Robert Louis Stevenson: A Memorial HTML version
Miss Stubbs' Record Of A Pilgrimage
MRS STRONG, in her chapter of TABLE TALK IN MEMORIES OF VAILIMA, tells a
story of the natives' love for Stevenson. "The other day the cook was away," she writes,
"and Louis, who was busy writing, took his meals in his room. Knowing there was no one
to cook his lunch, he told Sosimo to bring him some bread and cheese. To his surprise he
was served with an excellent meal - an omelette, a good salad, and perfect coffee. 'Who
cooked this?' asked Louis in Samoan. 'I did,' said Sosimo. 'Well,' said Louis, 'great is your
wisdom.' Sosimo bowed and corrected him - 'Great is my love!'"
Miss Stubbs, in her STEVENSON'S SHRINE; THE RECORD OF A PILGRIMAGE,
illustrates the same devotion. On the top of Mount Vaea, she writes, is the massive
sarcophagus, "not an ideal structure by any means, not even beautiful, and yet in its
massive ruggedness it somehow suited the man and the place."
"The wind sighed softly in the branches of the 'Tavau' trees, from out the green recesses
of the 'Toi' came the plaintive coo of the wood-pigeon. In and out of the branches of the
magnificent 'Fau' tree, which overhangs the grave, a king-fisher, sea-blue, iridescent,
flitted to and fro, whilst a scarlet hibiscus, in full flower, showed up royally against the
gray lichened cement. All around was light and life and colour, and I said to myself, 'He
is made one with nature'; he is now, body and soul and spirit, commingled with the
loveliness around. He who longed in life to scale the height, he who attained his wish
only in death, has become in himself a parable of fulfilment. No need now for that heart-
"'Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?'
No need now for the despairing finality of:
"'I have trod the upward and the downward slope,
I have endured and done in the days of yore,
I have longed for all, and bid farewell to hope,
And I have lived, and loved, and closed the door.'
"Death has set his seal of peace on the unequal conflict of mind and matter; the All-
Mother has gathered him to herself.
"In years to come, when his grave is perchance forgotten, a rugged ruin, home of the
lizard and the bat, Tusitala - the story-teller - 'the man with a heart of gold' (as I so often
heard him designated in the Islands), will live, when it may be his tales have ceased to
interest, in the tender remembrance of those whose lives he beautified, and whose hearts
he warmed into gratitude."