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Jacob Faithful by Frederick Marryat

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Jacob Faithful, by Captain Marryat.

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Captain Frederick Marryat was born July 10 1792, and died August 8 1848. He retired from the British navy in 1828 in order to devote himself to writing. In the following 20 years he wrote 26 books, many of which are among the very best of English literature, and some of which are still in print.

Marryat had an extraordinary gift for the invention of episodes in his stories. He says somewhere that when he sat down for the day's work, he never knew what he was going to write. He certainly was a literary genius.

"Jacob Faithful" was published in 1834, the fifth book to flow from Marryat's pen. The story tells the life and adventures of a boy who was born and brought up on a lighter (small river-barge) on the River Thames as it flows through London. It gives an extremely interesting contemporary picture of life in London and on the river in the early part of the nineteenth century.

This e-text was transcribed in 1998 by Nick Hodson, and was reformatted in 2003, and again in 2005.

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JACOB FAITHFUL, BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.

CHAPTER ONE.

MY BIRTH, PARENTAGE, AND FAMILY PRETENSIONS--UNFORTUNATELY I PROVE TO BE A DETRIMENTAL OR YOUNGER SON, WHICH IS REMEDIED BY A TRIFLING ACCIDENT-- I HARDLY RECEIVE THE FIRST ELEMENTS OF SCIENCE FROM MY FATHER, WHEN THE ELEMENTS CONSPIRE AGAINST ME, AND I AM LEFT AN ORPHAN.

Gentle reader, I was born upon the water--not upon the salt and angry ocean, but upon the fresh and rapid-flowing river. It was in a floating sort of box, called a lighter, and upon the river Thames, at low water, when I first smelt the mud. This lighter was manned (an expression amounting to bullism, if not construed _kind_-ly) by my father, my mother, and your humble servant. My father had the sole charge--he was monarch of the deck: my mother, of course, was queen, and I was the heir-apparent.

Before I say one word about myself, allow me dutifully to describe my parents. First, then, I will portray my queen mother. Report says, that when she first came on board of the lighter, a lighter figure and a lighter step never pressed a plank; but as far as I can tax my recollection, she was always a fat, unwieldy woman. Locomotion was not to her taste--gin was. She seldom quitted the cabin--never quitted the lighter: a pair of shoes may have lasted her for five years for the wear and tear she took out of them. Being of this domestic habit, as all married women ought to be, she was always to be found when wanted; but although always at hand, she was not always on her feet. Towards the close of the day, she lay down upon her bed--a wise precaution when a person can no longer stand. The fact was, that my honoured mother, although her virtue was unimpeachable, was frequently seduced by liquor; and although constant to my father, was debauched and to be found in bed with that insidious assailer of female uprightness--_gin_. The lighter, which might have been compared to another garden of Eden, of which my mother was the Eve, and my father the Adam to consort with, was entered by this serpent who tempted her; and if she did not eat, she drank, which was even worse. At first, indeed--and I may mention it to prove how the enemy always gains admittance under a specious form--she drank it only to keep the cold out of her stomach, which the humid atmosphere from the surrounding water appeared to warrant. My father took his pipe for the same reason; but, at the time that I was born, he smoked and she drank from morning to night, because habit had rendered it almost necessary to their existence. The pipe was always to his lip, the glass incessantly to hers. I would have defied any cold ever to have penetrated into their stomachs;--but I have said enough of my mother for the present; I will now pass on to my father.


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