by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Criminality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"And now, sir," continued the doctor, "since I now know there's such a fellow in my district, you may count I'll have an eye upon you day and night. I'm not a doctor only; I'm a magistrate; and if I catch a breath of complaint against you, if it's only for a piece of incivility like tonight's, I'll take effectual means to have you hunted down and routed out of this. Let that suffice." (1.16)
Doctor Livesey is a local judge as well as a doctor. In that capacity, he has words with Billy Bones after a run-in at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Because they operate at sea, we rarely see pirates coming up against actual agents of the law. Who in this novel seems most afraid of legal punishment? Why?
"Heard of [Captain Flint]!" cried the squire. "Heard of him, you say! He was the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that sailed. Blackbeard was a child to Flint. The Spaniards were so prodigiously afraid of him that, I tell you, sir, I was sometimes proud he was an Englishman." (6.22)
One odd historical detail of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries is that, far from being outside the law, pirates were often secretly sponsored by governments of opposing European powers. So English pirates would board Spanish, French, and Dutch ships in the hopes of ruining their foreign trade. This is why a rabid patriot like Squire Trelawney can admit to admiring a pirate like Captain Flint.
All the time he was jerking out these phrases he was stumping up and down the tavern on his crutch, slapping tables with his hand, and giving such a show of excitement as would have convinced an Old Bailey judge or a Bow Street runner. My suspicions had been thoroughly reawakened on finding Black Dog at the Spy-glass, and I watched [Long John Silver] narrowly. But he was too deep, and too ready, and too clever for me, and by the time the two men had come back out of breath and confessed that they had lost the track in a crowd, and been scolded like thieves, I would have gone bail for the innocence of Long John Silver. (8.32)
Ah, Long John Silver, what a master conman he is. When Jim observes known pirate Black Dog in Long John Silver's establishment, he immediately assumes LJS is also a pirate. But LJS is so skilled at pretending to be a gentleman that Jim is taken in immediately. Do you think Long John Silver would really be able to retire into an ordinary gentleman's life, as he claims to want to do after pulling this job? Can you imagine him settling down as the owner of a bar somewhere, just hanging out and pouring other people rum?