This Scottish song has been ascribed to Lady Anne Barnard, the authoress of “Auld Robin Gray,” but it is of older date than her life. Mr. Peter Buchan, formerly of Peterhead, now of Glasgow, says that it was written by a school-master at Rathen, in Aberdeenshire, of the name of George Halket, who died in 1756. Halket was a great Jacobite, and wrote various pieces in support of his party: one of the best known of these is the song called “Whirry, Whigs, awa’, man.” The Logie mentioned in the song is situated in Crimond, a parish adjoining the one where Halket resided, and the hero of the piece, was a James Robertson, gardener at the place of Logie. The original Ballad, according to Mr. Buchan, commences thus:
O Logie o’ Buchan, O Logie the laird, They ha’e ta’en awa’ Jamie, that delved in the yard, Wha play’d on the pipe, and the viol sae sma’; They ha’e ta’en awa’ Jamie, the flower o’ them a’. He said, Think na lang lassie, tho’ I gang awa’; He said, Think na lang lassie, tho’ I gang awa’; For simmer is coming, cauld winter’s awa’, And I’ll come and see thee in spite o’ them a’.
Tho’ Sandy has ousan, has gear, and has kye; A house and a hadden, and siller forbye: Yet I’d tak’ mine ain lad, wi’ his staff in his hand, Before I’d ha’e him, wi’ the houses and land. He said, Think nae lang, &c.
My daddie looks sulky, my minnie looks sour, They frown upon Jamie because he is poor: Tho’ I lo’e them as weel as a daughter should do, They’re nae hauf sae dear to me, Jamie, as you. He said, Think nae lang, &c.
I sit on my creepie, I spin at my wheel, And think on the laddie that lo’ed me sae weel; He had but ae saxpence, he brak it in twa, And gi’ed me the hauf o’t when he gade awa’. Then haste ye back, Jamie, and bide na awa’, Then haste ye back, Jamie, and bide na awa’, The simmer is coming, cauld winter’s awa’, And ye’ll come and see me in spite o’ them a’.
Dr. George Chismore (1840-1907) was a San Francisco doctor.
[For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2193].
To Dr. George Chismore
40 miles off Samoa, 5 December 1889
[…] Recommend […] to play Logie o’Buchan, slow, soft and simply. Yours ever
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2192.]
To Edward L. Burlingame [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 169-71]
Schooner Equator, at sea,
Wednesday, 4th December 1889
My dear Burlingame,
We are now about to rise, like whales, from this long dive,
and I make ready a communication which is to go to you by the first mail from Samoa. How long we shall stay in that group I cannot forecast; but it will be best still to address at Sydney, where I trust, when I shall arrive, perhaps in one month from now, more probably in two or three, to find all news.
Business […]. – […] Will you be likely to have a space in the Magazine for a serial story, which should be ready, I believe, by April, at latest by autumn?
It is called The Wrecker; and in book form will appear as number I of South Sea Yarns by R.L.S. and Lloyd Osbourne. Here is the table as far as fully conceived, and indeed executed.
[Table of chapter headings follows...]
The story is founded on fact, the mystery I really believe to be insoluble;
the purchase of a wreck has never been handled before, no more has San Francisco.
These seem all elements of success. There is, besides, a character, Jim Pinkerton, of the advertising American, on whom we build a good deal; and some sketches of the American merchant marine,
opium smuggling in Honolulu, etc.
It should run to (about) three hundred pages of my MS. […]
I would like to know if this tale smiles upon you, if you will have a vacancy, and what you will be willing to pay. It will of course be copyright in both the States and England. I am a little anxious to have it tried serially, as it tests the interest of the mystery.
Pleasure. – We have had a fine time in the Gilbert group, though four months on low islands, which involves low diet, is a largeish order;
and my wife is rather down. […]
I am myself, up to now, a pillar of health, though our long and vile voyage of calms, squalls, cataracts of rain, sails carried away, foretopmasts lost, boats cleared and packets made on the approach of a p. d. reef, etc., has cured me of salt brine, and filled me with a longing for beef steak and mangoes not to be depicted.
The interest has been immense. Old King Tembinoka of Apemama, the Napoleon of the group, poet, tyrant, altogether a man of mark, gave me the woven corselets of his grandfather, his father and his uncle, and, what pleased me more, told me their singular story,
then all manner of strange tales, facts, and experiences for my South Sea book, which should be a Tearer, Mr. Burlingame: no one at least has had such stuff.
We are now engaged in the hell of a dead calm, the heat is cruel –
it is the only time when I suffer from heat: I have nothing on but a pair of serge trousers, and a singlet without sleeves of Oxford gauze – O, – yes, and a red sash about my waist; and yet as I sit here in the cabin, sweat streams from me.
The rest are on deck under a bit of awning; we are not much above a hundred miles from port, and we might as well be in Kamschatka.
However, I should be honest; this is the first calm I have endured without the added bane of a heavy swell, and the intoxicated blue-bottle wallowings and knockings of the helpless ship.
I wonder how you liked the end of The Master; that was the hardest job I ever had to do; did I do it?
My wife begs to be remembered to yourself and Mrs. Burlingame. Remember all of us to all friends, particularly Low, in case I don’t get a word through for him […]. – I am, yours very sincerely,
The following, written in the last days of the sail southwards from the Gilberts to Samoa, contains the full plan of the South Sea book as it had then been conceived.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2191.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 162-8]
Schooner Equator, at sea.
190 miles off Samoa
Monday, December 2nd, 1889
My dear Colvin,
We are just nearing the end of our long cruise […].
Rain, calms, squalls, bang – there’s the foretopmast gone; rain, calm, squalls, away with the staysail;
more squalls; a prodigious heavy sea all the time, and the Equator staggering and hovering like a swallow in a storm;
and the cabin, a great square, crowded with wet human beings, and the rain avalanching on the deck, and the leaks dripping everywhere:
Fanny in the midst of fifteen males, bearing up wonderfully.
But such voyages are at the best a trial. We had one particularity: coming down on Winslow Reef, p. d. (position doubtful): two positions in the directory, a third (if you cared to count that) on the chart;
heavy sea running, and the night due.
The boats were cleared, bread put on board, and we made up our packets for a boat voyage of four or five hundred miles, and turned in, expectant of a crash.
Needless to say it did not come, and no doubt we were far to leeward. If we only had twopenceworth of wind, we might be at dinner in Apia to-morrow evening;
but no such luck: here we roll, dead before a light air – and that is no point of sailing at all for a fore and aft schooner –
the sun blazing overhead, thermometer 88°, four degrees above what I have learned to call South Sea temperature;
but for all that, land so near, and so much grief being happily astern, we are all pretty gay on board, and have been photographing
and sky-larking like anything. I am minded to stay not very long in Samoa and confine my studies there (as far as any one can forecast) to the history of the late war.
My book is now practically modelled: if I can execute what is designed, there are few better books now extant on this globe, bar the epics, and the big tragedies, and histories, and the choice lyric poetics and a novel or so – none. But it is not executed yet; and let not him that putteth on his armour, vaunt himself. At least, nobody has had such stuff; such wild stories, such beautiful scenes, such singular intimacies, such manners and traditions, so incredible a mixture of the beautiful and horrible, the savage and civilised. I will give you here some idea of the table of contents, which ought to make your mouth water. I propose to call the book The South Seas: it is rather a large title, but not many people have seen more of them than I, perhaps no one – certainly no one capable of using the material.
Part I. General. ‘Of schooners, islands, and maroons’
CHAPTER I. Marine.
CHAPTER II. Contraband (smuggling, barratry, labour traffic).
CHAPTER III. The Beachcomber.
CHAPTER IV. Beachcomber stories. I. The Murder of the Chinaman. II. Death of a Beachcomber. III. A Character. IV. The Apia Blacksmith.
Part II. The Marquesas
CHAPTER V. Anaho. I. Arrival. II. Death. III. The Tapu. IV. Morals. V. Hoka.
CHAPTER VI. Tai-o-hae. I. Arrival. II. The French. III. The Royal Family. IV. Chiefless Folk. V. The Catholics. VI. Hawaiian Missionaries.
CHAPTER VII. Observations of a Long Pig. I. Cannibalism. II. Hatiheu. III. Frère Michel. IV. Taahauku and Atuona. V. The Vale of Atuona. VI. Moipu. VII. Captain Hati.
Part III. The Dangerous Archipelago
CHAPTER VIII. The Group.
CHAPTER IX. A House to let in a Low Island.
CHAPTER X. A Paumotuan Funeral. I. The Funeral. II. Tales of the Dead.
Part IV. Tahiti
CHAPTER XI. Tautira.
CHAPTER XII. Village Government in Tahiti. […]
CHAPTER XIII. A Journey in Quest of Legends.
CHAPTER XIV. Legends and Songs.
CHAPTER XV. Life in Eden.
CHAPTER XVI. Note on the French Regimen.
Part V. The Eight Islands
CHAPTER XVII. A note on Missions.
CHAPTER XVIII. The Kona Coast of Hawaii. I. Hookena. II. A Ride in the Forest. III. A Law Case. IV. The City of Refuge. V. The Lepers.
CHAPTER XIX. Molokai. I. A Week in the Precinct. II. History of the Leper Settlement. III. The Molokii. IV. The Free Island.
Part VI. The Gilberts
CHAPTER XX. The Group. I. General. II. Position of Woman. III. The Missions. IV. Devilwork. V. Republics.
CHAPTER XXI. Rule and Misrule on Makin. I. Butaritari, its King and Court. II. History of Three Kings. III. The Drink Question.
CHAPTER XXII. A Butaritarian Festival.
CHAPTER XXIII. The King of Apemama. I. First Impressions. II. Equator Town and the Palace. III. The Three Corselets.
Part VII. Samoa
which I have not yet reached
Even as so sketched it makes sixty chapters, not less than 300 Cornhill pages; and I suspect not much under 500. Samoa has yet to be accounted for: I think it will be all history, and I shall work in observations on Samoan manners, under the similar heads in other Polynesian islands.
It is still possible, though unlikely, that I may add a passing visit to Fiji or Tonga, or even both; but I am growing impatient to see yourself, and I do not want to be later than June of coming to England. Anyway, you see it will be a large work, and as it will be copiously illustrated, the Lord knows what it will cost. We shall return, God willing, by Sydney, Ceylon, Suez, and, I guess, Marseilles the many-masted (copyright epithet). I shall likely pause a day or two in Paris, but all that is too far ahead – although now it begins to look near – so near, and I can hear the rattle of the hansom up Endell Street,
and see the gates swing back, and feel myself jump out upon the Monument steps – Hosanna! – home again.
My dear fellow, now that my father is done with his troubles,
and 17 Heriot Row no more than a mere shell,
you and that gaunt old Monument in Bloomsbury are all that I have in view when I use the word home; some passing thoughts there may be of the rooms at Skerryvore,
and the blackbirds in the chine on a May morning;
but the essence is S.C. and the Museum.
Suppose, by some damned accident, you were no more; well, I should return just the same, because of my mother and Lloyd, whom I now think to send to Cambridge;
but all the spring would have gone out of me, and ninety per cent of the attraction lost. I will copy for you here a copy of verses made in Apemama.
I heard the pulse of the besieging sea
Throb far away all night. I heard the wind
Fly crying, and convulse tumultuous palms.
I rose and strolled. The isle was all bright sand,
And flailing fans and shadows of the palm:
The heaven all moon, and wind, and the blind vault –
RLS and his party sailed accordingly from Honolulu on the trading schooner Equator, ‘on a certain bright June day [24th] in 1889,’ for the Gilbert Islands. Their expectation was to come back into civilisation again by way of the Carolines, Manila, and the China ports; but instead of this, circumstances which occured to change the trader’s course will take them southwards to Samoa, where they will arrive in December 1889. Their second voyage was thus of a six months’ duration; in the course of it they spent two periods of about six weeks each on land, first at one and then at another of the two island capitals, Butaritari and Apemama. The following letter is the first which reached RLS’s friends from this part of his voyage, and was written in two instalments, the first from on board the Equator in the lagoon of the island of Apaiang; the second, six weeks later, from the settlement on shore at Apemama, which the king, his friend Tembinoka, allowed him and his party to occupy during their stay. The account of this stay at Apemama and of the character of the king is far most the interesting and attractive part of the volume called In the South Seas, which was the literary result of these voyages.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2188.]
To Sidney Colvin[Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 157-62]
Schooner Equator, Apaiang Lagoon, August 22nd, 1889
My dear Colvin,
The missionary ship is outside the reef trying (vainly) to get in; so I may have a chance to get a line off.
I am glad to say I shall be home by June next for the summer, or we shall know the reason why. For God’s sake be well and jolly for the meeting.
I shall be, I believe, a different character from what you have seen this long while. This cruise is up to now a huge success, being interesting, pleasant, and profitable.
The beachcomber is perhaps the most interesting character here; the natives are very different, on the whole, from Polynesians: they are moral, stand-offish (for good reasons), and protected by a dark tongue.
It is delightful to meet the few Hawaiians (mostly missionaries) that are dotted about, with their Italian brio and their ready friendliness.
The whites are a strange lot, many of them good, kind, pleasant fellows;
others quite the lowest I have ever seen in the slums of cities. I wish I had time to narrate to you the doings and character of three white murderers (more or less proven) I have met.
One, the only undoubted assassin of the lot, quite gained my affection in his big home out of a wreck,
with his New Hebrides wife in her savage turban of hair and yet a perfect lady,
and his three adorable little girls in Rob Roy Macgregor dresses, dancing to the hand organ, performing circus on the floor with startling effects of nudity, and curling up together on a mat to sleep, three sizes, three attitudes, three Rob Roy dresses, and six little clenched fists:
the murderer meanwhile brooding and gloating over his chicks, till your whole heart went out to him; and yet his crime on the face of it was dark; disembowelling, in his own house, an old man of seventy, and him drunk.
It is lunch-time, I see, and I must close up with my warmest love to you. I wish you were here to sit upon me when required. Ah! if you were but a good sailor! I will never leave the sea, I think; it is only there that a Briton lives:
my poor grandfather, it is from him I inherit the taste, I fancy, and he was round many islands in his day;
but I, please God, shall beat him at that before the recall is sounded. Would you be surprised to learn that I contemplate becoming a shipowner? I do, but it is a secret. Life is far better fun than people dream who fall asleep among the chimney stacks and telegraph wires.
Love to Henry James
and others near. – Ever yours, my dear fellow,
Robert Louis Stevenson
Equator Town, Apemama [30 September 1889]
No Morning Star came, however; and so now I try to send this to you by the schooner J.L. Tiernan. We have been about a month ashore, camping out in a kind of town the king set up for us: on the idea that I was really a ‘big chief’ in England.
He dines with us sometimes, and sends up a cook for a share of our meals when he does not come himself. This sounds like high living! alas, undeceive yourself. Salt junk is the mainstay; a low island, except for cocoanuts, is just the same as a ship at sea: brackish water, no supplies, and very little shelter.
The king is a great character – a thorough tyrant, very much of a gentleman, a poet, a musician, a historian, or perhaps rather more a genealogist – it is strange to see him lying in his house among a lot of wives (nominal wives) writing the History of Apemama in an account-book;
his description of one of his own songs, which he sang to me himself, as ‘about sweethearts, and trees, and the sea – and no true, all-the-same lie,’ seems about as compendious a definition of lyric poetry as a man could ask. Tembinoka is here the great attraction: all the rest is heat and tedium and villainous dazzle, and yet more villainous mosquitoes.
We are like to be here, however, many a long week before we get away, and then whither? A strange trade this voyaging: so vague, so bound-down, so helpless. Fanny has been planting some vegetables, and we have actually onions and radishes coming up:
ah, onion-despiser, were you but a while in a low island, how your heart would leap at sight of a coster’s barrow!
I think I could shed tears over a dish of turnips.
No doubt we shall all be glad to say farewell to low islands – I had near said for ever. They are very tame; and I begin to read up the directory, and pine for an island with a profile, a running brook, or were it only a well among the rocks.
The thought of a mango came to me early this morning and set my greed on edge;
but you do not know what a mango is, so –
I have been thinking a great deal of you and the Monument of late, and even tried to get my thoughts into a poem, hitherto without success.
God knows how you are: I begin to weary dreadfully to see you – well, in nine months, I hope; but that seems a long time. I wonder what has befallen me too, that flimsy part of me that lives (or dwindles) in the public mind; and what has befallen The Master,
and what kind of a Box the Merry Box has been found.
It is odd to know nothing of all this. We had an old woman to do devil-work for you about a month ago, in a Chinaman’s house on Apaiang (August 23rd or 24th).
You should have seen the crone with a noble masculine face, like that of an old crone, a body like a man’s (naked all but the feathery female girdle), knotting cocoanut leaves and muttering spells: Fanny and I, and the good captain of the Equator, and the Chinaman and his native wife and sister-in-law, all squatting on the floor about the sibyl; and a crowd of dark faces watching from behind her shoulder (she sat right in the doorway) and tittering aloud with strange, appalled, embarrassed laughter at each fresh adjuration. She informed us you were in England, not travelling and now no longer sick; she promised us a fair wind the next day, and we had it, so I cherish the hope she was as right about Sidney Colvin. […]
The shipownering has rather petered out since I last wrote, and a good many other plans beside. […]
Health? Fanny very so-so; […] I pretty right upon the whole, and getting through plenty work: I know not quite how, but it seems to me not bad and in places funny.
South Sea Yarns:
1. The Wrecker
2. The Pearl Fisher by R.L.S. and Lloyd O.
3. The Beachcombers
The Pearl Fisher, part done, lies in Sydney. It is The Wrecker we are now engaged upon: strange ways of life, I think, they set forth: things that I can scarce touch upon, or even not at all, in my travel book; and the yarns are good, I do believe. The Pearl Fisher is for the New York Ledger: the yarn is a kind of Monte Cristo one. The Wrecker is the least good as a story, I think; but the characters seem to me good. The Beachcombers is more sentimental. These three scarce touch the outskirts of the life we have been viewing; a hot-bed of strange characters and incidents: Lord, how different from Europe or the Pallid States! Farewell. Heaven knows when this will get to you. I burn to be in Sydney and have news.
[For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2184.]
To Lady Taylor [Colvin 1912, pp. 260-1]
Honolulu, June 19th, 1889.
My dear Lady Taylor,
Our new home, the Equator, trading schooner, rides at the buoy to-night, and we are for sea shortly.
All your folk of the Roost held us for phantoms and things of the night from our first appearance;
but I do wish you would try to believe in our continued existence, as flesh and blood obscurely tossed in the Pacific,
or walking coral shores,
and in our affection, which is more constant than becomes the breasts of such absconders. My good health does not cease to be wonderful to myself: Fanny is better in these warm places; it is the very thing for Lloyd; and in the matter of interest, the spice of life, etc., words cannot depict what fun we have.
Try to have a little more patience with the fugitives, and think of us now and again among the Gilberts, where we ought to be about the time when you receive this scrap. They make no great figure on the atlas, I confess; but you will see the name there, if you look – which I wish you would, and try to conceive us as still extant.
We all send the kindest remembrances to all of you; please make one of the girls write us the news to the care of R. Towns & Co., Sydney, New South Wales, where we hope to bring up about the end of the year – or later. Do not forget yours affectionately,
Herewith a certified copy of my new will necessitated by fresh risks and obligations.
I wish to say I have since re-read your last, and withdraw, with apologies, the epithet “shirty” applied to it. It was, on the other hand, a wise and careful letter – wisely cold; only the coldness shocked me, for God knows I have enough of it now from old friends. But I quite appreciate the spirit in which you wrote, and I hope you will forgive the dulness that made me fail to understand it at the first.
I am going on here with my complicated burthens: to give poor Joe Strong (a very annoying, loveable man) a square start in life. His debts have proved less and his assets more than was feared, but the expense of the whole experiment is staggering.
I have sent £200 to R. Towns and Co. in Sydney to dole out to Belle and the child; in case anything unforeseen should happen to delay us beyond expectation, they, Towns and Co., are to communicate with you; and of course, Belle and the boy must not be left in trouble.
My health keeps incredibly good: for the last six days I have been from five to eight hours in continual business, much of it very annoying, some downright painful, and am fairly fit today on the back of it. Our schooner is now due and we are fairly ready to get away. To all our chronies now on land, we cards prepared for sea send salutations. I trust all is explicit; and I do hope my new books will sell, for this is a tight place to pass, and if I can pass it, and the lecture and panorama pays, I shall feel safer for the future. We have sickness and doctors’ bills and a nurse on our back foreby – which I could have gladly spared.
But my books have been amazingly profitable this last year, and I make hay, with rather morbid eagerness, while the sun shines.
On June 17th, my wife twice saw you come into the lanai, once before 12, and once before four P.M. Do not mention this, as it most likely means only a passing state of health: the doctor thinks it nothing out of the way in her condition; yet I am superstitious enough, or anxious enough to be superstitious, to pass you on the dates. You had a very severe expression.
We have all been very much annoyed and wearied, but things are plainer now, the schooner is overdue by some days, she cannot be long now, and then to sea! I am very tired today and do not feel like much correspondence, and I have a good many letters before me. But perhaps I can add a word later on; and perhaps indeed I may be still many days here. Aita te pahi – no ship – being an old word of ours in Tahiti and likely to be an older friend ere we are done with sea faring.
I inclose a scrap written many months ago, which I found in packing:
it was a curious evocation under the circumstances, and I faintly remember how it impressed me. I lie writing this in the balcony of the Hawaiian Hotel, having been fired out of my own house by general colds; I am mighty quiescent – the reaction after days of conflict – and still aita te pahi.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2180.]
To James Payn[Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 154-6]
Honolulu, H.I., June 13th, 1889
My dear James Payn,
I get sad news of you here at my offsetting for further voyages: I wish I could say what I feel. Sure there was never any man less deserved this calamity; for I have heard you speak time and again, and I remember nothing that was unkind, nothing that was untrue, nothing that was not helpful, from your lips. It is the ill-talkers that should hear no more. God knows, I know no word of consolation; but I do feel your trouble. You are the more open to letters now; let me talk to you for two pages. I have nothing but happiness to tell; and you may bless God you are a man so sound-hearted that (even in the freshness of your calamity) I can come to you with my own good fortune unashamed and secure of sympathy. It is a good thing to be a good man, whether deaf or whether dumb; and of all our fellow-craftsmen (whom yet they count a jealous race), I never knew one but gave you the name of honesty and kindness: come to think of it gravely, this is better than the finest hearing.
We are all on the march to deafness, blindness, and all conceivable and fatal disabilities; we shall not all get there with a report so good. My good news is a health astonishingly reinstated. This climate;
these landfalls at dawn;
new islands peaking from the morning bank;
new forested harbours;
new passing alarms of squalls and surf;
new interests of gentle natives,
– the whole tale of my life is better to me than any poem.
I am fresh just now from the […] leper settlement of Molokai,
playing croquet with seven leper girls,
sitting and yarning with old, blind, leper beachcombers in the hospital, sickened with the spectacle of abhorrent suffering and deformation amongst the patients, touched to the heart by the sight of lovely and effective virtues in their helpers: no stranger time have I ever had, nor any so moving. I do not think it a little thing to be deaf, God knows, and God defend me from the same! – but to be a leper, or one of the self-condemned, how much more awful! and yet there’s a way there also. ‘There are Molokais everywhere,’ said Mr. Dutton, Father Damien’s dresser;
you are but new landed in yours; and my dear and kind adviser, I wish you, with all my soul, that patience and courage which you will require. Think of me meanwhile on a trading schooner, bound for the Gilbert Islands, thereafter for the Marshalls, with a diet of fish and cocoanut before me;
[…] – bound on a cruise of – well, of investigation to what islands we can reach, and to get (some day or other) to Sydney, where a letter addressed to the care of R. Towns & Co. will find me sooner or later; and if it contain any good news, whether of your welfare or the courage with which you bear the contrary, will do me good. – Yours affectionately (although so near a stranger),