November 4, 2004: What would you place in a personal ad if you were making one?

It took reading several entries in this community before I understood what was meant by a personal ad. As it is, I doubt I should ever put one out. Even with my beloved Diana lost to me, I am not entirely a man suited to marriage. I never was. It is a wonder I found one wife. Though were either Jack or I a woman, I believe common-law would marry us. But as it stands, my great attachment to him is an extra hindrance to any possible marriage with a woman.
Were I to seek out a woman, if only so my Brigid should have a mother, as the former Mrs. Oakes has married again and has a new life now, I would prefer she be interested in natural philosophy, as I am, and not be adverse to children, or at least not to ones like Brigid, whom I think is truly a much finer creature than most children. She would also not have to mind my being away for months and sometimes years at a time. Age is of no consequence, as long as she is old enough to marry, though perhaps a younger woman should not want me, as I am rather old, I fear. However, I should like it if she have good carriage, and if she should carry herself with an unconscious grace.
Indeed, a woman like Mrs. Christine Woods, who recently sent me the bones of my old potto, though I admit I do not know how she would take to Brigid, or my being away. Certainly she did not seem adverse to me, though of course at the time her husband was still alive, as was Diana, and a mistress would never suit me.
Yes, one very much like Mrs. Woods.

November 17: On the best 24 hours of my life

Describe the best 24 hours of your life.

That would be the day when Diana and I were married properly, in a church, and she told me as soon as we were alone together that she was likely pregnent. There had been a false alarm earlier in our relationship, but this time she had missed her courses by many more days and had been ill that morning, so perhaps it was not the pleasantest day for her, though she insists it was still a very happy one, and I believe she was being truthful. Examining her skin, eyes, nails, and hair only confirmed the situation. The discovery of an impending child brought me a completely unexpected joy. I had never cared much for children before this; however, my opinion seems greater altered when that child is my own.

November 21: On Revenge and Justic

Who would you like to see get their final comeuppance? And just what would you like to do to them?

My first answer is any tyrant still in power. I would not care what I myself did to Napolean Bonaparte or those like him, as long as they are desposed. I understand enough of human nature and the corruption of power to believe losing power would be enough of a punishment. The more power-mad a tyrant, the more painful a punishment it would be for him. Thus I do all that is in my power against tyranny.
Doing this to a tyrant is justice. However, this question can be answered in a far darker vein, in the matter of revenge. I do not often bear personal animosities against individual men, and while I have killed in cold blood, it is very rarely something I have wanted to do. But there are exceptions. Jack and I once seperately made an enemy of a man named Andrew Wray, who then did his best ti destroy both our lives, very nearly suceeding with Jack. He also proved a traitor to England and, more importantly for my struggle, a friend of Bonaparte. That alone would have made him an impersonal enemy, but what he did to Jack made him a personal one, and not only did I wish for him to receive comeuppance, but I was very glad to administer it myself, in cold blood. Currently, however, I have no such enemies.

November 27: What I am Thankful For

There have been very many periods in my life where I have felt there was nothing to be thankful for, and indeed nothing to live for. I am thankful that I do not feel this way right now. I am most thankful for Jack and Brigid, and even for Diana, as much pain as she has caused me. When it comes to Brigid, I am especially thankful for Padeen, for bringing her into the outer world; she might still be trapped were it not for him. I am thankful for all the friends I have made and all the creatures I have seen and all the knowledge I possess. And even though neither Ireland or Catalonia are free, I am, oddly enough, thankful for England, so long as she stands against Bonaparte's tyranny.

December 5: On the Giving of Gifts

What do you want for your birthday?

I do not pay much attention to my birthday. I cannot even recall my age offhand. But whatever the time of year, a gift I should absolutely love would be to be set on some strange but safe shore teeming with strange life, there to explore and discover for a few days time, without the fear of wind and tide and enemy ships cutting my explorations short. To be sure, I have had such opportunities every occasionally, most notably on one Antartic island, but all the frustrated ones I have experienced have left me always ready for another.

What is the oddest gift you have ever received?

The oddest gifts often end up being those things that are not meant as gifts, but end up acting as them due to circumstances. For instance, when the Surprise was preparing to leave New South Wales, I had arranged to pick up Padeen off an island where Martin, Paulton and I were searching for one more opportunity to see the duck-billed platypus. However, when I informed Jack of my purpose, he refused to allow him on board, because of a promise he had made of not allowing any convicts to escape on his ship. Padeen had already run away because of me, and I could not leave him to be beaten to death, but the only alternative I saw was to desert.
Thus when we found the platypus, and he bestowed on me a good dose of potentially fatal venom, he was in fact giving me a wonderful gift. My condition necessitated Padeen helping to carry me back to the ship, where noone was about to turn him away when he could aid in my not dying.

December 12: On Religous Beliefs

I am a Catholic. I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and in what is written in the Holy Bible. But while I share these beliefs with most of those around me, I have beliefs that differ from those of my Anglican friends. I believe in the earning of grace not by faith alone, but by living faith, and in the authority of the Pope, and in the reverence of the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and the existence of Purgatory, the last of which I have spoken of in an earlier entry. I participate in the seven sacraments and I take communion with the blood and body of Christ, at least when I can.
Though I cannot that often, living on the sea in an organization where the highest-ranking officers must swear oaths renouncing the Pope, though I have known at least one Catholic lieutenant who held his beliefs in secret. I have encountered also a good deal of prejudice both in the service and in England, and even painfully enough from Jack, though he spoke largely from ignorance, and I know he does not hold my beliefs against me. I have seen poor Padeen suffer at the hands of his captors in New Sydney, who hated him as an Irish Catholic, and since my Brigid seems to have adopted Catholicism from him, I worry for how she will suffer at the hands of the ignorant or outright prejudiced.

December 18: Jack Having Fun

Stephen's hand was at the ready when Jack's started beating the time on his knee. He'd had to silence Jack at so many concerts he saw it coming.
What he did not see coming was what happened after his hand gently settled on top of Jack's to still it. Jack was still for two seconds, then his fingers wiggled.
Stephen glared at him, but could not quite credit his grin. Or the way he squirmed against Stephen's palm. This behavior was downright dangerous in public!
Jack's hand stilled again, but Stephen found concentrating on the rest of the concert difficult.

December 25: Do you believe in the possibility of a true friendship between a man and a woman?

I once met a young man called Jagiello who believed there was no such possibility, because women were "the Jews of the world," that is to say, too oppressed and downtrodden to ever be able to meet with a man on such terms. Yet I believe he and Diana parted on terms of true friendship, though he could scarcely credit it.
Ah, Diana. She had trouble believing such friendship possible as well, and yet she always hoped for it. When we first met, she clearly hoped I could be a friend to her, while being nothing more. Alas, our relationship has always been far more complicated.
Putting her aside, however, I myself have been friends with two women. Granted, I did initially feel some desire for Clarissa, but when I learned a bit more about her, that desire faded very quickly, to be replaced by a very strong liking, mutual, which has remained ever since. To be sure, Clarissa is an unusual creature, brought up with an extraordinary combination of ignorance of the world while knowing its darkest ways all too well. But there is very little unusual about dear Sophie, whom I love like a sister and I will always call a friend.
So my answer is yes, there is the possibility.

Jack Aubrey: Ah, here's to Sophie, the dear little creature. With such women as her walking the earth, who could doubt the possibility of friendship? You cannot imagine how grateful I am that you love her as a sister and a friend, Stephen: imagine how inconvenient it would be if you two hated each other! Oh, ha ha, there would be a great bloody inconvenience!
Stephen: Yet you do seem to doubt it my dear, on your own entry in the subject. Is your find so quickly changed, you creature?
Stephen: Your mind, I mean, not your find.
Jack: Ah, but our definitions of true friendship are different, I find. Of course Sophie is a dear friend, but, after thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that, though she is a dear friend (the dearest I have, save perhaps for you), I can't rightly tell her everything, so I suppose, though I love her more'n life, I can't wholly confide in her, so she ain't a true friend, in that sense.
I think, though, that you make friends with ladies more easily than I. You never were crude, never had a sailor's appetites, if I may be so bold as to say, so maybe you really can confide in ladies without fear of offending 'em. For myself, though, I don't think I ever have a hope of true friendship with a lady, though I daresay you do, Stephen, you being so comfortable around ladies. I know Sophie loves you as a brother; I don't know how you do it, my dear fellow.
Though it were rather hard of you to call me a creature, Stephen.

January-February 2005