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among the bucaneers, that there was a particular name for the punishment; it was called marooning a man. De Foe borrowed, perhaps, from the account in Woodes Rogers, the circumstance of the two huts, the abundance of goats, the clothing made out of their skins; and the turnips of Alexander Selkirk may have perhaps suggested the corn of Robinson Crusoe. Even these incidents, however, are so wrought up and heightened, and so much is added to make them interesting, that the bare circumstances occurring elsewhere, cannot be said to infringe upon the author's claim to originality. On the whole, indeed, Robinson Crusoe is put to so many more trials of ingenuity, his comforts are so much increased, his solitude is so much diversified, and his account of his thoughts and occupations so distinctly traced, that the course of the work embraces a far wider circle of investigation into human nature, than could be derived from that of Selkirk, who, for want of the tools and conveniences supplied to Crusoe by the wreck, relapses into a sort of savage state, which could have afforded little scope for delineation. It may, however, be observed, that De Foe may have known so much of Selkirk's history, as to be aware how much his stormy passions were checked and tamed by his long course of solitude, and that, from being a kind of Will Atkins, a brawling dissolute seaman, he became (which was certainly the case) a grave, sober, reflective man. The manner in which Robinson Crusoe's moral sense and religious feeling are awakened and brought into action, are important passages in the work.*
Amid these desultory remarks, it may be noticed, that, through all his romances, De Foe has made a great deal of the narrative depend upon lucky hits and accidents, which, as he is usually at some pains to explain, ought rather to be termed providential occurrences. This is coupled with a belief in spiritual communication in the
way of strong internal suggestions, to which De Foe, as we have seen, was himself sufficiently willing to yield belief. Odd and surprising accidents do, indeed, frequently occur in human life; and when we hear them narrated, we are interested in them, not only from the natural tendency of the human mind towards the extraordinary and wonderful, but also because we have some disposition to receive as truths circumstances, which, from their improbability, do not seem likely to be invented. It is the kind of good fortune, too, which every one wishes to himself, which comes without exertion, and just at the moment it is wanted; so that it gives a sort of pleasure to be reminded of the possibility of its arrival even in fiction.
* We should say more on this subject, were it not that Mr Howel, of Edinburgh, a person every way qualified for the task, has collected several particulars concerning the history of Selkirk, the prototype of Robinson Crusoe, which he designs shortly to lay before the public.
The continuation of Robinson Crusoe's history, after he obtains the society of his man Friday, is less philosophical than that which turns our thoughts upon the efforts which a solitary individual may make for extending his own comforts in the melan-, choly situation in which he is placed, and upon the natural reflections suggested by the progress of his own mind. The character of Friday is nevertheless extremely pleasing; and the whole subsequent history of the shipwrecked Spaniards and the pirate vessel is highly interesting. Here certainly the Memoirs of Robinson Crusoe ought to have stopped. The Second Part, though containing many passages which display the author's genius, does not rise high in character above the Memoirs of Captain Singleton, or the other imaginary voyages of the author.
There scarce exists a work so popular as Robinson Crusoe. It is read eagerly by young people ; and there is hardly an elf so devoid of imagination as not to have supposed for himself a solitary island
in which he could act Robinson Crusoe, were it but in the corner of the nursery. To many it has given the decided turn of their lives, by sending them to sea.
For the young mind is much less struck with the hardships of the anchorite's situation than with the animating exertions which he makes to overcome them; and Robinson Crusoe produces the same impression upon an adventurous spirit which the Book of Martyrs would do on a young devotee, or the Newgate Calendar upon an acolyte of Bridewell; both of which students are less terrified by the horrible manner in which the tale terminates, than animated by sympathy with the saints or depredators who are the heroes of their volume. Neither does a re-perusal of Robinson Crusoe, at a more advanced age, diminish our early impressions. The situation is such as every man may make his own, and, being possible in itself, is, by the exquisite art of the narrator, rendered as probable as it is interesting. It has the merit, too, of that species of accurate painting which can be looked at again and again with new pleasure.
Neither has the admiration of the work been confined to England, though Robinson Crusoe himself, with his rough good sense, his prejudices, and his obstinate determination not to sink under
evils which can be surpassed by exertion, forms no bad specimen of the True-Born Englishman. The rage for imitating a work so popular seems to have risen to a degree of frenzy ; and, by a mistake not peculiar to this particular class of the servum pecus, the imitators did not attempt to apply De Foe's manner of managing the narrative to some situation of a different kind, but seized upon and caricatured the principal incidents of the shipwrecked mariner and the solitary island. It is computed that within forty years from the appearance of the original work, no less than forty-one different Robinsons appeared, besides fifteen other imitations, in which other titles were used. Finally, though perhaps it is no great recommendation, the anti-social philosopher Rousseau will allow no other book than Robinson Crusoe in the hands of Emilius. Upon the whole, the work is as unlikely to lose its celebrity as it is to be equalled in its peculiar character by any other of similar excellence.