Robinson Crusoe’s labour shortage


For some reason I started reading Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe [1719]. It’s one of those stories I thought I had already absorbed by osmosis. Shipwreck, desert island, Man Friday, expository myth for 18th century political economy, etc.

But there’s a lot in there that never made it into the versions we get as kids. For example, the purpose of Crusoe’s ill-fated voyage was cut out of the Pierce Brosnan Disney version¹:

They listened always very attentively to my discourses on these heads, but especially to that part which related to the buying Negroes, which was a trade at that time not only far entered into, but as far as it was, had been carried on by the Assiento’s, or permission of the Kings of Spain and Portugal, and engross’d in the publick, so that few Negroes were brought, and those excessive dear.

It happen’d, being in company with some merchants and planters of my acquaitance, and talking of those things very earnestly, three of them came to me the next morning, and told me they had been musing very much upon what I had discoursed with them of, the last night, and they came to make a secret proposal to me; and after enjoining me secrecy, they told me, that they had a mind to fit out a ship to go to Guinea, that they all had plantations as well as I, and were straiten’d for nothing so much as servants; that as it was a trade that could not be carried on, because they could not publickly sell the Negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one voyage, to bring the Negroes on shore privately, and divide them among their own plantations; and in a word, the question was, whether I would go their super-cargo in the ship to manage the trading part upon the coast of Guinea? And they offer’d me that I should have my equal share of the Negroes without providing any part of the stock.

This was a fair proposal it must be confess’d…

1. Alright, I confess I haven’t seen the Pierce Brosnan Disney version (yet). I’m just making smug assumptions.


Published in: on 30 May, 2007 at 10:43 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment


    Submited post on – “Robinson Crusoe?s labour shortage”

  2. Can you give me any idea about the provenance of the French cartoon above?
    Thank you

  3. Google images, I’m afraid! Don’t know any more than that.

  4. u misspelled public! its public not publick! r u an idiot or something?

    • sry,
      i didn’t mean that.

  5. how many people go on this website anyway? probably none.
    i can see why!

    • hey!
      It’s not so bad.
      You gotta give the creator some credit.
      This is probably really hard to make.

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