Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
 

CHAPTER VI - ILL AND CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN


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 feet, and the stern, which was broke in pieces and parted from
the rest by the force of the sea, soon after I had left rummaging
her, was tossed as it were up, and cast on one side; and the sand
was thrown so high on that side next her 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 broke open than formerly, so
many things came daily on shore, which the sea had loosened, and
which the winds and water rolled by degrees to the land.

This wholly diverted my thoughts from the design of removing my
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 all the inside of the
ship was choked up with sand. However, as I had learned not to
despair of anything, I resolved to pull everything to pieces that I
could of the ship, concluding that everything I could get from her
would be of some use or other to me.

MAY 3. - I began with my saw, and cut a piece of a beam through,
which I thought held some of the upper part or quarter-deck
together, and when I had cut it through, I cleared away the sand as
well as I could from the side which lay highest; but the tide
coming in, I was obliged to give over for that time.

MAY 4. - I went a-fishing, but caught not one fish that I durst eat
of, till I was weary of my sport; when, just going to leave off, I
caught a young dolphin. I had made me a long line of some rope-
yarn, but I had no hooks; yet I frequently caught fish enough, as
much as I cared to eat; all which I dried in the sun, and ate them
dry.

MAY 5. - Worked on the wreck; cut another beam asunder, and brought
three great fir planks off from the decks, which I tied together,
and made to float on shore when the tide of flood came on.

MAY 6. - Worked on the wreck; got several iron bolts out of her and
other pieces of ironwork. Worked very hard, and came home very
much tired, and had thoughts of giving it over.

MAY 7. - Went to the wreck again, not with an intent to work, but
found the weight of the wreck had broke itself down, the beams
being cut; that several pieces of the ship seemed to lie loose, and
the inside of the hold lay so open that I could see into it; but it
was almost full of water and sand.

MAY 8. - Went to the wreck, and carried an iron crow to wrench up
the deck, which lay now quite clear of the water or sand. I
wrenched open two planks, and brought them on shore also with the
tide. I left the iron crow in the wreck for next day.

MAY 9. - Went to the wreck, and with the crow made way into the
body of the wreck, and felt several casks, and loosened them with
the crow, but could not break them up. I felt also a roll of
English lead, and could stir it, but it was too heavy to remove.

MAY 10-14. - Went every day to the wreck; and got a great many
pieces of timber, and boards, or plank, and two or three
hundredweight 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 stayed so long in the
woods, to get pigeons for food, that the tide prevented my going to
the wreck that day.

MAY 17. - I saw some pieces of the wreck blown on shore, at a great
distance, near two miles off me, but resolved to see what they
were, and found it was a piece of the head, but too heavy for me to
bring away.

MAY 24. - Every day, to this day, I worked on the wreck; and with
hard labour I loosened some things so much with the crow, that the
first 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 Brazil pork in it; but the salt water and the sand had spoiled
it. I continued this work every day to the 15th of June, except
the time necessary to get food, which I always appointed, during
this part of my employment, to be when the tide was up, that I
might be ready when it was ebbed out; and by this time I had got
timber and plank and ironwork 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 hundredweight of the sheet lead.

JUNE 16. - Going down to the seaside, 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 three-
score eggs; and her flesh was to me, at that time, the most savoury
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 22. - Very bad again; cold and shivering, and then a violent
headache.

JUNE 24. - Much better.

JUNE 25. - An ague very violent; the fit held me seven hours; cold
fit and hot, with faint sweats after it.

JUNE 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 a-bed all day, and
neither ate nor drank. I was ready to perish for thirst; but so
weak, I had not strength to stand up, or to get myself any water to
drink. Prayed to God again, but was light-headed; and when I was
not, I was so ignorant that I knew not what to say; only I lay and
cried, "Lord, look upon me! Lord, pity me! Lord, have mercy upon
me!" I suppose I did nothing else for two or three hours; till,
the fit wearing off, I fell asleep, and did not wake till far in
the night. When I awoke, I found myself much refreshed, but weak,
and exceeding thirsty. However, as I had no water in my
habitation, I was forced to lie till morning, and went to sleep
again. In this second sleep I had this terrible dream: I thought
that I was sitting on the ground, on the outside of my wall, where
I sat when the storm blew after the earthquake, and that I saw a
man descend from a great black cloud, in a bright flame of fire,
and light upon the ground. He was all over as bright as a flame,
so that I could but just bear to look towards him; his countenance
was most inexpressibly 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 shalt die;" at which words, I thought he
lifted up the spear that was in his hand to kill me.

No one that shall ever read this account will expect that I should
be able to describe the horrors of my soul at this terrible vision.
I mean, that even while it was a dream, I even dreamed of those
horrors. Nor is it any more possible to describe the impression
that remained upon my mind when I awaked, and found it was but a
dream.

I had, alas! no divine knowledge. What I had received by the good
instruction of my father was then worn out by an uninterrupted
series, for eight years, of seafaring wickedness, and a constant
conversation with none but such as were, like myself, wicked and
profane to the last degree. I do not remember that I had, in all
that time, one thought that so much as tended either to looking
upwards towards God, or inwards towards a reflection upon my own
ways; but a certain stupidity of soul, without desire of good, or
conscience of evil, had entirely overwhelmed me; and I was all that
the most hardened, unthinking, wicked creature among our common
sailors can be supposed to be; not having the least sense, either
of the fear of God in danger, or of thankfulness to God in
deliverance.

In the relating what is already past of my story, this will be the
more easily believed when I shall add, that through all the variety
of miseries that had to this day befallen me, I never had so much
as one thought of it being the hand of God, or that it was a just
punishment for my sin - my rebellious behaviour against my father -
or my present sins, which were great - or so much as a punishment
for the general course of my wicked life. When I was on the
desperate expedition 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, hardly that.
When I was delivered and taken up at sea by the Portugal captain,
well used, and dealt justly and honourably with, as well as
charitably, I had not the least thankfulness in my thoughts. When,
again, I was shipwrecked, ruined, and in danger of drowning on this
island, I was as far from remorse, or looking on it as a judgment.
I only said to myself often, that I was an unfortunate dog, and
born to be always miserable.

It is true, when I got on shore first here, and found all my ship's
crew drowned and myself spared, I was surprised with a kind of
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 began, in a mere common flight of joy, or, as I may say,
being glad I was alive, without the least reflection upon the
distinguished goodness of the hand which had preserved me, and had
singled me out to be preserved when all the rest were destroyed, or
an inquiry why Providence had been thus merciful unto me. Even
just the same common sort of joy which seamen generally have, after
they are got safe ashore from a shipwreck, which they drown all in
the next bowl of punch, and forget almost as soon as it is over;
and all the rest of my life was like it. Even when I was
afterwards, on due consideration, made sensible of my condition,
how I was cast on this dreadful place, out of the reach of human
kind, out of all hope of relief, or prospect of redemption, as soon
as I saw but a prospect of living and that I should not starve and
perish for hunger, all the sense of my 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 my head.

The growing up of the corn, as is hinted in my Journal, had at
first some little influence upon me, and began to affect me with
seriousness, as long as I thought it had something miraculous in
it; but as soon as ever that part of the thought was removed, all
the impression that was raised from it wore off also, as I have
noted already. Even the earthquake, though nothing could be more
terrible in its nature, or more immediately directing to the
invisible Power 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 of life. But
now, when I began to be sick, and a leisurely view of the miseries
of death came to place itself before me; when my spirits began to
sink under the burden of a strong distemper, and nature was
exhausted with the violence of the fever; conscience, that had
slept so long, began to awake, and I began to reproach myself with
my past life, in which I had so evidently, by uncommon wickedness,
provoked the justice of God to lay me under uncommon strokes, and
to deal with me in so vindictive a manner. These reflections
oppressed me for the second or third day of my distemper; and in
the violence, as well of the fever as of the dreadful 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 good while. In this interval the good
advice of my father came to my mind, and presently his prediction,
which I mentioned at the beginning of this story - viz. that if I
did take this foolish step, God would not bless me, and I would
have leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his counsel
when there might be none to assist in my recovery. "Now," said I,
aloud, "my dear father's words are come to pass; God's justice has
overtaken me, and I have none to help or hear me. I rejected the
voice of Providence, which had mercifully put me in a posture or
station of life wherein I might have been happy and easy; but I
would neither see it myself 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 abused their help
and assistance, who would have lifted me in the world, and would
have made everything easy to me; and now I have difficulties to
struggle with, too great for even nature itself to support, and no
assistance, no help, no comfort, no advice." Then I cried out,
"Lord, be my help, for I am in great distress." This was the first
prayer, if I may call it so, that I had made for many years.

But to return to my Journal.

JUNE 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,
that I could remember, in my whole life. After I had eaten I tried
to walk, but found myself so weak that I could hardly carry a gun,
for I never went out without that; so I went but a little way, and
sat down upon the ground, looking out upon the sea, which was just
before me, and very calm and smooth. As I sat here some such
thoughts as these occurred to me: What is this earth and sea, of
which I have seen so much? Whence is it produced? And what am I,
and all the other creatures wild and tame, human and brutal?
Whence are we? Sure we are all made by some secret Power, who
formed the earth and sea, the air and sky. And who is that? Then
it followed most naturally, it is God that has made all. Well, but
then it came on strangely, if God has made all these things, He
guides and governs them all, and all things that concern them; for
the Power that could make all things must certainly have power to
guide and direct them. If so, nothing can happen in the great
circuit of His works, either without His knowledge or appointment.

And if nothing happens without His knowledge, He knows that I am
here, and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens
without His appointment, He has appointed all this to befall me.
Nothing occurred to my thought to contradict any of these
conclusions, and therefore it rested upon me with the greater
force, that it must needs be that God had appointed all this to
befall me; that I was brought into this miserable circumstance by
His direction, He having the sole power, not of me only, but of
everything that happened in the world. Immediately it followed:
Why has God done this to me? What have I done to be thus used? My
conscience presently checked me in that inquiry, as if I had
blasphemed, and methought it spoke to me like a voice: "Wretch!
dost THOU ask what thou hast done? Look back upon a dreadful
misspent 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 done?" I was struck dumb with
these reflections, as one astonished, and had not a word to say -
no, not to answer to myself, but rose up pensive and sad, walked
back to my retreat, and went 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 apprehension of the
return of my distemper terrified me very much, it occurred to my
thought that the Brazilians take no physic but their tobacco for
almost all distempers, and I had a piece of a roll of tobacco in
one of the chests, which was quite cured, and some also that was
green, and not quite cured.

I went, directed by Heaven no doubt; for in this chest I found a
cure both for soul and body. I opened the chest, and found what I
looked for, the tobacco; and as the few books I had saved lay there
too, I took out one of the Bibles which I mentioned before, and
which to this time I had not found leisure or inclination to look
into. I say, I took it out, and brought both that and the tobacco
with me to the table. What use to make of the tobacco I knew not,
in my distemper, or whether it was good for it or no: but I tried
several experiments with it, as if I was resolved it should hit one
way or other. I first took a piece of leaf, and chewed it in my
mouth, which, indeed, at first almost stupefied my brain, the
tobacco being green and strong, and that I had not been much used
to. Then I took some and steeped it an hour or two in some rum,
and resolved to take a dose of it when I lay down; and lastly., I
burnt some upon a pan of coals, and held my nose close over the
smoke of it as long as I could bear it, as well for the heat as
almost for suffocation. In the interval of this operation I took
up the Bible and began to read; but my head was too much disturbed
with the tobacco to bear reading, at least at that time; only,
having opened the book casually, the first words that occurred to
me were these, "Call on Me in the day of trouble, and I will
deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." These words were very
apt to my case, and made some impression upon my thoughts at the
time of reading them, though not so much as they did afterwards;
for, as for being DELIVERED, the word had no sound, as I may say,
to me; the thing was so remote, so impossible in my apprehension of
things, that I began to say, as the children of Israel did when
they were promised flesh to eat, "Can God spread a table in the
wilderness?" so I began to say, "Can God Himself deliver me from
this place?" And as it was not for many years that any hopes
appeared, this prevailed very often upon my thoughts; but, however,
the words made a great impression upon me, and I mused upon them
very often. It grew now late, and the tobacco had, as I said,
dozed my head so much that I inclined to sleep; so I left my lamp
burning in the cave, lest I should want anything in the night, and
went to bed. But before I lay down, I did what I never had done in
all my life - 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 I could scarcely get it down;
immediately upon this I went to bed. I found presently it flew up
into my head violently; but I fell into a sound sleep, and waked no
more till, by the sun, it must necessarily be near three o'clock in
the afternoon the next day - nay, to this hour I am partly of
opinion that I slept all the next day and night, and till almost
three the day after; for otherwise I know not how I should lose a
day out of my reckoning in the days of the week, as it appeared
some years after I had done; for if I had lost it by crossing and
recrossing the line, I should have lost more than one day; but
certainly I lost a day in my account, and never knew which way. Be
that, however, one way or the other, when I awaked I found myself
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 brandgoose, and brought them home, but was not
very forward to eat them; so I ate some more of the turtle's eggs,
which were very good. This evening I renewed the medicine, which I
had supposed did me good the day before - the tobacco steeped in
rum; only I did not take so much as before, nor did I chew any of
the leaf, or hold my head over the smoke; however, I was not so
well the next day, which was the first of July, as I hoped I should
have been; for I had a little spice of the cold fit, but it was not
much.

JULY 2. - I renewed the medicine all the three ways; and dosed
myself with it as at first, and doubled the quantity which I drank.

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 knelt 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 long as my thoughts should engage me. It
was not long after I set seriously to this work till I found my
heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my
past life. The impression of my dream revived; and the words, "All
these things have not brought thee to repentance," ran seriously
through 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 hands lifted
up to heaven, in a kind of ecstasy of joy, I cried out aloud,
"Jesus, thou son of David! Jesus, thou exalted Prince and Saviour!
give me repentance!" This was the first time I could say, in the
true sense of the words, that I prayed in all my life; for now I
prayed with a sense of my condition, and 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 hope that God would hear me.

Now I began to construe the words mentioned above, "Call on Me, and
I will deliver thee," in a different sense from what I had ever
done before; for then I had no notion of anything being called
DELIVERANCE, but my being delivered from the captivity I was in;
for though I was indeed at large in the place, yet the island was
certainly a prison to me, and that in the worse sense in the world.
But now I learned to take it in another sense: now I looked back
upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appeared so
dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance from
the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort. As for my
solitary life, it was nothing. I did not so much as pray to be
delivered from it or think of it; it was all of no consideration in
comparison to this. And I add this part here, to hint to 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, my health and strength
returned, I bestirred myself to furnish myself with everything that
I wanted, and make my way of living as regular as I could.

From the 4th of July to the 14th I was chiefly employed in walking
about with my gun in my hand, a little and a little at a time, as a
man that was gathering up his strength after a fit of sickness; for
it is hardly to be imagined how low I was, and to what weakness I
was reduced. The application which I made use of was perfectly
new, and perhaps which had never cured an ague before; neither can
I recommend it to any to practise, by this experiment: and though
it did carry off the fit, yet it rather contributed to weakening
me; for I had frequent convulsions in my nerves and limbs for some
time. I learned from it also this, in particular, that being
abroad in the rainy season was the most pernicious thing to my
health that could be, especially in those rains which came attended
with storms and hurricanes of wind; for as the rain which came in
the dry season was almost always accompanied with such storms, so I
found that rain was much more dangerous than the rain which fell in
September and October.


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