Part 2 out of 11
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 for those fears.
However, as well as I could, I barricadoed myself round with the chests
and boards that I had brought on shore, and made a kind of a 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 the fowl.
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 in
pieces, I resolved to set all other things apart, till I 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 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 checked shirt and a pair of linen trowsers, and
a pair of pumps on my feet.
I got 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 belonging 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 bag full 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 clothes that I could find,
and a spare fore-topsail, hammock, and some bedding; and with this I
loaded my second raft, and brought them all safe on shore, to my very
I was under some apprehensions 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 at 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 of it, and ate it, and looked, as 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 fain 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 every thing 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 an end without, and spreading one of
the 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, as the night before I
had slept little, and had laboured very hard all day, as well to fetch
all those things from the ship as to get them on shore.
I had the biggest magazine of all kinds now that ever were 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 every thing 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,
I brought away as much of the rigging as I could, as also all the small
ropes and rope-twine I could get, with a piece of spare canvass, 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
fain 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 canvass only.
But that which comforted me more still, was, that at last of all, after
I had made five or six such voyages as these, and thought I had nothing
more to expect from the ship that was worth my meddling with; I say,
after all this, I found a great hogshead of bread, and three large
runlets of rum or spirits, and a box of sugar, and a barrel of fine
flower; 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 hogshead of that bread, and wrapped it up, parcel 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; and
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 spritsail-yard, and the mizen-yard, and every thing
I could to make a large raft, I loaded it with all those 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 had 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 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 was fain 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; however, at low water I went on board, and
though I thought I had rummaged the cabin so effectually, as 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
scissars, 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
Brasil, some pieces of eight, some gold, some silver.
I smiled to myself at the sight of this money. "O drug!" said I, aloud,
"what art thou good for? thou art not worth to me, no not the taking off
of the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no
manner of use for thee; even 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 this in a piece of canvass, 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 off
shore, 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 cross the
channel which lay between the ship and the sands, and even that with
difficulty enough, partly with the weight of things I had about me, and
partly the roughness of the water, for the wind rose very hastily, and
before it was quite high water it blew a storm.
But I was gotten 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, viz. that I had lost no time, nor abated no diligence to get
every thing 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
I now gave over any more thoughts of the ship, or of any thing 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 dwelling 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
I soon found the place I was in was not for my settlement, particularly
because it was upon a low moorish ground near the sea, and I believed
would not be wholesome, 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.
I consulted several things in my situation which I found would be proper
for me: 1st, Health, and fresh water, I just now mentioned, 2dly,
Shelter from the heat of the sun. 3dly, Security from ravenous
creatures, whether man or beast. 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
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 this 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 an 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 grounds by the
sea-side. It was on the N.N.W. side of the hill, so that I 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 about five foot and a half, and 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 foot and a half high, like a spur to a post; and
this fence was so strong, that neither man or 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 entrance into this place I made to be not by a door, but by a short
ladder, 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 afterward,
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 me a large tent, which, to preserve me from
the rains, that in one part of the year are very violent there, I made
double, viz. one smaller tent within, and one larger tent above it, and
covered the uppermost with a large tarpaulin which I had saved among
And now I lay no more for awhile 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 every thing 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 short ladder.
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, that so 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; O my powder! my very heart sunk 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, entirely
depended; I was nothing near so anxious about my own danger; though, had
the powder took fire, I had never known who had hurt me.
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 in 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 any thing fit for food, and as near as I could to acquaint myself
with what the island produced. 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 most difficult 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 vallies,
though they were upon the rocks, they would run away as in a terrible
fright; but if they were feeding in the vallies, 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 afterward 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 killed a she-goat, which had a little kid by her which she
gave suck to, which grieved me heartily; but 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 conveniencies I made, I
shall give a full account of in its place; but I must first 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 his 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 reason, as it were, expostulating with the t'other way,
thus: "Well, you are in a desolate condition, 'tis 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 attended them.
Then it occurred to me again, how well I was furnished for my
subsistence, and what would have been my ease if it had not happened,
which was an hundred thousand to one, that the ship floated from the
place where she first struck, and was driven so near the shore that I
had time to get all these things out of her. What would have been my
case, if I had been 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, loud (though to myself), "what
should I have done without a gun, without ammunition, without any tools
to make any thing, or to work with; without clothes, bedding, a tent, or
any manner of covering?" and that now I had all these to a 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 should 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 or
strength should decay.
I confess I had not entertained any notion of my ammunition being
destroyed 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 lightned
and thundered, as I observed just now.
And now, being about 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 9 degrees 22 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 from the working
days; but to prevent this, I cut it with my knife upon a large post, in
capital letters, and making it into a great cross, I set it up on the
shore where I first landed, viz. "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
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 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 it's place; for I carried both the
cats with me; and as for the dog, he jumped 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 he could not do. As I observed
before, I found pen, ink, and paper, and I husbanded them to the utmost;
and I shall shew, 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, this of ink was one, as also
spade, pickaxe, and shovel, to dig or remove the earth; needles, pins,
and thread. As for linen, I soon learnt to want that without much
This want of tools made every work I did go on heavily, and it was near
a whole year before I had entirely finished my little pale or surrounded
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, yet it made driving those posts or piles very laborious and
But what need I have been concerned at the tediousness of any thing 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
I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstance I
was reduced to, and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so
much to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was like 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
case from worse; and I stated it very impartially, like debtor and
creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the miseries I suffered, thus:
I am cast upon a horrible But I am alive, and
desolate island, void not drowned, as all my
of all hope of recovery. ship's company was.
I am singled out and But I am singled out
separated, as it were, too from all the ship's
from all the world to be crew to be spared from
miserable. death; and He that
miraculously saved me from
death, can deliver me
from this condition.
I am divided from But I am not starved
mankind, a solitaire, one and perishing on a barren
banished from human society. place, affording no sustenance.
I have not clothes to But I am in a hot climate,
cover me. where if I had
clothes I could hardly wear
I am without any defence But I am cast on an
or means to resist island, where I see no
any violence of man or wild beasts to hurt me,
beast. as I saw on the coast of
Africa: and what if I
had been shipwrecked
I have no soul to speak But God wonderfully
to, or relieve me. sent the ship in near
enough to the shore, that
I have gotten out so many
necessary things as will
either supply my wants,
or enable me to supply
myself even as long as I
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, and 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 accommodate my way of
living, and to make things as easy to me as I could.
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 foot thick on the outside; and after some time, I
think it was a year and 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 were a back-way to my
tent and to my storehouse, but gave me room to stow 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 original of the mathematics, so by stating and squaring
every thing 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
as 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 and 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 along one side of my cave, to lay all my
tools, nails, and iron-work, and in a word, to separate every thing at
large in 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 every thing 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 a hurry; and not only hurry as to
labour, but in too much discomposure of mind, and my journal would have
been full of many dull things. For example, I must have said thus: Sept.
the 30th, after I 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 was gotten 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 those
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 shipwrecked, during a dreadful
storm in the offing, came on shore on this dismal unfortunate island,
which I called the Island of Despair; all the rest of the ship's company
being drowned, and myself almost dead.
All the rest of that day I spent in afflicting myself at the dismal
circumstances I was brought to, viz. I had neither food, house,
clothes, weapon, or place to fly to, and in despair of any relief, saw
nothing but death before me, either that I should be devoured by wild
beasts, murdered by savages, or starved to death for want of food. At
the approach of night I slept in a tree, for fear of wild creatures, but
slept soundly, though it rained all night.
October 1. In the morning I saw, to my great surprise, the ship had
floated with the high tide, and was driven on shore again much nearer
the island; which as it was some comfort on one hand, for seeing her 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 staid 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 these days,
though with some intervals of fair weather: but, it seems, this was the
Oct. 20. I overset my raft, and all the goods I had got up upon it; but
being in shoal water, and the things being chiefly heavy, I recovered
many of them when the tide was out.
Oct. 25. It rained all night and all day, with some gusts of wind;
during which time the ship broke in pieces, the wind blowing a little
harder than before, and was no more to be seen, except the wreck of her,
and that only at low water. I spent this day in covering and securing
the goods which I had saved, that rain might not spoil them.
Oct. 26. I walked about the shore almost all day, to find out a place to
fix my habitation, greatly concerned to secure myself from any attack in
the night, either from wild beasts or men. Towards night I fixed upon a
proper place under a rock, and marked out a semicircle for my
encampment, which I resolved to strengthen with a work, wall, or
fortification made of double piles, lined within with cable, and without
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 not feed.
November 1. I set up my tent under a rock, and lay there for the first
night, making it as large as I could with stakes driven in to swing my
Nov. 2. I set up all my chests and boards, and the pieces of timber
which made my rafts, and with them formed a fence round me, a little
within the place I had marked out for my fortification.
Nov. 3. I went out with my gun, and killed two fowls like ducks, which
were very good food. In the afternoon went to work to make me a table.
Nov. 4. This morning I began to order my times of work, of going out
with my gun, time of sleep, and time of diversion; viz. every morning I
walked out with my gun for two or three hours, if it did not rain, then
employed myself to work till about eleven o'clock, then ate what I had
to live on, and from twelve to two I lay down to sleep, the weather
being excessive 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
make me a complete natural mechanic soon after, as I believe it 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 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 frighted 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 learnt
to mend it.
Nov. 7. Now it began to be settled fair weather. The 7th, 8th, 9th,
10th, and part of the 12th (for the 11th was Sunday), I took wholly up
to make me a chair, and with much ado brought it to a tolerable shape,
but never to please me; and even in the making I pulled it in pieces
several times. _Note_, I soon neglected my keeping Sundays, for omitting
my mark for them on my post, I forgot which was which.
Nov. 13. This day it rained, which refreshed me exceedingly, and cooled
the earth, but it was accompanied with terrible thunder and lightning,
which frighted me dreadfully for fear of my powder: as soon as it was
over I resolved to separate my stock of powder into as many little
parcels as possible, that it might not be in danger.
Nov. 14, 15, 16. These three days I spent in making little square chests
or boxes, which might hold a pound, or two pound, 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 farther conveniency. _Note_, Three things I wanted
exceedingly for this work, viz. a pickaxe, a shovel, and a wheel-barrow
or basket; so I desisted from my work, and began to consider how to
supply that want, and make me some tools: as for a 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 Brasils they call the iron tree, for its
exceeding hardness: of this, with great labour and almost spoiling my
axe, I cut a piece, and brought it home too with difficulty enough, for
it was exceeding heavy.
The excessive hardness of the wood, and 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 broad 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 a making.
I was still deficient, for I wanted a basket or a wheel-barrow; 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
wheel-barrow, 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
wheel-barrow, 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 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
_Note_, During all this time, I worked to make this room or cave
spacious enough to accommodate me as a warehouse or magazine, a kitchen,
a dining-room, and a cellar: as for my lodging, I kept to the tent,
except that sometimes in the wet season of the year, it rained so hard
that I could not keep myself dry, which caused me afterwards to cover
all my place within my pale with long poles in the form of rafters,
leaning against the rock, and load them with flags and large leaves of
trees like a thatch.
Dec. 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 gravedigger. Upon this disaster I had a great deal of work to
do over again; for I had the loose earth to carry out, and, which was of
more importance, I had the ceiling to prop up, so that I might be sure
no more would come down.
Dec. 11. This day I went to work with it accordingly, and got two shores
or posts pitched upright to the top, with two pieces of boards across
over each post; this I finished the next day; and setting more posts up
with boards, in about a week more I had the roof secured; and the posts,
standing in rows, served me for partitions to part off my house.
Dec. 17. From this day to the twentieth I placed shelves, and knocked
up nails on the posts to hang every thing up that could be hung up: and
now I began to be in some order within doors.
Dec. 20. Now I carried every thing 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 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 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. 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 vallies which lay towards the centre of the island, I found there
was plenty of goats, though exceeding 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 3d 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 until this wall was finished; and it is scarce credible what
inexpressible labour every thing 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 need 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 any thing like a
habitation; and it was very well I did so, as may be observed hereafter
upon a very remarkable occasion.
During this time I made my rounds in the woods for game every day, when
the rain admitted me, and made frequent discoveries in these walks of
something or other to my advantage; particularly I found a kind of wild
pigeons, who built not as wood pigeons in a tree, but rather as house
pigeons, in the holes of the rocks; and taking some young ones, I
endeavoured to breed them up tame, and did so; but when they grew older
they flew away, which perhaps was at first for want of feeding them, for
I had nothing to give them; however, I frequently found their nests, and
got their young ones, which were very good meat.
And now, in the managing my household affairs, I found myself wanting in
many things, which I thought at first it was impossible for me to make,
as indeed as to 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 to the capacity of making one by them, though I
spent many weeks about it; I could neither put in the heads, or joint
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 candle; 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 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; what little remainder of corn 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 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 of any thing, and not so much as
remembering that I had thrown any thing there; when about a month after,
or thereabout, 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,
or had entertained any sense of any thing that had befallen me,
otherwise than as a 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 in 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 this grain to
grow without any help of seed sown, and that it was so directed purely
for my sustenance on that wild miserable place.
This touched my heart a little, and brought tears out of my eyes, and I
began to bless myself, that such a prodigy of nature should happen upon
my account; and this was the more strange to me, because I saw near it
still, all along by the side of the rock, some other straggling stalks,
which proved to be stalks of rice, and which I knew, because I had seen
it grow in Africa, when I was ashore there.
I not only thought these the pure productions of Providence for my
support, but not doubting but that there was more in the place, I went
all over that part of the island, where I had been before, peeping 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 thought, that I had shook a bag of
chicken's meat out in that place, and then the wonder began to cease;
and I must confess, my religious thankfulness to God's providence began
to abate too upon 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 as to me, that should order or appoint ten or
twelve grains of corn to remain unspoiled, when the rats had destroyed
all the rest, as if it had been dropped from heaven: as also, that I
should throw it out in that particular place, where, it being in the
shade of a high rock, it sprang up immediately; whereas if I had thrown
it any were else at that time, it had been burnt up and destroyed.
I carefully saved the ears of 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 whose use was of the
same kind or to the same purpose, viz. to make me bread, or rather food;
for I found ways to cook it up without baking, though I did that also
after some time. But to return to my journal.
I worked excessive hard these three or four months to get my wall done;
and the 14th of April I closed it up, contriving to go into it, not by a
door, but over the wall by a ladder, that there might be no sign in the
outside of my habitation.
April 16. I finished the ladder; so I went up with the ladder to the
top, and then pulled it up after me, and let it down on 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
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 of it behind my tent, just in the entrance into
my cave, I was terribly frighted with a most dreadful surprising thing
indeed; for on a sudden I found the earth come crumbling down from the
roof of my cave, and from the edge of the hill, over my head, and two of
the posts I had set up in the cave cracked in a frightful manner: I was
heartily scared, but thought nothing of what was really the cause, only
thinking that the top of my cave was falling 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 was no sooner stept down upon the firm ground, but I plainly saw
it was a terrible earthquake, for the ground I stood on shook three
times at about eight minutes distance, with three such shocks, as would
have overturned the strongest building that could be supposed to have
stood on the earth; and a great piece of the top of a rock, which stood
about half a mile from me next the sea, fell down with such a terrible
noise as I never heard in all my life: I perceived also the very sea was
put into violent motion by it; and I believe the shocks were stronger
under the water than on the island.
I was so amazed with the thing itself, having never felt the like, or
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 get over my
wall again, for fear of being buried alive, but sat still upon the
ground, greatly cast down and disconsolate, not knowing what to do. All
this while I had not the least serious religious thought, nothing but
the common "Lord have mercy upon me!" and when it was over, that
went away too.
While I sat thus, I found the air overcast, and grow cloudy, as if it
would rain; soon after that the wind rose 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; and this held about three hours, and then began
to abate, and in two hours more it was stark calm, and began to rain
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 consequence of the earthquake, the earthquake itself was spent
and over, and I might venture into my cave again: with this thought my
spirits began to revive, and the rain also helping to persuade me, I
went in and sat down in my tent; but the rain was so violent, that my
tent was ready to be beaten down with it; and I was forced to go into my
cave, though very much afraid and uneasy, for fear it should fall on
This violent rain forced me to a new work, viz. to cut a hole through my
new fortification like a sink, to let water go out, which would else
have drowned my cave. After I had been in my cave 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 me some 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: but concluded, if I staid where I
was, I should certainly, one time or other, be buried alive.
With these thoughts I resolved to remove my tent from the place where it
stood, which was just under the hanging precipice of the hill, and
which, if it should be shaken again, would certainly fall upon my tent.
And I spent the two next days, being the 19th and 20th of April, in
contriving where and how to remove my habitation.
The fear of being swallowed up alive, made me that I never slept in
quiet, and yet the apprehension of lying abroad without any fence was
almost equal to it; but still, when I looked about and saw how every
thing was put in order, how pleasantly concealed I was, and how safe
from danger, it made me very loth to remove.
In the meantime it occurred to me that it would require a vast deal of
time for me to do this, and that I must be contented to run the venture
where I was, till I had formed a camp for myself, and had secured it so
as to remove to it. So with this resolution I composed myself for a
time, and resolved that I would go to work with all speed to build me a
wall with piles and cables, &c. in a circle as before; and set my tent
up in it when it was finished, but that I would venture to stay where I
was till it was finished and fit to remove to. This was the 21st.
April 22. The next morning I began to consider of means to put this
resolve in execution, but I was at a great loss about my tools. I had
three large axes and abundance of hatchets (for we carried the hatchets
for traffic with the Indians); but with much chopping and cutting
knotty hard wood, they were all full of notches and dull; and though I
had a grindstone, I could not turn it and grind my tools too: this cost
me as much thought as a statesman would have bestowed upon a grand point
of politics, or a judge upon the life and death of a man. At length I
contrived a wheel with a string, to turn it with my foot, that I might
have both my hands at liberty. _Note_, I had never seen any such thing
in England, or at least not to take notice how it was done, though since
I have observed it is very common there; besides that, my grindstone was
very large and heavy. This machine cost me a full week's work to bring
it to perfection.
April 28, 29. These two whole days I took up in grinding my tools, my
machine for turning my grindstone performing very well.
April 30. Having perceived my bread had been low a great while, now I
took a survey of it, and reduced myself to one biscuit-cake a day, which
made my heart very heavy.
May 1. In the morning, looking towards the sea-side, the tide being low,
I saw something lie on the shore bigger than ordinary; and it looked
like a cask; when I came to it, I found a small barrel, and two or three
pieces of the wreck of the ship, which were driven on shore by the late
hurricane; and looking towards the wreck itself, I thought it seemed to
lie higher out of the water than it used to do. I examined the barrel
which was driven on shore, and soon found it was a barrel of gunpowder,
but it had taken water, and the powder was caked as hard as a stone;
however, I rolled it farther on shore for the present, and went on upon
the sands as near as I could to the wreck of the ship, to look for more.
When I came down to the ship, I found it strangely removed; the
forecastle, which lay before buried in sand, was heaved up at least six
foot; and the stern, which was broke to 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 stern, 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 broken 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
habitation; 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 that all the inside of the
ship was choked up with sand: however, as I had learnt not to despair of
any thing, I resolved to pull every thing to pieces that I could of the
ship, concluding, that every thing 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.
Way 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
swim 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, but with an intent not to work, but
found the weight of the wreck had broke itself down, the beams being
cut, that 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 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 the roll of English lead, and could
stir it, but it was too heavy to remove.
May 10, 11, 12, 13, 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.
May 16. It had blown hard in the night, and the wreck appeared more
broken by the force of the water; but I staid so long in the woods to
get pigeons for food, that the tide prevented me going to the wreck
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
flowing 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 Brasil 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 gotten 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 afterwards; but perhaps had paid dear enough for them.
June 17. I spent in cooking the turtle; I found in her threescore eggs;
and her flesh was to me at that time the most savory and pleasant that
ever I tasted in my life, having had no flesh, but of goats and fowls,
since I landed in this horrid place.
June 18. Rained all day, and I 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 headach.
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 26. 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 abed all day, and neither
ate or 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 waked, I found myself much refreshed,
but weak, and exceeding thirsty: however, as I had no water in my whole
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 dreadful, 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 earthquake, 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 weapon 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 shall 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 nothing 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 toward 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
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 on 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
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 on 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 ecstasy, and
some transports of soul, which, had the grace of God assisted, might
have come up to true thankfulness; but it ended where it begun, in a
mere common flight of joy, or, as I may say, _being glad I was alive_,
without the least reflection upon the distinguishing 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 to me; even just the same common sort of joy which seamen
generally have, after they have got safe on shore 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 affliction 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 into 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 thought was removed, all the impression which 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 which alone
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
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 uncommon wickedness, provoked the justice of God to lay
me under uncommon strokes, and to deal with me in so vindictive
These reflections oppressed me from the second or third day of my
distemper, and in the violence, as well of the fever as of the dreadful
reproaches of my conscience, extorted some words from me, like 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 convictions great upon my mind,
and the horror of dying in such a miserable condition, raised vapours
into my head with the mere apprehensions; 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 say no more for a
In this interval, the good advice of my father came to my mind; and
presently his prediction, which I mentioned in 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, nor 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 into the world, and would have made every thing 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 might call it so, that I had made for
many years. But I return to my journal.
June 28. 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, even, as 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 the 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 the 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 it 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
Being that could make all things, must certainly have power to guide and
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,
and am in a dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without his
appointment, he has appointed all this to befal me.
Nothing occurred to my thoughts 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 to this miserable circumstance by his direction, he having the
sole power, not of me only, but of every thing 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 mispent life,
and ask thyself what thou hast 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 was struck 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 up 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 apprehensions of the return of my
distemper terrified me very much, it occurred to my thought, that the
Brasilians 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, viz. 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 so much as inclination, to look into;
I say I took it out, and brought both that and the tobacco with me to
What use to make of the tobacco I knew not, as to 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 a 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 it; 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 the
virtue of it, and I held almost to 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
of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me."
The 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 hope appeared, this prevailed very often
upon my thoughts: but, however, the words made a very 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 that I left my lamp burning in the cave, lest I should want any thing
in the night, and went to bed; but before I lay down, I did what I never
had done in all my life: I 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 indeed I could scarce get it down. Immediately upon
this I went to bed, and 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 the opinion, that I slept all the
next day and night, and till almost three the day after; for otherwise I
knew 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 a day;
but in my account it was lost, and I never knew which way.
Be that however one way or other; when I awaked, I found myself
exceedingly 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, viz. the tobacco steeped in rum; only I did not take so
much as before, nor did I chew any of 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 dozed myself with
it at first, and doubled the quantity which I drank.
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 condition 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 kneeled down, and
gave God thanks aloud, for my recovery from my sickness.
July 4. 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
a while 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, but 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 Saviour, to give repentance, and to give
remission." I threw down the book, and with my heart as well as my hand
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
This was the first time that 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 any thing 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 learnt 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 of this; and I added this part here, to hint
to whoever 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 as
my health and strength returned, I bestirred myself to furnish myself
with every thing 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 application which I made use of was perfectly new, and perhaps what
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 weaken me; for I had frequent convulsions in my
nerves and limbs for some time.
I learnt 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 a dry season was always most
accompanied with such storms, so I found this rain was much more
dangerous than the rain which fell in September and October.
I had been now 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 yet I knew nothing of.
It was the 15th of July that I began to take 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, and 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 into any stream, so as it could be perceived.
On the bank of this brook I found many pleasant savannas or meadows,
plain, smooth, and covered with grass; and on the rising parts of them
next to the higher grounds, where the water, as it 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 which I
had no notion of, or understanding about; and might perhaps have virtues
of their own, which I could not find out.
I searched for the cassave 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 then 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
Brasils, that I knew little of the plants of the field, at least very
little that might serve me to any purpose now in my distress.
The next day, the 16th, I went up the same way again; and, after going
something farther than I had done the day before, I found the brook and
the savannas began to 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 fluxes 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, as wholesome, and as
agreeable to eat, when no grapes might 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 near 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, every thing
being in a constant verdure or flourish of spring, that it looked like a
I descended a little on the side of that delicious valley, surveying it
with a secret kind of pleasure (though mixed with 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 lemon, and citron-trees, but all wild, and 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 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, and
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
homeward, 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
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 coming to my heap of
grapes, which were so rich and fine when I gathered them, I found them
all spread abroad, 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
on the fruitfulness of that valley, and the pleasantness of the
situation, the security from storms on that side of 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 to look out for a place
equally safe as where I now was situated, 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, and to consider that I was now by the sea-side,
where it was at least possible that something might happen to my
advantage, and that 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 affair not only improbable,
but impossible; and that therefore I ought not by any means to remove.
However, I was so enamoured with this place, that I spent much of my
time there for the whole remaining part of the month of July; and
though, upon second thoughts, I resolved as above, 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, as before; so that I fancied now I had my country house, and my
sea-coast house: and this work took me up the beginning of August.
I had but newly finished my fence, and began to enjoy my labour, but 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
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
were 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 thence,
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 tale or 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; yet the young cats were the
same kind of house breed like 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 dinner, broiled (for, to my great misfortune, I had
no vessel to boil or stew any thing;) and two or three of the turtle's
eggs for 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 yet I could not perceive that
there was any living thing to fear, the biggest creature that I had seen
upon the island being a goat.
September the 30th. 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 to a religious exercise, prostrating myself to the
ground with the most serious humiliation, confessing myself to God,
acknowledging his righteous judgment upon me, and praying to him to have
mercy on me, through Jesus Christ; and having not 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 before, 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
of my reckoning.
A little after this my ink began to fail me, and so I contented myself
to use it more sparingly, and to write down only the most remarkable
events of my life, without continuing a daily memorandum of
The rainy season, and the dry season, began now to appear regular to
me, and I learnt 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 at all.
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
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 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 thought, 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 seeds, leaving about a handful of each.
It was a great comfort to me afterwards that I did so; for not one grain
of that I sowed this time came to any thing; 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 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 yet, I had but a small
quantity at last, my whole crop not amounting to above half a peck of
But by this experience 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.
While 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
off 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 very 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 an hedge like
this in a semicircle round my wall, I mean that of my first dwelling,
which I did; and placing the trees or stakes in a double row, at above
eight yards distance 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:
Half February,} Rainy, the sun being then on, or near,
March, } the equinox.
Half April, }
May,} Dry, the sun being then to the north
June,} of the line.
September,} Rain, the sun being then come back.
November,} Dry, the sun being then to the south
December,} of the line.
The rainy season 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 consequence of being abroad in the rain, I took
care to furnish myself with provision beforehand, that I might not be
obliged to go out; and I sat within doors as much as possible during the
In this time I found much employment, (and very suitable also to the
time) for I found great occasion of 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, and a great observer
of the manner how they worked those things, and sometimes lent an hand,
I had by this means so full knowledge of the methods of it, that 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, and 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 an hatchet
to cut down a quantity, which I soon found, for there was a great plenty
of them: these I set up to dry within my circle or hedges; 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 any thing, 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 I made 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 vessels to hold any thing that was liquid, except two rundlets, 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, &c. I had not so much as a pot to boil any thing in,
except a great kettle which I saved out of the ship, and which was too
big for such uses as I desired it for, viz. to make broth, and stew a
bit of meat by itself. The second thing I would fain 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 of piles, and in
this wicker-work, 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 and 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
descried land, whether an island or continent I could not tell; but it
lay very high, extending from the west 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 should have landed, I had been in a
worse condition than I was now; and therefore I acquiesced in the
dispositions of Providence, which I began now to own, and to believe,
ordered every thing for the best; I say, I quieted my mind with this,
and left afflicting myself with fruitless wishes of being there.
Besides, after some pause upon this affair, I considered, that if this
land was the Spanish coast, I should certainly, one time or other, see
some vessels pass or repass one way or other; but if not, then it was
the savage coast between the Spanish country and Brasil, which were
indeed 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 savanna fields sweet, adorned with flowers and grass,
and full of very fine woods. I saw abundance of parrots, and fain would
I 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
I was exceedingly diverted with this journey: I found in the low
grounds, hares, as I thought them to be, and foxes, but they differed
greatly from all 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 better table 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
rather plenty, even to dainties.
I never travelled in this journey above two miles outright in a day, or
thereabouts; but I look 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 for all night; and then 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 and an half. Here was also an infinite
number of fowls of many kinds, some of 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.
I could have shot as many as I pleased, but was very sparing of my
powder 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 the other side of 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 hills.
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