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THE BIOGRAPHICAL EDITION
OF THE WORKS OF
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
IN THE SOUTH SEAS
IN THE SOUTH SEAS
AN ACCOUNT OF EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS IN THE MARQUESAS, PAUMOTUS, AND GILBERT ISLANDS IN THE COURSE OF TWO CRUISES, ON THE YACHT "CASCO" (1888) AND THE SCHOONER "EQUATOR" (1889)
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
BY S. S. McCLURE
BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.
THE following chapters, printed in book form for the first time in 1896, are selected from a series which was first published partially in Black and White (February to December, 1891), and fully in the New York Sun during the same period,
The voyages which supplied the occasion and the material for the work were three in number, viz.: one of seven months (June, 1888, to January, 1889), in the yacht Casco, from San Francisco to the Marquesas, the Paumotus, Tahiti, and thence northwards to Hawaii; a second (June to December, 1889), in the trading schooner Equator, from Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital (where the author had stayed in the interval), to the Gilberts and thence to Samoa; and a third (April to September, 1890), in the trading steamer, Janet Nicoll, which set out from Sydney and followed a very devious course, extending as far as from Penrhyn in the Eastern to the Marshall Islands in the Western Pacific. The course of these several voyages can easily be traced on the accompanying map, where each is marked by a different kind of red line.
Before setting out on his Pacific travels, the author had contracted to write an account of them in the form of letters for serial publication. The plan by and by changed in his mind into that of a book partly of travel and partly of research, which should combine the results of much careful observation and inquiry upon matters of island history, custom, belief, and tradition, with some account of his own experiences and those of his traveling companions, Under the nominal title of Letters he began to compose the chapters of such a book on board the Janet Nicoll, and continued the task during the first ten months of his residence in Samoa (October, 1890, to July, 1891). These chapters were sent home in fulfilment Of his promise; but before the serial publication had gone very far, he realized that the personal and the impersonal elements were not very successfully combined, nor in proportions that contented his readers. Accordingly he abandoned for the time being the idea of republishing the chapters in book form; but when the scheme of the Edinburgh Edition of his works was maturing, he desired that a selection should be made from them, and should appear as a volume of that edition. That desire was carried out.
It must be understood that a considerable portion of the author's Voyages above mentioned is not recorded at all in the following pages. of one of its most attractive episodes, the visit to Tahiti, no account was written; while of his experiences in Hawaii he only narrated a visit to the Kona coast and to the leper settlement at Molokai. These chapters did not come out at all to his own satisfaction, and have accordingly been omitted. So have some others describing a visit to Penrhyn in the course of his third voyage.
Of the four sections here given, each is complete in itself. The first deals with the Marquesas (the scene of Hermann Melville's Typee), the second with the Paumotus — the former a volcanic and mountainous group, the latter a group of atolls or lose coral islands, both in the Eastern Pacific, and both under the protectorate of France. The last two sections describe the author's residence in the Gilberts, a remote and little known coral group in the Western Pacific, which at the time of his visit was under independent native government, but has since been annexed by Great Britain. This is the part of his work with which the author was himself best satisfied, and it derives additional interest from describing a state of manners and government which has now passed away.