" Having learned to know the value of retirement, and the blessing of
ending our days in peace."
IEL D F
gIDEL DR F0E
S.W. PARTRIDGE & Co
MEMOIR OF DANIEL DE FOE.
How seldom it happens that great men are born in great towns. Some
secluded spot, where the influence of nature rather than of human society is
felt, is commonly the nursery of genius. Great cities seem to have a depres-
sing influence upon the human mind. The high pressure of an artificial
competition, while forcing it into a premature activity, leaves its finest
faculties dormant. City life thus favors the production of a crowd of
mediocrities; and amid a surrounding of narrow but keenly polished wits, the
dawn of a new intellectual life is exposed to the friction of a minute and
sterile criticism which damps enthusiasm and crushes out the early spark of
originality. Conformity to a pattern of conventional acquirements takes the
place of the unfettered development of the individual nature, and a perpetual
round of petty activities keeps alive a semblance of intellectual excitement
which completes the absorption of the individual in the collective life.
How strange that the author of Robinson Crusoe, a man distinguished above
all things for individuality, and the masterpiece of whose genius is the
description of a solitary life in a desert island, should have been born in
London. We must regard this striking exception as a bold assertion of the
sovereignty of nature over the strongest combinations of those conventional
barriers by which men endeavour to restrict her sway.
Daniel De Foe was born in London, in the parish of St. Giles', Cripplegate,
in 1661. He died in the same parish in April, 1731. During his life of
seventy years ie saw, seated on the throne of England, six successive monarchs,
from Charles IL to George II., and he witnessed the final phases of the greatest
revolution in our history.
Let no one imagine that in these stirring days the author of Robinson
Crusoe lived the life of a contemplative recluse. His mind was not of a kind
to be satisfied even with the activities of city life; and from about the age of
twenty-one to that of fifty-four, he was incessantly engaged in the fiercest
political strife of that stormy period.
DanierDe Foe was the son of James Foe, a butcher, in the parish of St Giles';
his grandfather, Daniel Foe, was a yoeman of Elton, in luntingdonshir, It
MEMOIR OF DANIEL DE FOE.
is not known at what time he adopted the prefix "De," which distinguishes
his name from that of his ancestors. His grandfather is said to hive been a
cavalier; s father, it is certain, was a round-head and a dissenter. Daniel
received an excellent education at a dissenting academy, being intended for the
ministry, which, for some reason unknown, he did not enter. That he profited
by his education appears not only by his works, but from his own testimony.
When taunted by an opponent with his want of learning, he, on one occasion,
replied, "As to my little learning and his great capacity, I fairly challenge him
to translate with me any Latin, French, or Italian author, and after that to re-
translate them, crossways, for twenty pounds each book." He was also well
read in the theological controversies of the day.
He began life as a merchant hosier, and continued this occupation up till
1695. His place of business was in Freeman's Court, Cornhill His business
transactions during this period were considerable.
It was not long till his political activity began to show itself. In 1682-3
he published his first tracts, one of them upon the invasion of Austria by the
Turks. He did not include these early publications in the editions he after-
wards prepared of his collected works.
In 1685 he joined the rebellion under the Duke of Monmouth. Being at
this time a young man, and comparatively unknown, he seems to have escaped
notice, and, on the failure of the enterprise, he came quietly back to London
and resumed his occupations.
On the 26th of January, 1688, he was admitted a livery man, his name being
entered in the Chamberlain's book as Daniel Foe. Towards the close of the
same year he had the gratification of meeting the Prince of Orange at Henley,
and marching with him to London; and in the following year he formed one
of a guard of honour who attended King William on the occasion of his dining
at the Guildhall with the Lord Mayor.
He had now become a considerable trader, and his business took him on
one occasion to Spain, where he resided for some time, and learned the lang-
uage. He also on different occasions visited France and Germany. The turning
point in De Foe's career, however, came in the form of business disasters. In
1692 he was obliged to abscond from his creditors; but during his temporary
flight, a composition was arranged on his own bond, which he faithfully dis-
charged, and afterwards made considerable efforts to pay his creditors in full
About the causes of his want of success in business there appears to be little
doubt. He, himself, explains them with sufficient clearness Being of a san-
guine disposition, he speculated beyond his means, and trusted people who
were unworthy of credit. That he neglected his business for literary pursuits,
is an assumption of some of his biographers which seems to be both un-
necessary and groundless. His debts amounted to 17,000, which he says he
afterwards reduced to 5,000.
IMEMOI OF DANIEL DE POE.
Lest his flight from his creditors should be supposed to reflect upon his
honour, it may be well to advert to the state of the bankruptcy law at the
time, which he was afterwards instrumental in getting changed. His own
statement of it is:-"The cruelty of our law against debtors, without distinction
of honest or dishonest, is the shame of our nation. I am persuaded the
honestest man in England, when by circumstances he is compelled to break,
will fly out the kingdom rather than submit To stay here, this is the conse-
quence: as soon as he breaks he is proscribed as a criminal, and has thirty or
sixty days to surrender both himself and all that he has to his creditors. If
he fails to do so, he has nothing before him but the gallows, without benefit of
clergy; if he surrenders, he is not sure but he shall be thrown into jail for life
by the commissioners, only on pretence that they doubt his oath. It is
certainly," he adds, "the interest of the creditor that when a debtor has failed
he should come and throw himself into the creditor's hands, and there be safe."
His friends now wished to establish him as a factor in Cadiz, but "Providence
placed a secret aversion in his mind to quitting England."
He obtained, in 1695, the appointment of accomptant to the commissioners,
for managing the duties on glass; which he held till 1699, when the duty was
In 1697 he published an Essay upon Projects," which contains, among other
suggestions, one for the formation of a society for the cultivation of literature,
and the improvement of the English language, on the plan of the French
Academy, a project which has since been advocated by Swift and others, up to
the present day. From this time he became a constant writer on all the social
and political topics of the day.
In 1701 appeared a work on which De Foe always highly valued himself,
and of which it was his practice to cite himself as the author in-his subsequent
publications. This was, "The True-born Englishman."
William III. had been placed on the throne by a coalition of whigs and stories.
The strong attachment of the latter to the principle of legitimacy was not, how-
ever, overcome by their well-founded distrust of James, and the sympathies of
the nation were largely on their side. Hence dreams and projects of a restora-
tion began to be entertained, and many would gladly have welcomed James
back under conditions which would have secured constitutional liberty, and
the ascendency of the Protestant religion. In the mouths of the reactionaries
the phrase, "a true-born Englishman," had acquired a significance which
reflected upon William as an alien. Against this use of the phrase, which he
adopted as his title, De Foe directed a satire.
Here it may be observed that while De Foe was partial to verse, and fre-
quently used it as a means of conveying his sentiments, he never took any pains
to cultivate a style and mode of expression suitable to the most refined medium
of communication for human thought. He wrote poetry like a pamphleteer;
MEMOIR OF DANIEL DE FPO.
and the English language, though it admits of a very elevated diction, is not
favourable to improvisatory Otherwise there are touches of vigour in his
style that might almost justify one in holding, contrary to the common
opinion, that with leisure and inclination he might have been as highly dis-
tinguished as a poet as he is as a prose writer.
Take for example such distichs as this from "The True-born English-
"Who their old monarch eagerly undo,
And yet uneasily obey the new."
"Fools out of favour grudge at knaves in place,
And men are always honest in disgrace."
It was somewhat daring in Pope to place a man who could bite like
this in the "Dunciad;" yet, it is true, we are much oftener favoured with
couplets like the following:-
"Search, satire, search; a deep incision make:
The poison's strong, the antidote's too weak."
This poem admitted De Foe to the favour of King William, who though not
so great a patron of literature as his rival Louis XIV., was sensible to the muses
when they espoused his cause. He consulted and employed De Foe; yet this
did not prevent the bold and honest poet from writing in favour of peace with
France, when the king had determined on war.
Satire was De Foe's favourite weapon, and early in the following reign he
found an admirable occasion for using it. During the reign of Queen Anne
sectarian intolerance, with the least possible excuse, reached the highest point
it has ever been known to attain. The common dangers from which all Pro-
testants had escaped might have been expected to dispose them to feelings of
charity and brotherhood towards each other; but this was not the view of the
High Churchmen. A dissenter with them was more to be despised, if less to
be dreaded, than a Romanist. Conformity to the church was the only condi-
tion on which either state or civic dignities were to be held. This had led to a
practice among the dissenters of occasional conformity, for the sake of holding
office, which was defended by men of high reputation, both lay and clerical, on
the plea of moderation, until, in 1711, it was put a stop to, not by the scruples
of the dissenters themselves, but by the rising intolerance of churchmen, who
succeeded in passing, by a coalition of whigs and stories, a bill making a single
attendance at a conventicle the cause of deprivation of office.
On this subject De Foe took up a position offensive to all parties, and which
was the occasion of a great part of the sacrifices and sufferings of his life. He
steadily opposed the practice of occasional conformity as inconsistent and sac-
MEMOIR OP DANIEL DE FOE.
rilegious. He had already written against it in the reign of King William.
At the same time the further designs of the High Church party filled him with
disgust and indignation, and he employed against them the powerful weapon
of his satire.
In a tract entitled "The Shortest Way with the Dissenters," he assumed the
character of a High Churchman, and gravely parodied the intolerance of the
zealots of the party. So well had he studied his models that he was only in
advance of them in time. Extreme adherents of the party actually commended
his views, and some of his predictions came afterwards to be verified; but in
the meantime they aroused the rage of all parties, and especially of the
dissenters, who were offended with his scrupulousness, and could not compre-
hend the delicacy of his satire. They treated him as a disturber of the peace,
and called his tract scurrilous.
The matter was taken up by the House of Commons, and some parts of the
book being read in the House, 25th February, 1702-3, it was resolved, "That
this book being full of false and scandalous reflections on this Parliament, and
tending to promote sedition, be burnt by the hands of the common hangman
to-morrow in New Palace Yard."
A reward of 50 was offered for the apprehension of De Foe, who
surrendered, in order to relieve his printers from the responsibility. He was
sentenced to pay a fine of 200 marks to the Queen, to stand three times in the
pillory, to be imprisoned during the Queen's pleasure, and to find sureties for
his good behaviour for seven years. De Foe was attended to the pillory by a
guard of honour provided by the mob, which protected him from insult, and
crowned the instrument with garlands.
It is a sufficient comment upon this affair to say that De Foe was ultimately
released from prison by the intervention of Harley, afterwards Eail of Oxford,
the leader of the tory party, at whose instance the Queen paid his fine, and sent
a sum of money to his wife.
Previous to his imprisonment he had been engaged in a brick and tile kiln
work in Essex, and he complains it cost him the destruction of his business, with
the loss of 3,500, and upset his plans for paying his creditors, which were
progressing satisfactorily. He also laments the loss to his country of an industry
which he was successfully striving to introduce, this manufacture having been
previously carried on in Holland.
While in prison he was not idle. He projected a periodical paper which he
began, six months before his release, in February, 1704. This paper, which
was continued for nine years, forms one of the most considerable of his works.
It was one of the earliest British newspapers, and to render it attractive he
added to it the feature of a Scandal Club, which discussed all manner of topics,
social, political, and literary. It was written wholly by himself, and was con-
tinued without interruption during protracted absences frpm England, one of
MEMOIR OF DANIEL DE POE.
them of sixteen months' duration, when he was engaged in important trans-
actions in Scotland. During another protracted visit to Scotland, he was
asked by the corporation of Edinburgh to edit the Edinburgh Courant, which
he did in 1710-11, for forty-five numbers, without relinquishing the Review.
During all this time he never ceased issuing new books and pamphlets.
On his release from prison he was first employed by Harley on a secret
mission to the Continent, and then, in 1706, after being admitted to an inter-
view with the Queen, and permitted to kiss her hand, he was sent to Scotland to
promote the Union, which he had already zealously advocated. For his services
in this negotiation, which were dictated by the most enlightened patriotism,
and conducted in a manner which made him many warm friends in the
Scottish nation, he deserves the highest praise. Hazlitt says that, "As a
public advocate, when their religion or their liberties were attacked, the Scots,
perhaps, had not a more zealous or sincere friend among the English," and of
his "History of the Union," published in 1709, he says, "It had alone preserved
his name, had his Crusoe pleased us less."
On his return from Scotland he was rewarded with an appointment, which
was continued through subsequent changes of ministry, but his salary does not
seem to have been regularly paid. He constantly enjoyed, however, the
confidence and private friendship of Harley; and on this account, as well as
from some differences of opinion with them, he became an object of suspicion
and dislike to the whigs.
They had a second opportunity of shewing the blindness of their malignity
on the occasion of another satirical pamphlet of De Foe's, which this time was
directed against the Jacobites. Pretending again to take his words in a literal
sense, they instituted a prosecution against him, but before the trial came on
the Earl of Oxford again rescued him by a pardon under the Great Seal.
Changes of party were common in those days, as they are in ours, but it is
without ground that De Foe has been accused of political tergiversation. As
a statesman he was more enlightened than most of the placemen, either whig
or tory, by whom he was surrounded. He differed from the whigs on many
important points, and their narrowness and intolerance of his independence
alienated him, while the more generous treatment of his political opponents
had the natural effect of inducing him to moderate his opposition.
There can be no doubt that during the later years of the Review he gave an
independent support to the ministry of the Earl of Oxford, and advocated a
union of moderate whigs and stories. Even Hazlitt, who strenuously contends
against the idea of De Foe's being considered' a supporter of the ministry, is
constrained to admit that one of his pamphlets was artfully intended to prepare
the dissenters for further severities. But in all this De Foe acted not as a
tory but as an ill-used whig, and he never forsook his principles, even when
unable to co-operate with his former associates. His independence is
MEMOIR OF DANIEL DE FOE.
sufficiently attested by the fact that he wrote against the peace of Utrecht, and
after Harley and Bolingbroke had quarreled, defended an unpopular measure
of the latter, Free trade with France, in which the Earl of Oxford had no
His last political publication was a vindication of his character from the
vituperation and incessant calumnies to which he was subjected, and which had
always had a powerful effect on his sensitive mind, in an "Appeal to the
Honour and Justice of his Enemies."
While engaged in this work, in 1715, he was seized with apoplexy. His
friends, after waiting some time for his recovery, thought it advisable to
publish it unfinished.
It was this battered old dissenter, retired to nurse the wounds received in
political conflict, who astonished the world with Robinson Crusoe," and other
equally brilliant, though less known works of fiction. To enter on a critical
examination of De Foe's genius in this brief Memoir, the whole space covered
by which would not suffice for a catalogue of his works, would be unreason-
able. As an illustration of his extraordinary energy, it may be proper to
enumerate a few of his later productions, warning the reader that it is a
sample only, and not a complete list, even of the works of his declining years
that is here presented.
Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719. From this time till 1728,
appeared Life and Piracies of Captain Singleton; History of Duncan Campbell;
Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders; Life of Colonel Jaque; A Journal
of the Plague; Memoirs of a Cavalier (of which the Earl of Chatham used to
speak as the best history of the civil war extant); Tours through England
and Scotland; The Fortunate Mistress, or Adventures of Roxana; Political
History of the Devil; Complete Tradesman; and Plan of English Commerce.
Of seventy years spent in such activities this Memoir does not profess to
give even an outline. If the few incidents it presents suffice to give some idea
of the spirit of the man, its purpose will be served.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES
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 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
or mother did know what was become 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 inclina-
tion 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 fearful in that propensity of nature
tending directly to the life of misery which was to befal 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 morninginto his
chamber, where he was: confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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
fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He
told me that 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
misery 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 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
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 uneasiness, either of body or mind, as
those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on one hand, or
by hard labour, 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 labours
of the hands or of the head, not sold to a life of slavery for daily bread, or
harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul of peace and
the body of rest; nor enraged with the passion of envy, or the sacred
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 for 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 per-
suasions 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 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 he other-
wise? 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 importfnities, 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 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;
and 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
This put my mother into a great passion. She told me she knew it would be
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 name 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, whether 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 going by sea to London in his father's ship, and
prompting me to go with them, with the common allurement of a sea-faring
man, 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 got
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 inexpres-
sibly 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 come 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
''c;:- 6~E~I~Y~161~P~b~ Y L
.-' "'/~t~iJSPL~B~;eg1C~: 'EI I
My first storm! "A mere capful of wind."
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 in 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 observa-
tions 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, in short, 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 sea-sick, 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 smooth-
ness 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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 as complete a victory over my
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 top-
masts, 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 fore-
castle 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 a-head, and the cables veered out to the better
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 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 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 frightened. 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 rid near us, we found, had cut their masts by the board, being deep
laden ; and our men cried 6ut that a ship which rid about a mile a-head 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 not with 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, runnfug 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 foremast, 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 foremast, the mainmast stood
so loose, and shook the ship so much, they were obliged to cut that away
also, and make a clear deck.
Any one must 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 wethad 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 do nothing before, was as well Ale 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 the 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,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 any port, so the
master continued firing guns for help; and a light ship, who had rid it out
just a-head 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 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 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 tbwards
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
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 reasoning 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 neAr 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 voage for a
trial, you see what a taste Heaven has given you of what you.are t 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 in 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 had 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,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 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 awhile, 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.
That evil influence which carried me first away from my father's house,-
which hurried me into the wild and indigested notion of raising my fortune,
and that impressed those conceits so forcibly upon me, as to aake me deaf to
all good advice, and to the entreaties and even the commands 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 called it, a voyage to Guinea.
It was my great misfortune that in all these adventures I did not ship
myself as a sailor; when, though I might indeed have worked a little harder
than ordinary, yet at the same time I should have learnt 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, nor 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 snares for them very early;
but it was not so with me. I first got 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. This captain taking a fancy to my conversa-
tion, 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, 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 40 in
such toys and trifles as the captain directed me to buy. This 40 I had
mustered together by the assistance of some of my relations whom I corres-
ponded 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, 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, 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 instruct 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 300, 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, from the latitude
of fifteen degrees north even to the line itself.
I was now set up for a Guinea trader; and my friend, to my great misfor-
tune, 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 100 of my
new-gained wealth, so that I had 200 left, which I had lodged with my
friend's widow, who was very just to me, yet I fell into terrible misfortunes.
The first was this-our ship, making her course towards the Canary Islands,
or rather between those Islands and the African shore, was surprised in the
grey 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 carty, to get 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
small shot from near two hundred 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 sails 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 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 per-
fectly 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 I could not be
worse; for 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 com-
municate it to that would embark with me, no fellow-slave, no Englishman,
Irishman, or Scotchman there but myself; so that for two years, though I
often pleased myself with the imagination, yet I never had the least encourag-
ing 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 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 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 laboured all day,
and all the next night, and when the morning came, we found we had 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 labour and some danger; for the wind began to blow pretty fresh in
the morning; but 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 long-boat of our English
ship that 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 also was an English slave, to build a little state-room, or cabin, in the
middle of the long-boat, 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 gibed 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; and 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 pro-
vided 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 fusees 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, from 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 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 likely to have a little ship at my command; and my
master being gone, I prepared to furnish myself, not for fishing business, but
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
for a voyage, though I knew not, neither did I so much as consider, whither
I should steer-anywhere to get out of that place was my desire.
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, and three jars of 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 bees-wax into the boat, which weighed about
half a hundredweight, with a parcel of twine or thread, a hatchet, a saw, and a
hammer, all of which were of 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 Ismael, which they call Muley, or Moley; so I called
to him,-" Moley," 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 a pound and 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 also 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 N.N.E., 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 that horrid
place where I was, and leave the rest to fate.
After we had fished some time and caught 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
waist, and tossed him clean 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 over all the world 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'm 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," that 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 distrust 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 not go on shore but we should be devoured by savage beasts, or more
merciless savages of human kind.
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 towards the
east, thit 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 believed 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 of 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 nation, or what river. I neither saw, or 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 of 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 those
lions."-" Then we give them the shoot gun," says Xury, laughing; "make
them run wey." 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
yelling, that I never indeed heard the like.
Xury was dreadfully frighted, 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 it is impossible to describe the horrid 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 on 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 it, was
the point. Xury said if I would let him go on shore with one of the jars, he
would find if there was any water, and bring some to me. I asked him why
he would go ? why I should not go, and he stay in the boat ? The boy
answered with so much affection, as made me love him ever after. Says he,
"If wild mans come, they eat me, you go wey."-" 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 the
boat in 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 coming running towards me.
I thought he was pursued by some savage, or frighted with some wild beast,
and I ran forwards towards him to help him ; but when I came nearer him I
saw something hanging over his shoulders, which was a creature that he had
shot, like a hare, but different in colour, 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
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 creature 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 Verd 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 not exactly knowing, or at least remembering, 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 numbers of tigers, lions, leopards, and
other furious creatures which harbour 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
cowlings and roaring of wild beasts by night.
Once or twice in the day-time I thought I saw the Pico of Teneriffe, 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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 be-
ginning to flow, we lay still to go farther in. Xury, whose eyes were more
about him 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 musket-bore, 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 shot him on 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 in the head, and had the pleasure to see him drop, and make
but little noise, but lie 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 in 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 no-
thing 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
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 work-
man at it, for I knew very ill how to do it. Indeed, it took us both up the
whole day, but at last we got off the hide, 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, we made on to the southward continually for ten or twelve days,
living very sparingly on our provisions, which began to abate very much, and
going no oftener to the shore than we were obliged for fresh water. My design
in this was, to make the River Gambia or Senegal, that is to say, anywhere
about the Cape de Verd, 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 for
the islands, 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
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 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, whop had a long slender stick,
which Xury said was a lance, and that they could throw them a great way
with good aim; so I kept at 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 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 coun-
try, and in less than half an hour came back, and brought with them two
pieces of dry 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 will-
ing to accept it. But how to come at it was our next dispute: for I would
not venture on shore to them, and they were as much afraid of us. But they
took a safe way for us all; for they brought it to the phore 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.
Whetherit 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 thl
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
people terribly frighted, 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 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 in the head. Immediately he
sank 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 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, 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 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 up directly to the mountains, from whence they came;
nor could I, at that distance, know what it was. I found quickly the negroes
wished to eat the flesh of this creature, so I was willing to have them take it as
a favour 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 with a knife.
They offered me some of the flesh, which I declined, pointing out that 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 provisions, which, though I did not
understand, yet I accepted. I then 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. They called immediately to some
of their friends, and there came two women, and brought a great vessel made of
earth, and burnt, as I supposed, in the sun; this they set down to me, as before,
and I sent Xury on shore with my jars, and filled them all three. The women
were as 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, with-
d---- edr .
"They dragged the dead leopard on shore."
out 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 Verd, and those the islands, called, from thence, Cape de Verd Islands. How-
ever, 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
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 ; but I
knew we were far enough out of their reach. I jumped out of the cabin, and
immediately saw, not only the ship, but that it was a Portuguese ship; and, as
I thought, was bound to the coast of Guinea, for negroes. But, when I ob-
served 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
With all the sail I could make, I found I should not be able to come in their
way, but that 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, by the help of their glasses, that it was some European boat, which 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
which they saw ; 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, 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. They then bade me
come on board, and very kindly took me in, and all my goods.
It was an inexpressible joy to me, which 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
taken up in the same condition. Besides," said 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," says he, Seignor Inglese (Mr. Englishman), I will carry you
thither in charity, and those things will help to buy your subsistence there, and
your passage home again."
As he was charitable in this proposal, so he was just in the performance to a
tittle; for he ordered the seamen that none should touch anything that I had.
Then he took everything into his own possession, and gave me back an exact in-
ventory of them, that I might have them, even to 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 off me for his 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 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 more for my boy Xury, which I was
loath to take, not that I was unwilling to let the captain have him, but I was
very loath 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 obliga-
tion 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 I arrived in the Bay de
Todos los Santos, or All Saints' Bay, in about twenty-two 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 to consider.
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 ,zin, which I had in my boat, and
caused everything I had in the ship to be punctually delivered to me; and
what I was willing to sell he bought of me; such as the case of bottles, two
of my guns, and a piece of the lump of bees'-wax,-for I had made candles of
the rest: in a word, I made about two hundred and twenty pieces of eight of
all my cargo; and with this stock I went on shore in the Brazils.
I had not been long here before I was recommended to the house of a good
honest man, like himself, who had an ingenio, as they call it (that is, a planta-
tion and a sugar-house) I lived with him some time, and acquainted myself
by that means, with the manner of planting and making of sugar; and seeing
how well the planters lived, and how they got rich suddenly, I resolved, if I
could get a licence to settle there, I would turn planter among them: resolv-
ing, 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 letter of natu-
ralisation, I purchased as much land that was uncured as my money would
reach, and formed a plan for my plantation and settlement; such a one as
might be suitable to the stock which I proposed to myself to receive from
I had a neighbour, 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 neighbour, 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 had got 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 five thousand 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 neighbour; no work to
be done but by the labour 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.1 then led, in which, had I
continued, I had, in all probability, been exceeding prosperous and rich.
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 lading, and preparing for
his voyage, nearly three months; when, telling him what little stock I had left
behind me in London, he gave me this friendly and sincere advice:-" Seignor
Inglese," says he (for so he always called me), if you will give me letters, and
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
a procuration 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 supply."
This was so wholesome an advice, and looked so friendly, that I could not
but be convinced it was the best course I could take; so I accordingly pre-
pared letters to the gentlewoman with whom I had left my money, and a pro-
curation 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 behaviour, and what condition I was now in, with all other
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 written 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 me.
When this cargo arrived, I thought my fortunes made, for I was surprised
with the 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 produce.
Neither was this all; for my goods being all English manufacture, such as
cloths, stuffs, baize, and things particularly valuable and desirable in the coun-
try, I found means to sell them to a very great advantage; so that I might say
I had more than four times the value of my first cargo, and was now infinitely
beyond my poor neighbour-I mean in the advancement of my plantation; for
the first thing I did, I bought me a negro slave, and an 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 neighbours; and these fifty
rolls, being each of above a hundred weight, 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 business. 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 wilful
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 im-
moderate 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 friend
ship among my fellow-planters, as well as among the merchants at St. Salva-
dor, 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 rot far entered into, but, as far as it was, had been
carried on by the assientos, or permission of the kings of Spain and Portugal,
and engrossed in the public stock, so that few negroes were brought, and those
It happened, being in company with some merchants and planters of my
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
acquaintance, and talking of those things very earnestly, three of them came
to me 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 planta-
tions; 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 provid-
ing any part of the stock.
This was a fair proposal, it must be confessed, had it been made to any one
that had not had a settlement and a 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 would 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, dispos-
ing of my plantation and effects 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 in England.
In short, I took all possible caution to preserve my effects, and to 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 under-
taking, leaving all the probable 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 1st of September, 1659-being the same
day eight years that I went from my father and mother at Hull, in otder to
act the rebel to their authority, and the fool to my own interest.
Our ship was about one hundred and twenty tons burden, 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 other trifles, especially little
looking-glasses, knives, scissors, hatchets, and the like.
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 we
came about ten or twelve degrees of northern latitude, which, it seems, was the
manner of course in those days. We had very good weather, only excessively
hot, all the way upon our own coast till we came to the height of Cape St.
Augustina; from whence, keeping further off at sea, we lost sight of land, and
steered as if we were bound for the isle Fernando de Noronha, holding our
course N.E. 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 seven degrees twenty-two 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 in 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
whither ever 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 die
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 eleven degrees north latitude,
but that he was twenty-two degrees of longitude difference west from Cape St.
Augustina, so that he found he was upon the coast of Guiana, or the north
part of Brazil, beyond the river Amazons, towards that of the river Oroonoque,
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 in-drift of the bay or gulf of 4Iexico, we might easily perform, as we
hoped, in about fifteen days' sail; whereas we could not possibly make our
LIFE AND ADYENTURES OF
voyage to the coast of Africa without some assistance both to our ship and
With this design we changed our course, and steered away N.W. 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 twelve degrees
eighteen minutes, a second storm came upon us, which carried us away with
the same impetuosity westward, and drove us so out of the 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 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 run out of the cabin to
look out, in hopes of seeing whereabouts in the world we were, than 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 no-
thing 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 into pieces, un-
less the winds, by a kind of miracle, should turn immediately about. In a
word, we sat looking upon one another and expecting death every moment,
and every man, accordingly, 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 hav-
ing thus struck upon the sand, and sticking too fast for us to expect her get-
ting 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 time to debate; for we fancied the ship would break in pieces every minute,
and some told us she was actually broken already.
In this distress the mate of our vessel laid hold of the boat, and, with the
help of the rest of the men, 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 ran dreadfully high upon the shore, and might be well 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 find 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 like
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 grdce. 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 to say, 0 God!" for we were all
swallowed up in a moment.
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 endea-
voured 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 twenty or thirty feet
deep in its own body, and I could feel myself carried with a mighty force and
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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 raising 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 waters went from me, and then took to my heels
and ran, with what strength I had, further 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 nigh been fatal to me; for the sea having
hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dashed me, against a piece of
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 nearer
land, I held my hold till the wave abated, and then fetched another run, which
brought Ine 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, 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 I do not wonder now at the custom 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 a 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
but 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 I
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, or 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, as 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 any fresh water to drink, which I did to my great joy;
and having drank, and put a little tobacco in my mouth to prevent hunger, I
went to the tree, and getting up into it, endeavoured to place myself so 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 more refreshed with it than 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 at first mentioned, where I had been so bruised by the wave 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 save some necessary things for my use.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
I 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 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 mty 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
iandt company, as I now was. This forced tears to my eyes again; but as
t!Lre 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
,wat r. But when I came to the ship, my difficulty was still greater to know
hiow 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, hung down by the forechains so low, that with great difficulty I got hold
of it, and by the help of that rope I 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 litted 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 imy first work was to search and to see what
wa s spoiled and what was free. And, first, I found that all the ship's provi-
sions 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
1:oat 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 la.ge spars of wood, and a spare top-mast or two in the-ship. I resolved
to fall to work with these, and I 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 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 cross-ways,
...( .. ..
t.ur-- ___ -: -
- t-* A
P -r g
" I tied them together in the form of a raft."
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 a spare top-mast into three lengths, and added them to
my raft, with a great deal of labour and pains. But the hope of furnishing
myself with necessaries encouraged me to go beyond what I should have been
able to have done upon another occasion.
My raft was now 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
plank 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 gal-
lons of rack. These I stowed by themselves, there being no need to put them
into the chest, nor any 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 the shore upon the sand, swim
away. As for my breeches, which were only linen and open-knee'd, I swam on
board in them and my stockings. However, this set me on 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-lading of gold would have been at the time. I got it
down to my raft, whole as it was, withoutlosing 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, the third had taken water. These two I got to my raft, with
the arms. And now I thought myself pretty well freighted, and began to
think how I should get to shore with them, having neither sail, oar, or rudder;
and the least cap-full of wind would have overset all my navigation.
I had three encouragements: 1st, a smooth, calm sea; 2ndly, the tide rising,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES gp
and setting in to the shore; 3rdly, 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, two saws, an axe, and a
hammer: 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 the
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
the 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, I 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 re-
solved to place myself as near the coast as I could.
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
that, reaching ground with my oar, I could thrust her directly in. But
here I had liked to have dipped all my cargo into 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 ran on shore, would lie so high, and the
other sink lower, as before, that it would endanger my cargo again. All 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 &
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 labour and difficulty
got to the top, I saw my fate, to my great affliction, viz., that I was in an island
environed on every side by 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 kinds; 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, than 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 colour and beak resembling it, but it had no talons
or claws more than common. Its flesh was carrion, and fit for nothing.
Contented with this discovery, I came back to my raft, and fell to work to
bring my cargo on shore, which took me up the rest of that day. What to do
with myself at night I knew not, nor, 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 of those fears.
However, as well as I could, I barricaded myself round with the chests and
boards tltt I had brought on shore, and made a kind of 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
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 to pieces, I resolved to set all
other things apart till I had got every thing out of the ship that I could get.
Then I called a council-that is to say, in my thoughts-whether I should take
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 chequered shirt, a pair of linen drawers,
and a pair of pumps on my feet.
Igot 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, 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 belong-
ing 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 bagful 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 clothesthat I could find, and a spare
fore-top 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 apprehension, 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 to 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 at it, and ate it,
and looked (as if 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 obliged 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 had 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 my.
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
r" I~.! ill
r '-q :
I: X~r:ij*:*(-1~ : 'Jl':E
" It blew hard all night, and in the morning no ship was to be seen."
i::-lir'~it'~~l'' ;.`~' """ '' -`~~' f
had laboured very hard all day to fetch all those things from the ship, and 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 and brought away as much of
the rigging as I could, as also the small ropes and rope twine I could get, with
a piece of spare canvas, which was to mend the sails upon occasion, and the
barrel of wet gunpowder. In a word, I brought away all the sails first and
last; only that I was obliged 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 last of all, after I had
made five or six such voyages as these, I thought I had nothing more to ex-
pect from the ship that was worth my meddling with,-I say, after all this, I
found a great hogshead of bread, 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 spoiled by
the water. I soon emptied the hogshehd of the bread and wrapped it up, par-
cel 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, 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 sprit-
sail-yard and the mizen-yard, and everything I could to make a large raft, I
loaded it with all these 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 a great part of it lost, especially
the iron, which I expected would have been of 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 labour, for I had 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 had 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 began to rise.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
However, at low water, I went on board, and though I thought I had rummaged
the cabin so effectually 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 about thirty-six pounds value in money, some European
coin, some Brazil, some pieces-of-eight, some gold, and some silver.
I smiled to myself at the sight of this money. 0 drug!" said I, aloud,
"what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me-no, not the taking off
the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap. I have no manner of
use for thee, e'en 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 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 offshore, 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 from the
roughness of the water, for the wind rose very hastily, and before it was quite
high water it blew a storm.
But I had got 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, that I had lost no time,
nor abated any 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 shore from her wreck; as, indeed, divers pieces of
her afterwards did, but those things were of small use to me.
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 dwell-
ing 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 fit for my settlement, because it was
upon a low, moorish ground, near the sea, and I believed it would not be whole-
some, 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.
" In this half circle I pitched two rows of strong stakes."
I consulted several things in my situation, which I found would be proper
for me,-lst, health and fresh water, I just now mentioned; 2ndly, shelter from
the heat of the sun; 3rdly, security from ravenous creatures, whether men or
beasts; 4thly, 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 the 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 ground by the sea-side. It was on
the N.N.W. side of the hill, so that it 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 the 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 above five feet and a-halfand 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 nor beast could get into it or over it. This cost me a great deal
of time and labour, 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 lad-
der 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 afterwards, there was no need of all this caution
from the enemies that I apprehended danger from.
Into this fence or fortress, with infinite labour, I carried all my riches, all
my provisions, ammunition, and stores, of which you have the account above;
and I made a large tent, which, to preserve me from the rains, that in one part
of the year are very violent there, I made double, one smaller tent within, and
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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
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 house.
It cost me much labour 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; 0 my powder My very heart sank
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, en-
tirely depended. I was nothing near so anxions about my own danger,
though, had the powder took fire, I should never have known who had
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 to 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 two hundred and forty pounds weight, was divided into
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 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 pro-
duced. 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 afterwards, 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; for,
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
ate 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 ac-
count of in its place; but I must now 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
my 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 sea side, I was very pensive upon the subject of my present condition, when
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
reason, as it were, expostulated with me the 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 into the boat? Where are the ten ?
Why were they not 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
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 hun-
dred thousand to one) that the ship fbtted 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 forced to have lived in
the condition in which I at 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 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 and strength should decay.
I confess I had not entertained any notion of my ammunition being de-
stroyed 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 thun-
dered, 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 nine
degrees twenty-two 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; but to prevent this, I cut with my
knife upon a large post, in capital letters; and making it into a great cross,
I set up on the shore where I first landed, "I came on shore here on 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 at 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 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 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 jurnped 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 pens, 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, ink was one, as also a 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 finishedmy little pale, or surrounded my
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, 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 circumstances I was
reduced to; and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
leave them to any that were to come after me; for I was likely 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 ease from worse; and I stated very
impartially, like 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 recovery.
I am singled out and separated, as
it were, from all the world, to be miser-
I am divided from mankind-a soli-
taire ; one banished from human
I have not clothes to cover me.
I am without any defence, or means
to resist any violence of man or beast.
I have no soul to speak to, or relieve
But I am alive, and not drowned, as
all my ship's company were.
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
But I am not starved, and perish-
ing in a barren place, affording no sus-
But I am in a hot climate, where, if
I had clothes, I could hardly wear
But I am cast on an island where
I see no wild beast to hurt me, as I
saw on the coast of Africa; and what
if I had been shipwrecked there ?
But God wonderfully sent the ship
in near enough to the shore, that I
have got out as 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, ana 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 arrange my way of living, and to make things as
easy to me as I could.
" I made a table and a chair out of the short boards brought from the wreck."
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 work farther into the earth ; for it was a loose, sandy rock, which
yielded easily to the labour 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, worked 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 was a back-way to my tent
and to my storehouse, but gave me room to store my goods.
And now I began to apply myself to make such necessary things as I found
I most wanted, 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 origin 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 labour, application, and contrivance, I found, at last, that I wanted nothing
but I could have made it, especially if I had had 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 labour. 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 thin 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 or labour which it took me up to
make a plank or board; but my time or labour was little worth, and so it was
as well employed one way as another.
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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
along one side of my cave; to lay all my tools, nails, and iron-work on; and, in
a word, to separate everything at large into 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 that 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 labour,
but in too much discomposure of mind, and my journal would have been full
of manydull things. For example, I must have said thus, Sept. 30th.-After
I had 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 had got 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 ship-
wrecked during a dreadful storm in the offing, come 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 circum-
stances 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
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 the days, though with some
intervals of fair weather; but it seems this was the rainy season.
October 2O.-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 be-
fore, 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 semi-circle for my encampment, which I re-
solved 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
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
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
LIFE AND ADVENT
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 em-
ployed myself to work till about eleven o'clock; then ate what I had to live
on; and from twelve till two I lay down to sleep, the weather being ex-
cessively 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 off the skins and preserved them. Coming back by the sea-
shore, 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 llth 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
frighted me dreadfully, for fear of my powder. As soon as it was over, I re-
solved 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 hard-
ness. 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; excepting that some-
times, 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.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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. 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 import-
ance, I had the ceiling to prop up, so that I might be sure no more would
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
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 scarcely 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 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
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 some-
thing 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. How-
ever, 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 bees'-wax 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
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 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 the 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
ijegn 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 fh 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 shape 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 with-
out baking, though I did that also after some time.
But to return to my Journal:-
I worked excessively 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
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, andtwo 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 down upon the firm 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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
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 stupified; 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 stupified 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 on me!" and
when it was over, that went away too.
WhileI sat thus, Ifound 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 earth-
quake 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 for-
tification, 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
now 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-bow pleasantly concealed I was, and how
safe from danger, it made me very loath to remove. In the meantime, it oc-
curred 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, 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. This was the 21st.
April 22.-The next morning I began 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 states-
man 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 toward 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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.
When I came down to the ship I found it strangely removed. The fore-
castle, which lay before buried in sand, was heaved up at least six feet;
and the stern, which was broke in 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 stem, 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 broke 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 habi-
tation; 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 all the inside of the ship was choked up with sand. How-
ever, 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 ate 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 to
float 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, not with an intent to work, but found
the weight of the wreck had broke itself down, the beams being cut; that
The wreck of the ship cast up by the earthquake.
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 it was 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 a roll of English lead, and could stir it, but it
was too heavy to remove.
May 10-14.-Went every day to the wreck, and got a great many pieces
of timber, and boards, or plank, and two or three hundred weight of iron.
May 15.-I carried two hatchets, to try if I could not cut a piece off 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.
ilay 16.-It had blown 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 my 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
labour 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 got timber, and plank, and iron-
work, enough to have built a good boat, if I had known how; and also I got,
at several times, and in several pieces, near one hundred weight of the sheet-lead.
June 16.-Going down to the sea-side, 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 after-
wards; but perhaps had paid dear enough for them.
June 17.-I spent in cooking the turtle. I found in her threescore eggs;
and her fesh was to me, at that time, the most savoury and pleasant that ever
I tasted 'n my life, having had no flesh, but of goats and fowls, since I landed
in this horrid place.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
June 18.-Rained all day; 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 feverish.
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 Hull, but scarce knew what I said, or why, my thoughts
being all confused.
June 22.-A little better; but under dreadful apprehensions of sickness.
June 23.-Very bad again; cold and shivering, and then a violent headache.
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 2G.-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 ate. I would fain have stewed it, and
made some broth, but had no pot.
June 27.-The ague again so violent that I lay a-bed all day, and neither
ate 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 awoke, I found myself much refreshed, but weak, and ex-
ceeding thirsty. However, as I had no water in my 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 dread-
ful, 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 earth-
quake, and all the air looked, to my apprehension, as if it had been filled with
flashes of fire. He was no sooner landed upon the earth, but he moved
forward towards me, with a long spear or weaponn 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 none
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 towards God, or inwards towards a reflection upon
my own ways; but a certain stupidity of soul, without desire of good, or
conscience of evil, had entirely overwhelmed 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 deliverance.
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
behaviour 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 oh 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 honourably 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 miserable.
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 ecstacy, and some
transports of soul, which, had the grace of God assisted, might have come up
to true thankfulness; but it ended where it began, in a mere common flight of
joy, or, as I may say, being glad I was alive, without the least reflection upon
the distinguished 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 unto me. Even just the same common
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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 afflic-
tion 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 that was raised from it wore off
also, as I have noted already. Even the earthquake, though nothing could be
more terrible in its nature, or more immediately directing to the invisible
power whichsipne 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 I 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 uncom-
mon wickedness, provoked the justice of God to lay me under uncommon
strokes, and to deal with me in so vindicative 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 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 con-
victions great upon my mind, and the horror of dying in such a miserable
condition raised vapours into my head with the mere apprehension; and in
these hurries of my soul, I knew 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 see 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 or 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 in 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 to return to my Journal:-
June S8.-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
under a 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 ate (as we call it) in the shell. And this was the
first bit of meat I had ever asked God's blessing to, that 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 a 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 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,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without His
appointment, He has appointed all this to befal me. Nothing occurred to my
thought to contradict any of these conclusions; and therefore it rested upon
me with the greater force that it must needs be that God had appointed all
this to befal me-that I was brought into 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 methought it spoke to me
like a voice, Wretch, dost thou ask what thou hast done? Look back upon
a dreadful mis-spent life, and ask thyself what hast thou not 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 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-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 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, in 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 leaf, and chewed it in my mouth, which, indeed, at first,
almost stupified my brain, the tobacco being green and strong; and that I had
not been much used to. Then I took some and steeped it an hour or two in
some rum, and resolved to take a 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 at that time; only, having opened the book casually,
the first words that occurred to me were these: "Call on me in the day
" I killed a sea-fowl, something like a brand goose."
of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." These 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 hopes appeared, this prevailed very often upon my thoughts; but, how-
ever, 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-kneeled down and prayed to God
to fulfil 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 I could scarcely get it down. Immediately upon this I went
to bed. I found presently it flew up into 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 this hour I am partly of
opinion that I slept all the next day and night, and till almost three the 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 I 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 exceed-
ingly refreshed, and my spirits lively and cheerful. When 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 ate 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-
the tobacco steeped in rum; only I did not take so much as before, nor did I
chew any 5f the leaf, or hold my head over the smoke. However, I was not
so well the next day, which was the 1st 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.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
July 3.-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 con-
dition that could be, and that was so frightful to me,-and what notice had I
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 knelt down, and gave God thanks
aloud for my recovery from my sickness.
July .-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
after I set seriously to this work till 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 thoughts. I was earnestly begging of God
to give me repentance, when it happened providentially, the very day that,
reading the Scripture, I came to these words, He is exalted a Prince and a
Savilur, 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 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 thee, 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 who-
ever shall read it, that whenever they come to a true sense of things, they will find
deliverance from sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction.
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, 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 appli-
cation which I made use of was perfectly new, and perhaps which 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 learned from it also this, in particular, that being abroad in
the rainy 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 almost always accom-
panied with such storms, so I found that rain was much more dangerous than
the rain which fell in September and October.
I had now been in 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 on the 15th of July that I began to make 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, 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 banks of this brook, I found many pleasant
savannahs or meadows, plain, smooth, and covered with grass; and on the
rising parts of them, next to the higher grounds, where 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 divers other plants,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
which I had no notion of or understanding about, that 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 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 my purpose now in my distress.
The next d.y, the 16th, I went up the same way again; and after going
somewhat further than I had gone the day before, I-found the brook and
savannahs 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
flukes and fevers. But I found an excellent use for 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, wholesome and
agreeable to eat, when no grapes could 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 nearly
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 ; that 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 melon, 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 do this, I gathered a great heap of grapes in one place, 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 homewards, 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 fruit 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, coining 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 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 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 looking out for a place equally safe as where now I 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, I considered that I was now by the sea-side, 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
LIFE AND AD VENTURES OF
affair not only improbable, but impossible; and that therefore I ought not by
any means to remove. However, I was so enamoured of this place, that I
spent much of my time there for the whole of the remaining part of the month
of July. And though, upon second thoughts, I resolved not to remove, yet I
built me a little kind of a 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, 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 August.
I had but newly finished my fence, and began to enjoy my labour, when 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 3d of August I found the grapes I had hung up
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 did 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 concerned for the loss of one of my cats who ran away from me, or, as I
thought, had been dead; and I heard no more tidings of her, till, 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 wild cat (as
I called it) with my gun, yet I thought it was a quite different kind from our
European cats; but the young cats were the same kind of house-breed as 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 ate a bunch of
raisins for my breakfast; a piece of the goat's flesh, or of the turtle, for my
'The rainy epi.)on antl the lr-y *ea~ln i galr tL.W t., ipl.eLIeu. P'egulic to in
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.
Sept. 0.--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 for
religious exercise, prostrating myself on the ground with the most serious
humiliation, confessing my sins to God, acknowledging his righteous judg-
ments upon me, and praying to him to have mercy on me through Jesus
Christ; and not having tasted the least refreshment for twelve hours, even till
the going down of the sun, I then ate 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 ink began to fail me, and so I con-
tented myself to use it more sparingly; 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.
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 I 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
as I could with my wooden spade, and dividing it into two parts, I sowed my
grain; but as I was sowing, 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.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
It was a great comfort to me afterwards that I did so, for not one grain of
what 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 halfa 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.
When 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 thereabouts were all shot out, and grown with long branches, as much as
a willow-tree usually shoots the first year after lopping its head. I could not
tell what tree to call it that these stakes were cut from. I was surprised, and
yet 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 semi-circle 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 distant from my first fence, they grew presently, and
were at first a fine cover to my habitation, and afterwards served for a 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:-
The half of February, the whole of March, and the half of April-rainy,
the sun being then on or near the equinox.
The half of April, the whole of May, June, and July, and the half of
August-dry, the sun being then to the north of the Line,
The half of August, the whole of September, and the half of October-
rainy, the sun being then come back.
The half of October, the whole of November, December, and January, and
the half of Febrnary,-dry, the sun being then to the south of the Line.
The rainy seasons 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 consequences 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. This
time I found much employment, and very suitable also to the time, for I
found great occasion for many things which I had no way to furnish myself
with but by hard labour 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, ahd a
great observer of the manner in which they worked those things, and some-
times lending a hand, I had by these means full knowledge of the methods of it,
and 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, 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 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 vessel
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, vi., to
make broth, and stew a bit of meat by itself. The second thing I fain would
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
have had was a tobacco-pipe, but it was impossible for me to make one;
however, I found a 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 than 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 sea-shore 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 described land,-whether an island or continent I
could not tell; but it lay very high, extending from the W. to the W.S.W. at
a very great distance; by my guess, it could not be less than fifteen or twenty
I could not tell what part of the world this might be, otherwise than that I
knew 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 had landed, I had been in a worse condition than I was now; and
therefore I acquiesced in the disposition 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 off afflicting myself with fruitless wishes of being there.
Besides, after some thought 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, where are found 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
savannah fields sweet, adorned with flowers and grass, and full of very fine
woods. I saw abundance of parrots, and fain I 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 ground
hares (as I thought them to be) and foxes; but they differed greatly from all
" I caught a young parrot which I knocked down with a stick."
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 that I was not driven to any extremities for food, but had
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 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 sea-shore, 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 aud a half. Here was also an infinite number of fowls of
many kinds, some which I had seen, and some which I had not seen before,
and many of them very good meat, but such as I knew not the names of,
except those called penguins.
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 than
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 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.
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 hills 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OP
the day. It happened, to my further misfortune, that the weather proved
hazy for three or four days while I was in the valley, and, not being able to
see the sun, I wandered about very uncomfortably, and at last was obliged to
find the sea-side, 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 for 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 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
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 was almost starved for want of food. I went 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 that it was possible I might be more
happy in this solitary condition than I should have been in the liberty of
society, and in all the pleasures of the world-that He could fully make up to
me the deficiencies of my solitary state, and the want of human society, by
lis presence, and the communications of His grace to my soul, supporting,
comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon His providence here, and
hope for His eternal presence hereafter.
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 perfectly 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 uninhabited wilderness, without
redemption. In the midst of the greatest composure of my mind this would
break out upon me like a storm, and make me ring 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,
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 forsaken of God and
man? "Well, then," said I, if God does not forsake me, of what ill conse-
quence 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 favour
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, than 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 knew not what it was, but something shocked my mind at that
thought, and I durst not speak the words. How canst thou become suph a
hypocrite," said I, even audibly, "to pretend to be thankful for a condition,
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
which, however thou mayest endeavour to be contented with, thou wouldst
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 providence, 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 direct-
ing 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 ship.
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 an 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 employment 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, cutting, preserving, and cooking, what I had
killed or caught for my supply: these took up great part of the day; also, it
is to be considered, that in 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 labour, I 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 two and forty days in making 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 in
cutting down, and two more cutting off the boughs, and reducing it to a log,
or piece of timber. With inexpressible hatching and hewing I reduced both
the sides of it into chips till it began 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 labour of my hands in such a piece of work, but labour 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 labour and required a prodigious time to do alone, and by hand. But
notwithstanding this, with patience and labour I got through everything that
my circumstances made necessary to me to do, as will appear by what follows.
I was now, in the months of November and December, expecting my crop
of barley and rice. The ground I had manured and 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 scarcely 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 stalk.
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 but small, suited to my crop, I got it totally
well fenced in about three weeks' time, and, shooting some of the creatures in
the day-time, 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 likely to be a good crop, if it could be saved.
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 wa"
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 than they dropt 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-hanged
LIFE AND ADVYETURES OF
them in chains, for a terror to others. It is impossible to imagine 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 scarecrows 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 corn.
I was sadly put to it for a scythe or sickle to cut it down; and all I could
do was to make one, as well as I could, out of one of the broad-swords, or
cutlasses, which I saved among the arms out of the ship. However, as my
first crop 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 about two bushels and a half of barley-that
is to say, by my guess, for I had no measure at that time.
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,
bow 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
It might be truly said that now I worked for my bread. I believe few
people have thought much upon the strange multitude of little things necessary
in the providing, producing, curing, dressing, ifiaking, and finishing, this one
article of bread.
I, that was reduced to a mere state of nature, found this to my daily dis-
couragement, and was made more sensible of it every hour, even after I had
got the first handful of seed-corn, 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 me a wooden spade, as I observed before.
But this did my work but in 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 soon, 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 sown 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
"I was no sooner out of sight than they dropped down into the corn again, I
fired and killed three, hanging them up for a terror to others."
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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; but 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 less to me, because, as I had divided it, a
certain part of it was every day appointed to these works; and as I had
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 labour and invention, to
furnish myself with utensils proper for the performing all the operations
necessary for 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 labour to work with it. However, I got
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 off 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 did not
take me up less than three months, because a great part of that time was 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 in the following occu-
pations-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 taught
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 assistance to my work;
for now, as I said, I had a great employment upon my hands, as follows:-
I had long studied to make, by some means or other, some earthen 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 clay, I might make some pots that 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 doing, 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
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
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 laboured 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' labour.
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 quite 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 study how to order my fire, so as to make it burn 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 pipkins,
and two or three pots on 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 red-
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 colour, 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) pipkins, and two other earthen pots, as hard burnt
as could be desired, and one of them perfectly glazed with the running of
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