Mr. Midshipman Easy

by Frederick Marryat
314 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Lady Meriwen

Thoroughly enjoyable and historically accurate.


"Mr. Nicodemus Easy was a gentleman who lived down in Hampshire. He was a married man, and in very easy circumstances." With these lines we are introduced to the family of Our Hero, Mr. Jack Easy, and shortly afterward we are drawn into his singular adventures. After all, when a young man thoroughly doused in the principles of "equal treatment for all" and "arguing the point" is plunged into the life of the imperious and structured British Navy, what else is to be expected but adventure and amusement?


Equality of mankind is a main feature of the plot, and it's treated with humor, but not levity. According to the law of the British Navy, insubordination is the highest offense; this issue is addressed in light of Jack's equality principles. Jack goes from one extreme to the other throughout the course of the story, but he comes to a satisfying - and level-headed - conclusion at the end.

Jack gets into various scrapes from not obeying his commanding officers, or deceiving them, and usually regrets it. All of these escapades conclude favorably toward our hero, but may not always seem or be aboveboard.

Spiritual Content

The chaplain aboard ship isn't a very strong character. Christianity is referred to with respect when mentioned, which is seldom.


There's a fair amount of violence, which is only normal for the setting. For the most part it isn't graphically described, though one section in which the seamen are cleaning up the aftermath of a battle could be disturbing.

Drug and Alcohol Content

There's quite a lot of drinking aboard ship (and on land), and sometimes the characters are said to have "drunk a little too much." One character takes quack medicine.

Sexual Content

At one time an officer stumbles upon two young ladies who are in their petticoats; later he teases one of them about it. There are a few passionate kisses. One lieutenant is so large that he and his equally obese wife have trouble sharing their bed.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The seamen and officers swear ("Damn", "By the powers", "What the devil", etc.) Stronger oaths are referred to, but not written out. There is a humorous instance wherein an officer is forced to return to his ship without his trousers, having had them stolen from him.


From the Austen-like opening lines to the satisfying charm of the concluding paragraphs, this lively tale kept me fascinated and amused. Mr. Easy's coming-of-age journey is a joy to observe, and the exploits of his fellow seamen are alternately breathtaking and hilarious. Also I was thrilled to discover that before he became an author Captain Marryat had served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars - as did Mr. Midshipman Easy himself.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 13+

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