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port we look, and ask-Is there room for us? Can our voice world is full of the materials of enjoyment-our very appetites be heard amid the many clamouring sounds that issue from were given to us as blessings, God writing upon their use, the press ? Or are our wishes and our objects larger than “Do thyself no harm.” Therefore we must have room to our power, and are we about to add to the many attempts range “ from grave to gay, from lively to severe;" and in which have been made to float on the breath of public opi- seeking the moral improvement of our fellow-men, and nion, and then to drop into that paradise of oblivion, where making general literature subservient to it, we must not the weak, and the worthless, and the unfortunate, are all glad forget that there are many more ways of accomplishing the to mingle in forgotten confusion ?
object than exclusively by the formal lecture or the serious
advice; or even by scientific disquisition and detail. To these questions we boldly answer Yes! and No! The public have the right to reply: but, in that spirit of faith Shall we find entrance into the domestic circle? This, which earnestness imparts, we will anticipate their privilege, too, is our "heart's desire.” Give us room, then, around the and prognosticate success. For we do not come as supplant
fire-side, for we long to be neighbourly and social. We wish ers or competitors; we do not seek to reap that which other to talk to our friends of domestic duties and domestic life ; men have sown; but we come to occupy a field which seems to show how spirit, and feeling, and manner, tinge with to us uninclosed, or, on the fairest principles of political beauty and grace the commonest of our associations and economy, to supply a want-to meet a demand. There is,
occupations, and how intimately the true happiness of a therefore, room for us, and we feel confident that our voice nation is interwoven with the happiness of households and will be heard.
individuals. We seek a seat by the fire-side as an honour We are very anxious to obtain favour and acceptance with and a privilege; the hearths of Old England are her hallowed one portion of the community—OUR YOUNG MEN. These
places, where nothing profane should come-they are sacred constitute the hope of the present age, and the strength of to affection and love : and merry voices ring around them. the future. After deducting the fops, and the fools, and the
And now, kind reader, what seek we more? We seek for witlings, we believe that there is now a very large body of support, for without support we could not live; we seek for thoughtful, intelligent young men-of men in all the fulness reward, for “ reward sweetens labour.” Of both we are of the word-whose seriousness is the result of an intelli
assured ; and, receiving them, we shall steadily pursue the gent and joyous cheerfulness, not of an austere and ignorant
path we have marked out. But over and above this expecgloom—and who, while they enter with zest into the amuse
tation of support and reward there is a desire to have a ments of life, are not forgetful of the nobler and better part
share in the improvement of our fellow
men ; and if, through of their being, their rational nature. To this body we
the medium of our periodical, we succeed in rousing a dormant appeal, and ask for its support.
understanding, implant a good thought, or rightly direct a Our elder readers must not begrudge our latitude in feeling, we shall derive a portion of that gratification which affording amusement as well as instruction. They must remem- a good man may enjoy, when, at the close of existence, lookber, that they themselves were once young, and life to them
ing on all the way that he has come, and mourning over the was sparkling in the dew of the morning. God has given us
manifold deficiencies that bave marked his course, he can the sunshine and the shower—we should laughı with those that yet raise his eyes to Heaven, and thank God that he has not laugh, as well as weep with those that weep. This wondrous been permitted to live altogether in vain.
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
CREDIT AND DEBT.
Imprisonment. for debt! when did it originate, and why? That Coryat, in his “ Crudities," tells us that he saw the following labour is capital, has been perceived since labour has been in use inscription, which some witty rogue had posted up :-“ On ne loge upon the earth ; and men have understood in all ages, that he who, céans à credit : car il est mort, les mauvais payeurs l'ont tué."— while he had neither land, nor corn, nor cattle, had still bones and " Here is no lodging upon credit: for credit is dead, bad payers sinews to perform service, is a capitalist, and can enter the marhave killed it.” But Credit has a "charmed life ;" all the bad ket of exchange. But the distinction which separates between a payers in the world could not kill her ; she may be wounded, smit- man's services and the body by which those services are performed, ten down, and trampled in the dust : but a little glimpse of sunshine required a great advance in society before it could be rightly under: is sufficient to revive her, and she that appeared to be dead will sit stood, and acted upon. The creditor who found that his debtor up and begin to speak. Like time, she may appear to be ever on
had nothing wherewith to repay him-not an ox nor an ass, nor a the move ; like riches, she may take wings and fly away: but earth, skin, nor a hoof, could yet clearly understand that his debtor's after all, is her native home, and amongst men she delights to dwell. head and hands would furnish capital to repay the debt. But to
In truth, Credit is the daughter of Faith and sister of Hope. secure the debtor's services it was deemed necessary to secure his “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the person ; the insolvent's body was regarded as the principal of the word of God;" and by credit we know that the world that now is debt, and his services the annual interest. This incapacity of has been upheld. Credit, or if you will, faith, between man and making a distinction between the person and the services of the man, is the vital element in society, the binding influence, the key labourer is clearly shown in the offer made by those inhabitants of stone of the arch
the old world of civilisation, the Egyptians, when they repaired to “ The rest that there are put
Joseph with their complaints, during the grievous seven years' Are nothing till this come to bind and shut.”
famine. “We will not hide it from my lord,” they said, “how Without credit, or faith, social existence would pine and die; and that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle : the more perfect the social organization, the more powerful will there is not aught left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and the influence of credit be.
our lands : wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and How else can we account for those details which are now become our lands? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land an essential portion of a daily newspaper - dextrous swindlers, will be servants unto Pharaoh.” Joseph's father, Jacob, acquired defrauded tradesmen ; one day, the son of a nobleman in his cabri- his wealth and his wives by his labour, and though he was working olet, the other a “black prince" with his secretary, going their for wages, and therefore a hired servant, was regarded by Laban rounds, and stocking their apartments with plunder ? The mere as a kind of superior slave ; Rachel and Leah both regarded themstruggle for existence, the anxiety to "do business,” are not suf- selves as exchanged, and considered the bargain as perfectly right ficient to account for it. It is because credit is an all-important and natural ; “ He hath sold us," said the wives to their husband, element of social life, the more important as social life becomes when they were debating about quitting their father ; and this more fully developed, and because our moral progress is far behind argument was given to second Jacob's resolution, and to convince our social, that police reports abound in those details, of which the him that as he had bought them, so he had a perfect right to carry plundered tradesmen may say, like the frogs in the fable, that them away. As people, therefore, in selling their services, conwhile they furnish sport to others, they are death to them. Credit sidered that they were selling themselves, the transition was easy is the steam by which society becomes locomotive ; but it may also and consequent for a creditor, in lack of other capital wherewith cause the machine to explode. With all the evidences around to repay himself, to seize the person of the debtor, and repay himus, of fraud, deceit, trickery, and cunning, it is marvellous, and it self out of his labour. The wives and children of debtors were is cheering too, to see so much faith placed by man in man. The also considered as property available for the payment of debts ; and poor man, indeed, who has come to London with an empty purse, 80 early as the time of Job we find allusions to the fact, that crewilling to dig, but ashamed to beg, may complain that credit is ditors, in exercising their privilege, were often guilty of crueltynowhere to be found. But let him get over that difficult thing, a “plucking the fatherless from the breast, and taking a pledge from beginning : let him get possession of some decent house in the sub- the poor.” urbs, and he will soon find that, instead of having to hunt after The right of the creditor to seize the person of his debtor, and credit, credit will come a hunting after him. He has scarcely got those of his wife and children, was recognised under the Jewish the key into his hands, before a card informs him, that in his im- polity; though here, as in the law of slavery, the right was mediate neighbourhood teas are to be found packed up in the same tempered with mercy. Once every seven years, debts contractea state in which they left China, and therefore he may save himself the by poor persons who were unable to pay, were ordered to be canunnecessary troublc of sending into the “city” for his supplies. The celled, and the year was significantly termed the “ Lord's release.” butterman makes his bow, and the green-grocer touches his hat, and we are not to suppose that this extended to all debts : for though the milk-woman, dropping her pails and a curtsey, hopes the lady the Jews were not a commercial people, yet even amid the quietof the house will patronise her and her“ walk ; ” nay, rival chim. ness of an agricultural life, a cancelling, once every seven years, ney-sweeps reciprocally caution you, and each bids you observe of all debts contracted in the usual intercourse of social existence,
my boys have my name and address on a brass-plate.” In would have unhinged society. The regulation was intended for the fact, throw around yourself a little air of respectability—just hang benefit of the poor, and doubtless, also, to check rapacious persons out those mute but intelligent signals, which seem to indicate that from inveigling debtors, as well as to teach a sentiment of commiseyou are a man, and are disposed to “do as you would be done ration and mercy. unto," and you will quickly perceive what an overflowing thing is After the Jews were settled in Palestine under a monarchy, we the faith of tradesmen, and make the discovery that perhaps it is find that both the goods and the bodies of debtors were taken in easier to get into debt than to keep out of it!
execution. “ Be not thou one of them that strike hands," said VOL I.
(Bradbury and Evans, Printers, Whitefriars.;
the wise man,
or of those that are sureties for debts. If thou | debtor being confined, not as a punishment, but as a security that hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under he will be forthcoming to give satisfaction for the wrong he has thee?" One of the many affecting stories with which the Bible done. abounds, records how the prophet Elisha performed a miracle to One of the specific forms of action, provided at a very early save a poor widow woman from the grasp of a creditor. “Now | period in the history of English law, for the redress of injuries, is there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the technically termed assumpsit, from the past tense of the Latin prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead ; | word assumo, construed to signify “I undertake.” As an inand thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord ; and the stance :—The plaintiff having supplied the defendant with goods, creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.” the defendant is considered to have undertaken, super se assumpsit, And on the return of the Jews from Babylon, some of the poorer to pay the plaintiff so much money. But out of the fear that sort complained to Nehemiah, “ We have mortgaged our lands, debtors, on the first intimation of an action being commenced vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn because of the against them, would make their escape, or hide themselves, gren dearth-lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to the monstrous abuse of arrest on mesne process. Mesne process be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage is defined to be, all such process as intervenes between the begin. already; neither is it in our power to redeem them.”
ning and end of a suit. It is an intermediate process—something All this time there was no imprisonment for debt; the thing occurring between the commencement and end of an action. The would have been laughed at as an absurdity. But it was introduced action being commenced, the defendant could, under mesne proamongst them by their conquerors, the Romans ; and we find that cess, be immediately arrested. Mesne process, in English law, the idea was familiar to them in the time of our Saviour, as in the was therefore something similar to the Scotch meditatio fuga parable in the 18th of Matthew, where both the sale of wife and the Scotch creditor swearing that his debtor was in meditatione children, and the casting into prison, are mentioned. The Roman fuge, that is, thinking of running away, got a warrant for his arrest. law of debtor and creditor was very severe, though even in its As the law stood, a person might be arrested under mesne proprimitive severity the idea of getting payment of the debt out of cess who had not the slightest knowledge of his alleged creditor, the labour or services of the insolvent was distinctly involved. and who had never directly or indirectly incurred legal or moral “The cruelty of the twelve tables,” says Gibbon, “ against insol- liability for the debt which some perjured profligate might have vent debtors still remains to be told ; and I shall dare to prefer sworn to him. Anciently, a plaintiff was required to give security the literal sense of antiquity to the specious refinements of modern that he had not brought an action without cause, and was liable criticism. After the judicial proof or confession of the debt, to amercement for raising a false accusation ; but this became a thirty days of grace were allowed before a Roman was delivered mere form, those imaginary and immortal personages, John Doe into the power of his fellow citizen. In this private prison twelve and Richard Roe, being always returned as the standing pledges ounces of rice were his daily food; he might be bound with a chain for this purpose. Thus the means provided by the law for of fifteen pounds weight ; and his misery was thrice exposed in remedying an injury might be turned with ease into the means of the market-place, to solicit the compassion of his friends and committing a gross injury. Add to this, all the exactions in the countrymen. At the expiration of sixty days the debt was dis- shape of fees and expenses-the extortions of spunging-houses, charged by the loss of liberty or life : the insolvent debtor was and the misery and profligacy of prisons, and a more ingeniously either put to death, or sold in foreigo slavery beyond the Tiber.” contrived system for defeating its own purpose can hardly be In practical operation, the law allowed the creditor to confine the imagined ; the English law of debtor and creditor has hitherto debtor in his own house, there to work out the debt : but as this been a disgrace to the intelligence and humanity of Englishmen. led to gross abuses, private imprisonment was changed for that of Our practice hitherto has been the worst form of the Romanpublic; and imprisonment for debt in public prisons was in opera- we imprison the debtor, not to get the debt out of his services, tion in the Roman empire long before the Christian era.
but, in effect, to cut off the least chance of the debt being repaid, In English law the legal acceptation of debt is, “A sum of money by suspending the debtor's power of labouring. We are speaking due by certain and express agreement: as, by a bond for a deter
not of deliberate fraudulent debtors, or lazy scoundrels, or minate sum, a bill or note, a special bargain, or a rent reserved idling blackguards, but of men having some honest purpose in view, on lease, where the quantity is fixed and specific, and does not whether they have been thoughtless, inconsiderate, or unfortunate. depend upon any subsequent valuation to settle it. The pon- Compared with our practice of imprisonment for debt, the law payment of any of these is an injury, for which the proper remedy which permitted the seizing of a debtor, with his wife and children, is by action of debt, to compel the performance of the contract, was wise and merciful : for the slaves must be fed while they worked; and recover the specifical sum due.”
but in our free country the debtor might pine inactive in prison, Upon this simple notion of an injury has been built our costly and his family perish by inches at home. Oh! what a long catalogue and absurd system of imprisonment for debt. The person injured is of sorrow and suffering, what an amount of ruined character, broken supposed to go the Court and complain of the injury; the Court, hearts, and awful curses, are to be found in the records of English as representing the authority by which law and justice are main- imprisonment for debt! tained and administered, issues its writ, “a mandatory letter from In early life, circumstances made us, for a time, well acquainted the king (or queen) on parchment, sealed with the great seal, and with the debtors' side of a provincial prison. The face of the directed to the sherift of the county wherein the injury is com- youngster was familiar to turnkeys of outer and inner doors, and mitted, or supposed so to be, requiring him to command the wrong- on presenting himself, in the visiting hours, he was freely admitted. doer, or party accused, either to do justice to the complainant, or By degrees the novelty and the sensation of fear and aversion wore else appear in court, and answer the accusation against him.” away; the promiscuous groups, the rackets, skittles, dice, and cards, The great prerogative of an Englishman is personal liberty; but the wine, spirits, porter, pipes, and tobacco, all furnished matter as the law assumes itself to be “the supreme arbiter of every for amusement ; and long after the necessity for visiting the prison man's life, liberty, and property,” the person accused of commit- was over, it was visited still. Once, while enjoying a holiday with ting the injury must answer the demand of the law, why he has a school-fellow, and being near the prison, the thought sprang up injured his neighbour ; and hence the origin of holding persons to to conduct him there. He was a quiet, timid, home-bred youth, bail for debt (the word bail, as the reader is doubtless well aware, had no other idea of a prison than as a dark and dismal place, the being derived from a French word, signifying to deliver up); the abode of wickedness and woe. He acquiesced in the proposal to person bailed being supposed to be delivered into the care of his visit the city jail with a hesitation which told how much he relied friends, who became answerable for his appearance at the proper on his conductor for safety and protection. That conductor was time. Lack of bail conducts us at once to imprisonment ; the artful enough to play on his timidity; and marking how he looked
behind him as the heavy inner door was closed with a jar, he told our creditor to exercise towards us relatively a portion of that him to keep quiet, otherwise he would be seized and put into a cell. faith which we exercise, when we look for seed-time and harvest, This intelligence made his heart to throb, and his knees almost to for sunshine and rain. Under the new law, we have a more knock together : yet, while a cold perspiration was breaking over powerful motive to recollect the moral of Miss Edgeworth's story, him, he rallied a little, and staggered after his companion. But * Out of debt out of danger.” De Foe conjures us—“Never the visit was one of agony and horror; he shrank within himself, think yourselves discharged in conscience, though you may be and scarcely saw or heard anything. In passing through one of discharged in law. The obligation of an honest mind can never the galleries, a voice called him by name ; and the poor little fellow die. No title of honour, no recorded merit, no mark of distincmight have been knocked down with a straw. It came from one tion, can exceed that lasting appellation, an honest man.' He who had frequently been a visitor at his father's house. After that lies buried under such an epitaph has more said of him than recognition, and the youth had felt somewhat reassured, he put volumes of history can contain. The payment of debts after fair the question, "Why are you here?” “ Because I owe your father discharges is the clearest title to such a character that I know, and a little money." “ My father !” exclaimed the boy, in a tone how any man can begin again and hope for a blessing from Heaven, expressive of incredulity, surprise, and indignatiou. “My father or favour from man, without such a resolution, I know not." owes money, and nobody dares to put him into jail !” Something To crown all, a higher authority tells us, “ Owe no man anyof the nature of the English law of debtor and creditor was thing, but to love one another ; for he that loveth another hath explained to him, and he also learned that he who had often eaten fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thoy salt with his father, was now, because of some disarrangement of shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false affairs, and a consequent quarrel, the inmate of a prison, was witness, Thou shalt not covet ; and if there be any other com. spending his days in useless indolence or fretful inactivity, had lost mandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying-Thou shalt a fair chance of recovering his position in the world, and his love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neigh. family, losing self-respect, were frittering away whatever of comfort bour ; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." or happiness they once enjoyed. If ever a transformation passed suddenly over a human being, it passed at this moment over the THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DANIEL DE FOE. mind and feelings of this timid yet manly boy. He entered the TARDY justice has been done, of late years, to the memory of prison almost crouching with fear, he left it swelling with an indig. Daniel De Foe. But his extraordinary character is far from being nant scorn; from that hour he became an enthusiast in the cause generally appreciated or understood. We know him as the author of the abolition of imprisonment for debt; his limited means were of a few imperishable works; but the wonder is, that these works always ready to be given in aid of the relief of unfortunate debtors; were written when he was an old man, and after he had been struck and he has now lived to see an important step taken towards by apoplexy. He was about fifty-eight when he produced immortal effecting an object, rendered dear to his heart by the memorable Robinson Crusoe ; and past sixty when he wrote the Journal of and ineffaceable scene of his early days.
the Plague, the Memoirs of a Cavalier, Religious Courtship, &c. Yes ! imprisonment for debt is now at least half abolished. &c. Before the production of these works, he had written nearly Here is one of the evidences of our social advancement-one of the two hundred separate publications, on almost every topic of human proofs of our moral progress-one of those facts which make us speculation : and one might have thought that after the storm and thankful to sec reason, humanity, justice, common sense, self- toil of his life, the old man had nothing else to do, but to “cover interest, triumphing over old prejudices, old customs, and old law. his feet," and die. But just as the lamp of life was beginning to Under the law as it stood three months ago, anybody might be burn dim, it blazed out with a brilliancy that threw his past exerarrested, if any other person made an affidavit that he owed him tions into the shade. De Foe stamped his name in English literatwenty pounds. Now, nobody in England can be arrested for ture as he was stepping into the grave. debt, until judgment is obtained in the cause. There is an excep- Cobbett has been compared to De Foe; and in some respects the tion in the case of a person about to abscond or leave the country; comparison is good. There is the same untiring exertion, much of and if a creditor can satisfy a judge that such is the fact, the similar versatility, and much of the same unflinching boldness. debtor may be apprehended, or, which is the same thing, required But altogether, De Foe was immeasurably Cobbett's superior in to find bail
. Arrest, therefore, on what is called “ mesne pro- moral and mental qualities. De Foe was far in advance of his time, cess," is wholly abolished, except in the instance mentioned; Cobbett very little, and that only on a few narrow and confined and all personal actions in the superior courts of law are to be topics. Cobbett was full of stubborn prejudices, and reduced everycommenced by writ of summons, which is something like a rational thing to his own standard ; while De Poe had a quick and vigorous procedure. True, by this act far greater facilities are given to mind, saw almost intuitively inany of the broad and liberal views creditors to recover their debts out of the property of their debtors ; | in trade, politics, and religion, which have now passed into truths, lands, goods, and funds, can be touched that could not be touched and endeavoured to enlighten his countrymen on topics on which before; and a fraudulent debtor nas fewer chances now of so Cobbett would have been incorrigible. As to moral consistency, arranging his property, as to have all the enjoyment of it to him the two men are not to be named in the same category. Cobbett self, leaving his creditor without the means of satisfying his claims. was a clever man, a remarkable man, and when De Foé's advan. But with the present comparatively low tone of moral feeling on the tages of education are deducted, and Cobbett's self-taught acquiresubject of debt, there are strong reasons why great protection ments are recollected, the two men may appear to stand more nearly should be given to the creditor.
equal. But De Foe was, what Cobbett, with all his ability, was We cannot yet say that the occupation of the sheriff's officer is not—a man of genius. gone; far from it. Whitecross-street-Prison need not yet be shut
Short notices of De Foe are to be found in the Biographia Bri. up; the Fleet still opens its doors in Farringdon street; the tannica, and works of a similar description ; and much valuable King's Bench still looks dark, dingy, and towering in the Borough. matter has been collected by Mr. Chalmers and Dr. Towers : a life But something has been done ; we may express a hope that the prefixed to Cadeil's edition of Robinson Crusoe, is also interesting. statistical annals of England will not, in future, have to record But a very full and complete “ Memoirs of the Life and Times of the fact of seventeen thousand persons imprisoned in one year for Daniel De Foe,” was published in 1830, in three volumes, 8vo, debt, four-fifths being confined for sums under £80, and a large written by Walter Wilson, Esq., of the Inner Temple. From this proportion for sums under £30. The law has done something for valuable work a great portion of what follows is collected. us; and we should do something for ourselves. We must acquire Little is known of the progenitors of De Foe. His grandfather, 4 more sacred notion of the word “ debt.” When we buy with Daniel Foe, (the De being a prefix adopted by our author,) was a out paying, we pledge our sacred word and honour ; we induce freeholder in Northamptonshire, and farmed his own estate of Elton, in that county. His father, James Foe, it is presumed, was a for a Papist, I remembered I feared nothing." De Foe laments younger son of the latter, and was sent to London, where he was the factions of the times, and the insecurity of life and property. apprenticed to a butcher, in which business he flourished in the “ It would be melancholy,” says he, " to fill this paper with a parish of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, and afterwards retireu with a history of the dilapidations and invasions made upon one another competency. In this parish was De Foe born, in 1661. His here in a nation of Christians. No man would think, and foreigners parents were nonconformists, and under their guidance, and the are amazed when they hear, how a Protestant nation, not long ministrations of the Rev. Dr. Annesley, an esteemed presbyterian before persecuted themselves, and by reason of that persecution minister, who had been ejected from the living of Cripplegate, he rending themselves by force from the Roman church, and having was early initiated in those moral and religious principles which established a reformation, should not, among the rest of their give such a lustre to his subsequent life and writings. While yet doings, have rooted out that canker of religion, persecution." a boy, he manifested a cheerfulness, vivacity, and buoyancy of spi. In 1685, De Foe engaged himself in business, some say as a rits, with such remarkable courage, as was soon displayed in that hosier, but most likely as a hose-factor, an agent between the spirit of independence and unconquerable love of liberty, which he manufacturer and retailer, in Freeman's Court, Cornhill, to which maintained throughout his long and singularly checkered life. In he devoted part of his time during ten years. He was admitted a one of his reviews he remarks, of himself, “From a boxing English liveryman in 1688. But he was not successful in business ; the boy, I learnt this early piece of generosity, not to strike my enemy times were too stormy for his active spirit to keep quiet at the when he is down," a disposition he cherished in his literary con- counter ; and he was drawn out into company, and spent too many tests. An anecdote, illustrative of the times of his youth, may be of his hours in coffee-houses and taverns, engaging eagerly in the given : “During that part of the reign of King Charles II., when controversial subjects which then interested all classes. He set the nation was under strong apprehensions of a Roman Catholic himself in determined opposition to one of the current opinions government, and religious persons were the victims of persecution, which was then embraced by great numbers of all parties, that it being expected that printed Bibles would become rare, or locked kings derive their dignity and power immediately from Heaven, and up in an unknown tongue, many honest people, struck with the are not accountable to men for their actions.—“ It was for many alarm, employed themselves in copying the Bible into short-hand. years together,” says De Foe," and I am witness to it, that the To this task, young De Foe applied himself, and he tells us, " that pulpit sounded nothing but the duty of absolute submission, he worked like a horse till he had written out the whole Penta- obedience without reserve, subjection to princes as God's vicegeteuch, when he was so tired, that he was willing to risk the rest." rent, accountable to none, to be withstood in nothing, and by no The influences of pious example, and the blessing of a liberal, person. I have heard it publicly preached, that if the king.com. religious education, were developed in all his after circumstances. manded my head, and sent his messengers to fetch it, I was bound Brought up amongst dissenters, he embraced their views of religion to submit, and stand still while it was cut off.”. and politics, he wrote and suffered in their cause ; and a fuller and The Revolution, and the accession of King William, commenced clearer view of their history and progress, is, perhaps, nowhere to a new era in the life of De Foe. He annually commemorated the be found than in his “ Reviews,” and others of his publications. 4th of November, in token of our deliverance: “a day," says At the age of four teen, he was removed from school to the academy he, “ famous on various accounts, and every one of them dear to at Newington Green of the Rev. Charles Morton, noted in his day Britons, who love thcir country, value the Protestant interest, or as “a polite and profound scholar.” Shut out by law from the who have an aversion to tyranny and oppression.” At this period universities, this was one of the institutions which the dissenters of his life De Foe abstained from politics, and was engaged in comhad as substitutes. His progress here is not known, but it is to be mercial speculations with Spain and Portugal, but was unsuccess. gathered from his writings that " he had been master of five lan- ful, and failed in business. In 1695 he obtained the situation of guages, that he had studied the mathematics, natural philosophy, accountant to the glass commissioners, which he lost in 1699, by logic, geography, and history.” In this academy he went through the termination of the commission, on the tax being suppressed. a course of theology, and studied politics as a science. If his active De Foe designates William's reign as the “ Projecting Age," which habits prevented him from becoming a profound scholar, he acquired brought forth his “ Essay on Projects,” under the heads of politics, sufficient learning to become a formidable rival to the writers of commerce, and benevolence. One of his projects was the plan of that disputatious age, That he was intended for the ministry is friendly societies, which, says he, "might be improved into methods certain ; what made him change his course does not clearly appear. that should prevent the general misery and poverty of mankind, However, his genius following another bent, and his necessities and at once secure us against beggars, parish poor, alms-houses, compelling him, he entered on a succession of employments, the and hospitals, by which not a creature so miserable or so poor but details of which illustrate the history of half a century.
should claim subsistence as their due, and not ask of charity." At twenty-one De Foe commenced as author, and with all the Another project was an institution for the education of females. It ardour of youthful blood espoused the popular side in politics. was an easy transition from politics to the reformation of manners, His first recorded publication was an answer to Roger L'Estrange's to which he devoted his attention. He published “The Poor "Guide to the Inferior Clergy,” and was entitled “ Speculum Man's Plea, in relation to all the Proclamations, Declarations, Crape-Gownorum; or a Looking-glass for the young Academies Acts of Parliament, &c., which have been or shall be made, or new foyl’d : with reflections on some of the late high-flown Ser- published, for a reformation of manners, and suppressing immoramons; to which is added, an Essay towards a Sermon of the newest lity in the nation.” Reformation societies were established, and fashion. By a Guide to the Interior Clergy. London: printed in reference to the subject he says, “ England, bad as she is, is yet for E. Rydal, 1682,” 4to, pp. 34. The title he borrows from the a reforming nation, and the work has made more progress from the crape gowns worn by the inferior clergy. In this, and in most court even to the street, than, I believe, any nation in the world of his controversial writings, he makes use of the most biting can parallel in such a time, and in such circumstances.” irony and satire; and by his unremitting attacks on the court and In 1701 he produced the “True-born Englishman," a satirical high-church party, he entailed upon himself a long-continued poem, which went through many editions. It opens with some persecution.
lines which have passed into a proverb: Popery was the epidemic of the time, and the public mind was
" Wherever God erects a house of prayer, constantly disturbed with rumours of plots and conspiracies. It
The devil always builds a chapel there; was dangerous to be in the streets, and many carried arms for
And 'twill be found upon examination their protection. De Foe gives a curious description of a weapon
The latter has the largest congregation." then in use, from which some idea may be formed of the character The “True-born Englishman” was caused by an attack upon of the times. " I remember,” says he, " in the time of the Popish King William, in which his faults were summed up in the epithet plot, when murthering men in the dark was pretty much in fashion, of foreigner," which then had a very opprobrious ki..d of sound and every honest man walked in the streets in danger of his life, a and meaning. This was the cause of his personal introduction to very pretty invention was found out, which soon put an end to King William, and the favour he enjoyed. It was about this time the doctrine of assassination, and the practice too, and cleared our also that he drew up the celebrated Legion paper, on the occasion streets of the murthering villains of those days; this was a Pro- of five Kentish gentlemen being committed for presenting a testant fail. Now, a Protestant flail is an excellent weapon-a petition to the House of Commons. Also, " Reasons against a pistol is a fool to it; it laughs at the sword or the cane ; for you War with France," which has been characterised as one of the know there's no fence against a flail. For my part I have fre- finest political tracts in the English language. quently walked with one about me, in the old Popish days; and By the death of King William, De Foe lost a true and powerful though I never set up for a hero, yet when armed with this scourge friend, and his gratitude was only equal to his admiration of his