It is annoying to find the American public as stupid as the English, but they will waken up in time: I wonder what they will think of TWO NATIONS? . .
This, dear James, is a valedictory. On June 15th the schooner yacht CASCO will (weather and a jealous providence permitting) steam through the Golden Gates for Honolulu, Tahiti, the Galapagos, Guayaquil, and - I hope NOT the bottom of the Pacific. It will contain your obedient 'umble servant and party. It seems too good to be true, and is a very good way of getting through the green- sickness of maturity which, with all its accompanying ills, is now declaring itself in my mind and life. They tell me it is not so severe as that of youth; if I (and the CASCO) are spared, I shall tell you more exactly, as I am one of the few people in the world who do not forget their own lives.
Good-bye, then, my dear fellow, and please write us a word; we expect to have three mails in the next two months: Honolulu, Tahiti, and Guayaquil. But letters will be forwarded from Scribner's, if you hear nothing more definite directly. In 3 (three) days I leave for San Francisco. - Ever yours most cordially,
R. L. S.
CHAPTER X - PACIFIC VOYAGES, JUNE 1888-NOVEMBER 1890
TO SIDNEY COLVIN
YACHT 'CASCO,' ANAHO BAY, NUKAHIVA, MARQUESAS ISLANDS [JULY 1888].
MY DEAR COLVIN, - From this somewhat (ahem) out of the way place, I write to say how d'ye do. It is all a swindle: I chose these isles as having the most beastly population, and they are far better, and far more civilised than we. I know one old chief Ko-o- amua, a great cannibal in his day, who ate his enemies even as he walked home from killing 'em, and he is a perfect gentleman and exceedingly amiable and simple-minded: no fool, though.
The climate is delightful; and the harbour where we lie one of the loveliest spots imaginable. Yesterday evening we had near a score natives on board; lovely parties. We have a native god; very rare now. Very rare and equally absurd to view.
This sort of work is not favourable to correspondence: it takes me all the little strength I have to go about and see, and then come home and note, the strangeness around us. I shouldn't wonder if there came trouble here some day, all the same. I could name a nation that is not beloved in certain islands - and it does not know it! Strange: like ourselves, perhaps, in India! Love to all and much to yourself.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
YACHT 'CASCO,' AT SEA, NEAR THE PAUMOTUS, 7 A.M., SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1888, WITH A DREADFUL PEN.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - Last night as I lay under my blanket in the cockpit, courting sleep, I had a comic seizure. There was nothing visible but the southern stars, and the steersman there out by the binnacle lamp; we were all looking forward to a most deplorable landfall on the morrow, praying God we should fetch a tuft of palms which are to indicate the Dangerous Archipelago; the night was as warm as milk, and all of a sudden I had a vision of - Drummond Street. It came on me like a flash of lightning: I simply returned thither, and into the past. And when I remember all I hoped and feared as I pickled about Rutherford's in the rain and the east wind; how I feared I should make a mere shipwreck, and yet timidly hoped not; how I feared I should never have a friend, far less a wife, and yet passionately hoped I might; how I hoped (if I did not take to drink) I should possibly write one little book, etc. etc. And then now - what a change! I feel somehow as if I should like the incident set upon a brass plate at the corner of that dreary thoroughfare for all students to read, poor devils, when their hearts are down. And I felt I must write one word to you. Excuse me if I write little: when I am at sea, it gives me a headache; when I am in port, I have my diary crying 'Give, give.' I shall have a fine book of travels, I feel sure; and will tell you more of the South Seas after very few months than any other writer has done - except Herman Melville perhaps, who is a howling cheese. Good luck to you, God bless you.