a finer figurehead for a gentleman of fortune I never clapped my eyes on

chong lee

Senior Member
Quote is from the book "Treasure Island".

Silver flatters the boy to gain him for his side.

Clap eyes on: to catch sight of

Figurehead is an ornament locates at the head of ship.

I did not understand "a finer figurehead for a gentleman of fortune I never clapped my eyes on". I did not even have a clue.


"And a brave lad you were, and smart too," answered Silver, shaking hands so heartily that all the barrel shook, "and a finer figurehead for a gentleman of fortune I never clapped my eyes on."
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I believe that a gentleman of fortune here means a pirate.

    I have never seen a finer figurehead for a pirate.


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I looked at the page where this appears, and Silver is speaking to a crew of young pirates. The narrator is listening while hidden in a barrel, and so he starts to hear at the middle of the conversation. The first part he overhears is about how it's best for a ship to keep its name, rather than change it when it changes hands. This makes me think that they're aboard a ship newly captured by the young pirate crew. It's the same ship that was in the question asked earlier (here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2928041 ), so the captain also thinks it's a fine ship.

    I think the use of figurehead is synecdoche* for the ship, and it means "I've never seen a finer ship for pirates."

    As for the connection (how flattering the boy and finer figurehead is connected) - the connection is that the brave act Silver is flattering the boy about was probably his part of the act of capturing this fine ship.

    n. a figure of speech in which a part is substituted for a whole or a whole for a part, as in 50 head of cattle for 50 cows, or the army fora soldier


    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd say that 'figurehead' here probably just means 'face'. From the OED:
    b. humorously for: Face (of a person).
    1840 F. Marryat Poor Jack v. 21 [It] had..‘knocked his figure-head all to smash’.
    1884 D. Pae Eustace 91 If you don't want your figure-head spoiled.

    < Previous | Next >