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In Russia, a younger nation than ours, the fables of Kriloff had a considerable sale at the beginning of this century, but they had a political meaning.
Defoe-Irony-Ode to the Pillory—The “Comical Pilgrim”—The “Scandalous Club”—Humorous Periodicals
-Heraclitus Ridens—The London Spy-The British Apollo.
EFOE was born in 1663, and was the
son of a butcher in St. Giles'. He
And rail at new-come foreigners so much,
Dutch, Walloons, Flemings, Irishmen, and Scots,
The first part concludes with a view of the low origin of some of our nobles.
“Innumerable city knights we know
So much keen and clever invective levelled at the higher classes of course had its reward in a wide circulation; but we are surprised to hear that the King noticed it with favour; the author was honoured with a personal interview, and became a still stronger partizan of the court. Defoe called the “True Born Englishman,"
“A contradiction In speech an irony, in fact a fiction;" and we may observe that he was particularly fond of an indirect and covert style of writing. He thought that he could thus use his weapons to most advantage, but his disguise was seen through by his enemies as well as by his friends. Irony—the stating the reverse of what is meant, whether good or bad—is often resorted to by
those treading on dangerous ground, and admits of two very different interpretations. It is especially ambiguous in writing, and should be used with caution. Defoe's “Shortest Way with the Dissenters” was first attributed to a High Churchman, but soon was recognised as the work of a Dissenter. He explained that he intended the opposite of what he had said, and was merely deprecating measures being taken against his brethren ; but his enemies considered that his real object was to exasperate them against the Government. Even if taken ironically, it hardly seemed venial to call furiously for the extermination of heretics, or to raise such lamentation as, “Alas! for the Church of England! What with popery on one hand, and schismatics on the other, how has she been crucified between two thieves !” Experience had not then taught that it was better to let such effusions pass for what they were worth, and Defoe was sentenced to stand in the pillory, and suffer fine and imprisionment. He does not seem to have been in such low spirits as we might have expected dnring his incarceration, for he employed part of his time in composing his “Hymn to the Pillory,'' “ Hail hieroglyphic state machine,
Contrived to punish fancy in:
Hymn to the Pillory.
He continues in a strong course of invective against certain persons whom he thinks really worthy of being thus punished, and proceeds“But justice is inverted when
Those engines of the law,
Keep honest ones in awe :
To punish villains, not to make men so. “ Whenever tben thou art prepared
To prompt that vice thou shouldst reward,
These lines refer to his own condemnation, and the piece concludes,
" Tell them the men who placed him here
Are friends unto the times,
They can't commit his crimes." Defoe seems to have thoroughly imbibed the ascetic spirit of his brethren. He was fond of denouncing social as well as political vanities. The “ Comical Pilgrim” contains a considerable amount of coarse humour, and in one