Characters

In addition to the main characters of Taffy and Honoria, who are introduced in the Bodmin chapters and finally close the novel, there are a group of subsidiary players. These consist of the Rev. Samuel and Humility Raymond, Squire Moyle of Tredinnis, Sir Harry and George Vyell of Carwithiel, Lizzie Pezzack, the lighthouse keeper's daughter, and the Bryanite preacher Jacky Pascoe. They often initiate and carry the action, with Taffy and Honoria occupying a more passive role. In Chapter V, for instance, Squire Moyle and Sir Harry Vyell conduct a cock-fight at Tredinnis, with Honoria and Taffy as spectators, until Taffy is goaded by Moyle into confronting George. These characters provide the sub-plots. There is conflict between Samuel Raymond and Squire Moyle; Moyle is also in conflict with Sir Harry. George Vyell marries Honoria and conducts an affair with Lizzie Pezzack, while Jacky Pascoe enflames Moyle and destabilises Lizzie. In addition, a number of the secondary players attain symbolic importance, representing forces against which Taffy is compelled to struggle.

Taffy Raymond

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The central character of The Ship of Stars is Taffy Raymond, the Q figure. In the construction of Taffy Q is clearly drawing from his own experiences at Bodmin and Oxford. The people surrounding Taffy and the scenes he witnessed give the partial impression of being symbols, either constructive or destructive, around which Q’s creative imagination played. It is not difficult to see the Polperro revivalism of John Couch in the nightmare episodes relating to the Bible Christians, while Lizzie Pezzack is a public schoolboy’s image of the village temptress. The religion of Samuel Raymond is Bodmin Anglicanism, the secular hedonism of the Vyells the dominant philosophy of many of Q’s Oxford fellows and Taffy’s prophetic dreams an echo of the Quillers. The storm chapters represent the power and indifference of nature, with the drowned mariners as man’s essential helplessness, while the scenes of rural idyll capture the earthly paradise of childhood, from which we are driven by adult culpability. The success or failure of the novel is the degree to which Q has been able to resolve the dramatic tensions surrounding these symbols.

The reader is introduced to Taffy in the first paragraph of the novel. He is an innocent yet questioning child, reared in a devout and cultured environment. In the town square he has an encounter with Honoria Callastair, the girl who claims in the final chapter to possess his soul. Moyle has been arranging for Samuel Raymond to take the inauspicious living of Nannizabuloe. Taffy accepts the move with unquestioning obedience, encountering the journey with wonder rather than with fear. The first paragraph of Chapter IV reveals Taffy awakening in the parish rectory. There follows a description of the boy’s exploration of the sea-shore. Q is at his best in capturing the movement of the sand across the towans, showing more attention to detail than is found in similar scenes from Ia. In part this is because he is conveying the experience of a child, with all its transparency, one of Q’s attributes as a writer. Yet paradise for Taffy quickly turns to purgatory as the wheel of fortune spins. Moyle suddenly appears with his hounds, the gore of a dead fox is smeared over Taffy’s face, while Honoria looks on with apparent indifference. Both in the town scene and at the cock-fight, where Sir Harry and George Vyell are introduced, the vulnerable innocence of childhood is set against the menace of corrupted adulthood. The evocations of a threatened paradise, whether related to Taffy, Honoria or George, Q uses as a yardstick by which adult actions are judged. In this he reverses the usual practice. In The Ship of Stars only Taffy retains the integrity of childhood, accepting the betrayal and anguish resulting, thus fulfilling the philosophy later to be outlined in the essay ‘Shelley III’.

Taffy’s apparent sense of invincible integrity, however, is a weakness as well as a strength. Both Honoria Callastair and the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Lizzie Pezzack, make sexual advances. Lizzie confronts him at the forge one lonely evening, with a clumsy embarrassment as his only response. Honoria’s approach is more mature. She desires marriage, calling at the rectory before Taffy’s removal to Oxford and again at his dwelling at the conclusion of the novel; but on each occasion he is unable to respond romantically. Taffy exhibits only two emotional attachments. Firstly to his all adoring mother, the one who sees Honoria off on both times when she calls. Secondly to George Vyell, for whom he has ‘half-crazy adoration’. Taffy’s passionate feelings for George, described at the close of Chapter VII, contrasts markedly with his coolness towards Honoria and Lizzie. This makes the hysterical outburst of Honoria at the close of the novel, ‘He is lost, but I possess him’, somewhat unconvincing. Humility Raymond is the real possessor of Taffy’s soul.

Taffy’s relationship with Honoria contrasts with Ia Rosemundy’s with Paul Heathcote in Ia. Paul is sexually immature, but is awakened by Ia. This makes Ia’s outburst of possession at the conclusion of the novel quite convincing. With Honoria, Q appears to be lifting a previous ending for the sake of convenience but without psychological justification. It is not until The Mayor of Troy, in the courtship of Miss Marty and Dr. Handsomebody, that Q escapes from his puritanical straightjacket into sensitive romance.

The progress of the novel reveals Taffy’s loss of religious faith. With many men rising sexuality either confirms or erodes belief. In Taffy’s case this is irrelevant. The opening chapters of the novel show Taffy’s unquestioning acceptance of his parents’ Anglicanism. In Chapter XII Honoria and Taffy are prepared for confirmation into the Church of England by the Rev. Raymond. Taffy is enthused yet suffers from the fear of an angry God. This probably reflects Q’s experience when staying with his grandparents at Newton Abbot. Q had more reason for the neurosis than does Taffy. The turning point in Taffy’s religious thought comes when Sir Harry Vyell takes George and Taffy to the pantomime in Plymouth, where a secular world of colour and vitality is opened up. The idea of secular happiness overcomes that of religious duty. Yet a residue remains, constraining him to purchase The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, a classic of Catholic spirituality, of which John Wesley made a personal edition. On returning to Nannizabuloe the volume is symbolically dropped on the chancel steps. The desecration of his father’s church by Squire Moyle is the final nail in any belief in a benevolent deity.

With his scholarship to Oxford Taffy’s doubts are confirmed, as is revealed in letter number five to Honoria. His eventual confirmation by the bishop back at Nannizabuloe only temporarily returns him to the ‘still waters of faith’. Chapter XXII sees Taffy again at Oxford where he has a vision, while standing on the roof of Magdalen Tower with the bell pealing in the evening sun, of all men as brothers praising the creator in a celebration of ‘pagan’ joy. Nowhere is Q’s radical pacifism more clearly expressed than in this passage – written but 15 years before the opening of the First World War. Yet the transitoriness of human hope and happiness is also contained within the novel. The death of Samuel Raymond and the revelation of Honoria’s financial help bring his university days to a close. The final bleak chapters reveal Taffy dedicating his life to the service of mariners, as at the close of Castle Dor Johnny and Mary Bosanko dedicate theirs to the healing of the sick. Taffy’s eventual philosophy is stoicism.

Squire Moyle

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Type of character 
Fictional but based on historical fact

Moyle of Tredinnis is a typical eighteenth century figure, parading through Bodmin town square in a dilapidated silk hat, cut-away coat and knee-breaches. A number of accounts of such nominally Anglican, fox-hunting squires can be found in the journals of John Wesley. Moyle possesses an unstable and superstitious temperament, veering between the pleasures of hunting, cock-fighting and gaming on the one hand and remorseful conviction on the other. This conflict between the sacred and the profane parallels the early life of Captain Harry Carter, a character satirised in Q’s short story ‘King O’Prussia’. Devoid of religious concerns Moyle might have come straight out of Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities (1838) or Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour  (1853) by R.S. Surtees. Q appears to have known the latter novel for the farming family of ‘Springwheat’ gives the impression of having been the model for Mr. and Mrs. Joll, whose farm abutted Mendarva forge, where Taffy laboured as an apprentice.

The parish of Perranzabuloe itself provides another insight into the character of Moyle. The curate in charge from 1842 to 1846 was the Rev. William Haslem, whose experiences are recounted in From Death to Life (1976). His wealthiest parishioner was an uneducated mine captain, whose uncomfortable disposition was compensated for by the renting of a large box seat in the parish church. From Moyle’s box seat, only the top of his bald head was visible. The mine captain owned a substantial property, of which he used but two rooms, and he developed a penchant for revivalistic preaching. The similarity to Moyle is clear. Haslem’s account dates from the 1870s, which is the latest date a Moyle figure would have existed. From actual experience Q could have known no-one like him. As an aside, Rowse informs us of how the historical family of Moyle, sporting the appropriate crest, lived at Trevissick, near St. Austell, but emigrated to America, where their descendants now live in Salt Lake City. Moyle is Cornish dialect for mule.

In The Ship of Stars Squire Moyle is portrayed as the product of an old established family, with the parish living in his possession. His deceased wife was a certain Suzannah Trevanion from the Roseland peninsula. The Trevanions were associated by marriage to the Byrons, so in real life, Suzannah would have been a relative of Lord Byron. Before the opening of the novel Moyle’s daughter absconded with a penniless captain called Callastair, a suitably Byronic touch, and Honoria had been born in India. With the demise of both parents Honoria returned to Tredinnis, where she was called upon to tolerate her grandfather’s vagaries. These increasingly centre upon the state of his soul, an inherited obsession. The nebulous theology of Raymond provides little comfort, with the result that Moyle becomes obsessed with the Wesleyan doctrine of conversion, wrongly interpreted as ‘instant conversion’. The failure of this experience to materialise and relieve him of his fears produces increased moral effort, with Jacky Pascoe encouraging him to ‘try harder’. This takes the reader back to the sermon of Paul Heathcote on the island at Ardevora in the novel Ia. As Hammer is the objective observer of Heathcote’s sermon, so Lizzie and Honoria observe Pascoe’s inflaming of Moyle at the Bryanite chapel. The reader is left with little doubt of the writer’s disapproving attitude to revivalistic religion. How far Q has truly portrayed it, the religion of his own grandfather, is a debatable point.

The character of Moyle moves from the absurd to the grotesque in Chapter XVII, when a revival is ‘organised’ to concur with the Midsummer bonfires. In fact, as Hamilton Jenkin explains (1961, pp. 184-187), services were organised but revivals were spontaneous. There follows a paganised procession, including flaring torches, smoke and confusion, led by a libidinous Lizzie Pezzack and lashed to fury by Moyle’s claims of salvation. With a spurious assurance the squire commences a ‘Devil Hunt’, which ends with his death inside the church as his hounds bay at the door. One can but imagine what Dr. Jonathan Couch would have made of such writing. Yet Q’s target is clear. It was revivalistic religion in its Bible Christian (Bryanite) form. His justification was probably a story related by R.S. Hawker, the Anglo-Catholic vicar of Morwenstow, a parish on the north Cornish coast above Perranzabuloe.

For more details of Hawker's story, see here.

 

Sir Harry Vyell

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Type of character 
Fictional but based on historical fact

A character whose portrayal stands in marked contrast to that of Squire Moyle is baronet Sir Harry Vyell. In the dedication Q reveals the basis of Vyell as a fox-hunter, who lived near Liskeard, as described in Collier’s memoir of Harry Terrell. In The Ship of Stars Sir Harry Vyell and his son George are introduced in Chapter VI, ‘A Cock-fight’. The immediate impression given to the reader is that Vyell is on the material and cultural level of Squire Moyle, an uneducated country landowner. He initially uses Moyle’s dialect, ‘Just to comfort ‘ee now’, and succumbs to the same crude pleasures. Yet his secularism and his ability to cynically manipulate Moyle’s sensibilities show him to be an altogether more sophisticated character. Gradually we learn how he is Oxford educated, keeps a library and is tended by impeccable servants. Country sports and the democracy of the hunting field save him from overmuch aristocratic stiffness. Nor is he too grand to engage in or enjoy buffoonery. Vyell’s innocent merriment at the Plymouth pantomime in Chapter XII is in contrast to his not so innocent bating of Moyle in Chapter VI. Knowing how the Squire is unable to resist a sporting challenge, Sir Harry deliberately brings a fighting cock to Tredinnis on a Sunday. Moyle quickly surrenders, in spite of the pricks of conscience, is humiliated by defeat and doubly humiliated through the sudden appearance of the Rev. Raymond. With an ashen Moyle clutching his bible, Vyell tumbles the youngsters out of the window, while remaining within just long enough to enjoy the discomfiture of the squire. The buffoonery cloaks the calculated cruelty of the baronet.

Following the cock-fight Sir Harry Vyell becomes a figure heard off-stage for the next six chapters, covering a period of over two years. This is an idyllic time for George, Honoria and Taffy, but a troubled one for Moyle. The conclusion comes with the reintroduction of Sir Harry in Chapter XII. He proposes taking Taffy and George to Plymouth for a production of Jack the Giant Killer. After the restricted religious world of the parsonage, the vibrance and freedom of the theatre captures Taffy’s imagination. At the same time he becomes increasingly aware of a secular culture to which the Vyells belong but the Raymonds do not. The city with its horse-races, hotels, warships and nightlife is Sir Harry’s world. He is able to surrender to it as the more puritanical Taffy is not. Yet below the gaiety there is the whiff of corruption, symbolised in the playing cards abandoned amongst the drained glasses. The Plymouth episode is a brilliant vignette, with Q capturing the essence of the city, while exercising a remarkable economy of words.

Sir Harry’s hedonistic character shows its most attractive and generous side in the pantomime chapter. His underlying irresponsibility is not fully exposed until Chapter XXII. Taffy has returned from Oxford surrounded by allegations of having fathered a child by Lizzie Pezzack. On learning of Honoria’s financial contributions to his education, along with rumours circulated by George, he goes to Carwithiel, only to find the couple absent. In need of mature advice and with his father dead, Taffy decides to consult Sir Harry, who is indulging himself on a luncheon of cutlets and claret. Sir Harry seeks a discussion of Oxford, his old university, not the disagreeable topic which troubles Taffy. The consequences of profligacy with the lower orders is of little interest to him, so that he is unable to comprehend the young man’s concern. The discussion ends with little satisfaction on either side. It is only later that the reader learns the true significance of the whole episode. The child whom Sir Harry is so easily dismissing happens to be his own grandson, and with the subsequent death of George the only direct descendant he will ever have. Q could not have shown up Sir Harry in sharper relief.

While throughout the novel Q presents Squire Moyle in an increasingly bizarre way, the personality of Sir Harry attains delineation and realism. One of the most devastating scenes in the novel involves him, with the restraint and brevity of the writing adding to its power. Following the death of George, Sir Harry’s only son, an inquest is held. Sir Harry attends, giving a nod and taking snuff as the verdict is given. At the funeral, which as a religious  service could mean nothing to him, he is an anonymous mourner. The scene moves to Tree-barrow Brake, where Squire Willyams, who has taken over the hounds, has arranged a hunt to follow the funeral breakfast. Leaving the gates of Carwithiel the mourners remove their black hat-bands before crossing the valley. To their amazement Sir Harry follows suit. This brings forth a character portrait from the conversation of one of the hunters. Sir Harry is a heartless and unfeeling atheist, who was reared in French free-thinking circles. Squire Willyams, discomfited by the accurate yet insensitive comment, demands a proper silence. It is unavailing and under questioning Sir Harry reveals how he fears nothing so much as solitude. Sir Harry’s world of secular materialism is exposed as spiritually dead, with the debonair gentleman defenceless in the face of tragedy. Little could Q guess how twenty years hence he too would face the loss of an only son in the influenza epidemic of 1919. It is to Q’s credit that although he is aware of Vyell’s shallowness, he presents the character with sympathy. This gives the tragedy a special edge. It stands in marked contrast to Q’s treatment of Moyle.

 

George Vyell

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Another fascinating character is Sir Harry’s son, George Vyell, the sole heir to Carwithiel. He is introduced to the reader in Chapter VI ‘A Cock Fight’ as a handsome and relaxed gentleman’s son. Although he is quite willing to fight Taffy at the instigation of Squire Moyle, he does it without rancour and immediately afterwards forms a close friendship with his proposed opponent. The short following chapter is devoted to George, establishing him as an important secondary actor. The scene is the parsonage, where George, Honoria and Taffy meet for Latin lessons given by Mr. Raymond. Sir Harry is too lazy to give lessons himself, although he is more erudite than the vicar. Of the three pupils George is the least academic, being denigrated for his ‘uncommon slowness’. George’s real interests are boxing and fishing; thus Chapter X ‘A Happy Day’ shows him at his best, angling in the river and recounting a version of the Lyonesse myth. Yet he prefers the tales of Taffy, with their ‘hints and echoes’ of other stories. The chapter is a study of adolescent friendship between three quite distinct types. The emotion is light and fleeting, the occupations absorbing yet inconsequential. This chapter is one of the most attractive in the book. Its basis is realism, free from satire, moralising or the bizarre.

Voltaire does not appear to be an author with whom Q had more than a professional interest, yet there is a certain similarity between ‘A Happy Day’ and certain sections of Candide (1758): the exploration of spontaneous and uncorrupted characters against a backdrop of unspoilt nature. The youngsters are not sentimentalised as pure and virtuous, nor darkened by original sin, but explore their natural potentialities within a humanist paradigm. The threat from religious fanaticism and hedonism, or the destructive power of nature is always there, yet it is held at bay. Unlike Taffy George is untouched by religion. His temptation lies in the follies of his sophisticated father: follies he lacks his father’s intellect to navigate.

Sir Harry is all too aware of his son’s weaknesses. One evening Vyell arrives at Nannizabuloe church bemoaning his boy’s profligacy. Apparently George had refused Oxford, partly through limitations of intellect and partly through wildness. Frequently he fails to return home at night. Next we hear in Chapter XX that on the basis of present loneliness and past happiness Honoria is removing to Carwithiel to marry George. This relationship between the steady and devout Honoria and the wild and profligate George seems quite incongruous. But not so much as the sudden transformation of George from the Latin illiterate in Samuel Raymond’s study, to the continental tourist with French and Italian at his easy command. Honoria’s honeymoon letter to Taffy, irrespective of any over-writing on the part of the young wife, presents George as a suddenly mature and cultured husband. The later chapters where George is shown to be a liar with an illegitimate son, reconnects the reader with the earlier individual. As with Sir Harry, so with George, there is something noble in the tragedy.

Lizzie Pezzack

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Although Sir Harry and George Vyell are morally flawed human beings, the reader can empathise with their concerns. Moyle, except on brief occasions, and Jacky Pascoe exist outside the parameters of normality. Lizzie Pezzack lies somewhere between the two, at times being a standard working class girl and at others a sensual vamp. She is introduced in Chapter X, ‘A Happy Day’, as a timid and immature proletarian of 14, begging money for her May-doll from Honoria. Although Honoria is younger, she has the presence to appear older and command the situation. The contrast between the two is evident in the next chapter, ‘Lizzie and Honoria’, where Lizzie comes begging for her May-doll to be returned. In emphasising the difference in maturity between the two adolescent girls Q is clearly making a case for the importance of education. By Chapter XV Lizzie is 17 years old, has a fear of ghosts and is in the employment of Farmer Joll. There is a remarkable similarity between the industrious and prosperous Jolls and the family of ‘Springwheat’ from Chapter XXVI of Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour by R.S. Surtees (1853). That is until Jacky Pascoe arrives. Pascoe makes his entry into the home of the Jolls as do the disreputable Lord Scamperdale and his side-kick Jack into the parlour of the Springwheats. On both occasions the ordered scene begins to disintegrate. Pascoe’s religious hysteria and Lizzie’s sensuality produce a whirling-dervish type dance. Eventually they all sit down to supper, just as Scamperdale and his friends sit down at the Springwheats for a hunt breakfast.

Q’s portrayal of the relationship between revivalism and sexual hysteria in the kitchen of the Jolls reflects Hawker’s views of the Bible Christians. This is reinforced in Chapter XVI, when Lizzie, who has religion from Jacky Pascoe, endeavours to seduce Taffy at the Smithy. Then in the following chapter she is portrayed writhing at the head of the torch-lit Midsummer ‘devil hunt’. Progressively she has as a character degenerated from a pathetic girl to an adolescent seductress and finally to a figure of phantasmagoria.

Realism returns many chapters later, when she and Taffy stand at the church gate to watch the wedding of Honoria and George. Her threatened cursing appears to be the expression of class consciousness. Unknown to the reader she is, in fact, carrying George’s child. Even a description in Chapter XIII of the bleak cottage where she lives with her crippled son and father produces not so much compassion as a distaste for the barrenness of life. Q’s presentation of the lives of the native Cornish working population frequently emphasises bleakness. It is very different from that presented by novelists such as Ballantyne in Deep Down (1868) and the Hocking brothers.

Lizzie Pezzack’s immature and hysterical attitude is again revealed on the occasion of the wreck of the Samaritan. She reacts with helpless panic to the loss of her son along the cliffside, but laughs triumphantly when he is rescued, even though at the cost of the rescuer’s, George Vyell’s, life. Immaturity becomes callousness, when with Joey in her arms, Lizzie confronts the figure of Honoria ensconced in her coach. At this point a chance remark let slip from the unreflective Lizzie intimates the true identity of the boy’s father. The inevitable confrontation between Lizzie and Honoria occurs in the penultimate chapter. Lizzie’s uneducated cunning is set against Honoria’s wounded dignity. Pain and triumph ring through Lizzie’s words, while Honoria’s finer emotions are lacerated. Yet, as Lizzie leaves, hysterically laughing and crying, Honoria’s composure ensures her the moral high ground. Lizzie, like Moyle, elicits from Q no compassion. She is a figure not quite from the world of humankind.

Honoria Callastair

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Honoria Callastair is one of the most interesting and attractive of Q’s characters. Her virtues and vices relate to the lives of the ordinary reader. There is more substance to her than Taffy, just as Ia outshines Paul Heathcote. It is unfortunate, therefore, that for sections of the novel she disappears from the scene, with her development left inadequately explored. Even so, neither Lizzie Pezzack nor Humility Raymond compare as characters. The dramatic importance of Honoria is shown through her early introduction into the novel, when she accompanies her grandfather to Bodmin. It is also revealed at the other end of the work where she dominates the closing chapter. Even though she is worsted by Humility Raymond before Taffy, she is the most substantial person on stage and the loss lies with Taffy.

Honoria was born in India following the elopement of Moyle’s only daughter, Susannah, with a penniless army officer. Having a Trevanion mother from the Roseland peninsula, she would have been a distant relation to Lord Byron. Following the demise of her parents she returns to Cornwall to be reared at Tredinnis. With the vagaries of her early life and the eccentricities of her grandfather, it is difficult to account for her sensitive and balanced temperament. Q’s tendency to accumulate extraneous detail does not always aid comprehension. If she had turned out like Lizzie Pezzack and Lizzie like Honoria, the reader would have been less mystified.

We first meet Honoria and her grandfather in the town square of Bodmin, although Taffy reports having seen them in church on the previous day. Honoria sports a Leghorn hat of Italian straw, the gift, no doubt, of a smuggler. The smuggler Harry Carter, from Q’s King O’Prussia, was at Leghorn over Christmas 1788. His spiritual condition at the time resembled Moyle’s in Chapter VIII. Echoing Uncle Issey in The Looe Die-hards, Carter and Moyle are ‘unconverted’ men. At Leghorn Carter finds no-one, including the Anglican cleric, able to provide ‘advice consarning my soul’. Moyle hopes to find such from Raymond at Bodmin and is sufficiently impressed to offer him the living. Honoria, innocent of the transactions within the ‘gate-house’, converses with Taffy. During the chapter, Honoria’s touching appearance and enigmatic character are contrasted with her grandfather’s antiquated dress and gruff indifference. While Moyle converses with Samuel Raymond, she is left in the square, dangling her feet from the cannon and verbally out-manouvering Taffy. As she and her grandfather leave Bodmin, Taffy is left with a sense of feminine ambiguity. This quality Q places at the centre of her personality, for it appears present in her relationships with Taffy, George Vyell and Moyle. Maybe Q himself could not finally make up his mind.

In Chapter VI we have a picture of Honoria at home after church, with her portfolio of sketches and surrounded by Italian watercolours. The apartment was originally the drawing-room of her Trevanion grandmother, and from that side of the family she has inherited a certain refinement and artistic sensibility. How it flowered in the fox-hunting, cock-fighting atmosphere of Tredinnis is left unexplained. Honoria is capable of contemplating a priceless statuette, a dead cock or a dismembered fox with the same ‘untroubled eyes’. The masculine outdoor pursuits of Taffy and George are indulged in with carefree innocence, drawing forth some of Q’s finest paragraphs. Yet in Chapter XIII she chides Taffy for not being a gentleman. As a scholar she has better application than George or Taffy, although failing to discern any purpose in education. At home she is beaten and neglected.

Little is revealed of Honoria’s growing maturity during her middle teens. It comes as a surprise, therefore, when after the death of Moyle she enters the Raymond’s parlour exhibiting all the traits of a lady. Her motives are mixed. She wishes to heal the rift between the parsonage and Tredinnis occasioned by her grandfather’s behaviour, in part by offering to subsidise Taffy’s university education. She is also touting in her finery for Taffy himself – to no avail, as Taffy remains indifferent. The result is her growing isolation at Tredinnis. As she is neither shy nor poor and in possession of numerous family connections, it is difficult to comprehend her disinterest in the social attractions of Truro, only a few miles to the south. This self-imposed isolation forces her into the arms of the profligate George Vyell.

Marriage to George, a match inappropriate for both participants, results in the European Tour, yachting at Falmouth and moderate happiness. Then George’s insinuation of Taffy as having fathered Lizzie Pezzack’s son causes Honoria to withdraw the educational maintenance. It is difficult to comprehend how she could have believed this of someone so sexually unawakened as Taffy. How could the uneducated and unwashed Lizzie have succeeded where she herself had failed? Yet the scenes where Honoria appears are vivid. This is particularly true following the death of George. The confrontation with Lizzie in Chapter XXVIII provides her with a nobility equalled only by Ia at the conclusion to Ia. It is equalled by no one else in The Ship of Stars. The closest are Samuel Raymond’s various confrontations, but he always carries an element of stiff aloofness. Honoria’s dignity is carried through into the final chapter of the novel. She still hopes to capture Taffy, only he is unable to respond, preferring instead the undemanding adoration of his mother. Q’s assertion of Honoria as having become the dreamer and Taffy the practical man of affairs rings unconvincingly, while Honoria’s final hysterical outburst is the demeaning of a fine character so as to protect the image of Taffy. In truth, Taffy is no more than an elevated Paul Heathcote. Marriage to Honoria would have disposed of the element of prissiness in his personality, thus making him a more rounded individual. Q’s failure to confront a mature romantic relationship is as inexplicable as it is regrettable, especially as he had been himself married for a number of years.

Samuel Raymond

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Type of character 
Fictional but based on historical fact

The Rev. Samuel Raymond acts as a foil to his son Taffy but also symbolises much more. He represents Q’s model cleric in being university educated, an upholder of established religion and theologically vague. Around him swirl the unstable forces haunting Q’s political imagination: a hedonistic and irresponsible governing class on one side, with on the other a leaderless working class, open to exploitation, fecklessness and sexual excess.

Samuel Raymond stands as a symbol of responsibility in matters of religion. As a symbol Raymond is very effective, as a character less so. His personality appears distant and lacking in genuine feeling. There is too little vice in his virtue for the reader to empathise with.

Samuel Raymond was born at Tewkesbury, attended Christ Church in Oxford, was married at 24 and served on the staff of Bodmin church. His services are secured in Chapter II of the novel by Squire Moyle, who holds the living of Nannizabuloe (Perranzabuloe) on the north coast. The Raymond family are conveyed from Bodmin to the Indian Queen inn, on the western edge of Goss Moor, aboard the Vital Spark, owned by J. Job.The Raymonds arrive in Nannizabuloe to find the religious element of the population catered for by Methodism, either in its Wesleyan or its Bible Christian form.

It is likely that the character of Samuel Raymond is based on two historical individuals – Robert Hawker and William Haslam.

Robert Hawker came to the parish of Morwenstow, near the Devon border, in 1834 and found it as indifferent to Anglicanism as does Raymond in Nannizabuloe. The parish had been evangelised by Bible Christians. Hawker opposed them, endeavouring to win them back to the Established Church and in consequence incited considerable opposition. although never of a violent kind. The parallel between Hawker and Raymond is clear.

William Haslam, the other model for Raymond, was also a controversial figure in mid nineteenth century Cornwall, but for very different reasons and was eventually forced out by the ecclesiastical authorities.

For more on Raymond and the real-life characters on which he was based, see the article ‘Samuel Raymond and Jacky Pascoe’.

Jackie Pascoe

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Type of character 
Fictional but based on historical fact

Jacky Pascoe is an intinerant preacher who promotes an emotional approach to Christianity that is at odds with the established church of which Rev. Samuel Raymond was a part. He is a Bryanite or Bible Christian and there is some evidence that his character was based on a nineteenth century Bryanite preacher called Billy Bray.

The novel describes the arrival of Pascoe at the parsonage after he is the sole survivor of a wreck and appears remarkably unconcerned about the fate of the others in the vessel he was in. He is described as a small man with a balding head with greying whisps drawn forward from the ears, with face shaven and puckered.

After encouraging the disastrous ‘devil hunt’ Pascoe regrets the influence he has had on Squire Moyle. After the death of Moyle, he writes an abject letter to Raymond and leaves the village.

You can read more about Jacky Pascoe and Billy Bray in this article ‘Samuel Raymond and Jacky Pascoe’.