such was the high interposition by which De Foe was relieved from Newgate, in August 1704. In order to avoid the town-talk, he retired immediately to St. Edmund's Bury: but his retreat did not prevent perfecution. Dyer, the news-writer, propagated that De Foe had fled from justice. Fox, the bookseller, published that he had deserted his security. Stephen, a state-messenger, every

, where said, that he had a warrant for seizing him. This I suppose was wit, during the witty age of Anne. In our duller days of law, such outrages would be referred to the judgment of a Jury. De Foe informed the Secretary of State where he was, and when he would appear ; but he was told not to fear, as he had not transgreffed. Notwithstanda ing this vexation, our Author's muse produced, on the 29th of August 1704, A Hymn to Victory, when the successful skill of Marlborough furnished our poets with many occasions to publish Gazettes in Rhyme.

De Foe opened the year 1704-5 with his Double welcome to the Duke of Marlborough ; disclaiming any expectation of place or pension. His encomiastic strains, I fear, were not heard while he wrote, like an honest Englishman, against the continuance of the war-a war indeed of personal glory, of national celebration, but of fruitless expence. De Foe's activity, or his needs, produced in March 1705, The Consolidator ; or, Memoirs of Sundry Transactions, from the world in the moon. It was one of De Foe's felicities to catch the living manners


[ocr errors]

as they rose, or one of his resources, to shoot folly as it flew. In the lunar language. he applies his satiric file to the prominences of every character: of the poets, from Dryden to Durfy; of the wits, from Addison to Prior; of the metaphysicians, from Malbranche to Hobbs ; of the free-thinkers, from Afgyl to the Tale of a Tub. Our author continually complains of the ill usage of the world; but with all his acuteness he did not advert, that he who attacks the world, will be by the world attacked. He makes the lunar politicians debate the policy of Charles XII. in pursuing the Saxons and Poles, while the Muscovites ravaged his own people. I doubt whether it were on this occasion that the Swedish Ambailador was fo ill-advised as to complain against De Foe, for merited ridicule of a futile warfare. They had not then discovered, that the best defence against the Shafts of satire is to let them fly. Our Author's fentiment was expanded by Johnson, in those energetic lines, which thus conclude the character of the Swedish Charles ;

Who left the name, at which the world grew pale, 16 To point a moral, or adorn a tale."

De Foe was so little disturbed by the appearance of The Moon Calf, or accurate reflections on the Consolidator, that he plunged into a controversy with Sir Humphrey Mackworth about his bill for employing the poor This had been passed by the Commons, with great applause, but received by the Peers with suitable caution. De Foe, considering this plausible project as an indigested chaos, represented at, through several reviews, as a plan which would



[ocr errors]

ruin the industrious, and thereby augment


poor, Sir Humphrey endeavoured to support his workhouses, in every parish, with a parochial capital for carrying on parochial manufacture. This drew from De Foe his admirable treatise, which he entitled Giving alms no charity. As an English Freebolder he claimed it as a right to address his performance to the House of Commons, having a particular interest in the common good; but, considering the persons before whom he appeared, he laid down his archness, and assumed his dignity. He maintained, with wonderful knowledge of fact and power of argument, the following positions: it, That there is in England more labour than hands to perform it; and consequently a want of people, not of employment: - 2dly, No man in England, of sound limbs and senses, can be poor merely for want of work:-3dly, All workhouses for employing the poor, as now they are employed, serve to the ruin of families and the increase of the poor :- 4thly, It is a regulation of the poor that is wanted, not a setting them to work. Longer experience shews this to be a difficult subject, which increases in difficulty with the effluxion of time.

De Foe had scarcely dismissed Sir Humphrey, when he introduced Lord Haversham, apeer, who is famous in our story, as a maker and publisher of speeches. His Lordship publified his speech on the state of the nation in 1705, which was cried about the town with unusual earnestness. Our Author's prudence induced him to give no answer to the speech; but a pamphlet, which was hawked about the streets and fold for a penny, our Author's fhrewdness considered as a challenge to every reader.


He laughed and talked so much, through several Reviews, about this factious effusion, as to provoke a defence of topics, which his Lordship ought neither to have printed nor spoken. De Foe now published a Reply to Lord Haversham's vindication of his Speech. During such battles the town never fails to cheer the smaller combatant. Our Author, with an allusion to the biography of both, says sarcastically: “But, fate that makes footballs of men, kicks some up stairs, and some down; some are advanced without honour, others suppressed without infamy ; some are raised without merit, fome are crushed without a crime ; and no man knows by the beginning of things, whether his course shall iffue in a peerage or a pillory.

In the midst of these disputes, either grave or ludicrous, De Foe published Advice to all Parties. He strenuously recommends that moderation and forbearance, which his opponents often remarked he was not so prone to practice as to preach. While he thus gave advice to all parties, he conveyed many salutary lessons to the Dissenters, whom he was zealous to defend. In the Review, dated the 25th of December 1705, he conjures them for God's fake, if not for their own sake, to be content. « Are there a few things more you could wish were done for you

? resolve these wishes into two conclusions : ist, Wait till Providence, if it shall be for your good, shall bring them to pass; 2dly, Compare the present with the past circumstances, and you cannot repine without the highest ingratitude both to God and man.”

De Foe found leisure, notwithstanding all those labours, perhaps a necessity, to publish in 1705, A Second Volume of the Writings of the Author of the True


born Englishman. The same reasons which formerly induced him to collect some loose pieces, held good, says he, for proceeding to a second volume, “ that if I do not, fomebody else will do it for me." He laments the fcandalous liberty of the press; whereby piratic printers deprive an author of the native product of his own thought, and the purity of his own style. It is said, though perhaps without authority, that the vigorous remonstrances of De Foe procured The* Act for the encouragement of learning, by vesting the copies of printed books in the authors or their asigns. The vanity of an administration, which affected to patronize the learned, concurring with the mu. tual interest of bookmakers and booksellers, produced this falutary law, that our Author alone had called for without success. De Foe's writings, thus collected into volumes, were foon a third time printed, with the addition of a key. The fatire being now pointed by the specification of characters, and obscurities being illuminated by the annexation of circumstances, a numerous class of readers were induced, by their zeal of party, or desire of scan. dal, to look for gratification from our Author's treatises. He is studious to complain, That his writings had been most neglected of them, who at the same time have owned them useful. The second volume of 1705, containing eighteen treatises in prose and rhyme, begins with A new Discovery of an old Intrigue, and ends with Roya! Religion.

The year 1705 was a year of disquiet to De Foe, not so much from the oppressions of state as from the persecutions of party. When his business, of

9 Anne, C. 19.


« PreviousContinue »