The Brasils (modern-day Brazil) were under Portuguese and Spanish control, and were an important centre for sugar production. Many of the plantation owners were Europeans, who either emigrated to the Brasils or managed them from home by way of a duty manager and occasional visits.
An Assiento was a licence granted by Spain to other European nations to sell slaves in Spanish colonies. At the time, Spain had no territories of her own in the slave regions of Africa, and so her plantations relied on supply by Portuguese and later British and Dutch traders. Assientos were issued from 1543, but the British arrangement did not come into force until 1713, making this reference something of an anachronism.
The missing dates here are supplied in some editions: 1 September 1659. The first three editions showed blanks.
There is great significance in the dates of Crusoe’s adventures: as he points out here, he sets out on this voyage exactly eight years after his first voyage from home.
Defoe emphasises the bad omens which Crusoe fails to heed. There is a parallel to Milton's Paradise Lost in this technique.
This is a line from a poem by Robert Wild, a non-conformist minister and satirical poet. The poem has the catchy title: Poetica Licentia. A Gratulatory Poem Upon His Majesties Gracious Declaration For Liberty of Conscience. With a Friendly Debate betwixt Con and Non.
Geoffrey Sill discusses it further in ‘The Source of Robinson Crusoe’s ‘Sudden Joys’’, Notes and Queries, 45.1, (1998) pp.67-8.
This map was printed in some earlier editions.
Crusoe’s outburst on money is one of the most famous passages of the novel. He convincingly argues that money is useless to him in his situation, with tools and food of far more value. In this way he effectively rejects a central pillar of western society. However, these words prove to be somewhat at odds with his materialistic attitude – he keeps the money safe and takes it with him on his escape from the island.