Hornblower and the Hotspur
Publication 1962
Publication Order
Preceded by
Hornblower in the West Indies
Followed by
Hornblower and the Crisis
Apr 1803 Jul 1805
Preceded by
Lieutenant Hornblower
Followed by
Hornblower and the Crisis

Hornblower and the Hotspur, published 1962, was the tenth Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester. By internal chronology, it is the third in the series, following Lieutenant Hornblower.

Plot SummaryEdit

With the Peace of Amiens under strain and war with France under Napoleon Bonaparte imminent in May 1803, Hornblower is promoted from Lieutenant to Commander and appointed to command the sloop HMS Hotspur. While readying for sea, he hastily marries the daughter of his landlady, Maria, at the Garrison Church, Portsmouth. However, Hornblower marries her not out of love but out of pity, and is forced to exercise his acting ability to make her believe that he genuinely loves her.

Hotspur reconnoitres the approaches to the French naval base of Brest, and narrowly avoids capture when war is declared. Once the British fleet blockades Brest, Hornblower's restlessness and perfectionism prompts him to lead attacks and landing parties. He uses a fund of gold francs provided by the Admiralty to gently bribe the local fishermen for information about the readiness of the French squadron in Brest. He keeps his ship well up into the inlet at Brest, sliding in under cover of rain, night or snow. He knows the tides, winds, soundings and his ships capabilities to perfection, allowing him to navigate just outside of the enemy's ability to catch him.

On one of these night reconnaissances, he intercepts a force of two French frigates escorting several more ships stripped of guns to carry thousands of French troops. He imitates the coloured lights used by the French convoy, and slips in among them. He fires repeated on the transports at point blank range, damaging three and causing them to wreck in the inlet. Slipping out before dawn, he finds the British fleet, alerted by his action, has chased down one of the armed frigates. In all, Hornblower's daring night action has disabled a French plan to land troops on Ireland and cause a rebellion.

Although gaining a good reputation, Hornblower makes no financial profit from his activities. When Admiral William Cornwallis tries to put him in a position where he can make easy prize money by capturing a large shipment of Spanish gold, he instead takes on a stronger enemy frigate sent to warn the convoy and keeps it from accomplishing its mission. Eventually, by superior seamanship and skill, he drives it away. Hornblower rationalises that this as poetic justice, after he had earlier connived to facilitate the escape of his steward, who was facing hanging for striking a petty officer. It later transpires that the prize ships were claimed by the Admiralty, as war had not been officially declared against Spain at the time of the capture, so Hornblower would not have profited in any case.

Upon his return home, Hornblower has a son, and is recommended for promotion to Post Captain by Cornwallis.

External Links Edit