As Good a Listener as He was a Talker
From ‘Some Recollections of Robert Louis Stevenson’, Scribner’s Magazine, LXXIII (1) (Jan 1923) 3–8. Edmund Radcliffe Pears (1862–1941), born in Ootacamund, India, was educated in England and entered the Royal Navy in 1875; he saw action in Suez, Nicaragua and Somalia, and rose to the rank of Admiral (1924). At the time of meeting Stevenson he was a lieutenant on HMS Cormorant. The yacht Casco, skippered by Captain A. H. Otis (Owen Nares in The Wrecker), took Fanny, Louis, Aunt Maggie, their maid Valentine Roch, and Lloyd to the Marquesas, the most easterly islands in Polynesia. They landed at Nuku-Hiva on 22 July 1888, and then headed for Hiva-Oa, which Paul Gauguin was to visit in 1901. On 4 September they sailed to the Tuamoto archipelago, the dangerous waters of the Paumotos, thence to Fakarava, and on to Papeete, the capital of Tahiti. After many adventures they arrived at Hawaii in December 1888; they stayed there until June the following year, when Louis, now addicted to ocean life, sailed aboard the Equator to the Gilbert Islands. A second stop at Honolulu came in September to October 1893. Louis’s health and spirits improved vastly, and new lands inspired some of his finest writing in both fiction and non-fiction. (See early chapters of In the South Seas and Letters, II, 114–61.) As he wrote to Henry James: ‘I have had more fun and pleasure of my life these past months than ever before, and more health than any time in ten long years’ (Honolulu, March 1889, Letters, II, 141).
KeywordsTidal Wave Early Chapter Marquesas Island Fine Writing Lively Conversation
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