William Minto.

Daniel Defoe online

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Online LibraryWilliam MintoDaniel Defoe → online text (page 13 of 13)
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was to pave the way for his patron's accession to office under the House
of Hanover. Defoe did as much as any one man, partly by secret intrigue,
partly through the public press, perhaps as much as any ten men outside
those in the immediate direction of affairs, to accomplish the two great
objects which William bequeathed to English statesmanship - the union of
England and Scotland, and the succession to the United Kingdom of a
Protestant dynasty. Apart from the field of high politics, his powerful
advocacy was enlisted in favour of almost every practicable scheme of
social improvement that came to the front in his time. Defoe cannot be
held up as an exemplar of moral conduct, yet if he is judged by the
measures that he laboured for and not by the means that he employed, few
Englishmen have lived more deserving than he of their country's
gratitude. He may have been self-seeking and vain-glorious, but in his
political life self-seeking and vain-glory were elevated by their
alliance with higher and wider aims. Defoe was a wonderful mixture of
knave and patriot. Sometimes pure knave seems to be uppermost, sometimes
pure patriot; but the mixture is so complex, and the energy of the man
so restless, that it almost passes human skill to unravel the two
elements. The author of _Robinson Crusoe_, is entitled to the benefit of
every doubt.


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Online LibraryWilliam MintoDaniel Defoe → online text (page 13 of 13)