Wednesday, February 1

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When she was gone, the world looked awkwardly round me. I was as much astranger in it, in my thoughts, as I was in the Brazils, when I firstwent on shore there; and as much alone, except for the assistance ofservants, as I was in my island. I knew neither what to think nor whatto do. I saw the world busy around me: one part labouring for bread, another part squandering in vile excesses or empty pleasures, but equallymiserable because the end they proposed still fled from them; for the menof pleasure every day surfeited of their vice, and heaped up work forsorrow and repentance; and the men of labour spent their strength indaily struggling for bread to maintain the vital strength they labouredwith: so living in a daily circulation of sorrow, living but to work, andworking but to live, as if daily bread were the only end of wearisomelife, and a wearisome life the only occasion of daily bread.

This put me in mind of the life I lived in my kingdom, the island; whereI suffered no more corn to grow, because I did not want it; and bred nomore goats, because I had no more use for them; where the money lay inthe drawer till it grew mouldy, and had scarce the favour to be lookedupon in twenty years. All these things, had I improved them as I oughtto have done, and as reason and religion had dictated to me, would havetaught me to search farther than human enjoyments for a full felicity;and that there was something which certainly was the reason and end oflife superior to all these things, and which was either to be possessed, or at least hoped for, on this side of the grave.

But my sage counsellor was gone; I was like a ship without a pilot, thatcould only run afore the wind. My thoughts ran all away again into theold affair; my head was quite turned with the whimsies of foreignadventures; and all the pleasant, innocent amusements of my farm, mygarden, my cattle, and my family, which before entirely possessed me, were nothing to me, had no relish, and were like music to one that has noear, or food to one that has no taste. In a word, I resolved to leaveoff housekeeping, let my farm, and return to London; and in a few monthsafter I did so.

When I came to London, I was still as uneasy as I was before; I had norelish for the place, no employment in it, nothing to do but to saunterabout like an idle person, of whom it may be said he is perfectly uselessin God's creation, and it is not one farthing's matter to the rest of hiskind whether he be dead or alive. This also was the thing which, of allcircumstances of life, was the most my aversion, who had been all my daysused to an active life; and I would often say to myself, A state ofidleness is the very dregs of life; and, indeed, I thought I was muchmore suitably employed when I was twentysix days making a deal board.

It was now the beginning of the year 1693, when my nephew, whom, as Ihave observed before, I had brought up to the sea, and had made himcommander of a ship, was come home from a short voyage to Bilbao, beingthe first he had made. He came to me, and told me that some merchants ofhis acquaintance had been proposing to him to go a voyage for them to theEast Indies, and to China, as private traders. And now, uncle, sayshe, if you will go to sea with me, I will engage to land you upon yourold habitation in the island; for we are to touch at the Brazils.






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