Page 126. " like Saul, who complain’d not only that the Philistines were upon him "

And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

1 Samuel 28:15

Page 128. " sticks of the osier like wood "
Osier Basket
Creative Commons AttributionOsier Basket - Credit: fdecomite, Flickr


Osier is a form of willow, a deciduous plant which is strong yet supple and often used in basket weaving.



Page 130. " being all cannibals, they would kill and eat them "

  Cannibalism, the eating of humans, was once practised widely by tribes throughout the world, particularly in island communities. Very few tribes still practise cannibalism, although one that does is the Korowai of New Guinea.

Page 136. " the Spaniards in all their barbarities practis’d in America "

Following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492, the Spanish colonised large parts of Central and South America, often capturing territory in bloody wars. Their cruelties in building the Spanish Empire was one of Defoe’s major themes.


Page 136. " the common bowels of pity "

The bowels were generally believed to be the primary source of deep emotions.

Page 142. " like one of the ancient giants "
The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk
Public DomainThe Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk - Credit: Project Gutenberg
 Giants were, and still remain, popular figures in cultural myths and legends. They range from characters in children's stories, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, to the Titans and Giants of Greek and Norse mythology and semi-historical figures like Goliath.

Today, the very largest among us eschew eating children and building heavenly palaces for careers in wrestling and the movies:


Page 143. " this being the southern Solstice "


Solstices occur twice a year, in June and December, when the sun reaches its northernmost or southernmost point relative to the Earth’s axis.  Traditionally, they were important religious festivals, and druid ceremonies still take place at sites like Stonehenge.

The terms Summer and Winter Solstice can be misleading as the seasons depend on the hemisphere. Sailors prefer the terms Northern and Southern Solstice, as these indicate the position of the Sun.

The Southern Solstice occurs in December.

Page 148. " obliges men to stave, or take in pieces their boat "

When a ship was sinking in a storm, the crew would sometimes break up goods or parts of the deck and throw them overboard, in order to lighten the vessel.

Page 149. " Let the naturalists explain these things "

The Naturalists were natural philosophers who were committed to reason and explaining the reality of the world. They saw science and philosophy as part of the same continuum, and Naturalism can be seen as the basis of all modern science.