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Den rigtige Robinson Crusoe

Kilde: Øjenvidner til historien red. af John Carey
- en afskrevet tekst af Christian Bruun Borup

Selkirk var modellen for Robinson Crusoe i Defoes bog. Han var søn af en skomager og stak til søs, hvor han sluttede sig til en bande sørøvere. Han blev sat i land i september 1704 på den ubeboede ø, Más a Tierra, der ligger i Juan Fernández-øgruppen 400 sømil vest for Valparaíso i Chile. Siden er øen ny-navngivet "Robinson Crusoes Island"

Woodes Rogers beretter:

"Vores slup vendte tilbage fra kysten medførende et bjerg af krebs og en gedeskindsklædt mand, der så langt vildere ud end skindenes oprindelige ejere. Han havde opholdt sig på øen i fire år og fire måneder efter at være blevet sat i land af kaptajn Stradling på Cinque-Ports. Han hed Alexander Selkirk og var skotte. Han havde været styrmand på Cinque-Ports, og kaptajnen fortalte mig, at han havde været den bedste mand, de havde haft ombord, så jeg gik straks med til at lade ham sejle som styrmand på vores skib.

Det var ham, der havde tændt bål den nat, han så vores skibe, da han bedømte dem til at være engelske. Under sit ophold på øen, havde han set adskillige skibe sejle forbi, men to af dem var kommet ind for at ankre. Da han gik ned for at se nærmere på dem, opdagede han at de var spanske, så han trak sig tilbage, hvorpå de havde skudt efter ham. Havde det været franske, ville han have overgivet sig til dem, men han foretrak at dø alene her på øen fremfor at falde i hænderne på spaniolerne i disse dele af verden, for hvis han blev pågrebet, ville de slå ham ihjel eller gøre ham til slave i minerne, for han regnede ikke med, at de ville skåne en fremmed, der ville være i stand til at udforske Sydhavet. Spaniolerne var gået i land, uden at han havde opdaget det, før de var kommet så tæt på ham, at han havde det største besvær med at slippe bort. De havde ikke alene skudt efter ham, men også forfulgt ham ind i skoven, hvor han havde måttet kravle op i et højt træ. De havde hentet vand lige under træet og dræbt en del geder lige i nærheden, men omsider var de draget af uden at have opdaget ham. Han fortalte os, at han var født i Largo i grevskabet Fife i Skotland, og at han havde været sømand lige siden sin pureste ungdom. Grunden til at han var blevet sat i land på øen, havde været en uoverensstemmelse mellem ham og hans kaptajn... Han havde fået klæder og køjetøj med, en flintebøsse, lidt krudt, kugler og noget tobak samt en huggert, en kniv, en bibel, nogle praktiske småting, navigationsinstrumenter og nogle bøger.

Han havde klaret sig så godt, han kunne, men de første otte måneder havde han været meget nedtrykt og bange ved tanken om at være alene på en øde ø. Han havde bygget to hytter af grene og dækket dem med langt græs, og på jorden havde han lagt skind af de geder, han skød med sin flintebøsse. Han havde kun fået et pund krudt med sig, så da det næsten var opbrugt, havde han lavet ild ved at gnide to stykker træ mod hinanden. I den mindste af hytterne, der lå lidt afsides, tilberedte han sin føde, og i den store sov han, og her beskæftigede han sig også med at læse, synge salmer og bede, så han hævdede at være en bedre kristen i sin ensomhed, end han havde været nogensinde før eller siden. I begyndelsen spiste han intet, dels fordi han var fortvivlet, og dels fordi han manglede brød og salt, Han ville heller ikke lægge sig til at sove, men sad hele tiden og holdt udkik, indtil han ikke længere kunne holde sig oprejst. Pimiento-træet i skoven, der brændte med en klar flamme, tjente både til at varme ham og til at give lys, og dets velduftende røg forfriskede ham. Han kunne have haft fisk nok, men manglen på salt gjorde, at de ikke kunne bevares friske. Krebs var der dog massevis af. De var på størrelse med hummere og smagte udmærket. Nogle gange kogte han dem og andre gange blev de stegt, sådan som han også gjorde med sit gedekød. Han kunne lave en udmærket kødsuppe, for fårekødet lugtede ikke så ramt som vores.

Han havde holdt regnskab med fårene og vidste, at han havde dræbt 500 og fanget mange flere, som han havde mærket i ørerne og sluppet fri igen. Da han ikke havde mere krudt tilbage, fangede han dem ved at løbe dem op til fods. Hans levemåde og evindelige vandringer og løb, havde fjernet ethvert overflødigt pund fedt på hans krop, så han løb forbløffende hurtigt gennem skoven og op ad klipper og bakker, hvilket vi tydeligt så, da vi bad ham fange nogle geder til os. Vi havde en bulldog, som vi sendte ud sammen med adskillige af vores hurtigste løbere for at hjælpe ham med at fange fårene, men han løb både hund og mænd trætte, fangede gederne og bar dem tilbage til os på ryggen. Han fortalte os, at hans adræthed under gedejagterne engang nær havde kostet ham livet, for han havde forfulgt en ged med så stor iver, at han fangede den på kanten af en afgrund, som han ikke havde været opmærksom på, da den havde været skjult bag nogle buske. Han faldt ned i afgrunden sammen med geden, og der var langt ned. Han var så omtumlet og kvæstet ved faldet, at det var lige før, han var omkommet. Da han kom til sig selv, opdagede han at den døde ged lå neden under ham. Han lå der i et døgn og var derefter med nød og næppe i stand til at kravle tilbage til hytten, der lå en mil derfra, og her måtte han så ligge og sunde sig i ti dage.

Han vænnede sig snart til ikke at have brød eller salt, og om sommeren havde han glæde af de mange roer, som kaptajn Dampiers folk havde sået tidligere, og som nu havde bredt sig over en hektar af øen. Han havde også masser af god kål, og han kunne krydre sit kød med frugterne fra pimiento-træet [almindelig peber Red.], der minder meget om Jamaica-peber og dufter delikat. Han fandt også en sort peberart ved navn Maragita, som er udmærket til at fordrive vinde og imod tarmsygdomme. Han havde slidt sine sko og sit tøj op ved at løbe gennem skoven, og da han nu var nødt til at klare sig uden, blev hans fødder så hårde, at han kunne løbe overalt uden vanskeligheder, og det varede et stykke tid, før han kunne gå med sko, efter vi havde fundet ham. For da hans fødder i så lang tid ikke havde været vant til sko, svulmede de op, da han atter begyndte at gå med dem. Efter at havde overvundet sin nedtrykthed, havde han forlystet sig med at skære sit navn i træernes bark sammen med tidspunktet for, hvornår han var blevet sat i land, og det antaldage han havde været der. I begyndelsen havde han været ret plaget af katte og rotter, der var sluppet i land fra de skibe, der havde anløbet øen for at hente vand. De formerede sig med rivende hast og rotterne gav sig til at gnave i hans tøj og fødder, mens han sov, hvilket tvang ham til at gøre sig gode venner med kattene ved hjælp af gedekødet. Herved blev mange af dem så tamme, at de snart lå omkring ham i hundredevis og derved hurtigt fik befriet ham fra rotterne.

Han havde også tæmmet nogle gedekid, og som adspredelse sang og dansede han med dem og kattene. Så takket været forsynet og hans ungdoms styrke - han var omkring 30 år gammel - overvandt han snart alle ulemperne ved at være alene og fik hurtigt humøret igen. Da alle hans klæder var slidt op, syede han sig en ny kappe og en hue af gedeskind, idet han skar snører til at sy med ved hjælp af hans kniv. Han havde ikke nogen nål, men klarede sig ved at prikke hul med et søm. Da hans kniv var slidt helt ned til skæftet, lavede han nye knive, så godt han kunne, af nogel tøndebånd, der var efterladt på stranden. Dem hamrede han flade og sleb skarpe på en sten. Han havde lidt linnedklæde med sig, og afd et syede han skjorter ved hjælp af et søm og noget garn, som han trævlede op af sine gamle sokker. Han var iført sin sidste skjorte, da vi fandt ham på øen.

Da han kom ombord på vort skib, var han så uvant med at tale sit eget sprog, at vi knapt nok kunne forstå ham, for han udtalte kun ordene halvt. Vi tilbød ham en dram, men han afslog at røre den, da han ikke havde drukket andet end vand, siden han kom til øen. Det varede også lang tid, før han kunne nyde vores mad. Han berettede ikke om andre produkter på øen end dem, vi allerede har nævnt, med undtagelse af nogle små, sorte blommer, der smager glimrende, men er meget vanskelige at få fat i, da de træer, der bærer dem, gror på høje bjerge og klipper."

Afskrevet af Christian Borup. Et andet sted så jeg, at Selkirk var i betydelig bedre fysisk tilstand end de fleste af de søfolk, der havde fundet ham. Skibet havde problemer med orm, hvorfor det lagde til ved øen. Mange søfolk havde skørbug og andre ernæringsrelaterede sygdomme.

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Woodges Rogers var - ifølge Erik Kjersgaards oversættelse af De Amerikanske Sørøvere - engelsk kaptajn på skibet "Duke" i begyndelsen af 1700-tallet og opererede som kaper i Stillehavet ud for Sydamerikas kyst. På øgruppen Juan Fernandez undsatte han i 1708 en agterudsejlet skotsk sømand med et stridbart sind og en fanatisk vilje til at overleve under de mest ugunstige forhold. Alexander Selkirk underholdt sine befriere med fortællinger om sine ensomme år på øen og Woodes Rogers lærte, at de ærligste penge en sørøver kunne tjene, var forfatterhonoraret for sine erindringer. Han udgav en lille bog på en lille halv snes sider om, hvad Selkirk havde fortalt ham. Genren er siden kaldt "robinsonade", der angiveligt går igen i flere sørøvereventyr efter at Daniel Defoe havde skrevet Robinson Crusoe.

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Det var Robinson Crusoe Island som Selkirk boede på i fire år og fire måneder. Øen ved siden af har fået navnet Alexander Selkirk Island, men han har formodentlig aldrig sat sin fod på denne ø.

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Der har været en arkæologisk udgravning på Robinson Crusoe Island, og imod forventning har man faktisk fundet noget, som denne billedserie viser:

http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-39523.html

<h5 id="spShortDate">02/06/2009</h5>

 

<h1>Trapped on a Pacific Island</h1>

<h2>Scientists Research the Real Robinson Crusoe</h2>

By Marco Evers

Generations of children have been spellbound by Robinson Crusoe's exploits, but few are aware of the real-life figure who inspired the classic. Now, 300 years after he left his island prison, scientists have pieced together how the real Crusoe managed to survive.

What was it he had seen? A fire burning on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific? The next day, the captain of the Duke, an English buccaneer ship, sent an armed party to the island to investigate. When the men returned to the ship, they brought along two surprises: large numbers of spiny lobsters and a shaggy creature.

The figure that climbed on board the Duke on Feb. 2, 1709 was apparently human, but wild as an animal, barefoot and covered in goatskin. The creature, extremely agitated, was only able to stammer a few barely comprehensible words at first, but they were enough to become immortal.

In his novel, first published in 1719, Daniel Defoe named the islander "Robinson Crusoe." But the real Robinson was a man named Alexander Selkirk. He was a Scotsman, the seventh son of a shoemaker from the village of Lower Largo, near Edinburgh. He had spent four years and four months on Más a Tierra, a windswept island in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, 650 kilometers (404 miles) off the coast of Chile. He was as alone as a human being can be. For Selkirk, there was no "Man Friday," a character Defoe created for his novel.

Unlike his literary equivalent, Selkirk was also not shipwrecked. Instead his captain had simply left him stranded after a longstanding quarrel. He must have looked on in disbelief as his ship sailed away over the horizon. Among the few items he had been left were some articles of clothing, a knife, an axe, a gun, navigation devices, a cooking pot, tobacco and a bible.

On the 300th anniversary of his return to human society, scientists can now paint a clear picture of Selkirk's island existence. They believe that they now know how and where he lived, partly through some of his personal effects that have now been discovered. His life after being rescued can also be reconstructed, providing a portrait of the real Robinson that is not always flattering -- and yet typical of the type of rogue who took to the seas in those days.

Selkirk the sailor was a pirate, a drinker and a short-tempered ruffian. Born into a troubled family, he fled to sea when he was barely 17. Working on privateer ships in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, he robbed Spaniards and Frenchmen. Although he was not unintelligent, even working his way up to the position of navigator, his temperament was precarious. Selkirk had apparently always had trouble getting along with other people, which was perhaps precisely why he endured his solitary confinement on the island so successfully.

 

<h4>FROM THE MAGAZINE</h4>

David Caldwell, 57, is an archeologist at the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh. Ordinarily, his field is Scottish history, which he usually studies from the comfort of his office. But when Daisuke Takahashi, a Japanese Robinson Crusoe fanatic, asked Caldwell to travel with him to the castaway's island, it was an offer he couldn't resist.

Enthusiast Takahashi had obtained funding for his expedition from the National Geographic Society, but he needed a real academic as his partner. Caldwell was certainly qualified. Two of the better Selkirk relics are in his museum's collection: a drinking vessel that the pirate may have carved himself, and a sea chest of northern Italian origin, which Caldwell believes Selkirk captured in the Mediterranean.

The men spent more than a month on the island, which was officially renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966. It is still a quiet place, home to about 600 people today, most of them spiny lobster fishermen. It has two unpaved roads and barely two dozen vehicles. There is no restaurant or even a bar. Cruise ships occasionally drop anchor at Robinson Crusoe en route from the Galapagos Islands to Tierra del Fuego.

 

The Spanish threat

Caldwell and Takahashi recently described their findings in Post-Medieval Archaeology, an academic journal. They excavated at a site where Takahashi, who had traveled to the island before, believed Selkirk's camp might have been, a well-protected clearing on a volcanic hillside, almost 300 meters (980 feet) above sea level, surrounded by brambles. Selkirk chose not to live on the beach, because it was too dangerous. Although he had no cannibals to fear, as Robinson did in the novel, the Spaniards were a threat. They would have killed him on the spot or turned him into a slave.

The team soon discovered the remains of a Spanish ammunition chest. The Spaniards had reoccupied the island in 1750 to prevent their enemies from continuing to use it as a safe haven. But Caldwell found two older fire sites underneath the chamber -- and the charred remains of bones in them.

Around the site, the scientists discovered holes in the ground that had apparently once accommodated posts. Perhaps Selkirk had built a hut there, they conjectured. When Caldwell sifted through the excavated dirt, he discovered the strongest evidence of Selkirk's presence: an angular, pointed piece of bronze, 1.6 centimeters long. He assigned no importance to the find at first, until he realized that the shape of the metal piece matched that of the lower arm of a divider, which was known to be part of Selkirk's navigation equipment.

Caldwell believes that the castaway had used his divider for crafts and damaged it in the process. A metallurgical test revealed that the metal could have come from Cornwall. "This," says the historian, "is the kind of strong evidence one rarely gets in archeology."

From his campsite, Selkirk faced a steep ascent of another 300 meters to his observation post at the top of the mountain, where he probably spent several hours every day. If he spotted a sail, he had to decide whether it belonged to friend or foe. Should he light a signal fire or remain concealed? He sighted a few ships, and two, both of them Spanish, even landed on the island -- but he managed to escape detection.

The first eight months were a struggle for Selkirk: a pirate hungry for gold and adventure, he fell into a depression. But over time he began to make a home for himself.

Of all the islands Selkirk could have ended up on, this one was practically tailor-made for a castaway. His life soon improved, so much so that he may have been better off than ever before or would ever be again in the future. He was a prisoner, and yet he was freer than ever.

The climate was mild almost all year and usually dry, there were no poisonous or dangerous animals and there were freshwater streams. Fat seals lounged on the beach, spiny lobsters and many varieties of fish populated the lagoons, and edible plants thrived on land, including wild berries, watercress, a form of black pepper and a plant that tasted like cabbage. The only thing he lacked was salt, as he later told his rescuers.

 

Goats, cats and rats

Selkirk was not the first person to live there. In 1575, Spanish explorers brought goats to the island, and subsequent ships brought cats and rats, as well as radishes and parsnips. Selkirk tamed feral cats so that they would defend him against the rats that nibbled on his feet at night. But a herd of wild goats became his greatest source of amusement.

Hunting goats became a sport for Selkirk. He learned to outrun them and throw them to the ground while running. He released many of them but, as he told his rescuers, he killed 500 goats for their meat and skins. He even recorded each goat he killed.

He must have satisfied his sexual urges through masturbation, although there is some debate among experts as to whether he might have had sex with goats. To satisfy his need for communication, Selkirk read the bible, prayed, meditated and sang psalms. He confided in his rescuers that he had never been as good a Christian as he was on the island, and that he doubted whether he would ever be one again.

Selkirk, in his early 30s, was in much better health than the sailors who rescued him. Half of the crew had contracted scurvy after a miserable voyage from England. But Selkirk moved with ease. The soles of his feet had become so calloused that he could outrun the ship's dog on the sharp terrain of his volcanic island. He was unable to wear shoes at first -- or tolerate rum.

For almost three years, Selkirk sailed around the world with the buccaneers who had rescued him. They fought, robbed and extorted their enemies, and all with the blessing of the Crown, because their victims were the enemies of their country. At the end of 1711, Selkirk returned to England with a sizeable fortune. He became an instant celebrity, trading his stories for food and drink in pubs. Archeologist Caldwell speculates that this is where Daniel Defoe may have met him.

But Selkirk was unhappy in the civilized world, and he longed for his island. A journalist quoted him as saying: "I now have 800 pounds, but never again will I be as happy as I was then, when I had not a single quarter penny." He drank and fought and was married to two women at the same time. But eventually he fled back to the sea, this time as a lieutenant in the navy.

His life came to an abrupt end at 45. On Dec. 12, 1721, he died of yellow fever off the coast of West Africa and was buried at sea. Robinson Crusoe was already a groundbreaking success by then. Today Defoe's work is celebrated as the first novel in the English language.

There is one Selkirk mystery that remains unsolved. According to the accounts of his travels, the castaway kept a diary of sorts on Más a Tierra. The diary is also mentioned in a letter from one of his widows. But what happened to his notes?

Archeologist Caldwell has a theory. Shortly after Selkirk's death, his writings fell into the hands of the Duke of Hamilton, the richest nobleman in Scotland. When his descendants needed money, in the 19th century, they auctioned off paintings and collections at Christie's in London. The nascent German Empire was a major buyer at this auction.

Caldwell's theory suggests that if the diary of the real Robinson Crusoe still exists, it could be somewhere in Berlin today. "I would speculate that it is most likely on a forgotten shelf in the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage," says Caldwell.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,605963,00.html



Sidst opdateret:  20:29 23/09 2014
 

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