Chapter One: Robinson's Adventures at Sea
I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York in England. My father was of a good family. He was a merchant from Bremen in Germany. He settled in England and made his fortune in trade, then he married. My mother's family name was Robinson. I was baptised Robinson Kreutznaer. However, in England we were always called Crusoe, so my friends call me Robinson Crusoe.
I had two brothers. One became a soldier and was killed in a battle against the Spaniards. I do not know what happened to my other brother. My father hoped I would study law, but I wanted to go to sea. Although my mother and father did not want me to go, my desire was so strong that I ignored their wishes.
My father was a wise and serious man. He said that if I stayed at home my life would be easy and pleasant. Only desperate men or very fortunate men went abroad, he said. I was neither desperate nor very fortunate. Mine was the middle state, and he thought that the middle state was the best. The poor had a difficult life, and the rich were hated by the poor, said he. In the middle state a man could be happy. Kings often regretted that they were not born in the middle state, and wise men prayed to have neither poverty nor wealth. He said that the greatest misfortunes in life were suffered by the rich and the poor. Only the man in the middle state can live in peace. He said that moderation, quietness, and good health were the conditions of the middle state.
He begged me not to abandon this happy condition. He told me that he had begged my brother not to become a soldier for the same reasons. However,my brother had run away to the army, and now he was dead. He said that God would not bless me if I went to sea, and that I would be sorry I had ignored my father's advice.
During the last part of his discourse the tears ran down his face, especially when he spoke of my brother. When he said that I would regret my choice, he was so moved that he could say no more. I was sincerely affected by his words and decided not to think of going abroad any more. But alas! In a few days I began to dream of the sea again. I spoke to my mother. I told her that I still desired to go to sea and that nothing else would make me happy. I said that I was eighteen years old, too old to begin another profession. I asked her to persuade my father to let me go to sea.
This made her very angry. She said that it would be useless to speak to my father. If I wanted to ruin myself, she said, there was nothing she or my father could do to stop me. However, they would never agree to it.
A year later, I ran off to sea. This is how it happened. One day I went to the port of Hull. A friend of mine was going by sea to London in his father's ship. He asked me to go with him. Since it would cost me nothing, I decided to go, without even telling my mother and father. Thus on the first of September 1651 I went on board a ship for the first time.
As soon as the ship was at sea, the wind began to blow. I felt very sick and frightened. I thought that God was punishing me for leaving my father's house. The storm grew worse, although it was not as bad as many I have seen since. It was not even as bad as the storm I saw just a few days later, but it frightened me then. I thought the sea would swallow us. I swore to God that, if I lived, I would return to my father's house and never go to sea again.
The next day the sea grew calm and the sun shone. I no longer felt sick or frightened. My friend said, 'Well, Bob, how do you feel? Were you afraid?'
'It was a terrible storm,' said I. 'Do you call that a storm?' said he.'That was nothing. Let's drink some rum and forget about it.'
We drank the rum, and I forgot my promise to God. A few days later, there was a really terrible storm. The waves were as high as mountains. I was very frightened. I felt sorry that I had forgotten my promise to God. The sailors began to cry out that the ship would founder. Fortunately, I did not know what the word 'founder' meant. I saw the captain and some others praying to God. At last we were rescued by a boat from another ship. As we escaped, we saw our own ship go down. It was only then that I understood the word 'founder'.
When we reached the shore, the people were very kind to us. They gave us money to return to Hull or continue to London, as we pleased. If I had returned home, I would have been happy. My father, like the father in Christ's story of the prodigal son, would have welcomed me. But I was foolish, and I did not go home. The captain, who was my father's friend, said to me, 'Young man, you should never go to sea again.'
'Why, sir?' said I. 'Will you never go to sea again?'
'That is different,' said the captain. 'The sea is my profession. It is my duty to go to sea, but you made this voyage to see if you liked it. God has shown you that the sea is not for you. Perhaps that is why my ship foundered. You are like Jonah of the Bible story. I am sorry I ever allowed you on my ship!'
I went to London by land. How unwise young people are! They are not afraid to sin, but they are afraid to seem foolish! I signed up for a voyage to Africa. I should have signed up as a sailor. I could have learned the sailor's profession. In time, I might even have become a captain. However, I always made the worst choice, and I chose to go to sea as a gentleman. Therefore I had no duties on the ship, and I had no chance of learning to be a sailor.
I met the captain of a ship that had been on the coast of Africa. He had made good profits from the voyage and was eager to go again. He asked me to go with him as his companion. He said that I need not pay for the voyage. If I had any money, he said, he would show me how to make a profit in trade. I accepted the offer, and became friends with the captain, who was a good and honest man. Following the captain's advice, I spent about forty pounds on things of little value. These I could trade for gold on the coast of Africa.
The voyage was a great success for me. Indeed, it was my only successful voyage. My friend the captain taught me the skills of both a sailor and a merchant. I brought home five pounds nine ounces of gold, which I sold in London for nearly three hundred pounds. Soon after our return to England, my friend died. I decided to do the same voyage again and signed up on the same ship with its new captain. As we approached the coast of Africa, we were pursued by a Turkish ship. After a short battle, the Turkish ship was victorious, and we were all taken as prisoners to the port of Sallee. The captain of the Turkish ship made me his slave. I was horrified by this surprising change from merchant to miserable slave. I remembered my father's prophesy that I would be miserable, and I realised that it had indeed been fulfilled.
After about two years of slavery, I saw my chance of escape. One day, my master sent me out fishing with his brother Ismael and a black slave boy called Xury. The fishing boat was full of food, guns, and fresh water. While we were fishing, I pushed Ismael into the sea. He cried for help. I pointed a gun at him and said, 'I will not hurt you, if you do as I say. You swim well enough to reach the shore. Go! Swim to the shore and leave us alone. If you do not, I will shoot you in the head, for I want my liberty.'
Ismael swam away from the ship, and I turned to the slave boy. 'Xury,' said I, 'if you will be faithful to me, I will make you a great man. If not, I will throw you into the sea too.' The boy smiled and promised to be faithful five pounds nine ounces： to me.
We sailed along the coast of Africa, close to the shore. Sometimes we heard lions and other wild beasts. We needed fresh water, but we were afraid to go ashore, for fear of wild beasts and savages. Xury said that he would go ashore to get water, and I should wait in the boat. 'Why should you go, Xury?' I asked. 'Why should I not go, and you wait in the boat?'
Xury replied in words that made me love him ever after: 'If wild men come, they will eat me, and you will escape.'
'Well, Xury,' I said, 'we will both go. If wild men come we will kill them, and they will eat neither of us.' We went ashore and got fresh water. As we were returning to the boat, we saw a lion on the beach. I aimed my gun and shot. Xury and I took the skin off the lion, for I thought it might be of some value. We sailed along the coast for ten days. I hoped that we would meet a European trading ship and be saved, but we did not meet one.
Sometimes we saw people on the shore. Their skin was black, and they were naked. Once I thought of going ashore to meet them, but Xury advised against it. I made signs to them that we needed food. They brought meat and grain and left it on the beach for us. I made signs to thank them but had nothing to give them in payment. However, we soon had the chance to do them a great service.
Just as we reached our boat, a leopard came running down from the mountain towards the beach. I shot it dead. The Negroes were amazed and terrified by the sound of my gun. When they saw that the leopard was dead, they approached him. They wished to eat the flesh of this animal. I made signs to tell them that they could have him, and they began cutting him up. They cut off his skin and gave it to me.
Leaving my friendly Negroes, I sailed on for eleven days. As we approached Cape Verde, Xury cried out, 'Master! A ship!' I saw that it was a Portuguese ship. I sailed towards it, and in three hours I reached it. The men on the ship asked who I was. When I told them my story, they were very kind. They took me on board their ship with all my property from the boat. I offered all my property to the captain, to thank him for saving me, but he would not take it. He said they were sailing to Brazil. He said that my property would be returned to me when we arrived. He offered to buy my boat from me. He paid me eighty pieces of eight for it. He also offered me sixty pieces of eight for my boy Xury. I did not want to sell the poor boy's liberty because he had helped me to escape from slavery.
Then the captain offered to set Xury free in ten years if he became a Christian. Xury said he was willing to go with him, so I let the captain have him. About twenty-two days later we landed in All Saints' Bay in Brazil. I will never forget the captain's kindness. He bought a lot of my property from the boat. I left the ship with about two hundred and twenty pieces of eight.
In Brazil I saw how well the sugar planters lived. They grew rich quickly. I decided to settle in Brazil and become a sugar planter. The first two years were difficult, but then my plantation grew prosperous. I was sorry that I had sold my boy Xury, for I needed help. I was not happy in my new life. This was the middle state of which my father had spoken. I often said to myself, 'I could have done this at home, instead of coming five thousand miles to do it among strangers and savages.' I thought I was like a man stranded alone upon an island. Never compare your situation to a worse one! God may place you in the worse situation, so that you long for your old life! I say, God was just to leave me on an island, where I really was alone! If I had been content to stay as I was, I would have been rich and happy. By leaving me on an island, God made me understand this.
The captain of the Portuguese ship advised me to send for some money. I had left my money with a friend in London. My friend sent me the money in the form of English goods. When they arrived, I thought that my fortune was made. I sold the goods at a great profit for about four hundred pounds. As soon as I got this money, I bought myself a Negro slave. After four years, I had learned the language and made some friends among my fellow planters. I told them of the trade in Negro slaves on the African coast. 'If a merchant takes knives, hatchets, and other things of little value,' I said, 'he can easily trade them for gold and Negro slaves.'
They listened very attentively, especially to the part about buying slaves. There were very few slaves in Brazil at the time, and they cost a lot of money. Three planters came to me the next morning. They said they planned to buy a ship and sail to the African coast to buy slaves. They wanted to make one voyage only, then share the slaves among their plantations.
They asked me if I would go on this voyage, and they promised that I would have a share of slaves without spending any money. I agreed to go. I went aboard the ship on the first of September 1659, exactly eight years after my first voyage from Hull. We sailed up the coast to Cape St Augustino, then we lost sight of land. Twelve days later, a hurricane hit our ship. For twelve days the winds blew strongly. Every day I expected the sea to swallow us.
On the twelfth day, the weather was a little calmer. The ship was filling with water, so I advised the captain to sail for Barbados. As we sailed another storm hit us. The wind blew us far away from the trading routes. If we came to land, we would probably be eaten by savages. One morning, a sailor cried out, 'Land!' We ran out to look, but at that moment the ship struck sand. The waves broke over the ship, and we thought we would all die.
We could not move the ship off the sand. We were sure that the ship would soon break into pieces. Therefore, we climbed into a boat and left the ship. We rowed through that wild water towards the land, knowing that we were rowing towards our greatest danger. Then a great wave came and the boat turned over.
Though I was a good swimmer, I could not get my breath in this stormy sea. A wave carried me along towards the shore. It left me on the sand, half- drowned. I stood up and walked fast towards the beach. I knew another wave would soon break over me. The sea rose behind me like a mountain. I held my breath, and the wave carried me closer to the shore. I tried to stand up and get my breath again, but another wave broke over me. I was carried with great force and speed towards the shore. Then my head shot 1 above the water, and I was able to breathe for a moment. I was covered with water again, then that wave too began to withdraw.
I felt the earth under my feet. I ran towards the shore, but twice more the waves came over me. The last time nearly killed me. The sea threw me hard against a rock. I held on to the rock as the next wave broke over me. When the wave withdrew, I ran to the beach, climbed over the rocks, and lay down on the grass.