Wednesday, May 9, 2012

People: Remembering the Marooner

We decided to return to the yacht. On our way back we landed in English Bay, and saw the cave in which Alexander Selkirk is said to have lived. Whether the story was true or not I am unable to say, but there is no doubt what ever that the cave has been used as a dwelling place. A fireplace and cupboards have been hollowed out in the sides, and there were other evident tokens of a former habitation. At the top of one of the steepest hills, which is said to have been his look-out station, stands a monument erected to his memory, and bearing the following inscription:

“In Memory of Alexander Selkirk. A native of Largo, in the county of Fife, Scotland, who was on this island for four years and four months. He was landed from the Cinque Ports galley, 96 tons, 16 guns, A.D. 1704, and was taken off by the Duke privateer, 12th February 1709. He died Lieutenant of H.M.S. Weymouth, A.D. 1723, aged 47 years. This tablet is erected near Selkirk’s look-out by Commander Powell and the officers of H.M.S. Topaz, 1868.”

~ from the diary of J. Cumming Dewar cruising aboard schooner Nyana at the Juan Fernandez Islands of Chile May 5, 1888

Of course, the Brethren will remember Alexander Selkirk, who was voluntarily marooned after a long dispute with his captain, as the inspiration for Daniel Dafoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Header: Selkirk Cave c 1874 via Totally Free Images


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Wow, that cave looks different from what I had imagined. I was thinking that it was more tropical. That must have been a very hard four years and four months...

Pauline said...

Yeah; I guess the Juan Fernandez group of islands is not all that hospitable. It's my understanding that Selkirk chose the island he was marooned on, and that because he knew that it was used by European ships as a watering place. He probably thought he would be picked up in a month or two and didn't stop to think about the conditions he'd be living in.