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Instructions how Gentlemen may recover a Deficiency of their Latin, and be Men of Learning, though without the Pedantry of Schools. The manuscript of the work, which is partly in Short-hand, is still in existence, and in the possession of one of his lineal descendants, the Rev. Henry De Foe Baker, by whose courtesy Mr Wilson was enabled to give the following analysis of its contents :
Part the First. Chap. 1. Of the Gentleman born, in the common acceptation of the word, and as the Gentry amongst us are pleased to understand it. Chap. 2. Some Examples from History and from good Information of the Want of Care taken in the Education of Princes and Children of the Nobility in former times, as well in this Nation as in foreign Countries, and how fatal the Effects of it have been in their future Conduct; with some few Examples of the contrary also. Chap. 3. Examples of the different Educations of Princes and Persons of rank from the beginning of the sixteenth century, viz., from the Reign of Henry VIII inclusive. With Observations down to the present time, on the Happiness of these Reigns in general, where the Princes have been Educated in Principles of Honour and Virtue; and something of the contrary. Chap. 4. Of Royal Education. Chap. 5. The head of this chapter is erased. Chap. 6. Of the G— ; of Himself, his Family, and Fortune.
Part the Second. Chap. 1. Of the Fund for Increase of our Nobility and Gentry in England ; being the Beginning of those we call Bred Gentlemen, with some Account of Difference. Chap. 2. There is no head to this chapter. Chap. 3. Of the General Ignorance of the English Gentry, and the True Cause of it in the Manner of their Introduction into Life. Chap. 4. Of what may be the Unhappy Cause of the General Defect in the Education of our Gentry; with a Rational Proposal for Preventing those Consequences.
CHAPTER XIX. The rapidity with which his publications had followed each other, and the successive editions that were in demand during his life-time, if his gains were at all commensurate, ought to have ensured our author a considerable degree of wealth, but De Foe was never destined to be a rich man. Indeed, it is quite clear, that with all his ability and industry, however he might be formed to serve his country or delight mankind, he was not one of those who are born to make their fortunes,-either from a careless, improvident disposition, that squanders away its advantages, or a sanguine and restless temper, that constantly abandons a successful pursuit for some new and gilded project. He must, however, have been in easy circumstances during the first run of his romances. In 1721 he fined to the parish of Stoke Newington, to be excused serving parish offices. In the following year he obtained from the corporation of Colches- , ter a lease for ninety-nine years of Kingswood heath, at a yearly rent of 1201., besides a fine of 500l. But whether his speculation failed, or to whatever cause it was owing, he did not retain it long ; for we find the property transferred soon afterwards to Walter Bernard. At the time that Mr Chalmers wrote, Kingswood heath was worth 3001. a-year. It must have been about this time, or a little before, that he built a large and handsome house for his own residence at Stoke Newington ; and if we
endeavour to send the rest of the copy so well corrected as to give you very little trouble. I here return the first sheet, and as much copy as will make near three sheets more ; you shall have all she remainder so as not to let you stand still at all.
“I am, sir,
“ Your most humble servant, “ Sept. 10th, 1729."
may believe the report of his literary opponents, he had the luxury of a coach and its accustomed appendages. But whatever may have been his pecuniary circumstances, they could not procure him the blessings of health. He was tormented with those dreadful maladies, the gout and the stone, occasioned in part, most probably, by his close application; and they subjected him to continual attacks of illness during the remainder of his life.
Henry Baker, the celebrated natural philosopher, who married one of De Foe's daughters, left behind him some valuable papers. Amongst these is a short narrative of his early acquaintance with his wife, which, as containing some notice of De Foe at this period, will gratify the reader. It is as follows:
"In the year 1724 Mr H. Baker engaged in an undertaking which required his spending some days every week at Newington. Amongst the first who desired his acquaintance there was Mr De Foe, a gentleman well known by his writings, who had newly built there a very handsome house, as a retirement from London, and amused his time, either in the cultivation of a large and pleasant garden, or in the pursuit of his studies, which he found means of making very profitable. He was now at least sixty years of age, afflicted with the gout and stone, but retained all his mental faculties entire. Mr Baker readily accepted his invitation, and was so pleased with his conversation, that he seldom came to Newington without paying a visit to Mr De Foe. He met usually at the tea-table his three lovely daughters, who were admired for their beauty, their education, and their prudent conduct; and if sometimes Mr De Foe's disorders made company inconvenient, Mr Baker was entertained by them, either singly or together, and that commonly in the garden, when the weather was favourable. Mr Baker very soon discovered the superior excellencies of Miss Sophia, the youngest daughter, (of whose person and manDers the writer speaks in strains of the highest eulogium.) He knew nothing of Mr De Foo's circumstances; only imagined, from his very genteel way of living, that he must be able to give his daughter a decent portion : he did not suppose a large one. On speaking to Mr De Foe, he sanctioned his proposals, and said he hoped he should be able to give her a certain sum specified; but when urged to the point some time afterwards, his answer was, that formal articles he thought unnecessary ; that he could confide in the honour of Mr Baker ; that when they talked before, he did not know the true state of his own affairs ; that he found he could not part with any money at present ; but at his death, his daughter's portion would be more than he had promised ; and he offered his own bond as a guarantee for the payment.” With this, it seems, Mr Baker was not satisfied ; and their altercation upon money matters produced a coolness between them for some time, so that they seldom saw each other ; but Mr Baker constantly visited his fair Sophia. It is said that, by creating these difficulties, De Foe expected the impatience of the young people would be wearied into a marriage, without any previous agreement with him. But if so, he was disappointed ; for, after a protracted negociation of almost two years, the same authority says, that he consented to engage his house at Newington as a security, and articles were executed accordingly. De Foe had no ready money to part with, but gave a bond with his daughter for 5001. payable after his death. It bears date, April 5, 1729, and the marriage was celebrated upon the 30th of the same month.
It appears that, whilst De Foe was negociating with Mr Baker, he had another estate in Essex, which, with that at Newington, he had secured, in some way, for the benefit of bis family. But his property was a source of much vexation to him, chiefly through the undutiful behaviour of his son.
Little as it may consist with the foregoing account of De Foe's circumstances, it was not long after his daughter's marriage, that he was doomed to undergo the privation, not only of the comforts he enjoyed in his retreat at Newington, but even
under the frowns of the world, and the staff of his old age. Disciplined in the school of affliction, he had been taught submission to the hand that inflicted it; and aware of the difficulties that beset a conscientious adherence to the path of duty, he made them a motive for vigilance and frequent self-examination. In a former work he has the following reflections suggested by the prospect of a future state :—“I believe nothing would contribute more to make us good Christians than to be able to look upon all things, causes, and persons here, with the same eyes as we do when we are looking into eternity. Death sets all in a clear light; and when a man is, as it were, in the very boat, pushing off from the shore of the world, his last views of it being abstracted from interests, hopes, or wishes, and influenced by the near view of the future state, must be clear, unbiassed, and impartial.” *
With a mind elevated above the grovelling pursuits of the mere worldling, and steadily fixed upon the scenes that were opening to him as he approached the boundaries of time, De Foe could not be unprepared for the change that was to separate him from his dearest connexions. His death took place upon the 24th of April, 1731, when he was about seventy years of age, having been born in the year 1661. Cibber and others state that he died at his house at Islington; but this is incorrect. The parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, in which he drew his first breath, was also destined to receive his last. This we learn from the parish register, which further informs us, that he went off in a lethargy.t. He was buried from thence, upon the 26th of April, in Tindall's Buryingground, now most known by the name of Bunhill fields. The entry in the register, written by some person, who made a strange blunder of his name, is as follows: “1731. April 26. Mr Dubow. Cripplegate.” Whether De Foe passed his latter days in the midst of his family, or in an obscure lodging by himself, can now be only matter of conjecture : it is to be hoped he was not without the solace of those who were best fitted to administer to him the little remnant of earthly enjoyment. After his death his widow, Susannah, continued to reside at Stoke Newington; and as his daughters were afterwards in independent circumstances, it may be presumed that they succeeded in recovering their property. Mr Baker, who appears to have been a kind-hearted man, probably stood their friend upon the occasion. Mrs De Foe did not long survive her husband, dying at the latter end of the following year. She was also removed to Bunhill fields for interment, as appears by the following entry: “1732. Dec. 19. Mrs Defow. Stoke Newington.” The same register records the burial of another Mrs De Foe, about four years afterwards. She was brought from Hackney, and was most probably a daughter-in law. The entry stands thus : “1737. Jany. 19. Mrs Deffoe. St John's, Hackney."
It is lamentable to reflect, that a man of De Foe's genius and talents should have died insolvent; yet the events that befel him during the last year or two of his life, could have produced no other result. Although, during a long and active life, his pen had known but little intermission, and the profits from his publications latterly could not have been inconsiderable, yet the demands of a numerous family, upon whose education he had not been sparing of expense, must have quickly absorbed them. In addition to this, he was never free from the burthen of unsatisfied creditors, which acted as a mill-stone abont his neck, and plunged him at last in irrecoverable poverty. He who had nothing to leave had no occasion for a will. Accordingly, there is none to be found in Doctors' Commons ; but the books there inform us, that, in September 1773, letters of administration on his goods and chattels were granted to Mary Brooks, widow, a creditrix, after summoning in official form the next of kin to appear.
• Review,' ii, 201. + The following is a copy of the register : “1731. Daniel Defoe, gentleman. To Tindall's. (Lethargy.) April 26."
Ir now only remains to lay before our readers the various estimates which have been formed of De Foe's character by authors who have made him the subject of their consideration, commencing with Mr Wilson, to whom the present editor is indebted for the materials of the larger portion of this memoir.
" It has been justly remarked by a sensible writer, that “No history can furnish us with an example of a man whose life and actions have been universally applauded: malice, or a different interest, being always ready to wound the noblest integrity.' * Of the truth of this sentiment De Foe was a memorable instance. Living at a period when the political horizon was overspread by faction, invading the peace of families, and diffusing a canker through the social system, a less prominent character would scarcely bave escaped without scars upon his reputation. An eminent living writer, referring to the former part of it, and what he says is equally true of the latter, observed, 'A critic of that time never deemed that he had so effectually refuted the reasoning of his adversary, as when he had said something disrespectful of his talents, person, or moral character. Thus, literary contest was embittered by personal hatred, and truth was so far from being the object of the combatants, that even victory was tasteless unless obtained by the disgrace and degradation of the antagonist.'+ But this illegitimate mode of warfare was not confined to literature : it was carried into the world of politics, where it assumed the highest tone of acrimony. In those sour days, both the understandings and the morals of men were estimated according to the party they belonged to, and received & colouring in proportion to their own importance, or to the skill of their adversaries. When the human character has been subjected to so precarious à test, it is no wonder that virtue and vice have changed their positions in history, and that they have been so shifted in their application as to be accommodated to the prejudices of those who had a turn to serve by their dishonesty. Although this perversion of ideas may be set straight by the cool judgment of posterity, yet when the poison is dilated through endless ramifications, the antidote has fearful odds to contend with. But, should time moderate the symptoms, it is not before the original purpose was answered. When men are stunned by clamour, and borne down by the voice of authority, their mouths are stopped from inquiry, and they easily take that for granted which, upon sober investigation, would turn out to be merely the result of prejudice. This circumstance, so unfavourable to the cause of truth, has given a real disadvantage to those who have contended against popular opinions ; the merits of the question being shifted to foreign matters, or absorbed in the common share of scandal and abuse. At the period of which we are speaking, even men of the greatest names were not above stooping to these low and disingenuous arts ; whilst the calumnies they propagated derived an authority from their sanction.
“ In this ocean of slander no one was dipped more deeply than De Foe. To sink his reputation as a patriot he was charged with selfishness and venality; and to ruin him in the estimation of the virtuous, his moral character was assailed by the most impudent falsehoods. If we were to believe his enemies, there was scarcely a criine that gave deformity to human nature with which he was not chargeable. The extent to which this mode of warfare was carried can be known only to those who are conversant with
* Preface to · Ludlow's Memoirs.'
+ Scott's · Life of Dryden.'
the newswriters and pamphleteers of the day. That the libels heaped upon him by his contemporaries should have been wantonly adopted by succeeding writers, affords the less surprise, when we consider the voracious appetite that is indulged for slander, and the slender authority upon which reports are taken up and propagated. Experience shows that history may be written without investigation, and pass current in the world, in spite of the grossest inaccuracy. Of this we have a glaring instance in the volumes of the late Mark Noble, whose account of De Foc is one tissue of misrepresentation and falsehood. His flippancy and his bigotry might have been borne with if these offensive adjuncts had been accompanied by a tolerable share of accuracy; but the want of correctness that disfigures a large proportion of his pages, renders them a ludicrous contrast when placed in juxta-position with the instructive volumes of the candid and judicious Granger.
“But amidst the storms of reproach that De Foe was called upon to encounter, he maintained a calm serenity of mind, that could only be inspired by conscious rectitude. He was not insensible to the value of character, nor backward to vindicate himself when attacked; but, standing upon the solid ground of truth and honesty, he was able, with a virtuous indignation, to defy and confute, if not to silence, his calumniators. The frequency with which he had to meet these attacks constrained him sometimes to break through the dignified silence which he usually prescribed to himself, and to trespass upon that diffidence which he thought best befitting persons encompassed with infirmities. He avows that he is not more exempt from human frailties than other men, and is willing to look back upon the best actions of his life with the temper of a penitent. Yet, when he goes so far to stop the mouth of censure, he rejects with indignation the charge of offences that he was conscious had no foundation but in malice. He distinctly asserts that he was not a man of vice, and challenges all the world to prove the contrary ; yet he was so far from boasting of his exemption from common vices that he ascribes it solely to the restraining power of divine grace. He thought that little satisfaction was to be derived from negative duties, unless accompanied by active exertions in Christian duty. For the correctness of De Foe's private conduct we need seek no further evidence than his own manly avowal in the face of his enemies. No man can write in stronger language against the vices of the times; yet none would have had the hardihood to do so if he could be confronted with the vices he condemns. He therefore sets malice at defiance, and reposes in the consciousness of acting well. “He that cannot live above the scorn of scoundrels,' says he, “is not fit to live : dogs will bark; and so they shall, without lessening one moment of my tranquillity.' Anticipating the tongue of slander, he says,
• Malice shall write thy character in vain,
Thou know'st more faults than thy describers can;
Correct his own, and first repent like thee.' “ Although a frequenter of the coffee-houses, then the common resort of literary men, it did not trench upon his habits of temperance. Drunkards he denounces as • Philosophers in wickedness, who can extract pleasure to themselves in losing their understandings, and making themselves sick at heart for their diversion. That he was no swearer, we may justly argue from his constant ridicule of that. Frenzy of the tongue, in which there is neither pleasure nor profit.' He was a great admirer of the fair sex, in the station assigned them by providence and the laws of society, and therefore had a high opinion of marriage, when suitably contracted, and founded upon mutual affection ; but he despised the alienation of God's best gift to man,' for vicious purposes, as a thing not worth the repentance. Rising above the narrow prejudices of his age, he was desirous of seeing greater attention bestowed upon the education of females, that they