have said that the story of Robinson Crusoe is feigned, that it is
all fiction. They say there never was such a man, and never such a
place or such circumstances in a man's life.
They say that the
entire story is an invention imposed on the world.
I, Robinson Crusoe,
being of perfectly sound mind and memory (and I thank God for this)
do hereby declare that such objections are false and scandalous.
I affirm that the
story, though allegorical, is also historical. It is the beautiful
representation of a life of unparalleled misfortune and of varied
experiences found nowhere else in the world. It has been adapted with
the common good of the reader in mind. It was designed from the very
first for the most serious purposes possible.
Further, I wish to
affirm that there is a man alive, and well known too, whose life is
the proper subject of these volumes and to whom all, or the most part
of the story, directly alludes. This may be depended upon as truth,
and to this I set my name.
The famous story
of Don Quixote, a work which thousands read with pleasure, was an
emblematic history of the Duke de median Sidonia, a remarkable person
in Spain at that time. To those who knew the original, the figures
were alive and easily uncovered, as is the case here also.
Emblem and the Original
Without taking the
reader into a closer explication of the matter, I proceed to let him
know that the happy deductions I have drawn from all the circumstances
of my life will abundantly make up for his not having the Emblem explained
further by the Original. When in all my observations and reflections
in theses volume I mention my solitude and allude to my lonely circumstances,
every part of the story is a real fact in my history, by whatever
borrowed lights that history may be represented.
So the way in which
I was driven up on the shore by the surging sea, the ship on fire,
the story of my man Friday, and many more incidents I relate and on
which my spiritual reflections have been made, are all historical
and true to fact. The fright and fancies which followed the discovery
of the print of a man's foot, and the surprise of the old goat, are
also real stories.
It is most real that
I kept a parrot and it called me by my name. It is true that I had
a servant who later became a Christian, that his name was called Friday,
and that he was taken from me by force and died in the hands of those
who took him. This is all literally true and there are many alive
who could testify to the comfort and assistance he gave to me in my
real solitudes and disasters.
and Afflicting Circumstances
In a word, the adventures
of Robinson Crusoe are one whole scheme of a real life of twenty-eight
years spent in the most desolate and afflicting circumstances that
a man ever went through. I have lived for this long a time a life
of continual storms. I have fought with the worst kind of savages
and have met with unaccountable and surprising incidents. I have been
fed by miracles greater than that of ravens feeding Elijah, and have
suffered all manner of oppression and violence, including the contempt
of men, the attacks of demons, corrections from Heaven and oppositions
I have faced innumerable
ups and downs in my fortune. I have been picked up at sea, rose again
and fell again, and that oftener perhaps in one man's life than has
ever been known before. I have been shipwrecked often, though more
on land than at sea.
In a word, there
is not a circumstance in the imaginary story that does not have its
exact allusion to the real story and chimes part for part and step
for step with the inimitable life of Robinson Crusoe.
In the same way,
when in my reflections I speak of particular actions and circumstances
which happened in the solitude of my island-life, the reader will
be so kind as to take it as it is, that it is intended as a part of
the real story, to which the island-life is an exact allusion.
and Spiritual Enrichment
Besides all this,
there is here the proper and good purpose of all parables and allegorical
history, that it is for moral and spiritual enrichment.
Here, invincible patience is recommended under the worst of misery,
and undaunted resolution under the most discouraging circumstances.
I say, these are recommended as the only way to work through these
miseries. The fable is always made for the moral, not the moral for
Had the common writing
of a man's personal history been undertaken and I had given you the
life of a man you know, along with his misfortunes and infirmities,
all I could have said would have yielded no diversion and probably
would scarcely have obtained a reading. The teacher, like the Greater
One, would find no honor in his own country. Thoughts that are designed
to touch the mind must come from a great way off. Even the miracles
of the blessed Savior of the world were met with scorn and contempt
when it was seen that they were done by the Carpenter's Son, one whose
brothers and sisters were ordinary people like themselves.
But I am far from
being anxious about whether or not these thoughts of mine will be
effective. I am certain that even if the obstinacy of our age should
shut its ears against the meaningful reflections presented in these
pages, there will come a time when the minds of men will be more open.
There will come a
time when the guidelines of virtue and Christian living which I have
recommended will be more gratefully received than they are now. One
generation will be strengthened by the same teaching which another
generation has despised.