ROBINSON CRUSOE,CHAPTER V - BUILDS A HOUSE - THE JOURNAL

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)  
SEPTEMBER 30, 1659. - I, poor miserable Robinson
Crusoe, being shipwrecked during a dreadful storm in the
offing, came on shore on 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 the day I spent in afflicting myself at the
dismal circumstances I was brought to - viz. I had neither
food, house, clothes, weapon, nor 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 set
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 the days,
though with some intervals of fair weather; but it seems
this was the rainy season.
OCT. 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.
OCT. 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.
OCT. 26. - I walked about the shore almost all day, to
find out a place to fix my habitation, greatly concerned to
secure myself from any 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 exceedingly hard.
The 31st, in the morning, I went out into the island
with my gun, to seek 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.
NOV. 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.
NOV. 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.
NOV. 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 excessively 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 they would do any one else.
NOV. 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 that I killed I took
of the skins and preserved them. Coming back by the seashore,
I saw many sorts of sea-fowls, which I did not
understand; but was surprised, and almost frightened, 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.
NOV. 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.
NOV. 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 in pieces
several times.
NOTE. - I soon neglected my keeping Sundays; for,
omitting my mark for them on my post, I forgot which
was which.
NOV. 13. - This day it rained, which refreshed me
exceedingly, and cooled the earth; but it was accompanied
with terrible thunder and lightning, which frightened 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.
NOV. 14, 15, 16. - These three days I spent in making
little square chests, or boxes, which might hold about a
pound, or two pounds 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 knew not
what to call it.
NOV. 17. - This day I began to dig behind my tent
into the rock, to make room for my further conveniency.
NOTE. - Three things I wanted exceedingly for this
work - viz. a pickaxe, 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
the pickaxe, 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 do nothing effectually without it; but what
kind of one to make I knew not.
NOV. 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 labour, and almost spoiling my axe, I cut a
piece, and brought it home, too, with difficulty enough,
for it was exceeding heavy. The excessive hardness of the
wood, and my 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
board 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
in making.
I was still deficient, for I wanted a basket or a
wheelbarrow. 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 labourers 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.
NOV. 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 accommodate 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
on 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 gravedigger. I had now 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.
DEC. 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 off the house.
DEC. 17. - From this day to the 20th 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.
DEC. 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.
DEC. 24. - Much rain all night and all day. No stirring
out.
DEC. 25. - Rain all day.
DEC. 26. - No rain, and the earth much cooler than
before, and pleasanter.
DEC. 27. - Killed a young goat, and lamed another, so
that I caught it and led it home in a string; when I had it
at 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 breeding up some tame
creatures, that I might have food when my powder and
shot was all spent.
DEC. 28,29,30,31. - 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 were plenty
of goats, though exceedingly shy, and hard to come at;
however, I resolved to try if I could not bring my dog to
hunt them down.
JAN. 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.
JAN. 3. - I began my fence or wall; which, being still
jealous of my being attacked by somebody, I resolved to
make very thick and strong.
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 2nd 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 labour
everything was done with, especially the bringing piles out
of the woods and driving them into the ground; for I
made them much bigger than I needed to have done.
When this wall was finished, and the outside double
fenced, with a turf wall raised up close to it, I perceived
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 rounds in the woods for
game every day when the rain permitted me, and made
frequent discoveries in these walks of something or other
to my advantage; particularly, I found a kind of wild
pigeons, which build, not as wood-pigeons in a tree, but
rather as house-pigeons, in the holes of the rocks; and
taking some young ones, I endeavoured to breed them up
tame, and did so; but when they grew older they flew
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, with 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 at the
capacity of making one by them, though I spent many
weeks about it; I could neither put in the heads, or join
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 candles; 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 labours 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. The little remainder of corn that had been in
the bag was all devoured by 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, and not so
much as remembering that I had thrown anything there,
when, about a month after, or thereabouts, 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 our
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, nor had
entertained any sense of anything that had befallen me
otherwise than as 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 for 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 His grain to grow without any help of
seed sown, and that 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 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
shook a bag of chickens’ 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; though I ought to have been as
thankful for so strange and unforeseen a providence as if it
had been miraculous; for it was really the work of
Providence 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 were, as above, twenty or
thirty stalks of rice, which I preserved with the same care
and for the same use, or to the same purpose - to make me
bread, or rather food; for I found ways to cook it 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 on the outside of
my habitation.
APRIL 16. - I finished the ladder; so I went up the
ladder to the top, and then pulled it up after me, and let it
down in 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 labour overthrown at once, and myself
killed. The case was thus: As I was busy in the inside,
behind my tent, just at the entrance into my cave, I was
terribly frighted 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 fallen 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 had no sooner stepped do ground, than 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 much amazed with the thing itself, having
never felt the like, nor 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 awakened
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 arose
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. This held about three
hours, and then began to abate; and in two hours more it
was quite 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 flooded my cave. After I
had been in my cave for 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 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 a 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; for I concluded, if I stayed where I was, I should
certainly one time or other 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 loath 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 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, &c., 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. This was the 21st.
APRIL 22. - The next morning I begin to consider of
means to put this resolve into 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 sea
side, 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 I could to the
wreck of the ship, to look for more.

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