'What is Catalan?'

'Why, the language of Catalonia – of the islands, of the whole of the Mediterranean coast down to Alicante and beyond. Of Barcelona. Of Lerida. All the richest part of the peninsula.'

'You astonish me. I had no notion of it. Another language, sir? But I dare say it is much the same thing – a putain, as they say in French.'

'Oh no, nothing of the kind – not like at all. A far finer language. More learned, more literary. Much nearer the Latin. And by the by, I believe the word is patois, sir, if you will allow me.'

'Patois – just so. Yet I swear the other is a word: I learnt it somewhere,' said Jack.


Master and Commander - Patrick O’Brian

((OOC: Just in case you didn’t get it, putain = whore: patois = dialect))

But that is all in hand now,’ said Jack. ‘My coxswain is in the forepeak, seeing to the stowage; it will be perfectly safe now. And most fortunately the Doctor did not trust all his eggs in one basket, ha, ha, ha! Oh no, there are dozens of ‘em, each with a different kind — albatrosses’, petrels’, penguins’…’ Captain Aubrey could not finish: his mirth choked him. ‘All his eggs in one basket’ was not perhaps the very highest point of wit; but it was pretty lofty for him, and it was his own; and he drew so much honest merriment from it that his face, already mahogany-red from the sun and the wind, turned purple. His eyes vanished, and he laughed his deep, intensely amused laugh until the glasses rattled. Yorke watched him affectionately, and Stephen, noticing this, warmed to the Captain of La Flèche. (50 FW)
—  ♥ The Fortune of War, Patrick O’Brian
‘Yorke has her [La Flèche]. She just touches here, the time to pick up my despatches, and then she flies home as quick as an arrow. As quick as an arrow, Aubrey.’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Flèche is the French for an arrow, Aubrey.’
‘Oh, indeed? I was not aware. Very good, sir. Capital, upon my word. Quick as an arrow — I shall repeat that.’
‘I dare say you will, and pass it off as your own, too.’


‘[…] just long enough for Yorke to pull ashore to pick up the Admiral’s billet doux and a couple of men that are invaliding and us, and then away, trembling in every limb.’
‘A notoriously fragile ship, I find: very well — it is all of a piece.’
‘Quivering, I meant to say. The arrow quivering. Do you smoke it?’

In which Jack Aubrey does indeed appropriate the admiral’s pun and still manages to mangle it. Bless him.

The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian

Aye, aye, there they are: a noble spectacle, indeed. But why are they standing over towards Africa? And why only courses and topsails, with this light breeze? That one is even backing her maintopsail.’

‘She’s the Superb; she does so to keep her station and not overrun the Admiral, for she is a superb sailer, you know, the best in the fleet. Did you hear that?’


‘It was rather clever, I thought — witty.

Brace yourself, Stephen, the Aubreyisms are coming

Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brian

Oh, oh,’ said Jack, in a low tone, ‘here’s a pretty kettle of fish. In a King’s ship, too. I have always set my face against women aboard, and now look what they are at.’

‘One swallow does not make a summer, Jack, as you frequently observe.
—  Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian
Sophie is the beauty of the world; whereas although you are tolerably well-looking in your honest tarpaulin way, you are rather old and likely to grow older; too fat, and likely to grow even fatter — nay, obese.’ Jack looked at his belly and shook his head. ‘Horribly knocked about, earless, scarred: brother, you are no Adonis. Do not be wounded,’ he said, laying his hand on Aubrey’s knee, ‘when I say you are no Adonis.’

‘I never thought I was,’ said Jack.

‘Nor when I add that you are no Fox either: no flashing wit to counterbalance want of looks, wealth, grace and youth.’

‘Sure I never set up for a wit,’ said Jack. ‘Though I can bring out a good thing on occasion, given time.

HMS Surprise, Patrick O’Brian

Give me an Aubreyism over an acerbic Fox quote any day :)