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I. Newssheets et feuilles volantes : Influences et transferts culturels dans les presses ‎anglaise et française, 1600-1830

Daniel Defoe and the affairs of France

Jeffrey Hopes


Daniel Defoe est recruté comme propagandiste par Robert Harley pour écrire The Review afin de convaincre les députés Tory, indépendants de la cour, de soutenir la participation de l’Angleterre à la guerre de la Succession de l’Espagne, participation à laquelle Harley et Defoe étaient autrefois opposés. Dans A Weekly Review of the Affairs of France, Defoe, écrivant sous l’anonymat, se pose en arbitre des querelles partisanes de la presse Whig et Tory. Il propose d’analyser les raisons de la grandeur de la France et de faire comprendre les origines des faiblesses des alliés. Le plan esquissé au départ par Defoe est constamment modifié au gré des événements en Europe et des réactions de ses lecteurs dont certains accusent Defoe d’avoir une trop grande sympathie pour la France, voire d’être un jacobite. Réfutant ces accusations, Defoe déclare vouloir ouvrir les yeux de ses compatriotes aux dangers qui les guettent ainsi qu’aux risques que les divisions politiques internes font encourir au pays. Plaçant l’unité nationale au-dessus de tout intérêt particulier, même la défense des non-conformistes chère à son auteur, The Review accomplit la mission que Harley lui avait confiée, tout en signalant un tournant dans la pensée de son auteur. La victoire de Marlborough à Höchstadt en août 1704 rend caduques à la fois l’éloge du pouvoir français et les reproches adressés aux faiblesses des alliées. Mais le Defoe qui émerge de ces premiers numéros de la Review, n’est pas tout à fait le même que celui qui l’avait entamée six mois plus tôt.

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1On May 4, 1702 the coalition constituted by the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold I, the Dutch provinces, a variety of German princes (including those of Hanover, Brandenburg, Mayence, Treves, and the Palatinate) and England declared war on France, thus formally bringing to an end just over four and a half years of peace in Europe following the Peace of Ryswick signed in 1697. The reason for the renewal of hostilities was the long-expected death of the heirless Carlos II of Spain. Both Louis XIV and Leopold I had married sisters of Carlos and so held competing claims to his succession. William III of England, who had accepted the English throne in order to pursue the wars against France in the 1690s, was principally concerned to prevent either of the two claimants inheriting the Spanish empire intact, an empire that included dominions in Italy and in Holland as well as extensive, and highly lucrative territories across the Atlantic. The two Partition treaties, signed secretly with France in 1698 and 1700, the second following the death of Joseph-Ferdinand, Carlos’s son and heir, were designed to prevent such an eventuality, but Carlos was determined to avoid the dismemberment of his empire and drew up a will leaving it not to Louis XIV’s son, Louis the Grand Dauphin, but to his second grandson, Philippe of Anjou. It was the acceptance of this will by Louis, who thereby reneged both on his earlier renunciation of the Spanish throne and on the Partition treaties, which precipitated the War of the Spanish Succession. On March 8, 1702 William III died to be succeeded by Anne, sister of his wife Queen Mary who had died in 1694, and daughter, like Mary, of James II by his first marriage to Anne Hyde. Louis XIV however recognized James II’s son by his second marriage with Mary of Modena as King, thus lending his support to the Jacobite cause. Because Anne’s only child had died in 1700 the English Parliament settled the succession to the throne, if Anne died without an heir, on the Electress of Hanover.

2The theatre of the War of the Spanish Succession was wide, situated principally on the borders of France from Flanders through to the Meuse and the Moselle and down to the Rhine. Savoy was also a potential battleground depending on the allegiance of its Duke; but the conflict also spread deep into the territories of the Empire as the Duke of Bavaria took the side of the French. Spain itself was the scene of fighting between the different pretenders to the throne, and Portugal, which rallied to the Confederates in 1703, provided a further front. Italy was also a major site of conflict while control of the Mediterranean, and particularly the strait of Gibraltar, was crucial to the war on the seas, a war which extended across the Atlantic less in the form of naval battles than as a series of acts of piracy. Further fronts were later to open in Northern Europe when Charles XII of Sweden entered the war on the French side and was himself attacked by Russia. A century before the Napoleonic wars, and two centuries before the First World War, many of the same areas were the sites of a bloody conflict which lasted until the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.

3At the outbreak of the war, Daniel Defoe was struggling to come to terms with the change of regime that followed the death of William III of whom he had been an ardent supporter in print, notably in the poem which made him famous, The True-Born Englishman (1701). The new Queen made it clear that the defence of the Church of England would be the guiding light of her reign, a message which was soon translated into action by her Tory supporters, notably through the attempt to outlaw the practice of Occasional Conformity and in a rush of high-church sermons and writings hostile to Dissenters. Defoe, a critic of Occasional Conformity but an opponent of the repressive measures which the bill proposed, penned his famous and ironic parody of the inflammatory high-church language of Henry Sacheverel in The Shortest Way with Dissenters which appeared on December 1, 1702. The irony was lost, both on those whom Defoe sought to defend, and on the government who ordered his arrest on a charge of seditious libel. After several months in hiding, Defoe was arrested and in July 1703 put in the pillory where he became something of a popular hero. The experience however, together with that of his imprisonment, left him in a dangerously precarious situation, one from which he was rescued by Robert Harley. Speaker of the House of Commons and former spokesmen for the country interest MPs in the House of Commons, Harley had previously been hostile to William’s attempts to raise funds and troops for the war with France. He had been included in the government by William precisely in order to bring his supporters round to a greater acceptance of the eventuality of war. Despite the change of monarch he kept the speakership of the Commons to form, with the Earl of Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough, the Triumverate to whom Anne entrusted the reins of power.

  • 1 I have used the following edition of the Review: Daniel Defoe, A Review of the Affairs of France ed (...)

4It was Harley who proposed that Defoe’s abilities as a polemicist and propagandist should be used to justify the necessity of combating France at a time when the resurgence of Tory opinion risked dampening the enthusiasm of the country interest for an expensive and protracted war. Defoe set about his task by starting a new periodical publication known today as The Review, but the original title of which was A Weekly Review of the Affairs of France: Purg’d from the Errors and Partiality of News-Writers and Petty Statesmen, of all Sides.1 In this title we can see both the subject matter which Defoe was to address and the way he positioned himself on the political spectrum. Following Harley, he portrayed himself as being above party, and so free from the partiality that dominated the newspapers. His identity as author was of course a carefully guarded secret. Harley wanted Defoe to develop arguments which would appeal to the country interest, justifying the war principally in terms of the need to maintain a balance of power in Europe and to preserve the Protestant succession.

5It would be wrong however to see The Review as being at the origin of the debate on the war. A voluminous pamphlet and newspaper controversy had already taken place following Louis XIV’s acceptance of the Spanish throne on behalf of Philippe d’Anjou. Charles Davenant, coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum to Defoe, had already published his Harleyite Essays upon Peace at Home, and War Abroad (1704), in which he abandoned his previous opposition to William’s wars, and an anonymous author had penned three important works making the case for the inevitability of war: The Duke of Anjou’s Succession Consider’d (1701), The Duke of Anjou’s Succession Further Consider’d (1701), and The Dangers of Europe (1702). The anti-war case was made in An Argument against War (1701), a pamphlet that was accused of Jacobitism in An Argument for War (1701) and also refuted by the author of Tempus Adest: or War Inevitable (1702). Defoe’s (known) contribution to this debate was his Reasons against a War with France (1702) in which he argued in favour of a return to the Partition Treaties and warned of the dangers to English trade which war would provoke. Defoe thus significantly changed his position on the war when he entered Harley’s service, a further reason for remaining anonymous.

6The first number of The Review appeared on February 19, 1704. In it Defoe set out both its objectives and its strategy. The primary intention was to counter the absurdities of the press, Whig and Tory, so establishing The Review as a sort of court sitting in judgement on the gazettes which relayed news of the war. These critiques quickly took their place in the Scandalous Club section which finished each number. Amongst the journalists who were ridiculed were the Tories Abel Roper (The Post Boy), Charles Lesley and John de Fonvive (The Post Man), and the Whigs George Ridpath (The Flying Post) and Samuel Buckley (The Daily Courant). The outline plan that Defoe drew up was that of a history of France, both ancient (that is to say, going back to the end of the 16th century) and modern, the former based on previous authors, the latter his own work.

  • 2 Review n°. 8, April 1, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 57).

7It is instructive to follow the rather tortuous evolution and ultimate collapse of this plan as it gives an insight into the way Defoe’s initial intentions were constantly buffeted by events and by the reactions of his readers. The first section of his history of France is entitled ‘Of the French Nation’, developed in the second number into the ‘Greatness of the French Nation’. At the end of number 3, Defoe announces that he will subsequently move to the strengths of the Confederates, but he increasingly tends to comment on war news (and so on the newspapers), before lapsing into a rather desultory account of the previous year’s campaigns in Italy (nos. 6-8). In number 8 Defoe lays out his plan for subsequent numbers devoted to his account of France. This involves five sections: its government, its frontiers, its coasts, its foreign plantations and an analysis of how France has become ‘the Terror of Europe’ (57).2 The following number thus begins a study of French absolutism which carries on consistently until number 12 (April 15, 1704). The subject matter then deviates to accounts of the Camisard revolt (nos. 13-15), the banning of duelling in France and the institution of the amende honorable, topics which occupy numbers 16 to 23 with the exception of number 20 which returns to discussion of the war.

  • 3 Ibid., n°. 32, June 24, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 205).
  • 4 Ibid., n°. 33, June 27, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 207).
  • 5 Ibid., n°. 35, July 4, 1704, (Mc Veagh, p. 220)
  • 6 Ibid., n° 38, July 15, 1704 (Mc Veagh, p. 238)
  • 7 Ibid., n° 40, July 22, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 252)
  • 8 Ibid., n°. 43, August 1, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 274).

8Defoe then studies French naval power before moving, in number 25, to France’s land defences (this would correspond to the ‘frontiers’ in the plan outlined in no. 8), a topic which takes up the next five issues. Numbers 30 and 31 deal with the French Atlantic trade (so deviating again from the plan), while in number 32 Defoe announces that his next topic will be ‘How they came to be so Great?’,3 which is presumably the last topic of the five. This is reformulated in the following number as ‘Of the true Causes of the present Greatness of the French Power’,4 the answer to his initial question being, principally, the mistakes of its enemies. Number 355 is almost exclusively devoted to an extended defence of the Review against criticism which by this time included that of Godolphin who was ignorant of its authorship and who had become exasperated at its constant praise of France. News of Marlborough’s advance towards the Danube obliged Defoe to abandon the account of France altogether (nos. 36 and 37) and in number 386 he writes the first of a number of issues on the Northern war of the Swedes against Poland, interrupted only by another angry defence of the whole publication.7 Number 43 sees Defoe attempting to return to the initial outline, picking up the thread from number 33 but skipping to the ‘third part’ of a reformulated plan: ‘The Influence the Greatness of France has now, and for a long time has had, on the Affairs of Europe.’8 Yet Defoe immediately returns to the Northern war for another three numbers, interrupted by an account of William’s siege of Bonn in 1689. Finally, the news of Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim brings the whole French project to a shuddering halt. The ‘plan’ is thus highly confused and inconsistent. Defoe is trying to write the history of France at the same time as he comments on the war, on the Confederates and on England. There is little sign here of a ‘guiding hand’ behind the Review and Defoe would seem to have been free to change subject as and when he wished. And yet within this journalistic mishmash, clear themes and consistent lines of argument can be detected.

  • 9 Enrico Caterino Davila, History of the Civil Wars of France translated by Charles Cotterell and Wil (...)
  • 10 Review no. 1, February 19, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 10).
  • 11 Ibid.,no. 1, February 19, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 11).

9In his historical account of France’s rise to greatness, Defoe cites a number of works including Enrico (or Arigo) Caterino Davila’s History of the Civil Wars of France published in Italian in 1642 and in English translations in 1647-48 and 1678; and the Protestant Jean Le Clerc’s biography of Cardinal Richelieu.9 Although there is evidence here of considerable reading and research, Defoe’s analysis of French power is frequently original. He describes the French as ‘a Bold, Adventurous, Wise, Politick and Martial People’, praising their ‘Courage, Conduct, and Policy’.10 They have not always been so, having risen from ‘a Contemptible Effeminate People, to a Martial Terrible Nation’11 following the establishment of the foundations of modern French government by Henry IV. Henry’s most significant contribution, according to Defoe, was the subjection of the nobility:

  • 12 Ibid., n°2, February 26, 1704 (McVeagh, p.14).

as he had a Genius for Government beyond all the Princes that ever went before him, he laid the Foundation of the Present Oeconomy, he began that Encroachment on the Nobility and Privileges of the French Nation, which has by the Policy of Succeeding Princes been carry’d on, and by Accomplish’d Management of the Present King, been brought to an Absolute Conquest.12

  • 13 Ibid., n° 9, April 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p.62).

10Louis XIV has strengthened this control so that the nobility and the gentry are now totally dependent on their king: ‘The Reason is plain, either the Army, Revenue, the Church or the Law, one time or other, Employs all the Gentlemen in the Nation. There is not a Family in the Kingdom, but either have been, are, or expect to be Employed and Advanc’d, and to make their Fortunes from the Publick Employments.’13 Defoe suggests that it was because Henry IV had not achieved such a position of dominance that he was unable to enforce Protestantism in France.

  • 14 Ibid., n° 12, April 15, 1704 (McVeagh, p.78-79).

11Defoe also underlines the quality of Louis’s ministers, Mazarin, Colbert, Louvois and Ponchartrin and that of his generals, Tilly, Vendôme, Villars, Luxembourg, and Tillard. The result of such unified and purposeful government is an unparalleled ability to raise the necessary resources for war: ‘What may not that Monarch do, who has the Bodies of the Poor, the Purses of the Rich, and the Hands of his Nobility at his Absolute Command?’14 It is the French population that Defoe considers to be the country’s most precious resource. He discounts reports of extensive poverty and stresses the speed with which France recovered from the naval defeats of 1692 at La Hogue and 1702 at Vigo Bay, rebuilding a navy that now posed a major threat to England and its commerce. Most importantly, the French are judged to be masters of diplomacy and secret negotiations:

  • 15 Ibid., n° 32, June 24, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 234).

Above all, they have a constant Supply of able Councellors, Stanch States-Men; profound Secrecy dwells upon all their Councils; they Insinuate into the Secrets of other Princes, but are never betray’d in their Own.
A Man may live 7 Years in Paris and be acquainted with nothing they do: ’tis as impossible to dive into their Affairs, as it is to Conceal our Own; ’tis as hard to find their Agents False, as ’tis to find ours True; they are Masters of their own Councils, and have been too much Masters of ours.15

12France’s strength in unity is contrasted with the weaknesses of the Confederacy, its superiority residing in four areas:

  • 16 Ibid., n° 2, February 26, 1704 (McVeagh, p.13)

I. In the Unanimity and Policy of their Councils.
II. In the Exactness and Punctual Execution of their Orders.
III. In the Swiftness of their Motion.
IV. In the Fidelity of their Officers.16

13To such advantages are added the wisdom of Louis XIV’s strategy which consists in always giving top priority to the defence of his national territory, never weakening his frontiers in pursuit of risky adventures.

14Defoe’s paradoxical vaunting of the advantages of absolute rule inevitably attracted accusations of French sympathies, a lack of patriotism, and even Jacobitism. He had already anticipated such criticism in number 3:

We shall Endeavour to say nothing of the French Greatness with the Air of a French Emissary; and leave as little room as possible for the Charge of Partiality; If the French Grandeur is at present the Terrour of Europe, ’tis a most Natural Consequence, that the Prodigy of the Growing Power of France is an awakening Wonder, ’tis a Text fruitful in Application, and the Consequences very useful.

  • 17 Ibid., n° 3, March 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 22).

’Tis true, This Age is apt to make wrong Inferences, and we are Content they should believe what they please of this Design, till the Event proves whether we are in the wrong, either in making Things appear greater than they are, or in drawing abrupt and inconsistent Conclusions.17

15He claims to be steering a middle course between French boasting and English belittling of the extent of French power. In number 9 he brushes off accusations of Jacobitism:

It no way disturbs me, to hear my self call’d a Jacobite, a Frenchman, and sometimes a Papist; one that exposes the Nakedness of the Confederacy; betrays the Weakness of our Friends, and the like.

  • 18 Ibid., n° 9, April 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 60).

But ’tis a singular satisfaction to me, That pursuant to the first Design, I can yet hear no body contradict it, as to Truth of Fact, or charge me with Falshood and Partiality.18

16Despite his insistence that he is simply trying to open the eyes of his countrymen to the danger they face, Defoe is forced to defend himself again in very strenuous terms in number 35 where he compares himself to Demosthenes warning the Athenians of the power of Phillip of Macedonia, and to the geese at the Capitol:

  • 19 Ibid., n° 35, July 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 222).

If I like an honest Protestant Goose have Gaggl’d too loud of the French Power, and Rais’d the Country; the French indeed may have Reason to Cut my Throat if they could; but ’tis hard my own Countrymen, to whom I have shewn their Danger, and whom I have endeavour’d to wake out of their Sleep, should take offence at the Timely Discovery.19

  • 20 Ibid., n° 40, July 22, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 275).

17As the tide of the war starts to turn however and Marlborough’s army approaches the Danube, Defoe’s position becomes more and more uncomfortable. In number 40 he replies to attacks made on him in the Daily Courant and tries to modify his rhetoric without abandoning the themes of French greatness and the weakness of the Confederacy. He will seek, he says, ‘to disclose to the World the secret Machines, the Policy, the Arts by which France has brought its Neighbours, Nay, even its Enemies, to subserve, promote, and in effect establish the Greatness and Power which it now enjoys, nay, to the very Ruine and Destruction of themselves.’20 Such jeremiads were, to say the least, unfortunate coming at the very moment that Marlborough was routing the French and Bavarian forces at Höchstadt. It is clear that part of Defoe’s, and no doubt Harley’s strategy was to use praise of France to criticise the weaknesses of the Confederacy. French unity was contrasted to the bickering of the allies:

  • 21 Ibid., n° 20, May 13, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 129).

If I was ask’d what is the true occasion why the French have so many happy Turns, and how they maintain a War with so much Advantage, against all the United Powers of Europe, I should Answer, ’tis because those Powers are United and not United; ’tis because the separate Interests of Nation’s, People and Parties, occasion such Confusion of Councils, such dilatory and unhappy Proceedings, as never fail to give the Enemy continual and unusual advantages.21

18Charles XII’s attack on Poland seemed the perfect illustration of this weakness, a protestant king attacking a catholic one yet on the side of France. Defoe severely criticizes Charles for abandoning the defence of his own people for a reckless adventure (something that Louis XIV would never have done). In doing so, he leaves Sweden at the mercy of a Russian offensive.

  • 22 Ibid., n° 31, June 20, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 196).

19Such criticisms are not however confined to the continental powers. England is itself taken to task for having allowed French power to develop and for not making good use of its mastery of the seas. Defoe thus continues the criticism he had made earlier of those who had failed to give William the resources he required to pursue the war before the Peace of Ryswick, in effect precisely those country MPs he was now addressing. Yet the praise of French unity is above all an attack on faction and the divisions which weaken England’s capacity to wage war. The praise of Louis’s banning of duelling can also be seen as part of this same discourse. The absence of faction ensures a much greater degree of loyalty to the monarch; whereas the English are reluctant to obey the laws that they themselves make, the French submit to the commands of one man. Despite previous denials, Defoe finally admits that as I am upon describing the French Greatness, and their extraordinary Conduct, in every part of their Government; I cannot think any Man could expect such a History could be Written, without some part of it, being a Satyr upon our selves.’22

20Defoe’s strongest criticism concerns, not surprisingly, James I and Charles I, though he is careful to make Charles I’s advisors take the blame for the failure to help the Protestants of La Rochelle. Lest such criticism should expose him to Tory and country criticism, Defoe makes it clear that Queen Anne, herself a Stuart, is well served by her ministers, better indeed than had been William III. If he sometimes seems to regret that England is not able to wield the same ruthless power as France, he is clear about the distinction to be drawn between governments and subjects, between the ambitions of monarchs and the welfare of their people. Defoe contrasts countries which only achieve glory through war and conquest with those, like England, whose strength is based on the liberty and well-being of its subjects:

  • 23 Ibid., n° 31, April 8, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 66).

For Subjects, who Stipulate with their Princes, and make Conditions of Government, who Claim to be Govern’d by Laws, and make those Laws themselves; who need not pay their Money, but when they see Cause, and may refuse to pay it when demanded, without their Consent; such Subjects will never Empt their Purses upon Foreign Wars, for enlarging the Glory of their Sovereign. If such People are free to Fight, or Pay, it is always for the Defence and Security of their own, not for the Conquests and Glories of their Prince.23

21Such talk would indeed have been balm to the ears of country MPs worried at the amount of tax they were being asked to cough up.

22There remains however a certain unresolved tension in Defoe’s treatment of this topic, one that is especially evident in the context of war. In part, this is inherent to the political balancing act he was being asked to accomplish, but it is a tension that surfaces elsewhere in his work, that between a genuine attachment to English liberty and a desire for strong government.

  • 24 Ibid., n° 12, April 15, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 80) .

23Defoe’s, and Harley’s, main priorities in the war against France were defensive, not offensive; the maintenance of a balance of power in Europe, the protection of British trading interests (a subject that was to subsequently occupy much space in the Review) and the defence of Protestantism and the Protestant succession. Perhaps surprisingly, Defoe subordinates the defence of Protestantism abroad to the wider strategic aims of the war. He thus derides those who think it possible, or even desirable, to provide military assistance to the Camisards, and he urges the defence of the catholic King of Poland against the protestant Charles XII. Perhaps most provokingly of all, he considers the revocation of the Edict of Nantes to have been a measure which strengthened France’s internal security and which so represents a perfectly coherent strategy. Here again we can see Defoe distinguishing between national self-interest and religious belief. This was not a discourse that Anglicans would be shocked by in a context of alarm at the perceived threats to the Church of England from Dissenters. Defoe was swallowing his dissenting pride in response to Harley’s quest for national unity. To the extent that Occasional Conformity was not ultimately made illegal and that Queen Anne turned against the high-church Tories, it was a sacrifice worth making. And yet, here again, we can perceive more than the propagandist’s pen at work. For Defoe, religion was above all a matter of individual conscience, but a conscience governed by reason: ‘for a Man once sensible of the State of his Soul, let that State be well or ill made, that Sence well or ill grounded, if it has once Master’d his Reason, and he is fix’d in the Opinion of it, he’ll Destroy himself and all the World in Defence of it.’24 Fanaticism was as detestable to Defoe as it was to Swift.

  • 25 Ibid., n° 70, November 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 503).

24After the news of the battle of Blenheim, Defoe turned his attention to the affairs of the Empire, the Hungarian revolution and the conflict between the Empire and the Turks. Clearly, his abandonment of his analysis of French affairs irked some of his readers for Defoe felt obliged to upbraid them for their impatience in number 7025 assuring them that what happened in Bavaria, Hungary, the German princedoms and Turkey was an integral part of the affairs of France. Yet the change of focus is clear and the reasons for it not difficult to find. Blenheim modified the whole perception of the war in England, silencing its critics and strengthening the position of the Triumverate of Godolphin, Marlborough and Harley. The focus of party strife was now firmly on domestic affairs such as Occasional Conformity and the legitimacy of placemen in the House of Commons, but these were questions of which Defoe, faithful to his remit to persuade the country interest to support the war, steered clear in the Review during the summer and autumn of 1704, whatever the opinions he expressed, in his own name, elsewhere. This non-party stance is behind the choice of topics discussed in the Scandalous Club sections of the Review. It is also significant that Defoe deals so little with the Spanish theatre of war, not even commenting on the capture of Gibraltar in July 1704. Harley had evidently entrusted him with coverage of the conflict in northern and eastern Europe, though this focus also reflects the determination to place France, not Spain, at the centre of Harley’s foreign policy objectives.

25Whilst these early numbers of the Review demonstrate Defoe’s adherence to the wishes of his political master, the way in which he highlights the reasons for the power of France (with the concomitant implication that France could never be defeated, only contained) shows up not only the disunity of the Confederates (a disunity which was to worsen following Blenheim), but the advantages of strong, centralised government over the fractious nature of party politics in England. By claiming to adopt a non-partisan approach, one that placed the interests of the country above those of party, Defoe sought to win over the country interest to the moral high ground on which Harley was trying to position himself. There is enough evidence from Defoe’s other writings in the period following the commencement of The Review to suggest that this was increasingly his own position and that the radical, libertarian Defoe of Legion’s Memorial and the non-conformist champion of The Shortest Way with Dissenters had given way to a new pose of impartiality, one which was to enable him to indulge in all manner of political ambiguity and to be subsequently recruited as propagandist by both Whigs and Tories.

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1 I have used the following edition of the Review: Daniel Defoe, A Review of the Affairs of France ed. John McVeagh. Vol. 1: 1704-1705. Part One, February – September 1704; Part Two, October 1704 – February 1705. London, Pickering and Chatto, 2003. In the footnotes quotations are referenced by number and date with the page numbers in McVeagh’s edition in parenthesis. The first six numbers of the Review were published at weekly intervals. From no.7 (March 28, 1704) onwards it appeared twice a week.

2 Review n°. 8, April 1, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 57).

3 Ibid., n°. 32, June 24, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 205).

4 Ibid., n°. 33, June 27, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 207).

5 Ibid., n°. 35, July 4, 1704, (Mc Veagh, p. 220)

6 Ibid., n° 38, July 15, 1704 (Mc Veagh, p. 238)

7 Ibid., n° 40, July 22, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 252)

8 Ibid., n°. 43, August 1, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 274).

9 Enrico Caterino Davila, History of the Civil Wars of France translated by Charles Cotterell and William Aylesbury, 2 vols. London, 1648, 2nd impression 1678. The original is Historia delle guerre civili di Francia, di Henrico Caterino Davila, nella qualle si contengono le operationi di quattro re, Francesco II, Carlo IX, Henrico III et Henrico IV, Venice, 1630. There is also a French translation by Jean Baudoin, Histoire des guerres civiles de France, contenant tout ce qui s'est passé de mémorable en France jusqu'à la paix de Vervins, depuis le règne de François II, 2 vols., Paris, 1644. Jean Le Clerc, The Life of the famous Cardinal-Duke de Richelieu. 2 vols., London, 1695, translated by Thomas Brown from La Vie du cardinal, duc de Richelieu, principal ministre d'État de Louis XIII. 2 vols., Cologne, 1695.

10 Review no. 1, February 19, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 10).

11 Ibid.,no. 1, February 19, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 11).

12 Ibid., n°2, February 26, 1704 (McVeagh, p.14).

13 Ibid., n° 9, April 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p.62).

14 Ibid., n° 12, April 15, 1704 (McVeagh, p.78-79).

15 Ibid., n° 32, June 24, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 234).

16 Ibid., n° 2, February 26, 1704 (McVeagh, p.13)

17 Ibid., n° 3, March 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 22).

18 Ibid., n° 9, April 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 60).

19 Ibid., n° 35, July 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 222).

20 Ibid., n° 40, July 22, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 275).

21 Ibid., n° 20, May 13, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 129).

22 Ibid., n° 31, June 20, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 196).

23 Ibid., n° 31, April 8, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 66).

24 Ibid., n° 12, April 15, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 80) .

25 Ibid., n° 70, November 4, 1704 (McVeagh, p. 503).

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Jeffrey Hopes, « Daniel Defoe and the affairs of France »Études Épistémè [En ligne], 26 | 2014, mis en ligne le 09 décembre 2014, consulté le 09 août 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Jeffrey Hopes

Jeffrey Hopes is Professor of English at the University of Orléans and a member of the Laboratoire de recherches sur les cultures Anglophones (LARCA) at Paris Diderot University. He publishes on eighteenth-century literature and cultural history with a particular emphasis on the theatre. Recent publications include:

- Discours critique sur le roman 1650-1850, ed. Orla Smyth et Jeffrey Hopes, Publications des universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2010, 198 p.
- Théâtre et nation, ed. Jeffrey Hopes et Hélène Lecossois, Presses universitaires de Rennes, coll. « Le Spectaculaire », 2011, 232 p.
- ““La Maladie anglaise” in French Eighteenth-Century Writing: From Stereotype to Individuation.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, 44, no. 2, Fall 2011, p. 109-132.
- “Silent Speakers: Subaltern Voices in David Dabydeen’s A Harlot’s Progress” in Representing Restoration, Enlightenment and Romanticism: Studies in New-Eighteenth-Century Literature and Film in Honour of Hans-Peter Wagner ed. Anja Müller, Achim Hescher et Anke Uebel, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2014, p. 35-47.

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