Stephen Maturin in his diary…meditating on life. Not a terribly appropriate type of sentiment for a man (me) on the eve of his tenth wedding anniversary, but Maturin, like all of us, is sometimes subject to these meditations. I am not tonight, but I have been before, and will be again.

Hatred the only moving force, a petulant unhappy striving – childhood the only happiness, and that unknowing; then the continual battle that cannot ever possibly be won; a losing fight against ill-health – poverty for nearly all. Life is a long disease with only one termination and its last years are appalling: weak, racked by the stone, rheumatismal pains, senses going, friends, family, occupation gone, a man must pray for imbecility or a heart of stone. All under sentence of death, often ignominious, frequently agonizing: and then the unspeakable levity with which the faint chance of happiness is thrown away for some jealousy, tiff, sullenness, private vanity, mistaken sense of honour, that deadly, weak and silly notion.