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Extra info for Daniel Defoe: The Whole Frame of Nature, Time and Providence
God has subjected even the ways of his Providence to Rational Methods, and Outward Means agree to it. 20 The world may not have been entirely predictable, but it was projectable; with rational planning and faith in God, one could improve one’s chances for peace and prosperity within it, a rule applying to individuals and to society as a whole. The practical optimism which makes Defoe’s economic generalizations seem over-confident, and his fictional characters so attractive, stems from this core assumption about the omnipresence, but rationality, of Providence.
The ensuing controversy resulted in a series of parliamentary votes drastically to reduce the size of the army and helped to make the last four years the most politically contentious ones of William’s reign. As suggested in the introduction to this chapter, it also revealed a cultural fissure in which modern notions of specialization and exchange challenged classical and humanist concepts of liberty and citizenship. Most scholars since Caroline Robbins have examined these competing paradigms by comparing Defoe’s contributions to the debate with that of Andrew Fletcher.
61 These rules suggest Defoe’s concern to build up a proficient corps of gentlemen officers without capitulating to their robust and impolite independence or to their traditional codes of honour. It was not only technological advance which changed ‘the old Temper of the English’ after the civil wars; as Norbert Elias suggests, the period following civil war often saw the court demanding a curtailment of ‘warlike habits and pleasures’ in society’s military elite. 62 In this context, Defoe’s perception that the civil war represented a profound divide took on a new dimension.