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    Re: Patrick O'Brian characters discuss time and longitude
    From: Don Seltzer
    Date: 2016 Jun 25, 10:25 -0400
    On Sat, Jun 25, 2016 at 7:58 AM, Ed Popko <NoReply_EdPopko@fer3.com> wrote:
    > I'm a great fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin 19th c British Naval series and I'm rereading the set (21) once again. Occasionally navigation methods are mentioned and I particularly laugh at this exchange between Captain Jack Aubrey and his ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin (who despite years sailing with Jack still knows little about what makes 19th c ships tick).

    There are also several humorous scenes involving the midshipmen and their attempts to learn CN.
    From Master & Commander, chapter 6,

    The midshipmen were supposed to take noon observations to work out the vessel’s position, which they were to write on a piece of paper. These pieces of paper were called the young gentlemen’s workings and they were delivered to the captain by the marine sentry, with the words, ‘The young gentlemen’s workings, sir’; to which Captain Allen (an indolent, easy-going man) had been accustomed to reply, ‘– the young gentlemen’s workings’, and toss them out of the window.

    Hitherto, Jack had been too busy working up his crew to pay much attention to the education of his midshipmen, but he had looked at yesterday’s slips and they, with a very suspicious unanimity, had shown the Sophie in 39º21´N., which was fair enough, but also in a longitude that she could only have reached by cleaving the mountain-range behind Valencia to a depth of thirty-seven miles.

    ‘What do you mean by sending me this nonsense?’ he asked them. It was not really an answerable question; nor were many of the others that he propounded, and they did not, in fact, attempt to answer them; but they agreed that they were not there to amuse themselves, nor for their manly beauty, but rather to learn their professions; that their journals (which they fetched) were neither accurate, full, nor up to date, and that the ship’s cat would have written them better; that they would for the future pay the greatest attention to Mr Marshall’s observation and reckoning; that they would prick the chart daily with him; and that no man was fit to pass for a lieutenant, let alone bear any command (‘May God forgive me,’ said Jack, in an internal aside) who could not instantly tell the position of his ship to within a minute – nay, to within thirty seconds. Furthermore, they would show up their journals every Sunday, cleanly and legibly written.

    Don Seltzer

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