Page images

Author had said in his Double Welcome to the Duke of
Marlborough, with less poetry than truth-

Mæcenas has his modern fancy ftrung,
And fixed his pension first, or he had never sung.

[ocr errors]

While thus insulted by enemies, and discountenanced by power, De Foe published his Appeal to Honour and Justice, in 1715; being a true Account of his Conduct in public Affairs. As a motive for this intrepid measure, he affectingly says, That,

by the hints of mortality and the infirmities of a life of sorrow and fatigue, I have reason to think, that I am very near to the great ocean of eternity, and the time may not be long ere I embark on the last voyage : wherefore, I think I should even accounts with this world before I go, that no flanders may lye against my heirs, to disturb them in the peaceable possession of their father's inheritance, his character." It is a circumstance perhaps unexampled in the life of any other writer, that before he could finish his Appeal, he was struck with an apoplexy. After languishing more than six weeks, neither able to go on, nor likely to recover, his friends thought fit to delay the publication no longer. “ It is the opinion of most who know him," says Baker, the publisher, “ that the treatment which he here complains of, and others of which he would have spoken, have been the cause of this disaster.” When the ardent mind of De Foe reflected on what he had done, and what he had suffered, how he had been rewarded and persecuted, his heart melted in despair. His fpirit, like a candle struggling in the focket, blazed and funk, and blazed and sunk, till it disappeared in darkness.

[ocr errors]

While his strength remained, he expostulated with his adversaries in the following terms of great manliness, and instructive intelligence :-“ It has been the disaster of all parties in this nation, to be very hot in their turn, and as often as they have been fo, I have differed with them all, and shall do so. I will repeat some of the occasions on the Whig side, because from that quarter the accusation of my turning about comes.

The first time I had the misfortune to differ with my friends, was about the year 1683, when the Turks were besieging Vienna, and the Whigs in England, generally speaking, were for the Turks taking it; which I, having read the history of the cruelty and perfidious dealings of the Turks in their wars, and how they had rooted out the name of the Christian religion in above three score and ten kingdoms, could by no means agree with: and though then but a young man, and a younger author, I opposed it, and wrote against it, which was taken very unkindly indeed.

6. The next time I differed with my friends, was when King James was wheedling the Dissenters to take off the penal laws and test, which I could by no means come into. I told the Dissenters, I had rather the Church of England should pull our clothes off by fines and forfeitures, than the Papilis should fall both upon the Church and the Dissenters, and pull our skins off by fire and faggot.

The next difference I had with good men, was about the scandalous practice of occasional conformity, in which I had the misfortune to make many honest men angry, rather because I had the better of the

argument, than because they disliked what I said.


< And now I have lived to see the Diffenters themselves very quiet; if not

very well pleased with an act of Parliament to prevent it. Their friends indeed laid it on; they would be friends indeed, if they would talk of taking it off again.

Again, I had a breach with honest men for their male-treating King William, of which I say nothing; because I think they are now opening their eyes, and making what amends they can to his memory.

" The fifth difference I had with them, was about the treaty of partition, in which many honest men were mistaken, and in which I told them plainly then, that they would at last end the war upon worse terms; and so it is my opinion they would have done, though the treaty of Gertruydenburgh had taken place.

The sixth time I differed with them, was when the old Whigs fell out with the modern Whigs; and when the Duke of Marlborough and my Lord Go. dolphin were used by the Observator in a manner worse, I confess, for the time it lasted, than ever they were used since; nay, though it were by Abel and the Examiner. But the fuccefs failed. In this dispute my Lord Godolphin did me the honour to tell me, I had served him and his Grace also, both faithfully and successfully. But his Lordship is dead, and I have now no testimony of it, but what is to be found in the Observator, where I am plentifully abused for being an enemy to my country, by acting in the interest of my Lord Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough. What weathercock can turn with such tempers as these ?

I am now in the seventh breach with them, and my crime now is, that I will not believe and say the VOL. II. Еe


fame things of the Queen, and the late Treasurer, which I could not believe before of


Lord Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough, and which in truth I cannot believe, and therefore could not say it of either of them; and which, if I had believed, yet I ought not to have been the man that should have said it, for the reasons aforesaid.

“ In such turns of tempers and times a man must have been ten-fold a Vicar of Bray, or it is impossible but he must one time or other be out with every body. This is my present condition; and for this I am reviled with having abandoned my principles, turned Jacobite, and what not: God judge between me and these men! Would they come to any particulars with me, what real guilt I may have, I would freely acknowledge; and if they would produce any

evidence of the bribes, the pensions, and the rewards I have taken, I would declare honestly whether they were true or no. If they would give a list of the books which they charge me with, and the reasons why they lay them at my door, I would acknowledge any mistake, own what I have done, and let them know what I have not done. But these men neither shew mercy, nor leave room for repentance; in which they act not only unlike their Maker, but contrary to his express commands *.”


* The most solemn afleverations, and the most unanswerable arguments of our Author, were not, after all, believed. When Charles King re-published The British Merchant, in 1721, he without a fcruple attributed The Mercator to a hireling writer of a weekly paper called The Review. And Anderson, at a still later period, goes further in his Chronology of Commerce, and names De Foe, as the hireling writer of The Mercator, and other papers in favour of the French treaty of trade. We can now judge

With the same independence of spirit, but with greater modesty of manner, our Author openly dif. approved of the imtemperance, which was adopted by Government in 1714, contrary to the original purpose of George I. 6 It is and ever was my opi. nion,” says De Foe in his Appeal, “ that moderation is the only virtue by which the tranquillity of this nation can be preserved; and even the King himself, (I believe his Majesty will allow me that freedom,) can only be happy in the enjoyment of the crown, by a moderate administration: if he should be obliged, contrary to his known disposition, to join with intemperate councils, if it does not lessen his security, I am persuaded it will lessen his satisfaction. To attain at the happy calm, which is the confideration that should move us all, (and he would merit to be called the nation's phyfician, who could prescribe the specific for it,) I think I may be allowed to say, a conquest of parties will never do it, a balance of parties may.Such was the political testament of De Foe; which it had been happy for Britain, had it been as faithfully executed as it was wisely made !

The year 1715 may be regarded as the period of our Author's political life. Faction henceforth found other advocates, and parties procured other writers to propagate their falsehoods. Yet, when a

with the impartiality of arbitrators : on the one hand, there are the living challenge, and the death-bed declaration of De Foe; on the other, the mere surmise and unauthorised affertion of King, Anderson, and others, who detract from their own veracity by their own factiousness, or foolery. It is surely time to free ourselves from prejudices of every kind, and to disregard the sound of names as much as the falsehoods of party.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »