More on the Patrick O’Brian books… I think one of the saddest things about our society is how many human skills seem to be atrophying. We see the men and women of the nineteenth century driving horses, playing music, writing letters, putting on impromptu plays and dabbling in poetry, keeping journals about the wildlife in their back yards…. now, yes, yes, I know, it was the leisure class that was doing all this, not the poor people toiling in the factories. But we have so much leisure now, and what do we have to show for it?