“I have only one thing to say to you, sir… that if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!”
Dr. Livesey scolds Billy Bones for drinking too much and warns that it will be the death of him if he does not practice moderation. Stevenson characterizes Dr. Livesey as a rational, moral, and upstanding citizen through his rejection of Bones’ rum. Throughout the novel, rum is associated with piracy. By having Dr. Livesey reject the rum, Stevenson draws a clear line of distinction between gentlemen like Livesey and the pirates that the reader will encounter over the course of the novel.
“It is something to have been an old soldier, but more still to have been a doctor. There is no time to dilly-dally in our work. And so now I made up my mind instantly, and with no time lost returned to the shore and jumped on board the jolly-boat.”
This line occurs during the brief period where Dr. Livesey assumes control of the narrative while Jim is off following the mutineers on the island. Narratively, Stevenson allows Livesey to take over the narration so that readers can learn what happened aboard the Hispaniola after Jim left. However, in addition to providing narrative clarity, Livesey’s chapters also allow the reader to get a better sense of Livesey as a character. For instance, this line establishes Livesey’s noble spirit and practical demeanor in the face of distress.
“I suppose you would hardly ask me to call you a humane man… and so my feelings may surprise you, Master Silver. But if I were sure they were raving—as I am morally certain one, at least, of them is down with fever—I should leave this camp, and at whatever risk to my own carcass, take them the assistance of my skill.”
Dr. Livesey delivers this line to Long John Silver when he, Jim, Squire Trelawney, and the others prepare to set sail from Treasure Island at the end of the novel. Here, Dr. Livesey contemplates going to treat the injured and ill pirates even though they will certainly attempt to kill him if he does so. This line is important for Dr. Livesey’s characterization because it reveals his moral fiber and his sense of humanity.