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Daniel Defoe

His Life and Recently Discovered Writings; Extending From 1716 to 1729
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Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
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Under date 10 June, 1721, he refers to the origin of such literary Essays, modestly stating that it was an Accident, derived from the example of the Observators and Reviews.I deem it right to inform the critical reader that these Journalistic Essays were written in moments snatched, by the necessity for their periodic production, from the most active portion of Defoe's literary life. A large proportion of them bear evidence of having been dashed off without time to revise the manuscript, or correct the Press. Yet I may venture to pronounce that many are unsurpassed, for beauty, by the best Essays in the Taller or Spectator. Great interest will be found to arise from the freshness that pervades his narrations of events immediately after their occurrence, and the humour and sagacity of his observations thereon. I have not considered it part of my duty to correct apparent defects of hasty composition; nor presumed to polish the forcible but occasionally rugged expression of a fine thought.These Essays cannot be read without observation of the Author's large acquaintance with Holy Scripture. His general stile, but especially his grave colloquial compositions owe much of their charm to this. I have to notice however that modern refinement has consigned to the class of indelicate, certain words in common use when the Bible was translated; and which still continued to be used, without exciting coarse or impure ideas, when Defoe wrote. If such words be occasionally found in this collection, let me deprecate any offence, for the reason I have stated; also from a consideration of the purity of the Author's life and character, the sincerity of his good intentions, and the true morality inculcated. In delicacy of expression Defoe was far in advance of most of the popular writers of his day; and it would be unjust to compare him, in this respect, with Swift, Pope, Gay, Prior, or even with Steele.Defoe was not the only writer of "Letters Introductory" in Mist's Journal during his connexion therewith. It was part of the management of that Journal that outside correspondence was received, and answers to correspondents were printed Editorially, in Mist's name, although written by Defoe. A different course was adopted in Applebee's Journal.