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LIFE OF DANIEL DE
WHEN an inexperienced and untried writer presumes to take up pen on a subject so various and so complex as that involved in one of the most stirring lives of the most stirring characters of the most stirring times of English history, he may well crave time for investigating the charge of presumption which might fairly be brought against him for attempting such a task. How, it may be asked, came you to presume to write a Life of DANIEL DE FOE? How, indeed! I ask that question to myself-How? Well, in September, 1856, my late worthy and lamented friend John Collinson and myself took one of our many excursions into the romantic district of Yorkshire known as Craven; and arriving at Skipton in the evening, repaired to the Devonshire Hotel, had tea, and then sat down in the common room, where a gentleman of business related, for two hours together, how once, near Leicester, Splasher ran away with him in a gig. Being fairly run down with the tongue, evidently under less control than the horse, I left the company to visit an adjoining shop for the sale of old pictures, books, china, and the thousand et ceteras which are in request with the English collector. I found a lot of old trash, the sweepings of the shelves and floor of the library of the last of the Vavasours of Weston Underwood, in Wharfedale. I selected one work, of three volumes,
LIFE AND TIMES
DANIEL DE FOE:
REMARKS DIGRESSIVE AND DISCURSIVE.
JOHN RUSSELL SMITH,
36, SOHO SQUARE.
A PREFACE to a book is, singularly enough, always written after the completion of the book; and ought in fairness to be placed at the end, rather than before the commencement.
This is not the age for Prefaces, but yet I may be pardoned for transgressing the rule of the times, if I only keep within the limits of moderation. What do I gather from all my DE-FOE reading but the force of that passage in scripture, "Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days." Old James Foe, butcher, of Cripplegate St. Giles, cast his bread upon the water when he educated his son Daniel at the Stoke Newington Academy for-for what? Daniel was a hosier, merchant, pantile maker, statesman, poet, philosopher, free-trader, novelist-in short, everything, from the desolate island of Juan Fernandez to a felon's cell in Newgate. Daniel lived neglected and died in gaol-he died in 1731; and yet left that which is not exhausted in 1859his opinions recorded during a long, turbulent, and industrious life. The Dissenter still educates at his academy-he throws the bread upon the waters; and only let the fostering