Robert Louis Stevenson: “In the South Seas” (1896)

Robert Louis Stevenson    (1850-1894)

A Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, short-story and travel writer:
His novels “Treasure Island”, “Kidnapped” and “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” remain enormously popular.
Stevenson and his wife Fanny traveled extensively in the Pacific.  
In 1890, Stevenson and his family settled on the island of Samoa. He died in Samoa in 1894 and is buried there.

Excellent online resource dedicated to the life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson:
The website is designed and maintained by Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW) at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.

Copyright on RLS’s works:
All of RLS’s published works are in the public domain since December 1944, fifty years after his death, and may be quoted without further permission.


About   “In the South Seas” by Robert Louis Stevenson (1896)

In 1888, Stevenson and his family sailed from California, in the yacht “Casco” to cruise the Pacific. “In the South Seas” is an account that Stevenson wrote of his experiences and observations, in the Marquesas, Paumotus and Gilbert Islands.  The book was published posthumously  in 1896.

Sources for ebook formats:
Project Gutenberg: eBook #464

Excerpt from “In the South Seas”

Note: the Paumotus Archipelago is a chain of atolls in French Polynesia, and is now known as The Tuamotus or Tuamotu Archipelago.



“The night fell lovely in the extreme.  After the moon went down, the heaven was a thing to wonder at for stars.  And as I lay in the cockpit and looked upon the steersman I was haunted by Emerson’s verses:

‘And the lone seaman all the night
Sails astonished among stars.’

By this glittering and imperfect brightness, about four bells in the first watch we made our third atoll, Raraka.  The low line of the isle lay straight along the sky; so that I was at first reminded of a towpath, and we seemed to be mounting some engineered and navigable stream.  Presently a red star appeared, about the height and brightness of a danger signal, and with that my simile was changed; we seemed rather to skirt the embankment of a railway, and the eye began to look instinctively for the telegraph-posts, and the ear to expect the coming of a train.  Here and there, but rarely, faint tree-tops broke the level.  And the sound of the surf accompanied us, now in a drowsy monotone, now with a menacing swing.”