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The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: Post Captain (Book 2), Chapters 12-14 (pg. 776-884)

Your daily dose of off-topic shenanigans.

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent
Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images


We arrive at the payoff of this book, with Commander Jack being hailed for his masterful victory, and this time indeed gaining his promotion to “Post Captain” from the Admiralty. Huzzah! Unfortunately, that does mean he’s too high (!) of a rank to take over command of the captured French corvette, which instead goes to Lt. Parker. Jack plays a bit of politics here, recommending Parker even though he’s useless (but is favored by higher-ups).

And politicking he will have to do, as there are 600+ post-captains in the Navy, but less 100 ships fit for their rank. Fortunately, the HMS Lively (a famous ship of the British Navy in actual history) is currently without its captain, so Jack gets temporary command of this frigate. It’s a jewel of the service, the ship, with a “crack” crew, though they’ve not seen much, if any action. But the ship is great and they’re very well trained already — a first for Captain Jack.

Dr. Maturin’s along for the ride of course, as Aubrey’s guest since the Lively already has a surgeon. Maturin brings along his bee farm, because of course he does. Hijinks ensue.


Aubrey starts training the Lively’s crew in being better with their cannons (they haven’t seen much action, as mentioned before), while Maturin’s off to visit the ladies. Diana’s dumped him, essentially, though it was a bit of a one-sided affair anyway. So Maturin tries to play matchmaker between Sophie and Jack. He is a good friend.


Maturin arranges for Sophie (and one of her sisters) to spent some time on the Lively with Jack, during which the two essentially promise themselves to each other — just don’t call it a secret engagement. Sophies’s mother, Mrs. Williams is appalled even without knowing the part about the promise. Jack’s still greatly in debt, some £11k in 1800s moneys.

Meanwhile, part-time superspy Maturin learns through his contacts in Catalonia that Spain’s about to actually enter the war on the side of France. He tells the Admiralty, who are eternally grateful and draw up plans to capture some rich Spanish galleons coming back from the Americas. Maturin asks them to include the Lively in the four-ship detachment, to which the Admiralty agree. He is a good friend.

Maturin’s allowed to join the raid on a temporary commission from the Navy, which finally clues in Aubrey that there may just be a bit more to his naturist friend than just skill with sharp instruments and questionable medical practices. (Throughout this whole time, Maturin’s been dosing himself with laudanum a.k.a. opium tincture, for example, to help him fall asleep.)

The raid is obviously a great success — it is a real world event after all, the Battle of Cape Santa Maria — with the Lively (captained in real life by Sir Graham Hammond) capturing the main prize. Aubrey had speculated earlier that their share of the total prize may be as much as 75k. Huzzah! Incidentally, the treasure from the ship that exploded was found on the bottom of the sea in 2007.

And they all lived happily ever after! (Well at least until the start of Book 3, which is next, as this is the end of Book 2, Post Captain)





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