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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 Start in Life

  • I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though no_f that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first a_ull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, live_fterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations wer_amed Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was calle_obinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we ar_ow called - nay we call ourselves and write our name - Crusoe; and so m_ompanions always called me.
  • I had two elder brothers, one of whom was lieutenant-colonel to an Englis_egiment of foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Colone_ockhart, and was killed at the battle near Dunkirk against the Spaniards.
  • What became of my second brother I never knew, any more than my father o_other knew what became of me.
  • Being the third son of the family and not bred to any trade, my head began t_e filled very early with rambling thoughts. My father, who was very ancient,
  • had given me a competent share of learning, as far as house-education and _ountry free school generally go, and designed me for the law; but I would b_atisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me s_trongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father, and against all th_ntreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that there seeme_o be something fatal in that propensity of nature, tending directly to th_ife of misery which was to befall me.
  • My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel agains_hat he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber,
  • where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upo_his subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wanderin_nclination, I had for leaving father's house and my native country, where _ight be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune b_pplication and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it wa_en of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes o_he other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and mak_hemselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; tha_hese things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that min_as the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life,
  • which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, th_ost suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, th_abour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrasse_ith the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. H_old me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing - viz.
  • that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings hav_requently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things,
  • and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between th_ean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as th_tandard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.
  • He bade me observe it, and I should always find that the calamities of lif_ere shared among the upper and lower part of mankind, but that the middl_tation had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to so many vicissitude_s the higher or lower part of mankind; nay, they were not subjected to s_any distempers and uneasinesses, either of body or mind, as those were who,
  • by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on the one hand, or by har_abour, want of necessaries, and mean or insufficient diet on the other hand,
  • bring distemper upon themselves by the natural consequences of their way o_iving; that the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtu_nd all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty were the handmaids of _iddle fortune; that temperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, al_greeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were the blessing_ttending the middle station of life; that this way men went silently an_moothly through the world, and comfortably out of it, not embarrassed wit_he labours of the hands or of the head, not sold to a life of slavery fo_aily bread, nor harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul o_eace and the body of rest, nor enraged with the passion of envy, or th_ecret burning lust of ambition for great things; but, in easy circumstances,
  • sliding gently through the world, and sensibly tasting the sweets of living,
  • without the bitter; feeling that they are happy, and learning by every day'_xperience to know it more sensibly.
  • After this he pressed me earnestly, and in the most affectionate manner, no_o play the young man, nor to precipitate myself into miseries which nature,
  • and the station of life I was born in, seemed to have provided against; that _as under no necessity of seeking my bread; that he would do well for me, an_ndeavour to enter me fairly into the station of life which he had just bee_ecommending to me; and that if I was not very easy and happy in the world, i_ust be my mere fate or fault that must hinder it; and that he should hav_othing to answer for, having thus discharged his duty in warning me agains_easures which he knew would be to my hurt; in a word, that as he would d_ery kind things for me if I would stay and settle at home as he directed, s_e would not have so much hand in my misfortunes as to give me an_ncouragement to go away; and to close all, he told me I had my elder brothe_or an example, to whom he had used the same earnest persuasions to keep hi_rom going into the Low Country wars, but could not prevail, his young desire_rompting him to run into the army, where he was killed; and though he said h_ould not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say to me, that if _id take this foolish step, God would not bless me, and I should have leisur_ereafter to reflect upon having neglected his counsel when there might b_one to assist in my recovery.
  • I observed in this last part of his discourse, which was truly prophetic,
  • though I suppose my father did not know it to be so himself - I say, _bserved the tears run down his face very plentifully, especially when h_poke of my brother who was killed: and that when he spoke of my havin_eisure to repent, and none to assist me, he was so moved that he broke of_he discourse, and told me his heart was so full he could say no more to me.
  • I was sincerely affected with this discourse, and, indeed, who could b_therwise? and I resolved not to think of going abroad any more, but to settl_t home according to my father's desire. But alas! a few days wore it all off;
  • and, in short, to prevent any of my father's further importunities, in a fe_eeks after I resolved to run quite away from him. However, I did not ac_uite so hastily as the first heat of my resolution prompted; but I took m_other at a time when I thought her a little more pleasant than ordinary, an_old her that my thoughts were so entirely bent upon seeing the world that _hould never settle to anything with resolution enough to go through with it,
  • and my father had better give me his consent than force me to go without it;
  • that I was now eighteen years old, which was too late to go apprentice to _rade or clerk to an attorney; that I was sure if I did I should never serv_ut my time, but I should certainly run away from my master before my time wa_ut, and go to sea; and if she would speak to my father to let me go on_oyage abroad, if I came home again, and did not like it, I would go no more;
  • and I would promise, by a double diligence, to recover the time that I ha_ost.
  • This put my mother into a great passion; she told me she knew it would be t_o purpose to speak to my father upon any such subject; that he knew too wel_hat was my interest to give his consent to anything so much for my hurt; an_hat she wondered how I could think of any such thing after the discourse _ad had with my father, and such kind and tender expressions as she knew m_ather had used to me; and that, in short, if I would ruin myself, there wa_o help for me; but I might depend I should never have their consent to it;
  • that for her part she would not have so much hand in my destruction; and _hould never have it to say that my mother was willing when my father was not.
  • Though my mother refused to move it to my father, yet I heard afterwards tha_he reported all the discourse to him, and that my father, after showing _reat concern at it, said to her, with a sigh, “That boy might be happy if h_ould stay at home; but if he goes abroad, he will be the most miserabl_retch that ever was born: I can give no consent to it.”
  • It was not till almost a year after this that I broke loose, though, in th_eantime, I continued obstinately deaf to all proposals of settling t_usiness, and frequently expostulated with my father and mother about thei_eing so positively determined against what they knew my inclinations prompte_e to. But being one day at Hull, where I went casually, and without an_urpose of making an elopement at that time; but, I say, being there, and on_f my companions being about to sail to London in his father's ship, an_rompting me to go with them with the common allurement of seafaring men, tha_t should cost me nothing for my passage, I consulted neither father no_other any more, nor so much as sent them word of it; but leaving them to hea_f it as they might, without asking God's blessing or my father's, without an_onsideration of circumstances or consequences, and in an ill hour, God knows,
  • on the 1st of September 1651, I went on board a ship bound for London. Neve_ny young adventurer's misfortunes, I believe, began sooner, or continue_onger than mine. The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the wind bega_o blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner; and, as I had neve_een at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body and terrified i_ind. I began now seriously to reflect upon what I had done, and how justly _as overtaken by the judgment of Heaven for my wicked leaving my father'_ouse, and abandoning my duty. All the good counsels of my parents, m_ather's tears and my mother's entreaties, came now fresh into my mind; and m_onscience, which was not yet come to the pitch of hardness to which it ha_ince, reproached me with the contempt of advice, and the breach of my duty t_od and my father.
  • All this while the storm increased, and the sea went very high, though nothin_ike what I have seen many times since; no, nor what I saw a few days after;
  • but it was enough to affect me then, who was but a young sailor, and had neve_nown anything of the matter. I expected every wave would have swallowed u_p, and that every time the ship fell down, as I thought it did, in the troug_r hollow of the sea, we should never rise more; in this agony of mind, I mad_any vows and resolutions that if it would please God to spare my life in thi_ne voyage, if ever I got once my foot upon dry land again, I would g_irectly home to my father, and never set it into a ship again while I lived;
  • that I would take his advice, and never run myself into such miseries as thes_ny more. Now I saw plainly the goodness of his observations about the middl_tation of life, how easy, how comfortably he had lived all his days, an_ever had been exposed to tempests at sea or troubles on shore; and I resolve_hat I would, like a true repenting prodigal, go home to my father.
  • These wise and sober thoughts continued all the while the storm lasted, an_ndeed some time after; but the next day the wind was abated, and the se_almer, and I began to be a little inured to it; however, I was very grave fo_ll that day, being also a little sea-sick still; but towards night th_eather cleared up, the wind was quite over, and a charming fine evenin_ollowed; the sun went down perfectly clear, and rose so the next morning; an_aving little or no wind, and a smooth sea, the sun shining upon it, the sigh_as, as I thought, the most delightful that ever I saw.
  • I had slept well in the night, and was now no more sea-sick, but ver_heerful, looking with wonder upon the sea that was so rough and terrible th_ay before, and could be so calm and so pleasant in so little a time after.
  • And now, lest my good resolutions should continue, my companion, who ha_nticed me away, comes to me; “Well, Bob,” says he, clapping me upon th_houlder, “how do you do after it? I warrant you were frighted, wer'n't you,
  • last night, when it blew but a capful of wind?” “A capful d'you call it?” sai_; “'twas a terrible storm.” “A storm, you fool you,” replies he; “do you cal_hat a storm? why, it was nothing at all; give us but a good ship and sea-
  • room, and we think nothing of such a squall of wind as that; but you're but _resh-water sailor, Bob. Come, let us make a bowl of punch, and we'll forge_ll that; d'ye see what charming weather 'tis now?” To make short this sa_art of my story, we went the way of all sailors; the punch was made and I wa_ade half drunk with it: and in that one night's wickedness I drowned all m_epentance, all my reflections upon my past conduct, all my resolutions fo_he future. In a word, as the sea was returned to its smoothness of surfac_nd settled calmness by the abatement of that storm, so the hurry of m_houghts being over, my fears and apprehensions of being swallowed up by th_ea being forgotten, and the current of my former desires returned, I entirel_orgot the vows and promises that I made in my distress. I found, indeed, som_ntervals of reflection; and the serious thoughts did, as it were, endeavou_o return again sometimes; but I shook them off, and roused myself from the_s it were from a distemper, and applying myself to drinking and company, soo_astered the return of those fits - for so I called them; and I had in five o_ix days got as complete a victory over conscience as any young fellow tha_esolved not to be troubled with it could desire. But I was to have anothe_rial for it still; and Providence, as in such cases generally it does,
  • resolved to leave me entirely without excuse; for if I would not take this fo_ deliverance, the next was to be such a one as the worst and most hardene_retch among us would confess both the danger and the mercy of.
  • The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the wind havin_een contrary and the weather calm, we had made but little way since th_torm. Here we were obliged to come to an anchor, and here we lay, the win_ontinuing contrary - viz. at south-west - for seven or eight days, durin_hich time a great many ships from Newcastle came into the same Roads, as th_ommon harbour where the ships might wait for a wind for the river.
  • We had not, however, rid here so long but we should have tided it up th_iver, but that the wind blew too fresh, and after we had lain four or fiv_ays, blew very hard. However, the Roads being reckoned as good as a harbour,
  • the anchorage good, and our ground- tackle very strong, our men wer_nconcerned, and not in the least apprehensive of danger, but spent the tim_n rest and mirth, after the manner of the sea; but the eighth day, in th_orning, the wind increased, and we had all hands at work to strike ou_opmasts, and make everything snug and close, that the ship might ride as eas_s possible. By noon the sea went very high indeed, and our ship rod_orecastle in, shipped several seas, and we thought once or twice our ancho_ad come home; upon which our master ordered out the sheet-anchor, so that w_ode with two anchors ahead, and the cables veered out to the bitter end.
  • By this time it blew a terrible storm indeed; and now I began to see terro_nd amazement in the faces even of the seamen themselves. The master, thoug_igilant in the business of preserving the ship, yet as he went in and out o_is cabin by me, I could hear him softly to himself say, several times, “Lor_e merciful to us! we shall be all lost! we shall be all undone!” and th_ike. During these first hurries I was stupid, lying still in my cabin, whic_as in the steerage, and cannot describe my temper: I could ill resume th_irst penitence which I had so apparently trampled upon and hardened mysel_gainst: I thought the bitterness of death had been past, and that this woul_e nothing like the first; but when the master himself came by me, as I sai_ust now, and said we should be all lost, I was dreadfully frighted. I got u_ut of my cabin and looked out; but such a dismal sight I never saw: the se_an mountains high, and broke upon us every three or four minutes; when _ould look about, I could see nothing but distress round us; two ships tha_ode near us, we found, had cut their masts by the board, being deep laden;
  • and our men cried out that a ship which rode about a mile ahead of us wa_oundered. Two more ships, being driven from their anchors, were run out o_he Roads to sea, at all adventures, and that with not a mast standing. Th_ight ships fared the best, as not so much labouring in the sea; but two o_hree of them drove, and came close by us, running away with only thei_pritsail out before the wind.
  • Towards evening the mate and boatswain begged the master of our ship to le_hem cut away the fore-mast, which he was very unwilling to do; but th_oatswain protesting to him that if he did not the ship would founder, h_onsented; and when they had cut away the fore-mast, the main-mast stood s_oose, and shook the ship so much, they were obliged to cut that away also,
  • and make a clear deck.
  • Any one may judge what a condition I must be in at all this, who was but _oung sailor, and who had been in such a fright before at but a little. But i_ can express at this distance the thoughts I had about me at that time, I wa_n tenfold more horror of mind upon account of my former convictions, and th_aving returned from them to the resolutions I had wickedly taken at first,
  • than I was at death itself; and these, added to the terror of the storm, pu_e into such a condition that I can by no words describe it. But the worst wa_ot come yet; the storm continued with such fury that the seamen themselve_cknowledged they had never seen a worse. We had a good ship, but she was dee_aden, and wallowed in the sea, so that the seamen every now and then crie_ut she would founder. It was my advantage in one respect, that I did not kno_hat they meant by FOUNDER till I inquired. However, the storm was so violen_hat I saw, what is not often seen, the master, the boatswain, and some other_ore sensible than the rest, at their prayers, and expecting every moment whe_he ship would go to the bottom. In the middle of the night, and under all th_est of our distresses, one of the men that had been down to see cried out w_ad sprung a leak; another said there was four feet water in the hold. The_ll hands were called to the pump. At that word, my heart, as I thought, die_ithin me: and I fell backwards upon the side of my bed where I sat, into th_abin. However, the men roused me, and told me that I, that was able to d_othing before, was as well able to pump as another; at which I stirred up an_ent to the pump, and worked very heartily. While this was doing the master,
  • seeing some light colliers, who, not able to ride out the storm were oblige_o slip and run away to sea, and would come near us, ordered to fire a gun a_ signal of distress. I, who knew nothing what they meant, thought the shi_ad broken, or some dreadful thing happened. In a word, I was so surprise_hat I fell down in a swoon. As this was a time when everybody had his ow_ife to think of, nobody minded me, or what was become of me; but another ma_tepped up to the pump, and thrusting me aside with his foot, let me lie,
  • thinking I had been dead; and it was a great while before I came to myself.
  • We worked on; but the water increasing in the hold, it was apparent that th_hip would founder; and though the storm began to abate a little, yet it wa_ot possible she could swim till we might run into any port; so the maste_ontinued firing guns for help; and a light ship, who had rid it out jus_head of us, ventured a boat out to help us. It was with the utmost hazard th_oat came near us; but it was impossible for us to get on board, or for th_oat to lie near the ship's side, till at last the men rowing very heartily,
  • and venturing their lives to save ours, our men cast them a rope over th_tern with a buoy to it, and then veered it out a great length, which they,
  • after much labour and hazard, took hold of, and we hauled them close under ou_tern, and got all into their boat. It was to no purpose for them or us, afte_e were in the boat, to think of reaching their own ship; so all agreed to le_er drive, and only to pull her in towards shore as much as we could; and ou_aster promised them, that if the boat was staved upon shore, he would make i_ood to their master: so partly rowing and partly driving, our boat went awa_o the northward, sloping towards the shore almost as far as Winterton Ness.
  • We were not much more than a quarter of an hour out of our ship till we sa_er sink, and then I understood for the first time what was meant by a shi_oundering in the sea. I must acknowledge I had hardly eyes to look up whe_he seamen told me she was sinking; for from the moment that they rather pu_e into the boat than that I might be said to go in, my heart was, as it were,
  • dead within me, partly with fright, partly with horror of mind, and th_houghts of what was yet before me.
  • While we were in this condition - the men yet labouring at the oar to brin_he boat near the shore - we could see (when, our boat mounting the waves, w_ere able to see the shore) a great many people running along the strand t_ssist us when we should come near; but we made but slow way towards th_hore; nor were we able to reach the shore till, being past the lighthouse a_interton, the shore falls off to the westward towards Cromer, and so the lan_roke off a little the violence of the wind. Here we got in, and though no_ithout much difficulty, got all safe on shore, and walked afterwards on foo_o Yarmouth, where, as unfortunate men, we were used with great humanity, a_ell by the magistrates of the town, who assigned us good quarters, as b_articular merchants and owners of ships, and had money given us sufficient t_arry us either to London or back to Hull as we thought fit.
  • Had I now had the sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I ha_een happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, had eve_illed the fatted calf for me; for hearing the ship I went away in was cas_way in Yarmouth Roads, it was a great while before he had any assurances tha_ was not drowned.
  • But my ill fate pushed me on now with an obstinacy that nothing could resist;
  • and though I had several times loud calls from my reason and my more compose_udgment to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I know not what to cal_his, nor will I urge that it is a secret overruling decree, that hurries u_n to be the instruments of our own destruction, even though it be before us,
  • and that we rush upon it with our eyes open. Certainly, nothing but some suc_ecreed unavoidable misery, which it was impossible for me to escape, coul_ave pushed me forward against the calm reasonings and persuasions of my mos_etired thoughts, and against two such visible instructions as I had met wit_n my first attempt.
  • My comrade, who had helped to harden me before, and who was the master's son,
  • was now less forward than I. The first time he spoke to me after we were a_armouth, which was not till two or three days, for we were separated in th_own to several quarters; I say, the first time he saw me, it appeared hi_one was altered; and, looking very melancholy, and shaking his head, he aske_e how I did, and telling his father who I was, and how I had come this voyag_nly for a trial, in order to go further abroad, his father, turning to m_ith a very grave and concerned tone “Young man,” says he, “you ought never t_o to sea any more; you ought to take this for a plain and visible token tha_ou are not to be a seafaring man.” “Why, sir,” said I, “will you go to sea n_ore?” “That is another case,” said he; “it is my calling, and therefore m_uty; but as you made this voyage on trial, you see what a taste Heaven ha_iven you of what you are to expect if you persist. Perhaps this has al_efallen us on your account, like Jonah in the ship of Tarshish. Pray,”
  • continues he, “what are you; and on what account did you go to sea?” Upon tha_ told him some of my story; at the end of which he burst out into a strang_ind of passion: “What had I done,” says he, “that such an unhappy wretc_hould come into my ship? I would not set my foot in the same ship with the_gain for a thousand pounds.” This indeed was, as I said, an excursion of hi_pirits, which were yet agitated by the sense of his loss, and was farthe_han he could have authority to go. However, he afterwards talked very gravel_o me, exhorting me to go back to my father, and not tempt Providence to m_uin, telling me I might see a visible hand of Heaven against me. “And, youn_an,” said he, “depend upon it, if you do not go back, wherever you go, yo_ill meet with nothing but disasters and disappointments, till your father'_ords are fulfilled upon you.”
  • We parted soon after; for I made him little answer, and I saw him no more;
  • which way he went I knew not. As for me, having some money in my pocket, _ravelled to London by land; and there, as well as on the road, had man_truggles with myself what course of life I should take, and whether I shoul_o home or to sea.
  • As to going home, shame opposed the best motions that offered to my thoughts,
  • and it immediately occurred to me how I should be laughed at among th_eighbours, and should be ashamed to see, not my father and mother only, bu_ven everybody else; from whence I have since often observed, how incongruou_nd irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to tha_eason which ought to guide them in such cases - viz. that they are no_shamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action fo_hich they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of th_eturning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men.
  • In this state of life, however, I remained some time, uncertain what measure_o take, and what course of life to lead. An irresistible reluctance continue_o going home; and as I stayed away a while, the remembrance of the distress _ad been in wore off, and as that abated, the little motion I had in m_esires to return wore off with it, till at last I quite laid aside th_houghts of it, and looked out for a voyage.