Reading the Bible to his Cat
May 1. In the Morning looking towards the Sea-side, the Tide being low, I saw something lye on the Shore bigger than ordinary, and it look'd 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 seem'd to lye higher out of the Water than it us'd to do; I examin'd 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 cak'd as hard as a Stone; however I roll'd 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 remov'd, The Fore-castle which lay before bury'd in Sand, was heav'd 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 toss'd, 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 beat 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 surpriz'd 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 loosen'd, 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 my self 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 In-side of the Ship was choack'd up with Sand: However, as I had learn'd not to despair of any Thing, I resolv'd 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 thro', which I thought held some of the upper Part or Quarter-Deck together, and when I had cut it thro', I clear'd away the Sand as well as I could from the Side which lay highest; but the Tide coming' in, I was oblig'd 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 card to eat; all which I dry'd in the Sun, and eat them dry.
May 5. Work'd on the Wreck, cut another Beam asunder, and brought three great Fir Planks off from the Decks, which I ty'd together, and made swim on Shore when the Tide of Flood came on.
May 6. Work'd on the Wreck, got several Iron Bolts out of her, and other Pieces of Iron Work, work'd very hard, and came Home very much tyr'd, 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 seem'd to lie loose, and the In-side 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 carry'd an Iron Crow to wrench up the Deck, which lay now quite clear of the Water or Sand; I wrench'd 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 loosen'd 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 deal of Pieces of Timber, and Boards, or Plank, and 2 or 300 Weight of Iron.
May 15. I carry'd two Hatchets to try if I could not cut a Piece off of 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 blow'd hard in the Night, and the Wreck appear'd more broken by the Force of the Water; but I stay'd so long in the Woods to get Pidgeons for Food, that the Tide prevented me 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 resolv'd 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 work'd on the Wreck, and with hard Labour I loosen'd some Things so much with the Crow, that the first blowing Tide several Casks floated out, and two of the Seamens 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 spoil'd it.
I continu'd 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 ebb'd out, and by this Time I had gotten Timber, and Plank, and Iron-Work enough, to have builded a good Boat, if I had known how; and also, I got at several Times, and in several Pieces, near 100 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 happen'd 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 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. Rain'd all Day, and I stay'd 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 feaverish.
June 21. Very ill, frighted almost to Death with the Apprehensions of my sad Condition, to be sick, and no Help: Pray'd to GOD for the first Time since the Storm off of 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 Head-ach.
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 my self very weak; however I kill'd a She-Goat, and with much Difficulty got it Home, and broil'd some of it, and eat; I wou'd fain have stew'd it, and made some Broath, but had no Pot.
June 27. The Ague again so violent, that I lay a-Bed all Day, and neither eat or drank. I was ready to perish for Thirst, but so weak, I had not Strength to stand up, or to get my self any Water to drink: Pray'd 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 cry'd, 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 wak'd, I found my self much refresh'd, but weak, and exceeding thirsty: However, as I had no Water bin my whole Habitation, I was forc'd 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 stepp'd upon the Ground with his Feet, I thought the Earth trembl'd, just as it had done before in the Earthquake, and all the Air look'd, to my Apprehension, as if it had been fill'd 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, nom 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 remain'd upon my Mind when I awak'd 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 8 Years, of Seafaring Wickedness, and a constant Conversation with nothing but such as were like my self, wicked and prophane 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 overwhelm'd 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 Deliverances.
In the relating what is already past of my Story, this will be the more easily believ'd, when I shall add, that thro' 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 as one Thought of what would become of me; or one to od to direct me whether 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 meerly thoughtless of a God, or a Providence; acted like a meer Brute from the Principles of Nature, and by the Dictates of common Sense only, and indeed hardly that.
When I was deliver'd and taken up at Sea by the PortugalCaptain, well us'd, and dealt justly and honourably with, as well as charitably, I had not the least Thankfulness on my Thoughts: When again I was shipwreck'd, ruin'd, 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 my self 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 drown'd, and my self spar'd, I was surpriz'd with a Kind of Extasie, 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 meer 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 preserv'd me, and had singled me out to be preserv'd, when all the rest were destroy'd; or an Enquiry why Providence had been thus merciful to 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 humane 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 begun to be very easy, apply'd my self 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 enter'd 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 the Thought was remov'd, all the Impression which was rais'd from it, wore off also, as I have noted already.
Even the Earthquake, tho' 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 Burthen of a strong Distemper, and Nature was exhausted with the Violence of the Feaver; Conscience that had slept so long, begun to awake, and I began to reproach my self with my past Life, in which I had so evidently, by uncommon Wickedness, provok'd the Justice of God to lay me under uncommon Strokes, and to deal with me in so vindictive a Manner.
These Reflections oppress'd me for the second or third Day of my Distemper, and in the Violence, as well of the Feaver, as of the dreadful Reproaches of my Conscience, extorted some Words from me, like praying to God, tho' I cannot say they were either a Prayer attended with Desires or with Hopes; it was rather the Voice of meer Fright and Distress; my Thoughts were confus'd, the Convictions great upon my Mind, and the Horror of dying in such a miserable Condition rais'd Vapours into my Head with the meer Apprehensions; and in these Hurries of my Soul, I know 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 mention'd 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 my self, or 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 refus'd their Help and Assistance who wou'd have lifted me into the World, and wou'd 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 cry'd 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 1 return to my Journal.
After I had eaten, I try'd to walk, but found my self so weak, that I cou'd 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 this Earth and Sea of which I have seen so much, whence is it produc'd, and what am I, and all the other Creatures, wild and tame, humane and brutal, whence are we?
Sure we are all made by some secret Power, who form'd the Earth and Sea, the Air and Sky; and who is that?
Then it follow'd 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 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 befal me.
Nothing occurr'd 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 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 happen'd in the World. Immediately it follow'd,
Why has God done this to me? What have I done to be thus us'd?
My Conscience presently check'd me in that Enquiry, as if I had blasphem'd, and methought it spoke to me like a Voice; WRETCH! dost thou ask what thou hast done! look back upon a dreadful mis-spent Life, and ask thy self what thou hast not done? ask, Why is it that thou wert not long ago destroy'd? Why wert thou not drown'd in Yarmouth Roads? Kill'd in the Fight when the Ship was taken by the Sallee Man of War? Devour'd by the wild Beasts on the Coast of Africa? Or, Drown'd HERE, when all the Crew perish'd but thy self? Dost thou ask, What have I done?
I was struck dumb with these Reflections, as one astonish'd, and had not a Word to say, no not to answer to my self, but rise up pensive and sad, walk'd back to my Retreat, and went up over my Wall, as if I had been going to Bed, but my Thoughts were sadly disturb'd, 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 terrify'd me very much, it occurr'd to my Thought, that the Brasilians take no Physick 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 cur'd, and some also that was green and not quite cur'd.
I went, directed by Heaven no doubt; for in this Chest I found a Cure, both for Soul and Body, I open'd the Chest, and found what I look'd for, viz. the Tobacco; and as the few Books, I had sav'd, lay there too, I took out one of the Bibles which I mention'd 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 the Table.
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 try'd several Experiments with it, as if I was resolv'd it should hit one Way or other: I first took a Piece of a Leaf, and chew'd it in my Mouth, which indeed at first almost stupify'd my Brain, the Tobacco being green and strong, and that I had not been much us'd to it; then I took some and steeped it an Hour or two in some Rum, and resolv'd 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 disturb'd with the Tobacco to bear reading, at least that Time; only having open'd the Book casually, the first Words that occurr'd 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, tho' not so much as they did afterwards; for as for being deliver'd, 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 promis'd 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 appear'd, this prevail'd 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, doz'd my Head so much, that I inclin'd to sleep; so I left my Lamp burning in the Cave, least 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 kneel'd down and pray'd to God to fulfil the Promise to me, that if I call'd upon him in the Day of Trouble, he would deliver me; after my broken and imperfect Prayer was over, I drunk the Rum in which I had steep'd 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, I found presently it flew up in my Head violently, but I fell into a sound Sleep, and wak'd no more 'till by the Sun it must necessarily be near Three a-Clock in the Afternoon the next Day; nay, to this Hour, I'm partly of the Opinion, that I slept all the next Day and Night, and 'till almost Three that 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 appear'd some Years after I had done: for if I had lost it by crossing and re-crossing the Line, I should have lost more than one Day: But certainly I lost a Day in my Accompt, and never knew which Way.
Be that however one Way or th' other, when I awak'd I found my self exceedingly refresh'd, and my Spirits lively and chearful; 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 continu'd much alter'd 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 kill'd 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 renew'd the Medicine which I had suppos'd did me good the Day before, viz. the Tobacco steep'd 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 hop'd I shou'd have been; for I had a little Spice of the cold Fit, but it was not much.
July 2. I renew'd the Medicine all the three Ways, and doz'd my self with it as at first; and doubled the Quantity which I drank.
3. I miss'd the Fit for good and all, tho' I did not recover my full Strength for some Weeks after; while I was thus gathering Strength, my Thoughts run exceedingly upon this Scripture, I will deliver thee, and the Impossibility of my Deliverance lay much upon my Mind in Barr of my ever expecting it: But as I was discouraging my self with such Thoughts, it occurr'd to my Mind, that I pored so much upon my Deliverance from the main Affliction, that I disregarded the Deliverance I had receiv'd; and I was, as it were, made to ask my self such Questions as these, viz. Have I not been deliver'd, and wonderfully too, from Sickness? from the most distress'd Condition that could be, and that as so frightful to me, and what Notice I had taken of it?
Had I done my Part? God had deliver'd me, but I had not glorify'd him; that is to say, I had not own'd and been thankful for that as a Deliverance, and how cou'd I expect greater Deliverance?
This touch'd my Heart very much, and immediately I kneel'd 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 impos'd upon my self to read a while every Morning and every Night, not tying my self to the Number of Chapters, but as long as my Thoughts shou'd 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 reviv'd, and the Words, All these Things have not brought thee to Repentance, ran seriously in my Thought: I was earnestly begging of God to give me Repentance, when it happen'd 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 Extasy of Joy, I cry'd out aloud, Jesus, thou Son of David, Jesus, thou exalted Prince and Saviour, give me Repentance!
This was the first Time that I could say, in the true Sense of the Words, that I pray'd in all my Life; for now I pray'd 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 you, in a different Sense from what I had ever done before; for then I had no Notion of any thing being call'd Deliverance, but my being deliver'd from the Captivity I was in; for tho' 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 learn'd to take it in another Sense: Now I look'd back upon my past Life with such Horrour, and my Sins appear'd 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 deliver'd 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, tho' not less miserable as 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 ad a great deal of Comfort within, which till now I knew nothing of; also, as my Health and Strength returned, I bestirr'd my self to furnish my self with every thing that I anted, and make my Way of living as regular as I could.
From the 4th of July to the 24th, I was chiefly employ'd 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 imagin'd, how low I was, and to what Weakness I was reduc'd. The Application which I made Use of was perfectly new, and perhaps what had never cur'd an Ague before, neither can recommend it to any one to practise, by this Experiment; and tho' 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 learn'd from it also this in particular, that being abroad the rainy Season was the most pernicious thing to my Health that could be, especially in those Rains which came ended with Storms and Hurricanes of Wind; for as the in which came in the dry Season was always most accompany'd with such Storms, so I found that Rain was much more dangerous than the Rain which fell in September and October.
I had been now in this unhappy Island above 10 Months, all Possibility of Deliverance from this Condition, seem'd to be entirely taken from me; and I firmly believed, that no humane Shape had ever set Foot upon that Place: Having now secur'd 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 I yet knew nothing of.
It was the 15th of July that I began to take a more particular Survey of the Island it self: 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 in any Stream, so as it could be perceiv'd.
On the Bank of this Brook I found many pleasant Savana's, or Meadows; plain, smooth, and cover'd with Grass; and on the rising Parts of them next to the higher Grounds, where the Water, as it might be supposed, never overflow'd I found a great deal of Tobacco, green, and growing to great and very strong Stalk; there were divers other Plants which I had no Notion of, or Understanding about, and might perhaps have Vertues of their own, which I could find out.
I searched for the Cassava Root, which the Indians in all that climate make their Bread of, but I could find I saw large Plants of Alloes, but did not then understand them. I saw several Sugar Canes, but wild, and for Cultivation, imperfect. I contented my self with these Discoveries for this Time, and came back musing with myself what Course I might take to know the Vertue 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 wad in the Brasils, that I knew little of the Plants in 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 gone the Day before, I found the Brook, and the Savana's began to cease, and the Country became more woody than before; in this Part I found different Fruits, and particularly I found Mellons 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 warn'd by my Experience to eat sparingly of them, remembring, that when I was ashore in Barbary, the eating of Grapes kill'd several of our English Men who were Slaves there, by throwing them into Fluxes and Feavers: But I found an excellent Use for these Grapes, and that was to cure or dry them in the Sun, and keep them as dry'd Grapes or Raisins are kept, which I thought would be, as indeed they were, as wholesom as agreeable to eat, when no Grapes might be to 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 seem'd to descend to the West, and a little Spring of fresh Water which issued out of the Side of the Hill by me, run the other Way, that is due East; and the Country appear'd so fresh, so green, so flourishing, every thing being in a constant Verdure, or Flourish of Spring, that it looked like a planted Garden.
I descended a little on the Side of that delicious Vale, surveying it with a secret Kind of Pleasure, (tho' mixt with my 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 compleatly as any Lord of a Mannor in England. I saw here Abundance of Cocoa Trees, Orange, and Lemmon, and Citron Trees; but all wild, and very 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 mix'd 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 I resolv'd to lay up a Store, as well of Grapes, as Limes and Lemons, to furnish my self for the wet Season, which I knew was approaching.
In Order to this, I gather'd 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 travell'd homeward, and resolv'd 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 spoil'd; the Richness of the Fruits, and the Weight of the Juice having broken them, and bruis'd them, they were good for little or nothing; as to the Limes, they were good, but I could bring but a few.
The next Day, being the 19th, I went back, having made me two small Bags to bring Home my Harvest: But I was surpriz'd, when coming to my Heap of Grapes, which were so rich and fine when I gather'd them, I found them all spread about, trod to Pieces, and dragg'd about, some here, some there, and Abundance eaten and devour'd: 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 there was no laying them up on Heaps, and no carrying them away in a Sack, but that one Way they would be destroy'd, and the other Way they would be crush'd with their own Weight. I took another Course; for I gather'd a large Quantity of the Grapes, and hung them up upon the out Branches of the Trees, that they might cure and dry in the Sun; and as for the Limes and Lemons, I carry'd as many back as I could well stand under.
When I came Home from this Journey, I contemplated with great Pleasure the Fruitfulness of that Valley, and the Pleasantness of the Scituation, the Security from Storms on that Side the Water, and the Wood, and concluded, that I had pitch'd 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 ace equally safe, as where I now was scituate, if possible, in that pleasant fruitful Part of the Island.
This Thought run 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 by the same ill Fate that brought me hither, might bring some other unhappy Wretches to the same Place; and tho' it was scarce probable that any such Thing should ever happen, yet to enclose my self among the Hills and Woods, in the Center 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 Enamour'd of this Place, that I spent much of my Time there, for the whole remaining Part of the Month of July; and tho' upon second Thoughts I resolv'd 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 stak'd, and fill'd 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 fancy'd now I had my Country-House, and my Sea-Coast-House: And this Work took me up to the Beginning of August.
I had but newly finish'd my Fence, and began to enjoy my Labour, but the Rains came on, and made me stick close to my first Habitation; for tho' 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 extraordinary.
About the Beginning of August, as I said, I had finish'd my Bower, and began to enjoy my self. The third of August, I found the Grapes I had hung up were perfectly dry'd, 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 follow'd would have spoil'd 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 carry'd most of them Home to my Cave, but it began to rain, and from hence, which was the fourteenth of August, it rain'd 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 surpriz'd with the Increase of my Family; I had been concern'd for the Loss of one of my Cats, who run 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 tho' I had kill'd a wild Cat, as I call'd it, with my Gun; yet I thought it was a quite differing 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 pester'd with Cats, that I was forc'd to kill them like Vermine, or wild Beasts, and to drive them from my House as much as possible.
From the fourteenth of August to the twenty sixth, 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 straitned for Food, but venturing out twice, I one Day kill'd a Goat, and the last Day, which was the twenty sixth, found a very large Tortoise, which was a Treat to me, and my Food was regulated thus; I eat a Bunch of Raisins for my Breakfast, a Piece of the Goat's Flesh, or of the Turtle for my Dinner broil'd; 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 my Supper.
During this Confinement in my Cover, by the Rain, I work'd daily two or three Hours at enlarging my Cave, and by Degrees work'd it on towards one Side, till I came to the Out-Side 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 manag'd my self before, I was in a perfect Enclosure, whereas now I thought I lay expos'd, and open for any Thing to come in upon me; and yet I could not perceive that there was any living Thing to fear, the biggest Creature that I had yet seen upon the Island being a Goat.
September the thirtieth, 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 Religious Exercise, prostrating my self on the Ground with the most serious Humiliation, confessing my Sins to God, acknowledging his Righteous Judgments 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 eat a Bisket Cake, and a Bunch of Grapes, and went to Bed, finishing the Day as I began it.
I had all this Time observ'd 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 above, 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 in my Reckoning.
A line after this my Ink began to fail me, and so I contented my self to use it more sparingly, and to write down only the most remarkable Events of my Life, without continuing a daily Memorandum of other Things.
The rainy Season, and the dry Season, began now to appear regular to me, and I learn'd 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 mention'd that I had sav'd the few Ears of Barley and Rice, which I had so surprizingly found spring up, as I thought, of themselves, and believe there was 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 sow'd my Grain; but as I was sowing, it casually occur'd to my Thoughts, That I would not sow it all at first, because I did not know when was the proper Time for it; so I sow'd about two Thirds of the Seed, 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 sow'd 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 but newly sown.
Finding my first Seed did not grow, which I easily imagin'd was by the Drought, I fought for a moister Piece of Ground to make another Trial in, and I dug up a Piece of Ground near my new Bower, and sow'd 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 I had but a small Quantity at last, my whole Crop not amounting to above half a Peck of each kind.
But by this Experiment 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 out 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 surpriz'd, and yet very well pleas'd, to see the young Trees grow; and I prun'd 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 cover'd it; and it was a compleat Shade, sufficient to lodge under all the dry Season.
This made me resolve to cut some more Stakes, and make me a 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 about eight Yards distance from my first Fence, they grew presently, and were at first a fine Cover to my Habitation, and afterward serv'd for a Defence also, as I shall observe in its Order.
Half February, March, Half April,The Rainy Season sometimes held longer or shorter, as the Winds happen'd 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 my self with Provisions before hand, that I might not be oblig'd to go out; and I sat within Doors as much as possible during the wet Months.
Rainy, the Sun being then on, or near the Equinox.
Half April, May, June, July, Half August,
Dry, the Sun being then to the North of the Line.
Half August, September, Half October,
Rainy, the Sun being then come back.
Half October, November, December, January, Half February,
Dry, the Sun being then to the South of the Line.
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 my self with, but by hard Labour and constant Application; particularly, I try'd many Ways to make my self a Basket, but all the Twigs I could get for the Purpose prov'd so brittle, that they would do nothing. It prov'd of excellent Advantage to me now, That when I was a Boy, I used to take great Delight in standing at a Basketmaker's, in the Town where my Father liv'd, 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 work'd those Things, and sometimes lending a Hand, I had by this Means 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 Sallow's, and Willows, and Osiers in England, and I resolv'd to try.
Accordingly the next Day, I went to my Country-House, as I call'd 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 prepar'd with a Hatchet to cut down a Quantity, which I soon found, for there was great Plenty of them; these I set up to dry within my Circle or Hedge, and when they were fit for Use, I carry'd them to my Cave, and here during the next Season, I employ'd my self 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 tho' I did not finish them very handsomly, 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 decay'd, 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 master'd this Difficulty, and employ'd a World of Time about it, I bestirr'd my self to see if possible how to supply two Wants: I had no Vessels to hold any Thing that was Liquid, except two Runlets 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, etc. I had not so much as a Pot to boil any Thing, except a great Kettle, which I sav'd out of the Ship, and which was too big for such Use as I desir'd it, viz. To make Broth, and stew a Bit of Meat by it self. The Second Thing I would fain have had, was a Tobacco-Pipe; but it was impossible to me to make one, however, I found a Contrivance for that too at last.
I employ'd my self in Planting my Second Rows of Stakes or Piles and in this Wicker working all the Summer, or dry Season, when another Business took me up more Time than it could be imagin'd I could spare.
I mention'd before, That I had a great Mind to see the whole Island, and that I had travell'd 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 resolv'd to travel quite Cross to the Sea-Shore on that Side; so taking my Gun, a Hatchet, and my Dog, and a larger Quantity of Powder and Shot than usual, with two Bisket Cakes, and a great Bunch of Raisins in my Pouch for my Store, I began my Journey; when I had pass'd 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 descry'd Land, whether an Island or a 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 Leagues off.
I could not tell what Part of the World this might be, otherwise than that I know 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, order'd every Thing for the best; I say, I quieted my Mind with this, and left afflicting my self with Fruitless Wishes of being there.
Besides, after some Pause upon this Affair, I consider'd, that if this Land was the Spanish Coast, I should certainly, one Time or other, see some Vessel pass or re-pass one Way or other; but if not, then it was the Savage Coast between the Spanish Country and Brasils, which are indeed the worst of Savages; for they are Cannibals, or Men-eaters, and fail not to murther and devour all the humane Bodies that fall into their Hands.
With these Considerations I walk'd very leisurely forward, I found that Side of the Island where I now was, much pleasanter than mine, the open or Savanna Fields sweet, adorn'd with Flowers and Grass, and full of very fine Woods. I saw Abundance of Parrots, and fain I would have caught one, if possible to have kept it to be tame, and taught it to speak to me. I did, after some Pains taking, catch a young Parrot, for I knock'd it down with a Stick, and having' recover'd 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 follow'd, tho' it be a Trifle, will be very diverting in its Place.
I was exceedingly diverted with this Journey: I found in the low Grounds Hares, as I thought them to be, and Foxes, but they differ'd greatly from all the other Kinds I had met with; nor could I satisfy my self to eat them, tho' I kill'd several: But I had no Need to be ventrous; for I had no Want of Food, and of that which was very good too; especially these three Sorts, viz.Goats, Pidgeons, and Turtle or Tortoise; which, added to my Grapes, Leaden-hall Market could not have furnish'd a Table better than I, in Proportion to the Company; and tho' my Cafe 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 travell'd in this Journey above two Miles outright in a Day, or thereabouts; but I took so many Turns and Returns, to see what Discoveries I could make, that I came weary enough to the Place where I resolv'd to sit down for all Night; and then I either repos'd my self in a Tree, or surrounded my self 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 surpriz'd to see that I had taken up my Lot on the worst Side of the Island; for here indeed the Shore was cover'd with innumerable Turtles, whereas on the other Side I had found but three in a Year and half. Here was also an infinite Number of Fowls, of many Kinds, some which I had seen, and some which I had not seen of before, and many of them very good Meat; but such as I knew not the Names of, except those call'd Penguins.
I could have shot as many as I pleas'd, 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 my Side 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 Hill.
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 fix'd in my Habitation, it became natural to me, and I seem'd all the while I was here, to be as it were upon a Journey, and from Home: However, I travell'd along the Shore of the Sea, towards the East, I suppose about twelve Miles; and the setting up a great Pole upon the Shore for a Mark, I concluded I would go Home again; and that the next Journey I took should be on the other Side of the Island, East from my Dwelling, and so round till I came to my Post again: Of which in its Place.
I took another Way to come back than that I went, thinking I could easily keep all the Island so much in my View, that I could not miss finding my first Dwelling by viewing the Country; but I found my self mistaken; for being come about two or three Miles, I found my self descended into a very large Valley; but so surrounded with Hills, and those Hills cover'd with Wood, that I could not see which was my Way by any Direction but that of the Sun, nor even then, unless I knew very well the Position of the Sun at that Time of the Day.
It happen'd to my farther Misfortune, That the Weather prov'd hazey for three or four Days, while was in this Valley; and not being able to see the Sun, I wander'd about very uncomfortably, and at last was oblig'd to find out the Sea Side, look for my Post, and come back the same Way I went; and then by easy Journies I turn'd Homeward, the Weather being exceeding hot, and my Gun, Ammunition, Hatchet, and other Things very heavy.
I made a Collar to this little Creature, and with a String which I made of some Rope-Yarn, which I always carry'd about me, I led him along, tho' with some Difficulty, till I came to my Bower, and there I enclos'd him, and left him; for I was very impatient to be at Home, from whence I had been absent above a Month.
I cannot express what a Satisfaction it was to me, to come into my old Hutch, and lye down in my Hamock-Bed: This little wandring Journey, without settled Place of Abode, had been so unpleasant to me, that my own House, as I call'd it to my self, was a perfect Settlement to me, compar'd to that; and it rendred every Thing about me so comfortable, that I resolv'd I would never go a great Way from it again, while it should be my Lot to stay on the Island.
I repos'd my self here a Week, to rest and regale my self after my long Journey; during which, most of the Time was taken up in the weighty Affair of making a Cage for my Poll, who began now to be a meer Domestick, and to be mighty well acquainted with me. Then I began to think of the poor Kid, which I had penn'd in within my little Circle, and resolv'd to go and fetch it Home, or give it some Food; accordingly I went, and found it where I left it; for indeed it could not get out, but almost starv'd for want of Food: I went and cut Bows of Trees, and Branches of such Shrubs as I could find, and threw it over, and having fed it, I ty'd it as I did before, to lead it away; but it was so tame with being hungry, that I had no need to have ty'd it; for it follow'd me like a Dog; and as I continually fed it, the Creature became so loving, so gentle, and so fond, that it became from that Time one of my Domesticks also, and would never leave me afterwards.
The rainy Season of the Autumnal Equinox was now come, and I kept the 30th of Sept. in the same solemn Manner as before, being the Anniversary of my Landing on the Island, having now been there two Years, and no more Prospect of being deliver'd, than the first Day I came there. I spent the whole Day in humble and thankful Acknowledgments of the many wonderful Mercies which my Solitary Condition was attended with, and without which it might have been infinitely more miserable. I gave humble and hearty Thanks that God had been pleas'd to discover to me, even that it was possible I might be more happy in this Solitary Condition, than I should have been in a Liberty of Society, and in all the Pleasures of the World. That he could fully make up to me, the Deficiencies of my Solitary State, and the want of Humane Society by his Presence, and the Communications of his Grace to my Soul, supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon his Providence here, and hope for his Eternal Presence hereafter.
It was now that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this Life I now led was, with all its miserable Circumstances, than the wicked, cursed, abominable Life I led all the past Part of my Days; and now I chang'd both my Sorrows and my Joys; my very Desires alter'd, my Affections chang'd their Gusts, land my Delights were perfectly new, from what they were at my first Coming, or indeed for the two Years past.
Before, as I walk'd about, either on, my Hunting, or for viewing the Country, the Anguish of my Soul at my Condition, would break out upon me on a sudden, and my very Heart would die within me, to think of the Woods, the Mountains, the Desarts I was in; and how I was a Prisoner lock'd up with the Eternal Bars and Bolts of the Ocean, in an uninhabited Wilderness, without Redemption: In the midst of the greatest Composures of my Mind, this would break out upon me like a Storm, and make me wring my Hands, and weep like a Child: Sometimes it would take me in the middle of my Work, and I would immediately sit down and sigh, and look upon the Ground for an Hour or -two together; and this was still worse to me; for if I could burst out into Tears, or vent my self by Words, it would go off, and the Grief having exhausted it self would abate.
But now I began to exercise my self with new Thoughts; I daily read the Word of God, and apply'd all the Comforts of it to my present State: One Morning being very sad, I open'd the Bible upon these Words, I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee; immediately it occurr'd, That these Words were to me, Why else should they be directed in such a Manner, just at the Moment when I was mourning over my Condition, as one forsaken of God and Man? Well then, said I, if God does not forsake me, of what ill Consequence can it be, or what matters it, though the World should all forsake me, seeing on the other Hand, if I had all the World, and should lose the Favour and Blessing of God, there wou'd be no Comparison in the Loss.
From this Moment I began to conclude in my Mind, That it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken Solitary Condition, than it was probable I should ever have been in any other Particular State in the World; and with this Thought I was going to give Thanks to God for bringing me to this Place.
I know not what it was, but something shock'd my Mind at that Thought, and I durst not speak the Words: How canst thou be such a Hypocrite, (said I, even audibly) to pretend to be thankful for a Condition, which however thou mav'st endeavour to be contented with, thou would'st rather pray heartily to be deliver'd from; so I stopp'd there: But though I could not say, I thank'd God for being there; yet I sincerely gave Thanks to God for opening my Eyes, by whatever afflicting Providences, to see the former Condition of my Life, and to mourn for my Wickedness, and repent. I never open'd the Bible, or shut it, but my very Soul within me, bless'd God for directing my Friend in England, without any Order of mine, to pack it up among my Goods; and for assisting me afterwards to save it out of the Wreck of the Ship.
Thus, and in this Disposition of Mind, I began my third Year: and tho' I have not given the Reader the Trouble of so particular Account of my Works this Year as the first; yet in General it may be observ'd, That I was very seldom idle; but having regularly divided my Time, according to the several daily Employments that were before me, such as, First, My Duty to God, and the Reading the Scriptures, which I constantly set apart some Time for thrice every Day. Secondly, The going Abroad with my Gun for Food, which generally took me up three Hours in every Morning, when it did not Rain. Thirdly, The ordering, curing, preserving, and cooking what I had kill'd or catch'd for my Supply; these took up great Part of the Day; also it is to be considered that the middle of the Day when the Sun was in the Zenith, the Violence of the Heat was too great to stir out; so that about four Hours in the Evening was all the Time I could be suppos'd to work in; with this Exception, That sometimes I chang'd my Hours of Hunting and Working, and went to work in the Morning, and Abroad with my Gun in the Afternoon.
To this short Time allow'd for Labour, I desire may be added the exceeding Laboriousness of my Work; the many Hours which for want of Tools, want of Help, and want of Skill, every Thing I did, took up out of my Time: For Example, I was full two and forty Days making me a Board for a long Shelf, which I wanted in my Cave; whereas two Sawyers with their Tools, and a Saw-Pit, would have cut six of them out of the same Tree in half a Day.
My Case was this, It was to be a large Tree, which was to be cut down, because my Board was to be a broad one. This Tree I was three Days a cutting down, and two more cutting off the Bows, and reducing it to a Log, or Piece of Timber. With inexpressible hacking and hewing I reduc'd both the Sides of it into Chips, till it begun to be light enough to move; then I turn'd it, and made one Side of it smooth, and flat, as a Board from End to End; then turning that Side downward, cut the other Side, till I brought the plank to be about three Inches thick, and smooth on both Sides. Any One may judge the Labour of my Hands in such a Piece of Work; but Labour and Patience carry'd me through that and many other Things: I only observe this in Particular, to shew, The Reason why so much of my Time went away with so little Work, viz.That what might be a little to be done with Help and Tools, was a vast Labour, and requir'd a prodigious Time to do alone, and by hand.
But notwithstanding this, with Patience and Labour I went through many Things; and indeed every Thing that my Circumstances made necessary to me to do, as will appear by what follows.
I was now, in the Months of November and December, expecting my Crop of Barley and Rice. The Ground I had manur'd or dug up for them was not great; for as I observ'd, my Seed of each was not above the Quantity of half a Peck; for I had lost one whole Crop by sowing in the dry Season; but now my Crop promis'd very well, when on a sudden I found I was in Danger of losing it all again by Enemies of several Sorts, which it was scarce possible to keep from it; as First, The Goats, and wild Creatures which I call'd Hares who tasting the Sweetness of the Blade, lay in it Night and Day, as soon as it came up, and eat it so close, that it could get no Time to shoot up into Stalk.
This I saw no Remedy for, but by making an Enclosure about it with a Hedge, which I did with a great deal of Toil; and the more, because it requir'd Speed. However, as my Arable Land was but small, suited to my Crop, I got it totally well fenc'd, in about three Weeks Time; and shooting some of the Creatures in the Day Time, I set my Dog to guard it in the Night, tying him up to a Stake at the Gate, where he would stand and bark all Night long; so in a little Time the Enemies forsook the Place, and the Corn grew very strong, and well, and began to ripen apace.
But as the Beasts ruined me before, while my Corn was in the Blade; so the Birds were as likely to ruin me now, when it was in the Ear; for going along by the Place to see how it throve, I saw my little Crop surrounded with Fowls of I know not how many Sorts, who stood as it were watching till I should be gone: I immediately let fly among them (for I always had my Gun with me) I had no sooner shot, but there rose up a little Cloud of Fowls, which I had not seen at all, from among the Corn it self.
This touch'd me sensibly, for I foresaw, that in a few Days they would devour all my Hopes, that I should be starv'd, and never be able to raise a Crop at all, and what to do I could not tell: However I resolv'd not to loose my Corn, if possible, tho' I should watch it Night and Day. In the first Place, I went among it to see what Damage was already done, and found they had spoil'd a good deal of it, but that as it was yet too Green for them, the Loss was not so great, but that the Remainder was like to be a good Crop if it could be sav'd.
I staid by it to load my Gun, and then coming away I could easily see the Thieves sitting upon all the Trees about me, as if they only waited till I was gone away, and the Event proved it to be so; for as I walk'd off as if I was gone, I was no sooner out of their sight, but they dropt down one by one into the Corn again. I was so provok'd that I could not have Patience to stay till more came on, knowing that every Grain that they eat now, was, as it might be said, a Peck-loaf to me in the Consequence; but coming up to the Hedge, I fir'd again, and kill'd three of them. This was what I wish'd for; so I took them up, and serv'd them as we serve notorious Thieves in England, (viz.) Hang'd them in Chains for a Terror to others; it is impossible to imagine almost, that this should have such an Effect, as it had; for the Fowls wou'd not only not come at the Corn, but in short they forsook all that Part of the Island, and I could never see a Bird near the Place as long as my Scare-Crows hung there.
This I was very glad of, you may be sure, and about the latter end of December, which was our second Harvest of the Year, I reap'd my Crop.
I was sadly put to it for a Scythe or a Sicle to cut it down, and-all I could do was to make one as well as I could out of one of the Broad Swords or Cutlasses, which I sav'd among the Arms out of the Ship. However, as my first Crop was but small I had no great Difficulty to cut it down; in short, I reap'd it my Way, for I cut nothing off but the Ears, and carry'd it away in a great Basket which I had made, and so rubb'd it out with my Hands; and at the End of all my Harvesting, I found that out of my half Peck of Seed, I had near two Bushels of Rice, and above two Bushels and half of Barley, that is to say, by my Guess, for I had no Measure at that time.
However, this was a great Encouragement to me, and I foresaw that in time, it wou'd please God to supply me with Bread: And yet here I was perplex'd again, for I neither knew how to grind or make Meal of my Corn, or indeed how to clean it and part it; nor if made into Meal, how to make Bread of it, and if how to make it, yet I knew not how to bake it; these things being added to my Desire of having a good Quantity for Store, and to secure a constant Supply, I resolv'd not to taste any of this Crop but to preserve it all for Seed against the next Season, and in the mean time to employ all my Study and Hours of Working to accomplish this great Work of Providing my self with Corn and Bread.
It might be truly said, that now I work'd for my Bread; 'tis a little wonderful, and what I believe few People have thought much upon, (viz.) the strange multitude of little Things necessary in the Providing, Producing, Curing, Dressing, Making and Finishing this one Article of Bread.
I that was reduced to a meer State of Nature, found this to my daily Discouragement, and was made more and more sensible of it every Hour, even after I had got the first Handful of Seed-Corn, which, as I have said, came up unexpectedly, and indeed to a surprize.
First, I had no Plow to turn up the Earth, no Spade or Shovel to dig it. Well, this I conquer'd, by making a wooden Spade, as I observ'd before; but this did my Work in but a wooden manner, and tho' it cost me a great many Days to make it, yet for want of Iron it not only wore out the sooner, but made my Work the harder, and made it be perform'd much worse.
However this I bore with, and was content to work it out with Patience, and bear with the badness of the Performance. When the Corn was sow'd, I had no Harrow, but was forced to go over it my self and drag a great heavy Bough of a Tree over it, to Scratch it, as it may be call'd, rather than Rake or Harrow it.
When it was growing and grown, I have observ'd already, how many things I wanted, to Fence it, Secure it, Mow or Reap it, Cure and Carry it Home, Thrash, Part it from the Chaff, and Save it. Then I wanted a Mill to Grind it, Sieves to Dress it, Yeast and Salt to make it into Bread, and an Oven to bake it, and yet all these things I did without, as shall be observ'd; and yet the Corn was an inestimable Comfort and Advantage to me too. All this, as I said, made every thing laborious and tedious to me, but that there was no help for; neither was my time so much Loss to me, because as I had divided it, a certain Part of it was every Day appointed to these Works; and as I resolv'd to use none of the Corn for Bread till I had a greater Quantity by me, I had the next six Months to apply my self wholly by Labour and Invention to furnish my self with Utensils proper for the performing all the Operations necessary for the making the Corn (when I had it) fit for my use.
But first, I was to prepare more Land, for I had now Seed enough to sow above an Acre of Ground. Before I did this, I had a Week's-work at least to make me a Spade, which when it was done was but a sorry one indeed, and very heavy, and requir'd double Labour to work with it; however I went thro' that, and sow'd my Seed in two large flat Pieces of Ground, as near my House as I could find them to my Mind, and fenc'd them in with a good Hedge, the Stakes of which were all cut of that Wood which I had set before, and knew it would grow, so that in one Year's time I knew I should have a Quick or Living-Hedge, that would want but little Repair. This Work was not so little as to take me up less than three Months, because great Part of that time was of the wet Season, when I could not go abroad.
Within Doors, that is, when it rained, and I could not go out, I found Employment on the following Occasions; always observing, that all the while I was at work I diverted my self with talking to my Parrot, and teaching him to Speak, and I quickly learn'd him to know his own Name, and at last to speak it out pretty loud P O L, which was the first Word I ever heard spoken in the Island by any Mouth but my own. This therefore was not my Work, but an assistant to my Work, for now, as I said, I had a great Employment upon my Hands, as follows, (viz.) I had long study'd by some Means or other, to make my self some Earthen Vessels, which indeed I wanted sorely, but knew not where to come at them: However, considering the Heat of the Climate, I did not doubt but if I could find out any such Clay, I might botch up some such Pot, as might, being dry'd in the Sun, be hard enough, and strong enough to bear handling, and to hold any Thing that was dry, and requir'd to be kept so; and as this was necessary in the preparing Corn, Meal, etc. which was the Thing I was upon, I resolv'd to make some as large as I could, and fit only to stand like Jarrs to hold what should be put into them.
It would make the Reader pity me, or rather laugh at me, to tell how many awkward ways I took to raise this Paste, what odd mishapen ugly things I made, how many of them fell in, and how many fell out, the Clay not being stiff enough to bear its own Weight; how many crack'd by the over violent Heat of the Sun, being set out too hastily; and how many fell in pieces with only removing, as well before as after they were dry'd; and in a word, how after having labour'd hard to find the Clay, to dig it, to temper it, to bring it home and work it; I could not make above two large earthern ugly things, I cannot call them Jarrs, in about two Months Labour.
However, as the Sun bak'd these Two, very dry and hard, I lifted them very gently up, and set them down again in two great Wicker-Baskets which I had made on purpose for them, that they might not break, and as between the Pot and the Basket there was a little room to spare, I stuff'd it full of the Rice and Barley Straw, and these two Pots being to stand always dry, I thought would hold my dry Corn, and perhaps the Meal, when the Corn was bruised.
Tho' I miscarried so much in my Design for large Pots, yet I made several smaller things with better Success, such as little round Pots, flat Dishes, Pitchers and Pipkins, and any things my Hand turn'd to, and the Heat of the Sun bak'd them strangely hard.
But all this would not answer my End, which was to get an earthen Pot to hold what was Liquid, and bear the Fire, which none of these could do. It happen'd after some time, making a pretty large Fire for cooking my Meat, when I went to put it out after I had done with it, I found a broken Piece of one of my Earthen-ware Vessels in the Fire, burnt as hard as a Stone, and red as a Tile. I was agreeably suppris'd to see it, and said to my self, that certainly they might be made to burn whole if they would burn broken.
This set me to studying how to order my Fire, so as to make it burn me some Pots. I had no Notion of a Kiln, such as the Potters burn in, or of glazing them with Lead, tho' I had Some Lead to do it with; but I plac'd three large Pipkins, and two or three Pots in a Pile one upon another, and plac'd my Fire-wood all round it with a great Heap of Embers under them, I ply'd the Fire with fresh Fuel round the out-side, and upon the top, till I saw the Pots in the inside red hot quite thro', and observ'd that they did not crack at all; when I saw them clear red, I let them stand in that Heat about 5 or 6 Hours, till I found one of them, tho' it did not crack, did melt or run, for the Sand which was mixed with the Clay melted by the violence of the Heat, and would have run into Glass if I had gone on, so I slack'd my Fire gradually till the Pots began to abate of the red Colour, and watching them all Night, that I might not let the Fire abate too fast, in the Morning I had three very good, I will not say handsome Pipkins; and two other Earthen Pots, as hard burnt as cou'd be desir'd; and one of them perfectly glaz'd with the Running of the Sand.
After this Experiment, I need not say that I wanted no sort of Earthen Ware for my Use; but I must needs say, as to the Shapes of them, they were very indifferent, as any one may suppose, when I had no way of making them; but as the Children make Dirt-Pies, Or as a Woman would make Pies, that never learn'd to raise Past.
No Joy at a Thing of so mean a Nature was ever equal to mine, when I found I had made an Earthen Pot that would bear the Fire; and I had hardly Patience to stay till they were cold, before I set one upon the Fire again, with some Water in it, to boil me some Meat, which it did admirably well; and with a Piece of a Kid, I made Some very good Broth, though I wanted Oatmeal, and several other Ingredients, requisite to make it so good as I would have had it been.
My next Concern was, to get me a Stone Mortar, to stamp or beat some Corn in; for as to the Mill, there was no thought at arriving to that Perfection of Art, with one Pair of Hands. To supply this Want I was at a great Loss; for of all Trades in the World I was as perfectly unqualify'd for a Stone-cutter, as for any whatever; neither had I any Tools to go about it with. I spent many a Day to find out a great Stone big enough to cut hollow, and make fit for a Mortar, and could find none at all; except what was in the solid Rock, and which I had no way to dig or cut out; nor indeed were the Rocks in the Island of Hardness sufficient, but were all of a sandy crumbling Stone, which neither would bear the Weight of a heavy Pestle, or would break the Corn without filling it with Sand; so after a great deal of Time lost in searching for a Stone, I gave it over, and resolv'd to look out for a great Block of hard Wood, which I found indeed much easier; and getting one as big as I had Strength to stir, I rounded it, and form'd it in the Out-side with my Axe and Hatchet, and then with the Help of Fire, and infinite Labour, made a hollow Place in it, as the Indians in Brasil make their Canoes. After this, I made a great heavy Pestle or Beater, of the Wood call'd the Iron-wood, and this I prepar'd and laid by against I had my next Crop of Corn, when I propos'd to my self, to grind, or rather pound my into Meal to make my Bread.
My next Difficulty was to make a Sieve, or Search,' to dress my Meal, and to part it from the Bran, and the Husk, without which I did not see it possible I could have any Bread. This was a most difficult Thing, so much as but to think on; for to be sure I had nothing like the necessary Thing to make it; I mean fine thin Canvas, or Stuff, to search the Meal through. And here I was at a full Stop for many Months; nor did I really know what to do; Linnen I had none left, but what was meer Rags; I had Goats Hair, but neither knew I how to weave it, or spin it; and had I known how, here was no Tools to work it with; all the Remedy that I found for this, was, That at last I did remember I had among the Seamens Cloaths which were sav'd out of the Ship, some Neckcloths of Callicoe, or Muslin; and with some Pieces of these, I made three small Sieves, but proper enough for the Work; and thus I made shift for some Years; how I did afterwards, I shall shew in its Place.
The baking Part was the next Thing to be consider'd, and how I should make Bread when I came to have Corn; for first I had no Yeast; as to that Part, as there was no supplying the Want, so I did not concern my self much about it: But for an Oven, I was indeed in great Pain; at length I found out an Experiment for that also, which was this; I made some Earthen Vessels very broad, but not deep; that is to say, about two Foot Diameter, and not above nine Inches deep; these I burnt in the Fire, as I had done the other, and laid them by; and when I wanted to bake, I made a great Fire upon my Hearth, which I had pav'd with some square Tiles of my own making, and burning also; but I should not call them square.
When the Fire-wood was burnt pretty much into Embers, or live Coals, I drew them forward upon this Hearth, so as to cover it all over, and there I let them lye, till the Hearth was very hot, then sweeping away all the Embers, I set down my Loaf, or Loaves, and whelming down the Earthen Pot upon them, drew the Embers all round the Out-side of the Pot, to keep in, and add to the Heat; and thus, as well as in the best Oven in the World, I bak'd my Barley Loaves, and became in little Time a meer Pastry-Cook into the Bargain; for I made my self several Cakes of the Rice, and Puddings; indeed I made no Pies, neither had I any Thing to put into them, supposing I had, except the Flesh either of Fowls or Goats.
It need not be wondred at, if all these Things took me up most Part of the third Year of my Abode here; for it is to be observ'd, That in the Intervals of these Things, I had my new Harvest and Husbandry to manage; for I reap'd my Corn in its Season, and carry'd it Home as well as I could, and laid it up in the Ear, in my large Baskets, till I had Time to rub it out; for I had no Floor to thrash it on, or Instrument to thrash it with.
And now indeed my Stock of Corn increasing, I really wanted to build my Barns bigger. I wanted a Place to lay it up in; for the Increase of the Corn now yielded me so much, that I had of the Barley about twenty Bushels, and of the Rice as much, or more; insomuch, that now I resolv'd to begin to use it freely; for my Bread had been quite gone a great while; Also I resolved to see what Quantity would be sufficient for me a whole Year, and to sow but once a Year.
Upon the whole, I found that the forty Bushels of Barley and Rice, was much more than I could consume in a Year; so I resolv'd to sow just the same Quantity every Year, that I sow'd the last, in Hopes that such a Quantity would fully provide me with Bread, etc.