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the Mar Rebellion in Scotland and the sympathy shown with this movement in the south warned them that their enemies were not to be despised. There was a large turbulent element in the population, upon which agitators might work with fatal effect. The Jacobites had still a hold upon the Press, and the past years had been fruitful of examples of the danger of trying to crush sedition with the arm of the law. Prosecution had been proved to be the surest road to popularity. It occurred therefore that Defoe might be useful if he still passed as an opponent of the Government, insinuating himself as such into the confidence of Jacobites, obtained control of their publications, and nipped mischief in the bud. It was a dangerous and delicate service, exposing the emissary to dire revenge if he were detected, and to suspicion and misconstruction from his employers in his efforts to escape detection. But Defoe, delighting in his superior wits, and happy in the midst of dangerous intrigues, boldly undertook the task.
LATER JOURNALISTIC LABOURS.
For the discovery of this “ strange and surprising" chapter in Defoe's life, which clears up much that might otherwise have been disputable in his character, the world is indebted solely to Mr. William Lee. Accident put Mr. Lee on the right scent, from which previous biographers had been diverted by too literal and implicit a faith in the arch-deceiver's statements, and too comprehensive an application of his complaint that his name was made the hackney title of the times, upon which all sorts of low scribblers fathered their vile productions. Defoe's secret services on Tory papers exposed him, as we have seen, to misconstruction. Nobody knew this better than himself, and nobody could have guarded against it with more sleepless care. În the fourth year of King George's reign a change took place in the Ministry. Lord Townshend was succeeded in the Home Secretary's office by Lord Stanhope. Thereupon Defoe judged it expedient to write to a private secretary, Mr. de la Faye, explaining at length his position. This letter along with five others, also designed to prevent misconstruction by his employers, lay in the State Paper Office till the year 1864, when the whole packet fell into the hands of Mr. Lee. The following succinct fragment of autobiography is dated April 26, 1718 :
“Though I doubt not but you have acquainted my Lord Stanhope with what humble sense of his Lordship's goodness I received the account you were pleased to give me, that my little services are accepted, and that his lordship is satisfied to go upon the foot of former capitulations, etc.; yet I confess, Sir, I have been anxious upon many accounts, with respect as well to the serv.ce itself as my own safety, lest my lord may think himself ill-served by me, even when I have best performed my duty.
"I thought it therefore not only a debt to myself, but a duty to his lordship, that I should give his lordship a short account as clear as I can, how far my former instructions empowered me to act, and in a word what this little piece of service
is, for which I am so much a subject of his lordship's present favour and bounty.
" It was in the Ministry of my Lord Townshend, wben my Lord Chief Justice Parker, to whom I stand obliged for the favour, was pleased so far to state my case, that notwithstanding the misrepresentations under which I had suffered, and notwithstanding some mistakes which I was the first to acknowledge, I was so happy as to be believed in the professions I made of a sincere attachment to the interests of the present Government, and, speaking with all possible humility, I hope I have pot dishonoured my Lord Parker's recommendation.
*In consider ng, after tbis, which way I might be rendered most useful to the Government, it was proposed by my Lord Townshend that I should still ap ear as if I were, as before, under the displeasure of the Government, and separated from the Whigs ; and that I might be more serviceable in a kind of disguise than if I appeared openly ; and upon this foot a weekly paper, which I was at first directed to write, in opposition to a scandalous paper called the Shift Shifted, was laid aside, and the first thing I engaged in was a monthly book called Mercurius Politi(Us, of which presently. In the interval of this, Dyer, the News-Letter writer, having been dead and Dormer, his successor, being unable by his troubles to carry on that work, I had an offer of a share in the property, as well as in the management of that work
“I immediately acquainted my Lord Townshend of it, who, by Mr. Buckley, let me know it wouid be a very acceptable piece of service ; for that letter was really very prejudicial to the public, and the most difficult to come at in a judicial way in case of offence given. My lord was pleased to add, by Mr. Buckley, that he would consider my service in that case, as he afterwards did.
“ Upon this I engaged in it; and that so far, that though the property was not wholly my own, yet the conduct and government of the style and news was so entirely in me. that I ventured to assure his lordship the sting of that mischievous paper should be entirely taken out, though it was granted that the style should continue Tory as it was, that the party might be amused and not set up another, which would have destroyed the design, and this part I therefore take entirely on myself still.
This went on for a year, before my Lord Townshend went out of the office ; and his lordship, in consideration of this service, made me the appointment which Mr. Buckley knows of, with a promise of a further allowance as service presented.
My Lord Sanderland, to whose goodness.I had many years ago been obliged, when I was in a secret commission sent to Scotland, was pleased to approve and continue this service, and t e appointment annexed ; and with his lordship's approbation, I introduced myself, in the disguise of a translator of the foreign news, to be so far concerned in this weekly paper of Mist's as to be able to keep it within the circle of a secret managemen , also prevent the mischievons part of it ; and yet neither Mist, or any of those concerned with him, have the least guess or suspicion by whose direction I do it.
"But here it becomes necessary to acqnaint my lord (as I hinted to you, Sir), that this paper, called the Journal, is not in myself in property, as the other, only in managem nt; with this express difference, that if anything happens to be put in without my knowledge, which may give offence, or if anything slips my observation which may be ill-taken, his lordship shall be sure always to know whether he has a servant to reprove or a stranger to correct.
“Upon the whole, however, this is the consequence, that by this management, the weekly Journal, and Dormers Letter, as also the Mercurius Politicus, which is in the same nature of management as the Journal, will be always kept (mistakes excepted) to pass as Tory papers, and yet be disabled and enervated, so as to do no mischief or give any offence to the Government."
Others of the tell-tale letters show is in detail how Defoe acquitted himself of his engagements to the Government–bowing, as he said, in the House of Rimmon. In one he speaks of a traitorous pamphlet which he has stopped at the press, and begs the Secretary to assure his superiors that he has the original in safe keeping, and that no eye but his own has seen it. In another he apologizes for an obnoxious paragraph which had crept into Misť s Journal, avowing that “ Mr. Mist did it, after I had looked over what we had gotten together," that he [Defoe) had no concern in it, directly or indirectly, and that he thought himself obliged to notice this, to make good what he said in his last, viz., that if any mistake happened, Lord Stanhope should always know whether he had a servant to reprove or a stranger to punish. In another he expresses his alarm at hearing of a private suit against Morphew, the printer of the Mercurius Politicus, for a passage in that paper, and explains, first, that the obnoxious passage appeared two years before, and was consequently covered by a capitulation giving him indemnity for all former mistakes ; secondly, that the thing itself was not his, neither could any one pretend to charge it on him, and consequently it could not be adduced as proof of any failure in his duty. In another letter he gives an account of a new treaty with Mist. “I need not trouble you,” he says,
“ with the particulars, but in a word he professes himself convinced that he has been wrong, that the Government has treated him with lenity and forbearance, and he solemnly engages to me to give no more offence. The liberties Mr. Buckley mentioned, viz., to seem on the same side as before, to rally the Flying Post, the Whig writers, and even the word 'Whig,' &c., and to admit foolish and trifling things in favour of the Tories. This, as I represented it to him, he agrees is liberty enough, and resolves his paper shall, for the future, amuse the Tories, but not affront the Government. If Mist should break through this understanding, Defoe hopes it will be understood that it is not his fault ; he can only say that the printer's resolutions of amendment seem to be sincere.
“In pursuance also of this reformation, he brought me this morning the enclosed letter, which, indeed, I was plad to see, because, though it seems couched in terms which might have been made public, yet has a secret gall in it, and a manifest tendency to reproach the Government with partiality and injustice, and (as it :'cknowledges expressly) was written to serve a present turn. As this is an earnest of his just intention, I hope he will go on to your satisfaction.
"Give me leave, Sir, to mention here a circumstance which concerns myself, and which, indeed, is a little hardship upon me, viz., that I seem to merit less, when I intercept a piece of barefaced treason at the Press, than when I stop such a letter as the enclosed ; because one seems to be of a kind which no man would dare to med. dle with. But I would persuade myself, Şir, that stopping such notorious things is not without its good effect, particularly because, as it is true that some people are generally found who do verture to print anything tbat offers, so stopping them here is some discouragement and disappointment to them, and they often die in our bands.
“I speak this, Sir, as well on occasion of what you we pleased to say upon that letter which I sent you formerly about Killing no Murder, as upon another with verses in it, which Mr. Mist gave me yesterday, which, upon my word, is so villainous and scandalous that I scarce dare to send it without your order, and an assurance that my doing so shall be taken well, for I confess it has a peculiar insolence in it against His Majesty's person which (as blasphemous words against God) are scarce fit to be repeated."
In the last of the series (of date June 13, 1718), Defoe is able to assure his employers that "he believes the time is come when the journal, instead of affronting and offending the Government, may many ways be made serviceable to the Government; and he has Mr. M. so absolutely resigned to proper measures for it, that he is persuaded he may answer for it.”
Following up the clue afforded by these letters, Mr. Lee has traced the history of Mist's Journal under Defoe's surveillance. Mist did not prove so absolutely resigned to proper measures as his supervisor had begun to hope. On the contrary, he had frequent fits of refractory obstinacy, and gave a good deal of trouble both to Defoe and to the Government. Between them, however, they had the poor man completely in their power. When he yielded to the importunity of his Jacobite correspondents, or kicked against the taunts of the Whig organs about his wings being clipped—they, no more than he, knew how_his secret controllers had two ways of bringing him to reason. Sometimes the Government prosecuted him, wisely choosing occasions for their displeasure on which they were likely to have popular feeling on their side. At other times Defoe threatened to withdraw and have nothing more to do with the Journal. Once or twice he carried this threat into execution. His absence soon told on the circulation, and Mist entreated him to return, making promises of good behaviour for the future. Further, Defoe commended himself to the gratitude of his unconscious dupe by sympathizing with him in his troubles, undertaking the conduct of the paper while he lay in prison, and editing two volumes of a selection of Miscellany Letters fronı its columns. At last, however, after eight years of this partnership, during which Mist had no suspicion of Defoe's connexion with the Government, the secret somehow seems to have leaked out. Such at least is Mr. Lee's highly probable explanation of a murderous attack made by Mist upon his partner.
Defoe, of course, stoutly denied Mist's accusations, and published a touching account of the circumstances, describing his assailant as a lamentable instance of ingratitude. Here was a man whom he had saved from the gallows, and befriended at his own risk in the utmost distress, turning round upon him," basely using, insulting, and pro: voking him, and at last drawing his sword upon his benefactor.” Defoe disarmed him, gave him his life, and sent for a surgeon to dress his wounds. But even this was not enough. Mist would give him nothing but abuse of the worst and grossest nature.
It almost shook Defoe's faith in human nature. Was there ever such ingratitude known before? The most curious thing is that Mr. Lee, who has brought all these facts to light, seems to share Defoe's ingenuous astonishment at this “strange instance of ungrateful violence," and conjectures that it must have proceeded from imaginary wrong of a very grievous nature, such as a suspicion that Defoe had instigated the Government to prosecute him. It is perhaps as well that it should have fallen to so loyal an admirer to exhume Defoe's secret services and public protestations ; the record might otherwise have been rejected as incredible.
Mr. Lee's researches were not confined to Defoe's relations with Mist and his journal, and the other publications mentioned in the precious letter to Mr. de la Faye. Once assured that Defoe did not withdraw from newspaper-writing in 1715, he ransacked the journals of the period for traces of his hand and contemporary allusions to his labours. A rich harvest rewarded Mr. Lee's zeal. Defoe's individuality is so marked that it thrusts itself through every disguise. A careful student of the Review, who had compared it with the literature of the time, and learnt his peculiar tricks of style and vivid ranges of interest, could not easily be at fault in identifying a composition of any length. Defoe's incomparable clearness of statement would alone betray him ; that was a gift of nature which no art could successfully imitate. Contemporaries also were quick at recognising their Proteus in his many shapes, and their gossip gives a strong support to internal evidence, resting as it probably did on evidences which were not altogether internal. Though Mr. Lee may have been rash sometimes in quoting little scraps of news as Defoe's, he must be admitted to have established that, prodigious as was the number and extent of the veteran's separate publications during the reign of the First George, it was also the most active period of his career as a journalist. Managing Mist and writing for his journal would have been work enough for an ordinary man ; but Defoe founded, conducted, and wrote for a host of other newspapers—the monthly Mercurius Politicus, an octavo of sixty-four pages (1716–1720); the weekly Dormer's Neus-Letter (written, not printed, 1716–1718); tie Whitehall Evening Post (a tri-weekly quarto-shieet, established 1718); the Daily Post (a daily single leaf, folio, established 1719); and Applebee's Journal (with which his connexion began in 1720 and ended in 1726).
The contributions to these newspapers, which Mr. Lee has assigned, with great judgment it seems to me, to Defoe, range over a wide field of topics, from piracy to lighway robberies, to suicide and the Divinity of Christ. Defoe's own test of a good writer was that he should at once please and serve his r’aders, and he kept this double object in view_in his newspaper writings, as much as in Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, and the Family Instructor. Great as is the variety of subjects in the selections which Mr. Lee his made upon