O'Pinions & O'Bservations O' O'Bscure O'Briania


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Post Captain

From: Linnea
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2001 7:37 AM
Subject: Group Read: Post Captain

I am reading this as fast as I can (which I do not read O'Brian fast, for all love) and it has been such a comfort in the past 2 weeks. I think that it is my favorite POB, too.

On page 153 of the Norton paperback, Jack has just seen the First Lord who promised nothing, and is now stranded at the Admiralty, avoiding the bailiffs. He sees a convoy of hay-wains down the Hampstead Road, led by countrymen with long whips, and "From Jack's remote and ineffectual schooldays sprang a tag: O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas." He tells himself, "Come, that is pretty good. How I wish Stephen had been by, to hear it. However, I shall flash it out at him presently."

I can just guess at some of the words & wonder if it is from Virgil, but Dean King doesn't translate it and I wonder if this is another of Jack's mangled Latin phrases. So, all you scholars, flash it out at us, please.

~~ Linnea


From: William Nyden
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2001 9:10 AM
Subject: Re: Group Read: Post Captain

Gary Brown, et al., have a page of "Patrick O'Brian's 'Foreign' Translated" at

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/3774/pob-tr.htm

which it yields:

O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas

O how extremely happy could farmers be, if only they would count their blessings [lit: understand their possessions]!

(L; Virgil, Georgics II)


From: Donald R. Morris
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2001 10:02 AM
Subject: Re: Group Read: Post Captain

Aubrey is bang on; quotes verbatim from Virgil's Georgics ii -- "Ah, blessed beyond all bliss the husbandmen, did they but know their happiness!"

DRM
--
____________________________________________
Donald R. Morris
E-Mail: drmorris@airmail.net
URL: www.tridentsyndicate.com
Tel & FAX: (713) 668-8665


From: Jerry Shurman
Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2001 10:18 AM
Subject: Groupread:PC (jumping the gun)

(I sent something to this effect a while back but I think it bounced. Excuse any duplication.)

Has there been past Gunroom discussion about whether Scriven, with his tale of woe as an underpaid scribe, was a bit of joking self-reference by POB?

(Those wonderful Carl Barks duck comics that had Donald working for Scrooge at 22 cents a day weren't exactly being subtle about Walt Disney's wage scale.)

Also, are there any past Gunroom-generated speculative pictures of the Polycrest? POB's physical descriptions ("sliding keels," "cock hat shape," the shield-shaped aft cabin) are gems, but like Jane Austen's physical descriptions of her characters they leave much out as well. I don't even really understand the sliding keels, but the phrase has a delightful freak show sound.

-Jerry


From: HrgSmes@AOL.COM
Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2001 2:27 PM
Subject: Re: Groupread:PC (jumping the gun)

Nice piece a long time ago by Todd Gitlin about Disney's corporate practise and the racist imperialist so forth undercurrent in entire Scrooge McDuck narrative trajectory, as we say in lit crit. Never clear quite how Scrooge came by his 'treasure', but it was always being tilted at by various swarthy bearded types from a vague disreputable and clearly not WASP background. all in all, from today's perspective, taint funny McGee. HRG MD ENDIT


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 04:34:42 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

One thing I missed the first time I read Post-Captain follows.

O'Brian often foreshadows events by animal episodes, which are followed by human events similar to the animal anecdotes.

On Page 18, Jack's horse thinks, "I smell a mare! A mare! Oh!" Its flaring nostrils quivered, and it stamped. Looking round Jack saw that there were newcomers in the field. A young woman . . .

And thus do we meet Diana, presaged by Jack's sexually-frustrated horse. O'Brian similarly uses another "horse" metaphor when he shows that Jack Aubrey, formerly a fine horseman, gets ingnominiously unseated when Diana shows up.


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 09:17:08 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

Very interesting observation! However; I don't think Jack was ever a *fine* horseman. POB states here (somewhere in describing the above incident) that Jack was never as good a horseman as he thought his having spent 2/3 of his life at sea.

Ray McP (getting WAY to picky)


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 11:37:45 -0500
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

Perhaps it might be better to say that Jack, previously confident in his horsemanship, was ignominiously unseated. . . .

I know the horse didn't think much of Jack's riding ("Sits too far forward. ...see if I don't have him off at the next fence. . .") As in so many minor instances, POB writes what he chooses to make a particular effect or impression. so we have the General critiicizing his son's horsemanship in SM (heavy hands), while in ROM Jack handily masters a bad-tempered mare, in TH he gets along beautifully with t he gorgeous Jasmina, and in TC(?) is getting along well with the oddly-named Abhorson before an unexpected shy lands him on his head.

I've often wondered why POB gave us this last incident; other than scaring the life out of the reader at the end of the chapter, the only effect is to keep Jack in bed or a while and give us a couple of amusing passages with Mrs. Williams and her friend (". . .left the room with discontented movements of her shoulders and buttocks").

Gerry Strey Madison, Wisconsin


From: Elizabeth Nokes
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 17:53:05 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

Talk about 'scaring the life out of the reader' at the end of a chapter - possible spoiler coming up - what about leaving Stephen poisoned by the platypus at the end of a BOOK, for all love !!

E M Nokes


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 12:16:24 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

And what about where Stephen is ill from being bitten by a bat which he feared was *mad*? This is when he is on the Lively which is chasing the Spanish squadron?

Ray McP


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 09:43:32 -0400
Subject: GRP PC: 200 Years Ago Today

Appropriately, this week is the 200th anniversary of the opening scene of Post Captain. The preliminary treaty and ceasefire was signed on October 1, 1801, and was reported in newspapers the following day. Although the final Peace of Amiens was not signed until March 1802, hostilities effectively ended the preceding October. For CSF fans, this is also the date that acting Commander Hornblower sailed into Portsmouth, returning from the West Indies. His promotion was not confirmed due to the severe reductions in the RN instituted by First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl St. Vincent. His expectations of a lasting peace were sadly off the mark, and war broke out again in May 1803. M&C concluded in the summer of 1801. PC begins two or three months later. The date of November 1802 in the newspaper advertising Mr. Savile's fox hunt is clearly an error. Possibly a well-meaning editor doing some fact-checking looked up the date for the Peace of Amiens, and confused the final treaty signing for the initial armistice.

The St. Valentine/Vincent ball hosted by Jack and Stephen was on Feb. 14, 1802. The developing relations with Sophie and Diana occurred throughout the summer of 1802. In the latter half of 1802, Jack is forced to flee his creditors. In May 1803, Jack and Stephen are in Toulon when war breaks out again.

POB took some liberties with the tenure of Earl St. Vincent, who was First Lord until May 1804. He brings Melville in a year earlier, to make more plausible Jack's appointment to the Polychrest. The following year, probably in May or June, Jack cuts out the Fanciulla. A letter at this time is dated Sept 20, 1804, but this is clearly contradicted by other events. Melville posts him, effective May 23, 1804 and Jack has temporary command of the Lively during the summer. At this time, Stephen is off spying in Spain, promising to return before Michaelmas (Sept. 29). He is back in England in very early autumn to receive Jack's letter dated Sept 12. On Oct 5, 1804, a British squadron of 4 frigates, including Lively, did capture the Spanish treasure fleet as described by POB.

Don Seltzer


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 13:30:40 -0400
Subject: Re: GRP PC: 200 Years Ago Today

Oh, what a valuable man! Such great information, Don. Thanks.

Nathan


From: Tony Davison
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 16:09:45 +0200
Subject: Post Captain

I was struck reading this for the umpteenth time of the phrase used describing Stephen whilst he is leading the Bear-clothed Jack in the final dash to freedom, "an underlying hard ruthlessness" which appeared to contrast with the former Stephen of shabby appearance and a reticent nature. This crops up again several times, in Maturin's resolve under torture, his duelling nature and so forth.

As a reader who started early with the cannon, my answer to the lissun who couldn't understand how we originals could wait for the publication of sequels, my answer is: "we could, but it wasn't easy." All that kept me going was the fact that it would be forthcoming and all the more pleasurable for the wait.

Tony Davison
in KwaZulu-Natal
still waiting for some hoary old mariner to explain "gackling the cable"


From: John Germain
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 21:03:36 +0000
Subject: Re: Post Captain

Tony Davison wrote

still waiting for some hoary old mariner to explain "gackling the cable"

Permit me to proffer

http://www.wwnorton.com/POB/vol3i.htm

'Tho be d*mned if Ashley, their Lordships, Wright, Candy and their ilk do not remain mute.

Cattarh? (Jack, not their Lordships)

Query: why *not* gackle the cable? I don't recall the context, but it smacks of not performing an operation which might prevent the cable from being recovered or slipped easily and suggests that gackling could be a long-stay measure against chafe.

serving and parcelling with the lay whilst freshening the odd nip or three..

John Germain
Jersey
British Channel Islands
4911'N
0207'W


From: Rowen84@AOL.COM
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 20:54:41 EDT
Subject: Re: Post Captain

John has reminded us about these Norton newsletters from the last age. I remember discovering them as I was innocently wandering along the strand, before the Gunroom pressgang caught me up. I hadn't reread them in some time however, and found that O'Brian's description of his trip to the U.S. was an absolutely delightful, gracious, charming account. I would urge anyone to 'not lose a moment' on their way to read or reread the Newsletters and thank John heartily for the URL.

I found myself wondering if the answers to the questions (immediately below the interview at the address above) were given by O'Brian himself. I thought the evasiveness of the 'gackle' answer quite his style.

(On rereading them, I find he must have written them, as he says "I found" about the marthambles. And not in the OED? Gracious, should his usage of it be submitted to them for inclusion?)

Rowen


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 07:26:30 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Nelson quare

On page 462, Stephen reflects that:

"Ld Nelson said, once past Gibraltar, every man is a bachelor."

DID Ld Nelson say that, or did POB make it up?


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 10:28:28 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Smell

One feature I especially enjoyed in O'Brian's short stories as well as his novels was his technique of inserting fresh observations of the world into his tales. Here is one of my very favorite pieces, about the way the mind interprets fleeting sensations. In "Post Captain," this one comes from page 470 of the Norton paperback:

A foolish German had said that man thought in words. It was totally false; a pernicious doctrine; the thought flashed into being in a hundred simultaneous forms, with a thousand associations, and the speaking mind selected one, forming it grossly into the inadequate symbols of words, inadequate because common to disparate situations admitted to be inadequate for vast regions of expression, since for them there were the parallel languages of music and painting. Words were not called for in many or indeed most forms of thought: Mozart certainly thought in terms of music. He himself at this moment was thinking in terms of scent. . . . Stephen watched with no particular emotion but with extreme accuracy. He had noted the great leap of his heart at the first moment and the disorder in his breathing, and he noted too that this had no effect upon his powers of observation. He must in fact have been aware of her presence from the first: it was her scent that was running in his mind before the curtain fell; it was in connection with her that he had reflected upon these harps.


From: Martin Watts
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 06:57:28 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Smell

Do we know who the foolish German was? Would he be another entry in my list of Germanic philosophers not to bother with?

Martin @ home:
50 44' 57" N
1 58' 34" W


From: "Gary W. Sims"
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 22:23:30 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Smell

Susan picked a great one to quote. I always found this one interesting myself. First, I see he's right of course. Thought precedes words. Bounds ahead to an understanding before language catches up. But then I consider whether it is possible to grasp a thought fully until I succeed in reducing it to words. Sometimes I only think I understand a notion, and find the writing of it to be my first exposure to its deeper complexity. I imagine this must be a common experience of teachers, but not solely ours.

Then on the next level, I realize POB was right in a deeper sense. Something I reduce to words is not fully understood until I can write not words, but equations, or the moral equivalent, with mathematical rigor. Frozen thought. Just add contemplation and stir. Serves worlds.

At graduate school, the professor for whom I was one of two teaching assistants used to lecture to the effect that you understand nothing until you can program it. That is, until you can explain it to a complete illiterate with pedantic insistence on consistency and no regard for generalization.

The other teaching assistant, a fellow graduate student in the department, was a Jesuit priest. As we walked the campus, with me often in my Air Force uniform, we speculated whether observers thought us arguing the merits of war or the warlike nature of missionary service -- when in fact the Robe and the Sword were debating how to explain Professor Robert Floyd's latest lecture to the ultimate illiterate: the undergraduates in our teaching sections.

I think O'Brian had the right of it: thought leaps into new territory, flying without the dead anchor of words.

But after we catch a butterfly notion and wrap it with words, we find that Floyd was right also. We don't understand the bones and bowels and processes of a notion until we can pin it to a blackboard with equations.

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)


From: "Paul B."
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 18:59:08 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

In a message Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 Susan Wenger wrote:

On Page 18, Jack's horse thinks, "I smell a mare! A mare! Oh!" Its flaring nostrils quivered, and it stamped. Looking round Jack saw that there were newcomers in the field. A young woman . . .

And thus do we meet Diana, presaged by Jack's sexually-frustrated horse.

O'Brian similarly uses another "horse" metaphor when he shows that Jack Aubrey, formerly a fine horseman, gets ingnominiously unseated when Diana shows up.

Ah but that is a horse of a different choler.

Paul


From: Rowen84@AOL.COM
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 14:28:13 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

GROAN!!!!

Rowen, much appreciating that the list is back to 'normal'.


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 15:50:00 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

It's posts like this one that keep me glued to the list.

- Susan


From: "Gary W. Sims"
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 20:21:21 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:missed the first read-through

Like Jack, I'm sitting here bemused with thoughts of Susan hoofing it -- something about keeping the pot boiling -- but nothing gels.

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
Afraid this thread is getting a little sticky
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Martin Watts
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 00:11:13 +0100
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Titles

Today I considered for the first time that the first two books show a sequence in their titles. This immediately suggested a couple of prequels - "Midshipman" and "Lieutenant" - and a thought that if the pattern had been followed there could have been just two further books in the cannon - "Commodore" and "Admiral", for surely nobody could have been pedantic enough to write a volume about each step through the hierarchy of admirals.

Martin @ home:
50 44' 57" N
1 58' 34" W


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 07:50:14 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Another "animal" parallel

Here's another "animal" anecdote: the first thing Stephen says after Diane first appears on the scene is:

"There is that fox of theirs," remarked Stephen, in a conversational tone. "There is that fox we hear so much about. Though indeed it is a vixen, sure."

Deliberate foreshadowing of her character? No doubt in MY mind.


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 09:54:48 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another "animal" parallel

Another such metaphor in PC is when Stephen is making one of his nocturnal visits to Diana, and is examining the design of a sari. There is a repeating pattern of an East India Company officer holding a bottle of brandy and being attacked by a tiger. In the repeating pattern, the expression of the officer appears to vary between happiness and agony.

Diana then offers Stephen a brandy.

Don Seltzer


From: "Gary W. Sims"
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 13:00:18 -0700
Subject: Through a glass narrowly (PC spoiler)

As I logged on to write this, I realized that my note last night never left home. Apparently my outbound server withdrew for a few hours to effect its monthly ablutions. Pity I didn't know at the time. I could have gotten more sleep, finished this morning, and added this last bit to the end. The bit about why bin Laden and the al Qa'ed will fail.

We are not a monotonic culture. Not in the United States, and certainly not in the larger meta-culture of the West. (Which spans the globe of course, but names don't have to make geographic sense.) However, we are more intensely portrayed than any culture in the past. You might think this would make our character -- our various characters -- more apparent than, say, Rome in her day.

Consider Rome as perceived by a Germanic tribesman, a Palestinian, or one of my ancestors that caused Hadrian to build his wall to keep us out. Her character was that of the her representatives. Rome was the local legate or the bored centurion striding through the market -- arrogant in his superiority. (Until he met g-g-g-g-g-grandpa of course.) With the power of modern communication you might think a more rounded view would be possible. If not in our perception of other cultures, than at least in their perception of us. That turns out not to be the case.

The West today and particularly the symbolic fountainhead of her evil -- the United States -- are perceived as some appalling amalgam of Friends, Frasier, and Dan Rather. Oh, and still the local legate and surly centurion of course. Not to put too fine a point on it, "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Chandler?" Or Ross, or Frasier, or Dan? Or even Joey, for that matter. And when they killed a few hundred of our centurions in Beirut, all we did was slink home. Very Frasier-like, was it not?

Fortunately, as a culture, we have as much resemblance to Dan Rather or anything on television as Britain of the 16th century did to "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It's entertaining to let them prance about the stage each evening, and those who share the views seen on network television news are comforted to believe the modern equivalent of "it must be true, or they wouldn't let them print it." In this case, the notion that Peter and Dan and their ilk are reflecting or transmitting the views of a whole culture in some sense. In a narrow sense, they are of course. Just as we can by analysis of Shakespeare arrive at some perspective on England of his time. But only in the narrowest sense. They represent one yardarm of that complex net of canvas, rope, and timbers we inhabit.

We are a culture of accommodation. Some of us are comforted to call the local psychiatry clinic "The Life Skills Center" and the rest of us allow that without snorting too loudly in mixed company. Observed by a culture like bin Laden's, one that does not tolerate disparate views, this leads them astray. For sundry reasons (that boil down to self-sorting of people choosing careers), certain views of the world tend to dominate in network media and the entertainment fields. When we deal with people like bin Laden, this turns out to be useful -- much like Stephen being described to Christy-Palliere by Jack on p 95 of the Norton paperback of Post Captain.

The scene opens with Christy-Palliere reviewing a file of death sentences, remember. The file that is for names from F through L only. He describes for Jack a man clearly acting as an agent, an inimic observer -- but the naive sincerity of Jack saves the day:

'Why,' cried Jack, 'that must certainly be Stephen Maturin. [....] He mentioned some monstrous rare pippit or titmouse that lives here. [...] Oh no, he is the simplest fellow in the world.' [..] he laughed, his big voice full of intense amusement, 'to think of poor good old Stephen being laid by the heels for a spy! Oh, ha, ha, ha!' [...] There was no possibility of resisting his transparent good faith.

Through the lens of television, the West looks much like bumbling good old Stephen. And the truth is close to Stephen as well. The truth is like a later scene, on p134 of my paperback PC, when the woefully thin crew of the Indiaman is trying to stand off a privateer with reasonable guns, but no one to work them properly. Jack is an unsurprising volunteer, but also:

No shot. That damned powder-boy had run. 'Shot! Shot!' he cried, and there was the boy, waddling from the mainhatch with two heavy balls clasped in his arms -- a new boy, absurdly dressed in shore-going rig, new trousers, blue jacket, pigtail in a ribbon. A fat boy. 'Take them from for'ard, you poxed son of a whore,' said Jack into his mute, appalled face, snatching one and thrusting it down the barrel. 'From for'ard, from number one. There's a dozen there. At the double, at the double!' The second wad, rammed hard into the scorching gun. 'Run her up! Run her up!' [much straining at evolutions planned for many more and larger men...] That damned boy was underfoot. He picked him up, said kindly, 'Stand clear of the guns. You're a good boy -- a plucked 'un. Just bring one at a time,' pointing to the forecastle, 'but look alive. Then cartridge. Bear a hand. We must have cartridge.'

The fat boy, of course, was one of the misses Lamb. I do love that name, especially in this context. Consider Captain Dumanoir of the privateer, planning this assault with the aid of articles from The Indiaman Independent or perhaps a recent bio on the Lord Nelson Network News. Would he have figured the misses Lamb among the combatants? Would they rate as "effectives" in modern terminology? Hardly.

Nor would bin Laden have considered it likely that a planeful of sheep, who've meekly surrendered their nail files, might be able to resist a professional team of hijackers.

I insisted that hijackers professionally trained are not deterred by the silliness of removing their carkeys, nail clippers, and so forth. And so they are not. What will deter them is the ordinary mix of people found on our aircraft. Just as a single air marshal cannot stop a team -- however lacking in equipment they be -- a small team cannot control a large number of people once they decide obedience is not in their long term interest. Or that of their country. Frasier Crane would not rush a hijacker bearing a box knife that might cause a nasty boo-boo. Or perhaps threatening to strangle another child. But knowing the larger intentions of the team, I would. And so would many other men and women in our culture. Such people are not the subject of approving stories on the Lord Nelson news, but they are not unusual at all.

We are an accommodating culture, but not a passive one.

We have people in the most unexpected settings who will lend a hand to carry balls where needed. And cartridge too.

And I'm sure that no one really expects the tactics of 9-11 to work again. The notion of hijacking a civil vessel that is, and using it for some tactical end. Oh, they can kill a planeload of people of course -- but that is merely a cruel braggadocio and it would look feeble after the thousands killed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The next attack must look more dramatic -- not less, because appearances are all they achieve in such attacks. We are an enormously powerful civilization, despite our accommodating ways, or actually because of them. And nothing less than an army of many divisions could do anything to weaken our power. So they strike instead at our will. And that blow seems to have been badly misjudged.

Because they look at us through a very narrow and oddly colored lens. As Stephen might have said, 'Thank you, Jack, for your naivete.' And Dan and Peter and...

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
Now preferring aircraft with full loads if he must fly
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Karen von Bargen
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 04:13:27 -0000
Subject: Re: Group Read OT Diana

Hi, All!

I have been thinking about how Diana is introduced to the story: Swearing, vaguely reminiscent of a naval officer in her outfit, and so forth. I know that Diana is supposed to be a foil for Sophie, that's plain. To me it's almost as if Diana is one of the guys. She has more in common with the male characters than the female, at least at her introduction. The piratical air that makes her so attractive to naval fellows, the roughness of language, the self assurance...I just find it interesting, that's all.

Karen von Bargen
San Martin
1 dog
2 housecats
2 semiferal cats
5-10 feral cats/kittens
34 chickens
2 ducks
7 goldfish
large feed bill


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 13:32:00 -0400
Subject: Groupread: PC women's heights

In PC we're told that both Sophie and Diana are tall, but that Sophie is taller. In my mind's eye, I somehow lost track of the latter note, and alway pictured Diana as the taller of the two, and Sophie as a shorter plumper (not fat) body type.

Barney


From: Ray McPherson
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 21:53:29 -0700

the difference is, as Stephen sees it, that Diana's posture is so erect that she looks taller than she is.

Ray Mcp


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 19:53:25 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

The advantage of the written word is, of course, that the reader is allowed to see any character in his/her mind's eye as he/she wishes.

That being said, I believe Sophie is taller than Diana and willowy (thin, straight up and down, so to speak), whereas Diana is not much over 5 feet tall and um... curvaceous - well, more curvy than Sophie. I think, though am not positive, Sophie is as tall as Stephen. How tall is that? None is as tall as Jack (fortunately).

Alice


From: "Jill H. Bennett"
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 17:18:22 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

I don't have the page number, and it might have been in M&C, but, if memory serves, I did read that Stephen was 5'8" tall.

J. Bennett


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 20:26:47 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

That's the measurement I had in mind for Stephen, which, if Sophie were the same height, would make her a little taller than average for a woman.

Thanks, Jill -

Alice


From: Marian Van Til
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 15:20:08 -0400
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

And Marian responds, indignantly: No way! Where are you getting this? Stephen was small, wiry, short. Five foot eight isn't short


From: Rosemary Davis
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 22:08:01 -0400
Subject: when people were shorter and lived near the water

If Sophie were 5'8" tall, she would have been something of a giantess in her day and age, no? People are, on average, much larger these days than they would have been during the time period when the canon is set. (Ever notice how small the antique clothing, suits of armor, etc. displayed in museums seem?) It's definitely time for a reread for me, because I've always pictured Diana as taller (and shapelier) and Sophie as shorter and rounder...like their names.

I think even for those of us who are familiar with New York City and the area around the WTC, the whole thing is still difficult to comprehend...

This is the last time I open my e-mouth regarding a political issue...but Dick T's comments were right on. -RD


From: Jean A
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 11:35:38 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread PC women's heights

The fascinating subject of heights has come up before. As to people being shorter in the past, it would depend on a combination of genes and nutrition.

Genes are a constant.

One would assume that the upper classes would be taller, if they were better fed than the general population, and I believe that that was the case. What happened during the American occupation in Japan after WW II is well documented.

Dried milk was introduced into the diet of Japanese schoolchildren, and the average height of Japanese increased.

Within the last year or so there was an article in the press about an English researcher who has been evaluating bones from old English cemetaries since WW II. It was reported that he found that the medieval skeletons were generally well-nourished and that the heights were not much different from those of people today. Also, their teeth were very good! However, when he studied people who were part of the industrial revolution and, presumably, worked in factories in the 19th century rather than in farming, there was a great fall-off in height, presumably from bad nutrition.

It was also reported that teeth began to show much more decay around Elizabethan times, perhaps because of the increased use of sugar in the diet.

If any English lissuns can elaborate on this man's studies, I would be fascinated to hear about them!

Jean A.


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 13:37:00 -0400
Subject: Groupread: PC, French waiters

On page 51 of my Norton hardback, SM to DV when discussing DV being 'provocative' and he reminds her that:

"Not all French waiters have red hair." and her reply: "They all have red hair somewhere about them, and it shows sooner or later."

This red hair thing is lost on my simple mind. Help.

Barney


From: Tim Stenning
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC, French waiters/and Red Hairs
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 19:24:32 -0700

Barney,
DV is damning ALL men (general) from the few (particular) she has met. SM shows her the fallacy in the argument. SMs illustration of DVs argument:

Pierre has red hair
Pierre is a French waiter
All French waiters have red hair

Is this a valid argument? Ahhhh.....no. "Not all French waiters have red hair."

SM is a straight up smarty pants.

However, DV has been around the block (and back). She has acquired carnel knowledge. Many people throw smarty pants knowledge right out the window once they cotton to carnel knowledge.

DV knows that French waiters have a little ole figurative red hair somewhere--especially curly ones.

T.A.Stenning


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 13:24:00 -0400
Subject: Money in the canon

'Has there been an abstract on the finances discussed in the cannon? We get 'many clues... references to a broad side costing an ordinary seaman's annual wages; Mrs. Williams has 10,000 pounds for each of her daughters; etc.etc. What was L10,000 (sorry the handheld doesn't do the pound sign) worth in those days? What did a Capt. make a year... what did a household cost to run?

Barney
East of NYC


From: Larry & Wanda Finch
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 19:41:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Money in the canon

This is a tribute to Jane Austen: "...she had so many thousands of pounds as will always be called ten..."

Larry Finch
::finches@bellatlantic.net larry@prolifics.com
::LarryFinch@aol.com (whew!)
N 40 53' 47"
W 74 03' 56"


From: Peter Theune
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 22:04:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Money in the canon

Barney,

According to http://www.eh.net/ehresources/howmuch/poundq.php

it would be worth the following:

1. 326258.66 in the year 2000 has the same "purchase power" as 10000, s, d in the year 1812.

Ain't inflation amazin' !

Peter (T)


From: Batrinque@AOL.COM
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 19:46:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Money in the canon

I believe that 1 pound Sterling was equal to about 5 US dollars in those days. But what was a dollar "worth" in comparison to today? Speaking in terms of inflation, I think you would not be far off if you used a factor of about 20-to-1; in other words, a dollar two hundred years ago would be the same as roughly 20 dollars today (or 1 pound then would be about the same as 100 US dollars today).

A post-captain's pay varied according to what class of vessel he commanded, but if we were to look at the pay of the commander of a typical frigate (a Fifth Rate), this would be 16 pounds 16 shillings per month (a lunar month).

Using the rule of thumb I proposed above, this would be around an equivalent of 22,000 US dollars today. This sounds a mite low, but I think the reality is that today we have a lot more things to spend money on than they did in 1813.

Bruce Trinque
41*37'53"N 72*22'51"W


From: "John Germain"
Sent: Saturday, October 06, 2001 7:52 PM
Subject: Re: [POB] Money in the canon

Assay:

http://www.eh.net/ehresources/howmuch/poundq.php

John Germain
Jersey
British Channel Islands
4911'N
0207'W


From: Linda Cast
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 20:30:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Money in the canon

Someone correct me! Using the site below gives:

L10000 in 1813 = L318,453.43 in 2000

Using this site to convert to American dollars:

http://www.xe.net/cgi-bin/convert.new

L318,453.43 in 2001 = $472, 616.74

Which is a ton o' cash in any business today.


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 15:35:00 -0400
Subject: Groupread: PC Guides to navigation

On p358 Goodridge 'held out an odd-shaped volume with long strips of the coast seem from the offing, half a dozen to a page.' Is this a reference to an actual volume in common use in the RN at the time?

Barney


From: Adam Quinan
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 07:56:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC Guides to navigation

Masters would either prepare their oen or acquire books of drawings of how the coastline would appear from a ship making a landfall. This would be to help them more quickly find their location and any offshore hazards. Explorers of new lands would make such drawings and publish them as part of their reports. So Goodridge's volume could be a standard one of the Channel coast or it could be one he made up himself.

Adam Quinan

'Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might-have-been'
------Commander Ted Walker R.N.
Somewhere around 43 46' 21"N, 79 22' 51"W


From: Jim McPherson
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 07:04:05 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC Guides to navigation

--- Adam Quinan wrote:

Masters would either prepare their oen or acquire books of drawings of how the coastline would appear from a ship making a landfall. This would be to help them more quickly find their location and any offshore hazards.[snip]

Some years ago I acquired the CGS chart of Baja California for an imaginary cruise. In several places on the chart, there are little engravings of how the local coast and offshore rocks look. In particular, there is an isolated hazard called "Alijos Rocks" that is well drawn and would be easy to recognize from a masthead.

In a couple of places - Scammon's Lagoon and Bahia Magdalena you can see where the surveyor sailed across the bay taking soundings in a thin line (like Jack Aubrey's practice rather than at random as on a deep sea chart.

Jim (experiencing a memory flush this morning)

James McPherson
33* 47' 30" N
116* 32' 10" W
675' above sea level


From: Gregory Edwards
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 09:45:51 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC Guides to navigation

A few years ago a research library had to throw out many books (they sold them for about $1/volume). I managed to obtain 1947 Sailing Directions for maybe a quarter of the world. A good part of these were drawings of how the coastline would appear from a ship making a landfall.

I think including the landfall drawings for some of all of the listed sites in POB and CSF would be an interesting web project.

I think that the Sailing Directions I have are not copyrighted (gov publication) and are probably fairly similar to what would have been seen a couple of hundred years ago (for most sites).

Does anyone have access to more or older Sailing Directions? Would this be a worthwhile project?

Thank you.

Greg Edwards (wondering where he put those directions)


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 09:06:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC, French waiters

barneysimon.geo@YAHOO.COM 10/06/01 12:37PM wrote:

On page 51 of my Norton hardback, SM to DV when discussing DV being 'provocative' and he reminds her that:
"Not all French waiters have red hair." and her reply:
"They all have red hair somewhere about them, and it shows sooner or later."

This red hair thing is lost on my simple mind. Help.

Barney

Isn't red hair assciated with evil? Judas Iscariot traditionally was depicted as red haired; was not also the devil?

Gerry Strey
Mladison, Wisconsin


From: Rowen84@AOL.COM
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 12:58:05 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

In a message dated 10/6/01 17:28:46, barneysimon.geo@YAHOO.COM writes:

In PC we're told that both Sophie and Diana are tall, but that Sophie is taller. In my mind's eye, I somehow lost track of the latter note, and always pictured Diana as the taller of the two, and Sophie as a shorter plumper (not fat) body type.

and> >In a message dated 10-6-01 6:53:55 PM, Ladyshrike@AOL.COM writes:

The advantage of the written word is, of course, that the reader is allowed to see any character in his/her mind's eye as he/she wishes.

That being said, I believe Sophie is taller than Diana and willowy (thin, straight up and down, so to speak), whereas Diana is not much over 5 feet tall and um... curvaceous - well, more curvy than Sophie. I think, though am not positive, Sophie is as tall as Stephen. How tall is that? None is as tall as Jack (fortunately).

Alice

Anyone who's seen the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice: The two sisters in it are quite Sophie-Diana like, IMHO. Jane, the older one, isn't as pretty to me, but obviously represents the contemporary British ideal - taller, paler, thinner, sharper features. Elizabeth isn't considered as pretty, but has more 'life' in her and is darker, rounder (not fat) and 'softer'.

Rowen


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 14:08:00 -0400
Subject: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Once again, POB cannot decide if SM is a sailor or not. On page 173 with JA and DV looking at Lady Keith's new picture, JA says 'She will never stay, not with those unhandy lateens, and there is no room to wear; so there she is on a lee-shore. Poor fellows. I am afraid there is no hope for them." and DV replies: "That is exactly what Maturin told me you would say"

For all love, in 95% of the canon, SM doesn't understand any of the sea terms in that sentence!

Barney


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 08:25:31 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Ah, a favorite theme for discussion among lissuns! And I'm anxious to hear other views.

I think the last consensus of opinion was that Stephen's knowledge of nautical terms was more than he let on (he was rather a quick study - "a deep old file" and "great cognoscento"), but he lets Jack and his fellow shipmates think he knows little. Just as Jack lets Stephen think he is without much talent on his violin. However, knowing nautical terms is not the same as knowing what they mean.

And is it possible that Diana was making a joke?

Actually, my take on that particular passage was that Diana was subtlely letting Jack know that Stephen had seen the picture (e.g. had been with her there at Lady Keith's) and was inspiring rivalry between them. Jack knows, and we know, and Diana *should* know that Stephen doesn't know diddly about lateens and wearing and lee shores, so Jack's next line should have been "How is it that Stephen has seen this painting?" or some such, but no, he does not take the bait, and instead, says,

"Well, a man don't have be a Nostradamus to tell what a sailor would say..." (neatly skirting the issue), and 'his good humour returning... "For my part I know nothing about painting at all." '

A very complicated exchange, this - many double meanings and hidden agendas.

Alice


From: "Donald R. Morris"
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 10:15:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Believe what DV meant by "That is exactly what SM said you would say (when you saw the painting) " is "SM said you would immediately analyze the situation and predict what is going to happen," i.e., that JA always inspected nautical paintings and immediately commented on the situation and what was about to transpire.

Donald R. Morris
E-Mail: drmorris@airmail.net
URL: www.tridentsyndicate.com
Tel & FAX: (713) 668-8665


From: Mary S
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 16:00:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

In a message dated 10/7/01 7:26:00 AM Central Daylight Time, Ladyshrike@AOL.COM writes:

DV replies: "That is exactly what Maturin told me you would say"

I would imagine, were this real life (what, you say, isn't it?), that Maturin had told DV that Jack would consider only the technical aspects of the scene, not the artistic ones; without any use on Maturin's part of the actual technical terms.

For intelligence, there is nothing like a keen-witted, handsome woman, [DI 2]

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Karen von Bargen
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 00:16:07 -0000
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Hi, All!

My impression of this interchange is that Stephen had mentioned to Diana the generalities of what Jack would say: Being a sailor Jack would dissect the picture in nautical terms. I never really thought that Stephen mentioned specifics.

I do think that Stephen knew much more than he let on. That was sort of his profession to have that sort of personality. After all, he had been going back and forth from Catalonia, Ireland, etc. for a long time before he met up with Jack. As a kid he must have picked up on something. It was probably just easier to play ignorant, let the others feel superior in some harmless way.

On the other hand, he was terrible at getting aboard a ship. He had other abilities in the physical line (good shot, etc.) but seemed to be terribly distractable when trying the crawl up the side. Just my two bits!

Karen
San Martin


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 22:00:03 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

In a message dated 10/7/01 18:18:02, stephen_maturin@REBELSPY.NET writes:

He had other abilities in the physical line (good shot, etc.) but seemed to be terribly distractable when trying the crawl up the side.

OK, everyone, 'fess up! How many of us have tried to crawl up the side?

I did a similar exercise this year, climbing down a ladder (attached to a rock wall face 100 feet high) backwards onto a launch, moving up and down in the waves. Distractable? Fear factor? Pah! Scared out 'o me wits, was what it was!

Alice


From: John Germain
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 21:42:47 +0000
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

This invites a question.

For all love's sake... WHY ???

(The descent, negative fear..)

John Germain
Jersey
British Channel Islands
4911'N
0207'W


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 17:47:53 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

To get off the bloody island.

Alice


From: Karen von Bargen
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 02:48:29 -0000
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Oh, Alice!

The worst thing you can do is fall in and get wet! Maybe a little squashed if the dinghy and the boat/ship/cliff are going at different angles...I have gone up the sides of various small to medium boats (just stand on the 3" wide rub rail, get your leg up over your head, heft yourself over the rail, etc. while the owner of the boat disappears into the hold hunting out an albacore for you and you get stuck with your leg up there on the rail, daughter safely aboard and snickering at you and your troubles, all strength having left your arms and legs while the 50 foot boat is slowly drifting back towards the dock to crush your ankle) and have never had that much trouble. The only thing I can think is Stephen had been up and down any number of times. I can't understand why he simply couldn't manage it. He had practiced, after all, maybe never consciously, but he had experience. You never hear of dreadful tribulations getting into the line of boats being towed behind so Stephen could spend his time doing his own thing. It was something he _wanted_ to do. Maybe that's what it is.

But when we lived aboard, I definitely made a concerted effort getting on to our medium-ish boat on Sundays. That was the night when everyone in the harbor waited to dump their "black water" tanks and it turned the harbor into a sewer. Not the night to miss the steps and take a dip. Yuck. Not to belittle your experience being scared, mind. I have never descended a ladder as you describe and gotten into a dinghy at the bottom. I think I would have flung myself at the dinghy after having issued an appropriate warning.

Karen von Bargen
San Martin
definitely landlocked


From: "Gary W. Sims"
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 19:58:54 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

In a message dated 10/8/01 14:46:51, germainsjy@LOCALDIAL.COM writes:

This invites a question.

For all love's sake... WHY ???

and From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM

To get off the bloody island.

I do love a competent, practical woman. A man would have explored his soul in three paragraphs to answer that question. It's entirely unfair. Alice and her sisters get the beauty and the competence, and we get... (I'm thinking here...) the romantic soul.

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
And twice the avoirdupois to pad that soul
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 00:24:50 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC SM's nautical knowledge

Now, Gary, that's not fair. You know you're beautiful and competent.

Alice


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 12:27:18 -0700
Subject: Re: when people were shorter and lived near the water

Rosemary Davis wrote:

If Sophie were 5'8" tall, she would have been something of a giantess in her day and age, no? People are, on average, much larger these days than they would have been during the time period when the canon is set.

In both the Victoria and Albert and Smithsonian museums there are wonderful displays of antique (?)clothing, some of which cover the period of the canon. People were very small compared to us. I would estimate their size to be 2 for women.

Stephen's 5'6" would be far closer to normal for the time.

Ray McP


From: Barney Simon
Subject: wafered letter?
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 14:04:00 -0400

Okay, what was a wafered letter? and as opposed to what, a sealed letter? a penny post letter?

Barney


From: Ladyshrike@AOL.COM
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 08:27:34 EDT
Subject: Re: wafered letter?

One definition of wafer is:
2 : an adhesive disk of dried paste with added coloring matter used as a seal

Thoughts??

Alice


From: Ginger Johnson
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 09:13:42 -0700
Subject: Re: wafered letter?

I'm not positive on this, but I think wafers were pre-gummed and stuck on, rather like sealing a letter with a stamp. A sealed letter used sealing wax and a seal.

I've always liked using sealing wax, but the post office machinery does not appreciate it, and off goes the wax.

Ginger


From: Adam Quinan
Subject: Re: wafered letter?
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 09:39:01 -0400

A wafer was a paper seal applied over the folded letter (I don't think envelopes were in common use). As it was glued paper and not sealing wax with a persnal impression, it was perhaps a bit less secure. The penny post didn't come in until the 1830s I believe.

Adam Quinan

'Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might-have-been'
---------Commander Ted Walker R.N.
Somewhere around 43 46' 21"N, 79 22' 51"W


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 12:37:56 -0400
Subject: Re: wafered letter?

There is well-documented anecdote regarding Lord Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen. At the height of the battle, Nelson wrote an ultimatum to the Crown Prince, and sent a sailor off to fetch a candle and sealing wax. The sailor's head was taken off by a round shot and Nelson sent another to fetch the wax. An aide's suggestion that Nelson simply use the less formal and more convenient wafer seals that were at hand was rejected.

Nelson later explained to Colonel Stewart that the use of the wafer would have suggested that "the letter was sent off in a hurry; and that we had some very pressing reasons for being in a hurry. The wax told no tales."

Don Seltzer


From: Barney Simon
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 13:43:00 -0400
Subject: Groupread: PC SM's recruitment

On p11, there is the passage:
"and close beside him stood two shorter figures, the one Dr. Maturin,...and the other a man in black - black clothes, black hat and a streaming black cloak - who might have had _intelligence_agent_ written on his narrow forehead. Or just the word _spy_, there being so little room."

Then on page 60, "Steven walked into the Admiralty, gave his name to the porter, and was shown straight past the notorious waiting room."

First, I do not think that we actually found out who this man in black was, but was he the one who got SM into the spy business? Was he already in place or just expected by the meeting on page 60-61? Page 60 SM says that he really should NOT come in the front door, that seems to be what I would think of as an early observation, but, on p.61, the comment "Dr. Maturin was the Admiralty's most esteemed adviser." indicates a longer history.

Barney


From: Amanda Dunham
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 14:38:55 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

Barney wrote:

In PC we're told that both Sophie and Diana are tall, but that Sophie is taller. In my mind's eye, I somehow lost track of the latter note, and alway pictured Diana as the taller of the two, and Sophie as a shorter plumper (not fat) body type.

Barney

I've always pictured Sophie as taller, but Diana as wearing "say something" hats.

Amanda Dunham
The List Sin Eater, not the Amanda in the UK ;-)
37* 33' 22.93" N NAD 27
122* 19' 51.46" W Clark 66
+81 ft Mean Sea Level

"You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese -- toasted, mostly -- and woke up again and here I were."
Ben Gunn
Robert Louis Stevenson, -=Treasure Island=-


From: Steve Turley
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 14:54:21 -0700
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

PC, page 24, Norton paperback...
"...Diana with her straight back and high-held head seemed quite tall, but when she stood next to her cousin, she came no higher than her ear..."


From: Rowen84@AOL.COM
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 18:27:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Groupread: PC women's heights

Well done, sir, thank you for finding that. Don'cha just LOVE facts for an argument!

Rowen


From: John Finneran
Sent: Monday, October 08, 2001 1:11 AM
Subject: GRP: PC: Course of True Love (Very Long)

Here's an excellent (though very long) analysis of Post Captain from 1999 from lissun Michael Mayer, copied from the archives.

John Finneran,
who hasn't even begun re-reading PC yet
--------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Tue, 25 May 1999 13:45:28 +0800
Course of True Love Part 1 (PC spoilers)

The course of true love never did run smooth, as my mother once comforted me with, when I was in the middle of a messy do or die romance with my first great love. She was not quite the right thing in my parents eyes. Some years later they were much happier (and so am I) with the wonderful love of my life. But it begs the question. What attracts us to others of the opposite sex? Do we make good choices for marriage? Or, as I once read, "Do the bumps on his head match the holes in hers," written by someone lamenting the continuing poor choices that some people make in their relationships. It was implied that subconscious needs or wrong self-beliefs drive people to chose those who will pander to those needs or beliefs, but not bring healing and wholeness. So reflect on your own experiences, those of people you know, and join me as I humbly present for the Gunroom's enjoyment a beginning analysis of the course of true love in Post Captain. Which this is Part 1, of a not yet established number of parts.

Chapter 1. In which we meet the characters.

Blessed peace, but no prospect of naval advancement, or even employment. Lucky Jack Aubrey, handsome, with 11,000 pounds of prize money has taken a house with his particular friend, Stephen Maturin. Jack loves the hunt, is a better horseman in his mind than in the field. Full of life, and looking to enjoy it to the full. Desperately wants to be made Post. Admiral Haddock describes him to the neighbouring Mrs Williams and her unmarried bevy - ranting dog of a Tory; not quite the thing; lack of discipline; does not attend the 5th commandment, an unlucky man because no chance of promotion now. The Admiral is quite prophetic.

Stephen is a rum looking cove, sprawled on a mule when any Englishman is on a horse. A natural son. Foreign. Cuts up a horse in the drawing room. A share of prize money, but doesn't flash it around.

Diana - 27; superb horsewoman; black hair; blue eyes; ram-you-damn-you air; worldly; widow from India; straight backed; good looking; passionate; strong willed; excites lust in males of any age and station. Only 50 pounds a year, so forced to languish in the provincial protection of her Aunt, Mrs W.

Sophia - 27; taller than Diana but not as straight; willowy languorous perfection of movement; grey eyes; fair hair; ethereal; capable of an unexpected sharp remark indicating more intelligence and reflection than suspected; underlying strength; strong sense of duty; wonderful complexion; 10,000 pounds. Biological clock slowly ticking. Mother from hell.

Chapter 2 In which romantic connections are tenuously started.

Mrs W has decided that Jack is very much the thing for Sophia. Jack is not opposed, nor Sophia, but she will not be rushed. Jack is very taken with her light, ethereal, tenuous playing of Hummel's D major Adagio, whereas Stephen is jarred. Not the first time they have disagreed on music. Diana's playing is inaccurate, strong, fierce, free, and much more to Stephen's taste. Mrs W does not see the men eye Diana on her horse at the hunts, or she would have packed her off much earlier. Sophie has no heart for it but Jack gallantly partners her, even if it means leaving the fox.

Stephen is the surprise. Suddenly he is well dressed, shaved and with a new wig. He would not do for any of Mrs W's daughters, being a penniless papist, but she is happy to have him visit Diana.

Then the ball. The naval eyes approve of Diana's piratical dash and openness, but they are moonstruck by Sophia's grace. In the orangery, Stephen at least is using her first name, rather than the more cool Villiers and Maturin. Here comes the conversation where Diana reveals much of her thoughts and her character to Stephen. She abhors married men as the worst enemies a woman could have. All they want from her is.. Then men in general receive a broadside from her, as she bemoans her fate, trapped in rustic hell under Mrs W. "There is no friendship in men.I speak openly to you because I like you. very much, and I believe you have a kindness for me - you are almost the only man I have met in England I can treat as a friend - trust as a friend."

Stephen, who wants to be much more than a friend, retreats, and gently chides her that she has deliberately set out to look desirable, "the bosom of that dress would inflame St Anthony" and is setting out to provoke men, and then complain when it succeeds.

But Stephen's gentleness will not win his cause tonight. In fact, he must suppress his deepest feelings even more, if he is going to succeed in wooing Diana. She is grateful to be able to have an intelligent conversation with him, after all the female mamby-pamby she must constantly endure. When Stephen suggests Sophia as an intelligent companion, it turns out that Diana resents her fortune, and bemoans life as unjust. "The only thing a man can offer a woman is marriage. An equal marriage. I have about 4 or 5 years, and if I cannot find a husband by then, I shall.And where can one be found in this howling wilderness? Do I disgust you very much? I mean to put you off, you know."

So he gets Diana the hunter to describe her quarry. He must have some money and some sense. No deformities, or ancient. Should like him to sit a horse and not fall off (she has probably only seen Stephen on a mule) and be able to hold his wine.

Stephen leads her to discuss Jack and Sophia. Sophia is scared of the physical aspects of marriage (men have hair on their chests), and will not be manipulated. But Jack will need someone more alive - they would never be happy. In fact, Sophia would be better for Stephen, if he could stand her ignorance. Which would leave Jack for Diana, if he were less of a huge boy, and more of a reading man, more like Stephen. But he is handsome, and she thinks Jack also regards her as suitable. And then she confides that if she were in London, she would be tempted to play the fool sexually. Stephen then tells her that because of the way Molly Harte treated Jack, he is very disposed to virginal modesty, rectitude and principle, rather than his normal taste of dash, style and courage.

Finally, Stephen has had enough, and tells Diana that, unlike her, he is averse to giving pain. He has reverted to calling her Villiers, she has never called him Stephen as she unburdens herself and explores the options. She kisses him and apologises if she has hurt him.

If.. Diana has a fair idea of how she effects men, but she is so full of her unhappiness and her needs, that she won't have realised that under Stephen's willingness to pursue these very sensitive topics coolly lies deep needs that he wants her to meet. Of course she has hurt him, because she refuses to acknowledge him as a serious suitor.

So Jack and Sophie are in a whirl about each other, trying to work out their feelings. Stephen has achieved intimacy with Diana, but it has cost him dearly, as the relationship will continue to do.

End of the first posting.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
---------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Fri, 28 May 1999 21:40:55 +0800
Course of True Love Part 2 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 2 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer

Chapter 3 In which it all goes badly awry

We start off glimpsing Stephen's diary. He describes his heart as under the harrow. Not a pleasant image if it means the harrows that break up the clumps left by ploughing. After an incident in his past, he had sworn to allow no such dolorous emotion again, but he is helpless. But Diana is making a play for Jack, who is totally frustrated by Sophia's hesitation. Diana insists that Stephen keep inviting her over for billiards. He is amazed to find that he puts up with her bullying. But deep down he persuades himself Diana is not totally cynical, and so justifies his obsession. And now, for the first time in their friendship, there is a painful reserve between Jack and Stephen.

Then the financial disaster - Jack's prize agent has fled, his two neutrals were overturned, and he must pay back 11,000 pounds. Jack will go to the Admiralty to beg for any command, but first he rides with Sophia, begs to call her Sophie, and tells her part of his troubles. She earnestly wishes him well. He needs it, because he mishandles his interview with the First Lord, is told he is a fool, and advised that marriage is death to a sea-officer's career.

Mrs W has dragged the story out of Sophie, and reacts instantly by taking her girls to the safety of Bath. Sophie just has time to see Stephen and tell him that she does not go willingly. But Diana is left behind. Stephen grieves that another week had not been allowed Jack, because he and Sophie would have reached an understanding.

Destitute, Jack and Stephen are now social lepers, only Diana and the parson 's family entertaining them. And Stephen sneaks away from Jack to visit Diana at nights, but will not directly tell Jack about his feelings for her, or even that he goes to see her. She treats him disdainfully, but still welcomes his visits. "If you think that just because I have let you kiss me once or twice.that you are my lover and I am your mistress, you are wrong. I have never been your mistress." Diana needs his friendship and concern. She doesn't want him to develop any feelings of ownership over her.

Jack visits Lady Keith in Bath, and manages two conversations with Sophie, which reduces his torment slightly. But Diana is also pursuing Jack, and Stephen is determined to break his own relationship with her as he writes in his diary. He struggles as he sees things about her that he is dismayed at - hardness, desire to rule, jealousy, pride, vanity, bad faith, inconstancy. Her style and grace can't cover these over for him. Jack is no longer eligible as a husband for Diana, because he is broke. He can't understand her behaviour and what drives it - hatred of Sophie and Mrs W, revenge? In modern parlance Diana is 'acting out' her feelings and her unresolved needs. Stephen brings the mail to Jack, as they watch the cock-fighting. Jack being Jack, places 5 guineas on a loser, merely because he liked its gait and swagger. The letter is from Queenie - Sophie is to be married to a well landed gentleman. Stephen in vain tries to tell him it is merely Mrs W. who has accepted the proposal, not Sophie. Jack is angry at what he thinks is Sophie's inconstancy, after her sweet words to him in Bath. One part of his mind has shut out Sophie, and he now feels justified in a liaison with Diana. Stephen does not know this. He walks later that night to see Diana, initially wanting to break up, but as he gets closer, just wanting to be with her, until he sees his own horse, ridden by Jack, at the house. He stumbles home in despair.

At breakfast he tells Jack he must leave. Jack is aghast, and suddenly focuses on Stephen, as he hasn't for weeks. He still does not know how his friend is hurting, and will never be told. There is only the hint as Stephen labels his malady solis deprivatio. Jack does not understand that Stephen's sun is Diana, and that Jack has taken her away (really, she has taken herself away). Then Jack mentions the note he has for Stephen from Diana, and how much she thinks of him. The note is a sort of apology and an invitation for that evening. Stephen does not leave that day.

But he does tell her that he will go next week, that she has misused him, and that he wanted to say he was breaking with her, but couldn't. "Break? Oh dear, that is a word we (emphasised) must never use." He replies, "Never." She needs him, and she reminds him that Jack needs him, and Stephen is again bound up.

But she stills sees Jack, who pretends to Stephen that he isn't seeing her. Stephen is up to 400 drops of laudanum a night. He wonders idly if she is demon possessed, the way she charms him, and then is cruel.

(Why is it that he can't break with her? Why does he put up with her horrible behaviour to him? What does he see in her that is lacking in him, and that he needs so badly?)

Then the Sheriff's officers come, and Stephen can immediately slip into his role of competent rescuer (much more to his liking than hurt, ineffectual lover). He meets cold, angry resentment, when he finds them, but outlines his plan. No fond farewells from Diana for Jack, "Ride on, Aubrey." But she begs a goodbye from Stephen, who tearfully replies, "Will you not let me go, Diana?"

"No, no, no.you must not leave me - go to France - but write to me.and come back."

As they ride, Jack reads the letter from the morning mail. It is from Sophie, direct to Jack, telling him that there was no truth in the rumour of her engagement. And then very kind regards to Stephen, and she would be happy to see him in Bath. "Christ, Stephen, I have never been so down. Fortune gone, career too, maybe, and now this." (What is this? Does he think Sophie is after Stephen? The answer is revealed in the next chapter) They ship out on the Amythest, and Jack immediately revives, free from all the complications of land life. But Diana's farewell has ensnared Stephen again.

Chapter 4 Warlike Peace in Toulon.

A little French dinner with Christy-Palliere (4 sorts of wine, 2 brandies). On the next bottle, Jack pours out his troubles about Sophie, how he had almost clinched it, but then, in Bath, there was a slight misunderstanding about Jack's attentions to Diana. Palliere probes, "Innocent intentions?" Jack relates how Diana was kind, and sympathetic and beautiful so that Jack had.But then she had pulled him up, and he wondered if she really was attached to Stephen, and Stephen to her, but he was hooked on her, and had committed himself pretty far. And then Jack described how Sophie's letter had arrived and what it contained. Palliere thinks everything is fine, a letter like that is an avowal. What more could he ask?

"Why," said Jack, with so wretched a look that C-Palliere, who had hitherto thought him a muff to mind having two young women at once, felt a wound in his heart."Why, there is this other one, don't you see? In honour I am pretty well committed to her, although it is not the same sort of feeling at all. To say nothing of my friend."

So Jack does have a good idea that Stephen wants Diana. He could ask straight out, and the novel would be 200 pages shorter, but that can't happen.

Meanwhile Stephen is reflecting with Dr Ramis, who finds him cadaverous, with ill breath, sparse hair, belching frequently, hollow dim eyes, to say nothing of tobacco and laudanum use. Hardly a picture of good physical health, or a model of good mental health, when it comes to coping with fears and worries.

War is about to be declared, and the bear suit adventure starts. Jack discovers that there are whole new qualities to his friend that he never knew, and jack is out of his depth. And our cadaverous Stephen is tough enough physically to hump a 50 lb pack for weeks.

Excursus.

Devil" Chapter 20.

(I came across this recently when I reread the book after an absence of 6 years. The letters are to a junior devil who has the job of looking after a young man, and making sure he goes down, eternally. Here the discussion is how to mess up the young man's romance with a fine Christian woman.)

"You will find, if you look carefully into any human's heart, that he is haunted by at least two imaginary women - a terrestrial and an infernal Venus, and that his desire differs qualitatively according to its object. There is one type for which his desire is such as to be naturally amenable to the Enemy - readily mixed with charity, readily obedient to marriage, coloured all through with that golden light of reverence and naturalness which we detest; there is another type which he desires brutally, and desires to desire brutally, a type best used to draw him away from marriage altogether but which, even within marriage, he would tend to treat as a slave, an idol, an accomplice. His love for the first might involve what the Enemy calls evil, but only accidentally; the man would wish that she was not someone else's wife and be sorry that he could not love her lawfully. But in the second type, the felt evil is what he wants; it is that "tang" in the flavour which he is after..The real use of the infernal Venus is, no doubt, as prostitute or mistress."

Interesting comments from CS Lewis. Using his model, Jack desires Diana for the wrong reasons, and it is quite different from his awe (in spite of his comments about 'mincing filly') for Sophie. Diana excites lust in him, Sophie respect. Whereas Diana does not excite mere lust in Stephen, but a genuine self-giving love. And following on from CS Lewis' final comment, Diana does end up as a mistress in later chapters.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
--------------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 10:24:04 +0800
Course of True Love Part 3 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 3 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer

Chapter 5 Adventures with the Bellone, last minute rescue

No bearing on the romances, except for two sentences as Jack is hastily preparing the guns of the Indiaman, the Lord Nelson, before the Bellone attacks.

'He found that what he was whistling under his breath was the adagio from Hummel's piece - Sophie's inept playing of it - Diana's rough splendid dash - a jet of intense feeling for Sophia - loving, protective - a clear image of her on the steps of that house. Some fool, Stephen of all people, had said you could not be both busy and unhappy, sad.'

Chapter 6 London, In which both suffer from Diana's unkindness

Jack waits on Lord Melville's remote possibility of something that floats, Miss Lamb's letter has put the debtor very much in the public eye. They stay in the cottage on Hampstead Heath. Their friendship survives their grave differences in domestic behaviour. While Stephen screws a german flute together (what is a german flute?) Jack unconsciously plays the Hummel adagio on the piano. Stephen is at his acerbic best: Jack is playing like a 16 stone girl, playing like Sophia, but this is not sentimental, he is suffering extremely. Stephen's thoughts go on: "Dear me, he is sadly moved. How I hope those tears will not fall. He is the best of creatures - I love him dearly - but he is an Englishman, no more - emotional, lachrymose. Jack, Jack!" he called out. " You have mistook the second variation."

Jack almost explodes, but then settles down, and they turn to improvising. Jack's deepest longings are for Sophia, but he cannot put them into words, doesn't want to, and won't even explore them, because he is in no position to offer Sophia anything. He has no money, he cannot move on land, and he has no command.

Off to Queenie's reception. There Jack meets Canning, with his offer of a brand new privateer in which to make his fortune. Mrs W is also there (but no Sophia), and she is mightily impressed when Lord Melville takes him aside, and asks Jack to see him tomorrow. Suddenly Jack is bubbling over inside. During conversation with Mrs W (on her best behaviour) he lets slip that Stephen has land and a castle in Spain, and merino sheep, that Stephen is not just a naval surgeon, but a physician, and suddenly Stephen could have any of her daughters that he wanted.

Then Jack sees Diana. As usual, like a bitch about to come onto heat, she is being sniffed around by all sorts of men, including Canning. Here is how Jack, already in high spirits from his meetings with Canning, then Melville, and even from his meeting with the mother of his deepest hope, reacts. "His feelings needed no analysis: his heart, which had stopped while he searched for the empty place by Mrs W, now beat to quarters: a constellation, a galaxy of erotic notions raced through his mind, together with unmixed pleasure in looking at her."

Then she catches site of Stephen and greets him "with a look of straightforward, almost boyish delight" and all those lusting eyes watch Stephen intently. "They saw nothing to give them uneasiness; the delicate pink flush in Diana's face, reaching her ears, was that of spontaneous open uncomplicated pleasure; Maturin's unaltered pallor, his somewhat absent expression, matched her directness. Furthermore, he was looking uncommonly plain - rusty, neglected, undarned. Jack relaxed.he had got it wrong, he thought, with a warm and lively pleasure in his mistake: he often got things wrong. He had set up for penetration, and he had got it wrong."

Isn't it fascinating. Stephen the spy covers his emotions so well, that not even tensed up rivals detect his interest.

Jack receives just as friendly a greeting when he finally catches up with her. Then, the farewell. Diana invites him to visit her on the morrow, but he tells her that there is a writ against him, and he dare not walk around freely. She spurns him for his fear, and does not look back as she leaves in her coach. He walks back in with Stephen. ".by the time they had reached the top each knew that their harmony was no longer what it had been these last few months."

When Jack gets home he can't sleep, so he walks on the heath. His mind is in a turmoil - Diana's contempt for him, her challenge to visit, should he forgo the Admiralty and accept Canning's offer. He dreams of riches. "The name of Sophia moved insistently up into that part of his mind where words took form. He had repressed it as far as he was able ever since he ran for France. He was not a marriageable man: Sophie was as far out of his reach as an admiral's flag." She would never have treated him like Diana did. How would he have acted if she had been there. Would he have run from Sophie? Horror. What if he had seen them both together?

"It occurred to him that he should put some order into his thoughts about these two." But he thinks it odious, indecent. Logic did not apply here, because it wasn't a deliberate seduction or a marriage of interest. This is a matter of the heart, so Jack will not analyse it, but simply follow his impulses. Still, he is just about to take his bearings on the whole matter, when he is held up by the lousy Adam Scrivener (fascinating Chaucer reference as mentioned earlier this year). So he doesn't get his sorting out done.

Then the interview with Lord Melville, the shabby offer of the Polychrest (the Carpenter's Mistake), and Jack takes it, preferring the Navy rather than riches as a privateer. He doesn't get made Post, but Pullings gets his promotion.

Stephen deliberately did not tell Jack where he would be, but we find him with Sophie, walking outside the Admiralty. She laments about Jack, " I was very unkind to him when we last met.It is dreadful to be unkind: one keeps remembering it." Not if you are Diana!

Stephen and Jack meet at the Grapes, Jack tells him of Canning's offer, as he orders champagne. But it turns out Stephen has already met him, along with 3 soldiers, and an Indian judge, all hanging around Diana, whom he visited - full of life (and wanton unkindness). But Jack asked first after Sophie, and is told, "She was not looking well. Thinner, unhappy. But she has grown up: I think her more beautiful now than when we knew her in Sussex."

What does Stephen mean by: she has grown up? He had only a brief conversation with her. Hardly enough to make such a sweeping remark. Maybe he senses the depth of her feeling for Jack, maybe he is so put off by Diana 's behaviour, that Sophie's steadfastness seems all the more attractive. As far as Jack is concerned, Stephen's friendship is unquestionable. He has asked the First Lord for Stephen to be appointed to Polychrest, and is momentarily aghast when it sounds as if Stephen will leave him, to become physician to the flagship. But Stephen is merely tied up with other things for a while . Jack detects no passion in Stephen for Diana, so he feels free (with only Stephen's disapproval as a friend who approves of Sophie, not as a jealous rival) to pursue Diana.

Chapter 7 The Polychrest fitted out

Stephen's diary reveals that the friendship is not secure, that the mute daily conflict is wearing him down, because Jack keeps after Diana, and only believes what he wants to believe about Stephen's lack of interest in her. And he can't understand how Diana playing with Jack is achieving her avowed goal of a good, financial marriage. Stephen copes with his extreme tension by using laudanum, by trying to distance himself and by active work, but he is still amazed at the depth of his jealousy. If only Sophie would act without her mother's consent. She still has her humour, but Stephen's keen observation detects unhappiness beginning to settle on her features. After the episode with the brutal punishment by Parker, when Stephen intervenes, Stephen wants to leave Jack and the ship. Jack smiles when he tells him that he cannot, because he is under martial law. But he is granted leave, and he tells Jack deliberately that he shall also ride over to Mapes. Once before, when he wanted to leave Jack, the note to him from Diana made him stay. Now, he is under orders, and because of the note from the First Lord, cannot go.

If you wanted to go symbolic, you could see the Polychrest with all her leeway, as a picture of the friendship between Jack and Stephen, but the Polychrest can never come to anything, whereas the friendship has been a fine thing.

POB doesn't give us all the incidents. Obviously Jack is seeing Diana, but we don't hear about it.

Which we will end part 3 here, because the next chapter has a large amount to reflect on.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
------------------------------------------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 21:49:05 +0800
Course of True Love Part 4 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 4 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer

Chapter 8 In which Stephen hits the drops, Sophie hits Diana.

In three scenes.

Scene 1: Mapes. Stephen and Sophie

Stephen is announced. Sophie drops her needlework, casts a distracted glance in the mirror and goes down. She and Stephen might look like lovers together, but they aren't, else he would rate more than a distracted glance. He asks after Diana, who isn't there (the reason why comes out later). He relates how Jack is getting on with the frightful Polychrest and her difficult crew, and has lost weight, which is good for him. He looks at her complexion, and does the doctorly thing with her pulse, and checking her tongue. Her weight is only 8st 5 lbs (54 kgs) and he insists on stout for her with dinner.

As they walk in the park she relates the horrors of Mr Bowles. "There is one man in the world I will ever marry, if he would have me - and I had him and threw him away." Stephen points out that Jack cannot propose to her, because he has no money. Why doesn't she let him know? But her letter to Jack from Bath was really more than her modesty would allow. Stephen informs her it came too late. But Sophie has agreed in herself that she will wait for Jack (unless he marries elsewhere). She will wait, even if it meant giving up babies, which she dearly wants (she is nearly 30). But she will not pursue him and possibly embarrass him, he might have formed other attachments. When Stephen reminds her of the story of her engagement in Bath to Mr Allen, she calls herself an odious ninny, and regrets what might have been if she had not been so jealous. [This is a reference to the words she had with Jack in Bath about his relationship with Diana. Obviously some whisper of his behaviour got to her, probably relayed by Mrs W. The only other reference we have was Jack's comment to Christy-Palliere. Interesting how POB often just alludes to things.] Sophie will not marry someone just because Mrs W approves, but she will also not marry behind her back. She wants to bring money to her marriage, and Mrs W has the purse strings. So things are at an impasse for Sophie. She will not write, she will not pursue Jack, but she is free to accept Admiral Haddock's invitation to join him in Plymouth. Before we laugh at her - her foibles, limitations, and the social conventions she is bound by, you might like to consider some of the uncertain moments in your romances, when you or the other had not really declared true feelings or hopes, and the anguished moments of wondering whether this other person would want to go out with you, find you interesting, attractive, worthy of attention, respect, love.

Their stroll takes them to the Grecian temple, and she tells him about her quarrel with Diana there. Diana had taunted her about Jack in London: Diana could see him whenever she wanted, he had not gone down to Portsmouth the next day. [Which next day? The day after Queenie's reception, when Jack had gone to the Admirality to be offered the Polychrest, and then straight to the Grapes? He did not see Diana then. Maybe she is deliberately twisting what happened. Or did Jack hang around in London an extra day while packing up the house on Hampstead Heath, and go and see her before going down to Portsmouth?] Then Sophie and Diana start calling each other names, and Diana tells Sophie about letters, and how she could marry him anytime she wants, but she does not want a half-pay captain nor another woman's leavings. Sophie tells Stephen that she almost struck Diana with her riding crop. [When did Jack write to Diana? He mentioned to C-Palliere that he had committed himself pretty deeply. Maybe it was actually in writing, and not just in moments of passion, or as an inducement to passionate intimacy with her.] So Diana went off to the Teapot in Dover.

Then Stephen tells Sophie that he is very much attached to Diana. Sophie, in her embarrassment blurts out that she thought it was Jack who wanted Diana.

"Never be distressed, honey. I know her faults as well as any man."

"Of course, she is very beautiful," said Sophia, glancing at him timidly.

"Yes. Tell me, is Diana wholly in love with Jack?"

"I may be wrong.I know very little about these things, or anything else; but I do not believe Diana knows what love is at all."

I think Sophie's comment sums Diana up. Because of her personality, or because of some lack of secure love in her past, Diana, in spite of her protestations about wanting marriage, is not able to seek out and accept a suitable partner as an equal. She runs away from this by making inappropriate liaisons, and by keeping any serious, insightful suitor at bay. She will only live for the present. Maybe, like Jack, she will not analyse her feelings and her actions.

In this dialogue Stephen and Sophie have reached new depths, by sharing their deep hopes with each other. This must be about the only place where Stephen talks intimately to another person about something so personal and so important to him. To no one else has he admitted such a secret. He has even opened himself to more pain in front of her by asking Sophie about Diana's feelings for Jack. I think she has given him a good answer, and a comforting one.

Scene 2: At the Teapot's, Dover. Stephen and Diana

Stephen sends his card up. Diana changes, combs her hair, looks searchingly into her reflection (no distracted glance, like Sophie). This is either an insecure woman, or one about to meet a very important person in her life. Stephen chides her for the time she has taken (has read the paper twice) and hands over some smuggled scent. He certainly knows his target. She gushes out an apology for being so disagreeable in London, compliments him on his coat, then gives her version of the fight with Sophie. She despised Sophie's want of decision, and then her mooning about. She described her fear when Sophie offered to slash her face. But she is depressed. She wants Stephen to be gay and witty. "I was just as pleased to come away too, with my face intact; it is my fortune you know. You have not paid it a single compliment, though I was liberal enough with you. Reassure me, Maturin - I shall be thirty soon, and I dare not trust my looking glass."

Stephen looks deeply at her; complexion aged by India, the mark where Sophie slashed her deeply. 'He hid his discovery behind all the command and dissimulation that he was master of...' Quick reading might assume that his discovery has merely been that she isn't looking her best, and has seen a hint of the aged woman to come. But I think the discovery is actually that Sophie did strike her. Both women have lied to him about it, and merely claimed that Sophie threatened. But Sophie actually did strike, and deeply. So Diana'a frustration at her life situation, expressed in baiting Sophie cost her dearly. Life in the protection of Mrs W was no longer safe physically for Diana (it was never safe in terms of a place where she was loved and accepted), so now she is forced to live off her talents and her acquaintances, and is reduced to the Teapot. Both women lied about the stroke. Sophie may be ashamed that she actually went so far. For Diana it was a physical humiliation, and much more emotionally damaging, because it threatened her looks, and her dominance over Sophie.

Stephen immediately goes on. "An astonishing face. A damned good figurehead, as we say in the Navy. And it has launched one ship, at least."

"A damned good figurehead," she said bitterly.

"And now for the harrow," he reflected. [he has used this image with her treatment of him before]

"And after all this.why do you pursue me like this? I give you no encouragement. I never have. I told you plainly at Bruton St that I liked you as a friend but had no use for you as a lover. Why do you persecute me? What do you want of me? If you think to gain your point by wearing me out, you have reckoned short; and even if you were to succeed, you would only regret it. You do not know who I am at all; everything proves it."

"I must go," he said getting up.

She was pacing nervously up and down the room. "Go, then.and tell your lord and master I never want to see him again, either. He is a coward.' (then the Teapot enters).

The Bruton St conversation (after Queenie's reception) has repeated the same themes from their conversation in the orangery at the ball of chapter 2. This is the third time for Stephen, and his reserves of strength are too low to challenge her. The throwaway line about Jack as 'lord and master' wounded as well.

When faced by Stephen's dogged pursuit, Diana is forced to face things about herself that she does not like.

Interestingly, Diana is competent in all sorts of things that we don't expect, like caring for a person with a mental illness. She is more than just a mere wanton woman. But she does have to cope with lots of unwanted male attention, even from her cousin, who asks Stephen's medical opinion about incest.

Diana has invited Stephen and Jack for dinner on Friday.

Scene 3 Various scenes on the Polychrest. Stepehn and Jack, Canning

Jack is surprised that Diana has invited him as well. (Obviously they didn't part well last time - the possible Bruton St meeting tauntingly referred to by Diana, or Queenie's reception.) When Stephen observes his wounds as Jack changes and comments on how close the pike thrust was to killing him, Jack almost wishes it had. Jack asks about Sophie, but Stephen gives no encouragement at all for Jack. [Why doesn't he say straight out that she is thinking about him constantly? Wouldn't that make it easier for himself, because Jack would not chase Diana? I don't understand Stephen's reticence at this point.] As Stephen is tying his hair, Jack finds that he is unable to ask him for money to provide a suitable feast for Canning or the other meals he should provide.

Orders come through, and Friday's dinner with Diana is off. Jack sends a polite note, Stephen sends only a word by Babbington. Then, to Jack, "I am so glad you are not going ashore. It would have been the extreme of folly, with the Polychrest known to be on the station." [An innocent joy, out of concern for a friend, a veiled lecture, or a subtle rejoicing at Jack having no time with Diana?]

Then Killick arrives with the hampers from Sophie and Admiral Haddock, plus a freshly run over roebuck. Jack observes that the Mapes one is addressed to Dr Maturin. Killick tells him it is all one. Perhaps Jack thinks that Sophie doesn't really care for him. I think it is just that she would not be so forward as to label it for him. But when Killick gives him the soused hog's face specially sent by Sophie to him, then his heart almost breaks. Now he can give out invitations to gunroom members. Stephen is wondering how Mrs W. will react when she finds her poultry, pig, and dairy produce all gone, and how Sophie will reply. Will she lie, he wonders - she has no skill for it. "I have no acquaintance with English family life, with English female family life: it is to me a region quite unknown." Jack has none either: 'with a start of intense pain he jerked his mind away. "Lord I love that Sophie so," he cried within.'

Canning joins them for the dinner, a very successful dinner, with Canning even striking his head as he stands for the loyal toast. There is the singing, including the prophetic line "three, three the rivals" of which Stephen asks after the symbolism, and the gunroom was not able to explain to my personal satisfaction a month ago, but there, we can't have everything. Then begins the increasing contrast between Jack's personal self-serving ethics on land, and his strict selfless naval ethics once on water. He has an opportunity to catch a Deal gold smuggler, but no, he could not make his station for a possible rendezvous if he did. Of course, there is no one waiting that night, and the next night, when the boat does come out, the young man is dying of wounds. Admiral Harte, who is hoping Jack will make him rich, is obnoxious and insulting about Jack's efforts.

While they wait for a convoy to collect, Stephen explores the Goodwin Sands, finds that the tide has covered his precious lead-soled boots, and is boat hooked up by the distressed crew as he dives for them. He is bundled back on board, to meet a high spirited Jack, who has also just returned to the Polychrest, with Diana's scent hanging around him. Stephen declines Jack's company and a glass of madeira sent by Canning, and immediately goes to his cabin.

In his diary he writes 'She will always have that quality of being more intensely alive, that spirit, that dash and courage, that almost ludicrous, infinitely touching unstudied unconscious grace. [These are all the qualities that attracts him to her.] But if.her face is her fortune.even before her fatal 30th year it may reach a level at which I am no longer an object of contempt. That, at all events is my only hope, and hope I must. The vulgarity is new, and it is painful beyond my power of words to express..If it grows, will it destroy her grace? Shall I one day find her making postures, moving with artful negligence? That would destroy me. Vulgarity: how far am I answerable for it?'

Oh dear, Stephen, so vigorously defended by his old shipmate Plaice at the Goodwin Sands as a learned cove, is hardly thinking clearly, philosophically. To think that his only chance of marrying her is for her to accept him out of despair and utter resignation. What sort of marriage would that be? He is feeling so low about himself and his chances, that he is in despair, but cannot give her up. And then to think that she is becoming vulgar, artful, to think that they are being mutually destructive, but to still long for marriage to her, shows the sorry state of his esteem, and the desperateness of his longings for her. No healthy mix for a contented life. The chapter ends with the convoy complete, but Jack not starting off, because he is constantly seeing Diana. Stephen is seriously tempted to betray him and have him laid by the heels. But Jack gives Stephen such a long-winded explanation of how he chanced across her and she invited them both, that Stephen feels a rush of affection for Jack, in spite of the jealousy. The dinner is a fine one, and Stephen even enjoys himself somewhat, but he longs for the convoy to leave.

From the male point of view Diana is being cruel. She knows Stephen is in love with her.She is having it off with Jack. What is going on in her head, that she invites them both?

Sorry about this long posing on only one chapter, but there is a wealth of material to ponder.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
-------------------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 12:06:06 +0800
The Course of True Love Part 5 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 5 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer

Chapter 9 Convoy duties

Jack has delayed the whole convoy by his carryings on with Diana. On the way back he re-rigs Polychrest, rescues yet another drowning sailor, and is amazed to find that Stephen is no mean hand with a pistol or a sword. Then there is the fight with the Bellone. Jack has the choice, after the Bellone has lost her steering - pursue her, or take up her prizes. Once again his duty to the Navy and his country is plain. The dangerous raider must be taken. He chases her and drives her onto a reef.

Admiral Harte is unimpressed by Jack's righteousness on the water. The Dutch galliot was taken by Amethyst, and Harte had no share in the 10,000 guineas. He is scornful of Jack's new rig, and tells him that a captain is not permitted to sleep out of his ship without permission. He has heard about Jack's shore activities. Jack is given Baltic convoy duty, Stephen gets a sealed letter from the Admiralty - orders for special leave.

Chapter 10 In which Jack suddenly loses the urge, courtesy of Canning, but the damage is deadly.

Scene 1 Stephen and Diana coaching companionably through Sussex. Stephen is back to his bantering best (partly because he feels in control). Diana is looking forward to a week's holiday in Brighton, but she was observed there by Babbington last week, and Stephen also lets her know that Jack thought Brighton full of temptation, particularly around the Prince of Wales. So Diana can pretend no innocence. She finds Jack's comments preachy, and Jack not the fun or laughter he was. But Stephen can no longer tell Jack anything like that, because of increased tension after Diana's dinner, where she devoted all her attention to Canning, much to Jack's displeasure. Diana changes topic and tries to distract Stephen with a bird, but it is only a common wheatear. After finding some little frogs, Diana wishes to know what the delightful smell is, without being abused. They discuss the Baltic, and she asks where Stephen is going. He is strongly tempted to tell her about his secret trip to Spain, but says Ireland instead. Then they have one tender moment. Stephen: "I like sitting in a chaise with you; above all when you are like this. I could wish this road might go on for ever." There is a moment of waiting. This could be THE moment to propose. Stephen misses it, and tension has built right up, by the time he drops her at Lady Jersey's, the mistress of the Prince of Wales, and Canning part of the set.

Scene 2 Admiral Haddock's at Plymouth

Sophie runs across the lawn, but the naval gentleman is only Stephen, who delights in kissing her heartily, making her very pink. She is so proud that the Patriotic Fund have voted Jack a 100 guinea sword and the merchants a set of plate, for his work on the Bellone. But Stephen wants to talk about Diana, and his pleasant ride with her. Sophie: 'I am so glad. No one can be better company than Diana when she is in -' she quickly changed 'a good temper' to a weak 'in charming spirits'.

But about Jack, and his friendship with him, Stephen is very pessimistic. "He is jealous of me and I of him" but Stephen still loves him. Diana protests that Jack can't know Stephen's feelings for Diana. But Stephen believes he does " in his own way".

Then Stephen suggests that Sophie tell Jack directly of her affection for him, because men are helpless against such directness. But she will not write to him, and she abhors Stephen's suggestion of the Admiral arranging for Jack to take Sophie and her sister to the Downs. (Immodest, risk of a refusal - should die). But then she shyly turns the advice of directness back to Stephen. "Then, if you were perfectly direct with Diana, and proposed marriage to her, might not we all be perfectly happy? Depend upon it, that is what she expects."

"I? Make her an offer? My dearest Sophie, you know what kind of match I am. A little ugly small man, with no name and no fortune. And you know her pride and ambition and connections." So there it is. He wants Diana, but feels that he is not up to her standards, and never will be, even though Sophie immediately points out all his good qualities. (Have you ever done this to a disappointed lovesick friend, in an effort to bolster their self- esteem and courage?) His 200 pound a year and his castle should be enough to keep her. "Your sweet partiality blinds you, my dear. And as for love - love, that amiable unmeaning word - however you may define it, I do not believe she knows what it is, as you told me once yourself. Affection, kindness, friendship, good nature sometimes, yes: beyond that, nothing. No. I must wait. It may come, perhaps; and in any case, I am content to be a pis aller. I too know how to wait. I dare not risk a direct refusal - perhaps a contemptuous refusal."

And then, seeking further grounds to disqualify himself he adds that he is Catholic, which Sophie rightly dismisses. They part with Stephen asking if he may keep writing to Sophie, and she relating how she sent Mr Bowles about his business.

[Stephen's way of coping is to be self-deprecating and wait and hope desperately for something to change in the whole balance.]

Scene 3 Stephen in Deal - the Rose and Crown, and then aboard Polychrest

After Ireland, Spain, Ireland ('If I could throw off some of this burden of memory," said Stephen to his second glass of laudanum, 'I should be more nearly sane. Here's to you Villiers, my dear.') Stephen is finally in a safe place and able to begin relaxing after all the tension he has been through. He is emotionally and physically exhausted. Heneage Dundas joins him, and finally tells Stephen that Jack is ruining his career, not clearing his convoys, and putting into the Downs at any excuse.

On board Stephen immediately senses that the whole atmosphere is bad. Parker is almost hysterical, and the new Marine officer, Smithers, bounding about showing his authority. When Smithers later joins Stephen in the gunroom, Stephen can cope with his young arrogance, but not when he talks about the Captain having a luscious piece at Dover. Stephen insists on respect for her in his presence, which he gets accompanied by a 'knowing leer' and then has his revenge by playing cards and stripping Smithers of a very large sum. Stephen has not been aboard more than an hour or two, but he has been infected by the poisonous atmosphere, and added to it.

Finally Stephen catches up with Jack, who is delighted to see him, and Stephen responds to that , in spite of Diana's scent hanging around him. Jack is not looking well, and troubled by dreams that even include Sophie. Jack presents him with his narwhal horn, and when Stephen offers to pay, pulls Smithers' gold out of his pockets. Jack is distressed by the amount lost, concerned about the affect on his ship. Stephen desires to see that sword and plate that Sophie told him about. "Sophie?' cried Jack, as though he had been kicked." But Jack has already hocked them in Dover. At that cue, Stephen takes the plunge, and passes on Dundas' warning. He continues: "Do not look angrily at me now, Jack, but let me tell you three things: I must do so, as a friend. First, you will certainly be arrested for debt if you continue to go ashore. Second, it is said in the service that you cling to this station; and what harm that may do you professionally, you know better than I. No, let me finish. Third, have you considered how you expose Diana Villiers by your very open attentions, in circumstances of such known danger?" There, Stephen has said it, and said it very well.

Jack naturally defends himself, accusing Stephen of wanting a clear field for himself. And it becomes obvious that Diana has been talking to Jack about Stephen and his qualities, and making comparisons designed to show Jack in a poor light. "It is time we had a clear explanation about Diana Villiers, so that we may know where we stand." Now, they are in a position to talk it through and sort it out, but in this atmosphere of intense emotion Stephen cannot simply say, " I love her, and wish that I was in a position to marry her."

Stephen refuses to explain, believing that with 'sexuality' concerned, reason flies out the window. Jack calls him a bastard, evading the issue. Stephen insists he withdraw. Jack doesn't, adding liar to the accusations - the sun tan was not gotten in Ireland.

Now the disintegration is complete. The ship's company has almost fallen apart because of Jack's onshore conduct, Smithers has been stripped of his gold because of Stephen's frustration, and now the great friendship has blown apart.

"It is odd enough," said Stephen, in a low voice, "that our acquaintance should have begun with a challenge, and that it should end with one."

Scene 4 Preparing for the duel

Stephen was passing on Dundas' warning, so he calls on Jack's friend to be his second. 'Bastard' has been immediately apologised for - no slight intended by Jack on Stephen's birth, 'but the gratuitous lie remains.' That is not the real reason for the duel, but Stephen, responding to Jack's over heated hormones, refuses to talk about the real reasons. No man is going to humiliate himself before another in that way. The irony is that the given excuse, Stephen's lying, is done for the good of the nation. Now Stephen's standing on the boat is quite altered, and he is as inoffensive as possible on board. Dundas arranges the time, and Stephen leaves with him on a Thursday afternoon, with the duel set for Saturday night by the castle. Now that all is prepared, Stephen is at some peace. He rides to Dover, and sees Jack's gig set off for the same place. "Knowing them both as I do," he observed, " I should be surprised if there were much liking between them. It is a perverse relationship. That, indeed, may be the source of its violence."

Good analysis by Stephen. Diana's relationship with Jack does not inspire him to any great heights. It is fun, it is sex, but it isn't one that calls him out of himself. It doesn't call him to give of himself. And the fruits of it aren't good, in terms of Stephen and Jack's friendship. Jack isn't fighting for her honour, but only for his sexual right to her. He isn't thinking of her.

At Dover he goes to see Macdonald, the injured Marine, who he remarks will soon rival Nelson in being able to spring one handed from ship to ship. But Macdonald is no fan of Nelson, and like Goodridge the ship's master a few pages previously, now opens up about the things that obsess him. For Macdonald, Nelson is a terrible example, for people assume that what was good enough for their hero is good enough for them, and so justify all sorts of wickedness. "I hate women. They are entirely destructive. They drain a man, sap him, take away all his good: and none the better for it themselves..Nasty, nasty queans." At the moment this is an accurate picture of Diana's affect on both Jack and Stephen. Is this to be the conclusive judgement on her? Stephen doesn't reflect on these cynical, poisoned observations. He merely asks to borrow the Marine's Manton pistols. Stephen rides back into the very late afternoon in a very languid frame of mind, but then practises coldly, precisely and with deadly accuracy. Jack will be very dead, if Stephen chooses. He looks forward to a peaceful night's sleep.

Meanwhile Jack is not at peace. Diana is 'not at home' to his inquiries, and, drinking beer in a cheep knocking shop, he finds anger and indignation an unsatisfying refuge. He goes back to Diana's, and the light betrays her presence. He hauls himself up by the tiler's bucket, hears Canning's laugh. Then he looks in. "For three deep breaths he might have burst through: it was extraordinarily vivid.the faces.their intense life and their unconsciousness of a third person. Then shame, unhappiness extreme weariness put out the rest, extinguished it utterly. No rage, no fire: all gone, and nothing to take their place."

It is all over for Jack. He knows that Diana is not for him. The anger that he felt towards Stephen as a rival was fuelled by the knowledge that deep down Stephen was right about Jack's behaviour with Diana. But Canning has not tried to warn him off, and Diana is totally absorbed in him, so there is no inclination to crash through and have it out.

Stephen has slept well (without laudanum), his affairs are all in order, and out he goes walking on the Friday afternoon. Jack is called in to Admiral Harte, who rejoices inwardly to see him so worn down. His vindictive orders are for the Polychrest to take on a job it is not suited for - disable the corvette Fanciulla and gunboats at Chaulieu. Jack makes a perfunctory objection, doesn't even bite when Harte hints that he is shy of the job. Jack meekly accepts the orders. The old, testosteroned Jack would have possibly ended up in serious trouble by disputing Harte's orders. The newly humbled - about to be killed in a duel - Jack does not bother, and so is saved.

The gun and the blue peter recall Stephen to the ship, the duel is on hold, but the reason for having it has gone.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
-------------------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 20:49:07 +0800
Course of True Love Part 6 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 6 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer

Chapter 11 In which Jack overcomes mutiny, restores his reputation

The mutineers assume Stephen is for them, but he immediately extricates himself before they make him an approach, informs Jack very formally, but will not identify the ring leaders.

"No sir, you may call me many things, but not an informer. I have said enough, more than enough."

.."Thank you for having come to see me," he (Jack) said stiffly.

When the door had closed behind Stephen he sat down with his head in his hands and let himself go to total unhappiness - to something near despair - so many things together, and now this cold evil look: he reproached himself most bitterly for not having seized this chance for an apology. "If only I could have got it out; but he spoke so quick, and he was so very cold. Though indeed, I should have looked the same if any man had given me the lie; it is not to be borne. What in God's name possessed me? So trivial, so beside the point - as gross as a schoolboy calling names - unmanly. However, he shall make a hole in me whenever he chooses..now that I know he is such a deadly old file."

What possessed him? For Jack the whole Diana thing has passed like waking clear minded after being in an fever. And a fever it has been. But he has repented, he has come to his senses, and all he has to do is apologise. But he does not see that he will be able to get it out, with Stephen in the mood he is in. Amazing, Jack will submit to death, rather than break through Stephen's coldness.

At the end of the chapter, after his desperate attempt to refloat the unworthy Polychrest, he watches her sink from the Fanciulla, as the blood collects at his feet from his head wound.

"Come, brother," said Stephen. "Come below.here is too much blood altogether.Bonden, carry him with me."

Brother. No longer addressed with the cold "sir". Jack's bravery and decisiveness in averting a mutiny, in action, but even more his obvious need of Stephen's medical help have restored the friendship and love that we all treasure. The feeling of deep tragedy about to happen in a duel has been alleviated by the action scene. Is there going to be a formal settling of the issues from the duel?

Chapter 12 Jack made Post

Jack is dashing off his letter to the Babbington's, alerting them that young William, who distinguished himself in the action, may lose his arm. Stephen is sitting with Jack in the cabin, berating him for taking so long to write, and reminding Jack of his medicines (physic, bolus, quarts of porter). As they cast off he continues, ".and of course Venerem omitte." [What a dig at Jack]

"Eh? Oh, her. Yes. Very proper." They arrive at the beach and cross into the dunes at the place Stephen has nominated. For 2 horrible paragraphs it sounds like the duel will go ahead. "I wish we could have worked the hearse," muttered Jack. But it is only the post-chaise conveying the bloodless Jack safely to London, safely under the care of Preserved Killick, disguised against all tipsters in his clergyman's hat, ready to administer the dreadful bolus exactly as ordered.

As Jack waits in the Admiralty, uncertain of how it will go for him, he reviews his past conduct. Stephen's warning had hit a raw conscience. The clever marks in the log book explaining why he was absent from the ship, at the Downs so often, suddenly seemed weak and foolish. But all this goes, when Lord Melville makes him post.

In his joy he wonders into a chapel, delighting in the organ music, and Jack brings out a fine clench about leaving Handel up in the air for lack of wind. Jack stays and witnesses the wedding of the young couple with the bride about to go into labour. The service makes him reflect on marriage and his own state: "mutual support - no loneliness - no God-damned solitude - tell happiness and sorrows quite openly - sweet child, not the least trace of the shrew - trusting, confident - marriage a very capital thing, quite different from - by God, I am on the wrong side of Cecil Street."

Foiled by POB again. Quite different from what? Carrying on with Diana. And obviously there has been a shrewish side to her. And she certainly hasn't acted trustworthily with Jack.

He has orders for the Lively, and he writes from the Grapes to Stephen, his dear Stephen, to join him as his guest. The letter concludes with a solemn oath that he will not set foot on shore again until he has cleared his debts and can move without fear.

So, without any formal apology they are back to dear friends. The oath assures Stephen that Jack is not only acting sensibly at last, but has also renounced Diana (veniality properly omitted).

And when Stephen arrives in the Lively, in his philosophical garment and glass beehive, we know that the relationship is back to its splendid best. Only Jack's joy at being post, and his great love for Stephen would cope with the embarrassment and possible contempt that Stephen's behaviour brings on him in front of a whole new ship's company.

I love the incident with the ape's head that Stephen's expertise sorts out. Jack warns the sailor who hit the other, that " he must not fly into a passion; that flying into a passion was a very bad thing - it would certainly lead to the gallows, if indulged in." This is rich, coming from Jack. Still, no better saint than a reformed sinner. Jack certainly knows the effects of flying into a very long passion.

Now that he has renounced Diana, he does not immediately turn back to thinking of Sophie. But she is there, in his subconscious, rising as he wonders about the Lively's gunnery, and finds the Hummel adagio going through his mind, and then pictures her clearly.

At the end of the chapter Jack makes a special point of offering the barge for Stephen to go ashore in. They are at the Downs. There is the tension as Stephen asks if Jack will also go? No, he believes he will never willingly set foot ashore again. His oath not to risk arrest holds. All this said with the painful jarring levity that Stephen knows so well. Stephen tests him out. Has Jack any messages for New Place, and the hospital where he will call? Only compliments, but his real concern is for his men in hospital, especially Babbington, whom it is impossible for him to visit. So Stephen knows that the affair is over. He has no rival in Jack anymore.

[What do you think? Does the sudden letting go of Diana ring true to you? It is as though she never existed as an object of passion for him.]

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E
---------------------------

Michael Mayer (mayer@GEI.NET.AU)
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 13:47:28 +0800
Course of True Love Part 7 (PC spoilers)

Which it's Posting 7 of The Course of True Love. (Beware Post Captain spoilers)

A humble analysis for the enjoyment of the Gunroom, by Michael Mayer.

And thanks for your patience. I've really enjoyed all the discussions about Stephen, Jack, Diana and Sophie, plus all the personal stories that have reflected on the issues.

Chapter 13 In which Diana has departed the scene; Jack of the Lively will not entertain any thoughts of Sophie.

After the release of the tension of the duel, and Jack being freed of his lust for Diana, POB starts to tie up loose ends, and bring the novel to its conclusion.

Stephen in Dover goes to the Teapot's, but it is all shut up. Jack acted as a voyeur to spy on Diana. Stephen breaks in, another voyeur, this time in a dreamy state, soaking up the impressions. He even goes through the waste paper basket. Maybe the scratched out lines were where she had tried to write to him. In her dressing room he catches the whiff of her scent. She has left, and, it seems, she has left him. "At least.this is not the horror of the last" [whatever he means by that - the horror of the last time he smelled that scent on Jack, or possibly that she is at least still alive and not dead?] He stops the 30 day clock, thus putting his mark on the ending of this part of his life, and seems calm and collected, as he walks out and keeps gong all the way to Deal. Only there does he realise that his boat is back at Dover, so he walks back. So much for calm and collected. On the Lively, Mrs Miller (sister to Dashwood, one of the officers) and her son are to be carried to Portsmouth. Jack is very polite to her. The child pipes up, "Uncle John, why are you nodding and winking at Mama? She has not talked to the Captain too much, yet." Is this merely the understandable concern that she not be in the way, or is it because Jack is feared as a lecher?

They get to Plymouth, after targeting various French shore fittings, and Stephen invites Jack to visit Admiral Haddock. But he will not go ashore. And when Stephen adds that Sophie and Cecilia are there, Jack tumbles out his feelings: wrong and selfish to pursue her in Bath, no match for Sophie because of debt and few prospects if Melville goes. "I am not going to pester her as once I did. And I am not going to tear my heart in pieces again: besides, what can she care for me, after all this?"

Chapter 14 In which it turns out that Sophie does have bottom, Jack is happy, pecuniary fortunes are restored, and Stephen is - Stephen.

Stephen visits the Admiral's, where Cecilia is very happy to entertain him, and soon blurts out that Diana has gone into keeping with Canning. Sophie comes in, and Stephen points out Jack through the telescope. Only a dozen stitches to the mere scalp wound, but he cannot set foot on land, for fear of arrest for debt. "No woman with any heart of friendship in her would ask it" (unlike Diana). She can find no words of comfort for Stephen about Diana, except to hold his hand (giving the Admiral the wrong impression). As Jack can make no move Stephen encourages her to ask him for a lift to the Downs, but she is confused, she cannot, he might not want her.

On board, in his diary, Stephen is waxing philosophical on the unhappiness of life, including his own. The Molter trumpet music makes him think how he once thought that physical grace and style was virtue, but he still shies away from labelling Diana's behaviour so bluntly. Then he reflects on Sophie 's lack of bottom, when he sees her coming aboard. He goes on deck to see Jack and Sophie so conscious of each other. The Admiral leaves with Sophie and Cecilia, after giving Jack a brief lecture on the unsuitability of his father's rantings about the navy in the House, including the subject of women on board. With Sophie down the side, POB goes into strong comic mode, as Jack prepares to receive his love: the bees to go ashore, a set of silver plates (hawser laid rope border) ordered, sailcloth squares, accompaniments in the best style, and everything changed daily as Jack worries about making his guests comfortable.

Stephen escapes the thoroughly unsettled ship to visit Jack, and summarises the Post Captain Jack Aubrey: he is a better officer and a duller man - the boy has quite vanished. He then goes on to enlighten Sophie on Jack's precarious position in terms of his low rank on the captain's list, General Aubrey's want of sense, and the lack of opportunity for regular employment for Jack, much less rich prizes. With the lambs being combed and bathed daily, even Stephen has lost patience with the silliness of a Jack desperate to do the right thing by his noble and pure love.

Stephen goes on a mission to Spain. The previous trip was hot and dry, with memories of Diana, and coming home to a duel. This time there is a prodigious grape harvest, and then rain, and he comes soaked to the Grapes, where letters from Sophie and Jack tell of their 'understanding'. It soaks into the exhausted Stephen, who wakes from an unprecedented deep, drug free sleep the next morning, to reread them. Of course, Sophie also reports that Mrs Williams has protested vigorously at the unsuitableness of a Nelson type as a husband, and Stephen reflects how the couple are in for a difficult time if they must have a long engagement, and Jack not strong on celibacy. He prophecies a long drawn out tragedy, unless a deus ex machina appears to miraculously sort it out.

And the deus ex machina is Stephen himself, who finally asks for some repayment for all spying efforts. And so Jack and the Lively are part of the fleet to take the Spanish treasure ships. Before all the orders can be written out, Sir Joseph sends Stephen to the opera, and there, amongst the latecomers, the Prince of Wales' set, he subconsciously detects the scent of Diana. He observes her intently, and sees her exercise her charms on the minor royal visiting in the opera box. (Could this have been the Duke of Habachtsthal? No identification made, and he probably didn't exist in POB's mind at this time). Stephen sees Diana move with a *conscious* grace. Stephen knows that physical wild grace and a lively spirit do not equal virtue, and he has almost admitted that to himself about Diana, but this affected movement brings her idol crashing down. She is on display and has made herself a spectacle. The Diana he sought at whatever cost to himself is dead. Finally theirs eyes catch, and he finds he cannot move. Not even to answer the insistent knocking. She might be dead to him, but he is the one who is catatonic with the shock. At the end of the opera, the attendants lead him out of the empty theatre.

And that is the end of his hopes. She has gone into keeping, in spite of all her earlier protestations that she must make a good marriage before 30. And along with that she has lost her wild independent grace and has turned into a performer.

There is little left to do in the novel, except to open the way for Jack to make his fortune and so clear the way for the marriage to Sophie, that his friend Stephen has worked so hard towards.

But there is one thing to finally put to rest - the charge of lying, and the issue of the duel. And perhaps it can only be sorted out when Diana is dead to both of them, not just to Jack. The resolution happens when Jack looks at his orders which inform him that he is to use the knowledge and discretion of S Maturin esquire, MD etc, temporarily a captain in the Royal Navy. 'Well, I must be discreet myself, I find,' said Jack, sitting down and looking wonderingly at Stephen. 'But you did say.'

'Now listen, Jack, will you? I am somewhat given to lying: my occasions require it from time to time. But I do not choose to have any man alive tell me of it.'

'Oh no, no, no,' cried Jack. 'I should never dream of doing such a thing. Not,' he added, recollecting himself and blushing, 'not when I am in my right mind. Quite apart from my love for you, it is far, far too dangerous. Hush: mum's the word. Tace is the Latin for a candle. I quite understand - am amazed I did not smoke it before: what a deep old file you are. But I twig it now.'

'Do you, my dear? Bless you.'

And he falls asleep listening to Jack's excited retelling of the voyage with Sophie, with the possibility of 75,000 pounds coming his way.

Michael Mayer
Esperance, remote rural Western Australia
3352' S, 12154'E


From: "Gary W. Sims"
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 21:33:20 -0700
Subject: Groupread PC: Some favorites as I part company

Going off the net for a couple of weeks to deal with some personal affairs. (Ones that will not tolerate staying up to all hours in your inviting company.)

Since I must leave you in mid-month and mid-volume, I can't resist enumerating the bits of tissue I've stuck in my Post Captain intending to discuss them any night now:

P.16
'... the neighborhood of Rainsford -- three or four packs within reach, London only a day's ride away, and neat gentlemen's residences by the dozen, all standing on gravel. You'll go snacks with me, Stephen? [...]'

'I should like it of all things,' said Stephen. 'Whatever the advertisements may say, it is a chalk soil, and there are some very curious plants and beetles on the downs. I am with child to see a dew-pond.'

This passage always strikes me because we live in the country ourselves, we know the use of asphalt to pave roads and paths economically had not begun in Jack's time, and we readily appreciate the merit of graveled areas when the Winter rains come.

This time through, I refreshed my memory of "dew-pond" and learned they are usually associated with areas of inadequate ground water, which makes Stephen's comment all the more comprehensible. And more plausible, since I had wondered how a venturesome naturalist like Stephen had not come across a dew-pond before.

P.28
'... I fear he may not attend to the fifth commandment quite as he should.' The girls' faces took on an inward look as they privately ran over the Decalogue: in order of intelligence a little frown appeared on each as its owner reached the part about Sunday traveling, and then cleared as they carried on to the commandment the Admiral had certainly intended. [...]

Charming image, and not unlikely -- but especially poignant when seen from the distance of eighteen volumes later, since the comment is uttered by a Yellow Admiral, for all love.

P.31-32
'I can just see them with their stockings out at heel,' cried Frances, with a coarse whoop, 'pegging away with their needles -- "Doctor, may I trouble you for the blue worsted? After you with the thimble, if you please" Ha, ha,ha, ha!'

'I dare say they can cook,' said Diana. 'Men can broil a steak; and there are always eggs and bread-and-butter.'

'But how wonderfully strange,' cried Cecilia. 'How romantic! As good as a ruin. Oh, how I long to see 'em.'

The passage always calls to mind the later one where Stephen commands Jack to return his rosin. But the whole flavor of young women cheerfully scornful of men's practical abilities is neat artistry. It causes me to wonder: is this sad, too-often-accurate, view of men held by women in all cultures? Or just Britain of 1972 and the U.S. of the entire twentieth century? Was it ravaging the countryside in Jack's time at all?

As good as a ruin, forsooth.

P. 47-48
The passage where we see the women as they appear to the public, and also Sophia as she appears to Diana and then to Stephen. Diana admires Sophia for her complexion, Stephen assigns it to her choice of gold and pearls -- an externality, note -- and adroitly turns the comment to a generalized comment favoring women, and then specifically one favoring Diana herself:

'...candid admiration for good looks in other women - a real pleasure in their beauty. Yours, too, is a most elegant dress: other women admire it. I have remarked this.'

Such casual but purposeful direction of a conversation to better grounds for his own end. Worthy of any intelligence officer, and you wonder how he can fail to win her graces -- until he spoils it by revealing his methods:

'... remarked this. Not only from their glances, but most positively, by standing behind them and listening to their conversation.'

One sighs, and never doubts it will take volumes before she surrenders to this awkward mixture of charm and... and... well, mildly slimy Peter-Lorre-iness. "Yes ma'am.I was just over there behind the curtains near the withdrawing room when I heard Miss O say to Mrs M that you..."

P.207
The broadsheet composed by Scriven to attract volunteers to the Polychrest includes this paragraph:

No Troublesome Formalities. The best of provisions at 16 oz to the pound, 4 lb of tobacco a month. Free beer, wine, and grog. Dancing and fiddling aboard. A health-giving, wealth-giving cruise. Be healthy and wealthy and wise, and bless the day you came aboard the Polychrest!

I don't doubt that POB quotes directly from an original document. Undeniable facts swirled into a dazzling fantasy. No troublesome formalities, indeed. It is delightfully reminiscent (precogniscent?) of a modern advertisement.

And this time it caught me right after a moment of disillusionment. I grew up knowing that "A pint's a pound the world around." And by inference, a gallon of water must be eight pounds, must it not? Ah, but somewhere in the hindquarters of the twentieth century it became a lie. Just the other day, I learned that a gallon of water is now said to weigh 8.35 lb or 8 lb 5.5 oz. Oh, the bitter irredeemable loss. The raw Consular arrogance of this change. Clearly, we must lay it at the feet of that vile Corporal of the Frogs -- but my spirit will not bear the effort of researching this iniquitous disregard of the parallel between fluid ounces and ounces of weight.

With no hope of surviving this vile century, and now lacking even the pillars of certainty from my days in grammar school, I find myself a discarded relic of the age past. As good as a ruin, indeed.

Nevertheless, I remain your obedient servant and reluctantly depart for a brief shore leave,

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
---------------------------------------
Grateful he did all his engineering work in the metric system
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Vanessa Brown
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 23:30:21 EDT
Subject: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

When Stephen leaves the Polychrest to go off a-spying in Spain, his cover story is that he was in Ireland.

The lie is obvious because he is well tanned, Heneage mentions it, and it is a major part of his terrible fight with Jack.

This seems a foolish error for such a deep old file to make. Could he not have said he was in the Med somewheres? Was there a reason at that time he couldn't have pretended to be in the south? Stephen seems smarter than that.

Vanessa, wondering


From: Peter Mackay
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 13:33:33 +1000
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

Perhaps Stephen wasn't quite that experienced yet, being only in his second book.


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 10:02:17 -0700
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

I thought Stephen's motivation for challenging Jack to a dul was weak and out of character. . .it was because Jack called him a liar. Stephen WAS lying, so why should be so insulted. Or was this just to protect his anonymity?

Ray McP


From: Bob Kegel
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 06:56:42 -0700
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

On Mon, 8 Oct 2001, at 23:30:21 EDT, Vanessa Brown wrote:

Stephen seems smarter than that.

Stephen doesn't spend much time looking in a mirror. Perhaps he didn't realize he was tanned.

The episode serves to establish Stephen as an intelligence agent and bring his rivalry with Jack over Diana to a dramatic climax.

Bob Kegel
4659'18.661"N 12349'29.827"W


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 09:41:20 -0700
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

Bob Kegel wrote:

(snip)
The episode serves to establish Stephen as an intelligence agent and bring his rivalry with Jack over Diana to a dramatic climax.

If my memory serves me correctly, Stephen's involvement in espionage is not foreshadowed in M&C.

Does anyone remember something specific?

Ray McP


From: Pawel Golik
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 13:02:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

This is an ongoing controversy in the Gunroom. Personally I think that during M&C while SM wasn't involved in naval espionage the way he was later (from PC on) he still was involved somehow. There is the matter of his going ashore in Catalonia, his behaviour towards Dillon when they meet aboard Sophie - all this suggests that he had some secret activities. His involvement with Catalan independence movement surely predates M&C, and as we learn later on (SM in particular) the British intelligence had its interests in the Catalan cause. So perhaps during S&M Stephen was acting as a sort of connection between the Catalans and English intelligence. Then he met Jack and getting involved in naval intelligence was a natural development.

Pawel

Pawel Golik
http://www.gen.emory.edu/cmm/people/staff/pgolik.html
Currently at 33*48'53"N 84*19'25"W
Home is at 52*12'25"N 21*5'37"E


From: Mary S
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 22:01:17 EDT
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

In a message dated 10/9/01 12:02:42 PM Central Daylight Time, raymcp999@YAHOO.COM writes:

.it was because Jack called him a liar. Stephen WAS lying, so why should be so insulted.

No gentleman could allow himself to "be given the lie."

Besides, he was in a fever of jealousy and the like, I conceive, and looking for an excuse to fight.

Like ... a galvanized manatee, or dugong, [RoM, p. 224]

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 06:57:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Group Read PC: Stephen's blunder

As I understand it, being called a liar in many societies in the past was considered much more than an insult. Because why? Because so much of their business was contracted verbally...to be known as a liar, was to not be able to conduct business.

Nathan, then again, maybe I made all this up, you'll never really know...


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 08:55:57 -0400
Subject: Re: GRP PC: A Square Meal

At 9:33 PM -0700 10/8/2001, Gary W. Sims wrote:

No Troublesome Formalities. The best of provisions at 16 oz to the pound,

The curious claim of "16 oz to the pound" refers to a prior practice of the Victualing Board to permit the pursers a certain percentage of "spoilage". Pursers aboard ship were the equivalent of semi-independent contractors, with the potential to either earn large profits by shortchanging the men in issuing rations, or suffer great personal financial loss if unable to account for shortfalls due to excessive spoilage or theft (hence the official ceremony in which the captain and another officer would be shown the contents of a newly opened barrel of salt beef or pork and asked to formally condemn it). One of the leading causes of the Great Fleet Mutinies of 1797 was that pursers were allowed to issue only 14 ounces of beef, pork, or cheese for every pound that was specified as the official ration. One of the reforms resulting from the Mutiny was that pursers would henceforth be required to issue rations at "16 oz to the pound".

Don Seltzer


From: Reinhard Gloggengiesser
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 15:37:52 +0200
Subject: AW: [POB] GRP PC: A Square Meal

Don wrote:

One of the leading causes of the Great Fleet Mutinies of 1797 was that pursers were allowed to issue only 14 ounces of beef, pork, or cheese for every pound that was specified as the official ration.

A very similar practice has survived to the present day: During the Munich Oktoberfest beer is served out from 200-litre casks (called *hirschen*) into 1-litre beer-steins (calles *Masskruege*). The local breweries have to pay taxes for 220 (!) litres per 200-litre cask however. This is due to the fact that investigators upon watching the personnel dispensing the beer from the casks found miraculously up to 250 litres of beer being served out from a 200-litre cask. Another regulation therefore provides that anybody being served a beer-stein which looks not full enough can demand it being topped off by the waiter.
Sadly, many of the breweries have in the last years stopped the practice of delivering the beer in wooden casks and are now using stainless-steel-tanks and even pipelines to the fair ground. The taxation remains the same, to my knowledge. Taxes just NEVER go down.

Cheers!
Reinhard Gloggengiesser
47? 40' 41" N
11? 10' 15" E
reglogge@planet-interkom.de


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 09:01:26 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana

1. As Jack explained his problem to Captain Christy-Palliere, he felt obliged to do the right thing by Diana, having amused her as he'd amused Molly Harte; he felt awful about it, because he knew he loved Sophie. I think if Diana had played her cards right, he'd have married her out of a sense of honour.

2. Stephen, more than anyone else, appreciated Sophie's grace and wit and depth. If Jack had married Diana, Stephen would not have carried his torch for Diana, he would have wanted to marry Sophie.

3. Diana wanted to get married. Stephen would have been acceptable if there wasn't someone MORE acceptable that she was pursuing - Jack was a better catch in her eyes; and when Jack was away, Canning became that better catch.
I don't think she knew at the time about Mrs. Canning - she was playing a desperate game trying to entrap Canning.

4. Sophie, of all people, knew of Stephen's wisdom and strengths and virtues. I think that if Jack had married Diana, Sophie, having awakened to womanhood, would have accepted Stephen's proposal.

I think that Jack and Diana would have been all right. They'd have fought great battles, she'd have infuriated him often, he'd have driven her to rage often; but they'd have had some great times together, and would always kiss and make up after. He would not have considered leaving her - in that sense (but not another), his marriage vow would have been sacred to him. She would not have left him - she'd have been too dependent and too grateful for the marriage status. They BOTH would have cheated on each other, but as discreetly as they could have managed, never flaunting it.

I think Stephen and Sophie would have been all right also. She would have kept his linens clean, she'd have sighed and tolerated his horse on the drawing room table; Stephen would have been very happy with Sophie's grace and dignity. Mrs Williams would have been a problem for sure, but that's a problem a lot of married men come to grips with.

The way it turned out: Jack and Sophie had some tough times, but loved each other deeply throughout. Stephen and Diana had some tough times too, but he was happier with her than without her (his opinion); and she was better off with him than she'd been with Canning or Johnson.

As O'Brian said, "other people's marriages are a perpetual source of amazement."


From: Philip Sellew
Subject: Jack & Diane, Stephen & Sophie
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 14:51:49 -0500

Wow -- this is great analysis, Susan! I agree completely about Jack and Diana -- but as for Sophie and Stephen, a couple of questions:

1. Is their relationship built in part on its non-romantic basis?

2. Would Mrs. Williams have been not only a problem during the marriage (as you say) but also possibly a determined obstacle beforehand? Her views on Maturin seem to shift as I remember (not having the books to hand) -- suspicious of a naval surgeon, dubious about his gentlemanly status and prospects, eventually won over by (Jack's?) remarks about the 'castle in Spain' etc. etc. Jack (much better born and situated) was only able to wear Sophie and her mother down after protracted struggle.

Philip Sellew
at or about 45 00 N 93 10 W


From: Jerry Shurman
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:21:57 -0700
Subject: Re: Fwd: Jack & Diane, Stephen & Sophie

On Thu, 11 Oct 2001, Philip Sellew wrote:

But as for Sophie and Stephen, a couple of questions:

1. Is their relationship built in part on its non-romantic basis?

Also, could it satisfy the darker parts of Stephen's psyche?

Jerry


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 15:23:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Fwd: Jack & Diane, Stephen & Sophie

Well, Mrs. william's thrifty nature would have appreciated having a physician in the family--all the bleedings, bark, and amputations for free!

Gerry Strey
Madison, Wisconsin (where I gave blood recently and had to avert my eyes from the filling bag, and went all wobbly and light-headed afterward)


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:41:51 -0700
Subject: Re: Fwd: Jack & Diane, Stephen & Sophie

Stephen's continuing obsession with Diana is difficult to understand. On page 472 of the Norton hardbound edition:

"It was so: everything showed it, and he extracted the last dreg of pain from the knowledge, the spectacle. She was on display. The purity of wild grace was gone, and the thought that from now on he must associate vulgarity with his idea of her was so painful that for a while he could not think clearly. Not that it was in the least obvious to anyone who knew her less well, or who valued that purity less highly, and not that it detracted in any way from the admiration of the men in the audience of her companions, for it was done with great instinctive art; but the woman in the box over the was not one to whom he would have paid any attention, at any time."

It's hard to understand what honor he owes to her, and he does not seem to be driven by sexual appetite.

Hummmm.

Ray McP


From: Jerry Shurman
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 15:00:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Fwd: Jack & Diane, Stephen & Sophie

On Thu, 11 Oct 2001, Ray McPherson wrote:

Stephen's continuing obsession with Diana is difficult to understand.

It somehow goes along with his drug habits and the risks of his espionage work. Lots of DSM-IV terminology could easily apply.

Jerry


From: Ruth A Abrams
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 23:35:14 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana

Ray wrote, of Stephen and Diana:

It's hard to understand what honor he owes to her, and he does not seem to be driven by sexual appetite.

Hummmm.

Not driven by sexual appetite? Where do you get that? I never had that impression. This affair has love and sex thoroughly intertwined.

I always thought Stephen's romantic notions of Diana (perhaps Romantic with a capital R) were related to his sense of her wildness. Remember that he loves to see wild creatures, especially birds, especially birds of prey. He loves her posture, her grace, because it is wild. This is about her beauty and her character--

but it is also what is sexy about her. Right? When she is "wild" she does things for herself, because she enjoys them. In that emblematic moment when she jumps her horse, she is striking in her daring and fierce joy. It gives some notion of her passion for sex, that she has a passionate appetite for life. Seeing her be herself in that profound way is what attacts Stephen to her, and makes him love her.

If she is displaying her charms consciously, she is effectively prostituting her "real" sexuality. When he sees her do this in the theatre, he's nauseated. Either he was wrong in her, or she is in a profound way, fallen--he would be okay with her expressing real desire for another man, he tells himself, it's this faking that he finds a real betrayal. (Though really he doesn't want her to sleep with other men, either!)

The real question is, is it sex that *she* sees in *him*?

Ruth A.


From: Ray McPherson
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 21:30:20 -0700

Diana uses sex. Whether or not she enjoys it is beside her point.

Ray McP


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:50:59 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana

Susan Wenger wrote:

1. As Jack explained his problem to Captain Christy-Palliere, he felt obliged to do the right thing by Diana, having amused her as he'd amused Molly Harte; he felt awful about it, because he knew he loved Sophie. I think if Diana had played her cards right, he'd have married her out of a sense of honour.

2. Stephen, more than anyone else, appreciated Sophie's grace and wit and depth. If Jack had married Diana, Stephen would not have carried his torch for Diana, he would have wanted to marry Sophie.

Oh Susan,

Jack and Diana could never have made a go of marriage. They neither loved nor respected one another. And the relationship between Stephen and Sophia was more like father and daughter than anything else. Besides that, Stephen carried his torch for Diana regarless of her cruelties and infidelities. Had Diana married someone else, Stephen would have remained unmarried until the... spoiler!

Ray McP


From: Rowen 84
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 00:14:46 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana

In a message dated 10-11-01 11:03:56 AM, susanwenger@YAHOO.COM writes:

As O'Brian said, "other people's marriages are a perpetual source of amazement."

Very nice, Susan. Wouldn't the 'alternate arrangements' make some interesting stories?

Rowen


From: Rowen 84
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 00:23:19 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana

In a message dated 10-11-01 10:36:44 PM, ruthie@WORLD.STD.COM writes:

Ray wrote, of Stephen and Diana:

It's hard to understand what honor he owes to her, and he does not seem to be driven by sexual appetite.

Hummmm.

Not driven by sexual appetite? Where do you get that? I never had that impression. This affair has love and sex thoroughly intertwined.

Absolutely, except leave out the love. 'Obsession' is not 'love', and I can't think of any passages that show Stephen expressing love (as opposed to obsession, lust, or possessiveness) toward Diana. Though it's obvious that he THINKS he loves her.

Rowen


From: Doug Essinger-Hileman
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 07:41:13 -0400

The sad fact is that most people who are obsessed with another consider it love. And many people who are the object of obsession make the same confusion.

Doug Essinger-Hileman
Drowsy Frowsy List Greeter, Rated Able
3951'06"N 7954'01"W


From: Ray McPherson
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 11:24:08 -0700

I am looking at the relationship between Stephen and Diana as if I had not read subsequent volumes of the canon. One of the last things he said of her in PC was that she had become vulgar and had he not know her before he would never had any interest in her at all. He loves her verve, dash, looks, carriage, but how can he respect her?

Maybe men and women view this differently.

Ray McP


From: Ruth A Abrams
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:44:28 -0400
Subject: Diana, sex and love (spoilers galore)

Ray, I have to disagree with you about Stephen and Diana. I think he does love her, it's not just obsession--though in PC this isn't obvious, I'll admit--their relationship develops. Why do I think so? Because he admires her character. When he falls out of love with her in The Fortune of War, it isn't because she has become less attractive. He loses respect for her for being mercenary. (Respect he does not lose when she is living with Canning.)

I also don't believe that she doesn't feel sexuality. The problem is that she is one of the few major characters whose internal monologue we never hear. We only hear Stephen's thoughts about her. That's one of the reasons that many of the lissuns find her unsympathetic. But her actions speak to both her interest in sex for its own sake, and to her interest in Stephen.

Think of Queenie's rout in PC--I just reread this last night. First we hear that Canning is a "beautiful" man. Cecilia, sister to a woman who cried when she heard about men's chest hair, says so. (Though her mother says that Canning is a jay ee double you.) He's also bald, wears no wig, is stockyily built. Where is the beauty? But Jack likes him right away. So there is some kind of animal magnetism there. When Diana leaves both Stephen and Jack for Canning, a married man--does she do it for the money? No, I don't think so. Remember the "intensely amused laughter" Jack hears outside Diana's door when he observes Diana and Canning together. Canning is a sex object.

On the other hand, also at Queenie's rout, (Queeny? Queenie?) everyone is jealous because of the open "schoolboyish" way that Diana greets Stephen. Even in this first book of their long affair, she *likes* him, better than anyone. She isn't using him. She's young and stupid about sex, for all she thinks she is knowing.

Now that I am approaching the first anniversary of my happy marriage, I can't believe that I was ever like Diana. Well, I was never so beautiful, so elegant or so athletic, but I was unsure of how sex and love fit together. I have compassion for her.

Ruth a.


From: Lois Anne du Toit
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Jack and Sophie and Stephen and Diana
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 09:12:38 +0100

Susan wrote:

"I think that Jack and Diana would have been all right. They'd have fought great battles, she'd have infuriated him often, he'd have driven her to rage often; but they'd have had some great times together, and would always kiss and make up after. He would not have considered leaving her - in that sense (but not another), his marriage vow would have been sacred to him. She would not have left him - she'd have been too dependent and too grateful for the marriage status. They BOTH would have cheated on each other, but as discreetly as they could have managed, never flaunting it.

I think Stephen and Sophie would have been all right also. She would have kept his linens clean, she'd have sighed and tolerated his horse on the drawing room table; Stephen would have been very happy with Sophie's grace and dignity. Mrs Williams would have been a problem for sure, but that's a problem a lot of married men come to grips with."

What a great post, Susan! I am sure you have the right of it. Above all, Sophie would have been KIND to Stephen. And Stephen, with his greater sophistication and empathy, would surely have been a more satisfactory lover for Sophie. The more I think about the Jack-Diana and Stephen-Sophie combos, the more I wish it HAD turned out like that ...

London Lois, incurably romantic and in her heart of hearts wishing everyone could live "happily ever after"

51 29' 00" N 000 11' 00" W


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 10:26:48 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Phrase and paraphrase

On page 300 (Norton paperback), Jack has been swimming with the fishes, and Stephen asks if he was afraid of the shark.

JA: "Him? Oh, sharks are mostly gammon, you know: all cry and no wool."

and a scant 4 pages later (304), Jack notices that Lt. Pullings has put the ship before the wind with a few quiet remarks: all wool and no cry.

How I LOVE that stuff!

Susan


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 15:25:16 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Phrase and paraphrase

Nice observation, Susan. It also leads me to a question: where does this saying come from?

Is it a derivative of the boy who cried wolf - "all cry and no wolf" - or does it have another meaning? If so did Jack butcher it, or had it already evolved to this?

Nathan


From: Mary S
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 18:35:50 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Phrase and paraphrase

Well, it's not a Jack-ism, you can see it elsewhere. I imagine a sheep that makes a lot of noise & protest when sheared but produces remarkably little fleece. Like that fine Texan expression "All hat and no cattle."

Like ... a galvanized manatee, or dugong, [RoM, p. 224]

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Marian Van Til (rxbach@EARTHLINK.NET)
Date: Thu Oct 11 2001 - 19:33:05 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Phrase and paraphrase

Nope. Sheep are virtually silent when sheared. Mary, surely you know Isaiah 53:7: "...As a sheep before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth..."?

Marian


From: Mary S
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 22:10:14 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Phrase and paraphrase

Yeah, I do, but I thought maybe there were exceptions...

THIS sheep seems to have taken it hard:

http://www.holymyrrhbearers.com/Maude's_3rd_Page!.htm

And here's a delightful etymology at http://www.bartleby.com/81/4428.html

Great cry and little wool. This is derived from the ancient mystery of David and Abigail, in which Nabal is represented as shearing his sheep, and the Devil, who is made to attend the churl, imitates the act by "shearing a hog." Originally, the proverb ran thus, "Great cry and little wool, as the Devil said when he sheared the hogs." N. B. Butler alters the proverb into "All cry and no wool."

a wicked contumelious discontented froward mutinous dog,[FSW1]

Mary S
35° 58' 11" N
86° 48' 57" W


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 06:12:59 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:litcrit/Diana

The Polychrest was designed to sail against wind and tide. She had head and stern alike, two maintopsailyards, a false bottom, no hold, and sliding keels and rudders. You never could tell if she was coming or going, and she sagged with far too much leeway.

This was the ship Jack commanded and Stephen surgeoned in the book that introduced us to Diana Villiers. Would a comparison be too pedantic? May I suggest that the one mirrored the other? (I just did).


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 06:17:25 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

Here's one of my favorite scenes from "Post Captain:" it really captures a relationship, and illuminates the two characters (from page 156 Norton paperback):

They were looking after themselves, living with rigid economy; and there was no greater proof of their friendship than the way their harmony withstood their very grave differences in domestic behaviour. In Jack's opinion Stephen was little better than a slut: his papers, odd bits of dry, garlic'd bread, his razors and small-clothes lay on and about his private table in a miserable squalor; and from the appearance of the grizzled wig that was now acting as a tea-cosy for his milk-saucepan, it was clear that he had breakfasted on marmalade.

Jack took off his coat, covered his waistcoat and breeches with an apron, and carried the dishes into the sculler. "My plate and saucer will serve again," said Stephen. "I have blown upon them. I do wish, Jack," he cried, "that you would leave that milk-saucepan alone. It is perfectly clean. What more sanitary, what more wholesome, than scalded milk"? Will I dry up?" he called through the open door.

"No, no," cried Jack, who had seen him do so. "There is no room - it is nearly done. Just attend to the fire, will you?"

"What are you doing now?"

"Swabbing out the galley. Give me five minutes, and I am your man."

"It sounds more like Noah's flood. This peevish attention to cleanliness, Jack, this busy preoccupation with dirt," said Stephen, shaking his head at the fire, "has something of the Brahminical superstition about it. It is not very far removed from nastiness, Jack - from cacothymia."

"I am concerned to hear it," said Jack. "Pray, is it catching?" he added, with a private but sweet-natured leer


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:14:52 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

Oh what a glorious scene! I would say that it too is one of my favorite, but they are so numerous that it is hard to pick them out.

Nathan, such a satisfying, wholesome, yes wholesome chuckle I got from that passage


From: Jerry Shurman
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 08:19:01 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

What struck me about that scene when I read it was how strong an Oscar and Felix feel it has.

Jerry


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 08:24:45 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

What struck me was the irony of the medical doctor annoyed by cleanliness ;^)

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:52:19 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

I can't find "cacothymia" in any of my dictionaries.
Does anyone know what it is?

Ray McP

PS I loved that scene too.


From: Jim Biggerstaff
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:02:39 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

Related to cyclothymia?

http://www.psycom.net/depression.central.cyclothymia.html

Jim


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 11:11:16 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

That great resource of the world, Kerry Webb's "Maturin's Medicine" page, says:

Cacothymia: Disorder of mind; moral depravity; insane morbidity of temper.


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 13:21:45 -0500
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes (cacothymia)

Probably related to cacoethic: of an ill habit or propensity; maligant; morbid; pathological, according to the Oxford english dictionary.

Gerry Strey
Madison, Wisconsin


From: Marshall Rafferty
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 18:08:20 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:favorite scenes

Susan W. quoted, in part:

"I am concerned to hear it," said Jack. "Pray, is it catching?" he added, with a private but sweet-natured leer.

Ah, thankee again, Susan. Three times I've read this passage, and missed the significance of Jack's little joke/wish.

Marshall Rafferty


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 09:28:27 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Quotes

Elizabeth Nokes wrote:

Or, what about favourite quotes - I can't resist airing mine:

'The three really serious ship board crimes: mutiny, sodomy, and, damaging the paintwork !

Here's one of the best lines from "Post Captain" in my opinion. ROTFL.

page 303, Stephen has been invited to try a sword-pass on the deck with the marine MacDonald, and Stephen asks him:

"Would that be quite regular? I have a horror of the least appearance of eccentricity."


From: sue reynolds
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 15:36:55 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I love the works of Patrick O'Brian.

I love the works of Jane Austen, especially Persuasion, and her portrayal of naval captains.

Why, then, do I get squicky feelings in the first part of Post Captain, which is remarkably similar to the works of Jane Austen? I can't wait for poor Jack to get back to his natural element.

And is anyone else disappointed in the apparent loss of Sophie's youngest sister as a major character? I thought of her initially as being the person Stephen was meant to fall in love with after being permanently disillusioned by Diana.

Sue Reynolds


From: Elizabeth Nokes
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 17:58:52 +0100
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I'm so glad you said that ! I too feel that Post Captain is the 'least good' of the canon, because the most like things other people could have done, and Jane Austen did do. Perhaps there is too much land and not enough water about it ? but POB was later pretty good on land.

E M Nokes


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:27:21 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I agree with you. It's always bothered me that Stephen just pops up as a trusted spy and friend of Sir Joseph with no forshadowing (or did I miss it?). I also felt that his challenge to Jack for calling him a liar was weak: he was lying. I'm not sure what this episode is supposed to tell us about them.

Ray McP


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 14:59:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I believe that this is applying 20th (or 21st) century logic to 18th century actions. It is not a *big* deal to be called a liar in our society - certainly no one likes it, but it does not destroy one's reputation as it once did.

In a society in which much business is transacted orally, it is extremely important to maintain a reputation of honesty - again, moreso than it is today. (Anyone who works in the automotive industry, as well as others, would agree that a reputation of honesty is no longer any great thing.)

What of those who did cheat/lie? I believe the typical thing to do was to note it mentally and remember it for any future dealings you may have with that person. To call them out on it was definitely an action which demanded satisfaction. MINOR SPOILER: Recall JA's disgust with Wray when he did not demand satisfaction when JA accused him of cheating at cards. I believe this was generally perceived by everyone as demonstrating a lack of bottom and the fact that he was indeed cheating did not lessen the insult.

Stephen's calling Jack out at that stage of their friendship I believe was entirely in character, both for that character and for that society.

Nathan


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 12:21:40 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I agree. Jack was in a bad mood over Diana, and so was Stephen. The duel was more over Diana than it was over whether Stephen had been in Ireland or was lying. Furthermore, Stephen was sensitive about having blundered in an early assignment as an agent - he'd given an untenable cover story, and was angry with himself for having messed up that way.

In my view, the duel really ended when Jack saw Canning with Diana - at that point, he was off the hook for having dallied with her, and he realized that she'd nearly played him for a chump, that she'd been trifling with Stephen as well, and he felt the whole thing was too sordid to go on. If the "duel" notion hadn't ended the way it did, it would have ended another way - Jack felt sorry for Stephen and turned his fury onto Diana; he'd have apologized whenever he had opportunity after that, in my opinion.


From: Adam Quinan
Subject: Re: Group Read Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 20:47:29 -0400

Thought I'd add the group read to alert the compilers that we are still on topic!

Stephen knows he has lying ways but does not wish anyone else to draw attention to them. Jack is more understanding once their dispute over Diana has passed.

If you recall (on page 475 of the Fontana paperback), Jack and Stephen are discussing the sealed orders which send Jack and Lively to chase the Spanish treasure fleet.
Jack finds that Stephen has been apppointed pro hac vice a captain in the Royal Navy.
Jack realises that there is more to Stephen than he had realized "in the secret line".

Stephen says
'Now listen, Jack, will you? I am somewhat given to lying: my occasions require it from time to time. But I do not choose to have any man alive tell me of it.'
'Oh no, no, no,' cried Jack. 'I should never dream of doing such a thing. Not,' he added, recollecting himself and blushing, 'not when I am in my right mind. Quite apart from my love for you, it is far, far, too dangerous. ...'

Adam Quinan
'Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might-have-been'
__________________________________Commander Ted Walker R.N.
Somewhere around 43 46' 21"N, 79 22' 51"W


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:34:44 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

Another thing that bothered me in PC is how often we are told how clumsy Stephen is, and suddenly he turns out to be a superb swordsman. A bit contradictory me thinks. Maybe POB has not decided who he wants Stephen to be yet.

Ray McP


From: Bob Kegel
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 19:37:14 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I don't see Stephen as clumsy, he just hasn't mastered the act of getting out of a boat. POB uses this as a running joke throughout the canon and won't let him learn it. Aside from that, I see Stephen as someone who learns only through great effort and fierce concentration. He would not acquire a new skill casually.

"I attached a perhaps undue importance to staying alive..." he says, explaining his skill with sword and pistol.

In NOC Stephen uses a simple block and tackle, but only after " Bonden ... spent hours showing him how to make one end fast and how to reeve the fall through the channels..."

In TL Stephen executes " a series of extraordinarily exact and rapid steps from an Irish dance". Not clumsy, just particular about what he learns.

Bob Kegel

4659'18.661"N 12349'29.827"W


From: Stephen Chambers
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 23:51:17 +0100
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I can see the similarity, but POB hasn't quite got the same wicked sense of humour that Austen has - maybe that's why I could never settle with Post Captain and it took me several years to really get into the canon with a lucky find of a second hand copy of The Far Side of the World.

Stephen Chambers
50 48' 38" N
01 09' 15" W
Approx. 180 inches above sea level
When the pin is pulled Mr Grenade is no longer our friend.


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 19:11:47 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I've thought that POB wrote every one of the books separately: ie that what went before did not necessarily dictate what happened after.

Stephen is a most quixotic character who exhibits anomalous talents: he is terribly clumsy yet a great swordsman. And he has demonstrates knowledge that any genius would require far more years than he has lived to acquire: various languages, flora, fauna, medicine, entomology, etc. He goes back and forth between having naval knowledge and being described as not knowing the difference between port and starboard.

Going any father with this will produce too many spoilers.

What I'm splavicationly getting at is that my first read of the canon was book by book. Now, with the list, I'm reading as a single work-----it is very different that way.

Ray McP


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 18:13:59 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

sue reynolds wrote:

And is anyone else disappointed in the apparent loss of Sophie's youngest sister as a major character? I thought of her initially as being the person Stephen was meant to fall in love with after being permanently disillusioned by Diana.

I was certain she'd fall for Babbington.

- Susan, glad at least that neither Frankie nor Cissie had a crush on Preserved Killick.


From: Marian Van Til
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 21:54:58 -0400
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I don't feel what Sue feels about Post Captain. But I definitely do about Sophie's sister. (And believe it or not, I don't think that has come up before in this way, at least not in my time here.) I was most disappointed when Sophie's sisters -- who were, frankly, both a lot more interesting and promising than she was as a character -- were dispatched into the fog, as it were. I felt cheated; like it was a slightly cheap trick in order not to have to develop any more women characters.

Marian


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 19:50:55 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

sue reynolds wrote:

And is anyone else disappointed in the apparent loss of Sophie's youngest sister as a major character? I thought of her initially as being the person Stephen was meant to fall in love with after being permanently disillusioned by Diana.

Nah! She was a twit.

Ray McP


From: Ruth A Abrams
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 23:21:22 -0400
Subject: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I don't know if I got "squicky feelings" about the first part of Post Captain, but it does seem strange to be revisiting Jane Austen territory with POB. He brings all the motivations into the open in a way that Austen does not. Perhaps this is the source of the wit and tension in her novels. Sue compares PC to Persuasion--well, the heroine of Persuasion is always thinking, but she can never come out and tell her lover that she wishes she had not jilted him.

The most amusing and un-Austenish scene to me is the one in which Jack is singing "You ladies of lubricity/that dwell in the bordello/ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha he/for I am that kind of fellow" when Mrs. Williams and her charges come for a surprise visit. It's funny in a twentieth century sort of way, even if the scene couldn't have happened then.

Frankie is too young for Stephen to fall for her. Besides, Diana is meant for Stephen. I was disappointed that she got married and disappeared. But I think perhaps POB was uncomfortable with Austen's world of visits between married sisters and family members calling each other "Mrs. Aubrey" and "Mrs. Maturin" when they grew up together in the same house.

Ruth A.


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 09:23:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!) (Frances)

Yes. Frances, Sophie's younger sister, seemed set to be another Diana, at least in appearance and spirit, but POB gave her a sadly prosaic fate. And the middle sister, the blonde, commonplace, and silly one, drops out of the story entirely.

Gerry Strey
Madison, Wisconsin


From: Jerry Shurman
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:38:08 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I can't remember who said (paraphrase) "It is in limitation that genius reveals itself," but this certainly applies to Jane Austen.

In _Post Captain_ the central plotline of the two leading men and the two leading women does move the book forward, but so many different venues and ships are hung around it that on this read -- my third -- I found the book a bit sprawling. (Are such heresies allowed in the Gunroom?) I suspect that _Post Captain_ is the longest book of the canon -- my copy runs close to 500 pages if I remember right.

Even the Austen similarities change as the book goes on. The early portions are very _Pride and Prejudice_, the later, _Persuasion_. And those two books are almost polar opposites among Austen's works in their moods and outlooks.

Maybe O'Brian needed to get a homage to Jane Austen out of his system before he could settle into his own voice. Even after _Post Captain_, much though I enjoyed _HMS Surprise_, the canon only starts feeling entirely itself for me with _Desolation Island_.

Jerry


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:51:33 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

I agree. I began the Canon with M&C, which was a little strange, but enjoyable. When I read PC for the first time I was anxious for them to get on with the salt ocean sea aspects. When POB did, we were treated to what I think is THE best battle in the series. Or one of the top 3.

From the standpoint of having read the series 3 times, it seems pretty clear to me that with M&C, POB was JUST finding his way around. Maturin's spy status, and ineptitude with ships weren't "discovered" yet. With PC he got much closer to his voice, and settled down to the major characteriaztions, for the most part. There was still a bit of strangeness in PC - time warping from one paragraph to the next etc.

Then, with HMSS, POB had arrived. The voice, style, characterizations, etc. had been worked out and we were on our way.

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: Gerry Strey
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 13:12:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

Yes, PC does sprawl--when I read it I feel that POB could have made two novels out of it. He has so many ideas, plots and subplots, and can't resist using them all. He couldn't know that the saga would continue for 18 more volumes.

While PC is positively overstuffed, the last three or four volumes give me the impression that they're stretched a bit thin, and that POB is using material that wasn't "good enough" for the earlier volumes. The whole Naseby bit in BATM, for examle, I found forced and not very funny.

Gerry Strey
Madison, Wisconsin


From: Mary Arndt
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 15:50:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

On this group read that I was so looking forward to, I haven't even managed to finish M&C, never mind Post Captain, but during one of my early reads I thought that there was a great deal more going on in this novel than in any of the others. Peace is declared, the heroes go home, the heroes fall in love, the reader gets to meet The Admiralty, the heroes leave town in a hurry, war comes again and the heroes must escape France, where they have imprudently placed themselves, they go home again and have an exciting ship action in the process, the Polychrest incident occurs, somewhere along the line Jack is made post and gets placed on the Lively in time for that great adventure too. Whew! It would be easier to sail to the far side of the world than have that many adventures. No wonder the book is so long, and yet it hardly seems long enough to encompass everything that happens in it.

Mary A


From: Mary S
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 20:51:53 EDT
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

raymcp999@YAHOO.COM writes:

What I'm splavicationly getting at

I left Sue Reynolds' "squicky feelings" aside without comment, but this is too much.

Pray, ladies, do you keep your own dictionary!?

Is it to be published soon??

[HMSS] Linois should be reasoned with --

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 09:41:02 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

Truly, I did not make up this word myself. My Grandfather, born in about 1873, used that word to describe speaking at length to little purpose.

*Splavicating* is what the talking heads on TV do, and there is a lot of if going on now with the anthrax scare. It's a great word and if I use it enough it may show up in a later edition of OED.

Ray McP


From: Mary S
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 15:50:51 EDT
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

Ah, I see. Warren G. Harding, I believe, used to refer to what -he- did as "bloviating," and that word has been a precious comfort to me for years.

I thought I had invented "verbiage," on the analogy of "foliage," for the product of bloviation or splavication. But I find it right here in my Webster's.

a wicked contumelious discontented froward mutinous dog,[FSW1]

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 17:26:02 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:It's the day before the duel

(This is from pages 349-351, Norton paperback).

It's the day before the duel is supposed to happen.

Here's Stephen:

"The evening, as he rode back, was as sweet as an early autumn evening could be, still, intensely humid, a royal blue sea on the right hand, pure dunes on the left, and a benign warmth rising from the ground . . . and Stephen sank into an agreeable languor, almost separated from his body: . . . "There are days . . . when one sees as though one had been blind the rest of one's life. Such clarity - perfection in everything, not merely in the extraordinary. One lives in the very present moment; lives intently. There is no urge to be doing: being is the highest good."

Here's Jack:

"Jack Aubrey . . . sat drinking beer in an ale-house near the Castle. It was a sad, dirty, squalid little booth . . . He was as low as he had ever been in his life, a dull, savage lowness; and the stupidity that came from the two pots he had drunk did nothing to raise it. Anger and indignation were his only refuge, and although they were foreign to his nature, he was steadily angry and indignant."

Nifty descriptions, both.

- Susan


From: Gregg Germain
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 05:37:00 -0700

Mary Arndt wrote:

book is so long, and yet it hardly seems long enough to encompass everything that happens in it.

One of the characteristics I admire about POB - his ability to say so much with so few words.

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: Gregg Germain
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 05:56:38 -0700

Ray McPherson wrote:

Another thing that bothered me in PC is how often we are told how clumsy Stephen is, and suddenly he turns out to be a superb swordsman. A bit contradictory me thinks. Maybe POB has not decided who he wants Stephen to be yet.

AS I understand it, Maturin has excellent small motor skills, but not so excellent large motor skills. So he can carve a bird, or perform surgery, fire a musket, or wield a sword quite well, but is not so hot in the rigging or the manropes.

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: Ray McPherson
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 09:07:20 -0700

Yes, but isn't sword fighting a large motor skill? All that leaping and dancing around? You know, like Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn, and Tony Curtis did it?

Silly of me to argue--you've given me a way to accept the characterization.

Ray


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 09:26:38 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)

Some of it yes - some no. The hand/arm work is small motor. Plus I'm not sure how much jumping around they did when fencing or dueling (as opposed to boarding an enemy vessel).

Remember the scene in the later book where Maturin is in Australia, and someone meets him on the steps of a building and insults him and Stephen cuts him a new one in the blink of an eye? No big jumping around...

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: William Nyden
Subject: Re: Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!)
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 10:03:21 -0700

A combination of large motor and precision finger control. The classic-- almost cliche-- instruction on holding a fencing weapon: "Hold it as if it were a bird-- strongly enough to keep it from flying away, but not so strong as to crush it."

Swordplay also requires a great deal of fast strategic thinking; something else that would make Stephen good at it. "Athletic chess" is a common analogy.

As to the swashbuckling swordplay seen in films, that was all choreographed larger than life so an ignorant audience could appreciate it. When I first watched Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone fight it out on the beach in "Captain Blood" my immediate reaction was that Rathbone would be able to despatch Flynn in about ten seconds were they fighting for real. Basil Rathbone was a competitive fencer while Flynn just liked to mess around in Ralph Faulkner's fencing salle. Faulkner was the fight arranger for most of the old swashbuckler films, but he was also a serious fencing master. One of my college fencing teammates learned from him.

Bill Nyden
a Rose by another name
37 25' 15" N
122 04' 57" W


From: Rosemary Davis
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 19:21:55 -0400
Subject: Post Captain and beyond: SPOILERS

Seriously, I do think Diana loved Stephen. I think that's one of the reasons she resisted marrying him for so long - that she felt he deserved better than a "fallen woman." The sacrifice of the diamond is evidence of this also(and she SPOILER**

sacrificed it a second time when they believe his fortune to be lost - though it mysteriouly HELL OF A SPOILER*****

is later buried with her...speaking of inconsistencies in the canon...)

-RD


From: Mary Arndt
Date: Tue Oct 16 2001 - 20:02:37 EDT
Subject: Post Captain and beyond: SPOILERS

Not at all, at all. YA pg 186:

"Sweetheart,honey, you are kindness itself, but our affairs are already settled. They are just as they were or even somewhat better; my loss of the receipt did not signify, and I shall unpawn your bauble tomorrow".

Mary A


From: sue reynolds
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 15:49:31 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain and tangled webs of affection

I think it's just as well that Stephen did not end up with Sophie--he is nagging her not to eat a nicely toasted crumpet, she is nagging him to dress more neatly, and at some point he would have lost all patience with her mother and thrown the old besom out the door. As good friends, they can overlook character flaws which would sink a closer relationship.

Jack would run aground swiftly with Diana, venturing to give her advice on how to handle her horses, and she would not hold back on describing how dreadful he was at horsemanship....they would have killed each other before the honeymoon was over.

The biggest problem for Diana, by the way, is that she did not have access to education and employment. She has all the vices associated with intelligence, health, energy, and complete lack of congenial challenges. She would have been an excellent surgeon, or sales executive, or lawyer--instead, she is offered the chance to be a neglected dependent, an impoverished relative, a fallen woman, or a dutiful spouse of someone else who gets to go off and have all the adventures. She is, in the words of one of my children explaining her involvement in major mischief, "bored, bored, bored!" She's not likely to end up captaining a ship or running the admiralty, nor becoming a naturalist or a surgeon or a spy. It's not reasonable to expect her to be thrilled by the chance of running a small household or even a horsefarm. And she is determined that she is entitled to be thrilled by life, and she seeks out excitement wherever she may find it, in just as destructive a way as if she were a Regency gambler and man of leisure.

Sue Reynolds,
rather more sympathetic to her than she expected to be before writing this post


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 19:19:31 -0700
Subject: Re: Webs of affection SPOILER

Yes, yes, yes. She was born 200 years too early. Even so, she wpould not been a lovable sole. . . SPOILER. . . I thing Stephen afforded her the happiest life she could eve have know in that day and time. She died at the apex of her life.

Ray McP


From: Jean A
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 21:54:35 EDT
Subject: Re: Post Captain and tangled webs of affection

(Some spoilers at the end.)

I think that Sue Reynold's analysis of Diana's character was perceptive and correct.

She wrote (partly) :

" The biggest problem for Diana, by the way, is that she did not have access to education and employment. She has all the vices associated with intelligence, health, energy, and complete lack of congenial challenges. She would ;have been an excellent surgeon, or sales executive, or lawyer -- instead she is offered the chance to be a neglected dependent, an impoverished relative, a fallen woman, or a dutiful spouse of someone else who gets to go off and have all the adventures..."

Right on!

As long-time, self- appointed Chief of the Stephen and Diana Party, I welcome your perspicacity!
(Unfortunately, often in the past some correspondants have treated Diana as if she were merely the prom-queen who rejected them in high-school.)

Stephen understood her, and pitied her as well as loved her. Someone recently wrote that he didn't think that Stephen felt love for Diana, only lust. I thought of how, among other things, he gently convinced her that she should not think of aborting Johnson's child, and provided safe living quarters for her in Paris. I call this a gesture of undemanding love.

In return, she sacrificed her diamond, which was, if not love ( I think it was) was close to it.

Jean A.


From: Rowen 84
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 22:11:36 EDT
Subject: Re: Post Captain and tangled webs of affection

Sherkin@AOL.COM writes:

Someone recently wrote that he didn't think that Stephen felt love for Diana, only lust.

I think that was me, Jean, and I said "obsession" (and lust), not just lust.

I thought of how, among other things, he gently convinced her that she should not think of aborting Johnson's child, and provided safe living quarters for her in Paris. I call this a gesture of undemanding love.

You might have a point, although I think his concern with the child was a matter of religion, and concern for the child. Think how often he is swayed by children, from Dil, to the slaves in the market. However, at the point where he insisted on marrying her, even though she rejected him completely, so that she would be safe I might have to concede that his behavior smacked more of 'love' than 'obsession'. Of course at that point his spirit had already been broken.

In return, she sacrificed her diamond, which was, if not love ( I think it was) was close to it.

Yes, that might be a clinching argument. Until that point it is pretty obvious that she wouldn't have sacrificed the diamond for anything, as it was her 'insurance' against the fate Sue discussed. So it is significant that she used it for Stephen.

Rowen


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 19:46:49 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain and tangled webs of affection

Sherkin@AOL.COM writes:

Stephen understood her, and pitied her as well as loved her.

Nobody falls in love with someone whom they pity.

Ray McP


From: Rosemary Davis
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 19:24:38 -0400
Subject: Post Captain (spoilers)

Not true. It's that taking care of the wounded thing. Also, I believe Stephen was already in love with Diana before he began to pity her.

-RD


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 16:51:49 -0700
Subject: Re: Post Captain (spoilers)

"Wounded" implies temporary, and taking care of someone injured is an effort to restore that person to a non-pitiable state. That is different from pity for someone who lacks, morals, character, faith, or trustworthiness.

SPOILER:

I'm not sure that he loves her by the time he finally marries her- - -it is more like he is fulfilling a vow he made to himself.

Ray McP


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 06:50:37 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Quare

On page 345 (Norton paperback), Master Goodridge predicts to Stephen that there will be a comet in the year 1805.

Was 1805 a year with a strongly visible comet?

- Susan, astronomically challenged in more than one way


From: Jim Biggerstaff
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:25:01 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

Several comets were observed in 1805 - here is one that turned out to be quite well known among comet buffs:

http://comets.amsmeteors.org/comets/pcomets/002p.html

Jim


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:26:44 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

There were two comets visible to the naked eye in 1805, later named Biela and Encke after the astronomers who first predicted their orbital periods. But as Gary Brown points out in PASC, it is strange that Goodridge would know their names years before the comets were so labelled.

Biela had been observed only once before 1805, but Encke had been "discovered" twice before, the second time by Jack's friend Caroline Herschel.

Don Seltzer


From: Martin Watts
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 15:41:33 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

I wonder if this could have been historical foreshadowing of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson. To quote Shakespeare:

CALPURNIA When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes

There was Biela's comet - see

http://www.lowell.edu/education/Forum/Answers/00016.html

In the best tradition of the old cliche "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?", we find that Biela's comet was first discovered on March 8, 1772, by Jacques Liebax Montaigne of Limoges, France. It was recovered on November 10, 1805 by Jean Louis Pons of Marseilles. Finally, Wilhelm von Biela of Josephstadt "discovered" it for the third time on February 27, 1826. Biela determined that the comet was the same object that had appeared in 1772 and 1805, so he has the honor of having his name attached to it. (It turns out, however, that another Frenchman, Jean Felix Adolphe Gambart, of Marseilles, independently recovered the comet and also deduced that it was likely a reappearance of the earlier events. Justice, c'est mort, eh?)

An interesting page with a later USN connection.

Martin @ home:
50 44' 57" N
1 58' 34" W


From: Lois Anne du Toit
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 08:09:47 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

Oh Martin! am sure you have the right of it! the more so as Don tells us that not one but TWO comets were visible in 1805 - he of immortal memory, flamboyant dress, outrageous tactics and damn-your-eyes social behaviour would, of course, rate more comets than any mere prince. Shall always, always, read the passage in this light.

Which moves me to ask, as the 21st draws nearer - are any listswains planning anything special? I intend to invite JA to tell, for the 435th time, of how he dined with Nelson (shall use M&C p115f [Norton h/c]), revisit HH's handling of the Funeral, and then drink to the Immortal Memory in a pub called The Trafalgar - and only wish there were a "Lord Nelson" or a "Nelson Arms" somewhere within reasonable striking distance of my flat.

London Lois
51 29' 00" N
000 11' 00" W


From: Stephen Chambers
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 00:22:26 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

Lois

Your lat/long gives your position as moored in the Thames near Erith? I'm sure if you unmoored and sailed to Greenwich there is one there :-)

Stephen Chambers
50 48' 38" N
01 09' 15" W
Approx. 180 inches above sea level
When the pin is pulled Mr Grenade is no longer our friend.


From: Lois Anne du Toit
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:53:49 +0100

Am moored in the Thames at Chelsea Harbour.

Let me blushingly confess to being too lazy to voyage to Greenwich - my work week involves too darn much bustime. Now, if only Trafalgar Day fell during the week, there's actually a "Lord Nelson" not overly far from my office in Southwark...

Your query led me to check the coords I got from the National Imaging and Mapping Agency by looking at another site. Have amended my latitude accordingly - thanks!

London Lois
51 29' 00" N
000 09' 00" W


From: Don Seltzer (dseltzer@DRAPER.COM)
Date: Wed Oct 17 2001 - 09:57:49 EDT
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Quare

Are there many establishments named "Nelson Arms" in Britain? A story is told of Admiral Nelson staying at an inn in Yarmouth. On his departure, the landlady requested permission to change the name of the inn to the Nelson Arms. Nelson suggested otherwise, "Being that I have but one!"

Don Seltzer


From: Stephen Chambers
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 00:29:15 +0100
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Quare

There is a Nelson's in Gosport High Street, with an upstairs club called Emma's. A quick scan of the local phone book shows a Lord Nelson, also in Gosport and a Nelsons Bar in Southsea. A pretty poor showing for Portsmouth, I think .
Where I used to live in Pinner there was a pub called The Victory where Emma Hamilton once stayed, it was a local tradition that Nelson had stayed there as well, but there is no evidence of this.

Stephen Chambers


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 06:56:04 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere

When Stephen and Jack agree to duel, Stephen asks Heneage Dundas to be his second.

This is probably Jack's best friend. Was it common to ask your opponent's likely second to be YOUR second?

I think he was hoping to play on Dundas' feeling of responsibility - he offered as the reason for the duel that he'd told Jack what Dundas said, and Jack took it wrong. Did he think Dundas would talk Jack into apologizing? Why else might he ask Dundas to second him against Jack Aubrey?


From: Rowen 84
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:30:01 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

That's a good question, Susan. At the time I read it, I thought he asked Heneage because he didn't know anyone else to ask. He couldn't have asked anyone on Jack's ship, of course. Who else was there? Subconsciously perhaps he was thinking that Dundas might intervene, but on the conscious level I don't think his pride and his awareness of Jack's position let him see any way out, and he was fully prepared to kill or wound Jack, or perhaps allow Jack to kill or wound him. (I have to admit, while thinking about this I found I had trouble separating the Flowing Sheets story "An Unaccustomed Place" from the real duel! Now that's good writing!)

Rowen


From: smacphee
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:10:31 -0700

It also really applies some pressure on Jack. His two best friends, each with a different sense of propriety and honor, feel Jack is in the wrong.

Scott MacPhee
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


From: Rowen 84
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 14:37:10 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

Why do you say that Heneage feels Jack is in the wrong? I don't think Heneage could refuse Stephen's request without giving a great insult to Stephen, but I don't think accepting it meant that he made a judgment on the right or wrong of either man's position. Morally, Stephen is in the wrong, as he IS lying, and the other offense, calling him a bastard, was accidental and withdrawn by Jack when he realized what he'd said. (Ironic - he could call someone a bastard without much offense unless the addressed really WAS one). I'm not even sure Stephen felt that Jack was in the wrong, just that having gone this far he could not in honor withdraw or yield.

Rowen


From: smacphee
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 16:45:39 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

Rowen wrote:

.....Why do you say that Heneage feels Jack is in the wrong?

Well, he initially asked Stephen to talk to Jack and convince him to give up Diana. As many others have ably mentioned (much more ably than I could do), the duel is about Diana.

I don't think Heneage could refuse Stephen's request without giving a great insult to Stephen, but I don't think accepting it meant that he made a judgment on the right or wrong of either man's position.

But Dundas has a deeper, longer established loyalty to Jack. Isn't appearing as Stephen's second a great insult to Jack?

Morally, Stephen is in the wrong, as he IS lying, and the other offense, calling him a bastard, was accidental and withdrawn by Jack when he realized what he'd said. (Ironic - he could call someone a bastard without much offense unless the addressed really WAS one).

Yes, he's lying, but Jack has TOLD his he's lying, which is surely very wrong. Even though Jack has no idea at this point of Stephen's role in intelligence, he has no real reason to point out the incongruity of Stephen's deep tan with his story of being in Ireland. What is the point, other than lashing out in personal rancor? Jack is angry about Stephen's competition for Diana.

I'm not even sure Stephen felt that Jack was in the wrong, just that having gone this far he could not in honor withdraw or yield.

I really think the "bastard" comment is what angered Stephen. Once it is withdrawn, the other comment still stands, and Stephen's honor cannot countenance putting up with a public affront.

Yours,

Scott MacPhee
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


From: Rowen 84
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 23:54:53 EDT
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

smacphee@MSN.COM writes:

Well, he initially asked Stephen to talk to Jack and convince him to give up Diana. As many others have ably mentioned (much more ably than I could do), the duel is about Diana.

-Yes he clearly feels Jack is wrong and more importantly is putting his career in jeopardy with his behavior, but I meant, above, "Why do you say that Heneage feels Jack in in the wrong IN REGARD TO THE DUEL?" -

But Dundas has a deeper, longer established loyalty to Jack. Isn't appearing as Stephen's second a great insult to Jack?

- no, but I could be mistaken about this. I seem to recall someone posting something a while ago about duels, dueling codes that led me to think someone asked to be a second really couldn't refuse without giving great offense, nor was it any reflection by the second toward the other party. - anyone else recall that discussion?

What is the point,other than lashing out in personal rancor? Jack is angry about Stephen's competition for Diana.

- yes, absolutely. Jack says things he would NEVER say 'in his right mind'. He says as much later. -

I really think the "bastard" comment is what angered Stephen. Once it is withdrawn, the other comment still stands, and Stephen's honor cannot countenance putting up with a public affront.

- And the 'bastard' remark wasn't even intended. Jack was using it in a 'generic' sense and realized what he'd said immediately, but couldn't unsay it. Obviously it was the kind of remark that, because Stephen was a bastard, was almost as insulting to 'take back' as to let hang out there. -

Rowen


From: smacphee
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 15:01:56 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

"Rowen 84" wrote:

-Yes he clearly feels Jack is wrong and more importantly is putting his career in jeopardy with his behavior, but I meant, above, "Why do you say that Heneage feels Jack in in the wrong IN REGARD TO THE DUEL?" -

Because Jack has taken offense at Dundas' suggestions through Stephen that Jack attend more closely to his duty, lashing out at Stephen in his rage.

Morally, Stephen is in the wrong, as he IS lying, and the other offense, calling him a bastard, was accidental and withdrawn by Jack when he realized what he'd said. (Ironic - he could call someone a bastard without much offense unless the addressed really WAS one).

I suppose I feel that lying in a harmless way is not such a great moral transgression, but that pointing out such a lie is. There's not harm in the first, and the second can prove deadly.

Jack says things he would NEVER say 'in his right mind'.
He says as much later. -

Just so. Jack apologizes -- NOT Stephen.

- And the 'bastard' remark wasn't even intended. Jack was using it in a 'generic' sense and realized what he'd said immediately, but couldn't unsay it. Obviously it was the kind of remark that, because Stephen was a bastard, was almost as insulting to 'take back' as to let hang out there. -

Again, you are in the right of it!

Scott MacPhee
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


From: Jean A
Subject: Re: Stephen and Jack's duel
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 12:48:27 EDT

Here are some quotes from "The Duel: A History of Duelling, Spring Books, by Robert Baldick, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., London, 1970.
I agree that we must not apply anachronistic standards to our readings of the canon!

According to Baldick:

"The classic rules of the duel in the English-speaking world were drawn up at the Clonmel summer assizes in Ireland in 1777 and were known ever afterwards in Ireland as The Twenty-Six Commandments."

Here are a few which may be applicable:

I. The first offence requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult. Example: A tells B he is impertinent, etc. B retorts that he lies, yet A must make the first apology, because he gave the first offence, and (after one fire) B may explain away the retort by subsequent apology.

II. but if the parties would rather fight on, then after two shots each ( but in no case before) , B may explain first and A apologize afterwards. N.B. The above rules apply to all cases of offences in retort not of a stronger class than the example.

III. If a doubt exists who gave the first offence, the decision rests with the seconds. If they will not decide or cannot agree, the matter must proceed to two shotss, or to a hit if the challenger requires it.

IV. When the lie direct is the first offence, the aggressor must either beg pardon in express terms, exchange two shots previous to apology, or three shots folowed by an explanation, or fire on till a severe hit be received by one party or the the other.

IX. all imputations of cheating at play, races, etc., to be considered equivalent to a blow, but may be reconciled after one shot, on admitting their falsehood and begging pardon publicly. (Wray and Jack)

XIII. Seconds to be of equal rank in society with the principals they attend, inasmuch as a second may either choose or chance to become a principal and equality is indispensible.

XX. Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place, or after sufficient firing or hits as specified.

Jean A.


From: Linnea
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:08:47 -0400
Subject: Group Read: PC Long engagement

When I read Post Captain this time, I noticed what I thought was Stephen's great pessimism about the prospects of a marriage between Jack and Sophie, and was very puzzled, because Stephen had urged Sophie to arrange for a lift on the "Lively" to the Downs, which she did under the aegis of Admiral Haddock (oh supreme name) and with the chaperonage of her sister, showing the "bottom" that Stephen had feared she, Sophie, had lacked. The voyage was to bring the two lovers to an understanding.

And yet, after receiving Sophie's and Jack's two ecstatic letters after their happy voyage, he writes in his diary, at The Grapes: "All happiness is a good: but if theirs is to be bought by years of waiting and perhaps disgrace, then even this may come too dear. JA is older than he was by far, perhaps as mature as it is in his nature to be; but he is only a man, and celibacy will never do for him. Ld Nelson said, Once past Gibraltar, every man is a bachelor. What will tropical warmth, unscrupulous young women, a fixed habit of eating too much, and high animal spirits accomplish? What a renewed fire, a renewed challenge from Diana? No, no. If no deus ex machina appears at this interesting juncture, the whole turns into a sad, sad, long-drawn-out, ultimately squalid tragedy. I have seen a long enegagement, the dear knows..."

SPOILER:

On second thought, I think all this does refer to a long engagement, which I am sure I thought the first time I read the book, but as it turns out, Stephen's pessimism may hold in the later marriage with its long absences and disappointments in the marital bed. Even sadder are husband Jack's hints that Sophie doesn't seem to be the soul mate he'd desired. But all this shows to me POB's mature reflections and wisdom on the state of love and marriage; the dear knows he had had his own experiences in these. Stephen himself, of course, becomes the deus ex machina who affords Jack the opportunity of sailing to intercept the Spanish fleet and thus earn prizes and money enough to be able to marry (at least at the closing of this book).

END OF SPOILER:

This entire episode, laid out at one point and interrupted by other events, is contrived in a wonderful and hilarious fashion: Admiral Haddock and his self-regarded cunning, and the letters that Jack and Sophie write separately to Stephen, with Jack's "So direct--straightforward--nothing hole in the corner, if you understand me--no damned purser's tricks--must not swear, however--like a 32 lber." Stephen wonders, Could he really have likened Sophie to a thirty-two pounder? It was quite possible. How the lines did swim. [And there POB always leaves us wondering--Stephen is utterly bone-weary after his journey, and are we to doubt whether all that is written is true?]

Stephen wonders, "What did Jack imagine putative to mean?" in reference to his "putative mother-in-law." Which of course sent me to the dictionary, and putative means what I thought it meant: commonly considered, reputed, deemed. I don't think I grasp the nuances here, except of course that there is no engagement, only an understanding, which Mrs. Williams would fiercely oppose.

Another high moment in the book comes as soon as Admiral Haddock and the ladies disembark, and Jack turns to a messenger to pass the word for the carpenter to inquire who of the officers is the most remarkable for taste?
"For taste, sir?" cried Simmons.
"Yes, yes,, artistic taste. You know, a sense of the sublime."
Simmons' reply is wonderful and of course Jack embarks upon decorating his cabin to be fit for Sophie and her sister in "sublime" taste, beginning with a sailcloth carpet with black and white squares.
Stephen of course has to send his bees ashore, a great sacrifice. The entire saga of his precious bees is just a wonderful wonderful touch.
And Jack says, "Now there is a great favour I must ask you. I believe I have told you how I dined with Lord Nelson?"
"Not above two or three hundred times."

Well, I have always been glad that Post Captain was the first O'Brian I read and it is my favorite.

Linnea Angermuller
Becalmed at 35.13.26 N, 82.25.55 W


From: Nathan Varnum
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 17:03:58 -0400
Subject: Re: Favorite battles (was Post Captain (omigod, I'm on topic!))

Gregg Germain wrote:

When I read PC for the first time I was anxious for them to get on with the salt ocean sea aspects. When POB did, we were treated to what I think is THE best battle in the series. Or one of the top 3.

You're referring to the battle in the Polychrest, I suppose? It is probably my favorite battle, also. The Cacafuego is an awfully good one, too - perhaps because we get so much reflected glory from being associated with it (even if only as readers).

This is an interesting topic: favorite battles. I'll have to think about it a bit more.

Nathan


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 17:38:16 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:Mother of thyme

When Stephen is riding with Diana (before his mission to Spain), she asks him about the smell of the grass/flowers.

"Thyme," said Stephen absently. "Mother of thyme, crushed by our carriage-wheels."

Mother of thyme is an herbal remedy that supposedly cures drunkenness, by causing a revulsion for alcohol. I wonder if this authorial selection of smells is reference to Stephen's already growing use of laudanum?

- Susan


From: Ruth A Abrams
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 11:04:10 -0400
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

About the calling-out scene in PC: I thought the initial conflict was about being called cowardly. Stephen is going on about the imperfection of language, and Jack says:

"Any bastard can cowardly evade the issue by a flood of words."

Stephen responds: "You have said enough, sir...too much by far, you must withdraw."

Only then does Jack give him the lie by saying that he has come back from leave "as brown as a Gibraltar Jew."

(SPOILER: I wish to note that later in the series we do meet a Gibraltar Jew, but we never learn whether he has a suntan.)

My impression is that giving Stephen the lie about his shore leave is secondary. After all, Stephen may be illegitimate, but he is not a coward! He is no one's coward.

How terrible to be accused of something so unjust when he was carefully attempting to articulate something tricky--specifically, his decision *not* to fight Jack about Diana. Right? Because he knew that Jack was seeing her from the smell of the smuggled perfume that clung to Jack's coat, and he could have demanded satisfaction then.

Bear with this: maybe Diana's triffling with Jack springs from an unacknowledged jealousy of Stephen's relationship with him? If I were her I would be jealous that the person who loves me best has another friend. But more importantly, as a person whose means to self-realization have been cut off by narrow gender roles, wouldn't she be jealous of the free and close friendship possible between men? Like the acting-out of a child seeking attention, her dalliance with Jack might have had motivations of which she herself was unaware.

Ruth A


From: Ray McPherson
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 10:35:34 -0700
Subject: Re: GroupRead:PC:Another Quaere-Spoiler

A very astute observation, Ruth. Could Jack have taken up with Diana for the same (partly) reason?

Ray McP


From: Don Seltzer
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 13:45:51 -0400
Subject: Re: GRP PC: Jack & Diana, was Another Quaere-Spoiler

Ruth A Abrams wrote:

Bear with this: maybe Diana's triffling with Jack springs from an unacknowledged jealousy of Stephen's relationship with him?

and Ray McPherson wrote:

A very astute observation, Ruth. Could Jack have taken up with Diana for the same (partly) reason?

I had the impression that Diana's dalliance with Jack was motivated in part by her jealousy of his relationship with Sophie. I think she even admits it (to Stephen?) at one point.

Funny that no one seemed jealous of Stephen's friendship with Sophie.

Don Seltzer


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 10:51:59 -0700
Subject: Re: GRP PC: Jack & Diana, was Another Quaere-Spoiler

That's an interesting point. It seems that nobody took Stephen very seriously; his entire being was subfusc. It lent success to his intelligence-gathering, it gained him access to people he would not have been able to reach more directly.


From: Jennifer Scates
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 14:40:06 -0500

Ray McPherson wrote:

>Another thing that bothered me in PC is how often we are told how clumsy Stephen is, and suddenly he turns out to be a superb swordsman. A bit contradictory me thinks. Maybe POB has not decided who he wants Stephen to be yet.

and then Gregg Germain wrote:

AS I understand it, Maturin has excellent small motor skills, but not so excellent large motor skills. So he can carve a bird, or perform surgery, fire a musket, or wield a sword quite well, but is not so hot in the rigging or the manropes.

Some thoughts -

Is Stephen unwilling to admit a fear of heights, that would wobble him on the masts or up and down the side of the barky? Does Stephen prefer cutlass/broadsword/saber (which I do not recall being the case) or epee/dueling sword (which I do recall being the case)? My office mate (not yet a convert to the Canon, although he has to listen to me often and admits to having read TGO) and I, both of whom fenced back in our salad days, recall that in epee/dueling sword fighting, one moves one's body in a very small, very constrained space and in very formal and constrained, almost ritualistic movements. My coach used to require his real competitors (a few Junior Olympic competitors and one champ, I think) into ballet classes as well. I did do a very little saber fighting, and remember being astonished at the breadth of my range and scope of movement. And let's not discount the fabulous advantage of having your opponent believe, up until the last moment, that you are a clod, only to find out otherwise.....

JScates,
proud to be rated able, with help from Len Green, who is no grass-combing lubber himself, but who has been known to leer like a mole with palsy...
30 21' N
97 43 W


From: Karen von Bargen
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 05:00:04 -0000
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

Hi, All!
I fenced foil very poorly for a while. Teammates preferred epee and I would be invited as a slow moving target periodically. Someone stole my glove and inked a target on the back of my hand, which is only an epee target. Apparently my lumbering and predictable torso provided too easy a target and my erratically moving hand was more fun. Hurts to get hit in the hand over and over all day long.

Karen von Bargen


From: William Nyden
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 11:44:32 -0700
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

Your "teammates" were evil and your coach was a clod for not teaching you how to cover your hand.

Bill Nyden
a Rose by another name
37 25' 15" N
122 04' 57" W


From: Jim McPherson
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 07:35:23 -0700
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

Lois Anne du Toit wrote:

...[Sophie heels well over and ] His grip on the ratlines tightened with cataleptic strength and his upward progress ceased: he remained there, spreadeagled, while the varying forces of gravity, centrifugal motion, irrational panic and reasonable dread acted upon his motionless, tight-cramped person ...

Poor Stephen made two horrid errors. He should have been gripping the shrouds and only stepping on the ratlines, and he should have been climbing the weather shrouds not the lee. You only make those mistakes once.

Jim (marginally competent on a square rigger)


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 07:51:40 -0700
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

What, in the above passage, suggests that he was climbing the lee side?

Or was the indication he was on the lee side in some text not shown above?

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)
See my replicas of ancient nautical navigational instruments:
http://people.ne.mediaone.net/saville/backstaffhome.html


From: Jim McPherson (mcphrsn@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Thu Oct 18 2001 - 11:17:05 EDT
Subject: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

"...forces of gravity..." If he were on the weather shrouds the force of gravity would have held him closer to the shrouds instead of swinging him away.

Jim

James McPherson
33 47' 30" N
116 32' 10" W
riding the San Andreas fault


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 08:47:09 -0700
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

I see. I don't think that's the right conclusion to draw:

Gravity is irrelevant in the lee-side/weather-side lubberly issue. All that matters there is wind direction.

Since the ship is rolling, no matter what side he went up, there would be a problem when the ship rolled to that side. Gravity would be trying to pull him off the shrouds.

So when POB wrote:

"...forces of gravity.." you cannot conclude he was on the lee shrouds. All you can conclude is that the ship was rolling and when rolling on the side he was on, he had to hang on for dear life.

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: David Phillips
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 12:59:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

Well, yeahbut, if the ship is carrying any press of sail, won't it be heeled over such that as it rolls to weather, it basically just comes short of upright?

So when POB wrote:
"...forces of gravity.." you cannot conclude he was on the lee shrouds. All you can conclude is that the ship was rolling and when rolling on the side he was on, he had to hang on for dear life.

Regardless of weather or lee side, that last phrase is certainly true.

David V. Phillips sasdvp@unx.sas.com SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC
If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room.


From: Gregg Germain
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 10:08:23 -0700
Subject: Re: Stephen's clumsiness and ability

Well if the ship is *rolling* no it's not heeled over to the leeward side and stuck there. it all depends upon sea state, wind speed, point of sail. None of which I remember.

I haven't read the passage in quite a while, so I'll go back there and see if there's info opn that in the passage.

However I woud add that *IF* the ship was heeled to leeward (not rolling) and Maturin started up the lee shrouds, not only would he realize right off that there was something seriously wrong with the idea.....

his shipmates would be SURE to let him know immediately, and in no uncertain terms. ;^)

Gregg
Sailing Master, Artillery Capt., Glover's Marblehead Regiment (GMR)


From: "P. Richman"
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 14:22:45 +0000
Subject: GRPRD:PC:GREAT LINE

Sophie has agreed to come aboard the Lively to take passage. Jack Aubrey is skipping about with glee. Here's a great line:

"The married officers looked at him with malignant satisfaction; the rest with disapproval."

The married officers know the captain is going to join their lot in life. I love the malignant satisfaction.


From: Jim Biggerstaff
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 10:28:26 -0400
Subject: Re: GRPRD:PC:GREAT LINE

The traditional phrase in this family (passed down from my Mother), used when engagements are announced, elopements disclosed, etc., is:

"Another rat in the trap."

Jim


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:00:00 -0700
Subject: Re: GRPRD:PC:GREAT LINE

Yes, a great line! There's a passage I liked on page 403 (Norton paperback). Jack was getting ready to take over the "Lively," and he told Killick:

"Here is five shillings for a decent glazed hat: you may skim the other into the Thames. I will not have you go aboard the "Lively" without a Christian covering to your head. And get yourself a new jacket, while you are about it. She is a crack frigate."

Had I already read the series, I'd have KNOWN at that point that Stephen would soon show up wearing "the garment."

- Susan


From: Susan Wenger
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:05:06 -0700
Subject: GroupRead:PC:that fellow in the play

On page 402 (Norton paperback), Parker is going to have the "Fanciulla" in compliment to Jack Aubrey, who recommended him in a soft moment, and Jack tells Stephen "which is as cruel a kindness as the world has seen since that fellow in the play."

I believe the play he's referring to is Hamlet:

"I must be cruel, only to be kind."


Note: For space purposes, the Post Captain discusion has been broken into two parts.

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