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The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

  Transcribed from the 1919 Seeley, Service & Co. edition by David Price,email [email protected]

  The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

  By Daniel Defoe

  * * * * *

  _With Illustrations by H. M. Brock_

  * * * * *

  London Seeley, Service & Co. Limited 38 Great Russell Street


  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, whosettled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leavingoff his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married mymother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in thatcountry, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by theusual corruption of words in England, we are now called--nay we callourselves and write our name--Crusoe; and so my companions always calledme.

  I had two elder brothers, one of whom was lieutenant-colonel to anEnglish regiment of foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famousColonel Lockhart, and was killed at the battle near Dunkirk against theSpaniards. What became of my second brother I never knew, any more thanmy father or mother knew what became of me.

  Being the third son of the family and not bred to any trade, my headbegan to be filled very early with rambling thoughts. My father, who wasvery ancient, had given me a competent share of learning, as far ashouse-education and a country free school generally go, and designed mefor the law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; andmy inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, thecommands of my father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions ofmy mother and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal inthat propensity of nature, tending directly to the life of misery whichwas to befall me.

  My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counselagainst what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into hischamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmlywith me upon this subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a merewandering inclination, I had for leaving father's house and my nativecountry, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raisingmy fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure.He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring,superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to riseby enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature outof the common road; that these things were all either too far above me ortoo far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be calledthe 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, notexposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of themechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury,ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. He told me I mightjudge of the happiness of this state by this one thing--viz. that thiswas the state of life which all other people envied; that kings havefrequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to greatthings, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the twoextremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave histestimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to haveneither poverty nor riches.

  He bade me observe it, and I should always find that the calamities oflife were shared among the upper and lower part of mankind, but that themiddle station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to so manyvicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind; nay, they were notsubjected to so many distempers and uneasinesses, either of body or mind,as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on theone hand, or by hard labour, want of necessaries, and mean orinsufficient diet on the other hand, bring distemper upon themselves bythe natural consequences of their way of living; that the middle stationof life was calculated for all kind of virtue and all kind of enjoyments;that peace and plenty were the handmaids of a middle fortune; thattemperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeablediversions, and all desirable pleasures, were the blessings attending themiddle station of life; that this way men went silently and smoothlythrough the world, and comfortably out of it, not embarrassed with thelabours of the hands or of the head, not sold to a life of slavery fordaily bread, nor harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob thesoul of peace and the body of rest, nor enraged with the passion of envy,or the secret burning lust of ambition for great things; but, in easycircumstances, sliding gently through the world, and sensibly tasting thesweets of living, without the bitter; feeling that they are happy, andlearning 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, nor to precipitate myself into miseries whichnature, and the station of life I was born in, seemed to have providedagainst; that I was under no necessity of seeking my bread; that he woulddo well for me, and endeavour to enter me fairly into the station of lifewhich he had just been recommending to me; and that if I was not veryeasy and happy in the world, it must be my mere fate or fault that musthinder it; and that he should have nothing to answer for, having thusdischarged his duty in warning me against measures which he knew would beto my hurt; in a word, that as he would do very kind things for me if Iwould stay and settle at home as he directed, so he would not have somuch 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, towhom he had used the same earnest persuasions to keep him from going intothe Low Country wars, but could not prevail, his young desires promptinghim to run into the army, where he was killed; and though he said hewould not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say to me, thatif I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me, and I shouldhave leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his counsel whenthere 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, Iobserved the tears run down his face very plentifully, especially when hespoke of my brother who was killed: and that when he spoke of my havingleisure to repent, and none to assist me, he was so moved that he brokeoff the discourse, and told me his heart was so full he could say no moreto me.

  I was sincerely affected with this discourse, and, indeed, who could beotherwise? and I resolved not to think of going abroad any more, but tosettle at home according to my father's desire. But alas! a few dayswore it all off; and, in short, to prevent any of my father's furtherimportunities, in a few weeks after I resolved to run quite away fromhim. However, I did not act quite so hastily as the first heat of myresolution prompted; but I took my mother at a time when I thought her alittle more pleasant than ordinary, and told her that my thoughts were soentirely bent upon seeing the world that I should never settle toanything with resolution enough to go through with it, and my father hadbetter give me his consent than force me to go without it; that I was noweighteen years old, which was too late to go apprentice to a trade orclerk to an attorney; that I was sure if I did I should never serve outmy time, but I should certainly run away from my master before my timewas out, and go to sea; and if she would speak to my father to let me goone voyage abroad, if I came home again, and did not like it, I would gono more;
and I would promise, by a double diligence, to recover the timethat I had lost.

  This put my mother into a great passion; she told me she knew it would beto no purpose to speak to my father upon any such subject; that he knewtoo well what was my interest to give his consent to anything so much formy hurt; and that she wondered how I could think of any such thing afterthe discourse I had had with my father, and such kind and tenderexpressions as she knew my father had used to me; and that, in short, ifI would ruin myself, there was no help for me; but I might depend Ishould never have their consent to it; that for her part she would nothave so much hand in my destruction; and I should never have it to saythat my mother was willing when my father was not.

  Though my mother refused to move it to my father, yet I heard afterwardsthat she reported all the discourse to him, and that my father, aftershowing a great concern at it, said to her, with a sigh, "That boy mightbe happy if he would stay at home; but if he goes abroad, he will be themost miserable wretch that ever was born: I can give no consent to it."

  It was not till almost a year after this that I broke loose, though, inthe meantime, I continued obstinately deaf to all proposals of settlingto business, and frequently expostulated with my father and mother abouttheir being so positively determined against what they knew myinclinations prompted me to. But being one day at Hull, where I wentcasually, and without any purpose of making an elopement at that time;but, I say, being there, and one of my companions being about to sail toLondon in his father's ship, and prompting me to go with them with thecommon allurement of seafaring men, that it should cost me nothing for mypassage, I consulted neither father nor mother any more, nor so much assent 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 considerationof circumstances or consequences, and in an ill hour, God knows, on the1st of September 1651, I went on board a ship bound for London. Neverany young adventurer's misfortunes, I believe, began sooner, or continuedlonger than mine. The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the windbegan to blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner; and, as Ihad never been at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body andterrified in mind. I began now seriously to reflect upon what I haddone, and how justly I was overtaken by the judgment of Heaven for mywicked leaving my father's house, and abandoning my duty. All the goodcounsels 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 tothe pitch of hardness to which it has since, reproached me with thecontempt of advice, and the breach of my duty to God and my father.

  All this while the storm increased, and the sea went very high, thoughnothing like what I have seen many times since; no, nor what I saw a fewdays after; but it was enough to affect me then, who was but a youngsailor, and had never known anything of the matter. I expected everywave would have swallowed us up, and that every time the ship fell down,as I thought it did, in the trough or hollow of the sea, we should neverrise more; in this agony of mind, I made many vows and resolutions thatif it would please God to spare my life in this one voyage, if ever I gotonce 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 hisadvice, and never run myself into such miseries as these any more. Now Isaw plainly the goodness of his observations about the middle station oflife, how easy, how comfortably he had lived all his days, and never hadbeen exposed to tempests at sea or troubles on shore; and I resolved thatI would, like a true repenting prodigal, go home to my father.

  These wise and sober thoughts continued all the while the storm lasted,and indeed some time after; but the next day the wind was abated, and thesea calmer, and I began to be a little inured to it; however, I was verygrave for all that day, being also a little sea-sick still; but towardsnight the weather cleared up, the wind was quite over, and a charmingfine evening followed; the sun went down perfectly clear, and rose so thenext morning; and having little or no wind, and a smooth sea, the sunshining upon it, the sight was, as I thought, the most delightful thatever I saw.

  I had slept well in the night, and was now no more sea-sick, but verycheerful, looking with wonder upon the sea that was so rough and terriblethe day before, and could be so calm and so pleasant in so little a timeafter. And now, lest my good resolutions should continue, my companion,who had enticed me away, comes to me; "Well, Bob," says he, clapping meupon the shoulder, "how do you do after it? I warrant you were frighted,wer'n't you, last night, when it blew but a capful of wind?" "A capfuld'you call it?" said I; "'twas a terrible storm." "A storm, you foolyou," replies 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 of such asquall 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 whatcharming weather 'tis now?" To make short this sad part of my story, wewent the way of all sailors; the punch was made and I was made half drunkwith it: and in that one night's wickedness I drowned all my repentance,all my reflections upon my past conduct, all my resolutions for thefuture. In a word, as the sea was returned to its smoothness of surfaceand settled calmness by the abatement of that storm, so the hurry of mythoughts being over, my fears and apprehensions of being swallowed up bythe sea being forgotten, and the current of my former desires returned, Ientirely forgot the vows and promises that I made in my distress. Ifound, indeed, some intervals of reflection; and the serious thoughtsdid, as it were, endeavour to return again sometimes; but I shook themoff, and roused myself from them as it were from a distemper, andapplying myself to drinking and company, soon mastered the return ofthose fits--for so I called them; and I had in five or six days got ascomplete a victory over conscience as any young fellow that resolved notto be troubled with it could desire. But I was to have another trial forit still; and Providence, as in such cases generally it does, resolved toleave me entirely without excuse; for if I would not take this for adeliverance, the next was to be such a one as the worst and most hardenedwretch among us would confess both the danger and the mercy of.

  The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the windhaving been contrary and the weather calm, we had made but little waysince the storm. Here we were obliged to come to an anchor, and here welay, the wind continuing contrary--viz. at south-west--for seven or eightdays, during which time a great many ships from Newcastle came into thesame Roads, as the common harbour where the ships might wait for a windfor the river.

  We had not, however, rid here so long but we should have tided it up theriver, but that the wind blew too fresh, and after we had lain four orfive days, blew very hard. However, the Roads being reckoned as good asa harbour, the anchorage good, and our ground-tackle very strong, our menwere unconcerned, and not in the least apprehensive of danger, but spentthe time in rest and mirth, after the manner of the sea; but the eighthday, in the morning, the wind increased, and we had all hands at work tostrike our topmasts, and make everything snug and close, that the shipmight ride as easy as possible. By noon the sea went very high indeed,and our ship rode forecastle in, shipped several seas, and we thoughtonce or twice our anchor had come home; upon which our master ordered outthe sheet-anchor, so that we rode with two anchors ahead, and the cablesveered out to the bitter end.

  By this time it blew a terrible storm indeed; and now I began to seeterror and amazement in the faces even of the seamen themselves. Themaster, though vigilant in the business of preserving the ship, yet as hewent in and out of his cabin by me, I could hear him softly to himselfsay, several times, "Lord be merciful to us! we shall be all lost! weshall be all undone!" and the like. During these first hurries I wasstupid, lying still in my cabin, which was in the steerage, and cannotdescribe my temper: I could ill resume the first penitence which I had soapparently trampled upon and hardened myself against: I thought thebitterness of death had been past, and that this would be nothing likethe 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 outof my cabin and looked out; but such a dismal sight I never saw: the searan mountains high, and broke upon us every three or four minutes; when Icould look about, I could see nothing but distress round us; two shipsthat rode near us, we found, had cut their masts by the board, being deepladen; and our men cried out that a ship which rode about a mile ahead ofus was foundered. Two more ships, being driven from their anchors, wererun out of the Roads to sea, at all adventures, and that with not a maststanding. The light ships fared the best, as not so much labouring inthe sea; but two or three of them drove, and came close by us, runningaway with only their spritsail out before the wind.

  Towards evening the mate and boatswain begged the master of our ship tolet them cut away the fore-mast, which he was very unwilling to do; butthe boatswain protesting to him that if he did not the ship wouldfounder, he consented; and when they had cut away the fore-mast, themain-mast stood so loose, and shook the ship so much, they were obligedto cut that away also, and make a clear deck.

  Any one may judge what a condition I must be in at all this, who was buta 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 thattime, I was in tenfold more horror of mind upon account of my formerconvictions, and the having returned from them to the resolutions I hadwickedly taken at first, than I was at death itself; and these, added tothe terror of the storm, put me into such a condition that I can by nowords describe it. But the worst was not come yet; the storm continuedwith such fury that the seamen themselves acknowledged they had neverseen a worse. We had a good ship, but she was deep laden, and wallowedin the sea, so that the seamen every now and then cried out she wouldfounder. It was my advantage in one respect, that I did not know whatthey meant by _founder_ till I inquired. However, the storm was soviolent that I saw, what is not often seen, the master, the boatswain,and some others more sensible than the rest, at their prayers, andexpecting every moment when the ship would go to the bottom. In themiddle of the night, and under all the rest of our distresses, one of themen that had been down to see cried out we had sprung a leak; anothersaid there was four feet water in the hold. Then all hands were calledto the pump. At that word, my heart, as I thought, died within me: and Ifell backwards upon the side of my bed where I sat, into the cabin.However, the men roused me, and told me that I, that was able to donothing before, was as well able to pump as another; at which I stirredup and went to the pump, and worked very heartily. While this was doingthe master, seeing some light colliers, who, not able to ride out thestorm 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 whatthey meant, thought the ship had broken, or some dreadful thing happened.In a word, I was so surprised that I fell down in a swoon. As this was atime when everybody had his own life to think of, nobody minded me, orwhat was become of me; but another man stepped up to the pump, andthrusting 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 thatthe ship would founder; and though the storm began to abate a little, yetit was not possible she could swim till we might run into any port; sothe master continued firing guns for help; and a light ship, who had ridit out just ahead of us, ventured a boat out to help us. It was with theutmost hazard the boat came near us; but it was impossible for us to geton board, or for the boat to lie near the ship's side, till at last themen rowing very heartily, and venturing their lives to save ours, our mencast them a rope over the stern with a buoy to it, and then veered it outa great length, which they, after much labour 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 thinkof reaching their own ship; so all agreed to let her drive, and only topull her in towards shore as much as we could; and our master promisedthem, that if the boat was staved upon shore, he would make it good totheir master: so partly rowing and partly driving, our boat went away tothe northward, sloping towards the shore almost as far as Winterton Ness.

  We were not much more than a quarter of an hour out of our ship till wesaw her sink, and then I understood for the first time what was meant bya ship foundering in the sea. I must acknowledge I had hardly eyes tolook up when the seamen told me she was sinking; for from the moment thatthey rather put me into the boat than that I might be said to go in, myheart was, as it were, dead within me, partly with fright, partly withhorror of mind, and the thoughts of what was yet before me.

  While we were in this condition--the men yet labouring at the oar tobring the boat near the shore--we could see (when, our boat mounting thewaves, we were able to see the shore) a great many people running alongthe strand to assist us when we should come near; but we made but slowway towards the shore; nor were we able to reach the shore till, beingpast the lighthouse at Winterton, the shore falls off to the westwardtowards Cromer, and so the land broke off a little the violence of thewind. Here we got in, and though not without much difficulty, got allsafe on shore, and walked afterwards on foot to Yarmouth, where, asunfortunate men, we were used with great humanity, as well by themagistrates of the town, who assigned us good quarters, as by particularmerchants and owners of ships, and had money given us sufficient to carryus 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, Ihad been happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, hadeven killed the fatted calf for me; for hearing the ship I went away inwas cast away in Yarmouth Roads, it was a great while before he had anyassurances that I was not drowned.

  But my ill fate pushed me on now with an obstinacy that nothing couldresist; and though I had several times loud calls from my reason and mymore composed judgment to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I knownot what to call this, nor will I urge that it is a secret overrulingdecree, 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, which it wasimpossible for me to escape, could have pushed me forward against thecalm reasonings and persuasions of my most retired thoughts, and againsttwo 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'sson, was now less forward than I. The first time he spoke to me after wewere at Yarmouth, which was not till two or three days, for we wereseparated in the town to several quarters; I say, the first time he sawme, it appeared his tone was altered; and, looking very melancholy, andshaking his head, he asked me how I did, and telling his father who Iwas, and how I had come this voyage only for a trial, in order to gofurther abroad, his father, turning to me with a very grave and concernedtone "Young man," says he, "you ought never to go to sea any more; youought to take this for a plain and visible token that you are not to be aseafaring man." "Why, sir," said I, "will you go to sea no more?" "Thatis another case," said he; "it is my calling, and therefore my duty; butas you made this voyage on trial, you see what a taste Heaven has givenyou of what you are to expect if you persist. Perhaps this has allbefallen 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 outinto a strange kind of passion: "What had I done," says he, "that such anunhappy wretch should come into my ship? I would not set my foot in thesame ship with thee again for a thousand pounds." This indeed was, as Isaid, an excursion of his spirits, which were yet agitated by the senseof his loss, and was farther than he could have authority to go.However, he afterwards talked very gravely to me, exhorting me to go backto my father, and not tempt Providence to my ruin, telling me I might seea visible hand of Heaven
against me. "And, young man," said he, "dependupon it, if you do not go back, wherever you go, you will meet withnothing but disasters and disappointments, till your father's words arefulfilled upon you."

  We parted soon after; for I made him little answer, and I saw him nomore; which way he went I knew not. As for me, having some money in mypocket, 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, andwhether I should go home or to sea.

  As to going home, shame opposed the best motions that offered to mythoughts, and it immediately occurred to me how I should be laughed atamong the neighbours, and should be ashamed to see, not my father andmother only, but even everybody else; from whence I have since oftenobserved, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is,especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in suchcases--viz. that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed torepent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to beesteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning, which only can makethem be esteemed wise men.

  In this state of life, however, I remained some time, uncertain whatmeasures to take, and what course of life to lead. An irresistiblereluctance continued to going home; and as I stayed away a while, theremembrance of the distress I had been in wore off, and as that abated,the little motion I had in my desires to return wore off with it, till atlast I quite laid aside the thoughts of it, and looked out for a voyage.