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NAPOLEONIC WARS > 7. HF - MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER - CHAPTER VII (181 - 208) (02/28/11 - 03/06/11) ~ 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 seven - (February 28, 2011 to March 6, 2011)

Week Seven: Feb 28 - Mar 6 -> Chapter VII: Hornblower and the Spanish Galleys, pages 181-208 (28 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 the weekend before or Monday, February 28th 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 7, Hornblower and the Spanish Galleys, begins with the Indefatigable at anchor in the Bay of Cadiz. A Spanish captain rows out to the gangway to officially inform Pellew that Spain has "made peace" (page 181) with France and if the Indefatigable isn't gone from the bay in 6 hours she will be fired upon. Pellew is angry, but there is nothing to do but leave. As they prepare to sail, they get an up close view and sniff of two Spanish galleys.

Later, Pellew learns that Spain has officially declared war on England. The Indefatigable is escorting a convoy of grain ships through the Strait of Gibraltar during a calm. The only way to move the ships is to send out boats to tow the ships, "backbreaking, exhausting labour" (page 190). Then they see two galleys coming. In the calm, the galleys have a clear advantage and should be able to pick off the grain ships one by one. Pellew brings in his boats, arms them, and sends them out again to do what they can against the galleys. Pellew is surprised that Hornblower wants to go out in his six-man jolly boat since there is not much they can do.

Hornblower, driven by anger with the galleys, has his men row close to one and attach a grappling line. They try to pull themselves close to the galley, but it becomes increasingly difficult. Finally Hornblower goes hand-over-hand up the grapnel line, followed by Jackson and Oldroyd. Somewhat crazed, the three attack and overwhelm the dozen Spaniards in the stern. Unfortunately, everyone else from the jolly boat is either dead or too injured to help. Using all the bravado he can, Hornblower orders the rest of the Spaniards forward, then commands the overseer to stop the rowing slaves. He has Oldroyd steer for the English gig, filled with reinforcements. When Hornblower reports to Pellew, the captain is impressed and makes Hornblower acting lieutenant.


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Did anyone else like this chapter, or was it just me?

I loved it. I think it is my favorite chapter so far. I like how we see that being a sailor isn't just swabbing the deck, shooting cannon, and running around on the masts. It is also grinding, backbreaking, work when, for example, you use a small oared craft to tow a ship. Wow.

And then when the attack comes there is so little they can do, but they do what they can. It is for king and for country, but Hornblower also has the personal vendetta against the galleys. He set out to take down a galley, and he did. I love the craziness of the whole attack, and how Hornblower backed down the Spaniards without even knowing the language. A great adventure.


message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Click here to see a beautiful work of art showing a Dutch ship ramming some galleys. These are ships from the early 1600s, but they still help me picture sailing vessels versus galleys.

If you look closely, you get a nice view of the guns off the bow of the galley. I can see why, even if you are not in a calm, how you would fight another sailing vessel would be completely different from fighting a galley. Whole different type of strategy.


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) I also found this a very engaging chapter Elizabeth S. You have to love the chivalry of the time, the Spanish giving them a set time to leave before they were fired upon.

I am starting to see the mechanism of the book now. Some mentioned that the first book was written as a serious of short stories. This gives the book a TV feel, in that each chapter is a separate story in itself adding to the bigger picture.


message 6: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Yes, the short storyish format is an interesting way to approach this portion of Hornblower's life. I also find it interesting that while the chapters feel like short stories, they really aren't. They are not written to be published separately. If they were, we would have the characters introduced more carefully, at least a sentence that says Hornblower is a midshipman, that kind of stuff.

I like how you say it gives a TV feel. Because a TV series is the same way as the book. Each episode isn't meant to stand on its own, each episode doesn't re-explain the characters. If you watch a random episode of Season 5 of any show, you usually need someone to sit with you to explain who everyone is.


message 7: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments For those of you who would like a little more background as to the whole "Spain is our ally -- now Spain is our enemy" situation, here's the basics.

The French Revolutionaries executed the king in January of 1793. Shortly after that, France "declared war on all tyrants and ordered the inhabitants of all countries to accept the principles of the Revolution. Alarmed by the execution of the king and this proclamation, England, Holland, Spain, and Sardinia joined Austria and Prussia in a general coalition against France" (See http://history-world.org/french_revol...). The same webpage also says, "By 1794, Prussia and Spain had left the coalition and Holland had become a French ally. Only England, Austria, and Sardinia remained at war with France."

Why did Spain leave the coalition? This website, focusing on Spanish history, offers more explanation. It says that after Spain joined the 1793 coalition,

Everything seemed to promise a rapid and complete success. The number of volunteers who offered their services rendered conscription unnecessary; and the southern provinces of France were so preponderatingly royalist that they were ready to welcome the Spaniards as deliverers. These advantages, however, were nullified by the shameful incompetence and carelessness of the Government. The troops were left without supplies; no plan of combined action was imposed upon the commanders ; and each regiment was left to act of its own will. The military action of Spain provoked the contempt of Europe. The two campaigns of 1793 and 1794 were one long catalogue of failures. The bravery of the soldiers was rendered useless by the incapacity of their officers, and the maladministration of the central Government excited such disgust that an outbreak of revolutionary disturbance in Spain itself seemed more than possible. Instead of reducing the southern provinces of France, the Spaniards were driven from the strong fortresses that guarded the Pyrenees, and the French advanced almost to the Ebro. And at the same time the English, the hated rivals of Spain, were utilizing the war to extend their colonial power and were establishing more firmly that maritime supremacy which the Spanish Government had been struggling for almost a century to overthrow. Under the circumstances it is no wonder that the queen and Godoy hastened to follow the example set by Prussia, and concluded the treaty of Basel with France.


message 8: by Elizabeth S (last edited Mar 03, 2011 08:10PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Anyone know much about galleys?

Most of what I know comes from the great historical fiction classic Ben Hur. I had no idea anyone used galleys recently (i.e. last couple centuries), until reading Hornblower for the first time a few months ago. And I thought galleys were just Mediteranian until I read about them in the Baltic in Peter the Great last month. What fun it is to learn from both historical fiction and non-fiction.

Ben Hur by Lew Wallace by Lew Wallace Lew Wallace
Peter the Great His Life and World by Robert K. Massie by Robert K. Massie


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Elizabeth S wrote: "Did anyone else like this chapter, or was it just me?

I loved it. I think it is my favorite chapter so far. I like how we see that being a sailor isn't just swabbing the deck, shooting cannon, a..."


The thing that was such a pleasant surprise was that Hornblower became a man of action! No longer the victim of circumstances or slyly setting fire to paint cabins, he's now aggressively, insanely attacking a galley from a jolly boat! No longer wobbling on the thwarts or miraculously slipping along the sheets, he's now heading onboard via a grappling line, hand-over-hand! His insecurity around the other sailors seems to be disappearing as well.I like this more confident Hornblower :-)

Elizabeth S wrote: "Anyone know much about galleys?

Most of what I know comes from the great historical fiction classic Ben Hur. I had no idea anyone used galleys recently (i.e. last couple centuries), until readi..."


The thing that shocked me was the fact that, once they were shackled in place, they stayed there! I don't know that I really ever gave it much thought, but I'm sure I believed that they were removed below-decks after their "shift" was over! Now I realize how ludicrous this idea is considering that they were either already below-decks or on ships with no below-decks.


message 10: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Tanya wrote: "The thing that was such a pleasant surprise was that Hornblower became a man of action! No longer the victim of circumstances or slyly setting fire to paint cabins, he's now aggressively, insanely attacking a galley from a jolly boat! No longer wobbling on the thwarts or miraculously slipping along the sheets, he's now heading onboard via a grappling line, hand-over-hand! His insecurity around the other sailors seems to be disappearing as well.I like this more confident Hornblower :-) ..."

Well said. I think this change, this growth, in Hornblower has been building. From anonymously setting a fire, to running around the sheets, to leading men as the fire on another ship, and then this final jump to hand-to-hand combat. What a ride.

I remember the first time I read this being surprised that Hornblower was able to perform these physical feats. Forester keeps describing him as awkward, and Hornblower keeps thinking of himself as weak and scrawny. In this chapter I started to question how accurate that self-analysis is. Not that I think he is really a big, brawny, buff man, but that maybe others don't see him as awkward and weak as he sees himself. Hornblower analyzes everything, and he is definitely hardest on himself.


message 11: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments I am again behind the curve - Thanks to Elizabeth for the painting of the galleys and the additional info.

Ben Hur is also on my list of books to read

Ben Hur by Lew Wallace Lew Wallace Lew Wallace

now maybe it moves higher on the list.

I agree that we see Hornblower becoming an aggressive man - a success. But I think that his growth of self awareness and identity made it possible for his to be so angry - and it seems the anger that drove him - not a need to appear competent or to appear not afraid etc.

Also interesting is the reference to Wales the warrant officer the same as Hornblower at the beginning of the chapter. And then we see Pellew the leader, the competent capable, and must see that Wales, now 60 according to the book might have served as an equal to Pellew at some point years earlier and I come to realize that we are being shown also how Pellew was "educated" to his job.


message 12: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince wrote: "I am again behind the curve - Thanks to Elizabeth for the painting of the galleys and the additional info.

Ben Hur is also on my list of books to read..."


I'm glad you are commenting as you catch up. We go with the "better late than never" philosophy around here. :)

When Ben Hur gets to the top of your list, let me know what you think of it. It is such a rich book with lots of different kinds of things. It would be fun to discuss it as you read, if you like.

Ben Hur by Lew Wallace by Lew Wallace Lew Wallace


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince wrote: "...I agree that we see Hornblower becoming an aggressive man - a success. But I think that his growth of self awareness and identity made it possible for his to be so angry - and it seems the anger that drove him - not a need to appear competent or to appear not afraid etc.

Also interesting is the reference to Wales the warrant officer the same as Hornblower at the beginning of the chapter. And then we see Pellew the leader, the competent capable, and must see that Wales, now 60 according to the book might have served as an equal to Pellew at some point years earlier and I come to realize that we are being shown also how Pellew was "educated" to his job."


Good points. I think we see a whole new side to Hornblower here where he lets himself be driven by anger. Usually he is spending so much thought in self-analysis that his emotions don't seem to be involved at all. At times Hornblower has even consciously overridden his emotions, such as ignoring his fear while climbing the rigging in "Hornblower and the Man Who Felt Queer."

And interesting thoughts about Pellew's and Wales' backgrounds.


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