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Today's Birthday

Robinson Crusoe -CHAPTER 1

Defoe Daniel - Robinson Crusoe



    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 famousColonel Lockhart,and was  killed at the  battle near Dunkirk  against the Spaniards. What became of my second brother I never knew, any more than my father or mother knew what became of me.
    Being the third son of  the family and not  bred to any trade,  my head began to be filled very early with rambling thoughts. My  father, who was very ancient, had given  me a competent share of learning,  as far as house-education  and a  country free school  generally go,  and designed me for  the law; but  I would be  satisfied with nothing  but going to sea; and  my inclination to this  led me so strongly  against the will,  nay,  the  commands  of my  father,  and  against  all  the entreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that  there seemed to be  something fatal  in that propensity  of nature,  tending directly to the life of misery which was to befall me.
   My father, a  wise and grave  man, gave me  serious and  excellent counsel against  what he  foresaw  was my  design.  He called  me  one morning into  his chamber,  where he  was confined  by the  gout,  and expostulated very warmly with me upon  this subject. He asked me  what reasons, more than  a mere  wandering inclination, I  had for  leaving father`s  house  and  my  native  country,  where  I  might  be   well introduced, and had a  prospect of raising  my fortune by  application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was  men of desperate fortunes on one  hand, or of aspiring, superior  fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by  enterprise, and make themselves  famous in  undertakings of  a nature  out of  the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be  called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the  world, the most suited to human  happiness, not exposed to the miseries  and hardships, the labour and  sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind,  and not embarrassed with the  pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. He told me  I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing viz. that this was the state of life  which all other people envied; that  kings have frequently lamented  the miserable consequence  of being born  to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the  great; that the wise man gave  his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.
    He bade  me  observe  it,  and  I  should  always  find  that  the calamities of  life were  shared among  the upper  and lower  part  of mankind, but that the middle station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to  so many vicissitudes  as the higher  or lower part  of mankind; nay,  they  were not  subjected  to so  many  distempers  and uneasinesses, either of body  or mind, as those  were who, by  vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on the one hand, or by hard  labour, want of necessaries, and mean or insufficient diet on the other  hand, bring distemper upon themselves by  the natural consequences of  their way of living; that the middle station of life was calculated for  all kind of virtue and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty  were the handmaids  of  a  middle  fortune;  that  temperance,  moderation, quietness,  health,  society,  all   agreeable  diversions,  and   all desirable pleasures, were the  blessings attending the middle  station of life; that  this way  men went  silently and  smoothly through  the world, and comfortably out of it, not embarrassed with the labours  of the hands or  of the head,  not sold to  a life of  slavery for  daily bread, nor harassed with perplexed  circumstances, which rob the  soul of peace and the body of rest,  nor enraged with the passion of  envy, or the secret burning lust of ambition for great things; but, in  easy circumstances, sliding gently through the world, and sensibly  tasting the sweets of living, without the bitter; feeling that they are happy, and learning by every day`s experience to know it more sensibly.
    After this he pressed me  earnestly, and in the most  affectionate manner, not to  play the  young man,  nor to  precipitate myself  into miseries which nature, and the station  of life I was born in,  seemed to have provided against; that I was under no necessity of seeking  my bread; that he would do well for me, and endeavour to enter me  fairly into the station of  life which he had  just been recommending to  me; and that if I was not very easy and happy in the world, it must be  my mere fate  or fault  that must  hinder  it; and  that he  should  have nothing to answer for, having thus  discharged his duty in warning  me against measures which he knew would be to my hurt; in a word, that as he would do very kind things for me if I would stay and settle at home as he directed, so he would not have so much hand in my misfortunes as to give me any encouragement to go away; and to close all, he told  me I had my elder brother  for an example, to whom  he had used the  same earnest persuasions to keep him from going into the Low Country  wars, but could not prevail, his young desires prompting him to run into the army, where he was killed;  and though he said  he would not cease  to pray for me, yet  he would venture to  say to me, that  if I did  take this foolish step, God would not  bless me, and I should have  leisure hereafter to  reflect upon  having neglected  his counsel  when  there might be none to assist in my recovery.
    I observed in  this last part  of his discourse,  which was  truly prophetic, though I suppose my father did not know it to be so himself I say,  I observed  the  tears run  down  his face  very  plentifully, especially when he spoke of my  brother who was killed: and that  when he spoke of my having leisure to repent, and none to assist me, he was so moved that he broke off the discourse, and told me his heart was so full he could say no more to me.
    I was sincerely  affected with  this discourse,  and, indeed,  who could be otherwise? and  I resolved not to  think of going abroad  any more, but to settle at home according to my father`s desire. But alas!a few  days wore  it all  off; and,  in short,  to prevent  any of  my father`s further importunities, in a few weeks after I resolved to run quite away from him. However,  I did not act  quite so hastily as  the first heat of my resolution prompted; but  I took my mother at a  time when I thought her a little more pleasant than ordinary, and told  her that my thoughts were  so entirely bent upon  seeing the world that  I should never settle to anything  with resolution enough to go  through with it, and my father had better give me his consent than force me to go without it; that I was now  eighteen years old, which was too  late to go apprentice to a trade or  clerk to an attorney; that I was  sure if I did I should never serve out my time, but I should certainly  run away from my master before my time was out, and go to sea; and if  she would speak to my  father to let  me go one voyage  abroad, if I  came home again, and  did not  like it,  I would go  no more;  and I  would promise, by a double diligence, to recover the time that I had lost.
    This put my mother into a great  passion; she told me she knew  it would be to no purpose  to speak to my  father upon any such  subject; that he knew  too well what  was my  interest to give  his consent  to anything so much for my hurt; and that she wondered how I could  think of any such thing after  the discourse I had  had with my father,  and such kind and tender expressions as she knew my father had used to me; and that, in short, if I would ruin myself, there was no help for  me; but I might depend I should never  have their consent to it; that  for her part she  would not have  so much  hand in my  destruction; and  I should never have it to say that my mother was willing when my  father was not.
    Though my mother  refused to  move it to  my father,  yet I  heard afterwards that she  reported all the  discourse to him,  and that  my father, after showing a great concern at it, said to her, with a sigh.That boy might  be happy  if he  would stay at  home; but  if he  goes abroad, he will be the most miserable wretch that ever was born: I can give no consent to it.
    It was  not till  almost a  year after  this that  I broke  loose, though, in the meantime, I continued obstinately deaf to all proposals of settling to  business, and frequently  expostulated with my  father and mother about  their being  so positively  determined against  what they knew my inclinations prompted me  to. But being one day at  Hull, where I went casually, and without any purpose of making an  elopement at that time; but, I say, being there, and one of my companions  being about to sail to London in his  father`s ship, and prompting me to  go with them with the common allurement of seafaring men, that it  should cost me nothing for my passage, I consulted neither father nor  mother any more, nor so  much as sent  them word of it;  but leaving them  to hear of  it  as  they  might, without  asking  God`s  blessing  or  my father`s, without any consideration of circumstances or  consequences, and in an ill hour, God knows, on the 1st of September 1651, I went on board  a  ship  bound  for   London.  Never  any  young   adventurer`s misfortunes, I believe, began sooner,  or continued longer than  mine. The ship was no sooner out of  the Humber than the wind began to  blow and the sea to rise  in a most frightful manner;  and, as I had  never been at  sea  before,  I  was most  inexpressibly  sick  in  body  and terrified in mind. I  began now seriously to  reflect upon what I  had done, and how justly I was overtaken by the judgment of Heaven for  my wicked leaving my father`s house, and abandoning my duty. All the good counsels of my parents, my father`s tears and my mother`s  entreaties, came now fresh into my mind; and my conscience, which was not yet come to the pitch of hardness to which it has since, reproached me with the contempt of advice, and the breach of my duty to God and my father.
    All this while the  storm increased, and the  sea went very  high, though nothing like what I have seen many times since; no, nor what  I saw a few days after; but it was enough to affect me then, who was but a young sailor, and had never known anything of the matter. I expected every wave would have  swallowed us up, and  that every time the  ship fell down, as I thought it did, in the trough or hollow of the sea, we should never rise more; in  this agony of mind,  I made many vows  and resolutions that if it would please God  to spare my life in this  one voyage, if ever I  got once my  foot upon dry land  again, I would  go directly home to my father, and never set it into a ship again while I lived; that I would  take his advice, and  never run myself into  such miseries as these  any more.  Now I saw  plainly the  goodness of  his observations  about  the  middle  station  of  life,  how  easy,   how comfortably he had lived all his  days, and never had been exposed  to tempests at sea  or troubles on  shore; and I  resolved that I  would, like a true repenting prodigal, go home to my father.
    These wise and sober  thoughts continued all  the while the  storm lasted, and indeed  some time  after; but the  next day  the wind  was abated, and the sea calmer, and I  began to be a little inured to  it; however, I  was very  grave for  all  that day,  being also  a  little sea-sick still; but towards night the weather cleared up, the wind was quite over, and a  charming fine evening followed;  the sun went  down perfectly clear, and rose so the next morning; and having little or no wind, and a smooth sea, the sun  shining upon it, the sight was, as  I thought, the most delightful that ever I saw.
    I had slept well in the night,  and was now no more 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 smoothness of surface and settled calmness by the abatement  of that  storm, so the  hurry of  my thoughts  being over, my fears  and apprehensions  of being  swallowed up  by the  sea being forgotten,  and the  current of  my former  desires returned,  I entirely forgot the vows  and promises that I  made in my distress.  I found, indeed, some intervals of reflection; and the serious  thoughts did, as it were, endeavour to return again sometimes; but I shook them off, and roused  myself from  them as it  were from  a distemper,  and applying myself to drinking and  company, soon mastered the return  of those fits for so I called them; and I had in five or six days got  as complete a victory over conscience  as any young fellow that  resolved not to be troubled  with it could  desire. But I  was to have  another trial for it  still; and  Providence, as  in such  cases generally  it does, resolved to leave me entirely without excuse; for if I would not take this for  a deliverance, the  next was to  be such a  one as  the
worst and most hardened wretch among us would confess both the  danger and the mercy of.
    The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the wind having been contrary and the weather calm, we had made but little way since the storm. Here  we were obliged to  come to an anchor,  and here we lay, the wind continuing contrary viz. at south-west for seven or eight days,  during which time  a great many  ships from  Newcastle came into the same Roads, as the common harbour where the ships  might wait for a wind for the river.
    We had not, however, rid here so long but we should have tided  it up the river, but that the wind blew too fresh, and after we had  lain four or five days, blew very  hard. However, the Roads being  reckoned as good as a harbour, the  anchorage good, and our ground tackle  very strong, our men were unconcerned, and not in the least apprehensive of danger, but spent the time in rest and mirth, after the manner of  the sea; but the eighth  day, in the morning,  the wind increased, and  we had all hands at work to strike our topmasts, and make everything snug and close, that the ship might ride  as easy as possible. By noon  the sea went very high  indeed, and our ship  rode forecastle in,  shipped several seas, and we thought once  or twice our anchor had come  home; upon which our master  ordered out the sheet-anchor,  so that we  rode with two anchors ahead, and the cables veered out to the bitter end.
    By this time it blew a terrible  storm indeed; and now I began  to see terror and amazement in the  faces even of the seamen  themselves. The master, though vigilant  in the business  of preserving the  ship, yet as he went in and out of his cabin by me, I could hear him  softly to himself say, several times, Lord be merciful to us! we shall be all lost! we shall be all undone! and the like. During these first hurries I was stupid, lying still in my cabin, which was in the steerage,  and cannot describe  my temper:  I could  ill resume  the first  penitence which I had so apparently trampled upon and hardened myself against: I thought the bitterness of death had been past, and that this would  be nothing like the first; but when the  master himself came by me, as  I said just  now, and  said we  should  be all  lost, I  was  dreadfully frighted. I got up out of my  cabin and looked out; but such a  dismal sight I never saw: the sea ran mountains high, and broke upon us every three or four minutes;  when I could look  about, I could see  nothing but distress round us; two ships that rode near us, we found, had  cut their masts by the board, being deep laden; and our men cried out that a ship which rode  about a mile  ahead of us  was foundered. Two  more ships, being driven from their anchors,  were run out of the Roads  to sea, at all adventures, and that  with not a mast standing. The  light ships fared the best, as not so much labouring in the sea; but two  or three of them drove, and  came close by  us, running  away with  only their spritsail out before the wind.
    Towards evening the mate  and boatswain begged  the master of  our ship to let them cut away  the fore-mast, which he was very  unwilling to do; but the boatswain protesting to him that if he did not the ship would founder, he consented; and when they had cut away the fore-mast, the main-mast stood so  loose, and shook the  ship so much, they  were obliged to cut that away also, and make a clear deck.
    Any one may judge what a condition  I must be in at all this,  who was but a young sailor,  and who had been in  such a fright before  at but a little. But if I can express at this distance the thoughts I had about me at  that time,  I was  in tenfold more horror  of mind  upon account of my former convictions, and the having returned from them to the resolutions I  had wickedly taken  at first, than  I was at  death itself; and these, added to the terror of the storm, put me into  such a condition that I can by no words describe it. But the worst was  not come  yet;  the  storm  continued  with  such  fury  that  the  seamen themselves acknowledged they  had never seen  a worse. We  had a  good ship, but she was  deep laden, and  wallowed in the  sea, so that  the seamen every  now and  then cried  out she  would founder.  It was  my advantage in  one respect,  that I  did not  know what  they meant  by FOUNDER till I inquired. However, the storm was so violent that I saw, what is not  often seen, the  master, the boatswain,  and some  others more sensible than  the rest,  at their prayers,  and expecting  every moment when the  ship would go  to the  bottom. In the  middle of  the night, and under all the rest of  our distresses, one of the men  that had been down  to see cried  out we  had sprung a  leak; another  said there was four feet water in the  hold. Then all hands were called  to the pump. At that word, my heart, as I thought, died within me: and  I fell backwards upon the side  of my bed where  I sat, into the  cabin. However, the men roused me,  and told me that I,  that was able to  do nothing before,  was as  well able  to  pump as  another; at  which  I stirred up and went to the pump, and worked very heartily. While  this was doing the  master, seeing some  light colliers, who,  not able  to ride out the storm were obliged to slip and run away to sea, and would come near us, ordered to  fire a gun as a  signal of distress. I,  who knew nothing what  they meant, thought  the ship had  broken, or  some dreadful thing happened.  In a word,  I was so  surprised that I  fell down in a swoon. As this was a time when everybody had his own life to think of, nobody minded me, or what was become of me; but another  man stepped up to the pump, and thrusting  me aside with his foot, let  me lie, thinking I had been dead; and it was a great while before I  came to 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 it was not  possible she could swim till we  might run into any port; so the master continued firing guns for help; and a light ship, who had rid it out  just ahead of us, ventured a boat  out to help us. It was with the  utmost hazard the boat came near us;  but it was impossible for us to get on board, or for the boat to lie  near the ship`s  side, till  at  last the  men  rowing very  heartily,  and venturing their lives to save ours, our men cast them a rope over  the stern with a buoy to it, and then veered it out a great length,  whichthey, after much labour and hazard,  took hold of, and we hauled  them close under our  stern, and  got all  into their  boat. It  was to  no purpose for  them or  us,  after we  were in  the  boat, to  think  of reaching their own ship; so all agreed  to let her drive, and only  to pull her in towards shore as much as we could; and our master promised them, that if the boat was staved upon shore, he would make it good to their master: so partly rowing and partly driving, our boat went  away to the northward, sloping towards the shore almost as far as Winterton Ness.
    We were not much more  than a quarter of an  hour out of our  ship till we saw her sink,  and then I understood  for the first time  what was meant by a ship  foundering in the sea.  I must acknowledge I  had hardly eyes to look up  when the seamen told  me she was sinking;  for from the moment  that they rather  put me  into the boat  than that  I might be said  to go in,  my heart was,  as it were,  dead within  me, partly with fright, partly  with horror of mind,  and the thoughts  of what was yet before me.
    While we were in this condition  the men yet labouring at the  oar to bring the boat near the shore we could see (when, our boat mounting the waves, we were able to see the shore) a great many people  running along the strand to assist  us when we should  come near; but we  made but slow way towards the  shore; nor were we  able to reach the  shore till, being past the lighthouse at  Winterton, the shore falls off  to the westward towards Cromer,  and so the land  broke off a little  the violence of the  wind. Here  we got in,  and though  not without  much difficulty, got all safe  on shore, and walked  afterwards on foot  to Yarmouth, where, as unfortunate men, we were used with great humanity, as well by the magistrates of the town, who assigned us good quarters, as by particular merchants and owners of ships, and had money given us sufficient to carry us either to London or back to Hull as we  thought fit.
    Had I now had the sense to  have gone back to Hull, and have  gone home, I had  been happy, and  my father, as  in our blessed  Saviour`s parable, had even killed the fatted calf for me; for hearing the  ship I went away in was cast away  in Yarmouth Roads, it was a great  while before he had any assurances that I was not drowned.
    But my ill fate  pushed me on now  with an obstinacy that  nothing could resist; and though I had several times loud calls from my reason and my more composed judgment to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I know not  what to call  this, nor will  I urge that  it is a  secret overruling decree, that hurries us on to be the instruments of our own destruction, even though  it be before  us, and that  we rush upon  it with  our  eyes  open.  Certainly,  nothing  but  some  such   decreed unavoidable misery, which it  was impossible for  me to escape,  could have pushed me forward against the calm reasonings and persuasions  of my most retired thoughts, and against two such visible instructions as I had met with in my first attempt.
    My comrade, who had  helped to harden me  before, and who was  the master`s son, was now less forward than I. The first time he spoke  to me after we were at  Yarmouth, which was not  till two or three  days, for we were  separated in  the town to  several quarters;  I say,  the first time he saw me, it  appeared his tone was altered; and,  looking very melancholy, and  shaking his  head, he asked  me how  I did,  and telling his father who I was, and how I had come this voyage only  for a trial, in order to go further abroad, his father, turning to me with a very grave and concerned tone Young man, says he, you ought never to go to sea any  more; you ought  to take this for  a plain and  visible token that you are not to be  a seafaring man. Why, sir, said I,  will you go  to sea  no more?  That  is another  case, said  he; it  is  my calling, and therefore my duty; but as you made this voyage on  trial, you see what a taste Heaven has given you of what you are to expect if
you persist. Perhaps this  has all befallen us  on your account,  like Jonah in the ship of Tarshish.  Pray, continues he, what are you;  and on what account did  you go to sea?  Upon that I told  him some of  my story; at  the end  of  which he  burst out  into  a strange  kind  of passion: What had I done, says he, that such an unhappy wretch  should come into my ship? I would not set my foot in the same ship with  thee again for a thousand pounds. This indeed was, as I said, an  excursion of his spirits, which were yet agitated by the sense of his loss,  and was farther than he could have authority to go. However, he afterwards talked very gravely to me, exhorting me  to go back to my father,  and not tempt Providence to my ruin, telling me I might see a visible hand of Heaven against me. And, young man, said he, depend upon it, if  you do not  go back,  wherever you  go,  you will  meet with  nothing  but disasters and disappointments, till your father`s words are  fulfilled upon you.
    We parted soon after; for I made him little answer, and I saw  him no more; which way he went I knew not. As for me, having some money in my pocket, I travelled to London by land; and there, as well as on the road, had many  struggles with  myself what  course of  life I  should take, and whether I should go home or to sea.
    As to going home, shame opposed  the best motions that offered  to my thoughts, and it immediately occurred to me how I should be laughed at among the neighbours, and should  be ashamed to see, not my  father and mother only,  but even everybody  else; from whence  I have  since often observed, how  incongruous and irrational  the common temper  of mankind is, especially of youth, to  that reason which ought to  guide them in such cases viz. that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet  are ashamed to repent;  not ashamed  of the  action for  which they  ought justly to be esteemed fools, but  are ashamed of the returning,  which only can make them be esteemed wise men.
    In this state of  life, however, I  remained some time,  uncertain what  measures  to  take,  and  what  course  of  life  to  lead.   An irresistible reluctance continued to going home; and as I stayed  away a while, the remembrance of the distress  I had been in wore off,  and as that abated, the little motion I  had in my desires to return  wore off with it, till at last I  quite laid aside the thoughts of it,  and looked out for a voyage.

                                                                                CHAPTER      2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9     10      11    12    13  

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