The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson – Swanston Edition. Volume 18

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  1. Not one soul aboard the Casco had set foot upon the islands, or knew, except by accident, one word of any of the island tongues; and it was with something perhaps of the same anxious pleasure as thrilled the bosom of discoverers that we drew near these problematic shores. The land heaved up in peaks and rising vales; it fell in cliffs and buttresses; its colour ran through fifty modulations in a scale of pearl and rose and olive; and it was crowned above by opalescent clouds. The suffusion of vague hues deceived the eye; the shadows of clouds were confounded with the articulations of the mountain; and the isle and its unsubstantial canopy rose and shimmered before us like a single mass. There was no beacon, no smoke of towns to be expected, no plying pilot. Somewhere, in that pale phantasmagoria of cliff and cloud, our haven lay concealed; and somewhere to the east of it – the only sea-mark given – a certain headland, known indifferently as Cape Adam and Eve, or Cape Jack and Jane, and distinguished by two colossal figures, the gross statuary of nature. These we were to find; for these we craned and stared, focussed glasses, and wrangled over charts; and the sun was overhead and the land close ahead before we found them. To a ship approaching, like the Casco, from the north, they proved indeed the least conspicuous features of a striking coast; the surf flying high above its base; strange, austere, and feathered mountains rising behind; and Jack and Jane, or Adam and Eve, impending like a pair of warts above the breakers.
    4 декабря 2017
  2. For nearly ten years my health had been declining; and for some while before I set forth upon my voyage, I believed I was come to the afterpiece of life, and had only the nurse and undertaker to expect. It was suggested that I should try the South Seas; and I
    4 декабря 2017
  3. Before setting out on the first of these voyages, the author had contracted to write an account of his adventures 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 enquiry upon matters of island history, custom, belief, and tradition, with some account of his own experiences and those of his travelling 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). Before the serial publication had gone very far, he realised that the personal and impersonal elements in his work were not very successfully combined, nor in proportions that contented his readers.
    4 декабря 2017

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