Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester

(New York: Back Bay Books, 1953), 342

  • Summary:
    • Assisting with the canal boat to London
    • Commanding Nelson's marine funeral procession
    • Salvaging treasure from the Speedwell at the bottom of Marmorice Bay
    • Capturing the Callista
  • "The law of the sea applied equally in inland waters—the ship first and personal dignity a long way second." (6)
  • Phrases to use: "Compose yourself. This is no time for agitation." (8)
  • "Hornblower was by now a sufficiently experienced married man to realise the advantages of allowing his wife to say what she liked as long as he could continue to do as he liked." (11)
  • "This child would know peril and danger—and fear, in later years. He would not let the thought cloud his happiness." (84)
  • "Thank you, Captain," said the King. "Do your duty as you have done it, and your conscience will always be clear." (91)
  • "The navy has two duties, Hornblower...We have to see that when we go we leave behind us a navy which is as good as the one in which we served." (95)
  • "Minutes were always valuable. The wind might always shift, or drop. An hour wasted now might mean the loss of a week." (150)
  • "He expected little from this world, and he could lead an inner life of the mind that could render him oblivious to discomfort." (152)
  • Survivorship bias: "Service in a flagship might be the quick way to promotion, but there were many crumpled petals in the bed of roses." (160)
  • Henry recognized the reference to Pharaoh's dream about the fat cows eating the skinny cows from Gn-41 on 166
  • Imposter syndrome: "He experienced bitter self-contempt at that moment. Perhaps he was unfit to be captain of one of His Majesty's ships." (174)
  • "It was fortunate the wind had backed southerly, even by so little. It eased on of the myriad complications in his complicated life...Perhaps it was better to be a captain and have too many problems." (196)
    • "Hornblower found himself experiencing a momentary envy of the seamen at their work. Their problems were of the simplest, through doubts were minute." (213)
  • "An intelligent man, he decided, would go to bed and sleep, having done all that his forethought and ingenuity could devise, and an intelligent many would worry no further for the moment." (209)
  • "...watches with second hands were far too expensive for him to afford." (222)
  • reversion to the mean: "In the same way that in a long enough session the whist player found that the luck event itself out, so it was with war." (239)
  • "It was better to achieve success, even without receiving any sympathy for the trials he was enduring, than to return with the best of excuses empty-handed." (255)

Hornblower's trial:

It was a bad moment, up there at the fore topmast head, perhaps the worst moment Hornblower had ever known. Self-control came back slowly, even though hope remained quite absent. Looking again through his glass at the approaching sails Hornblower found that the telescope was trembling with the shaking of his hands, the eyepiece blinding him by vibrating against his eyelashes. He could admit to himself that he was a fool - bitter though such an admission might be - but he could not admit to himself that he was a coward, at least that kind of coward. And yet was anything worth the effort? Did it matter if a grain of dust in a whirlwind retained its dignity? The criminal in the cart on the way to Tyburn strove to retain his self-control, strove not to give way to his pitiful human fears and weaknesses, tried to "die game" for the sake of his own self-respect under the gaze of the heartless crowd, and yet did it profit him when in five minutes he would be dead? There was a horrible moment when Hornblower thought how easy something else would be. He had only to let go his hold, to fall, down, down, to a final crash upon the deck and the end of all this, no need for further effort, the end, oblivion; that would be far easier than to face, trying to appear not to notice, the pity or contempt of his fellow men. He was being tempted to cast himself down, as Christ had been by Satan.

Topic: Hornblower Series


Created: 2023-10-25-Wed
Updated: 2023-10-28-Sat