Daniel Defoe eBook

William Minto
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 150 pages of information about Daniel Defoe.
have seen, to misconstruction.  Nobody knew this better than himself, and nobody could have guarded against it with more sleepless care.  In the fourth year of King George’s reign a change took place in the Ministry.  Lord Townshend was succeeded in the Home Secretary’s office by Lord Stanhope.  Thereupon Defoe judged it expedient to write to a private secretary, Mr. de la Faye, explaining at length his position.  This letter along with five others, also designed to prevent misconstruction by his employers, lay in the State Paper Office till the year 1864, when the “whole packet” fell into the hands of Mr. Lee.  The following succinct fragment of autobiography is dated April 26, 1718.

“Though I doubt not but you have acquainted my Lord Stanhope with what humble sense of his lordship’s goodness I received the account you were pleased to give me, that my little services are accepted, and that his lordship is satisfied to go upon the foot of former capitulations, etc.; yet I confess, Sir, I have been anxious upon many accounts, with respect as well to the service itself as my own safety, lest my lord may think himself ill-served by me, even when I have best performed my duty.”

“I thought it therefore not only a debt to myself, but a duty to his lordship, that I should give his lordship a short account, as clear as I can, how far my former instructions empowered me to act, and in a word what this little piece of service is, for which I am so much a subject of his lordship’s present favour and bounty.”

“It was in the Ministry of my Lord Townshend, when my Lord Chief Justice Parker, to whom I stand obliged for the favour, was pleased so far to state my case that notwithstanding the misrepresentations under which I had suffered, and notwithstanding some mistakes which I was the first to acknowledge, I was so happy as to be believed in the professions I made of a sincere attachment to the interest of the present Government, and, speaking with all possible humility, I hope I have not dishonoured my Lord Parker’s recommendation.”

“In considering, after this, which way I might be rendered most useful to the Government, it was proposed by my Lord Townshend that I should still appear as if I were, as before, under the displeasure of the Government, and separated from the Whigs; and that I might be more serviceable in a kind of disguise than if I appeared openly; and upon this foot a weekly paper, which I was at first directed to write, in opposition to a scandalous paper called the Shift Shifted, was laid aside, and the first thing I engaged in was a monthly book called Mercurius Politicus, of which presently.  In the interval of this, Dyer, the News-Letter writer, having been dead, and Dormer, his successor, being unable by his troubles to carry on that work, I had an offer of a share in the property, as well as in the management of that work.”

“I immediately acquainted my Lord Townshend of it, who, by Mr. Buckley, let me know it would be a very acceptable piece of service; for that letter was really very prejudicial to the public, and the most difficult to come at in a judicial way in case of offence given.  My lord was pleased to add, by Mr. Buckley, that he would consider my service in that case, as he afterwards did.”

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Daniel Defoe from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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