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Frank Mildmay Or, the Naval Officer   By: (1792-1848)

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Frank Mildmay, by Captain Marryat.

Captain Frederick Marryat was born July 10 1792, and died August 8 1848. He retired from the British navy in 1828 in order to devote himself to writing. In the following 20 years he wrote 26 books, many of which are among the very best of English literature, and some of which are still in print.

Marryat had an extraordinary gift for the invention of episodes in his stories. He says somewhere that when he sat down for the day's work, he never knew what he was going to write. He certainly was a literary genius.

"Frank Mildmay" was published in 1829, the first book to flow from Marryat's pen. It had been written while at sea, during a long search, which Marryat considered ridiculous, for a non existent island that someone had reported seeing in mid Atlantic. While writing this book Marryat decided that he would be better employed out of the Navy, writing books. The full title of this book was "The Naval Officer; or, Scenes and Adventures in the life of Frank Mildmay". A similar title might have been applied to at least four others of his books. For people wishing to know how ships were handled in battles and other engagements, from books by an experienced early nineteenth century naval officer, they could not do better than to read them.

This e text was transcribed in 1998 by Nick Hodson, and was reformatted in 2003, and again in 2005.



These are the errors, and these are the fruits of mis spending our prime youth at the schools and universities, as we do, either in learning mere words, or such things chiefly as were better unlearned. MILTON.

My father was a gentleman, and a man of considerable property. In my infancy and childhood I was weak and sickly, but the favourite of my parents beyond all my brothers and sisters, because they saw that my mind was far superior to my sickly frame, and feared they should never raise me to manhood; contrary, however, to their expectations, I surmounted all these untoward appearances, and attracted much notice from my liveliness, quickness of repartee, and impudence: qualities which have been of much use to me through life.

I can remember that I was both a coward and a boaster; but I have frequently remarked that the quality which we call cowardice, in a child, implies no more than a greater sense of danger, and consequently a superior intellect. We are all naturally cowards: education and observation teach us to discriminate between real and apparent danger; pride teaches the concealment of fear; and habit render us indifferent to that from which we have often escaped with impunity. It is related of the Great Frederick that he misbehaved the first time he went into action; and it is certain that a novice in such a situation can no more command all his resources than a boy when first bound apprentice to a shoemaker can make a pair of shoes. We must learn our trade, whether it be to stand steady before the enemy or to stitch a boot; practice alone can make a Hoby or a Wellington.

I pass on to my school days, when the most lasting impressions are made. The foundation of my moral and religious instruction had been laid with care by my excellent parents; but, alas! from the time I quitted the paternal roof not one stone was added to the building; and even the traces of what existed were nearly obliterated by the deluge of vice which threatened soon to overwhelm me. Sometimes, indeed, I feebly, but ineffectually, endeavoured to stem the torrent; at others, I suffered myself to be borne along with all its fatal rapidity. I was frank, generous, quick, and mischievous; and I must admit that a large portion of what sailors call "devil" was openly displayed, and a much larger portion latently deposited in my brain and bosom. My ruling passion, even in this early stage of life was pride... Continue reading book >>

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