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A Vindication of the Press by Daniel Defoe

The Augustan Reprint Society

Daniel Defoe

_A Vindication of the Press_ (1718)

With an Introduction by Otho Clinton Williams

Publication Number 29

Los Angeles

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

University of California

1951

_GENERAL EDITORS_

H. RICHARD ARCHER, _Clark Memorial Library_

RICHARD C. BOYS, _University of Michigan_

EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_

JOHN LOFTIS, _University of California, Los Angeles_

_ASSISTANT EDITOR_

W. EARL BRITTON, _University of Michigan_

_ADVISORY EDITORS_

EMMETT L. AVERY, _State College of Washington_

BENJAMIN BOYCE, _Duke University_

LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, _University of Michigan_

CLEANTH BROOKS, _Yale University_

JAMES L. CLIFFORD, _Columbia University_

ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, _University of Chicago_

LOUIS A. LANDA, _Princeton University_

SAMUEL H. MONK, _University of Minnesota_

ERNEST MOSSNER, _University of Texas_

JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_

H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_

INTRODUCTION

_A Vindication of the Press_ is one of Defoe's most characteristic pamphlets and for this reason as well as for its rarity deserves reprinting. Besides the New York Public Library copy, here reproduced, I know of but one copy, which is in the Indiana University Library. Neither the Bodleian nor the British Museum has a copy.

Like many items in the Defoe canon, this tract must be assigned to him on the basis of internal evidence; but this evidence, though circumstantial, is convincing. W.P. Trent included _A Vindication_ in his bibliography of Defoe in the _CHEL_, and later bibliographers of Defoe have followed him in accepting it. Since the copy here reproduced was the one examined by Professor Trent, the following passage from his ms. notes is of interest:

The tract was advertised, for "this day," in the _St. James Evening Post_, April 19-22, 1718. It is not included in the chief lists of Defoe's writings, but it has been sold as his, and the only copy I have seen, one kindly loaned me by Dr. J.E. Spingarn, once belonged to some eighteenth century owner, who wrote Defoe's name upon it. I was led by the advertisement mentioned above to seek the pamphlet, thinking it might be Defoe's; but I failed to secure a sight of it until Professor Spingarn asked me whether in my opinion the ascription to Defoe was warranted, and produced his copy.

Perhaps the most striking evidence for Defoe's authorship of _A Vindication_ is the extraordinary reference to his own natural parts and to the popularity of _The True-Born Englishman_ some seventeen years after that topical poem had appeared [pp. 29f.]. Defoe was justly proud of this verse satire, one of his most successful works, and referred to it many times in later writings; it is hard to believe, however, that anyone but Defoe would have praised it in such fulsome terms in 1718.


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