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  • Dion Wright

Sea Adventure

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Confucius say:

Yo Yo Ma - different from Yo Ma Ma.

Some years back I got into listening to the Patrick O'Brien books on CD narrated by George Guidell, who really is good with the material. I happened to start with the first one in the series, (which is twenty books long, and never ever lapses into mediocrity). It's astounding how O'Brien writes as if he were looking back into a former life.

The authenticity is boggling, and his evocation of character is perfect, Stephen Maturin and Captain Jack Aubrey are like a version of Charles Darwin and Captain Fitzroy, who were close friends at sea on the voyage of The Beagle, but later became estranged because Fitzroy was a Christian fundamentalist, and regarded the evolution theory as an assault on his religion.

You probably know that Aldous Huxley's grandfather, T.H. Huxley, defended Darwin against the assaults of Bishop Wilberforce. He became known to History as "Darwin's Bulldog", a ferocious mind who would say anything, and say it with brilliant and scintillating class, not to mention devastating and un-manning effect.

This may not be all that impressive, since Wilberforce was a giant wind-bag nick-named "Soapy Sam". Darwin was a tongue-tied, neurotic old hypochondriac by then (it took him over thirty years to get to it and write the book). Darwin didn't even come to the meeting of the Philosophical Society where the issue was debated, but just stayed home with his blanket across his legs, and let T.H., who was physically a small man, knock out the challengers for good. Darwin wouldn't even have gotten around to his book when he did if he hadn't been shocked to receive a letter from Alfred Russell Wallace, a naturalist snake collector in Borneo who had come to all the same conclusions as Darwin, independently.

Once Wallace had a handle on his idea, he wrote it up in a hundred pages or so, and sent it off to be assessed by the greatest living naturalist...Charles Darwin! Darwin was undone and ready to throw in the towel when he got this disturbing mail, but he'd been talking about it for decades with Huxley, Banks, Lyell and other pillars of the science community, and they insisted that he get his ass in gear and write-up what he'd been talking about for years, and publish it in double-time, giving Wallace his due... which is how it came down.

When you watch Stephen Maturin trillying around the Galapagos, you are watching a simulacrum of Charles Darwin.

I have spoken.

BTW, "I have spoken" was derived from the Iriquois language where, when a man had finished his speech in the tribal circle, he would state, "Iri Quois!" with heavy emphasis on the second syllable, meaning, "I have spoken!" That's how the French trappers came to name the Iriquois League.

Apologies for my pedantry, Once started, I have a hard time stopping.


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