The pirate story that inspired Daniel Defoe

The publication of the novel by Daniel Defoe about the adventures of Robinson Crusoe became a real sensation: readers were enthusiastically acquainted with the story of a brave sailor who was forced to fight for life on a desert island. According to one of the versions, the story of the fate of the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk served as a source of inspiration for the writer ... The boatswain spent four years on the forgotten island, and, returning to his homeland, told about how he managed to survive in extreme conditions.

“The fate of this incredible man is a ready-made script for a book, ” perhaps Defoe thought about this after he had a chance to talk with Alexander. The sailor told him about the trials that he had to endure after one day, having quarreled with the captain of the ship on which he served, he was left alone with the wild nature. However, first things first.

Alexander Selkirk has always been an adventurer by nature. He was not attracted by the prospect of continuing the work of his father, who was engaged in leatherworking, so he, while still a teenager, set out on a voyage, deciding to spend most of his life wandering across the ocean. The first expedition was successful: Alexander mastered the simple duties of an ordinary sailor and settled on a pirate ship. Easy money, danger and adventure - all this, like a magnet, attracted the guy.

The second time he went to sea in the status of boatswain on a ship from the flotilla of the pirate William Dampier. The course was held for the West Indies, for the places of gold mining. Everything was going well until the captain changed on the ship, and then Alexander was seriously worried about the future of the crew: it seemed to him that the new helmsman knew absolutely nothing about shipping and doom them all to certain death. Conflicts between the cocky boatswain and the captain took place on a regular basis, until the latter threatened to land a subordinate on a nearby island. At this moment, Alexander should have tempered his ardor, but he smugly replied that it did not frighten him at all. The call was accepted, and the next morning the boatswain, standing on the island, watched his ship go to the horizon.

Alexander was left on one of the islands of the Juan Fernandez archipelago. At first, the guy was absolutely not afraid of this situation: he was sure that he would soon meet with a new ship, join the crew, and all troubles would be behind him. In fact, very soon he realized that practically no one enters this bay. It was better for him not to meet with Spanish ships (the English pirates managed to annoy them too much), but the British ship appeared near the island only 4 years and 4 months later.

Life on the island turned out to be the hardest test for Alexander. He did not immediately realize that he would have to live alone for a long time, so at first he famously spent matches and gunpowder, which he grabbed from the ship. When it became clear that the stock was coming to an end, Alexander began to think about how to win in this unequal battle with circumstances. He managed to build two huts (he used one of them for cooking, fire, like primitive people, was extracted by friction), learned how to make clothes from goatskin. It was not difficult to find food: Alexander hunted goats, birds, turtles ... When the gunpowder ran out, he began to set snares to simplify his task, caught the kids, injured their tendons, and then they could never run fast. To cope with rat raids, the aborigine tamed cats that were once brought to the island by sailors.

From his island captivity, Alexander was rescued by the British. Ironically, the expedition to the forgotten archipelago was sent by the same pirate William Dampier! At first, he could not even really explain who he was and how he got to the island, the long-term silence made itself felt. However, later the islander sailor partially returned to normal life. An interesting fact is that the ship from which he got off really wrecked. True, Alexander himself died a few years later on another sea voyage, having contracted malaria. A wonderful story, reinterpreted by Daniel Defoe, remains in memory of his life.