Many of the pirates throughout Treasure Island could well be identified as alcoholics in today’s terms. At the very least, rum is highly important for them, and some pirates are clearly addicted to it—including Billy Bones, who begs Jim to slip him some even when the doctor forbids it. On Treasure Island, meanwhile, many of the pirates stay up late and have drunken revelries organized around drinking rum. The drink is thus associated with the wild lawlessness of piracy. In contrast, Jim, the doctor, and the squire are not just sober but sober-minded, able to outwit the pirates who are weakened by their addiction. Interestingly, Long John Silver is one of the few pirates who seems relatively uninterested in rum, and is certainly unaffected by its power, allowing him to outwit any enemy, including his own men. Jim is only a boy, but he is educated early on into some of the more insidious dangers of adulthood—not just deadly plots and dangers at sea, but also the ways that something like rum that can destroy a person from within. This is a lesson that would have been familiar to many readers in late-nineteenth-century Britain, where Victorian writers often insisted on the immorality of alcohol and alcoholism.
Rum Quotes in Treasure Island
I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest—
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”