Stephen Maturin questions, spoilers

I believe it is in Post Captain that Stephen encourages Sophia to marry Jack. Is he attempting to remove Jack as a rival for Dianna?

In the Mauritius Command, the Captain scheduled for Boadicea has an illness dealing with defecation. Did Stephen cause him to become ill to obtain a command for JAck?

Napoleon died in 1815, some scholars say from arsenic poisoning. Did Maturin have something to do with it?

I think this one is a definite yes.

I only just read this one not so long ago, but I don’t recall anything of this nature. Having said that, Stephen has on several occasions directly asked for Jack to captain the ship that he will be undertaking a mission for, even on a few occasions where the ship would be beneath a well respected Post Captain.

I don’t know that Stephen would have had an opportunity to do this? I don’t think he ever met Napoleon within the books did he?

That is the way I always read it.

I’m kind of surprised (ha) that O’Brian wasn’t tempted to do something that got Stephen close to Napoleon to see how he’d respond, like maybe having the Surprise transport Napoleon to Saint Helena.

No, but it is an interesting thought. As much as he hated him, would Stephen have done away with him?

I’ve wondered the very same thing. It’s not clear from the book, so I think O’Brian left it purposely a little vague. It could certainly be interpreted that way. On the other hand, I believe Maturin takes his medical duties very seriously and would not frivolously or needlessly put one of his patients in danger.

What do you think?

I think O’Brian’s characters are all capable of multiple motivations for any action, and think that Stephen (correctly) saw that Sophia and Jack would be a good couple.

I don’t think Stephen would have pushed Jack towards someone unsuitable, but he would have admitted to himself in his diary that the arrangement had the distinct advantage of steering Jack away from Diana.

I certainly think it’s possible, and in character for Stephen to do it, but I just finished listening to that book and if there was a hint about this, I missed it.

He didn’t hesitate to vengefully purge the midshipmen who ate his rat. (Even poor Babbington, who only ate it after it was dead.)

I don’t know that he had the opportunity. Stephen killed several of his active enemies, but I don’t think he ever killed for revenge, did he? After the surrender I think he’d be willing to let God deal with Napoleon.

I’m going to go against the grain here, and say Stephen would never go against his physician’s oath to help Jack. There have been times when Jack simply asked for information about the health of another officer, and Stephen either replied coldly or damned him to hell.

I see no reason to believe this - by the time Napoleon died, you couldn’t just sail up to St. Helena and say hello to him. There’s nothing in the books to suggest this.

There is an amusing fanfic story on though, where as a young Lieutenant, Jack stabs Napoleon in the leg at Toulon, and a young, still idealistic Stephen is the doctor who treats him.

“It would have been a strangely hasty, agitated meal otherwise.”

Having said that, he didn’t purge the midshipmen out of vengeance - he wanted the bones to see if the madder he had been feeding the rats had been absorbed into the skeleton. He was acting strictly in the interests of science. And Babbington got a pass on the boluses- he had just been promoted to acting third Lieutenant, and was no longer one of the young gentlemen.

Oh, you’re right about Babbington. But while Stephen did want to see the bones, you don’t think there was *any *element of vengeance in that purging? He was pretty angry about the rats.

Absolutely, and my “strictly” was probably overstating the case, but I don’t think Stephen would have done it solely or even primarily out of vengeance - he really did want to examine the bones. And its not like he would have opened the mids just to get them - purging a young, healthy sailor was pretty harmless anyway. And he did ask for permission first:

Letter to Jack: Would it be possible to spare the services of the young gentlemen for a day?

Reply: With the greatest possible ease. A week, if you like.

And yes, I’ll admit it, I post in these threads so I can quote the books.

I’d forgotten that line. Very good, Sir!

I know exactly how you feel. I would very much like to have all the novels in electronic searchable form - and I’d want them all in one database, because I usually can’t remember which novel contains the bit I want to quote.

One nitpick: Napoleon died in 1821. He was sent to St. Helena in 1815.

One follow-up question, if I may: How would Maturin have pronounced his surname?

“MATT-er-in” or “muh-TOOR-in”? Or “muh-TYOOR-in,” for that matter?

Thanks, I should pay more attention to the History Channel International.

So where was Stephan in 1821? :slight_smile:

I think if an opportunity had somehow presented he would without a doubt.

Stephen is well established as being willing to do whatever needs to be done to bring down ‘that tyrant’! And he has shown a very clinical and cold blooded approach to killing if deemed necessary in his line of work.

The audio book reader Patrick Tull pronounces it with the emphasis on the first syllable: MAT-ur-in.

I’ll be the lone dissenter on this one. I don’t think Stephen’s sense of honour would allow him to do that. I think he would even step out of the way for Jack if Jack were a serious suitor of Diana.

(I don’t think he’d violate his Hippocratic oath either, but I am not so confident about that one)

That was my thought the first time I read the novels, but as I read them again I begin to believe he was trying to get Jack out of the way. On the other hand, I believe he wanted the best for Sophie.

I think he made the Captain of the Bodaceia ill (or, rather, didn’t cure him) in the honest belief that Jack was either a better naval tactician or better suited to protect Stephen’s intelligence gathering.

I’m not 100% on whether he did intervene with the captain of the Bodaceia or not, but I can’t imagine Stepjen doing it because he thinks Jack is a better tactician - Stephen has abysmal knowledge in that area. But I can see a motive on a couple of fronts,
1 - the one you mention, Stephen is used to working with Jack and can rely on him when it comes to following his guidance on intelligence matters, and as he said a lot when by sea Jack is the soul of discretion about those matters, &

2- it perhaps was another incidence of Stephen trying to give Jack a helping hand on the money front? Being a Commodore of an action of that kind surely would expect to generate some measure of prize money. (I think it was this episode, where Jack notes that the Admiral in South Africa added some specific orders of his own just so that he would get a 1/8th share of any prize money)