Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Author C. S. Forester
Publication date 1950
Publication Order
Preceded by
Lord Hornblower
Followed by
Lieutenant Hornblower

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (originally published in 1950) is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester. Although it may be considered as the first episode in the Hornblower saga, it was written as a prequel, the first Hornblower novel, The Happy Return, being published in 1937.

Unlike all other Hornblower books, this novel is episodic, with named chapters that often focus on a self contained incident.

Many major plot elements of the Hornblower TV series were drawn from this volume, as well as from Lieutenant Hornblower.

Plot SummaryEdit

The Even Chance Edit

Hornblower reports aboard HMS Justinian, Captain Keene commanding, in January, 1794, as a midshipman of seventeen years of age, unusual as most begin their career at the age of twelve or so, and becomes seasick at anchor in Spithead, a dubious distinction. Seasickness is a trait seen often throughout his career. Soon after being assigned to the midshipman's berth, Hornblower meets John Simpson who had just failed the examination for Lieutenant. Simpson was the terror of the midshipman's berth wreaking havoc with all the other midshipmen making them do all sorts of embarrassing things. Soon after, Simpson and Hornblower were in town along with officers and crew members from other ships comprising a press gang. They stopped in the Lamb Inn and shortly met up with Lieutenant Chalk and Midshipman Caldwell of HMS Goliath and soon they were playing a round of whist. Simpson made a comment that Hornblower took as an accusation of cheating which caused Hornblower to make a challenge.

Two days later, after Hornblower chose pistols, one charged, the other not, as his choice of weapons, Hornblower and Simpson met for the duel. As neither one was killed in the duel, they found out that Captain Keene had ordered that both weapons would be primed, but, not charged. After return to Justinian, Hornblower met with the Captain upon which Keene offered Hornblower transfer to HMS Indefatigable, Sir Edward Pellew commanding.

"You know too much about the game, you know the backs of the cards as well as the fronts."
―John Simpson

The Cargo of Rice Edit

HMS Indefatigable, Sir Edward Pellew commanding, attacked and captured several french ships in a convoy in the Atlantic Ocean approximately three hundred miles from England. After taking the brig Marie Galante of Bordeaux with a cargo of rice, Pellew assigns Hornblower, with four crew members from the cutter, to take command and to take her to any English port he can make. Upon taking command, Hornblower locked up the french crew and dumped the wine they were drinking overside, then set his prize crew to re-slinging the foretopsail yard, then set course for England. The next morning, he and Matthews sounded the well to find no water, unusual for any ship at sea. In conversation with the french Captain, Hornblower made the decision to investigate the damage to the hull below the waterline. Being lowered overside on a line, Hornblower determined the size of the hole, and had a sail fothered to plug the hole to minimize the leak. But, to no avail, the brig had taken on too much water which was absorbed by the rice, causing it too expand placing pressure on the hull and the deck. The crew tried to save the ship by jettisoning the cargo overside, but, they were unable to bring the cargo up from the hold, it was lodged too tightly by the swelling of the wet rice. Soon, the Marie Galante began to break up due to the expansion of the rice causing the prize crew and the french crew to abandon ship, and she sunk very quickly, alas for Hornblower's first command.

The Penalty of Failure Edit

The Man Who Felt Queer Edit

The Man Who Saw God Edit

The Frogs And The Lobsters Edit

The Spanish Galleys Edit

The Examination For Lieutenant Edit

Noah's Ark Edit

The Duchess And The Devil Edit

References Edit

Characters Edit

BowelsCaldwellChalkClayClevelandDanversHoratio HornblowerKeeneMastersPrestonJohn Simpson

Ships Edit

Locations Edit

External links Edit

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Lord Hornblower Lieutenant Hornblower

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