Crusoe advised by his Father (facing p. 4) — the volume's third composite wood-block engraving for Defoe's The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner. Related by himself (London: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, 1863-64). Chapter 1, "Start in Life." The illustrator takes full advantages of the potential of the composite wood-block engraving to render figures in the round, contrasting the gouty, sedentary, cautious elder and the fashionably-dressed, lithe-limbed youth. Full-page, framed: 14.2 cm high x 12.1 cm wide. Running head: "Crusoe at Home with his Father."

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage Illustrated: The Prodigal Son refuses to comply with Parental wishes

Being the third son of the family and not bred to any trade, my head began to be filled very early with rambling thoughts. My father, who was very ancient, had given me a competent share of learning, as far as house-education and a country free school generally go, and designed me for the law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in that propensity of nature, tending directly to the life of misery which was to befal me.

My father, a wise and grave man man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father's house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising​my fortune through application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. [Chapter I, "Start in Life," page 2]

Commentary

Gone is the lightness of Cruikshank's small-scale caricature of a chastened prodigal and a reproving father, wearing dark glasses, in his dotage. Although the Cassell's illustrator treats his subject, the son's passive-agressive rebellion against parental authority, with far greater seriousness in the large-scale composite wood-block engraving, something of the charm of the thirty-year-old vignette has been lost.

Related Material

Related Scenes from Stothard (1782), Cruikshank (1831), and Wehnert (1862)

Left: Thomas Stothard's tranquil study in contrasting youth and age, full-page frontispiece, "My Father was a wise and grave man: gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design.". Centre: Cruikshank's more humorous Young Crusoe and his Father. Right: Wehnert's parallel scene, again omitting the boy's mother, Crusoe's father giving his advice. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Reference

Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner. Related by himself. With upwards of One Hundred Illustrations. London: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, 1863-64.


Last modified 7 March 2018