Crusoe hunting goats by George Cruikshank as the realisation in vignette of one Crusoe's attempts to feed himself rather rely upon the dwindling stock of food he has salvaged from the wreck in John Major's edition of The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1831). Vignette: 4.8 cm high by 5.9 cm wide, p. 59. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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

In the interval of time while this was doing, I went out once at least every day with my gun, as well to divert myself as to see if I could kill anything fit for food; and, as near as I could, to acquaint myself with what the island produced. The first time I went out, I presently discovered that there were goats in the island, which was a great satisfaction to me; but then it was attended with this misfortune to me​ — viz. that they were so shy, so subtle, and so swift of foot, that it was the most difficult thing in the world to come at them; but I was not discouraged at this, not doubting but I might now and then shoot one, as it soon happened; for after I had found their haunts a little, I laid wait in this manner for them: I observed if they saw me in the valleys, though they were upon the rocks, they would run away, as in a terrible fright; but if they were feeding in the valleys, and I was upon the rocks, they took no notice of me; from whence I concluded that, by the position of their optics, their sight was so directed downward that they did not readily see objects that were above them; so afterwards I took this method​— I always climbed the rocks first, to get above them, and then had frequently a fair mark. [Chapter IV, "First Few Weeks on the Island," p. 58]


Perhaps Cruikshank's interest in the island's goats stems from Stothard's 1790 program of illustration, which feature the animals prominently. Initially they constitute an unknown that inspires fear in Crusoe as he explores the geography and resources​ of the island. With a number of firearms and plentiful supplies of shot and gunpowder, Crusoe​makes the transition from sailor and salvager to hunter-gatherer as he studies the behaviour of his prey.​As he stalks the wild goats in this illustration, he scouts the island for traces of the activities of the cannibals who use the island for their grisly ceremonial feasts.

Parallel Scenes from Stothard (1790), Children's Book (1818), and Cassell's (1863-64)

Left: Stothard's 1790 realisation of the solitary and reflective protagonist, Robinson Crusoe at work in his cave (Chapter IV, "First Few Weeks on the Island," copper-engraving). Centre: The children's book frontispiece that exemplifies Crusoe's attempts to replicate European constructs upon the tropical island, Robinson Crusoe's Calendar (1818). Right: A later, high realistic interpretation suggesting the tropical lushness of the Caribbean island, Crusoe discovers Goats on the island (1863-64). [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Related Material


Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, with introductory verses by Bernard Barton, and illustrated with numerous engravings from drawings by George Cruikshank expressly designed for this edition. 2 vols. London: Printed at the Shakespeare Press, by W. Nichol, for John Major, Fleet Street, 1831.

De Foe, Daniel. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Written by Himself. Illustrated by Gilbert, Cruikshank, and Brown. London: Darton and Hodge, 1867?].

Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner. (1831). Illustrated by George Cruikshank. Major's Edition. London: Chatto & Windus, 1890.

Patten, Robert L. "Phase 2: "'The Finest Things, Next to Rembrandt's,' 1720–1835." Chapter 20, "Thumbnail Designs." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 1: 1792-1835. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1992; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1992. Pp. 325-339.

Last modified 20 February 2018