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Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe 1719

I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good
family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of
Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by
merchandise, and leaving off his trade lived afterward at York, from
whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named
Robinson, a good family in that country, and from whom I was called
Robinson Kreutznear; but by the usual corruption of words in England
we are now called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name, Crusoe,
and so my companions always called me.
I had two elder brothers, one of which was lieutenant-colonel to
an English regiment of foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the
famous Colonel Lockhart, 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 and mother did know what was become of
Being the third son of the family, and not bred to any trade, my
head began to be 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 a country free school
generally goes, and designed me for the law, but I would be
satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this
led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands, of my
father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions of my mother
and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in that
propension of nature tending directly to the life of misery which
was to befall me.
My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent
counsel against what 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 upon this subject. He asked me what
reasons more than a mere wandering inclination I had for leaving my
father's house and my native country, where I might be well
introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortunes by application
and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was
for men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior
fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by
enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out
of the common road; that these things were all either too far above
me, or too far below me; that mine was 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, the most suited to human
happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labor and
sufferings, of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed
with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of
mankind. He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by
one thing, viz., that this was the state of life which all other
people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable
consequences of being born to great things, and wished they had been
placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the
great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this as the just
standard of true felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty
nor riches.
He bid me observe it, and I should always find that the calamities
of life were shared among the upper and lower part of mankind; but
that the middle station had the fewest disasters and was not exposed
to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind. Nay,
they were not subjected to so many distempers and uneasiness either of
body or mind as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and
extravagancies on one hand, or by hard labor, want of necessaries, and
mean or insufficient diet on the other hand, bring distempers upon
themselves by the natural consequences of their way of living; that
the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtues
and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty were the handmaids
of a middle fortune; that temperance, moderation, quietness, health,
society, all agreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were
the blessings attending the middle station of life; that this way
men went silently and smoothly through the world, and comfortably
out of it, not embarrassed with the labors of the hands or of the
head, not sold to the life of slavery for daily bread, or harassed
with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul of peace, and the
body of rest; not enraged with the passion of envy, or secret
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's experience to know it more sensibly.
After this, he pressed me earnestly, and in the most affectionate
manner, not to play the young man, not to precipitate myself into
miseries which Nature and the station of life I was born in seemed
to have provided against; that I was under no necessity of seeking
my bread; that he would do well for me, and endeavor to enter me
fairly into the station of life which he had been just recommending to
me; and that if I was not very easy and happy in the world it must
be my mere fate or fault that must hinder it, and that he should
have nothing to answer for, having thus discharged his duty in warning
me against measures which he knew would be to my hurt; in a word, that
as he would do very kind things for me if I would stay and settle at
home as he directed, so he would not have so much hand in my
misfortunes, as to give me any encouragement to go away. And to
close all, he told me I had my elder brother for an example, to whom
he had used the same earnest persuasions to keep him from going into
the Low Country wars, but could not prevail, his young desires
prompting him to run into the army, where he was killed; and though he
said he would not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say to
me, that if I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me,
and I would have leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected
his counsel when there might be none 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, I observed the tears run down his face very plentifully,
and especially when he spoke of my brother who was killed; and that
when he spoke of my having leisure to repent, and none to assist me,
he was so moved that he broke off the discourse, and told me his heart
was so full he could say no more to me.
I was sincerely affected with this discourse, as indeed who could be
otherwise? and I resolved not to think of going abroad any more, but
to settle at 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
farther importunities, in a few weeks after I resolved to run quite
away from him. However, I did not act so hastily neither as my first
heat of resolution prompted, but I took my mother, at a time when I
thought her a little pleasanter than ordinary, and told her that my
thoughts were so entirely bent upon seeing the world that I should
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 a trade, or clerk to an attorney; that I was sure
if I did, I should never serve out my time, and I should certainly run
away from my master before my time was out, and go to sea; and if
she would speak to my father to let me go but one voyage 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 that time I had lost.
This put my mother into a great passion. She told me she knew it
would be to no purpose to speak to my father upon any such subject;
that he knew too well what was my interest to give his consent to
anything so much for my hurt, and that she wondered how I could
think of any such thing after such a discourse as I had had with my
father, and such kind and tender expressions as she knew my father had
used to me; and that, in short, if I would ruin myself there was no
help for me; but I might depend I should never have their consent to
it; that for her part, she should not have so much hand in my
destruction, and I should 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, as I have
heard afterwards, she reported all the discourse to him, and that my
father, after showing a great concern at it, said to her with a
sigh, "That boy might be happy if he would stay at home, but if he
goes abroad he will be the miserablest wretch that was ever born: I
can give no consent to it."
It was not till almost a year after this that I broke loose,
though in the meantime I continued obstinately deaf to all proposals
of settling to business, and frequently expostulating with my father
and mother about their being so positively determined against what
they knew my inclinations prompted me to. But being one day at Hull,
where I went casually, and without any purpose of making an
elopement that time; but I say, being there, and one of my
companions being going by sea to London, in his father's ship, and
prompting me to go with them, with the common allurement of sea-faring
men, viz., that it should cost me nothing for my passage, I
consulted neither father nor mother any more, nor so much as sent them
word of it; but leaving them to hear of it as they might, without
asking God's blessing, or my father's, without any consideration of
circumstances or consequences, and in an ill hour, God knows, on the
first of September, 1651, I went on board a ship bound for London.
Never any young adventurer's misfortunes, I believe began sooner, or
continued longer than mine. The ship was no sooner gotten out of the
Humber, but the wind began to blow, and the waves to rise in a most
frightful manner; and as I had never been at sea before, I was most
inexpressibly sick in body, and terrified in my mind. I began now
seriously to reflect upon what I had done, and how justly I was
overtaken by the judgment of Heaven for my wicked leaving my
father's house, and abandoning my duty; all the good counsel of my
parents, my father's tears and my mother's entreaties, came now
fresh into my mind, and my conscience, which was not yet come to the
pitch of hardness which it has been since, reproached me with the
contempt of advice and the breach of my duty to God and my father.
All this while the storm increased, and the sea, which I had never
been upon before, went very high, though nothing like what I have seen
many times since; no, nor like what I saw a few days after. But it was
enough to affect me then, who was but a young sailor, and had never
known anything of the matter. I expected every wave would have
swallowed us up, and that every time the ship fell down, as I thought,
in the trough or hollow of the sea, we should never rise more; and
in this agony of mind I made many vows of resolutions, that if it
would please God here to spare my life this one voyage, if ever I
got once my foot upon dry land again, I would go directly 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 these
any more. Now I saw plainly the goodness of his observations about the
middle station of life, how easy, how comfortably he had lived all his
days, and never had been exposed to tempests at sea, or troubles on
shore; and I resolved that I would, like a true repenting prodigal, go
home to my father.
These wise and sober thoughts continued all the while the storm
continued, and indeed some time after; but the next day the wind was
abated and the sea calmer, and I began to be a little inured to it.
However, I was very grave for all that day, being also a little
sea-sick still; but towards night the weather cleared up, the wind was
quite over, and a charming fine evening followed; the sun went down
perfectly clear, and rose so the next morning; and having little or no
wind, and a smooth sea, the sun shining upon it, the sight was, 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 very
cheerful, looking with wonder upon the sea that was so wrought and
terrible the day before, and could be so calm and so pleasant in so
little time after. And now lest my good resolutions should continue,
my companion, who had indeed enticed me away, comes to me: "Well,
Bob," says he, clapping me on the shoulder, "how do you do after it? I
warrant you were frighted, wa'n't you, last night, when it blew but
a capful of wind?" "A capful, d'you call it?" said I; It was a
terrible storm." "A storm, you fool you," replied he; "do you call
that a storm? Why, it was nothing at all; give us but a good ship
and sea-room, and we think 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 a fresh-water sailor, Bob. Come, let us make a bowl of
punch, and we'll forget all that; d'ye see what charming weather
'tis now?" To make short this sad part of my story, we went the old
way of all sailors; the punch was made, and I was made drunk with
it, and in that one night's wickedness I drowned all my repentance,
all my reflections upon my past conduct, and all my resolutions for my
future. In a word, as the sea was returned to its smoothness of
surface and settled calmness by the abatement of that storm, so the
hurry of my thoughts being over, my fears and apprehensions of being
swallowed up by the sea being forgotten, and the current of my
former desires returned, I entirely forgot the vows and promises
that I made in my distress. I found indeed some intervals of
reflection, and the serious thoughts did, as it were, endeavor to
return again sometime; but I shook them off, and roused myself from
them as it were from a distemper, and applying myself to drink and
company, soon mastered the return of those fits, for so I called them,
and I had in five or six days got as complete a victory over
conscience as any young fellow that resolved not to be troubled with
it could desire. But I was to have another trial 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 for a
deliverance, the next was to be such a one as the worst and most
hardened wretch among us would confess both the danger and the mercy.
The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth roads; the
wind having been contrary and the weather calm, we made but little way
since the storm. Here we were obliged to come to an anchor, and here
we lay, the wind continuing contrary, viz., at southwest, for seven or
eight days, during which time a great many ships from Newcastle came
into the same roads, as the common harbor where the ships might wait
for a wind for the river.
We had not, however, rid here so long, but should have tided it up
the river, but that the wind blew too fresh; and after we had lain
four or five days, blew very hard. However, the roads .being
reckoned as good as a harbor, the anchorage good, and our
ground-tackle very strong, our men were unconcerned, and not in the
least apprehensive of danger, but spent the time in rest and mirth,
after the manner of the sea; but the eighth day in the morning the
wind increased, and we had all hands at work to strike our topmasts,
and make everything snug and close, that the ship might ride as easy
as possible. By noon the sea went very high indeed, and our ship rid
forecastle in, shipped several seas, and we thought once or twice
our anchor had come home; upon which our master ordered out the
sheet anchor, so that we rode with two anchors ahead, and the cables
veered out to the better end.
By this time it blew a terrible storm indeed, and now I began to see
terror and amazement in the faces even of the seamen themselves. The
master, though vigilant to the business of perserving the ship, yet as
he went in and out of his cabin by me, I could hear him softly to
himself say several times, "Lord be merciful to us, we shall be all
lost, we shall be all undone"; and the like. During these first
hurries I was stupid, lying still in my cabin, which was in the
steerage, and cannot describe my temper; I could ill reassume the
first penitence, which I had so apparently trampled upon, and hardened
myself against; I though the bitterness of death had been past, and
that this would be nothing too, like the first. But when the master
himself came by me, as I said just now, and said we should be all
lost, I was dreadfully frighted; I got up out of my cabin, and
looked out but such a dismal sight I never saw: the sea went mountains
high, and broke upon us every three or four minutes; when I could look
about, I could see nothing but distress round us. Two ships that rid
near us we found had cut their masts by the board, being deep
loaden; and our men cried out that a ship which rid about's mile ahead
of us was foundered. Two more ships being driven from their anchors,
were run out of the roads to sea at all adventures, and that with
not a mast standing. The light ships fared the best, as not so much
laboring in the sea; but two or three of them drove, and came close by
us, running away with only their sprit-sail out before the wind.
Towards evening the mate and boatswain begged the master of our ship
to let them cut away the foremast, which he was very unwilling to. But
the boatswain, protesting to him that if he did not the ship would
founder, he consented; and when they had cut away the foremast, the
mainmast stood so loose, and shook the ship so much, they were obliged
to cut her away also, and make a clear deck.
Any one may judge what a condition I must be in all this, who was
but a young sailor, and who had been in such a fright before at but
a little. But if I can express at this distance the thoughts I had
about me at that time, I was in tenfold more horror of mind upon
account of my former convictions, and then having 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, put me into
such a condition that I can by no words describe it. But the worst was
not come yet; the storm continued with such fury that the seamen
themselves acknowledged they had never known a worse. We had a good
ship, but she was deep loaden, and wallowed in the sea, that the
seamen every now and then cried out she would founder. It was my
advantage in one respect, that I did not know what they meant by
founder till I inquired. However, the storm was so violent 'that I saw
what is not often seen, the master, the boatswain, and some others
more sensible than the rest, at their prayers, and expecting every
moment when the ship would go to the bottom. In the middle of the
night, and under all the rest of our distresses, one of the men that
had been down on purpose to see, cried out we had sprung a leak;
another said there was four foot water in the hold. Then all hands
were called to the pump. At that very word my heart, as I thought,
died within me, and I fell backwards upon the side of my bed where I
sat, into the cabin. However, the men aroused me, and told me that
I, that was able to do nothing before, was as well able to pump as
another; at which I stirred up and went 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 obliged to slip and run away
to sea, and would come near us, ordered to fire a gun as a signal of
distress. I, who knew nothing what that meant, was so surprised that I
thought the ship had broke, or some dreadful thing had happened. In
a word, I was so surprised that I fell down in a swoon. As this was
a time when everybody had his own life to think of, nobody minded
me, or what was become of me; but another man stepped 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 the ship would founder, and though the storm began to
abate a little, yet as it was not possible she could swim till we
might run into a port, so the master continued firing guns for help;
and a light ship, who had rid it out just ahead of us, ventured a boat
out to help us. It was with the utmost hazard the boat came near us,
but it was impossible for us to get on board, or for the boat 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
the stern with a buoy to it, and then veered it out a great length,
which they after great labor and hazard took hold of, and we hauled
them close under our stern, and got all into their boat. It was to
no purpose for them or us after we were in the boat to think of
reaching to their own ship, so all agreed to let her drive, and only
to pull her in towards shore as much as we could, and our master
promised them that if the boat was staved upon shore he would make
it good to their master; so partly rowing and partly driving, our boat
went away to the norward, 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
but we saw her sink, and then I understood for the first time what was
meant by a ship foundering in the sea. I must acknowledge I had hardly
eyes to look up when the seamen told me she was sinking; for from that
moment they rather put me 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 the thoughts of what was yet before me.
While we were in this condition, the men yet laboring at the oar
to bring the boat near the shore, we could see, when, our boat,
mounting the waves, we were able to see the shore" great many people
running along the shore to assist us when we should come near. But
we made but slow way towards the shore, nor were we able to reach
the shore, till being past the lighthouse at Winterton, the shore
falls off to the westward towards Cromer, and so the land broke off
a little the violence of the wind. Here we got in, and though not
without much difficulty got all safe on shore, and walked afterwards
on foot to Yarmouth, where, as unfortunate men, we were used with
great humanity as well by the magistrates of the town, who assigned us
good quarters, as by particular merchants and owners of ships, and had
money given us sufficient to carry 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 had been happy, and my father, an emblem of our blessed
Saviour's parable, had even killed the fatted calf for me; for hearing
the ship I went away in was cast away in Yarmouth road, it was a great
while before he had any assurance that I 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 composed judgment to get home, yet I had no power to do
it. I knew not what to call this, nor will I urge that it is a
secret overruling decree that hurries us on 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 such decreed
unavoidable misery attending, and which it was impossible for me to
escape, could have pushed me forward against the calm reasonings and
persuasions of my most retired thoughts, and against two such
visible instructions as I had met with in 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 at Yarmouth, which was not till two or three days,
for we were separated in the town to several quarters - I say, the
first time he was me, it appeared his tone was altered, and looking
very melancholy and shaking his head, asked me how I did, and
telling his father who I was, and how I had came this voyage only
for a trial in order to go farther abroad, his father turning to me
with a very grave and concerned tone, "Young man," says he, "you ought
never to go to sea any more, you ought to take this for a plain and
visible token, that you are not to be a seafaring man." "Why, sir,"
said I, "will you go to sea no more?" "That is another case," said he;
"it is my calling, and therefore my duty; but as you made this
voyage for a trial, you see what a task Heaven has given you of what
you are to expect if you persist; perhaps this is all befallen 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 that I
told him some of my story, at the end of which he burst out with a
strange kind of passion. "What had I done," says he, "that such an
unhappy wretch should come into my ship? I would not set my foot in
the same ship with thee again for a thousand pounds." This, indeed,
was, as I said, an excursion of his spirits, which were got agitated
by the sense of his loss, and was farther than he could have authority
to go. However, he afterwards talked very gravely to me, exhorted me
to go back to my father, and not tempt Providence to my ruin; told
me I might see a visible hand of Heaven against me. "And, young
man," said he, "depend upon it, if you do not go back, wherever you go
you will meet with nothing but disasters and disappointments, till
your father's words 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 know not. As for me, having some money in
my pocket, I travelled to London by land; and there, as well as on the
road, had many struggles with myself what course of life I should
take, and whether I should go home or go 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 the neighbors, and should be ashamed to see, not my father
and mother only but even everybody else; from whence I have since
often observed how incongruous and irrational the common temper of
mankind is, especially of youth, to the reason which ought to guide
them in such cases, viz., that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet
are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they
ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning,
which only can make them be esteemed wise men.
In this state of life, however, I remained some time, uncertain what
measures to take, and what course of life to lead. An irresistible
reluctance continued to going home; and as I stayed a while, the
remembrance of the distress I had been in wore off, and as that
abated, the little motion I had in my desires to a return wore off
with it, till at last I quite laid aside the thoughts of it, and
looked out for a voyage.
That evil influence which carried me first away from my father's
house, that hurried me into the wild and indigested notion of
raising my fortune, and that impressed those conceits so forcibly upon
me as to make me deaf to all good advice, and to the entreaties and
even command of my father - I say, the same influence, whatever it
was, presented the most unfortunate of all enterprises to my view; and
I went on board a vessel bound to the coast of Africa, or as our
sailors vulgarly call it, a voyage to Guinea.
It was my great misfortune that in all these adventures I did not
ship myself as a sailor, whereby, though I might indeed have worked
a little harder than ordinary, yet at the same time I had learned
the duty and office of a foremast man, and in time might have
qualified myself for a mate or lieutenant, if not for a master. But as
it was always my fate to choose for the worse, so I did here; for
having money in my pocket, and good clothes upon my back, I would
always go on board in the habit of a gentleman; and so I neither had
any business in the ship, or learned to do any.
It was my lot first of all to fall into pretty good company in
London, which does not always happen to such loose and misguided young
fellows as I then was; the devil generally not omitting to lay some
snare for them very early; but it was not so with me. I first fell
acquainted with the master of a ship who had been on the coast of
Guinea, and who, having had very good success there, was resolved to
go again; and who, taking a fancy to my conversation, which was not at
all disagreeable at that time, hearing me say I had a mind to see
the world, told me if I would go the voyage with him I should be at no
expense; I should be his messmate and his companion; and if I could
carry anything with me, I should have all the advantage of it that the
trade would admit, and perhaps I might meet with some encouragement.
I embraced the offer; and, entering into a strict friendship with
this captain, who was an honest and plain-dealing man, I went the
voyage with him, and carried a small adventure with me, which by the
disinterested honesty of my friend the captain, I increased very
considerably, for I carried about L40 in such toys and trifles as
the captain directed me to buy. This L40 I had mustered together by
the assistance of some of my relations whom I corresponded with, and
who, I believe, got my father, or at least my mother, to contribute so
much as that to my first adventure.
This was the only voyage which I may say was successful in all my
adventures, and which I owe to the integrity and honesty of my
friend the captain; under whom also I got a competent knowledge of the
mathematics and the rules of navigation, learned how to keep an
account of the ship's course, to take an observation, and, in short,
to understand some things that were needful to be understood by a
sailor. For, as he took delight to introduce me, I took delight to
learn; and, in a word, this voyage made me both a sailor and a
merchant; for I brought home five pounds nine ounces of gold dust
for my adventure, which yielded me in London at my return almost L300,
and this filled me with those aspiring thoughts which have since so
completed my ruin.
Yet even in this voyage I had my misfortunes too; particularly, that
I was continually sick, being thrown into a violent calenture by the
excessive heat of the climate; our principal trading being upon the
coast, for the latitude of 15 degrees north even to the line itself.
I was not set up for a Guinea trader; and my friend, to my great
misfortune, dying soon after his arrival, I resolved to go the same
voyage again, and I embarked in the same vessel with one who was his
mate in the former voyage, and had now got the command of the ship.
This was the unhappiest voyage that ever man made; for though I did
not carry quite L100 of my new-gained wealth, so that I had L200 left,
and which I lodged with my friend's widow, who was very just to me,
yet I fell into terrible misfortunes in this voyage; and from the
first was this, viz., our ship making her course towards the Canary
Islands, or rather between those islands and the African shore, was
surprised in the gray of the morning by a Turkish rover of Sallee, who
gave chase to us with all the sail she could make. We crowded also
as much canvas as our yards would spread, or our masts carry, to
have got clear; but finding the pirate gained upon us, and would
certainly come up with us in a few hours, we prepared to fight, our
ship having twelve guns, and the rogue eighteen. About three in the
afternoon he came up with us, and bringing to, by mistake, just
athwart our quarter, instead of athwart our stern, as he intended,
we brought eight of our guns to bear on that side, and poured in a
broadside upon him, which made him sheer off again, after returning
our fire and pouring in also his small-shot from near 200 men which he
had on board. However, we had not a man touched, all our men keeping
close. He prepared to attack us again, and we to defend ourselves; but
laying us on board the next time upon our other quarter, he entered
sixty men upon our decks, who immediately fell to cutting and
hacking the decks and rigging. We plied them with small-shot,
half-pikes, powder-chests, and such like, and cleared our deck of them
twice. However, to cut short this melancholy part of our story, our
ship being disabled, and three of our men killed and eight wounded, we
were obliged to yield, and were carried all prisoners into Sallee, a
port belonging to the Moors.
The usage I had there was not so dreadful as at first I had
apprehended, nor was I carried up the country to the emperor's
court, as the rest of our men were, but was kept by the captain of the
rover as his proper prize, and made his slave, being young and nimble,
and fit for his business. At this surprising change of my
circumstances from a merchant to a miserable slave, I was perfectly
overwhelmed; and now I looked back upon my father's prophetic
discourse to me, that I should be miserable, and have none to
relieve me, which I thought was now so effectually brought to pass,
that it could not be worse; that now the hand of Heaven had
overtaken me, and I was undone without redemption. But alas! this
was but a taste of the misery I was to go through, as will appear in
the sequel of this story.
As my new patron, or master, had taken me home to his house, so I
was in hopes that he would take me with him when he went to sea again,
believing that it would some time or other be his fate to be taken
by a Spanish or Portugal man-of-war; and that then I should be set
at liberty. But this hope of mine was soon taken away; for when he
went to sea, he left me on shore to look after his little garden,
and do the common drudgery of slaves about his house; and when he came
home again from his cruise, he ordered me to lie in the cabin to
look after the ship.
Here I meditated nothing but my escape, and what method I might take
to effect it, but found no way that had the least probability in it.
Nothing presented to make the supposition of it rational; for I had
nobody to communicate it to that would embark with me, no
fellow-slave, no Englishman, Irishman, or Scotsman there but myself;
so that for two years, though I often pleased myself with the
imagination, yet I never had the least encouraging prospect of putting
it in practice.
After about two years an odd circumstance presented itself, which
put the old thought of making some attempt for my liberty again in
my head. My patron lying at home longer than usual without fitting out
his ship, which, as I heard, was for want of money, he used
constantly, once or twice a week, sometimes oftener, if the weather
was fair, to take the ship's pinnace, and go out into the road
a-fishing; and as he always took me and a young Maresco with him to
row the boat, we made him very merry, and I proved very dexterous in
catching fish; insomuch, that sometimes he would send me with a
Moor, one of his kinsmen, and the youth the Maresco, as they called
him, to catch a dish of fish for him.
It happened one time that, going a-fishing in a stark calm
morning, a fog rose so thick, that though we were not half a league
from the shore we lost sight of it; and rowing we knew not whither
or which way, we labored all day, and all the next night, and when the
morning came found we were pulled off to sea instead of pulling in for
the shore; and that we were at least two leagues from the shore.
However, we got well in again, though with a great deal of labor,
and some danger, for the wind began to blow pretty fresh in the
morning; but particularly we were all very hungry.
But our patron, warned by this disaster, resolved to take more
care of himself for the future; and having lying by him the longboat
of our English ship which he had taken, he resolved he would not go
a-fishing any more without a compass and some provision; so he ordered
the carpenter of his ship, who was also an English slave, to build a
little state-room, or cabin, in the middle of the longboat, like
that of a barge, with a place to stand behind it to steer and haul
home the main-sheet, and room before for a hand or two to stand and
work the sails. She sailed with what we call a shoulder-of-mutton
sail; and the boom jabbed over the top of the cabin, which lay very
snug and low, and had in it room for him to lie, with a slave or
two, and a table to eat on, with some small lockers to put in some
bottles of such liquor as he thought fit to drink; particularly his
bread, rice, and coffee.
We went frequently out with this boat a-fishing, and as I was most
dexterous to catch fish for him, he never went without me. It happened
that he had appointed to go out in this boat, either for pleasure or
for fish, with two or three Moors of some distinction in that place,
and for whom he had provided extraordinarily; and had therefore sent
on board the boat over night a larger store of provisions than
ordinary; and had ordered me to get ready three fuzees with powder and
shot, which were on board his ship, for that they designed some
sport of fowling as well as fishing.
I got all things ready as he had directed, and waited the next
morning with the boat, washed clean, her ancient and pendants out, and
everything to accommodate his guests; when by and by my patron came on
board alone, and told me his guests had put off going, upon some
business that fell out, and ordered me with the man and boy, as usual,
to go out with the boat and catch them some fish, for that his friends
were to sup at his house; and commanded that as soon as I had got some
fish, I should bring it home to his house; all which I prepared to do.
This moment my former notions of deliverance darted into my
thoughts, for now I found I was like to have a little ship at my
command; and my master being gone, I prepared to furnish myself, not
for a fishing business, but for a voyage; though I knew not, neither
did I so much as consider, whither I should steer; for anywhere, to
get out of that place, was my way.
My first contrivance was to make a pretence to speak to this Moor,
to get something for our subsistence on board; for I told him we
must not presume to eat of our patron's bread. He said that was
true; so he brought a large basket of rusk or biscuit of their kind,
and three jars with fresh water, into the boat. I knew where my
patron's case of bottles stood, which it was evident by the make
were taken out of some English prize; and I conveyed them into the
boat while the Moor was on shore, as if they had been there before for
our master. I conveyed also a great lump of beeswax into the boat,
which weighed above half a hundredweight, with a parcel of twine or
thread, a hatchet, a saw, and a hammer, all of which were great use to
us afterwards, especially the wax to make candles. Another trick I
tried upon him, which he innocently came into also. His name was
Ishmael, who they call Muly, or Moely; so I called to him, "Moely,"
said I, "our patron's guns are on board the boat; can you not get a
little powder and shot? It may be we may kill some alcamies (a fowl
like our curlews) for ourselves, for I know he keeps the gunner's
stores in the ship." "Yes," says he, "I'll bring some"; and
accordingly he brought a great leather pouch which held about a
pound an a half of powder, or rather more; and another with shot, that
had five or six pounds, with some bullets, and put all into the
boat. At the same time I had found some powder of my master's in the
great cabin, with which I filled one of the large bottles in the case,
which was almost empty, pouring what was in it into another; and
thus furnished with everything needful, we sailed out of the port to
fish. The castle, which is at the entrance of the port, knew who we
were, and took no notice of us; and we were not above a mile out of
the port before we hauled in our sail, and set us down to fish. The
wind blew from the NNE., which was contrary to my desire; for had it
blown southerly I had been sure to have made the coast of Spain, and
at least reached to the bay of Cadiz; but my resolutions were, blow
which way it would, I would be gone from the horrid place where I was,
and leave the rest to Fate.
After we had fished some time and catched nothing, for when I had
fish on my hook I would not pull them up, that he might not see
them, I said to the Moor, "This will not do; our master will not be
thus served; we must stand farther off." He, thinking no harm, agreed,
and being in the head of the boat set the sails; and as I had the helm
I run the boat out near a league farther, and then brought her to as
if I would fish; when giving the boy the helm, I stepped forward to
where the Moor was, and making as if I stooped for something behind
him, I took him by surprise with my arm under his twist, and tossed
him clear overboard into the sea. He rose immediately, for he swam
like a cork, and called to me, begged to be taken in, told me he would
go all the world over with me. He swam so strong after the boat,
that he would have reached me very quickly, there being but little
wind; upon which I stepped into the cabin, and fetching one of the
fowling-pieces, I presented it at him, and told him I had done him
no hurt, and if he would be quiet I would do him none. "But, said I,
"you swim well enough to reach to the shore, and the sea is calm; make
the best of your way to shore, and I will do you no harm; but if you
come near the boat I'll shoot you through the head, for I am
resolved to have my liberty." So he turned himself about, and swam for
the shore, and I make no doubt but he reached it with ease, for he was
an excellent swimmer.
I could have been content to have taken this Moor with me, and
have drowned the boy, but there was no venturing to trust him. When he
was gone I turned to the boy, whom they called Xury, and said to
him, "Xury, if you will be faithful to me I'll make you a great man;
but if you will not stroke your face to be true to me," this is, swear
by Mahomet and his father's beard, "I must throw you into the sea
too." The boy smiled in my face, and spoke so innocently, that I could
not mistrust him, and swore to be faithful to me, and go all over
the world with me.
While I was in view of the Moor that was swimming, I stood out
directly to sea with the boat, rather stretching to windward, that
they might think me gone towards the straits' mouth (as indeed any one
that had been in their wits must have been supposed to do); for who
would have supposed we were sailed on to the southward to the truly
barbarian coast, where whole nations of negroes were sure to
surround us with their canoes, and destroy us; where we could ne'er
once go on shore but we should be devoured by savage beasts, or more
merciless savages of humankind?
But as soon as it grew dusk in the evening, I changed my course, and
steered directly south and by east, bending my course a little
toward the east, that I might keep in with the shore; and having a
fair, fresh gale of wind, and a smooth, quiet sea, I made such sail
that I believe by the next day at three o'clock in the afternoon, when
I first made the land, I could not be less than 150 miles south of
Sallee; quite beyond the Emperor of Morocco's dominions, or indeed
of any other king thereabouts, for we saw no people.
Yet such was the fright I had taken at the Moors, and the dreadful
apprehensions I had of falling into their hands, that I would not
stop, or go on shore, or come to an anchor, the wind continuing
fair, till I had sailed in that manner five days; and then the wind
shifting to the southward, I concluded also that if any of our vessels
were in chase of me, they also would now give over; so I ventured to
make to the coast, and came to an anchor in the mouth of a little
river, I knew not what, or where; neither what latitude, what country,
what nations, or what river. I neither saw, nor desired to see, any
people; the principal thing I wanted was fresh water. We came into
this creek in the evening, resolving to swim on shore as soon as it
was dark, and discover the country; but as soon as it was quite dark
we heard such dreadful noises of the barking, roaring, and howling
of wild creatures, of we knew not what kinds, that the poor boy was
ready to die with fear, and begged me not to go on shore till day.
"Well, Xury," said I, "then I won't; but it may be we may see men by
day, who will be as bad to us as these lions." "Then we give them
the shoot gun," says Xury, laughing; "make them run 'way." Such
English Xury spoke by conversing among us slaves. However, I was
glad to see the boy so cheerful, and I gave him a dram (out of our
patron's case of bottles) to cheer him up. After all, Xury's advice
was good, and I took it; we dropped our little anchor and lay still
all night. I say still, for we slept none; for in two or three hours
we saw vast great creatures (we knew not what to call them) of many
sorts come down to the sea-shore and run into the water, wallowing and
washing themselves for the pleasure of cooling themselves; and they
made such hideous howlings and yellings, that I never indeed heard the
Xury was dreadfully frightened, and indeed so was I too; but we were
both more frighted when we heard one of these mighty creatures come
swimming towards our boat; we could not see him, but we might hear him
by his blowing to be a monstrous huge and furious beast. Xury said
it was a lion, and it might be so for aught I know; but poor Xury
cried to me to weigh the anchor and row away. "No," says I, "Xury;
we can slip our cable with the buoy to it, and go off to sea; they
cannot follow us far." I had no sooner said so, but I perceived the
creature (whatever it was) within two oars' length, which something
surprised me; however, I immediately stepped to the cabin door, and
taking up my gun, fired at him, upon which he immediately turned about
and swam towards the shore again.
But is is impossible to describe the horrible noises, and hideous
cries and howlings, that were raised, as well upon the edge of the
shore as higher within the country, upon the noise or report of the
gun, a thing I have some reason to believe those creatures had never
heard before. This convinced me that there was no going on shore for
us in the night upon that coast; and how to venture on shore in the
day was another question too; for to have fallen into the hands of any
of the savages, had been as bad as to have fallen into the hands of
lions and tigers; at least we were equally apprehensive of the
danger of it.
Be that as it would, we were obliged to go on shore somewhere or
other for water, for we had not a pint left in the boat; when or where
to get to it, was the point. Xury said if I would let him go on
shore with one the jars, he would find if there was any water, and
bring some to me. I asked him why he should go? Why I should not go
and he stay in the boat? The boy answered with so much affection, that
made me love him ever after. Says he, "If wild mans come, they eat me,
you go way." "Well, Xury," said I, "we will both go; and if the wild
mans come, we will kill them, they shall eat neither of us." So I gave
Xury a piece of rusk bread to eat, and a dram out of our patron's case
of bottles which I mentioned before; and we hauled in the boat as near
the shore as we thought was proper, and so waded on shore, carrying
nothing but our arms and two jars for water.
I did not care to go out of sight of the boat, fearing the coming of
canoes with savages down the river; but the boy seeing a low place
about a mile up the country, rambled to it; and by and by I saw him
come running towards me. I thought he was pursued by some savage, or
frighted with some wild beast, and I ran forward towards him to help
him; but when I came nearer to him, I saw something hanging over his
shoulders, which was a creature that he had shot, like a hare, but
different in color, and longer legs. However, we were very glad of it,
and it was very good meat; but the great joy that poor Xury came
with was to tell me he had found good water, and seen no wild mans.
But we found afterwards that we need not take such pains for
water, for a little higher up the creek where we were we found the
water fresh when the tide was out, which flowed but a little way up;
so we filled our jars, and feasted on the hare we had killed, and
prepared to go on our way, having seen no footsteps of any human
creatures in that part of the country.
As I had been one voyage to this coast before, I knew very well that
the Islands of the Canaries, and the Cape de Verde Islands also, lay
not far off from the coast. But as I had no instruments to take an
observation to know what latitude we were in, and did not exactly
know, or at least remember, what latitude they were in, I knew not
where to look for them, or when to stand off to sea towards them;
otherwise I might now easily have found some of these islands. But
my hope was, that if I stood along this coast till I came to that part
where the English traded, I should find some of their vessels upon
their usual design of trade, that would relieve and take us in.
By the best of my calculation, that place where I now was must be
that country which, lying between the Emperor of Morocco's dominions
and the negroes, lies waste and uninhabited, except by wild beasts;
the negroes having abandoned it and gone farther south for fear of the
Moors, and the Moors not thinking it worth inhabiting, by reason of
its barrenness; and indeed both forsaking it because of the prodigious
number of tigers, lions, leopards, and other furious creatures which
harbor there; so that the Moors use it for their hunting only, where
they go like an army, two or three thousand men at a time; and
indeed for near a hundred miles together upon this coast we saw
nothing but a waste uninhabited country by day, and heard nothing
but howlings and roarings of wild beasts by night.
Once or twice in the daytime I thought I saw the Pico of being the
high top of the Mountain Teneriffe in the Canaries, and had a great
mind to venture out in hopes of reaching thither; but having tried
twice, I was forced in again by contrary winds, the sea also going too
high for my little vessel; so I resolved to pursue my first design,
and keep along the shore.
Several times I was obliged to land for fresh water after we had
left this place; and once in particular, being early in the morning,
we came to an anchor under a little point of land which was pretty
high; and the tide beginning to flow, we lay still to go farther in.
Xury, whose eyes were more about them than it seems mine were, calls
softly to me, and tells me that we had best go farther off the
shore; "For," says he, "look, yonder lies a dreadful monster on the
side of that hillock fast asleep." I looked where he pointed, and
saw a dreadful monster indeed, for it was a terrible great lion that
lay on the side of the shore, under the shade of a piece of the hill
that hung as it were a little over him. "Xury," says I, "you shall
go on shore and kill him." Xury looked frighted, and said, "Me kill!
he eat me at one mouth;" one mouthful he meant. However, I said no
more to the boy, but bade him lie still, and I took our biggest gun,
which was almost musketbore, and loaded it with a good charge of
powder, and with two slugs, and laid it down; then I loaded another
gun with two bullets; and the third (for we had three pieces) I loaded
with five smaller bullets. I took the best aim I could with the
first piece to have him shot into the head, but he lay so with his leg
raised a little above his nose, that the slugs hit his leg about the
knee, and broke the bone. He started up growling at first, but finding
his leg broke, fell down again, and then got up upon three legs and
gave the most hideous roar that ever I heard. I was a little surprised
that I had not hit him on the head. However, I took up the second
piece immediately, and, though he began to move off, fired again,
and shot him into the head, and had the pleasure to him drop, and make
but little noise, but lay struggling for life. Then Xury took heart,
and would have me let him go on shore. "Well, go," said I; so the
boy jumped into the water, and taking a little gun in one hand, swam
to shore with the other hand, and coming close to the creature, put
the muzzle of the piece to his ear, and shot him into the head
again, which despatched him quite.
This was game indeed to us, but this was no food; and I was very
sorry to lose three charges of powder and shot upon a creature that
was good for nothing to us. However, Xury said he would have some of
him; so he comes on board, and asked me to give him the hatchet.
"For what, Xury?" said I. "Me cut off his head," said he. However,
Xury could not cut off his head, but he cut off a foot, and brought it
with him, and it was a monstrous great one.
I bethought myself, however, that perhaps the skin of him might
one way or other be of some value to us; and I resolved to take off
his skin if I could. So Xury and I went to work with him; but Xury was
much the better workman at it, for I knew very ill how to do it.
Indeed, it took us both the whole day, but at last we got off the hide
of him, and spreading it on the top of our cabin, the sun
effectually dried it in two days' time, and it afterwards served me to
lie upon.
After this stop we made on to the southward continually for ten or
twelve days, living very sparing on our provisions, which began to
abate very much, and going no oftener into the shore than we were
obliged to for fresh water. My design in this was to make the river
Gambia or Senegal - that is to say, anywhere about the Cape de Verde -
where I was in hopes to meet with some European ship; and if I did
not, I knew not what course I had to take, but to seek out for the
lands, or perish there among the negroes. I knew that all the ships
from Europe, which sailed either to the coast of Guinea or to
Brazil, or to the East Indies, made this cape, or those islands; and
in a word, I put the whole of my fortune upon this single point,
either that I must meet with some ship, or must perish.
When I had pursued this resolution about ten days longer, as I
have said, I began to see that the land was inhabited; and in two or
three places, as we sailed by, we saw people stand upon the shore to
look at us; we could also perceive they were quite black, and stark
naked. I was once inclined to have gone on shore to them; but Xury was
my better counsellor, and said to me. "No go, no go." However, I
hauled in nearer the shore that I might talk to them, and I found they
ran along the shore by me a good way. I observed they had no weapons
in their hands, except one, who had a long slender stick, which Xury
said was a lance, and that they would throw them a great way with good
aim. So I kept a distance, but talked with them by signs as well as
I could, and particularly made signs for something to eat; they
beckoned to me to stop my boat, and that they would fetch me some
meat. Upon this I lowered the top of my sail, and lay by, and two of
them ran up into the country, and in less than half an hour came back,
and brought with them two pieces of dried flesh and some corn, such as
is the produce of their country; but we neither knew what the one or
the other was. However, we were willing to accept it, but how to
come at it was our next dispute, for I was not for venturing on
shore to them, and they were as much afraid to us; but they took a
safe way for us all, for they brought it to the shore and laid it
down, and went and stood a great way off till we fetched it on
board, and then came close to us again.
We made signs of thanks to them, for we had nothing to make them
amends. But an opportunity offered that very instant to oblige them
wonderfully; for while we were lying by the shore came two mighty
creatures, one pursuing the other (as we took it) with great fury from
the mountains towards the sea; whether it was the male pursuing the
female, or whether they were in sport or in rage, we could not tell,
any more than we could tell whether it was usual or strange, but I
believe it was the latter; because in the first place, those
ravenous creatures seldom appear but in the night; and in the second
place, we found the people terribly frightened, especially the
women. The man that had the lance or dart did not fly from them, but
the rest did; however, as the two creatures ran directly into the
water, they did not seem to offer to fall upon any of the negroes, but
plunged themselves into the sea, and swam about, as if they had come
for their diversion. At last, one of them began to come nearer our
boat than at first I expected; but I lay ready for him, for I had
loaded my gun with all possible expedition, and bade Xury load both
the others. As soon as he came fairly within my reach, I fired, and
shot him directly into the head; immediately he sunk down into the
water, but rose instantly, and plunged up and down, as if he was
struggling for life, and so indeed he was. He immediately made to
the shore; but between the wound, which was his mortal hurt, and the
strangling of the water, he died just before he reached the shore.
It is impossible to express the astonishment of these poor
creatures, at the noise and the fire of my gun; some of them were even
ready to die for fear, and fell down as dead with the very terror. But
when they saw the creature dead, and sunk in the water, and that I
made signs to them to come to the shore, they took heart and came to
the shore, and began to search for the creature. I found him by his
blood staining the water: and by the help of a rope, which I slung
round him, and gave the negroes to haul, they dragged him on the
shore, and found that it was a most curious leopard, spotted, and fine
to an admirable degree; and the negroes held up their hands with
admiration, to think what it was I had killed him with.
The other creature, frighted with the flash of fire and the noise of
the gun, swam on shore, and ran directly to the mountains from
whence they came; nor could I, at that distance, know what it was. I
found quickly the negroes were for eating the flesh of this
creature, so I was willing to have them take it as a favor from me;
which, when I made signs to them that they might take him, they were
very thankful for. Immediately they fell to work with him; and
though they had no knife yet, with a sharpened piece of wood, they
took off his skin as readily, and much more readily, than we could
have done it with a knife. They offered me some of the flesh, which
I declined, making as if I would give it them, but made signs for
the skin, which they gave me very freely, and brought me a great
deal more of their provision, which, though I did not understand,
yet I accepted. Then I made signs to them for some water, and held out
one of my jars to them, turning it bottom upward, to show that it
was empty, and that I wanted to have it filled. The called immediately
to some of their friends, and there came two women, and brought a
great vessel made of earth, and burnt, as I suppose, in the sun;
this they set down for me, as before, and I sent Xury on shore with my
jars, and filled them all three. There women were as stark naked as
the men.
I was now furnished with roots and corn, such as it was, and
water; and leaving my friendly negroes, I made forward for about
eleven days more, without offering to go near the shore, till I saw
the land run out a great length into the sea, at about the distance of
four or five leagues before me; and the sea being very calm, I kept
a large offing, to make this point. At length, doubling the point,
at about two leagues from the land, I saw plainly land on the other
side, to seaward; then I concluded, as it was most certain indeed,
that this was the Cape de Verde, and those the islands, called from
thence Cape de Verde Islands. However, they were at a great
distance, and I could not well tell what I had best to do; for if I
should be taken with a fresh of wind, I might neither reach one or
In this dilemma, as I was very pensive, I stepped into the cabin,
and sat me down, Xury having the helm; when, on a sudden, the boy
cried out, "Master, master, a ship with a sail!" and the foolish boy
was frighted out of his wits, thinking it must needs be some of his
master's ships sent to pursue us, when I knew we were gotten far
enough out of their reach. I jumped out of the cabin, and
immediately saw, not only the ship, but what she was, viz., that it
was a Portuguese ship, and, as I thought, was bound to the coast of
Guinea, for negroes. But when I observed the course she steered, I was
soon convinced they were bound some other way, and did not design to
come any nearer to the shore; upon which I stretched out to sea as
much as I could, resolving to speak with them, if possible.
With all the sail I could make, I found I should not be able to come
in their way, but they would be gone by before I could make any signal
to them; but after I had crowded to the utmost, and began to
despair, they, it seems, saw me by the help of their perspective
glasses, and that it was some European boat, which, as they
supposed, must belong to some ship that was lost, so they shortened
sail to let me come up. I was encouraged with this; and as I had my
patron's ancient on board, I made a waft of it to them for a signal of
distress, and fired a gun both of which they say; for they told me
they saw the smoke, though they did not hear the gun. Upon these
signals they very kindly brought to, and lay by for me; and in about
three hours' time I came up with them.
They asked me what I was, in Portuguese, and in Spanish, and in
French, but I understood none of them; but at last a Scots sailor, who
was on board, called to me, and I answered him, and told him I was
an Englishman, that I had made my escape out of slavery from the
Moors, at Sallee. Then they bade me come on board, and very kindly
took me in, and all my goods.
It was an inexpressible joy to me, that any one will believe, that I
was thus delivered, as I esteemed it, from such a miserable, and
almost hopeless, condition as I was in; and I immediately offered
all I had to the captain of the ship, as a return for my
deliverance. But he generously told me he would take nothing from
me, but that all I had should be delivered safe to me when I came to
the Brazils. "For," says he, "I have saved your life on no other terms
than I would be glad to be saved myself; and it may, one time or
other, be my lot to be taken up in the same condition. Besides,"
says he, "when I carry you to the Brazils, so great a way from your
own country, if I should take from you what you have, you will be
starved there, and then I only take away that life I have given. No,
no, Seignior Inglese," says he, "Mr. Englishman, I will carry you
thither in charity, and those things will help you to buy your
subsistence there, and your passage home again."
As he was charitable in his proposal, so he was just in the
performance to a tittle; for he ordered the seamen that none should
offer to touch anything I had; then he took everything into his own
possession, and gave me back an exact inventory of them, that I
might have them, even so much as my three earthen jars.
As to my boat, it was a very good one, and that he saw, and told
me he would buy it of me for the ship's use, and asked me what I would
have for it? I told him he had been so generous to me in everything,
that I could not offer to make any price of the boat, but left it
entirely to him; upon which he told me he would give me a note of
his hand to pay me eighty pieces of eight for it at Brazil, and when
it came there, if any one offered to give more, he would make it up.
He offered me also sixty pieces of eight for my boy Xury, which I
was loth to take; not that I was not willing to let the captain have
him, but I was very loth to sell the poor boy's liberty, who had
assisted me so faithfully in procuring my own. However, when I let him
know my reason, he owned it to be just, and offered me this medium,
that he would give the boy an obligation to set him free in ten
years if he turned Christian. Upon this, and Xury saying he was
willing to go to him, I let the captain have him.
We had a very good voyage to the Brazils, and arrived in the Bay
de Todos los Santos, or All Saints' Bay, in about twenty-one days
after. And now I was once more delivered from the most miserable of
all conditions of life; and what to do next with myself I was now to
The generous treatment the captain gave me, I can never enough
remember. He would take nothing of me for my passage, gave me twenty
ducats for the leopard's skin, and forty for the lion's skin, which
I had in my boat, and caused everything I had in the ship to be
punctually delivered me; and what I was willing to sell he bought,
such as the case of bottles, two of my guns, and a piece of the lump
of beeswax, -for I had made candles of the rest; in a word, I made
about 220 pieces of eight of all my cargo, and with this stock I
went on shore in the Brazils.
I had not been long here, but being recommended to the house of a
good honest man like himself, who had an ingeino as they call it, that
is, a plantation and a sugar-house, I lived with him some time, and
acquainted myself by that means with the manner of their planting
and making of sugar; and seeing how well the planters lived, and how
they grew rich suddenly, I resolved, if I could get license to
settle there, I would turn planter among them, resolving in the
meantime to find out some way to get my money which I had left in
London remitted to me. To this purpose, getting a kind of a letter
of naturalization, I purchased as much land that was uncured as my
money would reach, and formed a plan for my planation and
settlement, and such a one as might be suitable to the stock which I
proposed to myself to receive from England.
I had a neighbor, a Portuguese of Lisbon, but born of English
parents, whose name was Wells, and in much such circumstances as I
was. I call him my neighbor, because his plantation lay next to
mine, and we went on very sociably together. My stock was but low,
as well as his; and we rather planted for food than anything else, for
about two years. However, we began to increase, and our land began
to come into order; so that the third year we planted some tobacco,
and made each of us a large piece of ground ready for planting canes
in the year to come. But we both wanted help; and now I found, more
than before, I had done wrong in parting with my boy Xury.
But alas! for me to do wrong that never did right was no great
wonder. I had no remedy but to go on. I was gotten into an
employment quite remote to my genius, and directly contrary to the
life I delighted in, and for which I forsook my father's house, and
broke through all his good advice; nay, I was coming into the very
middle station, or upper degree of low life, which my father advised
me to before; and which if I resolved to go on with, I might as well
have stayed at home, and never have fatigued myself in the world as
I had done. And I used often to say to myself I could have done this
as well in England among my friends, as have gone 5,000 miles off to
do it among strangers and savages, in a wilderness, and at such a
distance as never to hear from any part of the world that had the
least knowledge of me.
In this manner I used to look upon my condition with the utmost
regret. I had nobody to converse with, but now and then this neighbor;
no work to be done, but by the labor of my hands; and I used to say, I
lived just like a man cast away upon some desolate island, that had
nobody there but himself. But how just has it been! and how should all
men reflect, that when they compare their present conditions with
others that are worse, Heaven may oblige them to make the exchange,
and be convinced of their former felicity by their experience; -I say,
how just has it been, that the truly solitary life I reflected on in
an island of mere desolation should be my lot, who had so often
unjustly compared it with the life which I then led, in which, had I
continued, I had in all probability been exceeding prosperous and
I was in some degree settled in my measures for carrying on the
plantation before my kind friend, the captain of the ship that took me
up at sea, went back; for the ship remained there in providing his
loading, and preparing for his voyage, near three months; when telling
him what little stock I had left behind me in London, he gave me
this friendly and sincere advice: "Seignior Inglese," says he, for
so he always called me, "if you will give me letters, and a
procuration here in form to me, with orders to the person who has your
money in London to send your effects to Lisbon, to such persons as I
shall direct, and in such goods as are proper for this country, I will
bring you the produce of them, God willing, at my return. But since
human affairs are all subject to changes and disasters, I would have
you give orders but for one hundred pounds sterling, which, you say,
is half your stock, and let the hazard be run for the first; so that
if it come safe, you may order the rest the same way; and if it
miscarry, you may have the other half to have recourse to for your
This was so wholesome advice, and looked so friendly, that I could
not but be convinced it was the best course I could take; so I
accordingly prepared letters to the gentlewoman with whom I left my
money, and a procuration to the Portuguese captain, as he desired.
I wrote the English captain's widow a full account of all my
adventures; my slavery, escape, and how I had met with the Portugal
captain at sea, the humanity of his behavior, and in what consition
I was now in, with all necessary directions for my supply. And when
this honest captain came to Lisbon, he found means, by some of the
English merchants there, to send over not the order only, but a full
account of my story to a merchant at London, who represented it
effectually to her; whereupon, she not only delivered the money, but
out of her own pocket sent the Portugal captain a very handsome
present for his humanity and charity to me.
The merchant in London vesting this hundred pounds in English goods,
such as the captain had writ for, sent them directly to him at Lisbon,
and he brought them all safe to me to the Brazils; among which,
without my direction (for I was too young in my business to think of
them), he had taken care to have all sorts of tools, iron-work, and
utensils necessary for my plantation, and which were of great use to
When this cargo arrived, I thought my fortune made, for I was
surprised with joy of it; and my good steward, the captain, had laid
out the five pounds, which my friend had sent him for a present for
himself, to purchase and bring me over a servant under bond for six
years' service, and would not accept of any consideration, except a
little tobacco, which I would have him accept, being of my own
Neither was this all; but my goods being all English manufactures
such as cloth, stuffs, baise, and things particularly valuable and
desirable in the country, I found means to sell them to a very great
advantage; so that I may say I had more than four times the value of
my first cargo, and was now infinitely beyond my poor neighbor, I mean
in the advancement of my plantation; for the first thing I did, I
bought me a negro slave, and a European servant also; I mean another
besides that which the captain brought me from Lisbon.
But as abused prosperity is oftentimes made the very means of our
greatest adversity, so was it with me. I went on the next year with
great success in my plantation. I raised fifty great rolls of
tobacco on my own ground, more than I had disposed of for
necessaries among my neighbors; and these fifty rolls, being each of a
hundredweight, were well cured, and laid by against the return of
the fleet from Lisbon. And now, increasing in business and in
wealth, my head began to be full of projects and undertakings beyond
my reach, such as are, indeed, often the ruin of the best heads in
Had I continued in the station I was now in, I had room for all
the happy things to have yet befallen me for which my father so
earnestly recommended a quiet, retired life, and of which he had so
sensibly described the middle station of life to be full of. But other
things attended me, and I was still to be the willful agent of all
my own miseries; and particularly to increase my fault and double
the reflections upon myself, which in my future sorrows I should
have leisure to make. All these miscarriages were procured by my
apparent obstinate adhering to my foolish inclination of wandering
abroad, and pursuing that inclination in contradiction to the clearest
views of doing myself good in a fair and plain pursuit of those
prospects, and those measures of life, which Nature and Providence
concurred to present me with, and to make my duty.
As I had once done thus in my breaking away from my parents, so I
could not be content now, but I must go and leave the happy view I had
of being a rich and thriving man in my new plantation, only to
pursue a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster than the nature
of the thing admitted; and thus I cast myself down again into the
deepest gulf of human misery that ever man fell into, or perhaps could
be consistent with life and a state of health in the world.
To come, then, by the just degrees to the particulars of this part
of my story. You may suppose, that having now lived almost four
years in the Brazils, and beginning to thrive and prosper very well
upon my plantation, I had not only learned the language, but had
contracted acquaintance and friendship among my fellow-planters, as
well as among the merchants at St. Salvador, which was our port, and
that in my discourses among them I had frequently given them an
account of my two voyages to the coast of Guinea, the manner of
trading with the negroes there, and how easy it was to purchase upon
the coast for trifles - such as beads, toys, knives, scissors,
hatchets, bits of glass, and the like - not only gold-dust, Guinea
grains, elephants' teeth, etc. but negroes, for the service of the
Brazils in great numbers.
They listened always very attentively to my discourses on these
heads, but especially to that part which related to the buying
negroes; which was a trade, at that time, not only not far entered
into, but, as far as it was, had been carried on by the assiento, or
permission, of the Kings of Spain and Portugal, and engrossed in the
public, so that few negroes were brought, and those excessive dear.
It happened, being in company with some merchants and planters of my
acquaintance, and talking of those things very earnestly, three of
them came to ne the next morning, and told me they had been musing
very much upon what I had discoursed with them of, the last night, and
they came to make a secret proposal to me. And after enjoining me
secrecy, they told me that they had a mind to fit out a ship to go
to Guinea; that they had all plantations as well as I, and were
straitened for nothing so much as servants; that as it was a trade
that could not be carried on because they could not publicly sell
the negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one
voyage, to bring the negroes on shore privately, and divide them among
their own plantations; and, in a word, the question was, whether I
would go their supercargo in the ship, to manage the trading part upon
the coast of Guinea; and they offered me that I should have my equal
share of the negroes without providing any part of the stock.
This was a fair proposal, it must be confessed, had it been made
to any one that had not a settlement and plantation of his own to look
after, which was in a fair way of coming to be very considerable,
and with a good stock upon it. But for me, that was thus entered and
established, and had nothing to do but go on as I had begun, for three
or four years more, and to have sent for the other hundred pounds from
England; and who, in that time, and with that little addition, could
scarce have failed of being worth three or four thousand pounds
sterling, and that increasing too - for me to think of such a
voyage, was the most preposterous thing that ever man, in such
circumstances, could be guilty of.
But I, that was born to be my own destroyer, could no more resist
the offer than I could restrain my first rambling designs, when my
father's good counsel was lost upon me. In a word, I told them I would
go with all my heart, if they would undertake to look after my
plantation in my absence, and would dispose of it to such as I
should direct if I miscarried. This they all engaged to do, and
entered into writings or covenants to do so; and I made a formal
will disposing of my plantation and effect, in case of my death;
making the captain of the ship that had saved my life, as before, my
universal heir, but obliging him to dispose of my effects as I had
directed in my will; one-half of the produce being to himself, and the
other to be shipped to England.
In short, I took all possible caution to preserve my effects and
keep up my plantation. Had I used half as much prudence to have looked
into my own interest, and have made a judgment of what I ought to have
done and not to have done, I had certainly never gone away from so
prosperous an undertaking, leaving all the probably views of a
thriving circumstance, and gone upon a voyage to sea, attended with
all its common hazards, to say nothing of the reasons I had to
expect particular misfortunes to myself.
But I was hurried on, and obeyed blindly the dictates of my fancy
rather than my reason. And accordingly, the ship being fitted out, and
the cargo furnished, and all things done as by agreement by my
partners in the voyage, I went on board in an evil hour, the (first)
of (September, 1659), being the same day eight year that I went from
my father and mother at Hull, in order to act the rebel to their
authority, and the fool to my own interest.
Our ship was about 120 tons burthen, carried six guns and fourteen
men, besides the master, his boy, and myself. We had on board no large
cargo of goods, except of such toys as were fit for our trade with the
negroes - such as beads, bits of glass, shells, and odd trifles,
especially little looking-glasses, knives, scissors, hatchets, and the
The same day I went on board we set sail, standing away to the
northward upon our own coast, with design to stretch over for the
African coast, when they came about 10 or 12 degrees of northern
latitude, which, it seems, was the manner of their course in those
days. We had very good weather, only excessive hot, all the way upon
our own coast, till we came the height of Cape St. Augustino, from
whence, keeping farther off at sea, we lost sight of land, and steered
as if we was bound for the Isle Fernando de Noronha, holding our
course NE. by N., and leaving those isles on the east. In this
course we passed the line in about twelve days' time, and were, by our
last observation, in 7 degrees 22 minutes northern latitude, when a
violent tornado, or hurricane, took us quite out of our knowledge.
It began from the south-east, came about to the north-west, and then
settled into the north-east, from whence it blew in such a terrible
manner, that for twelve days together we could do nothing but drive,
and, scudding away before it, let it carry us wherever fate and the
fury of the winds directed; and during these twelve days I need not
say that I expected every day to be swallowed up, nor, indeed, did any
in the ship expect to save their lives.
In this distress we had, besides the terror of the storm, one of our
men died of the calenture, and one man and the boy washed overboard.
About the twelfth day, the weather abating a little, the master made
an observation as well as he could, and found that he was in about
11 degrees north latitude, but that he was 22 degrees of longitude
difference west from Cape St. Augustino; so that he found he was
gotten upon the coast of Guiana, or the north part of Brazil, beyond
the river Amazon, toward that of the River Orinoco, commonly called
the Great River, and began to consult with me what course he should
take, for the ship was leaky and very much disabled, and he was
going directly back to the coast of Brazil.
I was positively against that; and looking over the charts of the
sea-coast of America with him, we concluded there was no inhabited
country for us to have recourse to till we came within the circle of
the Caribbee Islands, and, therefore, resolved to stand away for
Barbadoes, which by keeping off at sea, to avoid the indraft of the
Bay or Gulf of Mexico, we might easily perform, as we hoped, in
about fifteen days' sail; whereas we could not possibly make our
voyage to the coast of Africa without some assistance, both to our
ship and to ourselves.
With this design we changed our course, and steered away NW. by W.
in order to reach some of our English islands, where I hoped for
relief; but our voyage was otherwise determined; for being in the
latitude of 12 degrees 18 minutes, a second storm came upon us which
carried us away with the same impetuosity westward, and drove us so
out of the very way of all human commerce, that had all our lives been
saved, as to the sea, we were rather in danger of being devoured by
savages than ever returning to our own country.
In this distress, the wind still blowing very hard, one of our men
early in the morning cried out, "Land!" and we had no sooner ran out
of the cabin to look out, in the hopes of seeing whereabouts in the
world we were, but the ship struck upon a sand, and in a moment, her
motion being so stopped, the sea broke over her in such a manner, that
we expected we should all have perished immediately; and we were
immediately driven into our close quarters, to shelter us from the
very foam and spray of the sea.
It is not easy for any one, who has not been in the like
condition, to describe or conceive the consternation of men in such
circumstances. We knew nothing where we were, or upon what land it was
we were driven, whether an island or the main, whether inhabited or
not inhabited; and as the rage of the wind was still great, though
rather less than at first, we could not so much as hope to have the
ship hold many minutes without breaking in pieces, unless the winds,
by a kind of miracle, should turn immediately about. In a word, we sat
looking one upon another, and expecting death every moment, and
every man acting accordingly, as preparing for another world; for
there was little or nothing more for us to do in this. That which
was our present comfort, and all the comfort we had, was that,
contrary to our expectation, the ship did not break yet, and that
the master said the wind began to abate.
Now, though we thought that the wind did a little abate, yet the
ship having thus struck upon the sand, and sticking too fast for us to
expect her getting off, we were in a dreadful condition indeed, and
had nothing to do but to think of saving our lives as well as we
could. We had a boat at our stern just before the storm, but she was
first staved by dashing against the ship's rudder, and in the next
place, she broke away, and either sunk, or was driven off to sea, so
there was no hope from her; we had another boat on board, but how to
get her off into the sea, was a doubtful thing. However, there was
no room to debate, for we fancied the ship would break to pieces every
minute, and some told us she was actually broken already.
In this distress, the mate of our vessel lays hold of the boat,
and with the help of the rest of the men they got her slung over the
ship's side; and getting all into her, let go, and committed
ourselves, being eleven in number, to God's mercy, and the wild sea;
for though the storm was abated considerably, yet the sea went
dreadful high upon the shore, and might well be called den wild zee,
as the Dutch call the sea in a storm.
And now our case was very dismal indeed, for we all saw plainly that
the sea went so high, that the boat could not live, and that we should
be inevitably drowned. As to making sail, we had none; nor, if we had,
could we have done anything with it; so we worked at the oar towards
the land, though with heavy hearts, like men going to execution, for
we all knew that when the boat came nearer the shore, she would be
dashed in a thousand pieces by the breach of the sea. However, we
committed our souls to God in the most earnest manner; and the wind
driving us towards the shore, we hastened our destruction with our own
hands, pulling as well as we could towards land.
What the shore was, whether rock or sand, whether steep or shoal, we
knew not; the only hope that could rationally give us the least shadow
of expectation was, if we might happen into some bay or gulf, or the
mouth of some river, where by great chance we might have run our
boat in, or got under the lee of the land, and perhaps made smooth
water. But there was nothing of this appeared; but as we made nearer
and nearer the shore, the land looked more frightful than the sea.
After we had rowed, or rather driven, about a league and a half,
as we reckoned it, a raging wave, mountain-like, came rolling astern
of us, and plainly bade us expect the coup de grace. In a word, it
took us with such a fury, that it overset the boat at once; and
separating us, as well from the boat as from one another, gave us
not time hardly to say, "O God!" for we were all swallowed up in a
Nothing can describe the confusion of thought which I felt when I
sunk into the water; for though I swam very well, yet I could not
deliver myself from the waves so as to draw breath, till that wave
having driven me, or rather carried me, a vast way on towards the
shore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon the land
almost dry, but half dead with the water I took in. I had so much
presence of mind, as well as breath left, that seeing myself nearer
the mainland than I expected, I got upon my feet, and endeavored to
make on towards the land as fast as I could, before another wave
should return and take me up again. But I soon found it was impossible
to avoid it; for I saw the sea come after me as high as a great
hill, and as furious as an enemy, which I had no means or strength
to contend with. My business was to hold my breath, and raise myself
upon the water, if I could; and so, by swimming, to preserve my
breathing, and pilot myself towards the shore, if possible: my
greatest concern now being, that the sea, as it would carry me a great
way towards the shore when it came on, might not carry me back again
with it when it gave back towards the sea.
The wave that came upon me again, buried me at once 20 or 30 feet
deep in its own body, and I could feel myself carried with a mighty
force and swiftness towards the shore a very great way; but I held
my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my
might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when, as I felt
myself rising up, so, to my immediate relief, I found my head and
hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was
not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved
me greatly, gave me breath and new courage. I was covered again with
water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the
water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward
against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I
stood still a few moments to recover breath, and till the water went
from me, and then took to my heels and ran with what strength I had
farther towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from
the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again, and twice
more I was lifted up by the waves and carried forwards as before,
the shore being very flat.
The last time of these two had well near been fatal to me; for the
sea, having hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dashed
me, against a piece of a rock, and that with such force, as it left me
senseless, and indeed helpless, as to my own deliverance; for the blow
taking my side and breast, beat the breath, as it were, quite out of
my body; and had it returned again immediately, I must have been
strangled in the water. But I recovered a little before the return
of the waves, and seeing I should be covered again with the water, I
resolved to hold fast by a piece of the rock, and so to hold my
breath, if possible, till the wave went back. Now, as the waves were
not so high as at first, being near land, I held my hold till the wave
abated, and then fetched another run, which brought me so near the
shore, that the next wave, though it went over me, yet did not so
swallow me up as to carry me away, and the next run I took I got to
the mainland, where, to my great comfort, I clambered up the cliffs of
the shore, and sat me down upon the grass, free from danger, and quite
out of the reach of the water.
I was now landed, and safe on shore, and began to look up and
thank God that my life was saved in a case wherein there was some
minutes before scarce any room to hope. I believe it is impossible
to express to the life what the ecstacies and transports of the soul
are when it is so saved, as I may say, out of the very grave; and do
not wonder now at the custom, viz., that when a malefactor, who has
the halter about his neck, is tied up, and just going to be turned
off, and has a reprieve brought to him - I say, I do not wonder that
they bring a surgeon with it, to let him blood that very moment they
tell him of it, that the surprise may not drive the animal spirits
from the heart, and overwhelm him:

"For sudden joys, like griefs, confound at first."

I walked about on the shore, lifting up my hands, and my whole
being, as I may say, wrapt up in the contemplation of my
deliverance, making a thousand gestures and motions which I cannot
describe, reflecting upon all my comrades that were drowned, and
that there should not be one soul saved by myself; for, as for them, I
never saw them afterwards, or any sign of them except three of their
hats, one cap, and two shoes that were not fellows.
I cast my eyes to the stranded vessel, when the breach and froth
of the sea being so big, I could hardly see it, it lay so far off, and
considered, Lord! how was it possible I could get on shore?
After I had solaced my mind with the comfortable part of my
condition, I began to look round me to see what kind of place I was
in, and what was next to be done, and I soon found my comforts
abate, and that, in a word, I had a dreadful deliverance; for I was
wet, had no clothes to shift me, nor anything either to eat or drink
to comfort me, neither did I see any prospect before me but that of
perishing with hunger, of being devoured by wild beasts; and that
which was particularly afflicting to me was that I had no weapon
either to hunt and kill any creature for my sustenance, or to defend
myself against any other creature that might desire to kill me for
theirs. In a word, I had nothing about me but a knife, a tobacco-pipe,
and a little tobacco in a box. This was all my provision; and this
threw me into terrible agonies of mind, that for a while I ran about
like a madman. Night coming upon me, I began, with a heavy heart, to
consider what would be my lot if there were any ravenous beasts in
that country, seeing at night they always come abroad for their prey.
All the remedy that offered to my thoughts at that time was to get
up into a thick bushy tree like a fir, but thorny, which grew near me,
and where I resolved to sit all night, and consider the next day
what death I should die, for as yet I saw no prospect of life. I
walked about a furlong from the shore to see if I could find my
fresh water to drink, which I did, to my great joy; having drank,
and put a little tobacco in my mouth to prevent hunger, I went to
the tree, and getting up into it, endeavored to place myself so as
that if I should sleep I might not fall; and having cut me a short
stick, like a truncheon, for my defence, I took up my lodging, and
having been excessively fatigued, I fell fast asleep, and slept as
comfortably as, I believe, few could have done in my condition, and
found myself the most refreshed with it that I think I ever was on
such an occasion.
When I waked it was broad day, the weather clear, and the storm
abated, so that the sea did not rage and swell as before. But that
which surprised me most was, that the ship was lifted off in the night
from the sand where she lay, by the swelling of the tide, and was
driven up almost as far as the rock which I first mentioned, where I
had been so bruised by the dashing me against it. This being within
about a mile from the shore where I was, and the ship seeming to stand
upright still, I wished myself on board, that, at least, I might
have some necessary things for my use.
When I came down from my apartment in the tree I looked about me
again, and the first thing I found was the boat, which lay as the wind
and the sea had tossed her up upon the land, about two miles on my
right hand. I walked as far as I could upon the shore to have got to
her, but found a neck or inlet of water between me and the boat, which
was about half a mile broad; so I came back for the present, being
more intent upon getting at the ship, where I hoped to find
something for my present subsistence.
A little after noon I found the sea very calm, and the tide ebbed so
far out, that I could come within a quarter of a mile of the ship; and
here I found a fresh renewing of my grief, for I saw evidently, that
if we had kept on board we had been all safe, that is to say, we had
all got safe on shore, and I had not been so miserable as to be left
entirely destitute of all comfort and company, and I now was. This
forced tears from my eyes again; but as there was little relief in
that, I resolved, if possible, to get to the ship; so I pulled off
my clothes, for the weather was hot to extremity, and took the
water. But when I came to the ship, my difficulty was still greater to
know how to get on board; for as she lay aground, and high out of
the water, there was nothing within my reach to lay hold of. I swam
round her twice, and the second time I spied a small piece of rope,
which I wondered I did not see at first, hang down by the
fore-chains so low as that with great difficulty I got hold of it, and
by the help of that rope got up into the forecastle of the ship.
Here I found that the ship was bulged, and had a great deal of water
in her hold, but that she lay so on the side of a bank of hard sand,
or rather earth, that her stern lay lifted up upon the bank, and her
head low almost to the water. By this means all her quarter was
free, and all that was in that part was dry; for you may be sure my
first work was to search and to see what was spoiled and what was
free. And first I found that all the ship's provisions were dry and
untouched by the water; and being very well disposed to eat, I went to
the bread-room and filled my pockets with biscuit, and eat it as I
went about other things, for I had no time to lose. I also found
some rum in the great cabin, of which I took a large dram, and which I
had indeed need enough of to spirit me for what was before me. Now I
wanted nothing but a boat, to furnish myself with many things which
I foresaw would be very necessary to me.
It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to be had, and
this extremity roused my application. We had several spare yards,
and two or three large spars of wood, and a spare topmast or two in
the ship. I resolved to fall to work with these, and flung as many
of them overboard as I could manage for their weight, tying every
one with a rope, that they might not drive away. When this was done
I went down the ship's side, and, pulling them to me, I tied four of
them fast together at both ends as well as I could, in the form of a
raft; and laying two or three short pieces of plank upon them,
crossways, I found I could walk upon it very well, but that it was not
able to bear any great weight, the pieces being too light. So I went
to work, and with the carpenter's saw I cut up a spare topmast into
three lengths, and added them to my raft, with a great deal of labor
and pains; but hope of furnishing myself with necessaries encouraged
me to go beyond what I should have been able to have done upon another
My raft was not strong enough to bear any reasonable weight. My next
care was what to load it with, and how to preserve what I laid upon it
from the surf of the sea; but I was not long considering this. I first
laid all the planks or boards upon it that I could get, and having
considered well what I most wanted, I first got three of the
seamen's chests, which I had broken open and emptied, and lowered them
down upon my raft. The first of these I filled with provisions,
viz., bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five pieces of dried goat's
flesh, which we lived much upon, and a little remainder of European
corn, which had been laid by for some fowls which we brought to sea
with us, but the fowls were killed. There had been some barley and
wheat together, but, to my great disappointment, I found afterwards
that the rats had eaten or spoiled it all. As for liquors, I found
several cases of bottles belonging to our skipper, in which were
some cordial waters, and, in all, about five or six gallons of rack.
These I stowed by themselves, there being no need to put them into the
chest, nor no room for them. While I was doing this, I found the
tide began to flow, though very calm, and I had the mortification to
see my coat, shirt, and waistcoat, which I had left on shore upon
the sand, swim away; as for my breeches, which were only linen, and
open-kneed, I swam on board in them, and my stockings. However, this
put me upon rummaging for clothes, of which I found enough, but took
no more than I wanted for present use; for I had other things which my
eye was more upon, as first tools to work with on shore; and it was
after long searching that I found out the carpenter's chest, which was
indeed a very useful prize to me, and much more valuable than a
ship-loading of gold would have been at that time. I got it down to my
raft, even whole as it was, without losing time to look into it, for I
knew in general what it contained.
My next care was for some ammunition and arms; there were two very
good fowling-pieces in the great cabin, and two pistols; these I
secured first, with some powder-horns, and a small bag of shot, and
two old rusty swords. I knew there were three barrels of powder in the
ship, but knew not where our gunner had stowed them; but with much
search I found them, two of them dry and good, third had taken
water; those two I got to my raft with the arms. And now I thought
myself pretty well frighted, and began to think how I should get to
shore with them, having neither sail, oar, nor rudder; and the least
capful of wind would have overset all my navigation.
I had three encouragements. 1. A smooth, calm sea. 2. The tide
rising and setting in to the shore. 3. What little wind there was blew
me towards the land. And thus, having found two or three broken oars
belonging to the boat, and besides the tools which were in the
chest, I found two saws, an axe, and a hammer, and with this cargo I
put to sea. For a mile or thereabouts my raft went very well, only
that I found it drive a little distant from the place where I had
landed before, by which I perceived that there was some indraft of
water, and consequently I hoped to find some creek or river there,
which I might make use of as a port to get to land with my cargo.
As I imagined, so it was; there appeared before me a little
opening of the land, and I found a strong current of the tide set into
it, so I guided my raft as well as I could to keep in the middle of
the stream. But here I had like to have suffered a second shipwreck,
which, if I had, I think verily would have broke my heart, for knowing
nothing of the coast, my raft ran aground at one end of it upon a
shoal, and not being aground at the other end, it wanted but a
little that all my cargo had slipped off towards that end that was
afloat, and so fallen into the water. I did my utmost by setting my
back against the chests to keep them in their places, but could not
thrust off the raft with all my strength, neither durst I stir from
the posture I was in, but holding up the chests with all my might,
stood in that manner near half an hour, in which time the rising of
the water brought me a little more upon a level; and a little after,
the water still rising, my raft floated again, and I thrust her off
with the oar I had into the channel, and then driving up higher, I
at length found myself in the mouth of a little river, with land on
both sides, and a strong current or tide running up. I looked on
both sides for a proper place to get to shore, for I was not willing
to be driven too high up the river, hoping in time to see some ship at
sea, and therefore resolved to place myself as near the coast as I
At length I spied a little cove on the right shore of the creek,
to which, with great pain and difficulty, I guided my raft, and at
last got so near, as that, reaching ground with my oar, I could thrust
her directly in; but here I had like to have dipped all my cargo in
the sea again; for that shore lying pretty steep, that is to say,
sloping, there was no place to land but where one end of my float,
if it run on shore, would lie so high and the other sink lower, as
before, that it would endanger my cargo again. All that I could do was
to wait till the tide was at the highest, keeping the raft with my oar
like an anchor to hold the side of it fast to the shore, near a flat
piece of ground, which I expected the water would flow over; and so it
did. As soon as I found water enough, for my raft drew about a foot of
water, I thrust her on upon that flat piece of ground, and there
fastened or moored her by sticking my two broken oars into the ground;
one on one side near the end, and one on the other side near the other
end; and thus I lay till the water ebbed away, and left my raft and
all my cargo safe on shore.
My next work was to view the country, and seek a proper place for my
habitation, and where to stow my goods to secure them from whatever
might happen. Where I was, I yet knew not; whether on the continent,
or on an island; whether inhabited, or not inhabited; whether in
danger of wild beasts, or not. There was a hill, not above a mile from
me, which rose up very steep and high, and which seemed to overtop
some other hills, which lay as in a ridge from it, northward. I took
out one of the fowling-pieces and one of the pistols, and a horn of
powder; and thus armed, I travelled for discovery up to the top of
that hill, where, after I had with great labor and difficulty got
to the top, I saw my fate to my great affliction, viz., that I was
in an island environed every way with the sea, no land to be seen,
except some rocks which lay a great way off, and two small islands
less than this, which lay about three leagues to the west.
I found also that the island I was in was barren, and, as I saw good
reason to believe, uninhabited, except by wild beasts, of whom,
however, I saw none; yet I saw abundance of fowls, but knew not
their kind; neither, when I killed them, could I tell what was fit for
food, and what not. At my coming back, I shot at a great bird which
I saw sitting upon a tree on the side of a great wood. I believe it
was the first gun that had been fired there since the creation of
the world. I had no sooner fired, but from all the parts of the wood
there arose an innumerable number of fowls of many sorts, making a
confused screaming, and crying, every one according to his usual note;
but not one of them of any kind that I knew. As for the creature I
killed, I took it to be a kind of a hawk, its color and beak
resembling it, but had no talons or claws more than common; its
flesh was carrion, and fit for nothing.
Contented with this discovery, I came back to raft, and fell to work
to bring my cargo on shore, which took me up the rest of that day; and
what to do with myself at night, I knew not, or, indeed, where to
rest; for I was afraid to lie down on the ground, not knowing but some
wild beast might devour me, though, as I afterwards found, there was
really no need for those fears. However, as well as I could, I
barricaded myself round with the chests and boards that I had
brought on shore, and made a kind of a hut for that night's lodging;
as for food, I yet saw not which way to supply myself, except that I
had seen two or three creatures like hares run out of the wood where I
shot the fowl.
I now began to consider that I might yet get a great many things out
of the ship, which would be useful to me, and particularly some of the
rigging and sails, and such other things as might come to land; and
I resolved to make another voyage on board the vessel, if possible.
And as I knew that the first storm that blew must necessarily break
her all in pieces, I resolved to set all other things apart till I got
everything out of the ship that I could get. Then I called a
council, that is to say, in my thoughts, whether I should take back
the raft, but this appeared impracticable; so I resolved to go as
before, when the tide was down: and I did so, only that I stripped
before I went from my hut, having nothing on but a checkered shirt and
a pair of linen drawers, and a pair of pumps on my feet.
I got on board the ship as before, and prepared a second raft, and
having had experience of the first, I neither made this so unwieldy,
nor loaded it so hard; but yet I brought away several things very
useful to me; as, at first, in the carpenter's stores I found two or
three bags full of nails and spikes, a great screw-jack, a dozen or
two of hatchets, and above all, that most useful thing called a
grindstone. All these I secured, together with several things
belonging to the gunner, particularly two or three iron crows, and two
barrels of musket bullets, seven muskets, and another fowling-piece,
with some small quantity of powder more; a large bag full of
small-shot, and a great roll of sheet-lead; but this last was so
heavy, I could not hoist it up to get it over the ship's side. Besides
these things, I took all the men's clothes that I could find, and a
spare foretop sail, a hammock, and some bedding; and with this I
loaded my second raft, and brought them all safe on shore, to my
very great comfort.
I was under some apprehensions during my absence from the land, that
at least my provisions might be devoured on shore; but when I came
back, I found no sign of any visitor, only there sat a creature like a
wild cat upon one of the chests, which, when I came towards it, ran
away a little distance, and then stood still. She sat very composed
and unconcerned, and looked full in my face, as if she had a mind to
be acquainted with me. I presented my gun at her; but as she did not
understand it, she was perfectly unconcerned at it, nor did she
offer to stir away; upon which I tossed her a bit of biscuit,
though, by the way, I was not very free of it, for my store was not
great. However, I spared her a bit, I say, and she went to it, smelled
of it, and ate it, and looked (as pleased) for more; but I thanked
her, and could spare no more, so she marched off.
Having got my second cargo on shore, though I was fain to open the
barrels of powder and bring them by parcels, for they were too
heavy, being large casks, I went to work to make me a little tent with
the sail and some poles which I cut for that purpose; and into this
tent I brought everything that I knew would spoil either with rain
or sun; and I piled all the empty chests and casks up in a circle
round the tent, to fortify it from any sudden attempt, either from man
or beast.
When I has done this I blocked up the door of the tent with some
boards within, and an empty chest set up on end without; and spreading
one of the beds upon the ground, laying my two pistols just at my
head, and my gun at length by me, I went to bed for the first time,
and slept very quietly all night, for I was very weary and heavy;
for the night before I had slept little, and had labored very hard all
day, as well to fetch all those things from the ship, as to get them
on shore.
I had the biggest magazine of all kinds now that ever was laid up, I
believe, for one man; but I was not satisfied still, for while the
ship sat upright in that posture, I thought I ought to get
everything out of her that I could. So every day at low water I went
on board, and brought away something or other; but, particularly,
the third time I went I brought away as much of the rigging as I
could, as also all the small ropes and rope-twine I could get, with
a piece of spare canvas, which was to mend the sails upon occasion,
the barrel of wet gunpowder; in a word, I brought away all the sails
first and last; only that I was fain to cut them in pieces, and
bring as much at a time as I could; for they were no more useful to be
sails, but as mere canvas only.
But that which comforted me more still was, that at last of all,
after I had made five or six such voyages as these, and thought I
had nothing more to expect from the ship that was worth my meddling
with; I say, after all this, I found a great hogshead of bread, and
three large runlets of rum or spirits, and a box of sugar, and a
barrel of fine flour; this was surprising to me, because I had given
over expecting any more provisions, except what was spoilt by the
water. I soon emptied the hogshead of that bread, and wrapped it up
parcel by parcel in pieces of the sails, which I cut out; and, in a
word, I got all this safe on shore also.
The next day I made another voyage. And now, having plundered the
ship of what was portable and fit to hand out, I began with the
cables; and cutting the great cable into pieces, such as I could move,
I got two cables and a hawser on shore, with all the iron-work I could
get; and having cut down the spritsail-yard, and the mizzen-yard,
and everything I could to make a large raft, I loaded it with all
those heavy goods, and came away. But my good luck began now to
leave me; for this raft was so unwieldy, and so overladen, that
after I was entered the little cove where I had landed the rest of
my goods, not being able to guide it so handily as I did the other, it
overset, and, threw me and all my cargo into the water. As for myself,
it was no great harm, for I was near the shore; but as to my cargo, it
was great part of it lost, especially the iron, which I expected would
have been great use to me. However, when the tide was out I got most
of the pieces of cable ashore, and some of the iron, though with
infinite labor; for I was fain to dip for it into the water, a work
which fatigued me very much. After this I went every day on board, and
brought away what I could get.
I have been now thirteen days on shore, and had been eleven times on
board the ship; in which time I had brought away all that one pair
of hands could well be supposed capable to bring, though I believe
verily, had the calm weather held, I should have brought away the
whole ship piece by piece. But preparing the twelfth time to go on
board, I found the wind begin to rise. However, at low water I went on
board, and though I thought I had rummaged the cabin so effectually as
that nothing more could be found, yet I discovered a locker with
drawers in it, in one of which I found two or three razors, and one
pair of large scissors, with some ten or a dozen of good knives and
forks; in another, I found some thirty-six pounds value in money, some
European coin, some Brazil, some pieces of eight, some gold, some
I smiled to myself at the sight of this money. "O drug!" said I
aloud, "what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me, no, not
the taking off of the ground; one of those knives is worth all this
heap. I have no manner of use for thee; even remain where thou art,
and go to the bottom as a creature whose life is not worth saving."
However, upon second thoughts, I took it away; and wrapping all this
in a piece of canvas, I began to think of making another raft; but
while I was preparing this, I found the sky overcast, and the wind
began to rise, and in a quarter of an hour it blew a fresh gale from
the shore. It presently occurred to me that it was in vain to
pretend to make a raft with the wind off shore, and that it was my
business to be gone before the tide of flood began, otherwise I
might not be able to reach the shore at all. Accordingly I let
myself down into the water, and swam across the channel, which lay
between the ship and the sands, and even that with difficulty
enough, partly with the weight of the things I had about me, and
partly the roughness of the water; for the wind rose very hastily, and
before it was quite high water it blew a storm.
But I was gotten home to my little tent, where I lay with all my
wealth about me very secure. It blew very hard all that night, and
in the morning, when I looked out, behold, no more ship was to be
seen. I was a little surprised, but recovered myself with this
satisfactory reflection, viz., that I had lost no time, nor abated
no diligence, to get everything out of her that could be useful to me,
and that indeed there was little left in her that I was able to
bring away if I had had more time.
I now gave over any more thoughts of the ship, or of anything out of
her, except what might drive on there from her wreck, as indeed divers
pieces of her afterwards did; but those things were of small use to
My thoughts were now wholly employed about securing myself against
either savages, if any should appear, or wild beasts, if any were in
the island; and I had many thoughts of the method how to do this,
and what kind of dwelling to make, whether I should make me a cave
in the earth, or a tent upon the earth; and, in short, I resolved upon
both, the manner and description of which it may not be improper to
give an account of.
I soon found the place I was in was not for my settlement,
particularly because it was upon a low moorish ground near the sea,
and I believed would not be wholesome; and more particularly because
there was no fresh water near it. So I resolved to find a more healthy
and more convenient spot of ground.
I consulted several things in my situation, which I found would be
proper for me. First, health and fresh water, I just now mentioned.
Secondly, shelter from the heat of the sun. Thirdly security from
ravenous creatures, whether men or beasts. Fourthly, a view to the
sea, that if God sent any ship in sight I might not lose any advantage
for my deliverance, of which I was not willing to banish all my
expectation yet.
In search of a place proper for this, I found a little plain on
the side of a rising hill, whose front towards this little plain was
steep as a house-side, so that nothing could come down upon me from
the top; on the side of this rock there was a hollow place, worn a
little way in, like the entrance or door of a cave; but there was
not really any cave, or way into the rock at all.
On the flat of the green, just before this hollow place, I
resolved to pitch my tent. This plain was not above a hundred yards
broad, and about twice as long, and lay like a green before my door,
and at the end of it descended irregularly every way down into the low
grounds by the seaside. It was on the NNW. side of the hill, so that I
was sheltered from the heat every day, till it came to a W. and by
S. sun, or thereabouts, which in those countries is near setting.
Before I set up my tent, I drew a half circle before the hollow
place, which took in about ten yards in its semi-diameter from the
rock, and twenty yards in its diameter from its beginning and
ending. In this half circle I pitched two rows of strong stakes,
driving them into the ground till they stood very firm like piles, the
biggest end being out of the ground about five feet and a half, and
sharpened on the top. The two rows did not stand above six inches from
one another.
Then I took the pieces of cable which I had cut in the ship, and
laid them in rows one upon another, within the circle, between these
two rows of stakes, up to the top, placing other stakes in the
inside leaning against them, about two feet and a half high, like a
spur to a post; and this fence was so strong that neither man or beast
could get into it, or over it. This cost me a great deal of time and
labor, especially to cut the piles in the woods, bring them to the
place, and drive them into the earth.
The entrance into this place I made to be not by a door, but by a
short ladder to go over the top; which ladder, when I was in, I lifted
over after me, and so I was completely fenced in, and fortified, as
I thought, from all the world, and consequently slept secure in the
night, which otherwise I could not have done; though as it appeared
afterward, there was no need of all this caution from the enemies that
I apprehended danger from.
Into this fence or fortress, with infinite labor, I carried all my
riches, all my provisions, ammunition, and stores, of which you have
the account above; and I made me a large tent, which, to preserve me
from the rains that in one part of the year are very violent there,
I made double, viz., one smaller tent within, and one larger tent
above it, and covered the uppermost with a large tarpaulin, which I
had saved among the sails. And now I lay no more for a while in the
bed which I had brought on shore, but in a hammock, which was indeed a
very good one, and belonged to the mate of the ship.
Into this tent I brought all my provisions, and everything that
would spoil by the wet; and having thus enclosed all my goods I made
up the entrance, which, till now, I had left open, and so passed and
repassed, as I said, by a short ladder.
When I had done this, I began to work my way into the rock; and
bringing all the earth and stones that I dug down out through my tent,
I laid them up within my fence in the nature of a terrace, so that
it raised the ground within about a foot and a half; and thus I made
me a cave just behind my tent, which served me like a cellar to my
It cost me much labor, and many days, before all these things were
brought to perfection, and therefore I must go back to some other
things which took up some of my thoughts. At the same time it
happened, after I had laid my scheme for the setting up my tent, and
making the cave, that a storm of rain falling from a thick dark cloud,
a sudden flash of lightning happened, and after that a great clap of
thunder, as is naturally the effect of it. I was not so much surprised
with the lightning, as I was with a thought which darted into my
mind as swift as the lightning itself. O my powder! My very heart sunk
within me when I thought that at one blast all my powder might be
destroyed, on which, not my defence only, but the providing me food,
as I thought, entirely depended. I was nothing near so anxious about
my own danger; though had the powder took fire, I had never known
who had hurt me.
Such impression did this make upon me, that after the storm was over
I laid aside all my works, my building, and fortifying, and applied
myself to make bags and boxes to separate the powder, and keep it a
little and a little in a parcel, in hope that whatever might come it
might not all take fire at once, and to keep it so apart that it
should not be possible to make one part fire another. I finished
this work in about a fortnight; and I think my powder, which in all
was about 240 pounds weight, was divided in not less than a hundred
parcels. As to the barrel that had been wet, I did not apprehend any
danger from that, so I placed it in my new cave, which in my fancy I
called my kitchen, and the rest I hid up and down and in holes among
the rocks, so that no wet might come to it, marking very carefully
where I laid it.
In the interval of time while this was doing, I went out once, at
least, every day with my gun, as well to divert myself, as to see if I
could kill anything fit for food, and as near as I could to acquaint
myself with what the island produced. The first time I went out, I
presently discovered that there were goats in the island, which was
a great satisfaction to me; but then it was attended with this
misfortune to me, viz., that they were so shy, so subtle, and so swift
of foot, that it was the difficultest thing in the world to come at
them. But I was not discouraged at this, not doubting but I might
now and then shoot one, as it soon happened; for after I had found
their haunts a little, I laid wait in this manner for them. I observed
if they saw me in the valleys, though they were upon the rocks, they
would run away as in a terrible fright; but if they were feeding in
the valleys, and I was upon the rocks, they took no notice of me, from
whence I concluded that, by the position of their optics, their
sight was so directed downward, that they did not readily see
objects that were above them. So afterward I took this method: I
always climbed the rocks first to get above them, and then had
frequently a fair mark. The first shot I made among these creatures
I killed a she-goat, which had a little kid by her, which she gave
suck to, which grieved me heartily; but when the old one fell, the kid
stood stock still by her till I came and took her up; and not only so,
but when I carried the old one with me upon my shoulders, the kid
followed me quite to my enclosure; upon which I laid down the dam, and
took the kid in my arms, and carried it over my pale, in hopes to have
bred it up tame; but it would not eat, so I was forced to kill it, and
eat it myself. These two supplied me with flesh a great while, for I
eat sparingly, and saved my provisions, my bread especially, as much
as possibly I could.
Having now fixed my habitation, I found it absolutely necessary to
provide a place to make a fire in, and fuel to burn; and what I did
for that, as also how I enlarged my cave, and what conveniences I
made, I shall give a full account of in its place. But I must first
give some little account of myself, and of my thoughts about living,
which it may well be supposed were not a few. I had a dismal
prospect of my condition; for as I was not cast away upon that
island without being driven, as is said, by a violent storm, quite out
of the course of our intended voyage, and a great way, viz., some
hundreds of leagues out of the ordinary course of the trade of
mankind, I had great reason to consider it as a determination of
Heaven, that in this desolate place, and in this desolate manner, I
should end my life. The tears would run plentifully down face when I
made these reflections, and sometimes I would expostulate with myself,
why Providence should thus completely ruin its creatures, and render
them so absolutely miserable, so without help abandoned, so entirely
depressed, that it could hardly be rational to be thankful for such
a life.
But something always returned swift upon me to check these thoughts,
and to reprove me; and particularly one day, walking with my gun in my
hand by the seaside, I was very pensive upon the subject of my present
condition, when reason, as it were, expostulated with me t'other
way, thus: "Well, you are in a desolate condition it is true, but pray
remember, where are the rest of you? Did not you come eleven of you in
the boat? Where are the ten? Why were not they saved, and you lost?
Why were you singled out? Is it better to be here, or there?" And then
I pointed to the sea. All evils are to be considered with the good
that is in them, and with what worse attends them.
Then it occurred to me again, how well I was furnished for my
subsistence, and what would have been my case if it had not
happened, which was a hundred thousand to one, that the ship had
floated from the place where she first struck and was driven so near
to the shore that I had time to get all these things out of her;
what would have been my case, if I had been to have lived in the
condition in which I first came on shore, without necessaries of life,
or necessaries to supply and procure them? "Particularly," said I
aloud (though to myself), "what should I have done without a gun,
without ammunition, without any tools to make anything or to work
with, without clothes, bedding, a tent, or any manner of covering?"
and that now I had all these to a sufficient quantity, and was in a
fair way to provide myself in such a manner, as to live without my gun
when my ammunition was spent; so that I had a tolerable view of
subsisting without any want as long as I lived. For I considered
from the beginning how I would provide for the accidents that might
happen, and for the time that was to come, even not only after my
ammunition should be spent, but even after my health or strength
should decay.
I confess I had not entertained any notion of my ammunition being
destroyed at one blast - I mean, my powder being blown up by
lightning; and this made the thoughts of it so surprising to me when
it lightened and thundered, as I observed just now.
And now being to enter into a melancholy relation of a scene of
silent life, such, perhaps, as was never heard of in the world before,
I shall take it from its beginning and continue it in its order. It
was by my account, the 30th of September when, in the manner as
above said, I first set foot upon this horrid island, when the sun
being to us in its autumnal equinox, was almost just over my head, for
I reckoned myself, by observation, to be in the latitude of 9
degrees 22 minutes north of the line.
After I had been there about ten or twelve days it came into my
thoughts that I should lose my reckoning of time for want of books and
pen and ink, and should even forget the Sabbath days from the
working days; but to prevent this, I cut it with my knife upon a large
post, in capital letters; and making it into a great cross, I set it
up on the shore where I first landed, viz., "I came on shore here
the 30th of September 1659." Upon the sides of this square post I
cut every day a notch with my knife, and every seventh notch was as
long again as the rest, and every first day of the month as long again
as that long one; and thus I kept my calendar, or weekly, monthly, and
yearly reckoning of time.
In the next place we are to observe that among the many things which
I brought out of the ship in the several voyages, which, as above
mentioned, I made to it, I got several things of less value, but not
all less useful to me, which I omitted setting down before; as in
particular, pens, ink, and paper, several parcels in the captain's,
mate's, gunner's, and carpenter's keeping, three or four compasses,
some mathematical instruments, dials, perspectives, charts, and
books of navigation, all of which I huddled together, whether I
might want them or no. Also I found three very good Bibles, which came
to me in my cargo from England and which I had packed up among my
things; some Portuguese books, also, and among them two or three
Popish prayer-books, and several other books, all of which I carefully
secured. And I must not forget, that we had in the ship a dog and
two cats, of whose eminent history I may have occasion to say
something in its place; for I carried both the cats with me; and as
for the dog he jumped out of the ship of himself, and swam on shore to
me the day after I went on shore with my first cargo, and was a trusty
servant to me many years. I wanted nothing that he could fetch me, nor
any company that he could make up to me; I only wanted to have him
talk to me, but that would not do. As I observed before, I found
pen, ink, and paper, and I husbanded them to the utmost; and I shall
show that while my ink lasted, I kept things very exact; but after
that was gone, I could not, for I could not make any ink by any
means that I could devise.
And this put me in mind that I wanted many things, notwithstanding
all that I had amassed together; and of these, this of ink was one, as
also spade, pick-axe, and shovel, to dig or remove the earth, needles,
pins, and thread; as for linen, I soon learned to want that without
much difficulty.
This want of tools made every work I did go on heavily; and it was
near a whole year before I had entirely finished my little pale or
surrounded habitation. The piles or stakes, which were as heavy as I
could well lift, were a long time in cutting and preparing in the
woods, and more by far in bringing home; so that I spent sometimes two
days in cutting and bringing home one of those posts, and a third
day in driving it into the ground; for which purpose I got a heavy
piece of wood at first, but at last bethought myself of one of the
iron crows, which, however, though I found it, yet it made driving
those posts or piles very laborious and tedious work.
But what need I have been concerned at the tediousness of anything I
had to do, seeing I had time enough to do it in? Nor had I any other
employment, if that had been over, at least that I could foresee,
except the ranging the island to seek for food, which I did more or
less every day.
I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstance
I was reduced to; and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing;
not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was
like to have but few heirs, as to deliver my thoughts from daily
poring upon them; and afflicting my mind. And as my reason began now
to master my despondency, I began to comfort myself as well as I
could, and to set the good against the evil, that I might have
something to distinguish my case from worse; and I stated it very
impartially, like a debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed
against the miseries I suffered, thus:

I am cast upon a horrible desolate island, void of all hope of
But I am alive, and not drowned, as all my ship's company was.
I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world to be
But I am singled out, too, from all the ship's crew to be spared
from death; and He that miraculously saved me from death, can
deliver me from this condition.
I am divided from mankind, a solitaire, one banished from human
But I am not starved and perishing on a barren place, affording no
I have not clothes to cover me.
But I am in a hot climate, where if I had clothes I could hardly
wear them.
I am without any defence or means to resist any violence of man or
But I am cast on an island, where I see no wild beasts to hurt me,
as I saw on the coast of Africa; and what if I had been shipwrecked
I have no soul to speak to, or relieve me.
But God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore,
that I have gotten out so many necessary things as will either
supply my wants, or enable me to supply myself even as long as I live.

Upon the whole, here was an undoubted testimony, that there was
scarce any condition in the world so miserable but there was something
negative or something positive to be thankful for in it; and let
this stand as a direction from the experience of the most miserable of
all conditions in this world, that we may always find in it
something to comfort ourselves from, and to set in the description
of good and evil on the credit side of the account.
Having now brought my mind a little to relish my condition, and
given over looking out to sea, to see if I could spy a ship; I say,
giving over these things, I began to apply myself to accomodate my way
of living, and to make things as easy to me as I could.
I have already described my habitation, which was a tent under the
side of a rock, surrounded with a strong pale of posts and cables; but
I might now rather call it a wall, for I raised a kind of wall up
against it of turfs, about two feet thick on the outside, and after
some time - I think it was a year and a half - I raised rafters from
it leaning to the rock, and thatched or covered it with boughs of
trees and such things as I could get to keep out the rain, which I
found at some times of the year very violent.
I have already observed how I brought all my goods into this pale,
and into the cave which I had made behind me. But I must observe, too,
that at first this was a confused heap of goods, which as they lay
in no order, so they took up all my place; I had no room to turn
myself. So I set myself to enlarge my cave and works farther into
the earth; for it was a loose sandy rock which yielded easily to the
labor I bestowed on it. And so, when I found I was pretty safe as to
beasts of prey, I worked sideways to the right hand into the rock; and
then, turning to the right again, working quite out, and made me a
door to come out on the outside of my pale or fortification. This gave
me not only egress and regress, as it were a back-way to my tent and
to my storehouse, but gave me room to stow my goods.
And now I began to apply myself to make such necessary things as I
found I most wanted, as particularly a chair and a table; for
without these I was not able to enjoy the few comforts I had in the
world. I could not write or eat, or do several things with so much
pleasure without a table.
So I went to work: and here I must needs observe, that as reason
is the substance and original of the mathematics, so by stating and
squaring everything by reason, and by making the most rational
judgment of things, every man may be in time master of every
mechanic art. I had never handled a tool in my life; and yet in
time, by labor, application, and contrivance, I found at last that I
wanted nothing but I could have made it, especially if I had had
more tools. However, I made abundance of things even without tools,
and some with no more tools than an adze and a hatchet, which,
perhaps, were never made that way before, and that with infinite
labor. For example, if I wanted a board, I had no other way but to cut
down a tree, set it on an edge before me, and hew it flat on either
side with my axe, till I had brought it to be thick as a plank, and
then dub it smooth with my adze. It is true, by this method I could
make but one board out of a whole tree; but this I had no remedy for
but patience, any more than I had for the prodigious deal of time
and labor which it took me up to make a plank or board. But my time or
labor was little worth, and so it was as well employed one way as
However, I made me a table and a chair, as I observed above, in
the first place, and this I did out of the short pieces of boards that
I brought on my raft from the ship. But when I had wrought out some
boards, as above, I made large shelves of the breadth of a foot and
a half one over another, all along one side of my cave, to lay all
my tools, nails, and ironwork; and, in a word, to separate
everything at large in their places, that I might come easily at them.
I knocked pieces into the wall of the rock to hang my guns and all
things that would hang up; so that had my cave been to be seen, it
looked like a general magazine of all necessary things; and I had
everything so ready at my hand, that it was a great pleasure to me
to see all my goods in such order, and especially to find my stock
of all necessaries so great.
And now it was when I began to keep a journal of every day's
employment; for, indeed, at first, I was in too much hurry, and not
only hurry as to labor, but in too much discomposure of mind; and my
journal would have been full of many dull things. For example, I
must have said thus: September the 30th. -After I got to shore, and
had escaped drowning, instead of being thankful to God for my
deliverance, having first vomited with the great quantity of salt
water which was gotten into my stomach, and recovering myself a
little, I ran about the shore, wringing my hands, and beating my
head and face, exclaiming at my misery, and crying out, I was
undone, undone, till, tired and faint, I was forced to lie down on the
ground to repose; but durst not sleep, for fear of being devoured.
Some days after this, and after I had been on board the ship and got
all that I could out of her, yet I could not forbear getting up to the
top of a little mountain, and looking out to sea, in hopes of seeing a
ship; then fancy at a vast distance I spied a sail, please myself with
the hopes of it, and then, after looking steadily till I was almost
blind, lose it quite, and sit down and weep like a child, and thus
increase my misery by my folly.
But having gotten over these things in some measure, and having
settled my household stuff and habitation, made me a table and a
chair, and all as handsome about me as I could, I began to keep my
journal, of which I shall here give you the copy (though in it will be
told all these particulars over again) as long as it lasted; for,
having no more ink, I was forced to leave it off.


September 30, 1659. - I, poor miserable Robinson Crusoe, being
shipwrecked, during a dreadful storm, in the offing, came on shore
in this dismal unfortunate island, which I called the Island of
Despair, all the rest of the ship's company being drowned, and
myself almost dead.
All the rest of that day I spent in afflicting myself at the
dismal circumstances I was brought to, viz., I had neither food,
house, clothes, weapon, or place to fly to; and in despair of any
relief, saw nothing but death before me; either that I should be
devoured by wild beasts, murdered by savages, or starved to death
for want of food. At the approach of night, I slept in a tree for fear
of wild creatures, but slept soundly, though it rained all night.
October 1. - In the morning I saw, to my great surprise, the ship
had floated with the high tide, and was driven on shore again much
nearer the island; which, as it was some comfort on one hand, for
seeing her sit upright, and not broken to pieces, I hoped, if the wind
abated, I might get on board, and get some food and necessaries out of
her for my relief; so, on the other hand, it renewed my grief at the
loss of my comrades, who, I imagined, if we had all stayed on board,
might have saved the ship, or at least that they would not have been
all drowned as they were; and that had the men been saved, we might
perhaps have built us a boat out of the ruins of the ship, to have
carried us to some other part of the world. I spent great part of this
day in perplexing myself on these things; but at length seeing the
ship almost dry, I went upon the sand as near as I could, and then
swam on board; this day also it continued raining, though with no wind
at all.
From the 1st of October to the 24th. - All these days entirely spent
in many several voyages to get all I could out of the ship, which I
brought on shore, every tide of flood, upon rafts. Much rain also in
these days, though with some intervals of fair weather; but, it seems,
this was the rainy season.
October 20. - I overset my raft, and all the goods I had got upon
it; but being in shoal water, and the things being chiefly heavy, I
recovered many of them when the tide was out.
October 25. - It rained all night and all day, with some gusts of
wind, during which time the ship broke in pieces, the wind blowing a
little harder than before, and was no more to be seen, except the
wreck of her, and that only at low water. I spent this day in covering
and securing the goods which I had saved, that the rain might not
spoil them.
October 26. - I walked about the shore almost all day to find out
a place to fix my habitation, greatly concerned to secure myself
from an attack in the night, either from wild beasts or men. Towards
night I fixed upon a proper place under a rock, and marked out a
semicircle for my encampment, which I resolved to strengthen with a
work, wall, or fortification made of double piles, lined within with
cables, and without with turf.
From the 26th to the 30th I worked very hard in carrying all my
goods to my new habitation, though some part of the time it rained
exceeding hard.
The 31st, in the morning, I went out into the island with my gun
to see for some food, and discover the country; when I killed a
she-goat, and her kid followed me home, which I afterwards killed
also, because it would not feed.
November 1. - I set up my tent under a rock, and lay there for the
first night, making it as large as I could, with stakes driven in to
swing my hammock upon.
November 2. - I set up all my chests and boards, and the pieces of
timber which made my rafts, and with them formed a fence round me, a
little within the place I had marked out for my fortification.
November 3. - I went out with my gun, and killed two fowls like
ducks, which were very good food. In the afternoon went to work to
make me a table.
November 4. - This morning I began to order my times of work, of
going out with my gun, time of sleep, and time of diversion, viz.,
every morning I walked out with my gun for two or three hours, if it
did not rain; then employed myself to work till about eleven
o'clock; then eat what I had to live on; and from twelve to two I
lay down to sleep, the weather being excessive hot; and then in the
evening to work again. The working part of this day and of the next
were wholly employed in making my table; for I was yet but a very
sorry workman, though time and necessity made me a complete natural
mechanic soon after, as I believe it would do any one else.
November 5. - This day went abroad with my gun and my dog, and
killed a wild-cat; her skin pretty soft, but her flesh good for
nothing. Every creature I killed, I took off the skins and preserved
them. Coming back by the seashore, I saw many sorts of seafowls, which
I did not understand; but was surprised, and almost frighted, with two
or three seals, which, while I was gazing at, not well knowing what
they were, got into the sea, and escaped me for that time.
November 6. - After my morning walk I went to work with my table
again, and finished it, though not to my liking; nor was it long
before I learned to mend it.
November 7. - Now it began to be settled fair weather. The 7th, 8th,
9th, 10th, and part of the 12th (for the 11th was Sunday) I took
wholly up to make me a chair, and with much ado, brought it to a
tolerable shape, but never to please me; and even in the making I
pulled it to pieces several times. Note, I soon neglected my keeping
Sundays; for, omitting my mark for them on my post, I forgot which was
November 13. - This day it rained, which refreshed me exceedingly,
and cooled the earth; but it was accompanied with terrible thunder and
lightning, which frighted me dreadfully, for fear of my powder. As
soon as it was over, I resolved to separate my stock of powder into as
many little parcels as possible, that it might not be in danger.
November 14, 15, 16. - These three days I spent in making little
square chests or boxes, which might hold about a pound, or two pound
at most, of powder; and so putting the powder in, I stowed it in
places as secure and remote from one another as possible. On one of
these three days I killed a large bird that was good to eat, but I
know not what to call it.
November 17. - This day I began to dig behind my tent into the rock,
to make room for my farther conveniency. Note, three things I wanted
exceeding for this work, viz., a pick-axe, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow
or basket; so I desisted from my work, and began to consider how to
supply that want, and make me some tools. As for a pick-axe, I made
use of the iron crows, which were proper enough, though heavy; but the
next thing was a shovel or spade. This was so absolutely necessary,
that indeed I could no nothing effectually without it; but what kind
of one to make, I knew not.
November 18. - The next day, in searching the woods, I found a
tree of that wood, or like it, which in the Brazils they call the iron
tree, for its exceeding hardness; of this, with great labor, and
almost spoiling my axe, I cut a piece, and brought it home, too, was
difficulty enough, for it was exceeding heavy.
The excessive hardness of the wood, and having no other way, made me
a long while upon this machine, for I worked it effectually, by little
and little, into the form of a shovel or spade, the handle exactly
shaped like ours in England, only that the broad part having no iron
shod upon it at bottom, it would not last me so long. However, it
served well enough for the uses which I had occasion to put it to; but
never was a shovel, I believe, made after that fashion, or so long
I was still deficient, for I wanted a basket or a wheel-barrow. A
basket I could not make by any means, having no such things as twigs
that would bend to make wicker ware, at least none yet found out.
And as to a wheelbarrow, I fancied I could make all but the wheel, but
that I had no notion of, neither did I know how to go about it;
besides, I had no possible way to make the iron gudgeons for the
spindle or axis of the wheel to run in, so I gave it over; and so
for carrying away the earth which I dug out of the cave, I made me a
thing like a hod which the laborers carry mortar in, when they serve
the bricklayers.
This was not so difficult to me as the making the shovel; and yet
this, and the shovel, and the attempt which I made in vain to make a
wheelbarrow, took me up no less than four days; I mean always,
excepting my morning walk with my gun, which I seldom failed, and very
seldom failed also bringing home something fit to eat.
November 23. - My other work having now stood still because of my
making these tools, when they were finished I went on, and working
every day, as my strength and time allowed, I spent eighteen days
entirely in widening and deepening my cave, that it might hold my
goods commodiously.
Note: During all this time I worked to make this room or cave
spacious enough to accomodate me as a warehouse or magazine, a
kitchen, a dining-room, and a cellar; as for my lodging, I kept to the
tent, except that sometimes in the wet season of the year it rained so
hard that I could not keep myself dry, which caused me afterwards to
cover all my place within my pale with long poles, in the form of
rafters, leaning against the rock, and load them with flags and
large leaves of trees, like a thatch.
December 10. - I began now to think my cave or vault finished when
on a sudden (it seems I had made it too large) a great quantity of
earth fell down from the top and one side, so much, that, in short, it
frighted me, and not without reason too; for if I had been under it, I
had never wanted a grave-digger. Upon this disaster I had a great deal
of work to do over again; for I had the loose earth to carry out; and,
which was of more importance, I had the ceiling to prop up, so that
I might be sure no more would come down.
December 11. - This day I went to work with it accordingly, and
got two shores or posts pitched upright to the top, with two pieces of
boards across over each post. This I finished the next day; and
setting more posts up with boards, in about a week more I had the roof
secured; and the posts standing in rows, served me for partitions to
part of my house.
December 17. - From this day to the twentieth I placed shelves,
and knocked up nails on the posts to hang everything up that could
be hung up; and now I began to be in some order within doors.
December 20. - Now I carried everything into the cave, and began
to furnish my house, and set up some pieces of boards, like a dresser,
to order my victuals upon; but boards began to be very scarce with me;
also I made me another table.
December 24. - Much rain all night and all day; no stirring out.
December 25. - Rain all day.
December 26. - No rain, and the earth much cooler than before, and
December 27. - Killed a young goat, and lamed another, so that I
catched it, and led it home in a string. When I had it home, I bound
and splintered up its leg, which was broke. N.B. - I took such care of
it, that it lived; and the leg grew well and as strong as ever; but by
my nursing it so long it grew tame, and fed upon the little green at
my door, and would not go away. This was the first time that I
entertained a thought of breed up some tame creatures, that I might
have food when my powder and shot was all spent.
December 28, 29, 30. - Great heats and no breeze, so that there
was no stirring abroad, except in the evening, for food. This time I
spent in putting all my things in order within doors.
January 1. - Very hot still, but I went abroad early and late with
my gun, and lay still in the middle of the day. This evening, going
farther into the valleys which lay towards the centre of the island, I
found there was plenty of goats, though exceeding shy, and hard to
come at. However, I resolved to try if I could not bring my dog to
hunt them down.
January 2. - Accordingly, the next day, I went out with my dog,
and set him upon the goats; but I was mistaken, for they all faced
about upon the dog; and he knew his danger too well, for he would
not come near them.
January 3. - I began my fence or wall; which being still jealous
of my being attacked by somebody, I resolved to make very thick and
N.B. - This wall being described before, I purposely omit what was
said in the journal. It is sufficient to observe that I was no less
time than from the 3rd of January to the 14th of April working,
finishing, and perfecting this wall, though it was no more than
about twenty-four yards in length, being a half circle from one
place in the rock to another place about eight yards from it, the door
of the cave being in the centre behind it.

All this time I worked very hard, the rains hindering me many
days, nay, sometimes weeks together; but I thought I should never be
perfectly secure till this wall was finished. And it is scarce
credible what inexpressible labor everything was done with, especially
the bringing piles of the woods, and driving them into the ground; for
I made them much bigger than I need to have done.
When this wall was finished, and the outside double-fenced with a
turf-wall raised up close to it, I persuaded myself that if any people
were to come on shore there, they would not perceive anything like a
habitation; and it was very well I did so, as may be observed
hereafter upon a very remarkable occasion.
During this time, I made my round in the woods for game every day,
when the rain admitted me, and made frequent discoveries in these
walks of something or other to my advantage; particularly I found a
kind of wild pigeons, who built, not as wood pigeons in a tree, but
rather as house pigeons, in the holes of the rocks. And taking some
young ones, I endeavored to breed them up tame, and did so; but when
they grew older they flew all away, which, perhaps, was at first for
want of feeding them, for I had nothing to give them. However, I
frequently found their nests, and got their young ones, which were
very good meat.
And now in the managing my household affairs I found myself
wanting in many things, which I thought at first it was impossible for
me to make, as indeed, as to some of them, it was. For instance, I
could never make a cask to be hooped; I had a small runlet or two,
as I observed before, but I could never arrive to the capacity of
making one of them, though I spent many weeks about it. I could
neither put in the heads, nor joint the staves so true to one
another as to make them hold water; so I gave that also over.
In the next place, I was at a great loss for candle; so that as soon
as ever it was dark, which was generally by seven o'clock, I was
obliged to go to bed. I remembered the lump of beeswax with which I
made candles in my African adventure, but I had none of that now.
The only remedy I had was, that when I had killed a goat I saved the
tallow, and with a little dish made of clay, which I baked in the sun,
to which I added a wick of some oakum, I made me a lamp; and this gave
me light, though not a clear steady light like a candle.
In the middle of all my labors it happened that rummaging my things,
I found a little bag, which, as I hinted before, had been filled
with corn for the feeding of poultry, not for this voyage, but before,
as I suppose, when the ship came from Lisbon. What little remainder of
corn had been in the bag was all devoured with the rats, and I saw
nothing in the bag but husks and dust; and being willing to have the
bag for some other use, I think it was to put powder in, when I
divided it for fear of the lightning, or some such use, I shook the
husks of corn out of it on one side of my fortification, under the
rock. It was a little before the great rains, just now mentioned, that
I threw this stuff away, taking no notice of anything there; when,
about a month after, or thereabout, I saw some few stalks of something
green shooting out of the ground, which I fancied might be some
plant I had not seen; but I was surprised, and perfectly astonished,
when, after a little longer time, I saw about ten or twelve ears
come out, which were perfect green barley of the same kind as or
European, nay, as our English barley.
It is impossible to express the astonishment and confusion of my
thoughts on this occasion. I had hitherto acted upon no religious
foundation at all; indeed, I had very few notions of religion in my
head, or had entertained any sense of anything that had befallen me
otherwise than as a chance, or as we lightly say, what pleases God;
without so much as inquiring into the end of Providence in these
things, or His order in governing events in the world. But after I saw
barley grow there in a climate which I knew was not proper for corn,
and especially that I knew not how it came there, it startled me
strangely, and I began to suggest that God had miraculously caused
this grain to grow without any help of seed sown, and it was so
directed purely for my sustenance on that wild miserable place.
This touched my heart a little, and brought tears out of my eyes;
and I began to bless myself, that such a prodigy of Nature should
happen upon my account, and this was the more strange to me, because I
saw near it still, all along by the side of the rock, some other
straggling stalks, which proved to be stalks of rice, and which I
knew, because I had seen it grow in Africa, when I was ashore there.
I not only thought these the pure productions of Providence for my
support, but, not doubting but that there was more in the place, I
went all over that part of the island where I had been before, peering
in every corner, and under every rock, to see for more of it; but I
could not find any. At last it occurred to my thoughts that I had
shook a bag of chicken's meat out in that place, and then the wonder
began to cease; and I must confess, my religious thankfulness to God's
providence began to abate too, upon the discovering that all this
was nothing but what was common; I ought to have been as thankful
for so strange and unforseen providence, as if it had been miraculous;
for it was really the work of Providence as to me, that should order
or appoint, that ten or twelve grains of corn should remain
unspoiled (when the rats had destroyed all the rest), as if it had
been dropped from heaven; as also that I should throw it out in that
particular place, where, it being in the shade of a high rock, it
sprang up immediately; whereas, if I had thrown it anywhere else at
that time, it had been burnt up and destroyed.
I carefully saved the ears of this corn, you may be sure, in their
season, which was about the end of June; and laying up every corn, I
resolved to sow them all again, hoping in time to have some quantity
sufficient to supply me with bread. But it was not till the fourth
year that I could allow myself the least grain of this corn to eat,
and even then but sparingly, as I shall say afterwards in its order;
for I lost all that I sowed the first season, by not observing the
proper time; for I sowed it just before the dry season, so that it
never came up at all, at least not as it would have done; of which
in its place.
Besides this barley, there was, as above, twenty or thirty stalks of
rice, which I preserved with the same care, and whose use was of the
same kind, or to the same purpose, viz., to make me bread, or rather
food; for I found ways to cook it up without baking, though I did that
also after some time. But to return to my journal.
I worked excessive hard these three or four months to get my wall
done; and the 14th of April I closed it up, contriving to go into
it, not by a door, but over the wall by a ladder, that there might
be no sign in the outside of my habitation.
April 16. - I finished the ladder, so I went up with the ladder to
the top, and then pulled it up after me, and let it down on the
inside. This was a complete enclosure to me; for within I had room
enough, and nothing could come at me from without, unless it could
first mount my wall.
The very next day after this wall was finished, I had almost had all
my labor overthrown at once, and myself killed. The case was thus:
As I was busy in the inside of it, behind my tent, just in the
entrance into my cave, I was terribly frightened with a most
dreadful surprising thing indeed; for all on a sudden I found the
earth come crumbling down from the roof of my cave, and from the
edge of the hill over my head, and two of the posts I had set up in
the cave cracked in a frightful manner. I was heartily scared, but
thought nothing of what was really the cause, only thinking that the
top of my cave was falling in, as some of it had done before; and
for fear I should be buried in it, I ran forward to my ladder; and not
thinking myself safe there neither, I got over my wall for fear of the
pieces of the hill which I expected might roll down upon me. I was
no sooner stepped down upon the firm ground, but I plainly saw it
was a terrible earthquake; for the ground I stood on shook three times
at about eight minutes' distance, with three such shocks as would have
overturned the strongest building that could be supposed to have stood
on the earth; and a great piece of the top of a rock which stood about
half a mile from me next the sea, fell down with such a terrible
noise, as I never heard in all my life. I perceived also the very
sea was put into violent motion by it; and I believe the shocks were
stronger under the water than on the island.
I was so amazed with the thing itself, having never felt the like,
or discoursed with any one that had, that I was like one dead or
stupefied; and the motion of the earth made my stomach sick, like
one that was tossed at sea. But the noise of the falling of the rock
awaked me, as it were, and rousing me from the stupefied condition I
was in, filled me with horror, and I thought of nothing then but the
hill falling upon my tent and all my household goods, and burying
all at once; and this sunk my very soul within me a second time.
After the third shock was over, and I felt no more for some time,
I began to take courage; and yet I had not heart enough to go over
my wall again, for fear of being buried alive, but sat still upon
the ground, greatly cast down and disconsolate, not knowing what to
do. All this while I had not the least serious religious thought,
nothing but the common, "Lord, have mercy upon me!" and when it was
over, that went away too.
While I sat thus, I found the air overcast, and grow cloudy, as if
it would rain. Soon after that the wind rose by little and little,
so that in less than half an hour it blew a most dreadful hurricane.
The sea was all on a sudden covered over with foam and froth; the
shore was covered with the breach of the water; the trees were torn up
by the roots; and a terrible storm it was: and this held about three
hours, and then began to abate; and in two hours more it was stark
calm, and began to rain very hard.
All this while I sat upon the ground, very much terrified and
dejected; when on a sudden it came into my thoughts, that these
winds and rain being the consequences of the earthquake, the
earthquake itself was spent and over, and I might venture into my cave
again. With this thought my spirits began to revive; and the rain also
helping to persuade me, I went in and sat down in my tent. But the
rain was so violent that my tent was ready to be beaten down with
it, and I was forced to go into my cave, though very much afraid and
uneasy, for fear it should fall on my head.
This violent rain forced me to a new work, viz., to cut a hole
through my new fortification, like a sink, to let the water go out,
which would else have drowned my cave. After I had been in my cave
some time, and found still no more shocks of the earthquake follow,
I began to be more composed. And now to support my spirits, which
indeed wanted it very much, I went to my little store, and took a
small sup of rum, which, however, I did then, and always, very
sparingly, knowing I could have no more when that was gone.
It continued raining all that night and a great part of the next
day, so that I could not stir abroad; but my mind being more composed,
I began to think of what I had best do, concluding that if the
island was subject to these earthquakes, there would be no living
for me in a cave, but I must consider of building me some little hut
in an open place, which I might surround with a wall, as I had done
here, and so make myself secure from wild beasts or men; but
concluded, if I stayed where I was, I should certainly, one time or
another be buried alive.
With these thoughts I resolved to remove my tent from the place
where it stood, which was just under the hanging precipice of the
hill, and which, if it should be shaken again, would certainly fall
upon my tent; and I spent the two next days, being the 19th and 20th
of April, in contriving where and how to remove my habitation.
The fear of being swallowed up alive made me that I never slept in
quiet; and yet the apprehension of lying abroad without any fence
was almost equal to it. But still, when I looked about and saw how
everything was put in order, how pleasantly concealed I was, and how
safe from danger, it made me very loth to remove.
In the meantime it occurred to me that it would require a vast
deal of time for me to do this, and that I must be contented to run
the venture where I was, till I had formed a camp for myself, and
had secured it so as to remove to it. So with this resolution I
composed myself for a time, and resolved that I would go to work
with all speed to build me a wall with piles and cables, etc., in a
circle as before, and set my tent up in it when it was finished, but
that I would venture to stay where I was till it was finished, and fit
to remove to. this was the 21st.
April 22. - The next morning I began to consider of means to put
this resolve in execution; but I was at a great loss about my tools. I
had three large axes, and abundance of hatchets (for we carried the
hatchets for traffic with the Indians), but with much chopping and
cutting knotty hard wood, they were all full of notches and dull;
and though I had a grindstone, I could not turn it and grind my
tools too. This cost me as much thought as a statesman would have
bestowed upon a grand point of politics, or a judge upon the life
and death of a man. At length I contrived a wheel with a string, to
turn it with my foot, that I might have both my hands at liberty.
Note, I had never seen any such thing in England, or at least not to
take notice how it was done, though since I have observed it is very
common there; besides that, my grindstone was very large and heavy.
This machine cost me a full week's work to bring it to perfection.
April 28, 29. - These two whole days I took up in grinding my tools,
my machine for turning my grindstone performing very well.
April 30. - Having perceived my bread had been low a great while,
now I took a survey of it, and reduced myself to one biscuit-cake a
day, which made my heart very heavy.
May 1. - In the morning, looking towards the seaside, the tide being
low, I saw something lie on the shore bigger than ordinary, and it
looked like a cask. When I came to it, I found a small barrel, and two
or three pieces of the wreck of the ship, which were driven on shore
by the late hurricane; and looking towards the wreck itself, I thought
it seemed to lie higher out of the water than it used to do. I
examined the barrel which was driven on shore, and soon found it was a
barrel of gunpowder; but it had taken water, and the powder was
caked as hard as a stone. However, I rolled it farther on shore for
the present, and went on upon the sands as near as could to the
wreck of the ship to look for more.
When I came down to the ship I found it strangely removed. The
forecastle, which lay before buried in sand, was heaved up at least
six feet; and the stern, which was broken to pieces, and parted from
the rest by the force of the sea soon after I had left rummaging
her, was tossed, as it were, up, and cast on one side, and the sand
was thrown so high on that side next her stern, that whereas there was
a great place of water before, so that I could not come within a
quarter of a mile of the wreck without swimming, I could now walk
quite up to her when the tide was out. I was surprised with this at
first, but soon concluded it must be done by the earthquake. And as by
this violence the ship was more broken open than formerly, so many
things came daily on shore, which the sea had loosened, and which
the winds and water rolled by degrees to the land.
This wholly diverted my thoughts from the design of removing my
habitation; and I busied myself mightily, that day especially, in
searching whether I could make any way into the ship. But I found
nothing was to be expected of that kind, for that all inside of the
ship was choked up with sand. However, as I had learned not to despair
of anything, I resolved to pull everything to pieces that I could of
the ship, concluding that everything I could get from her would be
of some use or other to me.
May 3. - I began with my saw, and cut a piece of a beam through,
which I thought held some of the upper part or quarter-deck
together; and when I had cut it through, I cleared away the sand as
well as I could from the side which lay highest; but the tide coming
in, I was obliged to give over for that time.
May 4. - I went a-fishing, but caught not one fish that I durst
eat of, till I was weary of my sport; when, just going to leave off
I caught a young dolphin. I had made me a long line of some rope-yarn,
but I had no hooks; yet I frequently caught fish enough, as much as
I cared to eat; all which I dried in the sun, and eat them dry.
May 5. - Worked on the wreck, cut another beam asunder, and
brought three great fir-planks off from the decks, which I tied
together, and made swim on shore, when the tide of flood came on.
May 6. - Worked on the wreck, got several iron bolts out of her, and
other pieces of iron-work; worked very hard, and came home very much
tired, and had thoughts of giving it over.
May 7. - Went to the wreck again, but with an intent not to work,
but found the weight of the wreck had broke itself down, the beams
being cut; that several pieces of the ship seemed to lie loose, and
the inside of the hold lay so open that I could see into it, but
almost full of water and sand.
May 8. - Went to the wreck, and carried an iron crow to wrench up
the deck, which lay now quite clear of the water or sand. I wrenched
open two planks, and brought them on shore also with the tide. I
left the iron crow in the wreck for next day.
May 9. - Went to the wreck, and with the crow made way into the body
of the wreck, and felt several casks, and loosened them with the crow,
but could not break them up. I felt also the roll of English lead, and
could stir it, but it was too heavy to remove.
May 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. - Went every day to the wreck, and got a
great deal of pieces of timber, and boards, or plank, and two or three
hundredweight of iron.
May 15. - I carried two hatchets to try if I could not cut a piece
off of the roll of lead, by placing the edge of one hatchet, and
driving it with the other; but, as it lay about a foot and a half in
the water, I could not make any blow to drive the hatchet.
May 16. - It had blowed hard in the night, and the wreck appeared
more broken by the force of the water; but I stayed so long in the
woods to get pigeons for food, that the tide prevented me going to the
wreck that day.
May 17. - I saw some pieces of the wreck blown on shore, at a
great distance, near two miles off me, but resolved to see what they
were, and found it was a piece of the head, but too heavy for me to
bring away.
May 24. - Every day to this day I worked on the wreck, and with hard
labor I loosened some things so much with the crow that the first
blowing tide several casks floated out, and two of the seamen's
chests. But the wind blowing from the shore, nothing came to land that
day but pieces of timber, and a hogshead, which had some brazil pork
in it, but the salt water and the sand had spoiled it.
I continued this work every day to the 15th of June, except the time
necessary to get food, which I always appointed, during this part of
my employment, to be when the tide was up, that I might be ready
when it was ebbed out. And by this time I had gotten timber, and
plank, and iron-work enough to have builded a good boat, if I had
known how; and also, I got at several times, and in several pieces,
near one hundredweight of the sheet-lead.
June 16. - Going down to the seaside, I found a large tortoise, or
turtle. This was the first I had seen, which it seems was only my
misfortune, not any defect of the place, or scarcity; for had I
happened to be on the other side of the island, I might have had
hundreds of them every day, as I found afterwards; but, perhaps, had
paid dear enough for them.
June 17. - I spent in cooking the turtle. I found in her three-score
eggs; and her flesh was to me, at that time, the most savory and
pleasant that ever I tasted in my life, having had no flesh, but of
goats and fowls, since I landed in this horrid place.
June 18. - Rained all day, and I stayed within. I thought at this
time the rain felt cold, and I was something chilly, which I knew
was not usual in that latitude.
June 19. - Very ill, and shivering, as if the weather had been cold.
June 20. - No rest all night; violent pains in my head, and
June 21. - Very ill, frighted almost to death with the apprehensions
of my sad condition, to be sick, and no help. Prayed to God for the
first time since the storm off of Hull, but scarce knew what I said,
or why; my thoughts being all confused.
June 22. - A little better, but under dreadful apprehensions of
June 23. - Very bad again; cold and shivering, and then a violent
June 24. - Much better.
June 25. - An ague very violent; the fit held me seven hours; cold
fit, and hot, with faint sweats after it.
June 26. - Better; and having no victuals to eat, took my gun, but
found myself very weak. However, I killed a she-goat, and with much
difficulty got it home, and broiled some of it, and eat. I would
fain have stewed it, and made some broth, but had no pot.
June 27. - The ague again so violent that I lay abed all day, and
neither eat nor drank. I was ready to perish for thirst; but so
weak, I had not strength to stand up, or to get myself any water to
drink. Prayed to God again, but was light-headed; and when I was
not, I was so ignorant that I knew not what to say; only I lay and
cried, "Lord, look upon me! Lord, pity me! Lord, have mercy upon
me!" I suppose I did nothing else for two or three hours, till the fit
wearing off, I fell asleep and did not wake till far in the night.
When I waked, I found myself much refreshed, but weak, and exceedingly
thirsty. However, as I had no water in my whole habitation, I was
forced to lie till morning, and went to sleep again. In this second
sleep I had this terrible dream.
I thought that I was sitting on the ground, on the outside of my
wall, where I sat when the storm blew after the earthquake, and that I
saw a man descend from a great black cloud, in a bright flame of fire,
and light upon the ground. He was all over as bright as a flame, so
that I could but just bear to look towards him. His countenance was
most inexpressibly dreadful, impossible for words to describe. When he
stepped upon the ground with his feet, I thought the earth trembled,
just as it had done before in the earthquake, and all the air
looked, to my apprehension, as if it had been filled with flashes of
He was no sooner landed upon the earth, but he moved forward towards
me, with a long spear or weapon in his hand, to kill me; and when he
came to a rising ground, at some distance, he spoke to me, or I
heard a voice so terrible that it is impossible to express the
terror of it. All that I can say I understood was this: "Seeing all
these things have not brought thee to repentance, now thou shalt die;"
at which words I thought he lifted up the spear that was in his hand
to kill me.
No one that shall ever read this account, will expect that I
should be able to describe the horrors of my soul at this terrible
vision; I mean, that even while it was a dream, I even dreamed of
those horrors; nor is it any more possible to describe the
impression that remained upon my mind when I awaked and found it was
but a dream.
I had, alas! no divine knowledge; what I had received by the good
instruction of my father was then worn out, by an uninterrupted
series, for eight years, of seafaring wickedness, and a constant
conversation with nothing but such as were, like myself, wicked and
profane to the last degree. I do not remember that I had, in all
that time, one thought that so much as tended either to looking
upwards toward God, or inwards towards a reflection upon my ways;
but a certain stupidity of soul, without desire of good, or conscience
of evil, had entirely over-whelmed me; and I was all that the most
hardened, unthinking, wicked creature among our common sailors can
be supposed to be; not having the least sense, either of the fear of
God, in danger, or of thankfulness to God, in deliverances.
In the relating what is already past of my story, this will be the
more easily believed, when I shall add, that through all the variety
of miseries that had to this day befallen me, I never had so much as
one thought of it being the hand of God, or that it was a just
punishment for my sin; my rebellious behavior against my father, or my
present sins, which were great; or so much as a punishment for the
general course of my wicked life. When I was on the desperate
expedition on the desert shores of Africa, I never had so much as
one thought of what would become of me; or one wish to God to direct
me whither I should go, or to keep me from the danger which apparently
surrounded me, as well from voracious creatures as cruel savages.
But I was merely thoughtless of a God or a Providence; acted like a
mere brute from the principles of Nature, and by the dictates of
common sense only, and indeed hardly that.
When I was delivered and taken up at sea by the Portugal captain,
well used, and dealt justly and honorably with, as well as charitably,
I had not the least thankfulness in my thoughts. When again I was
shipwrecked, ruined, and in danger of drowning on this island, I was
as far from remorse, or looking on it as a judgment; I only said to
myself often, that I was an unfortunate dog, and born to be always
It is true, when I got on shore first here, and found all my
ship's crew drowned, and myself spared, I was surprised with a kind of
ecstasy, and some transports of soul, which, had the grace of God
assisted, might have come up to true thankfulness; but it ended
where it begun, in a mere common flight of joy, or, as I may say,
being glad I was alive, without the least reflection upon the
distinguishing goodness of the Hand which had preserved me, and had
singled me out to be preserved, when all the rest were destroyed; or
an inquiry why Providence had been thus merciful to me; even just
the same common sort of joy which seamen generally have after they are
got safe ashore from a shipwreck, which they drown all in the next
bowl of punch, and forget almost as soon as it is over, and all the
rest of my life was like it.
Even when I was afterwards, on due consideration, made sensible of
my condition, how I was cast on this dreadful place, out of the
reach of human kind, out of all hope of relief, or prospect of
redemption, as soon as I saw but a prospect of living, and that I
should not starve and perish for hunger, all the sense of my
affliction wore off, and I began to be very easy, applied myself to
the works proper for my preservation and supply, and was far enough
from being afflicted at my condition, as a judgment from heaven, or as
the hand of God against me; these were thoughts which very seldom
entered my head.
The growing up of the corn, as is hinted in my journal, had at first
some little influence upon me, and began to affect me with
seriousness, as long as I thought it had something miraculous in it;
but as soon as ever that part of the thought was removed, all the
impression which was raised from it wore off also, as I have noted
Even the earthquake, though nothing could be more terrible in its
nature, or more immediately directing to the invisible Power, which
alone directs such things, yet no sooner was the first fright over,
but the impression it had made went off also. I had no more sense of
God or His judgments, much less of the present affliction of my
circumstances being from His Hand, than if had been in the most
prosperous condition of life.
But now, when I began to be sick, and a leisurely view of the
miseries of death came to place itself before me; when my spirits
began to sink under the burden of a strong distemper, and Nature was
exhausted with the violence of the fever; conscience, that had slept
so long, began to awake, and I began to reproach myself with my past
life, in which I had so evidently, by uncommon wickedness, provoked
the justice of God to lay me under uncommon strokes, and to deal
with me in so vindictive a manner.
These reflections oppressed me for the second or third day of my
distemper; and in the violence, as well of the fever as of the
dreadful reproaches of my conscience, extorted some words from me,
like praying to God, though I cannot say they were either a prayer
attended with desires or with hopes; it was rather the voice of mere
fright and distress. My thoughts were confused, the convictions
great upon my mind, and the horror of dying in such a miserable
condition, raised vapors into my head with the mere apprehensions; and
in these hurries of my soul, I know not what my tongue might
express; but it was rather exclamation, such as, "Lord! what a
miserable creature am I! If I should be sick, I shall certainly die
for want of help; and what will become of me?" Then the tears burst
out of my eyes, and I could say no more for a good while.
In this interval, the good advice of my father came to my mind,
and presently his prediction, which I mentioned at the beginning of
this story, viz., that if I did take this foolish step, God would
not bless me, and I would have leisure hereafter to reflect upon
having neglected his counsel, when there might be none to assist in my
recovery. "Now," said I aloud, "my dear father's words are come to
pass; God's justice has overtaken me, and I have none to help or
hear me. I rejected the voice of Providence, which had mercifully
put me in a posture or station of life wherein I might have been happy
and easy; but I would neither see it myself nor learn to know the
blessing of it from my parents. I left them to mourn over my folly,
and now I am left to mourn under the consequences of it. I refused
their help and assistance, who would have lifted me into the world,
and would have made everything easy to me; and now I have difficulties
to struggle with, too great for even Nature itself to support, and
no assistance, no help, no comfort, no advice." Then I cried out,
"Lord, be my help, for I am in great distress."
This was the first prayer, if I may call it so, that I had made
for many years. But I return to my journal.
June 28. - Having been somewhat refreshed with the sleep I had
had, and the fit being entirely off, I got up; and though the fright
and terror of my -dream was very great, yet I considered that the
fit of the ague would return again the next day, and now was my time
to get something to refresh and support myself when I should be ill.
And the first thing I did I filled a large square case-bottle with
water, and set it upon my table in reach of my bed; and to take off
the chill or aguish disposition of the water, I put about a quarter of
a pint of rum into it, and mixed them together. Then I got me a
piece of the goat's flesh, and broiled it on the coals, but could
eat very little. I walked about, but was very weak, and withal very
sad and heavy-hearted in the sense of my miserable condition, dreading
the return of my distemper the next day. At night I made my supper
of three of the turtle's eggs, which I roasted in the ashes, and
eat, as we call it, in the shell; and this was the first bit of meat I
had ever asked God's blessing to, even as I could remember, in my
whole life.
After I had eaten, I tried to walk, but found myself so weak that
I could hardly carry the gun (for I never went out without that); so I
went but a little way, and sat down upon the ground, looking out
upon the sea, which was just before me, and very calm and smooth. As I
sat here, some such thoughts as these occurred to me.
What is this earth and sea, of which I have seen so much? Whence
is it produced? And what am I, and all the other creatures, wild and
tame, human and brutal, whence are we? Sure we are all made by some
secret Power, who formed the earth and sea, the air and sky. And who
is that?
Then it followed most naturally, It is God that has made it all.
Well, but then it came on strangely, if God has made all these things,
He guides and governs them all, and all things that concern them;
for the Power that could make all things, must certainly have power to
guide and direct them.
If so, nothing can happen in the great circuit of His works,
either without His knowledge or appointment. And if nothing happens
without His knowledge, He knows that I am here, and am in this
dreadful condition. And if nothing happens without His appointment, He
has appointed all this to befall me.
Nothing occurred to my thoughts to contradict any of these
conclusions; and therefore it rested upon me with the greater force,
that it must needs be that God has appointed all this to befall me;
that I was brought to this miserable circumstance by His direction, He
having the sole power, not of me only, but of everything that happened
in the world. Immediately it followed, Why has God done this to me?
What have I done to be thus used?
My conscience presently checked me in that inquiry, as if I had
blasphemed, and methough it spoke to me like a voice: Wretch! dost
thou ask what thou hast done? Look back upon a dreadful misspent life,
and ask thyself what thou hast done? Ask, why is it that thou wert not
long ago destroyed? Why wert thou not drowned in Yarmouth Roads;
killed in the fight when the ship was taken by the Sallee
man-of-war; devoured by the wild beasts on the coast of Africa; or
drowned here, when all the crew perished but thyself Dost thou ask,
What have I done?
I was struck dumb with these reflections, as one astonished, and had
not a word to say, no, not to answer to myself, but rose up pensive
and sad, walked back to my retreat, and went up over my wall, as if
I had been going to bed. But my thoughts were sadly disturbed, and I
had no inclination to sleep; so I sat down in my chair, and lighted my
lamp, for it began to be dark. Now, as the apprehension of the
return of my distemper terrified me very much, it occurred to my
thought that the Brazilians take no physic but their tobacco for
almost all distempers; and I had a piece of a roll of tobacco in one
of the chests, which was quite cured, and some also that was green,
and not quite cured.
I went, directed by Heaven no doubt; for in this chest I found a
cure both for soul and body. I opened the chest, and found what I
looked for, viz., the tobacco, and as the few books I had saved lay
there too, I took out one of the Bibles which I mentioned before,
and which to this time I had not found leisure, or so much as
inclination, to look into. I say, I took it out, and brought both that
and the tobacco with me to the table.
What use to make of the tobacco I knew not, as to my distemper, or
whether it was good for it or no; but I tried several experiments with
it, as if I was resolved it should hit one way or other. I first
took a piece of a leaf, and chewed it in my mouth, which indeed at
first almost stupefied my brain, the tobacco being green and strong,
and that I had not been much used to it. Then I took some and
steeped it an hour or two in some rum, and resolved to take dose of it
when I lay down. And lastly, I burnt some upon a pan of coals, and
held my nose close over the smoke of it as long as I could bear it, as
well for the heat, as almost for suffocation.
In the interval of this operation, I took up the Bible, and began to
read, but my head was too much disturbed with the tobacco to bear
reading, at least that time; only having opened the book casually, the
first words that occurred to me were these, "Call on Me in the day
of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify Me."
The words were very apt to my case, and made some impression upon my
thoughts at the time of reading them, though not so much as they did
afterwards; for as for being delivered, the word had no sound, as I
may say, to me, the thing was so remote, so impossible in my
apprehension of things, that I began to say, as the children of Israel
did when they were promised flesh to eat, "Can God spread a table in
the wilderness?" so I began to say, Can God Himself deliver me from
this place? And as it was not for many years that any hope appeared,
this prevailed very often upon my thoughts. But, however, the words
made a great impression upon me, and I mused upon them very often.
It grew now late, and the tobacco had, as I said, dozed my head so
much, that I inclined to sleep; so I left my lamp burning in the cave,
lest I should want anything in the night, and went to bed. But
before I lay down, I did what I never had done in all my life: I
kneeled down and prayed to God to fulfill the promise to me, that if I
called upon Him in the day of trouble, He would deliver me. After my
broken and imperfect prayer was over, I drank the rum in which I had
steeped the tobacco; which was so strong and rank of the tobacco
that indeed I could scarcely get it down. Immediately upon this I went
to bed. I found presently it flew up in my head violently; but I
fell into a sound sleep, and waked no more till, by the sun, it must
necessarily be near three o'clock in the afternoon the next day.
Nay, to his hour I am partly of the opinion that I slept all the
next day and night, and till almost three that day after; for
otherwise I know not how I should lose a day out of my reckoning in
the days of the week, as it appeared some years after had done. For if
I had lost it by crossing and recrossing the line, I should have
lost more than one day. But certainly I lost a day in my account,
and never knew which way.
Be that, however, one way or the other, when I awaked I found myself
exceedingly refreshed, and my spirits lively and cheerful. I got up, I
was stronger than I was the day before, and my stomach better, for I
was hungry; and, in short, I had no fit the next day, but continued
much altered for the better. This was the 29th.
The 30th was my well day, of course, and I went abroad with my
gun, but did not care to travel too far. I killed a sea-fowl or two,
something like a brand-goose, and brought them home, but was not
very forward to eat them; so I eat some more of the turtle's eggs,
which were very good. This evening I renewed the medicine, which I had
supposed did me good the day before, viz., the tobacco steeped in rum;
only I did not take so much as before, nor did I chew any of the leaf,
or hold my head over the smoke. However, I was not so well the next
day, which was the first of July, as I hoped I should have been; for I
had a little spice of the cold fit, but it was not much.
July 2. - I renewed the medicine all the three ways; and dosed
myself with it as at first, and doubled the quantity which I drank.
July 2. - I missed the fit for good and all, though I did not
recover my full strength for some weeks after. While I was thus
gathering strength, my thoughts ran exceedingly upon this Scripture,
"I will deliver thee;" and the impossibility of my deliverance lay
much upon my mind, in bar of my ever expecting it. But as I was
discouraging myself with such thoughts, it occurred to my mind that
I pored so much upon my deliverance from the main affliction, that I
disregarded the deliverance I had received; and I was, as it were,
made to ask myself such questions as these, viz., Have I not been
delivered, and wonderfully too, from sickness? from the most
distressed condition that could be, and that was so frightful to me?
and what notice I had taken of it? Had I done my part? God had
delivered me, but I had not glorified Him; that is to say, I had not
owned and been thankful for that as a deliverance; and how could I
expect greater deliverance?
This touched my heart very much; and immediately I kneeled down, and
gave God thanks aloud for my recovery from my sickness.
July 4. - In the morning I took the Bible; and beginning at the
new Testament, I began seriously to read it, and imposed upon myself
to read awhile every morning and every night, not tying myself to
the number of chapters, but as long as my thoughts should engage me.
It was not long afer I set seriously to this work, but I found my
heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my
past life. The impression of my dream revived, and the words, "All
these things have not brought thee to repentance," ran seriously in my
thought. I was earnestly begging of God to give me repentance, when it
happened providentially, the very day, that, reading the I came to
these words, "He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give
repentance, and to give remission." I threw down the book; and with my
heart as well as my hands lifted up to heaven, in a kind of ecstasy of
joy, I cried out aloud, "Jesus, Thou son of David! Jesus, Thou exalted
Prince and Saviour, give me repentance!"
This was the first time that I could say, in the true sense of the
words, that I prayed in all my life; for now I prayed with a sense
of my condition, and with a true Scripture view of hope founded on the
encouragement of the Word of God; and from this time, I may say, I
began to have hope that God would hear me.
Now I began to construe the words mentioned above, "Call on Me,
and I will deliver you," in a different sense from what I had ever
done before; for then I had no notion of anything being called
deliverance but my being delivered from the captivity I was in; for
though I was indeed at large in the place, yet the island was
certainly a prison to me, and that in the worst sense in the world.
But now I learned to take it in another sense; now I looked back
upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appeared so
dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance from
the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort. As for my solitary
life, it was nothing; I did not so much as pray to be delivered from
it, or think of it; it was all of no consideration, in comparison to
this. And I add this part here, to hint to whoever shall read it, that
whenever they come to a true sense of things, they will find
deliverance from a sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from
But leaving this part, I return to my journal.
My condition began now to be, though not less miserable as to my way
of living, yet much easier to my mind; and my thoughts being directed,
by a constant reading the Scripture, and praying to God, to things
of a higher nature, I had a great deal of comfort within, which,
till now, I knew nothing of. Also, as my health and strength returned,
I bestirred myself to furnish myself with everything that I wanted,
and make my way of living as regular as I could.
From the 4th of July to the 14th I was chiefly employed in walking
about with my gun in my hand, a little and a little at a time, as a
man that was gathering up his strength after a fit of sickness; for it
is hardly to be imagined how low I was, and to what weakness I was
reduced. The application which I made use of was perfectly new, and
perhaps what had never cured an ague before; neither can I recommend
it to any one to practise, by this experiment; and though it did carry
off the fit, yet it rather contributed to weakening me; for I had
frequent convulsions in my nerves and limbs for some time.
I learnt from it also this, in particular, that being abroad in
the rain season was the most pernicious thing to my health that
could be, especially in those rains which came attended with storms
and hurricanes of wind; for as the rain which came in the dry season
was always most accompanied with such storms, so I found that rain was
much more dangerous than the rain which fell in September and October.
I had been now on this unhappy island above ten months; all
possibility of deliverance from this condition seemed to be entirely
taken from me; and I firmly believed that no human shape had ever
set foot upon that place. Having now secured my habitation, as I
thought, fully to my mind, I had a great desire to make a more perfect
discovery of the island, and to see what other productions I might
find, which I yet knew nothing of.
It was the 15th of July that I began to take a more particular
survey of the island itself. I went up the creek first, where, as I
hinted, I brought my rafts on shore. I found, after I came about two
miles up, that the tide did not flow any higher, and that it was no
more than a little brook of running water, and very fresh and good;
but this being the dry season, there was hardly any water in some
parts of it, at least, not enough to run in any stream, so as it could
be perceived.
On the bank of this brook I found many pleasant savannas or meadows,
plain, smooth, and covered with grass; and on the water, as might be
supposed, never overflowed, I found a great deal of tobacco, green,
and growing to a great and very strong stalk. There were diverse other
plants, which I had no notion of, or understanding about, and might,
perhaps, have virtues of their own which I could not find out.
I searched for the cassava root, which the Indians, in all that
climate, make their bread of, but I could find none. I saw large
plants of aloes, but did not then understand them. I saw several
sugar-canes, but wild, and, for want of cultivation, imperfect. I
contented myself with these discoveries for this time, and came
back, musing with myself what course I might take to know the virtue
and goodness of any of the fruits or plants which I should discover;
but could bring it to no conclusion; for, in short, I had made so
little observation while I was in the Brazils, that I knew little of
the plants in the field, at least very little that might serve me to
any purpose now in my distress.
The next day, the 16th, I went up the same way again; and after
going something farther than I had gone the day before, I found the
brook and the savannas began to cease, and the country became more
woody than before. In this part I found different fruits, and
particularly I found melons upon the ground in great abundance, and
grapes upon the trees. The vines had spread indeed over the trees, and
the clusters of grapes were just now in their prime, very ripe and
rich. This was a surprising discovery, and I was exceeding glad of
them; but I was warned by my experience to eat sparingly of them,
remembering that when I was ashore in Barbary the eating of grapes
killed several of our Englishmen, who were slaves there, by throwing
them into fluxes and fevers. But I found an excellent use of these
grapes; and that was, to cure or dry them in the sun, and keep them as
dried grapes or raisins are kept, which I thought would be, as
indeed they were, as wholesome as agreeable to eat, when no grapes;
might be to be had.
I spent all that evening there, and went not back to my
habitation; which, by the way, was the first night, as I might say,
I had lain from home. In the night, I took my first contrivance, and
got up into a tree, where I slept well; and the next morning proceeded
upon my discovery, travelling near four miles, as I might judge by the
length of the valley, keeping still due north, with a ridge of hills
on the south and north side of me.
At the end of this march I came to an opening, where the country
seemed to descend to the west; and a little spring of fresh water,
which issued out of the side of the hill by me, ran the other way,
that is, due east; and the country appeared so fresh, so green, so
flourishing, everything being in a constant verdure or flourish of
spring, that it looked like a planted garden.
I descended a little on the side of that delicious vale, surveying
it with a secret kind of pleasure, though mixed with my other
afflicting thoughts, to think that this was all my own; and I was king
and lord of all this country indefeasibly, and had a right of
possession; and, if I could convey it, I might have it in
inheritance as completely as any lord of a manor in England. I saw
here abundance of cocoa trees, orange, and lemon, and citron trees;
but all wild, and very few bearing any fruit, at least not then.
However, the green limes that I gathered were not only pleasant to
eat, but very wholesome; and I mixed their juice afterwards with
water, which made it very wholesome, and very cool and refreshing.
I found now I had business enough to gather and carry home; and I
resolved to lay up a store, as well of grapes as limes and lemons to
furnish myself for the wet season, which I knew was approaching.
In order to this, I gathered a great heap of grapes in one place,
and a lesser heap in another place; and a great parcel of limes and
lemons in another place; and taking a few of each with me, I travelled
homeward; and resolved to come again, and bring a bag or sack, or what
I could make, to carry the rest home.
Accordingly, having spent three days in this journey, I came home
(so I must now call my tent and my cave); but before I got thither,
the grapes were spoiled; the richness of the fruits, and the weight of
the juice, having broken them and bruised them, they were good for
little or nothing: as to the limes, they were good, but I could
bring but a few.
The next day, being the 19th, I went back, having made me two
small bags to bring home my harvest; but I was surprised, when, coming
to my heap of grapes, which were so rich and fine when I gathered
them, I found them all spread about, trod to pieces, and dragged
about, some here, some there, and abundance eaten and devoured. By
this I concluded there were some wild creatures thereabouts, which had
done this; but what they were, I knew not.
However, as I found that there was no laying them up on heaps, and
no carrying them away in a sack, but that one way they would be
destroyed, and the other way they would be crushed with their own
weight, I took another course; for I gathered a large quantity of
the grapes, and hung them up upon the out-branches of the trees,
that they might cure and dry in the sun; and as for the limes and
lemons, I carried as many back as I could well stand under.
When I came home from this journey, I contemplated with great
pleasure the fruitfulness of that valley, and the pleasantness of
the situation; the security from storms on that side, the water and
the wood; and concluded that I had pitched upon a place to fix my
abode, which was by far the worst part of the country. Upon the whole,
I began to consider of removing my habitation, and to look out for a
place equally safe as where I now was situate, if possible, in that
pleasant fruitful part of the island.
This thought ran long in my head, and I was exceeding fond of it for
some time, the pleasantness of the place tempting me; but when I
came to a nearer view of it, and to consider that I was now by the
seaside, where it was at least possible that something might happen to
my advantage, and, by the same ill fate that brought me hither,
might bring some other unhappy wretches to the same place; and
though it was scarce probable that any such thing should ever
happen, yet to enclose myself among the hills and woods in the
centre of the island, was to anticipate my bondage, and to render such
an affair not only improbable, but impossible; and that therefore I
ought not by any means to remove.
However, I was so enamored of this place that I spent much of my
time there for the whole remaining part of the month of July; and
though, upon second thoughts, I resolved as above, not to remove,
yet I built me a little kind of bower, and surrounded it at a distance
with a strong fence, being a double hedge as high as I could reach,
well staked, and filled between with brushwood. And here I lay very
secure, sometimes two or three nights together, always going over it
with a ladder, as before; so that I fancied now I had my country-house
and my sea-coast house; and this work took me up to the beginning of
I had but newly finished my fence, and began to enjoy my labor,
but the rains came on, and made me stick close to my first habitation;
for though I had made me a tent like the other, with a piece of a
sail, and spread it very well, yet I had not the shelter of a hill
to keep me from storms, nor a cave behind me to retreat into when
the rains were extraordinary.
About the beginning of August, as I said, I had finished my bower,
and began to enjoy myself. The 3rd of August I found the grapes I
had hung up were perfectly dried, and indeed were excellent good
raisins of the sun; so I began to take them down from the trees. And
it was very happy that I do so, for the rains which followed would
have spoiled them, and I had lost the best part of my winter food; for
I had above two hundred large bunches of them. No sooner had I taken
them all down, and carried most of them home to my cave, but it
began to rain; and from hence, which was the 14th of August, it
rained, more or less, every day till the middle of October, and
sometimes so violently, that I could not stir out of my cave for
several days.
In this season, I was much surprised with the increase of my family.
I had been much concerned for the loss of one of my cats, who run away
from me, or, as I thought, had been dead, and I heard no more tale
or tidings of her, still, to my astonishment, she came home about
the end of August with three kittens. This was the more strange to me,
because, though I had killed a wildcat, as I called it, with my gun,
yet I thought it was a quite different kind from our European cats;
yet the young cats were the same kind of house-breed like the old one;
and both my cats being females, I thought it very strange. But from
these three cats I afterwards came to be so pestered with cats, that I
was forced to kill them like vermin, or wild beasts, and to drive them
from my house as much as possible.
From the 14th of August to the 26th, incessant rain, so that I could
not stir, and was now very careful not to be much wet. In this
confinement, I began to be straitened for food; but venturing out
twice, I one day killed a goat, and the last day, which was the
26th, found a very large tortoise, which was a treat to me, and my
food was regulated thus: I eat a bunch of raisins for my breakfast,
a piece of the goat's flesh, or of the turtle, for my dinner, broiled;
for, to my great misfortune, I had no vessel to boil or stew anything;
and two or three of the turtle's eggs for my supper.
During this confinement in my cover by the rain, I worked daily
two or three hours at enlarging my cave, and by degrees worked it on
towards one side, till I came to the outside of the hill, and made a
door, or way out, which came beyond my fence or wall; and so I came in
and out this way. But I was not perfectly easy at lying so open; for
as I had managed myself before, I was in a perfect enclosure;
whereas now, I thought I lay exposed, and open for anything to come in
upon me; and yet I could not perceive that there was any living
thing to fear, the biggest creature that I had yet seen upon the
island being a goat.
September 20. - I was now come to the unhappy anniversary of my
landing. I cast up the notches on my post, and found I had been on
shore three hundred and sixty-five days. I kept this day as a solemn
fast, setting it apart to religious exercise, prostrating myself on
the ground with the most serious humiliation, confessing my sins to
God, acknowledging His righteous judgments upon me, and praying to Him
to have mercy on me through Jesus Christ; and having not tasted the
least refreshment for twelve hours, even till the going down of the
sun, I then eat a biscuit-cake and a bunch of grapes and went to
bed, finishing the day as I began it.
I had all this time observed no Sabbath day, for as at first I had
no sense of religion upon my mind, I had, after some time, omitted
to distinguish the weeks, by making a longer notch than ordinary for
the Sabbath day, and so did not really know what any of the days were.
But now, having cast up the days, as above, I found I had been there a
year, so I divided it into weeks, and set apart every seventh day
for a Sabbath; though I found at the end of my account, I had lost a
day or two in my reckoning.
A little after this my ink began to fail me, and so I contented
myself to use it more sparingly, and to write down only the most
remarkable events of my life, without continuing a daily memorandum of
other things.
The rainy season and the dry season began now to appear regular to
me, and I learned to divide them so as to provide for them
accordingly; but I bought all my experience before I had it, and
this I am going to relate was one of the most discouraging experiments
that I made at all. I have mentioned that I had saved the few ears
of barley and rice, which I had so surprisingly found spring up, as
I thought, of themselves, and believe there were about thirty stalks
of rice, and about twenty of barley; and now I thought it a proper
time to sow it after the rains, the sun being in its southern
position, going from me.
Accordingly I dug up a piece of ground as well as I could with my
wooden spade, and dividing it into two parts, I sowed my grain; but as
I was sowing it, it casually occurred to my thoughts that I would
not sow it all at first, because I did not know when was the proper
time for it, so I sowed about two-thirds of the seed, leaving about
a handful of each.
It was a great comfort to me afterwards that I did so, for not one
grain of that I sowed this time came to anything, for the dry months
following, the earth having had no rain after the seed was sown, it
had no moisture to assist its growth, and never came up at all till
the wet season had come again, and then it grew as if it had been
but newly sown.
Finding my first seed did not grow, which I easily imagined was by
the drought, I sought for a moister piece of ground to make another
trial in, and I dug up a piece of ground near my new bower, and
sowed the rest of my seed in February, a little before the vernal
equinox. And this having the rainy months of March and April to
water it, sprung up very pleasantly, and yielded a very good crop; but
having part of the seed left only, and not daring to sow all that I
had, I had but a small quantity at last, my whole crop not amounting
to above half a peck of each kind. But by this experiment I was made
master of my business, and knew exactly when the proper season was
to sow, and that I might expect two seed-times and two harvests
every year.
While this corn was growing, I made a little discovery, which was of
use to me afterwards. As soon as the rains were over, and the
weather began to settle, which was about the month of November, I made
a visit up the country to my bower, where, though I had not been
some months, yet I found all things just as I left them. The circle or
double hedge that I had made was not only firm and entire, but the
stakes which I had cut out of some trees that grew hereabouts were all
shot out, and grown with long branches, as much as a willow-tree
usually shoots the first year after loping its head. I could not
tell what tree to call it that these stakes were cut from. I was
surprised, and yet very well pleased to see the young trees grow,
and I pruned them, and led them up to grow as much alike as I could.
And it is scarce credible how beautiful a figure they grew into in
three years; so that though the hedge made a circle of about
twenty-five yards in diameter, yet the trees, for such I might now
call them, soon covered it, and it was a complete shade, sufficient to
lodge under all the dry season.
This made me resolve to cut some more stakes, and make me a hedge
like this, in a semicircle round my wall (I mean that of my first
dwelling, which I did; and placing the trees or stakes in a double
row, at about eight yards distance from my first fence, they grew
presently, and were at first a fine cover to my habitation, and
afterward served for defence also, as I shall observe in its order.
I found now that the seasons of the year might generally be divided,
not into summer and winter, as in Europe, but into the rainy seasons
and the dry seasons; which were generally thus:

Half February, March, half April: Rainy, the sun being then on, or
near the equinox.

Half April, May, June, July, half August: Dry, the sun being then to
the north of the line.

Half August, September, half October: Rainy, the sun being then come

Half October, November, December, January, half February: Dry, the
sun being then to the south of the line.

The rainy season sometimes held longer or shorter as the winds
happened to blow, but this was the general observation I made. After I
had found by experience the ill consequence of being abroad in the
rain, I took care to furnish myself with provisions beforehand, that I
might not be obliged to go out; and I sat within doors, as much as
possible during the wet months.
In this time I found much employment, and very suitable also to
the time, for I found great occasion of many things which I had no way
to furnish myself with but by hard labor and constant application;
particularly, I tried many ways to make myself a basket; but all the
twigs I could get for the purpose proved so brittle, that they would
do nothing. It proved of excellent advantage to me now, that when I
was a boy I used to take great delight in standing at a basket maker's
in the town where my father lived, to see them make their wicker-ware;
and being, as boys usually are, very officious to help, and a great
observer of the manner how they work those things, and sometimes
lending a hand, I had by this means full knowledge of the methods of
it. That I wanted nothing but the materials; when it came into my mind
that the twigs of that tree from whence I cut my stakes that grew
might possibly be as tough as the sallows, and willows, and osiers
in England, and I resolved to try.
Accordingly, the next day, I went to my country-house, as I called
it; and cutting some of the smaller twigs, I found them to my
purpose as much as I could desire; whereupon I came the next time
prepared with a hatchet to cut down a quantity, which I soon found,
for there was great plenty of them. These I set up to dry within my
circle or hedge, and when they were fit for use, I carried them to
my cave; and here during the next season I employed myself in
making, as well as I could, a great many baskets, both to carry earth,
or to carry or lay up anything as I had occasion. And though I did not
finish them very handsomely, yet I made them sufficiently
serviceable for my purpose. And thus, afterwards, I took care never to
be without them; and as my wicker-ware decayed, I made more;
especially I made strong deep baskets to place my corn in, instead
of sacks, when I should come to have any quantity of it.
Having mastered this difficulty, and employed a world of time
about it, I bestirred myself to see, if possible, how to supply two
wants. I had no vessels to hold anything that was liquid, except two
runlets, which were almost full of rum, and some glass bottles, some
of the common size, and others which were case-bottles square, for the
holding of waters, spirits, etc. I had not so much as a pot to boil
anything except a great kettle, which I saved out of the ship, and
which was too big for such use as I desired it, viz., to make broth,
and stew a bit of meat by itself. The second thing I would fain have
had was a tobacco-pipe; but it was impossible to me to make one.
However, I found contrivance for that, too, at last.
I employed myself in planting my second rows of stakes or piles, and
in this wicker-working all the summer or dry season, when another
business took me up more time that it could be imagined I could spare.
I mentioned before that I had a great mind to see the whole
island, and that I had travelled up the brook, and so on to where I
built my bower, and where I had an opening quite to the sea, on the
other side of the island. I now resolved to travel quite across to the
seashore on that side; so taking my gun, a hatchet, and my dog, and
a larger quantity of powder and shot than usual, with two
biscuit-cakes and a great bunch of raisins in my pouch for my store, I
began my journey. When I had passed the vale where my bower stood,
as above, I came within view of the sea to the west; and it being a
very clear day, I fairly descried land, whether an island or a
continent I could not tell; but it lay very high, extending from the
west to the WSW. at a very great distance; by my guess, it could not
be less than fifteen or twenty leagues off.
I could not tell what part of the world this might be, otherwise
than that I know it must be part of America, and, as I concluded, by
all my observations, must be near the Spanish dominions, and perhaps
was all inhabited by savages, where, if I should have landed, I had
been in a worse condition than I was now; and therefore I acquiesced
in the dispositions of Providence which I began now to own and to
believe ordered everything for the best. I say, I quieted my mind with
this, and left afflicting myself with fruitless wishes of being there.
Besides, after some pause upon this affair, I considered that if
this land was the Spanish coast I should certainly, one time or other,
see some vessel pass or repass one way or other; but if not, then it
was the savage coast between the Spanish country and Brazils, which
are indeed the worst of savages; for they are cannibals or men-eaters,
and fail not to murder and devour all the human bodies that fall
into their hands.
With these considerations I walked very leisurely forward. I found
that side of the island, where I now was, much pleasanter than mine,
the open or savanna fields sweet, adorned with flowers and grass,
and full of very fine woods.
I saw abundance of parrots, and fain would have caught one, if
possible, to have kept it to be tame, and taught it to speak to me.
I did, after some painstaking, catch a young parrot, for I knocked
it down with a stick, and having recovered it, I brought it home;
but it was some years before I could make him speak. However, at
last I taught him to call me by my name very familiarly. But the
accident that followed, though it be a trifle, will be very
diverting in its place.
I was exceedingly diverted with this journey. I found in the low
grounds bares, as I thought them to be, and foxes; but they differed
greatly from all the other kinds I had met with, nor could I satisfy
myself to eat them, though I killed several. But I had no need to be
venturous, for I had no want of food, and of that which was very
good too; especially these three sorts, viz., goats, pigeons, and
turtle, or tortoise; which, added to my grapes, Leadenhall Market
could not have furnished a table better than I, in proportion to the
company. And though my case was deplorable enough, yet I had great
cause for thankfulness, and that I was not driven to any extremities
for food, rather plenty, even to dainties.
I never travelled in this journey above two miles outright in a day,
or thereabouts; but I took so many turns and returns, to see what
discoveries I could make, that I came weary enough to the place
where I resolved to sit down for all night; and then I either
reposed myself in a tree, or surrounded myself with a row of stakes,
set upright in the ground, either from one tree to another, or so as
no wild creature could come at me without waking me.
As soon as I came to the seashore, I was surprised to see that I had
taken up my lot on the worst side of the island, for here indeed the
shore was covered with innumerable turtles; whereas, on the other
side, I had found but three in a year and a half. Here was also an
infinite number of fowls of many kinds, some which I had seen, and
some which I had not see of before, and many of them were very good
meat, but such as I knew not the names of, except those called
I could have shot as many as I pleased, but was very sparing of my
powder and shot, and therefore had more mind to kill a she-goat, if
I could, which I could better feed on; and though there were many
goats here, more than on my side the island, yet it was with much more
difficulty that I could come near them, the country being flat and
even, and they saw me much sooner then when I was on the hill.
I confess this side of the country was much pleasanter than mine;
but yet I had not the least inclination to remove, for as I was
fixed in my habitation, it became natural to me, and I seemed all
the while I was here to be as it were upon a journey, and from home.
However, I travelled along the shore of the sea towards the east, I
suppose about twelve miles, and then setting up a great pole upon
the shore for a mark, I concluded I would go home again; and that
the next journey I took should be on the other side of the island,
east from my dwelling, and so round till I came to my post again; of
which in its place.
I took another way to come back than that I went, thinking I could
easily keep all the island so much in my view that I could not miss
finding my first dwelling by viewing the country. But I found myself
mistaken; for being come about two or three miles, I found myself
descended into a very large valley, but so surrounded with hills,
and those hill covered with wood, that I could not see which was my
way by any direction but that of the sun, nor even then, unless I knew
very well the position of the sun at that time of the day.
It happened to my farther misfortune that the weather proved hazy
for three or four days while I was in this valley; and not being
able to see the sun, I wandered about very uncomfortably, and at
last was obliged to find out the seaside, look for my post, and come
back the same way I went; and then by easy journeys I turned homeward,
the weather being exceeding hot, and my gun, ammunition, hatchet,
and other things very heavy.
In this journey my dog surprised a young kid, and seized upon it,
and I running in to take hold of it, caught it, and saved it alive
from the dog. I had a great mind to bring it home if I could, for I
had often been musing whether it might not be possible to get a kid or
two, and so raise a breed of tame goats, which might supply me when my
powder and shot should be all spent.
I made a collar to this little creature, and with a string, which
I made of some rope-yarn, which I always carried about me, I led him
along, though with some difficulty, till I came to my bower, and
there I enclosed him and left him, for I was very impatient to be at
home, from whence I had been absent above a month.
I cannot express what a satisfaction it was to me to come into my
old hutch, and lie down in my hammock-bed. This little wandering
journey, without settled place of abode, had been so unpleasant to me,
that my own house, as I called it to myself, was a perfect
settlement to me compared to that; and it rendered everything about me
so comfortable, that I resolved I would never go a great way from it
again, while it should be my lot to stay on the island.
I reposed myself here a week, to rest and regale myself af after
my long journey; during which most of the time was taken up in the
weighty affair of making a cage for my Poll, who began now to be a
mere domestic, and to be mighty well acquainted with me. Then I
began to think of the poor kid which I had penned in within my
little circle, and resolved to go and fetch it home, or give it some
food. Accordingly I went, and found it where I left it, for indeed
it could not get out, but almost starved for want of food. I went
out and cut boughs of trees, and branches of such shrubs as I could
find, and threw it over, and having fed it, I tied it as I did before,
to lead it away; but it was so tame with being hungry, that I had no
need to have tied it, for it followed me like a dog. And as I
continually fed it, the creature became so loving, so gentle, and so
fond, that it became from that time one of my domestics also, and
would never leave me afterwards.
The rainy season of the autumnal equinox was now come, and I kept
the 30th of September in the same solemn manner as before, being the
anniversary of my landing on the island, having now been there two
years, and no more prospect of being delivered than the first day I
came there. I spent the whole day in humble and thankful
acknowledgments of the many wonderful mercies which my solitary
condition was attended with, and without which it might have been
infinitely more miserable. I gave humble and hearty thanks that God
had been pleased to discover to me even that it was possible I might
be more happy in this solitary condition, than I should have been in a
liberty of society, and in all the pleasures of the world; that He
could fully make up to me the deficiences of my solitary state, and
the want of human society, by His presence, and the communication of
His grace to my soul, supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to
depend upon His providence here, and hope for His eternal presence
It was now that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this
life I now led was, with all its miserable circumstances, than the
wicked, cursed, abominable life I led all the past part of my days.
And now I changed both my sorrows and my joys; my very desires
altered, my affections changed their gusts, and my delights were
perfectIy new from what they were at my first coming, or indeed for
the two years past.
Before, as I walked about, either on my hunting, or for viewing
the country, the anguish of my soul at my condition would break out
upon me on a sudden, and my very heart would die within me, to think
of the woods, the mountains, the deserts I was in, and how I was a
prisoner, locked up with the eternal bars and bolts of the ocean, in
an uninhibited wilderness, without redemption. In the midst of the
greatest composures of my mind, this would break out upon me like a
storm, and make me wring my hands and weep like a child. Sometimes
it would take me in the middle of my work, and I would immediately sit
down and sigh, and look upon the ground for an hour or two together;
and this was still worse to me, for if I could burst out into tears,
or vent myself by words, it would go off, and the grief, having
exhausted itself, would abate.
But now I began to exercise myself with new thoughts. I daily read
the Word of God, and applied all the comforts of it to my present
state. One morning, being very sad, I opened the Bible upon these
words, "I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Immediately
it occurred that these words were to me; why else should they be
directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over
my condition, as one forsake of God and man? "Well, then," said I, "if
God does not forsake me, of what ill consequence can it be, or what
matters it, though the world should all forsake me, seeing on the
other hand, if I had all the world, and should lose the favor and
blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the loss?"
From this moment I began to conclude in my mind that it was possible
for me to be more happy in this forsaken solitary condition, that it
was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state
in the world, and with this thought I was going to give thanks to
God for bringing me to this place.
I know not what it was, but something shocked my mind at that
thought, and I durst not speak the words. "How canst thou be such a
hypocrite," said I, even audibly, "to pretend to be thankful for a
condition which, however thou mayest endeavor to be contented with,
thou wouldest rather pray heartily to be delivered from?" So I stopped
there; but though I could not say I thanked God for being there, yet I
sincerely gave thanks to God for opening my eyes, by whatever
afflicting providences, to see the former condition of my life, and to
mourn for my wickedness, and repent. I never opened the Bible, or shut
it, but my very soul within me blessed God for directing my friend
in England, without any order of mine, to pack it up among my goods,
and for assisting me afterwards to save it out of the wreck of the
Thus, and in this disposition of mind, I began my third year; and
though I have not given the reader the trouble of so particular
account of my works this year as the first, yet in general it may be
observed, that I was very seldom idle, but having regularly divided my
time, according to the several daily employments that were before
me, such as, first my duty to God, and the reading the Scriptures,
which I constantly set apart some time for, thrice every day;
secondly, the going abroad with my gun for food, which generally
took me up three hours in every morning, when it did not rain;
thirdly, the ordering, curing, preserving, and cooking what I had
killed or catched for my supply; these took up great part of the
day; also it is to be considered that the middle of the day, when
the sun was in the zenith, the violence of the heat was too great to
stir out; so that about four hours in the evening was all the time I
could be supposed to work in, with this exception, that sometimes I
changed my hours of hunting and working, and went to work in the
morning, and abroad with my gun in the afternoon.
To this short time allowed for labor, desire may be added the
exceeding laboriousness of my work; the many hours which, for want
of tools, want of help, and want of skill, everything I did took up
out of my time. For example, I was full two and forty days making me a
board for a long shelf, which I wanted in my cave; whereas two
sawyers, with their tools and a saw-pit, would have cut six of them
out of the same tree in half a day.
My case was this: it was to be a large tree which was to be cut
down, because my board was to be a broad one. This tree I was three
days a-cutting down, and two more cutting off the boughs, and reducing
it to a log, or piece of timber. With inexpressible hacking and
hewing, I reduced both sides of it into chips till it begun to be
light enough to move; then I turned it, and made one side of it smooth
and flat as a board from end to end; then turning that side
downward, cut the other side, till I brought the plank to be about
three inches thick, and smooth on both sides. Any one may judge the
labor of my hands in such a piece of work; but labor and patience
carried me through that, and many other things. I only observe this in
particular, to show the reason why so much of my time went away with
so little work, viz., that what might be a little to be done with help
and tools, was a vast labor, and required a prodigious time to do
alone, and by hand. But not withstanding this, with patience and
labor, I went through many things, and, indeed, everything that my
circumstances made necessary to me to do, as will appear by what
I was now, in the months of November and December, expecting my crop
of barley and rice. The ground I had manured or dug up for them was
not great; for as I observed, my seed of each was not above the
quantity of half a peck; for I had lost one whole crop by sowing in
the dry season. But now my crop promised very well, when on a sudden I
found I was in danger of losing it all again by enemies of several
sorts, which it was scarce possible to keep from it; as, first the
goats and wild creatures which I called hares, who, tasting the
sweetness of the blade, lay in it night and day, as soon as it came
up, and eat it so close, that it could get no time to shoot up into
This I saw no remedy for but by making an enclosure about it with
a hedge, which I did with a great deal of toil, and the more,
because it required speed. However, as my arable land was small,
suited to my crop, I got it totally well fenced in about three
weeks' time, and shooting some of the creatures in the daytime, I
set my dog to guard it in the night, tying him up to a stake at the
gate, where he would stand and bark all night long; so in a little
time the enemies forsook the place, and the corn grew very strong
and well, and began to ripen apace.
But as the beasts ruined me before while my corn was in the blade,
so the birds were as likely to ruin me now when it was in the ear; for
going along by the place to see how it throve, I saw my little crop
surrounded with fowls, of I know not how many sorts, who stood, as
it were, watching till I should be gone. I immediately let fly among
them, for I always had my gun with me. I had no sooner shot, but there
rose up a little cloud of fowls, which I had not seen at all, from
among the corn itself.
This touched me sensibly, for I foresaw that in a few days they
would devour all my hopes, that I should be starved, and never be able
to raise a crop at all, and what to do I could not tell. However, I
resolved not to lose my corn, if possible, though I should watch it
night and day. In the first place, I went among it to see what
damage was already done, and found they had spoiled a good deal of it;
but that as it was yet too green for them, the loss was not so great
but that the remainder was like to be a good crop if it could be
I stayed by it to load my gun, and then coming away, I could
easily see the thieves sitting upon all the trees about me, as if they
only waited till I was gone away. And the event proved it to be so;
for as I walked off, as if I was gone, I was no sooner out of their
sight but they dropped down, one by one, into the corn again. I was so
provoked, that I could not have patience to stay till more came on,
knowing that every grain that they eat now was, as it might be said, a
peck-loaf to me in the consequence; but coming up to the hedge, I
fired again, and killed three of them. This was what I wished for;
so I took them up, and served them as we serve notorious thieves in
England, viz., hanged them in chains, for a terror to others. It is
impossible to imagine almost that this should have such an effect as
it had, for the fowls would not only not come at the corn, but, in
short, they forsook all that part of the island, and I could never see
a bird near the place as long as my scare-crows hung there.
This I was very glad of, you may be sure; and about the latter end
of December, which was our second harvest of the year, I reaped my
I was sadly put to it for a scythe or a sickle to cut it down, and
all I could do was to make one as well as I could out of one of the
broadswords, or cutlasses, which I saved among the arms out of the
ship. However, as my first crop of corn was but small, I had no
great difficulty to cut it down; in short, I reaped it my way, for I
cut nothing off but the ears, and carried it away in a great basket
which I had made, and so rubbed it out with my hands; and at the end
of all my harvesting, I found that out of my half peck of seed I had
near two bushels of rice, and above two bushels and a half of
barley, that is to say, by my guess, for I had no measure at that
However, this was a great encouragement to me, and I foresaw that,
in time, it would please God to supply me with bread. And yet here I
was perplexed again, for I neither knew how to grind or make meal of
my corn, or indeed how to clean it and part it; nor, if made into
meal, how to make bread of it, and if how to make it, yet I knew not
how to bake it. These things being added to my desire of having a good
quantity for store, and to secure a constant supply, I resolved not to
taste any of this crop, but to preserve it all for seed against the
next season, and, in the meantime, to employ all my study and hours of
working to accomplish this great work of providing myself with corn
and bread.
It might be truly said, that now I worked for my bread. 'Tis a
little wonderful, and what I believe few people have thought upon,
viz., the strange multitude of little things necessary in the
providing, producing, curing, dressing, making, and finishing this one
article of bread.
I, that was reduced to a mere state of nature, found this to my
daily discouragement, and was made more and more sensible of it
every hour, even after I had got the first handful of seedcorn, which,
as I have said, came up unexpectedly, and indeed, to a surprise.
First, I had no plough to turn up the earth, no spade or shovel to
dig it. Well, this I conquered by making a wooden spade, as I observed
before, but this did my work in but a wooden manner; and though it
cost me a great many days to make it, yet, for want of iron, it not
only wore out the sooner, but made my work the harder, and made it
be performed much worse.
However, this I bore with, and was content to work it out with
patience, and bear with the badness of the performance. When the
corn was sowed, I had no harrow, but was forced to go over it
myself, and drag a great heavy bough of a tree over it, to scratch it,
as it may be called, rather than rake or harrow it.
When it was growing and grown, I have observed already how many
things I wanted to fence it, secure it, mow or reap it, cure and carry
it home, thrash, part it from the chaff, and save it. Then I wanted
a mill to grind it, sieves to dress it, yeast and salt to make it into
bread, and an oven to bake it, and yet all these things I did without,
as shall be observed; and yet the corn was an inestimable comfort
and advantage to me too. All this, as I said, made everything
laborious and tedious to me, but that there was no help for; neither
was my time so much loss to me, because, as I had divided it, a
certain part of it was every day appointed to these works, and as I
resolved to use none of the corn for bread till I had a greater
quantity by me, I had the next six months to apply myself wholly, by
labor and invention, to furnish myself with utensils proper for the
performing all the operations necessary for the making the corn,
when I had it, fit for my use.
But first I was to prepare more land, for I had now seed enough to
sow above an acre of ground. Before I did this, I had a week's work at
least to make me a spade, which, when it was done, was but a sorry one
indeed, and very heavy, and required double labor to work with it.
However, I went through that, and sowed my seed in two large flat
pieces of ground, as near my house as I could find them to my mind,
and fenced them in with a good hedge, the stakes of which were all cut
of that wood which I had set before, and knew it would grow; so that
in one year's time I knew I should have a quick or living hedge,
that would want but little repair. This work was not so little as to
take me up less than three months, because great part of that time was
of the wet season, when I could not go abroad.
Within doors, that is, when it rained, and I could not go out, I
found employment on the following occasions; always observing, that
all the while I was at work, I diverted myself with talking to my
parrot, and teaching him to speak, and I quickly learned him to know
his own name, and at last to speak it out pretty loud, "Poll," which
was the first word I ever heard spoken in the island by any mouth
but my own. This, therefore, was not my work, but an assistant to my
work; for now, as I said, I had a great employment upon my hands, as
follows, viz., I had long studied, by some means or other, to make
myself some earthern vessels, which indeed I wanted sorely, but knew
not where to come at them. However, considering the heat of the
climate, I did not doubt but if I could find out any such clay, I
might botch up some such a pot as might, being dried in the sun, be
hard enough and strong enough to bear handling, and to hold anything
that was dry, and required to be kept so; and as this was necessary in
the preparing corn, meal, etc., which was the thing I was upon, I
resolved to make some as large as I could, and fit only to stand
like jars, to hold what should be put into them.
It would make the reader pity me, or rather laugh at me, to tell how
many awkward ways I took to raise this paste; what odd, misshapen,
ugly things I made; how many of them fell in, and how many fell out,
the clay not being stiff enough to bear its own weight; how many
cracked by the over-violent heat of the sun, being set out too
hastily; and how many fell in pieces with only removing, as well
before as after they were dried; and, in a word, how, after having
labored hard to find the clay, to dig it, to temper it, to bring it
home, and work it, I could not make above two large earthen ugly
things (I cannot call them jars) in about two months' labor.
However, as the sun baked these two very dry and hard, I lifted them
very gently up, and set them down again in two great wicker baskets,
which I had made on purpose for them, that they might not break; and
as between the pot and the basket there was a little room to spare,
I stuffed it full of the rice and barley straw, and these two pots
being to stand always dry, I thought would hold my dry corn, and
perhaps the meal, when the corn was bruised.
Though I miscarried so much in my design for large pots, yet I
made several smaller things with better success; such as little
round pots, flat dishes, pitchers, and pipkins, and any things my hand
turned to; and the heat of the sun baked them strangely hard. But
all this would not answer my end, which was to get an earthen pot to
hold what was liquid, and bear the fire, which none of these could do.
It happened after some time, making a pretty large fire for cooking my
meat, when I went to put it out after I had done with it, I found a
broken piece of one of my earthenware vessels in the fire, burnt as
hard as a stone, and red as a tile. I was agreeably surprised to see
it, and said to myself, that certainly they might be made to burn
whole, if they would burn broken.
This set me to studying how to order my fire, so as to make it
burn me some pots. I had no notion of a kiln, such as the potters burn
in, or of glazing them with lead, though I had some lead to do it
with; but I placed three large pigskins, and two or three pots in a
pile, one upon another, and placed my firewood all round it, with a
great heap of embers under them. I plied the fire with fresh fuel
round the outside, and upon the top, till I saw the pots in the inside
re-hot quite through, and observed that they did not crack at all.
When I saw them clear red, I let them stand in that heat about five or
six hours, till I found one of them, though it did not crack, did melt
or run, for the sand which was mixed with the clay melted by the
violence of the heat, and would have run into glass, if I had gone on;
so I slacked my fire gradually till the pots began to abate of the red
color; and watching them all night, that I might not let the fire
abate too fast, in the morning I had three very good, I will not say
handsome, pigskins, and two other earthen pots, as hard burnt as could
be desired, and one of them perfectly glazed with the running of the
After this experiment, I need not say that I wanted no sort of
earthenware for my use; but I must needs say, as to the shapes of
them, they were very indifferent, as any one may suppose, when I had
no way of making them but as the children make dirt pies, or as a
woman would make pies that had never learned to raise paste.
No joy at a thing of so mean a nature was ever equal to mine, when I
found I had made an earthen pot that would bear the fire; and I had
hardly patience to stay till they were cold, before I set one upon the
fire again, with some water in it, to boil me some meat, which it
did admirably well; and with a piece of a kid I made some very good
broth, though I wanted oatmeal and several other ingredients requisite
to make it so good as I would have had it been.
My next concern was to get me a stone mortar to stamp or beat some
corn in; for as to the mill, there was no thought at arriving to
that perfection of art with one pair of hands. To supply this want I
was at a great loss; for, of all trades in the world, I was as
perfectly unqualified for a stone-cutter as for any whatever;
neither had I any tools to go about it with. I spent many a day to
find out a great stone big enough to cut hollow, and make fit for a
mortar, and could find none at all, except what was in the solid rock,
and which I had no way to dig or cut out; nor, indeed, were the
rocks in the island of hardness sufficient, but were all of a sandy
crumbling stone, which neither would bear the weight of a heavy
pestle, or would break the corn without filling it with sand. So,
after a great deal of time lost in searching for a stone, I gave it
over, and resolved to look out for a great block of hard wood, which I
found indeed much easier; and getting one as big as I had strength
to stir, I rounded it, and formed it in the outside with my axe and
hatchet, and then, with the help of fire, and infinite labor, made a
hollow place in it, as the Indians in Brazil make their canoes.
After this, I made a great heavy pestle, or beater, of the wood called
the iron-wood; and this I prepared and laid by against I had my next
crop of corn, when I proposed to myself to grind, or rather pound,
my corn into meal, to make my bread.
My next difficulty was to make a sieve, or search, to dress my meal,
and to part it from the bran and the husk, without which I did not see
it possible I could have any bread. This was a most difficult thing,
so much as but to think on, for to be sure I had nothing like the
necessary thing to make it; I mean fine thin canvas or stuff, to
search the meal through. And here I was at a full stop for many
months, nor did I really know what to do; linen I had none left, but
what was mere rags; I had goats'-hair, but neither knew I how to weave
it or spin it; and had I known how, here was no tools to work it with.
All the remedy that I found for this was, that at last I did
remember I had, among the seamen's clothes which were saved out of the
ship, some neckcloths of calico or muslin; and with some pieces of
these I made three small sieves, but proper enough for the work; and
thus I made shift for some years. How I did afterwards, I shall show
in its place.
The baking part was the next thing to be considered, and how I
should make bread when I came to have corn; for, first, I had no
yeast. As to that part, as there was no supplying the want, so I did
not concern myself much about it; but for an oven I was indeed in
great pain. At length I found out an experiment for that also, which
was this: I made some earthen vessels very broad, but not deep, that
is to say, about two feet diameter, and not above nine inches deep;
these I burned in the fire, as I had done the other, and laid them by;
and when I wanted to bake, I made a great fire upon my hearth, which I
had paved with some square tiles, of my own making and burning also;
but I should not call them square.
When the firewood was burned pretty much into embers, or live coals,
I drew them forward upon this hearth, so as to cover it all over,
and there I let them lie till the hearth was very hot; then sweeping
away all the embers, I set down my loaf, or loaves, and whelming
down the earthen pot upon them, drew the embers all round the
outside of the pot, to keep in and add to the heat. And thus, as
well as in the best oven in the world, I baked my barley-loaves, and
became; in a little time, a mere pastry-cook into the bargain; for I
made myself several cakes of the rice, and puddings; indeed, I made no
pies, neither had I anything to put into them, supposing I had, except
the flesh either of fowls or goats.
It need not be wondered at, if all these things took me up most part
of the third year of my abode here; for it is to be observed, that
in the intervals of these things I had my new harvest and husbandry to
manage; for I reaped my corn in its season, and carried it home as
well as I could, and laid it up in the ear, in my large baskets,
till I had time to rub it out, for I had no floor to thrash it on,
or instrument to thrash it with.
And now, indeed, my stock of corn increasing, I really wanted to
build my barns bigger. I wanted a place to lay it up in, for the
increase of the corn now yielded me so much that I had of the barley
about twenty bushels, and of the rice as much, or more, insomuch
that now I resolved to begin to use it freely; for my bread had been
quite gone a great while; also, I resolved to see what quantity
would be sufficient for me a whole year, and to sow but once a year.
Upon the whole, I found that the forty bushels of barley and rice
was much more than I could consume in a year; so I resolved to sow
just the same quantity every year that I sowed the last, in hopes that
such a quantity would fully provide me with bread, etc.
All the while these things were doing, you may be sure my thoughts
run many times upon the prospect of land which I had seen from the
other side of the island, and I was not without secret wishes that I
were on shore there, fancying the seeing the mainland, and in an
inhabited country, I might find some way or other to convey myself
farther, and perhaps at last find some means of escape.
But all this while I made no allowance for the dangers of such a
condition, and how I might fall into the hands of savages, and perhaps
such as I might have reason to think far worse than the lions and
tigers of Africa; that if I once came into their power, I should run a
hazard more than a thousand to one of being killed, and perhaps of
being eaten; for I had heard that the people of the Caribbean coasts
were cannibals, or maneaters, and I knew by the latitude that I
could not be far off from that shore. That supposed they were not
cannibals, yet that they might kill me, as many Europeans who had
fallen into their hands had been served, even when they had been often
or twenty together, much more I, that was but one, and could make
little or no defence; all these things, I say, which I ought to have
considered well of, and did cast up in my thoughts afterwards, yet
took up none of my apprehensions at first, but my head ran mightily
upon the thought of getting over to the shore.
Now I wished for my boy Xury, and the longboat with the
shoulder-of-mutton sail, with which I sailed above a thousand miles on
the coast of Africa; but this was in vain. Then I thought I would go
and look at our ship's boat, which, as I have said, was blown up
upon the shore a great way, in the storm, when we were first cast
away. She lay almost where she did at first, but not quite; and was
turned, by the force of the waves and the winds, almost bottom side
upward, against a high ridge of beachy rough sand, but no water
about her, as before.
If I had had hands to have refitted her, and to have launched her
into the water, the boat would have done well enough, and I might have
gone back into the Brazils with her easily enough; but I might have
foreseen that I could no more turn her and set her upright upon her
bottom, that I could remove the island. However, I went to the
woods, and cut levers and rollers, and brought them to the boat,
resolved to try what I could do; suggesting to myself that if I
could but turn her down, I might easily repair the damage she had
received, and she would be a very good boat, and I might go to sea
in her very easily.
I spared no pains, indeed, in this piece of fruitless toil, and
spent, I think, three of four weeks about it. At last finding it
impossible to heave it up with my little strength, I fell to digging
away the sand, to undermine it, and so make it fall down, setting
pieces of wood to thrust and guide it right in the fall. But when I
had done this, I was unable to stir it up again, or to get under it,
much less to move it forward towards the water; so I was forced to
give it over. And yet, though I gave over the hopes of the boat, my
desire to venture over for the main increased, rather than
decreased, as the means for it seemed impossible.
This at length put me upon thinking whether it was not possible to
make myself a canoe, or periagua, such as the natives of those
climates make, even without tools, or, as I might say, without
hands, viz., of the trunk of a great tree. This I not only thought
possible but easy, and pleased myself extremely with the thoughts of
making it, and with my having much more convenience for it than any of
the negroes or Indians; but not at all considering the particular
inconveniences which I lay under more than the Indians did, viz., want
of hands to move it, when it was made, into the water, a difficulty
much harder for me to surmount than all the consequences of want of
tools could be to them. For what was it to me, that when I had
chosen a vast tree in the woods, I might with much trouble cut it
down, if, after I might be able with my tools to hew and dub the
outside into the proper shape of a boat, and burn or cut out the
inside to make it hollow, so to make a boat of it; if, after this, I
must leave it just there where I found it, and was not able to
launch it into the water?
One would have thought I could not have had the least reflection
upon my mind of my circumstance while I was making this boat, but I
should have immediately thought how I should get it into the sea;
but my thoughts were so intent upon my voyage over the sea in it, that
I never once considered how I should get it off the land; and it was
really, in its own nature, more easy for me to guide it over
forty-five miles of sea, than about forty-five fathoms of land,
where it lay, to set it afloat in the water.
I went to work upon this boat the most like a fool that ever man did
who had any of his senses awake. I pleased myself with the design,
without determining whether I was ever able to undertake it. Not but
that the difficulty of launching my boat came often into my head;
but I put a stop to my own inquiries into it, by this foolish answer
which I gave myself, "Let's first make it; I'll warrant I'll find some
way or other to get it along when 't is done."
This was a most preposterous method; but the eagerness of my fancy
prevailed, and to work I went. I felled a cedar tree: I questioned
much whether Solomon ever had such a one for the building of the
Temple at Jerusalem. It was five feet often inches diameter at the
lower part next the stump, and four feet eleven inches diameter at the
end of twenty-two feet, after which it lessened for awhile, and then
parted into branches. It was not without infinite labor that I
felled this tree. I was twenty days hacking and hewing at it at the
bottom; I was fourteen more getting the branches and limbs, and the
vast spreading head of it cut off, which I hacked and hewed through
with axe and hatchet, and inexpressible labor. After this, it cost
me a month to shape it and dub it to a proportion, and to something
like the bottom of a boat, that it might swim upright as it ought to
do. It cost me near three months more to clear the inside, and work it
so as to make an exact boat of it. This I did, indeed, without fire,
by mere mallet and chisel, and by the dint of hard labor, till I had
brought it to be a very handsome periagua, and big enough to have
carried six and twenty men, and consequently big enough to have
carried me and my cargo.
When I had, gone through this work, I was extremely delighted with
it. The boat was really much bigger than I ever saw a canoe or
periagua, that was made of one tree, in my life. Many a weary stroke
it had cost, you may be sure; and there remained nothing but to get it
into the water; and.had I gotten it into the water, I made no question
but I should have begun the maddest voyage, and the most unlikely to
be performed, that ever was undertaken.
But all my devices to get it into the water failed me, they cost
me infinite labor, too. It lay about one hundred yards from the water,
and not more; but the first inconvenience was, it was uphill towards
the creek. Well, to take away this discouragement, I resolved to dig
into the surface of the earth, and so make a declivity. This I
began, and it cost me a prodigious deal of pains; but who grudges
pains, that have their deliverance in view? But when this was worked
through, and this difficulty managed, it was still much at one, for
I could no more stir the canoe than I could the other boat.
Then measured the distance of ground, and resolved to cut a dock
or canal, to bring the water up to the canoe, seeing I could not bring
the canoe down to the water. Well, I began this work; and when I began
to enter into it, and calculate how deep it was to be dug, how
broad, how the stuff to be thrown out, I found that by the number of
hands I had, being none but my own, it must have been often or
twelve years before should have gone through with it; for the shore
lay high, so that at the upper end it must have been at least twenty
feet deep; so at length, though with great reluctancy, I gave this
attempt over also.
This grieved me heartily; and now I saw, though too late, the
folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and, before we
judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it.
In the middle of this work I finished my fourth year in this
place, and kept my anniversary with the same devotion, and with as
much comfort as ever before; for, by a constant study and serious
application of the Word of God, and by the assistance of His grace,
I gained a different knowledge from what I had before. I entertained
different notions of things. I looked now upon the world as a thing
remote, which I had nothing to do with, no expectation from, and,
indeed, no desires about. In a word, I had nothing indeed to do with
it, nor was ever like to have; so I thought it looked, as we may
perhaps look upon it hereafter, viz., as a place I had lived in, but
was come out of it; and well might I say, as father Abraham to
Dives, "Between me and thee is a great gulf fixed."
In the first place, I was removed from all the wickedness of the
world here. I had neither the lust of the flesh, the lust of the
eye, or the pride of life. I had nothing to covet, for I had all
that I was now capable of enjoying. I was lord of the whole manor; or,
if I pleased, I might call myself king or emperor over the whole
country which I had possession of. There were no rivals: I had no
competitor, none to dispute sovereignty or command with me. I might
have raised ship-loadings of corn, but I had no use for it; so I let
as little grow as I thought enough for my occasion. I had tortoise
or turtles enough, but now and then one was as much as I could put
to any use. I had timber enough to have built a fleet of ships. I
had grapes enough to have made wine, or to have cured into raisins, to
have loaded that fleet when they had been built.
But all I could make use of was all that was valuable. I had
enough to eat and to supply my wants, and what was all the rest to me?
If I killed more flesh than I could eat, the dog must eat it, or the
vermin. If I sowed more corn than I could eat, it must be spoiled. The
trees that I cut down were lying to rot on the ground; I could make no
more use of them than for fuel, and that I had no occasion for but
to dress my food.
In a word, the nature and experience of things dictated to me,
upon just reflection, that all the good things of this world are no
farther good to us than they are for our use; and that whatever we may
heap up indeed to give others, we enjoy just as much as we can use,
and no more. The most covetous griping miser in the world would have
been cured of the vice of covetousness, if he had been in my case; for
I possessed infinitely more than I knew what to do with. I had no room
for desire, except it was of things which I had not, and they were but
trifles, through indeed of great use to me. I had, as I hinted before,
a parcel of money, as well gold as silver, about thirty-six pounds
sterling. Alas! There the nasty, sorry, useless stuff lay; I had no
manner of business for it; and I often thought with myself, that I
would have given a handful of it for a gross of tobacco-pipes, or
for a hand-mill to grind my corn; nay, I would have given it all for
sixpenny-worth of turnip and carrot seed out of England, or for a
handful of peas and beans, and a bottle of ink. As it was, I had not
the least advantage by it, or benefit from it; but there it lay in a
drawer, and grew mouldy with the damp of the cave in the wet season;
and if I had had the drawer full of diamonds, it had been the same
case, and they had been of no manner of value to me because of no use.
I had now brought my state of life to be much easier in itself
than it was at first, and much easier to my mind, as well as to my
body. I frequently sat down to my meat with thankfulness, and
admired the hand of God's providence, which had thus spread my table
in the wilderness. I learned to look more upon the bright side of my
condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I
enjoyed, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such
secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice
of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot
enjoy comfortably what God has given them, because they see and
covet something that He has not given them. All our discontents
about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of
thankfulness for what we have.
Another reflection was of great use to me, and doubtless would be so
to any that should fall into such distress as mine was; and this
was, to compare my present condition with what I at first expected
it should be; nay, with what it would certainly have been, if the good
providence of God had not wonderfully ordered the ship to be cast up
nearer to the shore; where I not only could come at her, but could
bring what I got out of her to the shore, for my relief and comfort;
without which I had wanted for tools to work, weapons for defence,
or gunpowder and shot for getting my food.
I spent whole hours, I may say whole days, in representing to
myself, in the most lively colors, how I must have acted if I had
got nothing out of the ship. How I could not have so much as got any
food, except fish and turtles; and that as it was long before I
found any of them, I must have perished first; that I should have
lived, if I had not perished, like a mere savage; that if I had killed
a goat or a fowl, by any contrivance, I had no way to flay or open
them, or part the flesh from the skin and the bowels, or to cut it up;
but must gnaw it with my teeth, and pull it with my claws, like a
These reflections made me very sensible of the goodness of
Providence to me, and very thankful for my present condition, with all
its hardships and misfortunes; and this part also I cannot but
recommend to the reflection of those who are apt, in their misery,
to say, Is any affliction like mine? Let them consider how much
worse the cases of some people are, and their case might have been, if
Providence had thought fit.
I had another reflection, which assisted me also to comfort my
mind with hopes; and this was, comparing my present condition with
what I had deserved, and had therefore reason to expect from the
hand of Providence. I had lived a dreadful life, perfectly destitute
of the knowledge and fear of God. I had been well instructed by father
and mother; neither had they been wanting to me in their early
endeavors to infuse a religious awe of God into my mind, a sense of.
my duty, and of what the nature and end of my being required of me.
But, alas! falling early into the seafaring life, which, of all the
lives, is the most destitute of the fear of God, though His terrors
are always before them; I say, falling early into the seafaring
life, and into seafaring company, all that little sense of religion
which I had entertained was laughed out of me by my messmates; by a
hardened despising of dangers, and the views of death, which grew
habitual to me; by my long absence from all manner of opportunities to
converse with anything but what was like myself, or to hear anything
that was good, or tended towards it.
So void was I of everything that was good, or of the least sense
of what I was, or was to be, that in the greatest deliverances I
enjoyed, such as my escape from Sallee; my being taken up by the
Portuguese master of the ship; my being planted so well in the
Brazils; my receiving the cargo from England, and the like; I never
had once the words "Thank God," so much as on my mind, or in my mouth;
nor in the greatest distress had I so much as thought to pray to
Him, or so much as to say, "Lord, have mercy upon me!" no, nor to
mention the name of God, unless it was to swear by and blaspheme it.
I had terrible reflections upon my mind for many months, as I have
already observed, on the account of my wicked and hardened life
past; and when I looked about me and considered what particular
providences had attended me since coming into the place, and how God
had dealt bountifully with me, had not only punished me less than my
iniquity had deserved, but had so plentifully provided for me; this
gave me great hopes that my repentance was accepted, and that God
had yet mercy in store for me.
With these reflections, I worked my mind up, not only to resignation
to the will of God in the present disposition of my circumstances, but
even to a sincere thankfulness for my condition; and that I, who was
yet a living man, ought not to complain, seeing I had not the due
punishment of my sins; that I enjoyed so many mercies, which I had
no reason to have expected in that place; that I ought nevermore to
repine at my condition, but to rejoice, and to give daily thanks for
that daily bread, which nothing but a crowd of wonders could have
brought; that I ought to consider I had been fed even by miracle, even
as great as that of feeding Elijah by ravens; nay, by a long series of
miracles; and that I could hardly have named a place in the
unhabitable part of the world where I could have been cast more to
my advantage; a place where, as I had no society, which was my
affliction on one had, so I found no ravenous beasts, no furious
wolves or tigers, to threaten my life; no venomous creatures, or
poisonous, which I might feed on to my hurt; no savages to murder
and devour me.
In a word, as my life was a life of sorrow one way, so it was a life
of mercy another; and I wanted nothing to make it a life of comfort;
but to be able to make my sense of God's goodness to me, and care over
me in this condition, be my daily consolation; and after I did make
a just improvement of these things, I went away, and was no more sad.
I had now been here so long that many -things which I brought on
shore for my help were either quite gone, or very much wasted, and
near spent. My ink, as I observed, had been gone for some time, all
but a very little, which I eked out with water, a little and a little,
till it was so pale it scarce left any appearance of black upon the
paper. As long as it lasted, I made use of it to minute down the
days of the month on which any remarkable thing happened to me. And,
first, by casting up times past, I remember that there was a strange
concurrence of days in the various providences which befell me, and
which, if I had been superstitiously inclined to observe days as fatal
or fortunate, I might have had reason to have looked upon with a great
deal of curiosity.
First, I had observed that the same day that I broke away from my
father and my friends, and run away to Hull, in order to go to sea,
the same day afterwards I was taken by the Sallee man-of-war, and made
a slave.
The same day of the year that I escaped out of the wreck of that
ship in Yarmouth Roads, that same day-year afterwards I made my escape
from Sallee in the boat.
The same day of the year I was born on viz., the 30th of
September, that same day I had my life so miraculously saved
twenty-six years after, when I was cast on the shore in this island;
so that my wicked life and my solitary life began both on a day.
The next thing to my ink's being wasted, was that of my bread; I
mean the biscuit, which I brought out of the ship. This I had
husbanded to the last degree, allowing myself but one cake of bread
a day for above a year; and yet I was quite without bread for near a
year before I got any corn of my own; and great reason I had to be
thankful that I had any at all, the getting it being, as has been
already observed, next to miraculous.
My clothes began to decay, too, mightily. As to linen, I had none
a good while, except some checkered shirts which I found in the chests
of the other seamen, and which I carefully preserved, because many
times I could bear no other clothes on but a shirt; and it was a great
great help to me that I had, among all the men's clothes of the
ship, almost three dozen of shirts. There were also several thick
watch-coats of the seamen's which were left indeed, but they were
too hot to wear; and though it is true that the weather was so violent
hot that there was no need of clothes, yet I could not go quite naked,
no, though I had been inclined to it, which I was not, nor could abide
the thoughts of it, though I was all alone.
The reason why I could not go quite naked was, I could not bear
the heat of the sun so well when quite naked as with some clothes
on; nay, the very heat frequently blistered my skin; whereas, with a
shirt on, the air itself made some motion, and whistling under that
shirt, was twofold cooler than without it. No more could I ever
bring myself to go out in the heat of the sun without a cap or a
hat. The heat of the sun beating with such violence, as it does in
that place, would give me the headache presently, by darting so
directly on my head, without a cap or hat on, so that I could not bear
it; whereas, if I put on my hat, it would presently go away.
Upon those views, I began to consider about putting the few rags I
had, which I called clothes, into some order. I had worn out all the
waistcoats I had, and my business was not to try if I could not make
jackets out of the great watch-coats which I had by me, and with
such other materials as I had; so I set to work a-tailoring, or
rather, indeed, a-botching, for I made most piteous work of it.
However, I made shift to make two or three new waistcoats, which I
hoped would serve me a great while. As for breeches or drawers, I made
but a very sorry shift indeed till afterward.
I have mentioned that I saved the skins of all the creatures that
I killed, I mean four-footed ones, and I had hung them up stretched
out with sticks in the sun, by which means some of them were so dry
and hard that they were fit for little, but others it seems were
very useful. The first thing I made of these was a great cap for my
head, with the hair on the outside, to shoot off the rain; and this
I performed so well, that after this I made me a suit of clothes
wholly of these skins, that is to say, a waistcoat, and breeches
open at knees, and both loose, for they were rather wanting to keep me
cool than to keep me warm. I must not omit to acknowledge that they
were wretchedly made; for if I was a bad carpenter, I was a worse
tailor. However, they were such as I made very good shift with; and
when I was abroad, if it happened to rain, the hair of my waistcoat
and cap being outermost, I was kept very dry.
After this I spent a great deal of time and pains to make me an
umbrella. I was indeed in great want of one, and had a great mind to
make one. I had seen them made in the Brazils, where they are very
useful in the great heats which are there; and I felt the heats
every jot as great here, and greater too, being nearer the equinox.
Besides, as I was obliged to be much abroad, it was a most useful
thing to me, as well for the rains as the heats. I took a world of
pains at it, and was a great while before I could make anything likely
to hold; nay, after I thought I had hit the way, I spoiled two or
three before I made one to my mind; but at last I made one that
answered indifferently well. The main difficulty I found was to make
it to let down. I could make it to spread; but if it did not let it
down too, and draw in, it was not portable for me any way but just
over my head, which would not do. However, at last, as I said, I
made one to answer, and covered with skins, the hair upwards, so
that it cast off the rains like a pent-house, and kept off the sun
so effectually that I could walk out in the hottest of the weather
with greater advantage than I could before in the coolest; and when
I had no need of it, could close it, and carry it under my arm.
Thus I lived mighty comfortably, my mind being entirely composed
by resigning to the will of God, and throwing myself wholly upon the
disposal of His providence. This made my life better than sociable;
for when I began to regret the want of conversation, I would ask
myself whether thus conversing mutually with my own thoughts, and,
as I hope I may say, with even God Himself, by ejaculations, was not
better than the utmost enjoyment of human society in the world?
I cannot say that after this, for five years, any extraordinary
thing happened to me; but I lived on in the same course, in the same
posture and place, just as before. The chief things I was employed in,
besides my yearly labor of planting my barley and rice, and curing
my raisins, of both which I always kept up just enough to have
sufficient stock of one year's provisions beforehand - I say,
besides this yearly labor, and my daily labor of going out with my
gun, I had one labor, to make me a canoe, which at last I finished; so
that by digging a canal to it of six feet wide, and four feet deep,
I brought it into the creek, almost half a mile. As for the first,
which was so vastly big, as I made it without considering
beforehand, as I ought to do, how I should be able to launch it; so,
never being able to bring it to the water, or bring the water to it, I
was obliged to let it lie where it was, as a memorandum to teach me to
be wiser next time. Indeed, the next time, though I could not get a
tree proper for it, and in a place where I could not get the water
to it at any less distance than, as I have said, near half a mile, yet
as I saw it was at last, I never gave it over; and though I was near
two years about it, yet I never grudged my labor, in hopes of having a
boat to go off to sea at last.
However, though my little periagua was finished, yet the size of
it was not at all answerable to the design which I had in view when
I made the first; I mean, of venturing over to the terra firma,
where it was above forty miles broad. Accordingly, the smallness of my
boat assisted to put an end to that design, and now I thought no
more of it. But as I had a boat, my next design was to make a tour
round the island; for as I had been on the other side in one place,
crossing, as I have already described it, over the land, so the
discoveries I made in that little journey made me very eager to see
other parts of the coast; and now I had a boat, I thought of nothing
but sailing round the island.
For this purpose, that I might do everything with discretion and
consideration, I fitted up a little mast to my boat, and made a sail
to it out of some of the pieces of the ship's sail, which lay in
store, and of which I had a great stock by me.
Having fitted my mast and sail, and tried the boat, I found she
would sail very well. Then I made little lockers, or boxes, at
either end of my boat, to put provisions, necessaries, and ammunition,
etc., into, to be kept dry, either from rain or the spray of the
sea; and a little long hollow place I cut in the inside of the boat,
where I could lay my gun, making a flap to hang down over it to keep
it dry.
I fixed my umbrella also in a step at the stern, like a mast, to
stand over my head, and keep the heat of the sun off of me, like an
awning; and thus I every now and then took a little voyage upon the
sea, but never went far out, nor far from the little creek. But at
last, being eager to view the circumference of my little kingdom, I
resolved upon my tour; and accordingly I victualled my ship for the
voyage, putting in two dozen of my loaves (cakes I should rather
call them) of barley bread, an earthen pot full of parched rice, a
food I eat a great deal of, a little bottle of rum, half a goat, and
powder and shot for killing more, and two large watch-coats, of
those which, as I mentioned before, I had saved out of the seamen's
chests; these I took, one to lie upon, and the other to cover me in
the night.
It was the 6th of November, in the sixth year of my reign, or my
captivity, which you please, that I set out on this voyage, and I
found it much longer than I expected; for though the island itself was
not very large, yet when I came to the east side of it I found a great
ledge of rocks lie out above two leagues into the sea, some above
water, some under it, and beyond that a shoal of sand, lying dry
half a league more; so that I was obliged to go a great way out to sea
to double the point.
When first I discovered them, I was going to give over my
enterprise, and come back again, not knowing how far it might oblige
me to go out to sea, and, above all, doubting how I should get back
again, so I came to an anchor; for I had made me a kind of an anchor
with a piece of broken grappling which I got out of the ship.
Having secured my boat, I took my gun and went on shore, climbing up
upon a hill, which seemed to overlook that point, where I saw the full
extent of it, and resolved to venture.
In my viewing the sea from that hill, where I stood, I perceived a
strong, and indeed a most furious current, which run to the east,
and even came close to the point; and I took the more notice of
because I saw there might be some danger that when I came into it I
might be carried out to sea by the strength of it, and not be able
to make the island again. And indeed, had I not gotten first up upon
this hill, I believe it would have been so; for there was the same
current on the other side of the island, only that it set off at a
farther distance; and I saw there was a strong eddy under the shore;
so I had nothing to do but to get in out of the first current, and I
should presently be in an eddy.
I lay here, however, two days; because the wind, blowing pretty
fresh at ESE., and that being just contrary to the said current,
made a great breach of the sea upon the point; so that it was not safe
for me to keep too close to the shore for the breach, nor to go too
far off because of the stream.
The third day, in the morning, the wind having abated over-night,
the sea was calm, and I ventured. But I am a warning piece again to
all rash and ignorant pilots; for no sooner was I come to the point,
when even I was not my boat's length from the shore, but I found
myself in a great depth of water, and a current like the sluice of a
mill. It carried my boat along with it with such violence, that all
I could do could not keep her so much as on the edge of it, but I
found it hurried me farther and farther out from the eddy, which was
on my left hand. There was no wind stirring to help me, and all I
could do with my paddlers signified nothing. And now I began to give
myself over for lost; for, as the current was on both sides the
island, I knew in a few leagues distance they must join again, and
then I was irrecoverably gone. Nor did I see any possibility of
avoiding it; so that I had no prospect before me but of perishing; not
by the sea, for that was calm enough, but of starving for hunger. I
had indeed found a tortoise on the shore, as big almost as I could
lift, and had tossed it into the boat; and I had a great jar of
fresh water, that is to say, one of my earthen pots; but what was
all this to being driven into the vast ocean, where, to be sure, there
was no shore, no mainland or island, for a thousand leagues at least.
And now I saw how easy it was for the providence of God to make
the most miserable condition mankind could be in worse. Now I looked
back upon my desolate solitary island as the most pleasant place in
the world, and all the happiness my heart could wish for was to be but
there again. I stretched out my hands to it, with eager wishes. "O
happy desert!" said I, "I shall never see thee more. O miserable
creature," said I, "whither am I going?" Then I reproached myself with
my unthankful temper, and how I had repined at my solitary
condition; and now what would I give to be on shore there again.
Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is
illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we
enjoy, but by the want of it. It is scarce possible to imagine the
consternation I was now in, being driven from my beloved island (for
so it appeared to me now to be) into the wide ocean, almost two
leagues, and in the utmost despair of ever recovering it again.
However, I worked hard, till indeed my strength was almost
exhausted, and kept my boat as much to the northward, that is, towards
the side of the current which the eddy lay on, as possibly I could;
when about noon, as the sun passed the meridian, I thought I felt a
little breeze of wind in my face, springing up from the SSE. This
cheered my heart a little, and especially when, in about an hour more,
it blew a pretty small gentle gale. By this time I was gotten at a
frightful distance from the island; and had the least cloud or hazy
weather intervened, I had been undone another way too; for I had no
compass on board, and should never have known how to have steered
towards the island if I had but once lost sight of it. But the weather
continuing clear, I applied myself to get up my mast again, and spread
my sail, standing away to the north as much as possible, to get out of
the current.
Just as I had set my mast and sail, and the boat began to stretch
away, I saw even by clearness of the water some alteration of the
current was near; for where the current was so strong, the water was
foul. But perceiving the water clear, I found the current abate, and
presently I found to the east, at about half a mile, a breach of the
sea upon some rocks. These rocks I found caused the current to part
again; and as the main stress of it ran away more southerly, leaving
the rocks to the north-east, so the other returned by the repulse of
the rocks, and made a strong eddy, which ran back again to the
north-west with a very sharp stream.
They who know what it is to have a reprieve brought to them upon the
ladder, or to be rescued from thieves just going to murder them, or
who have been in such like extremities, may guess what my present
surprise of joy was, and how gladly I put my boat into the stream of
this eddy; and the wind also freshening, how gladly I spread my sail
to it, running cheerfully before the wind, and with a strong tide or
eddy under foot.
This eddy carried me about a league in my way back again, directly
towards the island, but about two leagues more to the northward than
the current which carried me away at first; so that when I came near
the island, I found myself open to the northern shore of it, that is
to say, the other end of the island, opposite to that which I went out
When I had made something more than a league of way by the help of
this current or eddy, I found it was spent, and served me no
farther. However, I found that being between the two great currents,
viz., that on the south side, which had hurried me away, and that on
the north, which lay about a league on the other side; I say,
between these two, in the wake of the island, I found the water at
least still, and running no way; and having still a breeze of wind
fair for me, I kept on steering directly for the island, though not
making such fresh way as I did before.
About four o'clock in the evening, being then within about a
league of the island, I found the point of the rocks which
occasioned this disaster stretching out, as is described before, to
the southward, and casting off the current more southwardly had, of
course, made another eddy to the north, and this I found very
strong, but not directly setting the way my course lay, which was
due west, but almost full north. However, having a fresh gale, I
stretched across this eddy, slanting north-west; and in about an
hour came within about a mile of the shore, where, it being smooth
water, I soon got to land.
When I was on shore, I fell on my knees, and gave God thanks for
my deliverance, resolving to lay aside all thoughts of my
deliverance by my boat; and refreshing myself with such things as I
had, I brought my boat close to the shore, in a little cove that I had
spied under some trees, and laid me down to sleep, being quite spent
with the labor and fatigue of the voyage.
I was now at a great loss which way to get home with my coat. I
had run so much hazard, and knew too much the case, to think of
attempting it by the way I went out; and what might be at the other
side (I mean the west side) I knew not, nor had I any mind to run
any more ventures. So I only resolved in the morning to make my way
westward along the shore, and to see if there was no creek where I
might lay up my frigate in safety, so as to have her again if I wanted
her. In about three miles, or thereabouts, coasting the shore, I
came to a very good inlet or bay, about a mile over, which narrowed
till it came to a very little rivulet or brook, where I found a very
convenient harbor for my boat, and where she lay as if she had been in
a little dock made on purpose her. Here I put in, and having stowed my
boat very safe, I went on shore to look about me, and see where I was.
I soon found I had but a little passed by the place where I had been
before, when I travelled on foot to that shore; so taking nothing
out of my boat but my gun and my umbrella, for it was exceedingly hot,
I began my march. The way it was comfortable enough after such a
voyage as I had been upon, and I reach my old bower in the evening,
where I found everything standing as I left it; for I always kept it
in good order, being, as I said before, my country-house.
I got over the fence, and laid me down in the shade to rest my
limbs, for I was very weary, and fell asleep. But judge you, if you
can, that read my story, what a surprise I must be in, when I was
waked out of my sleep by a voice calling me by my name several
times, "Robin, Robin, Robin Crusoe, poor Robin Crusoe! Where are
you, Robin Crusoe? Where are you? Where have you been?"
I was so dead asleep at first, being fatigued with rowing, or
paddling, as it is called, the first part of the day, and with walking
the latter part, that I did not wake thoroughly; but dozing between
sleeping and waking, thought I dreamed that somebody spoke to me.
But as the voice continued to repeat, "Robin Crusoe, Robin Crusoe," at
last I began to wake more perfectly, and was at first dreadfully
frighted, and started up in the utmost consternation. But no sooner
were my eyes open, but I saw my Poll sitting on the top of the
hedge, and immediately knew that it was he that spoke to me; for
just in such bemoaning language I had used to talk to him, and teach
him; and he had learned it so perfectIy, that he would sit upon my
finger, and lay his bill close to my face, and cry, "Poor Robin.
Crusoe! Where are you? Where have you been? How come you here?" and
such things as I had taught him.
However, even though I knew it was the parrot, and that indeed it
could be nobody else, it was a good while before I could compose
myself. First I was amazed how the creature got thither, and then, how
he should just keep about the place, and nowhere else. But as I was
well satisfied it could be nobody but honest Poll, I got it over;
and holding out my hand, and calling him by name, Poll, the sociable
creature came to me, and sat upon my thumb, as he used to do, and
continued talking to me, "Poor Robin Crusoe! and how did I come
here? and where had I been?" just as if he had been overjoyed to see
me again; and so I carried him home along with me.
I had now had enough of rambling to sea for some time, and had
enough to do for many days to sit still and reflect upon the danger
I had been in. I would have been very glad to have had my boat again
on my side of the island; but I knew not how it was practicable to get
it about. As to the east side of the island, which I had gone round, I
knew well enough there was no venturing that way; my very heart
would shrink and my very blood run chill, but to think of it. And as
to the other side of the island, I did not know how it might be there;
but supposing the current ran with the same force against the shore at
the east as it passed by it on the other, I might run the same risks
of being driven down the stream, and carried by the island, as I had
been before of being carried away from it. So, with these thoughts,
I contented myself to be without any boat, though it had been the
product of so many months' labor to make it, and of so many more to
get it into the sea.
In this government of my temper I remained near a year, lived a very
sedate, retired life, as you may well suppose; and my thoughts being
very much composed as to my condition, and fully comforted in
resigning myself to the dispositions of Providence, I thought I
lived really very happily in all things, except that of society.
I improved myself in this time in all the mechanic exercises which
my necessities put me upon applying myself to, and I believe could,
upon occasion, make a very good carpenter, especially considering
how few tools I had. Besides this, I arrived at an unexpected
perfection in my earthenware, and contrived well enough to make them
with a wheel, which I found infinitely easier and better, because I
made things round and shapable which before were filthy things
indeed to look on. But I think I was never more vain of my own
performance, or more joyful for anything I found out, than for my
being able to make a tobacco-pipe. And though it was a very ugly,
clumsy thing when it was done, and only burnt red, like other
earthenware, yet as it was hard and firm, and would draw the smoke,
I was exceedingly comforted with it; for I had been always used to
smoke, and there were pipes in the ship, but I forgot them at first,
not knowing that there was tobacco in the island; and afterwards, when
I searched the ship again, I could not come at any pipes at all.
In my wickerware also I improved much, and made abundance of
necessary baskets, as well as my invention showed me; though not
very handsome, yet they were such as were very handy and convenient
for my laying things up in, or fetching things home in. For example,
if I killed a goat abroad, I could hang it up in a tree, flay it,
and dress it, and cut it in pieces, and bring it home in a basket; and
the like by a turtle; I could cut it up, take out the eggs, and a
piece or two of the flesh, which was enough for me, and bring them
home in a basket, and leave the rest behind me. Also, large deep
baskets were my receivers for my corn, which I always rubbed out as
soon as it was dry, and cured, and kept it in great baskets.
I began now to perceive my powder abated considerably, and this
was a want which it was impossible for me to supply, and I began
seriously to consider what I must do when I should have no more
powder; that is to say, how I should do to kill any goats. I had, as
it observed, in the third year of my being here, kept a young kid, and
bred her up tame, and I was in hope of getting a he-goat. But I
could not by any means bring it to pass, till my kid grew an old goat;
and I could never find it in my heart to kill her, till she dies at
last of mere age.
But being now in the eleventh year of my residence, and, as I have
said, my ammunition growing low, I set myself to study some art to
trap and snare the goats, to see whether I could not catch some of
them alive; and particularly, I wanted a she-goat great with young.
To this purpose, I made snares to hamper them, and I do believe they
were more than once taken in them: but my tackle was not good, for I
had no wire, and I always found them broken, and my bait devoured.
At length I resolved to try a pitfall; so I dug several large pits
in the earth, in places where I had observed the goats used to feed,
and over these pits I placed hurdles, of my own making too, with a
great weight upon them; and several times I put ears of barley and dry
rice, without setting the trap, and I could easily perceive that the
goats had gone in and eaten up the corn, for I could see the mark of
their feet. At length I set three traps in one night, and going the
next morning, I found them all standing, and yet the bait eaten and
gone; this was very discouraging. However, I altered my trap; and, not
to trouble you with particulars, going one morning to see my trap, I
found in one of them a large old he-goat, and in one of the other
three kids, a male and two females.
As to the old one, I knew not what to do with him, he was so
fierce I durst not go into the pit to him; that is to say, to go about
to bring him away alive, which was what I wanted. I could have
killed him, but that was not my business, nor would it answer my
end; so I even let him out, and he ran away, as if he had been
frighted out of his wits. But I had forgot then what I learned
afterwards, that hunger will tame a lion. If I had let him stay
there three or four days without food, and then have carried him
some water to drink, and then a little corn, he would have been as
tame as one of the kids, for they are mighty sagacious, tractable
creatures where they are well used.
However, for the present I let him go, knowing no better at that
time. Then I went to the three kids, and taking them one by one, I
tied them with strings together, and with some difficulty brought them
all home.
It was a good while before they would feed, but throwing them some
sweet corn, it tempted them, and they began to be tame. And now I
found that if I expected to supply myself with goat-flesh when I had
no powder or shot left, breeding some up tame was my only way, when
perhaps I might have them about my house like a flock of sheep.
But then it presently occurred to me that I must keep the tame
from the wild, or else they would always run wild when they grew up;
and the only way for this was to have some enclosed piece of ground,
well fenced either with hedge or pale, to keep them in so
effectually that those within might not break out, or those without
break in.
This was a great undertaking for one pair of hands; yet as I saw
there was an absolute necessity of doing it, my first piece of work
was to find out a proper piece of ground, viz., where there was likely
to be herbage for them to eat, water for them to drink, and cover to
keep them from the sun.
Those who understand such enclosures will think I had very little
contrivance when I pitched upon a place very proper for all these,
being a plain open piece of meadow land, or savanna (as our people
call it in the western colonies), which had two or three little drills
of fresh water in it, and at one end was very woody; I say, they
will smile at my forecast, when I shall tell them I began my enclosing
of this piece of ground in such a manner, that my hedge or pale must
have been at least two miles about. Nor was the madness of it so great
as to the compass, for if it was often miles about, I was like to have
time enough to do it in. But I did not consider that my goats would be
as wild in so much compass as if they had had the whole island and I
should have so much room to chase them in that I should never catch
My hedge was begun and carried on, I believe, about fifty yards,
when this thought occurred to me, so I presently stopped short, and,
for the first beginning, I resolved to enclose a piece of about 150
yards in length, and 100 yards in breadth; which, as it would maintain
as many as should have in any reasonable time, so, as my flock
increased, I could add more ground to my enclosure.
This was acting with some prudence, and I went to work with courage.
I was about three months hedging in the first piece, and, till I had
done it, I tethered the three kids in the best part of it, and used
them to feed as near me as possible, to make them familiar; and very
often I would go and carry them some ears of barley, or a handful of
rice, and feed them out of my hand; so that after my enclosure was
finished, and I let them loose, they would follow me up and down,
bleating after me for a handful of corn.
This answered my end, and in about a year and a half I had a flock
of about twelve goats, kids and all; and in two years more I had three
and forty, besides several that I took and killed for my food. And
after that I enclosed five several pieces of ground to feed them in,
and with little pens to drive them into, to take them as I wanted, and
gates out of one piece of ground into another.
But this was not all, for now I not only had goat's flesh to feed on
when I pleased, but milk, too, a thing which, indeed, in my beginning,
I did not so much as think of, and which, when it came into my
thoughts, was really an agreeable surprise. For now I set up my dairy,
and had sometimes a gallon or two of milk in a day; and as Nature, who
gives supplies of food to every creature, dictates even naturally
how to make use of it, so I, that had never milked a cow, much less
a goat, or seen butter or cheese made, very readily and handily,
though after a great many essays and miscarriages, made me both butter
and cheese last, and never wanted it afterwards.
How mercifully can our great Creator treat His creatures, even in
those conditions in which they seemed to be overwhelmed in
destruction! How can He sweeten the bitterest providences, and give us
cause to praise Him for dungeons and prisons! What a table was here
spread for me in a wilderness, where I saw nothing at first but to
perish for hunger!
It would have made a stoic smile, to have seen me and my little
family sit down to dinner. There was my majesty, the prince and lord
of the whole island; I had the lives of all my subjects at my absolute
command. I could hang, draw, give liberty, and take it away; and no
rebels among all my subjects.
Then to see how like a king I dined, too, all alone, attended by
my servants. Poll, as if he had been my favorite, was the only
person permitted to talk to me. My dog, who was now grown very old and
crazy, and had found no species to multiply his kind upon, sat
always at my right hand, and two cats, one on one side and table,
and one on the other, expecting now and then a bit form my hand, as
a mark of special favor.
But these were not the two cats which I brought on shore at first,
for they were both of them dead, and had been interred near my
habitation, by my own hand. But one of them having multiplied by I
know not what kind of creature, these were two which I had preserved
tame, whereas the rest run wild in the woods, and became indeed
troublesome to me at last; for they would often come into my house,
and plunder me too, till at last I was obliged to shoot them, and
did kill a great many; at length they left me. With this attendance,
and in this plentiful manner, I lived; neither could I be said to want
anything but society; and of that in some time after this, I was
like to have too much.
I was something impatient, as I have observed, to have the use of my
boat, though very loth to run any more hazards; and therefore
sometimes I sat contriving ways to get her about the island, which I
drew together with two thongs of the same, instead of buckles; and
in a kind of a frog on either side of this, instead of a sword and a
dagger, hung a little saw and a hatchet, one on one side, one on the
other. I had another belt, not so broad, and fastened in the same
manner, which hung over my shoulder; and at the end of it, under my
left arm, hung two pouches, both made of goat's skin, too; in one of
which hung my powder, in the other my shot. At my back I carried my
basket, on my shoulder my gun, and over my head a. great clumsy ugly
goat-skin umbrella, but which, after all, was the most necessary thing
I had about me, next to my gun. As for my face, the color of it was
really not so mulatto-like as one might expect from a man not at all
careful of it, and living within nineteen degrees of the equinox. My
beard I had once suffered to grow till it was about a quarter of a
yard long; but as I had both scissors and razors sufficient, I had cut
it pretty short, except what grew on my upper lip, which I had trimmed
into a large pair of Mahometan whiskers, such as I had seen worn by
some Turks whom I saw at Sallee; for the Moors did not wear such,
though the Turks did. Of these mustachios or whiskers I will not say
they were long enough to hang my hat upon them, but they were of a
length and shape monstrous enough, and such as, in England, would have
passed for frightful.
But all this is by-the-bye; for, as to my figure, I had so few to
observe me, that it was of no manner of consequence; so I say no
more to that part. In this kind of figure I went my new journey, and
was out five or six days. I travelled first along the sea-shore,
directly to the place where I first brought my boat to an anchor, to
get upon the rocks. And having no boat flow to take care of, I went
over the land, a nearer way, to the same height that I was upon
before; when, looking forward to the point of the rocks which lay out,
and which I was obliged to double with my boat, as is said above, I
was surprised to see the sea all smooth and quiet, no rippling, no
motion, no current, any more there than in any other places.
I was at a strange loss to understand this, and resolved to spend
some time in the observing it, to see if nothing from the sets of
the tide had occasioned it. But I was presently convinced how it
was, viz., that the tide of ebb setting from the west, and joining
with the current of waters from some great river on the shore, must be
the occasion of this current; and that according as the wind blew more
forcibly from the west, or from the north, this current came near,
or went farther from the shore; for waiting thereabouts till
evening, I went up to the rock again, and then the tide of ebb being
made, I plainly saw the current again as before, only that it run
farther off, being near half a league from the shore; whereas in my
case it set close upon the shore, and hurried me and my canoe along
with it, which, at another time, it would not have done.
This observation convinced me that I had nothing to do but to
observe the ebbing and the flowing of the tide, and I might very
easily bring my boat about the island again. But when I began to think
of putting it in practice, I had such a terror upon my spirits at
the remembrance of the danger I had been in, that I could not think of
it again with any patience; but, on the contrary, I took up another
resolution, which was more safe, though more laborious; and this
was, that I would build, or rather make me another periagua or
canoe; and so have one for one side of the island, and one for the
You are to understand that now I had, as I may call it, two
plantations in the island; one, my little fortification or tent,
with the wall about it, under the rock, with the cave behind me,
which, by this time, I had enlarged into several apartments or
caves, one within another. One of these, which was the driest and
largest, and had a door out beyond my wall or fortification, that is
to say, beyond where my wall joined to the rock, was all filled up
with the large earthen pots, of which I have given an account, and
with fourteen or fifteen great baskets, which would hold five or six
bushels each, where I laid up my stores of provision, especially my
corn, some in the ear, cut off short from the straw, and the other
rubbed out with my hand.
As for my wall, made, as before, with long stakes or piles, those
piles grew all like trees, and were by this time grown so big, and
spread so very much, that there was not the least appearance, to any
one's view, of any habitation behind them.
Near this dwelling of mine, but a little farther within the land,
and upon lower ground, lay my two pieces of corn ground, which I
kept duly cultivated and sowed, and which duly yielded me their
harvest in its season; and whenever I had occasion for more corn, I
had more land adjoining as fit as that.
Besides this, I had my country seat, and I had now a tolerable
plantation there also; for, first, I had my little bower, as I
called it, which I kept in repair; that is to say, I kept the hedge
which circled it in constantly fitted up to its usual height, the
ladder standing always in the inside. I kept the trees, which at first
were no more than my stakes, but were now grown very firm and tall,
I kept them always so cut, that they might spread and grow thick and
wild, and make the more agreeable shade, which they did effectually to
my mind. In the middle of this, I had my tent always standing, being a
piece of a sail spread over poles, set up for that purpose, and
which never wanted any repair or renewing; and under this I had made
me a squab or couch, with the skins of the creatures I had killed, and
with other soft things, and a blanket laid on them, such as belonged
to our sea-bedding, which I had saved, and a great watch-coat to cover
me; and here, whenever I had occasion to be absent from my chief seat,
I took up my country habitation.
Adjoining to this I had my enclosure for my cattle, that is to
say, my goats. And as I had taken an inconceivable deal of pains to
fence and enclose this ground, so I was uneasy to see it kept
entire, less the goats should break through, that I never left off
till, with infinite labor, I had struck the outside of the hedge so
full of small stakes, and so near to one another, that it was rather a
pale than a hedge, and there was scarce room to put a hand through
them; which afterwards, when those stakes grew, as they all did in the
next rainy season, made the enclosure strong like a wall, indeed,
stronger than any wall.
This will testify for me that I was not idle, and that I spared no
pains to bring to pass whatever appeared necessary for my
comfortable support; for I considered the keeping up a breed of tame
creatures thus at my hand would be a living magazine of flesh, milk,
butter, and cheese for me as long as I lived in the place, if it
were to be forty years; and that keeping them in my reach depended
entirely upon my perfecting my enclosures to such a degree that I
might be sure of keeping them together; which, by this method, indeed,
I so effectually secured that when these little stakes began to
grow, I had planted them so very thick I was forced to pull some of
them up again.
In this place also I had my grapes growing, which I principally
depended on for my winter store of raisins, and which I never failed
to preserve very carefully, as the best and most agreeable dainty of
my whole diet. And indeed they were not agreeable only, but
physical, wholesome, nourishing, and refreshing to the last degree.
As this was also about half-way between my other habitation and
the place where I had laid up my boat, I generally stayed and lay here
in my way thither; for I used frequently to visit my boat, and I
kept all things about, or belonging to her, in very good order.
Sometimes I went out in her to divert myself, but no more hazardous
voyages would I go, nor scarce ever above a stone's cast or two from
the shore, I was so apprehensive of being hurried out of my
knowledge again by the currents or winds, or any other accident. But
now I come to a new scene of my life.
It happened one day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was
exceedingly surprised with the print of a man's naked foot on the
shore, which was very plain to be seen in the sand. I stood like one
thunder-struck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I
looked round me, I could hear nothing, nor see anything. I went up
to a rising ground, to look farther. I went up the shore, and down the
shore, but it was all one; I could see no other impression but that
one, I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to
observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that,
for there was exactly the very print of a foot - toes, heel, and every
part of a foot. How it came thither I knew not, nor could in the least
imagine. But after innumerable fluttering thoughts, like a man
perfectly confused and out of myself, I came home to my fortification,
not feeling, as we say, the ground I went on, but terrified to the
last degree, looking behind me at every two or three steps,
mistaking every bush and tree, and fancying every stump at a
distance to be a man; nor is it possible to describe how many
various shapes affrighted imagination represented things to me in, how
many wild ideas were found every moment in my fancy, and what
strange unaccountable whimsies came into my thoughts by the way.
When I came to my castle, for so I think I called it ever after
this, I fled into it like one pursued. Whether I went over by the
ladder, as first contrived, or went in at the hole in the rock,
which I called a door, I cannot remember; no, nor could I remember the
next morning, for never frighted hare fled to cover, or fox to
earth, with more terror of mind than I to this retreat.
I slept none that night. The farther I was from the occasion of my
fright, the greater my apprehensions were; which is something contrary
to the nature of such things, and especially to the usual practice
of all creatures in fear. But I was so embarrassed with my own
frightful ideas of the thing, that I formed nothing but dismal
imaginations to myself, even though I was now a great way off it.
Sometimes I fancied it must be the devil, and reason joined in with me
upon this supposition; for how should any other thing in human shape
come into the place? Where was the vessel that brought them? What
was there of any other footsteps? And how was it possible a man should
come there? But then to think that Satan should take human shape
upon him in such a place, where there could be no manner of occasion
for it, but to leave the print of his foot behind him, that even for
no purpose too, for he could not be sure I should see it; this was
an amusement the other way. I considered that the devil might have
found out abundance of other ways to have terrified me than this of
the single print of a foot; that as I lived quite on the other side of
the island, he would never have been so simple to leave a mark in a
place where it was often thousand to one whether I should ever see
it or not, and in the sand, too, which the first surge of the sea,
upon a high wind, would have defaced entirely. All this seemed
inconsistent with the thing itself, and with all the notions we
usually entertain of the subtilty of the devil.
Abundance of such things as these assisted to argue me out of all
apprehensions of its being the devil; and I presently concluded
then, that it must be some more dangerous creature, viz., that it must
be some of the savages of the mainland over against me, who had
wandered out to sea in their canoes, and, either driven by the
currents or by contrary winds, had made the island, and had been on
shore, but were gone away again to sea, being as loth, perhaps, to
have stayed in this desolate island as I would have been to have had
While these reflections were rolling upon my mind, I was very
thankful in my thoughts that I was so happy as not to be thereabouts
at that time, or that they did not see my boat, by which they would
have concluded that some inhabitants had been in the place, and
perhaps have searched farther for me. Then terrible thoughts racked my
imagination about their having found my boat, and that there were
people here; and that if so, I should certainly have them come again
in greater numbers, and devour me; that if it should happen so that
they should not find me, yet they would find my enclosure, destroy all
my corn, carry away all my flock of tame goats, and I should perish at
last for mere want.
Thus my fear banished all my religious hope. All that former
confidence in God, which was founded upon such wonderful experience as
I had had of His goodness, now vanished, as if He that had fed me by
miracle hitherto could not preserve, by His power, the provision which
He had made for me by His goodness. I reproached myself with my
easiness, that would not sow any more corn one year than would just
serve me till the next season, as if no accident could intervene to
prevent my enjoying the crop that was upon the ground. And this I
thought so just a reproof that I resolved for the future to have two
or three years' corn beforehand, so that, whatever might come, I might
not perish for want of bread.
How strange a checker-work of Providence is the life of man! and
by what secret differing springs are the affections hurried about as
differing circumstances present! To-day we love what to-morrow we
hate; to-day we seek what to-morrow we shun; to-day we desire what
tomorrow we fear; nay, even tremble at the apprehensions of. This
was exemplified in me at this time, in the most lively manner
imaginable; for I, whose only affliction was that I seemed banished
from Human society, that I was alone, circumscribed by the boundless
ocean, cut off from mankind, and condemned to what I called silent
life; that I was as one whom Heaven thought not worthy to be
numbered among the living, or to appear among the rest of His
creatures; that to have seen one of my own species would have seemed
to me a raising me from death to life, and the greatest blessing
that Heaven itself, next to the supreme blessing of salvation, could
bestow; I say, that I should now tremble at the very apprehensions
of seeing a man, and was ready to sink into the ground at but the
shadow or silent appearance of a man's having set his foot in the
Such is the uneven state of human life; and it afforded me a great
many curious speculations afterwards, when I had a little recovered my
first surprise. I considered that this was the station of life the
infinitely wise and good providence of God had determined for me;
that, as I could not forsee what the ends of Divine wisdom might be in
all this, so I was not to dispute His sovereignty, who, as I was His
creature, had an undoubted right, by creation, to govern and dispose
of me absolutely as He thought fit, and who, as I was a creature who
had offended Him, had likewise a judicial right to condemn me to
what punishment He thought fit; and that it was my part to submit to
bear His indignation, because I had sinned against Him.
I then reflected that God, who was not only righteous, but
omnipotent, as He had thought fit thus to punish and afflict me, so He
was able to deliver me; that if He did not think fit to do it, It
was my unquestioned duty to resign myself absolutely and entirely to
His will; and, on the other hand, it was my duty also to hope in
Him, pray to Him, and quietly to attend the dictates and directions of
His daily providence.
These thoughts took me up many hours, days, nay, I may say, weeks
and months; and one particular effect of my cogitations of this
occasion I cannot omit, viz., one morning early, lying in my bed,
and filled with thought about my danger from the appearance of
savages, I found it discomposed me very much; upon which those words
of the Scripture came into my thoughts, "Call upon Me in the day of
trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify Me."
Upon this, rising cheerfully out of my bed, my heart was not only
comforted, but I was guided and encouraged to pray earnestly to God
for deliverance. When I had done praying, I took up my Bible, and
opening it to read, the first words that presented to me were, "Wait
on the Lord, and be of good cheer, and He shall strengthen thy
heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." It is impossible to express the
comfort this gave me. In answer, I thankfully laid down the book,
and was no more sad, at least, not on that occasion.
In the middle of these cogitations, apprehensions, and
reflections, it came into my thought one day, that all this might be a
mere chimera of my own; and that this foot might be the print of my
own foot, when I came on shore from my boat. This cheered me up a
little too, and I began to persuade myself it was all a delusion, that
it was nothing else but my own foot; and why might not I come that way
from the boat, as well as I was going that way to the boat? Again, I
considered also, that I could by no means tell, for certain, where I
had trod, and where I had not; and that if, at last, this was only the
print of my own foot, I had played the part of these fools who
strive to make stories of spectre and apparitions, and then are
frighted at them more than anybody.
Now I began to take courage, and to peep abroad again, for I had not
stirred out of my castle for three days and nights, so that I began to
starve for provision; for I had little or nothing within doors but
some barley-cakes and water. Then I knew that my goats wanted to be
milked too, which usually was my evening diversion; and the poor
creatures were in great pain and inconvenience for want of it; and,
indeed, it almost spoiled some of them, and almost dried up their
Heartening myself, therefore, with the belief that this was
nothing but the print of one of my own feet, and so I might be truly
said to start at my own shadow, I began to go abroad again, and went
to my country-house to milk my flock. But to see with what fear I went
forward, how often I looked behind me, how I was ready, every now
and then, to lay down my basket, and run for my life, it would have
made any one have thought I was haunted with an evil conscience, or
that I had been lately most terribly frighted; and so, indeed, I had.
However, as I went down thus two or three days, and having seen
nothing, I began to be a little bolder, and to think there was
really nothing in it but my own imagination. But I could not
persuade myself fully of this till I should go down to the shore
again, and see this print of a foot, and measure it by my own, and see
if there was any similitude or fitness, that I might be assured it was
my own foot. But when I came to the place, first, it appeared
evidently to me, that when I laid up my boat, I could not possibly
be on shore anywhere thereabout; secondly, when I came to measure
the mark with my own foot, I found my foot not so large by a great
deal. Both these things filled my head with new imaginations, and gave
me the vapors again to the highest degree; so that I shook with
cold, like one in an ague; and I went home again, filled with the
belief that some man or men had been on shore there; for, in short,
that the island was inhabited, and I might be surprised before I was
aware. And what course to take for my security, I knew not.
Oh, what ridiculous resolution men take when possessed with fear! It
deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for
their relief. The first thing I proposed to myself was to throw down
my enclosures, and turn all my tame cattle wild into the woods, that
the enemy might not find them, and then frequent the island in
prospect of the same or the like booty; then to the simple thing of
digging up my two cornfields, that they might not find such a grain
there, and still be prompted to frequent the island then to demolish
my bower and tent, that they might not see any vestiges of habitation,
and be prompted to look farther, in order to find out the persons
These were the subject of the first night's cogitation, after I
was come home again, while the apprehensions which had so overrun my
mind were fresh upon me, and my head was full of vapors, as above.
Thus fear of danger is often thousand times more terrifying than
danger itself when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of
anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about;
and, which was worse than all this, I had not that relief in this
trouble from the resignation I used to practice, that I hoped to have.
I looked, I thought, like Saul, who complained not only that the
Philistines were upon him, but that God had forsaken him; for I did
not now take due ways to compose my mind, by crying to God in my
distress, and resting upon His providence, as I had done before, for
my defence and deliverance; which, if I had done, I had at least
been more cheerfully supported under this new surprise, and perhaps
carried through it with more resolution.
This confusion of my thoughts kept me waking all night, but in the
morning I fell asleep; and having, by the amusement of my mind,
been, as it were, tired, and my spirits exhausted, I slept very
soundly, and waked much better composed than I had ever been before.
And now I began to think sedately; and upon the utmost debate with
myself, I concluded that this island, which was so exceeding pleasant,
fruitful, and no farther from the mainland than as I had seen, was not
so entirely abandoned as I might imagine; that although there were
no stated inhabitants who lived on the spot, yet that there might
sometimes come boats off from the shore, who, either with design, or
perhaps never but when they were driven by cross-winds, might come
to this place; that I had lived here fifteen years now, and had not
met with the least shadow or figure of any people yet; and that if
at any time they should be driven here, it was probable they went away
again as soon as ever they could, seeing they had never thought fit to
fix there upon any occasion to this time; that the most I could
suggest any danger from, was from any such casual accidental landing
of straggling people from the main, who, as it was likely, if they
were driven hither, were here against their wills; so they made no
stay here, but went off again with all possible speed, seldom
staying one night on shore, lest they should not have the help of
the tides and daylight back again; and that, therefore, I had
nothing to do but to consider of some safe retreat, in case I should
see any savages land upon the spot.
Now I began sorely to repent that I had dug my cave so large as to
bring a door through again, which door, as I said, came out beyond
where my fortification joined to the rock. Upon maturely considering
this, therefore, I resolved to draw me a second fortification, in
the same manner of a semicircle, at a distance from my wall, just
where I had planted a double row of trees about twelve years before,
of which I made mention. These trees having been planted so thick
before, they wanted but a few piles to be driven between them, that
they should be thicker and stronger, and my wall would be soon
So that I had now a double wall; and my outer wall was thickened
with pieces of timber, old cables, and everything I could think of, to
make it strong, having in it seven little holes, about as big as I
might put my arm out at. In the inside of this I thickened my wall
to above often feet thick, with continual bringing earth out of my
cave, and laying it at the foot of the wall, and walking upon it;
and through the seven holes I contrived to plant the muskets, of which
I took notice that I got seven on shore out of the ship. These, I say,
I planted like my cannon, and fitted them into frames that held them
like a carriage, that so I could fire all the seven guns in two
minutes' time. This wall I was many a weary month afinishing, and
yet never thought myself safe till it was done.
When this was done, I stuck all the ground without my wall, for a
great way every way, as full with stakes, or sticks, of the osier-like
wood, which I found so apt to grow, as they could well stand;
insomuch, that I believe I might set in near twenty thousand of
them, leaving a pretty large space between them and my wall, that I
might have room to see an enemy, and they might have no shelter from
the young trees, if they attempted to approach my outer wall.
Thus in two years' time I had a thick grove; and in five or six
years' time I had a wood before my dwelling, growing so monstrous
thick and strong, that it was indeed perfectly impassable; and no men,
of what kind soever, would ever imagine that there was anything beyond
it, much less a habitation. As for the way which I proposed to
myself to go in and out, for I left no avenue, it was by setting two
ladders, one to a part of the rock which was low, and then broke in,
and left room to place another ladder upon that; so when the two
ladders were taken down, no man living could come down to me without
mischieving himself; and if they had come down, they were still on the
outside of my outer wall.
Thus I took all the measures human prudence could suggest for my own
preservation; and it will be seen, at length, that they were not
altogether without just reason; though I foresaw nothing at that
time more than my mere fear suggested to me.
While this was doing, I was not altogether careless of my other
affairs; for I had a great concern upon me for my little herd of
goats. They were not only a present supply to me upon every
occasion, and began to be sufficient to me, without the expense of
powder and shot, but also without the fatigue of hunting after the
wild ones; and I was loth to lose the advantage of them, and to have
them all to nurse up over again.
To this purpose, after long consideration, I could think of but
two ways to preserve them. One was, to find another convenient place
to dig a cave under ground, and to drive them into it every night; and
the other was, to enclose two or three little bits of land, remote
from one another, and as much concealed as I could, where I might keep
about half a dozen young goats in each place; so that if any
disaster happened to the flock in general, I might be able to raise
them again with little trouble and time. And this, though it would
require a great deal of time and labor, I thought was the most
rational design.
Accordingly I spent some time to find out the most retired parts
of the island; and I pitched upon one which was as private indeed as
my heart could wish for. It was a little damp piece of ground, in
the middle fo the hollow and thick woods, where, as is observed, I
almost lost myself once before, endeavoring to come back that way from
the eastern part of the island. Here I found a clear piece of land,
near three acres, so surrounded with woods that it was almost an
enclosure by Nature; at least, it did not want near so much labor to
make it as the other pieces of ground I had worked so hard at.
I immediately went to work with this piece of ground, and in less
than a month's time I had so fenced it round that my flock, or herd,
call it which you please, who were not so wild now as at first they
might be supposed to be, were well enough secured in it. So, without
any farther delay, I removed often young she-goats and two he-goats to
this piece. And when they were there, I continued to perfect the
fence, till I had made it as secure as the other, which, however, I
did at more leisure, and it took me up more time by a great deal.
All this labor I was at the expense of, purely from my apprehensions
on the account of the print of a man's foot which I had seen; for,
as yet, I never saw any human creature come near the island. And I had
now lived two years under these uneasinesses, which, indeed, made my
life much less comfortable than it was before, as may well be imagined
by any who know what it is to live in the constant snare of the fear
of man. And this I must observe, with grief, too, that the
discomposure of my mind had too great impressions also upon the
religious part of my thoughts; for the dread and terror of falling
into the hands of savages and cannibals lay so upon my spirits, that I
seldom found myself in a due temper for application to my Maker, at
least not with the sedate calmness and resignation of soul which I was
wont to do. I rather prayed to God as under great affliction and
pressure of mind, surrounded with danger, and in expectation every
night of being murdered and devoured before morning; and I must
testify from my experience, that a temper of peace, thankfulness,
love, and affection, is much more the proper frame for prayer than
that of terror and discomposure; and that under the dread of
mischief impending, a man is no more fit for a comforting
performance of the duty of praying to God than he is for repentance on
a sicklied. For these discomposures affect the mind, as the others
do the body; and the discomposure of the mind must necessarily be as
great a disability as that of the body, and much greater, praying to
God being properly an act of the mind, not of the body.
But to go on. After I had thus secured one part of my little
living stock, I went about the whole island, searching for another
private place to make such another deposit; when, wandering more the
the west point of the island than I had ever done yet, and looking out
to sea, I thought I saw a boat upon the sea, at a great distance. I
had found a prospective glass or two in one of the seamen's chests,
which I saved out of our ship, but I had it not about me; and this was
so remote that I could not tell what to make of it, though I looked at
it till my eyes were not able to hold to look any longer. Whether it
was a boat or not, I do not know; but as I descended from the hill,
I could see no more of it, so I gave it over; only I resolved to go no
more out without a prospective glass in my pocket.
When I was come down the hill to the end of the island, where,
indeed, I had never been before, I was presently convinced that the
seeing the print of a man's foot was not such a strange thing in the
island as I imagined. And, but that it was a special providence that I
was cast upon the side of the island where the savages never came, I
should easily have known that nothing was more frequent than for the
canoes from the main, when they happened to be a little too far out at
sea, to shoot over to that side of the island for harbor; likewise, as
they often met and fought in their canoes, the victors having taken
any prisoners would bring them over to this shore, wherer according to
their dreadful customs, being all cannibals, they would kill and eat
them; of which hereafter.
When I was come down the hill to the shore, as I said above, being
the SW. point of the island, I was perfectly confounded and amazed;
nor is it possible for me to express the horror of my mind at seeing
the shore spread with skulls, hands, feet, and other bones of human
bodies; and particularly, I observed place where there had been a fire
made, and a circle dug in the earth, like a cockpit, where it is
supposed the savage wretches sat down to their inhuman feastings
upon the bodies of their fellow-creatures.
I was so astonished with the sight of these things that I
entertained no notion of any danger to myself from it for a long
while. All my apprehensions were buried in the thoughts of such a
pitch of inhuman, hellish brutality, and the horror of the
degeneracy of human nature which, though I had heard of often, yet I
never had so near a view of before. In short, I turned away my face
from the horrid spectacle. My stomach grew sick, and I was just at the
point of fainting, when Nature discharged the disorder from my
stomach. And having vomited with an uncommon violence, I was a
little relieved, but could not bear to stay in the place a moment;
so I got me up the hill again with all the speed I could, and walked
on towards my own habitation.
When I came a little out of that part of the island, I stood still a
while as amazed; and then recovering myself, I looked up with the
utmost affection of my soul, and with a flood of tears in my eyes,
gave God thanks, that had cast my first lot in a part of the world
where I was distinguished from such dreadful creatures as these; and
that, though I had esteemed my present condition very miserable, had
yet given me so many comforts in it, that I had still more to give
thanks for than to complain of; and this is above all, that I had,
even in this miserable condition, been comforted with the knowledge of
Himself, and the hope of His blessing; which was a felicity more
than sufficiently equivalent to all the misery which I had suffered,
or could suffer.
In this frame of thankfulness I went home to my castle, and began to
be much easier now, as to the safety of my circumstances, than ever
I was before; for I observed that these wretches never came to this
island in search of what they could get; perhaps not seeking, not
wanting, or not expecting, anything here; and having often, no
doubt, been up in the covered, woody part of it, without finding
anything to their purpose. I knew I had been here now almost
eighteen years, and never saw the least footsteps of human creature
there before; and I might be here eighteen more as entirely
concealed as I was now, if I did not discover myself to them, which
I had no manner of occasion to do; it being my only business to keep
myself entirely concealed where I was, unless I found a better sort of
creatures than cannibals to make myself known to.
Yet I entertained such an abhorrence of the savage wretches that I
have been speaking of, and of the wretched inhuman custom of their
devouring and eating one another up, that I continued pensive and sad,
and kept close within my own circle for almost two years after this.
When I say my own circle, I mean by it my three plantations, viz.,
my castle, my country seat, which I called my bower, and my
enclosure in the woods. Nor did I look after this for any other use
than as an enclosure for my goats; for the aversion which Nature
gave me to these hellish wretches was such that I was fearful of
seeing them as of seeing the devil himself. Nor did I so much as go to
look after my boat in all this time, but began rather to think of
making me another; for I could not think of ever making any more
attempts to bring the other boat round the island to me, lest I should
meet with some of these creatures at sea, in which, if I had
happened to have fallen into their hands, I knew what would have
been my lot.
Time, however, and the satisfaction I had that I was in no danger of
being discovered by these people, began to wear off my uneasiness
about them; and I began to live just in the same composed manner as
before; only with this difference, that I used more caution, and
kept my eyes more about me, than I did before, lest I should happen to
be seen by any of them; and particularly, I was more cautious of
firing my gun, lest any of them being on the island should happen to
hear of it. And it was, therefore, a very good providence to me that I
had furnished myself with a tame breed of goats, that needed not
hunt any more about the woods, or shoot at them. And if I did catch
any of them after this, it was by traps and snares, and I had done
before; so that for two years after this I believe I never fired my
gun once off, though I never went out without it; and, which was more,
as I had saved three pistols out of the ship, I always carried them
out with me, or at least two of them, sticking them in my goat-skin
belt. Also I furbished up one of the great cutlasses that I had out of
the ship, and made me a belt to put it on also; so that I was now a
most formidable fellow to look at when I went abroad, if you add to
the former description of myself the particular of two pistols and a
great broadsword hanging at my side in a belt, but without a scabbard.
Things going on thus, as I have said, for some time, I seemed,
excepting these cautions, to be reduced to my former calm, sedate
way of living. All these things tended to showing me, more and more,
how far my condition was from being miserable, compared to some
others; nay, to many other particulars of life, which it might have
pleased God to have made my lot. It put me upon reflecting how
little repining there would be among mankind at any condition of life,
if people would rather compare their condition with those that are
worse, in order to be thankful, than be always comparing them with
those which are better, to assist their murmurings and complainings.
As in my present condition there were not really many things which I
wanted, so indeed I thought that the frights I had been in about these
savage wretches, and the concern I had been in for my own
preservation, had taken off the edge of my invention for my own
conveniences. And I had dropped a good design, which I had once bent
my thoughts too much upon; and that was, to try if I could not make
some of my barley into malt, and then try to brew myself some beer.
This was really a whimsical thought, and I reproved myself often for
the simplicity of it; for I presently saw there would be the want of
several things necessary to the making my beer that it would be
impossible for me to supply. As, first, casks to preserve it in, which
was a thing that, as I have observed already, I could never compass;
no, though I spent not many days, but weeks, nay, months, in
attempting it, but to no purpose. In the next place, I had no hops
to make it keep, no yeast to make it work, no copper or kettle to make
it boil; and yet all these things notwithstanding, I verily believe,
had not these things intervened, I mean the frights and terrors I
was in about the savages, I had undertaken it, and perhaps brought
it to pass, too; for I seldom gave anything over without accomplishing
it when I once had it in my head enough to begin it.
But my invention now run quite another way; for, night and day I
could think of nothing but how I might destroy some of these
monsters in their cruel, bloody entertainment, and, if possible,
save the victim they should bring hither to destroy. It would take
up a larger volume than this whole work is intended to be, to set down
all the contrivances I hatched, or rather brooded upon, in my thought,
for the destroying these creatures, or at least fighting them so as to
prevent their coming hither any more. But all was abortive; nothing
could be possible to take effect, unless I was to be there to do it
myself. And what could one man do among them, when perhaps there might
be twenty or thirty of them together, with their darts, or their
bows and arrows, with which they could shoot as true to a mark as I
could with my gun.
Sometimes I contrived to dig a hole under the place where they
made their fire, and put in five or six pounds of gunpowder, which,
when they kindled their fire, would consequently take fire, and blow
up all that was near it. But as, in the first place, I should be
very loth to waste so much powder upon them, my store being now within
the quantity of one barrel, so neither I be sure of its going off at
any certain time, when it might surprise them; and, at best, that it
would do little more than just blow the fire about their ears, and
fright them, but not sufficient to make them forsake the place. So I
laid it aside, and then proposed that I would place myself in ambush
in some convenient place, with my three guns all double-loaded, and,
in the middle of their bloody ceremony, let fly at them, when I should
be sure to kill or wound perhaps two or three at every shot; and
then falling in upon them with my three pistols and my sword, I made
no doubt but that if there was twenty I should kill them all. This
fancy pleased my thoughts for some weeks; and I was so full of it that
I often dreamed of it, and sometimes that I was just going to let
fly at them in my sleep.
I went so far with it in my imagination that I employed myself
several days to find out proper places to put myself in ambuscade,
as I said, to watch for them; and I went frequently to the place
itself, which was now grown more familiar to me; and especially
while my mind was thus filled with thoughts of revenge, and of a
bloody putting twenty or thirty of them to the sword, as I may call
it, the horror I had at the place, and at the signals of the barbarous
wretches devouring one another, abated my malice.
Well, at length I found a place in the side of the hill, where I was
satisfied I might securely wait till I saw any of their boats
coming; and might then, even before they would be ready to come on
shore, convey myself, unseen, into thickets of trees, in one of
which there was a hollow large enough to conceal me entirely; and
where I might sit and observe all their bloody doings, and take my
full aim at their heads, when they were so close together, as that
it would be next to impossible that I should miss my shot, or that I
could fail wounding three of four of them at first shot.
In this place, then, I resolved to fix my design; and,
accordingly, I prepared two muskets and my ordinary fowling-piece. The
two muskets I loaded with a brace of slugs each, and four or five
smaller bullets, about the size of pistol-bullets; and the
fowling-piece I loaded with near a handful of swan-shot, of the
largest size. I also loaded my pistols with about four bullets each;
and in this posture, well provided with ammunition for a second and
third charge, I prepared myself for my expedition.
After I had thus laid the scheme of my design, and in my imagination
put it in practice, I continually made my tour every morning up to the
top of the hill, which was from my castle, as I called it, about three
miles, or more, to see if I could observe any boats upon the sea
coming near the island, or standing over two or three months,
constantly kept my watch, but came always back without any
discovery; there having not, in all that time, been the appearance,
not only on or near the shore, but not on the whole ocean, so far as
my eyes or glasses could reach every way.
As long as I kept up my daily tour to the hill to look out, so
long also I kept up the vigor of my design, and my spirits seemed to
be all the while in a suitable form for so outrageous an execution
as the killing twenty or thirty naked savages for an offence which I
had not at all entered into a discussion of in my thoughts, any
farther than my passions were at first fired by the horror I conceived
at the unnatural custom of that people of the country; who, it
seems, had-been suffered by Providence, in His wise disposition of the
world, to have no other guide than that of their own abominable and
vitiated passions; and consequently were left, and perhaps had been so
for some ages, to act such horrid things, and receive such dreadful
customs, as nothing but nature entirely abandoned of Heaven, and acted
by some hellish degeneracy, could have run them into. But now when, as
I have said, I began to be weary of the fruitless excursion which I
had made so long and so far every morning in vain, so my opinion of
the action itself began to alter; and I began, with cooler and
calmer thoughts, to consider what it was I was going to engage in.
What authority or call I had to pretend to be judge and executioner
upon these men as criminals, whom Heaven had thought fit, for so
many ages, to suffer, unpunished, to go on, and to be, as it were, the
executioners of His judgments one upon another. How far these people
were offenders against me, and what right I had to engage in the
quarrel of that blood which they shed promiscuously one upon
another. I debated this very often with myself, thus: How do I know
what God Himself judges in this particular case? It is certain these
people either do not commit this as a crime; it is not against their
own consciences' reproving, or their light reproaching them. They do
not know it to be an off and then commit it in defiance of Divine
justice, as we do in almost all the sins we commit. They think it no
more a crime to kill a captive taken in war than we do to kill an
ox; nor to eat human flesh than we do to eat mutton.
When I had considered this a little; it followed necessarily that
I was certainly in the wrong in it; that these people were not
murderers in the sense that I had before condemned them in my
thoughts, any more than those Christians were murderers who often
put to death the prisoners taken in battle; or more frequently, upon
many occasions, put whole troops of men to the sword, without giving
quarter, though they threw down their arms and submitted.
In the next place it occurred to me, that albeit the usage they thus
give one another was thus brutish and inhuman, yet it was really
nothing to me; these people had done me no injury. That if they
attempted me, or I saw it necessary for my immediate preservation to
fall upon them, something might be said for it; but that as I was
yet out of their power, and they had really no knowledge of me, and
consequently no design upon me, and therefore it could not be just for
me to fall upon them. That this would justify the conduct of the
Spaniards in all their barbarities practised in America, and where
they destroyed millions of these people; who, however they were
idolaters and barbarians, and had several bloody and barbarous rites
in their customs, such as sacrificing human bodies to their idols,
were yet, as to the Spaniards, very innocent people; and that the
rooting them out of the country is spoken of with the utmost
abhorrence and detestation by even the Spaniards themselves at this
time, and by all other Christian nations of Europe, as a mere
butchery, a bloody and unnatural piece of cruelty, unjustifiable
either to God or man; and such, as for which the very name of a
Spaniard is reckoned to be frightful and terrible to all people of
humanity, or of Christian compassion; as if the kingdom of Spain
were particularly eminent for the product of a race of men who were
without principles of tenderness, or the common bowels of pity to
the miserable, which is reckoned to be a mark of generous temper in
the mind.
These considerations really put me to a pause, and to a kind of a
full stop; and I began, by little and little, to be off of my
design, and to conclude I had taken wrong measures in my resolutions
to attack the savages; that it was not my business to meddle with
them, unless they first attacked me; and this it was my business, if
possible, to prevent; but that if I were discovered and attacked, then
I knew my duty.
On the other hand, I argued with myself that this really was the way
not to deliver myself, but entirely to ruin and destroy myself; for
unless I was sure to kill every one that not only should be on shore
at that time, but that should ever come on shore afterwards, if but
one of them escaped to tell their country people what had happened,
they would come over again by thousands to revenge the death of
their fellows, and I should only bring upon myself a certain
destruction, which, at present, I had no manner of occasion for.
Upon the whole, I concluded that neither in principles nor in policy
I ought, one way or other, to concern myself in this affair. That my
business was, by all possible means, to conceal myself from them,
and not to leave the last signal to them to guess by that there were
any living creatures upon the island; I mean of human shape.
Religion joined in with this prudential, and I was convinced now,
many ways, that I was perfectly out of my duty when I was laying all
my bloody schemes for the destruction of innocent creatures; I mean
innocent as to me. As to the crimes they were guilty of towards one
another, I had nothing to do with them. They were national, and I
ought to leave them to the justice of God, who is the Governor of
nations, and knows how, by national punishments, to make a just
retribution for national of and to bring public judgments upon those
who offend in a public manner by such ways as best pleases Him.
This appeared so clear to me now, that nothing was a greater
satisfaction to me than that I had not been suffered to do a thing
which I now saw so much reason to believe would have been no less a
sin than that of willful murder, if I had committed it. And I gave
most humble thanks on my knees to God, that had thus delivered me from
blood-guiltiness; beseeching Him to grant me the protection of His
providence, that I might not fall into the hands of the barbarians, or
that I might not lay my hands upon them, unless I had a more clear
call from Heaven to do it, in defence of my own life.
In this disposition I continued for near a year after this; and so
far was I from desiring an occasion for falling upon these wretches,
that in all that time I never once went up the hill to see whether
there were any of them in sight, or to know whether any of them had
been on shore there, or not, that I might not be tempted to renew
any of my contrivances against them, or be provided, by any
advantage which might present itself, to fall upon them. Only this I
did, I went and removed my boat, which I had on the other side the
island, and carried it down to the east end of the whole island, where
I ran it into a little cove, which I found under some high rocks,
and where I knew, by reason of the currents, the savages durst not, at
least would not come, with their boats, upon any account whatsoever.
With my boat I carried away everything that I had left there
belonging to her, though not necessary for the bare going thither,
viz., a mast and sail which I had made for her, and a thing like an
anchor, but indeed which could not be called either anchor or
grappling; however, it was the best I could make of its kind. All
these I removed, that there might not be the least shadow of any
discovery, or any appearance of any boat, or of any human
habitation, upon the island.
Besides this, I kept myself, as I said, more retired than ever,
and seldom went from my cell, other than upon my constant
employment, viz., to milk my she-goats, and manage my little flock
in the wood, which, as it was quite on the other part of the island,
was quite out of danger; for certain it is, that these savage
people, who sometimes haunted this island, never came with any
thoughts of finding anything here, and consequently never wandered off
from the coast; and I doubt not but they might have been several times
on shore after my apprehensions of them had made me cautious, as
well as before; and indeed, I looked back with some horror upon the
thoughts of what my condition would have been if I had chopped upon
them and been discovered before that, when, naked and unarmed,
except with one gun, and that loaded often only with small shot, I
walked everywhere, peeping and peeping about the island to see what
I could get. What a surprise should I have been in if, when I
discovered the print of a man's foot, I had, instead of that, seen
fifteen or twenty savages, and found them pursuing me, and by the
swiftness of their running, no possibility of my escaping them!
The thoughts of this sometimes sunk my very soul within me, and
distressed my mind so much, that I could not soon recover it, to think
what I should have done, and how I not only should not have been
able to resist them, but even should not have had presence of mind
enough to do what I might have done, much less what now, after so much
consideration and preparation, I might be able to do. Indeed, after
serious thinking of these things, I should be very melancholy, and
sometimes it would last a great while; but I resolved it, at last, all
into thankfulness to that Providence which had delivered me from so
many unseen dangers, and had kept me from those mischiefs which I
could no way have been the agent in delivering myself from, because
I had not the least notion of any such thing depending, or the least
supposition of it being possible.
This renewed a contemplation which often had come to my thoughts
in former time, when first I began to see the merciful dispositions of
Heaven, in the dangers we run through in this life. How wonderfully we
are delivered when we know nothing of it! How, when we are in a
quandary, as we call it, a doubt or hesitation, whether to go this
way, or that way, a secret hint shall direct us this way, when we
intended to go that way; nay, when sense, our own inclination, and
perhaps business, has called to go the other way, yet a strange
impression upon the mind, from we know not what springs, and by we
know not what power, shall overrule us to go this way; and it shall
afterwards appear that had we gone that way which we should have gone,
and even to our imagination ought to have gone, we should have been
ruined and lost. Upon these and many like reflections I afterwards
made it a certain rule with me, that whenever I found those secret
hints or pressings of my mind to doing, or not doing, anything that
presented, or to going this way or that way, I never failed to obey
the secret dictate, though I knew no other reason for it than that
such a pressure, or such a hint, hung upon my mind. I could give
many examples of the success of this conduct in the course of my life,
but more especially in the latter part of my inhabiting this unhappy
island; besides many occasions which it is very likely I might have
taken notice of, if I had seen with the same eyes that I saw with now.
But It is never too late to be wise; and I cannot but advise all
considering men, whose lives are attended with such extraordinary
incidents as mine, or even though not so extraordinary, not to
slight such secret intimations of Providence, let them come from
what invisible intelligence they will. That I shall not discuss, and
perhaps cannot account for; but certainly they are a proof of the
converse of spirits, and the secret communication between those
embodied and those unembodied, and such a proof as can never be
withstood, of which I shall have occasion to give some very remarkable
instances in the remainder of my solitary residence in this dismal
I believe the reader of this will not think strange if I confess
that these anxieties, these constant dangers I lived in, and the
concern that was now upon me, put an end to all invention, and to
all the contrivances that I had laid for my future accommodations
and conveniences. I had the care of my safety more now upon my hands
than that of my food. I cared not to drive a nail, or chop a stick
of wood now, for fear the noise I should make should be heard; much
less would I fire a gun, for the same reason; and, above all, I was
intolerably uneasy at making any fire, lest the smoke, which is
visible at a great distance in the day, should betray me; and for this
reason I removed that part of my business which required fire, such as
burning of pots and pipes, etc., into my new apartment in the woods;
where, after I had been some time, I found, to my unspeakable
consolation, a more natural cave in the earth, which went in a vast
way, and where, I dare say, no savage, had he been at the mouth of it,
would be so hardy as to venture in; nor, indeed, would any man else,
but one who, like me, wanted nothing so much as a safe retreat.
The mouth of this hollow was at the bottom of a great rock, where,
mere accident I would say (ifI did not see abundant reason to
ascribe all such things now to Providence), I was cutting down some
thick branches of trees to make charcoal; and before I go on, I must
observe the reason of my making this charcoal, which was thus.
I was afraid of making a smoke about my habitation, as I said
before; and yet I could not live there without baking my bread,
cooking my meat, etc. So I contrived to burn some wood here, as I
had seen done in England under turf, till it became chark, or dry
cool; and then putting the fire out, I preserved the coal to carry
home, and perform the other services which fire was wanting for at
home, without danger of smoke.
But this is by-the-bye. While I was cutting down some wood here, I
perceived that behind a very thick branch of low brush-wood, or
underwood, there was a kind of hollow place. I was curious to look
into it; and getting with difficulty into the mouth of it, I found
it was pretty large; that is to say, sufficient for me to stand
upright in it, and perhaps another with me. But I must confess to
you I made more haste out than I did in when, looking farther into the
place, and which was perfectly dark, I saw two broad shining eyes of
some creature, whether devil or man I knew not, which twinkled like
two stars, the dim light from the cave's mouth shining directly in,
and making the reflection.
However, after some pause I recovered myself, and began to call
myself a thousand fools, and tell myself that he that was afraid to
see the devil was not fit to live twenty years in an island all alone,
and that I durst to believe there was nothing in this cave that was
more frightful than myself. Upon this, plucking up my courage, I
took up a great firebrand, and in I rushed again, with the stick
flaming in my hand. I had not gone three steps in, but I was almost as
much frighted as I was before; for I heard a very loud sigh like
that of a man in some pain, and it was followed by a broken noise,
as if of words half expressed, and then a deep sigh again. I stepped
back, and was indeed struck with such a surprise that it put me into a
cold sweat; and if I had had a hat on my head, I will not answer for
it, that my hair might not have lifted it off. But still plucking up
my spirits as well as I could, and encouraging myself a little with
considering that the power and presence of God was everywhere, and was
able to protect me, upon this I stepped forward again, and by the
light of the firebrand, holding it up a little over my head, I saw
lying on the ground a most monstrous, frightful, old he-goat, just
making his will, as we say, and gasping for life; and dying, indeed,
of mere old age.
I stirred him a little to see if I could get him out, and he essayed
to get up, but was not able to raise himself; and I thought with
myself he might even lie there; for if he had frighted me so, he would
certainly fright any of the savages, if any of them should be so hardy
as to come in there while he had any life in him.
I was now recovered from my surprise, and began to look round me,
when I found the cave was but very small; that is to say, it might
be about twelve feet over, but in no manner of shape, either round
or square, no hands having every been employed in making it but
those of mere Nature. I observed also that there was a place at the
farther side of it that went in farther, but was so low that it
required me to creep upon my hands and knees to go into it, and
whither I went I knew not; so having no candle, I gave it over for
some time, but resolved to come again the next day, provided with
candles and a tinderbox, which I had made of the lock of one of the
muskets, with some wild-fire in the pan.
Accordingly, the next day I came provided with six large candles
of my own making, for I made very good candles now of goat's tallow;
and going into this low place, I was obliged to creep upon all
fours, as I have said, almost often yards; which, by the way, I
thought was a venture bold enough, considering that I knew not how far
it might go, nor what was beyond it. When I was got through the
strait, I found the roof rose higher up, I believe near twenty feet.
But never was such a glorious sight seen in the island, I dare say, as
it was, to look round the sides and roof of this vault or cave; the
walls reflected a hundred thousand lights to me from my two candles.
What it was in the rock, whether diamonds, or any other precious
stones, or gold, which I rather supposed it to be, I knew not.
The place I was in was a most delightful cavity or grotto of its
kind, as could be expected, though perfectly dark. The floor was dry
and level, and had a sort of small, loose gravel upon it, so that
there was no nauseous or venomous creature to be seen; neither was
there any damp or wet on the sides or roof. The only difficulty in
it was the entrance, which, however, as it was a place of security,
and such a retreat as I wanted, I thought that was a convenience; so
that I was really rejoiced at the discovery, and resolved, without any
delay, to bring some of those things which I was most anxious about to
this place; particularly, I resolved to bring hither my magazine of
powder, and my spare arms, viz., two fowling-pieces, for I had three
in all, and three muskets, for of them I had eight in all. So I kept
at my castle only five, which stood ready-mounted, like pieces of
cannon, on my outmost fence; and were ready also to take out upon
any expedition.
Upon this occasion of removing my ammunition, I took occasion to
open the barrel of powder, which I took up out of the sea, and which
had been wet; and I found that the water had penetrated about three of
four inches into the powder on every side, which caking, and growing
hard, had preserved the inside like a kernel in a shell; so that I had
near sixty pounds of very good powder in the centre of the cask. And
this was an agreeable discovery to me at that time; so I carried all
away thither, never keeping above two or three pounds of powder with
me in my castle, for fear of a surprise of any kind. I also carried
thither all the lead I had left for bullets.
I fancied myself now like one of the ancient giants, which were said
to live in caves and holes in the rocks, where none could come at
them; for I persuaded myself, while I was here, if five hundred
savages were to hunt me, they could never find me out; or, if they
did, they would not venture to attack me here.
The old goat, whom I found expiring, died in the mouth of the cave
the next day after I made this discovery; and I found it much easier
to dig a great hole there, and throw him in and cover him with
earth, than to drag him out; so I interred him there, to prevent the
offence to my nose.
I was now in my twenty-third year of residence in this island; and
was so naturalized to the place, and to the manner of living, that
could I have but enjoyed the certainty that no savages would come to
the place to disturb me, I could have been content to have capitulated
for spending the rest of my time there, even to the last moment,
till I had laid me down and died, like the old goat in the cave. I had
also arrived to some little diversions and amusements, which made
the time pass more pleasantly with me a great deal than it did before.
As, first, I had taught my Poll, as I noted before, to speak; and he
did it so familiarly, and talked so articulately and plain, that it
was very pleasant to me; and he lived with me no less than six and
twenty years. How long he might live afterwards I know not, though I
know they have a notion in the Brazils that they live a hundred years.
Perhaps poor Poll may be alive there still, calling after poor Robin
Crusoe to this day. I wish no Englishman the ill luck to come there
and hear him; but if he did, he would certainly believe it was the
devil. My dog was a very pleasant and loving companion to me for no
less than sixteen years of my time, and then died of mere old age.
As for my cats, they multiplied, as I had observed, to that degree
that I was obliged to shoot several of them at first to keep them from
devouring me and all I had; but at length, when the two old ones I
brought with me were gone, and after some time continually driving
them from me, and letting them have no provision with me, they all ran
wild into the woods, except two or three favorites, which I kept tame,
and whose young, when they had any, I always drowned; and these were
part of my family. Besides these, I always kept two or three household
kids about me, whom I taught to feed out of my hand. And I had two
more parrots, which talked pretty well, and would all call "Robin
Crusoe," but none like my first; nor, indeed, did I take the pains
with any of them that I had done with him. I had also several tame
seafowls, whose names I know not, whom I caught upon the shore, and
cut their wings; and the little stakes which I had planted before my
castle wall being now grown up to a good thick grove, these fowls
all lived among these low trees, and bred there, which was very
agreeable to me; so that, as I said above, I began to be very well
contented with the life I led, if it might but have been secured
from the dread of the savages.
But it is otherwise directed; and it may not be amiss for all people
who shall meet with my story, to make this just observation from it,
viz., how frequently, in the course of our lives, the evil which in
itself we seek most to shun, and which, when we are fallen into it, is
the most dreadful to us, is oftentimes the very means or door of our
deliverance, by which alone we can be raised again from the
afflictions we are fallen into. I could give many examples of this
in the course of my unaccountable life; but in nothing was it more
particularly remarkable than in the circumstances of my last years
of solitary residence in this island.
It was now the month of December, as I said above, in my
twenty-third year; and this, being the southern solstice (for winter I
cannot call it), was the particular time of my harvest, and required
my being pretty much abroad in the fields, when, going out pretty
early in the morning, even before it was thorough daylight, I was
surprised with seeing a light of some fire upon the shore, at a
distance from me of about two miles, towards the end of the island,
where I -had observed some savages had been, as before. But not on the
other side; but, to my great affliction, it was on my side of the
I was indeed terribly surprised at the sight, and stepped short
within my grove, not daring to go out lest I might be surprised; and
yet I had no more peace within, from the apprehensions I had that if
these savages, in rambling over the island, should find my corn
standing or cut, or any of works and improvements, they would
immediately conclude that there were people in the place, and would
then never give over till they had found me out. In this extremity I
went back directly to my castle, pulled up the ladder after me, and
made all things without look as wild and natural as I could.
Then I prepared myself within, putting myself in a posture of
defence. I loaded all cannon, as I called them, that is to say, my
muskets, which were mounted upon my new fortification, and all my
pistols, and resolved to defend myself to the last gasp; not
forgetting seriously to commend myself to the Divine protection, and
earnestly to pray to God to deliver me out of the hands of the
barbarians. And in this posture I continued about two hours; but began
to be mighty impatient for intelligence abroad, for I had no spies
to send out.
After sitting a while longer, and musing what I should do in this
case, I was not able to bear sitting in ignorance any longer; so
setting up my ladder to the side of the hill where there was a flat
place, as I observed before, and then pulling the ladder up after
me, I set it up again, and mounted to the top of the hill; and pulling
out my perspective-glass, which I had taken on purpose, I laid me down
flat on my belly on the ground, and began to look for the place. I
presently found there was no less than nine naked savages sitting
round a small fire they had made, not to warm them, for they had no
need of that, the weather being extreme hot, but, as I supposed, to
dress some of their barbarous diet of human flesh which they had
brought with them, whether alive or dead, I could not know.
They had two canoes with them, which they had hauled up upon the
shore; and as it was then tide of ebb, they seemed to me to wait for
the return of the flood to go away again. It is not easy to imagine
what confusion this sight put me into, especially seeing them come
on my side the island, and so near me too. But when I observed their
coming must be always with the current of the ebb, I began
afterwards to more sedate in my mind, being satisfied that I might
go abroad with safety all the time of the tide of flood, if they
were not on shore before; and having made this observation, I went
abroad about my harvest-work with the more composure.
As I expected, so it proved; for as soon as the tide made to the
westward, I saw them all take boat, and row (or paddle, as we call it)
all away. I should have observed, that for an hour and more before
they went off, they went to dancing; and I could easily discern
their postures and gestures by my glasses. I could not perceive, by my
nicest observation but that they were stark naked, and had not the
least covering upon them; but whether they were men or women, that I
could not distinguish.
As soon as I saw them shipped and gone, I took two guns upon my
shoulders, and two pistols at my girdle, and my great sword by my
side, without a scabbard, and with all the speed I was able to make
I went away to the hill where I had discovered the first appearance of
all. And as soon as I got thither, which was not less than two hours
(for I could not go apace, being so loaden with arms as I was), I
perceived there had been three canoes more of savages on that place;
and looking out farther, I saw they were all at sea together, making
over for the main.
This was a dreadful sight to me, especially when, going down to
the shore, I could see the marks of horror which the dismal work
they had been about had left behind it, viz., the blood, the bones,
and part of the flesh of human bodies, eaten and devoured by those
wretches with merriment and sport. I was so filled with indignation at
the sight, that I began now to premeditate the destruction of the next
that I saw there, let them be who or how many soever.
It seemed evident to me that the visits which they thus made to this
island are not very frequent, for it was above fifteen months before
any more of them came on shore there again; that is to say, I
neither saw them, or any footsteps or signals of them, in all that
time; for, as to the rainy seasons, then they are sure not to come
abroad, at least not so far. Yet all this while I lived
uncomfortably by reason of the constant apprehensions I was in of
their coming upon me by surprise; from whence I observe, that the
expectation of evil is more bitter than the suffering, especially if
there is no room to shake off that expectation, or those
During all this time I was in the murdering humor, and took up
most of my hours, which should have been better employed, in
contriving how to circumvent and fall upon them the very next time I
should see them; especially if they should be divided, as they were
the last time, into two parties. Nor did I consider at all that if I
killed one party, suppose often or a dozen, I was still the next
day, or week, or month, to kill another, and so another, even ad
infinitum, till I should be at length no less a murderer than they
were in being man-eaters, and perhaps more so.
I spent my days now in great perplexity and anxiety of mind,
expecting that I should, one day or other, fall into the hands of
these merciless creatures; and if I did at any time venture abroad, it
was not without looking round me with the greatest care and caution
imaginable. And now I found, to my great comfort, how happy it was
that I provided for a tame flock or herd of goats; for I durst not,
upon any account, fire my gun, especially near that side of the island
where they usually came, lest I should alarm the savages. And if
they had fled from me now, I was sure to have them come back again,
with perhaps two or three hundred canoes with them, in a few days, and
then I knew what to expect.
However, I wore out a year and three months more before I ever saw
any more of the savages, and then I found them again, as I shall
soon observe. It is true they might have been there once or twice, but
either they made no stay, or at least I did not hear them; but in
the month of May, as near as I could calculate, and in my four and
twentieth year, I had a very strange encounter with them; of which
in its place.
The perturbation of my mind, during this fifteen or sixteen
months' interval, was very great. I slept unquiet, dreamed always
frightful dreams, and often started out of my sleep in the night. In
the day great troubles overwhelmed my mind, and in the night I
deamed often of killing the savages, and of the reasons why I might
justify the doing of it. But, to waive all this for a while, it was
the middle of May, on the sixteenth day, I think, as well as my poor
wooden calendar would reckon, for I marked all upon the post still;
I say, it was the sixteenth of May that it blew a very great storm
of wind all day, with a great deal of lightning and thunder, and a
very foul night it was after it. I know not what was the particular
occasion of it, but as I was reading in the Bible, and taken up with
very serious thoughts about my present condition, I was surprised with
a noise of a gun, as I thought, fired at sea.
This was, to be sure, a surprise of a quite different nature from
any I had met with before; for the notions this put into my thoughts
were quite of another kind. I started up in the greatest haste
imaginable and, in a trice, clapped my ladder to the middle place of
the rock, and pulled it after me; and mounting it the second time, got
to the top of the hill the very moment that a flash of fire bid me
listen for a second gun, which accordingly, in about half a minute,
I heard; and, by the sound, knew that it was from the part of the
sea where I was driven down the current in my boat.
I immediately considered that this must be some ship in distress,
and that they had some comrade, or some other ship in company, and
fired these gun for signals of distress, and to obtain help. I had
this presence of mind, at that minute, as to think that though I could
not help them, it might be that they might help me; so I brought
together all the dry wood I could get at hand, and, making a good
handsome pile, I set it on fire upon the hill. The wood was dry, and
blazed freely; and though the wind blew very hard, yet it burnt fairly
out; so that I was certain, if there was any such thing as a ship,
they must needs see it, and no doubt they did; for as soon as ever
my fire blazed up I heard another gun, and after that several
others, all from the same quarter. I plied my fire all night long till
day broke; and when it was broad day, and the air cleared up, I saw
something at a great distance at sea, full east of the island, whether
a sail or a hull I could not distinguish, no, not with my glasses, the
distance was so great, and the weather still something hazy also; at
least it was so out at sea.
I looked at it all that day, and soon perceived that it did not
move; so I presently concluded that it was a ship at an anchor. And
being eager, you may be sure, to be satisfied, I took my gun in hand
and ran toward the south side of the island, to the rocks where I
had formerly been carried away with the current; and getting up there,
the weather by this time being perfectly clear, I could plainly see,
to my great sorrow, the wreck of a ship, cast away in the night upon
those concealed rocks which I found when I was out in my boat; and
which rocks, as they checked the violence of the stream, and made a
kind of counter-stream or eddy, were the occasion of my recovering
from the most desperate, hopeless condition that ever I had been in in
all my life.
Thus, what is one man's safety is another man's destruction; for
it seems these men, whoever they were, being out of their knowledge,
and the rocks being wholly under water, had been driven upon them in
the night, the wind blowing hard at E. and ENE. Had they seen the
island, as I must necessarily suppose they did not, they must, as I
thought, have endeavored to have saved themselves on shore by the help
of their boat; but their firing of guns for help, especially when they
saw, as I imagined, my fire, filled me with man thoughts. First, I
imagined that upon seeing my light, they might have put themselves
into their boat, and have endeavored to make the shore; but that the
sea going very high, they might have been cast away. Other times I
imagined that they might have lost their boat before, as might be
the case many ways; as, particularly, by the breaking of the sea
upon their ship, which many times obliges men to stave, or take in
pieces of their boat, and sometimes to throw it overboard with their
own hands. Other times I imagined they had some other ship or ships in
company, who, upon the signals of distress they had made, had taken
them up and carried them off. Other whiles I fancied they were all
gone off to sea in their boat, and being hurried away by the current
that I had been-formerly in, were carried out into the great ocean,
where there was nothing but misery and perishing and that, perhaps,
they might by this time think of starving, and of being in a condition
to eat one another.
All these were but conjectures at best, so, in the condition I was
in, I could no no more than look on upon the misery of the poor men,
and pity them; which had still this good effect on my side, that it
gave me more and more cause to give thanks to God, who had so
happily and comfortably provided for me in my desolate condition;
and that of two ships' companies who were now cast away upon this part
of the world, not one life should be spared but mine. I learned here
again to observe, that it is very rare that the providence of God
casts us into any condition of life so low, or any misery so great,
but we may see something or other to be thankful for, and may see
other in worse circumstances than our own.
Such certainly was the case of these men, of whom I could not so
much as see room to suppose any of them were saved. Nothing could make
it rational so much as to wish or expect that they did not all
perish there, except the possibility only of their being taken up by
another ship in company; and this was but mere possibility indeed, for
I saw not the least signal or appearance of any such thing.
I cannot explain, by any possible energy of words, what a strange
longing or hankering of desires. I felt in my soul upon this sight,
breaking out sometimes thus: "Oh that there had been but one or two,
nay, or but one soul, saved out of this ship, to have escaped to me,
that I might but have had one companion, one fellow-creature, to
have spoken to me, and to have conversed with!" In all the time of
my solitary life I never felt so earnest, so strong a desire after the
society of my fellow-creatures, or so deep a regret at the want of it.
There are some secret moving springs in the affections which, when
they are set agoing by some object in view, or be it some object,
though not in view, yet rendered present to the mind by the power of
imagination, that motion carries out the soul by its impetuosity to
such violent, eager embracings of the object, that the absence of it
is insupportable.
Such were these earnest wishings that but one man had been saved!
"Oh that it had been but one!" I believe I repeated the words, "Oh
that it had been one!" a thousand times; and the desires were so moved
by it, that when I spoke the words my hands would clinch together, and
my fingers press the palms of my hands, that if I had had any soft
thing in my hand, it would have crushed it involuntarily; and my teeth
in my head would strike together, and set against one another so
strong that for some time I could not part them again.
Let the naturalists explain these things and the reason and manner
of them. All I can say to them is to describe the fact, which was even
surprising to me when I found it, though I knew not from what it
should proceed. It was doubtless the effect of ardent wishes, and of
strong ideas formed in my mind, realizing the comfort which the
conversation of one of my fellow-Christians would have been to me.
But it was not to be. Either their fate or mine, or both, forbid it;
for, till the last year of my being on this island, I never knew
whether any were saved out of that ship or no; and had only the
affliction, some days after, to see the corpse of a drowned boy come
on shore at the end of the island which was next the shipwreck. He had
on no clothes but a seaman's waistcoat, a pair of open-kneed linen
drawers, and a blue linen shirt; but nothing to direct me so much as
to guess what nation he was of. He had nothing in his pocket but two
pieces of eight and a tobacco-pipe. The last was to me of often
times more value than the first.
It was now calm, and I had a great mind to venture out in my boat to
this wreck, not doubting but I might find something on board that
might be useful to me. But that did not altogether press me so much as
the possibility that there might be yet some living creature on board,
whose life I might not only save, but might, by saving that life,
comfort my own to the last degree. And this thought clung so to my
heart that I could not be quiet night or day, but I must venture out
in my boat on board this wreck; and committing the rest to God's
providence I thought, the impression was so strong upon my mind that
it could not be resisted, that it must come from some invisible
direction, and that I should be wanting to myself if I did not go.
Under the power of this impression, I hastened back to my castle,
prepared everything for my voyage, took a quantity of bread, a great
pot for fresh water, a compass to steer by, a bottle of rum (for I had
still a great deal of that left), a basket full of raisins. And
thus, loading myself with everything necessary, I went down to my
boat, got the water out of her, and got her afloat, loaded all my
cargo in her, and then went home again for more. My second cargo was a
great bag full of rice, the umbrella to set up over my head for shade,
another large pot full of fresh water, and about two dozen of my small
loaves, or barley-cakes, more than before, with a bottle of goat's
milk and a cheese; all which, with great labor and sweat, I brought to
my boat. And praying to God to direct my voyage, I put out; and
rowing, or paddling, the canoe along the shore, I came at last to
the utmost point of the island on that side, viz., NE. And now I was
to launch out into the ocean, and either to venture or not to venture.
I looked on the rapid currents which ran constantly on both sides of
the island at a distance, and which were very terrible to me, from the
remembrance of the hazard I had been in before, and my heart began
to fail me; for I foresaw that if I was driven into either of those
currents, I should be carried a vast way out to sea, and perhaps out
of my reach, or sight of the island again; and that then, as my boat
was but small, if any little gale of wind should rise, I should be
inevitable lost.
These thoughts so oppressed my mind that I began to give over my
enterprise; and having hauled my boat into a little creek on the
shore, I stepped out, and sat me down a little rising bit of ground,
very pensive and anxious, between fear and desire, about my voyage;
when, as I was musing, I could perceive that the tide was turned,
and the flood come on; upon which my going was for so many hours
impracticable. Upon this, presently it occurred to me that I should go
up to the highest piece of ground I could find and observe, if I
could, how the sets of the tide, or currents, lay when the flood
came in, that I might judge whether, if I was driven one way out, I
might not expect to be driven another way home, with the same
rapidness of the currents. This thought was no sooner in my head but I
cast my eye upon a little hill, which sufficiently overlooked the
sea both ways, and from whence I had a clear view of the currents,
or sets of the tide, and which way I was to guide myself in my return.
Here I found, that as the current of the ebb set out close by the
south point of the island, so the current of the flood set in close by
the shore of the north side; and that I had nothing to do but to
keep to the north of the island in my return, and I should do well
Encouraged with this observation, I resolved the next morning to set
out with the first of the tide, and reposing myself for the night in
the canoe, under the great watch-coat I mentioned, I launched out. I
made first a little out to sea, full north, till I began to feel the
benefit of the current which set eastward, and which carried me at a
great rate; and yet did not so hurry me as the southern side current
had done before, and so as to take from me all government of the boat;
but having a strong steerage with my paddle, I went at a great rate
directly for the wreck, and less than two hours I came up to it.
It was a dismal sight to look at. The ship, which, by its
building, was Spanish, stuck fast, jammed in between two rocks. All
the stern and quarter of her was beaten to pieces with the sea; and as
her forecastle, which stuck in the rocks, had run on with violence,
her mainmast were brought by the board; that is to say broken short
off; but her bowsprit was sound, and the head and bow appeared firmer.
When I came close to her a dog appeared upon her, who, seeing me
coming, yelped and cried; and as soon as I called him, jumped into the
sea to come to me, and I took him into the boat, but found him
almost dead for hunger and thirst. I gave him a cake of my bread,
and he eat it like a ravenous wolf that had been starving a
fortnight in the snow. I then gave the poor creature some fresh water,
with which, if I would have let him, he would have burst himself.
After this I went on board; but the first sight I met with was two
men drowned in the cookroom, or forecastle of the ship, with their
arms fast about one another. I concluded, as is indeed probable,
that when the ship struck, it being in a storm, the sea broke so high,
and so continually over her, that the men were not able to bear it,
and were strangled with the constant rushing in of the water, as
much as if they had been under water. Besides the dog, there was
nothing left in the ship that had life, nor any goods that I could see
but what were spoiled by the water. There were some casks of liquor,
whether wine or brand I knew not, which lay lower in the hold, and
which, the water being ebbed out, I could see; but they were too big
to meddle with. I saw several chests, which I believed belonged to
some of the seamen; and I got two of them into the boat, without
examining what was in them.
Had the stern of the ship been fixed, and the fore-part broken
off, I am persuaded I might have made a good voyage; for by what I
found in these two chests, I had room to suppose the ship had a
great deal of wealth on board; and if I may guess by the course she
steered, she must have been bound from the Buenos Ayres, or the Rio de
la Plata, in the south part of America, beyond the Brazils, to the
Havana, in the Gulf of Mexico, and so perhaps to Spain. She had, no
doubt, a great treasure in her, but of no use, at that time, to
anybody; and what became of the rest of her people, I then knew not.
I found, besides these chests, a little cask full of liquor, of
about twenty gallons, which I got into my boat with much difficulty.
There were several muskets in a cabin, and a great powderhorn, with
about four pounds of powder in it. As for the muskets, I had no
occasion for them, so I left them, but took the powder-horn. I took
a fire-hovel and tongs, which I wanted extremely; as also two little
brass kettles, a copper pot to make chocolate, and a gridiron. And
with this cargo, and the dog, I came away, the tide beginning to
make home again; and the same evening, about an hour within night, I
reached the island again, weary and fatigued to the last degree.
I reposed that night in the boat; and in the morning I resolved to
harbor what I had gotten in my new cave, not to carry it home to my
castle. After refreshing myself, I got all my cargo on shore, and
began to examine the particulars. The cask of liquor I found to be a
kind of rum, but not such as we had at the Brazils, and, in a word,
not at all good. But when I came to open the chests, I found several
things of great use to me. For example, I found in one a fine case
of bottles, of an extraordinary kind, and filled with cordial
waters, fine, and very good; the bottles held about three pints
each, and were tipped with silver. I found two pots of very good
succades, or sweetmeats, so fastened also on top, that the salt
water had not hurt them; and two more of the same, which the water had
spoiled. I found some very good shirts, which were very welcome to me;
and about a dozen and half of linen white handkerchiefs and colored
neckcloths. The former were also very welcome, being exceeding
refreshing to wipe my face in a hot day. Besides this, when I came
to the till in the chest, I found there three great bags of pieces
of eight, which held out about eleven hundred pieces in all; and in
one of them, wrapped up in a paper, six doubloons of gold, and some
small bars or wedges of gold. I suppose they might all weigh near a
The other chest I found had some clothes in it, but of little value;
but by the circumstances, it must have belonged to the gunner's
mate; though there was no powder in it, but about two pounds of fine
glazed powder, in three small flasks, kept, I suppose, for charging
their fowling-pieces on occasion. Upon the whole, I got very little by
this voyage that was of any use to me; for as to the money, I had no
manner of occasion for it; It was to me as the dirt under my feet; and
I would have given it all for three or four pair of English shoes
and stocking, which were things I greatly wanted, but had not had on
my feet now for many years. I had indeed gotten two pair of shoes now,
which I took off of the feet of the two drowned men whom I saw in
the wreck, and I found two pair more in one of the chests, which
were very welcome to me; but they were not like our English shoes,
either for ease or service, being rather what we call pumps than
shoes. I found in the seaman's chest about fifty pieces of eight in
royals, but no gold. I suppose this belonged to a poorer man than
the other, which seemed to belong to some officer.
Well, however, I lugged this money home to my cave, and laid it
up, as I had done that before which I brought from our own ship; but
it was a great pity, as I said, that the other part of this ship had
not come to my share, for I am satisfied I might have loaded my
canoe several times over with money, which, if I had ever escaped to
England, would have lain here safe enough till I might have come again
and fetched it.
Having now brough all my things on shore, and secured them, I went
back to my boat, and rowed or paddled her along the shore to her old
harbor, where I laid her up, and made the best of my way to my old
habitation, where I found everything safe and quiet. So I began to
repose myself, live after my old fashion, and take care of my family
affairs; and, for a while, I lived easy enough, only that I was more
vigilant than I used to be, looked out oftener, and did not go
abroad so much; and if at any time I did stir with any freedom, it was
always to the east part of the island, where I was pretty well
satisfied the savages never came, and where I could go without so many
precautions, and such a load of arms and ammunition as I always
carried with me if I went the other way.
I lived in this condition near two years more; but my unlucky
head, that was always to let me know if it was born to make my body
miserable, was all of this two years filled with projects and designs,
how, if it were possible, I might get away from this island; for
sometimes I was for making another voyage to the wreck, though my
reason told me that there was nothing left there worth the hazard of
my voyage; sometimes for a ramble one way, sometimes another; and I
believe verily, if I had had the boat that I went from Sallee in, I
should have ventured to sea, bound anywhere, I knew not whither.
I have been, in all my circumstances, a memento to those who are
touched with the general plague of mankind, whence, for aught I
know, one-half of their miseries flow; I mean, that of not being
satisfied with the station wherein God and Nature had placed them; for
not to look back upon my primitive condition, and the excellent advice
of my father, the opposition to which was, as I may call it, my
original sin, my subsequent mistakes of the same kind had been the
means of my coming into this miserable condition; for had that
Providence, which so happily had seated me at the Brazils as a
planter, blessed me with confined desires, and I could have been
contented to have gone on gradually, I might have been, by this
time, I mean in the time of my being in this island, one of the most
considerable planters in the brazils; nay, I am persuaded that by
the improvements I had made in that little time I lived there, and the
increase I should probably have made if I had stayed, I might have
been worth a hundred thousand moidores. And what business had I to
leave a settle fortune, a well-stocked plantation, improving and
increasing, to turn supercargo to Guinea to fetch negroes, when
patience and time would so have increased our stock at home, that we
could have bought them at our own door from those whose business it
was to fetch them; and though it had cost us something more, yet the
difference of that price was by no means worth saving at so great a
But as this is ordinarily the fate of yourn heads, so reflection
upon the folly of it is as ordinarily the exercise of more years, or
the dear-bought experience of time; and so it was with me now. And
yet, so deep had the mistake taken root in my temper, that I could not
satisfy myself in my station, but was continually poring upon the
means and possibility of my escape from this place. And that I may,
with the greater pleasure to the reader, bring on the remaining part
of my story, it may not be improper to give some account of my first
conceptions on the subject of this foolish scheme for my escape, and
how and upon what foundation I acted.
I am now to be supposed retired into my castle, after my late voyage
to the wreck, my frigate laid up and secured under water, as usual,
and my condition restored to what it was before. I had more wealth,
indeed, that I had before, but was not at all the richer; for I had no
more use for it than the Indians of Peru had before the Spaniards came
It was one of the nights in the rainy season in March, the four
and twentieth year of my first setting foot in this island of
solitariness. I was lying in my bed, or hammock, awake, very well in
health, had no pain, no distemper, no uneasiness of body, no, nor
any uneasiness of mind, more than ordinary, but could by no means
close my eyes, that is, so as to sleep; no, not a wink all night long,
otherwise than as follows.
It is as impossible, as needless, to set down the innumerable
crowd of thoughts that whirled through that great throughfare of the
brain, the memory, in this night's time. I ran over the whole
history of my life in miniature, or by abridgment, as I may call it,
to my coming to this island, and also of the part of my life since I
came to this island. In my reflections upon the state of my case since
I came on shore on this island, I was comparing the happy posture of
my affairs in the first years of my habitation here compared to the
life of anxiety, fear, and care which I had lived ever since I had
seen the print of a foot in the sand; nor that I did not believe the
savages had frequented the island even all the while, and might have
been several hundreds of them at times on shore there; but I had never
known it, and was incapable of any apprehensions about it. My
satisfaction was perfect, though my danger was the same; and I was
as happy in not knowing my danger, as if I had never really been
exposed to it. This furnished my thoughts with many very profitable
reflections, and particularly this one: how infinitely good that
Providence is which has provided, in its government of mankind, such
narrow bounds to his sight and knowledge of things; and though he
walks in the midst of so many thousand dangers, the sight of which, if
discovered to him, would distract his mind and sink his spirits, he is
kept serene and calm, by having the events of things hid from his
eyes, and knowing nothing of the dangers which surround him.
After these thoughts had for some time entertained me, I came to
reflect seriously upon the real danger I had been in for so many years
in this very island, and how I had walked about in the greatest
security, and with all possible tranquillity, even when perhaps
nothing but a brow of a hill, a great tree, or the casual approach
of night had been between me and the worst kind of destruction,
viz., that of failing into the hands of cannibals and savages, who
would have seized on me with the same view as I did of a goat or a
turtle, and have thought it no more a crime to kill and devour me than
I did of a pigeon or a curlew. I would unjustly slander myself if I
should say I was not sincerely thankful to my great Preserver, to
whose singular protection I acknowledged, with great humility, that
all these unknown deliverances were due, and without which I must
inevitably have fallen into their merciless hands.
When these thoughts were over, my head was for some time take up
in considering the nature of these wretched creatures, I mean the
savages, and how it came to pass in the world that the wise Governor
of all things should give up any of His creatures to such
inhumanity; nay, to something so much below even brutality itself,
as to devour its own kind. But as this ended in some (at that time
fruitless) speculations, it occurred to me to inquire what part of the
world these wretches lived in? How far off the coast was from whence
they came? What they ventured over so far from home for? What kind
of boats they had? And why I might not order myself and my business
so, that I might be able to go over thither as they were to come to
I never so much as troubled myself to consider what I should do with
myself when I came thither; what would become of me, if I fell into
the hands of the savages; or how I should escape from them, if they
attempted me; no, nor so much as how it was possible for me to reach
the coast, and not be attempted by some or other of them, without
any possibility of delivering myself; and if I should not fall into
their hands, what I should do for provision, or whither I should
bend my course. None of these thoughts, I say, so much as came in my
way; but my mind was wholly bent upon the notion of my passing over in
my boat to the mainland. I looked back upon my present condition as
the most miserable that could possibly be; that I was not able to
throw myself into anything, but death, that could be called worse;
that if I reached the shore of the main, I might perhaps meet with
relief, or I might coast along, as I did on the shore of Africa,
till I came to some inhabited country, and where I might find some
Christian ship that might take me in; and if the worse came to the
worst, I could but die, which would put an end to all these miseries
at once. Pray note, all this was the fruit of a disturbed mind, an
impatient temper, made, as it were, desperate by the long
continuance of my troubles, and the disappointments I had met in the
work I had been on board of, and where I had been so near the
obtaining what I so earnestly longed for, viz., somebody to speak
to, and to learn some knowledge from the place where I was, and of the
probable means of my deliverance. I say, I was agitated wholly by
these thoughts. All my calm of mind, in my resignation to
Providence, and waiting the issue of the dispositions of Heaven,
seemed to be suspended; and I had, as it were, no power to turn my
thoughts to anything but to the project of a voyage to the main, which
came upon me with such force, and such an impetuosity of desire,
that it was not to be resisted.
When this had agitated my thoughts for two hours, or more, with such
violence that it set my very blood into a ferment, and my pulse beat
as high as if I had been in a fever, merely with the extraordinary
of my mind about it, Nature, as if I had been fatigued and exhausted
with the very thought of it, threw me into a sound sleep. One would
have thought I should have dreamed of it, but I did not, nor of
anything relating to it; but I dreamed that as I was going out in
the morning, as usual, from my castle, I saw upon the shore two canoes
and eleven savages coming to land, and that they brought with them
another savage, whom they were going to kill in order to eat him;
when, on a sudden, the savage that they were going to kill jumped
away, and ran for his life. And I thought, in my sleep, that he came
running into my little thick grove before my fortification to hide
himself; and that I, seeing him alone, and not perceiving that the
other sought him that way, showed myself to him, and smiling upon him,
encouraged him; that he kneeled down to me, seeming to pray me to
assist him; upon which I showed my ladder, made him go up, and carried
him into my cave, and he became my servant; and that as soon as I
had gotten this man, I said to myself, "Now I may certainly venture to
the mainland; for this fellow will serve me as a pilot, and will
tell me what to do, and whither to go for provisions, and whither
not to go for fear of being devoured; what places to venture into, and
what to escape." I waked with this thought, and was under such
inexpressible impressions of joy at the prospect of my escape in my
dream, that the disappointments which I felt upon coming to myself and
finding it was no more than a dream were equally extravagant the other
way, and threw me into a very great dejection of spirit.
Upon this, however, I made this conclusion: that my only way to go
about an attempt for an escape was, if possible, to get a savage
into my possession; and, if possible, it should be one of their
prisoners whom they had condemned to be eaten, and should bring
thither to kill. But these thoughts were attended with this
difficulty, that it was impossible to effect this without attacking
a whole caravan of them, and killing them all; and this was not only a
very desperate attempt, and might miscarry; but, on the other hand,
I had greatly scrupled the lawfulness of it to me; and my heart
trembled at the thoughts of shedding so much blood, though it was
for my deliverance. I need not repeat the arguments which occurred
to me against this, they being the same mentioned before. But though I
had other reasons to offer now, viz., that those men were enemies to
my life, and would devour me if they could; that it was
self-preservation, in the highest degree, to deliver myself from
this death of a life, and was acting in my own defence as much as if
they were actually assaulting me, and the like; I say, though these
things argued for it, yet the thoughts of shedding human blood for
my deliverance were very terrible to me, and such as I could by no
means reconcile myself to a great while.
However, at last, after many secret disputes with myself, and
after great perplexities about it, for all these arguments, one way
and another, struggled in my head a long time, the eager prevailing
desire of deliverance at length mastered all the rest, and I resolved,
if possible, to get one of those savages into my hands, cost what it
would. My next thing, then was to contrive how to do it, and this
indeed was very difficulty to resolve on. But as I could pitch upon no
probable means for it, so I resolved to put myself upon the watch,
to see them when they came on shore, and leave the rest to the
event, taking such measures as the opportunity should present, let
be what would be.
With these resolutions in my thoughts, I set myself upon the scout
as often as possible, and indeed so often, till I was heartily tired
of it; for it was above a year and half that I waited; and for great
part of that time went out to the west end, and to the south-west
corner of the island, almost every day to see for canoes, but none
appeared. This was very discouraging, and began to trouble me much;
though I cannot say that it did in this case, as it had done some time
before that, viz., wear off the edge of my desire to the thing. But
the longer it seemed to be delayed, the more eager I was for it. In
a word, I was not at first so careful to shun the sight of these
savages, and avoid being seen by them, as I was now eager to be upon
Besides, I fancied myself able to manage one, nay, two or three
savages, if I had them, so as to make them entirely slaves to me, to
do whatever I should direct them, and to prevent their being able at
anytime to do me any hurt. It was a great while that I pleased
myself with this affair; but nothing still presented. All my fancies
and schemes came to nothing, for no savages came near me for a great
About a year and half after I had entertained these notions, and
by long musing had, as it were, resolved them all into nothing, for
want of an occasion to put them in execution, I was surprised, one
morning early, with seeing no less than five canoes all on shore
together on my side the island, and the people who belonged to them
all landed, and out of my sight. The number of them broke all my
measures; for seeing so many, and knowing that they always came
four, or six, or sometimes more in a boat, I could not tell what to
think of it, or how to take my measures to attack twenty or thirty men
single-handed; so I lay still in my castle, perplexed and
discomforted. However, I put myself into all the same postures for
an attack that I had formerly provided, and was just ready for
action if anything had presented. Having waited a good while,
listening to hear if they made any noise, at length, begin very
impatient, I set my guns at the foot of my ladder, and clambered up to
the top of the hill, by my two stages, as usual; standing so, however,
that my head did not appear above the hill, so that they could not
perceive me by any means. Here I observed, by the help of my
perspective glass, that they were no less than thirty in number,
that they had a fire kindled, that they had had meat dressed. How they
had cooked it, that I knew not, or what it was; but they were all
dancing, in I know not how many barbarous gestures and figures,
their own way, round the fire.
While I was thus looking on them, I perceived by my perspective
two miserable wretches dragged from the boats, where, it seems, they
were laid by, and were now brought out for the slaughter. I
perceived one of them immediately fell, being knocked down, I suppose,
with a club or wooden sword, for that was their way, and two or
three others were at work immediately, cutting him open for their
cookery, while the other victim was left standing by himself, till
they should be ready for him. In that very moment this poor wretch
seeing himself a little at liberty, Nature inspired him with hopes
of life, and he started away from them, and ran with incredible
swiftness along the sands directly towards me, I mean towards that
part of the coast where my habitation was.
I was dreadfully frighted (that I must acknowledge) when I perceived
him to run my way, and especially when, as I thought, I saw him
pursued by the whole body; and now I expected that part of my dream
was coming to pass, and that he would certainly take shelter in my
grove; but I could not depend, by any means, upon my dream for the
rest of it, viz., that the other savages would not pursue him thither,
and find him there. However, I kept my station, and my spirits began
to recover when I found that there was not above three men that
followed him; and still more was I encouraged when I found that he
outstripped them exceedingly in running, and gained ground of them; so
that if he could but hold it for half an hour, I saw easily he would
fairly get away from them all.
There was between them and my castle the creek, which I mentioned
often at the first part of my story, when I landed my cargoes out of
the ship; and this I saw plainly he must necessarily swim over, or the
poor wretch would be taken there. But when the savage escaping came
thither he made nothing of it, though the tide was then up; but
plunging in, swam through in about thirty strokes or thereabouts,
landed, and ran on with exceeding strength and swiftness. When the
three persons came to the creek, I found that two of them could
swim, but the third could not, and that, standing on the other side,
he looked at the other, but went no further, and soon after went
softly back, which, as it happened, was very well for him in the main.
I observed that the two who swam were yet more than twice as long
swimming over the creek as the fellow was that fled from them. It came
now very warmly upon my thoughts, and indeed, irresistibly, that now
was my time to get me a servant, and perhaps a companion assistant,
and that I was called plainly by Providence to save this poor
creature's life. I immediately run down the ladders with all
possible expedition, fetched my two guns, for they were both but at
the foot of the ladders, as I observed above, and getting up again,
with the same haste, to the top of the hill, I crossed towards the
sea, and having a very short cut, and all down hill, clapped myself in
the way between the pursuers and the pursued, hallooing aloud to him
that fled, who, looking back, was at first perhaps as much frighted at
me as at them; but I beckoned with my hands to him to come back;
and, in the meantime, I slowly advanced toward the two that
followed; then rushing at once upon the foremost, I knocked him down
with the stock of my piece. I was loth to fire, because I would not
have the rest hear; though, at that distance, it would not have been
easily heard, and being out of sight of the smoke too, they would
not have easily known what to make of it. Having knocked this fellow
down, the other who pursued with him stopped, as if he had been
frighted, and I advanced a pace towards him; but as I came nearer, I
perceived presently he had a bow and arrow, and was fitting it to
shoot at me; so I was then necessitated to shoot at him first, which I
did, and killed him at the first shot.
The poor savage who fled, but had stopped, though he saw both his
enemies fallen and killed, as he thought, yet was so frighted with the
fire and noise of my piece, that he stood stock-still, and neither
came forward nor went backward, though he seemed rather inclined to
fly still than to come on. I hallooed again to him, and made signs
to come forward, which he easily understood, and came a little way,
then stopped again, and then a little further; and stopped again;
and I could then perceive that he stood trembling, as if he had been
taken prisoner, and had just been to be killed, as his two enemies
were. I beckoned him again to come to me, and gave him all the signs
of encouragement that I could think of; and he came nearer and nearer,
kneeling down every often or twelve steps, in token of
acknowledgment for my saving his life. I smiled at him, and look
pleasantly, and beckoned to him to come still nearer. At length he
came close to me, and then he kneeled down again, kissed the ground,
and laid his head upon the ground, and taking me by the foot, set my
foot upon his head. This, it seems, was in token of swearing to be
my slave forever. I took him up, and made much of him, and
encouraged him all I could. But there was more work to do yet; for I
perceived the savage whom I knocked down was not killed, but stunned
with the blow, and began to come to himself; so I pointed to him,
and showing him the savage, that he was not dead, upon this he spoke
some words to me; and though I could not understand them, yet I
thought they were pleasant to hear; for they were the first sound of a
man's voice that I had heard, my own excepted, for above twenty-five
years. But there was no time for such reflections now. The savage
who was knocked down recovered himself so far as to sit up upon the
ground, and I perceived that my savage began to be afraid; but when
I was that, I presented my other piece at the man, as if I would shoot
him. Upon this my savage, for so I call him now, made a motion to me
to lend him my sword, which hung naked in a belt by my side; so I did.
He no sooner had it but he runs to his enemy, and, at one blow, cut
off his head as cleverly, no executioner in Germany could have done it
sooner or better; which I thought very strange for one who, I had
reason to believe, never saw a sword in his life before, except
their own wooden swords. However, it seems, as I learned afterwards,
they make their wooden swords so sharp, so heavy, and the wood is so
hard, that they will cut off heads even with them, ay, and arms, and
that at one blow too. When he had done this, he comes laughing to me
in sign of triumph, and brought me the sword again, and with abundance
of gestures, which I did not understand, laid it down, with the head
of the savage that he had killed, just before me.
But that which astonished him most, was to know how I had killed the
other Indian so far off; so pointing to him, he made signs to me to
let him go to him; so I bade him go, as well as I could. When he
came to him, he stood like one amazed, looking at him, turned him
first on one side, then t' other, looked at the wound the bullet had
made, which, it seems, was just in his breast, where it had made a
hole, and no great quantity of blood had followed; but he had bled
inwardly, for he was quite dead. He took up his bow and arrows, and
came back; so I turned to away, and beckoned to him to follow me,
making signs to him that more might come after them.
Upon this he signed to me that he should bury them with sand, that
they might not be seen by the rest if they followed; and so I made
signs again to him to do so. He fell to work, and in an instant he had
scraped a hole in the sand with his hands big enough to bury the first
in, and then dragged him into it, and covered him, and did so also
by the other. I believe he had buried them both in a quarter of an
hour. Then calling him away, I carried him, not to my castle, but
quite away to my cave, on the farther part of the island; so I did not
let my dream come to pass in that part, viz., that he came into my
grove for shelter.
Here I gave him bread and a bunch of raisins to eat, and a draught
of water, which I found he was indeed in great distress for, by his
running; and having refreshed him, I made signs for him to go lie down
and sleep, pointing to a place where I had laid a great parcel of
rice-straw, and a blanket upon it, which I used to sleep upon myself
sometimes; so the poor creature laid down, and went to sleep.
He was a comely, handsome fellow, perfectly well made, with
straight, strong limbs, not too large, tall, and well-shaped, and,
as I reckoned, about twenty-six years of age. He had a very good
countenance, not a fierce and surly aspect, but seemed to have
something very manly in his face; and yet he had all the sweetness and
softness of an European in his countenance too, especially when he
smiled. His hair was long and black, not curled like wool; his
forehead very high and large; and a great vivacity and sparkling
sharpness in his eyes. The color of his skin was not quite black,
but very tawny; and yet not of an ugly, yellow, nauseous tawny, as the
Brazilians and Virginians, and other natives of America are, but of
a bright kind of a dun olive color, that had in it something very
agreeable, though not very easy to describe. His face was round and
plump; his nose small, not flat like the negroes; a very good mouth,
thin lips, and his fine teeth well set, and white as ivory.
After he had slumbered, rather than slept, about half an hour, he
waked again, and comes out of the cave to me, for I had been milking
my goats, which I had in the enclosure just by. When he espied me,
he came running to me, laying himself down again upon the ground, with
all the possible signs of an humble, thankful disposition, making as
many antic gestures to show it. At last he lays his head flat upon the
ground, close to my foot, and sets my other foot upon his head, as
he had done before, and after this made all the signs to me of
subjection, servitude, and submission imaginable, to let me know how
he would serve me as long as he lived. I understood him in many
things, and let him know I was very well pleased with him. In a little
time I began to speak to him, and teach him to speak to me; and,
first, I made him know his name should be Friday, which was the day
I saved his life. I called him so for the memory of the time. I
likewise taught him to say master, and then let him know that was to
be my name. I likewise taught him to say Yes and No, and to know the
meaning of them. I gave him some milk in an earthen pot, and let him
see me drink it before him, and sop my bread in it; and I gave him a
cake of bread to do the like, which he quickly complied with, and made
signs that it was very good for him.
I kept there with him all that night; but as soon as it was day, I
beckoned to him to come with me, and let him know I would give him
some clothes; at which he seemed very glad, for he was stark naked. As
we went by the place where he had buried the two men, he pointed
exactly to the place, and showed me the marks that he had made to find
them again, making signs to me that we should dig them up again, and
eat them. At this I appeared very angry, expressed my abhorrence of
it, made as if I would vomit at the thoughts of it, and beckoned
with my hand to him to come away; which he did immediately, with great
submission. I then led him up to the top of the hill, to see if his
enemies were gone; and pulling out my glass, I looked, and saw plainly
the place where they had been, but no appearance of them or of their
canoes; so that it was plain that they were gone, and had left their
two comrades behind them, without any search after them.
But I was not content with this discovery; but having now more
courage, and consequently more curiosity, I take my man Friday with
me, giving him the sword in his hand, with the bow and arrows at his
back, which I found he could use very dexterously, making him carry
one gun for me, and I two for myself, and away we marched to the place
where these creatures had been; for I had a mind now to get some
fuller intelligence of them. When I came to the place, my very blood
ran chill in my veins, and my heart sunk within me, at the horror of
the spectacle. Indeed, it was a dreadful sight, at least it was so
to me, though Friday made nothing of it. The place was covered with
human bones, the ground dyed with their blood, great pieces of flesh
left here and there, half-eaten, mangled and scorched; and, in
short, all the tokens of the triumphant feast they had been making
there, after a victory of their enemies. I saw three skulls, five
hands, and the bones of three or four legs and feet, and abundance
of other parts of the bodies; and Friday, by his signs, made me
understand that they brought over four prisoners to feast upon; that
three of them were eaten up, and that he, pointing to himself, was the
fourth; that there had been a great battle between them and their next
king, whose subjects it seems he had been one of, and that they had
taken a great number of prisoners; all which were carried to several
places, by those who had taken them in the fight, in order to feast
upon them, as was done here by these wretches upon those they
brought hither.
I cause Friday to gather all the skulls, bones, flesh, and
whatever remained, and lay them together on a heap, and make a great
fire upon it, and burn them all to ashes. I found Friday had still a
hankering stomach after some of the flesh, and was still a cannibal in
his nature; but I discovered so much abhorrence at the very thoughts
of it, and at the least appearance of it, that he durst not discover
it; for I had, by some means, let him know that I would kill him if he
offered it.
When we had done this we came back to our castle, and there I fell
to work for my man Friday; and, first of all, I gave him-a pair of
linen drawers, which I had out of the poor gunner's chest I mentioned,
and which I found in the wreck; and which, with a little alteration,
fitted him very well. Then I made him a jerkin of goat's-skin, as well
as my skill would allow, and I was now grown a tolerable good
tailor; and I gave him a cap, which I had made of a hare-skin, very
convenient and fashionable enough; and thus he was clothed for the
present tolerably well, and was mighty well pleased to see himself
almost as well clothed as his master. It is true he went awkwardly
in these things at first; wearing the drawers was very awkward to him,
and the sleeves of the waistcoat galled his shoulders, and the
inside of his arms; but a little easing them where he complained
they hurt him, using himself to them, at length he took to them very
The next day after I came home to my hutch with him, I began to
consider where I should lodge him. And that I might do well for him,
and yet be perfectly easy myself, I made a little tent for him in
the vacant place between my two fortifications, in the inside of the
last and in the outside of the first; and as there was a door or
entrance there into my cave, I made a formal framed doorcase, and a
door to it of boards, and set it up in the passage, a little within
the entrance; and causing the door to open on the inside, I barred
it up in the night, taking in my ladders, too; so that Friday could no
way come at me in the inside of my innermost wall without making so
much noise in getting over that it must needs waken me; for my first
wall had now a complete roof over it of long poles, covering all my
tent, and leaning up to the side of the hill, which was again laid
across with smaller sticks instead of laths, and then thatched over
a great thickness with the rice-straw, which was strong, like reeds;
and at the hole or place which was left to go in or out by the ladder,
I had placed a kind of trap-door, which, if it had been attempted on
the outside, would not have open at all, but would have fallen down,
and made a great noise; and as to weapons, I took them all in to my
side every night.
But I needed none of all this precaution; for never man had a more
faithful, loving, sincere servant than Friday was to me; without
passions, sullenness, or designs, perfectly obliged and engaged; his
very affections were tied to me like those of a child to a father; and
I dare say he would have sacrificed his life for the saving mine, upon
any occasion whatsoever. The many testimonies he gave me of this put
it out of doubt, and soon convinced me that I needed to use no
precautions as to my safety on his account.
This frequently gave me occasion to observe, and that with wonder,
that however it had pleased God, in His providence, and in the
government of the works of His hands, to take from so great a part
of the world of His creatures the best uses to which their faculties
and the powers of their soul are adapted, yet that He has bestowed
upon them the same powers, the same reason, the same affections, the
same sentiments of kindness and obligation, the same passions and
resentments of wrongs, the same sense of gratitude, sincerity,
fidelity, and all the capacities of doing good, and receiving good,
that He has give to us; and that when He pleases to offer to them
occasions of exerting these, they are as ready, nay, more ready, to
apply them to the right uses for which they were bestowed that we are.
And this made me very melancholy sometimes, in reflecting, as the
several occasions presented, how mean a use we make of all these, even
though we have these powers enlightened by the great lamp of
instruction, the Spirit of God, and by the knowledge of His Word added
to our understanding; and why it has pleased God to hide the like
saving knowledge from so many millions of souls, who, if I might judge
by this poor savage, would make a much better use of it than we did.
From hence, I sometimes was led too far to invade the sovereignity
of Providence, and, as it were, arraign the justice of so arbitrary
a disposition of things that should hide that light from some, and
reveal it to others, and yet expect a like duty from both. But I
shut it up, and checked my thoughts with this conclusion: first,
that we did not know by what light and law these should be
condemned; but that God was necessarily, and, by the nature of His
being, infinitely holy and just, so it could not be but that if
these creatures were all sentenced to absence from Himself, it was
on account of sinning against that light, which, as the Scripture
says, was a law to themselves, and by such rules as their
consciences would acknowledge to be just, though the foundation was
not discovered to us; and, second, that still, as we are all the
clay in the hand of the potter, no vessel could say to Him, "Why
hast Thou formed me thus?"
But to return to my new companion. I was greatly delighted with him,
and made it my business to teach him everything that was proper to
make him useful, handy, and helpful; but especially to make him speak,
and understand me when I spake. And he was the aptest scholar that
ever was; and particularly was so merry, so constantly diligent, and
so pleased when he could but understand me, or make me understand him,
that it was very pleasant to me to talk to him. And now my life
began to be so easy that I began to say to myself, that could I but
have been safe from more savages, I cared not if I was never to remove
from the place while I lived.
After I had been two or three days returned to my castle, I
thought that, in order to bring Friday off from his horrid way of
feeding, and from the relish of a cannibal's stomach, I ought to let
him taste other flesh; so I took him out with me one morning to the
woods. I went, indeed, intending to kill a kid out of my own flock,
and bring him home and dress it; but as I was going, I saw a
she-goat lying down in the shade, and two young kids sitting by her. I
catched hold of Friday. "Hold," says I, "stand still," and made
signs to him not to stir. Immediately I presented my piece, shot and
killed one of the kids. The poor creature, who had, at a distance
indeed, seen me kill the savage, his enemy, but did not know, or could
imagine, how it was done, was sensibly surprised, trembled and
shook, and looked so amazed, that I thought he would have sunk down.
He did not see the kid I had shot at, or perceive I had killed it, but
ripped up his waistcoat to feel if he was not wounded; and, as I found
presently, thought I was resolved to kill him; for he came and kneeled
down to me, and embracing my knees, said a great many things I did not
understand; but I could easily see that the meaning was to pray me not
to kill him.
I soon found a way to convince him that I would do him no harm;
and taking him up by the hand, laughed at him, and pointing to the kid
which I had killed, beckoned to him to run and fetch it, which he did;
and while he was wondering, and looking to see how the creature was
killed, I loaded my gun again; and by and by I saw a great fowl,
like a hawk, sit upon a tree, within shot; so, to let Friday
understand a little what I would do, I called him to me again,
pointing at the fowl, which was indeed a parrot, though I thought it
had been a hawk; I say, pointing to the parrot, and to my gun, and
to the ground under the parrot, to let him see I would make it fall, I
made him understand that I would shoot and kill that bird. Accordingly
I fired, and bade him look, and immediately he saw the parrot fall. He
stood like one frighted again, notwithstanding all I had said to
him; and I found he was the more amazed, because he did not see me put
anything into the gun, but thought that there must be some wonderful
fund of death and destruction in that thing, able to kill man,
beast, bird, or anything near or far off and the astonishment this
created in him was such as could not wear off for a long time; and I
believe, if I would have let him, he would have worshipped me and my
gun. As for the gun itself, he would not so much as touch it for
several days after; but would speak to it, and talk to it, as if it
had answered him, when he was by himself; which, as I afterwards
learned of him, was to desire it not to kill him.
Well, after his astonishment was a little over at this, I pointed to
him to run and fetch the bird I had shot, which he did, but stayed
some time; for the parrot, not being quite dead, was fluttered a
good way off from where she fell. However, he found her, took her
up, and brought her to me; and as I had perceived his ignorance
about the gun before, I took this advantage to charge the gun again,
and not let him see me do it, that I might be ready for any other mark
that might present. But nothing more offered at that time; so I
brought home the kid, and the same evening I took the skin off, and
cut it out as well as I could; and having a pot for that purpose, I
boiled or stewed some of the flesh, and made some very good broth; and
after I had begun to eat some, I gave some to my man, who seemed
very glad of it, and liked it very well; but that which was
strangest to him, was to see me eat salt with it. He made a sign to me
that the salt was not good to eat, and putting a little into his own
mouth, he seemed to nauseate it, and would spit and sputter at it,
washing his mouth with fresh water after it. On the other hand, I took
some meat in my mouth without salt, and I pretended to spit and
sputter for want of salt, as fast as he had done at the salt. But it
would not do; he would never care for salt with his meat or in his
broth; at least, not a great while, and then but very little.
Having thus fed him with boiled meat and broth, I was resolved to
feast him the next day with roasting a piece of the kid. This I did by
hanging it before the fire in a string, as I had seen many people do
in England, setting two poles up, one on each side of the fire, and
one across on the top, and tying the string to the cross stick,
letting the meat turn continually. This Friday admired very much.
But when he came to taste the flesh, he took so many ways to tell me
how well he liked it, that I could not but understand him; and at last
he told me he would never eat man's flesh any more, which I was very
glad to hear.
The next day I set him to work to beating some corn out, and sifting
it in the manner I used to do, as I observed before; and he soon
understood how to do it as well as I, especially after he had seen
what the meaning of it was, and that it was to make bread of; for
after that I let him see me make my bread, and bake it too; and in a
little time Friday was able to do all the work for me, as well as I
could do it myself.
I began now to consider that, having two mouths to feed instead of
one, I must provide more ground for my harvest, and plant a larger
quantity of corn than I used to do; so I marked out a larger piece
of land, and began to fence in the same manner before, in which Friday
not only worked very willingly and very hard, but did it very
cheerfully; and I told him what it was for; that it was for corn to
make more bread, because he was now with me, and that I might have
enough for him and myself too. He appeared very sensible of that part,
and let me know that he thought I had much more labor upon me on his
account than I had for myself; and that he would work the harder for
me, if I would tell him what to do.
This was the pleasantest year of all the life I led in this place.
Friday began to talk pretty well, and understand the names of almost
everything I had occasion to call for, and of every place I had to
send him to, and talk a great deal to me; so that, in short, I began
now to have some use for my tongue again, which, indeed, I had very
little occasion for before, that is to say, about speech. Besides
the pleasure of talking to him, I had a singular satisfaction in the
fellow himself. His simple, unfeigned honesty appeared to me more
and more every day, and I began really to love the creature; and, on
his side, I believe he loved me more than it was possible for him ever
to love anything before.
I had a mind once to try if he had any hankering inclination to
his own country again; and having learned him English so well that
he could answer me almost any questions, I asked him whether the
nation that he belonged to never conquered in battle? At which he
smiled, and said, "Yes, yes, we always fight the better;" that is,
he meant, always get the better in fight; and so we began the
following discourse: "You always fight the better," said I. "How
came you to be taken prisoner then, Friday?"
Friday. - My nation beat much for all that.
Master. - How beat? If your nation beat them, how came you to be
Friday. - They more many than my nation in the place where me was;
they take one, two, three, and me. My nation overbeat them in the
yonder place, where me no was; there my nation take one, two, great
Master. - But why did not your side recover you from the hands of
your enemies, then?
Friday. - They run one, two, three, and me, and make go in the
canoe; my nation have no canoe that time.
Master. - Well, Friday, and what does your nation do with the men
they take? Do they carry them away and eat them, as these did?
Friday. - Yes, my nation eat mans too; eat all up.
Master. - Where do they carry them?
Friday. - Go to other place, where they think.
Master. - Do they come hither?
Friday. - Yes, yes, they come hither; come other else place.
Master. - Have you been here with them?
Friday. - Yes, I been here. (Points to the NW. side of the island,
which, it seems, was their side.)
By this I understood that my man Friday had formerly been among
the savages who used to come on shore on the farther part of the
island, on the same man-eating occasions that he was now brought
for; and, some time after, when I took the courage to carry him to
that side, being the same I formerly mentioned, he presently knew
the place, and told me he was there once when they eat up twenty
men, two women, and one child. He could not tell twenty in English,
but he numbered them by laying so many stones on a row, and pointing
to me to tell them over.
I have told this passage, because it introduces what follows: that
after I had had this discourse with him, I asked him how far it was
from our island to the shore, and whether the canoes were not often
lost. He told me there was no danger, no canoes ever lost; but that,
after a little way out to the sea, there was a current and a wind,
always one way in the morning, the other in the afternoon.
This I understood to be no more than the sets of the tide, as
going out or coming in; but I afterwards understood it was
occasioned by the great draught and reflux of the mighty river
Oroonoko, in the mouth or the gulf of which river, as I found
afterwards, our island lay; and this land which I perceived to the
W. and NW. was the great island Trinidad, on the north point of the
mouth of the river. I asked Friday a thousand questions about the
country, the inhabitants, the sea, the coast, and what nations were
near. He told me all he knew, with the greatest openness imaginable. I
asked him the names of the several nations of his sort of people,
but could get no other name than Caribs; from whence I easily
understood that these were the Caribbees, which our maps place on
the part of America which reaches from the mouth of the River Oroonoko
to Guiana, and onwards to St. Martha. He told me that up a great way
beyond the moon, that was, beyond the setting of the moon, which
must be W. from their country, there dwelt white-bearded men, like me,
and pointed to my great whiskers, which I mentioned before; and they
had killed much mans, that was his word; by all which I understood
he meant the Spaniards, whose cruelties in America had been spread
over the whole countries, and was remember by all the nations father
to son.
I inquired if he could tell me how I might come from this island and
get among those white men. He told me, "Yes, yes, I might go in two
canoe." I could riot understand what he meant, or make him describe to
me what he meant by two canoe; till at last, with great difficulty,
I found he meant it must be in a large great boat, as big as two
This part of Friday's discourse began to relish with me very well;
and from this time I entertained some hopes that, one time or other, I
might find an opportunity to make my escape from this place, and
that this poor savage might be a means to help me to do it.
During the long time that Friday had now been with me, and that he
began to sepak to me, and understand me, I was not wanting to lay a
foundation of religious knowledge in his mind; particularly I asked
him one time, Who made him? The poor creature did not understand me at
all, but thought I had asked who was his father. But I took it by
another handle, and asked him who made the sea, the ground we walked
on, and the hills and woods? He told me it was one old Benamuckee,
that lived beyond all. He could describe nothing of this great person,
but that he was very old, much older, he said, than the sea or the
land, than the moon or the stars, I asked him then, if this old person
had made all things, why did not all things worship him? He looked
very grave, and with a perfect look of innocence said, "All things
do say O to him." I asked him if the people who die in his country
went away anywhere? He said, "Yes, they all went to Benamuckee."
Then I asked him whether these they eat up went thither too? He said
From these things I began to instruct him in the knowledge of the
true God. I told him that the great Maker of all things lived up
there, pointing up towards heaven; that He governs the world by the
same power and providence by which he made it; that he was omnipotent,
could do everything for us, give everything to us, take everything
from us; and thus, by degrees, I opened his eyes. He listened with
great attention, and received with pleasure the notion of Jesus Christ
being sent to redeem us, and of the manner of making our prayers to
God, and His being able to hear us, even into heaven. He told me one
day that if our God could hear us up beyond the sun, He must needs
be a greater God than their Benamuckee, who lived but a little way
off, and yet could not hear till they went up to the great mountains
where he dwelt to speak to him. I asked him if he ever went thither to
speak to him? He said, "No;" they never went that were young men; none
went but the old men, whom he called their Oowokakee, that is, as I
made him explain it to me, their religious or clergy; and that they
went to say O (so he called saying prayers), and then came back, and
told them what Benamuckee said. By this I observed that there is
priest-craft even amongst the most blinded, ignorant pagans in the
world; and the policy of making a secret religion in order to preserve
the veneration of the people to the clergy is not only to be found
in the Roman, but perhaps among all religions in the world, even among
the most brutish and barbarous savages.
I endeavored to clear up this fraud to my man Friday, and told him
that the pretence of their old men going up to the mountains to say
O to their god Benamuckee was a cheat, and their bringing word from
thence what he said was much more so; that if they met with any
answer, or spoke with any one there, it must be with an evil spirit;
and then I entered into a long discourse with him about the devil, the
original of him, his rebellion against God, his enmity to man, the
reason of it, his setting himself up in the dark parts of the world to
be worshipped instead of God, and as God, and the many stratagems he
made use of to delude mankind to their ruin; how he had a secret
access to our passions and to our affections, to adapt his snares so
to our inclinations, as to cause us even to be our own tempters, and
to run upon our destruction by our own choice.
I found it was not so easy to imprint right notions in his mind
about the devil, as it was about the being of a God. Nature assisted
all my arguments to evidence to him even the necessity of a great
First Cause and overruling, governing Power, a secret directing
Providence, and of the 6quity and justice of paying homage to Him that
made us, and the like. But there appeared nothing of all this in the
notion of an evil spirit; of his original, his being, his nature,
and above all, of his inclination to do evil, and to draw us in to
do so too; and the poor creature puzzled me once in such a manner by a
question merely natural and innocent, that I scarcely knew what to say
to him. I had been talking a great deal to him of the power of God,
His omnipotence, His dreadful aversion to sin, His being a consuming
fire to the workers of iniquity; how, as He had made us all, He
could destroy us and all the world in a moment; and he listened with
great seriousness to me all the while.
After this I had been telling him how the devil was God's enemy in
the hearts of men, and used all his malice and skill to defeat the
good designs of Providence, and to ruin the kingdom of Christ in the
world, and the like. "Well," says Friday, "but you say God is so
strong, so great; is He not much strong, much might as the devil?"
"Yes, yes," says I, "Friday, God is stronger than the devil; God is
above the devil, and therefore we pray to God to tread him down
under our feet, and enable us to resist his temptations, and quench
his fiery darts." "But," says he again, "ifGod much strong, much might
as the devil, why God no kill the devil, so make him no more do
I was strangely surprised at his question; and after all, though I
was now an old man, yet I was but a young doctor, and ill enough
qualified for a causist, or a solver of difficulties; and at first I
could not tell what to say; so I pretended not to hear him, and
asked him what he said. But he was too earnest for an answer to forget
his question, so that he repeated it in the very same broken words
as above. By this time I had recovered myself a little, and I said,
"God will punish him severely; he is reserved for the judgment, and is
to be cast into the bottomless pit, to dwell with everlasting fire."
This did not satisfy Friday; but he returns upon me, repeating my
words, "Reserve at last! me no understand; but why not kill the
devil now? not kill great ago?" "You may as well ask me," said I, "why
God does not kill you and I, when we do wicked things here that offend
Him; we are preserved to repent and be pardoned." He muses awhile at
this. "Well, well," says he, mighty affectionately, "that well; so
you, I, devil, all wicked, all preserve, repent, God pardon all." Here
I was run down again by him to the last degree, and it was a testimony
to me how the mere notions of nature, though they will guide
reasonable creatures to the knowledge of a God, and of a worship or
homage due to the supreme being of God, as the consequence of our
nature, yet nothing by Divine revelation can from the knowledge of
Jesus Christ, and of a redemption purchased for us, of a Mediator of
the new covenant, and of an Intercessor at the footstool of God's
throne; I say, nothing but a revelation from heaven can form these
in the soul, and that therefore the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, I mean the Word of God, and the Spirit of God,
promised for the guide and sanctifier of His people, are the
absolutely necessary instructors of the souls of men in the saving
knowledge of God, and the means of salvation.
I therefore diverted the present discourse between me and my man,
rising up hastily, as upon some sudden occasion of going out; then
sending him for something a good way off, I seriously prayed to God
that He would enable me to instruct savingly this poor savage,
assisting, by His Spirit, the heart of the poor ignorant creature to
receive the light of the knowledge of God in Christ, reconciling him
to Himself, and would guide me to speak so to him from the Word of God
as his conscience might be convinced, his eyes opened, and his soul
saved. When he came again to me, I entered into a long discourse
with him upon the subject of redemption of man by the Saviour of the
world, and of the doctrine of the Gospel preached from heaven, viz.,
of repentance towards God, and faith in our blessed Lord Jesus. I then
explained to him as well as I could why our blessed Redeemer took
not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham; and how, for
that reason, the fallen angels had no share in the redemption; that He
came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and the like.
I had, God knows, more sincerity than knowledge in all the methods I
took for this poor creature's instruction, and must acknowledge,
what I believe all that act upon the same principle will find, that in
laying things open to him, I really informed and instructed myself
in many things that either I did not know, or had not fully considered
before, but which occurred naturally to my mind upon searching into
them for the information of this poor savage. And I had more affection
in my inquiry after things upon this occasion than ever I felt before;
so that whether this poor wild wretch was the better for me or no, I
had great reason to be thankful that ever he came to me. My grief
set lighter upon me, my habitation grew comfortable to me beyond
measure; and when I reflected that in this solitary life which I had
been confined to, I had not only been moved myself to look up to
heaven, and to seek to the Hand that had brought me there, but was now
to be made an instrument, under Providence, to save the life, and, for
aught I know, the soul of a poor savage, and bring him to the true
knowledge of religion, and of the Christian doctrine, that he might
know Christ Jesus, to know whom is life eternal; -I say, when I
reflected upon all these things, a secret joy run through every part
of my soul, and I frequently rejoiced that ever I was brought to
this place, which I had so often thought the most dreadful of all
afflictions that could possibly have befallen me.
In this thankful frame I continued all the remainder of my time, and
the conversation which employed the hours between Friday and I was
such as made the three years which we lived there together perfectly
and completely happy, if any such thing as complete happiness can be
formed in a sublunary state. The savage was now a good Christian, a
much better than I; though I have reason to hope, and bless God for
it, that we were equally penitent, and comforted, restored
penitents. We had here the Word of God to read, and no farther off
from His Spirit to instruct than if we had been in England.
I always applied myself to reading the Scripture, to let him know,
as well as I could, the meaning of what I read; and he again, by his
serious inquiries and questions, made me, as I said before, a much
better scholar in the Scripture-knowledge than I should ever have been
by my own private mere reading. Another thing I cannot refrain from
observing here also, from the experience in this retired part of my
life, viz., how infinite and inexpressible a blessing it is that the
knowledge of God, and the doctrine of salvation of Christ Jesus, is so
plainly laid down in the Word of God, so easy to be received and
understood; that as the bare reading the Scripture made me capable
of understanding enough of my duty to carry me directly on to the
great work of sincere repentance for my sins, and laying hold of a
Saviour for life and salvation, to a stated reformation in practice,
and obedience to all God's commands, and this without any teacher or
instructor (I mean human); so the same plain instruction
sufficiently served to the enlightening this savage creature, and
bringing him to be such a Christian, as I have known few equal to
him in my life.
As to all the disputes, wranglings, strife, and contention which has
happened in the world about religion, whether niceties in doctrines or
schemes of Church government, they were all perfectly useless to us;
as, for aught I can yet see, they have been to all the rest in the
world. We had the sure guide to heaven, viz., the Word of God; and
we had, blessed by God! comfortable views of the Spirit of God
teaching and instructing us by His Word, leading us into all truth,
and making us both willing and obedient to the instruction of His
Word; and I cannot see the least use that the greatest knowledge of
the disputed points in religion, which have made such confusions in
the world, would have been to us if we could have obtained it. But I
must go on with the historical part of things, and take every part
in its order.
After Friday and I became more intimately acquainted, and that he
could understand almost all I said to him, and speak fluently,
though in broken English, to me, I acquainted him with my own story,
or at least so much of it as related to my coming into the place;
how I had lived there, and how long. I let him into the mystery, for
such it was to him, of gunpowder and bullet, and taught him how to
shoot; I gave him a knife, which he was wonderfully delighted with,
and I made him a belt, with a frog hanging to it, such as in England
we wear hangers in; and in the frog, instead of a hanger, I gave him a
hatchet, which was not only as good a weapon, in some cases, but
much more useful upon other occasions.
I described to him the country of Europe, and particularly
England, which I came from; how we lived, how we worshipped God, how
we behaved to one another, and how we traded in ships to all parts
of the world. I gave him an account of the wreck which I had been on
board of, and showed him, as near as I could, the place where she lay;
but she was all beaten in pieces before, and gone.
I showed him the ruins of our boat, which we lost when we escaped,
and which I could not stir with my whole strength then, but was now
fallen almost all to pieces. Upon seeing this boat, Friday stood
musing a great while, and said nothing. I asked him what it was he
studied upon. At last says he, "Me see such boat like come to place at
my nation."
I did not understand him a good while; but at last, when I had
examined further into it, I understood by him that a boat such as that
had been, came on shore upon the country where he lived; that is, as
he explained it, was driven thither by stress of weather. I
presently imagined that some European ship must have been cast away
upon their coast, and the boat might get loose and drive ashore; but
was so dull that I never once thought of men making escape from a
wreck thither, much less whence they might come; so I only inquired
after a description of the boat.
Friday described the boat to me well enough; but brought me better
to understand him when he added with some warmth, "We save the white
mans from drown." Then I presently asked him if there was any white
mans, as he called them, in the boat. "Yes," he said, "the boat full
of white mans." I asked him how many. He told upon his fingers
seventeen. I asked him then what became of them. He told me, "They
live, they dwell at my nation."
This put new thoughts into my head; for I presently imagined that
these might be the men belonging to the ship that was cast away in
sight of my island, as I now call it; and who, after the ship was
struck on the rock, and they saw her inevitably lost, had saved
themselves in their boat, and were landed upon that wild shore among
the savages.
Upon this I inquired of him more critically what was become of them.
He assured me they lived still there; that they had been there about
four years; that the savages let them alone, and gave them victuals to
live. I asked him how it came to pass they did not kill them, and
eat them. He said, "No, they make brother with them;" that is, as I
understood him, a truce; and then he added, "They no eat mans but when
make the war fight;" that is to say, they never eat any men but such
as come to fight with them and are taken in battle.
It was after this some considerable time that being on the top of
the hill, at the east side of the island (from whence, as I have said,
I had in a clear day, discovered the main or continent of America),
Friday, the weather being very serene, looks very earnestly towards
the mainland, and, in a kind of surprise, falls a-jumping and dancing,
and calls out to me, for I was at some distance from him. I asked
him what was the matter. "O joy!" says he, "O glad! there see my
country, there my nation."
I observed an extraordinary sense of pleasure appeared in his
face, and his eyes sparkled, and his countenance discovered a
strange eagerness, as if he had a mind to be in his own country again;
and this observation of mine put a great many thoughts into me,
which made me at first not so easy about my new man Friday as I was
before; and I made no doubt but that if Friday could get back to his
own nation again, he would not only forget all his religion, but all
his obligation to me; and woud be forward enough to give his
countrymen an account of me, and come back perhaps with a hundred or
two of them, and make a feast upon me, at which he might be as merry
as he used to be with those of his enemies, when they were taken in
But I wronged the poor honest creature very much, for which I was
very sorry afterwards. However, as my jealousy increased, and held
me some weeks, I was a little more circumspect, and not so familiar
and kind to him as before; in which I was certainly in the wrong
too, the honest, grateful creature having no thought about it but what
consisted with the best principles, both as a religious Christian
and as a grateful friend, as appeared afterwards to my full
While my jealousy of him lasted, you may be sure I was every day
pumping him, to see if he would discover any of the new thoughts which
I suspected were in him; but I found everything he said was so
honest and so innocent that I could find nothing to nourish my
suspicion; and, in spite of all my uneasiness, he made me at last
entirely his own again, nor did he in the least perceive that I was
uneasy, and therefore I could not suspect him of deceit.
One day, walking up the same hill, but the weather being hazy at
sea, so that we could not see the continent, I called to him, and
said, "Friday, do not you wish yourself in your own country, your
own nation?" "Yes," he said, "I be much O glad to be at my own
nation." What would you do there?" said I. "Would you turn wild again,
eat men's flesh again, and be a savage as you were before?" He
looked full of concern, and shaking his head said, "No, no; Friday
tell them to live good; tell them to pray God; tell them to eat
corn-bread, cattle flesh, milk, no eat man again." "Why then," said
I to him, "they will kill you." He looked grave at that, and then
said, "No, they no kill me, they willing love learn." He meant by this
they would be willing to learn. He added, they learned much of the
bearded mans that come in the boat. Then I asked him if he would go
back to them. He smiled at that, and told me he could not swim so far.
I told him I would make a canoe for him. He told me he would go, if
I would go with him. "I go!" says I; "why, they will eat me if I
come there." "No, no," says he, "me make they no eat you; me make they
much love you." He meant, he would tell them how I killed his enemies,
and saved his life, and so he would make them love me. Then he told
me, as well as he could, how kind they were to seventeen white men, or
bearded men, as he called them, who came on shore there in distress.
From this time I confess I had a mind to venture over, and see if
I could possibly join with these bearded men, who, I made on doubt,
were Spanish or Portuguese; not doubting but, if I could, we might
find some method to escape from thence, being upon the continent,
and a good company together, better than I could from an island
forty miles off the shore, and alone, without help. So, after some
days, I took Friday to work again, by way of discourse, and told him I
would give him a boat to go back to his own nation; and accordingly
I carried him to my frigate, which lay on the other side of the
island, and having cleared it of water, for I always kept it sunk in
the water, I brought it out, showed it to him, and we both went into
I found he was a most dexterous fellow at managing it, would make it
go almost as swift and fast again as I could. So when he was in I said
to him, "Well now, Friday, shall we go to your nation?" He looked very
dull at my saying so, which, it seems, was because he thought the boat
too small to go so far. I told him then I had a bigger; so the next
day I went to the place where the first boat lay which I had made, but
which I could not get into water. He said that was big enough; but
then, as I had taken no care of it, and it had lain two or three and
twenty years there, the sun had split and dried it, that it was in a
manner rotten. Friday told me such a boat would do very well, and
would carry "much enough victual, drink, bread;" that was his way of
Upon the whole, I was by this time so fixed upon my design of
going over with him to the continent that I told him we would go and
make one as big as that, and he should go home in it. He answered
not one word, but looked very grave and sad. I asked him what was
the matter with him. He asked me again thus: "Why you angry mad with
Friday? What me done?" I asked him what he meant. I told him I was not
angry with him at all. "No angry! no angry!" says he, repeated the
words several times. "Why send Friday home away to my nation?"
"Why," says I, "Friday, did you not say you wished you were there?"
"Yes, yes," says he, "wish be both there, no wish Friday there, no
master there." In a word, he would not think of going there without
me. "I go there, Friday!" says I; "what shall I do there?" He turned
very quick upon me at this. "You do great deal much good," says he;
"you teach wild mans to be good, sober, tame mans; you tell them
know God, pray God, and live new life." "Alas! Friday," says I,
"thou knowest not what thou sayest. I am but an ignorant man
myself." "Yes, yes," says he, "you teachee me good, you teachee them
good." "No, no, Friday," says I, "you shall go without me; leave me
here to live by myself, as I did before." He looked confused again
at that word, and running to one of the hatchets which he used to
wear, he takes it up hastily, comes and gives it to me. "What must I
do with this?" says I to him. "You take kill Friday," says he. "What
must I kill you for?" said I again. He returns very quick, "What you
send Friday away for? Take kill Friday, no send Friday away." This
he spoke so earnestly that I saw tears stand in his eyes. In a word, I
so plainly discovered the utmost affection in him to me, and a firm
resolution in him, that I told him then, and often after, that I would
never send him away from me if he was willing to stay with me.
Upon the whole, as I found by all his discourse a settled
affection to me, and that nothing should part him from me, so I
found all the foundation of his desire to go to his own country was
laid in his ardent affection to the people, and his hopes of my
doing them good; a thing which, as I had no notion of myself, so I had
not the least thought or intention or desire of undertaking it. But
still I found a strong inclination to my attempting an escape, as
above, founded on the supposition gathered from the discourse, viz.,
that there were seventeen bearded men there; and, therefore, without
any more delay I went to work with Friday, to find out a great tree
proper to fell, and make a large periagua, or canoe, to undertake
the voyage. There were trees enough in the island to have built a
little fleet, not of periaguas and canoes, but even of good large
vessels. But the main thing I looked at was, to get one so near the
water that we might launch it when it was made, to avoid the mistake I
committed at first.
At last Friday pitched upon a tree, for I found he knew much
better than I what kind of wood was fittest for it; nor can I tell, to
this day, what wood to call the tree we cut down, except that it was
very like the tree we call fustic, or between that and the Nicaragua
wood, for it was much of the same color and smell. Friday was for
burning the hollow or cavity of this tree out, to make it for a
boat, but I showed him how rather to cut it out with tools; which,
after I had showed him how to use, he did very handily; and in about a
month's hard labor we finished it, and made it very handsome;
especially when, with our axes, which I showed him how to handle, we
cut and hewed the outside into the true shape of a boat. After this,
however, it cost us near a fortnight's time to get her along, as it
were, inch by inch, upon great rollers into the water; but when she
was in, she would have carried twenty men with great ease.
When she was in the water, and though she was so big, it amazed me
to see with what dexterity, and how swift my man Friday would manage
her, turn her, and paddle her along. So I asked him if he would, and
if we might venture over in her. "Yes," he said, "he venture over in
her very well, though great blow wind." However, I had a farther
design that he knew nothing of, and that was to make a mast and
sail, and to fit her with an anchor and cable. As to a mast, that
was easy enough to get; so I pitched upon a straight young cedar-tree,
which I found near the place, and which there was great plenty of in
the island; and I set Friday to work to cut it down, and gave him
directions how to shape and order it. But as to the sail, that was
my particular care. I knew I had old sails, or rather pieces of old
sails enough; but as I had had them now twenty-six years by me, and
had not been very careful to preserve them, not imagining that I
should ever have this kind of use for them, I did not doubt but they
were all rotten, and, indeed, most of them were so. However, I found
two pieces which appeared pretty good, and with these I went to
work, and with a great deal of pains, and awkward tedious stitching
(you may be sure) for want of needles, I, at length, made a
three-cornered ugly thing, like what we call in England a
shoulder-of-mutton sail, to go with a boom at bottom, and a little
short sprit at the top, such as usually our ship's longboats sail
with, and such as best knew how to manage; because it was such a one
as I had to the boat in which I made my escape from Barbary, as
related in the first part of my story.
I was near two months performing this last work, viz., rigging and
fitting my masts and sails; for I finished them very complete,
making a small stay, and a sail, or foresail, to it, to assist, if
we should turn to windward; and, which was more than all, I fixed a
rudder to the stern of her to steer with; and though I was but a
bungling shipwright, yet as I knew the usefulness, and even necessity,
of such a thing, I applied myself with so much pains to do it, that at
last I brought it to pass; though, considering the many dull
contrivances I had for it that failed, I think it cost me almost as
much labor as making the boat.
After all this was done, too, I had my man Friday to teach as to
what belonged to the navigation of my boat; for though he knew very
well how to paddle a canoe, he knew nothing what belonged to a sail
and a rudder; and was the most amazed when he saw me work the boat
to and again in the sea by the rudder, and how the sail jabbed, and
filled this way, or that way, as the course we sailed changed; I
say, when he saw this, he stood like one astonished and amazed.
However, with a little use I made all these things familiar to him,
and he became an expert sailor, except that as to the compass I
could make him understand very little of that. On the other hand, as
there was very little cloudy weather, and seldom or never any fogs
in those parts, there was the less occasion for a compass, seeing
the stars were always to be seen by night, and the shore by day,
except in the rainy season, and then nobody cared to stir abroad,
either by land or sea.
I was now entered on the seven and twentieth year of my captivity in
this place; though the three last years that I had this creature
with me ought rather to be left out of the account, my habitation
being quite of another kind than in all the rest of the time. I kept
the anniversary of my landing here with the same thankfulness to God
for His mercies as at first; and if I had such cause of acknowledgment
at first, I had much more so now, having such additional testimonies
of the care of Providence over me, and the great hopes I had of
being effectually and speedily delivered; for I had an invincible
impression upon my thoughts that my deliverance was at hand, and
that I should not be another year in this place. However, I went on
with my husbandry, digging, planting, fencing, as usual. I gathered
and cured my grapes, and did every necessary thing as before.
The rainy season was, in the meantime, upon me, when I kept more
within doors than at any other times; so I had stowed our new vessel
as secure as we could, bringing her up into the creek, where, as I
said in the beginning, I landed my rafts from the ship; and hauling
her up to the shore at high-water mark, I made my man Friday dig a
little dock, just big enough to hold her, and just deep enough to give
her water enough to float in, and then, when the tide was out, we made
a strong dam across the end of it, to keep the water out; and so she
lay dry, as to the tide, from the sea; and to keep the rain off, we
laid a great many boughs of trees, so thick, that she was well
thatched as a house; and thus we waited for the month of November
and December, in which I designed to make my adventure.
When the settled season began to come in, as the thought of my
designed returned with the fair weather, I was preparing daily for the
voyage; and the first thing I did was to lay by a certain quantity
of provisions, being the stores for our voyage; and intended, in a
week or a fortnight's time, to open the dock, and launch out our boat.
I was busy one morning upon something of this kind, when I called to
Friday, and bid him go to the sea-shore and see if he could find a
turtle, or tortoise, a thing which we generally got once a week, for
the sake of the eggs as well as the flesh. Friday had not been long
gone when he came running back, and flew over my outer wall, or fence,
like one that felt not the ground, or the steps he set his feet on;
and before I had time to speak to him, he cries out to me, "O
master! O master! O sorrow! O bad!" "What's the matter, Friday?"
says I. "O yonder, there," says he, "one, two, three canoe! one,
two, three!" By his way of speaking, I concluded there were six; but
on inquiry, I found it was but three. "Well, Friday," says I, "do
not be frighted." So I heartened him up as well as I could. However, I
saw the poor fellow was most terribly scared; for nothing ran in his
head but that they were come to look for him, and would cut him in
pieces, and eat him; and the poor fellow trembled so that I scarce
knew what to do with him. I comforted him as well as I could, and told
him I was in as much danger as he, and that they would eat me as
well as him. "But," says I, "Friday, we must resolve to fight them.
Can you fight, Friday?" "Me shoot," say he; "but there come many great
number." No matter for that," said I again; "our guns will fright them
that we do not kill." So I asked him whether, if I resolved to
defend him, he would defend me, and stand by me, and do just as I
bid him. He said, "Me die when you bid die, master." So I went and
fetched a good dram of rum, and gave him; for I had been so good a
husband of my rum that I had a great deal left. When he had drank
it, I made him take the two fowling-pieces, which we always carried,
and load them with large swan-shot, as big as small pistol-bullets.
Then I took four muskets, and loaded them with two slugs and five
small bullets each; and my two pistols I loaded with a brace of
bullets each. I hung my great sword, as usual, naked, by my side,
and gave Friday his hatchet.
When I had thus prepared myself, I took my perspective-glass and
went up to the side of the hill to see what I could discover; and I
found quickly, by my glass, that there were one-and-twenty savages,
three prisoners, and three canoes, and that their whole business
seemed to be the triumphant banquet upon these three human bodies; a
barbarous feast indeed, but nothing more than, as I had observed,
was usual with them.
I observed also that they were landed, not where they had done
when Friday made his escape, but nearer to my creek, where the shore
was low, and where a thick wood came close almost down to the sea.
This, with the abhorrence of the inhuman errand these wretches came
about, filled me with such indignation that I came down again to
Friday, and told him I was resolved to go down to them, and kill
them all, and asked him if he would stand by me. He was now gotten
over his fright, and his spirits being a little raised with the dram I
had given him, he was very cheerful, and told me, as before, he
would die when I bid die.
In this fit of fury, I took first and divided the arms which I had
charge, as before, between us. I gave Friday one pistol to stick in
his girdle, and three guns upon his shoulder; and I took one pistol,
and the other three myself, and in this posture we marched out. I took
a small bottle of rum in my pocket, and gave Friday a large bag with
more powder and bullet; and as to orders I charged him to keep close
behind me, and not to stir, or shoot, or do anything, till I bid
him, and in the meantime not to speak a word. In this posture I
fetched a compass to my right hand of near a mile, as well to got over
the creek as to get into the wood, so that I might come within shot of
them before I should be discovered, which I had seen, by my glass,
it was easy to do.
While I was making this march, my former thoughts returning, I began
to abate my resolution. I do not mean that I entertained any fear of
their number; for as they were naked, unarmed wretches, It is
certain I was superior to them; nay, though I had been alone. But it
occurred to my thoughts what call, what occasion, much less what
necessity, I was in to go and dip my hands in blood, to attack
people who had neither done or intended me any wrong; who, as to me,
were innocent, and whose barbarous customs were their own disaster;
being in them a token, indeed, of God's having left them, with the
other nations of that part of the world, to such stupidity, and to
such inhuman courses; but did not call me to take upon me to be a
judge of their actions, much less an executioner of His justice;
that whenever He thought fit, He would take the cause into His own
hands, and by national vengeance, punish them, as a people, for
national crimes; but that, in the meantime, it was none of my
business; that, it was true, Friday might justify it, because he was a
declared enemy, and in a state of war with those very particular
people, and it was lawful for him to attack them; but I could not
say the same with respect to me. These things were so warmly pressed
upon my thoughts all the way as I went, that I resolved I would only
go and place myself near them, that I might observe their barbarous
feast, and that I would act then as God should direct; but that,
unless something offered that was more a call to me than yet I knew
of, I would not meddle with them.
With this resolution I entered the wood, and with all possible
wariness and silence, Friday following close at my heels, I marched
till I came to the skirt the wood, on the side which was next to them;
only that one corner of the wood lay between me and them. Here I
called softly to Friday, and showing him a great tree, which was
just at the corner of the wood, I bade him go to the tree and bring me
word if he could see there plainly what they were doing. He did so,
and came immediately back to me, and told me they might be plainly
viewed there; that they were all about their fire, eating the flesh of
one of their prisoners, and that another lay bound upon the sand, a
little from them, which, he said, they would kill next, and, which
fired all the very soul within me, he told me it was not one of
their nation, but one of the bearded men, whom he had told me of, that
came to their country in the boat. I was filled with horror at the
very naming the white, bearded man; and, going to the tree, I saw
plainly, by my glass, a white man, who lay upon the beach of the
sea, with his hands and feet tied with flags, or things like rushes,
and that he was a European, and had clothes on.
There was another tree, and a little thicket beyond it, about
fifty years nearer to them than the place where I was, which, by going
a little way about, I saw I might come at undiscovered, and that
then I should be within half shot of them; so I withheld my passion,
though I was indeed enraged to the highest degree; and going back
about twenty paces, I got behind some bushes, which held all the way
till I came to the other tree; and then I came to a little rising
ground, which gave me a full view of them, at the distance of about
eighty yards.
I had now not a moment to lose, for nineteen of the dreadful
wretches sat upon the ground, all close huddled together, and had just
sent the other two to butcher the poor Christian, and bring him,
perhaps limb by limb, to their fire; and they were stooped down to
untie the bands at this feet. I turned to Friday. "Now, Friday,"
said I, "do as I bid thee." Friday said he would. "Then, Friday," says
I, "do exactly as you see me do; fail in nothing." So I set down one
of the muskets and the fowling-piece upon the ground, and Friday did
the like by his; and with the other musket took my aim at the savages,
bidding him do the like. Then asking him if he was ready, he said,
"Yes." "Then fire at them," said I; and the same moment I fired also.
Friday took his aim so much better than I that on the side that he
shot he killed two of them, and wounded three more; and on my side I
killed one and wounded two. They were, you may be sure, in a
dreadful consternation; and all of them who were not hurt jumped up
upon their feet, but did not immediately know which way to run, or
which way to look, for they knew not from whence their destruction
came. Friday kept his eyes close upon me, that, as I had bid him, he
might observe what I did; so as soon as the first shot was made I
threw down the piece, and took up the fowling-piece, and Friday did
the like. He sees me cock and present; he did the same again. "Are you
ready, Friday?" said I. "Yes," says he. "Let fly, then," says I, "in
the name of God!" and with that I fired again among the amazed
wretches, and so did Friday; and as our pieces were now loaded with
what I called swan-shot, or small pistol-bullets, were found only
two drop, but so many were wounded that they ran about yelling and
screaming like mad creatures, all bloody, and miserably wounded most
of them; whereof three more fell quickly after, though not quite dead.
"Now, Friday," says I, laying down the discharged pieces, and taking
up the musket which was yet loaded, "follow me," says I, which he
did with a great deal of courage; upon which I rushed out of the wood,
and showed myself, and Friday close at my foot. As soon as I perceived
they saw me, I shouted as loud as I could, and bade Friday to do so
too; and running as fast as I could, which, by the way, was not very
fast, being loaden with arms as I was, I made directly towards the
poor victim, who was, as I said, lying upon the beach, or shore,
between the place where they sat and the sea. The two butchers, who
were just going to work with him, had left him at the surprise of
our first fire, and fled in a terrible fright to the seaside, and
had jumped into a canoe, and three more of the rest made the same way.
I turned to Friday, and bid him step forwards and fire at them. He
understood me immediately, and running about forty yards, to be near
them, he shot at them, and I thought he had killed them all, for I saw
them all fall of a heap into the boat; though I saw two of them up
again quickly. However, he killed two of them and wounded the third,
so that he lay down in the bottom of the boat as if he had been dead.
While my man Friday fired at them, I pulled out my knife and cut the
flags that bound the poor victim; and loosing his hands and feet, I
lifted him up, and asked him in the Portuguese tongue what he was.
He answered in Latin, Christianus; but was so weak and faint that he
could scarce stand or speak. I took my bottle out of my pocket and
gave it him, making signs that he should drink, which he did; and I
gave him a piece of bread, which he eat. Then I asked him what
countryman he was; and he said, Espagniole; and being a little
recovered, let me know, by all the signs he could possibly make, how
much he was in my debt for his deliverance. "Seignior," said I, with
as much Spanish as I could make up, "we will talk afterwards, but we
must fight now. If you have any strength left, take this pistol and
sword, and lay about you." He took them very thankfully, and no sooner
had he the arms in his hands but, as if they had put new vigor into
him, he flew upon his murderers like a fury, and had cut two of them
in pieces in an instant; for the truth is, as the whole was a surprise
to them, so the poor creatures were so much frighted with the noise of
our pieces that they fell down for mere amazement and fear, and had no
power to attempt their own escape than their flesh had to resist our
shot; and that was the case of those five that Friday shot at in the
boat; for as three of them fell with the hurt they received, so the
other two fell with the fright.
I kept my piece in my hand still without firing, being willing to
keep my charge ready, because I had given the Spaniard my pistol and
sword. So I called to Friday, and bade him run up to the tree from
whence we first fired, and fetch the arms which lay there that had
been discharged, which he did with great swiftness; and then giving
him my musket, I sat down myself to load all the rest again, and
bade them come to me when they wanted. While I was loading these
pieces, there happened a fierce engagement between the Spaniard and
one of the savages, who made at him with one of their great wooden
swords, the same weapon that was to have killed him before if I had
not prevented it. The Spaniard, who was as bold and brave as could
be imagined, though weak, had fought this Indian a good while, and had
cut him two great wounds on his head; but the savage being a stout,
lusty fellow, closing in with him, had thrown him down, being faint,
and was wringing my sword out of his hand, when the Spaniard, though
undermost, wisely quitting the sword, drew the pistol from his girdle,
shot the savage through the body, and killed him upon the spot, before
I, who was running to help him, could come near him.
Friday being now left to his liberty, pursued the flying wretches
with no weapon in his hand but his hatchet; and with that he
despatched those three who, as I said before, were wounded at first,
and fallen, and all the rest he could come up with; and the Spaniard
coming to me for a gun, I gave him one of the fowling-pieces, with
which he pursued two of the savages, and wounded them both; but as
he was not able to run, they both got from him into the wood, where
Friday pursued them, and killed one of them; but the other was too
nimble for him, and though he was wounded, yet had plunged himself
into the sea, and swam with all his might off to those two who were
left in the canoe; which three in the canoe, with one wounded, who
we know not whether he died or no, were all that escaped our hands
of one and twenty. The account of the rest is as follows:
3 killed at our first shot from the tree.
2 killed at the next shot.
2 killed by Friday in the boat.
2 killed by ditto, of those at first wounded.
1 killed by ditto in the wood.
3 killed by the Spaniard.
4 killed, being found dropped here and there of
their wounds, or killed by Friday in his chase of them.
4 escaped in the boat, whereof one wounded, if not dead.
21 in all.

Those that were in the canoe worked hard to get out of gunshot;
and though Friday made two or three shots at them, I did not find that
he hit any of them. Friday would fain have had me take one of their
canoes, and pursue them; and, indeed, I was very anxious about their
escape, lest carrying the news home to their people they should come
back perhaps with two or three hundred of their canoes, and devour
us by mere multitude. So I consented to pursue them by sea, and
running to one of their canoes I jumped in, and bade Friday to
follow me. But when I was in the canoe, I was surprised to find
another poor creature lie there alive, bound hand and foot, as the
Spaniard was, for the slaughter, and almost dead with fear, not
knowing what the matter was; for he had not been able to look up
over the side of the boat, he was tied so hard, neck and heels, and
had been tied so long, that he had really but little life in him.
I immediately cut the twisted flags or rushes, which they had
bound him with, and would have helped him up; but he could not stand
or speak, but groaned most piteously, believing, it seems, still
that he was only unbound in order to be killed.
When Friday came to him, I bade him speak to him, and tell him of
his deliverance; and pulling out my bottle, made him give the poor
wretch a dram; which, with the news of his being delivered, revived
him, and he sat up in the boat. But when Friday came to hear him
speak, and look in his face, it would have moved any one to tears to
have seen how Friday kissed him, embraced him, hugged him, cried,
laughed, hallooed, jumped about, danced, sung; then cried again, wrung
his hands, beat his own face and head, and then sung and jumped
about again, like a distracted creature. It was a good while before
I could make him speak to me, or tell me what was the matter; but when
he came a little to himself, he told me that it was his father.
It was not easy for me to express how it moved me to see what
ecstasy and filial affection had worked in this poor savage at the
sight of his father, and of his being delivered from death; nor,
indeed, can I describe half the extravagancies of his affection
after this; for he went into the boat, and out of the boat, a great
many times. When he went in to him, he would sit down by him, open his
breast, and hold his father's head close to his bosom, half an hour
together, to nourish it; then he took his arms and ankles, which
were numbed and stiff with the binding, and chafed and rubbed them
with his hands; and I, perceiving what the case was, gave him some rum
out of my bottle to rub them with, which did them a great deal of
This action put an end to our pursuit of the canoe with the other
savages who were now gotten almost out of sight; and it was happy
for us that we did not, for it blew so hard within two hours after,
and before they could be gotten a quarter of their way, and
continued blowing so hard all night, and that from the north-west,
which was against them, that I could not suppose their boat could
live, or that they ever reached to their own coast.
But to return to Friday. He was so busy about his father that I
could not find in my heart to take him off for some time; but after
I thought he could leave him a little, I called him to me, and he came
jumping and laughing, and pleased to the highest extreme. Then I asked
him if he had given his father any bread. He shook his head, and said,
"None; ugly dog eat all up self." So I gave him a cake of bread out of
a little pouch I carried on purpose. I also gave him a dram for
himself, but he would not taste it, but carried it to his father. I
had in my pocket also two or three bunches of my raisins, so I gave
him a handful of them for his father. He had no sooner given his
father these raisins, but I saw him come out of the boat and run away,
as if he had been bewitched, he ran as such a rate; for he was the
swiftest fellow of his foot that ever I saw. I say, he run at such a
rate that he was out of sight, as it were, in an instant; and though I
called, and hallooed, too, after him, it was all one, away he went;
and in a quarter of an hour saw him come back again, though not so
fast as he went; and as he came nearer, I found his pace was
slacker, because he had something in his hand.
When he came up to me, I found he had been quite home for an earthen
jug, or pot, to bring his father some fresh water, and that he had got
two more cakes or loaves of bread. The bread he gave me, but the water
he carried to his father. However, as I was very thirsty too, I took a
little sip of it. This water revived his father more than all the
rum or spirits I had given him, for he was just fainting with thirst.
When his father had drank, I called to him to know if there was
any water left. He said, "Yes;" and I bade him give it to the poor
Spaniard, who was in as much want of it as his father; and I sent
one of the cakes, that Friday brought, to the Spaniard, too, who was
indeed very weak, and was reposing himself upon a green place under
the shade of a tree; and whose limbs were also very stiff, and very
much swelled with the rude bandage he been tied with. When I saw
that upon Friday's coming to him with the water he sat up and drank,
and took the bread, and began to eat. I went to him, and gave him a
handful of raisins. He looked up in my face with all the tokens of
gratitude and thankfulness that could appear in any countenance; but
was so weak, notwithstanding he had so exerted himself in the fight,
that he could not stand up upon his feet. He tried to do it two or
three times, but was really not able, his ankles were so swelled and
so painful to him; so I bade him sit still, and caused Friday to rub
his ankles, and bathe them with rum, as he had done his father's.
I observed the poor affectionate creature, every two minutes, or
perhaps less, all the while he was here, turn his head about to see if
his father was in the same place and posture as he left him sitting;
and at last he found he was not to be seen; at which he started up,
and without speaking a word, flew with that swiftness to him, that one
could scarce perceive his feet to touch the ground as he went. But
when he came, he only found he had laid himself down to ease his
limbs; so Friday came back to me presently, and I then spoke to the
Spaniard to let Friday help him up, if he could, and lead him to the
boat, and then he should carry him to our dwelling, where I would take
care of him. But Friday, a lusty strong fellow, took the Spaniard
quite up upon his back, and carried him away to the boat, and set
him down softly upon the side of gunnel of the canoe, with his feet in
the inside of it, and then lifted him quite in, and set him close to
his father; and presently stepping out again, launched the boat off,
and paddled it along the shore faster than I could walk, though the
wind blew pretty hard, too. So he brought them both safe into our
creek, and leaving them in the boat, runs away to fetch the other
canoe. As he passed me, I spoke to him, and asked him whither he went.
He told me, "Go fetch more boat." So away he went like the wind, for
sure never man or horse ran like him; and he had the other canoe in
the creek almost as soon as I got to it by land; so he waf ted me
over, and then went to help our new guests out of the boat, which he
did; but they were neither of them able to walk, so that poor Friday
knew not what to do.
To remedy this I went to work in my thought, and calling to Friday
to bid them sit down on the bank while he came to me, I soon made a
kind of hand-barrow to lay them on, and Friday and I carried them up
both together upon it between us. But when we got them to the
outside of our wall, or fortification, we were at a worse loss than
before, for it was impossible to get them over, and I was resolved not
to break it down. So I set to work again; and Friday and I, in about
two hours' time, made a very handsome tent, covered with old sails,
and above that with boughs of trees, being in the space without our
outward fence, and between that and the grove of young wood which I
had planted; and here we made them two beds of such things as I had,
viz., of good rice-straw, with blankets laid upon it to lie on, and
another to cover them, on each bed.
My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in
subjects; and it was a merry reflection, which I frequently made,
how like a king I looked. First of all, the whole country was my own
mere property, so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly,
my people were perfectly subjected. I was absolute lord and
lawgiver; they all owned their lives to me, and were ready to lay down
their lives, if there had been occasion of it, for me. It was
remarkable, too, we had but three subjects, and they were of three
different religions. My man Friday was a Protestant, his father was
a pagan and a cannibal, and the Spaniard was a papist. However, I
allowed liberty of conscience throughout my dominions. But this is
by the way.
As soon as I had secured my two weak rescued prisoners, and given
them shelter and a place to rest them upon, I began to think of making
some provision for them; and the first thing I did, I ordered Friday
to take a yearling goat, betwixt a kid and a goat, out of my
particular flock, to be killed; when I cut off the hinder-quarter, and
chopping it into small pieces. I set Friday to work to boiling and
stewing, and made them a very good dish, I assure you, of flesh and
broth, having put some barley and rice also into the broth; and as I
cooked it without doors, for I made no fire within my inner wall, so I
carried it all into the new tent, and having set a table there for
them, I sat down and ate my own dinner also with them, and as well
as I could cheered them, and encouraged them; Friday being my
interpreter, especially to his father, and, indeed, to the Spaniard
too; for the Spaniard spoke the language of the savages pretty well.
After we had dined, or rather supped, I ordered Friday to take one
of the canoes and go and fetch our muskets and other fire-arms, which,
for want of time, we had left upon the place of battle; and the next
day I ordered him to go and bury the dead bodies of the savages,
whch lay open to the sun, and would presently be offensive; and I also
ordered him to bury the horrid remains of their barbarous feast, which
I knew were pretty much, and which I could not think of doing
myself; nay, I could not bear to see them, if I went that way. All
which he punctually performed, and defaced the very appearance of
the savages being there; so that when I went again I could scarce know
where it was, otherwise than by. the corner of the wood pointing to
the place.
I then began to enter into a little conversation with my two new
subjects; and first, I set Friday to inquire of his father what he
thought of the escape of the savages in that canoe, and whether we
might expect a return of them, with a power too great for us to
resist. His first opinion was, that the savages in the boat never
could live out the storm which blew that night they went off, but
must, of necessity, be drowned, or driven south to those other shores,
where they were as sure to be devoured as they were to be drowned if
they were cast away. But as to what they would do if they came safe on
shore, he said he knew not; but it was his opinion that they were so
dreadfully frightened with the manner of their being attacked, the
noise, and the fire, that he believed they would tell their people
they were all killed by thunder and lightning, not by the. hand of
man; and that the two which appeared, viz., Friday and me, were two
heavenly spirits, or furies, come down to destroy them, and not men
with weapons. This, he said, he knew, because he heard them all cry
out so in their language to one another; for it was impossible to them
to conceive that a man could dart fire, and speak thunder, and kill at
a distance without lifting up the hand, as was done now. And this
old savage was in the right; for, as I understood since by other
hands, the savages never attempted to go over to the island
afterwards. They were so terrified with the accounts given by those
four men (for, it seems, they did escape the sea) that they believed
whoever went to that enchanted island would be destroyed with fire
from the gods.
This however, I knew not, and therefore was under continual
apprehensions for a good while, and kept always upon my guard, me
and all my army; for as we were now four of us, I would have
ventured upon a hundred of them, fairly in the open field, at any
In a little time, however, no more canoes appearing, the fear of
their coming wore off, and I began to take my former thoughts of a
voyage to the main into consideration; being likewise assured by
Friday's father that I might depend upon good usage from their nation,
on his account, if I would go.
But my thoughts were a little suspended when I had a serious
discourse with the Spaniard, and when I understood that there were
sixteen more of his countrymen and Portuguese, who, having been cast
away, and made their escape to that side, lived there at peace,
indeed, with the savages, but were very sore put to it for
necessaries, and indeed for life. I asked him all the particulars of
their voyage, and found they were a Spanish ship bound from the Rio de
la Plata to the Havana, being directed to leave their loading there,
which was chiefly hides and silver, and to bring back what European
goods they could meet with there; that they had five Portuguese seamen
on board, whom they took out of another wreck; that five of their
own men were drowned when the first ship was lost, and that these
escaped, through infinite dangers and hazards, and arrived, almost
starved, on the cannibal coast, where they expected to have been
devoured every moment.
He told me they had some arms with them, but they were perfectly
useless, for that they had neither powder nor ball, the washing of the
sea having spoiled all their powder but a little, which they used,
at their first landing, to provide themselves some food.
I asked him what he thought would become of them there, and if
they had formed no design of making any escape. He said they had
many consultations about it; but that having neither vessel, or
tools to build one, or provisions of any kind, their councils always
ended in tears and despair.
I asked him how he thought they would receive a proposal from me,
which might tend towards an escape; and whether, if they were all
here, it might not be done. I told him with freedom, I feared mostly
their treachery and ill-usage of me if I put my life in their hands;
for that gratitude was no inherent virtue in the nature of man, nor
did men always square their dealings by the obligations they had
received, so much as they did by the advantages they expected. I
told him it would be very hard that I should be the instrument of
their deliverance, and that they should afterwards make me their
prisoner in New Spain, where an Englishman was certain to be made a
sacrifice, what necessity or what accident soever brought him thither;
and that I had rather be delivered up to the savages, and be
devoured alive, than fall into the merciless claws of the priests, and
be carried into the Inquisition. I added, that otherwise I was
persuaded, if they were all here, we might, with so many hands,
build a bark large enough to carry us all away, either to the Brazils,
southward, or to the islands, or Spanish coast, northward; but that
if, in requital, they should when I had put weapons into their
hands, carry me by force among their own people, I might be ill used
for my kindness to them, and make my case worse than it was before.
He answered, with a great deal of candor and ingenuity, that their
condition was so miserable, and they were so sensible of it, that he
believed they would abhor the thought of using any man unkindly that
should contribute to their deliverance; and that, if pleased, he would
go to them with the old man, and discourse with them about it, and
return again, and bring me their answer; that he would make conditions
with them upon their solemn oath that they should be absolutely
under my leading, as their commander and captain; and that they should
swear upon the holy sacraments and the gospel to be true to me, and to
go to such Christian country as that I should agree to, and no
other, and to be directed wholly and absolutely by my orders till they
were landed safely in such country as I intended; and that he would
bring a contract from them, under their hands, for that purpose.
Then he told me he would first swear to me himself that he would
never stir from me as long as he lived till I gave him orders; and
that he would take my side to the last drop of his blood, if there
should happen the least breach of faith among his countrymen.
He told me they were all of them very civil, honest men, and they
were under the greatest distress imaginable, having neither weapons
nor clothes, nor any food, but at the mercy and discretion of the
savages; out of all hopes of ever returning to their own country;
and that he was sure, if I would undertake their relief, they would
live and die by me.
Upon these assurances, I resolved to venture to relieve them, if
possible, and to send the old savage and this Spaniard over to them to
treat. But when we had gotten all things in a readiness to go, the
Spaniard himself started an objection, which had so much prudence in
it on one hand, and so much sincerity on the other hand, that I
could not but be very well satisfied in it, and by his advice put
off the deliverance of his comrades for at least half a year. The case
was thus:
He had been with us now about a month, during which time I had let
him see in what manner I had provided, with the assistance of
Providence, for my support; and he saw evidently what stock of corn
and rice I had laid up; which, as it was more than sufficient for
myself, so it was not sufficient, at least without good husbandry, for
my family, now it was increased to number four; but much less would it
be sufficient if his countrymen, who were, as he said, fourteen, still
alive, should come over; and least of all would it be sufficient to
victual our vessel, if we should build one for a voyage to any of
the Christian colonies of America. So he told me he thought it would
be more advisable to let him and the two others dig and cultivate some
more land, as much as I could spare seed to sow; and that we should
wait another harvest, that we might have a supply of corn for his
countrymen when they should come; for want might be a temptation to
them to disagree, or not to think themselves delivered, otherwise than
out of one difficulty into another. "You know," says he, "the children
of Israel, though they rejoiced at first for their being delivered out
of Egypt, yet rebelled even against God Himself, that delivered
them, when they came to want bread in the wilderness."
His caution was so reasonable, and his advice so good, that I
could not but be very well pleased with his proposal, as well as I was
satisfied with his fidelity. So we fell to digging all four of us,
as well as the wooden tools we were furnished with permitted; and in
about a month's time, by the end of which it was seed-time, we had
gotten as much land cured and trimmed up as we sowed twenty-two
bushels of barley on, and sixteen jars of rice; which was, in short,
all the seed we had to spare; nor, indeed, did we leave ourselves
barley sufficient for our own food for the six months that we had to
expect our crop; that is to say, reckoning from the time we set our
seed aside for sowing; for it is not to be supposed it is six months
in the ground in that country.
Having now society enough, and our numbers being sufficient to put
us out of fear of the savages, if they had come, unless their number
had-been very great, we went freely all over the island, wherever we
found occasion; and as here we had our escape or deliverance upon
our thoughts, it was impossible, at least for me, to have the means of
it out of mine. To this purpose, I marked out several trees which I
thought fit for our work, and I set Friday and his father to cutting
them down; and then I caused the Spaniard, to whom I imparted my
thought on that affair, to oversee and direct their work. I showed
them with what indefatigable pains I had hewed a large tree into
single planks, and I caused them to do the like, till they had made
about a dozen large planks of good oak, near two feet broad,
thirty-five feet long, and from two inches to four inches thick.
What prodigious labor it took up, any one may imagine.
At the same time I contrived to increase my little flock of tame
goats as much as I could; and to this purpose I made Friady and the
Spaniard go out one day, and myself with Friday the next day, for we
took our turns, and by this means we got above twenty young kids to
breed up with the rest; for whenever we shot the dam, we saved the
kids, and added them to our flock. But above all, the season for
curing the grapes coming on, I caused such a prodigious quantity to be
hung up in the sun, that I believe had we been at Alicant, where the
raisins of the sun are cured, we could have filled sixty or eighty
barrels; and these, with our bread, was a great part of our food,
and very good living too, I assure you; for it is an exceeding
nourishing food.
It was now harvest, and our crop in good order. It was not the
most plentiful increase I had seen in the island, but however, it
was enough to answer our end; for from our twenty-two bushels of
barley we brought in and thrashed out above two hundred and twenty
bushels, and the like in proportion of the rice; which was store
enough for our food to the next harvest, though all the sixteen
Spaniards had been on shore with me; or if we had been ready for a
voyage, it would very plentifully have victualled our ship to have
carried us to any part of the world, that is to say, of America.
When we had thus housed and secured our magazine of corn, we fell to
work to make more wicker-work, viz., great baskets, in which we kept
it; and the Spaniard was very handy and dextrous at this part, and
often blamed me that I did not make some things for defence of this
kind of work; but I saw no need of it.
And now having a full supply of food for all the guests I
expected, I gave the Spaniard leave to go over to the main, to see
what he could do with those he had left behind him there. I gave him
strict charge in writing not to bring any man with him who would not
first swear, in the presence of himself and of the old savage, that he
would no way injure, fight with, or attack the person he should find
in the island, who was so kind to send for them in order to their
deliverance; but that they would stand by and defend him against all
such attempts, and they went would be entirely under and subjected
to his commands; and that this should be put in writing, and signed
with their hands. How we were to have this done, when I knew they
had neither pen nor ink, that indeed was a question which we never
Under these instructions, the Spaniard and the old savage, the
father of Friday, went away in one of the canoes which they might be
said to come in, or rather were brought in, when they came as
prisoners to be devoured by the savages.
I gave each of them a musket, with a firelock on it, and about eight
charges of powder and ball, charging them to be very good husbands
of both, and not to use either of them but upon urgent occasion.
This was a cheerful work, being the first measures used by me, in
view of my deliverance, for now twenty-seven years and some days. I
gave them provisions of bread and of dried grapes sufficient for
themselves for many days, and sufficient for all their countrymen
for about eight days' time; and wishing them a good voyage, I see them
go, agreeing with them about a signal they should hang out at their
return, by which I should know them again, when they came back, at a
distance, before they came on shore.
They went away with a fair gale on the day that the moon was at
full, by my account in the month of October, but as for an exact
reckoning of days, after I had once lost it, I could never recover
it again; nor had I kept even the number of years so punctually as
to be sure that I was right, though as it proved, when I afterwards
examined my account, I found I had kept a true reckoning of years.
It was no less than eight days I had waited for them, when a strange
and unforeseen accident intervened, of which the like has not
perhaps been heard of in history. I was fast asleep in my hutch one
morning, when my man Friday came running in to me, and called aloud,
"Master, master, they are come, they are come!"
I jumped up, and regardless of danger, I went out as soon as I could
get my clothes on, through my little grove, which, by the way, was
by this time grown to be a very thick wood; I say, regardless of
danger, I went without my arms, which was not my custom to do; but I
was surprised when, turning my eyes to the sea, I presently saw a boat
at about a league and half's distance standing in for the shore,
with a shoulder-of-mutton sail, as they call it, and the wind
blowing pretty fair to bring them in; also I observed presently that
they did not come from that side which the shore lay on, but from
the southernmost end of the island. Upon this I called Friday in,
and bid him lie close, for these were not the people we looked for,
and that we might not know yet whether they were friends or enemies.
In the next place, I went in to fetch my perspective-glass, to see
what I could make of them; and having taken the ladder out, I
climbed up to the top of the hill, as I used to do when I was
apprehensive of anything, and to take my view the plainer, without
being discovered.
I had scarce set my foot on the hill, when my eye plainly discovered
a ship lying at an anchor at about two leagues and a half's distance
from me, south-southeast, but not above a league and a half from the
shore. By my observation, it appeared plainly to be an English ship,
and the boat appeared to be an English longboat.
I cannot express confusion I was in; though the joy of seeing a
ship, and one who I had reason to believe was manned by my own
countrymen, and consequently friends, was such as I cannot describe.
But yet I had some secret doubts hung about me, I cannot tell from
whence they came, bidding me keep upon my guard. In the first place,
it occurred to me to consider what business an English ship could have
in that part of the world, since it was not the way to or from any
part of the world where the English had any traffic; I knew there
had been no storms to drive them in there, as in distress; and that if
they were English really, it was most probable that they were here
upon no good design, and that I had better continue as I was than fall
into the hands of thieves and murderers.
Let no man despise he secret hints and notices of danger which
sometimes are given him when he may think there is no possibility of
its being real. That such hints and notices are given us, I believe
few that have made any observations of things can deny; that they
are certain discoveries of an invisible world, and a converse of
spirits, we cannot doubt; and if the tendency of them seems to be warn
us of danger, why should we not suppose they are from some friendly
agent, whether surperme, or inferior and subordinate, is not the
question, and that they are given for our good?
The present question abundantly confirms me in the justice of this
reasoning; for had I not been made cautious by this secret admonition,
come it from whence it will, I had been undone inevitably, and in a
far worse condition than before, as you will see presently.
I had not kept myself long in this posture, but I saw the boat
draw near the shore, as if they looked for a creek to thrust in at,
for the convenience of landing. However, as they did not come quite
far enough, they did not see the little inlet where I formerly
landed my rafts; but run their boat on shore upon the beach, at
about half a mile from me, which was very happy for me; for
otherwise they would have landed just, as I may say, at my door, and
would soon have beaten me out of my castle, and perhaps have plundered
me of all I had.
When they were on shore, I was fully satisfied that they were
Englishmen, at least most of them; one or two I thought were Dutch,
but it did not prove so. There were in all eleven men, whereof three
of them I found were unarmed, and, as I thought, bound; and when the
first four or five of them were jumped on shore, they took those three
out of the boat, as prisoners. One of the three I could perceive using
the most passionate gestures of entreaty, affliction, and despair,
even to a kind of extravagance; the other two, I could perceive,
lifted up their hands sometimes, and appeared concerned indeed, but
not to such a degree as the first.
I was perfectly confounded at the sight, and knew not what the
meaning of it should be. Friday called out to me in English as well as
he could, "O master! you see English mans eat prisoner as well as
savage mans." "Why," says I, "Friday, do you think they are agoing
to eat them then?" "Yes," says Friday, "they will eat them." "No, no,"
says I, "Friday, I am afraid they will murder them indeed, but you may
be sure they will not eat them."
All this while I had no thought of what the matter really was, but
stood trembling with the horror of the sight, expecting every moment
when the three prisoners should be killed; nay, once I saw one of
the villains lift up his arm with a great cutlass, as the seamen
call it, or sword, to strike one of the poor men; and I expected to
see him fall every moment, at which all the blood in my body seemed to
run chill in my veins.
I wished heartily now for my Spaniard, and the savage that was
gone with him; or that I had any way to have come undiscovered
within shot of them, that I might have rescued the three men, for I
saw no fire-arms they had among them; but it fell out to my mind
another way.
After I had observed the outrageous usage of the three men by the
insolent seamen, I observed the fellows run scattering about the land,
as if they wanted to see the country. I observed that the three
other men had liberty to go also where they pleased; but they sat down
all three upon the ground, very pensive, and looked like men in
This put me in mind of the first time when I came on shore, and
began to look about me; how I gave myself over for lost; how wildly
I looked round me; what dreadful apprehensions I had; and how I lodged
in the tree all night, for fear of being devoured by wild beasts.
As I knew nothing that night of the supply I was to receive by the
providential driving of the ship nearer the land by the storms and
tide, by which I have since been so long nourished and supported; so
these three poor desolate men knew nothing how certain of
deliverance and supply they were, how near it was to them, and how
effectually and really they were in a condition of safety, at the same
time that they thought themselves lost, and their case desperate.
So little do we see before us in the world, and so much reason
have we to depend cheerfully upon the great Maker of the world, that
He does not leave His creatures so absolutely destitute, but that,
in the worst circumstances, they have always something to be
thankful for, and sometimes are nearer their deliverance than they
imagine; nay, are even brought to their deliverance by the means by
which they seem to be brought to their destruction.
It was just at the top of high-water when these people came on
shore; and while partly they stood parleying with the prisoners they
brought, and partly while they rambled about to see what kind of a
place they were in, they had carelessly stayed till the tide was
spent, and the water was ebbed considerably away, leaving their boat
They had left two men in the boat, who, as I found afterwards,
having drank a little too much brandy, fell asleep. However, one of
them waking sooner than the other, and finding the boat too fast
aground for him to stir it, hallooed for the rest, who were straggling
about, upon which they all soon came to the boat; but it was past
all their strength to launch her, the boat being very heavy, and the
shore on that side being a soft oozy sand, almost like a quicksand.
In this condition, like true seamen, who are perhaps the least of
all mankind given to forethought, they gave it over, and away they
strolled about the country again; and I heard one of them say aloud to
another, calling them off from the boat, "Why, let her alone, Jack,
can't ye? she will float next tide;" by which I was fully confirmed in
the main inquiry of what countrymen they were.
All this while I kept myself very close, not once daring to stir out
of my castle, any farther than to my place of observation near the top
of the hill; and very glad I was to think how well it was fortified. I
knew it was no less than often hours before the boat could be on float
again, and by that time it would be dark, and I might be at more
liberty to see their motions, and to hear their discourse, if they had
In the meantime, I fitted myself up for a battle, as before,
though with more caution, knowing I had to do with another kind of
enemy than I had at first. I ordered Friday also, whom I had an
excellent marksman with his gun, to load himself with arms. I took
myself two fowling-pieces, and I gave him three muskets. My figure,
indeed, was very fierce. I had my formidable goat-skin coat on, with
the great cap I have mentioned, a naked sword by my side, two
pistols in my belt, and a gun upon each shoulder.
It was my design, as I said above, not to have made any attempt till
it was dark; but about two o'clock, being the heat of the day, I found
that, in short, they were all gone straggling into the woods, and,
as I thought, were laid down to sleep. The three poor distressed
men, too anxious for their condition to get any sleep, were,
however, set down under the shelter of a great tree, at about a
quarter of a mile from me, and, as I thought, out of sight of any of
the rest.
Upon this I resolved to discover myself to them, and learn something
of their condition. Immediately I marched in the figure as above, my
man Friday at a good distance behind me, as formidable for his arms as
I, but not making quite so staring a spectre-like figure as I did.
I came as near them undiscovered as I could, and then, before any of
them saw me, I called aloud to them in Spanish, "What are ye,
They started up at the noise, but were often times more confounded
when they saw me, and the uncouth figure that I made. They made no
answer at all, but I thought I perceived them just going to fly from
me, when I spoke to them in English. "Gentlemen," said I, "do not be
surprised at me; perhaps you may have a friend near you, when you
did not expect it." "He must be sent directly from heaven, then," said
one of them very gravely to me, and pulling off his hat at the same
time to me, "for our condition is past the help of man." "All help
is from heaven, sir," said I. "But can you put a stranger in the way
how to help you, for you seem to me to be in some great distress? I
saw you when you landed; and when you seemed to make applications to
the brutes that came with you, I saw one of them lift up his sword
to kill you."
The poor man, with tears running down his face, and trembling,
looking like one astonished, returned, "Am I talking to God, or man?
Is it a real man, or an angel?" "Be in no fear about that, sir,"
said I. "If God had sent an angel to relieve you, he would have come
better clothed, and armed after another manner than you see me in.
Pray lay aside your fears; I am a man, an Englishman, and disposed
to assist you, you see. I have one servant only; we have arms and
ammunition; tell us freely, can we serve you? What is your case?"
"Our case," said he, "sir, is too long to tell you while our
murderers are so near; but in short, sir, I was commander of that
ship; my men have mutinied against me, they have been hardly prevailed
on not to murder me; and at last have set me on shore in this desolate
place, with these two men with me, one my mate, the other a passenger,
where we expected to perish, believing the place to be uninhabited,
and know not yet what to think of it."
"Where are those brutes, your enemies?" said I. "Do you know where
they are gone?" "There they lie, sir," said he, pointing to a
thicket of trees. "My heart trembles for fear they have seen us, and
heard you speak. If they have, they will certainly murder us all."
"Have they any fire-arms?" said I. He answered they had only two
pieces, and one which they left in the boat. "Well then," said I,
"leave the rest to me, I see they are all asleep; it is an easy
thing to kill them all; but shall we rather take them prisoners?" He
told me there were two desperate villains among them that it was
scarce safe to show any mercy to; but if they were secured, he
believed all the rest would return to their duty. I asked him which
they were. He told me he could not at that distance describe them, but
he would obey my order in anything I would direct. "Well," says I,
"let us retreat out of their view or hearing, lest they awake, and
we will resolve further." So they willingly went back with me, till
the woods covered us from them.
"Look you, sir," said I, "if I venture upon your deliverance, are
you willing to make two conditions with me?" He anticipated my
proposals by telling me that both he and the ship, if recovered,
should be wholly directed and commanded by me in everything; and if
the ship was not recovered he would live and die with me in what
part of the world soever I would send him; and the two other men
said the same.
"Well," says I, "my conditions are but two. 1. That while you stay
on this island with me, you will not pretend to any authority here;
and if I put arms into your hands, you will, upon all occasions,
give them up to me, and do no prejudice to me or mine upon this
island; and in the meantime be governed by my orders. 2. That if the
ship is, or may be, recovered, you will carry me and my man to
England, passage free."
He gave me all the assurances that the invention and faith of man
could devise that he would comply with these most reasonable
demands; and, besides, would owe his life to me, and acknowledge it
upon all occasions, as long as lived.
"Well then," said I, "here are three muskets for you, with powder
and ball; tell me next what you think is proper to be done." He showed
all the testimony of his gratitude that he was able, but offered to be
wholly guided by me. I told him I thought it was hard venturing
anything; but the best method I could think of was to fire upon them
at once, as they lay; and if any was not killed at the first volley,
and offered to submit, we might save them, and so put it wholly upon
God's providence to direct the shot.
He said very modestly that he was loth to kill them if he could help
it, but that those two were incorrigible villains, and had been the
authors of all the mutiny in the ship, and if they escaped, we
should be undone still; for they would go on board and bring the whole
ship's company, and destroy us all. "Well then," says I, "necessity
legitimates my advice, for it is the only way to save our lives."
However, seeing him still cautious of shedding blood, I told him
they should go themselves, and manage as they found convenient.
In the middle of this discourse we heard some of them awake, and
soon after we saw two of them on their feet. I asked him if either
of them were of the men who he had said were the heads of the
mutiny. He said, "No." "Well then," said I, "you may let them
escape; and Providence seems to have wakened them on purpose to save
themselves. Now," says I, "if the rest escape you, it is your fault."
Animated with this, he took the musket I had given him in his
hand, and a pistol in his belt, and his two comrades with him, with
each man a piece in his hand. The two men who were with him going
first made some noise, at which one of the seamen who was awake turned
about, and seeing them coming cried out to the rest; but it was too
late then, for the moment he cried out they fired, I mean the two men,
the captain wisely reserving his own piece. They had so well aimed
their shot at the men they knew, that one of them was killed on the
spot, and the other very much wounded; but not being dead, he
started up upon his feet, and called eagerly for help to the other.
But the captain stepping to him, told him It was too late to cry for
help, he should call upon God to forgive his villainy; and with that
word knocked him down with the stock of his musket, so that he never
spoke more. There were three more in the company, and one of them
was also slightly wounded. By this time I was come; and when they
saw their danger, and that it was in vain to resist, they begged for
mercy. The captain told them he would spare their lives if they
would give him any assurance of their abhorrence of the treachery they
had been guilty of, and would swear to be faithful him in recovering
the ship, and afterwards in carrying her back to Jamaica, from
whence they came. They gave him all the protestations of their
sincerity that could be desired, and he was willing to believe them,
and spare their lives, which I was not against, only I obliged him
to keep them bound hand and foot while they were upon the island.
While this was doing, I sent Friday with the captain's mate to the
boat, with orders to secure her, and bring away the oars and sail,
which they did; and by and by three straggling men that were
(happily for them) parted from the rest, came back upon hearing the
guns fired; and seeing their captain, who before was their prisoner,
now their conqueror, they submitted to be bound also, and so our
victory was complete.
It now remained that the captain and I should inquire into one
another's circumstances. I began first, and told him my whole history,
which he heard with an attention even to amazement; and particularly
at the wonderful manner of my being furnished with provisions and
ammunition; and, indeed, as my story is a whole collection of wonders,
it affected him deeply. But when he reflected from thence upon
himself, and how I seemed to have been preserved there on purpose to
save his life, the tears ran down his face, and he could not speak a
word more.
After this communication was at an end I carried him and his two men
into my apartment, leading them in just where I came out, viz., at the
top of the house, where I refreshed them with such provisions as I
had, and showed them all the contrivances I had made during my long,
long inhabiting that place.
All I showed them, all I said to them, was perfectly amazing; but
above all, the captain admired my fortification, and how perfectly I
had concealed my retreat with a grove of trees, which, having been now
planted near twenty years, and the trees growing much faster than in
England, was become a little wood, and so thick that it was unpassable
in any part of it but at that one side where I had reserved my
little winding passage into it. I told him this was my castle and my
residence, but that I had a seat in the country, as most princes have,
whither I could retreat upon occasion, and I would show him that, too,
another time; but at present our business was to consider how to
recover the ship. He agreed with me as to that, but told me he was
perfectly at a loss what measures to take, for that there were still
six and twenty hands on board, who having entered into a cursed
conspiracy, by which-they had all forfeited their lives to the law,
would be hardened in it now by desperation, and would carry it on,
knowing that if they were reduced they should be brought to the
gallows as soon as they came to England, or to any of the English
colonies; and that therefore there would be no attacking them with
so small a number as we were.
I mused for some time upon what he said, and found it was a very
rational conclusion, and that therefore something was to be resolved
on very speedily, as well to draw the men on board into some snare for
their surprise as to prevent their landing upon us, and destroying us.
Upon this it presently occurred to me that in a while the ship's crew,
wondering what was become of their comrades and of the boat, would
certainly come on shore in their other boat to see for them; and
that then, perhaps, they might come armed, and be too strong for us.
This he allowed was rational.
Upon this, I told him the first thing we had to do was to stave
the boat, which lay upon the beach, so that they might not carry her
off; and taking everything out of her, leave her so far useless as not
to be fit to swim. Accordingly we went on board, took the arms which
were left on board out of her, and whatever else we found there, which
was a bottle of brandy, and another of rum, a few biscuit-cakes, a
horn of powder, and a great lump of sugar in a piece of canvas- the
sugar was five or six pounds; all which was very welcome to me,
especially the brandy and sugar, of which I had had none left for many
When we had carried all these things on shore (the oars, mast, sail,
and rudder of the boat were carried away before, as above), we knocked
a great hole in her bottom that if they had come strong enough to
master us, yet they could not carry off the boat.
Indeed, it was not much in my thoughts that we could be able to
recover the ship; but my view was, that if they went away without
the boat I did not much question to make her fit again to carry us
away to the Leeward Islands, and call upon our friends the Spaniards
in my way; for I had them still in my thoughts.
While we were thus preparing our designs, and had first, by main
strength, heaved the boat up upon the beach so high that the tide
would not fleet her off at high-water mark; and besides, had broke a
hole in her bottom too big to be quickly stopped, and were sat down
musing what we should do, we heard the ship fire a gun, and saw her
make a waft with her ancient as a signal for the boat to come on
board. But no boat stirred; and they fired several times, making other
signals for the boat.
At last, when all their signals and firings proved fruitless, and
they found the boat did not stir, we saw them, by the help of my
glasses, hoist another boat out, and row towards the shore; and we
found, as they approached, that there was no less than often men in
her, and that they had fire-arms with them.
As the ship lay almost two leagues from the shore, we had a full
view of them" as they came, and a plain sight of the men, even of
their faces; because the tide having set them a little to the east
of the other boat, they rowed up under shore, to come to the same
place where the other had landed, and where the boat lay.
By this means, I say, we had a full view of them, and the captain
knew the persons and characters of all the men in the boat, of whom he
said that there were three very honest fellows, who, he was sure, were
led into this conspiracy by the rest, being overpowered and
frighted; but that was for the boatswain who, it seems, was the
chief officer among them, and all the rest, they were as outrageous as
any of the ship's crew, and were no doubt made desperate in their
new enterprise; and terribly apprehensive he was that they would be
too powerful for us.
I smiled at him, and told him that men in our circumstances were
past the operation of fear; that seeing almost every condition that
could be was better than that which we were supposed to be in, we
ought to expect that the consequence, whether death or life, would
be sure to be a deliverance. I asked him what he thought of the
circumstances of my life, and whether a deliverance were not worth
venturing for. "And where, sir," said I, "is your belief of my being
preserved here on purpose to save your life, which elevated you a
little while ago? For my part," said I, "there seems to be but one
thing amiss in all the prospect of it." "What's that?" says he. "Why,"
said I, It is that, as you say, there are three or four honest fellows
among them which should be spared; had they been all of the wicked
part of the crew I should have thought God's providence had singled
them out to deliver them into your hands; for depend upon it, every
man of them that comes ashore are our own, and shall die or live as
they behave to us."
As I spoke this with a raised voice and cheerful countenance, I
found it greatly encouraged him; so we set vigorously to our business.
We had, upon the first appearance of the boat's coming from the
ship, considered of separating our prisoners, and had, indeed, secured
them effectually.
Two of them, of whom the captain was less assured than ordinary, I
sent with Friday and one of the three delivered men to my cave,
where they were remote enough, and out of danger of being heard or
discovered, or of finding their way out of the woods, if they could
have delivered themselves. Here they left them bound, but gave them
provisions, and promised them, if they continued there quietly, to
give them their liberty in a day or two; but that if they attempted
their escape, they should be put to death without mercy. They promised
faithfully to bear their confinement with patience, and were very
thankful that they had such good usage as to have provisions and a
light left them; for Friday gave them candles (such as we made
ourselves) for their comfort; and they did not know but that he
stood sentinel over them at the entrance.
The other prisoners had better usage. Two of them were kept
pinioned, indeed, because the captain was not free to trust them;
but the other two were taken into my service, upon the captain's
recommendation, and upon their solemnly engaging to live and die
with us; so with them and the three honest men we were seven men
well armed; and I made no doubt we should be able to deal well
enough with the ten that were a-coming, considering that the Captain
had said there were three or four honest men among them also.
As soon as they got to the place where their other boat lay, they
ran their boat into the beach, and came all on shore, hauling the boat
up after them, which I was glad to see; for I was afraid they would
rather have left the boat at an anchor some distance from the shore,
with some hands in her to guard her, and so we should not be able to
seize the boat.
Being on shore, the first thing they did they ran all to their other
boat; and it was easy to see that they were under a great surprise
to find her, stripped, as above, of all that was in her, and a great
hole in her bottom.
After they had mused a while upon this, they set up two or three
great shouts, hallooing with all their might, to try if they could
make their companions hear; but all was to no purpose. Then they
came all close in a ring, and fired a volley of their small-arms,
which, indeed, we heard, and the echoes made the woods ring. But it
was all one; those in the cave we were sure could not hear, and
those in our keeping, though they heard it well enough, yet durst give
no answer to them.
They were so astonished at the surprise of this, that, as they
told us afterwards, they resolved to go all on board again, to their
ship, and let them know there that the men were all murdered, and
the longboat staved. Accordingly, they immediately launched their boat
again, and got all of them on board.
The captain was terribly amazed, and even confounded at this,
believing they would go on board the ship again, and set sail,
giving their comrades for lost, and so he should still lose the
ship, which he was in hopes we should have recovered; but he was
quickly as much frighted the other way.
They had not been long put off with the boat but we perceived them
all coming on shore again; but with this new measure in their conduct,
which it seems they consulted together upon, viz., to leave three
men in the boat, and the rest to go on shore, and go up into the
country to look for their fellows.
This was a great disappointment to us, for now we were at a loss
what to do; for our seizing those seven men on shore would be no
advantage to us if we let the boat escape, because they would then row
away to the ship, and then the rest of them would be sure to weigh and
set sail, and so our recovering the ship would be lost. However, we
had no remedy but to wait and see what the issue of things might
present. The seven men came on shore, and the three who remained in
the boat put her off to a good distance from the shore, and came to an
anchor to wait for them; so that it was impossible for us to come at
them in the boat.
Those that came on shore kept close together, marching towards the
top of the little hill under which my habitation lay; and we could see
them plainly, though they could not perceive us. We could have been
very glad they would have come nearer to us, so that we might have
fired at them, or that they would have gone farther off, that we might
have come abroad.
But when they were come to the brow of the hill, where they could
see a great way into the valleys and woods which lay towards the
northeast part, and where the island lay lowest, they shouted and
hallooed till they were weary; and not caring, it seems, to venture
far from the shore, nor far from one another, they sat down together
under a tree, to consider of it. Had they thought fit to have gone
to sleep there, as the other party of them had done, they had done the
job for us; but they were too full of apprehensions of danger to
venture to go to sleep, though they could not tell what the danger was
they had to fear neither.
The captain made a very just proposal to me upon this consultation
of theirs, viz., that perhaps they would all fire a volley again, to
endeavor to make their fellows hear, and that we should all sally upon
them, just at the juncture when their pieces were all discharged,
and they would certainly yield, and we should have them without
bloodshed. I liked the proposal, provided it was done while we were
near enough to come up to them before they could load their pieces
But this event did not happen, and we lay still a long time, very
irresolute what course to take. At length I told them there would be
nothing to be done, in my opinion, till night; and then, if they did
not return to the boat, perhaps we might find a way to get between
them and the shore, and so might use some stratagem with them in the
boat to get them on shore.
We waited a great while, though very impatient for their removing;
and were very uneasy when, after long consultations, we saw them start
all up, and march down towards the sea. It seems they had such
dreadful apprehensions upon them of the danger of the place that
they resolved to go on board the ship again, give their companions
over for lost, and so go on with their intended voyage with the ship.
As soon as I perceived them go towards the shore, I imagined it to
be, as it really was, that they had given over their search, and
were for going back again; and the captain, as soon as I told him my
thoughts, was ready to sink at the apprehensions of it; but I
presently thought of a stratagem to fetch them back again, and which
answered my end to a tittle.
I ordered Friday and the captain's mate to go over the little
creek westward, towards the place where the savages came on shore when
Friday was rescued, and as soon as they came to a little rising
ground, at about half a mile distance. I bade them halloo as loud as
they could, and wait till they found the seamen heard them; that as
soon as ever they heard the seamen answer them, they should return
it again; and then keeping out of sight, take a round, always
answering when the other hallooed, to draw them as far into the
island, and among the woods, as possible, and then wheel about again
to me by such ways as I directed them.
They were just going into the boat when Friday and the mate
hallooed; and they presently heard them, and answering, run along
the shore westward, towards the voice they heard, when they were
presently stopped by the creek, where the water being up, they could
not get over, and called for the boat to come up and set them over,
as, indeed, I expected.
When they hid set themselves over, I observed that the boat being
gone up a good way into the creek, and, as it were, in a harbor within
the land, they took one of the three men out of her to go along with
them, and left only two in the boat, having fastened her to the
stump of a little tree on the shore.
This was what I wished for; and immediately leaving Friday and the
captain's mate to their business, I took the rest with me, and
crossing the creek out of their sight, we surprised the two men before
they were aware; one of them lying on shore, and the other being in
the boat. The fellow on shore was between sleeping and waking, and
going to start up. The captain, who was foremost, ran in upon him, and
knocked him down, and then called out to him in the boat to yield,
or he was a dead man.
There needed very few arguments to persuade a single man to yield
when he saw five men upon him, and his comrade knocked down;
besides, this was, it seems, one of the three who were not so hearty
in the mutiny as the rest of the crew, and therefore was easily
persuaded, not only to yield, but afterwards to join very sincerely
with us.
In the meantime, Friday and the captain's mate so well managed their
business with the rest, that they drew them, by hallooing and
answering, from one hill to another, and from one wood to another,
till they not only heartily tired them, but left them where they
were very sure they could not reach back to the boat before it was
dark; and, indeed, they were heartily tired themselves also by the
time they came back to us.
We had nothing now to do but to watch for them in the dark, and to
fall upon them, so as to make sure work with them.
It was several hours after Friday came back to me before they came
back to their boat; and we could hear the foremost of them, long
before they came quite up, calling to those behind to come along,
and could also hear them answer and complain how lame and tired they
were, and not able to come any faster; which was very welcome to us.
At length they came up to the boat; but It is impossible to
express their confusion when they found the boat fast aground in the
creek, the tide ebbed out, and their two men gone. We could hear
them call to one another in a most lamentable manner, telling one
another they were gotten into an enchanted island; that either there
were inhabitants in it, and they should all be murdered, or else there
were devils and spirits in it, and they should all be carried away and
They hallooed again, and called their two comrades by their names
a great many times; but no answer. After some time we could see
them, by the little light there was, run about, wringing their hands
like men in despair, and that sometimes they would go and sit down
in the boat to rest themselves; then come ashore again and walk
about again, and so the same thing over again.
My men would fain have me give them leave to fall upon them at
once in the dark; but I was willing to take them at some advantage, so
to spare them, and kill as few of them as I could; and especially I
was unwilling to hazard the killing any of our own men, knowing the
other were very well armed. I resolved to wait, to see if they did not
separate; and, therefore, to make sure of them, I drew my ambuscade
nearer, and ordered Friday and the captain to creep upon their hands
and feet, as close to the ground as they could, that they might not be
discovered, and get as near them as they could possibly, before they
offered to fire.
They had not been long in that posture but that the boatswain, who
was the principal ringleader of the mutiny, and had now shown
himself the most dejected and dispirited of all the rest, came walking
towards them, with two more of their crew. The captain was so eager,
as having this principal rogue so much in his power that he could
hardly have patience to let him come so near as to be sure of him, for
they only heard his tongue before, but when they came nearer, the
captain and Friday, starting up on their feet, let fly at them.
The boatswain was killed upon the spot; the next man was shot into
the body, and fell just by him, though he did not die till an hour
or two after; and the third ran for it.
At the noise of the fire I immediately advanced with my whole
army, which was now eight men, viz., myself, generalissimo, Friday, my
lieutenant-general; the captain and his two men, and the three
prisoners of war, whom we had trusted with arms.
We came upon them, indeed, in the dark, so that they could not see
our number; and I made the man we had left in the boat, who was now
one of us, call to them by name, to try if I could bring them to a
parley, and so might perhaps reduce them to terms, which fell out just
as we desired; for indeed it was easy to think, as their condition
then was, they would be very willing to capitulate. So he calls out as
loud as he could to one of them, "Tom Smith! Tom Smith!" Tom Smith
answered immediatelys "Who's that? Robinson?" For it seems he knew his
voice. The other answered, "Ay, ay; for God's sake, Tom Smith, throw
down your arms and yield, or you are all dead men this moment."
"Who must we yield to? What are they?" says Smith again. "Here
they are," says he; "here's our captain and fifty men with him, have
been hunting you this two hours; the boatswain is killed, Will Frye is
wounded, and I am a prisoner; and if you do not yield, you are all
"Will they give us quarter, then," says Tom Smith, "and we will
yield?" "I'll go and ask, if you promise to yield," says Robinson.
So he asked the captain, and the captain then calls himself out, "You,
Smith, you know my voice, if you lay down your arms immediately and
submit, you shall have your lives, all but Will Atkins."
Upon this Will Atkins cried out, "For God's sake, captain, give me
quarter; what have I done? They have been all as bad as I;" which,
by the way, was not true neither; for it seems this Will Atkins was
the first man that laid hold of the captain when they first
mutinied, and used him barbarously, in tying his hands, and giving him
injurious language. However, the captain told him he must lay down his
arms at discretion, and trust to the governor's mercy; by which he
meant me, for they all called me governor.
In a word, they all laid down their arms, and begged their lives;
and I sent the man that had parleyed with them and two more, who bound
them all; and then my great army of fifty men, which, particularly
with those three, were all but eight, came up and seized upon them
all, and upon their boat; only that I kept myself and one more out
of sight for reasons of state.
Our next work was to repair the boat, and think of seizing the ship;
and as for the captain, now he had leisure to parley with them, he
expostulated with them upon the villainy of their practices with
him, and at length upon the farther wickedness of their design, and
how certainly it must bring them to misery and distress in the end,
and perhaps to the gallows.
They all appeared very penitent, and begged hard for their lives. As
for that, he told them they were none of his prisoners, but the
commander of the island; that they thought they had set him on shore
in a barren, uninhabited island; but it had pleased God so to direct
them that the island was inhabited, and that the governor was an
Englishman; that he might hang them all there, if he pleased; but as
he had given them all quarter, he supposed he would send them to
England, to be dealt with there as justice required, except Atkins,
whom he was commanded by the governor to advise to prepare for
death, for that he would be hanged in the morning.
Though this was all a fiction of his own, yet it had its desired
effect. Atkins fell upon his knees, to beg the captain to intercede
with the governor for his life; and all the rest begged of him, for
God's sake, that they might not be sent to England.
It now occurred to me that the time of our deliverance was come, and
that it would be a most easy thing to bring these fellows in to be
hearty in getting possession of the ship; so I retired in the dark
from them, that they might not see what kind of a governor they had,
and called the captain to me. When I called, as at a good distance,
one of the men was ordered to speak again, and say to the captain,
"Captain, the commander calls for you." And presently the captain
replied, "Tell his excellency I am just a-coming." This more perfectly
amused them, and they all believed that the commander was just by with
his fifty men.
Upon the captain's coming to me, I told him my project for seizing
the ship, which he liked of wonderfully well, and resolved to put it
in execution the next morning. But in order to execute it with more
art, and secure of success, I told him we must divide the prisoners,
and that they should go and take Atkins and two more of the worst of
them, and send them pinioned to the cave where the others lay. This
was committed to Friday and the two men who came on shore with the
They conveyed them to the cave, as to a prison. And it was,
indeed, a dismal place, especially to men in their condition. The
others I ordered to my bower, as I called it, of which I have given
a full description; and as it was fenced in, and they pinioned, the
place was secure enough, considering they were upon their behavior.
To these in the morning I sent the captain, who was to enter into
a parley with them; in a word, to try them, and tell me whether he
thought they might be trusted or not to go on board and surprise the
ship. He talked to them of the injury done him, of the condition
they were brought to; and that though the governor had given them
quarter for their lives as to the present action, yet that if they
were sent to England they would also he hanged in chains, to be
sure; but that if they would join so just an attempt as to recover the
ship, he would have the governor's engagement for their pardon.
Any one may guess how readily such a proposal would be accepted by
men in their condition. They fell down on their knees to the
captain, and promised, with the deepest imprecations, that they
would be faithful to him to the last drop, and that they should owe
their lives to him, and would go with him all over the world; that
they would own him for a father to them as long as they lived.
"Well," says the captain, "I must go and tell the governor what
you say, and see what I can do to bring him to consent to it." So he
brought me an account of the temper he found them in, and that he
verily believed they would be faithful.
However, that we might be very secure, I told him he should go
back again and choose out five of them, and tell them they might see
that he did not want men, that he would take out those five to be
his assistants, and that the governor would keep the other two and the
three that were sent prisoners to the castle, my cave, as hostages for
the fidelity of those five; and that if they proved unfaithful in
the execution, the five hostages should be hanged in chains alive upon
the shore.
This looked severe, and convinced them that the governor was in
earnest. However, they had no way left them but to accept it; and it
was now the business of the prisoners, as much as of the captain, to
persuade the other five to do their duty.
Our strength was now thus ordered for the expedition. 1. The
captain, his mate, and passenger. 2. Then the two prisoners of the
first gang, to whom, having their characters from the captain, I had
given their liberty, and trusted them with arms. 3. The other two whom
I had kept till now in my bower, pinioned, but upon the captain's
motion had now released. 4. These five released at last; so that
they were twelve in all, besides five we kept prisoners in the cave
for hostages.
I asked the captain if he was willing to venture with these hands on
board the ship; for as for me and my man Friday, I did not think it
was proper for us to stir, having seven men left behind, and it was
employment enough for us to keep them asunder and supply them with
victuals. As to the five in the cave, I resolved to keep them fast;
but Friday went in twice a day to them, to supply them with
necessaries, and I made the other two carry provisions to a certain
distance, where Friday was to take it.
When I showed myself to the two hostages, it was with the captain,
who told them I was the person the governor had ordered to look
after them, and that it was the governor's pleasure they should not
stir anywhere but by my direction; that if they did, they should be
fetched into the castle, and be laid in irons; so that as we never
suffered them to see me as governor, so I now appeared as another
person, and spoke of the governor, the garrison, the castle, and the
like, upon all occasions.
The captain now had no difficulty before him but to furnish his
two boats, stop the breach of one, and man them. He made his passenger
captain of one, with four other men; and himself, and his mate, and
five more went in the other; and they contrived their business very
well, for they came up to the ship about midnight. As soon as they
came within call of the ship, he made Robinson hail them, and tell
them they had brought off the men and the boat, but that it was a long
time before they had found them, and the like, holding them in a
chat till they came to the ship's side; when the captain and the
mate entering first, with their arms, immediately knocked down the
second mate and carpenter with the butt-end of their muskets, being
very faithfully seconded by their men. They secured all the rest
that were upon the main and quarter decks, and began to fasten the
hatches to keep them down who were below; when the other boat and
their men entering at the fore-chains, secured the forecastle of the
ship, and the scuttle which went down into the cook-room, making three
men they found there prisoners.
When this was done, and all safe upon deck, the captain ordered
the mate, with three men, to break into the round-house, where the new
rebel captain lay, and having taken the alarm was gotten up, and
with two men and a boy had gotten fire-arms in their hands; and when
the mate with a crow split open the door, the new captain and his
men fired boldly among them, and wounded the mate with a
musket-ball, which broke his arm, and wounded two more of the men, but
killed nobody.
The mate calling for help, rushed, however, into the round-house
wounded as he was, and with his pistol shot the new captain through
the head, the bullet entering at his mouth and came out again behind
one of his ears, so that he never spoke a word; upon which the rest
yielded, and the ship was taken effectually, without any more lives
As soon as the ship was thus secured, the captain ordered seven guns
to be fired, which was the signal agreed upon with me to give me
notice of his success, which you may be sure I was very glad to
hear, having sat watching upon the shore for it till near two of the
clock in the morning.
Having thus heard the signal plainly, I laid me down; and it
having been a day of great fatigue to me I slept very sound, till I
was something surprised with the noise of a gun; and presently
starting up, I heard a man call me by the name of "Governor,"
"Governor," and presently I knew the captain's voice; when climbing up
to the top of the hill, there he stood, and pointing to the ship he
embraced me in his arms. "My dear friend and deliverer," says he,
"there's your ship, for she is all yours, and so are we, and all
that belong to her." I cast my eyes to the ship, and there she rode
within little more than half a mile of the shore; for they had weighed
her anchor as soon as they were masters of her, and the weather
being fair had brought her to an anchor just against the mouth of
the little creek, and the tide being up, the captain had brought the
pinnace in near the place where I at first landed my rafts, and so
landed just at my door.
I was at first ready to sink down with the surprise; for I saw my
deliverance, indeed, visibly put into my hands, all things easy, and a
large ship just ready to carry me away whither I pleased to go. At
first, for some time, I was not able to answer him one word; but as he
had taken me in his arms, I held fast by him, or I should have
fallen to the ground.
He perceived the surprise, and immediately pulls a bottle out of his
pocket, and gave me a dram of cordial, which he had brought on purpose
for me. After I had drank it, I sat down upon the ground; and though
it brought me to myself, yet it was a good while before I could
speak a word to him.
All this while the poor man was in as great an ecstasy as I, only
not under any surprise, as I was; and he said a thousand kind,
tender things to me, to compose me and bring me to myself. But such
was the flood of joy in my breast that it put all my spirits into
confusion. At last it broke out into tears, and in a little while
after I recovered my speech.
Then I took my turn, and embraced him as my deliverer, and we
rejoiced together. I told him I looked upon him as a man sent from
heaven to deliver me, and that the whole transaction seemed to be a
chain of wonders; that such things as these were the testimonies we
had of a secret hand of Providence governing the world, and an
evidence that the eyes of an infinite Power could search into the
remotest corner of the world, and send help to the miserable
whenever He pleased.
I forgot not to lift up my heart in thankfulness to heaven; and what
heart could forbear to bless Him, who had not only in a miraculous
power provided for one in such a wilderness, and in such a desolate
condition, but from whom every deliverance must always be acknowledged
to proceed?
When we had talked a while, the captain told me he had brought me
some little refreshment, such as the ship afforded, and such as the
wretches that had been so long his masters had not plundered him of.
Upon this he called aloud to the boat, and bid his men bring the
things ashore that were for the governor; and, indeed, it was a
present as if I had been one, not that was to be carried away along
with them, but as if I had been to dwell upon the island still, and
they were to go without me.
First, he had brought me a case of bottles full of excellent cordial
waters, six large bottles of Madeira wine (the bottles held two quarts
a-piece), two pounds of excellent good tobacco, twelve good pieces
of the ship's beef, and six pieces of pork, with a bag of peas, and
about a hundredweight of biscuit.
He brought me also a box of sugar, a box of flour, a bag full of
lemons, and two bottles of lime-juice, and abundance of other
things; but besides these, and what was a thousand times more useful
to me, he brought me six clean new shirts, six very good
neck-cloths, two pair of gloves, one pair of shoes, a hat, and one
pair of stockings, and a very good suit of clothes of his own, which
had been worn but very little; in a word, he clothed me from head to
It was a very kind and agreeable present, as any one may imagine, to
one in my circumstances; but never was anything in the world of that
kind so unpleasant, awkward, and uneasy, as it was to me to wear
such clothes at their first putting on.
After these ceremonies passed, and after all his good things were
brought into my little apartment, we began to consult what was to be
done with the prisoners we had; for it was worth considering whether
we might venture to take them away with us or no, especially two of
them, whom we knew to be incorrigible and refractory to the last
degree; and the captain said he knew they were such rogues that
there was no obliging them; and if he did carry them away, it must
be in irons, as malefactors, to be delivered over to justice at the
first English colony he could come at; and I found that the captain
himself was very anxious about it.
Upon this I told him that, if he desired it, I durst undertake to
bring the two men he spoke of to make it their own request that he
should leave them upon the island. "I should be very glad of that,"
says the captain, "with all my heart."
"Well," says I, "I will send for them up, and talk with them for
you." So I cause Friday and the two hostages, for they were now
discharged, their comrades having performed their promise; I say, I
cause them to go to the cave and bring up the five men, pinioned as
they were, to the bower, and keep them there till I came.
After some time I came thither, dressed in my new habit; and now I
was called governor again. Being all met, and the captain with me, I
caused the men to be brought before me, and I told them I had had a
full account of their villainous behavior to the captain, and how they
had run away with the ship, and were preparing to commit farther
robberies, but that Providence had ensnared them in their own ways,
and that they were fallen into the pit which they had digged for
I let them know that by my direction the ship had been seized,
that she lay now in the road, and they might see, by and by, that
their new captain had received the reward of his villainy, for that
they might see him hanging at the yardarm; that as to them, I wanted
to know what they had to say why I should not execute them as pirates,
taken in the fact, as by my commission they could not doubt I had
authority to do.
One of them answered in the name of the rest that they had nothing
to say but this, that when they were taken the captain promised them
their lives, and they humbly implored my mercy. But I told them I knew
no what mercy to show them; for as for myself, I had resolved to
quit the island with all my men, and had taken passage with the
captain to go for England. And as for the captain, he could not
carry them to England other than as prisoners in irons, to be tried
for mutiny, and running away with the ship; the consequence of
which, they must needs know, would be the gallows; so that I could not
tell which was best for them, unless they had a mind to take their
fate in the island. If they desired that, I did not care, as I had
liberty to leave it. I had some inclination to give them their
lives, if they thought they could shift on shore.
They seemed very thankful for it, said they would much rather
venture to stay there than to be carried to England to be hanged; so I
left it on that issue.
However, the captain seemed to make some difficulty of it, as if
he durst not leave them there. Upon this I seemed a little angry
with the captain, and told him that they were my prisoners, not his;
and that seeing I had offered them so much favor, I would be as good
as my word; and that if he did not think fit to consent to it, I would
set them at liberty, as I found them; and if he did not like it, he
might take them again if he could catch them.
Upon this they appeared very thankful, and I accordingly set them at
liberty, and bade them retire into the woods to the place whence
they came, and I would leave them some fire-arms, some ammunition, and
some directions how they should live very will, if they thought fit.
Upon this I prepared to go on board the ship, but told the captain
that I would stay that night to prepare my things, and desired him
to go on board in the meantime, and keep all right in the ship, and
send the boat on shore the next day for me; ordering him, in the
meantime, to cause the new captain, who was killed, to be hanged at
the yard-arm, that these men might see him.
When the captain was gone, I sent for the men up to me to my
apartment, and entered seriously into discourse with them of their
circumstances. I told them I thought they had made a right choice;
that if the captain carried them away, they would certainly be hanged.
I showed them the new captain hanging at the yard-arm of the ship, and
told them they had nothing less to expect.
When they had all declared their willingness to stay, I then told
them I would let them into the story of my living there, and put
them into the way of making it easy to them. Accordingly I gave them
the whole history of the place, and of my coming to it, showed them my
fortifications, the way I made my bread, planted my corn, cured my
grapes; and in a word, all that was necessary to make them easy. I
told them the story also of the sixteen Spaniards that were to be
expected, for whom I left a letter, and made them promise to treat
them in common with themselves.
I left them my fire-arms, viz., five muskets, three
fowling-pieces, and three swords. I had above a barrel and half of
powder left; for after the first year or two I used but little, and
wasted none. I gave them a description of the way I managed the goats,
and directions to milk and fatten them, and to make both butter and
In a word, I gave them every part of my own story, and I told them I
would prevail with the captain to leave them two barrels of
gunpowder more, and some garden seeds, which I told them I would
have been very glad of. Also I gave them the bag of peas which the
captain had brought me to eat, and bade them be sure to sow and
increase them.
Having done all this, I left them the next day, and went on board
the ship. We prepared immediately to sail, but did not weigh that
night. The next morning early two of the five men came swimming to the
ship's side, and making a most lamentable complaint of the other
three, begged to be taken into the ship for God's sake, for they
should be murdered, and begged the captain to take them on board,
though he hanged them immediately.
Upon this the captain pretended to have no power without me; but
after some difficulty, and after their solemn promises of amendment,
they were taken on board, and were some time after soundly whipped and
pickled, after which they proved very honest and quiet fellows.
Some time after this the boat was ordered on shore, the tide being
up, with the things promised to the men, to which the captain, at my
intercession, caused their chests and clothes to be added, which
they took, and were very thankful for. I also encouraged them by
telling them that if it lay in my way to send any vessel to take
them in, I would not forget them.
When I took leave of this island, I carried on board, for relics,
the great goat-skin cap I had made, my umbrella, and my parrot; also I
forgot not to take the money I formerly mentioned, which had lain me
so long useless that it was grown rusty or tarnished, and could
hardly; as also the money I found in the wreck of the Spanish ship.
And thus I left the island, the 19th of December, as I found by
the ship's account, in the year 1686, after I had been upon it eight
and twenty years, two months, and nineteen days, being delivered
from this second captivity the same day of the month that I first made
my escape in the barco-longo, from among the Moors of Sallee.
In this vessel, after a long voyage, I arrived in England, the
11th of June, in the year 1687, having been thirty and five years
When I came to England I was a perfect a stranger to all the world
as if I had never been known there. My benefactor and faithful
steward, whom I had left in trust with my money, was alive, but had
had great misfortunes in the world, was become a widow the second
time, and very low in the world. I made her easy as to what she owed
me, assuring her that I would give her no trouble; but on the
contrary, in gratitude to her former care and faithfulness to me, I
relieved her as my little stock would afford; which, at that time,
would indeed allow me to do but little for her; but I assured her I
would never forget her former kindness to me, nor did I forget her
when I had sufficient to help her, as shall be observed in its place.
I went down afterwards into Yorkshire; but my father was dead, and
my mother and all the family extinct, except that I found two sisters,
and two of the children of one of my brothers; and as I had been
long ago given over for dead, there had been no provision made for me;
so that, in a word, I found nothing to relieve or assist me; and
that little money I had would not do much for me as to settling in the
I met with one piece of gratitude, indeed, which I did not expect;
and this was, that the master of the ship whom I had so happily
delivered, and by the same means saved the ship and cargo, having
given a very handsome account to the owners of the manner how I had
saved the lives of the men, and the ship, they invited me to meet
them, and some other merchants concerned, and all together made me a
very handsome compliment upon the subject, and a present of almost
L200 sterling.
But after making several reflections upon the circumstances of my
life, and how little way this would go towards settling me in the
world, I resolved to go to Lisbon, and see if I might not come by some
information of the state of my plantation in the Brazils, and of
what was become of my partner, who I had reason to suppose had some
years now given me over for dead.
With this view I took shipping for Lisbon, where I arrived in
April following; my man Friday accompanying me very honestly in all
these ramblings, and proving a most faithful servant upon all
When I came to Lisbon, I found out, by inquiry, and to my particular
satisfaction, my old friend, the captain of the ship who first took me
up at sea off the shore of Africa. He was now grown old, and had
left off the sea, having put his son, who was far from a young man,
into his ship, and who still used the Brazil trade. The old man did
not know me; and, indeed, I hardly knew him; but I soon brought him to
my remembrance, and as soon brought myself to his remembrance when I
told him who I was.
After some passionate expressions of the old acquaintance, I
inquired, you may be sure, after my plantation and my partner. The old
man told me he had not been in the Brazils for about nine years; but
that he could assure me that, when he came away, my partner was
living; but the trustees, whom I had joined with him to take
cognizance of my part, were both dead. That, however, he believed that
I would have a very good account of the improvement of the plantation;
for that upon the general belief of my being cast away and drowned, my
trustees had given in the account of the produce of my part of the
plantation to the procurator-fiscal, who had appropriated it, in
case I never came to claim it, one-third to the king, and two-thirds
to the monastery of St. Augustine, to be expended for the benefit of
the poor, and for the conversion of the Indians to the Catholic faith;
but that if I appeared, or any one for me, to claim the inheritance,
it should be restored; only that the improvement or annual production,
being distributed to charitable uses, could not be restored. But he
assured me that the steward of the king's revenue from lands, and
the provedidore, or steward of the monastery, had taken great care all
along that the incumbent, that is to say, my partner, gave every
year a faithful account of the produce, of which they received duly my
I asked him if he knew to what height of improvement he had
brought the plantation, and whether he thought it might be worth
looking after; or whether, on my going thither, I should meet with
no obstruction to my possessing my just right in the moiety.
He told me he could not tell exactly to what degree the plantation
was improved; but this he knew, that my partner was grown exceeding
rich upon the enjoying but one-half of it; and that, to the best of
his remembrance, he had heard that the king's third of my part,
which was, it seems, granted away to some other monastery or religious
house, amounted to above two hundred moidores a year. That as to my
being restored to a quiet possession of it, there was no question to
be made of that, my partner being alive to witness my title, and my
name being also enrolled in the register of the country. Also he
told me that the survivors of my two trustees were very fair, honest
people, and very wealthy; and he believed I would not only have
their assistance for putting me in possession, but would find a very
considerable sum of money in their hands for my account, being the
produce of the farm while their father held the trust, and before it
was given up, as above; which, as he remember, was for about twelve
I showed myself a little concerned and uneasy at this account, and
inquired of the old captain how it came to pass that the trustees
should thus dispose my effects, when he knew that I had made my
will, and had made him, the Portuguese captain, my universal heir, &c.
He told me, that was true; but that as there was no proof of my
being dead, he could not act as executor until some certain account
should come of my death; and that besides, he was not willing to
intermeddle with a thing so remote; that it was true he had registered
my will, and put in his claim; and could he have given any account
of my being dead or alive, he would have acted by procuration, and
taken possession of the ingenio, so they called the sugar-house, and
had given his son, who was now at the Brazils, order to do it.
"But," says the old man, "I have one piece of news to tell you,
which perhaps may not be so acceptable to you as the rest; and that
is, that believing you were lost, and all the world believing so also,
your partner and trustees did offer to account to me, in your name,
for six or eight of the first years of profits, which I received;
but there being at that time," says he, "great disbursements for
increasing the works, building an ingenio, and buying slaves, it did
not amount to near so much as afterwards it produced. However," says
the old man, "I shall give you a true account of what I have
received in all, and how I have disposed of it."
After a few days' farther conference with this ancient friend, he
brought me an account of the six first years' income of my plantation,
signed by my partner and the merchant-trustees, being always delivered
in goods, viz., tobacco in roll, and sugar in chests, besides rum,
molasses, etc. which is the consequence of a sugar-work; and I
found, by this account, that every year the income considerably
increased; but, as above, the disbursement being large, the sum at
first was small. However, the old man let me see that he was debtor to
me 470 moidores of gold, besides 60 chests of sugar, and 15 double
rolls of tobacco, which were lost in his ship, he having been
shipwrecked coming home to Lisbon, about eleven years after my leaving
the place.
The good man then began to complain of his misfortunes, and how he
had been obliged to make use of my money to recover his losses, and
buy him a share in a new ship. "However, my old friend," says he, "you
shall not want a supply in your necessity; and as soon as my son
returns, you shall be fully satisfied."
Upon this he pulls out an old pouch, and gives me 160 Portugal
moidores in gold; and giving me the writing of his title to the
ship, which his son was gone to the Brazils in, of which he was a
quarter-part owner, and his son another, he puts them both into my
hands for security of the rest.
I was too much moved with the honesty and kindness of the poor man
to be able to bear this; and remembering what he had done for me,
how he had taken me up at sea, and how generously he had used me on
all occasions, and particularly how sincere a friend he was now to me,
I could hardly refrain weeping at what he said to me; therefore
first I asked him in his circumstances admitted him to spare so much
money at that time, and if it would not straiten him. He told me he
could not say but it might straiten him a little; but, however, it was
my money, and I might want it more than he.
Everything the good man said was full of affection, and I could
hardly refrain from tears while he spoke; in short, I took 100 of
the moidores, and called for a pen and ink to give him a receipt for
them. Then I returned him the rest, and told him if ever I had
possession of the plantation, I would return the other to him also,
as, indeed, I afterwards did; and that as to the bill of sale of his
part in his son's ship, I would not take it by any means; but that
if I wanted the money, I found he was honest enough to pay me; and
if I did not, but came to receive what he gave me reason to expect,
I would never have a penny more from him.
When this was passed, the old man began to ask me if he should put
me into a method to make my claim to my plantation. I told him I
thought to go over it myself. He said I might do so if I pleased;
but that if I did not, there were ways enough to secure my right,
and immediately to appropriate the profits to my use; and as there
were ships in the river of Lisbon just ready to go away to Brazil,
he made me enter my name in a public register, with his affidavit,
affirming, upon oath, that I was alive, and that I was the same person
who took up the land for the planting the said plantation at first.
This being regularly attested by a notary, and a procuration
affixed, he directed me to send it, with a letter of his writing, to a
merchant of his acquaintance at the place, and then proposed my
staying with him till an account came of the return.
Never anything was more honorable than the proceedings upon this
procuration; for in less than seven months I received a large packet
from the survivors of my trustees, the merchants, for whose account
I went to sea, in which were the following particular letters and
papers enclosed.
First, there was the account-current of the produce of my farm or
plantation from the year when their fathers had balanced with my old
Portugal captain, being for six years; the balance appeared to be
1,174 moidores in my favor.
Secondly, there was the account of four years more, while they
kept the effects in their hands, before the government claimed the
administration, as being the effects of a person not to be found,
which they called civil death; and the balance of this, the value of
the plantation increasing, amounted to 38,892 crusadoes, which made
3,241 moidores.
Thirdly, there was the prior of the Augustines' account, who had
received the profits for above fourteen years; but not being able to
account for what was disposed to the hospital, very honestly
declared he had 872 moidores not distributed, which he acknowledged to
my account; as to the king's part, that refunded nothing.
There was a letter of my partner's, congratulating me very
affectionately upon my being alive, giving me an account how the
estate was improved, and what it produced a year, with a particular of
the number of squares or acres that it contained; how planted, how
many slaves there were upon it, and making two and twenty crosses
for blessings, told me he had said so many Ave Marias to thank the
blessed Virgin that I was alive; inviting me very passionately to come
over and take possession of my own; and in the meantime, to give him
orders to whom he should deliver my effects, if I did not come myself;
concluding with a hearty tender of his friendship, and that of his
family; and sent me as a present seven fine leopards' skins, which
he had, it seems, received from Africa by some other ship which he had
sent thither, and who, it seems, had made a better voyage than I. He
sent me also five chests of excellent sweetmeats, and a hundred pieces
of gold uncoined, not quite so large as moidores. By the same fleet,
my two merchant trustees shipped me 1,200 chest of sugar, 800 rolls of
tobacco, and the rest of the whole account in gold.
I might well say now, indeed, that the latter end of Job better than
the beginning. It is impossible to express the flutterings of my
very heart when I looked over these letters, and especially when I
found all my wealth about me; for as the Brazil ship come all in
fleets, the same ships which brought my letters brought my goods,
and the effects were safe in the river before the letters came to my
hand. In a word, I turned pale, and grew sick; and had not the old man
run and fetched me a cordial, I believe the sudden surprise of joy had
overset Nature, and I had died upon the spot.
Nay, after that I continued very ill, and was so some hours, till
a physician being sent for, and something of the real cause of my
illness being known, he ordered me to be let blood, after which I
had relief, and grew well; but I verily believe, if it had not been
eased by a vent given in the manner to the spirits, I should have
I was now master, all on a sudden, of above L5,000 sterling in
money, and had an estate, as I might well call it, in the Brazils,
of above a thousand pounds a year, as sure as an estate of lands in
England; and in a word, I was in a condition which I scarce knew how
to understand, or how to compose myself for the enjoyment of it.
The first thing I did was to recompense my original benefactor, my
good old captain, who had been first charitable to me in my
distress, kind to me in my beginning, and honest to me at the end. I
showed him all that was sent me. I told him that, next to the
providence of Heaven, which disposes all things, it was owing to
him; and that it now lay on me to reward him, which I would do a
hundredfold. So I first returned to him the hundred moidores I had
received of him; then I sent for a notary, and caused him to draw up a
general release or discharge for the 470 moidores which he had
acknowledged he owed me in the fullest and firmest manner possible;
after which I cause a procuration to be drawn, empowering him to be my
receiver of the annual profits of my plantation, and appointing my
partner to account to him, and make the returns by the usual fleets to
him in my name; and a clause in the end, being a grant of 100 moidores
a year to him, during his life, out of the effects, and 50 moidores
a year to his son after for his life; and thus I requited my old man.
I was now to consider which way to steer my course next, and what to
do with the estate that Providence has thus put into my hands; and,
indeed, I had more care upon my head now than I had in my silent state
of life in the island, where I wanted nothing but what I had, and
had nothing but what I wanted; where as I had now a great charge
upon me, and my business was how to secure it. I had neer a cave now
to hide my money in, or a place where it might lie without lock or key
till it grew mouldy and tarnished before anybody would meddle with it.
On the contrary, I knew not where to put it, or whom to trust with it.
My old patron, the captain, indeed, was honest, and that was the
only refuge I had.
In the next place, my interest in the Brazils seemed to summon me
thither; but now I could not tell how to think of going thither till I
had settled my affairs, and left my affects in some safe hands
behind me. At first I thought of my old friend the widow who I knew
was honest, and would be just to me; but then she was in years, and
but poor, and for aught I knew might be in debt; so that, in a word, I
had no way but to go back to England myself, and take my effects
with me.
It was some months, however, before I resolved upon this; and
therefore, as I had rewarded the old captain fully, and to his
satisfaction, who had been my former benefactor, so I began to think
of my poor widow, whose husband had been my first benefactor, and she,
while it was in her power, my faithful steward and instructor. So
the first thing I did, I got a merchant in Lisbon to write his
correspondent in London, not only to pay a bill, but to go find her
out, and carry her in money a hundred pounds from me, and to talk with
her, and comfort her in her poverty, by telling her she should, if I
lived, have a further supply. At the same time I sent my two sisters
in the country each of them an hundred pounds, they being, though
not in want, yet not in very good circumstances; one having been
married, and left a widow; and the other having a husband not so
kind to her as he should be.
But among all my relations or acquaintances, I could not yet pitch
upon one to whom I durst commit the gross of my stock, that I might go
away to the Brazils, and leave things safe behind me; and this greatly
perplexed me.
I had once a mind to have gone to the Brazils and have settled
myself there, for I was, as it were, naturalized to the place. But I
had some little scruple in my mind about religion, which insensibly
drew me back, of which I shall say more presently. However, it was not
religion that kept me from going there for the present; and as I had
made no scruple of being openly of the religion of the country all the
while I was among them, so neither did I yet; only that, now and then,
having the late thought more of than formerly, when I began to think
of living and dying among them, I began to regret my having
professed myself a papist, and thought it might not be the best
religion to die with.
But, as I have said, this was not the main thing that kept me from
going to the Brazils, but that really I did not know with whom to
leave my effects beind me; so I resolved, at last, to go to England
with it, where, if arrived, I concluded I should make some
acquaintance, or find some relations, that would be faithful to me;
and accordingly I prepared to go for England, with all my wealth.
In order to prepare things for my going home, I first, the Brazil
fleet being just going away, resolved to give answers suitable to
the just and faithful account of things I had from thence. And
first, to the prior of St. Augustine I wrote a letter full of thanks
for their just dealings, and the offer of the 872 moidores which was
undisposed of, which I desired might be given, 500 to the monastery,
and 372 to the poor, as the prior should direct, desiring the good
padre's prayers for me, and the like.
I wrote next a letter of thanks to my two trustees, with all the
acknowledgment that so much justice and honesty called for. As for
sending them any present, they were far above having any occasion of
Lastly, I wrote to my partner, acknowledging his industry in the
improving the plantation, and his integrity in increasing the stock of
the works, giving him instructions for his future government of my
part, according to the powers I had left with my old patron, to whom I
desired him to send whatever became due to me till he should hear from
me more particularly; assuring him that it was my intention not only
to come to him, but to settle myself there for the remainder of my
life. To this I added a very handsome present of some Italian silks
for his wife and two daughters, for such the captain's son informed me
he had, with two pieces of fine English broadcloth, and best I could
get in Lisbon, five pieces of black baize, and some Flanders lace of a
good value.
Having thus settled my affairs, sold my cargo, and turned all my
effects into good bills of exchange, my next difficulty was which
was to go to England. I had been accustomed enough to the sea, and yet
I had a strange aversion to going to England by sea at that time;
and though I could give no reason for it, yet the difficulty increased
upon me so much, that though I had once shipped my baggage in order to
go, yet I altered my mind, and that not once, but two or three times.
It is true that I had been very unfortunate by sea, and this might
be some of the reason; but let no man slight the strong impulses of
his own thoughts in cases of such moment. Two of the ships which I had
singled out to go in, I mean more particularly singled out than any
other, that is to say, so as in one of them to put my things on board,
and in the other way to have agreed with the captain; I say, two of
these ships miscarried, viz., one was taken by the Algerines, and
the other was cast away on the Start, near Torbay, and all the
people drowned except three; so that in either of those vessels I
had been made miserable; and in which most, it was hard to say.
Having been thus harassed in my thoughts, my old pilot, to whom I
communicated everything, pressed me earnestly not to go by sea, but
either to go by land to the Groyne, and cross over the Bay of Biscay
to Rochelle, from whence it was an easy and safe journey by land to
Paris, and so to Calais and Dover; or to go up to Madrid, and so all
the way by land through France.
In a word, I was so prepossessed against my going by sea at all,
except from Calais to Dover, that I resolved to travel all the way
by land; which as I was not in haste, and did not value the charge,
was by much the pleasanter way. And to make it more so, my old captain
brought an English gentleman, the son of a merchant in Lisbon, who was
willing to travel with me; after which we picked up two or more
English merchants also, and two young Portuguese gentlemen, the last
going to Paris only; so that we were in all six of us, and five
servants, besides my man Friday, who was too much a stranger to be
capable of supplying the place of a servant on the road.
In this manner I set out from Lisbon; and our company being all very
well mounted and armed, we made a little troop, whereof they did me
the honor to call me captain, as well because I was the oldest man, as
because I had two servants, and indeed was the original of the whole
As I have troubled you with none of my sea journals, so I shall
trouble you now with none of my land journal; but some adventures that
happened to us in this tedious and difficult journey I must not omit.
When we came to Madrid, we being all of us strangers to Spain,
were willing to stay some time to the court of Spain, and to see
what was worth observing; but it being the latter part of the summer
we hastened away, and set out from Madrid about the middle of October;
but when we came to the edge of Navarre, we were alarmed at several
towns on the way with an account that so much snow was fallen on the
French side of the mountains that several travelers were obliged to
come back to Pampeluna, after having attempted, at an extreme
hazard, to pass on.
When we came to Pampeluna itself, we found it so indeed; and to
me, that had been always used to a hot climate, and indeed to
countries where we could scarce bear any clothes on, the cold was
insufferable; nor indeed was it more painful than it was surprising to
come but often days before out of the old Castile, where the weather
was not only warm, but very hot, and immediately to feel a wind from
the Pyrenean mountains so very keen, so severely cold, as to be
intolerable, and to endanger benumbing and perishing of our fingers
and toes.
Poor Friday was really frightened when he saw the mountains all
covered with snow, and felt cold weather, which he had never seen or
felt before in his life.
To mend the matter, when we came to Pampeluna it continued snowing
with so much violence, and so long, that the people said winter was
come before its time; and the roads, which were difficult before, were
now quite impassable; for, in a word, the snow lay in some places
too thick for us to travel, and being not hard frozen, as is the
case in northern countries, there was no going without being in danger
of being buried alive every step. We stayed no less than twenty days
at Pampeluna; when seeing the winter coming on, and no likelihood of
its being better, for it was the severest winter all over Europe
that had been known in the memory of man, I proposed that we should
all go away to Fontarabia, and there take shipping for which was a
very little voyage.
But while we were considering this, there came in four French
gentlemen, who having been stopped on the French side of the passes,
as we were on the Spanish, had found out a guide, who, traversing
the country near the head of Languedoc, had brought them over the
mountains by such ways that they were not much incommoded by the snow;
and were they met with snow in any quantity, they said it was frozen
hard enough to bear them and their horses.
We sent for his guide, who told us he would undertake to carry us
the same way with no hazard from the snow, provided we were armed
sufficiently to protect us from wild beasts; for he said, upon these
great snows it was frequent for some wolves to show themselves at
the foot of the mountains, being made ravenous for want of food, the
ground being covered with snow. We told him we were well enough
prepared for such creatures as they were, if he would ensure us from a
kind of two-legged wolves, which, we were told, we were in the most
danger from, especially on the French side of the mountains.
He satisfied us there was no danger of that kind in the way that
we were to go; so we readily agreed to follow him, as did also
twelve other gentlemen, with their servants, some French, some
Spanish, who, as I said, had attempted to go, and were obliged to come
back again.
Accordingly, we all set out from Pampeluna, with our guide, on the
15th of November; and, indeed, I was surprised when, instead of
going forward, he came directly back with us on the same road that
we came from Madrid, above twenty miles; when being passed two rivers,
and come into the plain country, we found ourselves in a warm
climate again, where the country was pleasant, and no snow to be seen;
but on a sudden, turning to his left, he approached the mountains
another way; and though it is true the hills and precipices looked
dreadful, yet he made so many tours, such meanders, and led us by such
winding ways, that we were insensibly passed the height of the
mountains without being much encumbered with the snow; and all on a
sudden he showed us the pleasant fruitful provinces of Languedoc and
Gascogn, all green and flourishing, though, indeed, it was at a
great distance, and we had some rough way to pass yet.
We were a little uneasy, however, when we found it snowed one
whole day and a night so fast that we could not travel; but he bid
us be easy, we should soon be past it all. We found, indeed, that we
began to descend every day, and to come more north than before; and
so, depending upon our guide, we went on.
It was about two hours before night when, our guide being
something before us, and not just in sight, out rushed three monstrous
wolves, and after them a bear, out of a hollow way adjoining to a
thick wood. Two of the wolves flew upon the guide, and had he been
half a mile before us he had been devoured, indeed, before we could
have helped him. One of them fastened upon his horse, and the other
attacked the man with that violence that he had not time, or not
presence of mind enough, to draw his pistol, but hallooed and cried
out to us most lustily. My man Friday being next to me, I bid him ride
up, and see what was the matter. As soon as Friday came in sight of
the man, he hallooed as loud as t' other, "O master! O master!" but,
like a bold fellow, rode directly up to the poor man, and with his
pistol shot the wolf that attacked him into the head.
It was happy for the poor man that it was my man Friday, for he
having been used to that kind of creature in his country, had no
fear upon him, but went close up to him and shot him, as above;
whereas any of us would have fired at a farther distance, and have
perhaps either missed the wolf, or endangered shooting the man.
But it was enough to have terrified a bolder man than I; and,
indeed, it alarmed all our company, when, with the noise of Friday's
pistol, we heard on both sides the dismallest howling of wolves; and
the noise, redoubled by the echo of the mountains, that it was to us
as if there had been a prodigious multitude of them; and perhaps
indeed there was not such a few as that we had no cause of
However, as Friday had killed this wolf, the other that had fastened
upon the horse left him immediately and fled, having happily
fastened upon his head, where the bosses of the bridle had stuck in
his teeth, so that he had not done him much hurt. The man, indeed, was
most hurt; for the raging creature had bit him twice, once on the arm,
and the other time a little above his knee; and he was just, as it
were, tumbling down by the disorder of his horse, when Friday came
up and shot the wolf.
It is easy to suppose that at the noise of Friday's pistol we all
mended our pace, and rid up as fast as the way, which was very
difficult, should give us leave, to see what was the matter. As soon
as we came clear of the trees, which blinded us before, we saw clearly
what had been the case, and how Friday had disengaged the poor
guide, though we did not presently discern what kind of creature it
was he had killed.
But never was a fight managed so hardily, and in such a surprising
manner, as that which followed between Friday and the bear, which gave
us all, though at first we were surprised and afraid for him, the
greatest diversion imaginable. As the bear is a heavy, clumsy
creature, and does not gallop as the wolf does, who is swift and
light, as he has two particular qualities, which generally are the
rule of his actions; first, as to men, who are not his proper prey;
I say, not his proper prey, because, though I cannot say what
excessive hunger might do, which was now their case, the ground
being all covered with snow; but as to men, he does not usually
attempt them, unless they first attack him. On the contrary, if you
meet him in the woods, if you don't meddle with him, he won't meddle
with you; but then you must take care to be very civil to him, and
give him the road, for he is a very nice gentleman. He won't go a step
out of his way for a prince; nay, if you are really afraid, your
best way is to look another way, and keep going on; for sometimes if
you stop, and stand still, and look steadily at him, he takes it for
an affront; but if you throw or toss anything at him, and it hits him,
though it were but a bit of a stick as big as your finger, he takes it
for an affront, and set all his other business aside to pursue his
revenge; for he will have satisfaction in point of honor. That is
his first quality; the next is, that if he be once affronted, he
will never leave you, night or day, till he has his revenge, but
follows, at a good round rate, till he overtakes you.
My man Friday had delivered our guide, and when we came up to him he
was helping him off from his horse; for the man was both hurt and
frighted, and indeed the last more than the first; when, on the
sudden, we spied the bear come out of the wood, and a vast monstrous
one it was, the biggest by far that ever I saw. We were all a little
surprised when we saw him; but when Friday saw him, it was easy to see
joy and courage in the fellow's countenance. "O! O! O!" says Friday,
three times pointing to him. "O master! you give me the leave; me
shakee the hand with him; me make you good laugh."
I was surprised to see the fellow so pleased. "You fool you," says
I, "he will eat you up." "Eatee me up! eatee me up!" says Friday,
twice over again; "me eatee him up; me make you good laugh; you all
stay here, me show you good laugh." So down he sits, and gets his
boots off in a moment, and put on a pair of pumps, as we call the flat
shoes they wear, and which he had in his pocket, gives my other
servant his horse, and with his gun away he flew, swift like the wind.
The bear was walking softly on, and offered to meddle with nobody
till Friday, coming pretty near, calls to him, as if the bear could
understand him, "Hark ye, hark ye," says Friday, "me speakee wit you."
We followed at a distance; for now being come down on the Gascogn side
of the mountains, we were entered a vast great forest., where the
country was plain and pretty open, though many trees in it scattered
here and there.
Friday, who had, as we say, the heels of the bear, came up with
him quickly, and takes up a great stone and throws at him, and hit him
just on the head, but did him no harm than if he had thrown it against
a wall. But it answered Friday's end, for the rogue was so void of
fear, that he did it purely to make the bear follow him, and show us
some laugh, as he called it.
As soon as the bear felt the stone, and saw him, he turns about, and
comes after him, taking devilish long strides, and shuffling along
at a strange rate, so as would have put a horse to a middling
gallop. Away runs Friday, and takes his course as if he run towards us
for help; so we all resolved to fire at once upon the bear, and
deliver my man; though I was angry at him heartily for bringing the
bear back upon us, when he was going about his own business another
way; and especially I was angry that he had turned the bear upon us,
and then run away; and I called out, "You dog," said I, "is this
your making us laugh? Come away, and take your horse, that we may
shoot the creature." He hears me, and cries out, "No shoot, no
shoot; stand still, you get much laugh." And as the nimble creature
run two feet for the beast's one, he turned on a sudden, on one side
of us, and seeing a great oak tree fit for his purpose, he beckoned to
us to follow; and doubling his pace, he get nimbly up the tree, laying
his gun down upon the ground, at about five or six yards from the
bottom of the tree.
The bear soon came to the tree, and we followed at a distance. The
first thing he did, he stopped at the gun, smelt to it, but let it
lie, and up he scrambles into the tree, climbing like a cat, though so
monstrously heavy. I was amazed at the folly, as I though it, of my
man, and could not for my life see anything to laugh at yet, till
seeing the bear get up the tree, we all rode nearer to him.
When we came to the tree, there was Friday got out to the small
end of a large limb of the tree, and the bear got about half way to
him. As soon as the bear got out to that part where the limb of the
tree was weaker, "Ha!" says he to us, "now you see me teachee the bear
dance." So he falls a-jumping and shaking the bough, at which the bear
began to totter, but stood still, and began to look behind him, to see
how he should get back. Then, indeed, we did laugh heartily. But
Friday had not done with him again, as if he had supposed the bear
could speak English, "What, you no come farther? pray you come
farther;" so he left jumping and shaking the tree; and the bear,
just as if he had understood what he said, did come a little
farther; then he fell a-jumping again, and the bear stopped again.
We thought now was a good time to knock him on the head, and I
called to Friday to stand still, and we would shoot the bear; but he
cried out earnestly, "O pray! O pray! no shoot, me shoot by and then;"
he would have said by and by. However, to shorten the story, Friday
danced so much, and the bear stood so ticklish, that we had laughing
enough indeed, but still could not imagine what the fellow would do;
for first we thought he depended upon shaking the bear off; and we
found the bear was too cunning for that too; for he would not go out
far enough to be thrown down, but clings fast with his great broad
claws and feet, so that we could not imagine what would be the end
of it, and where the jest would be at last.
But Friday put us out of doubt quickly; for seeing the bear cling
fast to the bough, and that he would not be persuaded to come any
farther, "Well, well," says Friday, "you no come farther, me go, me
go; you no come to me, me go come to you;" and upon this he goes out
to the smallest end of the bough, where it would bend with his weight,
and gently lets himself down by it, sliding down the bough till he
came near enough to jump down on his feet, and away he ran to his gun,
takes it up, and stands still.
"Well," said I to him, "Friday, what will you do now? Why don't
you shoot him?" "No shoot," says Friday, "no yet; me shoot now, me
no kill; me stay, give you one more laugh." And, indeed, so he did, as
you will see presently; for when the bear sees his enemy gone, he
comes back from the bough where he stood, but did it mighty leisurely,
looking behind him every step, and coming backward till he got into
the body of the tree; then with the same hinder end foremost he
comes down the tree, grasping it with his claws, and moving one foot
at a time, very leisurely. At this juncture, and just before he
could set his hind feet upon the ground, Friday stepped up close to
him, clapped the muzzle of his piece into his ear, and shot him dead
as a stone.
Then the rogue turned about to see if we did not laugh; and when
he saw we were pleased by our looks, he falls a-laughing himself
very loud. "So we kill bear in my country," says Friday. "So you
kill them?" says I; "why, you have no guns." "No," says he, "no gun,
but shoot great much long arrow."
This was indeed a good diversion to us; but we were still in a
wild place, and our guide very much hurt, and what to do we hardly
knew. The howling of the wolves ran much in my head; and indeed,
except the noise I once heard on the shore of Africa, of which I
have said something already, I never heard anything that filled me
with so much horror.
These things, and the approach of night, called us off, or else,
as Friday would have had us, we should certainly have taken the skin
of this monstrous creature off, which was worth saving; but we had
three leagues to go, and our guide hastened us; so we left him, and
went forward on our journey.
The ground was still covered with snow, though not so deep and
dangerous as on the mountains; and the ravenous creatures, as we heard
afterwards, were come down into the forest and plain country,
pressed by hunger, to seek for food, and had done a great deal of
mischief in the villages, where they surprised the country people,
killed a great many of their sheep and horses, and some people, too.
We had one dangerous place to pass, which our guide told us if there
were any more wolves in the country we should find them there; and
this was in a small plain, surrounded with woods on every side, and
a long narrow defile, or lane, which we were to pass to get through
the wood, and then we should come to the village where we were to
It was within half an hour of sunset when we entered the first wood,
and a little after sunset when we came into the plain. We met with
nothing in the first wood, except that, in a little plain within the
wood, which was not above two furlongs over, we saw five great
wolves cross the road, full speed, one after another, as if they had
been in chase of some prey, and had it in view; they took no notice of
us, and were gone and out of our sight in a few moments. Upon this our
guide, who, by the way, was a wretched fainthearted fellow, bid us
keep in a ready posture, for he believed there were more wolves
We kept our arms ready, and our eyes about us; but we saw no more
wolves till we came through that wood, which was near half a league,
and entered the plain. As soon as we came into the plain, we had
occasion enough to look about us. The first object we met with was a
dead horse, that is to say, a poor horse which the wolves had
killed, and at least a dozen of them at work; we could not say
eating of him, but picking of his bones rather, for they had eaten
up all the flesh before.
We did not think fit to disturb them at their feast, neither did
they take much notice of us. Friday would have let fly at them, but
I would not suffer him by any means, for I found we were like to
have more business upon our hands than we were aware of. We were not
gone half over the plain, but we began to hear the wolves howl in
the wood on our left in a frightful manner, and presently after we saw
about a hundred coming on directly towards us, all in a body, and most
of them in a line, as regularly as an army drawn up by experienced
officers. I scarce knew in what manner to receive them, but found to
draw ourselves in a close line was the only way; so we formed in
moment; but that we might not have too much interval, I ordered that
only every other man should fire, and that the others who had not
fired should stand ready to give them a second volley immediately,
if they continued to advance upon us; and that then those who had
fired at first should not pretend to load their fuses again, but stand
ready with every one a pistol, for we were all armed with a fusee
and a pair of pistols each man; so we were, by this method, able to
fire six volleys, half of us at a time. However, at present we had
no necessity; for upon firing the first volley the enemy made a full
stop, being terrified as well with the noise as with the fire. Four of
them being shot into the head, dropped; several others were wounded,
and went bleeding off, as we could see by the snow. I found they
stopped, but did not immediately retreat; whereupon, remembering
that I had been told that the fiercest creatures were terrified at the
voice of a man, I cause all our company to halloo as loud as we could,
and I found the notion not altogether mistaken, for upon our shout
they began to retire and turn about. Then I ordered a second volley to
be fired in their rear, which put them to the gallop, and away they
went to the woods.
This gave us leisure to charge our pieces again; and that we might
lose no time we kept going. But we had but little more than loaded our
fusees, and put ourselves into a readiness, when we heard a terrible
noise in the same wood, on our left, only, that it was farther onward,
the same way we were to go.
The night was coming on, and the light began to be dusky, which made
it worse on our side; but the noise increasing, we could easily
perceive that it was the howling and yelling of those hellish
creatures; and on a sudden, we perceived two or three troops of
wolves, one on our left, one behind us, and one on our front, so
that we seemed to be surrounded with them. However, as they did not
fall upon us we kept our way forward as fast as we could make our
horses go, which, the way being very rough, was only a good large
trot, and in this manner we came in view of the of a wood, though
which we were to pass, at the farther side of the plain; but we were
greatly surprised when, coming nearer the lane, or pass, we saw a
confused number of wolves standing just at the entrance.
On a sudden, at another opening of the wood, we heard the noise of a
gun, and looking that way, out rushed a horse, with a saddle and a
bridle on him, flying like the wind, and sixteen or seventeen wolves
after him, full speed; indeed, the horse had the heels of them; but as
we supposed that he could not hold it at that rate, we doubted not but
they would get up with him at last, and no question but they did.
But here we had a most horrible sight; for riding up to the entrance
where the horse came out, we found the carcass of another horse and of
two men, devoured by the ravenous creatures; and one of the men was no
doubt that same whom we heard fire the gun, for there lay a gun just
by him fired off; but as to the man, his head and the upper part of
his body was eaten up.
This filled us with horror, and we knew not what course to take; but
the creatures resolved us soon, for they gathered about us presently
in hopes of prey, and I verily believe there were three hundred of
them. It happened very much to our advantage that, at the entrance
into the wood, but a little was from it, there lay some large
timber-trees, which had been cut down the summer before, and I suppose
lay there for carriage. I drew my little troop in among those trees,
and placing ourselves in a line behind one long tree, I advised them
all to light, and keeping that tree before us for a breastwork, to
stand in a triangle or three fronts, enclosing our horses in the
We did so, and it was well we did; for never was a more furious
charge than the creatures made upon us in the place. They came on us
with a growling kind of a noise, and mounted the piece of timber,
which, as I said, was our breastwork, as if they were only rushing
upon their prey; and this fury of theirs, it seems, was principally
occasioned by their seeing our horses behind us, which was the prey
they aimed at. I ordered our men to fire as before, every other man;
and they took their aim so sure that indeed they killed several of the
wolves at the first volley; but there was a necessity to keep a
continual firing, for they came on like devils, those behind pushing
on those before.
When we had fired our second volley of our fusees, we thought they
stopped a little, and I hoped they would have gone off but it was
but a moment, for others came forward again; so we fired two volleys
of our pistols; and I believe in these four firings we had killed
seventeen or eighteen of them, and lamed twice as many, yet they
came on again.
I was loth to spend our last shot too hastily; so I called my
servant, not my man Friday, for he was better employed, for with the
greatest dexterity imaginable he had charged my fusee and his own
while we were engaged; but as I said, I called my other man, and
giving him a horn of powder, I bade him lay a train all along the
piece of timber, and let it be a large train. He did so, and had but
just time to get away when the wolves came up to it, and some were got
up upon it, when I, snapping an uncharged pistol close to the
powder, set it on fire. Those that were upon the timber were
scorched with it, and six or seven of them fell, or rather jumped,
in among us with the force and fright of the fire. We despatched these
in an instant, and the rest were so frighted with the light, which the
night, for it was now very near dark, made mare terrible, that they
drew back a little; upon which I ordered our last pistol to be fired
off in one volley, and after that we gave a shout. Upon this the
wolves turned tail, and we sallied immediately upon near twenty lame
ones, whom we found struggling on the ground, and fell a-cutting
them with our swords, which answered our expectation; for the crying
and howling they made was better understood by their fellows, so
that they all fled and left us.
We had, first and last, killed about three score of them, and had it
been daylight we had killed many more. The field of battle being
thus cleared, we made forward again, for we had still near a league to
go. We heard the ravenous creatures howl and yell in the woods as we
went several times, and sometimes we fancied we saw some of them,
but the snow dazzling our eyes, we were not certain. So in about an
hour more we came to the town where we were to lodge, which we found
in a terrible fright, and all in arms; for it seems that the night
before the wolves and some bears had broke into the village in the
night, and put them into a terrible fright; and they were obliged to
keep guard night and day, but especially in the night, to preserve
their cattle, and, indeed, their people.
The next morning our guide was so ill, and his limbs swelled with
the rankling of his two wounds, that he could go no farther; so we
were obliged to take a new guide there, and go to Toulouse, where we
found a warm climate, a fruitful, pleasant country, and no snow, no
wolves, or anything like them. But when we told our story at Toulouse,
they told us it was nothing but what was ordinary in the great
forest at the foot of the mountains, especially when the snow lay on
the ground; but they inquired much what kind of a guide we had
gotten that would venture to bring us that way in such a severe
season, and told us it was very much we were not all devoured. When we
told them how we placed ourselves, and the horses in the middle,
they blamed us exceedingly, and told us it was a fifty to one but we
had been all destroyed; for it was the sight of the horses which
made the wolves so furious, seeing their prey; and that, at other
times, they are really afraid of a gun; but the being excessive
hungry, and raging on that account, the eagerness to come at the
horses had made them senseless of danger and that if we had not, by
the continued fire, and at last by the stratagem of the train of
powder, mastered them, it had been great odds but that we had been
torn to pieces; whereas had we been content to have sat still on
horseback, and fired as horsemen, they would not have taken the horses
for so much their own, when men were on their backs, as otherwise; and
withal they told us, that at last, if we had stood all together, and
left our horses, they would have been so eager to have devoured
them, that we might have come off safe, especially having our
fire-arms in our hands, and being so many in number.
For my part, I was never so sensible of danger in my life; for
seeing above three hundred devils come roaring and open-mouthed to
devour us, and having nothing to shelter us or retreat to, I gave
myself over for lost; and as it was, I believe I shall never care to
cross those mountains again. I think I would much rather go a thousand
leagues by sea, though I were sure to meet with a storm once a week.
I have nothing uncommon to take notice of in my passage through
France; nothing but what other travellers have given an account of
with much more advantage than I can. I travelled from Toulouse to
Paris, and without any considerable stay came to Calais, and landed
safe at Dover, the 14 of January, after having had a severe cold
season to travel in.
I was now come to the centre of my travels, and had in a little time
all my new-discovered estate safe about me, the bills of exchange
which I brought with me having been very currently paid.
My principal guide and privy councillor was my good ancient widow;
who, in gratitude for the money I had sent her, thought no pains too
much, or care too great, to employ for her; and I trusted her so
entirely with everything that I was perfectly easy as to the
security of my effects; and indeed I was very happy from my beginning,
and now to the end, in the unspotted integrity of this good
And now I began to think of leaving my effects with this woman and
setting out for Lisbon, and so to the Brazils. But now another scruple
came in my way, and that was religion; for I had entertained some
doubts about the Roman religion even while I was abroad, especially in
my state of solitude, so I knew there was no going to the Brazils
for me, much less going to settle there, unless I resolved to
embrace the Roman Catholic religion without any reserve; unless on the
other hand I resolved to be a sacrifice to my principles, be a
martyr for religion, and die in the Inquisition. So I resolved to stay
at home, and if I could find means for it, to dispose of my
To this purpose I wrote to my old friend at Lisbon, who in return
gave me notice that he could easily dispose of it there; but that if I
thought fit to give him leave to offer it in my name to the two
merchants, the survivors of my trustees, who lived in the Brazils, who
most fully understand the value of it, who lived just upon the spot,
and whom I knew were very rich, so that he believed they would be fond
of buying it, he did not doubt but I should make 4,000 or 5,000 pieces
of eight the more of it.
Accordingly I agreed, gave him order to offer it to them, and he did
so; and in about eight months more, the ship being then returned, he
sent me an account that they had accepted the offer, and had
remitted 33,000 pieces of eight to a correspondent of theirs at Lisbon
to pay for it.
In return, I signed the instrument of sale in the form which they
sent from Lisbon, and sent it to my old man, who sent me bills of
exchange for 32,800 pieces of eight to me, for the estate; reserving
the payment of 100 moidores a year to him, the old man, during his
life, and 50 moidores afterwards to his son for this life, which I had
promised them, which the plantation was to make good as a rent-charge.
And thus I have given the first part of a life of fortune and
adventure, a life of Providence's checker-worker, and of a variety the
world will seldom be able to show the like of; beginning foolishly,
but closing much more happily than any part of it ever gave me leave
so much as to hope for.
Any one would think that in this state of complicated good fortune I
was past running any more hazards; and so indeed I had been, if other
circumstances had concurred. But I was inured to a wandering life, had
no family, not many relations, nor, however rich, had I contracted
much acquaintance; and though I had sold my estate in the Brazils, yet
I could not keep the country out of my head, and had a great mind to
be upon the wing again; especially I could not resist the strong
inclination I had to see my island, and to know if the poor Spaniards
were in being there, and how the rogues I left there had used them.
My true friend, the widow, earnestly dissuaded me from it, and so
far prevailed with me, that for almost seven years she prevented my
running abroad, during which time I took my two nephews, the
children of one of my brothers, into my care. The eldest having
something of his own, I bred up as a gentleman, and gave him a
settlement of some addition to his estate after my decease. The
other I put out to a captain of a ship, and after five years,
finding him a sensible, bold, enterprising young fellow, I put him
into a good ship, and sent him to sea; and this young fellow
afterwards drew me in, as old as I was, to farther adventures myself.
In the meantime, I in part settled myself here; for, first of all, I
married, and that not either to my disadvantage or dissatisfaction,
and had three children, two sons and one daughter; but my wife
dying, and my nephew coming home with good success from a voyage to
Spain, my inclination to go abroad, and his importunity, prevailed,
and engaged me to go in his ship as a private trader to the East
Indies. This was in the year 1694.
In this voyage I visited my new colony in the island, saw my
successors the Spaniards, had the whole story of lives, and of the
villains I left there; how at first they insulted the poor
Spaniards, how they afterwards agreed, disagreed, united, separated,
and how at last the Spaniards were obliged to use violence with
them; how they were subjected to the Spaniards; how honestly the
Spaniards used them; a history, if it were entered into, as full of
variety and wonderful accidents as my own part; particularly also as
to their battles with the Caribbeans, who landed several times upon
the island, and as to the improvement they made upon the island, and
as to the improvement they made upon the island itself; and how five
of them made an attempt upon the mainland, and brought away eleven men
and five women prisoners, by which, at my coming, I found about twenty
young children on the island.
Here I stayed about twenty days, left them supplies of all necessary
things, and particularly of arms, powder, shot, clothes, tools, and
two workmen, which I brought from England with me, viz., a carpenter
and a smith.
Besides this, I shared the island into parts with them, reserved
to myself the property of the whole, but gave them such parts
respectively as they agreed on; and having settled all things with
them, and engaged them not to leave the place, I left them there.
From thence I touched at the Brazils, from whence I sent a bark,
which I bought there, with more people, to the island; and in it,
besides other supplies, I sent seven women, being such as I found
proper for service, or for wives to such as would take them. As to the
Englishmen, I promised them to send them some women from England, with
a good cargo of necessaries, if they would apply themselves to
planting; which I afterwards performed; and the fellows proved very
honest and diligent after they were mastered, and had their properties
set apart for them. I sent them also from the Brazils five cows, three
of them being big with calf, some sheep, and some hogs, which, when
I came again, were considerably increased.
But all these things, with an account how three hundred Caribbees
came and invaded them, and ruined their plantations, and how they
fought with that whole number twice, and were at first defeated and
three of them killed; but at last a storm destroying their enemies'
canoes, they famished or destroyed almost all the rest, and renewed
and recovered the possession of their plantation, and still lived upon
the island; -all these things, with some very surprising incidents, in
some new adventures of my own, for often years more, I may perhaps
give a farther account of hereafter. - THE END -

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