« VorigeDoorgaan »
myself; and he says as much, in telling the world—I adhere firmly to truth, and resolve to defend it against all extremities.' (* Review,' vol. ii, No. 75.) He reviews without fear, and acts without fainting. He is not daunted with multitudes of enemies; for he faces as many, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, as there are foes to moderation and peace. Loyalty to the Queen is his guide, and resolution his companion ; and a lawful occasion makes him truly brave. It was this sent him to Weymouth, Exeter, and Crediton, to preach peace and moderation to the high-flyers; and though they had not the manners to thank him, yet I hope to see them all on their knees for not listening to his wholesome doctrine-Peace! It is a dangerous experiment the Western Tackers could not approve of; and for that reason the Weymouth Gothams had fettered him, whipped him, and perhaps burnt him, had not his known courage, and great party of two men, set him above their malice. (See ‘Review,' vol. ii, No. 75.) To sum up all—De Foe has piety enough for an author, and courage enough for a martyr. And, in a word, if ever any, Daniel De Foc is a True Englishman; and for that reason he is more respected by men of honour and sense than he can be affronted by Alderman B- , Justice S , and the rest of the Western blockheads. Now, if such an author as this should attack my journal, I shall think there is reason for it, and will endeavour to answer him, and to speak the truth; it is pity this peace-making traveller should have any enemy but error, and such a weak assailant as John Dunton.”
De Foe's long continued absence from England, occasioned by the persecution of his creditors, produced a relaxation of his pen, which was less fertile in 1707 than in any year since the commencement of the reign. Besides hisReview,' which furnished him with regular occupation, he does not appear to have printed anything, excepting the pamphlets upon Scotch affairs that have been already noticed. Being in Scotland during the whole of the year, he was busied in moderating the heat of parties, and in endeavouring to reconcile the disaffected to the union. Necessity led him also to pay some attention to his own affairs ; but the resources upon which he drew for the support of himself and family remain unknown. It is not improbable that he may have received occasional presents from his friends in Scotland; and his publications must have turned to some account, particularly the Review,' the permanent sale of which would now justify a stated remuneration.
In the preface to the third volume of The Review,' he recounts some of the illtreatment he had experienced. “I must confess," says he, “ I have sometimes thought it very hard, that having voluntarily, and without the loast direction, assistance, or encouragement, in spite of all that has been suggested, taken upon me the most necessary work of removing national prejudices against the two most capital blessings of the world -peace and union-I should have the disaster to see the nations receive the doctrine and defame the teacher. Should I descend to particulars, it would hardly appear credible, that in a Christian, a Protestant, and a reformed nation, any men could have received such treatment as I have done, even from those very people whose consciences and judgments have stooped to the venerable truth, and owned it useful and seasonable. It would make this preface a history to relate the reproaches, the insults, the contempt, with which these papers have been treated in discourse, writing, and print, even by those who say they are embarked in the same cause. The charge made against me of partiality, bribery, pensions, and payments ; things, the circumstances, family, and fortunes of a man devoted to his country's peace, clears me of. If paid for writing, if hired, if employed, why still harassed by merciless and malicious men? Why pursued to all extremities by law for old accounts, of which other men are cleared every day? Why oppressed, distressed, and driven from his family, and from all prospects of delivering either them or himself? Is this the fate of men employed and hired ? Is this the figure the agents of courts and princes make ? Certainly, had I been employed or hired, those
people that own the service would by this time have set their servant free from the little and implacable malice of litigious prosecutions, murdering warrants, and men whose mouths are to be stopped by trifles. Let this suffice, then, to clear me of all the little and scandalous charge of being hired and employed.”
De Foe goes on to say, “I am not the first that has been stoned for speaking the truth ; and cannot but think, that as time and the conviction of their senses will restore men to love the peace now established in this nation, so they will gradually see I have acted no part but that of a lover of my country, and an honest man; and so, in time, it may wear off : and though it be hard to be threatened, yet I cannot but support myself with the continual satisfaction of having contributed my mite towards the public peace.”
In the course of the summer, De Foe fell under the frowns of the Swedish ambassador, the real ground of which has not been stated by any of his biographers. It has been usually referred to a passage published three years before in the “ Consolidator'; but the offence, as Mr Wilson shows, arose from some reflections in the Review,' the particulars of which are thus related by himself :
“Great are the triumphs and rejoicings of a party of men, well enough known among us, at a certain piece of news, spread about by their news-writers long before it was true, and impudently dressed up with forgeries and additions by one of them since it was true, viz. That the Swedish ambassador has made a complaint against this paper. But I'll soon put a stop to their rejoicings, by exhibiting a true statement of the affair to the view of every impartial reader, and I doubt not to the satisfaction of the Swedish envoy also. What it is in particular that he has taken offence at, I am not yet informed.” De Foe says that if he had used too great plainness of speech, or said anything unjust or untrue, he was willing to make reparation by a public acknowledgment, or submit to the laws of England.
The affair was a source of triumph to De Foe's enemies, who made much more of it than it really deserved. “ Those who show so much particular satisfaction at the hopes they have entertained of my destruction by the prosecution of this paper,” says he, “and with so much gust insult me upon that head, boast, because I am remote, that I am fled from justice, and make nothing of sending the Queen's messengers after me into Scotland. Impotent malice! How does it fly in the faces of its contrivers. The government need never be at the charge of a messenger to me: I am so fully convinced of the justice and mercy of her Majesty's government, that were I guilty of a much worse crime, I would on the least summons appear, and either frankly claim the first, or submit to and implore the last. And where am I, ye sons of unwearied slander, that you should suggest I am fled from justice? Am I concealed, or out of her Majesty's dominions? Now that the Union has opened the door, the nations protect no criminals against each other. Let us see your charge ; let it be as public as your malice : I'll put in bail to answer all you can object, let it be what it will. But this is the course of the age; when nothing else can revenge their cause, they fly to that worst of murdersslander and reproach,
“ But to the case in hand. With what pleasure am I insulted in this affair against the · Review?' How have I been sent to Count Zober, and, bound hand and foot, surrendered to the Swedes? Alas, gentlemen, your prophecies of evil tidings are not yet come to pass! The liberty of Englishmen is in better case ; no man can be punished here at the will of the prince, much less at the will of a foreign prince. In England, even the sovereign never punishes but by law; and a jury of equals must determine the fact. An Englishman is born a freeman ; no power can insult him ; no superior oppress him: this is the confidence and glory of our island. He that will abandon this liberty, is not a fool only, but a knave ; a knave to himself, to his family, to his posterity, and to the constitution. Let none of my friends be afraid for me ; if I have broken the law, they ought to abandon me to the law, and I ask no favour. If I have not, no king, no threatening, no, not all the powers of Europe, can make her Majesty break in upon her people's liberties, or deviate from justice ; in the satisfaction of which all her subjects are easy and safe, and I among the rest."'*
The article complained of is to be found in No. 66 of the Review,' which contains some speculations upon the policy of the Swedish monarch, delivered hypothetically, and couched in language which any political writer might use without offence. De Foe regards the King of Sweden, the celebrated Charles XII, as holding the balance of power in Europe, and capable of turning the scale in whichever way his policy directed. Of his future projects, he considers it altogether in vain to form a conjecture ; and leaves it to time alone to develope the reasons of his mysterious conduct. He speaks of him as a brave and warlike prince, and the article may be considered rather complimentary than otherwise. It is probable that the ambassador was prompted by some enemy of De Foe to attack his paper ; but whoever he was, he betrayed a want of judgment equal to his malice, as the article in question furnished no ground for any public notice. The government appears to have been of this mind, as the application was not listened to ; and the explanation of De Foe probably satisfied the ambassador.
Whilst De Foe was engaged in promoting the Union, and even long after it had taken place, the calumny of enemies was at work in impeaching his motives, and undervaluing his services. In his · Review' for September 2d, he writes thus : “ I have for a long time patiently borne with the scurrilous prints, and scandalous reproaches of the streets, concerning my being in Scotland. To-day I am sent thither by one party, tomorrow by another; this time by one particular person, that by a body of people ; by some one way, by others another; and I have long waited to see if, out of innumerable guesses, they would at last make a discovery of the true, and to me, melancholy reason of settling myself in a remote corner of the world ; which, if they had done, I should, no question, have been insulted enough upon that head. But, since their guesses have too much party malice in them to be right, though there are five or six persons in London, who can not only give a true account of my removal, but recal me from this banishment, if they had humanity in them a degree less than an African lion, I therefore cannot but take up a little room in these papers about my own case. There are two sorts of people out of reach by the world ; those that are above, and those that are below it: and they may be equally happy for aught I know. Of the last sort I reckon myself, and declare, that as I am below their envy, so I seek not their pity. I am, I bless God, secure in my retreat from their fury, and am fully revenged of the world by despising all the contempt it can throw upon me,
“But I come to the censures of the world. • An underspur-leather,' says one, sent down to Scotland to make the Union, to write for it, and the like.' Angry man! Not purely that I am employed, as he calls it, but that he is not. Another says I was hired by the court to write as I was told ; which excellent stuff answers itself.” Of Leslie, who attacked him in the · Rehearsal,' he says, in his humorous way, “ He has got me a new commission from the Presbyterians : I hope in a few days I may have it down by the post, with directions where to send for my salary; for I assure him, it cannot but be very welcome at this distance.” Speaking of his book, called “ The Short Way,' lately pablished, Leslie had said, “ It is wrote by a remarkable agent of the Presbyterians in England, who has long been employed by them as their public vindicator here, which he still continues ; and he was sent down by them the last winter into Scotland, to manage
Review,' iv, 129_-432.
their concerns as to the Union there ; where he stayed a long time, and performs the part of their vindicator to their brethren in Scotland."*
In reply to these charges, De Foe says, “ How shall I do to reconcile the three opinions? One says, I am sent by particular persons, another by the court, and a third by the Presbyterians. I wish it had been first of all true that I was sent by anybody ; for the work is so just, so good, and so honourable, I need neither be ashamed of the message nor the sender. But I think the same answer would be very fit to give to these carping, querulous gentlemen, as honest Samuel Colvil, the famous Scottish Hudibras, gave, when he was complaining of the abuses of those that railed on him about his poetry : 'They say that I am bad poet, but I answer in few words, that's true, and yet they are liars, because they aver in malice, not knowing whether it be true or false.'t Now," adds De Foe, “though it were true that I was sent by this or that man or party, I may say, with Sam. Colvil, none of you can know whether it be true or false. But since you have been so free with me about my being sent, let me tell you and all the world something in which I am persuaded you will be of my side. If I have been sent hither, as you say, I have been most barbarously treated; for I profess solemnly, I have not yet had one penny of my wages, nor the least consideration for the time set apart in this service ; nor, had I had the good fortune to have my brains knocked out by the high-flying mob here, do I see any prospect of having been canonized as a martyr for the cause, or of having my name inserted in the Presbyterian Kalendar. The utmost I expect is what I have before met with. What business had he with it? What had he to do there? Who sent him ? and the like.” Addressing the Presbyterians, he asks, “Is not this hard, now, gentlemen, that I should have the testimony of your enemies that I have been serviceable to your cause, and none from yourselves? Pray consider of it, and either discharge yourselves honourably to your poor missionary in the North, or let these fellows know they are a gang of liars, and you know nothing of the matter. Indeed, it is very hard, and I hope the Presbyterians will consider of it, that I should be sent down by them to manage their affairs, having been long before employed by them as their public vindicator in England, and yet have not received one farthing salary. I think they have done me a great deal of wrong, and 'tis but small encouragement to anybody to enter into their service. But to leave jesting, I would desire Mr Rehearsal, in order to preserve the common decency of language, to prove things as he goes on ; and I fairly challenge him to prove one tittle of what he positively affirms. If he can. not do this, let the world judge to what purpose it would be to enter upon a debate with & man who makes a positive charge, but brings no proof of the fact.”+
In reply to the charge of writing for the court, he says, “If I have espoused a wrong cause ; if I have acted in a good cause in an unfair manner; if I have, for fear, lavour, or by the bias of any man in the world, great or small, acted against what I always professed, or what is the known interest of the nation ; if I have any way abandoned that glorious principle of truth and liberty, which I ever was embarked in, and which I trust I shall never, through fear or hope, step one inch back from ; if I have done thus, then, as Job says, in another case, 'Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockles instead of barley ;' then, and not till then, may I be esteemed a mercenary, a missionary, or spy, or what you please. But, if the cause be just, if it be the peace, security, and happiness of both nations ; if I have done it honestly, and effectually, how does it alter the case if I have been fairly encouraged, supported, and rewarded in the work, as God knows I have not? Does the mission disable the messenger, or does it depend upon the merit of the message? Cease your inquiry then, about my being sent
• Rehearsal,' No. 226.
+ Whig's “Supplication.'-Pref. p. 6. Review,' iv, 346—8.
by this or that person or party, till you can agree who it is, when I shall be glad of an opportunity to own it, as I see no cause to be ashamed of the errand.”
Pursuing his manly vindication, De Foe thus replies to another charge : « Oh, but 'tis a scandalous employment to write for bread! The worse for him, gentlemen, that he should take so much pains, run so many risks, make himself so many enemies, and expose himself to so much scurrilous treatment for bread, and not get it neither. Assure yourselves, had not Providence found out other and unlooked-for supplies by mere wonders of goodness, you had long ago had the desire of your hearts, to starve him out of this employment. But, after all, suppose you say true, that all I do is for bread, which I assure you is very false, what are all the employments in the world pursued for, but for bread? But, though it has been quite otherwise in my case, I am easy, and can depend upon that promise, “Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy waters shall be sure.' I have espoused an honest interest, and have steadily adhered to it all my days : I never forsook it when it was oppressed, I never made a gain by it when it was advanced ; and I thank God it is not in the power of all the courts and parties in Christendom to bid a price high enough to buy me off from it, or make me desert it.”
Early in the month of January, 1708, De Foe returned to London, after an absence in Scotland of about sixteen months. He seems to have been anxious to obtain a settlement of his affairs; and his negotiations with his creditors held out a prospect of success. Being now at the head-quarters of the parties contending for power, he could not avoid being involved in their disputes; and of the various subjects that engaged his attention the reader will be informed in the sequel.
For his services in Scotland and elsewhere, the ministers now rewarded him with an appointment, with a fixed salary ; but the nature of it is not mentioned. It was obtained for him by the intervention of Harley, and continued to him after the fall of that minister. As his name does not stand in the red book of Queen Anne, Mr Chalmers was induced to think it was a pension rather than a place; but he speaks of it himself as an appointment, which seems to denote a place. It was probably a sinecure that did not require a personal attendance, as may be gathered from his long and frequent absences ; and it must have been one that did not demand the sacramental test, which De Foe always objected to. During the ministry of Lord Godolphin, after the retirement of Harley, his salary fell into arrears, perhaps in consequence of his long absence in Scotland; and notwithstanding his interest with the succeeding ministry, it does not appear that his claims were ever liquidated.
Upon the secession of Harley, which took place in February, 1708, De Foe not unnaturally conceived that his political prospects were at an end with the fall of his patron; but he was treated with the highest generosity by both llarley and his successor. i When he waited upon the former, the ex-minister magnanimously advised him to continue his service to the Queen, which he supposed would have no relation to personal differences among statesmen. Godolphin received him with equal kindness, saying, “I always think a man honest till I find to the contrary.” And if we may credit De Foe's assertions, in the presence of those who could have convicted him of falsehood, he for three years held a correspondence with his former benefactor, which the great man in power never took ill of him
In the early part of the year government received intelligence of some hostile preparations at Dunkirk, which had for their object the invasion of Scotland. The