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LIFE AND ADVENTURES
OF YORK, At All! NEE.
Aaaodwr Of Jim Travels Round Tuiiee
FARTS OF THE GLOBE
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Bt SIR WALIEit SCOTT.
COMPUKTfi IN ONK VOLUMK, WITH ILLUSTIlATJOfiS
DANIEL DE FOE,
AUTIIOK OF ROBINSON C108O*
AN ESSAY ON HIS GENIUS AND WIUTING&
BY SI It WALTER SCOTT.
Fkritaps there exists no work, either of instruction or entertainment, in iht English langua|re, which has been more generally rend, nod more universally •uimircd, than 0*e L>/*= and A-h^rttur^ nf ll<ti>ln*on (}rm<>?. It is ditheult to gay iti what the charm consists, by which persons of all classes ami denominations are thus fascinated; yet trie majority of readers will recollect it as among the first works which awakened uurl interested their youthful attention; and feel, even in advanced life, and in the maturity of their understanding, that there are still associated wif h Robinson Crusoe, the sentiments peculiar to that period, when all is new, all glittering in prospect, and when those visions are tnost bright, which the experience of after life tends only to darken and destroy.
This work was first published in April, 171U; its reception, as may he tippose.iI, was universal. It is a singular circumstance, that the author, the subject of (air present memoir,) after a life spmit in political turmoil, danger, and imprisonment, should have occupied himself, in its decline, in the production of a work like the present; unless it may he supposed, that his wearied heart turned with disgust from society and its institutions, and found solace in picturing the happiness of a state, such as he has assigned to his hero, lie this as it may, society is for ever indebted to the memory of I>e Foe for his production of a work, in which the ways of Providence are simply and pleasingly vindicated, and a lasting and useful moral is eon ▼eyed through the channel of an interesting and delightful story.
Daniel I)e Foe was horn in London in the year 1603. His father wa James Foe, of the parish of St Giles, butcher. Much curious speculation, with which we shall not trouble our readers, has arisen from the circumstance of Daniel's having, in his own instance, prefixed the Ite to the family name. We are inclined to adopt the opinion of that critical inquirer, who supposes that Daniel did so, being ashamed of the lowneas of his origin, and conceived the prefixed De had the sound of Norman dignity with it. His family, as well as himself, were dissenters; but it does not appear thai his tenets were so .strict as his sect required; for he complains, in th<^ Preface to his More Reformation, that some Dissenters had reproached him, na if he had said, that ** the gallows and the galleys ought to he the penalty of going to the conventicle; forge? ting, that I must design to luive my father\ my wife, six innocent children, and myselfy put into the same condition."
I)e Foe's education was rather circumscribed, which is the more to be
lamented, as in so many instances, he has exhibited proofs of rare natural
enius. He was sent by his father, at twelve years old, to the Newington
reen Dissenting Academy, then kept by Mr. Morton, where he remained
bont four years; and this appears to have been all the education he ever
eceived. When he was remanded from school, it would seem that, his
genius not lying towards the marrow-bon'e and cleaver, his father had put
him to some other trade; of what nliture we are unable to learn, De Foe
himself being very reserved on the subject. When charged by Tutchiti
with having his breeding as an apprentice to a hosier, he asserts, (May,
1705,) "that he never was a hosier, or an apprentice, but admits that he
had been a trader."
This, however, had occupied but a short time of his youth; for in 16H5, when he was in his twenty-second year, he took up arms in the cause of the Duke of Monmouth, On the deslruction of Monmouth's party, Daniel had the good fortune to escape unpunished amidst the herd of greater delinquents; but, in his latter years, when the avowal Was no lojggcr dangerous, he boasted himself much of lus exploits, in His Appeal to Honor and Justice, being a true Account of his Conduct in Public Affairs,
Three years afterwards, (1688,) De Foe was admitted a Liveryman of London. As he had been throughout a steady advocate for the Revolution, he had now the satisfaction of witnessing that great event. Oldmixon says, (Works, vol. ii. p. 276,) that at a feast given by the Lord Mayor of London to King William, on the 21>th October, 1689, De Foe appeared gallantly mounted, and richly accoutred, among the troopers commanded by .Lord Peterborough, who attended the king and queen from Whitehall to the Mansion House. All Daniel's horsemanship, however, united to the steady devotion of his pen to tlte cause of William, were unable to procur him the notice of that cold-charactered monarch; and our author was fain to content himself (as his adversary Tutchin asserts) with the humble occu pation of a hosier in Freeman's Yard, Gornhill;—wisely considering, tha if the court could do without political tracts, the people could not do with out stockings,
With the ill fortune, however, attendant upon those men of genius, who cultivate their superior powers to the neglect of that common sense which is requisite to carry a man creditably through this every-day world i)e Foe's affairs declined from bal to worse; lie spent those hours which e ought to have devoted to his shop, in a society for the cultivation of poite learning, and he was under the necessity of absconding from his creditors in 1692. One of those creditors, who had less consideration for polite learning, and more irritability than the rest, took out a commission of bankruptcy against him; but, fortunately for our author, this was superseded on a petition of those to whom he was most indebted, and a compo aition was accepted. This composition he punctually paid by efforts of Ud