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DEFOE'S LIFE AND WORKS
IT IS quite difficult for anyone who reads Robinson
The writer who accomplished this extraordinary feat
was born, in 1659 or 1660, perhaps on September 30 of
From school Defoe did not pass to the Dissenting min-
His business, which extended with time far beyond hosiery, took him to France, and subsequently on a voyage to Portugal and Spain, where he acquired that knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese character which afterwards entered into Robinson Crusoe and other romances. He also learned withal to speak French and Spanish fluently. Something of an an adventurer, he joined with several of his schoolfellows in the insurrection under the Duke of Monmouth; and on the entry of William of Orange into London, he appeared among the handsomely dressed troopers in the Prince's retinue. These distractions, along with civil commotions, so interfered with his business that Defoe became a bankrupt in 1692, and was compelled to flee to Bristol in order to escape imprisonment for debt. He, however, soon compromised with his creditors and returned to London once more. The literary outcome of his first disaster in trade was a most illuminating Essay upon Projects (published some years later), advocating reforms in the bankruptcy laws, and the establishment of savings banks, insurance companies, colleges for the education of women, asylums for the feeble-minded, and other valuable public institutions, most of which have since become a part of modern civilization.
From the first, Defoe was like his Crusoe in that if he failed in one enterprise he quickly sought and tried another. Hitherto London had depended largely upon Holland for her pantiles, or curved tiles, as we usually call them in this country. Seeing an opportunity for profit in making them at home, Defoe became interested -first as secretary and afterwards as principal shareholder-in an old brick-yard down the Thames, which was developed under his management into a large pantile manufactory employing a hundred hands. A half-century ago the works were excavated by a curious admirer,
DEFOE'S LIFE AND WORKS
IT IS quite difficult for anyone who reads Robinson Crusoe to believe, while under the spell of it, that the book was not written by the hero himself; for it reads like the personal history of a mariner who was really cast upon a desert island and really spent many years there in an endeavor to make himself comfortable. It all seems as true to fact as the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Such, however, is far from the case. Robinson Crusoe is in the main an imaginary autobiography written by an old man who had never passed beyond the land and waters of Europe. He had nevertheless experienced during his long life "innumerable ups and downs in matters of fortune," which seemed to him to have their counterpart in a famous story, then current, of a buccaneer who had been put ashore on an island in the South Seas. The author of Robinson Crusoe read so completely his own life by way of symbol into the adventures of this buccaneer that he produced a narrative having all the air of a real autobiography.
The writer who accomplished this extraordinary feat called himself Daniel Defoe, though his real name was Daniel Foe. His father was a prosperous butcher living among the tradespeople of London, where the boy