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into a lofty gallery, in the midst of which a figure appeared, completely armed, thrusting forwards the bloody stump of an arm with a terrible frown and menacing gesture, and brandishing a sword in his hand. Sir Bertrand undauntedly sprung forwards, and aiming a fierce blow at the figure, it instantly vanished, letting fall a massy iron key. The flame now rested upon a pair of ample folding-doors at the end of the gallery. Sir Bertrand went up to it, and applied the key to a brazen lock-with difficulty he turned the bolt -instantly the doors flew open, and discovered a large apartment, at the end of which was a coffin rested upon a bier, with a taper burning upon each side of it. Along the room on both sides were gigantic statues of black marble, attired in the Moorish habit, and holding enormous sabres in their right hands. Each of them reared his arm,
and advanced one leg forwards, as the knight entered; at the same moment the lid of the coffin flew open, and the bell tolled. The flame still glided forwards, and Sir Bertrand resolutely followed, till he arrived within six paces of the coffin. Suddenly, a lady in a shroud and black veil rose up in it, and stretched out her arms towards him; at the same time the statues olaghed their sabres and advanced. Sir Bertrand flew to the lady and clasped her in his arms -she threw up her veil and kissed his lips; and instantly the whole building shook as with an earthquake, and fell asunder with a horrible crash, Sir Bertrand was thrown into a sudden trance, and on recovering, found himself seated on a velvet sofa, in the most magnificent room he had ever seen, lighted with innumerable tapers, in lustres of pure crystal. A sumptuous banquet was set in the middle. The doors opening to soft music, a lady of incomparable beauty, attired with amazing splendour, entered, surrounded by a troop of gay nymphs more fair than the Graces,' She advanced to
the knight, and falling on her knees thanked him as her deliverer. The nymphs placed a garland of laurel upon his head, and the lady led him by the hand to the banquet, and sat beside him. The nymphs placed themselves at the table, and a numerous train of servants entering, served up the feast, delicious music playing all the time. Sir Bertrand could not speak for astonishment—he could only return their honours by courteous looks and gestures. After the banquet was finished, all retired but the lady, who leading back the knight to the sofa, addressed him in these words :
THE FIVE POINTS IN HIS HISTORY.
THESE are Crusoe's loneliness, his contrivances how to live, his discov. ery of the footmark on the sea-shore, his first sight of the savages, and his obtainment of a companion and servant in Friday. The second, though the least surprising, is the one most habitually felt by the reader; the one he oftenest thinks of. It is indeed the main subject of the book. But, as its interest spreads over the greater part of it, and could only be duly represented by copious extracts (minuteness of detail being necessary to do justice to its ingenuity and perseverance) it would have occupied too large a share of these pages. The lesser quantity and more startling quality of the other points render them obviously fittest for selection. The loneliness, which is in itself a one-ness, can be well enough represented by one impressive extract; the footmark is essentially one (never was there a finer unique); the first sight of the savages is of the same brief and independent order of interest; and two “man Fridays” are not in the regions of possibility. Peter Wilkins's “man Friday” was obliged to be turned into a woman, and Philip Quarll's into a monkey.
Robinson Crusoe is understood to be founded on the real history of Alexander Selkirk, a summary of which, charmingly written, was given to the public by Steele. The greatest genius might have been proud to paint a picture after that sketch. Yet we are not sure that Selkirk's adventure was not an injury, instead of a benefit to De Foe. A benefit it undoubtedly was, to him and to all of us, if it was required in order to put the thought into De Foe's head; but what we mean is, that the world would probably have had the fiction, whether the fact had
existed or not. Desert islands and cast-away mariners existed before Selkirk: children have played at hermits and house-building, even before they read Robinson Crusoe ; and the whole inimitable romance would have required but a glance of De Foe's eye upon a child at play, or at a page in an old book of voyages, or even at his own restless and isolated thoughts. This is a conjecture, however, impossible to prove ;
and we only throw it out in justice to an original genius. After all, it would make little difference; for Selkirk was not Crusoe, nor did he see the ghost of a human footstep, nor obtain a man Friday. The inhabitant of the island was De Foe himself.
May we add, nevertheless, that when De Foe thought himself most himself, he was least clever and least pleasant ? We were not so disappointed with the Second Part of Crusoe as we expected to be, when we read the book over again the other day, but still it is very inferior; not wanted; not even of a piece; for Crusoe's isolation is the charm. Who cares, after that, for a common settlement ? We dread even the remaining of the savages on the island; not for fear they should eat Robinson, but lest they should become friends with him, and make up a dinner-party. Man Friday is quite enough. He is single and subordinate, and does but administer to the superiority of his master.
De Foe did better with one person than with many. He was a very honest man, and very good at conceiving matters of fact; but it is curious to see how impossible he finds it, even in a fiction, to present any thing to his imagination which does not come palpably home to a man’s worldly or other-worldly interest and importance; and how fond he is, whether alone or in company, of being all in all; of playing the “monarch of all he surveys,” and dictating people's religion and politics to them the moment he catches a listener. He was the prose half of as inventive a genius as ever existed: and his footstep on the sea-shore has left its mark within the borders of the greatest poetry; but it originated, so to speak, in the same intense spirit of self-reference. It was the one isolated Robinson Crusoe reflected by some one other tremendous individual, come tu contest with hinı his safety and his independence. The abstract idea of a multitude followed it; but what would their presence have been in comparison? What would a thousand footsteps have been? The face of things would have been changed at once, and Crusoe's face have no longer matched it. All the savages
afterwards never tread out that footmark: nor does Crusoe allow them to remain, and run the chance of it.
It is observable, that De Foe never invented a hero to write about greater than himself; while, at the same time, he willingly recorded such as were inferior. No rogue or vagabond came amiss to him, any more than a mariner or a merchant. And it is curious to consider how heartily such a minute dealer in matter of fact could set about telling a lie ;—at least what a deliberate and successful one he told about the Ghost of Mrs. Veal ; a long-credited fiction which he invented at the request of a bookseller, in order to sell a devout publication. His History of the Plague was long considered equally true, and reaped a like
But the fact is, it is a mistake to suppose De Foe a lover of truth in any other sense than that of a workman's love for his tools, or for any other purpose than that of a masterly use of it, and a consciousness of the mastery. We do not mean to dispute his veracity between man and man: though his peculiar genius may not have been without its recommendation of him to that secret government agency in which he was at one time employed under his hero, William the Third. But the singularly material and mechanical nature of that genius, great as it was, while it hindered him from missing no impressions which could be made personally on himself as a creature of flesh and blood, kept him unembarrassed with any of the more perplexing truths suggessted by too much thought and by imaginations poetical; and hence it is, that defect itself conspired to perfect and keep clear his astonishing impress of matter of fact, and render him an object of adm tion, great, but not of an exalted kind. De Foe was in one respect as unvulgar a man as can be conceived; nobody but Swift could have surpassed him in such a work as Robinson Crusoe; yet we cannot conceal from ourselves, that something vulgar adheres to our idea of the author of Moll Flanders, the Complete English Tradesman, and even of Robinson himself. He has no music, no thorough style, no accomplishments, no love; but he can make wonderful shift without them all; was great in the company of man Friday; and he has rendered his shipwrecked solitary immortal.