Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), The Ebb Tide
, Part I, Chapter I ("Night on the Beach"):
In the telling South Sea phrase, these three men were on the beach. Common calamity had brought them acquainted, as the three most miserable English-speaking creatures in Tahiti; and beyond their misery, they knew next to nothing of each other, not even their true names. For each had made a long apprenticeship in going downward; and, each at some stage of the descent, had been shamed into the adoption of an alias. And yet not one of them had figured in a court of justice. Two were men of kindly virtues; and one, as he sat and shivered under the purao, had a tattered Virgil in his pocket.
Certainly, if money could have been raised upon the book, Robert Herrick would long ago have sacrificed that last possession. But the demand for literature, which is so marked a feature in some parts of the South Seas, extends not so far as the dead tongues; and the Virgil, which he could not exchange against a meal, had often consoled him in his hunger. He would study it, as he lay with tightened belt on the floor of the old calaboose, seeking favourite passages, and finding new ones only less beautiful because they lacked the consecration of remembrance. Or he would pause on random country walks, sit on the pathside, gazing over the sea, on the mountains of Eimeo, and dip into the Aeneid, seeking sortes. And if the oracle (as is the way of oracles) replied with no very certain or encouraging voice, visions of England, at least, would throng upon the exile's memory,—the busy schoolroom; the green playing-fields; holidays at home, and the perennial roar of London; and the fireside, and the white head of his father. For it is the destiny of those grave, restrained, and classic writers, with whom we make enforced and often painful acquaintanceship at school, to pass into the blood and become native in the memory; so that a phrase of Virgil speaks not so much of Mantua or Augustus, but of English places and the student's own irrevocable youth.