. ' :
Books by Robert Louis Stevenson
AN INLAND VOYAGE.
EDINBURGH: PICTURESQUE NOTES.
TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY.
FAMILIAR STUDIES OF MEN AND BOOKS.
NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS.
THE SILVERADO SQUATTERS.
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES.
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.
THE MERRY MEN.
MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS.
THE BLACK ARROW.
THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE.
FATHER DAMIEN : AN OPEN LETTER.
ACROSS THE PLAINS.
ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS.
A FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY.
WEIR OF HERMISTON.
SONGS OF TRAVEL.
IN THE SOUTH SEAS.
ESSAYS OF TRAVEL.
TALES AND FANTASIES.
ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING.
PRAYERS WRITTEN AT VAILIMA.
A CHRISTMAS SERMON.
with Mrs. Stevenson
with Lloyd Osbourne
THE WRONG BOX. THE WRECKER. THE EBB-TIDE.
WRITTEN AT VAILIMA
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
THE MUSSON BOOK CO.
Edinburgh : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
IN every Samoan household the day
is closed with prayer and the
singing of hymns. The omission of
this sacred duty would indicate, not
only a lack of religious training in
the house chief, but a shameless dis-
regard of all that is reputable in
Samoan social life. No doubt, to
many, the evening service is no more
than a duty fulfilled. The child who
says his prayer at his mother s knee
can have no real conception of the
meaning of the words he lisps so
readily, yet he goes to his little bed
with a sense of heavenly protection
that he would miss were the prayer
forgotten. The average Samoan is
but a larger child in most things, and
would lay an uneasy head on his
wooden pillow if he had not joined,
even perfunctorily, in the evening
service. With my husband, prayer,
the direct appeal, was a necessity.
When he was happy he felt impelled
to offer thanks for that undeserved
joy ; when in sorrow, or pain, to call
for strength to bear what must be
Vailima lay up some three miles of
continual rise from Apia, and more
than half that distance from the near-
est village. It was a long way for a
tired man to walk down every even-
ing with the sole purpose of joining
in family worship ; and the road
through the bush was dark, and, to
the Samoan imagination, beset with
supernatural terrors. Wherefore,
as soon as our household had fallen
into a regular routine, and the bonds
of Samoan family life began to draw
us more closely together, Tusitalafelt
the necessity of including our retainers
in our evening devotions. I suppose
ours was the only white mans family
in all Samoa, except those of the
missionaries, where the day naturally
ended with this homely, patriarchal
custom. Not only were the religious
scruples of the natives satisfied, but,
what we did not foresee, our own re-
spectability and incidentally that of
our retainers became assured, and
the influence of Tusitala increased
After all work and meals were
finished, the 'pu,' or war conch, was
sounded from the back veranda and
the front, so that it might be heard by
all. I dont think it ever occurred to
us that there was any incongruity in
the use of the war conch for the peace-
ful invitation to prayer. In response
to its summons the white members of
the family took their usual places in
one end of the large hall, while the
Samoans men, women, and children
trooped in through all the open
doors, some carrying lanterns if the
evening were dark, all moving quietly
and dropping will i Samoan decorum in
a wide semicircle on the floor beneath
a great lamp that hung from the
ceiling. The service began by my son
reading a chapter from the Samoan
Bible, Tusitala following with a prayer
in English, sometimes impromptu, but
more often from the notes in this little
book, interpolating or changing with
the circumstances of the day. Then
came the singing of one or more
hymns in the native tongue, and the
recitation in concert of the Lord's
Prayer, also in Samoan. Many
of these hymns were set to ancient
tunes, very wild and warlike, and
strangely at variance with the mis-
Sometimes a passing hand of hostile
warriors, with blackened faces, would
peer in at us through the open
windows, and often we were forced
to pause until the strangely savage,
monotonous noise of the native drums
had ceased ; but no Samoan, nor, I
trust, white person, changed his
reverent attitude. Once, I remember
a look of surprised dismay crossing
the countenance of Tusitala when my
son, contrary to his usual custom of
reading 1 the next chapter following
that of yesterday, turned back the
leaves of his Bible to find a chapter
fiercely denunciatory, and only too
applicable to the foreign dictators of
distracted Samoa. On another occa-
sion the chief himself brought the
service to a sudden check. He had
just learned of the treacherous con-
duct of one in whom he had every
reason to trust. That evening the
prayer seemed unusually short and
formal. As the singing stopped he
arose abruptly and left the room. I
hastened after him, fearing some
sudden illness. ' What is it f ' / asked.
' It is this,' was the reply ; 6 1 am not
yet fit to say, "Forgive us our tres-
passes as we forgive those who tres-
pass against us"
It is with natural reluctance that I
touch upon the last prayer of my
husband's life. Many have supposed
that he showed, in the wording of this
prayer, that he had some premonition
of his approaching death. I am sure
he had no such premonition. It was
I who told the assembled family that
I felt an impending disaster approach-
ing nearer and nearer. Any Scot
will understand that my statement
was received seriously. It could not
be, we thought, that danger threat-
ened any one within the house; but
Mr. Graham Balfour, my husband's
cousin, very near and dear to us, was
away on a perilous cruise. Our fears
followed the various vessels, more or
less unseaworthy, in which he was
making his way from island to island
to the atoll where the exiled king,
Mataafa, was at that time imprisoned.
In my husbands last prayer, the
night before his death, he asked that
we should be given strength to bear
the loss of this dear friend, should
such a sorrow befall us.
FOR SUCCESS . . 1
FOR GRACE .... 3
AT MORNING .... 4
ANOTHER FOR EVENING . . 7
IN TIME OF RAIN ... 8
ANOTHER IN TIME OF RAIN . 9
BEFORE A TEMPORARY SEPARATION 10
FOR FRIENDS . . . .11
FOR THE FAMILY 12
FOR SELF-BLAME ... 16
FOR SELF-FORGETFULNESS . . 18
FOR RENEWAL OF JOY 19
E1RD, behold our family here
assembled. We thank Thee
for this place in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us ; for
the peace accorded us this day; for
the hope with which we expect the
morrow; for the health, the work,
the food, and the bright skies, that
make our lives delightful; for our
friends in all parts of the earth, and
our friendly helpers in this foreign isle.
Let peace abound in our small com-
pany. Purge out of every heart the
lurking grudge. Give us grace and
strength to forbear and to persevere.
Offenders, give us the grace to accept
and to forgive offenders. Forgetful
ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully
the forgetfulness of others. Give us
courage and gaiety and the quiet
mind. Spare to us our friends, soften
to us our enemies. Bless us, if it
may be, in all our innocent endea-
vours. If it may not, give us the
strength to encounter that which is
to come, that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation, temperate in
wrath, and in all changes of fortune,
and, down to the gates of death, loyal
and loving one to another. As the
clay to the potter, as the windmill to
the wind, as children of their sire, we
beseech of Thee this help and mercy
for Christ's sake.
GRANT that we here before
Thee may be set free from
the fear of vicissitude and the fear of
death, may finish what remains be-
fore us of our course without dis-
honour to ourselves or hurt to others,
and, when the day comes, may die in
peace. Deliver us from fear and
favour : from mean hopes and cheap
pleasures. Have mercy on each in
his deficiency ; let him be not cast
down ; support the stumbling on
the way, and give at last rest to the
THE day returns and brings us
the petty round of irritating
concerns and duties. Help us to
play the man, help us to perform
them with laughter and kind faces,
let cheerfulness abound with in-
dustry. Give us to go blithely on
our business all this day, bring us to
our resting beds weary and content
and undishonoured, and grant us in
the end the gift of sleep.
WE come before Thee, O
Lord, in the end of thy
day with thanksgiving.
Our beloved in the far parts of the
earth, those who are now beginning
the labours of the day what time we
end them, and those with whom the
sun now stands at the point of noon,
bless, help, console, and prosper
Our guard is relieved, the service
of the day is over, and the hour
come to rest. We resign into thy
hands our sleeping bodies, our cold
hearths, and open doors. Give us
to awake with smiles, give us to
labour smiling. As the sun returns
in the east, so let our patience be
renewed with dawn; as the sun
lightens the world, so let our loving-
kindness make bright this house of
ANOTHER FOR EVENING
ERD, receive our supplications
for this house, family, and
country. Protect the innocent, re-
strain the greedy and the treacherous,
lead us out of our tribulation into a
Look down upon ourselves and
upon our absent dear ones. Help us
and them ; prolong our days in peace
and honour. Give us health, food,
bright weather, and light hearts. In
what we meditate of evil, frustrate
our will; in what of good, further our
endeavours. Cause injuries to be for-
got and benefits to be remembered.
Let us lie down without fear and
awake and arise with exultation.
For his sake, in whose words we
IN TIME OF RAIN
WE thank Thee, Lord, for the
glory of the late days and
the excellent face of thy sun. We
thank Thee for good news received.
We thank Thee for the pleasures
we have enjoyed and for those we
have been able to confer. And now,
when the clouds gather and the rain
impends over the forest and our
house, permit us not to be cast down;
let us not lose the savour of past
mercies and past pleasures ; but, like
the voice of a bird singing in the
rain, let grateful memory survive
in the hour of darkness. If there
be in front of us any painful duty,
strengthen us with the grace of
courage ; if any act of mercy, teach
us tenderness and patience.
ANOTHER IN TIME OF RAIN
ElRD, Thou sendest down rain
upon the uncounted millions
of the forest, and givest the trees to
drink exceedingly. We are here
upon this isle a few handfuls of
men, and how many myriads upon
myriads of stalwart trees ! Teach
us the lesson of the trees. The sea
around us, which this rain recruits,
teems with the race of fish ; teach
us, Lord, the meaning of the fishes.
Let us see ourselves for what we
are, one out of the countless number
of the clans of thy handiwork. When
we would despair, let us remember
that these also please and serve
BEFORE A TEMPORARY SEPARATION
TO-DAY we go forth separate,
some of us to pleasure, some
of us to worship, some upon duty.
Go with us, our guide and angel;
hold Thou before us in our divided
paths the mark of our low calling,
still to be true to what small best we
can attain to. Help us in that, our
maker, the dispenser of events
Thou, of the vast designs, in which
we blindly labour, suffer us to be so
far constant to ourselves and our
FOR our absent loved ones we
implore thy loving-kindness.
Keep them in life, keep them in
growing honour ; and for us, grant
that we remain worthy of their love.
For Christ's sake, let not our be-
loved blush for us, nor we for them.
Grant us but that, and grant us
courage to endure lesser ills un-
shaken, and to accept death, loss,
and disappointment as it were straws
upon the tide of life.
FOR THE FAMILY
AD us, if it be thy will, in our
concerns. Have mercy on
this land and innocent people. Help
them who this day contend in dis-
appointment with their frailties.
Bless our family, bless our forest
house, bless our island helpers. Thou
who hast made for us this place of
ease and hope, accept and inflame
our gratitude ; help us to repay, in
service one to another, the debt of
thine unmerited benefits and mer-
cies, so that, when the period of our
stewardship draws to a conclusion,
when the windows begin to be dark-
ened, when the bond of the family is
to be loosed, there shall be no bitter-
ness of remorse in our farewells.
Help us to look back on the long
way that Thou hast brought us, on
the long days in which we have been
served, not according to our deserts,
but our desires ; on the pit and the
miry clay, the blackness of despair,
the horror of misconduct, from which
our feet have been plucked out. For
our sins forgiven or prevented, for
our shame unpublished, we bless and
thank Thee, O God. Help us yet
again and ever. So order events, so
strengthen our frailty, as that day by
day we shall come before Thee with
this song of gratitude, and in the
end we be dismissed with honour.
In their weakness and their fear, the
vessels of thy handiwork so pray to
Thee, so praise Thee. Amen.
WE beseech Thee, Lord, to be-
hold us with favour, folk of
many families and nations gathered
together in the peace of this roof,
weak men and women subsisting
under the covert of thy patience.
Be patient still ; suffer us yet awhile
longer ; with our broken purposes
of good, with our idle endeavours
against evil, suffer us awhile longer
to endure, and (if it may be) help us
to do better. Bless to us our extra-
ordinary mercies ; if the day come
when these must be taken, brace us
to play the man under affliction. Be
with our friends, be with ourselves.
Go with each of us to rest ; if any
awake, temper to them the dark
hours of watching; and when the
day returns, return to us, our sun
and comforter, and call us up with
morning faces and with morning
hearts eager to labour eager to
be happy, if happiness shall be our
portion and if the day be marked
for sorrow, strong to endure it.
We thank Thee and praise Thee ;
and in the words of him to whom
this day is sacred, close our oblation.
ERD, enlighten us to see the
beam that is in our own eye,
and blind us to the mote that is
in our brother's. Let us feel our
offences with our hands, make them
great and bright before us like the
sun, make us eat them and drink
them for our diet. Blind us to the
offences of our beloved, cleanse them
from our memories, take them out
of our mouths for ever. Let all
here before Thee carry and measure
with the false balances of love, and
be in their own eyes and in all con-
junctures the most guilty. Help us
at the same time with the grace of
courage, that we be none of us cast
down when we sit lamenting amid
the ruins of our happiness or our
integrity: touch us with fire from
the altar, that we may be up and
doing to rebuild our city : in the
name and by the method of him
in whose words of prayer we now
ERD, the creatures of thy hand,
thy disinherited children,
come before Thee with their inco-
herent wishes and regrets : Children
we are, children we shall be, till our
mother the earth hath fed upon our
bones. Accept us, correct us, guide
us, thy guilty innocents. Dry our
vain tears, wipe out our vain resent-
ments, help our yet vainer efforts.
If there be any here, sulking as
children will, deal with and enlighten
him. Make it day about that person,
so that he shall see himself and be
ashamed. Make it heaven about him,
Lord, by the only way to heaven,
forgetfulness of self, and make it
day about his neighbours, so that
they shall help, not hinder him.
FOR RENEWAL OF JOY
WE are evil, O God, and help
us to see it and amend.
We are good, and help us to be
better. Look down upon thy ser-
vants with a patient eye, even as
Thou sendest sun and rain ; look
down, call upon the dry bones,
quicken, enliven ; recreate in us the
soul of service, the spirit of peace ;
renew in us the sense of joy.
Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press
PR 5488 .P75 1900 SMC
Stevenson, Robert Louis,
Prayers written at Vailima