by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Drugs and Alcohol Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"My lads," said Captain Smollett, "I've a word to say to you. This land that we have sighted is the place we have been sailing for. Mr. Trelawney, being a very open-handed gentleman, as we all know, has just asked me a word or two, and as I was able to tell him that every man on board had done his duty, alow and aloft, as I never ask to see it done better, why, he and I and the doctor are going below to the cabin to drink your health and luck, and you'll have grog served out for you to drink our health and luck. I'll tell you what I think of this: I think it handsome. And if you think as I do, you'll give a good sea-cheer for the gentleman that does it." (12.19)
Captain Smollett tricks the pirates into holding off their mutiny temporarily in the simplest way possible: he offers them a round of drinks in the name of Squire Trelawney, and they are so cheerful that they wait to rise up against their leaders. The thing that surprises us to no end about this book is that the pirates are so cheap! They are like children, easily bought off. Their willingness to get drunk at a moment's notice allows Captain Smollett and Squire Trelawney to get the drop on the mutineers and take the Hispaniola for themselves before rowing to the island fort.
"Ah, well," said [Ben Gunn], "but I had--remarkable pious. And I was a civil, pious boy, and could rattle off my catechism that fast, as you couldn't tell one word from another. And here's what it come to, Jim, and it begun with chuck-farthen on the blessed grave-stones! That's what it begun with, but it went further'n that; and so my mother told me, and predicked the whole, she did, the pious woman! But it were Providence that put me here. I've thought it all out in this here lonely island, and I'm back on piety. You don't catch me tasting rum so much, but just a thimbleful for luck, of course, the first chance I have. I'm bound I'll be good, and I see the way to. And, Jim"--looking all round him and lowering his voice to a whisper--"I'm rich." (15.22)
Ben Gunn has spent three years on Treasure Island, and all this time alone has made him decide to go back to God (he's "back on piety"). But we can already see signs that he's just waiting for the chance to go back to his old ways. Even though he swears that "you don't catch me tasting rum so much," he'd take "a thimbleful for luck [...] the first chance [he has]." And indeed, the first chance Gunn has to drink a thimbleful of rum, he doesn't stop there: he goes on a nineteen-day bender that leaves him penniless. We find the foreshadowing of this future self-indulgence right here in his speech on the island.
"Well now, you look here, that was a good lay of yours last night. I don't deny it was a good lay. Some of you pretty handy with a handspike-end. And I'll not deny neither but what some of my people was shook--maybe all was shook; maybe I was shook myself; maybe that's why I'm here for terms. But you mark me, cap'n, it won't do twice, by thunder! We'll have to do sentry-go and ease off a point or so on the rum. Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the wind's eye. But I'll tell you I was sober; I was on'y dog tired; and if I'd awoke a second sooner, I'd 'a caught you at the act, I would. He wasn't dead when I got round to him, not he." (20.24)
Long John Silver comes to make a deal with Captain Smollett (which Captain Smollett promptly rejects) in response to an incident that has "shook" all of his men, even the unshakeable Long John Silver. While all his men were drunk on rum the night before, someone crept into their camp and killed one of them. Even the disciplined Long John Silver can't keep his men sober enough to stand guard. This inability to keep watch because of drunkenness proves to be a repeated theme: not only does Ben Gunn come around and kill a pirate their first night on the island, but Jim Hawkins walks right into their fort unnoticed. It's lucky for the pirates that Jim has no clue what he is doing.