Dickory Cronke the Dumb Philosopher, or, Great Britain's Wonder

Dickory Cronke, by Daniel Defoe, is a strange book, not least because no-one seems to know whether it is based upon reality or not. But given Defoe's record of producing work in character (his Plague Journal for instance), I will err on the side of fiction based upon a little fact. This is only a short book, and it is split into three sections: first, a recanting of Dickory's life; second, his musings upon religion and philosophy; and third, a selection of prophecies for the 1720s. Dickory's life itself is a little interesting, born dumb but living a good and intelligent life until one day he has a fit and whilst realising that his time is nearly up, he also discovers he suddenly has the capacity for speech. There then follows his philosophies and prophecies. Some I found interesting, but to be honest, I did find myself glossing over a number. Do well by yourself and do not bother yourself with the triflings of other people seemed to be the message coming through again and again. As for his prophecies, I have no idea if they came true or not, and I'm particularly inclined to research. Overall, I would say that this is adequate reading, you really aren't missing out by not reading it and overall I would recommend it only to Defoe enthusiasts who feel that they must read his entire works.

Select philosophies:
  • A wise man spends every day as if it were his last; his hourglass is always in his hand, and he is never guilty of sluggishness or insincerity.
  • Wicked men may sometimes go unpunished in this world, but wicked nations never do; because this world is the only place of punishment of wicked nations, though not for private and particular persons.
  • It is a very ancient observation, and a very true one, that people generally despise where they flatter, and cringe to those they design to betray; so that truth and ceremony are, and always will be, two distinct things.
  • Gentleness and good humour are invincible, provided they are without hypocrisy and design; they disarm the most barbarous and savage tempers, and make even malice ashamed of itself.
  • Do not disturb yourself about the faults of other people, but let everybody's crimes be at their own door.
Select prophecies:
  • About this time a man with a double head shall arrive in Britain from the south. One of these heads shall deliver messages of great importance to the governing party, and the other to the party that is opposite to them. The first shall believe the monster, but the last shall discover the impostor, and so happily disengage themselves from a snare that was laid to destroy them and their posterity. After this the two heads shall unite, and the monster shall appear in his proper shape.
  • Towards the close of this year of mysteries, a person that was born blind shall have his sight restored, and shall see ravens perch upon the heads of traitors, among which the head of a notorious prelate shall stand upon the highest pole.


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