July 23, 2004: To Introduce Myself

My name is Stephen Maturin. My full name is Esteban Maturin y Domanova, but these days most people know me as the former. I am a physician and a natural philospher whose occupation seems to be sailing as the surgeon of whichever ship my particular friend Jack Aubrey happens to be commanding. I am widowed with a daughter.

Since this is a community that seems to require a large amount of honesty which I admit I am not used to, I will also confess that in the past I have performed certain services for British Intelligence, all in the way of overthrowing the tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte. Now that he is overthrown and I have performed a last service in aiding Chile's independence, my services in this area are likely to end. But however connected to the Royal Navy or attached to certain Englishmen I may be, England is certainly not my home. If I have any home on land, it is Catalonia in Spain, my mother's land, though my father was Irish. And in truth, my home now seems to consist only of Jack Aubrey.

July 30: On Jealousy

Jealousy is a most pernicious emotion, one to be avoided at all costs. But I admit in the past I have been far from immune from it.
Perhaps the worst I ever suffered at its hands was in regard to Diana, when Jack and I first met her. She attracted both of us, and she would neither dissaude him nor drive me away. There was immediate unease between Jack and I, and our mutual jealousies came within inches of destroying our friendship.
Interestingly enough, at the same time the nature of my relationship with Jack underwent a change...in short I should have been as jealous of Diana as I was of Jack, and yet I was not. I have not been immune to jealousy in regard to Jack either over the years, but it has never caused me a tenth of the agony that my jealousy over Diana did.
Jealousy has affected me less as I have grown older. Diana even spoke words to me once that made me understand that she had felt obliged to cuckold me, but I found that I did not care, so long as I could be certain of her attachment to me.
I am glad for it, because I have never dealt with jealousy well. Most of my dealing with it when Diana and Jack together were the cause consisted my taking laudanum, an addiction that plagued me for many, many years.

August 1: On Money, Fame, and Happiness

Money and fame are things I should prefer not to care about. However, I have discovered myself to be remarkably attached to the former.
During much of my life I had no money, and then I only suffered the occasional longing for it, usually on occasions when I would have found it useful. I often thought Diana would be more likely to marry me if I had money. Then I inherited a large fortune from my godfather. Since then, I have at times expended very large amounts of money without a care, but been surprised at my own stinginess when it came to spending smaller sums. Then I was shocked at my reactions to hearing first that my fortune had been lost, then that it had not been.
Fame again I have suffered the occasional longing for, but far more rarely. And there are many disadvantages, especially to an intelligence agent(though being famous for being a silly little natural philosopher does wonders in reducing suspicions). I would not give up money for it, let alone happiness.
But happiness! There are times in my life when I would have answered money to this question, out of the simple belief that happiness was impossible. Even now, I often only taste it for the tiniest moment, but that is enough to convince me that I would give up all material things in the world to keep it. Alas that our lives are not as simple as this hypothetical situation!

August 16: On the Afterlife

The Holy Church teaches that when a man dies, his soul may go to Hell, for eternal punishment for his sins, to Purgatory, to be purged of them, or, on very rare occasions, directly to Paradise. I have believed this for most of my life.
But I find it difficult to hold out hope for my own salvation. If I find myself in Purgatory, to ascend to Paradise only after thousands upon thousands of years of suffering, I will be greatful for my Lord's mercy. I have committed too many sins to make any salvation likely; they have lay in my heart until I cannot bring myself to beg forgiveness for them, and even if I could, there is one blasphemy in my heart that I can never repent.
Some of my fellow Catholics believe that Hell waits for all Anglicans, but if that is true, then my blasphemy is even worse, for I cannot believe it waits for Jack. If he comes to the Purgatory he does not believe in, he might spend a good amount of time there, but I believe there is no other place he can go to but Heaven. To assume one's own fate is bad enough, but to insist to God that He must save another man, because of your own feelings for him, surely must be the worst presumptousness!
And yet sometimes, in my weakest moments, I wonder if it is possible for Jack to save my soul, as he has saved my life so many times. If his love is great enough to carry me with him on the path he is fixed on. I know it is unlikely to be true, but it seems my only chance.

August 30: On Leading and Following

Question:Would you rather lead or follow? Why? What role do you see yourself playing out over your life, leader or follower?

I have never been a leader in my life, and being one has never held much appeal for me. I have watched Jack alternately thrive and grow emotionally strained over his position as a leader, but I highly doubt I would find much thriving were I in his place.
I have been a follower. Certainly I have followed Jack around the world and back, and at times in my life, I have supported various causes and followed various leaders. But it is not a role I relish. After the disastrous end of the United Irishmen, I temporarily gave up on the idea being a follower for any cause at all, and the dislike has never left me entirely. Perhaps if it were not for my respect for Sir Joseph Blaine, I would not have worked covertly for the overthrow of Bonaparte for so long a time, since I have no attachment to British Intelligence itself, especially after watching it be manipulated by Wray and the Duke of Habachtsthal so easily. I have a mild attachment to the Royal Navy, but when it comes down to it, my loyalty is merely to Jack. If I am indeed a follower in life, it is of individual men.

September 13: On the Confrontation of Problems

Do you confront your problems head on, or ignore them until you have to do something? Do you procrastinate?

That has depended largely on the nature of the problem. Professional problems I have always dealt with as soon as was possible, whether they were in the medical line, where I would be necglecting my duty if I didn't, or in the line of intelligence, where time is often of the essence. But personal problems are another matter. I am afraid I put off dealing with those, often with the use of opium, or even with the use of the sea, where the problems of land often vanish, but only until one receives a letter or reaches land again. Though it is well enough not to worry oneself about what one cannot control while at sea, personally or professionally.

October 7: On Being Adventurous

Question:Do you consider yourself adventurous? If by "adventurous" you mean "putting ones self in immediate danger as a form of diversion", then no. I see no use in willfully putting myself in unnecessary danger for the mere joy of it; I can think of many a thing I would rather do. If, however, putting myself in danger becomes a necessity to the task at hand (such as an intelligence mission, or the defense of a ship), I would gladly risked getting "knocked on the head" as Jack would say, to accomplish my specific goal.

On My Padri

Who has had the most influence on your life?

My godfather, Colonel Ramon d'Ullastret i Casedemon, God rest his soul. It was he who truly raised me, more then any other man, as my parents died fairly early and in Catalonia, being one's padri is taken very seriously. It is from him that I derive my faith, it was while accompanying him on his hunting trips that I first developed a love for flora and fauna, and it was from his passionate wish for our country's independence that I developed mine, and by extension my wish for Ireland's independence, and perhaps even by further extension my hatred for oppression of all kinds.
To me he will always be one of the finest of men, and he was a fine leader also, to near the end of his life, where I found him commanding a garrison in the Baltic. Interestingly enough, the more I hear of Jack's hero Lord Nelson, the more similarities I note between the two leaders. They have the same unlimited courage, they inspire the same unwavering loyalty in lesser men, and they also possess the same flaws of vanity and ambition. Perhaps these are the marks of a great leader.

October 19: On the Spending of Money

If you won the equivalent of $2,000, and had to spend it, what would you spend it on?

Over the course of my years as Lucky Jack Aubrey's surgeon, I am quite certain I have gained more then that as my share of prize money. However, I have never paid much attention, as the amount of money this have given me at any one time has merely been enough to live on, and I have always lived minimally. However, when my godfather died, I inherited a fortune from him which I believe to be the equivalent of much more then the above mentioned sum. I may have spent the equivalent to 2,000 dollars shortly after coming into my inheritence on buying the Surprise for Jack, but the immensity my fortune was enough that I did not concern myself to pick up the sum I paid in English pounds for her. Nor was I able to keep track of how much money was spent fitting and manning her as a privateer for Jack, who had been struck from the list and whose financial affairs were too involved at the time. I also was ready to expend great amounts of money before this in an effort to save Jack from being dismissed the service, but in vain.
Since then, I am afraid I have become rather stingy when it comes to money, often attempting to save pennies that I would not have bothered with had they comprised a greater part of my fortunes. I suppose if I were given an addition to it, it would join the rest in the bank.

October 20: On Drunkenness

Is there ever a good reason to get blinding drunk?
What happened the first time you got drunk?

I drank with my godfather as a youth, and I assume that at least once during those times and probably more then once I could be termed drunk. Not much, however happened. My memories of this are very pleasant, and are always accompanied by a remembered sensation of warmth, which is an effect of alcohol.
As an adult, I am surprisingly uneffected by alcohol, and I believe I have been the only sober person left in the wardroom on many an evening. There is an odd sort of amusement in this. I have never been blindingly drunk, though I have been affected to similar extremes by other drugs, and I have once or twice been in an emotional state of mind that I have afterwards imagined might be much like being blindingly drunk. No good has ever come of this, though sometimes a temporary relief. But there have been times in my life where without that relief, I could not answer for my sanity, so perhaps that might be a good reason.

November-December 2004