The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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James Gilbert / The Governor Character Analysis

Gilbert begins the novel as the commodore of the First Fleet. Once in New South Wales, he becomes the monarch by proxy and becomes the governor. He sails on the Sirius with Rooke, though he's never particularly warm or friendly. Though Rooke can't be sure, he believes Gilbert is this way because he's in constant pain; Surgeon Weymark performs regular treatments to try to relieve the pain, but nothing seems to help. Though Gilbert initially appears to fully intend to carry out the king's command to initiate friendly contact with the natives, his approaches tell a different story. He first orders Lieutenant Gardiner to forcibly capture two native men, and when a native spears Brugden, Gilbert sends out a punitive expedition. The expedition is tasked with capturing or killing six natives. When Rooke later informs Gilbert that he regrets agreeing to go on the punitive expedition, Gilbert sends Rooke back to England.

James Gilbert / The Governor Quotes in The Lieutenant

The The Lieutenant quotes below are all either spoken by James Gilbert / The Governor or refer to James Gilbert / The Governor. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove edition of The Lieutenant published in 2008.
Part 2, Chapter 5 Quotes

Gamekeeper! The word suggested the society that Lancelot Percival James had boasted of at the Academy: pheasants and deer in a park artfully planted to enhance the prospect, cheerful peasantry tipping their caps to the squires riding by.

But New South Wales was no gentleman's estate...and the gamekeeper was a criminal who had been given a gun.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

Rooke could see that there was a dangerous ambiguity to the presence of a thousand of His Majesty's subjects in this place. No such understanding was possible without language to convey it, and persons to whom the news could be delivered. And yet it seemed that the silence might continue indefinitely.

Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

Rooke said nothing more. There was a question forming in the back of his mind, which he did not want to hear. It was: What would I have done in the same place?

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 6 Quotes

Warungin was not thinking punishment, justice, impartial. All he could see was that the Berewalgal had gathered in their best clothes to inflict pain beyond imagining on one of their own. Seen through his eyes, this ceremony was not an unfortunate but necessary part of the grand machine of civilization. It looked like a choice. When those fine abstractions fell away, all that remained was cruelty.

Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

He had made that choice, because he was a lieutenant in His Majesty's Marine Force.

There it was, in the very words. Force was his job. If he was a soldier, he was as much a part of that cruelty as the man who had wielded the whip.

Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

It was the simplest thing in the world. If an action was wrong, it did not matter whether it succeeded or not, or how many clever steps you took to make sure it failed. If you were part of such an act, you were part of its wrong. You did not have to take up the hatchet or even to walk along with the expedition.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Lieutenant PDF

James Gilbert / The Governor Character Timeline in The Lieutenant

The timeline below shows where the character James Gilbert / The Governor appears in The Lieutenant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 1
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Commodore James Gilbert is above Captain Barton in the chain of command. Gilbert is an angular and joyless... (full context)
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Every day at noon, Rooke, Captain Barton, and Gilbert make their way to the belly of the ship to the timekeeper, which is always... (full context)
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When the fleet reaches the shores of New South Wales, Commodore Gilbert decides that Botany Bay is an unsuitable place to settle. He directs the fleet north.... (full context)
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...very much like himself, but very strange nonetheless. They're naked and hold spears and shields. Gilbert reaches for a bag of trinkets and pulls out a string of beads. He calls... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
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...the land is cleared, the soldiers herd the prisoners into the clearing so that Commodore Gilbert can address everyone. Seeing all the prisoners, Rooke thinks that the balance of power is... (full context)
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Gilbert reads his commission from King George that makes him monarch by proxy: he's now Governor... (full context)
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...intended to provoke the prisoners, who had no choice in coming to the colony. Governor Gilbert cuts the reverend off in the middle of a breath, and the prisoners soon return... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
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When Rooke brings up his plans for building his observatory on the point with Governor Gilbert, Gilbert forbids him from doing so. Rooke is taken aback and argues, saying that the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
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...joins the officers for Sunday dinner. One evening in winter, Rooke arrives to see Governor Gilbert sitting with Major Wyatt. The governor's presence is supposed to be an honor, but the... (full context)
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...happy to admire Betsy's portrait if it means he can sit far away from Governor Gilbert. When the serving boys put plates down with a tiny amount of food on them,... (full context)
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Timpson whines that he's homesick and hungry during the meal. When everyone is finished, Governor Gilbert rises and announces that he's putting together a party to find someplace where gardens will... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
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Rooke sits in the boat and watches Governor Gilbert sitting in the front. Silk and another lieutenant, Willstead, sit behind the governor. Willstead is... (full context)
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Willstead offers to run after the natives, but Gilbert ignores him and commands Gardiner to continue onward. Finally, Gardiner steers the boat to shore... (full context)
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...is difficult, and they have to change direction often to avoid mud or thickets. When Gilbert calls a halt for the night, Rooke watches as a sergeant reluctantly gives Brugden a... (full context)
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...be. The next day, the party finds the river again, as well as a footpath. Gilbert is thrilled at the possibility of coming across natives. Rooke wonders how they might interact... (full context)
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A bit later, the party finds an open, grassy clearing. Gilbert digs up a handful of dirt and asks Rooke to note this spot, as he... (full context)
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Gilbert asks Brugden if he shot at the natives. Brugden again seems to be hiding the... (full context)
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...and in the morning the party makes its way back to Gardiner and the boat. Gilbert praises Rooke as a "first-rate navigator." Gilbert tells Silk that the area they found was... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
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The following Sunday, Governor Gilbert joins the officers for dinner again. He addresses them and describes the land found on... (full context)
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Gilbert makes a joke, and when the officers quiet he announces that two more prisoners will... (full context)
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...uneasily about something that "was not well done." Rooke is confused, and Gardiner explains that Gilbert asked him to seize two natives by force so they can learn the language. He... (full context)
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...to pour himself another drink. He continues, saying that the natives are now behind the governor's house in shackles. Rooke tries to comfort Gardiner by saying he did his duty in... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
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...with curiosity about the captured natives. They're not difficult to find: they're walking with the governor and Silk, wearing shackles. One man is about 30, and seems intrigued to find himself... (full context)
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Gilbert asks the older man, Warungin, the native word for "thumb," but Warungin won't meet the... (full context)
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...about the unknown, and thinks he detects the same kind of excitement in Boinbar's eyes. Gilbert leads the natives back to his house. Rooke finds excuses to go down to the... (full context)
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Rooke begins to formulate an excuse to visit Gilbert's house so that he might see Boinbar and Warungin again. Before he has a chance... (full context)
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...how Gardiner truly felt about capturing the native men, it would bring on catastrophe: Governor Gilbert would suspend Gardiner from duties, send him back to England, and Gardiner's life would be... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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...Rooke is anxious and worried that if the comet doesn't appear, Major Wyatt and Governor Gilbert will force him to leave his observatory and join the other soldiers. (full context)
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...animals, and the natives are becoming bolder and attacking settlers. A few officers suggest that Gilbert shouldn't have captured the native men, while Lennox and Willstead insist that the governor should... (full context)
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...the astronomer Lacaille left off, mapping the stars of the southern hemisphere. Rooke knows that Gilbert doesn't care about stars that can only be seen through a telescope, but he works... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2 
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...feels as though this is his destiny. He pictures the day when he presents the governor with his notebooks, and thinks that what he'll learn is as important as Galileo's discoveries.... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
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...Rooke again. Silk arrives, looking upset, and explains that Lennox has been complaining to Governor Gilbert that he (Lennox) has spent more than his fair share of time at Rose Hill,... (full context)
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...as though he's his own man, when in reality, he's at the mercy of Governor Gilbert and King George. As Silk leaves, Rooke realizes that he has decided to keep what... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
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Governor Gilbert explains to Warungin that the man is bad because he stole food. He says simply... (full context)
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Gilbert continues to try to explain to Warungin why the prisoner must be punished. Warungin looks... (full context)
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Rooke looks to Warungin, who looks almost ready to vomit. Gilbert touches Warungin's arm and offers some food, but Warungin jerks away and walks into the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
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Governor Gilbert calls Silk back from Rose Hill at the beginning of summer. When Silk complains to... (full context)
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...everything look secretive. Silk admits that the native girls are charming, but warns Rooke that Gilbert is concerned for the settlement's safety. Rooke thanks Silk for his concern and takes his... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
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...picks it back up and, with gestures, asks how it works. Rooke thinks of the governor's orders that no one can show the natives how guns work, particularly that they must... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 1
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...would end this problem outright. Major Wyatt ignores this, and Silk assures everyone that Governor Gilbert is considering what should be done. Rooke sees Willstead roll his eyes, and Willstead quietly... (full context)
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...tasked with bringing in six natives from the Botany Bay area. Rooke is aghast that Gilbert wants more than just Carangaray, and Silk confides that the governor initially wanted Silk to... (full context)
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Silk says that he told Gilbert that Rooke would certainly join the expedition, along with Willstead and 30 privates. Rooke tries... (full context)
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...and "me and these others but not you." Silk isn't amused. He says again that Gilbert has Rooke's name and the expedition leaves on Wednesday. Rooke looks at his feet and... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
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Rooke thinks that Silk will certainly give the governor a detailed account of what happened, and the governor will be pleased. He thinks that... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
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...of the hatchet and bags. Silk explains that if capturing the natives proved impossible, the governor ordered him to kill six natives and bring the heads back to the settlement. He... (full context)
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...are indifferent to his troubles. As Rooke thinks, he realizes that although he accused the governor and Silk of using faulty logic in coming up with this punitive expedition, he himself... (full context)
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...his pack. He starts walking towards Sydney. He reaches the settlement at dawn and sees Gilbert and Major Wyatt walking. When they notice Rooke, they run to him and ask about... (full context)
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Rooke spent the night rehearsing what he would say to the governor, but now all he can think of is conjugating verbs. The governor asks impatiently if... (full context)
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...line to avoid catastrophe, but Rooke only says again that the orders were evil. The governor seems not to hear and asks how many natives the party killed. This makes Rooke... (full context)
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The governor reprimands Rooke and asks him to come see him at noon. He and Major Wyatt... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
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...They didn't hang him for his defiance but when they suggested he apologize to Governor Gilbert and continue to serve in the military, he refused. Rooke instead went to Antigua. He... (full context)
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Rooke wonders if he should regret the decision he made to defy the governor in New South Wales, but he only wishes that he could see his wife and... (full context)