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Crusoe is commenting on his initial reaction after surviving the wreck of his ship off the deserted island. On the beach, he looks far out to the ocean and cannot believe how far the wreck of his ship is away from shore, and how rough the sea is. He is thus very grateful and amazed to have survived, and indeed wonders how he was able to get to shore. But when he looks at the situation he has found himself in, he realizes that his escape from death was a "dreadful deliverance":
I was wet, had no clothes...nor anything either to eat or drink to comfort me; neither did I see any prospect before me but that of perishing with hunger or being devoured by wild beasts; and...I had no weapon, either to hunt and kill any creature for my sustenance, or to defend myself...In a word, I had nothing about me but a knife, a tobacco-pipe, and a little tobacco in a box.
Overwhelmed with panic and self-pity, he runs around on the beach "like a madman." But he quickly regains his wits and begins gathering wood, searching for water, and figuring out possibilities for self-defense. Having done so, he lays down to rest, and sleeps "as comfortably as, I believe, any could have done in my condition." Faced with panic, he returns to industriousness and organization to survive, a trend which will repeat itself throughout his experience on the island. His deliverance may be dreadful, but he immediately sets to making the best of it.
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