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whole pamphlet may make it a degree more intelligible. De Foe's irony is not so keen or vivacious as the irony of Swift: The Shortest Way with the Dissenters does not sparkle with such brilliant hits as, for example, the argument against abolishing Christianity; as indeed the irony is altogether less delicate and ingenious; nor does it run into such extravagance of bitter humour as the proposal for converting Irish babies into food. Compared with such masterpieces of art, there is a certain coarseness of texture about De Foe's work; he wields a heavier and clumsier weapon, approaching more nearly to the bludgeon than the rapier. But, on the other hand, the ironical intention is better concealed. The Shortest Way begins with a comparative gravity to throw us off our guard; the author is not afraid of imitating a little of the dulness of his supposed antagonists, and repeats with all imaginable seriousness the very taunts which a High Church bigot would in fact have used; it was not a sound defence of persecution to say that the Dissenters had been cruel when they had the upper hand, and that penalties imposed upon them were merely retaliation for injuries suffered under Cromwell and from Scotch Presbyterians; but it was one of those topics upon which a hot-headed persecutor would naturally dwell, though De Foe gives him rather more forcible language than he would be likely to possess. It is only towards the end that the ironical purpose crops out in, as we should have thought, an unmistakeable manner. The difficulty in using your opponents' argument so as to exhibit their absurdity is, that most people are too impatient to bring out the ludicrous side. The caricature is too palpable, and invites ridicule too ostentatiously. An impatient man soon frets under the mask, and betrays his real strangeness in the hostile camp.

Here, then, we find a certain quality of De Foe's intellect which we hope it is not too fanciful to trace in his fictions. He was one of those men in whom the emotions, so to speak, lie rather far from the understanding. Amongst the political writers of that age he was, on the whole, distinguished for good temper and an absence of violence. He reminds us in this, as in certain other aspects, of Mr. Cobden: for example, in his free-trade tendencies, his dislike to unnecessary war, and to the cant of unreasoning patriotism. Although a party man, he was by no means a man to swallow the whole party platform. He walked on his own legs, and was not afraid

to be called a deserter by more thoroughgoing partisans. The principles which he most ardently supported were those of religious toleration and hatred to every form of arbitrary power. Now the intellectual groundwork upon which such a character is formed has certain conspicuous merits, along with certain undeniable weaknesses. Amongst the first may be reckoned that strong grasp of facts, which was developed to an almost disproportionate degree in De Foe,- a resolution to see things as they are, without the gloss which is contracted from strong party sentiment. He was one of those men of vigorous commonsense who like to have everything down plainly and distinctly in good unmistakeable black and white, and enjoy a voracious appetite for facts and figures. He was, therefore, able — within the limits of his vision to see things from both sides, and to take his adversaries' opinions as calmly as his own, so long, at least, as they dealt with the class of considerations with which he was accustomed to deal; for, indeed, there are certain regions of discussion to which we cannot be borne on the wings of statistics, or even of common sense. And this, the weak side of his intellect, is equally unmistakeable. The matter-of-fact man may be compared to one who suffers from colourblindness. Perhaps he may have a power of penetrating, and even microscopic vision; but he sees everything in his favourite black and white or gray, and loses all the delights of gorgeous, though it may be deceptive, colouring. The poet wishes for the power of seeing ourselves as others see us. would rather wish for the occasional power of seeing the world as others see it-for the liberty to take a glance through the mental camera of some of our great writers. One man sees everything in the forcible light and shade of Rembrandt: a few heroes stand out conspicuously as a focus of brilliancy, from a background of imperfectly defined shadows, clustering round the centres in strange but picturesque confusion. To another, every figure is full of interest, with singular contrasts and sharply defined features; the whole effect is somewhat spoilt by the want of perspective and the perpetual sparkle and glitter; yet when we fix our attention upon any special part, it attracts us by its undeniable vivacity and vitality. To a third, again, the individual figures become dimmer, but he sees a slow and majestic procession of shapes imperceptibly developing into some harmonious whole. Men profess to reach their philosophical conclusions by some process of log

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ic; but the imagination is the faculty which | her discomfort. Still, in spite of a very erfurnishes the raw material upon which the roneous course of practice, her moral tone logic is employed, and, unconsciously to its is all that can be desired. She discourses owners, determines, for the most part, the about the importance of keeping to the shape into which their theories will be paths of virtue with the most exemplary moulded. Now De Foe was above the or- punctuality, though she does not find them dinary standard, in so far as he did not, like convenient for her own personal use. Colomost of us, see things merely as a blurred nel Jack is a young Arab of the streets— and inextricable chaos; but he was below as it is fashionable to call them now-a-days the great writers to whom we have alluded sleeping in the ashes of a glasshouse by in the comparative coldness and dry pre- night, and consorting with thieves by day. cision of his mental vision. To him the Still the exemplary nature of his sentiments world was a vast picture, from which all con- would go far to establish Lord Palmerston's fusion was banished; everything was defi- rather heterodox theory of the innate goodnite, clear, and precise as in a photograph; as ness of man. He talks like a book from his in a photograph, too, everything could be earliest infancy. He once forgets himself accurately measured, and the result stated so far as to rob a couple of poor women on in figures; by the same parallel, there was the highway instead of picking rich men's a want of perspective, so far as the most pockets; but his conscience pricks him so distant objects were as precisely given as much that he cannot rest till he has restored the nearest; and yet, further, there was the money. Captain Singleton is a still the same absence of the colouring which is more striking case: he is a pirate by trade, caused in natural objects by light and heat, but with a strong resemblance to the ordiand in mental pictures by the fire of imaginary British merchant in his habits of native passion. The result is a product which is to Fielding or Scott what a portrait by a first-rate photographer is to one by Vandyke or Reynolds, though, perhaps, the peculiar qualifications which go to make a De Foe are as rare as those which form the more elevated artist.

thought. He ultimately retires from a business in which the risks are too great for his taste, marries, and settles down quietly on his savings. There is a certain Quaker who joins his ship, really as a volunteer, but under a show of compulsion, in order to avoid the possible inconveniences of a capture. To illustrate this a little more in detail, The Quaker always advises him in his diffione curious proof of the want of the pas- culties in such a way as to avoid responsibilsionate element in De Foe's novels is the ity. When they are in action with a Por singular calmness with which he describes tuguese man-of-war, for example, the Quahis villains. He always looks at the matter ker sees a chance of boarding, and coming in a purely business-like point of view. It up to Singleton, says very calmly, "Friend, is very wrong to steal, or break any of the what dost thou mean? why dost thou not commandments: partly because the chances visit thy neighbour in the ship, the door beare that it won't pay, and partly also being open for thee?" This ingenious gencause the devil-of whose position in De Foe's imagination we shall presently have to speak-will doubtless get hold of you in time. But a villain in De Foe is extremely like a virtuous person, only that, so to speak, he has unluckily backed the losing side. Thus, for example, Colonel Jack is a thief from his youth up; Moll Flanders is a thief, and worse; Roxana is a highly immoral lady, and is under some suspicion of a most detestable murder; and Captain Singleton is a pirate of the genuine buccaneering school. Yet we should really doubt, but for their own confessions, whether they have villany enough among them to furnish an average pickpocket. Roxana occasionally talks about a hell within, and even has unpleasant dreams concerning "apparitions of devils and monsters, of falling into gulphs, and from off high and steep precipices." She has, we may add, excellent reasons for

tleman always preserves as much humanity
as is compatible with his peculiar position,
and even prevents certain negroes being
tortured into confession, on the unanswera-
ble ground, that as neither party understands
a word of the other's language, the confession
will not be to much purpose.
"It is no
compliment to my moderation," says Single-
ton, "to say, I was convinced by those rea-
sons; and yet we had all much ado to keep
our second lieutenant from murdering some
of them to make them tell."

Now this humane pirate takes up pretty much the position which De Foe's villains generally occupy in good earnest. They do very objectionable things; but they always speak like steady, respectable Englishmen, with an eye to the main chance. It is true that there is nothing more difficult than to make a villain tell his own story naturally; in a way, that is, so as to show at

once the badness of the motive and the excuse by which the actor reconciles it to his own mind. By far the finest example we can recollect is in that wonderful novel, Barry Lyndon, which, in extraordinary directness and power of realization, very much reminds us of De Foe's writing. In dramatic force, however, it is infinitely superior. Thackeray enables us to realize the singular moral confusion of his odious hero. De Foe is entirely deficient in this capacity of appreciating a character different from his own. His actors are merely so many repetitions of himself placed under different circumstances, and committing crimes in the way of business as De Foe might himself have carried out a commercial transaction. From the outside they are perfect; they are evidently copied from the life; and Captain Singleton is himself a repetition of the celebrated Captain Kidd, who indeed is mentioned in the novel. But of the state of mind which leads a man to be a pirate, and of the effects which it produces upon his morals, De Foe has either no notion, or is, at least, totally incapable of giving us a representation. All which goes by the name of psychological analysis in modern fiction is totally alien to his art. He could, as we have said, show such dramatic power as may be implied in transporting himself to a different position, and looking at matters even from his adversary's point of view; but of the further power of appreciating his adversary's character, he shows not the slightest

Nor is the mere fact that he tells a story with a strange appearance of veracity sufficient; for, as we flatter ourselves that we have sufficiently shown in the little anecdote which we ventured to extemporise, a story may be truth-like and yet deadly dull. Indeed, no candid critic can deny that this is the case with some of De Foe's narratives; as, for example, the latter part of Colonel Jack, where the details of management of a plantation in Virginia are sufficiently uninteresting, in spite of minute financial details about figures. One device, which he occasionally employs with great force, suggests an occasional source of interest. It is generally reckoned as one of his most skilful tricks that in telling a story he cunningly leaves à few stray ends, which are never taken up. Such is the wellknown incident of Xury, in Robinson Crusoe: This contrivance undoubtedly gives an appearance of authenticity, by increas ing the resemblance to real narratives; it is like the trick of artificially roughening a stone after it has been fixed into a building to give it the appearance of being fresh from the quarry. De Foe, however, frequently extracts a more valuable piece of service from these loose ends; they enable him to employ the element of mystery, in which he is otherwise too deficient. Perhaps the most forcible situation in De Foe is that which occurs at the original conclusion of Roxana, and which was subsequently damaged by an inferior addition, apparently by another hand. Roxana, after a life of wickedness, is at last married to a substantial merchant. She has saved, from the wages of sin, the convenient sum of 2,056l. a year, secured upon excellent mortgages. Her husband has 17,000l. in cash, after deducting a "black article of 8,000 pistoles," due on account of a certain lawsuit in Paris, and 1,320l. a year in rent. There is a satisfaction about these definite sums which we seldom receive from the vague assertions of modern novelists. Unluckily, a girl turns up at this moment who shows great curiosity about Roxana's history. It soon becomes evident that she is, in fact, Roxana's daughter by a former and long since deserted husband; but she canWe may ask again, therefore, what is the not be acknowledged without a revelation peculiar source of De Foe's power? He of her mother's subsequently most disrephas little or no dramatic power, in the high- utable conduct. Now Roxana has a deer sense of the word, which implies sympa- voted maid, who threatens to get rid, by thy with many characters and varying fair means, or foul, of this importunate tones of mind. If he had written Henry IV., Falstaff, and Hotspur, and Prince Hal would all have been as like each other as are generally the first and second murderer.

trace.

In short, to use another of the technical terms of modern criticism, his stories are entirely objective. He looks at his actors from the outside, and gives us with wonderful minuteness all the details of their lives; but he never seems to remember that within the mechanism whose working he describes there is a soul very different from that of Daniel De Foe. Rather, he seems to see in mankind nothing but so many million Daniel De Foes, in all sorts of postures, and thrown into every variety of difficulty, but the stuff of which they are composed is identical with that which he buttons into his own coat; there is variety of form, but no colouring, in his pictures of life.

daughter. Once she fails in her design, but confesses to her mistress that, if necessary, she will commit the murder. Roxana professes to be terribly shocked, but yet has

a desire to be relieved at almost any price | obvious power excited by an apparent from her tormentor. The maid thereupon truthfulness, when the story is intrinsically disappears again; soon afterwards the a good one. Of this we shall speak presentdaughter disappears too; and Roxana is left ly. Secondly, we have a specimen of De in terrible doubt, tormented by the oppos- Foe's peculiar use of the mysterious. And ing anxieties that her maid may have mur- this deserves a somewhat fuller examinadered her daughter, or that her daughter tion. We might, in one sense, count it as may have escaped and revealed the moth- a fault in De Foe's method that he is generer's true character. Here is a telling sit-ally too anxious to set everything before us uation for a sensation novelist; and the mi- in broad daylight; there is too little of the nuteness with which the story is worked thoughts and emotions which inhabit the out, whilst we are kept in suspense, de- twilight of the mind; of those dim half-seen serves far more praise than most sensation forms which exercise the strongest influence novelists can claim; to say nothing of the upon the imagination, and are the most increased effect due to apparent veracity, tempting subjects for the poet's art. De in which certainly few sensation novelists Foe, in truth, was little enough of a poet. can even venture a distant competition. Sometimes by mere force of terse idiomatic The end of the story differs still more wide- language he rises into real poetry, as it was ly from modern art. Roxana has to go understood in the days when Pope and abroad with her husband, still in a state of Dryden were our lawgivers. It is often doubt. Her maid after a time joins her, really vigorous. The well-known verses, · but gives no intimation as to the fate of the daughter; and the story concludes by a simple statement that Roxana afterwards fell into well-deserved misery. There is something more impressive, as well as more natural, about the mystery in which the crime is left, than in the most effective solution that could have been contrived; and we devoutly hold that the addition, in which the story is feebly cleared up, is a miserable forgery.

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Another instance on a smaller scale of the effective employment of judicious silence, is an incident in Captain Singleton. The Quaker of our acquaintance meets with a Japanese priest who speaks a few words of English, and explains that he has learnt it from thirteen Englishmen, the only remnant of thirty-two who had been wrecked on the coast of Japan. To confirm his story, he produces a bit of paper on which is written, in plain English words, We came from Greenland and from the North Pole." Here are claimants for the discovery of a North-West Passage, and anticipators of Captain Sherard Osborn, of whom we would gladly hear more. Unluckily, when Captain Singleton comes to the place where his Quaker had met the priest, the ship in which he was sailing had departed; and this put an end to an inquiry, and perhaps may have disappointed mankind of one of the most noble discoveries that ever was made or will again be made, in the world, for the good of mankind in general; but so much for that."

66

In these two fragments, which illustrate a very common device of De Foe's, we come across two elements of positive power over our imaginations. First, we have the

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The devil always builds a chapel there, -

which begin the True-born Englishman, or
the really fine lines which occur in the
Hymn to the Pillory, that " Hieroglyphic
State machine, contrived to punish faney
in," and ending,

Tell them that placed him here,
They're scandals to the times,
Are at a loss to find his guilt,
And can't commit his crimes, -

may stand for specimens of his best manner.
Frequently he degenerates into the merest
doggerel, e.g.,-

No man was ever yet so void of sense,
As to debate the right of self-defence,
A principle so grafted in the mind,
With nature born, and does like nature bind;
Twisted with reason, and with nature too,
As neither one nor t'other can undo, -

which is scarcely a happy specimen of the
difficult art of reasoning in verse.
His verse
is at best vigorous epigrammatic writing,
such as would now be converted into lead-
ing articles, twisted with more or less vio-
lence into rhyme. And yet there is a poeti-
cal side to his mind, or at least a suscepti-
bility to poetical impressions of a certain or
der. And as a novelist is on the border-line
between poetry and prose, and novels should
be as it were prose saturated with poetry,
we may expect to come in this direction
upon the secret of De Foe's power.
though, as we have said, De Foe for the
most part deals with good tangible subjects

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which he can weigh and measure and reduce to moidores and pistoles, the mysterious has a very strong though peculiar attraction for him. It seems indeed, to speak paradoxically, that the two qualities are connected. He was urged by a restless curiosity to get away from this commonplace world, and reduce the unknown regions beyond to scale and measure. The centre of Africa, the wilds of Siberia, and even more distinctly the world of spirits, had wonderful charms for him. Nothing would have given him greater pleasure than to determine the exact number of the fallen angels and the date of their calamity. In the History of the Devil he touches, with a singular kind of humorous gravity, upon several of these questions, and seems to apologize for his limited information. "Several things," he says, "have been suggested to set us a-calculating the number of this frightful throng of devils who, with Satan the master-devil, was thus cast out of heaven." He declines the task, though he quotes with a certain pleasure the result obtained by a grave calculator, who found that in the first line of Satan's army there were a thousand times a hundred thousand million devils, and more in the other two. He gives a kind of arithmetical measure of the decline of the devil's power by pointing out that "he who was once equal to the angel who killed eighty thousand men in one night, is not able now, without a new commission, to take away the life of one Job." He is filled with curiosity as to the proceedings of the first parliament (p-t as he delicately puts it) of devils; he regrets that as he was not personally present in that "black divan" at least, not that he can remember, for who can account for his preexistent state ? — he cannot say what happened; but he adds, "If I had as much personal acquaintance with the devil as would admit it, and could depend upon the truth of what answer he would give me, the first question would be, what measures they (the devils) resolved on at their first assembly?" and the second, how they employed the time between their fall and the creation of the man? Here we see the instinct of the politician; and we may add that De Foe is thoroughly dissatisfied with Milton's statements upon this point, though admiring his genius; and goes so far as to write certain verses intended as a correction of, or interpolation into, Paradise Lost.

Mr. Ruskin, in comparing Milton's Satan with Dante's, somewhere remarks that the vagueness of Milton, as compared with the accurate measurements given by Dante, is so far a proof of less activity of the imagina

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tive faculty. It is easier to leave the devil's stature uncertain, than to say that he was eighteen feet high. Without disputing the proposition as Mr. Ruskin puts it, we fancy that he would scarcely take De Foe's poetry as an improvement in dignity upon Milton's. We may, perhaps, guess at its merits from this fragment of a speech in prose, addressed to Adam by Eve. What ails the sot?" says the new termagant. "What are you afraid of?... Take it, you fool, and eat. Take it, I say, or I will go and cut down the tree, and you shall never eat any of it at all; and you shall still be a fool, and be governed by your wife for ever." This, and much more gross buffoonery of the same kind, is apparently intended to recommend certain sound moral aphorisms to the vulgar; but the cool arithmetical method by which De Foe investigates the history of the devil, his anxiety to pick up gossip about him, and the view which he takes of him as a very acute and unscrupulous politician- though impartially vindicating him from some of Mr. Milton's aspersions is extremely characteristic.

If we may measure the imaginative power of great poets by the relative merits of their conceptions of Satan, we might find a humbler gauge for inferior capacities in the power of summoning awe-inspiring ghosts. The difficulty of the feat is extreme. Your ghost, as Bottom would have said, is a very fearful wild-fowl to bring upon the stage. He must be handled delicately, or he is spoilt. Amongst living novelists of eminenee, Lord Lytton is, so far as we remember, the only one who has boldly dealt with the supernatural. Scott performs the feat with admirable delicacy. The apparition of the old woman in the Bride of Lammermoor, and the terrible spectre of the "Bodach Glas," which appears to Fergus M'Ivor in Waverley, are most effective ghosts. They are so skilfully introduced as not to shock our belief, and yet they are more awful beings than the most terrible creations of the raw head and bloody bones school of fiction.

Amongst this school we fear that De Foe must, on the whole, be reckoned. We have already made acquaintance with Mrs. Veal, who, in her ghostly condition, talks for an hour and three-quarters with a gossip over a cup of tea; who, indeed, so far forgets her ghostly condition as to ask for a cup of the said tea, and only evades the consequences of her blunder by one of those rather awkward excuses which we all sometimes practise in society; and who, in short, is the least ethereal spirit that was ever met with

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