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A GOOD PEACE.
zens by his weekly lucubrations. He had then much to think of, and much to do at a distance: and he foon after gave some support to Lord Oxford's South-sea project, by publishing An Esay on the South-sea Trade, with an inquiry into the reasons of the present complaint against the settlement of the South-fea Company. In the same year he published An Esay at a plain Exposition of that difficult phrase
He obviously intended to abate the national ardour for war, and to incite a national defire of quiet.
The Ministers, by the course of events, were en. gaged ere long in one of the hardest tasks which can be assigned to British statesmen—the re-establishment of tranquillity after a glorious war. The treaty at Utrecht furnishes a memorable example of this. The furious debates which ensued within the walls of Parliamentand without, aresufficiently remembered. About this time, says Boyer, in May 1713, a paper, entitled MERCATOR, or Commerce Retrieved, was published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays *. This was first fathered on Arthur Moore,
* The first Mercator was published on the 26th of May, 1713; the last on the 20th of July 1714; and they were written by Wil, liam Brown and his affiftants, with great knowledge, great strength, and great sweetness, considering how much party then embittered every composition. The Britis Merchant, which opposed The Mercator, and which was compiled by Henry Martyn and his afsociates, has fewer facts, lefs argument, and more factioufness. It began on the ift of August 1713, and ended the 27th of July, 1714. I have spoken of both from my own convictions, without regarding the declamations which have continued to pervert the public opinion from that epoch to the present times. De Foe was struck at in the third number of the British Merchant, and
assisted by Doctor D'Avenant; butthe latter folemnly denied it: and it soon after appeared to be the production of Daniel De Foe, an ambidextrous hireling, who for this dirty work received a large weekly allowance from the Treasury. That he wrote in the Mercator, De Foe admits; but he expressly denies “ that he either was the Author of it, had the property of it, the printing of it, the profit of it, or had the power to put any thing into it, if he would.” And, by his Appeal, he affirms before God and the world, “ that he never had any payment, or reward, for writing any part of it.” Yet, that he was ready to defend those papers of the Mercator which were really his, if men would answer with arguments, rather than abuse; though not those things which he had never written, but for which he had received such usage. He adds, with the noble spirit of a true-born Englishman, • The press was open to me as well as to others; and how, or when I lost my English liberty of speaking my mind, I know not: neither how my speaking my opinions, without fee or reward, could authorise any one to call me villain, rascal, traitor, and such opprobrious names.”
Of the imputed connexion with his first benefactor, Harley, during that memorable period, our Author speaks with equal firmness, at a moment when firm.
plainly mentioned in the fourth. Mr. Daniel Foe may change his name from Review to Mercator, from Mercator to any other title, yet still his fingular genius shall be distinguished by his ini. mitable way of writing. Thus personal farcasm was introduced to fupply deficience of facts, or weakness of reasoning. When Charles King republished The British Merchant in volumes, among various changes, he expunged, with other personalities, the name of De Foe.
ness was necessary. “ I folemnly protest,” says he, by his Appeal, 66 in the presence of Him who shall judge us all, that I have received no instructions, orders, or directions for writing any thing, or materials from Lord Oxford, since Lord Godolphin was Treasurer, or that I have ever shewn to Lord Oxford any thing I had written or printed." He challenges the world to prove the contrary ; and he affirms, that he always capitulated for liberty to speak, according to his own judgment of things. As to consideration, pension, or reward, he declares most folemnly that he had none, except his old appointment made him long before by Lord Godolphin. What is extremely probable we may easily credit, without such strong asseverations. However Lord Oxford may have been gratified by the voluntary writings of De Foe, he had doubtless other persons who shared his confidence, and wrote his Examiners *.
But De Foe published that, which by no means promoted Lord Oxford's views, and which, therefore, gained little of his favour. Our Author wrote
It is now sufficiently known, That Lord Oxford had relinquisbed the Treaty of Commerce to its fate, before it was finally debated in Parliament. See much curious matter on this subject in Macpherson's State Papers, vol. ii. p. 421-23. It is there faid, that he gave up the commercial treaty, in compliment to Sir Thomas Hanmer, as he would by no means be, an occasion of a breach among friends. The Treasurer had other reasons: The treaty had been made by Bolingbroke, whom he did not love; the Lords Anglesea and Abingdon had made extravagant demands for their support ; and, like a wise man, he thought it idle to drive a nail that would not go. Yet Lord Halifax boasted to the Hanoverian minister, That he alone had been the occasion of the treaty being rejected. Same papers, p. 509-47,
against the peace of Utrecht, because he approved of it as little as he had done the treaty at Gertruy. denburgh, under very different influences, a few years before. The peace he was for, as he himself fays, was such as should neither have given the Spanish monarchy to the House of Bourbon, nor to the House of Austria ; but that this bone of contention should have been so broken to pieces, as that it should not have been dangerous to Europe ; and that England and Holland should have so strengthened themselves, by sharing its commerce, as should have made them no more afraid of France, or the Emperor; and that all that we should conquer in the Spanish West Indies should be our own. But it is equally true, he affirms, that when the peace was eltablished, “ I thought our business was to make the best of it; and rather to inquire what improvements could be made of it, than to be continually exclaiming against those who procured it.”
He manfully avowed his opinion in 1715, when it was both disgraceful and dangerous, that the gth article of the Treaty of Commerce was calculated for the advantage of our trade; “ Let who will make it, that,” says he, “is nothing to me. My reasons are, because it tied up the French to open the door to our manufactures, at a certain duty of importation there, and left the Parliament of Britain at liberty to shut their's out, by as high duties as they pleased here, there being no limitation upon us, as to duties on French goods, but that other nations fhould pay the same. While the French were thus bound, and the British free, I always thought we must be in a condition to trade to advantage, or it must be our own fault : this was my opinion, and is so still; and
I would engage to maintain it against any man, on a public stage, before a jury of fifty merchants, and venture my life upon the cause, if I were assured of fair play in the dispute. But, that it was my opinion, we might carry on a trade with France to our great advantage, and that we ought for that reason to trade with them, appears in the third, fourth, fifth, and fixth volumes of The Reviews, above nine years before The Mercator was thought of.”. Experience has decided in favour of De Foe against his opponents, with regard both to the theory and the practice of commerce.
In May 1713, our Author relinquished the Review, after nine years continuance: in Newgate it began, and in Newgate it ended.
Whether we consider the frequency of the publication, or the power of his disquisitions, the pertinacity of his opponents, or the address of his defences, amid other studies, without affistants, this must be allowed to be such a work, as few of our writers have equalled. Yet, of this great performance, said Gay; * The poor Review is quite exhausted, and grown fo very contemptible, that though he has provoked all his brothers of the quill, none will enter into a controversy with him. The fellow, who had excel. lent natural parts, but wanted a small foundation of learning, is a lively instance of those wits, who, as an ingenious author fays, will endure but one skimming *.” Poor Gay had learned this cant in the Scriblerus Club, who thought themselves the wisest, the wittiest, and virtuousest men, that ever were, or
* State of Wit, 1711, which is re-printed in the Supplement to Swift's Works.