The Year Before Robinson Crusoe:
Intellectual Controversies and Experiments in Fiction
During 1717 and 1718, Daniel Defoe responded to a number of important events in a manner that reveals a deepening of moral and ethical views. He never doubted the evils of Jacobitism or the benefits of the Whig succession, but as the government grew stronger after the suppression of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, he was not averse to making judgements about the government’s positions or even opposing them on occasions. Although both John Toland and Abel Boyer seemed to find his position contradictory, Defoe felt there was little relationship between the situation that had produced The True-Born Englishman and that involving George I’s attempt to reward foreigners. In Defoe’s eyes, George I and the recipients of his favours bore no resemblance to William III and his heroic Dutch forces who had rescued England from James II. For the most part, however, his belief that in matters of economics and politics human beings were ruled entirely by self-interest had been reinforced by his experiences.
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