British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors, Brits at their Best.com, English country scene

Blog Home | All Posts

Patrick O'Brian on the modesty of the rich

In O'Brian's Master and Commander, Stephen Maturin casually refers to the wealth of James Dillon, one of his shipmates.

"Surely to God you would never call me rich?" Dillon asks with some asperity.

Maturin: "I have ridden over your land."

Dillon: "It's three-quarters of it mountain, and one quarter bog; and even if they were to pay their rent for the rest it would only be a few hundred a year -- barely a thousand."

Maturin: "My heart bleeds for you. I have never yet known a man admit that he was either rich or asleep: perhaps the poor man and the wakeful man have some great moral advantage."

Thanks to Jeff Jacoby for the reminder.

Here are O'Brian's descriptions of a storm at sea and bailiffs, press gangs, and British good humour.

Post a comment

(Please do give us your name or the name you write under in the form below and your URL if you have one. Your comment may take a little time to appear. Thanks for waiting.)

COPYRIGHT