DIRECTOR   Spalek Plains


In the year 1631 a Moskito Indian was left by accident on the island of Juau Fernandez, in the Pacific Ocean; the English ship, in which he was a sailor, having been chased off the coast by some hostile Spanish vessels. Captain Dampier describes this man's condition in the following words :— " This Indian lived here alone above three years ; and although he was several times sought after by the Spaniards, who knew he was left on the island, yet they could never find him. He was in the woods hunting for goats, when Captain Watlin drew off his men, and the ship was under sail before he came back to shore. He had with him his gun, and a knife, with a small horn of powder, and a few shot; which being spent, he contrived a way, by notching his knife, to saw the barrel of his gun into small pieces, wherewith he made harpoons, lances, hooks, and a long knife ; heating the pieces first in the fire, which he struck with his gun-flint, and a piece of the barrel of his gun, which he hardened ; having learnt to do that among the English. The hot pieces of iron he would hammer out, and bend as he pleased with stones, and saw them with his jagged knife, or grind them to an edge by long labour, and harden them to a good temper as there was occasion. With such instruments as he made in that manner, he got such provisions as the island afforded, either goats or fish. He told us that at first he was forced to eat seal, which is very ordinary meat, before he had made hooks ; but afterwards he never killed any seals but to make lines, cutting their skins into thongs. He had a little house, or hut, half a mile from the sea, which was lined with goat's skin ; his couch, or barbecu of sticks, lying along about two feet distance from the ground, was spread with the same, and was all his bedding. He had no clothes left; having worn out those he brought from Watlin's ship, but only a skin about his waist. He saw our ship the day before we came to an anchor, and did believe we were English ; and therefore killed three goats in the morning, before we came to an anchor, and drest them with cabbage, to treat us when we came ashore." Here, indeed, is a material alteration in the wealth of a man left on an uninhabited island. He had a regular supply of goats and fish; he had the means of cooking this food; he had a house lined with goats' skins, and bedding of the same ; his body was clothed with skins; he had provisions in abundance to offer, properly cooked, when his old companions came to him after three years' absence. What gave him this power to labour profitably ? —to maintain existence in tolerable comfort? Simply, the gun, the knife, and the flint, which he accidentally had with him when the ship sailed away. The flint and the bit of steel which he hardened out of the gun-barrel, gave him the means of procuring fire ; the gun became the material for making harpoons, lances, and hooks, with which he could obtain fish and flesh. Till he had these tools, he was compelled to eat seal's flesh. The instant he possessed the tools he could make a selection of what was most agreeable to his taste. It is almost impossible to imagine a human being with less accumulation about him. His small stock of powder and shot was soon spent, and he had only an iron gun-barrel and a knife left, with the means of changing the form of the gunbarrel by fire. Yet this single accumulation enabled him to direct his labour, as all labour is directed even in its highest employment, to the change of form, and change of place, of the natural supplies by which he was surrounded. He created nothing; he only gave his natural supplies a value by his labour. Until he laboured, the things about him had no value, as far as he was concerned ; when he did obtain them by labour they instantly acquired a value. He brought the wild goat from the mountain to his hut in the valley—he changed its place ; he converted its flesh into cooked food, and its skin into a lining for his bed—he changed its form. Change of form and change of place are the beginning and end of all human labour; and the Moskito Indian only employed the same principle for the supply of his wants, which directs the labour of all the producers of civilized life into the channels of manufactures or commerce.