Billy Budd Chapters 6 & 7
News of these mutinies had reached every ship in the British navy. On many ships, this news created unrest. On the Bellipotent, however, it seems that mutinies were not a recent occurrence. Part of this was due to the sternness of the Captain. Captain Vere is a longtime sailor and bachelor who is very stern but knowledgeable. On shore he speaks like a gentleman who some might confuse for a royal guest. Vere is described with a certain reverence. He is mysterious, yet not in a devious fashion. He is depicted in stark contrast to Billy. Billy is simple and good. Vere is calculating and educated, although he is also predisposed towards good deeds. Their goodness, however, is very different. For his humble demeanor he is known as 'starry Vere' from the Andrew Marvel poem 'Appleton House'. This name was originally given to him in a battle he fought alongside Admiral Nelson. The epithet became attached to his surname and other Veres in the navy are called the same.
Besides being a sea captain, Vere is an exceptional man. He leans toward everything intellectual and loves reading, especially history and biography. He has very solid convictions against innovation and change because they threaten the order he loves. He has watched the rise of British power and, with the mutinies, probably fears its decline. He likes order. When he speaks he often uses historical allusion. Others find him less than companionable because of these qualities.