Daniel Defoe

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The final issue of the Review, Thursday 11th June 1713

from

A Weekly Review of the Affairs of France, 1704-1711

This final issue of the Review is notable for Defoe’s extensive—indeed hyperbolic—critique of what, after Marx, we would call “commodity fetishism”, an indictment in which he includes his own obsession with “writing on trade”. (Robert Clark)

Before I take my leave of you all, you must bear with my freedom a little, in reproving one epidemick Mischief which I see so growing upon you all; that it becomes a Rarity now to see any of you that are not tainted with it; nay, the Soberest, the Gravest, the Modestest, the most Vertuous, the most Religious among us, whether Church of England or Dissenter, without distinction, I observe you are all strangely addicted to the modish tho’ abominable Vice of MODERN WHORING.

Let none be surprised at the black Charge, for I shall not fail to make it out to you, however odd it may appear: A strange Temper it is, I confess, but so it is, I hardly, rarely, very rarely find a Man among you but has his Whore; nay, so avowedly, and so openly is this Lewdness carried on, that ’tis committed in the Face of the Sun without blushing, without shame, without fear of Reproof from Man, or Vengeance from Heaven.

Nor is the Crime committed without its usual attendants; you know the natural Punishment of insatiable Vice, is manifest in nauseous Distempers and Contagious Fevers in the Blood, and many a foul Disease is the Vice I charge you with attended with.

I am not addicted to long Preambles, much less now I have so little time to speak in; the short of my Charge is this, That the furious persuit of Pride, Luxury, Avarice, Strife, Rage, Error and all the avowed Mischiefs of the Age, can be expressed by nothing so naturally, or reprov’d so effectually as by the Sin of Whoring; the Passion with which all our Vices is embraced, are not of the same kind only, but even exerted in the same Criminal manner, as the leudness of a Whoremaster.

Nor let the Men of Profession, the Men of Religion, nay, not the Clergy of all kinds, think themselves expempt; this Man’s Pride, this Reverend Minister’s Books are his Whore, and the Passion they entertain them with, the Vanity they extend them with, the Shew they make of them, are the excursions of that particular Appetite with which they caress their respective Mistresses, even the criminal Excess, scandalous as Whoredom, and in some manner even brutal and absurd like the Vice.

I am now without Sacred Authority for what I say, when God himself calls the particular Crime of Idolatry, in the Jews, going a Whoring after other Gods; Judah and Israel, under the Names of Aholab and Abolijbah are in the Prophesie of Ezekiel, charg’d with Whoredom and Fornication, Ezek. 23. V. 4. And our Blessed Lord calls the People of the Jews a wicked and adulterous Generation, Matth. 16. 14. And the Scripture is full of Expressions of the like kind.

But I have no need of flying to so Divine Authority for detecting the Follies of this Whoring Generation; the Lewdness of the Age is so Empidemick a Distemper, the Vanity runs so high that common experience is the best Satyr upon you, and exposes you to your selves.

I might begin among our great Folks, for Whoring was never quite excluded from the Court; my Lord ----------- famous for pursuing his Party Views, with an implacable Temper, his Revenge is his WHORE ---------- Who would he not pull down, what Honour, what Principle will he not trample upon, what Faith and Religion will he not Mortgage to enjoy his Whore? How does he every day expose his Intemperance (Lewdness) in pursuit of this Strumpet, and is not asham’d to Court her in the very view of Mankind?

------------ Ditto in Quality, a great Office is his WHORE; What Bear, robb’d of her Whelps, ever roar’d lowder, or was more dangerous to meet in a bye Path, than this deposed Statesman, ever since he was robb’d of his Whore? And tho’ it remains a doubt among the Learned, whether this Mistress of his was taken from him by Violence, or that she really Jilted him for Incompetence, and withdrew of course; yet, as Naturalists say, That unperforming Creatures are tormented with the strongest Desires; so this Impotent State Whoremaster has such an insatiable Itch after the Whore that has forsaken him, that he will leave no Stone unturn’d to recover her, however improbable the Success appear: He has chang’d from side to side, spoke long and loud, and little to the Purpose, and all in pursuit of this Coquet, the Whore he is so fond of.

------------- A sober grave Gentleman, like the late Dr. Salmon, having more printed than digested Learning in his Custody, keeps Two Hundred Thousand Volumes ready for every Occasional Visit: Thus his Library is his Whore, and he delights , tho’ ancient and past the Vice of reading, to look on the beauty and outside, the Binding and Dress of this gilded Strumpet, without being capable of enjoying her, and as if he fear’d not to be rivaled in his Passion he exposes her to every one he meets, tho’ often upon Attempts made by Men of Curiosity, they have found her to be worth no bodies Enjoyment but his that has her, and that all her Intrinisck lies in the Back and Binding.

------------- A profitable Whoremaster to the Common-Wealth, his Bottle is his Whore; every Night he revels and loses himself in the vile Embrace of this Scarlet Strumpet; is truly debacauch’d, and gets the foul Disease of habitual Drunkeness as his inseparable Infection.

I have not room for Characters of Persons, nor time to talk out the subject; the thing that leads your Humour, your Fancy, or your Affection into Excesses, is your Whore. The plodding Tradesman, his shop is his Whore. The gay Fop, that shows nothing but his feathers, and turns Posture-Maker to his Family, his dress and Appearance is his Whore. The Affectations, Gestures and Conceit of Parts, perhaps more than they are Masters of, is many a young Student’s Whore, besides B.O. and which ridiculous Strumpet they carry always about them into Company, into Study, into City, into Country, nay, into the Pulpit, to assist Fools to laugh at them, and to surfeit wise Men with unsufferable Impertinence.

Reading is one Man’s Whore, Writing another’s, and neglect of both, a lazy Whore belonging to a third. One Man makes a whore of one Man’s works, and one of another. The Examiner is some People’s Whore, the Guardian others, and a few Fools make Whores of their own. How many have ravish’d the Spectator and what secret Whoredom has been committed on the Person of the poor Dr.

A. makes his Horse his Whore. B. his fine Coach. C. his Weekly new Cloaths. D. his Pack of Hounds. G. set four Hours a Day to look at his new Bovet (Whore) fill’d with a Thousand Pounds of gilt Plate. What a Whoring Generation is this! F. is newly made a Baronet, and never tires of looking at his new Coat of Arms; like the Indian King at Virginia, who being presented with a Lock to his House Door, pleas’d himself with locking and unlockng it a thousand times a Day. E. is made a Justice, and the Title of Worship is his Whore.

Shall we turn to Parties? No: then you will be angry — But I’ll touch you gently: We have now publick Whores in that affair used in common, tho’ peculiar to this Coffee-House and that Club; and these are generally railing Whores, some at the Government, some at the Succession, some at the French, some at the Dutch, some at the Peace, some at the War, some at the Union, some at the Trade; and how doth men of this Whoring Generation follow these popular Strumpets? How do they run after them to the Coffee-Houses and publick Places? And just as it is laid out, or according to the Whore they love, so they frequent this or that Coffee-House where she haunts, even from honest Jenney Man’s to Tom Tyler’s &c.

And what Whore are you for, said one that stood at my Elbow when I wrote this? — Why, I tell you my Case in a few words; Perhaps this Paper has been my Whore, at least formerly, when it please you; if so, then like the Israelites, that put away their strange Wives, I have resolved to part with her, and so I escape the lash of my own Satyr. Writing upon Trade was Whore I really doted upon, and design’d to have taken up with, but she is ravish’d out of my hands by the Mercator; so for the future, if I have any share in the Vice I blame you for, it will be in doating upon a quiet Retreat, which it shall, if I can help it, be in no bodies Power to interrupt. And so Gentlemen, fare you well.

First published 1713.

Contributed by Robert Clark.