In studying the economic history of the 18th century, for example, it is not enough to assume with Defoe that " gain is the design of merchandise."
At the time of his visit Daniel Defoe found thread-making in vogue, which employed the women while the men were at sea.
DANIEL DEFOE (c. 1659-1731), English author, was born in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, London, in the latter part of 1659 or early in 1660, of a nonconformist family.
As to the variation of name, Defoe or Foe, its owner signed either indifferently till late in life, and where his initials occur they are sometimes D.
In the same year Defoe wrote the first of a long series of pamphlets on the then burning question of occasional conformity.
But his most remarkable publication at this time was The True-Born Englishman (1701), a satire in rough but extremely vigorous verse on the national objection to William as a foreigner, and on the claim of purity of blood for a nation which Defoe chooses to represent as crossed and dashed with all the strains and races in Europe.
The death of William was a great misfortune to Defoe, and he soon felt the power of his adversaries.
In this conjuncture Defoe had really no friends, for the dissenters were as much alarmed at his book as the high-flyers were irritated.
Defoe was uniformly grateful to the minister, and his language respecting him is in curious variance with that generally used.
There is no doubt that Harley, who understood the influence wielded by Defoe, made some conditions.
Defoe says he received no pension, but his subsequent fidelity was at all events indirectly rewarded; moreover, Harley's moderation in a time of the extremest party-insanity was no little recommendation to Defoe.
It was entirely written by Defoe, and extends to eight complete volumes and some few score numbers of a second issue.
After his release Defoe went to Bury St Edmunds, though he did not interrupt either his Review or his occasional pamphlets.
In 1705 appeared The Consolidator, or Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon, a political satire which is supposed to have given some hints for Swift's Gulliver's Travels; and at the end of the year Defoe performed a secret mission, the first of several of the kind, for Harley.
In this year Henry Sacheverell delivered his famous sermons, and Defoe wrote several tracts about them and attacked the preacher in his Review.
In 1710 Harley returned to power, and Defoe was placed in a somewhat awkward position.
In the negotiations concerning the Peace of Utrecht, Defoe strongly supported the ministerial side, to the intense wrath of the Whigs, displayed in an attempted prosecution against some pamphlets of his on the all-important question of the succession.
Defoe declared that Lord Annesley was preparing the army in Ireland to join a Jacobite rebellion, and was indicted for libel; and prior to his trial (1715) he published an apologia entitled An Appeal to Honour and Justice, in which he defended his political conduct.
Having been convicted of the libel he was liberated later in the year under circumstances that only became clear in 1864, when six letters were discovered in the Record Office from Defoe to a Government official, Charles Delaf aye, which, according to William Lee, established the fact that in 1718 at least Defoe was doing not only political work, but that it was of a somewhat equivocal kind - that he was, in fact, sub-editing the Jacobite Mist's Journal, under a secret agreement with the government that he should tone down the sentiments and omit objectionable items. He had, in fact, been released on condition of becoming a government agent.
Up to that time Defoe had written nothing but occasional literature, and, except the History of the Union and Jure Divino, nothing of any great length.
The story was founded on Dempier's Voyage round the World (1697), and still more on Alexander Selkirk's adventures, as communicated by Selkirk himself at a meeting with Defoe at the house of Mrs Damaris Daniel at Bristol.
It is probable that Defoe, with his extensive acquaintance with English history, and his astonishing power of working up details, was fully equal to the task of inventing it.
There is also a Quaker who plays a very creditable part in Roxana (1724), and Defoe seems to have been well affected to the Friends.
Moll Flanders and The Fortunate Mistress (Roxana), which followed in 1724, have subjects of a rather more than questionable character, but both display the remarkable art with which Defoe handles such subjects.
But a great part of the book, especially the latter portion, is dull; and in fact it may be generally remarked of Defoe that the conclusions of his tales are not equal to the beginning, perhaps from the restless indefatigability with which he undertook one work almost before finishing another.
In England there was then living a man whose name was Daniel Defoe. [Footnote: De foe'.] He was a writer of books.
When Daniel Defoe heard how Selkirk had lived alone on the island of Juan Fernandez, he said to himself: Here is something worth telling about.
This is the story which Mr. Defoe wrote.