DANIEL DEFOE wrote Robinson Crusoe; and the names of the other works of Daniel Defoe fill fourteen pages of the Cambridge History of English Literature. At least fifty works may be described as political, while almost every item might be classified as social. In order to write one article, therefore, some limitations must be made. I cannot profess to treat Defoe as a whole, nor to discuss the many phases of his strange career. What may be attempted, perhaps, is an estimate of the political thought of the great novelist (in contradistinction to his political practice), and a further estimate of his ideas on the subject of social reform. Here is ample matter for investigation. In point of date some limits also may be laid down. Most of Defoe's avowedly political writings fall before 1714; the most theoretical of them before 1702. That is to say, in estimating his thought it is possible to stop short of the period in which his political and journalistic practice was the most tortuous. His social ideas and testimony are not so readily limited; broadly speaking, the romances and works of fiction have been excluded and the moral and didactic treatises included. By this means, we exclude the more dramatic part of Defoe's writing, and have the greater chance of arriving at his serious opinion. Moreover, social reforms in the early eighteenth century were not within the programme of either party, and Defoe's expression of opinion in the world of 'projects' would seem to have been unbiased.
So much for necessary limitations. The essential background of Defoe's life is the birth and growth of the English party system. What happens between the years 1660 and 1730 must always be tried against the touchstone of the two great parties which arose to replace the long feud of Puritan