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NAPOLEONIC WARS > 2. HF - MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER - CHAPTER II (40- 71) (01/24/11 - 01/30/11) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the historical fiction discussion of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester.

This is the reading assignment for week two - (January 24, 2011 to January 30, 2011)

Week Two: Jan 24 - Jan 30 -> Chapter II: Hornblower and the Cargo of Rice, pages 40-71 (32 pages)

This is the fifth historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on January 17th.

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator of historical fiction - Elizabeth S. We are glad to have her back for this selection.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

This thread opens up either Sunday, January 23rd or Monday, January 24th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Chapter 2, Hornblower and the Cargo of Rice, begins with Pellew and the Indefatigable amidst a large convoy of loaded ships. Pellew is capturing one after another and installing prize crews to sail them to England. Midshipman Hornblower is assigned to the Marie Galante with four men. Here we see how Hornblower deals with his first sole command. He has to decide how hard of a line to take with both the four English sailors and the captured French crew. He appoints the oldest seaman, Matthews, to act as petty officer. They get the Marie Galante back in shape and Hornblower sets a course for England.

Hornblower keeps remembering things he should have done or should be doing. They sound the well (check for water in the ship) and discover the Marie Galante is bone dry, which is uncommon for a ship. The French are allowed on deck in exchange for a promise not to try to take the ship. The French captain reminds Hornblower that the well should be dry, not because the ship does not leak, but because the cargo is rice. He also reminds Hornblower that the Marie Galante was hit by the Indefatigable. Hornblower himself goes over the side to inspect the damage and finds a sizeable hole under the water line. Thanks to his book learning, Hornblower knows they need to "fother a sail" to minimize the leak. As soon as that is done, they realize the deck seams are opening--stretched by the soaked and expanding rice. Hornblower decides to "jettison the cargo," but the Marie Galante continues to sink. The 5 British and 12 French abandon ship into a small boat and Hornblower watches the Marie Galante sink into the sea, "the disappearance of his first command."


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments One of the big themes I see in this chapter is the balance of command. Hornblower has the "fun" situation of still being a novice about how to run a ship, but being placed in command of seamen older and more experienced than he is. Hornblower knows the math to plot a course, but isn't sure exactly what needs to be done to fix the sails.

I love how he just says, "Get to work at once and clear that raffle away for'rard" (page 49), even though he "had not the remotest idea" how to do it himself. Isn't delegation wonderful?


message 4: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "One of the big themes I see in this chapter is the balance of command. Hornblower has the "fun" situation of still being a novice about how to run a ship, but being placed in command of seamen old..."

that same theme comes across in the movies time after time. Delegate to someone who knows how to do it.


message 5: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Patricrk wrote: "that same theme comes across in the movies time after time. Delegate to someone who knows how to do it. "

And really, learning how to delegate is a big part of learning how to cope with life. One of the interesting things in Chapter 2 was that Hornblower HAD to delegate because he didn't know how to do it himself. I usually think of delegation as something one does when there is too much for one person to do. Or perhaps a subordinate has specialized in one type of thing, so getting them to do it is efficient. In my mind, for either of these cases the delegator could do it if required. Does Hornblower get points for delegating when he really didn't have a choice? (smile)


message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Who would think that rice could be such a pain.


message 7: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments The change from the sometimes suicidal teenager to the teenager that responded to filling his role and responsibility filling the role that his new captain gave him is very interesting including the self confidence and courage necessary.

It will be very interesting going forward if Forester shows us the upbringing of Hornblower to help him get these qualities.


message 8: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Patricrk wrote: "that same theme comes across in the movies time after time. Delegate to someone who knows how to do it. "

And really, learning how to delegate is a big part of learning how to cop..."


Even if Hornblower knew how to do it himself, the work would have been beneath him, as he was a Midshipman, an officer. The crew were there to perform the hard labor, which was fitting for their station. Yes, they were more experienced at sea and greater in years, but they were not and could not be officers.

I will say that it is probably a testament to the growing respect his division had for Hornblower that the men did not make a mockery, even subtly, of Horatio's lack of experience, of course that would have gotten the men flogged or worse.

So in my view, Hornblower was not delegating a responsibility, he was commanding those under him to do a job.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 9: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments Christopher wrote: "Elizabeth S wrote: "Patricrk wrote: "that same theme comes across in the movies time after time. Delegate to someone who knows how to do it. "

And really, learning how to delegate is a big part of..."


Hi Christopher

I don't know if I agree - Hornblower going over the side to try to be sure that the fothered sail was in place was not so dignified.

I think that Hornblower delegated more because he felt incapable of doing a good job. Success, it seems to me, was more critical than vanity to Hornblower and he was too young and too new to this position to believe things were "below" him generally.

Does anyone know if in future Hornblower books we will get an insight to his pre Midshipman education and upbringing?


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Vince, I thought I would jump in before someone else responded. Unless they answer yes or no simply to your last question; that would be a spoiler.


message 11: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Vince wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Elizabeth S wrote: "Patricrk wrote: "that same theme comes across in the movies time after time. Delegate to someone who knows how to do it. "

And really, learning how to del..."


Vince, I think you will find through reading the series that good captains will do, personally, whatever it takes to keep their ships afloat. I could cite many examples (not just Hornblower's) of categorically similar acts, but they would be spoilers. Horatio felt it was his duty to his ship and to his crew to be the one to dive into the sea and try to stem the flow of water pouring into his ship.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 12: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments It does use the word "delegate" in the book. And Hornblower does say he "had not the remotest idea" how to do some of the things he ordered. I think you are right, Christopher, that delegation is more often because some tasks are beneath the leader. Or because it is a good way to balance the work. Which is why I think it is funny when Hornblower's delegation happens by necessity. :)


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince wrote: "...Does anyone know if in future Hornblower books we will get an insight to his pre Midshipman education and upbringing? "

I've only read some of the books, but haven't run across much pre-midshipman stuff. (As Bentley warned, anything more than this type of answer should go in one of the spoiler threads.)


message 14: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Michael wrote: "Who would think that rice could be such a pain."

Well said! It was truly a slow, creeping death for the Marie Galante.


message 15: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments One of the things I like about Forester's writing is how he gives us a feel for the difficulty of a situation without always having to come right out and say it. For example, on page 48 Hornblower is faced with the "delicate adjustment between after sails and headsails." Even though Hornblower is good at math, and the calculations involved are well within his power, it helps us to see that it was not an easy, no-brainer.


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Delegation the skill of shifting the blame


message 17: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 25, 2011 03:01PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I thought it would be interesting to see what the various ship types mentioned in this chapter look like.

On the first page of the chapter we see "frigates" and "ships of the line." They are both the same length and have the same number of sailing masts (three). However frigates were less heavily armed and were faster.

Here's a picture of the frigate HMS Indefatigable:

description

Info and Indefatigable picture from The Archiver: http://thearchiver.blogspot.com/2007/... and http://thearchiver.blogspot.com/2007/...

Here is a picture of the ship of the line HMS Victory:

description

Victory picture from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknew...


message 18: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Michael wrote: "Delegation the skill of shifting the blame"

You are cracking me up with these one-liners. :)


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Elizabeth S wrote: "Michael wrote: "Delegation the skill of shifting the blame"

You are cracking me up with these one-liners. :)"


I will try to contribute with more substance ;)


message 20: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 25, 2011 03:12PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments The Marie Galante was a brig. Brigs had two square-rigged masts and were considered to be fast and maneuverable. Here's a picture of a brig:

description

Imagine that sucker bursting at the seams with swollen rice!

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brig


message 21: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments The last ship-type I saw mentioned in this chapter is the cutter. That one is harder to find a picture of because "cutter" means a lot of non-ship things, plus there are a variety of types of cutter.

Going back to wikipedia: "A cutter may also refer to a small boat assigned to a larger boat which is used to ferry passengers or light stores between larger boats and the shore. This type of cutter may be powered by oars, sails or a motor." (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutter_%...)

I'm guessing the cutter in this chapter is not powered by motor. :) It does refer to the rigging of the cutter on page 44, so I'm guessing the cutter in question is powered by sails.

If you want to see pictures of various types of cutters, check out the wikipedia page. I'm sure there are no spoilers there.


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you very much Elizabeth for those wonderful photos and research - very helpful.


message 23: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "The last ship-type I saw mentioned in this chapter is the cutter. That one is harder to find a picture of because "cutter" means a lot of non-ship things, plus there are a variety of types of cutt..."

Elizabeth,

If you obtain the Hornblower movie series, one of the DVDs has a wonderful feature that lists all of the ship classes of the British Navy in that era. The list contains commander's rank, size, number of guns, and other information. I don't remember which DVD it was, but I will post it when I see it.

There is also a wonderful documentary about life at sea, which compares sea life in the 18th century to life today in the Royal Navy.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 24: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments That does sound useful, Christopher, thanks for the heads up!


message 25: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Another wonderful piece of language from page 63: "The French captain was at his elbow, voluble as a Job's comforter." Very descriptive.


message 26: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments We could make a list of all the mistakes Hornblower makes. Most of them are easy to catch because Hornblower mentally kicks himself for them. On page 47 he depends on his pistol without even knowing if the powder got wet (his regrets are on page 51), on pages 51-52 he realizes he was very casual with the all-important paper containing their position, on page 54 he anxiously realizes he hasn't sounded the well yet, he fails to realize what a dry well might mean, and he waits a long time to investigate the damage from when the Marie Galante was hit.

I make this list no so much to enumerate Hornblower's faults, but to ask a question. Are any, or all, of these mistakes excusable given the situation? Which of these mistakes would a seasoned midshipman have also made, or even a new midshipman who had more ship experience?


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