Daniel Defoe

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

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pg 10141. To Hugh Stafford.1 14 August 1705


I am not att all Surprized att the malice of my enemies in their vain attempts to insult me, But I am concerned to hear a man of your Charac[ter,]2 honour, and Office, Should Soe freely grant your warrant for apprehending a man Travailing about his Lawfull Occasions, and not in the least misbehaving himselfe to any man.

I doe my Selfe the Honour to acquaint you that foreseeing the possibillity of Such dealings I have with me a Certification from her matyes Secretary of State of my haveing acquainted the Goverment of my Occasions to travaile and of my giveing security for my Fidelity to her matye, requireing you as well as all other magistrates to offer me noe disturbance or molestation in my Journey,3 and being att Biddeford when I had the notice pg 102of your unjustice-like as well as ungentleman-like warrant, I went Imeadiately to the principall magistrate of the Town to Show my Selfe and the Authority aforesd to any man that had reason to question it.

By this Sir I publickly Confute, that Scandalous Falsity affirmed in your warrant of my Lurking in the Countrey, and I am Sorry my Occasions will not permitt me to tell you soe to your face.

As to my dispersing Libells Sir, and disturbing the peace, I am extreamly desirous of knowing what Information of that Sort can be brought you Since my respect for your Character forbids me to beleeve you would grant your warrant for me unless it was Informed upon Oath, and if it was Sworne I shall Certainely pursue the perjured Villaine as farre as the law directs, assureing you it is false in fact and malicious in Suggestion.

I wish all men would pursue the peace and publick Tranquillity and as earnestly perswade to it [as]1 I doe, and I Claim this Justice of you that what is Charged on me to the contrary may be fairly prov'd or the forgers of it detected.

I am now att Tiverton, and goe from hence to Wells where I doubt not to convince that Honble person2 who tis Suggested pointed att me in publicke that he as well as you have been imposed upon. If you have assurance enough of your Information and thinke fitt to Send after me, you Shall finde I doe not Lurk about, but dare Show my face to you or any man.

If Sir you please to doe me the honour of your reply to this and the Justice of acquainting me who are the Informers, I shall receive it, if directed to me att the Essex Coffee house3 att the Temple, London.

  • Your humble Servt
  • Danll De Foe   

MS.: untraced; the text is taken from a copy made by the addressee, P.R.O., S.P. 34/6/106. Hitherto unpublished. Address: none.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 The Devonshire Justice of the Peace who had issued the warrant for Defoe's arrest. Defoe did not soon forget Stafford's officiousness and later ridiculed him from time to time in the Review. See especially the issue for 25 Aug. 1705.
Editor’s Note
2 MS. torn.
Editor’s Note
3 Stafford assumed that Sir Charles Hedges was the Secretary here referred to, and hence sent to him a copy of Defoe's letter and the following explanation (P.R.O., S.P. 34/6/88):

Pynes Aug: 27th 1705


I haveing the honour of being one of her Majtyes Justices of the peace for this County of Devon, and hearing from very Cridible hands, that Severall letters of dangerous Consequence to the Queen, and Goverment, were directed to Mr De' Foe att Weymouth, (which Came to his hands) and that he had been att Lyme, Honyton and Exeter, and being in my neighbourhood, in his way for Crediton, thought it my duty (the Assizes being att hand) to acquaint Mr Baron Price, one of the Judges of Assize att Exeter therewith, who advised me to Issue out my warrant to apprehend him, hopeing to have found some of his dangerous Letters about him; which accordingly I did, but missing my aime in not takeing my Sparke, (tho' I did it with all possible diligence and secrecy,) had only in returne, an impudent reflecting letter Sent me, wherein he pretends he has Authority, and license, for his Sd Travailing from your Honour, as you will finde when you please to peruse the inclosed, which is a true Coppy of a letter I received from him, upon which I did not think fitt to proceed therein, till I had your further Commands which Shall alwayse be punctually obay'd by, Sir, Your honours most obedient humble Servt

Hugh Stafford   

Since writeing of this I have further information from very good hands that he deals very freely in his common conversation with the young parliamt men, in basely reflecting on them lately in my neighbourhood, by Saying, as for them, they generally lay drinking att Some Tavern or other near the house, and leave the concerns of the Nation to halfe a Score Old Stagers to mannage; till any business of moment, and then they are Sent for, who as soon as they come into the house imeadiatly whisper to one, and soe to another, to know how Sir Edward, Sir Humphry, or Sir John, how they voted, and haveing learnt that, without ever hearing the meritts of the cause, or indeed any thing of the matter Says he, immeadiatly cry out they give their vote the same way lett it be right or wrong Soe long as Sir Edward and they vote Soe, and many more Such Scandelous reflections as these are, which makes me very much doubt he comes into our country with noe good designe, for he keeps Company with none but presbytarian and Independent preachers, for he has made it his business to visitt them almost in every town and parish throughout our County, and I hear throughout all the Countys through which he has past.

Editor’s Note
1 Omitted in MS.
Editor’s Note
2 Unidentified.
Editor’s Note
3 Where Defoe must have had a henchman, for subscriptions to Jure Divino were received there. See advertisement in the Review for 28 Nov. 1704.
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