Daniel Defoe eBook

William Minto
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 180 pages of information about Daniel Defoe.
He would overtake sooner or later all the particulars of French greatness which he had promised to survey, but as the course of his narrative had brought him to England, and he might stay there for some time, it was as well that this should be indicated in the title, which was henceforth to be A Review of the Affairs of France, with Observations on Affairs at Home.  He had intended, he said, to abandon the work altogether, but some gentlemen had prevailed with him to go on, and had promised that he should not be at a loss by it.  It was now to be issued three times a week.



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

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

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Daniel Defoe from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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