Friday, July 28, 2006

Matthew Hervey

My relaxing time has enabled me to read two books by Allan Mallinson. Brigadier Mallinson is a serving cavalry officer in the British Army (nowadays the cavalry drives around in tanks and other armored vehicles). He originally trained for the Anglican priesthood before pursuing a successful military career. He has seen action in Cyprus, Malaya and Northern Ireland, and more recently piloted a desk.
"A Regimental Affair" and "A Call to Arms" follow the career of Matthew Hervey (pronounced Harvey) whom we first met at Waterloo. We follow him through a period with the Prince Regent in Brighton, then facing the Luddite uprising in Nottinghamshire and on to the aftermath of the Canadian war with America. We see him as a civilian again in Italy and then joined up once more in Bengal.

Mallinson has a feel for the early nineteenth century. We meet historical figures like Shelley in Rome, Henry Hunt, the radical politician and presider at Peterloo, and John Keble, the founder of the Oxford movement. We understand what it meant to belong to a regiment. We see the Christian virtues of loyalty, respect, self effacement and continence. We learn about leadership and tactics.

I learnt new words. Glebe - land going with a clergyman’s benefice; orlop - the lowest deck on a three deck ship; vidette - a look-out (from video, I see.)

The blurb says he is the natural successor to Patrick O'Brian.

He is certainly a refreshing change form Bush and Bin Laden.

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