Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Opening paragraphs............................

The sudden rearmament that followed Napoleon's escape from Elba had done little to thin the ranks of unemployed sea-officers by the early spring of 1815.  A man-of-war, stripped, dismantled and laid up cannot be manned, equipped and made ready for sea in a matter of weeks;  and the best vantage-points in Gibraltar were now crowded with gentlemen on half-pay who with others had gathered to watch the long-expected arrival of Commodore Aubrey's squadron from Madeira, a squadron that would do something to refurnish the great bare stretch of water inside the mole - an extraordinary nakedness emphasized by the presence of a few hulks, the Royal Sovereign wearing the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, and a couple of lonely seventy-fours:  no stream of liberty-boats plying to and fro, almost no appearance of true wartime life.
-Patrick O'Brian,  The Hundred Days

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