Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hornblower and Aubrey reflections of Admiral Lord Cochrane

Having just re-read Memoirs of a Fighting Captain – the autobiography of Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, I am truly blown away by this British naval officer’s exploits, the number of his victories (in just one period of 13 months he took 50 ships) and above all his faultless courage.
Readers of Patrick O’Brian’s stories of Captain Jack Aubrey (depicted in the movie – Master and Commander), and the stories of Horatio Hornblower of CS Forester (TV drama series), see their daring naval exploits as rip-roaring tall tales of adventure.
But in fact many of the colourful events and setting depicted in those famous fiction novels were pirated/borrowed from the real life adventures of Cochrane.
For example: CS Forester used Cochrane as his inspiration in Hornblower and the Hotspur and A Ship of the Line,
Patrick O’Brian drew on Cochrane in Master and Commander, The Reverse of the Medal and Blue at the Mizzen.
It is thought by some that Cochrane was the bravest naval commander who ever lived and, in my opinion, he leaves Horatio Nelson’s life story as disappointing second in many regards.
Cochrane was an inspiration to the British seaman and to the South American countries which placed their trust in him to secure their independence from Spain.
Photo: M. Muir - Stained glass window of Lord Thomas Cochrane – Maritime Museum, Valparaiso, Chile – the old Naval AcademyIn the same museum is a pair of Cochrane’s pistols which to me appeared enormously bulky and heavy.

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