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628 WHOEVER SEES THIS UNDERTAKING FINISHED ! [Defoe
and indeed amazed, when I found the Story of it intended to be the end of this Volume ; and hardly enough of it entered upon, to say it is begun.
However, the Volume being of necessity to be closed, I am obliged to content myself with taking what is here as an Introduction to the next Volume ; and to give this notice, that the matter of our English Trade appears to be a thing of such consequence to be treated of, so much pretended to, and so little understood, that nothing could be more profitable to the readers, more advantageous to the public Interest of this nation, or more suitable to the greatness of this undertaking, than to make an Essay at the Evils, Causes, and Remedies of our general Negoce.
I have been confirmed in my opinion of the consequences and benefit of this Undertaking, by a crowd of entreaties from persons of the best judgement, and some of extraordinary genius in these affairs : whose letters are my authority for this clause, and whose arguments are too forcible for me to resist.
And this is to me, a sufficient Apology for a vast digression from the Affairs of France, which were really in my first design; and to which, my title at first too straightly bound me.
Whoever shall live to see this Undertaking finished, if the Author (or some better pen after him) shall bring 20 or 30 Volumes of this Work on the Stage, it will not look so preposterous, as it seems now, to have one whole Volume to be employed on the most delightful as well as profitable subject of the English Trade.
Things at short distance, look large! and public patience is generally very short : but when remote, the case alters, and people see the reason of things in themselves. It is this remote prospect of affairs which I have before me. And this makes me not so much regard the uneasiness people shew at the Story being frequently broken abruptly, and running great lengths before it revolves upon itself again: but as Time and the Course of Things will bring all about again, and make the whole to be of a piece with itself; I am content to wait the approbation of the readers, till such time as the thing itself forces it from the at present impatient readers.
Readers are strange judges when they see but part of the design. It is a new thing for an Author to lay down his
thoughts piece-meal. Importunate cavils assault him every day. They claim to be answered to-day! before to-morrow! and are so far from staying till the Story is finished, that they can hardly stay till their letters come to hand; but follow the first with a second! that with clamour ! and this sometimes with threatening scoffs, banters, and raillery!
Thus I am letter-baited by Querists; and I think my trouble in writing civil private answers to teasing and querulous epistles, has been equal to, if not more troublesome than, all the rest of this Work.
Through these difficulties I steer with as much temper and steadiness as I can. I still hope to give satisfaction in the Conclusion; and it is this alone, that makes the continuing of the Work tolerable to me. If I cannot, I have made my Essay.
If those that know these things better than I, would bless the World with further instructions, I shall be glad to see them; and very far from interrupting or discouraging them, as these do me.
Let not those Gentlemen who are critics in style, in method, or manner, be angry, that I have never pulled off my cap to them, in humble excuse for my loose way of treating the World as to Language, Expression, and Politeness of Phrase. Matters of this nature differ from most things a man can write, When I am busied writing Essays and Matters of Science, I shall address them for their aid; and take as much care to avoid their displeasure as becomes me: but when I am upon the subject of Trade and the Variety of Casual Story, I think myself a little loose from the Bonds of Cadence and Perfections of Style; and satisfy myself in my study to be explicit, easy, free, and very plain. And for all the rest, Nec Careo! Nec Curo!
I had a design to say something on the Entertaining Part of this paper : but I have so often explained myself on that head, that I shall not trouble the World much about it.
When I first found the Design of this Paper (which had its birth in tenebris): I considered it would be a thing very historical, very long; and even though it could be much better performed than ever I was likely to do it, this Age had such a natural aversion to a solemn and tedious affair, that however profitable, it would never be diverting, and the World would never read it.
630 MY FIRM RESOLUTION TO EXALT VIRTUE, &c.
To get over this difficulty, the Secret Hand (I make no doubt) that directed this birth into the World, dictated to make some sort of entertainment or amusement at the end of every Paper, upon the immediate subject, then on the tongues of the Town ; which innocent diversion would hand on the more weighty and serious part of the Design into the heads and thoughts of those to whom it might be useful.
I take this opportunity to assure the World, that receiving or answering letters of doubts, difficulties, cases, and questions; as it is a work I think myself very meanly qualified for, so it was the remotest thing from my first Design of anything in the World : and I could be heartily glad, if the readers of this Paper would excuse me from it yet. But I see it cannot be, and the World will have it done. I have therefore done my best to oblige them; but as I have not one word to say for my performance that way, so I leave it where I found it, a mere circumstance casually and undesignedly annexed to the Work, and a curiosity; though honestly endeavoured to be complied with.
If the method I have taken in answering Questions has pleased some wiser men more than I expected it would ; I confess it is one of the chief reasons why I was induced to continue it.
I have constantly adhered to this rule in all my Answers; and I refer my reader to his observation for the proof, that from the loosest and lightest questions, I endeavour to draw some useful inferences, and, if possible, to introduce something solid, and something solemn in applying it.
The custom of the ancients in writing fables is my very laudable pattern for this: and my firm resolution, in all I write, to exalt Virtue, expose Vice, promote Truth, and help men to Serious Reflection, is my first moving Cause, and last directed End.
If any shall make ill use of, wrest, wrongly interpret, wilfully or otherwise mistake the honest Design of this Work ; let such wait for the end! when I doubt not, the Author will be cleared by their own vote; their want of charity will appear, and they be self-condemned till they come to acknowledge their error, and openly to justify Their humble servant,
D. F. D. F. [i.e., DANIEL FOE. Notice the change of the name into DEFOE,
at the end of the next Preface, at p. 635.]
Preface to the Second Volume
of the Review.
His Volume of the Reviews requires but a short Preface : and yet it requires a Preface perhaps more than the former (one) ; the frequent turning of the Author's design demanding something to be said for it.
In pursuing the subject of Trade, with which this Part began, I really thought to
have taken up this whole Volume ; and I know a great many people impatiently bear the delay, having great expectations of something very useful as well as diverting on the subject of Trade. I wish their dependence upon me in that case, may be answered to their content.
I have indeed laid a vast Scheme of Trade to discourse upon, and shall, in the next Volume, endeavour to finish it to the best of my capacity : but a word or two to this Volume, by the way.
While I was pursuing the subject of Trade, I received a powerful diversion, from our own Public Affairs. The dissolution of the late Parliament, with some particular transactions of their last session, known by the title of Dangerous Experiments, Tackings, and the like, made a more than usual fermentation in this Kingdom.
I saw with concern, the mighty juncture of a new Election for Members approach. The variety of wheels and engines set on work in the nation, and the furious methods to form Interests on either hand, had put the tempers of men on all sides into an unusual motion, and things seemed acted with so much animosity and Party fury that I confess it gave me terrible apprehensions of the consequences.
I am sorry to say, that the methods on both sides, seemed to me very scandalous ; and the low steps our Gentlemen sometimes take to be chosen, merit some Satyr; and perhaps in time may have it! But the inveteracy in the tempers of people at this time, seemed to have something fatal in it; something that deserved not a Satyr,but a sad and serious Application.
Each side strove, with indefatigable pains and exceeding virulence, to set up their own Party. All the slanders, re.
632 I EXHORT ALL PEOPLE TO STUDY Peace. [P. Defoe proaches, and villifying terms possible filled the mouths of one Party against another. If I should say that, in many places, most horrid and villainous practices were set on foot to supplant one another, that the Parties stooped to vile and unbecoming meannesses, and that infinite briberies, forgeries, perjuries, and all manner of debaucheries of the principles and manners of the Electors were attempted; I am told I should say nothing but what might easily be made to appear.
That all sorts of violence, tumults, riots, and breaches of the peace neighbourhood and good manners have been made use of to support Interests, and carry on Elections; the black history of the Election of Coven]try preparing for the public view, will, I dare say, defend me in advancing.
That this sad scene of affairs, I confess, gave a melancholy view; and I thought I saw this nation running directly upon the steep precipice of General Confusion. In the serious reflecting on this, and how I might, if possible, contribute to the good of my native country, as I thought every honest man was bound to do; I bestow some thoughts on the serious inquiry, “ What was to be done?”
in the short search into the state of the nation, it presently appeared to me that all our pretensions, on either side, were frivolous, but that the breach lay deeper than appeared ; that the designs lay in a few, though the whole nation was in. volved ; that King James, the French Power, and a general Turn of Affairs was at the bottom; and the quarrels betwixt Church and Dissenters were only a politic noose, they had hooked the Parties on both sides into, which they diligently carried on to such height as they hoped it would end in a rupture, and then they should open a gap to come in and destroy both.
It presently occurred to my mind, how easily all this might be remedied ! how easily this enemy might be disappointed ! and that here wants but one thing to heal all this mischief. But one slight matter would make all whole again : and this is included in this one word PARTY-PEACE.
Full satisfied of the certainty of my opinion, I immediately set myself in the Review No 19 (of Vol. II. of 17th April, 1705), to exhort, persuade, entreat, and in the most moving terms I was capable of, to prevail on all people in general, to STUDY PEACE.