Daniel Defoe

George Harris Healey (ed.), The Letters of Daniel Defoe

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235. [To Charles De la Faye]. 10 May 1718


I am Extreamly Concern'd That the Journall of this day has Coppyed from the Post boy That Ridiculous Paragraph of The Pretenders being in the List of The Queen Dowagers Legitimate Children, and I have spoken my Mind Very Freely to him of it.2

pg 455But Sir I think in Consequence of what I wrote last to you, it is my Duty to assure My Ld That I have no Part in this slip, but that Mr Mist did it after I had lookt Over what he had Gotten Together, which it Seems was not Sufficient; and Tho' I Would If I may Presume So far Intercede for him, yet My Ld May be assured I have no Concern in it Directly or Indirectly; This Sir I Say I thot my Self oblig'd to Notice to you, to make good what I Said in my Last (Viz) that if any mistake happend my Ld should allwayes kno' whether he had a Servant to Reprove, or a stranger to Punish.

  • I am, Sir, Your Most Humble Servt
  • De Foe   

May. 10. 1718

P S He has Renew'd his Promise to me that he will be more wary, and I do think Verily it was not done Malitiously, But that I leave as I find it.

MS.: P.R.O., S.P. 35/12/13. Pub.: The London Review of Politics, Society, Literature, Art, and Science, 4 June 1864, p. 591. Address: none.

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Editor’s Note
2 In reporting the death on 26 Apr. of Mary of Modena, widow of James II, Mist's Journal had named as her fifth child 'James Francis-Edward, born at St. James's the 10th of June, 1688, the Person who is now stiled the Pretender.' The inclusion of the Pretender's name was an implicit denial of the old story of his supposititious birth, a story which Defoe and many Whigs, however, had once considered to be unimportant because irrelevant. 'I have nothing to say here to his Legitimacy of Birth, I always thought that to be a Dispute we have no manner of Concern in, I take it to be no Damage to our Establishment, that he be taken for the true Son of King James, nor did I ever lay any stress upon the Thing call'd his Legitimacy; indeed, I think, we are no way Concern'd about it; and so I have said always, my Reason lies here. It is the Undoubted Right of the Parliament of Great Britain, to Limit the Succession of the Crown' (Review, 16 Sept. 1712). That the Pretender's legitimacy should now have become a question of high moment is perhaps evidence of the new fears and tensions generated by the Jacobite uprising of 1715.
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