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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Defoe Addresses His Public
By Daniel Defoe (1661?–1731)
From ‘An Appeal to Honor and Justice’

I HOPE the time has come at last when the voice of moderate principles may be heard. Hitherto the noise has been so great, and the prejudices and passions of men so strong, that it had been but in vain to offer at any argument, or for any man to talk of giving a reason for his actions; and this alone has been the cause why, when other men, who I think have less to say in their own defense, are appealing to the public and struggling to defend themselves, I alone have been silent under the infinite clamors and reproaches, causeless curses, unusual threatenings, and the most unjust and unjurious treatment in the world.  1
  I hear much of people’s calling out to punish the guilty, but very few are concerned to clear the innocent. I hope some will be inclined to judge impartially, and have yet reserved so much of the Christian as to believe, and at least to hope, that a rational creature cannot abandon himself so as to act without some reason, and are willing not only to have me defend myself, but to be able to answer for me where they hear me causelessly insulted by others, and therefore are willing to have such just arguments put into their mouths as the cause will bear.  2
  As for those who are prepossessed, and according to the modern justice of parties are resolved to be so, let them go; I am not arguing with them, but against them; they act so contrary to justice, to reason, to religion, so contrary to the rules of Christians and of good manners, that they are not to be argued with, but to be exposed or entirely neglected. I have a receipt against all the uneasiness which it may be supposed to give me, and that is, to contemn slander, and think it not worth the least concern; neither should I think it worth while to give any answer to it, if it were not on some other accounts, of which I shall speak as I go on. If any young man ask me why I am in such haste to publish this matter at this time, among many other good reasons which I could give, these are some:—  3
  1. I think I have long enough been made Fabula Vulgi, and borne the weight of general slander; and I should be wanting to truth, to my family, and to myself, if I did not give a fair and true state of my conduct, for impartial men to judge of when I am no more in being to answer for myself.  4
  2. By the hints of mortality, and by the infirmities of a life of sorrow and fatigue, I have reason to think I am not a great way off from, if not very near to, the great ocean of eternity, and the time may not be long ere I embark on the last voyage. Wherefore I think I should even accounts with this world before I go, that no actions [slanders] may lie against my heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, to disturb them in the peaceable possession of their father’s [character] inheritance.  5
  3. I fear—God grant I have not a second sight in it—that this lucid interval of temper and moderation which shines, though dimly too, upon us at this time, will be of but short continuance; and that some men, who know not how to use the advantage God has put into their hands with moderation, will push, in spite of the best Prince in the world, at such extravagant things, and act with such an intemperate forwardness, as will revive the heats and animosities which wise and good men were in hopes should be allayed by the happy accession of the King to the throne.  6
  It is and ever was my opinion, that moderation is the only virtue by which the peace and tranquillity of this nation can be preserved. Even the King himself—I believe his Majesty will allow me that freedom—can only be happy in the enjoyment of the crown by a moderative administration. If his Majesty should be obliged, contrary to his known disposition, to join with intemperate councils, if it does not lessen his security I am persuaded it will lessen his satisfaction. It cannot be pleasant or agreeable, and I think it cannot be safe, to any just prince to rule over a divided people, split into incensed and exasperated parties. Though a skillful mariner may have courage to master a tempest, and goes fearless through a storm, yet he can never be said to delight in the danger; a fresh fair gale and a quiet sea is the pleasure of his voyage, and we have a saying worth notice to them that are otherwise minded,—“Quit ama periculum, periebat in illo.”  7

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