Sunday, February 19, 2017


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
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
afterwards at York, from whence he had married my
mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very
good family in that country, and from whom I was called
Robinson Kreutznaer; 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 whom was lieutenantcolonel
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 or mother knew what
became of me.
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 go, 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 propensity 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
father’s house and my native country, where I might be
well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my 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 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
labour 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 this one thing - viz.
that this was the state of life which all other people envied;
that kings have frequently lamented the miserable
consequence 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 standard of felicity, when he
prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.
He bade me observe it, and I should always find that
the calamities of 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
uneasinesses, either of body or mind, as those were who,
by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on the one
hand, or by hard labour, want of necessaries, and mean or
insufficient diet on the other hand, bring distemper upon
themselves by the natural consequences of their way of
living; that the middle station of life was calculated for all
kind of virtue 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 labours of
the hands or of the head, not sold to a life of slavery for
daily bread, nor harassed with perplexed circumstances,
which rob the soul 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 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, nor 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 endeavour to enter me
fairly into the station of life which he had just been
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
should 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, 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, and, 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 further
importunities, in a few weeks after I resolved to run quite
away from him. However, I did not act quite so hastily as
the first heat of my resolution prompted; but I took my
mother at a time when I thought her a little more pleasant
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, but 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 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 the time that 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 the discourse 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
would 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 I heard afterwards that 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
most 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, in the meantime, I continued obstinately deaf to
all proposals of settling to business, and frequently
expostulated 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 at that time; but, I say, being there, and one
of my companions being about to sail to London in his
father’s ship, and prompting me to go with them with the
common allurement of seafaring men, 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 1st 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
out of the Humber than the wind began to blow and the
sea 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 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
counsels 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 to which it has 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 went
very high, though nothing like what I have seen many
times since; no, nor what I saw a few days after; but it was
enough to affect me then, who was but a young sailor, and
had 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 it did, in the trough or
hollow of the sea, we should never rise more; in this
agony of mind, I made many vows and resolutions that if
it would please God to spare my life in 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 lasted, 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 seasick,
but very cheerful, looking with wonder upon the sea
that was so rough and terrible the day before, and could be
so calm and so pleasant in so little a time after. And now,
lest my good resolutions should continue, my companion,
who had enticed me away, comes to me; ‘Well, Bob,’ says
he, clapping me upon 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 capful d’you call
it?’ said I; ‘‘twas a terrible storm.’ ‘A storm, you fool you,’
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 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 way of all sailors; the punch was made and I
was made half drunk with it: and in that one night’s
wickedness I drowned all my repentance, all my
reflections upon my past conduct, all my resolutions for
the 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, endeavour to return again sometimes; but I
shook them off, and roused myself from them as it were
from a distemper, and applying myself to drinking 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 of.
The sixth day of our being at sea we came into
Yarmouth Roads; the wind having been contrary and the
weather calm, we had 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 south-west - for
seven or eight days, during which time a great many ships
from Newcastle came into the same Roads, as the
common harbour where the ships might wait for a wind
for the river.
We had not, however, rid here so long but we should
have tided it up 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
harbour, 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 rode
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 bitter 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 in the
business of preserving 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
resume the first penitence which I had so apparently
trampled upon and hardened myself against: I thought the
bitterness of death had been past, and that this would be
nothing 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 ran
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 rode near us, we found,
had cut their masts by the board, being deep laden; and
our men cried out that a ship which rode about a mile
ahead of us 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 labouring in the sea;
but two or three of them drove, and came close by us,
running away with only their spritsail out before the wind.
Towards evening the mate and boatswain begged the
master of our ship to let them cut away the fore-mast,
which he was very unwilling to do; but the boatswain
protesting to him that if he did not the ship would
founder, he consented; and when they had cut away the
fore-mast, the main-mast stood so loose, and shook the
ship so much, they were obliged to cut that away also, and
make a clear deck.
Any one may judge what a condition I must be in at all
this, who was but 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 the 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 seen a worse. We had a
good ship, but she was deep laden, and wallowed in the
sea, so 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
to see cried out we had sprung a leak; another said there
was four feet water in the hold. Then all hands were called
to the pump. At that 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 roused 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 they
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 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
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 it was not possible she
could swim till we might run into any 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 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 think of
reaching 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 northward, sloping towards the shore almost as far as
Winterton Ness.
We were not much more than a quarter of an hour out
of our ship till we 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 the
moment that 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
labouring 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) a great many people running along
the strand 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, as
in 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 Roads, it was a great while before he
had any assurances 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 go home, yet I had no power to do it. I
know 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, 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 saw me, it appeared his tone was altered; and,
looking very melancholy, and shaking his head, he asked
me how I did, and telling his father who I was, and how I
had come this voyage only for a trial, in order to go
further 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 on trial,
you see what a taste Heaven has given you of what you
are to expect if you persist. Perhaps this has 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 into 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 yet 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, exhorting me to go
back to my father, and not tempt Providence to my ruin,
telling 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 knew 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 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 neighbours,
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 that
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
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 away 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 return wore off with it, till
at last I quite laid aside the thoughts of it, and looked out
for a voyage.
Wait for Chapter 02  And if you like plz comment.

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