Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Letter on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

April 15, 1935

Dear Christopher Morley:

I am tremendously interested in your suggestion of R.L.S. and Crooked Island. Though I became last year—after many attempts—the proud owner of a first edition of Treasure Island, I had never thought of the map similarity.

Actually, if you will reexamine the chart, you will find that we went in a very light draft launch through the narrow inlet between Crooked Island and Fortune Island. From then on, in going northeasterly toward the river, we had great difficulty in getting over two or three miles of shallow water. Finally we reached the river and from there all the way up the lagoon we found an average depth of about twenty feet and an average width of not more than two hundred feet. A little way up the river it was divided in two by the Island, the north end of which is in the lagoon. We took the right-hand or easterly branch and during the last mile, before reaching the lagoon, we passed magnificent steep coral cliffs with caves in them. That is the westerly side of what the chart calls Blue Hill. On top of the Hill is an extraordinarily interesting-looking ruin—the foundations and lower part of what must have been quite large, stone buildings. We passed a number of small boats filled with rather poverty stricken but perfectly happy Negroes, and we tried in vain to find out something of the Island and the ruins.

It is wholly possible that in the old days the outer entrance contained a fairly deep channel because many similar entrances in these Islands have been closed up in the past hundred years by hurricanes. If there ever was a deep-water entrance to the river it would have provided the most ideal spot for a pirate or buccaneer lair that you could possibly imagine. The masts of even a tall ship in the lagoon would be completely invisible from the sea; the hill where the ruins are is a Gibraltar.

Always sincerely,

Christopher Morley, Esq.,

The Saturday Review of Literature,

New York, N. Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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