Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

were

fuel and candle. Fire he obtained, after the dancing himself the while to the music of Indian fashion, by rubbing two pieces of his own voice. Having no writing materials, pimento wood together, until they ignited. and unwilling that all remembrance of his

As time wore on, Selkirk not only became fate should be forgotten, he occasionally reconciled to his lot, but began to take a amused himself by cutting out his name, the pleasure in his island kingdom. He orna- day of the year, and other particulars, on mented the little dormitory with fragrant the trees; but these had all disappeared branches, cut from the spacious wood near when Lord Anson visited Juan Fernandez in to which it was situated, so that it formed a 1741. delicious bower, round which the soft breezes Only two or three memorable events ocof the south played in balmy luxuriance, as curred during Selkirk's residence on the ishe soundly slept after the fatigues of the land. The first was his finding a few iron day. He had food in abundance. The goats hoops on the beach one day in his rambles, supplied him with milk and flesh, and he which had been left by some vessel as unenjoyed great varieties of fish. The craw- worthy of being taken away. To the lonely fish which he caught, weighing eight or nine islander they were more precious than gold. pounds, he boiled or broiled, seasoning it of these he made knives when his ow with pimento (Jamaica pepper). The cab- worn out. One of them, used as a chopper, bage-palm, of which there was plenty on the about two feet in length, was, according to island, served him for bread. He had also Isaac James, long kept as a curiosity at the a species of parsnip of good flavor, Sicilian Golden Head coffee-house, near Buckingham radishes, and water-cresses, which latter he gate. It had been changed from its original found in the neighboring brooks. His mode simple form, having, when last seen, a buckof catching the goats was solely by speed horn handle, with some verses upon it. At of foot, the powder which he had brought different times our hero saw vessels from the from the ship having been soon expended ; island, but two only ever came to anchor. but he was careful to have always a number On both occasions he concealed himself, beof tame ones browsing around his huts, by ing afraid that they were Spaniards. It was way of supply in case of accident or sickness. at that time a maxim of Spanish policy From the temperate life he led, coupled never to allow an Englishman to return to with moderate exercise and a salubrious cli- Europe who had gained any knowledge of mate, he enjoyed the best health, and be- the South Seas. On the last occasion, became remarkably strong. His mind was also ing anxious to learn whether the ship was buoyant and cheerful in proportion to his Spanish or French, he approached too near, bodily vigor. At first he could only over- and was perceived. A pursuit was the contake kids in the chase, but ultimately he was sequence; but although the sailors fired sevcapable of overrunning the fleetest goat in eral shots after him, he easily made his esa few minutes. He became, of course, inti- cape, and kept concealed until the vessel left mately familiar with every corner of the is the island. *The third and most serious ocland—all the by-paths and accessible parts currence, was an accident which nearly deof the mountains. He could bound from prived him of life. In pursuing a goat, he crag to crag, and slip down the precipices came upon the brink of a precipice of which with the utmost confidence. Hunting be- he was not aware, it being covered with the came his ehief amusement, allowing the foliage of trees. Extending his arms to goats to escape when he did not require catch the animal as it suddenly stopped, the them for food.

branches gave way, and both fell from a The only drawback to his happiness—and great height to the ground. He lay upon this annoyance he did not long endure the dead body of the goat for twenty-four arose from the multitude of rats which in-hours, insensible, and when at last able to fested the island, having been brought thith-crawl, he reached his hut with great diffier at some period or other by vessels. They culty. He was for ten days confined to bed used to gnaw his feet and other parts of by his bruises-no one, of course, being at his body as he slept. He at length caught hand to give him a drink of water. With some of the cats that ran wild on the island, this exception, he enjoyed uninterrupted and succeeding, after much labor, in taming good health. them, they put the rats to flight. He used The few clothes Selkirk had with him to amuse himself in teaching his feline com- soon wore out. When his shoes were done panions to dance, in which accomplishment he never attempted to supply their place ; he also contrived to instruct the young kids, but as his other habiliments decayed, he converted the skins of the goats into garments, nothing but salt provisions for them to live sewing them with slender thongs of leather, upon. When day at length opened, he still which he cut for the purpose, and using a saw them, but at a distance from the shore. sharp nail for a needle. In this way he His fire had caused great consternation on made for himself a cap, jacket, and short board, for they knew the island to be uninbreeches. The hair being retained upon the habited, and supposed the light to have proskin, gave him a very uncouth appearance; ceeded from some French ships at anchor. but in this dress he was enabled to run In this persuasion they prepared for action, through the woods with as little injury as as they must either fight or want water and the animal he pursued. He had a plentiful other refreshments, and stood to their quarsupply of linen in his chest—thanks, no ters all night, ready to engage; but, not doubt, to his good old mother-and with perceiving any vessel, they next day, about the threads of his woolen stockings, which noon, sent a boat on shore, with Captain he untwisted for the purpose, and his nail Dover, Mr. Fry, and six men, all well armed, for a needle, he contrived to keep himself in to ascertain the cause of the fire, and to see good linens. The hair of his head and that all was safe. Selkirk saw the boat leave beard never having been touched since he the Duke, and pull for the beach. He ran left the ship, became of great length, so that down joyfully to meet his countrymen, and his appearance must have been wild in the to hear once more the human voice. He extreme, though, as Howell remarks, quite took in his hand a piece of linen tied upon a neighbor-like beside his cats and goats. small pole as a flag, which he waved as they

At length the day of relief was at hand. drew near, to attract their attention. At In 1708, another privateering expedition was length he heard them call to him, inquiring promoted by Dampier in England. Two for a good place to land, which he pointed ships were fitted up—the "Duke" and out, and, flying as swift as a deer toward it, “Duchess"—to cruise against the French arrived first, where he stood ready to receive and Spaniards. Dampier, however, held no them as they stepped on shore. He emcommand, being appointed only “ pilot for braced them by turns; but his joy was too the South Seas.” On the 31st of January, great for utterance, while their astonishment 1709, as Selkirk was as usual surveying the at his uncouth appearance struck them watery waste which circumscribed his small dumb. At length they began to converse, dominion, mentally exclaiming, no doubt, and he invited them to his hut; but its ac

cess was so very difficult and intricate, that “Ye winds, that have made me your sport,

only Mr. Fry accompanied him over the Convey to this desolate shore

rocks which led to it. When Selkirk had Some cordial, endearing report

entertained him in the best manner he could, Of a land I shall visit no more,”

they returned to the boat, our hero bearing

a quantity of his roasted goat's flesh for the he descried two vessels in the distance. refreshment of the crew. During their reSlowly they rose in his view, and as they past he gave them an account of his advengradually neared the island, he discovered, tures and stay upon the island, at which to his infinite delight, that they were Eng. they were much surprised. Captain Dover lish. The tumult of joyous feelings with and Mr. Fry invited him to come on board ; which the sight inspired him, may, to use a

but he declined their invitation, until they common but very expressive phrase, be more satisfied him that Dampier had no command easily conceived than described. “It was in this expedition; after which, he gave a late in the afternoon,” says Howell, “when reluctant consent." they first came in sight; and lest they should His aversion to Dampier could not be of a sail again without knowing that there was a personal nature, but proceeded, no doubt, person on the island, he prepared a quantity from his experience of him as a commander. of wood to burn as soon as it was dark. When he came on board the “Duke,” DamHe kept bis eye fixed upon them until night pier gave Selkirk an excellent character, fell, and then kindled his fire, and kept it up telling Captain Rogers that he was one of till morning dawned. His hopes and fears the best men on board the Cinque Ports. having banished all desire for sleep, he em- | Upon this recommendation he was immediployed himself in killing several goats, and ately engaged as mate of the “ Duke.” “In in preparing an entertainment for his ex- the afternoon the ships were cleared, the pected guests, knowing how acceptable it sails bent and taken on shore to be mended, would be to them after their long run, with and to make tents for the sick men. Sel

9

kirk's strength and vigor were of great ser-ed there, reminded him of his beloved island, vice to them: he caught two goats in the which he never thought of but with regret afternoon. They sent along with him their for having left it. When evening forced him swiftest runners and a bull-dog ; but these to return to the haunts of men, he appeared he soon left far behind and tired out. He to do so with reluctance; for he immediatehimself, to the astonishment of the whole ly retired to his room up stairs, where his crew, brought the two goats upon his back chest at present stands (1829), and in the to the tents. The two captains remained at exact place, it is probable, where it then the island until the 12th of the month, stood. Here was he accustomed to amuse busy refitting their ships, and getting on himself with two cats that belonged to his board what stores they could obtain. Dur brother, which he taught, in imitation of a ing these ten days, Selkirk was their hunts- part of his occupations on his solitary island, man, and procured them fresh meat. At to dance and perform many little feats. They length, all being ready, they set sail.” were extremely fond of him, and used to

Thus did Alexander Selkirk, after the long watch his return. He often said to his residence of four years and four months, friends, no doubt thinking of himself in his without having intercourse with a human be- youth, “ that were children as docile and ing, bid adieu to the island of Juan Fer- obedient, parents would all be happy in them." nandez. And no doubt he did so with a But poor Selkirk himself was now far from strange mixture of feeling, for the island, in being happy, for his relations often found the soothing communion he had held with him in tears. Attached to his father's house the great Spirit of the Universe, had become was a piece of ground, occupied as a garden, endeared to him. We cannot follow him which rose in a considerable acclivity backthroughout the privateering expedition, which ward. Here, on the top of the eminence, was on the whole a very successful one. He soon after his arrival at Largo, he constructed proved himself an expert and active seaman, a sort of cave, commanding an extensive though taciturn, and little inclined to mix in and delightful view of the Forth and its the amusements of his comrades. In seve- shores. In fits of musing meditation, he was ral instances, where he was intrusted with wont to sit here in bad weather and even at the command of samll parties on shore, and other times, and to bewail his ever having where the property and person of the inhabi- left his island. This recluse and unnatural tants were at his mercy, he showed, in bis propensity, as it appeared to them, was cause mild and considerate behavior, especially in of great grief to his parents, who often rehis protection of females, that the religious monstrated with him, and endeavored to feelings with which he was impressed in his raise his spirits. But their efforts were made solitude were not evanescent. The “Duke" in vain ; nay, he sometimes broke out before and “Duchess" reached London on the 14th them in a passion of grief, and exclaimed, of October, 1711, with “a capture of one “Oh, my beloved island, I wish I had never hundred and seventy thousand pounds value.” left thee! I never was before the man I Of this large sum Alexander Selkirk of course was on thee I have not been such since I obtained a share. Now comparatively a rich left thee-and, I fear, never can be again!" man, and anxious to see his relations after so Having plenty of money, he purchased a boat long an absence, he sought the village of for himself, and often, when the weather Largo, where he found all his friends in good would permit, made little excursions, but health. The excitement of their first meeting always alone ; and day after day he spent over, however, he gradually sunk into his in fishing, either in the beautiful bay of Largo usual solitary habit. He resided in the house or at Kingscraig Point, where he would loiter of his elder brother, his father not having till evening among its romantic cliffs, catching sufficient accommodation for him. Here the lobsters, his favorite amusement, as they rerecord of his life is almost as romantic and minded him of the crawfish of Juan Fernaninteresting as it had been in Juan Fernandez. dez. The rock to which he moored his boat “ It was his custom," says Howell, who ac- is still shown. It is at a small distance from quired the information from the descendants Lower Largo, to the east of the Temple housof the family, “ to go out in the morning, es. carrying with him provisions for the day ; Thus was the time passed by Alexander then would he wander and meditate alone Selkirk during his short stay at Largo. He through the secluded and solitary valley of appears to have been an enthusiast, and to the Keil's Den. The romantic beauties of the have formed notions of domestic life which place, and, above all, the stillness that reign- never could be realized. He was evidently far from being happy. The religious bias kirk may be briefly told. He went again to by which his mind had become affected in sea in 1717, and died a lieutenant on board the island of Juan Fernandez, and the near his majesty's ship“ Weymouth,” in 1723. ness, as it were, with which he had drawn to “Both his father and mother were dead," the Creator, while apart from society, tended says Howell, “when, in the end of the year to increase the irksomeness of that restraint 1724, or beginning of 1725, twelve years after which intercourse with his fellow-creatures his elopement with Sophia Bruce, a gay imposed. "At length,” continues Howell, widow, by name Frances Candis, or Candia, “ chance threw an object in his way that came to Largo to claim the property left to awakened in his mind a new train of thoughts him by his father—the house at the Craigie and feelings, and roused him from his lethar. Well. She produced documents to prove gy. In his wanderings up the burnside of her right, from which it appeared that Sophia Keil's Den to the ruins of Balcruvie Castle Bruce lived but a very few years after her and its romantic neighborhood, he met a marriage, and must have died some time beyoung girl seated alone, tending a single cow, tween the years 1717 and 1720. Frances Canthe property of her parents. Her lonely dis, having proved her marriage, and the will, occupation and innocent looks made a deep which was dated the 12th of December, 1720, impression upon him. He watched her for and also the death of her husband, her claim hours unseen, as she amused herself with the

was adjusted, and she left Largo in a few wild flowers she gathered, or chanted her days. Neither of his two wives had any rural lays. At each meeting the impression children by him, as far as can be learned." became stronger, and he felt more interested The clothes and other effects belonging to in the young recluse. At length he address- Selkirk were long kept as relics by his friends ed himself to her, and they joined in conver- at Largo. “In the house at the Craigie sation. He had no aversion to commune Well strangers are yet shown the room in with her for hours together, and began to which he slept, his sea-chest, and a cocoaimagine that he could live and be happy with nut shell cup that belonged to him. This a companion such as she. His fishing expe- cup at one time was richly and tastefully ditions were now neglected; even his cave be- mounted with silver, until it was unfortucame not so sweet a retreat. His mind lednately stolen by a traveling pedlar, and all him to Keil's Den and the amiable Sophia. trace of it lost for some months. At length, He never mentioned this adventure and attach- when all hope of recovering it was gone, the ment to his friends ; for he felt ashamed, af- shell was returned from Perth, deprived of ter his discourses to them, and the profession its silver. But by far the most interesting he had made of dislike to human society, to relic is his flip-can, in possession of his greatacknowledge that he was upon the point of grand-nephew, John Selcraig: It hold marrying, and thereby plunging into the about a Scottish pint, and is made of brown midst of worldly cares. But he was deter

stoneware glazed. It resembles a mined to marry Sophia, though as firmly porter jug, as used at the present day. On resolved not to remain at home to be the it is the following inscription and poesy—as, subject of their jests. This resolution form- in former times, everything belonging to a sailed, he soon persuaded the object of his or that would admit of it had its rhyme : choice to elope with him, and bid adieu to the romantic glen. Between lovers matters Alexander Selkirk, this is my one. are soon arranged, and accordingly, without the knowledge of their parents, they both When you me take on board of ship, set off for London. Alexander left his chest Pray fill me full with punch or flip. and all his clothes behind, nor did he ever

Fulham.' claim them again ; and his friends knew nothing and heard nothing of him for many The same person has an Indian cane said to years after ; still they kept his effects untouch- have belonged to Selkirk. There is a mused in hopes of his return.”

ket in the possession of Major Lumsden of The subsequent career of Alexander Sel. Luthallan that likewise belonged to him."

common

From the British Quarterly Review.

CHEMISTRY OF THE STARS.

The Stars and the Earth, or Thoughts upon Space, Time, and Eternity. 1847.

London: Baillière.

Macaulay's “ History of England” is now space, to the discussion of an argument in its fifth edition; Layard's * Nineveh” is touching the Nature of the Stars and their in its third ; and within a few weeks of the Inhabitants. issue of a second edition of Sir John Her- To prevent any misconception as to the schel's “ Astronomy," it was out of print, scope of what follows, we wish it to be unand a new issue, equivalent to a third edi- derstood at the very outset, that we shall tion, is now on sale. So large a demand as enter into no discussion as to the probability these successive editions imply is a silent but or improbability of the heavenly bodies being most striking tribute to the interest of the inhabited. We shall take for granted that subjects discussed in those works, and the they possess inhabitants, or rather shall put skill of the writers who have handled them. the question thus : “If the stars are inhabitA reviewer may, in these circumstances, ed, is it probable that the dwellers on them safely take for granted, that instead of en- resemble those on this star, or Earth, or is it tering into a critical analysis of works, al more likely that they are non-terrestrial beready judged and approved by his, and their ings, unlike us, and our plant, and animal readers, he may profitably make them the companions, and different in different stars ?” occasion of an excursus into regions of specu- We are not anxious to compel the conclulation, which such volumes have rendered sion, that all the stars are inhabited. Many patent to all. We propose to do so on the of the excellent of the earth have held that present occasion with Sir John Herschel's they universally are, and that, too, by radelightful work. It does not call for formal tional creatures ; and have thought that the praise. The younger Herschel occupies the denial of this did injustice to our own confirst rank among astronomers. He is second victions, and to the omnipotence and bounty only to Humboldt in extensive and minute of God. But our standard of Utilitarianism acquaintance with all the physical sciences, can never be a safe one by which to estiand is his equal in wide general culture and mate the works of him whose ways are not fine taste, and in skill as a writer. This is so as our ways, nor does it require the view well known, and so fully appreciated, that supposed. we say no more on the subject, but quote at It would not be a painful, but a pleasant once a passage from Sir John's preface, thing, surely, to learn that some of the stars, which will justify the use which we make of such as the new planet Flora, were great his work, and serve as a text for our present gardens, like Eden of old before Adam was remarks.

created; gardens of God, consecrated en

tirely to vegetable life, where foot of man or “ If proof were wanted of the inexhaustible fer-beast had never trod, nor wing of bird or intility of astronomical science in points of novelty sect fanned the breeze ; where the trees and interest, it would suffice to adduce the addition to the list of members of our system of no less never crackled before the pioneer's torch, than eight new planets and satellites during the nor rang with the woodman's axe, but

every preparation of these sheets for the press.”—P. viii. flower“ was born to blush unseen, and waste

its sweetness on the desert air." From the inexhaustibly fertile field here Neither is it the remembrance of the Arareferred to, we select one point for consider- bian Nights, nor thought of Aladdin's lamp, ation, and invite our readers, for a brief | that makes us add that we should rejoice to

« ZurückWeiter »