Press enter after choosing selection

Fifty Pounds Reward!

Fifty Pounds Reward! image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

In England a great many yaars ago - whcn Anno had just becouie Queeu, and when the Duke of Marlborough was muking those dashing marches on the continent of Europe which went before the fearful and lamous battle of Blenheim ; and when the people of Boston, in New England, were talking about printin their first newspaper (but had nol yet done it) - there appeared in the London Oazette a proolamation, offering a reward of fifty pounds for the arrest of a " middle-sized, spare man, about i'orty years old, of a brown complexion and dark brown-colored hair, who wears a wig, and has a hooked nose, a sharp chin, and a large mole near nis mouth." And the proclamation further said, that " he was for many years a hose-factor in Freeman's yard, in Cornhill." And what do you care about this man. with a hooked nose, for whose capture a reward was offered about the year 1703 'i Had he plotted to kill the Queen? No. Had he forged a note? No. Had he murdered anybody ? No. Was he a Frenchman in disguise ? No. What then ? He had written some very sharp political pamphleta, which the people in authority didn't at all like, and were determined to punish him for. But, I suppose, there were a great many hot political writers who were caught up in the same way in those old-fashioned times, and put in the pillory or in prison for the very same sort of wrong-doing, whose ├▒ames we don't know, and don't care to know. Why, then, have I brought up this old proclamation about this forty-year-old, hooked-nosed man ? Only because his name was Daniel Defoe, and because he wrote that most dolightful of all the story-books that ever were written - Kobinson Crusoe ! To be sure he had not written " Robinsou Crusoe" at that time ; if he had, perhaps the sheriff, or whoever sent out the proclamation, would have described him as the writer of a story-book about being cast away on a desert island, and full of monstrous fables, instead of describing him as a hosier of Freeman's court. But I don't know. People in authority never know or care so much about the books a man writes, as about the Bhop he keeps or the debts he owes. But did they catch the hook-nosed man? and did somebody get the fifty pounds? Yes, thoy caught him ; and yes, too, about the pounds. And he had an awful time in pnson he fcells us, and chafed horribly ; for he was one ot' those restless, impatient, busybodies, who want always to be at work, and at work in their own way. He was what would have been called, I dare say, in our time, a hot-headed radical ; and if he had been bom a century and a-half Later, would have made a capital editorial writer for a slashing morning daily in such a city as New York or Washington. But our people in authority would not have offered a reward for his arrest ; they would have shrugged their shoulders, or failing of this would give him an office. He had all the enemies because he had been befriended by King William (who died in 1807), and who was a staunch Protestant, and- as you know - had come over from Holland to take the English throne. Defoe was a staunch Protestant too, and a very hot-headed one. And it was his sharp talk about religious matters - which were then closely mixed up with political ones - that brought him to grief. But ho kept on writing. The prison couldn't stop that, or it didn't. And when at last he carne out, he wrote all the more. He was a born writer, and never grew weary of writing. Yet it was fully seventeen years after the offer of that fifty pounds reward, and when the " forty-year old, hook-nosed man," was on toward sixty, he published " The Life and Strange, Surprising Adventures of Eobinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, who lived Eight-and-twenty Years, all alone, in an Uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the great River Oroonoque." Ah, what a book it was ! What a book itis! You dont know the names of those political booklets whieh this man wrote, and which made him a good friend of the great King William, and gave him great fanie, and brought him to prison ; nor do you know, nor do your fathers or mothers know much about those other books which this man wrote upon Trade, and Religious Courtship, and a score of other things ; nor are they by anybody much read or called for. But as for that dear old figure in the high goat-skin cap, and with the uinbrella to match, and the long beard - who does not know him, and all about, him all over the Christian world ? Why, long as it is since I first trembled over the sight of those savage foot-marks in the sand, and Blept in the cave, and pulled up the rope-ladder that hung down over the palisades - yet, if that dear old figure in the high goat-skin cap and the goat-skin leggings were to march up my walk on some mild spring evening, I don't think I should treat him as a stranger in the least. I think I should go straight to him and say : " My dear Mr. Crusoe, I am ever so glad to see you ; and did Friday come with you ? And is Poll at the station 'i And have you been to York ? And do you think of going to sea again ?" I don't know any figure of the last two centuries that it would be so hard to blot out of men's ininds as the figure of


Old News
Michigan Argus