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Fearsome in battle, chivalrous to a worthy foe, a father figure to his men – for readers of maritime novels he is a familiar hero.
Two other Pellew followers, George Bell and William Kempthorne, enjoyed his support in his service before winning commands, as did Aubrey’s Babbington and Mowett.But Cochrane, a socially awkward Scot, shared little else with genial, quintessentially English Aubrey.O’Brian denied any connection to Cochrane, insisting that the real model was his own brother, Michael. He was clearly familiar with the life of Pellew by C. Published in 1934, it told, among other things, how Pellew was a powerful swimmer who plunged into the sea at least six times to save crew members.His dealings with senior officers were perilously clumsy, yet his love for his men was as transparent as his desire for honour.Like Aubrey, Pellew’s career as a commander began in a blaze of glory. Closest of all was Jeremiah Coghlan, a young hand who volunteered to join his daring rescue of hundreds of men, women and children from the wreck of the troopship Dutton, off Plymouth, in 1796.
Fiction has been more successful than biography at bringing such men to life, whether in the shape of Aubrey or an earlier hero, Horatio Hornblower. Forester gave Edward Pellew a fictional role as mentor to young Midshipman Hornblower.