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Rattlin the Reefer   By: (-1841)

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Rattlin the Reefer, by Edward Howard, and edited 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.

"Rattlin The Reefer" was published in 1838, the twelfth book to flow from Marryat's pen. It had been written by Edward Howard, but needed a good deal of polishing before it could be published, which Marryat did. There is distinctly more flowery language than was normal with Marryat, and there are many long and unusual words that are not found elsewhere in Marryat's work. There is also a great use of Latin phrases to describe the action, most of which, fortunately, are little more than dog Latin (i.e. the meaning can easily be decried).

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

RATTLIN THE REEFER, BY EDWARD HOWARD, AND EDITED BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.

CHAPTER ONE.

I BEGIN A LIFE WITHOUT A SIMILITUDE WITH A SIMILE START OFF WITH FOUR HORSES AND, FINALLY, I MAKE MY FIRST APPEARANCE ON ANY STAGE, UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE "CROWN."

In the volume I am going to write, it is my intention to adhere rigidly to the truth this will be bona fide an autobiography and, as the public like novelty, an autobiography without an iota of fiction in the whole of it, will be the greatest novelty yet offered to its fastidiousness. As many of the events which will be my province to record, are singular and even startling, I may be permitted to sport a little moral philosophy, drawn from the kennel in Lower Thames Street, which may teach my readers to hesitate ere they condemn as invention mere matters of absolute, though uncommon fact.

Let us stand with that old gentleman under the porch of Saint Magnus's Church, for the rain is thrashing the streets till they actually look white, and the kennel before us is swelled into a formidable, and hardly fordable brook. That kennel is the stream of life and a dirty and a weary one it is, if we may judge by the old gentleman's looks. All is hurried into that common sewer, the grave! What bubbles float down it! Everything that is fairly in the middle of the stream seems to sail with it, steadily and triumphantly and many a filthy fragment enters the sewer with a pomp and dignity not unlike the funeral obsequies of a great lord. But my business is with that little chip; by some means it has been thrust out of the principal current, and, now that it is out, see what pranks it is playing. How erratic are its motions! into what strange holes and corners it is thrust! The same phenomenon will happen in life. Once start a being out of the usual course of existence, and many and strange will be his adventures ere he once more be allowed to regain the common stream, and be permitted to float down, in silent tranquillity, to the grave common to all.

About seven o'clock in the evening of the 20th of February, 17 , a post chaise with four horses drove with fiery haste up to the door of the Crown Inn, at Reading. The evening had closed in bitterly. A continuous storm of mingled sleet and rain had driven every being who had a home, to the shelter it afforded. As the vehicle stopped, with a most consequential jerk, and the steps were flung down with that clatter post boys will make when they can get four horses before their leathern boxes, the solitary inmate seemed to shrink further into its dark corner, instead of coming forward eagerly to exchange the comforts of the blazing hearth for the damp confinement of a hired chaise... Continue reading book >>




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