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Serious Reflections During the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With His Vision of the Angelick World
Даниэль Дефо

Serious Reflections During the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With His Vision of the Angelick World
Даниэль Дефо

Daniel Defoe was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He wrote many political tracts and often was in trouble with the authorities, including prison time. The third book about Robinson Crousoe is a collection of Daniel Defoe’s essays on moral topics. The name of Crusoe used to spur the public’s interest in this work.

Daniel Defoe

Serious Reflections During the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With His Vision of the Angelick World

© T8RUGRAM, 2018

The Publisher’s Introduction

The publishing this extraordinary volume will appear to be no presumption, when it shall be remembered with what unexpected good and evil will the former volumes have been accepted in the world.

If the foundation has been so well laid, the structure cannot but be expected to bear a proportion; and while the parable has been so diverting, the moral must certainly be equally agreeable.

The success the two former parts have met with has been known by the envy it has brought upon the editor, expressed in a thousand hard words from the men of trade – the effect of that regret which they entertained at their having no share in it. And I must do the author the justice to say, that not a dog has wagged his tongue at the work itself, nor has a word been said to lessen the value of it, but which has been the visible effect of that envy at the good fortune of the bookseller.

The riddle is now expounded, and the intelligent reader may see clearly the end and design of the whole work; that it is calculated for, and dedicated to, the improvement and instruction of mankind in the ways of virtue and piety, by representing the various circumstances to which mankind is exposed, and encouraging such as fall into ordinary or extraordinary casualties of life, how to work through difficulties with unwearied diligence and application, and look up to Providence for success.

The observations and reflections, that take up this volume, crown the work; if the doctrine has been accepted, that application must of necessity please; and the author shows now, that he has learned sufficient experience how to make other men wise and himself unhappy.

The moral of the fable, as the author calls it, is most instructing; and those who challenged him most maliciously, with not making his pen useful, will have leisure to reflect, that they passed their censure too soon, and, like Solomon’s fool, judged of the matter before they heard it.

Those whose avarice, prevailing over their honesty, had invaded the property of this book by a corrupt abridgment, have both failed in their hope and been ashamed of the fact; shifting off the guilt, as well as they could, though weakly, from one another. The principal pirate is gone to his place, and we say no more of him – De mortuis nil nisi bonum: it is satisfaction enough that the attempt has proved abortive, as the baseness of the design might give them reason to expect it would.

Robinson Crusoe’s Preface

As the design of everything is said to be first in the intention, and last in the execution, so I come now to acknowledge to my reader that the present work is not merely the product of the two first volumes, but the two first volumes may rather be called the product of this. The fable is always made for the moral, not the moral for the fable.

I have heard that the envious and ill-disposed part of the world have raised some objections against the two first volumes, on pretence, for want of a better reason, that (as they say) the story is feigned, that the names are borrowed, and that it is all a romance; that there never were any such man or place, or circumstances in any man’s life; that it is all formed and embellished by invention to impose upon the world.

I, Robinson Crusoe, being at this time in perfect and sound mind and memory, thanks be to God therefor, do hereby declare their objection is an invention scandalous in design, and false in fact; and do affirm that the story, though allegorical, is also historical; and that it is the beautiful representation of a life of unexampled misfortunes, and of a variety not to be met with in the world, sincerely adapted to and intended for the common good of mankind, and designed at first, as it is now farther applied, to the most serious uses possible.

Farther, that there is a man alive, and well known too, the actions of whose life are the just subject of these volumes, and to whom all or most part of the story most directly alludes; this may be depended upon for truth, and to this I set my name.

The famous “History of Don Quixote,” a work which thousands read with pleasure, to one that knows the meaning of it, was an emblematic history of, and a just satire upon, the Duke de Medina Sidonia, a person very remarkable at that time in Spain. To those who knew the original, the figures were lively and easily discovered themselves, as they are also here, and the images were just; and therefore, when a malicious but foolish writer, in the abundance of his gall, spoke of the quixotism of R. Crusoe, as he called it, he showed, evidently, that he knew nothing of what he said; and perhaps will be a little startled when I shall tell him that what he meant for a satire was the greatest of panegyrics.

Without letting the reader into a nearer explication of the matter, I proceed to let him know, that the happy deductions I have employed myself to make, from all the circumstances of my story, will abundantly make him amends for his not having the emblem explained by the original; and that when in my observations and reflections of any kind in this volume I mention my solitudes and retirements, and allude to the circumstances of the former story, all those parts of the story are real facts in my history, whatever borrowed lights they may be represented by. Thus the fright and fancies which succeeded the story of the print of a man’s foot, and surprise of the old goat, and the thing rolling on my bed, and my jumping out in a fright, are all histories and real stories; as are likewise the dream of being taken by messengers, being arrested by officers, the manner of being driven on shore by the surge of the sea, the ship on fire, the description of starving, the story of my man Friday, and many more most material passages observed here, and on which any religious reflections are made, are all historical and true in fact. It is most real that I had a parrot and taught it to call me by my name; such a servant a savage, and afterwards a Christian, and that his name was called Friday, and that he was ravished from me by force, and died in the hands that took him, which I represent by being killed; this is all literally true, and should I enter into discoveries many alive can testify them. His other conduct and assistance to me also have just references in all their parts to the helps I had from that faithful savage in my real solitudes and disasters.

The story of the bear in the tree, and the fight with the wolves in the snow, is likewise matter of real history; and, in a word, the “ Adventures of Robinson Crusoe “ are one whole scheme of a real life of eight and twenty years, spent in the most wandering, desolate, and afflicting circumstances that ever man went through, and in which I have lived so long in a life of wonders, in continued storms, fought with the worst kind of savages and man eaters; by unaccountable surprising incidents, fed by miracles greater than that of ravens; suffered all manner of violences and oppressions, injurious reproaches, contempt of men, attacks of devils, corrections from Heaven, and oppositions on earth; have had innumerable ups and downs in matters of fortune, been in slavery worse than Turkish, escaped by an exquisite management, as that in the story of Xury, and the boat at Sallee; been taken up at sea in distress, raised again and depressed again, and that oftener perhaps in one man’s life than ever was known before; shipwrecked often, though more by land than by sea. In a word, there is not a circumstance in the imaginary story but has its just allusion to a real story, and chimes part for part and step for step with the inimitable Life of Robinson Crusoe.

In like manner, when in these reflections I speak of the times and circumstances of particular actions done, or incidents which happened, in my solitude and island-life, an impartial reader will be so just to take it as it is, viz., that it is spoken or intended of that part of the real story which the island-life is a just allusion to; and in this the story is not only illustrated, but the real part I think: most justly approved. For example, in the latter part of this work called the Vision, I begin thus: “ When I was in my island kingdom I had abundance of strange notions of my seeing apparitions,” &c. All these reflections are just history of a state of forced confinement, which in my real history is represented by a confined retreat in an island; and it is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not. The story of my fright with something on my bed was word for word a history of what happened, and indeed all those things received very little alteration, except what necessarily attends removing the scene from one place to another.

My observations upon solitude are the same; and I think I need say no more than that the same remark is to be made upon all the references made here to the transactions of the former volumes, and the reader is desired to allow for it as he goes on.

Besides all this, here is the just and only good end of all parable or allegoric history brought to pass, viz., for moral and religious improvement. Here is invincible patience recommended under the worst of misery, indefatigable application and undaunted resolution under the greatest and most discouraging circumstances; I say, these are recommended as the only way to work through those miseries, and their success appears sufficient to support the most dead-hearted creature in the world.

Had the common way of writing a man’s private history been taken, and I had given you the conduct or life of a man you knew, and whose misfortunes and infirmities perhaps you had sometimes unjustly triumphed over, all I could have said would have yielded no diversion, and perhaps scarce have obtained a reading, or at best no attention; the teacher, like a greater, having no honour in his own country. Facts that are formed to touch the mind must be done a great way off, and by somebody never heard of. Even the miracles of the blessed Saviour of the world suffered scorn and contempt, when it was reflected that they were done by the carpenter’s son; one whose family and original they had a mean opinion of, and whose brothers and sisters were ordinary people like themselves.

There even yet remains a question whether the instruction of these things will take place, when you are supposing the scene, which is placed so far off, had its original so near home.

But I am far from being anxious about that, seeing, I am well assured, that if the obstinacy of our age should shut their ears against the just reflections made in this volume upon the transactions taken notice of in the former, there will come an age when the minds of men shall be more flexible, when the prejudices of their fathers shall have no place, and when the rules of virtue and religion, justly recommended, shall be more gratefully accepted than they may be now, that our children may rise up in judgment against their fathers, and one generation be edified by the same teaching which another generation had despised.

    Rob. Crusoe.


I must have made very little use of my solitary and wandering years if, after such a scene of wonders, as my life may be justly called, I had nothing to say, and had made no observations which might be useful and instructing, as well as pleasant and diverting, to those that are to come after me.

Chapter One. Of Solitude

How incapable to make us happy, and how unqualified to a Christian life.

I have frequently looked back, you may be sure, and that with different thoughts, upon the notions of a long tedious life of solitude, which I have represented to the world, and of which you must have formed some ideas, from the life of a man in an island. Sometimes I have wondered how it could be supported, especially for the first years, when the change was violent and imposed, and nature unacquainted with anything like it. Sometimes I have as much wondered why it should be any grievance or affliction, seeing upon the whole view of the stage of life which we act upon in this world it seems to me that life in general is, or ought to be, but one universal act of solitude; but I find it is natural to judge of happiness by its suiting or not suiting our own inclinations. Everything revolves in our minds by innumerable circular motions, all centering in ourselves. We judge of prosperity and of affliction, joy and sorrow, poverty, riches, and all the various scenes of life – I say, we judge of them by ourselves. Thither we bring them home, as meats touch the palate, by which we try them; the gay part of the world, or the heavy part; it is all one, they only call it pleasant or unpleasant, as they suit our taste.

The world, I say, is nothing to us but as it is more or less to our relish. All reflection is carried home, and our dear self is, in one respect, the end of living. Hence man may be properly said to be alone in the midst of the crowds and hurry of men and business. All the reflections which he makes are to himself; all that is pleasant he embraces for himself; all that is irksome and grievous is tasted but by his own palate.

What are the sorrows of other men to us, and what their joy? Something we may be touched indeed with by the power of sympathy, and a secret turn of the affections; but all the solid reflection is directed to ourselves. Our meditations are all solitude in perfection; our passions are all exercised in retirement; we love, we hate, we covet, we enjoy, all in privacy and solitude. All that we communicate of those things to any other is but for their assistance in the pursuit of our desires; the end is at home; the enjoyment, the contemplation, is all solitude and retirement; it is for ourselves we enjoy, and for ourselves we suffer. What, then, is the silence of life? And how is it afflicting while a man has the voice of his soul to speak to God and to himself? That man can never want conversation who is company for himself, and he that cannot converse profitably with himself is not fit for any conversation at all. And yet there are many good reasons why a life of solitude, as solitude is now understood by the age, is not at all suited to the life of a Christian or of a wise man. Without inquiring, therefore, into the advantages of solitude, and how it is to be managed, I desire to be heard concerning what solitude really is; for I must confess I have different notions about it, far from those which are generally understood in the world, and far from all those notions upon which those people in the primitive times, and since that also, acted; who separated themselves into deserts and unfrequented places, or confined themselves to cells, monasteries, and the like, retired, as they call it, from the world. All which, I think, have nothing of the thing I call solitude in them, nor do they answer any of the true ends of solitude, much less those ends which are pretended to be sought after by those who have talked most of those retreats from the world.

As for confinement in an island, if the scene was placed there for this very end, it were not at all amiss. I must acknowledge there was confinement from the enjoyments of the world, and restraint from human society. But all that was no solitude; indeed no part of it was so, except that which, as in my story, I applied to the contemplation of sublime things, and that was but a very little, as my readers well know, compared to what a length of years my forced retreat lasted.

It is evident then that, as I see nothing but what is far from being retired in the forced retreat of an island, the thoughts being in no composure suitable to a retired condition – no, not for a great while; so I can affirm, that I enjoy much more solitude in the middle of the greatest collection of mankind in the world, I mean, at London, while I am writing this, than ever I could say I enjoyed in eight and twenty years’ confinement to a desolate island.

I have heard of a man that, upon some extraordinary disgust which he took at the unsuitable conversation of some of his nearest relations, whose society he could not avoid, suddenly resolved never to speak any more. He kept his resolution most rigorously many years; not all the tears or entreaties of his friends – no, not of his wife and children – could prevail with him to break his silence. It seems it was their ill-behaviour to him, at first, that was the occasion of it; for they treated him with provoking language, which frequently put him into undecent passions, and urged him to rash replies; and he took this severe way to punish himself for being provoked, and to punish them for provoking him. But the severity was unjustifiable; it ruined his family, and broke up his house. His wife could not bear it, and after endeavouring, by all the ways possible, to alter his rigid silence, went first away from him, and afterwards away from herself, turning melancholy and distracted. His children separated, some one way and some another way; and only one daughter, who loved her father above all the rest, kept with him, tended him, talked to him by signs, and lived almost dumb like her father near twenty nine years with him; till being very sick, and in a high fever, delirious as we call it, or light-headed, he broke his silence, not knowing when he did it, and spoke, though wildly at first. He recovered of the illness afterwards, and frequently talked with his daughter, but not much, and very seldom to anybody else.

Yet this man did not live a silent life with respect to himself; he read continually, and wrote down many excellent things, which deserved to have appeared in the world, and was often heard to pray to God in his solitudes very audibly and with great fervency; but the unjustice which his rash vow – if it was a vow – of silence was to his family, and the length he carried it, was so unjustifiable another way, that I cannot say his instructions could have much force in them.

Had he been a single man, had he wandered into a strange country or place where the circumstance of it had been no scandal, his vow of silence might have been as commendable and, as I think, much more than any of the primitive Christians’ vows of solitude were, whose retreat into the wilderness, and giving themselves up to prayer and contemplation, shunning human society and the like, was so much esteemed by the primitive fathers; and from whence our religious houses and orders of religious people were first derived.

The Jews said John the Baptist had a devil because he affected solitude and retirement; and they took it from an old proverb they had in the world at that time, that “ every solitary person must be an angel or a devil.”

A man under a vow of perpetual silence, if but rigorously observed, would be, even on the Exchange of London, as perfectly retired from the world as a hermit in his cell, or a solitaire in the deserts of Arabia; and if he is able to observe it rigorously, may reap all the advantages of those solitudes without the unjustifiable part of such a life, and without the austerities of a life among brutes. For the soul of a man, under a due and regular conduct, is as capable of reserving itself, or separating itself from the rest of human society, in the midst of a throng, as it is when banished into a desolate island.

The truth is, that all those religious hermit-like solitudes, which men value themselves so much upon, are but an acknowledgment of the defect or imperfection of our resolutions, our incapacity to bind ourselves to needful restraints, or rigorously to observe the limitations we have vowed ourselves to observe. Or, take it thus, that the man first resolving that it would be his felicity to be entirely given up to conversing only with heaven and heavenly things, to be separated to prayer and good works, but being sensible how ill such a life will agree with flesh and blood, causes his soul to commit a rape upon his body, and to carry it by force, as it were, into a desert, or into a religious retirement, from whence it cannot return, and where it is impossible for it to have any converse with mankind, other than with such as are under the same vows and the same banishment. The folly of this is evident many ways.

I shall bring it home to the case in hand thus: Christians may, without doubt, come to enjoy all the desirable advantages of solitude by a strict retirement and exact government of their thoughts, without any of these formalities, rigours, and apparent mortifications, which I think I justly call a rape upon human nature, and consequently without the breach of Christian duties, which they necessarily carry with them, such as rejecting Christian communion, sacraments, ordinances, and the like.

There is no need of a wilderness to wander among wild beasts, no necessity of a cell on the top of a mountain, or a desolate island in the sea; if the mind be confined, if the soul be truly master of itself, all is safe; for it is certainly and effectually master of the body, and what signify retreats, especially a forced retreat as mine was? The anxiety of my circumstances there, I can assure you, was such for a time as was very unsuitable to heavenly meditations, and even when that was got over, the frequent alarms from the savages put the soul sometimes to such extremities of fear and horror, that all manner of temper was lost, and I was no more fit for religious exercises than a sick man is fit for labour.

Divine contemplations require a composure of soul, uninterrupted by any extraordinary motions or disorders of the passions; and this, I say, is much easier to be obtained and enjoyed in the ordinary course of life, than in monkish cells and forcible retreats.

The business is to get a retired soul, a frame of mind truly elevated above the world, and then we may be alone whenever we please, in the greatest apparent hurry of business or company. If the thoughts are free, and rightly unengaged, what imports the employment the body is engaged in? Does riot the soul act by a differing agency, and is not the body the servant, nay, the slave of the soul? Has the body hands to act, or feet to walk, or tongue to speak, but by the agency of the understanding and will, which are the two deputies of the soul’s power? Are not all the affections and all the passions, which so universally agitate, direct, and possess the body, are they not all seated in the soul? What have we to do then, more or less, but to get the soul into a superior direction and elevation? There is no need to prescribe the body to this or that situation; the hands, or feet, or tongue can no more disturb the retirement of the soul, than a man having money in his pocket can take it out, or pay it, or dispose of it by his hand, without his own knowledge.

It is the soul’s being entangled by outward objects that interrupts its contemplation of Divine objects, which is the excuse for these solitudes, and makes the removing the body from those outward objects seemingly necessary; but what is there of religion in all this? For example, a vicious inclination removed from the object is still a vicious inclination, and contracts the same guilt as if the object were at hand; for if, as our Saviour says, “ He that looketh on a woman to lust after her” – that is, to desire her unlawfully – has committed the adultery already, so it will be no inverting our Saviour’s meaning to say that he that thinketh of a woman to desire her unlawfully has committed adultery with her already, though he has not looked on her, or has not seen her at that time. And how shall this thinking of her be removed by transporting the body? It must be removed by the change in the soul, by bringing the mind to be above the power or reach of the allurement, and to an absolute mastership over the wicked desire; otherwise the vicious desire remains, as the force remains in the gunpowder, and will exert itself whenever touched with the fire.

All motions to good or evil are in the soul. Out ward objects are but second causes; and though, it is true, separating the man from the object is the way to make any act impossible to be committed, yet where the guilt does not lie in the act only, but in the intention or desire to commit it, that separation is nothing at all, and effects nothing at all. There may be as much adultery committed in a monastery, where a woman never comes, as in any other place, and perhaps is so. The abstaining from evil, therefore, depends not only and wholly upon limiting or confining the man’s actions, but upon the man’s limiting and confining his desires; seeing to desire to sin is to sin; and the fact which we would commit if we had opportunity is really committed, and must be answered for as such. What, then, is there of religion, I say, in forced retirements from the world, and vows of silence or solitude? They are all nothing. ‘Tis a retired soul that alone is fit for contemplation, and it is the conquest of our desires to sin that is the only human preservative against sin.

It was a great while after I came into human society that I felt some regret at the loss of the solitary hours and retirements I had in the island; but when I came to reflect upon some ill-spent time, even in my solitudes, I found reason to see what I have said above – that a man may sin alone several ways, and find subject of repentance for his solitary crimes as well as he may in the midst of a populous city.
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