The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Notes on 'The Yellow Admiral'

Sequel to this post about my favorite moments from The Commodore, with the rest to be found filed under "O'Brian":


14: Blaine asks Stephen if he has seen Jack, and Stephen says he just did. "I come up next week for the meeting of the Royal and to see about the lease of our house in Half Moon Street. In the present state of affairs we cannot possibly afford to keep it up: but just now we mean to go down to the Aubreys and stay with them until a suitable little place can be found in the country: and of course I must rejoin my ship. We are selling or trying to sell that gaunt cold ill-omened Barham, which will put us in funds again; and in the meantime I shall borrow a few thousand from Jack Aubrey.' Blaine gave him a quick look; and a few paces on, when they were almost at the door of the club, with members going in and out like bees, he took Stephen's elbow, halted him by the railings and in a low voice he said, 'Do beg your friend to be quiet in the House, Stephen. On naval estimates he addressed the Ministry as though they were a parcel of defaulters, and now that he has most unhappily overcome his diffidence as a new member he does so in a voice calculated to reach the main topmast-head in a hurricane. His friends do so wish he were not in Parliament; or if he feels he has to be a member (and indeed there are great potential advantages) that he would rarely attend and then sit mute, voting as he is told. I dread the moment he gives his voice against the Ministry, in his dashing, headstrong way. He is very often in town, with a jobbing captain aboard his ship, doing her no good, nor her reputation. Stephen, do take him to sea and keep him there...a safe and prosperous journey, and my dear love to the ladies,' replied Sir Joseph, kissing his hand.

21-3: Jack and Sophie are reading letters together from creditors and lawyers, unhappily concluding that they must sell Ashgrove. "'Perhaps we are both missing heirs.' No sudden fortune, but Jack's face lit with much the same light as he turned the last letter of his undistinguished pile. 'Why, this is Stephen,' he exclaimed, breaking the seal. 'By God, they will be here today! Stephen, Diana, Clarissa Oakes, Brigid, Padeen, the whole shooting-match. What joy! Listen, sweetheart. "My dear Jack, may I indeed inflict myself, all my women, and a numerous band of followers upon you indefinitely? Diana (who sends her love) says it is a monstrous imposition, above all with no notice; but I reassure her, saying it was an understood thing between us - we had met at Black's - you had stressed the empty immensities of your palatial home. And I would not wound you for the world, as I must by taking hired lodgings until a suitable house can be found..." My dear, what's amiss? Ain't you delighted?' 'Oh, indeed I am. I love Stephen. I am fond of my cousin I am as delighted as a woman can be, who has nothing ready for a single guest, let alone a regiment, including that Mrs Oakes - nothing whatsoever - you were to have yesterday's beefsteak pudding again for dinner, and there is nothing else in the house. We shall have to put them in the east wing - there is room enough there, God knows - but it has not been turned out, it has not been touched since Michaelmas.' She started up, gathering her wits and saying, 'I shall never be ready in time,' hurried from the room. She was not what she called ready when the coach and four, driven in great style by Diana, rolled in a smooth curve across the courtyard and pulled up exactly at the foot of the steps...Jack, Stephen, an aged groom and a stable-boy put the splendid coach and its team of bays in stable and coachhouse. 'Why, Diana,' called Jack in his strong voice, coming in and brushing the oat-dust from his coat, 'where did you get your magnificent cattle?' 'I borrowed them from my cousin Cholmondeley,' said she. 'We met him in Bath, glum as a gib cat, with a gouty toe that nailed him to his chair - said the horses were bursting for want of exercise - it made him low in his spirits. So I offered to drive them down here. He will send his coachman to take them back on Thursday.' 'He must have an amazing opinion of your powers,' said Jack. 'I once asked him to lend me a perfectly ordinary dog-cart with a perfectly ordinary animal to pull it, just for an hour or so, and he would not.' 'Jack,' said Diana, smiling, 'a thousand repartees come to mind, each wittier than the last, but I shall not utter a single one. This is a very striking case of magnanimity in a poor weak woman who rarely thinks of any repartee until it is far too late to produce it.' 'Admiral Rodham says that for ship-handling Jack has not his equal in the entire service,' said Sophie. Diana looked down without even a hidden smile; and in the silence that followed Stephen watched George and Brigid. The little boy walked round and round her, gazing: sometimes she smiled at him; but sometimes she turned away her head. Eventually he came right up to her, offered her the best part of a biscuit and said, 'Should not you like to see my dormouse? He is a prodigious fine dormouse, and will let you touch him.' 'Oh, if you please,' she said, jumping up at once."

24-5: "In general Stephen Maturin was a poor sleeper...but here in the soporific atmosphere of Dorset even three cups of coffee after dinner had not been able to keep him awake: he had nodded over his cards to such an extent that by general agreement Sophie took over his hand and he crept off to bed. Here he awoke at dawn in a state of rosy ease and perfect relaxation, infinitely refreshed. In this blessed posture he lay for some time, luxuriating, collecting himself and the recent past and listening both to Diana's even breath and to a moderate chorus of birds, all pleased to see the day. Presently life stirred in his bosom: with infinite precaution he collected the clothes he had strewn about the floor, and carrying his shoes he took them to the closet. 'Why, Stephen, there you are,' called Jack from the breakfast-room, hearing him on the stairs. 'Good morning to you. What an early worm you are to be sure. I trust you slept? You was quite fagged out.' 'Wonderfully, I thank you: wonderfully: I do not remember getting into bed, and when I woke I could hardly tell where I was, at all. What a pure joy it is, the awareness of having slept.' 'I am sure of it,' said Jack, for whom this was an everyday occurrence. He poured him a cup of coffee and went on, 'What do you say to taking out a gun and seeing whether we can knock over a rabbit or two? And there might be a snipe in the plashy bottom.' 'With all my heart.'"

27-8: "'Ain't you rich now, Stephen?' [Jack] asked with never a hint of vulgar curiosity; only with a very deep concern. 'I am not. I carried my fortune to Spain, as you know; and there it has been seized. They had wind of my doings in Peru. But I am in no way desperate, Jack. I have my pay - much in arrears, I may observe - as a naval surgeon; and we mean to get rid of that ill-omened place at Barham and take a little small cottage somewhere in these parts. No. I am not desperate at all: it is just that I am in no way to indulge in a platina touch-hole to my gun.' 'Then we are in the same boat, brother. I had scarcely been home a month before writs started coming in - actions for wrongful seizure, forcible detainer and the like, based on my taking slavers who by one damned quibble or another could claim protection...I can not pay them, if any of the other cases goes against me. Even as things are, we can only just scrape by if Sophie sells Ashgrove: this place and the whole Woolcombe estate are entailed.' Stephen shook his head, looking so wretchedly Low that Jack went on, 'But like you, I am not at all desperate. I too have my service pay, and so long as I am a member they can't arrest me. Lord, Stephen, we have been very much worse off. Shall we see if we can find any rabbits?'" They ride and Jack shows Stephen the common, "a broad expanse of rough pasture, fern-brake, scattered trees, with here and there a pool; the whole agreeably undulating, autumn-coloured, with a fine great sky over it, adorned with the whitest sailing clouds."

34-36: Jack explains that his father's old friends want to inclose Simmons Lea, to which he objects vehemently. "I should I should lay handsome odds, say eleven to three, that the weight of my position will swing the balance - will turn the scale.' 'Sure, a post-captain in the Royal Navy is a most imposing creature; but is not Captain Griffiths of the same rank and somewhat greater seniority?' 'Certainly. But he is not lord of the manor and I am.' 'Heavens, Jack, I had no notion of it, no notion at all. So they still exist? The office or perhaps I should say the eminence I had heard of, but supposed it to belong to the distant past, when lords exercised the droit de seigneur with the utmost rigour, and the high justice and the low, with a private pair of gallows. So they still exist? I am amazed, amazed.' Even now, after all these years, the extent of Stephen's ignorance by land as well as by sea, of course, could astonish Captain Aubrey. He looked affectionately down, and in the simplest words explained the nature of his function. 'It amounts to little nowadays, after all the modern passion for paring down and changing for the sake of change: the lord of the manor has few rights left apart from what the manor courts leave him, and the occasional escheat; but logically or not he does retain a certain standing, and it is rare for a committee to go against his opposition. And then again, he does have some powers coming down from earlier times: I may not be able to lie with the commoners' brides on their wedding night, but I do open the fair in the Dripping Pan - by the charter it cannot start without I am there, or at least my deputy - and I do kick the first football of the season and bowl the first ball when cricket comes round, unless I am at sea.' They had been rising steadily through his account of lordship of a manor and now, from the top of a grassy bank he waved down to a shallow amphitheatre - it was too large to be called a dell - with a fine sward kept trim by sheep and rabbits and now by a small, remote flock of snow-white geese tended by a girl. 'You would not think so to look at it now,' he said, 'but on Old Lammas Day you can hardly get along for stalls and tents...two or three bearded ladies, boxing-booths, where our lads get finely battered by knowing old bruisers from Plymouth - such fun. And this is where we have our football in the winter and cricket in the summer, as well as leaping and foot races. In good years we field an eleven that can beat teams of fifteen and even seventeen from most of the nearby villages. Down there, a little south of east, do you see - no, to the left - there is the lane the fair people come up on the days before Old Lammas. It will take us a little out of our way, but I should like to take you down and across; there is something in the south pasture that may please you.'"

38-9: "'Jack,' said Stephen, 'I have been contemplating on your words about the nature of the majority, your strangely violent, radical, and even - forgive me - democratic words, which, with their treasonable implication of "one man, one vote", might be interpreted as an attack on the sacred rights of property; and I should like to know how you reconcile them with your support of a Tory ministry in the House.' 'Oh, as for that,' said Jack, 'I have no difficulty at all. It is entirely a matter of scale and circumstance. Everyone knows that on a large scale democracy is pernicious nonsense - a country or even a county cannot be run by a self-seeking parcel of tub-thumping politicians working on popular emotion, rousing the mob. Even at Brooks's, which is a hotbed of democracy, the place is in fact run by the managers and those that don't like it may either do the other thing or join Boodle's; while as for a man-of-war, it is either an autocracy or it is nothing, nothing at all - mere nonsense. You saw what happened to the poor French navy at the beginning of the Revolutionary War...' 'Dear Jack, I do not suppose literal democracy in a ship of the line nor even in a little small row-boat. I know too much of the sea,' added Stephen, not without complacency. '...while at the other end of the scale, although "one man, one vote" certainly smells of brimstone and the gallows, everyone has always accepted it in a jury trying a man for his life. An inclosure belongs to this scale: it too decides men's lives...Woolcombe was never so glorious a place as Simmon's Lea, but I like it very well - surprising numbers of partridge and woodcock in the season - and when I saw it all cleared, flattened, drained, fenced and exploited to the last half-bushel of wheat, with many of the small encroachments ploughed up and the cottages destroyed, and the remaining commoners, with half of their living and all their joy quite gone, reduced to anxious cap-inhand casual labourers, it hurt my heart, Stephen, I do assure you. I was brought up rough when I was a little chap, after my mother's death, sometimes at the village school, sometimes running wild; and I knew these men intimately as boys, and now to see them at the mercy of landlords, farmers, and God help us parish officers for poor relief, hurts me so that I can scarcely bring myself to go there again. And I am determined the same thing shall not happen to Simmon's Lea, if ever I can prevent it. The old ways had disadvantages, of course, but here - and I speak only of what I know - it was a human life, and the people knew its ways and customs through and through.' 'I am of your way of thinking entirely, my dear,' said Stephen. He had rarely seen Jack so deeply moved and he said nothing for a furlong, when Jack cried, 'There he is! There is your wariangle! Harding showed him to George only yesterday. I hoped we should see him.' 'A very fine fowl indeed,' said Stephen. 'I have rarely seen so fine a specimen.'"

44-5: "From [the bushes] burst a little boy, George, closely pursued by a little girl, Brigid. 'Oh sir,' cried George, 'there is an express from Plymouth. And Cousin Diana is coming.' 'Oh Papa,' cried Brigid, 'there is a man on a steaming horse, and he destroyed with the thirst, bearing a letter so he is, an express letter. Mama carries it in her hand itself, driving the great coach. We came through the shrubbery and then through the whins.' By this time she was with them, and moderating her voice a little, she held up her face to be kissed. 'We saw you through the spy-glass,' said George, 'and since Cousin Diana already had the horses to, she said she should come by the drift: it would save your poor legs.' 'I can hear them, I can hear them. Mother of God, I can hear them. Oh Papa dear, and may I go up on top with Padeen?' She plucked urgently at his coat, distracting him from a remote and broad-winged bird, conceivably an osprey, right in the sun's eye. 'If Mama agrees,' he said. 'She is the master and commander of the coach.' ... 'I have a letter for you, Jack,' [Diana] cried, waving it. 'An express from Plymouth.' 'Thank you, Diana,' he replied. 'Should you like me to help you wheel the coach?' 'Lord, no,' said Diana...then to Brigid, 'Child, come and take this letter to your cousin.' 'Are you my cousin, sir?' asked the child as Diana turned the horses in her usual brilliant manner. 'I am so glad.'"

62: "The door closed at last. Sophie picked up her stocking and presently the thread of her discourse. 'Yes, to be sure,' she said, 'forty miles is a great way. But when I think of the distance Jack has to go this very night and all tomorrow... Oh, how I wish it were over.' 'He will be in the post-chaise much of the time,' said Diana. 'And although it may not be a feather-bed - I abominate a feather-bed, by the way: I love to have something really firm under my bottom - ' 'Oh, Di,' cried Sophie, blushing extremely and throwing an anxious glance at Clarissa, who, to her relief, betrayed no emotion of any kind. Clarissa was a clever needle-woman, intent on her work; and her past was of such a nature that rather free or even licentious words made no impression on her at all.

69-70: [Clarissa]'s somewhat hesitant attitude, the improbability of her choice of a walk, and many more scarcely to be defined - awoke all the intelligence agent in Maturin. Profiting from the hurdle-bearers' necessary slowness he hurried forward: Clarissa had a total confidence in him and told him exactly what was afoot, taking no more than ten words to do so. 'Will I deal with it?' he asked. She nodded and he rejoined the party. 'Jack,' he cried at some distance, 'I grieve to say that there has been a sad misunderstanding and the chaise you are sharing with Mr Judd has been ordered for Wooton: it stands there at this moment, and he begs you will join him directly.' Jack was not always very quick in taking the point of Stephen's longer, more elaborate and even wholly mythical anecdotes, but he knew his friend intimately well - he could interpret a certain fixity of look better than most men - he had a vague recollection of Mr Judd as one of the deeper old files of Whitehall, and without hesitation he replied, 'Hell and death: I must go at once.' And to Clarissa, 'Thank you so much for coming. Please give my dear love to Sophie and tell her I am very sorry if the blunder was my fault, as I dare say it was.' 'I will see you a furlong on your way,' said Stephen. 'No more, because of my patient.' In the course of this furlong he told his news and Jack cried, 'God bless Diana and Mrs Oakes, that fine woman...I would not have missed that committee for the world...yet I do wish to God I were going up without this damned unlucky omen. It really does cast a prodigious damp on a man's spirit...Stephen knew of old that it was useless to call out against the weakness of mere superstition: no sailor he had ever known, even the most eminent, even a full admiral in all the glory of gold lace, had ever been moved an inch by reason, however eloquent. He therefore came to a halt, said, 'Fare thee well, dear Jack, and may all the luck in the world go with thee. I must follow my patient.' 'You do not fear for him, Stephen?' asked Jack, looking earnestly into his face. 'I do not. God bless, now...until Friday, then: and God and St Patrick go with you.'"

71: There are few more versatile saints than Patrick, and he managed the parliamentary business and the return journey supremely well until the very last lap, when one of the horses lost a shoe just outside Trugget's Hatch, a village that would have been in clear sight of Woolcombe had a hill not stood between them. There they waited at the King's Head and Eight Bells, and while the smith was blowing up his forge Jack sat in the bar, where he called for a pot of ale. 'Well, squire,' said the landlord, setting it down and wiping the table, 'might I be so bold...' He knew Jack well; he had a sister married to a commoner on Simmon's Lea; he was by only one remove an interested party; yet he hesitated until he saw Captain Aubrey's beaming face emerge from the tankard, with an unmistakable look of satisfied desire. ' bold as to ask whether everything was to your liking?' 'Mr Andrews, I could not have wished for better. The petition for inclosure was rejected both for inadequate majority and above all for the lord of the manor's direct and firmly stated opposition. So the common is safe and we can go on in the way we are used to.'"

89-91: Stephen tells Jack of Padeen's horror of marriage and how he has known men who killed themselves on their wedding day. 'Do you know of any young women who have done the same?' 'I do not. But I do know of three and have heard of more that ran away on their wedding night.' 'So have I.' 'There is a great deal to be said for a country education, where a girl may see a cow led to the bull as a matter of course, the filly to the stallion, and where a phallus is an acknowledged object - a matter of some curiosity perhaps but certainly nothing wholly unexpected, possibly wholly unexpected and even apprehended as a horrid malformation, an unnatural growth.' 'I scarcely think a country education always...' began Captain Aubrey, but he was cut short by a singularly violent and reverberating crash as two idlers, carrying a large matted block of stone, loaded with shot and intended for the perfect cleansing of the planks just overhead, dropped the entirety. This was followed by a great deal of howling, agonized howling, and Stephen ran up on deck in his nightshirt - a crushed foot for sure. By the time he had dressed the mangled limb and administered his usual thirty-five drops of laudanum the sun was up, Jack was washed and shaved, his fine clubbed queue of yellow hair was new-tied behind his nape and himself seated before the breakfast-table in a small cabin smelling gloriously of toast, coffee and kippered herring. 'Forgive me, Stephen,' he cried, 'I am afraid I did not wait. Greed overcame me.' 'You say that almost every morning, brother; and I am afraid it is true,' said Stephen. 'But I pray that you may yet be saved from gule, that most brutish and most unamiable of the seven deadly sins. But come, Jack' - looking at him attentively - 'you are fresh-trimmed, neat as a bridegroom, almost handsome, in your fine coat and golden epaulettes. What's afoot?' 'You have not been on deck, I find. The squadron is hull-up already, and pretty soon Bellona's number will break at the admiral's mizen topmast together with the signal captain repair aboard flag.' 'Be so good as to pass what is left of the toast; and naturally the coffee-pot.' 'And,' went on Jack in a low voice, 'if I know anything of your doings on a foreign shore, he or at least his secretary will ask to see you. Stephen, would it not be prudent to shave, and shift your coat and breeches?' 'Jack,' said Stephen. 'I have it in contemplation to grow a beard and put an end to these ill-timed fleers for good and all. In time of war the Roman emperors always wore beards. And as for this coat' - looking at his sleeve - 'it will do very well for many years yet.' 'At least let Killick give it a brush. There is lint on the front; and I fear that may be blood. You would never wish to put the barky to shame aboard the Charlotte.' 'Perhaps I should have put on my apron,' said Stephen, dabbing at the blood with his napkin. 'But there is no possibility whatsoever of finding a new coat until my sea-chest is unpacked.'"

94: "'Are we not to go to the Admiral?' asked Stephen in a low voice, when the list had ended and the tender was passing well east of the Queen Charlotte. 'Yes, but by way of the Bellona and so in my own barge,' said Jack, smiling at his simplicity; and in the same undertone he went on, 'I shall watch my step this time, I can tell you. When the Almighty hears my news he will love me even less than he did before; and with such a damned unlucky omen I may expect some wicked squalls. I shall look out for them.' 'To what omen do you refer, brother?' asked Stephen. 'Why, to poor Bonden's being beat, of course. What could be more unlucky? And you say you are not quite happy about his head.' 'Shame upon you and fie, for a poor weak superstitious creature. What connection can there be between the two matters?' 'Well, the heart has its reasons.. .' Jack began, but then with a confused memory of kidneys troubling his mind he dropped the heart and went on, 'I may be no great scholar, but I do know that Julius Caesar put off an attack because he saw a damned great black bird flying from an unlucky quarter. And Julius Caesar was no weak, simple, womanly creature. It's all one, you know. But tell me, will poor Bonden be fit to see us across?' 'I believe so, with the blessing,' said Stephen."

105-7: "'Here's space - here's air - the vast sweep of the ocean - this glorious room - servants and victuals a-plenty - no domestic worries of any kind - hundreds of miles from importunity - and as I understand it we simply go up and down in this spacious great bay - delightful sailing, sure. Perhaps after dinner we may have some music.' 'With all my heart,' said Jack. 'I have scarcely touched my fiddle this month and more.' ... 'Listen,' said Stephen, and once again it was apparent to Jack that his friend's mind was, and had been, elsewhere. 'Listen, will you now? The Admiral, in his artless approach, let fall some words having a certain misty reference to the future; and they seemed to me to chime with some of your indistinct deprecation to do with yellowing and your superstitious hatred of the colour itself, even. Be so good as to explain the matter in words adapted to the meanest understanding.'" Jack explains what it means to be yellowed, "People are placed on the Navy List as retired captains, or if this is too flagrantly unjust then as rear-admirals, but of no squadron whatsoever and of course no command. When this happens he is said to have been yellowed - to have been appointed to an imaginary yellow squadron. And if he has had the service at heart all his life he cannot but die unhappy. I am sure I should. It is an extremely public disgrace and your friends hardly know how to meet your eye.' 'But my dear you are quite far from the top of the list. Sure you must have served some years more before you need worry about your flag?' 'Certainly. But it is the running-up period that is so important, the time while the Admiralty are slowly making up their minds, the years when you must distinguish yourself if you possibly can and when above all you must not put a foot wrong; above all now, when there is a real danger of peace breaking out with countless officers thrown on the beach and commands as rare as needles in a haystack. I do not have to tell you, Stephen, how wholly I long to receive, the order requesting and requiring me, as rear-admiral of the blue, to proceed to the smallest of commands, to His Majesty's sloop-of-war Mosquito, say, with two four-pounders and a swivel, and to hoist my flag at her mizenmast. I should do anything for it. Anything.' 'Does Simmon's Lea come within the limits of anything?' 'No, of course not, Stephen; how can you be so strange?' 'It is an elastic term, you know. But, however, even if your fears are realized, that is not necessarily the end of your sea-going career. I made some very good friends in Chile, three of whom I met again in my recent travels across Spain, remarkably intelligent and well-informed men, who very clearly saw the inevitable end of this war and the independence of their country...what more suitable recruit than an admiral like you, even though he may have been yellowed by political jobbery?' They sat in silence for some time, digesting this and the possibilities it contained. 'There is Dead Man's Bay,' said Jack. 'And we are now in the Raz de Sein, a devilish passage in heavy ,weather. By dinner-time - and I think I already hear Killick with the glasses - we should have the Pointe du Raz on our larboard quarter.' Stephen nodded, and with a curiously knowing look, his head on one side, he asked, 'Can you foretell the dark of the moon with reasonable accuracy?' 'I believe so,' said Jack. 'Her motions are of some importance in navigation you know, and we learn them quite early.' 'Well, I am happy to hear you say so, for at the dark of the moon I must beg you to set me ashore, with a gentleman at present aboard the flagship, in a little cove just south of this same Pointe du Raz.' Jack gazed over the sea. 'Just how serious are these people?' he asked after a while. 'Deeply serious,' said Stephen. 'They are closely associated with O'Higgins and his friends. They are men of great substance in those parts and they are wholly committed to independence. More serious you could not wish.' Another silence. 'The dark of the moon will be in eight days,' said Jack."

108-9: "Captain Aubrey had dined in the wardroom - a wardroom which on this occasion included the Bellona's surgeon, a member of course by right - and now he was standing on the poop, drinking coffee with William Harding, the first lieutenant, Captain Temple of the Royal Marines, Mr Paisley the purser, a convivial soul, a great hand at whist, and always willing to play sentimental ballads on his viola while others sang, together with Stephen and a few others. 'There, Doctor,' said Jack, pointing to a truly dreadful reef half a mile on their larboard beam. 'There are the Penmarks.' 'I have often heard them mentioned,' said Stephen. 'Always with strong disapprobation and even loathing.' 'Scylla and Charybdis ain't in it, with a strong southwester and a falling tide,' said Jack. 'Nor the Gorgonzola. And that's Penmark Head beyond...Doctor, do you know about the Droits de L'Homme?' 'Few things are more familiar to me than that amiable fiction. In my youth I wrote several versions, each more liberal than the last. In one I even included women, asserting that they were...' The sailors smiled indulgently, and the purser said, 'He means the man-of-war, Doctor. A French seventy-four, It was in the days of high revolutionary fervour, in ninety-six or ninety-seven, when they gave ships names like that.'"

130-31: Geoghegan has played a beautiful oboe quartet with Jack and Stephen - "'What a glorious pipe you blow, upon my word and honour. I have rarely enjoyed music more,'" Jack says - but then Geoghegan climbs up into the main topgallant futtock-shrouds and "leant backwards, one hand whipping out for the futtock, the other for the forward crosstrees; and here, both holds slipping in his haste, he fell: fell almost straight, just brushing the maintop in his fall and striking one of the starboard quarterdeck carronades, not a yard from the officer of the watch. Stephen had been walking aft to meet Jack as he came from talking to the master by the wheel. At the general cry he turned, and calling out 'Do not move him' he ran to Geoghegan hoping that there might not be too much damage - that taken below with great care he might be recovered. After a moment's examination he could only report instant death. Jack picked the boy up and carried him into the great cabin, tears running down his face. Later that evening they sewed him into his hammock with thirty-two-pound roundshot at his feet and buried him over the side according to the custom of the sea."

136-40: Jack must put Stephen ashore for the mission. "Against strong opposition from the more conservative, and from his own heart, Jack had rigged davits above the Bellona's quarter-galleries, taking away somewhat from her beauty and committing an innovation; but now he rejoiced in the thought of the boat hanging there fully equipped, ready to be stepped into by the less expert and lowered down without danger, without anxiety on either part. He had put Stephen ashore in many and many a place, generally by night; and the anguish, even in a dead-calm sea, of watching his unsteady, lurching journey down the side, though helped by gravity and devoted hands, had added years to his apparent age: any innovation, however barbarous, was worth the relief of seeing him sitting there with his hands folded, his baggage beside him, and the whole, container and contents, very gently descending until it touched the surface, with Bonden there to fend off and the cutter's crew leaping down like cats." ... "Their meagre baggage was already in the boat: Jack led him across the darkened deck, absurdly hand in hand, helped him into the cutter, and leaning down grasped Stephen's shoulder with an iron grip by way of farewell. He heard the sheaves turn smoothly, 'Handsomely, handsomely,' murmured the bosun, saw the boat touch and bob: Bonden shoved off, Jack called 'Row dry, there,' and watched the cutter pull away towards the still-winking light. When at last it went out, he turned from the rail, gave the orders that would carry Bellona to her anchorage, and went below, deeply sad. He had seen Stephen off like this many and many a time, but his grief and anxiety never grew less." ... "The grief and anxiety did not die away, but of necessity they receded, and as the Bellona worked her way, tack upon tack, round the Saints to regain the bay at dawn, the top of his mind was taken up with the handling of the ship and with a very close watch to see just what harm the lax but harsh command of his jobbing captain had done."

184-9: "[Stephen] walked up the stairs and opened the door gently. As he had expected, Diana was still in bed, pink and sleepy. 'Oh Stephen,' she cried, sitting up and opening her arms. 'What joy to see you - I was thinking of you not five seconds ago.' They embraced: she looked at him tenderly. 'You are surprisingly well,' she said. 'Have you had breakfast?' Stephen nodded. 'Then take off your clothes and come into my bed. I have countless things to tell you.' 'Dear me, Stephen,' she said, lying back, her hair, her black hair wildly astray on the pillow and her blue eyes filled with a splendid light. 'I have a thousand things to tell you, but you have driven them all out of my mind.' She stroked the limp arm lying over her bosom for a while and then said, 'Tell me, have you just come from the fleet? Are you on leave? Is Jack with you?' 'I am not. I am just come down from London. I have not seen Jack these many weeks: he is still with the blockading squadron.'" Diana explains that Mrs Williams came to visit and found Jack's letters from Amanda Smith and how Sophie threw Jack out when he came to apologize. "'Poor soul, poor soul. But it was an ill-fated marriage. She has never taken pleasure in the act itself: she has always dreaded pregnancies: and her deliveries have been extremely painful. It has long seemed to me that jealousy and frigidity or at least tepidness are in direct proportion to one another. And Jack is what is ordinarily called a very full-blooded man.' 'I dare say you are right about frigidity and jealousy. But I believe you are wrong in calling Sophie frigid. Certainly, when her mother is by, I think she would be a poor companion for a lively, eager man - indeed, Jack would never have got her into his bed at all if she had not run away in a ship, far from her mother's eye. And then again I have it on the best authority that Jack is no artist in these matters. He can board and carry an enemy frigate with guns roaring and drums beating in a couple of minutes; but that is no way to give a girl much pleasure. In better hands she would, I am sure, have been a very likely young woman; and oh so much happier.' 'Clearly, you know more about these things than I.' 'She has a lovely body still, in spite of these children,' said Diana. 'But what is the use of a lovely body if neither you nor anyone else enjoys it?' 'Sure it is a great waste: the great shame of the world.'" Diana says casually that she pawned her blue diamond to help with money, and explains, "For some time Clarissa and I had been trying to comfort her, trying to make her understand that men and most women see these things quite differently, that for a man to leap into a welcoming bed does not mean treason, felony or real, serious unfaithfulness at all. She scarcely minded what we said...' 'How I wish I had heard you.' 'You would have learned a good deal, I believe.' 'That is what I mean. Little notion, very little notion do I possess of the way women talk among themselves, above all on such matters.' 'And we went on about the very intense delight there is or ought to be in love-making - I said it was an absolute duty to enjoy it and to give as much pleasure in return as ever one
could - that the pleasure was infectious. Clarissa spoke, and spoke very much more delicately than I did, quoting some Latin author about the way men like their partners to behave and poor Sophie looked absolutely blank, muttering she thought you just lay there and let it happen. Oh, we said so many things. I made one rather good remark, or so it seemed to me at the time: a man does like some mark of appreciation of his efforts, you know. Then I said, but in a tone I thought she would understand, that what she most urgently needed was a really kind, gentle and considerate lover to put her in tune and show her what all the talk and poetry and music and fine clothes were really about, and how it justified them all. A man like Captain Adeane, who danced with her at all the last Dorchester assemblies and who was so discreetly particular. Do you know him, my dear?' 'I believe not.' 'He is a soldier, and he has a big place behind Colton, kept for him by a rather young and skittish aunt. Being so absurdly handsome, he is usually called Captain Apollo. He will have nothing whatsoever to do with girls, but the young married women of the neighbourhood - well, I will not say that they actually stand there in lines, but I believe he is a fairly general consolation. He gave a splendid ball last week.' 'I should like to meet the gentleman.' 'Oh, and another thing we told her, perhaps the most important of all, we both insisted upon it much, was that there was nothing, nothing so bad for you, or for your looks, as self-righteousness. Nothing so wholly unamiable and souring as that habitual put-upon expression of discontent and implied reproach. The only thing to do, if you knew your lover or husband or whatever was being unfaithful, was to pay him back in his own coin, not out of wantonness or revenge but to avoid worse: to avoid self-righteousness. For having done that you could never be a martyr again or put on a martyr's horrid face. She cried shame on us for saying such dreadful things: we were really quite immoral and she was ashamed for us. But she did not sound very convincing - she did not hurry away, either - and presently she said, yes, that was very well, but what about babies? People really could not keep having babies right and left. Of course not, we said: did she really think that babies were inevitable? Yes, said she: that was what she had always understood. So we told her, and I must say Clarissa was amazingly well-informed; though she did say that trusting to the moon - to the calendar - alone was not absolutely safe.'"

198: "'But tell me, Stephen, how do you do? And how is Diana, if you have seen her again? You look extremely fine, by the way.' They had both changed for the ceremony. 'Why, I am extremely rich again, and the two tend to go together, you know. I believe I told you that I had mislaid my fortune, but apparently my negligence did not signify: all is well now, and vast wealth improves a man's looks amazingly. So does an eminent London tailor. She is uncommonly well, I thank you; and so is Brigid. They both send their love. And I am charged with this' - drawing a letter from his pocket - 'with Sophie's dear love as well.' Jack's face changed. 'Did she say that?' he asked sternly. 'I believe those were her very words: or perhaps dear, dear love.' Jack took the letter, muttered 'Forgive me', and retired. He came back after a while, taller, straighter, his face glistening. 'Dear Lord, Stephen,' he cried, 'that was the best letter I have ever received. Thank you very, very much.' He shook Stephen's hand, looking down on him with infinite benevolence. 'And admirably well wrote, too - such a delicate hand.' He gazed about, in a confusion of happiness; then plucked his fiddle from its case, tuned it more or less - it had laid long untouched - and dashed off a truly astonishing trill."

230-31: "Harding came in, bringing the sun with him. 'Forgive me for bursting upon you like this, sir, but I have had such a pleasing letter - my wife has just inherited a little estate in Dorset from a distant cousin: it lies between Plush and Folly. I am to be squire of Plush!' 'Give you joy with all my heart,' said Jack, shaking his hand. 'We shall be neighbours - my son is at school there, Mr Randall's school. How happy my wife and I will be. But I am afraid that I must warn you that Plush often leads to Folly.' 'Why, yes, sir...' began Harding, somewhat staggered: but then he caught the nature of Captain Aubrey's witticism (perhaps the best thing Jack had ever said) which depended on a knowledge of the fact that when grog was served out the ordinary members of each mess of seamen received slightly less than the regular measure: by ancient custom, the amount of grog left, which was called plush, belonged to the cook of the mess; and unless he had a good head for rum, this often led him to commit a foolish action. Jack's gravity had not lasted quite as long as Harding's, and his whole-hearted mirth continued for some moments after Harding had recovered himself: but he received the wardroom's invitation with a decent complaisance. 'That is certainly the best thing I have ever heard, in the naval line,' said Harding, 'and I shall write it down - how Eleanor will roar. But my errand is really to beg for the honour of your company to dinner in the wardroom tomorrow. We have been shocking remiss these many, many weeks, but now that the store-ship has found out where we lie at last, we hope to make up at least some of our leeway.' When he was speaking to Stephen about the Admiral Jack had not made a good many of the unkind reflections that had naturally occurred to him: he had not, to take a very small example, said that Lord Stranraer's claret was meagre in quantity and execrable in quality (his lordship had no taste whatsoever for wine - never drank it for pleasure himself - was convinced that others judged only by label and price and that if they saw neither they would never know the difference) because he had seen the Admiral's evident esteem for Stephen and he did not know whether the liking might be returned. In any event, the wardroom's dinner to their Captain could not possibly have led to such a reproach, uttered or suppressed. Dr Maturin was of course a wardroom officer: he usually looked after the wine, and for occasions such as this, when the claret brought out by the store-ship in casks had neither been bottled nor given a moment of rest after a violent tossing about, he had provided a fine old very full bodied Priorato. It went down extremely well, but it was of course considerably stronger than most Bordeaux, and the conversation up and down the table was somewhat louder, more general and less restrained than usual." Jack says, "I well remember how my heart sank in the year two, the year of the peace of Amiens. But let me offer this reflection by way of comfort: in the year two my spirits were so low that if I could have afforded a piece of rope I should have hanged myself. Well, as everyone knows that peace did not last, and in the year four I was made post, jobbing captain of Lively, and a lively time we had of it too. I throw this out, because if one peace with an untrustworthy enemy can be broke, another peace with the same fellow can be broke too; and our country will certainly need defending, above all by sea. So' - filling his glass again - 'let us drink to the paying-off, and may it be a peaceful, orderly and cheerful occasion, followed by a short, I repeat very short run ashore.'"

239-40: "The next day and most of the day after they did nothing whatsoever but take their ease in the library, talk to their many acquaintances in the bar or the front morning-room, walk along Bond Street to try fiddles and bows at Hill's, or play, not very seriously, at billiards. Stephen delighted in the smooth progress of the balls, their exact lines and the satisfying angles that resulted from their contact - that is to say, when they made contact, which was rarely the case when he impelled them from any distance, he being far more a theoretical player than Jack, who frequently made breaks of twelve or more, taking the liveliest pleasure in the winning hazard. When he had brought off this stroke three times in succession he put down his cue and said, with infinite satisfaction, 'There: a man cannot ask much better. I shall rest my laurels on that. Come, Stephen, we must shift our clothes and hurry along.'

247-8: Jack's troubles with the Admiralty are ended with plans to take Surprise on a hydrographic mission where Stephen will inquire discreetly about possible revolution in Chile, necessitating Jack's suspension from the post-captains' list. "'Smiling as he turned he said, 'What do you say to being dogs for once and treating ourselves to a chaise all the way down to Woolcombe? I can see my prize-agent this afternoon, buy some presents for the family, pack Killick off with our chests by the coach, and set out tomorrow after breakfast.' Stephen considered for a moment, and returning the smile he said, 'With all my heart.' When a sailor, a sailor of Jack Aubrey's kind, a man-of-war's man through and through, has sunk the land for a week or two he insensibly parts his ties with the shore (in its wider sense) and returns to his ordered, exactly regulated, deeply traditional seaman's life, the solid world being bounded by the ship's bows and stern, the liquid by the unbroken rim of the horizon; this, together with time measured out by bells, being the natural form of existence. The same applies in reverse: the sailor, kept long enough at home, particularly in a county far from the sea, will in time revert to the ways and even the looks of the majority; and few people, seeing Captain Aubrey on his stout, stolid grey mare, riding back to Woolcombe, would have taken him for anything but an ordinary cheerful pink-faced country gentleman, like so many of his neighbours. And this was the more remarkable in that he had not really been cut off from the sea, but from the first week after coming home, had been much engaged with the Surprise, carrying her round with a scratch crew from Shelmerston to young Seppings' yard at Poole, and then going over on most Wednesdays to see how they were getting on - a practice interrupted only by his horse playing the fool and coming down with him on a slippery piece of road near Gromwell, a foolish caper that resulted in a broken collar-bone and the replacement of the sprightly gelding by the serious-minded grey mare. It was rather his companion, Dr Maturin, that the indifferent observer might have taken for a seaman: this however would not have been caused by anything about him nor by his seat on a horse (in this case the prettiest little Arab filly imaginable) but by a disreputable old blue coat that could still just be recognized as part of a naval surgeon's uniform and that, according to its owner, still had a great deal of wear in it. They reined in at the top of the hill and looked down at Woolcombe, the village, the house, the farms and outlying cottages, the great stretch of Simmon's unviolated Lea. 'Lord,' said Jack, 'how well I remember our coming home all the women in the blue drawing-room, together with the parson's wife and Lady Butler, talking away twenty to the dozen and drinking tea. Amazed to see us - taken all aback - glad, in course: kind words and kisses: but George and Brigid were the only ones that did not seem out of countenance. I felt like an intruder. I had no idea women would get on so well together, just women alone: perhaps nunneries are like that.'"

261: Napoleon escapes from Elba. Jack receives new orders: "'You are to take all His Majesty's ships and vessels at present in Funchal under your command, hoisting your broad pennant in Pomone, and as soon as Briseis joins you will proceed without the loss of a moment to Gibraltar, there to block all exits from the Straits by any craft soever until further notice. And for so doing the enclosed order shall be your warrant. With our very best wishes to you and Mrs Aubrey, Most sincerely yours, Keith.'"


"Jack led him across the darkened deck, absurdly hand in hand, helped him into the cutter, and leaning down grasped Stephen's shoulder with an iron grip by way of farewell...called 'Row dry, there,' and watched the cutter pull away towards the still-winking light. When at last it went out, he turned from the rail, gave the orders that would carry Bellona to her anchorage, and went below, deeply sad. He had seen Stephen off like this many and many a time, but his grief and anxiety never grew less." <3

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