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Robinson Crusoe

First Page: Text and Wordlist

CHAPTER I-START IN LIFE

I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called - nay we call ourselves and write our name - Crusoe; and so my companions always called me.

I had two elder brothers, one of whom was lieutenant-colonel to an English regiment of foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Colonel Lockhart, and was killed at the battle near Dunkirk against the Spaniards. What became of my second brother I never knew, any more than my father or mother knew what became of me.

afterwards later/after that

from whence from where

corruption(dishonest actions that ruin your trust)

nay no

elder brother older brother

regiment military unit

formerly before now

battle fight

Spaniards people from Spain


Being the third son of the family and not bred to any trade, my head began to be filled very early with rambling thoughts. My father, who was very ancient, had given me a competent share of learning, as far as house-education and a country free school generally go, and designed me for the law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in that propensity of nature, tending directly to the life of misery which was to befall me.

bred raised/trained

ancient very old

competent (able to do something well/very good)

satisfied made happy (by meeting a need or reaching a goal)

inclination desire

nay, no,

entreaties begging

fatal deadly

propensity natural tendency

misery extreme unhappiness/extreme pain

befall happen to


My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber, [...] He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing - viz. that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

grave man very serious man

counsel advice

foresaw predicted

chamber room

desperate (without hope/very upset)

aspiring (wanting something great)

abroad in other countries

adventures fun trips

enterprise business/project

undertakingsdifficult projects

miseries terrible troubles

hardships difficult situations

mankind people

luxury (expensive and desirable)

ambition desire to do great things

envy jealousy

viz. that is,

envied was jealous of

frequently often

lamented the sadly complained about the

miserable terrible (and very unhappy)

consequence result

testimony statements (in court)

felicity happiness

poverty poorness

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