"IN ORDER TO SECURE US FROM A TYRANT, THE WHOLE NATION MUST BE DISARMED": DEFOE'S 1698 REBUTTAL TO TRENCHARD'S HISTORY OF STANDING ARMIES IN ENGLAND
(DEFOE, Daniel). A Brief Reply to the History of Standing Armies in England. With some Account of the Authors. Second Edition. London: 1698. Slim quarto, period-style half brown calf and marbled boards; pp. (i-vi), 1-25 (1). $500.
Second edition, issued the same year as the first, of Defoe's rebuttal of John Trenchard's opposition to the maintenance of Standing Armies in the American colonies, also issued that year.
More than any other single individual, John Trenchard created the American suspicion of standing armies when the controversial Englishman here argued that "such a Power is to be trusted to none" (38). In his 1698 A Short History of Standing Armies in England, the controversial Englishman argued that the British army threatened the public interest: "If this Army does not make us slaves, we are the only People upon Earth in such Circumstances that ever escap'd it… such a Power is to be trusted to none, which if it does not find a Tyrant, commonly makes one; and if not him, to be sure a Successor." In the decades to come, American colonists similarly saw "the standing army as a repressive instrument of tyranny, a constant threat to civil liberties" (Leach, Roots of Conflict, 24).
Daniel Defoe, who strenuously objected to Trenchard's Short History, answered it the same year with the present work, his Brief Reply to the History of Standing Armies in England. In this treatise, Defoe denounces Trenchard as one of the "Murmerers, Grumbletonians and the like… The Evil Spirit of Discontent is now at Work under the best Reign, and the mildest Government that ever England knew" (Preface). Defoe, concerned about French military might, argues for the legality of a nation maintaining a standing army, and for its expediency, noting "to me it seems one of the most ridiculous things in the world to be wholly disarm'd at such a time, when all the nations in the world have forces in pay… If it be true, that an army may be dangerous at Home, 'tis as true that having no army must be fatal Abroad" (pp. 8-9). "Defoe is identified as the author by John Robert Moore, Check-List of the Writings of Daniel Defoe" (Schwoerer, No Standing Armies , 179n).
Wing D829A. ESTC R9669.
Title page with minor soiling, tiny hole not affecting letterpress; very faint dampstaining along upper margin. Binding fine and attractive.