“The night draws on and I must be on ‘the eight seas’ tomorrow”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2161.]

To Charles Baxter [Baxter Letters, pp. 246-7: http://www.hathitrust.org]

[Honolulu, 25 April 1889]

My dear Charles,

I forget if I have made my plans clear to you. They stand thus:

We should leave Honolulu early in June, per trading schooner Equator for the Gilbert islands.


Our subsequent movements, which are quite in the air, will be most briefly indicated by this post office guide: Letters: c/o H.B.M. Consul, Apia, Samoa, “to await arrival” up to September incl.;

British Consulate, Apia, Samoa, ca. 1894[https://thumbnailer.digitalnz.org]

c/o H.B.M. Consul, Papeete, Tahiti, “to await arrival,” up to December inclusive;

The British Consul’s residence, Tahiti, 1844. 

c/o E. B. Young, S.F., Cal., thereafter.

San Francisco, 1889. E.B. Young was RLS’s San Francisco lawyer [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

I wish you would register the title The Pearlfisher for me.

Later, in truncated form, The Pearlfisher will provide the basis for The Ebb-Tide, published in 1894.

It is for a story Lloyd and I are on – the gaudiest yarn – and I have a dreadful fear someone will burk the name, as has happened to me once before with Robin Run-the-Hedge?

This appears to be the work called ‘Tribulations of one Mr Baskerfield of Singleton St Marys and his ward Robin Rutledge’: the first chapter was posthumously published in Vailima edition, 26, 1923. RLS’s reference is to Annette Lyster’s Robin-Run-the-Hedge, 1884.

I am off work and go to Hawaii for ten days for a change, to a home of the King’s;

Rare steamer W.G. Hall cancel, 1883. RLS left Honolulu on the steamer W.G. Hall on April 26th and landed at Hookena on the west coast of the island of Hawaii. He spent a week at the home of and Hawaiian ex-judge, D.H. Nahinu, and returned to Honolulu on May 3rd [https://i.ebayimg.com]

he says one man can speak English. It is on the Kona Coast, where the King is perpetually engaged on a treasure chase.

Old Kamemeha the 1st (or 2nd, I forget which) sold gin to the pirates, and his female chamberlains buried the proceeds in a cave upon that seaboard; but alas! there are many hundred caverns there, and the chamberlains died game. Hence, sa majesté actuellerevient et reviendra toujours bredouille.

Kamehameha I (1758?–1819) the Great was the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

A pretty touch of seaman manners: the English and American Jacks are deadly rivals. Well, after all this hammering of both sides by the Germans, and then the news of the hurricane from Samoa, a singular scene occurred Sunday before last.

The famous Apia hurricane had occurred 15 March 1889. Three American warships, Trenton (1 dead), Vandalia (wrecked, 43 dead), and Nipsic (beached and repaired, 8 dead), and three German, Adler (wrecked and sunk, 20 dead), Eber (wrecked and sunk, 73 dead), and Olga (beached and repaired) were sunk or beached. Only the British Calliope had enough engine power to survive the storm [https://upload.wikimedia.org]
Driftwood and debris at Apia, Samoa, following the hurricane, March 1889” [https://upload.wikimedia.org]
Wrecked ships in Apia Harbor, Upolu, Samoa soon after the hurricane, March 1889. The shattered bow of the German gunboat Eber, the stern of USS Trenton, and the sunken USS Vandalia. The German gunboat SMS Adler is on her side in the center distance [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

The two church parties, sponte propriâ, fell in line together, one English man to one American, and marched down to the harbour side like one ship’s company. None were more surprised than their own officers.

Memorial at the Chapel in the Mare Island Navy Yard in San Francisco, erected presumably soon after the hurricane in 1889 [www.grahamhague.com]

I have seen a hantle of the seaman on this cruise; I always liked him before; my first crew on the Casco (5 sea lawyers) near cured me;

RLS and his family with King Kalakaua and crew on the schooner Casco, 1889 [http://classicsailboats.org]

but I have returned to my first love.

I must say farewell, as the night draws on and I must be on “the eight seas” tomorrow. Ever yours,

R.L. Stevenson

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