MASTERMAN READY; or, The Wreck of the Pacific (with 68 Illustrations)

MASTERMAN READY; or, The Wreck of the Pacific (with 68 Illustrations)

by Captain Frederick Marryat

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Overview

"Masterman Ready." is the first of Captain Marryat's children's books, and is also one of the best, perhaps the very best one.

It is a child's story in which there is not one word above the intelligence of the readers it was designed for, one situation or one character they could not grasp, and yet it is distinctly literature. It is didactic, and yet there is no preachment. It is pathetic, and yet it is not mawkish. It ends with a death-bed scene which is not an offence. In point of mere cleverness of workmanship it ranks, in my opinion, first among Marryat's works, and yet it is perfectly simple and unstrained. Marryat was indeed well qualified to write for children. He had loved their company at all times, and had served a long apprenticeship in telling stories to his own. The practice had taught him to avoid the fatal mistake of condescension. An intelligent child, as even so weighty a writer as Guizot has remarked, can understand a great deal more than the duller kind of adult is disposed to allow. It does not like to be effusively addressed as " my little friend," and made to see that the kind gentleman or lady who speaks is intent on improving its mind. "I can't be always good," said Tommy; "I'm very hungry; I want my dinner." The unsophisticated youthful mind is apt to be equally direct about its literature. It can't be always imbibing preachment; it becomes languid, and wants to be amused: but it also likes precision of detail, and is eager to learn the why and how of everything. With these two rules to guide him—not to be too obtrusively instructive, and yet to explain every incident as it came, Marryat wrote a model child's story. Forster was certainly in the right in declaring it to be the most read, and the most willingly reread, of its class. For its mere cleverness the book can be enjoyed by the oldest of readers who is not too dreadfully in earnest. It was no small feat to have taken so well worn a situation as the shipwreck and the desert island, and to have made out of it a book which may stand next to Defoe's. The desertion of the Pacific and her passengers by the crew, her wreck, the life on the island, the fight with the savages, and the rescue, are as probable, they follow one another as naturally, as the events in the life of Robinson Crusoe. Marryat had too much tact and knowledge to fall into the extravagances of the "Swiss Family Robinson." The beasts and plants of the island are not an impossible collection of the flora and fauna of three continents. Then, too, the book contains two of Marryat's very best characters. Masterman Ready is an ideal old sailor, brave, modest, kind, helpful, able to turn his hand to anything, and to do it well, yet, withal, no mere bundle of abstract virtues, but a most credible human being— such a man as might have been formed by such a life. Very different, but equally good, is Master Tommy Seagrave, the ideal of greedy, naughty boys. Tommy's ever vigorous appetite and irrepressible passion for making a noise, for meddling with everything, for trying everything, for spoiling everything, arc as perfect in their way as the meek heroism of Masterman Ready. At the end, the collision of the two produces very genuine tragedy. Master Tommy was just the boy who would have emptied the water-butt, under pretext of bringing water from the well, and would have accepted the very undeserved praise bestowed on his zeal without the faintest scruple. The consequences of his bad behaviour are absolutely natural and inevitable, That Masterman Ready should have met his death through Master Tommy was an artistic stroke of the highest merit. And Marryat tells it all with a calm detachment which might reduce the average Russian novelist to despair. He is not wroth with Tommy. He accepts him as inevitable, and only describes him with a calm artistic precision, simply as the type of "The Boy." Then, too, consider the final no-repentance and escape of Tommy. He howled for water and got it, and Masterman Ready died that he might have it. The little wretch never knew what mischief he had done. He sailed away to Sydney with an excellent appetite, and as long as he had enough to eat, and things to break, was no doubt perfectly happy. There is a something colossal in the truth, and the artistic calmness of the whole story.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015726374
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 11/17/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 6 MB

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