The public voices of Daniel Defoe
This is a study of Daniel Defoe's political rhetoric and polemical strategies between the years 1697 and 1717. It explores and analyses a representative selection of what may be termed Defoe's `public voices'. In its broadest definition, these public voices are understood to be the opinions expressed and the rhetorical stances taken by Defoe in those pieces of his writing which directly or indirectly relate to the sphere of official, governmental and national discourse and activity. In the most basic sense, this thesis attempts to highlight and explain the way in which the language, imagery and concerns of Defoe's publications were shaped by the events and attitudes of the historical moment at which they were produced. In the process, this study re-situates, and thus necessarily re-evaluates, the voices and apparent meanings of some of Defoe's better known texts, while offering extensive investigations of the rhetorical strategies of publications which have previously been neglected by Defoe scholars. In the context of the above, an attempt is made to demonstrate that the poem The True-Born Englishman (1701) was not only a response to xenophobic sentiments prevalent in English society at the turn of the century but did, in fact, represent Defoe's final, summative contribution to the standing army controversy of the late 1690s. On a similar note, this thesis aims to show that the verse satire Jure Divino (1706) was the culmination of Defoe's involvement in the occasional conformity controversy of the early 1700s and constituted on important element of his campaign in favour of religious toleration. In addition, I argue that volume one of The Family Instructor (1715) was Defoe's response to the Jacobite-inspired unrest of the years 1714-15 and, as such, represented an important political act. Finally, this study offers an extensive investigation of one of Defoe's most problematic publications, An Argument Proving that the Design of Employing and Tnobling Foreigners, Is a Treasonable Conspiracy (1717). The pamphlet, I suggest, represented a highly ironic attack on one of Defoe's old adversaries, John Toland, and only develops its full rhetorical force if read in the context of the standing army controversy.