« AnteriorContinuar »
ROBINSON CRUSOE'S PREFACE
S 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 Í 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 'ind 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 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. I'he 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
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 deadhearted creature in the world.