“From poking in a sick-room all winter to the deck of one’s own ship, is indeed a heavenly change”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2084.]

To Lady Taylor [Colvin 1912, p. 238]

[Manasquan, c. 15 May 1888]

My dear Lady Taylor,

RLS dedicated his volume of tales ‘The Merry Men’ to his Bournemouth friend, Theodosia Alice Spring Rice, Lady Taylor, 1887.

I have to announce our great news. On June 15th we sail from San Francisco

Port of San Francisco, 1900 [www.worldportsource.com]

in the schooner yacht Casco,

Schooner Casco, Dr Merritt’s yacht, took RLS and his family and started west from San Francisco, 15 June 1888. When RLS decided to remain in the South Seas, Dr. Merritt sold the Casco. Next the yacht played the part of an opium smuggler in Hawaiian and Oriental waters [https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca]
Schooner Casco, 1912 [https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca]

Schooner Casco [https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca]
Schooner Casco [https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca]

for a seven months’ cruise in the South Seas.


You can conceive what a state of excitement we are in; Lloyd perhaps first;

Samuel Lloyd Osbourne (1868–1947), RLS’ stepson [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

but this is an old dream of mine which actually seems to be coming true, and I am sun-struck. It seems indeed too good to be true; and that we have not deserved so much good fortune. From Skerryvore

Skerryvore Cottage, Bournemouth, 1898 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

to the Galapagos is a far cry!

Marine iguana (amblyrhynchus cristatus), Galapagos Islands [https://gringosabroad.com]

And from poking in a sick-room all winter

RLS Memorial, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh [https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com]

to the deck of one’s own ship, is indeed a heavenly change.

RLS on board of the schooner yacht ‘Casco’, 1888.
RLS with family and crew on deck of the Casco, 1888 [http://classicsailboats.org]

All these seven months I doubt if we can expect more than three mails at the best of it: and I do hope we may hear something of your news by each. I have no very clear views as to where the three addresses ought to be, but if you hear no later news, Charles Scribner’s Sons will always have the run of our intended movements.

Scribner’s building, 743-745 Broadway, New York [http://library.princeton.edu]

And an early letter there would probably catch us at the Sandwich Islands.

Royal Palace, Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, late 19th century [https://imgc.artprintimages.com]

Tahiti will probably be the second point:

The Queen’s Palace, Papeete, Tahiti, c. 1885.

and (as I roughly guess) Quito the third.

Plaza Grande, Quito, Ecuador, 1879.

But the whole future is invested with heavenly clouds.

Map of RLS’s journeys across the Pacific Ocean [www.tikiroom.com]

I trust you are all well and content, and have good news of the Shelleys, to whom l wish you would pass on ours.

Sir Percy Florence Shelley (1819-1889), the poet’s son, lived with his wife in Bournemouth [https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com]
Lady Shelley, Jane St John, née Gibson [http://shelleysghost.bodleian.ox.ac.uk]

They should be able to sympathise with our delight.

Now I have all my miserable Scribner articles to rake together in the inside of a fortnight: so you must not expect me to be more copious.

RLS was publishing 12 monthly essays for Scribner’s Magazine, 1888 [www.antiques.com]

I have you all in the kindest memory, and am, your affectionate friend,

Robert Louis Stevenson

Remember me to Aubrey de Vere.

Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902), Irish poet and critic [https://theboypoetremembers.files.wordpress.com]

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