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Title: The Life and Adventures of Rear-Admiral John Paul Jones - Commonly Called Paul Jones
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

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Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

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see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
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                                THE LIFE
                     REAR ADMIRAL JOHN PAUL JONES.

                           JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.


                               NEW YORK:
                        DODD & MEAD, PUBLISHERS,
                             762 BROADWAY.



                        THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES


                     REAR-ADMIRAL JOHN PAUL JONES,

                            COMMONLY CALLED

                              PAUL JONES.


                           JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.




                               NEW YORK:
                        DODD & MEAD, PUBLISHERS,
                             762 BROADWAY.


       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
                              DODD & MEAD,
       in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.



                              THIS VOLUME,


                              DEDICATED BY

                                                  JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.



I commenced writing the Life of Paul Jones with the impression, received
from early reading, that he was a reckless adventurer, incapable of
fear, and whose chief merit consisted in performing deeds of desperate
daring. But I rise from the careful examination of what he has written,
said, and done, with the conviction that I had misjudged his character.
I now regard him as one of the purest and most enlightened of patriots,
and one of the noblest of men. His name should be enrolled upon the same
scroll with those of his intimate friends, Washington, Jefferson,
Franklin, and Lafayette.

As this exhibition of the character of Admiral Jones is somewhat
different from that which has been presented in current literature, I
have felt the necessity of sustaining the narrative by the most
unquestionable documentary evidence. Should any one, in glancing over
the pages, see that the admiral is presented in a different light from
that in which he has been accustomed to view him, I must beg him, before
he condemns the narrative, to examine the proof which I think
establishes every statement.

The admiral had his faults. Who has not? But on the whole he was one of
nature’s noblemen. His energies were sincerely and intensely devoted to
the good of humanity. He was ambitious. But it was a noble ambition, to
make his life sublime. He was a man of pure lips and of unblemished
life. His chosen friends were the purest, the most exalted, the best of
men. He had no low vices. Gambling, drinking, carousing, were abhorrent
to his nature. He was a student of science and literature; and in the
most accomplished female society he found his social joy. While forming
the comprehensive views of statesmenship and of strategy, and evincing
bravery unsurpassed by any knight of romance, he was in manners,
thought, and utterance, as unaffected as a child.

                                                  JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.



                              CHAPTER I.
                 _The Early Life of John Paul Jones._

  His Birth and Childhood.—Residence and Employments in
    Scotland.—His Studious Habits.—First Voyage to
    America.—Engaged in the Slave Trade.—Reasons for
    Abandoning it.—False Charges against him.—His
    Sensitiveness to Obloquy.—Espouses the Cause of the
    Colonies.—Developments of Character.—Extracts from his
    Letters.                                                        9

                              CHAPTER II.
                          _The Infant Navy._

  Rescuing the Brigantine.—Commissioned as Captain.—Escape
    from the Solway.—Conflict with the Milford.—Adventures at
    Canso and Madame.—Return with Prizes.—Expedition to Cape
    Breton.—Wise Counsel of Jones.—Brilliant Naval
    Campaign.—Saving the Prizes.—Value of the Mellish.—Mission
    to France.—Disappointment.—Sails with the Ranger.              32

                             CHAPTER III.
                     _Bearding the British Lion._

  Aid from France.—Plan for the Destruction of the British
    Fleet.—The American Flag Saluted.—Bold Movement of Captain
    Jones.—Cruise along the Shores of England.—Capture of
    Prizes.—Salutary Lessons given to England.—Operations in
    the Frith of Clyde.—At Carrickfergus.—Attempt upon the
    Drake.—Burning the Shipping at Whitehaven.—Capture of the
    Plate of Lord Selkirk.                                         56

                              CHAPTER IV.
                _Captain Jones at Nantes and at Brest._

  Correspondence with Lord Selkirk.—Terrible Battle with the
    ship Drake.—Capture of the ship.—Carnage on board the
    Drake.—Generosity to Captured Fishermen.—Insubordination
    of Lieutenant Simpson.—Embarrassments of Captain
    Jones.—Hopes and Disappointments.—Proofs of Unselfish
    Patriotism.—Letter to the King of France.—Anecdote of Poor
    Richard.                                                       78

                              CHAPTER V.
                  _Cruise of the Bon Homme Richard._

  Plans of Lafayette.—Correspondence.—Humane Instructions of
    Franklin.—Proposed Invasion of England.—Sailing of the
    Squadron.—Conduct of Pierre Landais.—The
    Collision.—Adventures of the Cruise.—Insane Actions of
    Landais.—Plan for Capture.—Plan for the Capture of Leith
    and Edinburgh.                                                100

                              CHAPTER VI.
               _The Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis._

  Leith Threatened.—The Summons.—Remarkable
    Prayer.—Wide-spread Alarm.—Continuation of the
    Cruise.—Insubordination of Landais.—Successive
    Captures.—Terrible Battle between the Bon Homme Richard
    and the Serapis.—The Great Victory.                           123

                             CHAPTER VII.
                       _Result of the Victory._

  Dreadful Spectacle.—Sinking of the Bon Homme Richard.—Escape
    of the Baltic Fleet.—Sails for the Texel.—Interesting
    Correspondence.—Sufferings of the American
    Prisoners.—Barbarity of the English Government.—Humanity
    of Captain Jones.—The Transference from the Serapis to the
    Alliance.—Extracts from the British Press.—Release of
    Prisoners.                                                    148

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                      _Commodore Jones at Court._

  Offer of a Privateersman.—Indignant Reply.—The Renown of
    Commodore Jones.—Successful Retreat.—Cruise through the
    Channel.—Poetic Effusion.—Enters Corunna.—Letter to
    Lafayette.—Embarrassed Finances of Franklin.—Intrigues of
    Landais.—His Efforts to Excite Mutiny.—Testimony against
    him.—Commodore Jones at Court.                                172

                              CHAPTER IX.
                       _The Mutiny of Landais._

  The Visit of Jones to Versailles.—Intrigues of Landais.—The
    Alliance Wrested from Jones.—Complicity of Arthur
    Lee.—Magnanimity of Jones.—Strong Support of Dr.
    Johnson.—Honors Conferred upon Jones.—Strange Career of
    Landais.—His Life in America, and Death.—Continued Labors
    and Embarrassments of Jones.—His Correspondence.              193

                              CHAPTER X.
                       _The Return to America._

  Fitting the Ariel.—Painful Delays.—The Sailing.—Terrible
    Tempest.—The Disabled Ship.—Puts back to L’Orient.—The
    Second Departure.—Meets the Triumph.—Bloody Naval
    Battle.—Perfidious Escape of the Triumph.—The Ariel
    Reaches America.—Honors Lavished upon Jones.—Appointed to
    Build and Command the America.—Great Skill Displayed.—The
    Ship given to France.—The Launch.                             214

                              CHAPTER XI.
                           _The War Ended._

  Promise of the South Carolina.—A New Disappointment.—The
    Great Expedition Planned.—Magnitude of the Squadron.—The
    Appointed Rendezvous.—Commodore Jones Joins the
    Expedition.—His Cordial Reception.—Great Difficulties and
    Embarrassments.—The Rendezvous at Port Cabella.—Tidings of
    Peace.—Return to America.—New Mission to France.              236

                             CHAPTER XII.
                   _The Difficulties of Diplomacy._

  Courteous Reception in Paris.—Compliment of the
    King.—Principles of Prize Division.—Embarrassing
    Questions.—Interesting Correspondence.—The Final
    Settlement.—Modest Claims of Commodore Jones.—Plan for a
    Commercial Speculation.—Its Failure.—The Mission to
    Denmark.—Return to America.                                   258

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                       _The Mission to Denmark._

  Letter to Mr. Jefferson.—The Marquise de Marsan.—Unfounded
    Charges and Vindication.—Flattering Application from
    Catherine II.—His Reception at the Polish Court.—Jones
    receives the Title of Rear-Admiral.—English
    Insolence.—Letter of Catherine II.                            280

                             CHAPTER XIV.
                        _The Russian Campaign._

  Admiral Jones repairs to the Black Sea.—Designs of Catherine
    II.—Imposing Cavalcade.—Turkey Declares War against
    Russia.—Daring Conduct of Admiral Jones.—A Greek Officer
    Alexiano.—The Prince of Nassau Siegen.—Annoyances of
    Admiral Jones from Russian Officers.—Battle in the Black
    Sea.—Jones yields the Honor to the Prince of Nassau.          298

                              CHAPTER XV.
                    _Adventures in the Black Sea._

  The First Battle.—Folly of the Prince of
    Nassau.—Inefficiency of the Gun-boats.—Burning of the
    Greek Captives.—Humanity of Jones.—Alienation between the
    Admiral and the Prince of Nassau.—The Second
    Conflict.—Annoyances of the Admiral.—Hostility of the
    English.—Necessary Employment of Foreign Seamen.—Disgrace
    of Nassau.—Transference of the Admiral to the Baltic.         316

                             CHAPTER XVI.
                        _Retirement and Death._

  The Return to Cherson.—Sickness and Sadness.—Oczakow
    Stormed.—The Wintry Journey to St. Petersburg.—Mental
    Activity.—Calumniated by the English.—The Admiral’s
    Defence.—Slanderous Accusation.—His Entire
    Acquittal.—Testimony of Count Segur.—Letter to the
    Empress.—Obtains Leave of Absence.—Returns to France.—Life
    in Paris.—Sickness and Death.                                 337


                              PAUL JONES.


                               CHAPTER I.
                  _The Early Life of John Paul Jones._

His Birth sand Childhood.—Residence and Employments in Scotland.—His
    Studious Habits.—First Voyage to America.—Engaged in the Slave
    Trade.—Reasons for Abandoning it.—False Charges against Him.—His
    Sensitiveness to Obloquy.—Espouses the Cause of the
    Colonies.—Developments of Character.—Extracts from his Letters.

In the lonely wilds of Scotland there was, about the middle of the last
century, a secluded hamlet called Arbingland. There was a respectable
gardener there by the name of John Paul. He had a son born on the 6th of
July, 1747, to whom he gave his own name of John. His humble cottage was
near the shores of Solway Frith. Young John Paul, like most energetic
lads who live within sound of the ocean surge, became impassioned with
longings for a sailor’s life. When twelve years of age he was sent
across the bay to Whitehaven, in England, then quite an important
seaport. Here he was apprenticed to Mr. Younger, who was quite
extensively engaged in the American trade.

The daily intercourse of John with the seamen inspired him with a strong
desire to visit the New World. He had received a good common-school
education, such as Scottish boys generally enjoyed at that time, and was
also so eager for intellectual improvement that all his leisure time was
given to study. He particularly devoted himself to the acquisition of a
thorough knowledge of the theory of navigation. He even studied French.
Often at midnight, when many of his companions were at a carouse, he was
found absorbed with his books.

When John was thirteen years of age he embarked, as a sailor, on board
the ship Friendship, bound for the Rappahannock, in Virginia, for a
cargo of tobacco. He had an elder brother, William, who had emigrated to
this country, and, marrying a Virginia girl, had settled on the banks of
the Rappahannock. John had acquired a high reputation at Whitehaven for
his correct deportment, his intelligence, and his fidelity in the
discharge of every duty. He improved his time so well, while in the
employment of Mr. Younger, as to lay the foundation for that eminence,
which he could not have obtained but for this education. He could write
his own language correctly, and even with considerable force; he was a
very respectable French scholar, and there were but few ship-masters who
could excel him in the science of navigation.

John Paul was but thirteen years of age when, in the year 1760, he
crossed the Atlantic and was cordially welcomed in the humble home of
his brother, in one of the most attractive valleys of the world. He was
delighted with the entirely new scenes which were here opened before
him, and became thoroughly American in his feelings. His first visit was
a short one, as he returned with his ship to Whitehaven. Soon after
this, Mr. Younger failed in business, and Paul was released from his
indentures. Thus the precocious boy, who was already a man in
thoughtfulness, energy, and earnestness of purpose, was thrown upon his
own resources.

He made several voyages, and at length shipped as third mate on board
the ship King George, which was bound to the Guinea Coast of Africa, for
slaves. Strange as it now appears, the slave trade was then considered
an honorable calling. Men of unquestioned piety, who morning and evening
kneeled with their happy children around the family altar, fitted out
ships to desolate the homes and steal the children of Africans, and bear
them away to life-long slavery. Many a captain, after crowding the hold
of his ship with these melancholy victims of his inhumanity, would
retire to his cabin, read the precepts of Jesus, “As ye would that men
should do to you, do ye also to them likewise,” and would then kneel in
prayer, imploring God’s blessing. And this was not hypocrisy. So strange
a being is fallen man.

We have no indications that any compunctions of conscience disturbed
John Paul on this voyage. The most illustrious, opulent, and worthy
people of England were engaged in the infamous traffic. Of course it was
not to be expected that a boy, scarcely emerging from childhood, should
develop humanity above that of the generation in the midst of which he
was born. The Friendship bore its freight of human victims to the West
Indies, where they were sold. He then, when nineteen years of age,
shipped at Jamaica, on board the brigantine Two Friends, for Africa, to
obtain another cargo of slaves.

It speaks volumes in favor of the intelligence of John Paul, that he
became so thoroughly disgusted with the cruelty of the traffic,
desolating Africa with the most merciless wars, and tearing husbands
from wives, parents from children, that, upon his return to Kingston, he
declared that he would have nothing more to do with the traffic forever.
His friends unite in giving their testimony to this his resolve, and it
is confirmed by the uniform tenor of his subsequent correspondence.

From this his second slaving voyage he embarked for Scotland, as a
passenger, on board the brigantine John, under the command of Captain
Macadam. On the passage the yellow fever broke out. Both the captain and
the mate of the ship died. They were left in the middle of the stormy
Atlantic, with none of the crew capable of navigating the ship.
Fortunately for all, John Paul assumed the command. The whole crew
gratefully recognized his authority. Be it remembered that he had not
yet finished his twentieth year. He brought the ship safe into port. The
owners, Messrs. Currie, Beck & Co., in recompense of the great service
he had rendered them, at once gave him command of a ship both as captain
and supercargo. In their employment he sailed for two voyages.

On one of these voyages, Captain Paul was accused of whipping, with
undue severity, an insubordinate sailor, by the name of Mungo Maxwell.
But a legal investigation absolved him from all blame. The accusation,
and the trial which was prolonged through six months, caused Captain
Paul great annoyance. The following letter to his mother and sisters
reveals his feelings, and much of his character, at that time. He was
then but twenty-five years of age.

                                      “LONDON, 24th September, 1772.


        “I only arrived here last night from the Grenadas. I have had
  but poor health during the voyage. My success in it not having
  equalled my first sanguine expectations, has added very much to the
  asperity of my misfortunes, and, I am well assured, was the cause of
  my loss of health. I am now, however, better, and I trust Providence
  will soon put me in a way to get bread, and, which is far my greatest
  happiness, to be serviceable to my poor but much valued friends. I am
  able to give you no account of my future proceedings, as they depend
  upon circumstances which are not fully determined.

  “I have enclosed to you a copy of an affidavit made before Governor
  Young, by the Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty of Tobago, by which
  you will see with how little reason my life has been thirsted after,
  and, which is much dearer to me, my honor, by maliciously loading my
  fair character with obloquy and vile aspersions. I believe there are
  few who are hard-hearted enough to think I have not long since given
  to the world every satisfaction in my power, being conscious of my
  innocence before Heaven, who will one day judge even my judges.

  “I staked my honor, life, and fortune, for six long months, on the
  verdict of a British jury, notwithstanding I was sensible of the
  general prejudice which ran against me. But, after all, none of my
  accusers had the courage to confront me. Yet I am willing to convince
  the world, if reason and facts will do it, that they have had no
  foundation for their harsh treatment.

  “I mean to send Mr. Craik a copy, properly proved, as his nice
  feelings will not, perhaps, be otherwise satisfied. In the mean time,
  if you please, you can show him that enclosed. His ungracious conduct
  to me before I left Scotland I have not yet been able to get the
  better of. Every person of feeling must think meanly of adding to the
  load of the afflicted. It is true I bore it with seeming unconcern.
  But heaven can witness for me that I suffered the more on that very
  account. But enough of this.”

The Mr. Craik to whom he here refers was a gentleman of property, in
whose employment Mr. Paul’s father had formerly been engaged. The whole
family were accustomed to look up to him with much reverence. It was
perhaps a fault in young Captain Paul that the organ of veneration, as
the phrenologists would say, was not, in him, very fully developed. His
knees were not supple in bowing before those who were above him in
wealth and rank. Mr. Craik had not fancied the independent boy, and was
consequently the more ready to believe the charges which were brought
against him.

A rumor reached Mr. Paul, while in the West Indies, that the commercial
firm in whose service he was sailing was about to close its operations.
This would throw him out of employment. He wrote in the following terms
to Mr. Craik, whom as a family friend and patron he highly respected.
This letter was written a year before the charge for the maltreatment of
Mungo Maxwell was brought against him. It was as follows:

                             “ST. GEORGE, GRENADA, 5th August, 1770.


        “Common report here says that my owners are going to finish
  their connections in the West Indies as fast as possible. How far this
  is true I shall not pretend to judge. But should that really prove to
  be the case, you know the disadvantage I must labor under.

  “These, however, would not have been the case had I been acquainted
  with the matter sooner, as, in that case, I believe I could have made
  interest with some gentlemen here to have been concerned with me in a
  large ship out of London. And as these gentlemen have estates in this
  and the adjacent islands, I should have been able to make two voyages
  every year, and should always have had a full ship out and home.

  “However, I by no means repine, as it is a maxim with me to do my best
  and leave the rest to Providence. I shall take no step whatever
  without your knowledge and approbation. I have had several very severe
  fevers lately, which have reduced me a good deal, though I am now
  perfectly recovered. I must beg you to supply my mother, should she
  want anything, as I well know your readiness. I hope yourself and
  family enjoy health and happiness.

                        “I am, most sincerely, sir, yours always,
                                                        “JOHN PAUL.”

In 1773, John Paul’s brother died, in Virginia. He died childless, and
left no will. John repaired to his brother’s former residence to settle
the estate. Here, for some reason which has never been satisfactorily
explained, he assumed the surname of Jones, so that he ever afterward
became familiarly known as Paul Jones. His subsequent achievements
became such, that probably that name will never be obliterated from the
memories of men. He had acquired considerable property, which he
intrusted to agents at Tobago, and it was all lost.

Captain Jones, weary of the wandering life of a sailor and its
unsatisfactory results, was now disposed to devote his days to the
peaceful pursuits of agriculture and to study, for which he had very
strong predilections. In his letters to his friends he often expressed
his desire to enter upon a life of “calm contemplation and poetic ease.”
Man proposes, God disposes. The tumultuous career into which he was led,
was not one which he would have sought for himself. He was almost forced
into it by the state of the times.

When in the midst of the stormiest scenes, without a family and without
a home, he wrote pensively to the Countess of Selkirk, that duty to his
country had compelled him “to sacrifice not only his favorite scheme of
life, but the softer affections of his heart, and his hopes of domestic
happiness.” His letters all indicate that he was a thoughtful man, one
who deeply pondered the mystery of this our earthly being, and who made
frank acknowledgment of his moral and religious obligations.

His favorite poet was Thomson; and his “Seasons” he read and re-read. It
is not possible that any man of frivolous nature should develop a taste
so serious and so elevating. The loss of all his property at Tobago
disheartened him, and repelled him from the risks of a commercial life.
This probably decided him to settle down as a planter in Virginia, and
to remain satisfied with the humble competence of a cultivator of the
soil, in a rural home. He wrote to the Hon. Robert Morris:

“I conclude that Mr. Hewes has acquainted you with a very great
misfortune which befell me some years ago, and which brought me into
North America. I am under no concern whatever, that this, or any other
past circumstance of my life, will sink me in your opinion. Since human
wisdom cannot secure us from accidents, it is the greatest effort of
human wisdom to bear them well.”

From the age of thirteen, America had been the country of his adoption.
Increasing years but added to his attachment to the principles of
liberty which were being developed here. His innate mental constitution
revolted from the feudal subserviency which a haughty aristocracy
exacted in Europe. When the struggle was commencing between the mother
country and these her infant colonies, Mr. Jones, with all the ardor of
his nature, espoused the colonial cause. He then occupied the position
of a Virginia gentleman, highly respected for his character and his
endowments. The rank of those with whom he was in correspondence
indicates his social position. He was not a friendless adventurer, but
an intelligent patriot, whose influence was constantly increasing
through the sound judgment, the courage, and the spirit of
self-sacrifice he was ever exhibiting.

He often expressed deep regret for the painful necessity which compelled
him to take up arms against the Government of his native land. But he
was struggling for the maintenance of his own rights, and those of his
fellow-countrymen, goaded to resist unendurable tyranny. In a letter
which he wrote to Baron Vander Capellan, then Dutch minister at the
Hague, he says:

“I was indeed born in Britain; but I do not inherit the degenerate
spirit of that fallen nation, which I at once lament and despise. It is
far beneath me to reply to their hireling invectives. They are strangers
to the envied approbation that greatly animates and rewards the man who
draws his sword only in support of the dignity of freedom. America has
been the country of my fond election from the age of thirteen, when I
first saw it. I had the honor to hoist, with my own hands, the flag of
freedom, the first time it was displayed on the Delaware, and I have
attended it with veneration ever since on the ocean.”

When the war of the Revolution, in 1775, commenced, England had a
thousand war-vessels. The colonies had not one. Congress equipped a
naval force of five vessels to resist the most powerful naval armament
this world has ever known. Paul Jones was appointed first lieutenant of
one of these, the ship Alfred. He owed this appointment to the Hon.
Joseph Hewes, a member of Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, who chanced to be acquainted with the rare qualifications
of Mr. Jones for the position. Captain Saltonstall commanded the Alfred.

On the 14th of November, 1776, the Alfred, a frigate of 44 guns was
lying at anchor off Chestnut Street wharf, in Philadelphia. We had then
no national banner. As the commander came on board, Lieutenant John Paul
Jones, with his own hands, raised the first American naval flag, under a
salute of thirteen guns. This flag, it is said, then consisted of
thirteen stripes, emblematic of the thirteen colonies, and a pine-tree
with a rattlesnake coiled at the roots, as if about to spring.
Underneath was the motto, “Don’t Tread upon Me.” In commemoration of
this event, Miss Sherburne wrote an ode, from which we quote two

        “’Twas Jones, Paul Jones, who first o’er Delaware’s tide
        From _Alfred’s_ main displayed Columbia’s pride;
        The stripes of freedom proudly waved on high,
        While shouts of freedom rang for liberty.

        “Through England’s fleets thou dashed in bold array,
        On Albion’s coast spread terror and dismay;
        Thy cannons’ thunder shook her rock-bound shore,
        Her Lion trembled midst his boastful roar.”

The little squadron, consisting of the ships Alfred and Columbus, the
brigantines Andrew Doria and Cabot, and the sloop Providence, sailed
from the Bay of Delaware on the 17th of February, 1776, to make a
descent on the British Island of New Providence, to seize a quantity of
military stores which were deposited in the forts there. The squadron
was armed in all with one hundred guns and about one thousand men.
Ezekiel Hopkins was commander-in-chief of the fleet. The fleet was not
ready to sail until the middle of February. Struggling through vast
masses of ice, the vessels passed Cape Henlopen on the 17th of the

In this important enterprise John Paul Jones was only a lieutenant. But
it should be remarked that there were three grades of lieutenant, and
that he was placed at the head of the first grade. He was offered a
captain’s commission, to take command of the Providence, which carried
twelve guns and one hundred and fifty men. Modestly this extraordinary
man declined the responsible position, not deeming himself fully
qualified to fill it. Subsequently, in a letter to the Hon. Robert
Morris, he wrote:

“When I came to try my skill I am not ashamed to own that I did not find
myself perfect in the duties of a first lieutenant. However, I by no
means admit that any one of the gentlemen who so earnestly sought after
rank and the command, was, at the beginning, able to teach me any part
of the duty of a sea-officer. Since that time it is well known there has
been no comparison between their _means_ of acquiring military marine
knowledge and mine. If midnight study and the instruction of the
greatest and most learned sea-officers can have given me _advantages_, I
am not without them. I confess, however, I am yet to learn. It is the
work of many years’ study and experience to acquire the high degree of
science necessary for a great sea-officer. Cruising after
merchant-ships, the service on which our frigates have generally been
employed, affords, I may say, no part of the knowledge necessary for
conducting fleets and their operations. There is now perhaps as much
difference between a single battle between two ships, and an engagement
between two fleets, as there is between a single duel and a ranged
battle between two armies.”

While the fleet was fitting and manning, Lieutenant Jones had
superintended all the affairs on board the Alfred. It was not until a
day or two before the squadron sailed that Captain Saltonstall appeared
and took the command. On the 4th of March the squadron anchored at
Abaco, one of the Bahama Islands, about one hundred miles north from New
Providence. On the passage they had captured two small sloops from New
Providence. They learned from the crew of these vessels, that the forts
were not strongly garrisoned, and that they contained large magazines of
all military stores.

The commander was not skilful either as a seaman or a soldier. Through
mismanagement the enterprise came near proving a total failure. Jones
was born to command. Without any effort on his part, his superior mind
and knowledge naturally assumed ascendency. Seeing that all things were
going wrong, he suggested sailing round to the west of the island,
landing the marines about nine miles from the fort, and then, by a rapid
march, to make the assault. Mr. Jones promised himself to pilot the
vessels to a safe anchorage. With some reluctance Captain Saltonstall
gave his assent. Jones took the pilot with him to the foretopmast-head.
From that point they could see every reef and rock, and trace out the
channel. The marines landed under cover of the guns. There was no force
sufficient to oppose them. Captain Saltonstall, by his injudicious
movements, had given ample warning of his approach, so that the governor
had found time, during the night, to load two sloops with ammunition and
send them away. This might easily have been prevented by ordering the
two brigantines to lie off the bar.

The island was surrendered by the governor. The guns, and all the
governmental property in the forts, were embarked on board the vessels.
All private property was sacredly respected. And this was done when the
officers of the English Government were laying our villages in ashes,
and hounding on the savages to assail our defenceless frontier with the
torch and the tomahawk. The governor and two other military men were
brought off as prisoners.

On the return with this booty, of such almost inestimable value to the
struggling colonies, the fleet captured two vessels without a struggle,
the Hawke, a schooner of six guns, and the brig Bolton, of eight guns.
The fleet encountered off Block Island, at the head of Long Island
Sound, an English frigate, the Glasgow, of 24 guns. The Alfred mounted
30 guns, the Columbus 28. Had there been any skill in military
seamanship displayed, the Glasgow could not have escaped this force. The
sea was perfectly smooth. Lieutenant Jones was placed between decks to
serve the first battery. He could have no voice in the direction of the
battle. Whenever his guns could be brought to bear upon the enemy he
served them well. Captain Saltonstall, in his official report, testified
to his fidelity in duty. The Glasgow escaped. This was our first naval
battle. It reflected no credit upon our infant marine. Lieutenant Jones
and the whole nation were deeply chagrined by the disgrace of that
night. Repressing merited condemnation, he mildly wrote, “It is for the
commander-in-chief and the captains to answer for the escape of the

Two days after the inglorious action the squadron entered the harbor of
New London. A court-martial was held to investigate the affair. The
account which Lieutenant Jones gave of the engagement, in the log-book
of the Alfred, shows a generous and magnanimous mind.

“At 2 A. M. cleared ship for action. At half-past two, the Cabot, being
between us and the enemy, began to engage, and soon after we did the
same. At the third glass the enemy bore away, and, by crowding sail, at
length got a considerable way ahead, and made signals for the rest of
the English fleet, at Rhode Island, to come to her assistance, and
steered directly for the harbor.

“The commodore then thought it imprudent to risk our prizes, by pursuing
farther. Therefore, to prevent our being decoyed into their hands, at
half-past six made the signal to leave off chase and haul by the wind to
join our prizes. The Cabot was disabled at the second broadside; the
captain being dangerously wounded, the master and several men killed.
The enemy’s whole fire was then directed at us. An unlucky shot having
carried away our wheel-block and ropes, the ship broached to, and gave
the enemy an opportunity of raking us with several broadsides before we
were again in condition to steer the ship and return the fire.

“In the action we received several shots under water, which made the
ship very leaky. We had, besides, the mainmast shot through, and the
upper works and rigging very considerably damaged. Yet it is surprising
that we only lost the second lieutenant of marines and four men. We had
no more than three men dangerously, and four slightly wounded.”

The skill with which the guns of the Alfred were served may be inferred
from the fact, that a passenger on board the Glasgow testified that her
hull was seriously damaged; that ten shot passed through her mainmast,
fifty-two through her mizzen staysail, one hundred and ten through her
mainsail, and eighty-eight through her foresail. She had many spars
carried away, and her rigging was badly cut to pieces.

This our first naval battle was fought so near the Rhode Island shore,
that the report of the guns was heard, and even the flashes were seen by
those on the land. The Continental Gazette of May 29, 1776, gives the
following quaint account of the conflict, from one who listened to the
thunders booming over the waves.

“For several hours before and during the engagement, a vast number of
cannon were heard from the southeast. About sunrise eight or ten sail of
ships and brigs were seen a little to the eastward of Block Island.
Indeed, the flashes of the cannon were seen by some people about
daybreak. These things caused much speculation. But in a few hours the
mystery was somewhat cleared up; for away came the poor Glasgow, under
all the sail she could set, yelping from the mouths of her cannon like a
broken-legged dog, as a signal of her being sadly wounded. And though
she settled away, and handed most of her sails just before she came into
the harbor, it was plainly perceived, by the holes in those she had
standing, and by the hanging of her yards, that she had been treated in
a very rough manner.”

Though Lieutenant Jones could not be blind to the want of nautical skill
displayed in allowing the Glasgow to escape, he did not doubt that the
commodore had done the best he could. Not a word of demur escaped his
lips. In a letter to Hon. Mr. Hewes, he wrote:

“I have the pleasure of assuring you that the commander-in-chief is
respected through the fleet. I verily believe that the officers, and men
in general, would go any length to execute his orders.”

Another passage in the same letter throws such light upon the
well-balanced and noble character of Lieutenant Jones that I cannot
refrain from quoting it. He writes:

“It is certainly for the interests of the service that a cordial
interchange of civilities should subsist between superior and inferior
officers. Therefore it is bad policy in superiors to behave toward their
inferiors as though they were of a lower species. Men of liberal minds,
who have long been accustomed to command, can ill brook being thus set
at naught by others who pretend to claim the monopoly of sense. The
rude, ungentle treatment which they experience, creates such
heart-burnings as are nowise consonant with that cheerful ardor and
spirit which ought ever to be a characteristic of an officer. Therefore,
whoever thinks himself hearty in the service, is widely mistaken when he
adopts such a line of conduct in order to prove it. To be well obeyed it
is necessary to be esteemed.”

Two courts-martial were held on board the Alfred. The captain of the
Providence was dismissed from service. Lieutenant Jones was promoted to
the captaincy of that sloop. The little fleet, having received a
reinforcement of two hundred men, sailed from Providence, Rhode Island.
The vessels having been refitted, it was necessary to enlist more men
before any important enterprise could be undertaken. As most of the
seamen had enlisted in the army, it was found very difficult to obtain
men fit for naval service.

On the 18th of May, Captain Jones, after a passage of thirty-six hours,
arrived in New York, where he devoted his time to shipping mariners. He
was greatly interested in everything relating to the creation of a navy
for the new nation of the United States, just entering into being. He
wrote to Hon. Mr. Hewes:

“In my opinion a commander in the navy ought to be a man of strong and
well-connected sense; a gentleman, as well as a seaman in theory and in
practice. Want of learning, and rude, ungentle manners, are by no means
characteristic of an officer.”

Captain Jones, having at length obtained the number of men required, in
obedience to orders sailed for New London, where he took from the
hospital all the seamen who had been left there sick, but who had
recovered, and sailed for Providence, Rhode Island. Scarcely had he
arrived there when he received orders from the commander-in-chief to
come immediately down Narragansett Bay, to attack an English
sloop-of-war, then in sight. He obeyed with alacrity. But the sloop had
disappeared before he reached Newport. He was then ordered to
Newburyport, to convoy a vessel with a cargo of cannon to New York, and
then, returning, to convoy some vessels from Stonington to Newport.

It will be remembered that England then had a fleet of a thousand sail;
superior, probably, to all the combined navies of the globe. This was
the naval power we were to resist with our poor little squadron of five
vessels, mounting in all but one hundred guns. The majestic frigates of
the enemy blockaded almost every harbor in the colonies. There were
several of these cruising at the eastern entrance of Long Island Sound,
to cut of all naval intercourse between the colonies of the Middle and
those of the Eastern States.

                              CHAPTER II.
                           _The Infant Navy._

Rescuing the Brigantine.—Commissioned as Captain.—Escape from the
    Solway.—Conflict with the Milford.—Adventures at Canso and
    Madame.—Return with Prizes.—Expedition to Cape Breton.—Wise Counsel
    of Jones.—Brilliant Naval Campaign.—Saving the Prizes.—Value of the
    Mellish.—Mission to France.—Disappointment.—Sails with the Ranger.

Captain Jones found all his intelligence, bravery, and nautical skill
tested to the utmost, in evading, thwarting, and struggling against the
British men-of-war swarming around him. He had several very fierce
rencontres with forces superior to his own. One day he saw a foreign
vessel (I think it was Spanish), coming from St. Domingo, with a cargo
of military stores for the colonies. This brigantine was hotly pursued
by the Cerberus, a British man-of-war. The thunders of her bow-guns
echoed over the waves, while the balls of solid shot, ricochetting for
more than a mile, proclaimed how terrible the bolts which those thunders
sent forth.

The courage and nautical skill of Captain Jones rescued the brigantine
and her precious cargo. The vessel was afterward purchased by Congress,
and named the Hampden. He was then ordered to Boston, whence he convoyed
some merchant vessels to Philadelphia. This was indeed an arduous and
perilous mission. The war-ships of the enemy were daily arriving off
Sandy Hook, under the guidance of Lord Howe. Captain Jones caught sight
of several of these ships, which, with a single broadside, could have
sunk him. But he had the address to avoid them. On the 8th of August,
1776, he received from John Hancock, President of Congress, his
commission as captain. It contained the following words:


        “We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism,
  valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and
  appoint you to be captain in the navy of the United States, fitted out
  for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile
  invasion thereof. You are therefore carefully and diligently to
  discharge the duty of captain, by doing and performing all manner of
  things thereunto belonging. And we do strictly charge and require all
  officers, marines, and seamen, under your command, to be obedient to
  your orders as captain.”

He then received orders to set out on a cruise of two or three months
against the navy of Great Britain. For this enterprise he was furnished
with the sloop Providence, which mounted twelve guns, and was manned by
but seventy sailors. He was left entirely to his own discretion, not
being confined to any particular station or service. Captain Jones
sailed from Philadelphia, on this chivalric expedition, the latter part
of August, 1776. Not far from the Island of Bermuda he encountered a
British frigate, the Solway.

It was like the fox meeting the hound. The only safety was in flight. A
chase took place, with a constant interchange of shot. This running
fight continued for six hours. Those who are familiar with nautical
affairs, will understand the bold measure by which he escaped. He
gradually edged away until he brought his heavy adversary upon his
weather quarter. Then, putting his helm suddenly up, he stood dead
before the wind. At the same moment he threw out all his light sails,
with which his little sloop was abundantly furnished. This manœuvre
compelled him to pass within pistol-shot of his pursuer. But he knew
that he could sail much faster than the frigate, before the wind.

The captain of the Solway was quite unprepared for such a manœuvre.
Before he could change his course to imitate it, the Providence had
gained such a start as to be soon beyond the reach of the Solway’s guns.
Triumphantly the little sloop swept the waves until the discomfited
frigate gave up the chase.

Not long after this, as Captain Jones was lying to, on the banks near
the Isle of Sables, to allow his men to fish, another large English
frigate hove in sight, which proved to be the Milford. Though he had
much confidence in the speed of his light little sloop, which, under her
cloud of canvas, could almost like a bubble skim the wave, he prudently
tried her speed with that of the gigantic foe approaching. Finding that
he could easily outstrip her, he tauntingly allowed the Milford to
approach to nearly within gun-shot. He then spread his sails, keeping
just out of harm’s way.

The frigate rounded to and discharged her broadside. The shot skipped
over the waves and sank at some distance before reaching the sloop.
After each broadside, Captain Jones, in token of his contempt, ordered
his marine officer to return the fire, by the discharge of a single
musket. He kept up this burlesque of a battle, causing the frigate to
throw away her ammunition, from ten o’clock in the morning till sunset.
He then spread all sail and went unharmed on his way.

The next morning he entered the Gut of Canso, which separates the Island
of Cape Breton from the mainland. He found three English schooners in
the harbor of Canso. He burned one, and sunk another, after having
filled the third, a schooner, the Ebenezer, with what fish had been
found in the other two. Here he learned that at the Island of Madame,
near by, on the east side of the Bay of Canso, there were nine British
vessels, consisting of brigs, ships, and schooners. He sent boats, well
armed, to destroy them, while he kept off and on with his sloop, ready
to punish severely any attempt to rescue the shipping.

The enterprise was entirely successful, and, as no opposition was made,
it was bloodless. These vessels had transferred their cargoes to the
shore, and were unrigged. It would take some time to fit them for sea.
Despatch was of the utmost importance. Captain Jones humanely, and very
wisely, informed the crews of these vessels, that if they would
cordially assist him in rigging and fitting out such vessels as he
required, he would leave them vessels sufficient to cross the Atlantic
to their own homes.

Though the British officers were generally very bitter in their
hostility to the colonial cause, it was not so with the masses of the
English people. There was in their hearts an underlying feeling of
sympathy with the brave colonists who were struggling against
intolerable oppression. These English sailors, therefore, heartily
joined their American brothers, and assisted, with the utmost energy,
until the business was accomplished.

On the evening of September 25th, a violent tempest arose, with deluging
rain. Captain Jones was compelled to cast anchor at the entrance of the
harbor, where, with both his anchors and whole cables ahead, he with
difficulty rode out the storm. One of the prize ships, the Alexander,
which was just ready for sea, anchored under the shelter of a projecting
point of rocks, and thus narrowly escaped destruction. Another of the
prizes, a schooner, called the Sea-Flower, with a valuable cargo, was
torn from her moorings and driven ashore, a total wreck. As she could
not be got off the next day, she was set on fire. The schooner Ebenezer,
which he had brought from Canso, laden with fish, was driven on a reef
of sunken rocks, and totally lost. With great difficulty the crew saved
themselves on a raft.

Toward noon of the 26th this fierce gale began to abate. The British
ship Adventure he burned in the harbor. He then put to sea, taking with
him three heavily laden prizes, the ship Alexander, and the brigantines
Kingston and Success.

The fishery at Canso and Madame he thus effectually destroyed. He left
behind him two small schooners and one brig, to convey the British
seamen, about three hundred in number, back to their homes. He said,
“Had I not done this, I should have stood chargeable with inhumanity.”

This bold enterprise was indeed bearding the lion in his den. It woke up
the British Government to a new sense of the vigor of that worm which it
supposed was squirming helplessly beneath its feet. It taught the proud
Court of St. James that in war there were blows to be received as well
as blows to be given. These acts seem cruel. But “war,” says General
Sherman, “is cruelty. You cannot refine it.”

While England was wantonly laying our villages in ashes, and driving
women and children in homelessness and starvation into the fields,
Captain Jones spared all private property on the land. He only seized or
consigned to destruction that private property _afloat_, which the code
of war England herself had established, pronounced to be lawful booty.
England, proud mistress of the seas, supposed that she, with her
invincible navy, could plunder the commerce of all nations, and that she
had nothing to fear in the way of retaliation. It must have been to her
indeed a surprise to find the shipping in her own harbors plundered and

Captain Jones felt the necessity of the utmost possible expedition. He
had learned that there was an English war-brig, of powerful armament,
within forty-five miles of him to the southward. This formidable
antagonist might, at any hour, loom in sight. As the little fleet was
crowding along under full sail making all haste, on the morning of the
27th, two sails were discerned in the distant horizon. There could be no
doubt that they were English vessels. Perilous as Captain Jones’s
situation was, he could not resist the temptation to give them chase.

He therefore signalled his prizes to rendezvous on the southwest part of
the Isle of Sables, and wait for him there three days, should he not
sooner appear. He then spread all sail in pursuit of the strangers. They
also spread every inch of canvas they could command, and before they
could be overtaken ran into the harbor of Louisbourg. There was reason
to suppose that there were several British men-of-war there. Captain
Jones therefore returned to his prizes at the rendezvous, and again all
pressed forward on their homeward voyage.

In this cruise, which lasted but six weeks and five days, Captain Jones
captured sixteen prizes, besides the vessels which he destroyed in the
harbors of Canso and Madame. Of these prizes, eight he manned and sent
into port. The remainder were burned. Captain Jones returned to Newport,
Rhode Island, where the commander-in-chief of our little navy had
established his headquarters.

The British officers were treating the captives they had taken from the
Americans, with the greatest brutality. They had driven one hundred
prisoners into the coal mines of Cape Breton, where they were forced to
labor like slaves. This procedure greatly outraged Captain Jones’s sense
of humanity and justice. He suggested that an expedition should be
fitted out for their release; and also, as far as possible, to destroy
England’s coal fleet and her fishing fleet. The plan was approved of.
For the accomplishment of this important enterprise he was allowed to
fit out two vessels, the Alfred and the Providence. The whole burden and
responsibility of the preparations rested upon him. He took command of
the Alfred, committing the Providence to Captain Hacker. He found but
thirty men on board the Alfred, and with great difficulty succeeded in
enlisting thirty more. When the Alfred entered the harbor at Newport
from Philadelphia, a few weeks before, she had two hundred and
thirty-five men on her muster-roll. Captain Jones, in a letter to Hon.
Robert Morris, explained the cause of this singular desertion, and
proposed a remedy.

“It seems to me,” he writes, “that the privateers entice the men away as
fast as they receive their month’s pay. It is to the last degree
distressing to contemplate the state and establishment of our navy. The
common class of mankind are animated by no nobler principle than that of
self-interest. This, and this alone, determines all adventurers in
privateers; the owners, as well as those whom they employ.

“And while this is the case, unless the private emolument of individuals
_in our navy_ is made superior to that in _privateers_, it never can
become respectable; it never will become formidable. And without a
respectable navy, alas, America! In the present critical situation of
affairs, human wisdom can suggest no more than one infallible expedient:
enlist the seamen during pleasure, and _give them all the prizes_.

“What is the paltry emolument of two-thirds of prizes to this vast
continent.[A] If so poor a resource is essential to its independency, we
are, in sober sadness, involved in a woful predicament, and our ruin is
fast approaching. The situation of America is new in the annals of
mankind. Her affairs cry haste; and speed must answer them. Trifles
therefore ought to be wholly disregarded, as being, in the old vulgar
proverb, ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’


Footnote A:

  Congress appropriated two-thirds of all prizes to the Government,
  leaving but one-third to be divided among the captors.


“If our enemies, with the best established and most formidable navy in
the universe, have found it expedient to assign all prizes to the
captors, how much more is such policy essential to our infant fleet? But
I need use no arguments to convince you of the necessity of making our
navy equal, if not superior to theirs.”

Our navy was so small and our impoverishment so great that Congress
could furnish Captain Jones with but two vessels for his important
expedition to Cape Breton. The Alfred and the Providence sailed together
from Newport harbor, on the 2d of November, 1776. This was so late in
the season, to embark for those high latitudes, that Captain Jones,
discouraged by the delays which had been encountered, was not very
sanguine as to the success of the expedition.

The first night he cast anchor at Tarpauling Cove, near Nantucket. Here
he found a privateer belonging to Rhode Island, inward bound. He was in
great want of men. Many sailors, for reasons which we have already
given, had deserted the regular service to enlist on board the
privateers. Captain Jones sent his boat on board the privateer to search
for deserters from the navy. Four men were found, carefully concealed.
They were taken on board the Alfred. This led to a law-suit, which
subsequently subjected Captain Jones to considerable trouble.
Louisbourg, on the eastern coast of the Island of Cape Breton, had a
commodious harbor, and was then a seaport of considerable importance.
Just off the harbor Captain Jones fortunately encountered an English
brig, the Mellish, partially armed, and laden with a large amount of
clothing, thick and warm, for the British troops in Canada. The brig
made a little resistance, but was speedily captured, with all her
precious cargo. Soon after this he captured a large fishing-vessel,
which quite replenished his meagre store of provisions.

The next day a violent snow-storm darkened the air, with a severe gale
blowing from the northwest. Captain Hacker, in command of the
Providence, either frightened by the inclement weather or treasonably
disposed, took advantage of the darkness of the ensuing night to bear
away south, and return to Newport. The Alfred was thus left alone to
prosecute the now impossible enterprise.

Captain Jones sent his two prizes, the brig Mellish and the
fishing-vessel, to steer for any American port which could be reached.
The fishing-vessel was recaptured by the English. But the Mellish was
successfully carried into the harbor of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The
clothing, with which she was laden, proved to be of incalculable use to
the army of Washington. The Continental troops, thinly clad, had been
suffering severely from the freezing blasts of winter.

In the midst of smothering snow-storms and fierce gales, Captain Jones
again entered the harbor of Canso. A large English transport, laden with
provisions, was aground, near the entrance to the harbor. He sent his
boats to apply the torch. The whole fabric, with all its contents, soon
vanished in flame and smoke. A large oil warehouse, containing a large
quantity of material for the whale and cod fishery, was also consigned
to consuming fire. He then continued his voyage along the eastern coast
of Cape Breton.

In a dense fog, not far from Louisbourg, he fell in with quite a fleet
of coal vessels, from the crown mines in Sydney, under convoy of the
English frigate Flora. Favored by the fog, and unseen by the frigate, he
captured three of the largest of these vessels. Two days after this he
encountered a British privateer from Liverpool, which he took, after but
a slight conflict. Thick masses of ice filled the harbor adjacent to the
coal mines. He had one hundred and fifty prisoners on board the Alfred.
His water-casks were nearly empty, and his provisions mostly consumed.
Five prize vessels were in his train. It was clearly his duty to convoy
them, as soon as possible, into some safe port. He therefore commenced
his return.

The little fleet kept together, guarded by the Alfred, and the Liverpool
privateer, which, being armed for battle, Captain Jones had manned and
given into the charge of Lieutenant Saunders. Just on the edge of St.
George’s Bank, the British frigate Milford was again encountered. It was
late in the afternoon when her topsails first appeared above the
horizon. All the vessels of Captain Jones’s fleet were on the starboard
tack. It was evident that, as the wind was then, the Milford could not
overtake them before night, which was close at hand. He signalled his
vessels to crowd with all sail, on the same tack, through the night,
without paying any regard to the lights which he might show.

After dark both he and the captured privateer tacked, and thus entered
upon a different course from that of the rest of the fleet. To decoy the
frigate to follow him, and thus draw it away from the prizes, he carried
toplights until the morning. The Milford gave him hot chase. When the
morning light dawned upon the ocean the prizes were nowhere to be seen.
The stratagem had thus far proved eminently successful. All that now
remained for Captain Jones was to make his own escape with the Alfred,
and the privateer under Lieutenant Saunders. The privateer, through
mismanagement, was overtaken and captured. A terrible storm, which had
been for some time brewing, in the afternoon lashed the ocean, and amid
clouds and darkness and foaming surges the Alfred made her escape.

On the 15th of December, 1776, Captain Jones entered the harbor of
Boston. He had then, on board the Alfred, provisions and water barely
sufficient for two days. To his great gratification he found that his
prizes had all safely reached port. The welcome news of the capture of
the cargo of clothing, in the Mellish, reached Washington just before he
recrossed the Delaware and captured the British garrison at Trenton.
Captain Jones, in his letter to the Marine Committee, writes:

“This prize is, I believe, the most valuable which has been taken by the
American arms. She made some defence, but it was trifling. The loss will
distress the enemy more than can be easily imagined, as the clothing on
board of her is the last intended to be sent out for Canada this season,
and what has preceded it is already taken. The situation of Burgoyne’s
army must soon become insupportable.”

Captain Jones was so impressed with the importance of this capture that
he had resolved, at every hazard, to sink the vessel rather than permit
it again to fall into the hands of the enemy. He was delayed some time
in Boston in disposing of his prizes and in getting rid of his
prisoners, or, as he phrases it, of being delivered of the “honorable
office of a jail-keeper.”

He passed the winter in Boston, consecrating all his energies to the
creation of a navy worthy of the rising republic. Though his feelings
were deeply wounded, and his sense of justice greatly outraged, by
being, for political reasons, superseded in command by men who were
totally unqualified for naval office, and who had never yet served, he
did not allow these considerations, though he remonstrated indignantly
against the unjust acts, to abate, in the slightest degree, his
patriotic zeal. The suggestions he made the Marine Committee have so
commended themselves to the judgment of those in command that nearly all
of them have been gradually adopted. A few extracts from these long
communications will reflect much light upon the character of this
remarkable man.

“None other,” he writes, “than a gentleman, as well as a seaman in
theory and practice, is qualified to support the character of an officer
in the navy. Nor is any man fit to command a ship of war, who is not
capable of communicating his ideas on paper, in language that becomes
his rank.”

Again he writes, in reference to the great injustice which he had
experienced, “When I entered into the service I was not actuated by
motives of self-interest. I stepped forth as a free citizen of the
world, in defence of the violated rights of mankind, and not in search
of riches, whereof, I thank God, I inherit a sufficiency. But I should
prove my degeneracy were I not, in the highest degree, tenacious of my
rank and seniority. As a gentleman I can yield this point only to
persons of superior abilities and merit. Under such persons it would be
my highest ambition to learn.”

Again he wrote to Hon. Mr. Morris: “As the regulations of the navy are
of the utmost consequence, you will not think it presumption if, with
the utmost diffidence, I venture to communicate to you such hints as, in
my judgment, will promote its honor and good government. I could
heartily wish that every commissioned officer was to be previously
examined. To my certain knowledge there are persons who have already
crept into commission, without abilities or fit qualification. I am,
myself, far from desiring to be excused.”

After a toilsome winter of many annoyances he repaired, early in April,
1777, to Philadelphia, then the seat of the Colonial Government.
Prominent members of Congress, when their attention was called to the
subject, admitted that Captain Jones had been wrongfully treated. Mr.
Hancock, President of Congress, assured him that the injustice of
superseding him was not intentional, but was the result of a
multiplicity of business. He said to him:

“The injustice of that regulation shall make but a nominal and temporary
difference. In the mean time you may be assured that no navy officer
stands higher in the opinion of Congress. The matter of rank shall, as
soon as possible, be arranged. In the mean time you shall have a
separate command, until better provision can he made for you.”

Captain Jones urged that there should be a parity of rank between the
officers of the navy and the army. He proposed that, in accordance with
the British establishment, which was certainly the best regulated navy
in the world, an admiral should rank with a general, a vice-admiral with
a lieutenant-general, a rear-admiral with a major-general, a commodore
with a brigadier-general, a captain with a colonel, a master and
commander with a lieutenant-colonel, a lieutenant commanding with a
major, and a lieutenant in the navy with a captain of horse, foot, or

He also urged strenuously, as an object demanding immediate attention,
that commissioners of dock-yards should be established to superintend
the building and outfit of all ships of war. They were to be invested
with power to appoint deputies, and to provide and keep in constant
readiness all naval stores. It speaks well for the intelligence and
sound judgment of Captain Jones that, though he was a young officer of
but one year’s standing, nearly every suggestion he made was
subsequently adopted.

Soon after this he received an appointment from the Marine Committee, to
sail from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the French ship Amphitrite, to
France, with a letter to the American Commissioners there, ordering them
to purchase as fine a ship as could be obtained in Europe, for Captain
Jones. He was to take out a crew with him, to man the ship, from
Portsmouth. The letter the Marine Committee wrote to the Commissioners
was very urgent, calling upon them to strain every nerve to accomplish
the end as soon as possible.

“We hope,” they wrote, “you may not delay this business one moment; but
purchase, in such port or place in Europe as it can be done with most
convenience and despatch, a fine fast-sailing frigate or larger ship.
You must make it a point not to disappoint Captain Jones’s wishes and
expectations on this occasion.”

On the 14th of June, 1777, Congress established the national flag. It
was voted “that the flag of the United States should be thirteen
stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars,
white, in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The French commander of the Amphitrite, notwithstanding the sympathies
of France were then so cordially with the colonies, very reasonably
objected to taking a step so decidedly belligerent as to transport a
crew to France, to engage in direct hostilities against English
commerce. The plan therefore had to be abandoned. England and France
were then at peace. Soon, however, war commenced between them.

Congress then appointed Jones to the command of the ship Ranger, which
had recently been built in Portsmouth. He was placed in command of this
our first frigate, on the same day when Congress designated the Stars
and the Stripes as our national flag. Consequently Paul Jones, who first
unfurled the banner of the Pine Tree, over the little sloop Providence,
now enjoyed the distinguished honor of being the first to spread to the
breeze that beautiful banner, the Stars and the Stripes, now renowned
throughout the world, and around whose folds more than forty millions of
freemen are ever ready, with enthusiasm, to rally.

The Ranger was not prepared for sea until the middle of October. The
ship mounted but eighteen guns, though originally intended for
twenty-six. She sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 1st of
November, 1777, and, after a month’s voyage, entered the harbor of
Nantes on the 2d of December. This noble city, situated on the river
Loire, about thirty-four miles from its mouth, and two hundred miles
from Paris, was then one of the most important seaports in France. Ships
of two hundred tons burden could cast anchor in the broad, clear, deep
river. An immense amount of shipping crowded her quays, one of which was
a mile and a half in length.

On the voyage, soon after passing the Western Islands, he encountered
many vessels, but none which proved to be English, until he was
approaching the Channel. He then overtook a fleet of ten British
vessels, under a strong convoy. Captain Jones exerted all his nautical
skill to detach some of these from the convoy, but was unable to
succeed. He, however, soon captured two brigantines, or small brigs,
laden with fruit from Malaga, bound to London. Both of these prizes he
sent into French ports.

Upon his arrival at Nantes, he forwarded the letter which he had
received from the Marine Committee of Congress, to the American
Commissioners at Paris, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee.
In this letter, Captain Jones writes:

“It is my first and favorite wish to be employed in active and
enterprising service, where there is a prospect of rendering acceptable
services to America. The singular honor which Congress has done me, by
their generous conduct, has inspired sentiments of gratitude which I
shall carry with me to the grave. And if a life of services devoted to
America, can be made instrumental in securing its independence, I shall
regard the continuance of such approbation as an honor far superior to
what kings even could bestow.”

He urged that since our navy was so feeble that it could not cope with
the powerful armament of England, our only feasible course was to send
out small squadrons, and surprise defenceless situations. This was the
course adopted. By invitation of the Commissioners, Captain Jones
repaired to Paris, where he met with a severe disappointment. This is
explained in the following extract from his first despatch from Nantes:

“The Commissioners had provided for me one of the finest frigates that
was ever built, calculated for thirty guns on one deck, and capable of
carrying thirty-six pounders. But they were under the necessity of
giving her up, on account of some difficulties they met at court.”

The failure of this plan was owing to the vigilance of the British
minister at Amsterdam. He discovered the secret of her ownership and
destination, and remonstrated so effectually as to thwart the plan. He
then decided to put to sea with the Ranger, as soon as possible. The
Commissioners addressed to him the following instructions:

“As it is not in our power to procure you such a ship as you expected,
we advise you, after equipping the Ranger in the best manner for the
cruise you propose, that you shall proceed with her in the manner you
shall judge best for distressing the enemies of the United States, by
sea or otherwise, consistent with the laws of war, and the terms of your

On the 10th of February, 1778, Captain Jones, in the Ranger, sailed down
the Loire, and coasted along in a northerly direction to Brest, then the
great naval depot of France, enjoying one of the finest harbors in the
world. In this month a treaty of alliance between France and the United
States was signed at Paris. France was the first nation to recognize the
independence of the United States, and to recognize the Congress of the
thirteen colonies as a legitimate Government.

France promptly engaged in fitting out a naval expedition to assist the
American colonies.

                              CHAPTER III.
                      _Bearding the British Lion._

Aid from France.—Plan for the Destruction of the British Fleet.—The
    American Flag Saluted.—Bold Movement of Captain Jones.—Cruise along
    the Shores of England.—Capture of Prizes.—Salutary Lessons given to
    England.—Operations in the Frith of Clyde.—At Carrickfergus.—Attempt
    upon the Drake.—Burning the Shipping at Whitehaven.—Capture of the
    Plate of Lord Selkirk.

France, upon recognizing the independence of the United States and
entering into an alliance with our Government, promptly engaged in
fitting out a naval expedition to assist the American patriots who were
so heroically struggling for freedom. Captain Jones immediately wrote a
letter to the Commissioners in Paris, suggesting a plan of operations
for the French fleet, which was placed under the command of Count
d’Estaing. The count was a brave man, an able officer, and was heartily
devoted to the cause of the feeble colonies. The plan Captain Jones
recommended was eventually adopted. Had it been at once carried into
execution, it would probably have so crippled the English as to have
brought the war to a speedy termination.


Nearly the whole British fleet, sent to operate against the colonies,
was in the Delaware. It had abundant supplies for the British army,
which, almost without hindrance, was ranging the country, plundering and
burning. The plan proposed was, that Count d’Estaing, with the superior
force which he had under his command, should fall suddenly upon the
British fleet under Lord Howe, and destroy it, or, at least block it up
in the Delaware, with all the transport ships under its convoy. This
could then have easily been done.

But unfortunately the fleet, instead of being fitted out at Brest, on
the Atlantic coast, whence it could have a speedy voyage across the
Atlantic, was got ready at Toulon, a Mediterranean port, requiring a
much longer voyage. Just before the fleet arrived, Lord Howe, aware of
his danger, had effected his escape. In those days the French fleet
could have arrived almost as soon as the intelligence of the alliance
had reached these shores. In a letter to M. De Sartine, the French
Minister of Marine, Captain Jones subsequently writes:

“Had Count d’Estaing arrived in the Delaware a few days sooner, he might
have made a glorious and most easy conquest. Many successful projects
may be adopted from the hints which I had the honor to draw up. And if I
can furnish more, or execute any of those already furnished, so as to
distress and humble the common enemy, it will afford me the truest

Captain Jones, on his voyage from Nantes to Brest, convoyed some
American merchant vessels as far as Quiberon Bay. Thence they were to be
convoyed to America by a French fleet, commanded by Admiral La Motte
Piquet. Here, for the first time, the Stars and Stripes of our Union
received the honor of a national salute. John Paul Jones managed the
somewhat delicate affair with the instincts of a gentleman, and the
sensitiveness of an accomplished naval officer, conscious that the honor
of the infant nation was, in some degree, intrusted to his guardianship.
I give the interesting event in his own words. In a letter to the Marine
Committee, dated February 22, 1778, he writes:

“I am happy in having it in my power to congratulate you on my having
seen the American flag, for the first time, recognized in the fullest
and completest manner by the flag of France. I was off their bay the
13th instant, and sent my boat in, the next day, to know if the admiral
would return my salute. He answered that he would return to me, as the
senior American Continental officer in Europe, the same salute which he
was authorized, by his court to return to an admiral of Holland, or any
other republic; which was four guns less than the salute given. I
hesitated at this, for I had demanded gun for gun.

“Therefore I anchored in the entrance of the bay, at a distance from the
French fleet. But, after a very particular inquiry, on the 14th, finding
that he had really told the truth, I was induced to accept of his offer,
the more so as it was, in fact, an acknowledgment of American
independence. The wind being contrary and blowing hard, it was after
sunset before the Ranger got near enough to salute La Motte Piquet with
thirteen guns, which he returned with nine. However, to put the matter
beyond a doubt, I did not suffer the Independence to salute till next
morning, when I sent the admiral word that I would sail through his
fleet in the brig, and would salute him in open day. He was exceedingly
pleased, and he returned the compliment also with nine guns.”

The Independence here alluded to, it is said, was a privateer which had
been fitted out to sail under the orders of Captain Jones. His sailing
through the French fleet was characteristic of the man, as he fully
appreciated, at this time, the importance of this interchange of
national courtesies, and the importance that it should be so
emphatically done that there could be no denial of it. Thus he who first
raised the American Pine-Tree flag to the topmast of the Alfred, and who
first unfurled the national banner from the Ranger, now enjoyed the
honor of being the first to secure for that flag a national salute. The
times have changed. The infant republic has become one of the most
powerful nations on the globe. There is no Government now which
hesitates to return, in salute of our national banner, gun for gun.

On the 10th of April, Captain Jones, in the Ranger, sailed from Brest.
It was his intention to strike a blow first upon some unprotected point
on the south side of England. It was indeed a bold and chivalric
movement for the little Ranger, with her eighteen guns, to plunge into
the very heart of the British Channel, which was crowded with the
massive seventy-fours of Britain’s proud navy. England was discharging
the broadsides of her invincible fleet upon our defenceless towns, and
was landing her boats’ crews to apply the torch to our peaceful
villages. Not a fishing-boat could leave a cove without danger of
capture and the imprisonment of all the crew.

Little did the British Government imagine that any commander of an
American vessel would have the audacity to approach even within sight of
her shores. It was the main design of Captain Jones to punish England
for the atrocities she was so cruelly perpetrating upon us—and to punish
her in kind. On the 10th of August he launched forth, from the
magnificent harbor of Brest, and directed his course almost due north,
for Land’s End, the extreme southern cape of the island of Great
Britain. The distance across, at this point, is about one hundred and
fifty miles.

About thirty miles off the southern coast of England, in a southwest
direction, there is a group of islands called the Scilly Islands.
Captain Jones ran his vessel between them and Cape Clear, within full
view of the shores of England, and where the flash of his guns could be
seen and the thunders of his cannon distinctly heard on those shores.
Opposing winds and a rough sea so impeded his progress that he did not
gain sight of England’s coast until the 14th. Then he descried a
merchant-brig. He bore down upon her and captured her. The brig was
freighted with flax, and was bound from Ireland to Ostend, in Belgium.
As the freight was of no value, and Captain Jones did not wish to
encumber himself with prisoners, the crew were sent ashore in the boats
and the brig was scuttled and sunk.

These tidings must have created a strange sensation, as they spread like
wildfire throughout England. It must have roused the whole British navy,
to wreak vengeance upon the intrepid voyager. He then entered St.
George’s Channel, which separates Southern England from Ireland. When
almost within sight of the spires of Dublin he encountered, on the 17th
of August, a large London ship. He captured her. Her cargo consisted of
a variety of valuable merchandise. The crew were sent ashore. The prize
he manned and sent back to Brest.

Thus far dense clouds had darkened their way, and rough winds had
ploughed the seas, but now the weather changed. The skies became fair
and the wind favorable. He sailed rapidly along into the Irish Sea, and
passed by the Isle of Man, intending to make a descent at Whitehaven,
with whose harbor and surroundings he from childhood had been familiar.
About ten o’clock in the evening of the 17th, he was off the harbor,
with a boat’s crew of picked men ready to enter and set fire to the
shipping. But the wind, which had been blowing strong during the
afternoon, by eleven o’clock increased to a gale, blowing directly on
shore, and raising such a heavy sea that the boats could not leave the
ships. During the night the storm so increased, threatening to drive the
vessel upon the rocks, that it became necessary to crowd all sail, and
put out to sea so as to clear the land.

The next morning the storm abated, and the Ranger was near Glestine Bay,
just off the southern coast of Scotland. A revenue wherry hove in sight.
It was the custom of the revenue boat to board all merchant vessels in
search of contraband goods. As the Ranger concealed, as much as
possible, all warlike appearance, Captain Jones hoped that the wherry,
which was one of the swiftest of sailers, would come alongside, so that
he might effect her capture. But it seems that the tidings of the Ranger
had reached the ears of the officers of the governmental boat. After
examining the vessel carefully with their glasses, they crowded on all
sail, to escape. The Ranger pursued, opening upon the affrighted boat a
severe cannonade. The balls bounded over the waves, and the explosions
reverberated amid the cliffs of Scotland, but the wherry escaped.

The next morning, April 19th, when near the extreme southern cape of
Scotland, called the Mull of Galloway, he overtook one of the merchant
schooners of the enemy, from which he took what he wanted, sent the crew
ashore, and sunk the vessel. By a just retribution he was thus
chastising England for the crimes she was committing on the American
coast. Hudibras writes:

                   “No man e’er felt the halter draw
                   With good opinion of the law.”

England was astonished and enraged in finding the laws of naval warfare
which she had enacted, and had so long practised with impunity upon all
other nations all around the globe, now brought home to herself. She
called Paul Jones all manner of hard names. He was a beggar, a thief, a
traitor, a highway robber, a pirate. He was thus denounced for doing
that, in the English and Irish Channel, which England’s fleet was doing
all along the coast of America. And yet it was heroic in Jones thus to
brave all the terrors of the British navy, while it was ignoble and mean
for that proud navy to plunder and burn the few unprotected vessels of
the feeble colonies struggling for existence in the New World.

England had long made her banqueting-halls resound with the song,

                   “Britannia needs no bulwarks
                     To frown along the steep;
                   Her march is on the mountain wave,
                     Her home is on the deep.”

It was the noble mission of Paul Jones to teach Britannia that the arm
of the avenger could reach her even in her own Channel, and in her own
harbors. Thus England was compelled to drink of the poisoned cup which
she was forcing to the lips of others.

Upon the western coast of Scotland, about fifty miles north of the Mull
of Galloway, there was a capacious harbor called Lochryan, or Lake Ryan.
Captain Jones learned from his captives that there was there a fleet of
ten or twelve English merchant vessels, and also the tender of a
man-of-war, which had on board a large number of impressed seamen, who
were to be forced into the British navy. It was not improbable that many
of these were American citizens, who had been seized in our merchant or
fishing vessels, and who would thus be compelled to work the guns of
Great Britain against their own countrymen. “I thought this an
enterprise,” writes Paul Jones, “worthy of my attention.”

Indeed it was. He spread his sails for Lochryan. The wind was fair, so
that he could run into the bay, speedily apply the torch, kindle the
whole fleet into flame, and then run out before a sufficient force could
be collected to prevent his escape. But just as he reached the entrance
of the bay, and everything was in readiness for the successful
prosecution of his enterprise, the wind changed, and blew with great
fierceness directly into the bay. Thus, though he could easily effect
his entrance, he could not sail out from the bay until the wind changed.
He might therefore be caught in a trap. He was thus constrained to
abandon the project.

About sixty miles north of Lochryan is the Frith of Clyde, whose river
is the most important stream in the west of Scotland. Captain Jones
seeing upon his lee bow a cutter, or small sloop-rigged vessel,
belonging as a tender to a man-of-war, steering for the Clyde, gave
chase. But when he reached the remarkable rock of Ailsa, finding that
the cutter was outsailing him, he abandoned the chase. In the evening he
fell in with a merchant sloop, which he sunk.

The next day, which was the 21st, he entered the Bay of Carrickfergus,
on the eastern coast of Ireland. At the western extremity of the bay
lies the city of Belfast, which occupies the first rank among the
commercial marts of Ireland. The fortified town of Carrickfergus is
situated upon the northern shore. A British ship of war, the Drake,
mounting twenty guns, was at anchor in the bay. Thoroughly armed and
manned, she was a formidable antagonist for the Ranger to attack. As
vessels of all sizes were continually coming and going in this great
thoroughfare, and as the Ranger carefully avoided all warlike
appearance, no suspicion of her formidable character was excited on
board the Drake. Jones therefore cast anchor, preparing to make his
attack in the night. I will give the result in his own words:

“My plan was to overlay her cable, and to fall upon her bow, so as to
have all her decks open and exposed to our musketry. At the same time it
was our intention to have secured the enemy by grapplings, so that, had
they cut their cables, they would not thereby have attained an
advantage. The wind was high, and unfortunately the anchor was not let
go so soon as the order was given; so that the Ranger was brought to
upon the enemy’s quarter, at the distance of half a cable’s length.

“We had made no warlike appearance. Of course, we had given no alarm.
This determined me to cut immediately, which might appear as if the
cable had parted. At the same time it enabled me, after making a tack
out of the Loch, to return with the same advantage which I had at first.
I was, however, prevented from returning, as I with difficulty weathered
the light-house on the leeside, and as the gale increased. The weather
now became so very stormy and severe, and the sea ran so high, that I
was obliged to take shelter under the south shore of Scotland.”

The North Channel, which separates Ireland from Scotland, is at this
point about thirty miles wide. The next morning the sun rose in a
cloudless sky. It was bitterly cold in those northern latitudes. Captain
Jones was on the same parallel with Newfoundland. From the deck of his
vessel he could clearly discern the coasts of England, Scotland, and
Ireland. A white mantle of snow covered the hills and valleys as far as
the eye could extend. He decided to direct his course to the shores of
England, and to make another attempt upon the shipping in the harbor of
Whitehaven. The wind became very light, and it was not until midnight
that he reached the entrance to the harbor. For the hazardous enterprise
of penetrating a harbor defended by two batteries, he manned two boats
with volunteers, fifteen men in each. There were in the harbor two
hundred and twenty vessels, large and small. The tide was out, and many
of these vessels aground. About one hundred and fifty of them were on
the south side of the harbor adjoining the town. The remainder were on
the north side.

Captain Jones had command of one of the boats. Lieutenant Wallingford
was intrusted with the other. Jones supplied Wallingford with the
necessary combustibles to set fire to the shipping on the north side.
With fifteen men, armed only with pistols and cutlasses, he set out to
capture two English forts on the south side, and then to set fire to the
shipping there. The garrisons of these forts had no more apprehension of
an attack from the despised Americans, than Gibraltar fears assault from
some feeble tribe in Southern Asia with whom England may chance to be at

In consequence of the unfortunate delay, they did not reach the first
fort until just as the morning was beginning to dawn. Most of the
soldiers were soundly asleep in the guard-house. There were a few drowsy
sentinels dozing at their posts. Jones, with his heroic little band,
silently clambered over the ramparts. The terrified sentinels, not
knowing what was coming, rushed into the guard-house. Jones quietly
locked them in, spiked every gun, and then rushed forward to the next
battery, which was distant about a quarter of a mile. Here he
successfully repeated his achievement, so that not a gun from either of
the batteries could harm his boats.

He looked eagerly across the harbor, expecting to see the bursting forth
of the flames. It was now broad day; but no sign of flame or smoke was
to be seen. To his great disappointment, the boat under Lieutenant
Wallingford had crossed to the south side, having accomplished nothing.
The party seemed confused and embarrassed, and made the very
extraordinary statement that their torches went out just as they were
ready to set fire to the ships!

The failure was probably caused by sheer cowardice. And it must be
admitted that it was indeed one of the most desperate of enterprises.
These fifteen men, having crossed an ocean three thousand miles wide,
had penetrated the heart of a British harbor, to apply the torch to
seventy vessels.

The crews could not have amounted to less than ten men, on an average,
to each vessel. Thus the British sailors alone in that half of the
harbor, would amount to seven hundred men. The assailants, it will be
remembered, amounted to but fifteen men, in a frail boat, armed only
with swords and pistols. Even the bravest might recoil from such odds.
But as these men had volunteered for the enterprise, and knew all its
perils, it was the basest poltroonery in them to prove recreant at the
crisis of the expedition.

The torches which Captain Jones’s boat party carried, had also, by some
strange fatality, all burned out. Captain Jones, however, obtained a
light from a neighboring house, entered a large ship, from which the
crew fled, and deliberately built a fire in the steerage. This ship was
closely surrounded by at least a hundred and fifty vessels lying side by
side, and all aground. Captain Jones, to make the conflagration certain,
found a barrel of tar, and poured it upon the kindling. The flames soon
burst from all the hatchways, caught the rigging, and, in fiery wreaths,
circled to the mast-head.

“The inhabitants,” writes Captain Jones, “began to appear in thousands,
and individuals ran hastily toward us. I stood between them and the ship
on fire, with a pistol in my hand, and ordered them to retire, which
they did with precipitation. The sun was a full hour’s march above the
horizon, and, as sleep no longer ruled the world, it was time to retire.
We reëmbarked without opposition, having released a number of prisoners,
as our boats could not carry them. After all my people had embarked, I
stood upon the pier, for a considerable space, yet no person advanced. I
saw all the eminences round the town covered with the amazed

When the boats had been rowed some distance from the shore, the English
began to run to their forts, to open fire from the great guns. To their
surprise they found the garrisons locked up in the guard-houses, and the
cannon all spiked. After some delay they found one or two cannon on the
beach, which were dismounted, and which had not been spiked. These they
hastily loaded and fired; but with such ill-directed aim that the shot
all fell wide of their mark. Captain Jones’s men, in derision, fired
their pistols, returning the salute.

If the boats could have entered the harbor a few hours earlier, the
success would doubtless have been complete, and not a vessel would have
escaped the flames. “But what was done,” writes Captain Jones, “is
sufficient to show that not all their boasted navy can protect their own
coasts; and that the scenes of distress, which they have occasioned in
America, may be soon brought home to their own door.”

The Ranger now struck across the broad mouth of Solway Frith, to St.
Mary’s Island, on the Scottish shore, in Kirkcudbright Bay. Here Lord
Selkirk had his residence, in a fine mansion. It will be remembered that
the father of Paul Jones had been attached to his household. The British
were shutting up our most illustrious men in the hulks of prison ships,
and treating them with barbarity which would have disgraced savages.
Captain Jones deemed it of the utmost importance, as a measure of
humanity, to seize some distinguished Englishman and hold him as a
hostage, to secure the better treatment of our own noblemen who had
fallen into the enemy’s hands. For this patriotic movement the English
press denounced him in terms of unmeasured abuse. The motive which
influenced him was an exalted one. And he merits the highest encomiums
for the manner in which he conducted the enterprise. In justice to
Captain Jones, I feel bound to give the narrative in his own words. It
is contained in letter which he wrote to the Countess of Selkirk, with
whom he was personally acquainted, immediately after the Ranger returned
from its cruise to Brest.

                                              “RANGER, BREST, May 8.


        “MADAM—It cannot be too much lamented that, in the profession of
  arms, the officer of fine feeling and of real sensibility should be
  under the necessity of winking at any action of persons under his
  command which his heart cannot approve. But the reflection is doubly
  severe, when he finds himself obliged, in appearance, to countenance
  such actions by his authority.

  “This hard case was mine when, on the 23d of April last, I landed on
  St. Mary’s Isle. Knowing Lord Selkirk’s interest with his king, and
  esteeming, as I do, his private character, I wished to make him the
  happy instrument of alleviating the horrors of hopeless captivity,
  when the brave are overpowered and made prisoners of war.

  “It was perhaps fortunate for you, madam, that he was from home; for
  it was my intention to have taken him on board the Ranger, and to have
  detained him until, through his means, a general and fair exchange of
  prisoners, as well in Europe as in America, had been effected.

  “When I was informed, by some men whom I met at landing, that his
  lordship was absent, I walked back to my boat determined to leave the
  island. On the way, however, some officers who were with me, could not
  forbear expressing their discontent. They said that, in America, no
  delicacy was shown by the English, who took away all sorts of movable
  property; setting fire not only to towns and to the houses of the
  rich, without distinction, but not even sparing the wretched hamlets
  and milch cows of the poor and helpless, at the approach of an
  inclement winter.

  “That party had been with me, the same morning, at Whitehaven. Some
  complaisance was therefore their due. I had but a moment to think how
  I might gratify them, and, at the same time, do your ladyship the
  least injury. I charged the two officers to permit none of the seamen
  to enter the house, or to hurt anything about it; to treat you, madam,
  with the utmost respect; to accept of the plate which was offered; and
  to come away, without making a search or demanding anything else.

  “I am induced to believe that I was punctually obeyed; since I am
  informed that the plate, which they brought away, is far short of the
  quantity expressed in the inventory which accompanied it. I have
  gratified my men. And when the plate is sold I shall become its
  purchaser, and will gratify my own feelings by restoring it to you, by
  such conveyance as you shall please to direct.

  “Had the Earl been on board the Ranger the following evening, he would
  have seen the awful pomp and dreadful carnage of a sea engagement;
  both affording ample subject for the pencil, as well as melancholy
  reflection to the contemplative mind. Humanity starts back from such
  scenes of horror, and cannot sufficiently execrate the vile promoters
  of this detestable war.

        “‘For _they_, ’twas _they_ unsheathed the ruthless blade,
        And Heaven shall ask the havoc it has made.’

  “The British ship-of-war Drake, mounting twenty guns, with more than
  her full complement of officers and men, was our opponent. The ships
  met, and the advantage was disputed, with great fortitude on each
  side, for an hour and four minutes, when the gallant commander of the
  Drake fell, and victory declared in favor of the Ranger. The amiable
  lieutenant lay mortally wounded; a melancholy demonstration of the
  uncertainty of human prospects, and of the sad reverses of fortune
  which an hour can produce. I buried them in a spacious grave, with the
  honors due to the memory of the brave.

  “Though I have drawn my sword, in the present generous struggle for
  the rights of man, yet I am not in arms as an American, nor am I in
  pursuit of riches. My fortune is liberal enough, having no wife nor
  family, and having lived long enough to know that riches cannot insure
  happiness. I profess myself a citizen of the world, totally unfettered
  by the little, mean distinctions of climate or of country, which
  diminish the benevolence of the heart and set bounds to philanthropy.
  Before this war was begun I had, at an early time of life, withdrawn
  from sea service, in favor of calm contemplation and poetic ease. I
  have sacrificed not only my favorite scheme of life, but the softer
  affections of the heart and my prospects of domestic happiness, and I
  am ready to sacrifice my life also, with cheerfulness, if that
  forfeiture could restore peace and good-will among mankind.

  “As the feelings of your gentle bosom cannot but be congenial with
  mine, let me entreat you, madam, to use your persuasive art, with your
  husband’s, to endeavor to stop this cruel and destructive war, in
  which Britain never can succeed. Heaven can never countenance the
  barbarous and unmanly practice of the Britons in America, which
  savages would blush at, and which, if not discontinued, will soon be
  retaliated on Britain by a justly enraged people. Should you fail in
  this, for I am persuaded that you will attempt it—and who can resist
  the power of such an advocate?—your endeavors to effect a general
  exchange of prisoners will be an act of humanity which will afford you
  golden feelings on your death-bed.

  “I hope this cruel contest will soon be closed. But should it
  continue, I wage no war with the fair. I acknowledge their force and
  bend before it with submission. Let not, therefore, the amiable
  Countess of Selkirk regard me as an enemy. I am ambitious of her
  esteem and friendship, and would do anything consistent with my duty
  to merit it.

  “The honor of a line, from your hand, in answer to this, will lay me
  under a singular obligation. And if I can render you any acceptable
  service in France or elsewhere, I hope you see into my character so
  far as to command me without the least grain of reserve.

  “I wish to know exactly the behavior of my people, as I am determined
  to punish them if they exceed their liberty. I have the honor to be,
  with much esteem and with profound respect,

                                       “Madam, yours, etc.,
                                                  “JOHN PAUL JONES.”

                              CHAPTER IV.
                _Captain Jones at Nantes and at Brest._

Correspondence with Lord Selkirk.—Terrible Battle with the Ship
    Drake.—Capture of the Ship.—Carnage on board the Drake.—Generosity
    to Captured Fishermen.—Insubordination of Lieutenant
    Simpson.—Embarrassments of Captain Jones.—Hopes and
    Disappointments.—Proofs of Unselfish Patriotism.—Letter to the King
    of France.—Anecdote of Poor Richard.

The letter of Paul Jones to the Countess of Selkirk was published widely
throughout England, and attracted much attention. Dr. Franklin wrote to
Captain Jones from Paris:

“It was a gallant letter, and must give her ladyship a high opinion of
your generosity and nobleness of mind.”

The plate fell into the hands of the prize agents. After much difficulty
and considerable delay, Captain Jones succeeded in purchasing it, though
at a price above its real value. He then returned it to Lord Selkirk,
himself defraying all the expenses of transportation. Lord Selkirk, in
acknowledging its receipt, from London, under date of August, 1789,

“Notwithstanding all the precautions you took for the easy and
uninterrupted conveyance of the plate, yet it met with considerable
delays, first at Calais, next at Dover, then at London. However, it at
last arrived at Dumfries. I intended to have put an article in the
newspapers about your having returned it. But before I was informed of
its being arrived, some of your friends, I suppose, had put it into the
Dumfries newspaper, whence it was immediately copied into the Edinburgh
papers, and thence into the London ones. Since that time I have
mentioned it to many people of fashion.

“And on all occasions, both now and formerly, I have done you the
justice to tell that you made an offer of returning the plate very soon
after your return to Brest; and although you yourself was not at my
house, but remained at the shore with your boat, that you had your
officers and men in such extraordinary good discipline, that your having
given them the strictest orders to behave well, to do no injury of any
kind, to make no search, but only to bring off what plate was given
them; that in reality they did exactly as ordered, and that not one man
offered to stir from his post on the outside of the house, nor entered
the doors, nor said an uncivil word; that the two officers staid not a
quarter of an hour in the parlor and in the butler’s pantry, while the
butler got the plate together, behaved politely, and asked for nothing
but the plate, and instantly marched their men off, in regular order,
and that both officers and men behaved in all respects so well that it
would have done credit to the best disciplined troops whatever.”

The style of Captain Jones’s letter has been found fault with. But in
literary excellence it is certainly above that of the English lord. One
of the London papers said of him:

“Paul Jones is about thirty-six years of age, of a middling stature,
well proportioned, with an agreeable countenance. His conversation shows
him to be a man of talents, and that he has a liberal education. His
letters, in foreign gazettes, show that he can fight with the pen as
well as with the sword.”

In the letter which Captain Jones sent to Lord Selkirk upon the return
of the plate, he wrote:

“The long delay that has happened to the restoration of your plate, has
given me much concern, and I now feel a proportionate pleasure in
fulfilling what was my first intention. My motive for landing at your
estate in Scotland was to take _you_, as a hostage for the lives and
liberties of a number of the citizens of America, who had been taken in
war on the ocean and committed to British prisons, under an act of
Parliament, as _traitors_, _pirates_, and _felons_. You observed to Mr.
Alexander that my idea was a mistaken one, because you were not, as I
had supposed, in favor with the British ministry, who knew _that you
favored the cause of liberty_. On that account, I am glad that you were
absent from your estate when I landed there, as I bore no personal
enmity, but the contrary, toward you. I afterward had the happiness to
redeem my fellow-citizens from Britain, by means far more glorious than
through the medium of any single hostage.

“As I have endeavored to serve the cause of liberty, through every stage
of the American Revolution, and have sacrificed to it my private ease, a
part of my fortune, and some of my blood, I could have no selfish motive
in permitting my people to demand and carry off your plate. My sole
inducement was to turn their attention and stop their rage from breaking
out and retaliating on your house and effects the too wanton burnings
and desolation that had been committed against their relations and
fellow-citizens in America, by the British; of which, I assure you, you
would have felt the severe consequences, had I not fallen on an
expedient to prevent it, and hurried my people away before they had time
for further reflection.”

We must now return from this episode to the continuance of Captain
Jones’s cruise. In his letter to Lady Selkirk, he alludes to a naval
battle with the ship Drake. After the descent upon Mary’s Island,
Captain Jones again stood across the Channel from the Scottish to the
Irish shore. On the morning of the 24th, he arrived off the Bay of
Carrickfergus, and would again have entered, to make an attack upon the
Drake, had he not seen that that ship was spreading her sails to come
out. The wind was very light and the progress of the British ship slow.
The captain of the Drake had heard of the ravages of the Ranger, for the
appalling tidings had spread far and wide, and he was coming out in
search of her. Seeing this vessel in the distance, a boat was sent out
from the Drake to reconnoitre. Captain Jones kept the ship’s stern
directly toward the approaching boat, and so succeeded in disguising his
true character that though the boat’s crew carefully scrutinized him
with a spy-glass, they were completely deceived, and, hailing the
vessel, came alongside. As soon as the officer stepped upon the
quarter-deck, he found, to his great surprise, himself a prisoner and
his boat captured.

Captain Jones learned, from his captives, that the night before an
express had reached the Drake, with tidings of the destruction of the
shipping at Whitehaven; and the Drake had immediately increased its crew
by a large number of volunteers, and was now pressing forward in pursuit
of the Ranger. Alarm fires were also seen on the eminences on both sides
of the Channel, their columns of smoke rising high into the air. It was
evident that the achievements of the bold little Ranger had created a
great commotion, rousing all England to a sense of danger, for no one
knew upon what point her next blows might fall.

The wind was light and the tide unfavorable, so that the Drake worked
out of the bay slowly. Captain Jones awaited her arrival, laying to with
courses up, and main-topsail to the mast. At length, the Drake, having
reached the mid-channel, came within hailing distance, and ran up the
flag of England. At the same instant the Stars and Stripes were unfurled
at the topmast of the Ranger. Still an officer on the quarter-deck of
the Drake shouted out:

“What ship is that?”

The reply was immediately returned:

“It is the American Continental ship Ranger. We are waiting for you. The
sun is but little more than an hour from setting. It is therefore time
to begin.”

The Drake was astern of the Ranger. Jones ordered the helm up, and as
his vessel rounded to, discharged a full broadside into the thronged
decks of the Drake. The iron storm crashed through timbers and bones and
quivering nerves with terrible destruction. But the spirit of war can
never arrest its energies to compassionate its victims. The guns of the
Drake were loaded and shotted, and the gunners stood, with lighted
torches, at their posts. Instantly the fire was returned, while the dead
were left in their blood, and the wounded were hurried to the cockpit,
to writhe beneath the cuttings of the surgeon’s knife.

Thus, for an hour and four minutes, the dreadful conflict continued. The
thunders of the exploding guns, booming over the waves, echoed along the
shores of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The British Government dreamed
not that its feeble colonies could do anything more than present a brief
and totally unavailing resistance behind frail ramparts, suddenly thrown
up, three thousand miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic. And
yet here were those colonies putting forth energies which were burning
ships in England’s home harbors, and bombarding her frigates in her own

At the close of an hour and four minutes of as obstinate a naval battle
as could be fought, the Drake dropped her flag and cried for quarter.
Her fore and main-topsail yards were both cut away, and hung down on the
cap. The top-gallant yard and mizzen gaff were also torn from their
fastenings and were dangling against the mast. The first flag had been
shot away. They had raised a second. That also had fallen before the
incessant storm of iron hail, and was draggling in the water. Her masts
and yards were all more or less shattered, while the main-mast was so
seriously wounded as to be in danger of falling. The jib was shot away,
and, held by the cordage, was floating on the waves. The hull was
pierced in many places, shivered and splintered by the balls.

Upon entering the captured ship an appalling spectacle met the eye. A
hundred and ninety men had crowded it, in the full assurance of victory.
Of these, forty-two were either killed or wounded. A musket-ball had
pierced the brain of the captain, and he lay weltering in blood, silent
in death. The first lieutenant had also been struck by a mortal wound,
and was in death’s convulsions.

It is very remarkable that on board the Ranger there was but one man
killed and six wounded. The night succeeding this terrible storm of
human violence was severe and the ocean tranquil. As all hands were busy
in refitting the shattered vessels, an English merchant brig came along,
bound for Norway. It was captured without difficulty. As English
men-of-war were crowding St. George’s Channel, Captain Jones decided to
pass through the North Channel with his two prizes, and return to Brest
by the west coast of Ireland.

When Captain Jones first made his appearance off Carrickfergus Bay, he
captured a fishing-boat to make inquiries respecting the shipping within
the bay. As secrecy was essential to his plan of operation, it was
necessary to detain those fishermen with their boat. Otherwise they
would communicate intelligence of his movements, and abundant
preparations would be made to repel him. It was no longer necessary to
detain them. Captain Jones writes:

“It was now time to release the honest fishermen, whom I took up here on
the 21st. And, as the poor fellows had lost their boat, she having sunk
in the late stormy weather, I was happy in having it in my power to give
them the necessary sum to purchase everything new which they had lost. I
gave them also a good boat, to transport themselves ashore; and sent
with them two infirm men, on whom I bestowed the last guinea in my
possession, to defray their travelling expenses to their proper home in
Dublin. They took with them one of the Drake’s sails, which would
sufficiently explain what had happened to the volunteers. The grateful
fishermen were in raptures; and expressed their joy in their huzzas as
they passed the Ranger’s quarter.”

This was indeed extraordinary magnanimity when we contrast it with the
conduct of England, bombarding and burning our defenceless villages,
immuring our most illustrious men in the dungeons of hulks, worse than
the oubliettes of the Bastile, and robbing poor fishermen of everything,
burning their boats, and often impressing them into her navy, and
compelling them to serve the guns against their own countrymen.

Contrary winds so impeded the progress of Captain Jones that it was not
until the 5th of May that he had skirted the western coast of Ireland,
and reached Ushant, a French island a few miles distant from the extreme
northwestern coast of France. The Ranger was accompanied by the two
vessels she had taken, having the torn and battered Drake in tow. A ship
hove in sight to the leeward, steering for the Channel. Captain Jones
cast off the Drake, by cutting the hawser, and gave chase to the
stranger. His swift-sailing vessel overtook the chase in little more
than an hour, and hailing her, found that she was a Swede. He therefore
immediately hauled by the wind and returned to the southward to rejoin
the Drake, which was then scarcely perceptible in the distant horizon.

The evolutions of the Drake surprised him. She seemed to be trying to
put as much distance as possible between herself and the Ranger. Several
large ships appeared steering into the Channel. But Jones was prevented
from pursuing them in consequence of the extraordinary evolutions of the
Drake. He made signals. They were totally disregarded. It was not until
the next day he succeeded in overtaking the runaway Drake. Her
commanding officer, Lieutenant Simpson, was immediately placed under
arrest for disobedience of orders.

It would seem that the lieutenant left America with the impression, and
doubtless a correct one, that, upon arriving in France, Captain Jones
was to be transferred to another and much finer ship, while he was to be
left in command of the Drake. He consequently seemed to feel that the
Drake and her crew belonged to him, and the temporary captain was rather
a passenger whom he was conveying to his destination. He therefore
assumed airs, and was guilty of petty acts of insubordination, which
were very annoying to Captain Jones, who was a strict disciplinarian.

Moreover, Lieutenant Simpson allowed his republican principles to carry
him so far as to advocate a republican form of government even upon the
decks of a war-ship. He declared to the sailors, that they, being free
and enlightened American citizens, were entitled to decide, by the voice
of the majority, respecting all questions of importance on ship-board;
that the captain was to be their agent to perform their will. Simpson
was daily growing more discontented with the position he occupied, and
was probably intending to run away with the Drake, one of the best
finished of England’s war-ships, to repair her in some French harbor,
and to sail forth on a cruise upon his own responsibility, perhaps as a
French privateersman.

But for this insubordination on the part of Lieutenant Simpson, Captain
Jones would doubtless have taken several other important prizes. The
Ranger, with her two prizes, returned to the harbor of Brest, and cast
anchor there on the 9th of May, having been absent but one month. In the
mean time the French squadron, under Count d’Estaing, had been made
ready for sea. The news of the brilliant achievements of Paul Jones
electrified France and appalled England. The alarm infused along the
coasts of Great Britain and Ireland amounted almost to a panic. Lookout
vessels were constantly cruising along the shores. The militia were
called out. New fortifications were constructed. The whole population of
the seacoast was kept in a state of constant alarm.

But Captain Jones was now in great pecuniary embarrassment. The Colonial
Government was so poor that it could not honor his drafts. He was not
only unable to refit his ship, but was in want of the means of providing
the daily food for his crew. When he left America he had advanced, from
his own means, seven thousand dollars for the public service. He had, in
a foreign land, two hundred prisoners of war to be provided for, a
number of his own sick and wounded, and his ship to be repaired,
shattered by a terrible engagement, and destitute of provisions and
stores. And he was not allowed to dispose of his prizes until he
received further orders from the home Government.

After a vast amount of mental suffering he succeeded, by his personal
credit with distinguished French noblemen, Count d’Orvilliers and the
Duke de Chartres, in raising money to meet his immediate and most
pressing wants, and in refitting both the Ranger and the Drake for sea.
The British seamen who were prisoners, if released, would be immediately
forced on board the British men-of-war to man their guns. It was also
necessary to retain them to effect exchanges for our own captive
countrymen, whom the British were treating with such great barbarity. In
his letters to the Government he urged the imperious necessity of
supplying the seamen with the little necessaries and comforts of life.
He also, while entreating that the English prisoners should be treated
with kindness, and all their needful wants supplied, urged that they
should by no means be released without an exchange. He now, during
several months, passed through a series of trials, mortifications, and
disappointments, a detail of which would but weary the reader. In
carefully examining his voluminous correspondence, during this season of
trial, when his whole soul was glowing with the desire for active
service, and when the inactivity to which he was doomed was, to him,
almost insupportable, I cannot find a single expression unworthy of his
noble character, as a self-denying patriot, a gallant officer, and a
humane gentleman.

Humanity required that England should feel the horrors of war which she
was so mercilessly inflicting upon her infant colonies. In no other way
could she be induced to sheathe the sword. He proposed to the
Commissioners in Paris another expedition, of three fast-sailing
frigates, to destroy three hundred vessels in the harbor at Whitehaven,
to burn the town, and to destroy the important coal-works there.

As time would be requisite to prepare for so important an expedition, he
proposed that a smaller force should immediately be fitted out, to
harass the northern coasts of Great Britain, and to lay contributions
upon the important towns. On the 10th of July, 1778, Dr. Franklin wrote
him, saying:

“In consequence of the high opinion which the Minister of Marine has of
your conduct and bravery, it is now settled that you are to have the
frigate from Holland, which will be furnished with as many good French
seamen as you may require. As you may like to have a number of
Americans, and your own crew are homesick, it is proposed to give you as
many as you can engage, out of two hundred prisoners which the ministry
of Britain have, at length, agreed to give in exchange for those you
have in your hands. They propose to make the exchange at Calais, where
they are to bring the Americans. The project of giving you the command
of this ship pleases me the more, as it is a probable opening to the
higher preferment you so justly merit.”

The conduct of Lieutenant Simpson had been exasperating in the highest
degree, and yet Captain Jones wrote to the Commissioners, on the 4th of

“Lieutenant Simpson has certainly behaved amiss. Yet I can forgive as
well as resent. Upon his making a proper concession, I will, with your
approbation, not only forgive the past, but leave him the command of the

In anticipation of a speedy command, Captain Jones was anxious to secure
the services of a chaplain. In a communication to a friend whom he
desired to assist him in obtaining such an officer, he wrote:

“I should wish the chaplain to be a man of reading and of letters, who
understands, speaks, and writes the French and English with elegance and
propriety. For political reasons it would be well if he were a clergyman
of the Protestant profession, whose sanctity of manners, and happy,
natural principles would diffuse unanimity and cheerfulness through the
ship. Such a man would be worthy of the highest confidence.”

On the 10th of August, Captain Jones repaired to Brest, expecting to be
put in command of the splendid ship which had been promised. This ship
belonged to the Government. To his bitter disappointment he found that
it had been assigned to another man. Lieutenant Simpson sailed to
America in the Ranger. The Drake was a shattered prize as yet unsold.
Captain Jones was left in the humiliating position of an adventurer out
of employment. He wrote to the Prince of Nassau, with the approval of
Dr. Franklin, earnestly imploring a commission under the French flag. In
his letter he wrote:

“Suffer me not, I beseech, you to continue longer in this shameful
inactivity. Such dishonor is worse to me than a thousand deaths. I have
already lost the golden season, the summer, which, in war, is of more
value than all the rest of the year. I appear here as a person cast off
and useless. When any one asks me what I purpose to do, I am unable to

Dr. Franklin transmitted this letter, and wrote to Captain Jones: “Your
letter was sent to the Prince of Nassau. I am confident that something
will be done for you, though I do not yet know what. I sympathize with
you in what I know you must suffer from your present inactivity; but
have patience.”

It was proposed that he should take command of a prize-ship taken from
the English. Examining the ship, and finding that she sailed slow, and
had but a feeble armament, he unqualifiedly rejected her. Writing to M.
Chaumont, a wealthy French gentleman, who had great influence with the
Government, he said:

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast. For
I intend to go in harm’s way. You know, I believe, that this is not
every one’s intention. Therefore buy a frigate that sails fast and that
is sufficiently large to carry twenty-six or twenty-eight guns, not less
than twelve-pounders, on one deck. I would rather be shot ashore than
sent to sea in such things as the armed prizes I have described.”

An offer was made by a wealthy merchant of Nantes, M. Montieu, to place
Captain Jones in a first-class ship, thoroughly armed, to proceed on a
privateering expedition. He replied:

“Were I in pursuit of profit, I should accept the offer without
hesitation. But I am under such obligations to Congress that I cannot
think myself my own master. And as a servant of the imperial republic of
America, honored with the public approbation of my past services, I
cannot, from my own authority or inclination, serve either myself or my
best friends in any private line whatsoever, unless where the honor and
interest of America is the premier object.”

War was now openly declared between France and England. The colonies
could not furnish Captain Jones with a suitable frigate, and there were
many French naval officers eager to take command of such ships as the
king could furnish. Consequently the prospects of Captain Jones,
notwithstanding his high reputation for both bravery and ability, were
very dark. In this emergence, and consumed with the desire for active
service, he wrote a letter to the king. In this letter, after a very
truthful and very modest narrative of his past experience, he says:

“Thus have I been chained down to shameful inactivity for five months. I
have lost the best season of the year, and such opportunities of serving
my country and acquiring honor as I cannot again expect during this war.
And, to my infinite mortification, having no command, I am considered
everywhere as an officer cast off, and in disgrace for secret reasons.

“Having written to Congress to reserve no command for me in America, my
sensibility is the more affected by this unworthy situation in the sight
of your majesty’s fleet. Although I wish not to become my own
panegyrist, I must beg your majesty’s permission to observe that I am
not an adventurer in search of fortune, of which, thank God, I have a

“When the American banners were first displayed, I drew my sword in
support of the violated dignity and rights of human nature. And both
honor and duty prompt me steadfastly to continue the righteous pursuit,
and to sacrifice to it not only my private enjoyments, but even life, if
necessary. I must acknowledge that the generous praise which I have
received from Congress and others, exceeds the merit of my past
services, and therefore I the more ardently wish for future
opportunities of testifying my gratitude by my activity.

“As your majesty, by espousing the cause of America, has become the
protector of the rights of human nature, I am persuaded that you will
not disregard my situation, nor suffer me to remain any longer in this
insupportable disgrace.”

This letter was enclosed in one to the Duchess of Chartres, with whom he
was personally acquainted, and from whom he had received kind
attentions. He besought her to present the letter to his majesty the
king; which she did.

One day, chance threw into Captain Jones’s hands an old almanac,
containing _Poor Richard’s Maxims_, by Doctor Franklin. In that curious
medley of wit and wisdom, poor Richard is represented as saying:

“If you wish to have any business done faithfully and expeditiously, go
and do it yourself. Otherwise, send some one.”

The maxim impressed Jones deeply. He pondered it, and decided that he
had acted very unwisely in writing so many letters, instead of going
directly to court, and making personal solicitations. Immediately he set
out for Versailles, in whose gorgeous palace the royal family and court
were then residing. Such was the potency of his presence that in a few
days, on the 4th of February, 1779, he received from M. De Sartine, the
French Minister of Marine, the following exhilarating letter:


  “Commander of the American Navy in Europe.

      “SIR—I announce to you that, in consequence of the exposition I
  have laid before the king, of the distinguished manner in which you
  have served the United States, and of the entire confidence which your
  conduct has merited from Congress, his majesty has thought proper to
  place you in command of the ship Duras, of forty guns, at present at
  L’Orient. I am about, in consequence, to issue the necessary orders
  for the complete armament of that ship.

  “The commission which was given you, at your departure from America,
  will authorize you to hoist the flag of the United States, and you
  will likewise make use of the authority which has been vested in you,
  to procure a crew of Americans. But as you may find difficulty in
  raising a sufficient number, the king permits you to levy volunteers,
  until you obtain men enough, in addition to those who will be
  necessary to sail the ship. It shall be my care to procure the
  necessary officers, and you may be assured that I shall contribute
  every aid in my power to promote the success of your enterprise.

  “As soon as you are prepared for sea, you will set sail without
  waiting for any ulterior orders; and you will yourself select your own
  cruising ground, either in the European or American seas, observing
  always to render me an exact account of each event, that may take
  place during your cruise, as often as you may enter any port under the
  dominion of the king.”

No one can describe the satisfaction with which Captain Jones read this
communication. Feeling that his success was due to the good advice which
he had received from Poor Richard, he asked leave to give his ship that
name, or as translated into French, the name of _Bon Homme Richard_.
Captain Jones, in his grateful reply to the Minister of Marine, writes:

“I take the earliest opportunity to offer you my sincere and grateful
thanks, for so singular and honorable a mark of your confidence and
approbation. Your having permitted me to alter the name of the ship, has
given me a pleasing opportunity of paying a well-merited compliment to a
great and good man, to whom I am under obligations, and who honors me
with his friendship.”

                               CHAPTER V.
                   _Cruise of the Bon Homme Richard._

Plans of Lafayette.—Correspondence.—Humane Instructions of
    Franklin.—Proposed Invasion of England.—Sailing of the
    Squadron.—Conduct of Pierre Landais.—The Collision.—Adventures of
    the Cruise.—Insane Actions of Landais.—Plan for Capture.—Plan for
    the Capture of Leith and Edinburgh.

Captain Jones eagerly repaired to L’Orient to inspect his ship and
prepare her for service. He found that she was adapted to mount a
battery of eighteen-pounders. He then hastened to Bordeaux, to order the
casting of the cannon. Lafayette was at that time in America,
coöperating with the army under Washington. Congress built a frigate of
thirty-six guns, which was named the Alliance, out of compliment to the
recent alliance with France. Congress also, in expression of gratitude
to France, appointed a French officer, Pierre Landais, in command of the
frigate. The Alliance was sent out to France to coöperate with Captain
Jones, and took Lafayette as a passenger.

The distinguished French marquis was well acquainted with the reputation
of Captain Jones, as a courteous and high-minded gentleman, as well as
one of the bravest and most skilful of naval officers. He wished to join
Jones in his projected expedition. In conference with Dr. Franklin, at
Paris, it was decided that Lafayette should embark in the fleet with a
land force of seven hundred picked men, over whom he was to have the
supreme control. Captain Jones was to have the undivided naval command.
The Alliance, which was a very fine and fast frigate, was to be joined
to his squadron. In reference to this contemplated expedition, Dr.
Franklin addressed a letter to Captain Jones, containing the following
judicious counsel:

“The Marquis de la Fayette will soon be with you. It has been observed,
that joint expeditions of land and sea-forces often miscarry, through
jealousies and misunderstandings between the officers of the different
corps. This must happen where there are little minds, actuated more by
personal views of profit or honor to themselves, than by the warm and
sincere desire of good to their country. Knowing you both, as I do, I am
confident that nothing of the kind can happen between you. I look upon
this expedition only as an introduction to greater trusts and more
extensive commands, and as a kind of trial of both your abilities, and
of your fitness in temper and disposition for acting in concert with

“As this is understood to be an American expedition under the
Congressional commission and colors, the Marquis, who is a major-general
in that service, has of course, the step in point of rank, and he must
have command of the land forces, which are committed by the king to his
care. But the command of the ships will be entirely in you, in which I
am persuaded that whatever authority his rank might, in strictness, give
him, he will not have the least desire to interfere with you. The
circumstance is indeed a little unusual. For there is not only a
junction of land and sea forces, but there is also a junction of
Frenchmen and Americans, which increases the difficulty of maintaining a
good understanding. A cool, prudent conduct in the chief, is therefore
the more necessary, and I trust, neither of you will, in that respect,
be deficient.”

The following instructions were also added to the letter. But when Dr.
Franklin subsequently heard of the burning of Fairfield and other towns
in America, and of the fiend-like cruelties which the English officers
were authorizing, he was doubtful whether the circumstances did not
demand more severe retaliation.

“As many of your officers and people have recently escaped from English
prisons, you are to be particularly attentive to their conduct toward
the prisoners which the fortune of war may throw into your hands, lest
the resentment of the more than barbarous usage by the English in many
places toward the Americans, should occasion a retaliation and imitation
of what ought rather to be detested and avoided for the sake of humanity
and for the honor of our country.

“Although the English have wantonly burnt many defenceless towns in
America, you are not to follow this example, unless when a reasonable
ransom is refused; in which case, your own generous feelings, as well as
this instruction, will induce you to give timely notice of your
intention, that sick and ancient persons, women and children, may be
first removed.”

In reply to this communication, Captain Jones wrote: “The letter I had
the honor to receive from you to-day, together with your liberal and
noble-minded instructions, would make a coward brave. You have called up
every sentiment of public virtue in my breast, and it shall be my pride
and ambition, in the strict pursuit of your instructions, to deserve

“Be assured, that very few prospects could afford me so true a
satisfaction as that of rendering some acceptable service to the common
cause, and at the same time of relieving from captivity, by furnishing
the means of exchange, our unfortunate fellow-subjects, from the hands
of the enemy.”

Captain Jones then wrote to Lafayette: “So flattering and affectionate a
proof of your esteem and friendship has made an impression on my mind
that will attend me while I live. This I hope to prove by more than
words. Where men of fine feelings are concerned there is seldom
misunderstanding. And I am sure that I should do violence to my
sensibility if I were capable of giving you a moment’s pain by any part
of my conduct. Therefore, without any apology, I shall expect you to
point out my errors, when we are together alone, with perfect freedom;
and I think I dare promise you your reproof shall not be lost. I have
received from the good Dr. Franklin instructions at large, which it will
give me the truest satisfaction to execute.”

Much to Captain Jones’s disappointment this proposed coöperation with
Lafayette was soon abandoned. Spain was preparing to unite with France
and America against England. An invasion of the island of Great Britain,
by the allies, was contemplated. Large forces were raised in the
northern provinces of France, and marched to the coast, while general
officers were named to conduct the enterprise. Lafayette was appointed
to command a portion of this army. In his letter to Jones, informing him
of the change which the ministry had made in his plans, he wrote:

“I am only to tell you, my good friend, how sorry I feel not to be a
witness of your success, abilities, and glory.”

The Richard was soon fitted for sea with a battery of forty guns; six
only of these were eighteen-pounders. The rest were of but twelve-pound
calibre. There were three hundred and twenty-nine officers and privates
on the muster-roll. The crew had been hastily gathered from American
prisoners rescued from the English prisons, from French peasants, and
from vagabond English sailors who were ready to enlist under any flag
for the money. There were not more than thirty Americans among the crew.

Four other vessels composed the little squadron. The American frigate
Alliance, of thirty-six guns, was under the command of the French
officer, to whom we have before alluded, Pierre Landais. The conduct of
this officer was so extraordinary that it can only be accounted for on
the supposition that he was actually insane. The Pallas mounted
thirty-two guns. It was a merchant-ship, purchased by the King of France
and hastily fitted up at Nantes. The Cerf had eighteen guns, and the
Vengeance twelve.

The state of affairs on board the Alliance was such that the frigate was
no help, but rather a hindrance to the enterprise. The crew were in a
state bordering on open mutiny. The first and second lieutenants had
deserted. The captain and his other officers were in a state of open and
shameful hostility, ready to cut each other’s throats. The Vengeance was
also a merchant vessel, very poorly prepared for battle. The Cerf was a
fine cutter, and the only vessel in the squadron which was well fitted
and manned.

Captain Jones, who ever sought the most heroic enterprises, had formed
the bold plan of appalling England by the capture of the city of
Liverpool. But the withdrawal of Lafayette and his land forces from the
expedition rendered it necessary to abandon this all-important measure.
The squadron was first employed in convoying a fleet of merchant vessels
down the coast of France, a distance of about two hundred miles, from
L’Orient to Bordeaux, and to drive all of the English cruisers out of
the Bay of Biscay.

On the night of the 20th of June, Pierre Landais contrived to run the
Alliance upon the Richard. He thus lost his own mizzen-mast, while he
tore away the head and bowsprit of the Richard. This pretended accident
was probably intentional. It soon became evident that he would be glad
to cripple the Richard, probably hoping that she would be sent back for
repairs, and that he, instead of being a subordinate, might be intrusted
with the supreme command of the expedition. Through all the confusion of
the scene, when, in almost midnight darkness and on a stormy sea, both
vessels were in imminent peril of being sunk, with all their crews, he
behaved like a madman. It was attested, by the officers, in the trial
which took place—

“That the captain of the Alliance did not take the steps in his power to
prevent his ship from getting foul of the Richard; for instead of
putting his helm aweather, and bearing up to make way for his commanding
officer, which was his duty, he left the deck to load his pistols.”

The next day a British vessel hove in sight. Captain Jones found that
the Richard proved to be a lumbering concern and a slow sailer. He
therefore sent the swifter-winged cutter Cerf in pursuit of the
stranger. It will be remembered that the Cerf carried but eighteen guns.
The vessel proved to be a war-sloop of fourteen guns. A warm engagement
took place. The thunders of this naval tempest swept the ocean far and
wide. The Cerf was victorious. Grappling her battered and blood-stained
prize, she was making her way back to the squadron when a large British
frigate bore down upon her. The Cerf, maimed by the conflict, was
compelled to abandon her prize, and escaping to the squadron, was sent
back to L’Orient to refit.

The next day three British ships-of-war were discerned far away to the
windward. Jones, with his four vessels, bore down upon them. The
frigates, seeing that they were outnumbered, escaped by superior
sailing. A few days after this there was a fog. Though Captain Jones
fired signal guns, to keep his squadron together, when the fog cleared
away neither the Alliance nor the Pallas was anywhere to be seen.
Captain Jones was thus left with but two vessels; and his own, the
Richard, was so seriously damaged by the collision with the Alliance,
that it was needful to make port as speedily as possible, at L’Orient,
for repairs.

When a few leagues from L’Orient, between Belle Isle and the Isle of
Croix, he gave the Vengeance permission to run into the harbor while he
moved slowly along with his disabled ship. Thus he was left alone. After
the Vengeance had left him, in the night of the 31st of June, two
British war-vessels attacked him. In his crippled state his vessel
amounted to but little excepting a floating battery. But he served his
guns so well and gave his foes so warm a reception, that they speedily

“They appeared at first,” writes Jones, “earnest to engage, but their
courage failed, and they fled with precipitation, and to my
mortification outsailed the Bon Homme Richard and got clear.”

The Richard had proved a failure. Upon inspection at L’Orient, she was
pronounced to be unworthy of the great alterations essential to fit her
for a successful campaign. The ship was, however, tinkered up for
temporary service, and again Captain Jones was sent forth to cruise in
the Channel, with a small squadron, under circumstances which would have
disheartened any man of ordinary temperament.

At daybreak on the 14th of August, 1779, the vessels weighed anchor from
the harbor of L’Orient. The squadron consisted of the same vessels which
had sailed before, and all of which had rendezvoused at L’Orient. Two
French privateers also sailed in company, the Monsieur and the
Granville. When four days out, on the 18th, the fleet came in sight of a
large French ship which had been captured by an English privateer. A
British crew was hurrying with the prize to the nearest British port.
The squadron gave chase, and the prize was overtaken and recaptured by
the swift-sailing privateer Monsieur. This fine ship carried forty guns.

The privateersman assumed that the prize was his own property, to which
the squadron had no claim. He therefore, in the night, dropping astern,
took from the prize such articles as he needed, and placed a portion of
his crew and one of his own officers on board to hold possession. But
Captain Jones promptly reversed this decision, and sent the prize, under
his own orders, to L’Orient, to be disposed of in accordance with the
laws provided for such an occasion. The captain of the Monsieur was so
displeased with his manifestly just decision, that the next day he
separated from the squadron.

Two days after, on the 20th of August, another large ship was caught
sight of, far away to the windward. The squadron gave chase, but the
ship escaped. The next day another ship was seen in the distant horizon,
and pursued. But being to the windward, she also escaped. While engaged
in the chase, one of the squadron overtook a brig laden with provisions,
bound for London. She was easily captured, and under a prize crew was
sent into L’Orient.

On the 23d, the squadron was in sight of Cape Clear, the extreme
southwestern point of Ireland. Scarcely a breath of wind rippled the
mirrored surface oi the sea. The sails flapped idly against the masts,
as the vessels gently rolled on the vast ocean swells. Far away in the
northwest a brig was seen. The calm prevented any advance of the
squadron. Captain Jones sent two large boats, well manned, and propelled
by oars, to capture the vessel.

The afternoon wore away, and as evening came on it was perceived that a
strong ocean current was sweeping the Richard into a very dangerous
position, between two rocks, called the Skallocks and the Blaskets. The
captain sent out his own barge, with strong rowers, to tow the ship from
her dangerous course. About one-third of the crew were English sailors.
The best men had been sent off in the boats to capture the brig. He had
therefore to man his barge mainly with the English. They were
unprincipled adventurers, and when night came on they cut the tow-rope,
and pulled for the shore.

The evening was clear and serene. Mr. Trent, who occupied the position
of sailing-master on board the Richard, immediately sprang into another
of the ship’s boats, with a few armed men, and pursued the deserters. At
the same time several cannon-shot were unavailingly thrown at them. A
fog came on, and the pursuing boat was lost in the darkness. The
deserters reached the shore and escaped. The fog continued, a genuine
English fog, until noon of the next day. The boats sent to capture the
brig were successful. The crews under the command of the lieutenant took
possession of the prize.

The Cerf was sent to reconnoitre the coast, and to endeavor to recover
the two lost boats, the barge and the boat sent in pursuit of it.
Approaching near the shore, the Cerf, to avoid detection, raised English
colors. Mr. Trent, catching sight of the hostile flag, fearing capture,
ran his boat ashore, where he and his crew were made prisoners. They
were thrown into a wretched dungeon, where the unhappy Mr. Trent
lingered until death came to his relief.

Thus the Richard lost two important boats. In the afternoon, Pierre
Landais came on board the Richard, and, even assuming an arrogant air of
superiority, affirmed, in a very insulting manner, that Captain Jones
had lost two boats and their crews from his folly in sending boats to
capture a brig. He erroneously supposed that the lost boats were the two
which had first been sent out; whereas they had been entirely
successful, and had triumphantly accomplished their mission. Captain
Jones listened calmly to his impertinent tirade, and then, with the
courtesy of a true gentleman, replied:

“It is not true,” Captain Landais, “that the boats which are lost, are
the two which were sent to capture the brig.”

The irate Frenchman, almost insane with passion, whirled upon his heel,
and exclaimed, to an officer who accompanied him, “He tells me _I lie_.”

The gestures of Landais were as rude and insulting as his language.
Lieutenants Weibert and Chamillard endeavored to soothe the unreasonably
angry man. But all was in vain. He raved like a maniac. Through all this
scene, so disgraceful to the Frenchman, Captain Jones maintained a
tranquil spirit. The conduct of Landais was so violent and so utterly
unreasonable, that Captain Jones charitably excused him, on the
supposition that there was a vein of insanity in his nature.

The Cerf was utterly lost in the fog. The next night a violent storm
arose, and the cutter, finding itself hopelessly separated from the
squadron, returned to France. The privateer Granville, which mounted
fourteen guns, having secured a prize, hastened with it back to a French
port. The moderation displayed by Captain Jones under annoyances
sufficient to drive most men mad, is worthy of all praise. In his
journal for the king he wrote:

“It was my intention to cruise off the southwest coast of Ireland for
twelve or fifteen days, in order to intercept the enemy’s homeward-bound
East India ships. I had been informed that they would return without
convoy, and would steer for that point of land. But Captain Landais, of
the Alliance, began to speak and act as though he were not under my
command. He made great objections to remaining on the coast, expressing
apprehension that the enemy would send a superior force.”

On the evening of the 26th, as a violent storm was raging, Landais
refused to obey the signal from the Richard, and altering his course,
was not seen again for five days. The Pallas also, in the fearful gale,
lost her rudder, and became in a great degree unmanageable. When the
morning of the 27th of August dawned luridly upon the tempest-lashed
ocean, the Bon Homme Richard found herself alone with the Vengeance.

On the 31st of August, as the Richard and the Vengeance were in hot
chase of an English privateer, mounting twenty-two guns, the Alliance,
by chance, again appeared in sight. They were then off the extreme
northwestern coast of Ireland, within sight of the Hebrides. They had
run along the western shore of Ireland. The Alliance had captured a
valuable prize, bound from Liverpool to Jamaica. The Richard and
Vengeance soon overtook the vessel they were pursuing, and captured it,
almost without a struggle. It proved to be the Union, bound from London
for Quebec. It had a cargo of great value, consisting of sails, rigging,
anchors, cables, and other essential articles, for the war-vessels
England was building on the lakes.

Captain Jones, having manned from his crew the brig which he captured
off the northwest of Ireland, and having lost the deserters who filled
the barge, and twenty of his best men who were sent in pursuit of them,
probably could not well spare enough men to man the guns of the prize,
so as to take her into some safe port. Landais sent the following
insulting message to Captain Jones:

“Do you wish to furnish men to carry the prize you have taken to port,
or do you wish me to furnish men. If it is your wish that I should take
charge of the prize, I shall not allow any boat or any individual from
the Bon Homme Richard to go near her.”

Captain Jones was very anxious, for the honor of our country, and for
the success of the cause of American liberty, to avoid all jealousies
and bickerings with our allies the French. He therefore, in a spirit of
exalted patriotism, endured indignities, which, under other
circumstances, it would not have been his duty to tolerate. With noble
forbearance he replied that Captain Landais might take the exclusive
charge of the prize. In his journal for the king he wrote:

“Ridiculous as this appeared to me, I yielded to it for the sake of
peace; and received the prisoners on board the Bon Homme Richard, while
the prize was manned from the Alliance.”

It was needful for Captain Jones to make this statement, in consequence
of the result which ensued. The half-crazed Landais, instead of sending
the prizes directly home to some port in France, probably fearing that
they might be captured by some English war-ship, despatched them to
Bergen, in Norway. The Danish Government, being on friendly terms with
England, gave them both up to the British ambassador. Landais pursued
this strange course in direct violation of the order he had received
from Jones. The value of the two prizes, thus foolishly lost, was
estimated to exceed two hundred thousand dollars.

In the afternoon of the same day another large ship appeared in the
horizon, near the Flamie Islands. As we have said, the Richard was a
lumbering merchantman of slow speed. The Alliance was a finely built,
swift-footed American frigate. Jones signalled the Alliance to aid him
in the pursuit by immediately giving chase. Instead of obeying the
commands of the appointed commodore of the squadron, he deliberately
wore ship, and laid his course in the opposite direction. Night came.
The stranger escaped. In the morning, Captain Jones signalled Landais to
come on board the Richard. He wished to confer respecting more cordial
coöperation. Landais contemptuously paid no regard to the signal.

The next morning, which was the 2d of September, daylight revealed a
sail in the distance. The Richard and the Vengeance gave chase, followed
sullenly by the Alliance. The ship proved to be the Pallas, which had,
in some way, succeeded in repairing the loss of her rudder. A rendezvous
had been appointed, in case the fleet should get separated, at Fair
Island, north of Scotland. The squadron turned its course in that
direction hoping to find the Cerf there. On the evening of the next day,
September 3d, the Vengeance captured a small brig returning to England
from Norway. The Alliance had disappeared. It had gone, no one knew
where. The terrible annoyances to which Captain Jones was exposed, in
ways innumerable, may be inferred from the following extracts from his

“On the morning of the 4th the Alliance appeared again, and had brought
two very small coasting sloops in ballast, but without having attended
properly to my order of yesterday. The Vengeance joined me soon after,
and informed me that, in consequence of Captain Landais’ orders to the
commanders of the two prize-ships, they had refused to follow him to the
rendezvous. I am, to this moment, ignorant of what orders these men
received from Captain Landais; nor know I by virtue of what authority he
ventured to give his orders to prizes in my presence, and without either
my knowledge or approbation. Captain Ricot further informed me that he
had burnt the brigantine, because that vessel proved leaky. And I was
sorry to understand afterward that, though the vessel was Irish
property, the cargo was the property of subjects of Norway.

“In the evening I sent for all the captains to come on board the Bon
Homme Richard, to consult on future plans of operations. Captains
Cottineau and Ricot obeyed me; but Captain Landais obstinately refused,
and after sending me various uncivil messages, wrote me a very
extraordinary letter, in answer to a written order which I had sent him
on finding that he had trifled with my verbal orders.”

Three of the officers of the other ships, gallant officers and courteous
gentlemen, Messrs. Mease, Cottineau, and Chamillard, went on board the
Alliance to endeavor to persuade Landais not to pursue a course so
ruinous to the efficiency of the expedition. The angry man would not
listen to the voice of reason. He spoke of Captain Jones in the most
contemptuous and insulting terms. He even went so far as to say:

“I will soon meet Captain Jones on shore. Then I will either kill him or
he shall kill me.”

On the afternoon of the 5th of September, a storm arose. For four days
one of the fiercest of gales ploughed the seas of those high northern
latitudes; for the squadron was then in the parallel of northern
Labrador. In the second night of the gale the Alliance again
disappeared, though there was nothing to prevent the vessels of the
squadron from keeping in sight of each other. The Vengeance and the
Pallas alone remained with the Richard.

The squadron followed down the eastern coast of Scotland far out at sea.
Their first sight of land revealed the summits of the Cheviot Hills, far
away in the south. This was in the evening of the 13th. The next day
they gave chase to several vessels and succeeded in capturing a large
ship and a brig, both laden with coal, some distance off the frith or
bay of Edinburgh.

The city of Leith is the seaport of the city of Edinburgh, which stands
about a mile back from the bay. Leith contained a population of about
twenty-five thousand, and its harbor was crowded with shipping. Captain
Jones learned, from his prizes, that there was no land battery to defend
Leith, and that there was, in the harbor, in addition to the ordinary
shipping, an armed vessel of twenty guns, and three fine cutters.
Captain Jones, always eager for heroic measures, and whose courage,
extraordinary as it was, was ever tempered by discretion, seeing both
Leith and Edinburgh within reach of his blows and reposing in indolence
and supposed security, desired to make an instantaneous attack. He
summoned Captain Cottineau of the Pallas and Captain Chamillard of the
Vengeance to meet in his cabin. As he opened his bold plan to them they
were appalled at the idea of attacking, with three small vessels, Leith,
and consequently Edinburgh, which would instantly send all her forces to
the rescue. Captain Jones eloquently urged upon the French officers the
motives which influenced his own mind.

“It is,” he said, “a matter of the utmost importance to teach the enemy
humanity by some exemplary stroke of retaliation. And there is no way in
which we can release from the most cruel captivity the American
prisoners in England, but by making captives of some persons of note.
The aristocratic Government of Great Britain will care but little for
the fate of their poor sailors and fishermen.

“Moreover, the Allies are soon to make a formidable descent on the south
side of England. It will greatly help their operations, if we can make a
diversion here in the north. The bold measure will alarm them. They will
imagine that an immense force is to follow into the Bay of Edinburgh.
This will compel them to hurry their armies to the north, leaving the
south unprotected.

“And bold as the measure appears to be, it is by no means quixotic.
There is every reason to expect success. We know just what resistance we
have to encounter. We have ample means to overcome that resistance. And
should any unforeseen calamity thwart our plans, we can promptly put to
sea, and there are no vessels at hand which will dare to pursue us.”

Thus he argued all the night, but unavailingly. Objections and
difficulties were presented without number. There was perhaps never more
unselfish patriotism than that which glowed in the bosom of Paul Jones.
The idea of his own personal interest being promoted by the plunder he
should take, seemed never to have entered his mind. It would have been
unreasonable to expect that such purity of motive could govern the
French officers. They were merely the allies of America, and, in the
war, had no important national interests at stake. Captain Jones then
appealed to another motive.

“The cities of Leith and Edinburgh will readily give a million of
dollars to ransom their two cities from the flames.”

A million of dollars! two hundred thousand pounds. This thought touched
and melted their hearts. All opposition gave way. They were now ready to
coöperate, with all the zeal which mercenary instincts could inspire.


                              CHAPTER VI.
                _The Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis._

Leith Threatened.—The Summons.—Remarkable Prayer.—Widespread
    Alarm.—Continuation of the Cruise.—Insubordination of
    Landais.—Successive Captures.—Terrible Battle between the Bon Homme
    Richard and the Serapis.—The Great Victory.

Unfortunately so much time had been spent in convincing the captains of
the Pallas and the Vengeance of the feasibility of an attack upon Leith,
that the golden hour of success was lost. As the little fleet of three
vessels was sailing up the wide Frith of Forth, and were abreast of
Inchkeith Island, within ten or twelve miles of Leith, and which island
is at the entrance of the harbor, the success of the enterprise seemed
certain. It was the morning of the seventeenth. In an hour the vessels
would have been within cannon-shot of the town. Everything was ready for
the descent. Every preparation was made for the landing of troops under
Lieutenant-Colonel Chamillard. The summons to the chief magistrate was
written. It was characteristic of the humanity and energy of Captain

“I do not wish,” he wrote, “to distress the poor inhabitants. My
intention is only to demand your contribution toward the reimbursement
which Britain owes to the much injured citizens of America. Savages
would blush at the unmanly violation and rapacity that have marked the
tracks of British tyranny in America, from which neither virgin
innocence nor helpless age has been a plea of protection or pity.

“Leith and its port now lay at our mercy. And did not the plea of
humanity stay the just hand of retaliation, I should, without
advertisement, lay it in ashes. Before I proceed to that stern duty as
an officer, my duty as a man induces me to propose to you, by means of a
reasonable ransom, to prevent such a scene of horror and distress. For
this reason I have authorized Lieutenant-Colonel de Chamillard to agree
with you on the terms of ransom, allowing you exactly half an hour’s
reflection before you finally accept or reject the terms which he shall

The alarm had reached Leith, and was running along the thronged streets
of Edinburgh. All was hurry and confusion. Crowds were assembled on the
beach, and were rushing to all the commanding heights in the
neighborhood. On the northern shore of the bay was the thriving little
town of Kirkaldy. The three vessels passed within a mile of the town. It
was the morning of the Sabbath. Nearly all of the little community were
at church. Alarmed by the near approach of the squadron, they made a
general rush to the beach, accompanied by their pastor, the Rev. Mr.
Shivra. He was a man of great eccentricity, and particularly remarkable
for the familiarity with which he was accustomed to address the Deity.
Standing upon the beach, with uncovered head and uplifted hands, and
surrounded by his reverent flock, it is said that he offered, in broad
Scotch, the following extraordinary prayer. It was not extraordinary to
them, or irreverent, for they had ever been accustomed to such

“Now, dear Lord, dinna ye think it a shame for ye to send this vile
pirate to rob our folk o’ Kirkaldy. Ye ken that they are puir enow
already, and hae naething to spare. The way the wind blaws he’ll be here
in a jiffy. And wha kens what he may do? He’s nae too good for onything.
Mickle’s the mischief he has dune already. He’ll burn their hooses, tak
their very claes, and strip them to the sark. And, waes me, wha kens but
that the bluidy villain might tak their lives! The puir weemen are most
frightened out of their wits, and the bairns screeching after them. I
canna think of it! I canna think of it!

“I have long been a faithful servant to ye, O Lord. But gin ye dinna
turn the wind about and blaw the scoundrel out of our gate I’ll nae stir
a foot; but will just sit here till the tide comes. Sae tak your will

Suddenly a violent gale arose, blowing out from the harbor. The people
of Kirkaldy never doubted that it was in consequence of the powerful
intercession of their pastor. “I prayed,” said the good old man often
afterward, “but the Lord sent the wind.” The gale was so violent that it
was impossible to make any headway against it. The ship which he had
captured, freighted with coal, had her seams so opened by the tornado
that she sank to the bottom. It was with the greatest difficulty that
the crew was rescued. Though Jones was almost within gun-shot of Leith,
after an ineffectual struggle with the gale he was obliged to bear away
and run out of the Frith.

In the morning, the storm abated and the weather fair, Captain Jones was
anxious to return immediately to the attack. But the other captains were
unwilling to run the risk. In conference they said:

“The alarm of our approach has spread throughout the whole country. The
inhabitants of Leith have had several hours to prepare to repel us. The
city of Edinburgh will certainly have sent all its military force into
Leith. British men-of-war are all along the coast. They will be
immediately informed of our presence. Unless we disappear we shall be
overwhelmed by numbers. We dare not remain here. If Captain Jones
decides to do so, we must leave him.”

It may seem very strange that Captain Jones, who was the commodore of
the fleet, should not have had the power to _command_ in such a case.
But he was crippled, and his energies almost paralyzed, by instructions,
which, through the address of Landais, had been given to him by the
French Minister of Marine the evening before he sailed.

By this singular document, called a _concordat_, the five captains,
Jones, Landais, Cottineau, Varage, and Ricot, were bound to act
together. This seemed to make them colleagues, without any supreme head.
This unfortunate order, in a military point of view, was an absurdity—as
absurd as to order the commander-in-chief of an army first to obtain the
approval of all his generals before ordering any important movement. To
this wretched concordat Captain Jones justly attributed nearly all his
troubles. Landais, from the beginning, assumed that he was the
_colleague_ of Jones.

The intrepid Captain Jones could only argue the point with his officers.
He said:

“We know that there are no batteries to oppose us. There is no naval
force in the harbor which we cannot instantly silence. The wind is such
that we can run in and out of the harbor at our pleasure. No matter how
many thousand men stand on the shore with their muskets, they cannot
harm us. From the harbor we can throw our broadsides of shot into the
crowded city, and in a short time lay it in ashes. We can also destroy
all the shipping. Rather than submit to this terrible loss, they will
promptly pay the ransom we demand. Thus, in all probability, we have
only to sail into the harbor, receive the ransom, and go on our way.”

These were strong arguments. They show that Captain Jones was not a
reckless desperado. His plans were maturely considered. Those of his
enterprises which appeared most desperate were sanctioned by the
decisions of sound judgment. His arguments were unavailing; and he was
compelled to yield. In his official account, he says, in mild language,
which commands our respect for the man:

“I am persuaded even now that I should have succeeded. And to the honor
of my young officers, I found them as ardently disposed to the business
as I could desire. Nothing prevented me from pursuing my design, but the
reproach that would have been cast upon my character, as a man of
prudence, had the enterprise miscarried. It would have been said: Was he
not warned by Captain Cottineau, and others?”

The Alliance having disappeared, there were now but two vessels, the
Pallas and the Vengeance, accompanying the Richard. This little fleet
continued its course in a southerly direction along the eastern coast of
Scotland. On the 19th, three vessels were captured, which were of but
little worth. The next day three more were taken. One of them, Captain
Cottineau, contrary to orders, ransomed. The others were either retained
or sunk. On the 21st, when off Flamborough Head, a remarkably bold
English promontory jutting out from the Yorkshire coast, two vessels
appeared in sight, one in the northeast, and the other in the southwest.
The Bon Homme Richard and the Vengeance pursued, the one in the
southwest, while the Pallas was sent in chase of the other. Captain
Jones overtook the one he chased. It was a brig in ballast. As a large
fleet was then discovered between Flamborough Head and Spurn Head,
another remarkable promontory about thirty miles farther south, Captain
Jones sunk the brig, and pressed forward in pursuit of the fleet. While
eagerly engaged in the chase, night came on. He had, however, got so
near one vessel of the fleet as to compel her to run ashore. As the
twilight faded away he overtook and captured a brig. The night was long
and dark. The affrighted vessels improved every moment in running into
such harbors as could be reached.

The dawn of the next day revealed another fleet rounding the point of
Spurn Head. This fleet was convoyed by apparently a single armed ship.
The achievements of Captain Jones’s little fleet had, by this time,
spread alarm everywhere. As soon as the fleet caught sight of the
Richard and the Vengeance, though there was nothing to distinguish these
vessels from others of the innumerable ships which were ever traversing
the Channel, suspicions were aroused, and the whole fleet turned to, and
fled back into the river Humber, as fast as their wings could bear them.

Captain Jones ran the English flag to the masthead of the Bon Homme
Richard, and signalled for a pilot. Soon two pilot-boats came off. The
pilots supposed the Richard to be an English man-of-war. They were
consequently unreserved in their communications. They informed Captain
Jones that the fleet, which had run back into the Humber, was convoyed
only by an armed merchant-ship, and that a king’s frigate was at anchor
within the mouth of the river, waiting to convoy another fleet of
merchant-ships to the north. The pilots also communicated to him the
private signal they were required to make.

With this signal Captain Jones endeavored to decoy the frigate out of
the harbor. The frigate spread its sails, and would soon have been
within the grasp of its foes, had not the wind changed; which, with a
strong, unfavorable tide, compelled the ship to return. The entrance of
the Humber is difficult and dangerous. Captain Jones did not deem it
prudent, with only one assistant, to attempt an attack upon the shipping
there. The Pallas was not in sight. He therefore turned his course
north, to meet the Pallas, by previous agreement, off Flamborough Head.

In the night, Captain Jones saw two ships. It was bright moonlight, and
he gave them chase. Thinking it possible that one might be the Pallas,
he made the private signal of recognizance, which had been communicated
to each captain before the fleet sailed. He was bewildered by having
one-half of the answer only returned from one of the vessels. Thus
embarrassed, he lay to till daylight, when the ships proved to be the
Pallas and the Alliance. It is probable that the Pallas was too far
distant to discern the signal by moonlight; and that the ambiguous
answer returned was one of the mad pranks of Landais.

On the morning of the 23d they gave chase to a brig, which appeared at
some distance to the windward. At noon, while engaged in this chase, a
large ship appeared coming round the Head. Captain Jones had seized both
of the swift-sailing pilot-boats. One of them he armed and sent in
pursuit of the brig. Accompanied by the Vengeance he sailed in chase of
the ship. The ship ran for protection into Burlington Bay. But just then
there hove in sight, far away in the north of Flamborough Head, a fleet
of forty-one merchant-ships. It was very certain that such a fleet would
not be without a strong convoy.

Captain Jones immediately signalled back the pilot-boat, and also hung
out the signal for a general chase. As soon as the fleet discovered the
squadron bearing down upon them, suspecting that it was the terrible
Captain Jones, the merchant-ships, like frightened pigeons, crowded all
sail toward the shore. There were then six vessels composing Captain
Jones’s squadron, the Richard, the Alliance, the Vengeance, the Pallas,
and the two pilot-boats.

It was soon found that there were two ships-of-war protecting the
merchant fleet. These two, the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough,
two of the most strongly built and best armed of English frigates, came
steadily forward, preparing for battle. Captain Jones made signal for
all his ships to form in line of battle, and crowded all sail to reach
the enemy as soon as possible, for night was at hand. Captain Landais
paid no attention to the signal.

It was seven o’clock in the evening when the Bon Homme Richard and the
Serapis approached within hailing distance of each other. The Alliance
stood sullenly aloof from the conflict. The Vengeance, for some
unexplained reason, remained far to the windward, and did not come into
action. She had been commanded to assist in any way she could in the
battle, or in taking or destroying the merchant-ships. The Pallas, under
Captain Cottineau, bore down bravely upon the Countess of Scarborough,
and after the bloody conflict of an hour compelled the white cross of
St. George to bow to the Stars and the Stripes of the almost nameless
republic. Thus the Richard was left alone to contend with the Serapis.

The Richard had forty guns. Six of these were eighteen-pounders. The
rest were twelve, nine, and six pounders. Three hundred and seventy-five
men served these guns. The whole weight of iron balls she could throw at
one discharge of them all, was four hundred and seventy-four pounds.

The Serapis carried forty-one guns. Twenty of these were
eighteen-pounders. There were three hundred and twenty-five men to work
these guns. The whole weight of metal the Serapis could throw, at one
discharge, was six hundred pounds.

The Serapis was one of the finest of British frigates, agile and very
obedient to her helm. The Richard was an old and clumsy merchantman,
very unwieldy, and poorly fitted for warfare. There was a gentle breeze
which swelled the sails, and an almost unrippled sea. The sun had been
set for more than a hour. But the moon rose in full splendor, and,
shining down from a cloudless sky, shed almost noonday brilliance over
the scene. The vessels were but three miles from the rugged cliffs of
Flamborough, which seems but a short distance when looked upon over the
water. Those cliffs were blackened with the multitudes who had hurried
to witness the strange, sublime, and yet awful spectacle. The coast line
and the piers of Scarborough seemed also to be crowded with spectators.

The breeze was so light that the vessels had approached each other very
slowly. When within pistol-shot, and abreast, with bow to bow, the
Serapis hailed the Richard with the question:

“What ship is that?”

The answer came back, “What is it you say?”

Again the shout came from the Serapis, “What ship is that? Answer
immediately, or I shall fire into you.”

Simultaneously both vessels opened their broadsides. The flash glared
upon the spectators like lightning from the cloud. Then came the thunder
peal. The storm of human passion, more dreadful than any storm which
ever wrecked the skies, had begun. The iron hail tore through both of
the ships, crashing the timbers, scattering death-dealing splinters in
all directions, and strewing the decks with the mangled bodies of the
dying and the dead. At this first discharge two of the eighteen-pounders
of the Richard burst, killing almost every man who served them, and so
blowing up the deck and creating such havoc as to render the remaining
four useless.

Thus Captain Jones’s battery of six eighteen-pounders was rendered
entirely useless, while his adversary had twenty eighteen-pounders to
hurl destruction upon the Richard. The battle was continued with
unremitting fury. Broadside followed broadside in such swift succession
that there was a continuous flash and a continuous roar.

It was a wondrous spectacle presented to the spectators on land. Both
ships were enveloped in such a cloud of smoke as to be quite invisible.
It seemed as though a thunder-cloud, fraught with the most dreadful
tempests, had descended upon the ocean, and that a supernatural strife
was raging there between unseen spirits of darkness, who hurled bolts at
each other which illumined the ocean, and shook the hills. All who
witnessed the terrific scene were overwhelmed with emotions of awe and
dread. This is indeed a fallen world. Through all the ages, on the ocean
and on the land, man has been combining all the energies he could wield
for the destruction of his brother man.

Very slowly this war cloud moved along, the manœuvres of both vessels
being entirely concealed from those on the shore. Each was constantly
endeavoring to cross each other’s track, that thus the ship of its
opponent might be raked by a broadside which would sweep from the bows
to the stern. But several of the braces of the Richard were shot away;
she would not readily mind the helm, and the bowsprit of the Serapis was
thrust across the stern of the Richard, near the mizzen-mast.

Captain Jones grasped the bowsprit with his grappling irons, and made
the ships fast. The stern of the Serapis swung round to the bows of the
Richard. Thus the ships were brought square alongside of each other.
Their yards were all entangled. The muzzles of their guns often touched.
In the meantime the gunners were pouring into each other their awful
broadsides, creating destruction which was truly appalling. Several
eighteen-pound shots had pierced the Richard at the water’s edge, and
the water was rushing in torrents through the openings.


_8th Position._ The two ships foul fore and aft; the _Serapis’s_
  larboard anchor on the bottom, her starboard caught in the _Richard’s_
  starboard quarter-port. So both ships remained until the close of the

_7th Position._ The _Richard_ runs athwart hawse of the _Serapis_.

_6th Position._ The _Richard_ fills her topsails, and the _Serapis_
  backs hers, which brings the two ships broadside and broadside.

_5th Position._ The _Richard_ backs clear of the _Serapis_.

_4th Position._ The _Serapis_, not having room to cross the _Richard’s_
  bow, luffs up, and the _Richard_ runs into her quarter.

_3d Position._ The _Serapis_ rakes the _Richard_ and attempts to cross
  her bow.

_2d Position._ The _Serapis_ passes to windward of the _Richard_.

_1st Position._ Battle begins at 7.30 P. M.

A party of twenty soldiers had been placed upon the quarter-deck of the
Richard, to pick off the gunners of the enemy, with their muskets. But
they were assailed by such a murderous storm of grape-shot, that torn
and bleeding, and leaving many dead upon the deck, they ran below. Men
were stationed high up in the rigging of both the ships, who kept up an
incessant fire upon all exposed persons.

The two vessels, sometimes touching each other and again separated by
but a few feet, moved slowly along, side by side, dealing such terrific
blows as to cause each to stagger. They often crossed each other’s
track, now passing the bow and again the stern. Captain Jones’s battery
of twelve-pounders, upon which he had placed his main reliance, was soon
entirely silenced. As in this terrible struggle broadside answered
broadside, Captain Jones saw that the superiority of his enemy in weight
of metal would inevitably give him the victory, if that mode of warfare
were continued; especially as his own vessel was old and easily torn to
pieces by the foe-man’s shot, while the Serapis was new, with solid
timbers almost like ribs of steel. He resolved to board the foe.

In attempting this his vessel became entangled with the jib-boom of the
Serapis and tore it away. The grappling irons were again thrown out, and
the two ships again swung together, broadside to broadside, so that the
muzzles of their guns not unfrequently touched, and the gunners, in
ramming down the charges, often ran their ramrods into the portholes of
their adversary. With his own hand Captain Jones aided in tying the
lashings, that the vessels might not again be separated. Still there was
not a moment’s cessation of the cannonading. The timbers were torn and
rent. Huge gaps were opened in the sides of each ship. The cloud of
smoke which enveloped them was so dense that the combatants, in almost
midnight darkness, fought mainly by the flash of their guns.

A hundred men made a rush over the gunwales into the Serapis with
gleaming swords, exploding pistols, and the loudest outcries which
frenzy could extort. In such hours of blood and terror, shrieks aid to
embolden the heart and nerve the arm. They were met by an equal number
of the foe, with pike, sabre, pistol, and corresponding yells. What
imagination can conceive the scene? In midnight darkness, illumined only
by war’s portentous flashes, enveloped in sulphurous smoke, with the
crash as of ten thousand thunders deafening the ear, more than seven
hundred men, crowded together in closest contact, and wielding the most
powerful weapons modern art could construct, were butchering each other.
Limb was torn from limb. Dead bodies strewed the decks, which were
slippery with blood. Shrieks and groans and prayers and oaths were
blended with the horrid clamor. Can hell itself present a scene more
infernal than this.

And who shall answer for this at God’s bar? If Abraham was right in
arming three hundred and eighteen men to pursue the savages for the
rescue of his nephew Lot, and his family, and if he could look for God’s
blessing upon the enterprise, as he certainly could, then were these
colonies justified in resisting, even to this direful extremity, the
attempts of haughty England to enslave our land. The burglar who breaks
into the peaceful dwelling at midnight, to rob and murder, may be justly
resisted with every weapon which frenzy can grasp. The British
government must answer at the Judgment Seat, for these scenes of blood
and woe. Truly did Captain Jones write to Lady Selkirk.

“Humanity starts back from such scenes of horror, and cannot
sufficiently execrate the vile promoters of the detestable war.

        “For _they_; ’twas _they_ unsheathed the ruthless blade,
        And Heaven shall ask the havoc it has made.”

The boarders were driven back. Leaving many dead upon the deck of the
Serapis, they were forced, pell-mell, over the gunwales, with many a
gory wound, to the blood-stained decks of the Richard. As they fled, the
two captains, each on his quarter-deck, stood within a few feet of each
other. In the darkness the flags could not be seen. Captain Pearson, of
the Serapis, shouted out:

“Have you struck your flag?”

“No,” responded Captain Jones, “I have not yet begun to fight.” With his
own hands the intrepid captain worked, serving the guns. Though
blackened with powder and smoke, and painfully wounded by a splinter, he
was calm and unagitated, watching every movement, but with a firm
expression on his almost feminine features which indicated that he would
never, never yield. He endeavored to compensate for the superiority of
the guns of his foe by the rapidity of his own fire. His guns thus
became greatly heated, and in their terrible rebound threatened to break
from their fastenings. At every discharge his ship trembled from stem to
stern. In Captain Jones’s extremely modest official account, in which
not one word is said in praise of himself, he writes:

“I directed the fire of one of the three cannon against the main-mast
with double-headed shot, while the other two were exceedingly well
served with grape and canister shot to silence the enemy’s musketry, and
clear her decks, which was at last effected. The enemy were, as I have
since understood, on the instant for calling for quarter, when the
cowardice or treachery of three of my under officers induced them to
call to the enemy. The English commodore asked me if I demanded quarter,
and, I having answered him in the most determined negative, they renewed
the battle with double fury. They were unable to stand the deck, but the
fire of their cannon, especially the lower battery, which was entirely
formed of eighteen-pounders, was incessant. Both ships were set on fire
in various places, and the scene was dreadful beyond the reach of
language. To account for the timidity of my three under officers (I mean
the gunner, the carpenter, and the master-at-arms), I must observe that
the two first were slightly wounded, and as the ship had received
various shots under water, and one of the pumps being shot away, the
carpenter expressed his fear that she would sink, and the other two
concluded that she was sinking, which occasioned the gunner to run aft
on the poop, without my knowledge, to strike the colors; fortunately for
me, a cannon-ball had done that before, by carrying away the ensign
staff; he was, therefore, reduced to the necessity of sinking—as he
supposed—or of calling for quarter, and he preferred the latter.”

There were six feet of water in the hold. The flood, in streams, was
rushing in. The ship was apparently sinking. At that awful moment one of
the officers rushed below and, with humane intentions, released three
hundred prisoners who were in the hold. They came pouring upon deck in a
frenzy of dismay. Water would drown them in the hold. Bullets and
cannon-balls would strike them on the deck. The Richard was on fire in
several places. The rudder was cut off the stern-frame, and the transoms
shot away. Fire had broken out in several places. It was burning within
a few inches of the powder magazine. The timbers on the ship’s side,
from the main-mast to the stern, were entirely shot away, so that the
balls of the Serapis passed directly through, meeting with no
obstruction but the bodies of men. A few blackened posts alone prevented
the upper deck from falling.

The flames were so near the magazine that Captain Jones ordered the
powder kegs to be brought up and thrown into the sea. He compelled the
prisoners to work at the pumps, and in the endeavor to extinguish the
flames. They were indeed ready enough to do this; for the sinking of the
ship would drown them, and they were in imminent peril of being burned
up by the conflagration.

In the midst of this awful confusion, after the battle had raged for two
and a half hours, Captain Pearson thought he heard the cry of some one
on board the Richard calling for quarter. This cry probably came from
the quartermaster.

“Hearing this,” Captain Pearson writes, “I called upon the captain, to
know if he had struck. No answer being made, after repeating my words
two or three times, I called for the boarders and ordered them to board;
which they did. But the moment they were on board the Richard, they
discovered a superior number, lying under cover, with pikes in their
hands ready to receive them; on which our people retreated instantly to
their guns again, till after ten o’clock.”

The powder-boys of the Serapis, whose business it was to bring up the
cartridges for the guns, appalled by the horrible scene, of dismounted
guns, mutilation, and death, scarcely knowing what they did, threw the
cartridges upon the deck, and went back for more. The cartridges were
trampled upon and broken. The deck was soon quite covered with
cartridges and loose powder. A hand grenade, thrown from the Richard,
set fire to this, and produced an awful explosion.

The effect was horrible. More than twenty were instantly blown to
pieces. Many others had every particle of clothing blown from their
bodies, and were thrown down, writhing in agony, blackened, and scorched
almost to cinders, Captain Pearson, in his official report says:

“A hand grenade, being thrown in at one of the lower ports a cartridge
of powder was set on fire; the flames of which, running from cartridge
to cartridge all the way aft, blew up the whole of the people and
officers that were quartered abaft the mainmast; from which unfortunate
circumstances, all those guns were rendered useless for the remainder of
the action, and I fear that the greater part of the people will lose
their lives.”

Just before ten o’clock the Alliance, which had stood aloof during all
these hours, made her appearance; I must give this extraordinary
occurrence in the words of Captain Jones.

“I now thought,” he wrote, “that the battle was at an end. But to my
utter astonishment he discharged a broadside full into the stern of the
Bon Homme Richard. We called to him for God’s sake to forbear. Yet he
passed along the off side of the ship, and continued firing. There was
no possibility of his mistaking the enemy’s ship for the Bon Homme
Richard, there being the most essential difference in their appearance
and construction. Besides it was then full moonlight, and the sides of
the Bon Homme Richard were all black, and the sides of the enemy’s ship
were yellow. Yet for the greater security I showed the signal for our
reconnoisance, by putting out three lanterns, one at the bow, one at the
stern, and one at the middle, in a horizontal line.

“Every tongue cried that he was firing into the wrong ship, but nothing
availed. He passed round firing into the Bon Homme Richard, head, stern,
and broadside, and by one of his volleys killed several of my best men,
and mortally wounded a good officer of the forecastle. My situation was
truly deplorable. The Bon Homme Richard received several shots under the
water from the Alliance. The leak gained on the pumps; and the fire
increased much on board both ships. Some officers entreated me to
strike, of whose courage and sense I entertain a high opinion. I would
not, however, give up the point.”

The fire from the tops of the Richard had struck down every man on the
quarter-deck of the Serapis. Captain Jones’s guns had so cut the
main-mast of the foe that it reeled and fell with a fearful crash,
tearing down with it spars and rigging, and leaving the ship almost a
helpless wreck. Flames were bursting forth in several places. Captain
Pearson saw that all was lost. With his own hands he struck his flag.

Lieutenant Richard Dale immediately, with the consent of Captain Jones,
jumped upon the gunwale, seized the main-brace pendant, and swung
himself upon the quarter-deck of the captured ship. He was followed by
Midshipman Mayrant, with a large party of sailors. The confusion was so
great that it was not known, at that moment, throughout either ship,
that the Serapis had surrendered. One of the enemy, stationed at the
waist, ran his boarding-pike through the thigh of the midshipman.

Lieutenant Dale found Captain Pearson standing aside, the image of
despair, on the leeward of the quarter-deck. Addressing the unfortunate
captain respectfully, he said:

“Sir, I have orders to send you on board the ship alongside.”

The first lieutenant of the Serapis, coming up at this moment, inquired:

“Has the enemy struck her flag?”

“No, sir,” Lieutenant Dale replied. “On the contrary, you have struck to

The lieutenant of the Serapis, turning anxiously to Captain Pearson,

“Have you struck, sir.”

“Yes, I have!” was the sad, laconic reply.

All this occupied scarcely one minute. It was near midnight. Darkness
and suffocating smoke enveloped the combatants. Random firing had not
yet ceased, though on both ships nearly all the cannon had been

The lieutenant of the Serapis replied, “I have nothing more to say.” He
turned about and was going below when Lieutenant Dale courteously
arrested him saying, “It is my duty to request you sir, to accompany
Captain Pearson on board the ship alongside.”

“If you will first permit me,” the lieutenant replied, “to go below, I
will silence the firing of the lower deck guns.”

“This cannot be permitted,” was the reply. The two distinguished
captives passed over to the deck of the Bon Homme Richard. Orders were
sent below to cease firing. Thus terminated this most memorable of naval
conflicts, after a bloody battle, with muzzle to muzzle, of nearly three
hours and a half. Through all time, in all naval chronicles the battle
between the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis will occupy a conspicuous

                              CHAPTER VII.
                        _Result of the Victory._

Dreadful Spectacle.—Sinking of the Bon Homme Richard.—Escape
    of the Baltic Fleet.—Sails for the Texel.—Interesting
    Correspondence.—Sufferings of the American Prisoners.—Barbarity of
    the English Government.—Humanity of Captain Jones.—The Transference
    from the Serapis to the Alliance.—Extracts from the British
    Press.—Release of Prisoners.

After the excitement of the conflict was over, Captain Jones was shocked
at the spectacle of devastation and misery which was presented to him.
All sense of triumph was lost in emotions of compassion and sadness. In
his official journal he wrote:

“A person must have been an eye-witness to form a just idea of the
tremendous scene of carnage, wreck, and ruin that everywhere appeared.
Humanity cannot but recoil from the prospect of such finished horror,
and lament that war should produce such fatal consequences.”

The carpenters were immediately employed in examining the Bon Homme
Richard, to see if her wounds were capable of being healed. The lashings
were cut which bound her to the Serapis, and all the available hands
were employed, at the pumps, to keep her afloat. Captain Jones took
possession of his shattered prize, the Serapis, to which he transferred
all the crew, excepting those which attended the pumps. Boats were in
waiting, ready to take them on board the Serapis should the water gain
upon them too fast. The surveying officers soon reported unanimously,
that the ship could not be kept afloat long enough to reach port. It
took all the night, and some hour’s the next morning hastily but
carefully to remove the wounded.

Captain Jones was very anxious to save the ship, and made every possible
effort until nine o’clock the next evening. The water was then up to her
lower deck. She rolled in the waves in utter helplessness, threatening
every moment to go down. The water was gushing from her port-holes and
swashing through her hatchways. It was necessary at once to abandon her.
From the deck of the Serapis Captain Jones sadly watched the dying
convulsions of his “good old ship.” He wrote:

“We did not abandon her till after nine o’clock. A little after ten, I
saw, with inexpressible grief, the last glimpse of the Bon Homme
Richard. No lives were lost with the ship; but it was impossible to save
the stores of any sort whatever. I lost the best part of my clothes,
books, and papers. Several of my officers lost all their clothes and

Making one or two dying surges, the Richard plunged headlong into the
fathomless abyss, carrying her dead with her to their sublime ocean
burial. There the mangled bodies will repose till, at the summons of the
archangel’s trump, the sea shall give up the dead that are in it.
According to the most accurate estimate which can be made, forty-two
were killed, and forty severely wounded. Light wounds were not counted.
There was no accurate account taken of the killed and wounded on board
the Serapis. The surgeon’s report to the British Admiralty, gives the
number of wounded at seventy-five, but does not give the number killed.
Captain Pearson states that there were many more wounded than appears on
the surgeon’s list. Captain Jones, who had the best opportunity for
knowing, and who was not given to exaggeration, estimates the killed at
one hundred, and the wounded at about the same number.

Captain Landais, of the Alliance, was court-martialed for his atrocious
conduct. There can be no reasonable doubt, from the evidence given on
his trial, that he hoped the Serapis would conquer and capture the Bon
Homme Richard. During the conflict he kept entirely out of harm’s way,
so that not a shot struck him. After the Richard had surrendered Captain
Landais intended to come forward, attack the Serapis exhausted and
shattered by its previous conflict, and with her guns dismounted and
encumbered by the wounded and the dead, and thus make an easy conquest
of the British ship and rescue her prize. He could thus retire _with
glory_, dragging the Serapis and the Bon Homme Richard in his train.
Finding it a little doubtful whether the Richard would yield, he
concluded to help the Serapis. Three of his officers declared that
Landais said to them:

“I should have thought it no harm if the Bon Homme Richard had struck
her flag. That would have given me an opportunity to take the Serapis
and to retake her.”

I must now leave Landais, for the present, though I shall have occasion
to refer to him again. The Baltic fleet escaped. The fact is easily
explained from the loss of the Richard, the crippled state of the
Serapis, with both main-mast and mizzen-mast dragging at her sides, and
the treacherous conduct of Landais. Jury-masts were erected upon the
Serapis, and for ten days the shattered ship was tossed on the stormy
waves of the North Sea. Captain Jones was striving to reach Dunkirk, the
most northerly and consequently the nearest seaport in France.

In the extreme northwest of Holland there is a somewhat renowned island
called the Texel. It is about thirteen miles long and six broad, and is
situated near the mouth of the Zuyder Zee, or South Sea, as that portion
of the German Ocean is called. It is nearly two hundred miles north of
the most northerly frontier of France. Contrary winds, and the extremely
suffering state of the prisoners and his wounded, rendered it necessary
for him to run into that neutral port.

Captain Jones never made any complaint respecting his own hardships. But
while upon this eventful campaign his toils, responsibilities, and
anxieties had been such that during the whole time he had never indulged
in more than three hours’ sleep in the twenty-four. The news of the
capture of the Serapis spread rapidly through Europe and America. The
haughty attitude England had ever assumed had rendered her unpopular
with all other nations. Consequently there was a general rejoicing over
the great victory of Captain Jones. It was something new for England to
lose one of her finest frigates in a fairly fought battle with an
inferior force.

It is said that this terrible battle between the Bon Homme Richard and
the Serapis was more noised abroad over the world than any naval
conflict ever engaged in, in ancient or modern times. It was a marvel to
all Europe to see an English ship of war, hitherto generally supposed to
be invincible, strike to a frigate of the feeble colonies of America,
which had, as yet, scarcely a national name and whose flag was unknown.
The superiority of the British ship, both in build and in armament, the
treacherous conduct of Landais, and the desperate resistance of both
parties, apparently to the last possible degree, excited astonishment
and admiration both in the Old World and the New. Captain Jones was the
hero of the day. His name was upon all lips. The enthusiasm in Paris was
almost boundless. Dr. Franklin wrote to him under date of October 15th,

“For some days after the arrival of your express, scarce anything was
talked of at Paris or Versailles but your cool conduct and persevering
bravery during that terrible conflict. You may believe that the
impression on my mind was not less strong than on that of others, but I
do not choose to say, in a letter to yourself, all I think on such an

He informed Captain Jones that he had written to Landais, informing him
that he would have an opportunity, before a court-martial, to answer the
charges of disobedience of orders and neglect of duty which had been
brought against him. As it was impracticable immediately to organize a
court-martial, he was for the time relieved from the command of the
Alliance. He added:

“I know not whether Captain Landais will obey my orders, nor what the
ministry will do with him if he comes. But I suspect that they may, by
some of their concise operations, save the trouble of a court-martial.”

It subsequently appeared that Landais had previously been dismissed from
the French service for insubordination. This fact was not known to
Congress when he was assigned to the command of the Alliance. They
simply knew that he was a Frenchman of illustrious family, of great
pretensions, and who had been an officer in the French navy. Congress
inconsiderately, in its anxiety to compliment France, placed him in a
position which his eccentric passions totally disqualified him from

Landais wrote to Dr. Franklin soliciting another command. In a very
characteristic reply, dated March 12th, 1780, Dr. Franklin wrote:

“No one has ever learned the opinion I formed of you, from the inquiry
made into your conduct. I kept it entirely to myself, I have not even
hinted it in my letters to America, because I would not hazard giving
any one a bias to your prejudice.

“By communicating a _part of that opinion_ privately to you I can do no
harm, for you may burn it. I should not give you the pain of reading it,
if your demand did not make it necessary.

“I think you then, so imprudent, so litigious and quarrelsome a man,
even with your best friends, that peace and good order, and consequently
the quiet and regular subordination so necessary to success, are, where
you preside, impossible. These are within my observation and
apprehension. Your military operations I leave to more capable judges.
If, therefore, I had twenty ships of war, I should not give one of them
to Captain Landais. The same temper which _excluded_ him from the French
marine would weigh equally with me.”

It was one important object of Captain Jones to get prisoners, that by
an exchange he might release the American prisoners who were suffering
the most barbarous treatment in the prisons of England. He carried with
him into the Texel, five hundred British captives. Franklin proposed to
the British government to exchange them for an equal number of
Americans. But the ministry refused. They sent a large number of
men-of-war to watch the channel, and cruise off the Texel, quite
confident that they should be able to capture the prisoners as soon as
any attempt was made to transport them to France. For some time they
refused to exchange American prisoners on any terms. They would
surrender the French captives alone, in return for the English.

The sympathies of kind-hearted Captain Jones were deeply moved in behalf
of the captive Americans. And yet his feelings would not allow him to
retaliate in treating with inhumanity the British prisoners in his
hands. They were generally poor and ignorant men. Not a few had been
impressed into the service. They were not responsible for the cruelty of
the government, over which they had no control. There was a large party
in England totally opposed to this unrighteous war, and still more
opposed to the barbarity with which the government was conducting it.

When it was proposed and _carried_ in Parliament to employ the savages
as the allies of Great Britain,—to hire the savages, with torch and
tomahawk and scalping knife, in midnight assault, to burn the log-cabins
and butcher the helpless women and children in their lonely homes, far
away in the wilderness, hundreds of voices were raised in indignant
remonstrance. The Earl of Chatham exclaimed, in the House of Lords, in
one of the most eloquent and impassioned of addresses:

“I am astonished, I am shocked, to hear such principles confessed; to
hear them avowed in this house or in this country. Were I an American,
as I am an Englishman, I would never lay down my arms—never, never

One of the London Journals of September 21st, 1779, contains the
following notice: “The master of a sloop from Harwich, who arrived
yesterday, saw on Saturday last, no less than eleven sail-of-war going
in search of Paul Jones, and among them was the Edgar of seventy-four
guns. By the examination of four men, belonging to one of Paul Jones’s
squadron, it appears that Jones’s orders were not to burn any houses or
towns. What an example of honor and greatness does America thus show to
us. While our troops are running about from town to town on their coast,
burning everything with a wanton wicked barbarity, Dr. Franklin gives no
orders to retaliate. He is above it. And there was a time when an
English minister would have disdained to make war in so villanous a
mode. It is a disgrace to the nation.”

The London Chronicle of October 17th, 1779, contained the following
notice: “Last Tuesday Paul Jones, with his prizes, the Serapis and
Scarborough, entered the Texel, and appeared on the exchange, where
business gave way to curiosity. The crowd pressing upon him, by whom he
was styled the terror of the English, he withdrew to a room fronting a
public square, where Monsieur Donneville, the French agent, and the
Americans, paid him such a volley of compliments, and such homage as he
could only answer with a bow. He was dressed in the American uniform,
with a Scotch bonnet edged with gold; is of a middling stature, stern
countenance, and swarthy complexion.

Captain Cunningham had received a commission for a privateer, from
Commissioners Franklin and Deane. He had cruised in the Channel with
great success, and had become quite a terror to the English. Being
captured he was treated with such barbarity that Congress twice passed
resolutions threatening retaliation. But the humanity of the nation
recoiled from plunging innocent men into loathsome dungeons, and
freezing and starving them, to retaliate for crimes committed by those
who were clothed in purple and fine linen and who fared sumptuously
every day. Captain Jones wrote to Dr. Franklin, from Amsterdam, under
the date of October 11th, 1779:

“As I am informed that Captain Cunningham is threatened with unfair play
by the British government, I am determined to keep in my hands the
captain of the Serapis, as a hostage for Cunningham’s release as a
prisoner of war. I wish heartily that poor Cunningham, whom I am taught
to regard as a Continental officer, was exchanged, as with his
assistance I could form a court-martial, which I believe you will see

Captain Pearson and the other British prisoners were provided for, in
all respects, as comfortably as circumstances would allow. And yet the
English captain wrote the following curious complaint to his illustrious
captor. We do not feel at liberty to correct his bad grammar. The letter
was dated October 19th, 1799.

“Captain Pearson presents his compliments to Captain Jones, and is sorry
to find himself so little attended to in his present situation, as not
to have been favored with either a _Call_ or a line from Captain Jones
since his return from Amsterdam. Captain Pearson is sorry to say that he
cannot look upon such behavior in any other light than as a breach of
that _Civility_ which his rank, as well as behavior on all occasions
entitles to; he, at the same time, wishes to be informed, by Captain
Jones, whether any steps has been taken towards the enlargement or
exchange of him, his officers and people, or what is intended to be done
with them. As he cannot help thinking it a very unprecedented
circumstance their being keeped here as prisoners, on board of ship,
being so long in a neutral port.”

The dignified reply of Captain Jones deserves insertion in full. The
English Government, through its ambassador at the Hague, had positively
refused to ransom the English prisoners, at the Texel, by exchanging for
them American prisoners. Captain Pearson could not have been ignorant of
this fact. The reply was dated on board the Serapis, October 20th, 1779.

“As you have not been prevented from corresponding with your friends,
and particularly with the English ambassador at the Hague, I could not
suppose you to be unacquainted with his memorial of the 8th, to the
States General, and therefore I thought it fruitless to pursue the
negociation for the exchange of the prisoners of war now in our hands.

“I wished to avoid any painful altercation with you on that subject. I
was persuaded that you had been in the highest degree sensible that my
behavior toward you had been far from a breach of civility. This charge,
sir, is not a civil return for the polite hospitality and disinterested
attentions you have hitherto experienced.

“I know not what difference of respect is due to _Rank_ between your
service and ours. I suppose however the difference must be thought _very
great_ in England, since I am informed that Captain Cunningham, of equal
denomination, and who bears a senior rank, in the service of America,
than yours in the service of England, is now confined in England, _in a
dungeon and in fetters_!

“Humanity, which has hitherto superseded the plea of retaliation in
American breasts, has induced me, notwithstanding the procedure of Sir
Joseph Yorke,[B] _to seek after permission to land_ the dangerously
wounded, as well prisoners as Americans, to be supported and cured at
the expense of our continent. The permission of the government has been
obtained; but the magistrates continue to make objections. I shall not
discontinue my application. I am ready to adopt any means you may
propose for their preservation and recovery; and, in the meantime, we
shall continue to treat them with the utmost care and attention,
equally, as you know, to the treatment of our people of the same rank.


Footnote B:

  Sir Joseph Yorke was the British ambassador at the Hague. He insisted
  that the Dutch Government should take from Captain Jones, the Serapis
  and the Countess of Scarborough. He said that as England had not
  recognized the United States, the captures were illegal, as a
  commission had not been granted to Captain Jones by a sovereign power.


“As it is possible that you have not yet seen the memorial of your
ambassador to the States General, I enclose a paper which contains a
copy. And I think he has since written what, in the opinion of good men,
will do still less honor to his pen. I cannot conclude without informing
you that unless Captain Cunningham is immediately better treated in
England, I expect orders, in consequence, from his Excellency, Dr.
Franklin. Therefore, I beseech you, sir, to interfere.”

The British Government, by threats, so intimidated the States General,
that they disavowed any intention of recognizing the Independence of the
United States. They refused to furnish Captain Jones with any munitions
of war, and ordered him immediately to leave the Texel. This seemed to
insure his utter destruction; for powerful British men-of-war were
cruising just off the island, on the watch to grasp him the moment he
should put to sea.

In a memorial which the British minister, Sir Joseph Yorke, presented on
the 29th of September, he wrote:

“I cannot but comply with the strict orders of his majesty (the king of
England) by renewing, in the strongest and most pressing manner his
request, that these ships and their crews may be stopped and delivered
up, which the _pirate Paul Jones_, of Scotland, who is a rebel subject,
and a criminal of the state, has taken.” He also demanded that all the
officers of the United States navy should be treated as _pirates_; for
their commissions were illegal, not having been granted by a government
which England had recognized as a sovereign power.

But the French Government promptly and efficiently interfered. It
assured the States General that though Captain Jones received his
commission from the Congress of the United States, still that he also
sailed under the sanction of the flag of France, in a French ship, and
that the French flag covered the prizes he had captured. The sympathies
of the Dutch Government were with America. Under this complicated state
of affairs it was decided that prizes which Captain Jones had taken with
French ships, should be regarded as prizes belonging to the king of
France; and that Captain Jones should take command of the American
frigate the Alliance.

In obedience with this order, at midnight, Captain Jones, having
delivered to the French ambassador the ships and prizes which were
deemed to belong to the French king, took command of the Alliance, and
surrendered the Serapis to Captain Cottineau of the Pallas. The
eccentric if not insane Landais quarrelled with almost every one who
approached him. He challenged Captain Cottineau to a duel. He was a very
accomplished swordsman. Very unwisely, Captain Cottineau, who was not
particularly skilful with that weapon, allowed his insulting opponent,
in addition to many other wrongs and outrages, the privilege of
thrusting his sword through his opponent’s body, inflicting a very
painful, disabling, and dangerous wound. Landais then sent a similar
challenge to Captain Jones, who very properly replied by sending
officers to arrest him. Upon this he fled and made his way to Paris,
where we shall again hear of him.

Extracts from Captain Jones’s letters will show, better than any
description, the noble character of this truly noble man; a man who has
been strangely misrepresented. He wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette,
from the Serapis, at the Texel, on the 28th of October, 1779:

“The late brutalities of the Britons in America fill me with horror and
indignation. They forget that they are men. And I believe that nothing
will bring them to their senses but the most exemplary retaliation.

“I wish to answer, very particularly, the points which you have
propounded. 1st, I never meant to ask a reward for my services, either
from France or America. Consequently the approbation of the Court and of
the Congress is all the gratification I can wish for. 2d, I yet intend
to undertake whatever the utmost exertion of my abilities will reach in
support of the common cause, as far as any force that may in future be
intrusted to my direction may enable to succeed.”

One of the London journals, of September 29th, 1779, gives the following
amusing exaggeration of the force under Captain Jones’s command, and of
the terror his achievements had inspired:

“An express has arrived from Aymouth with information that Paul Jones
was off there with five ships of war and two thousand troops; that on
the 19th they appeared off Sunderland and put the inhabitants into great
confusion, as they expected them to land every hour, or destroy the
ships in the harbor.”

Another London journal gives the following account of this celebrated

“On Saturday noon two gentlemen of the corporation of Hull arrived
express at the Admiralty, with the alarming account that the celebrated
American Corsair, Paul Jones, had entered the river Humber, on Thursday
last, and chased a vessel within a mile of the pier, where he sunk,
burned, and destroyed sixteen valuable vessels, which threw the whole
town and neighborhood into the utmost consternation.

“On Saturday night another express arrived, at the Admiralty, with the
further disagreeable intelligence that Paul Jones’s squadron, after
having done more mischief to the shipping on Friday, had fallen in with
the Baltic fleet, had taken their convoy, the Serapis man-of-war, of
forty-four guns, and the armed ship, the Countess of Scarborough, of
twenty-four guns. This action was seen by thousands of spectators. The
other ships of Jones’s squadron were making havoc among the fleet, most
of which, however, had taken shelter near Flamborough Head.

“From four captured Americans it was discovered that it was Jones’s plan
to alarm the coasts of Wales, Ireland, the western parts of Scotland,
and the North Channel. He took several prizes on the coast of Ireland,
particularly two armed transports with stores for New York. He had it in
his power to burn Leith; but his orders are only to burn shipping. His
squadron is now but weakly manned, owing to the great number of prizes
he has taken; and it, therefore, may fall an easy conquest to the
sixteen sail of men-of-war who have orders to go after him.

“Expresses also arrived on Saturday, from Sunderland, stating that Paul
Jones had taken sixteen more sail of colliers. In consequence of the
capture of so many colliers and the interruption of the trade, the price
of coal will be enormous. Instead of having the dominion of the sea, it
is now evident that we are not able to defend our own coast from
depredations. Yesterday Lord Sandwich informed some Russian merchants
that twenty of his Majesty’s ships were sent in quest of Paul Jones.”

Franklin, who was ever in very cordial sympathy with Paul Jones, wrote
him many and very affectionate letters when the heroic conqueror,
entirely destitute of funds, was surrounded with embarrassments, at the
Texel, sufficient to break down the spirits and to crush the energies of
any ordinary man. It was indeed a question how the prisoners were to be
conveyed to France. Those northern seas were swarming with English
ships, whose commanders were intensely anxious to capture the
commissioned naval officer of the United States, whose commission was
ratified by alliance with France, and whom they still had the insolence
to stigmatize as a _pirate_. Franklin wrote to him, under date of
October 15, 1779:

“I am uneasy about your prisoners. I wish they were safe in France. You
will then have completed the glorious work of giving liberty to all the
Americans, who have so long languished for it in the British prisons;
for there are not so many there as you have now taken.”

Paul Jones, in command of his squadron, was rightly entitled to the
designation of commodore. He was so regarded by the French court, who
had intrusted to him the fleet. He is thus addressed by the Duke of
Vauguyon. In a letter, under date of December 21, 1779, addressed to
Commodore Jones, the duke writes:

“I have received, my dear commodore, the letter you have addressed to
me. I perceive, with pain, that you do not view your situation in the
right light. I can assure you that the ministers of the king have no
intention to cause you the least disagreeable feelings, as the honorable
testimonials of the esteem of his majesty, which I send you, ought to
convince you.”

Every eminent man must have rivals and enemies. There were scores of
French officers hungering for high command. They envied the renown of
Jones. They complained that they were neglected, while a _foreigner_ was
intrusted with the command of French ships. Many of these complainants
were nobles of great wealth as well as illustrious rank. The French
ministry thus had great embarrassments to encounter. They appreciated
highly the services of Commodore Jones. They were very desirous of
immediately giving him new employment. And yet they felt under the
necessity of leaving him, for a time, in idleness, greatly to his
chagrin. The impatience he manifested under these circumstances reflect
honor upon his patriotic enthusiasm. He wrote to the Duke of Vauguyon,
on the 25th of December, 1779, as follows:

“You do me great honor as well as justice, my lord, by observing that no
satisfaction can be more precious to me than that of giving new proofs
of my zeal for the common cause of France and America. And the interest
you take to facilitate the means of my giving such proofs, by essential
services, claims my best thanks. I hope I shall not, through any
imprudence of mine, render ineffectual any noble design that may be in
contemplation for the general good. Whenever that object is mentioned,
my private concerns are out of the question.

“With a deep sense of your generous sentiments of personal regard toward
me, and with the most sincere wishes to meet that regard by my conduct
through life, I am,” etc.

The Dutch Government, goaded by the menaces of England, though it dared
not command the _French_ ships to leave its ports, insisted that the
_American_ commodore, whose government Holland had not yet recognized,
should immediately, with the American frigate the Alliance, leave the
Texel. But there, were twelve British men-of-war, at the mouth of the
harbor, watching for him. Eight were at the northern entrance of the
port, and four at the southern.

Commodore Jones, for I shall henceforth give him the designation to
which I consider him justly entitled, kept the banner of the Stars and
Stripes proudly floating from the mast-head of the Alliance. He also
unflinchingly declared that he never bore any commission but that which
he received from the Congress of the United States of America. It was
said that there were, in all, forty British men-of-war cruising in the
German Ocean, so as to render the escape of Paul Jones impossible. The
Dutch admiral, on the 12th, informed him they must insist upon his
sailing with the first fair wind.

To add to his embarrassments he found that Landais had left the Alliance
in the most deplorable condition, totally unfit for service without
extensive repairs. She was an admirable ship in model and construction,
and was remarkable for her sailing qualities. But, through sheer
negligence and general demoralization, nearly everything was in a
ruinous condition. The sails were worn out. The cables had gone to
decay. Her battery was in a condition unfit for action, and her small
arms quite out of order. Most of the powder had either become damaged by
leakage, or rendered unfit for use by neglecting to turn the kegs. The
officers were all quarrelling with each other, and the men
insubordinate. Intemperance and the want of cleanliness, with the total
absence of discipline, had struck down many of the crew with epidemical

Commodore Jones made the most vigorous efforts to prepare the Alliance
for sea; and he promised the government that he would leave, at all
hazards, as soon as the wind would serve. But before he sailed he
enjoyed the great gratification of learning that Dr. Franklin had
succeeded in obtaining the liberation of all the American prisoners in
England, by exchanging for them the prisoners Commodore Jones had
captured. He also had the happiness of grasping the hand, at the Texel,
of Captain Cunningham, who, by the energies of Commodore Jones, had been
rescued from the most dreadful bondage.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                      _Commodore Jones at Court._

Offer of a Privateersman.—Indignant Reply.—The Renown of Commodore
    Jones.—Successful Retreat.—Cruise through the Channel.—Poetic
    Effusion.—Enters Corunna.—Letter to Lafayette.—Embarrassed Finances
    of Franklin.—Intrigues of Landais.—His Efforts to Excite
    Mutiny.—Testimony against him.—Commodore Jones at Court.

It was indeed running the gauntlet, for Commodore Jones, with a frigate
of but thirty-four guns, and in poor sailing trim, to escape from the
Texel, and run down the German Ocean, through the English Channel and
the Straits of Dover, to some French port, when the whole available
force of the British navy was on the lookout for him, with twelve
men-of-war cruising before the mouth of the harbor. It would seem that,
under those circumstances, escape were impossible.

Just before sailing, the French minister, M. de la Sartine, offered
Commodore Jones, through the Duke de Vauguyon, a commission as captain
of a privateersman, which several gentleman of wealth had fitted out, in
the best possible manner, to enrich themselves by preying upon British
commerce. This assumption that Commodore Jones was a mere adventurer,
guided by the love of money, he regarded as an insult. In indignant
terms he rejected the offer. Under date of December 13th, he wrote to
the duke, as follows:

“MY LORD: Perhaps there are many men in the world, who would esteem as
an honor the commission that I have this day refused. My rank, from the
beginning, knew no superior in the marine of America. How then must I be
humbled were I to receive a letter of marque. It is a matter of the
highest astonishment to me that, after so many compliments and fair
professions, the court should offer the present insult to my
understanding, and suppose me capable of disgracing my present
commission. I confess that I never merited all the praise bestowed on my
past conduct; but I also feel that I have far less merited such a

The letter containing these sentiments he enclosed in one to Dr.
Franklin, that it might be presented by him to the duke, if it met his
approval. In his letter he still more forcibly gave expression to his
wounded feelings. The heroic man added:

“We hear that the enemy still keeps a squadron cruising off here. But
this shall not prevent my attempts to depart, whenever the wind will
permit. I hope we have recovered the trim of this ship, which was
entirely lost during the last cruise; and I do not much fear the enemy
in the long and dark nights of this season. The ship is well-manned, and
shall not be given away. I need not tell you, that I will do my utmost
to take prisoners and prizes, in my way from hence.”

The great victory Commodore Jones had achieved gave him singular renown.
The ladies, especially, were charmed by his chivalry. He received
constant attentions from the most eminent in rank. The palace and the
castle opened their doors to welcome him. He had the most urgent
invitations to visit Amsterdam and to enjoy the hospitalities of the
court. But all these flattering attentions he avoided as much as
possible. One great passion absorbed his soul. All his energies were
consecrated to the sublime mission of emancipating the United States,
and ennobling their flag.

“Duty,” he said, “must take the precedence of pleasure. I must wait a
more favorable opportunity to kiss the hands of the fair.”

The Alliance had a picked crew of four hundred and twenty-seven men.
Nearly all these were Americans. Many of them had been liberated from
British prisons by the energies of Commodore Jones. He impressed upon
both officers and crew his determination that he should never shrink
from an engagement with any English ship which did not mount more than
fifty guns.

The night of the 26th of December was dark, with a fresh, fair wind. The
Alliance, in the midnight gloom, proudly unfurled at her mast-head the
Stars and Stripes. Every inch of canvas was spread to catch the breeze.
Flying closely along the Flemish banks, he was so fortunate as to elude
the observation of the fleets watching for his capture. Before the
morning dawned he was far away upon the broad expanse of the German
Ocean, where fleets might cruise for weeks and not meet each other.
There had been a very severe gale just before the departure of the
Alliance, which blew so fiercely upon the shore, that the English
squadron had been compelled to put to sea for safety. Doubtless to this
event Commodore Jones was much indebted for his escape.

This successful retreat of Commodore Jones from the overwhelming forces
which surrounded him is regarded, by naval authorities, as one of the
most successful of naval exploits. Keeping well to the windward of the
enemy’s fleet, he traversed the North Sea, sailing through the narrow
Straits of Dover, in full view of the British fleet in the Downs; passed
the Isle of Wight, almost within hailing distance of the shore, though
quite a fleet was at anchor at Spit-head; and, though he saw two-decked
cruising ships of the enemy before him and behind him and on each side
of him, he eluded them all, safely emerged from the British Channel and
continued his course down the western coast of France. This was a voyage
of not less than fifteen hundred miles.

Sometime before leaving the Texel he had received a complimentary poetic
epistle from a young lady at the Hague, who addressed him as King of the
Sea. When fairly out upon the German Ocean, with leisure hours, he on
the 1st of January, 1780, went into his cabin and wrote a poetic reply.
He was not a poet. But it is very doubtful whether Lord Nelson, under
the circumstances, could have done as well. As a specimen of his skill
in versification I will give the last stanza.

        “But since, alas! the rage of war prevails,
          And cruel Britons desolate our land,
        For freedom still I spread my willing sails,
          My unsheathed sword my injured country shall command.
        Go on, bright maid; the muses all attend
        Genius like thine, and wish to be its friend.
        Trust me, although conveyed through this poor shift,
        My New Year’s thoughts are grateful for thy gift.”

Commodore Jones was very desirous of not going empty-handed into port.
It was not enough for him merely to elude his enemies. He was resolved,
if possible, to take some prizes. He therefore ran down the Bay of
Biscay and westerly along the coast of Spain, several hundred miles, in
a region where it was very certain that the British men-of-war would not
be searching for him.

When cruising off Cape Finisterre, the extreme northwesterly cape of
Spain, he encountered a very severe storm. This led him to run for
shelter into the Spanish port of Corunna, where there was a fine harbor.
I may remark, in passing, that this Corunna subsequently became renowned
in history. Southey writes:

“Its filth is astonishing. Other towns attract the _eye_ of the
traveller. But Corunna takes his attention by the _nose_.”

This place became famous in the struggle between Spain and Napoleon I.
To this point Sir John Moore was fleeing in his disastrous retreat
before Napoleon, and near its walls he fell. The poet has immortalized
the event in the sublime ode, upon his burial by moonlight.

              “Not a drum was heard, nor a funeral note,
                As his corpse to the ramparts we hurried;
              Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot,
                O’er the grave where our hero was buried.”

At Corunna Commodore Jones was very kindly received by the Spanish
authorities. He remained in port twelve days, making sundry needful
repairs. Upon the evening of his arrival he wrote to Lafayette:

“I made my passage safe through the Channel in spite of all their
cruising ships and squadrons; and had the pleasure of looking at them in
the Downs, and in passing in sight of the Isle of Wight. I steered this
way in hopes of meeting some of their cruisers off Cape Finisterre, but
am hitherto disappointed.”

On the 28th of January, 1780, he again set sail, and after the
unsuccessful cruise of a fortnight, entered the harbor of L’Orient, in
France, on the 13th of February. This strongly fortified French port is
seated at the head of the bay Port Louis, about three miles from the
ocean. Here he learned that he was accused of cherishing a strong
dislike for the French people. In reply to this rumor he wrote to the
Marquis de Lafayette, under date of February 18th, 1780.

“M. Weibert has, I understand, taken great pains to promulgate that I do
not love France. To come to the point, here follows my political
profession. I am a citizen of the world, totally unfettered by the
little mean distinctions of country or of climate, which diminish or set
bounds to the benevolence of the heart. Impelled by principles of
gratitude and philanthropy I drew my sword at the beginning of the
American Revolution. And when France so nobly espoused that great cause,
no individual felt the obligation with truer gratitude than myself. When
the Court of France, soon after, invited me to remain for a time in
Europe, I considered myself as highly honored by the application that
was made to the American commissioners. Since that time I have been at
every instant, and I still am, ready to do my utmost for the good of the
common cause of France and America.

“As an American officer, and as a man, I affectionately love and respect
the character and nation of France, and hope the alliance with America
may last forever. I owe the greatest obligation to the generous praise
of the French nation on my past conduct, and shall be happy to merit
future favor. I greatly love and esteem his most Christian Majesty as
the great ally of America, the best of kings, and the amiable friend and
protector of the rights of human nature. Therefore he has few of his own
subjects who would bleed, in his present cause, with greater freedom
than myself, and none who are more disinterested. At the same time I
lament the calamities of war, and wish, above all things, for an
honorable, happy, and lasting peace.

“My fortune is not augmented by the part I have hitherto acted in the
revolution, although I have had frequent opportunities of acquiring
riches. And I pledged myself to the worthy part of mankind, that my
future conduct in the war shall not forfeit their good opinion. I am,
with great and sincere affection, happy in your friendship.”

Though Commodore Jones had not captured any prize, he fortunately met an
American ship, the Livingston, laden with tobacco, which he convoyed
into L’Orient.

The Alliance was needed to convey stores to the United Colonies. But she
was in need of very thorough repairs before she could safely spread sail
on so important a voyage. The seas were covered with British war vessels
of double her number of guns. It was therefore essential that she should
be prepared for a rapid flight. There were fifteen thousand stand of
good arms to be sent, and one hundred and twenty large bales of cloth
for the army, with other freight of great value. The loss of these would
prove a great calamity.

Commodore Jones felt that it would be madness to undertake to cross the
ocean, with so valuable a cargo, without putting the ship in the best
possible trim. But the French court, which had been at great expense in
fitting out its own ships, declined furnishing funds from an exhausted
treasury; and the American commissioners in Paris, representatives of
the feeble colonies, had neither money nor credit. There is true pathos
in the letter which Dr. Franklin wrote the commodore on this occasion.

“As to refitting your ship,” he wrote, “at the expense of this court,
there is not the least probability of obtaining it; and therefore I
cannot ask it. The whole expense will therefore fall upon me; and I am
ill provided to bear it, having so many unexpected calls upon me from
all quarters. I therefore beg you would have mercy on me. Put me to as
little charge as possible, and take nothing you can possibly do without.
I approve of your applying to Messrs. Gourlade and Moylan for what
repairs you want, having an exceeding good opinion of those gentlemen.
But let me repeat it, for God’s sake be sparing, unless you mean to make
me a bankrupt, or have your drafts dishonored, for want of money in my
hands to pay them.”

To this appeal the commodore replied, “I feel your reasons for urging
frugality. And as I have not, hitherto, been among the extravagant
servants of America, so you may depend upon it, my regard for you will
make me particularly nice in my present situation.”

By the middle of April the Alliance, under the very energetic and
skilful superintendence of Commodore Jones, was ready for sea. Competent
judges declared that it was one of the finest frigates to be found in
France. Though it was manifestly for Commodore Jones’s pecuniary
interest to remain with his splendid ship in the region of rich prizes,
where at any time, in a few hours, he could run into the fortified ports
of France, yet, without a murmur, he undertook the more humble
employment of conveying stores to America.

There were four gentlemen in Paris, including one of the commissioners,
Mr. Arthur Lee, who wished to take passage with him. Landais, when he
fled from the Texel, left his trunks on board the Alliance. Doctor
Franklin wrote to Commodore Jones:

“Captain Landais has demanded of me an order to you, to deliver to him
his trunks. I find him so exceedingly captious and critical, and so apt
to misconstrue, as an intended injustice, every expression in a language
which he does not immediately understand, that I am tired of writing
anything for him or about him, and am determined to have nothing further
to do with him.”

Innumerable difficulties had arisen about the adjustment and
distribution of the prizes. The sailors had not received their wages,
and not even a dollar of their prize money. Many of them were in a state
of great destitution. Their chests of clothing had gone down in the Bon
Homme Richard; and after the long delay in the Texel they were almost in

Landais, having been commissioned by the American Congress, demanded to
be sent to this country for trial upon the charges brought against him.
This request had been granted, and Dr. Franklin had furnished him with
funds to pay his passage, in the Luzerne, an American merchant ship.
There were many very serious charges tabled against him. In defence of
the most severe accusation, that he had fired into the Bon Homme
Richard, he presented the plea that the two ships were lashed together,
and that he could not fire into the Serapis, without some of his shot
being liable to strike the Richard. But the testimony given by Nathaniel
Fanning seems conclusive, as it was corroborated by much other
testimony. He was stationed in the main-top of the Richard, where he
remained during the whole action.

He testified that two hours after the engagement commenced, the Alliance
came under the stern of the Richard, and discharged her whole broadside
into the ship. She then came under the bow of the Richard, and
discharged another volley of grape and round shot. The Alliance was
within hail, and some of the officers of the Richard shouted, “For God’s
sake don’t fire into us. You have already killed several of our men.”
Still she fired a number of shot afterwards into the Richard.

Another officer of the Richard testified that he was standing on the
quarter-deck in the midst of the smoke and tumult of the battle, when
they were struck by a raking fire, and two men fell dead at his side. He
then heard several cry out, “The Alliance is manned with Englishmen, and
is firing on us.” The Alliance then passed by, and after a couple of
hours came under their stern and discharged a full broadside into the

“It is my sincere opinion,” this witness testified, “that the motive of
Captain Landais must have been to kill Captain Jones, and distress the
Richard, so as to cause her to strike to the Serapis, that he might be
able to take both vessels and honor himself with the laurels of that

Several pages of similar testimony might be given. All alike testified
that the Alliance never passed on the off-side of the Serapis; but ever
kept the Richard between the Serapis and her guns. Thus, if any of her
shot struck the Serapis, they must have first passed through the

Commodore Jones, sympathizing with his men in their utter destitution,
and the apparent wrongs under which they were suffering, felt
constrained to go personally to Paris to plead with the court at
Versailles, in their behalf. Months had passed during which they had
received no wages. They had captured many valuable prizes, but no money
had come back to them. Two of these, it will be remembered, which were
valued at two hundred thousand dollars, Captain Landais, contrary to the
orders of Commodore Jones, had sent to Norway. The Norwegian Government,
alarmed by the menaces of England, surrendered them both to the British
ambassador, on the ground that Captain Jones had not been commissioned
by any government which Norway had recognized.

The other prizes, which were in French ports, were to be sold at
auction. But in consequence of some technicalities of the laws, whose
delays are proverbial, the ships had not yet been sold. The
commissioners at Paris, in their poverty, sent to the crew of the
Alliance a sum of money which amounted to about ten dollars apiece. This
did but excite their indignation and derision. Some, in their chagrin,
chucked the coin into the water.

Commodore Jones was a handsome man about thirty-six years of age, of
fine figure, fair complexion, pleasant features, and courtly bearing. He
was a man of literary tastes and studious habits. He wrote poetry, and
spoke the French language with considerable fluency. These personal and
mental accomplishments, added to his chivalric exploits, the fame of
which had filled the world, rendered him an object of remarkable and
universal attention in the Court of Versailles.

The king was his personal friend, and made him a present of an
exquisitely wrought gold-headed sword. The king and the court were
united in lavishing honor upon him. He was invited to dine with the most
illustrious members of that aristocratic court. Wherever he appeared,
the eyes of the crowd followed his steps. These extraordinary
attentions, which were sufficient to turn the head of any ordinary man,
do not appear to have diminished, in the slightest degree, Paul Jones’s
zeal in the public service. The court was then greatly embarrassed for
money. The measureless extravagances of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. had
plunged the nation into hopeless bankruptcy, and hourly, matters were
ripening for all the horrors of the French Revolution.

Thus the court, though lavish in compliments, had but little money to
confer in charity upon the struggling colonies. Commodore Jones, with
unusual literary culture for a man in his situation, moved through all
these scenes with the winning manners of a well-bred man. He felt the
importance of conciliating all possible influences in favor of the
imperilled country of his adoption.

In the court of Versailles, the ladies often controlled the most
important affairs of state. The guilty favorites of the two preceding
kings had in a great measure guided the destinies of Europe. Maria
Antoinette was far more the sovereign than her weak but well-meaning

Among the ladies of highest rank, by whom he was particularly honored,
were a daughter of Louis XV., and the Countess of Lavendahl.

An English lady at Versailles writes to a friend, “The famous Paul Jones
dines and sups here often. He is a smart man of thirty-six, speaks but
little French, appears to be an extraordinary genius, a poet as well as
a hero. He is greatly admired here, especially by the ladies, who are
wild for love of him. But he adores the Countess of Lavendahl, who has
honored him with every mark of politeness and distinction. A few days
ago he wrote some verses extempore, of which I send you a copy.” The
following are the verses.

             “Insulted freedom bled: I felt her cause,
             And drew my sword to vindicate her laws
             From principle, and not from vain applause
             I’ve done my best; self-interest apart
             And self-reproach a stranger to my heart,
             My zeal still prompts, ambitious to pursue
             The foe, ye fair, of liberty and you;
             Grateful for praise, spontaneous and unbought,
             A generous people’s love not meanly sought;
             To merit this, and bend the knee to beauty
             Shall be my earliest and my latest duty.”

In a subsequent letter the same lady wrote, “Since my last, Paul Jones
drank tea and supped here. If I am in love with him, for love I may die.
I have as many rivals as there are ladies. The most formidable is Lady
Lavendahl, who possesses all his heart. This lady is of high rank and
virtue, very sensible, good-natured and affable. Besides this, she is
possessed of youth, beauty, wit, and every other female accomplishment.”

Commodore Jones had but just left L’Orient, on the all-important mission
to Versailles, when Landais went to that port to get his trunks and to
take passage in the Luzerne for America. Finding the commodore absent,
and the crew almost in a state of mutiny, he resolved to make an attempt
to recover the command of the Alliance.

He represented that Jones, leaving the crew in their destitution, had
gone to Paris to enjoy the feasting and adulation which were lavished
upon him there. He insinuated that they had been robbed of their prize
money, and that Jones and his confederates had appropriated it to their
own luxurious indulgence. He also represented that Jones was regarded by
the European courts, and would be regarded by Congress, simply as a
privateersman, sailing on his own account, and that consequently his
seamen, when they arrived in America, would be deserted by him, and that
they could expect no wages from Congress.

This was very artful malice. It shows that Landais possessed very
considerable powers of wicked intrigue. He even succeeded in winning
over to his side Commissioner Lee, who was to return in the Alliance,
and who was not on very good terms with the other members of the
Congressional delegation. Captain Landais obtained from Commissioner Lee
an opinion containing the following statement, under date of May, 13th:

“From documents exhibited to me, it is clear, beyond a possibility of
doubt, that Captain Landais commands the Alliance, under the full,
direct, and express order of Congress; and that no such authority
appears to dismiss him from the command. In this situation Captain
Landais must answer at his peril for the frigate intrusted to him, till
he receives an order of Congress to deliver her to another. If such
order exists, those who have it do infinite wrong to the service, in not
producing it. If there is no such order, the subjects of the United
States, who attempt to divest Captain Landais of the command he holds
from the sovereign power, or to disturb him by violence in the exercise
of it, commit a high crime against the laws and sovereignity of the
United States, and subject themselves to a proportionable punishment.”

Mr. Lee knew full well the views of Dr. Franklin upon this all-important
subject. Rather defiantly he wrote: “This is my opinion, founded on a
cool and candid consideration of the authorities on both sides. You are
at liberty to show this letter to whom you please, or to send it to Dr.

Landais had abandoned the Alliance at the Texel, and had run away, to
avoid arrest for challenging his superior officer to a duel. For seven
months he had not stepped on board the ship, during which time Jones had
been in undisputed command. He was now virtually under arrest, to be
sent back to America to be tried for one of the most atrocious crimes
which could be committed. Dr. Franklin, learning that Landais was still
at L’Orient, and that he had written to some one, “I am waiting for
Franklin’s orders to take command of the Alliance,” addressed a letter
to him, expressing his astonishment that he was not long before on his
way to America for trial, for which voyage Franklin had provided him
with funds. And he added, “I waive any further dispute with you. But I
charge you not to meddle with the command of the Alliance, or to create
any disturbance on board her, as you will answer to the contrary at your

Landais succeeded in having a paper drawn up, and signed by one hundred
and sixteen of the more than four hundred sailors of the Alliance, which
was addressed to Dr. Franklin, and which stated that they would not
raise the anchor, to leave L’Orient, until they had received six months’
wages, the utmost farthing of the prize money due, including the ships
sent to Norway, and _until their legal captain, Pierre Landais, was
restored to them_.

Dr. Franklin immediately went to the court at Versailles, which is but
twelve miles from Paris, and entered a complaint against Landais as a
fomenter of mutiny. The proof of Landais’ guilt was manifest, and orders
were immediately sent for his arrest and imprisonment. In the meantime
Jones had obtained, from the court, orders for a fine copper-bottomed
French ship, the Ariel, to sail to America in company with the Alliance.
He had made all his arrangements to spread his sails a week after his
return to L’Orient from Paris.

Franklin wrote to the mutinous crew of the Alliance, expressing his
surprise that they could have any confidence in one who had behaved as
they all knew Landais to have done. He closed his letter with the
following conciliatory words:

“For myself, I believe you to be brave men and lovers of your country
and its glorious cause. And I am persuaded that you have only been ill
advised and misled by the artful and malicious representations of some
persons I guess at.[C] Take in good part this friendly counsel from an
old man, who is your friend. Go home peaceably with your ship. Do your
duty faithfully and cheerfully. Behave respectfully to your commander,
and I am persuaded he will do the same to you. Thus you will not only be
happier in your voyage, but will recommend yourselves to the future
favors of Congress and your country.”


Footnote C:

  He doubtless refers to Commissioner Lee.


To Commodore Jones he wrote. “You are liable to have great trouble. I
wish you well through it. You have shown your abilities in fighting. You
have now the opportunity of showing the other necessary part in the
character of a great chief—your abilities in policy.”

                              CHAPTER IX.
                        _The Mutiny of Landais._

The Visit of Jones to Versailles.—Intrigues of Landais.—The Alliance
    Wrested from Jones.—Complicity of Arthur Lee.—Magnanimity of
    Jones.—Strong Support of Dr. Johnson.—Honors Conferred upon
    Jones.—Strange Career of Landais.—His Life in America, and
    Death.—Continued Labors and Embarrassments of Jones.—His

Jones immediately, upon his arrival at L’Orient, made preparations for
his departure, with the two armed ships, the Alliance and the Ariel,
which were to convoy several American vessels, with cargoes amounting to
four hundred thousand dollars in value. Having heard that his authority
had been called in question, he, on the morning of the 13th of June,
mustered the crew of the Alliance on the quarter-deck, and caused his
commission from Congress to be read to them, together with the order
from Dr. Franklin for him to take command of the Alliance, and a
subsequent order to take her to Philadelphia. When he asked if any of
the crew had any complaint to make against him, not one stepped forward.
All seemed to be satisfied.

Soon after, he went ashore to confer with the French authorities in
reference to the armament of the Ariel. Landais was on the watch. As
soon as Commodore Jones stepped ashore, Captain Landais sent an order to
one of his confederates, by the name of Degges, who had been first
lieutenant of the Alliance, to take command of the ship until he should
receive further orders. Degges mustered the crew; read the order to
them, and also the very decided opinion of Commissioner Lee, that
Landais was the legal commander of the Alliance. The sailors were
bewildered. They were in danger of losing all their prize-money, and
their wages for several months of arduous and perilous labor. Landais
had made them golden promises. The majority decided for Landais. At that
opportune moment, he came over the side of the ship and took the

Lieutenant Dale and the other officers of the Richard, who had come from
the Serapis on board the Alliance, and who remained faithful to
Commodore Jones, were thrust into boats and sent ashore. It is hardly
just to call this a mutiny, on the part of the sailors, for they were
reasonably in doubt as to who was the commander they were legally bound
to obey.

Commodore Jones, hearing the cheers of the crew of the Alliance,
hastened on board. He found Landais parading up and down the deck,
flourishing his commission in his hand, and haranguing the crew in
broken English. Jones was also unceremoniously sent ashore with his
officers. He hastened to Versailles, to inform the governmental
authorities there of what had transpired. On the 17th of June, Dr.
Franklin wrote to Commodore Jones. He had probably not then been fully
informed of the very serious character of the events which had taken
place. In this letter he said:

“Having been informed by several gentlemen of and from L’Orient, that it
is there generally understood the mutiny on board your ship has been
advised or promoted by the Honorable Arthur Lee, whom I had ordered you
to receive as a passenger, I hereby withdraw that order so far as to
leave the execution to your direction. If from the circumstances which
have come to your knowledge it should appear to you that the peace and
good government of the ship, during the voyage, may be endangered by his
presence, you may decline taking that gentleman; which I apprehend need
not obstruct his return to America, as there are several ships going
under your convoy, and no doubt many of their passengers may be
prevailed to change places. But if you judge these suspicions groundless
you will comply with the order aforesaid.”

Honorable Arthur Lee was a disappointed and angry man. He had quarrelled
with his associates, and was returning to America in very ill humor. The
Alliance was crowded with freight of the utmost importance to the
struggling colonies. Mr. Lee insisted upon large accommodation for
himself and family, for room for his carriage, and for a vast amount of
baggage. This would have demanded space which was needed for
transportation of the soldiers’ clothing. Commodore Jones, with his soul
absorbed in devotion to the public interests, and who scarcely allowed
chest-room for himself, objected to the surrender of so much space to
the commissioner and his family. This grievously offended Mr. Lee, and
added to his discontent. Commodore Jones gives the following account of
the difficulty:

“I am convinced that Mr. Lee has acted in this manner merely because I
would not become the enemy of the venerable, the wise, the good
Franklin, whose heart as well as head does, and will always do, honor to
human nature. I know the great and good, in this kingdom, better perhaps
than any other American who has appeared in Europe since the treaty of
alliance. And if my testimony could add anything to Franklin’s
reputation, I could witness the universal veneration and esteem with
which his name inspires all ranks, not only at Versailles and all over
this kingdom, but also in Spain and Holland. And I can add from the
testimony of the first characters of other nations that, with them, envy
itself is dumb when the name of Franklin is but mentioned.”

Upon the day of the mutiny which put Landais in possession of the
Alliance, Paul Jones dined with the French admiral. He was keenly
sensible of the disgrace to our nation should two commissioned officers,
in a foreign port, each perhaps leading two hundred men, have a bloody
battle on the deck of one of our war-ships. Such an untoward event would
have disgraced our country, and the holy cause in which we were engaged,
in the eyes of all Europe. And it would but add to our reproach that, in
this deplorable conflict, the commissioners, sent to Paris to win France
to our cause, were divided, Mr. Lee being on the one side and Dr.
Franklin on the other.

The Alliance was in a French port, and consequently under French law.
When the commissioners were in antagonistic opinion whether Jones or
Landais was the legal commander of the ship, the sailors might well be
excused for being also honestly divided in their views. Commodore Jones,
a humane man, a lover of peace and justice, could not bear the thought
of strewing the deck of the ship with the bloody corpses of these
ignorant men. He preferred to submit the question to the arbitration of
the laws, rather than to brutal violence.

Jones despatched an express to the court, at Versailles, and immediately
followed it. Upon his arrival he found, that through the intervention of
Dr. Franklin, orders had already been issued for the detention of the
Alliance, and the arrest of Landais. Journeying was comparatively slow
in those days. After the absence of a week Commodore Jones returned. He
found that, during the night preceding his arrival, Landais had warped
the ship from the inner to the outer harbor, which was called Port
Louis. There was still a narrow entrance through which the ship must
pass before it could be out at sea. A battery commanded that passage. A
boat was sent on board, with an officer, to arrest Landais in the king’s
name, and to announce that the Alliance would be sunk should she attempt
to leave the port. Captain Landais, standing beneath the Stars and
Stripes, and surrounded by his men, refused to surrender himself.

The Alliance had been placed by Congress at the disposal of Dr.
Franklin. He, as the representative of the Government, was to order all
her movements in Europe. This both Lee and Landais knew perfectly well.
The French officer now presented to Landais the positive orders of Dr.
Franklin to Landais, his officers and his men, to surrender the ship to
the command of Commodore Jones.

The commodore now had the ship completely in his power. One or two
broadsides from the battery would sink her and all her crew in the
bottom of the bay. French soldiers were accustomed to obey command. The
guns were loaded. The gunners stood ready with lighted matches. At one
word of command a storm of balls would pierce the ship, and all France
would receive another impressive lesson of the peril involved in
disobeying the orders of the king. And yet the madman Landais, reckless
of all consequences, was firm in his insubordination.

The Alliance was by far the finest ship in the feeble navy of the
colonies. It was freighted with stores of inestimable value to our
thinly clad, hungry, ill-provided soldiers, struggling against the most
formidable military power then upon the globe. A large minority,
probably a majority of the sailors were in favor of Commodore Jones.
Those who adhered to Landais were assured by Commissioner Lee that they
were surely in the right, and that if they abandoned Landais they would
be exposed to be hung for mutiny against their lawful commander.

All the sailors felt deeply wronged. They could not understand why they
received neither wages nor prize-money. They could not know but that the
malignant and artful representations of Landais were true; that Jones,
with his confederate aristocrats of the court, was squandering, in
luxurious dissipation, their hard earnings. Under these circumstance it
would have been cruel to consign these poor men to destruction, and our
country to so great a loss. Commodore Jones, forgetting his resentment,
acted the part of a magnanimous man, for which he merits the highest

He hastened to the quarters of M. Thevenard, the commandant of the port,
and by his personal interposition, prevented him from opening fire upon
the Alliance. He wrote to Dr. Franklin:

“Thevenard had received orders to fire on the Alliance and sink her to
the bottom, if they attempted to approach and pass the barrier that had
been made across the entrance to the port. Had I even remained silent an
hour the dreadful work would have been done. Your humanity will, I know,
justify the part I acted, in preventing a scene that would have rendered
me miserable for the rest of my life. Yesterday the within letter was
brought me from Mr. Lee. He has pulled off the mask, and I am convinced
is not a little disappointed that his operations have produced no
bloodshed between the subjects of France and America. Poor man!”

The commandant of the port called all his officers together, and they
signed a paper, minutely stating the preparations they had made to
render the departure of the Alliance impossible, and their great
admiration of the magnanimity of Commodore Jones in causing their
operations to be suspended.

Landais, unopposed, warped his ship through the mouth of the harbor and
cast anchor in the roadstead of Groix. We must now take leave of
Landais, with but a brief record of his subsequent career.

Pierre Landais was the youngest son of one of the proudest and, in rank,
one of the most illustrious families in Normandy. Their ancestral
estates had gradually passed away, and the family had become
impoverished, but not the less proud. Pierre entered the Naval School,
and was thoroughly instructed in the theory both of building and
navigating a ship. He, however, found it difficult to get a commission
so as to put his knowledge into practice. He had neither money, nor
interest at court, with which to purchase court favor.

He was thus kept a mere midshipman until he was thirty-two years of age.
Then for many years he remained in the humble situation of a
sub-lieutenant. He was serving in this capacity, greatly discontented
with his lot, when the war broke out between England and her American
colonies. Landais then came to this country in command of a French
merchant-ship laden with public stores. He was a man of much address and
of boundless assurance. According to his representation he enjoyed the
rank of captain in the royal navy; had commanded a ship of the line; had
been chief officer of the naval depot at the port of Brest, and could
have commanded any advancement he desired in his own country.

But he said that his love for freedom was such, and such his admiration
of the heroism of the Americans in drawing the sword in defence of
popular rights, against such a gigantic power as that of Great Britain,
that he had declined receiving the Cross of St. Louis, and had abjured
the Roman Catholic religion, the religion of his forefathers, that he
might, with all his energies, enter into the service of America.

Believing all this, and wishing, as we have said, to compliment France,
Congress placed its finest frigate in the hands of Landais. The result,
until the time when the Alliance left L’Orient, the reader knows.

The Alliance, with Mr. Lee on board, at length reached Philadelphia. The
conduct of Landais, whose title to command his own men doubted, was so
insane that the officers, passengers and crew all became incensed. Mr.
Lee was prominent in this movement. The ship was committed to the
officer next in rank. A court of inquiry was held, in which Mr. Lee
testified strongly against the captain as insane. The charge was so
fully sustained that he was dismissed from the service of the United
States. It was not deemed expedient to waste time by prosecuting the
more serious charges against him. He was consequently consigned to
insignificance. Thus thrown out of service, Landais took up his
residence in the city of New York. Destitute of funds, he was miserably
poor, living, one can hardly tell how, upon an income of but two hundred
dollars a year. Still he retained all his ancient pride, maintaining the
air of a gentleman, and refusing any assistance which could indicate
that he was in want.

He contrived, at every session of Congress, whether at Philadelphia or
Washington, to make his appearance, and to urge a memorial expressive of
the injustice which he thought had been done him, and demanding
restitution to his rank and the arrears of pay. It is said that at one
time he was reduced almost to nothing, when an unexpected division of
some prize-money gave him an annuity of one hundred and five dollars.
With true French hilarity he said, “I have now two dollars a week on
which to live, and an odd dollar for charity at the end of the year.”

To the last he kept up the exterior and the courtly bearing of a
gentleman. All that was visible of his linen was ever spotlessly clean.
His thread-bare coat was brushed with the utmost neatness. On
ceremonious occasions, or when making a call, he wore conspicuously a
pair of paste knee-buckles, yellow silk stockings, carefully preserved,
though much faded, and which were adorned with what were then called red

Claiming to be an officer in the United States Navy, unjustly deprived
of command, he ever wore upon his hat the American cockade. On the
Fourth of July, and on the day which commemorated the evacuation of the
city of New York by the British troops, Landais, who had assumed the
title of admiral, invariably dressed himself in his old Continental
uniform. The large brass buttons, though they had lost their brilliance,
attracted attention. The long skirts of his blue coat reached almost to
his heels, enveloping his thin, shrivelled form. The sleeves seemed to
have shrunken, for they scarcely came to his wrists. He thus paraded the
streets, with all the airs of a nobleman of the ancient regime.

His spirit of independence was such that he refused all presents, even
the most trifling. A gentleman, on one occasion, sent him a dozen
bottles of Newark cider. He returned them because it was not in his
power to reciprocate.

He became, with advancing years, very irritable in temper. In one of the
debates in Congress in reference to his claims, a member spoke, as he
thought, disrespectfully of him. He dressed himself in his uniform,
belted a small sword at his side, and repairing to the gallery of the
House, announced to all the acquaintances he met, that he was prepared
to fight a duel with any gentleman who might give him occasion to do so.
“If there is any bad blood in Congress,” said he, “I am prepared to draw
it.” He always affirmed that he, and not Jones, captured the Serapis.
The ship, he said, was compelled to surrender because he raked her with
the guns of the Alliance.

Thus this strange man lived for forty years, until he had attained the
age of eighty-seven. He died, or, to use his own language, disappeared
from this life, in the summer of 1818. As he was buried in the
church-yard of St. Patrick’s Cathedral it is probable that he had
returned to the Roman Catholic faith. Some unknown friend raised a plain
marble slab over his remains with the inscription, beneath a cross:

                              A la Mémoire
                           Pierre de Landais,
                          Ancien Contre-Amiral
                               au service
                            Des Etats-Unis.
                             Qui Disparut,
                               Juin 1818.
                             Age, 87 years.

Let us now return to Paul Jones. There were five hundred tons of public
stores still at L’Orient to be shipped to the United States. The Ariel,
which was in port preparing to sail, could afford additional room for
but about one hundred tons. There were thus four hundred tons to be
provided for. The Serapis, which Paul Jones had so heroically captured,
was one of the finest and most strongly built war-ships in the British
navy. The king had just purchased the prize for a sum amounting to about
forty thousand dollars. As France was certainly indebted to an American
commodore for his valuable prize, and as France was in alliance with
America, and as the cause of the two countries was, in some respects, a
common cause, France wishing to resist the intolerable tyranny of
England on the seas, Jones made the very reasonable suggestion to Dr.
Franklin, that he should obtain the loan of the Serapis, to accompany
the Ariel in conveying these stores across the Atlantic. Upon their
arrival in America, the two ships, as he thought, might inflict very
serious damage on the common enemy. Franklin, deserted by his colleague
Lee, mortified by the flight of Landais with the Alliance, and
embarrassed for want of money, was in a state of great perplexity.
Through irregularity of the mails he had not received Commodore Jones’s
letter of the 21st of June, giving him the particulars of the departure
of the Alliance. He had, however, received his letter of the 27th,
proposing the loan of the Serapis. Philosopher as he was, he could not
conceal the perplexities which annoyed him. He wrote:

“I only knew, by other means, that the Alliance is gone out of the port;
and that you are not likely to recover, and have relinquished the
command of her. So that affair is over. And now the business is, to get
the goods out as well as we can. I am perfectly bewildered with the
different schemes that have been proposed to me for this purpose. Mr.
Williams was for purchasing ships. I told him I had not the money; but
he still urges it. You and Mr. Ross proposed borrowing the Ariel. I
joined in the application for that ship. We obtained her. She was to
convey all that the Alliance could not take.

“Now you find her insufficient. An additional ship has already been
asked and could not be obtained. I think therefore that it will be best
that you take as much into the Ariel as you can, and depart with it. For
the rest I must apply to the government to contrive some means of
transporting it in their own ships. This is my present opinion. When I
have once got rid of this business, no consideration shall tempt me to
meddle again with such matters, as I never understood them.”

The stores which were ready to be transported to America, amounted in
value to about four hundred thousand dollars. It was needful that
immediate and vigorous measures should be taken to send them on their
way. Commodore Jones, on the 27th of June, wrote, as in duty bound, to
the Honorable Robert Morris, giving him a very unimpassioned and
truthful account of the untoward events which had occurred. He closed
this admirable letter with the following words:

“I cannot see where all this will end. But surely it must fall
dreadfully on the heads of those who have stirred up this causeless
mutiny. For my own part I shall make no other remark than that I have
never directly or indirectly sought after the command of the Alliance.
But after having, in obedience to orders, commanded her for seven
months, and after Mr. Lee had made a written application to me, as
commander of that ship, for a passage to America, I am at a loss what
name to give to Mr. Lee’s late conduct and duplicity in stirring up a
mutiny in favor of a man who was first sent to America, contrary to Mr.
Lee’s opinion, by Mr. Deane, and who is actually under arrest by order
of his sovereign.

“What gives me the greatest pain is, that after I had obtained from
government the means of transporting to America, under good protection,
the arms and clothing I have already mentioned, Mr. Lee should have
found means to defeat my intentions. You will bear me witness, my worthy
friend, that I never asked a favor for myself from Congress. You have
seen all my letters, and know that I never sought any indirect
influence; though my ambition to act an eminent and useful part in this
glorious revolution is unbounded.

“I pledge myself to you and to America that my zeal receives new ardor
from the opposition it meets with; and I live but to overcome them, and
to prove myself no mock patriot, but a true friend to the rights of
human nature upon principles of disinterested philanthropy. Of this I
have given some proofs, and I will give more. Let not, therefore, the
virtuous Senate of America be misled by the insinuations of fallen
ambition. Should anything be said to my disadvantage, all I ask is a
suspension of judgment until I can appear before Congress to answer for

The next day after Commodore Jones had written this letter, on the 28th
of June, a letter was despatched to him, from Monsieur de Sartines, the
French minister, dated at Versailles. He wrote:

“The king, sir, has already made known his satisfaction with the zeal
and valor which you have displayed in Europe, in support of the common
cause of the United States of America and his majesty; and he has also
informed you of the distinguished proofs he is disposed to give you
thereof. Persuaded that the United States will give their consent that
you should receive the Cross of the Order of Military Merit, I send you,
in the accompanying packet addressed to M. de Luzerne, the one designed
for you. You will be pleased to deliver him this packet, and he will see
that the honor is conferred by a knight of the order agreeably to his
majesty’s orders.”

Before the Alliance sailed, the trunks of Commodore Jones which were on
board that ship were broken open, robbed of their most valuable
contents, and sent on shore. Those who openly adhered to Jones, refusing
to obey Landais, were confined and carried away in irons. Almost
innumerable obstacles arose to delay the sailing of the Ariel and the
other vessels needed to transport the stores. Never did a man consecrate
himself more entirely to the promotion of the public interests, to the
neglect of all selfish considerations, than did Paul Jones during the
months of June and July. A detailed account of his difficulties and
disappointments would but weary the reader. His soul was almost consumed
with the desire to strike the haughty enemy blows which he would feel.
He was willing to go back to America, animated by the hope that the
government, hearing of what he had already achieved, would place such a
force at his command as to enable him to do something effectual toward
the emancipation of America from British thraldom. On the 2d of August,
just before he was ready to sail, he wrote to the Count of Vergennes.
After expressing his gratitude for the favors he had received from the
French court, and his intense desire for active employment, he added:

“It is absolutely necessary, my lord, to destroy the foreign commerce of
the English, especially their trade to the Baltic, from whence they draw
all the supplies for their marine. It is equally necessary to alarm
their coasts, not only in the colonies abroad, but even in their islands
at home. These things would distress and distract the enemy much more
than many battles between fleets of equal force.

“England has carried on the war against America in a far more barbarous
form than she durst have adopted against any power of Europe. America
has the right to retaliate; and, by our having the same language and
customs with the enemy we are in a situation to surprise their coast and
take such advantage of their unguarded situation, under the flag of
America, as can never be done under the flag of France. This is not
theory, for I have proved it by my experience. And if I have opportunity
I will yet prove it more fully.”

Still there were the most annoying delays. Nothing in this world can be
more difficult than to fit out a military expedition without money and
without credit. The Ariel sailed out of the harbor and cast anchor in
the road of Groix. Commodore Jones received during this time many
flattering letters from admiring ladies of the French court. But his
engagements were so pressing that he found but little time to reply to
them. His instinctive sense of courtesy was such that this apparent
neglect sometimes quite seriously annoyed him. To one lady he wrote:

“When one is conscious of having been in fault, I believe it is the best
way to confess it and to promise amendment. This being my case in
respect to you, madam, I am too honest to attempt to excuse myself; and
therefore cast myself at your feet and beg your forgiveness, on
condition that I behave better hereafter. For shame, Paul Jones! How
could you let the fairest lady in the world, after writing you two
letters, wait so long for an answer. Are you so much devoted to war as
to neglect wit and beauty? I make myself a thousand such reproaches, and
believe I punish myself as severely as you would do, madam, were you
present here.”

Again he wrote to a noble lady, Madame L’Ormoy: “My particular thanks
are due you, madam, for the personal proofs I have received of your
esteem and friendship, and for the happiness you procured me in the
society of the charming countess and other ladies and gentlemen of your
circle. But I have a favor to ask of you, madam, which I hope you will
grant me. You tell me, in your letter, that the inkstand I had the honor
to present you as a small token of my esteem, shall be reserved for the
purpose of writing what concerns me. Now I wish you to see my idea in a
more expanded light, and would have you make use of that inkstand to
instruct mankind, and support the dignity and rights of human nature.”

                               CHAPTER X.
                        _The Return to America._

Fitting the Ariel.—Painful Delays.—The Sailing.—Terrible Tempest.—The
    Disabled Ship.—Puts back to L’Orient.—The Second Departure.—Meets
    the Triumph.—Bloody Naval Battle.—Perfidious Escape of the
    Triumph.—The Ariel Reaches America.—Honors Lavished upon
    Jones.—Appointed to Build and Command the America.—Great Skill
    Displayed.—The Ship given to France.—The Launch.

Tardily the French government had ordered the Ariel to be fully armed
and equipped. Commodore Jones crowded the ship to its utmost possible
capacity. Such a quantity of powder, arms, and other stores were taken
on board, that he had room for provisions for only nine weeks. The
commodore had hoped to have left port at an earlier period, and at a
more favorable season of the year. He was not able to weigh anchor and
to spread his sails, for his adventurous voyage, until the 8th of
October. He then sailed, with a fair wind and with promise of pleasant

But the very next night a terrible tempest arose. In the midst of
midnight darkness, with howling winds and dashing waves, the Ariel
barely escaped being wrecked on the rocks of Penmarque, a ledge which
was the terror of all seamen, between L’Orient and Brest. The gale was
so severe that the lower yard-arms were frequently plunged into the
water. The peril was so great that it was necessary to cut away the
fore-mast. This seemed in some degree to relieve the ship from the
terrible strain, so that her head was brought to the wind. But in the
terrible plungings of the heavily laden ship over the billows, the
main-mast had got out of the step, and reeled to and fro in the most
threatening manner. The danger was imminent that the mast would either
break off below the gun-deck, or that it would crush its way through the
bottom of the ship. Commodore Jones gave orders for the main-mast to be
cut away. But before this could be done the chain plates parted, and the
main-mast, breaking off at the gun-deck, fell with a terrible crash,
carrying with it the mizzenmast, and the quarter-gallery. In that
deplorable situation, the Ariel, rolling like a log upon the
tempest-lashed sea, by rare good luck floated in midnight darkness, to
the windward of the ledge generally deemed the most dangerous in the

For two days and three nights this autumnal storm raged, covering the
shore with wrecks, and with the bodies of the drowned. Even in the port
of L’Orient many ships were torn from their anchorage, and were dashed
on the shore. Probably nothing saved the Ariel but the loss of her
masts. Had they remained standing, to receive the force of the gale, no
anchor could have held her from being thrown upon the rocks. Jury-masts
were rigged, and the shattered Ariel, after the gale, was taken back to
L’Orient. On the 16th, he wrote to Lady D’Ormoy, in reply to a letter
from her. In this communication, he said:

“I have returned without laurels, and, what is worse, without being able
to render service to the glorious cause of liberty. I know not why
Neptune was in such anger, unless he thought it an affront in me to
appear on his ocean, with so insignificant a force. It is certain that
till the night of the 8th, I did not fully conceive the awful majesty of
tempest and of shipwreck. I can give you no just idea of the tremendous
scene that nature then presented, which surpassed the reach even of
poetic fancy and the pencil. I believe no ship was ever before saved
from an equal danger off the point of the Penmarque rocks.

“I am extremely sorry that the young English lady you mention should
have imbibed the national hatred against me. I have had proofs that many
of the first and finest ladies of that nation are my friends. Indeed I
cannot imagine why any fair lady should be my enemy, since, upon the
large scale of universal philanthropy I feel, acknowledge, and bend
before the sovereign power of beauty. The English nation may hate me,
but I will force them to esteem me too.”

Jones was exceedingly distressed that his sailors had not received one
single dollar of prize money. They blamed him, and he could not make it
clear to their impassioned minds that he was not to blame. The prizes,
which had been sent into the French ports, had now been sold. But legal
technicalities seemed to render it necessary that the money should be
paid in America. Even Dr. Franklin could not deny that such was the
proper interpretation of the statute. The money was consequently
remitted to the French minister, M. Chaumont, to be forwarded to this
country. Commodore Jones wrote pleadingly in behalf of the suffering

“By virtue of the authority I had received from the government,” he
wrote, “my honor was pledged to see these men justly paid. I have
already suffered many reflections on their account. I beseech your
excellency to order them immediate payment.”

The spirit of Dr. Franklin was in a state of great perturbation in view
of these wrongs, which seemed to paralyze all the sinews of action. From
a sick bed, upon which it is not improbable that trouble had thrown him,
he wrote to the Court, strongly soliciting, under the circumstances, the
payment of the money. It was not until the 18th of December that the
shattered, heavily laden Ariel was again prepared for sea. In his
journal, Jones writes:

“On this day I bade adieu to the beloved nation of France; where, though
I have met with some difficulties, have many reasons to be satisfied. I
am charmed with the courteous behavior that so nobly marked the
character of that generous minded people.”

As he had important despatches on board, which he was directed to sink
rather than allow to fall into the hands of the enemy, and as the cargo
he carried was of inestimable value to the colonies, he resolved to seek
no prizes, but to cross the ocean as rapidly as possible, by an
unfrequented track, taking the southern passage along the edge of the
trade winds.

After being out several days he found himself far south, in the latitude
of Barbadoes. In a distance a ship hove in sight. There could be but
little doubt that it was an English ship. After carefully examining it
with his glass he saw that it was a fast-sailing, well-armed English
frigate. The Ariel was not in a condition to give battle to such an
opponent. He hoped, in the darkness of the night, to escape. He
therefore changed his course and spread every sail. In the morning he
found, much to his disappointment, that the frigate was still nearer to
him than the evening before.

An action was now unavoidable. The frigate would surely board him, and,
by examining his papers, find out who he was and where he was bound.
Immediately the most vigorous measures were adopted to prepare for
action. It is probable that Commodore Jones had resolved never, under
whatever circumstances, to surrender to the British flag. Everything was
thrown overboard which could interfere with the efficiency of the
defence. The sails and helm were so managed, and other precautions
adopted, as to conceal, as far as possible, the force of the Ariel. He
assumed the character of a merchant-ship lightly armed.

The chase soon became very eager. As soon as the frigate came within
gun-shot of the Ariel, Jones opened fire from his quarter-deck, with his
stern chasers. The wind became very light, so that hour after hour, on
these mild tropical seas, the pursued and the pursuer glided along,
without the distance between them being sensibly diminished.

As night approached the frigate came within hailing distance of the
Ariel. Jones, as he examined her armament, was well pleased to find that
he had a force to contend with not much superior to his own. He
immediately raised the English flag, and quite a conversation took place
between the commanders of the two ships. Jones learned that the frigate
was called the Triumph, under command of Captain John Pindar. Assuming
that the Ariel was an English ship conveying stores to the British army
in America, he obtained very important information, in reference to the
position of the English squadron on the coast.

At length Jones pretended not to believe Captain Pindar, that his ship
belonged to the British navy. He therefore ordered the captain to come
on board the Ariel and show his commission. Pindar probably at this time
had his suspicions excited. He declined upon the excuse that his boats
leaked, and that he had not yet learned the name of the frigate before
him, or of her commander. Jones replied:

“I have no account to render to you. You can have five minutes to decide
whether you will come on board of me or not.”

Jones held his watch in his hand. The frigates were lying nearly abreast
and within thirty feet of each other. The tops of both vessels were
filled with sharp-shooters, and the gunners, with lighted matches, stood
at the batteries. The moment the five minutes had elapsed, Jones ran up
the Stars and Stripes, and hurled a full broadside, within pistol-shot,
into the Triumph. It was then past seven o’clock in the evening.
Daylight had completely faded away. Starlight and the flash of the guns
alone lighted the combatants in their dreadful conflict. The crew of the
Ariel was inspired with the indomitable energies of its commander.

The Triumph instantly returned the fire of the Ariel. It is said that
the vigorous and regular fire, from the top and batteries of the Ariel,
had never been exceeded. Such a conflict could by no possibility last
long. The flash and the roar of this tempest of war were incessant.
Every bolt was death dealing. The massive irons balls tore through and
splintered the oaken timbers, smashed gun carriages, tumbled about the
massive ordnance, and strewed the decks with lifeless bodies and
dismembered limbs. There was not one moment’s intermission. Blow
followed blow instantaneously. Amidst darkness and sulphurous smoke, and
the angry gleam of the flashing guns, there were ghastly wounds, and
gushing blood, and death—misery and inconceivably awful ruin. It was one
of those scenes in this lost world, which has led many to inquire, “Can
hell exceed this?”

Ten minutes of this horrible carnage settled the question. Pindar struck
his colors and cried out for quarter, saying that one half of his men
were killed. Instantly the Ariel stopped fire. The men, abandoning the
batteries and running down from the tops, clustered on the deck, and
gave three cheers in token of their victory. When a ship thus
surrenders, and calls for and accepts quarter, she is considered as a
prisoner of war is considered, who has given his word of honor not to
attempt to escape. With a few more broadsides Jones might have sunk the
Triumph, which was preying upon American commerce. And it was his duty
to have done this, rather than allow her to escape.

But relying upon the honor of the English commander, he accepted the
unconditional surrender. The Triumph was not injured in her sails or
rigging. In the confusion of the moment, when the dead covered the decks
and the wounded were being hurried below to the care of the surgeon, and
the guns of the Ariel were abandoned, the treacherous captain, watching
his opportunity, suddenly spread every sail, and commenced running away
with all speed. Jones was astonished at this perfidy. He immediately
spread every sail in pursuit. But the Triumph was much the swiftest
sailor, and soon got out of gun-shot, and disappeared in the darkness.
In the account which Commodore Jones gives of this conflict, in the
journal which he sent to the king of France, he wrote:

“In a minute I ordered the firing to cease. And there were several
huzzahs on board the Ariel, as is usual after a victory. But a minute
afterwards the captain of the Triumph had the baseness to fill his sails
and run away. It was not in my power to prevent this, the Triumph
sailing much faster than the Ariel. But if the British government had
that feeling of honor and justice which becomes a great nation, they
would have delivered up to the United States that frigate as belonging
to them; and would have punished, in the most exemplary manner, her
captain for having thus violated the laws of war and the customs of
civilized nations.”

On the 18th of February, 1781, Paul Jones arrived at Philadelphia,
having been absent from America three years, three months, and eighteen
days. He now received what was to him an ample reward for his past years
of toil and care. The renown of his exploits had spread through the
land. No one in the army or the navy had acquired more celebrity. Even
Mr. Lee, who had now himself quarrelled with Landais, and had become
convinced that he was insane, joined in the laudations of Commodore
Jones. The Board of Admiralty condemned the course of Mr. Lee, and
sustained Jones. In a report which the Board made to Congress, on the 2d
of November, 1781, it was said:

“It appears that Captain Landais regained command of the Alliance by the
advice of Mr. Lee, notwithstanding his suspension by Dr. Franklin, who,
by the direction of the Marine Committee, had the sole management of our
marine affairs in Europe.”

Congress had already passed a resolve, stating, “That the thanks of the
United States, in Congress assembled, be given to Captain John Paul
Jones, for the zeal, prudence, and intrepidity, with which he has
supported the honor of the American flag; for his bold and successful
enterprises to redeem from captivity the citizens of these States, who
had fallen under the power of the enemy; and, in general, for the good
conduct and eminent services by which he has added lustre to his
character and to the American arms.”

General Washington, with his customary circumspection, wrote to him:
“Whether our naval affairs have, in general, been well or ill conducted,
would be presumptuous in me to determine. Instances of bravery and good
conduct, in several of our officers, have not, however, been wanting.
Delicacy forbids me to mention that particular one which has attracted
the admiration of all the world, and which has influenced the most
illustrious monarch to confer a mark of his favor, which can only be
obtained by long and honorable service, or by the performance of some
brilliant action.”

The warm-hearted Marquis de Lafayette wrote, in much more glowing terms,
to his old friend. He was just on the point of sailing for France. His
letter was dated on the Alliance, off Boston, December 22d, 1781.

“I have been honored with your polite favor, my dear Paul Jones, but
before it reached me I was already on board the Alliance, and was every
minute expecting to put to sea. As to the pleasure to take you by the
hand, my dear Paul Jones, you know my affectionate sentiments, and my
very great regard for you, so that I need not add anything on that

“Accept my best thanks for the kind expressions in your letter. The
downfall of Cornwallis is a great event; and the greater as it was
equally and amicably shared by the two allied nations. Your coming to
the army I had the honor to command, would have been considered as a
very flattering compliment to one who loves you and knows your worth. I
am impatient to hear that you are ready to sail. And I am of opinion
that we ought to unite, under you, every Continental ship we can muster,
with such a body of well-appointed marines as might cut a good figure
ashore and then give you plenty of provisions, and _carte blanche_. I am
sorry I cannot see you. I have also many things to tell you.”

Honorable John Adams wrote him, from the Hague. In this letter he said:
“Could I see a prospect of half-a-dozen line-of-battle ships, under the
American flag, commanded by Commodore Paul Jones, engaged with an equal
British force, I apprehend the event would be so glorious for the United
States, and lay so sure a foundation for their prosperity, that it would
be a rich compensation for the continuance of the war.”

Commodore Jones was summoned to appear before Congress to answer a large
number of questions, which had been carefully drawn up, in reference to
the delay of the stores in Europe, and the many other difficulties in
the marine which had occurred there. His answers were so full and
satisfactory as to draw from Congress the most cordial approval of his
course. In the complimentary resolves it was added:

“That the Minister Plenipotentiary of these United States, at the Court
of Versailles, communicated to his most Christian Majesty the high
satisfaction Congress has received from the conduct and gallant behavior
of Captain John Paul Jones, which have merited the attention and
approbation of his most Christian Majesty; and that his majesty’s offer
of adorning Captain Jones with a Cross of Military Merit, is highly
acceptable to Congress.”

Congress at that time held its sessions in Philadelphia. The French
minister, M. de la Luzerne, gave a very brilliant fête to all the
members of Congress. In the presence of that august body, with imposing
ceremonials, he conferred upon Jones, in the name of the King of France,
the honor he so richly merited.

Congress commenced building, under the supervision of Commodore Jones, a
very splendid seventy-four-gun ship, to be called the America. By
unanimous vote of Congress, Captain Jones was intrusted with the
command. For sixteen months he devoted his tireless energies to building
this ship, with which he could bid defiance to any single ship in the
British navy, and which would enable him to render really efficient
service to his country.

While abroad he had collected copies of all the important treatises upon
naval tactics; upon the construction of ships, the police of fleets and
dockyards, and every other branch of his noble profession. Every moment
of leisure was devoted to these studies. He became an enthusiastic
student, resolved to make himself as perfect as possible in all the
accomplishments of his noble profession. And it is safe to say that
there was not, in our navy, any officer more thoroughly instructed.

On the birth of the Dauphin, the unfortunate son of Louis XVI. and Maria
Antoinette, Commodore Jones mounted, on the deck of the unfinished ship
America, a battery, at his own expense. The flag of France was unfurled
from the mast-head, and salutes were fired at repeated hours during the
day. At night the ship was illuminated, and there was a brilliant
display of fireworks.

Jones obtained great credit with both American and French officers for
the skill he displayed in the construction of this ship. It was fifty
and a-half feet in breadth, and one hundred and eighty-two and a-half
feet in length. The best judges pronounced her to be a model of naval
architecture. It was the largest seventy-four-gun ship then in the
world. And yet she floated so gracefully that, at the distance of a
mile, she appeared like a delicate frigate; and no one would have
suspected that she had a second battery.

The embarrassments which Jones experienced, and the delays to which he
was exposed in building, arming, and rigging this admirable structure,
were innumerable. Money, first of all, was wanted; suitable workmen were
with difficulty found, and he never had more than twenty-four carpenters
employed. Our machinery and manufactures were not in a sufficiently
advanced state to furnish proper material for the rigging, and suitable
armament for a first-class ship. Nearly all such stores were to be
brought from Europe. The ships which brought them had to run the
gauntlet through the powerful fleet of England.

There probably was not another man, then in the United States, capable
of doing what Commodore Jones did in building this ship. It is to be
remembered that the whole population of the United States, widely
scattered, amounted to but about three millions, about the same as the
present population of the State of New York. For such a little band to
bid defiance to the majestic power of England was one of the boldest
deeds ever performed. We should inevitably have been crushed but for the
aid of our generous ally.

About the middle of August Jones left Philadelphia for Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, where the ship was being built. On the way he visited the
allied army under General Washington and the French General Rochambeau,
then encamped at White Plains, in Westchester county, New York. There
was scarcely any name then more prominent in the army and the navy than
that of Paul Jones. He was received by the officers of both armies with
flattering distinction. In addition to his merits as a brave warrior he
was an intelligent, courteous, accomplished gentleman—one whose upright
and elevated character commanded universal respect. He reached
Portsmouth near the middle of September. There was everything to
discourage him. The resources of the country seemed to be exhausted, and
but a small portion of the materials for building the ship had been

But Commodore Jones plunged into the great enterprise with all his
thoughtful and intelligent energies. No time was wasted in useless
repinings. He was intensely anxious for active service. Superintending
work in the ship-yard was not congenial employment for him, when he
longed to be upon the deck of his ship humbling, by his broadsides, that
proud power which was stigmatizing the officers in the United States
Navy as traitors, pirates, and thieves. During these weary months he
was, however, cheered by the conviction that he would soon unfurl his
flag on board the America; and that then, with a combined French and
American squadron, he would strike blows which would compel the British
government to respect the rights of humanity.

Before Commodore Jones commenced work on the America, he had quite
despaired of obtaining another ship. In his eagerness to be actively
employed in working out the redemption of his adopted country from
British thraldom, he contemplated entering the army, to serve in the
corps of Lafayette. The English naval officers heard of the building of
the America, and were anxious to destroy her before she could put to
sea. They had formed various plans, which were communicated by
Washington to Commodore Jones. Ships were cruising off the harbor of
Portsmouth, and a fleet of armed boats was to be sent in at night, to
apply the torch.

Jones organized an armed guard for the protection of the America. It was
necessary for him to employ in this service the mechanics who were
engaged in building the ship. Jones himself frequently took command of
this guard, and carefully drilled them in the art of defence. They were
thoroughly drilled, and had several pieces of cannon which they were
taught to manage with great skill. They were prepared to give a very
warm reception to any assailants. Several times, in the dim starlight,
crowded boats were seen, pulling silently into the harbor with muffled
oars. But the defences were so formidable that they never ventured to
make an attack.

It was near the close of 1782 when the ship was nearly completed and
ready for launching. Jones now felt that he was soon to reap the reward
of his long and painful labors. And then came a sudden, unexpected,
terrible disappointment. A squadron of French line-of-battle ships,
coming over to our aid, entered Boston harbor. One of the finest of
these ships, the Magnifique, stranded, and was entirely lost. As they
had come to assist us, Congress justly regarded the ship as lost in our
service. To indemnify the King of France for this loss, and to show our
gratitude to our allies, it was at once voted to present the America to
the King of France. Thus again, in a moment, were all the brightest
hopes of Paul Jones dashed.

It was the duty of Honorable Robert Morris, agent of Marine, to
communicate this intelligence to the Chevalier Paul Jones. He evidently
recoiled from the unwelcome task. In his kind and sympathetic letter he

“I know you so well as to be convinced that it must give you great pain,
and I sincerely sympathize with you. But although you will undergo much
concern at being deprived of this opportunity to reap laurels on your
favorite field, yet your regard for France will in some measure
alleviate it. I must entreat you to continue your inspection until she
is launched, and to urge forward the business. When that is done, if you
will come hither I will explain to you the reasons which led to this
measure, and my views for employing you in the service of your country.”

The answer of Commodore Jones was worthy of the man. There were few who
could have received so terrible a blow so meekly, and with so much
dignity. Honorable Robert Morris acknowledged the receipt of his reply
in a letter, which justice to Commodore Jones demands should be given in
full. It was as follows:

                                  “MARINE OFFICE, October 9th, 1782.


        “SIR—I have received your letter of the 22d of last month. The
  sentiments contained in it will always reflect the highest honor upon
  your character. They have made so strong an impression upon my mind
  that I immediately transmitted an extract of your letter to Congress.
  I doubt not but that they will view it in the manner which I have

                                                 “I am, etc.,
                                                    “ROBERT MORRIS.”

Mr. Morris wrote, in his letter to the President of Congress: “I do
myself the honor to enclose your excellency the copy of a letter which
I received this morning from the Chevalier Paul Jones. The present
state of our affairs does not permit me to employ that valuable
officer; and I confess that it is with no small degree of concern that
I consider the little probability of rendering his talents useful to
that country which he has already so faithfully served, and with so
great disinterestedness. I should do injustice to my own feelings as
well as to my country, if I did not most warmly recommend this
gentleman to the notice of Congress, whose favor he has certainly
merited by the most signal services and sacrifices.”

Jones continued faithfully superintending the completion of the America,
until she was launched, on the 5th of November. It was necessary to
build this ship where she could be protected from the assaults of the
British navy. It was anticipated, by many, that the launching would be
attended with great difficulty. Commodore Jones attended to the minutest
details with wonderful skill.

The river was not more than two hundred yards wide. On one side of the
building slip there was a ledge of rocks, running half-way across the
river, and parallel to the direction of the ship’s keel. The opposite
shore was fringed with rocks. The tide rushed in and out with great
rapidity. It was necessary to launch near flood-tide, when the current
was very rapid. There was much danger that the ship might be swept
against the ledge. This could only be obviated by cables and anchors
secured on the shore. With great ingenuity, these were so arranged as to
check the speed of the ship, and bring her to a stand at a particular

The flags of France and America were blended in friendly union at the
stern. Jones took his stand on a platform, near the bows of the ship. He
gave every signal; watched every movement, and ordered when the anchors
at the bows were, in succession, to be let go. Beautifully,
majestically, successfully, the vast fabric glided into its native
element. The admiration of the thousands of spectators was announced in
enthusiastic cheers.

On the same day Chevalier Jones gracefully surrendered the America to
Chevalier de Martigne, who had commanded the Magnifique. The next
morning, again out of employment, he set out for Philadelphia, to seek
new engagements in the service of his country.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                            _The War Ended._

Promise of the South Carolina.—A New Disappointment.—The Great
    Expedition Planned.—Magnitude of the Squadron.—The Appointed
    Rendezvous.—Commodore Jones Joins the Expedition.—His Cordial
    Reception.—Great Difficulties and Embarrassments.—The Rendezvous at
    Port Cabella.—Tidings of Peace.—Return to America.—New Mission to

Honorable Robert Morris wished to give Commodore Jones command of a
large, strongly built frigate called the South Carolina, then in the
service of that State. This was the ship built at Amsterdam, called the
Indian, the command of which was promised to him when he went to Europe.
Either from the inability of the commissioners to pay for the ship, or
from the remonstrances of England that a ship should be built in a
neutral court to aid her insurgent colonies, the object was defeated. In
some way the King of France came in possession of the ship, and having
at that time no special use for it he loaned it to one of the prominent
members of his court, the Chevalier de Luxembourg. He loaned it to South
Carolina for three years, to guard her coasts, on condition that he
should receive one-fourth of the proceeds of her prizes. It was placed
under the command of Commodore Gillon, who, with a small fleet, was to
protect the harbors of the State. He changed the name to the South

It was an uncommonly fast and formidable ship. Congress was anxious to
get possession of it. As the Chevalier de Luxembourg had received no
payment, though many prizes had been taken, he was dissatisfied, and
very justly deemed the contract annulled. He therefore authorized the
French minister at Philadelphia to coöperate with Mr. Morris in
obtaining the surrender of the ship to the United States. Gillon heard
of these movements, and escaped the legal process for seizing the ship,
by suddenly putting to sea.

The South Carolina had but just cleared the Capes of Delaware, when she
was pounced upon and captured by three English frigates, the Diomede,
the Astrea, and the Quebec, which had been stationed there to intercept
her. Thus again were the hopes of Commodore Jones blighted. He had fully
expected to take command of the South Carolina. It was certainly from no
fault of his own that he was disappointed.

A French fleet of ten sail of the line was then at Boston, on the eve of
sailing for the West Indies. It was there to unite with a combined
French and Spanish fleet, under Count d’Estaing. This formidable
squadron, consisting of seventy vessels in all, with a strong land
force, was to make a descent on the island of Jamaica, and wrest it from
the English. Jones earnestly applied for permission to embark in this
expedition. Ever eager to learn, and ever modestly conscious that he had
much to learn, he hoped thus to become practically acquainted with the
evolution of fleets on a scale so grand. His enthusiasm was aroused at
the idea of witnessing so sublime a naval display. He also hoped, from
his intimate acquaintance with those seas, to be able to render eminent
assistance to Count d’Estaing.

Mr. Morris applied to Congress, in behalf of Commodore Jones, that
permission might be given him to join the expedition. In a very
complimentary letter he wrote:

“His present desire, to be sent with Count d’Estaing, consists with all
his former conduct. And it will, I dare say, be a very pleasing
reflection to Congress that he is about to pursue a knowledge of his
profession, so as to become still more useful, if ever he should be
again called to the command of a squadron or a fleet.”

Congress passed a very flattering resolve, granting his request, and
especially recommending him to his excellency the Marquis de Vaudreuil.
The commodore immediately repaired to Boston, where he was received by
the marquis with every mark of attention. Though the flag-ship of the
marquis, the Triomphante, was crowded, and sixty officers sat daily at
his table, Commodore Jones was received on board that ship, and was
assigned lodgings corresponding with those of Vaudreuil. The splendors
of the court of Louis XVI. still lingered around the court and camp of
Louis XVI.

Nearly all the officers of the French army and navy were men of
illustrious birth, intelligent, chivalric, high-bred gentlemen. In this
society Jones, himself a courtly and well-educated man, found congenial
companionship. He was a man of pure lips and refined bearing, fond of
cultivated female society, and instinctively recoiling from all
coarseness and vulgarity. He was esteemed a very valuable acquisition to
the enterprise. His modest, friendly spirit, united with his unrivalled
intrepidity, won the affection of the officers and the homage of the
crew. The fact was also recognized that there was not, on board the
fleet, a single man so intimately acquainted with those seas, and
particularly with the island of Jamaica, as he was. Jones was highly
pleased with the opportunity of improvement thus presented him, and with
the very kind manner in which he had been received. In his journal he
wrote, with characteristic modesty:

“As the Marquis d’Estaing had commanded a fleet of more than seventy
sail of the line, I had the flattering hope of finding myself in the
first military school in the world; in which I should be able to render
myself useful, and to acquire knowledge very important for conducting
great military operations.”

The squadron, consisting of ten sail of the line, left Boston on the
24th of December, 1782. The course of the ships was directed toward the
mouth of Portsmouth harbor, where they were to be joined by two other
ships of the line, the Auguste and the Pluton. But a severe wintry storm
arose, with freezing gales and snow, and drove the squadron far away to
the vicinity of the Bay of Fundy. Here the fleet was for a time in
imminent danger from its proximity to the land and to vast fields of
floating ice.

Many of the vessels were lost sight of in the storm. The Marquis de
Vaudreuil steered to the southward, to an appointed rendezvous in the
harbor of St. John, on the island of Porto Rico. As he made the land he
was informed that sixteen British men-of-war, under Admiral Hood, were
cruising off Cape Francois, on the look-out for him; and that a still
larger naval force, under Admiral Pigot, was watching for him at Lucca,
one of the extreme western towns of the island of Jamaica. England had
made such ample preparation for this anticipated assault; that it was
thought that the French squadron must fall a prey, either to Hood or

Vaudreuil remained at St. John, Porto Rico, ten days, waiting the
arrival of other vessels of his fleet. Here he performed all kinds of
naval evolutions, as a general on land would review his army. He also
found at this place a very ample supply from France, to replenish his
stores. The island of Porto Rico, which lies off the eastern coast of
St. Domingo, is about one hundred and thirty miles in length, by thirty
miles in breadth.

The strait, but eighty miles wide, which separates it from San Domingo,
is called the Mona Passage. The island was then in a state of
prosperity, and it carried on very extensive commerce with France and
Spain. It at that time belonged to Spain, and contained a population of
about eighty thousand. The native inhabitants had all melted away. The
principal city, St. John, enjoyed a very fine harbor, and had a
population of about thirty thousand.

The marquis convoyed, with his fleet, sixteen French merchant vessels
from the eastern to the western end of the island, along the northern
coast. The general rendezvous, for the French and Spanish fleet, had
been appointed, with the greatest secrecy, at a little island called
Port Cabello, but a few miles off the extreme northern coast of
Venezuela. Some light vessels of Admiral Hood’s squadron, which were
cruising as scouts, caught sight of the French fleet in the Mona
passage. They immediately ran back with the tidings that the fleet was
coasting along the southern shore of the San Domingo.

But Vaudreuil suddenly turned his direction south, sailed down between
two and three hundred miles to the unfrequented islands which are
scattered along the northern shore of Venezuela. The little island of
Port Cabello was about sixty miles west of the much better known island
of Curaçoa. A great expedition of this kind is liable to innumerable
hindrances. It can never succeed, unless there is some imperial,
Napoleonic mind, which can appreciate all its grandeur, and at the same
time can regulate all its minutest details. Such enterprises render a
dictatorship, for that purpose, indispensable. A ship of war, an army, a
fleet, must be under dictatorial power.

But here was a squadron of more than seventy vessels to be gathered from
several ports in the United States, from wide dispersion on the cruising
grounds of an intense naval warfare, from several ship-yards of Spain
and France, exposed to storms, to shipwreck, to misunderstood orders, to
delays in equipping the ships, to the antagonisms and jealousies of
rival officers, and to meet, at an almost unknown island, thousands of
miles from the place of departure of each ship.

The fleet of the Marquis de Vaudreuil was swept, by the trade winds and
the strong current of the Gulf Stream, sixty miles west of Port Cabello.
It required three toilsome weeks to recover this distance, beating
against wind and tide. The accompanying transports, being heavily laden
merchant ships, and not fleet sailors, bearing stores of provisions and
ammunition and many land troops, were unable to recover the lost space,
against wind and flood. After many ineffectual attempts they were
compelled to relinquish the endeavor. They left the squadron, and bore
away to the coast of San Domingo.

One of the finest of the war-ships, the Burgoyne, of seventy-four guns,
in a dark and stormy night, ran upon a rock, and was totally lost, with
two hundred of her crew. On the 18th of February, 1783, the Triomphante
reached Port Cabello. The Auguste and Pluton, which had been separated
from the fleet by the storm, near the Bay of Fundy, had arrived a few
days before. Soon after, the remaining war-ships of the squadron, one
after another, came in.

The Spanish fleet was to sail from Havana, under command of Don Salano.
He had promised to be at the rendezvous punctually. But he did not keep
his word. Probably some pique stood in the way. Nothing was seen of him,
or heard from him. The Spanish government was dissatisfied with his
course, ordered him home, and another was placed in command.

The large combined force, of French and Spanish ships, was to sail from
Cadiz, in the extreme south of Spain, under Count d’Estaing. At Port
Cabello, he was to take command of the whole expedition. But just as the
fleet was on the eve of sailing, the British government, alarmed by the
little success which had attended its efforts thus far, the enormous
expense which the conflict involved, the loss of all its trade with the
colonies, the interruption of its commerce throughout the world, and
more than all by the clamor of popular indignation, which rose, in
England, against the unrighteous war it was waging, which clamor would
make itself heard in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, very
reluctantly felt constrained to consider terms of peace. It was decided
to defer the sailing of the fleet till the result of the negotiations
could be ascertained. Thus when Vaudreuil was hourly looking for the
arrival of his whole squadron at Port Cabello, his transports were
distant four hundred miles at Cape Francois, in San Domingo. The Spanish
squadron, under Don Solano, was distant nearly fifteen hundred miles in
Havana; while the great combined fleet of France and Spain, under
D’Estaing, was quietly reposing, at the distance of many thousand miles,
in the harbor of Cadiz.

The last thing at night, the officers at Cabello were seen at the
mast-heads of the ships, ranging the horizon with their glasses, in
search of the expected fleets. The earliest dawn of the morning found
them again upon the eager, anxious look-out. Thus the remainder of
February, and the whole of the month of March passed sadly away. Not a
sail was seen to break the outline where the ocean and the sky seemed to
meet. The anxiety of the officers became intense. Their decks were
blistered beneath the heat of a tropical sun. The climate was
insalubrious. There was nothing in their surroundings to cheer them. The
disappointment was terrible. The officers who had embarked on the
enterprise with high ambition, anticipating renowned achievements and
unfading laurels, saw all their hopes vanishing, and that the ridicule
of the community, instead of its plaudits, would attend their return.
Such is life:

   “A path it is of joys and griefs, of many hopes and fears,
   Gladdened at times by sunny smiles, but oftener dimmed by tears.”

Serious sickness broke out, which seized alike officers and crew.
Commodore Jones was attacked with intermittent fever, which seemed to
paralyze his physical energies, leaving his mental powers in all their
activity. On the 27th of February, the evening before his arrival at
Port Cabello, he wrote to the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, saying:

“The English affairs seem in so bad a situation in the East Indies, that
I think even the most sanguine among them can expect no manner of
advantage for continuing the war. As Spain has, at last, wisely
abandoned the siege of Gibraltar, and, as we are told, doubled her ships
with copper, I cannot think the English so blind as not to see the great
risk they run of being as effectually humbled by sea, as they are by
land, should they neglect the present moment to make their peace. I most
ardently wish for peace, for humanity tells me there has been too much
blood spilt already. I am in hopes to have the happiness, soon after the
war, to revisit France.”

The same day he wrote to Honorable Mr. Morris as follows: “I have
already received much useful information, since I embarked, and am on
such happy terms with the admiral and officers, both of the fleet and
army, that I have nothing to wish from them. Deeply sensible how favored
I am in being thus placed, I beg you to express my gratitude to Congress
on the occasion, and to the Chevalier de Luzerne. The Marquis de
Vaudreuil is promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and now carries
a vice-admiral’s flag.”

On the 25th of March Jones wrote to Lafayette, who had received from the
king military promotion. In this letter he wrote:

“I am really happy to hear that justice has been rendered, by his
majesty, to such distinguished worth and exertion as yours. No less
indeed could be expected from such a prince to such a subject. We hear
that you are at Cadiz, in order to embark with his excellency Count
d’Estaing. This would afford me the greatest pleasure, did not my love
of glory give place to my more ardent wish for peace, and that you might
have the happiness to carry over the olive branch, to a country that
already owes you so much gratitude.

“Humanity has need of peace; but though I was led to expect it from the
late speech from the throne, I begin to fear it is yet at some distance.
There seems to be a malignity in the English blood, which cannot be
cured till, in mercy to the rest of mankind, it is let out, that the
disease may not become epidemical. I pray you to present my most
respectful compliments to the Count d’Estaing. If the war continues, I
hope for the honor of making the campaign under his orders.”

Early in April a solitary ship was seen in the distant horizon. Her
approach was watched with the most intense eagerness. She entered the
harbor with floating banners and triumphant music and shouts of peace.
She conveyed the tidings of the treaty which brought the dreadful war to
a close. There were but few Americans in the fleet. Their joy must have
been great, that their country had successfully fought the battles of
freedom, and had at length escaped from the grasp of the oppressor. We
know not with what emotions the French received the tidings which
convinced them that the naval campaign in which they had anticipated
such great results had proved so serious a failure.

Commodore Jones was weary of war. He ever abhorred those atrocities
inevitably involved in what Napoleon I. has called “The science of
barbarians.” Just before the sailing of the fleet he thought he saw
indications that peace was not far distant. There was quite a sum of
money due to him from France, whose remittance he was daily expecting.
There was a farm house and an extensive tract of excellent land for sale
near Newark, New Jersey. It had been valued at forty thousand dollars.
But property had so depreciated during the war, and money was so scarce,
that it was now seeking a purchaser at ten thousand dollars. Commodore
Jones, with his humane feelings, literary taste, and yearnings for the
joys of domestic life, was anxious to purchase this property. He wrote
accordingly, on the 24th of December, 1782, intrusting the business to
his friend John Ross, Esq.

But the money did not come. The purchase was not made. Jones was far
away in the harbor of Port Cabello. He had received no response to his
letter, and did not even know whether his agent had ever received it. In
this uncertainty he again wrote to Mr. Ross, from Port Cabello, on the
16th of March, 1783. After briefly recapitulating the contents of his
former letter he added:

“As New York will probably be one of our first naval ports, the
proximity of that estate made me more desirous to own it. If, therefore,
you should find, on inquiry, that I have been rightly informed, and if
you can turn the merchandise in your hands into money, to answer for the
purchase, I pray you to act for me as you would for yourself on the

“We have as yet no certain news from Europe. If the peace should, as I
wish it may, be concluded, I wish to establish myself on a place I can
call my own, and offer my hand to some fair daughter of liberty. If, on
the contrary, Count d’Estaing should come out with fifty sail of the
line, copper sheathed, and eighteen thousand troops, I shall have
instructions at the greatest military school in the world.”

The satisfaction of Jones, upon the establishment of peace, and the
independence of the land of his adoption, appears to have been
unqualified. He immediately wrote to a friend:

“The most brilliant success, and the most instructive experience in war
could not have given me a pleasure comparable with that which I
received, when I learned that Great Britain had, after so long a
contest, been forced to acknowledge the independence and sovereignty of
the United States of America.”

Nothing can be more evident, in the whole career of Commodore Jones,
than that he fought not from the love of war, but to secure for America
an honorable peace. Immediately upon the receipt of the intelligence of
the treaty, the little squadron weighed anchor, and sailed for Cape
Francois, upon the island of San Domingo. After a passage of eight days
the cape was reached on the 16th of the month. Here Commodore Jones,
though still suffering from an intermittent fever, took leave of his
friends, and embarked for Philadelphia. It is manifest that he had
commanded warmly the esteem of all his associates, by his upright and
noble character. The Marquis de Vaudreuil wrote to Chevalier de la
Luzerne, the French minister in America, as follows. The letter was
dated at Cape Francois, April 20th, 1783.

“The peace, which has been so much desired, and which is going to make
the happiness of America, since it puts a seal to her liberty,
terminates our projects. We shall sail for France in a week, with the
troops under command of Baron de Viomenil. Mr. Paul Jones, who embarked
with me, is about returning to his dear country. His well-deserved
reputation had made him very acceptable to me, not doubting but that we
should have had some opportunities in which his talents might have shone
forth. But peace, of which I cannot but be glad, puts an obstacle in the
way; so we must part. Permit me, sir, to request of you the favor of
recommending him to his superiors. The intimate acquaintance, which I
made with him since he has been on board the Triomphante, makes me take
a lively interest in what concerns him; and I shall be very much obliged
if you will find means of being serviceable to him.”

It will be remembered that Paul Jones had been assigned a room on board
the crowded Triomphante, with Baron de Viomenil, who was in command of
the land forces. The baron, for five months, was in the most intimate
relation with Jones. No one could have a better opportunity of
ascertaining his true character. He wrote as follows, to the French
ambassador at Philadelphia:

“Mr. Paul Jones, who will have the honor of delivering to you, sir, this
letter, has for five months deported himself among us with such wisdom
and modesty as add infinitely to the reputation gained by his courage
and exploits. I have reason to believe that he had preserved as much the
feeling of gratitude and attachment toward France, as of patriotism and
devotion to the cause of America. Such being his titles to attention, I
take the liberty of recommending to you his interests near the President
and Congress.”

Viomenil also wrote the Honorable Mr. Morris, in high commendation of
Paul Jones, and expressing his desires for the prosperity of “_ce brave
et honnête homme_.”

Jones appeared in Philadelphia on the 18th of May, 1783. He was still
suffering from fever, and his constitution was greatly shattered by the
hardships he had experienced. He therefore retired, for the recovery of
his health, to the beautiful little Moravian village of Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, about sixty miles northwest of Philadelphia, on the banks
of the Lehigh river. Here he passed the summer, resting from his toils
and employing his time in those literary and scientific studies which
ever deeply interested him.

His health being much improved, he was appointed on the 1st of November,
1783, an agent of the United States Government to collect the amount of
money for prizes taken, in Europe, by vessels under his command. The
ships had been sold, and the money had gone into the French treasury,
and was not yet paid. The question was full of embarrassing
complications. Several years had elapsed since the prizes were captured.
The sailors who had taken them were scattered in all parts of the world,
and many were dead. Was the distribution of the prizes to be adjudged
according to French law, or American law? and these laws were very
different. The Bon Homme Richard was a French ship, purchased and armed
at the expense of the French court, and entitled to raise alike the
French or American flag. What proportion of the prizes she took belonged
to France, and what to America?

It is manifest that, in carrying claims involving such embarrassments
through any court or Congress, there was a fine opportunity for years of
diplomatic struggles. It was in the autumn of 1779, that the prizes were
taken by the Bon Homme Richard. Four years had since elapsed, and yet
nothing had been done toward the settlement of the distribution of the
prize-money. There was not another man in the world so well qualified to
manage this difficult and delicate business as was Commodore Jones.

He was personally familiar with all the facts in the case. By midnight
studies he had made himself thoroughly acquainted with the naval code of
all the European nations. He was well known in the court of France and
was very highly esteemed, alike by the monarch, his cabinet officers,
and the people. And in addition to all this he was a well-bred
gentleman, who scorned all trickery, who would make no claim which he
did not honestly believe to be just, and who, while unyielding in his
righteous demand, was ever courteous and gentle in his bearing. Even
Arthur Lee was one of the committee who recommended to Congress that
this all-important commission should be assigned to Commodore Jones. As
it was expected that a large sum of money would be placed in his hands,
he was required to give bonds, to the amount of two hundred thousand
dollars, in pledge of his faithful administration of the trust. It is
evidence of the high esteem with which he was regarded by the leading
men of the nation, that he found no difficulty in obtaining bondsmen.

On the 10th of November, Jones sailed from Philadelphia, in the ship
Washington. After a stormy wintry passage of twenty days, the ship,
instead of making the French harbor of Havre, baffled by head winds in
the Channel, ran into the English port of Plymouth. As Mr. Jones had
important despatches for John Adams, then our minister at the court of
St. James, he travelled post to London. Mr. Adams, after examining his
documents, informed Commodore Jones that the despatches with which he
was intrusted to Dr. Franklin, in Paris, probably contained
authorization for Adams and Franklin to conclude a commercial treaty
with England.

It required a journey and voyage of five days for Jones to traverse the
distance between London and Paris. Franklin received his old friend with
great cordiality. Marshal de Castries was Minister of Marine, Count de
Vergennes occupied another of the most important positions in the
government. They both received Paul Jones with all those flattering
attentions which render French society so fascinating. The Chevalier
Luzerne had written to them both from Philadelphia, affectionately
commending Paul Jones to their kind regards. With true French politeness
they informed him that they had received such letters, but that they
were entirely unnecessary.

“We have no need of letters,” they said, “to inform us of the merits of
Commodore Jones, or to influence us to do him justice.”

There are different ways of doing things in this world; and certainly
the courteous way is the most agreeable. England had denounced Commodore
Jones as a pirate. Had England captured him, it is not improbable that
he might have been hung like a pirate. Captain Pearson, who commanded
the Serapis in the encounter with the Bon Homme Richard, was a brave
man, perhaps a humane man, but coarse and vulgar, quite unacquainted
with the courtesies which regulate the intercourse of gentlemen. As he
presented his sword to Commodore Jones, the unmanly Briton said:

“It is with great reluctance that I surrender my sword to a man who
fights with a halter about his neck!”

What reply should the commodore make to such an insult, which Pearson
probably regarded merely as British pluck? Should he strike his unarmed
and helpless prisoner? Should he soil his lips in a contest of
blackguardism? His reply was noble.

“Captain Pearson, you have fought like a hero. And I have no doubt that
your sovereign will reward you for it in the most ample manner.”[D]


Footnote D:

  Life of Paul Jones, by Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Vol. i, p. 195.


                              CHAPTER XII.
                    _The Difficulties of Diplomacy._

Courteous Reception in Paris.—Compliment of the King.—Principles of
    Prize Division.—Embarrassing Questions.—Interesting
    Correspondence.—The Final Settlement.—Modest Claims of Commodore
    Jones.—Plan for a Commercial Speculation.—Its Failure.—The Mission
    to Denmark.—Return to America.

Commodore Jones, upon his arrival in Paris, was invited to dine with
Marshal Castries, Minister of Marine. After dinner the marshal took the
commodore aside, and said to him:

“I am requested by his majesty the king to say to you that it will
afford him much satisfaction to be able, in any way, to promote your
future fortune.”

The commodore immediately entered, with all his energies, upon the
arduous duties of his mission. There is no diplomacy equal that of a
straight-forward, honest purpose. There was never a shrewd manœuvrer
who did not eventually manœuvre himself out of all influence. The
reader would be weary of the detail of all the embarrassments which,
through the labors of two years, Commodore Jones encountered, and over
which, one by one, he triumphed. And his success was never owing to
cunning or intrigue, but to the frank and manly pursuit of that which
was just.

A careful examination of the diplomatic correspondence, which was
long-continued and with great ability on both sides, shows that he was
ever courteous, and that he held his own spirit under such control, that
rarely could any annoyance provoke him to utter an irritable or a hasty

On the 20th of December Paul Jones was introduced to the king. He
presented his credentials, and was received with the cordiality of
established friendship. The following letter to the Minister of Marine
will show the style and literary ability with which he conducted the
correspondence. It was addressed to “My Lord Maréchal,” under date of
February 1st, 1784.

  “As I wish to give your excellency as little trouble as may be,
  respecting the money arising from prizes taken by the squadron I had
  the honor to command in Europe, I have waited, since the day you did
  me the honor to present me to his majesty, until this moment, in order
  to give you sufficient time for any arrangement you might find
  essential, before the division should take place between the ships and
  vessels that composed the force under my command when the prizes were

  “I now do myself the honor to transmit you the enclosed official
  letter on that subject, from Mr. Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of
  the United States, containing a copy of my credentials as agent from
  Congress, of which I had occasion to offer an account upon my arrival.
  I also enclose a statement of the force, in guns and men, of each ship
  and vessel that composed the squadron I commanded, which is the only
  paper essential to the first division of the prize-money.

  “It is the custom, in cases like the present, to multiply the number
  of the crew by the sum of the calibre of the cannon mounted on board
  each ship. The product gives the intrinsic force in proportion to
  which the share of the prize-money arising to each ship is determined.
  On that ground it is my duty to claim the proportion arising to the
  Bon Homme Richard and the Alliance. Their proportions will afterward
  be divided by the American Superintendent of Finance, agreeably to the
  rules of the American navy, between the officers and the crews of the
  two ships.

  “The subdivision of the shares of the other ships and vessels, in
  proportion to their force in men and metal, of the prizes in which
  they are concerned, will remain with your excellency to determine, as
  may be most agreeable to the respective officers and men. As those
  ships and vessels were entirely his majesty’s property, and their
  officers and men composed of French subjects, I do not presume to
  interfere in their respect any further than to pray your excellency,
  in the most earnest manner, to render them, and all concerned, that
  immediate justice to which all Europe knows their distinguished
  services so highly entitle them. As nearly four years and a half have
  already elapsed since those captures were made, I rely on the kind
  promise you gave me, that the prize-money shall now be immediately

  “I am, with profound respect, my lord maréchal, your most obedient and
  most humble servant,

                                                  ”JOHN PAUL JONES.”

The prize ships had been sold in France, and the money had been placed
in the hand of Monsieur de Chaumont, one of the crown officers of
finance. But the treasury was in debt to him. He therefore took the
liberty of keeping the money in payment of that debt, leaving it for the
claimants to draw upon the empty treasury for whatever sum might be due
them. In reference to this aspect of affairs, Commodore Jones wrote to
the minister.

“Whether Monsieur de Chaumont is indebted to the government, or the
government is, as he says, indebted to him, is a matter which does not
concern the captors of the prizes. But they have a right to claim the
protection of government to force Monsieur de Chaumont to render the
money, with interest, which he has unjustly detained from them, for four
years and a half, while many of them are perishing with cold and

This point he successfully carried. He had very wisely arranged with
Congress that all the money he might recover should be transmitted by
him to the Congressional treasury, to be paid by the minister to the
individual claimants. According to the concordat or agreement which was
entered upon with the French government when the little squadron sailed,
it was settled:

“That the division of prizes should be made agreeably to the American
laws; but that the proportion of the whole, coming to each vessel in the
squadron, should be regulated by the minister of the Marine Department
of France and the minister plenipotentiary of the United States of

But here there were conflicting principles. By the laws of France a
certain proportion of all prize-money was set apart for the support of
the Hospital of Invalids, from which institution American sailors could
derive no benefit. The American prize laws gave captors the whole value
of ships of war, and half the value of merchantmen. After long
negotiation the French government yielded this point also, and allowed
the distribution to be made according to American law.

There were, it will be remembered, five hundred British prisoners,
captured by Jones, maintained at very considerable expense for some time
by the French government, at the Texel. The British government refused
to surrender, in exchange for these men, _American_ prisoners. They did,
however, give up _French_ prisoners, in exchange for them. When
Commodore Jones passed over these men to the French authorities, it was
with the distinct understanding that they, in conference with the
British government, should obtain for them an equal number of American
captives, to be delivered to Commodore Jones. But the spirit of the
British cabinet was so implacable toward the Americans, that the French
government could not accomplish this.

Marshal Castries now contended that the expenses attending the
maintenance of these prisoners at the Texel, and their transportation to
England, should be deducted from the prize-money. With justifiable
intensity of purpose, Commodore Jones combated this claim. Dr. Franklin,
then in Paris, was in entire accord with Commodore Jones upon this
question, as upon all the other principles Jones had insisted upon in
the adjustment. On the 25th of March he wrote, in a letter addressed to
“Honorable Paul Jones, Esq.”:

“I certainly should not have agreed to charge the American captors with
any part of the expense of maintaining the five hundred prisoners in
Holland till they could be exchanged, when none of them were exchanged
for the Americans in England, as was your intention, and as we both had
been made to expect.”

The commodore immediately enclosed this letter in another, which he
addressed to Marshal de Castries. He wrote:

“The within copy of a letter which I had the honor to receive yesterday
from Mr. Franklin, will convince you that he never consented, and could
not consent, to the manner proposed by your predecessor and by M. de
Chaumont for settlement of the prize-money due to the American officers
and men who served under my orders in Europe.

“I will not complain that the prisoners which I took and carried to
Holland were not exchanged for the Americans, who had been taken in war
upon the ocean, and were long confined in the English dungeons by civil
magistrates, as _traitors_, _pirates_, and _felons_. I will only say _I
had such a promise from the minister of marine_.

“It was all the reward I asked for the anxious days and sleepless nights
I passed, and the many dangers I encountered in glad hope of giving them
all their liberty. And if I had not been assured that Mr. Franklin had
made an infallible arrangement with the courts of France and England,
for their immediate redemption, nothing but a superior force should have
arrested them out of my hands, till they had been actually exchanged for
the unhappy Americans in England.”

This claim the French government also yielded. But still the weary
months rolled on, and no payment was made. The simple fact was that
there was no money in the treasury. The government was in a condition of
a man, struggling and floundering amidst all the intolerable
embarrassments of approaching bankruptcy. There were claims upon them
vastly more pressing than the payment of a few thousand livres to a few
hundred poor foreign seamen. Commodore Jones was fully aware of all
this. With characteristic courtesy, kindness, and yet firmness, he
addressed a letter, as follows, to the marshal on the 23d of June, 1785.

“By the letter your excellency did me the honor to write me on the 13th
of May last, you were pleased to promise that as soon as M. de Chardon
should have sent you the liquidation of my prizes, _which you expected
without delay_, you would take measures for the payment, and you would
let me know.

“From the great number of affairs more important that engage your
attention, I presume this little matter, which concerns me in a small
degree personally, but chiefly as the agent of the brave men who served
under my orders in Europe, may have escaped your memory. Since the first
of November, 1783, when I received authority to settle this business
with your excellency, I have been waiting here for no other purpose, and
constantly expecting it to be concluded from month to month. To say
nothing of my expenses during so long an interval, the uncertainty of my
situation has been of infinite prejudice to my other concerns. My long
silence is a proof that nothing but necessity could have prevailed on me
to take the liberty of reminding your excellency of your promise. I hope
for the honor of a final determination, and I am with great respect,

Still there were delays of the most annoying character too numerous and
too tedious to be narrated. Through all these, Commodore Jones retained
his equanimity, and commanded the respect of those with whom he was
contending. The expenses of Commodore Jones, as agent of the United
States at the court of Versailles, were necessarily considerable. One
could not fill the post of an ambassador there upon the wages of a
day-laborer. It was essential to his influence, as he was daily brought
in contact with the ancient nobility of France, that he should maintain
the style of a gentleman.

At length, on the 15th of July, 1785, Marshal Castries issued an order
to pay to Commodore Jones, at L’Orient the sum of one hundred eighty-one
thousand and thirty-nine livres, one sous, and ten derniers. Thomas
Jefferson was then our minister at Paris. In a letter addressed to him
about this time, Jones wrote:

“I cannot bring myself to lessen the dividend of the American captors by
making any charge either for my time or trouble. I lament that it has
not been in my power to procure for them advantages as solid and
extensive as the merit of their services. I would not have undertaken
this business from any views of private emolument that could possibly
have resulted from it to myself, even supposing I had recovered a sum
more considerable than the penalty of my bond. The war being over I made
it my first care to show the brave instruments of my success that their
rights are as dear to me as my own. It will, I believe, be proper for me
to make oath before you, to the amount charged for my ordinary

Our minister received a salary of ten thousand dollars a year. It
required the most rigid economy, with that sum, to meet expenses. Mrs.
Adams, the wife of our distinguished ambassador John Adams, in her
letters, gives a graphic account of their residence at the little
village of Auteuil, about four miles from Paris. The house was large,
and coldly elegant. There were massive mirrors and waxed floors, but no
air of comfort. A servant polished the floors each morning with a brush
buckled to one of his feet. The expenses of housekeeping were enormous.
A heavy tax was imposed upon everything. All articles of domestic use
about thirty per cent. higher than in Boston. It was absolutely
necessary to keep a coach. The coachman and horses cost fifteen guineas
a month. The social customs of the country required seven servants. The
inevitable expenses of the family were so heavy that it required all
Mrs. Adams’s remarkable financial skill to save them from pecuniary
ruin. The humble style in which they lived, compared with the splendor
with which the other foreign ministers were surrounded, often caused
mortification. Mr. Jay was compelled to resign, since he could not
support himself upon his salary.

Such were the surroundings of Commodore Jones in his arduous mission.
And yet he practised such rigid economy, that he charged but five
thousand dollars a year for all his services and expenses. Franklin and
Jefferson both carefully examined his accounts and gave them their
approval. They were then sent to Congress, where they were again
subjected to a rigid scrutiny, and were again approved. Not long after,
on the 16th of October, 1787, Congress passed the following vote:

“Resolved unanimously, that a medal of gold be struck and presented to
the Chevalier John Paul Jones, in commemoration of the valor and
brilliant services of that officer, in the command of the squadron of
American and French ships, under the flag and commission of the United
States, off the coast of Great Britain, in the late war; and that the
Honorable Mr. Jefferson, minister plenipotentiary of the United States
at the court of Versailles, have the same executed with the proper

At the same time, Congress commended Commodore Jones to the special
regard of the king of France, and solicited permission for him to embark
in the French fleets of evolution, convinced that he can nowhere else so
well acquire that knowledge which may hereafter render him more
extensively useful.

The commodore, with his intense views of life’s duties, never found time
for conviviality or any dissipating pleasures. He employed his otherwise
unoccupied hours in writing a very carefully prepared narrative of his
past services. This was not printed, but was read in manuscript by many
distinguished personages. The illustrious Malesherbes, after reading the
journal, wrote as follows to Mr. Jones:

“I have received with much gratitude the mark of confidence which you
have given me; and I have read, with great eagerness and pleasure, the
interesting relation. My first impression was to desire you to have it
published. But after having read it, I perceive that you had not written
it with a view to publication, because there are things in it which are
written to the king, for whom alone that work was intended. However
actions, memorable as yours are, ought to be made known to the world, by
an authentic journal published in your own name. I earnestly entreat you
to work at it as soon as your affairs will allow. In the meantime, I
hope that the king will read this work with that attention which he owes
to the relation of the services which had been rendered to him by a
person so celebrated.”

While these scenes were transpiring, the renowned American traveller,
John Ledyard, was in Paris. He proposed to Commodore Jones a commercial
speculation, upon a scale of grandeur likely to interest his mind, and
which would call into requisition all his administrative energies and
acquired information and skill.

The plan was to fit out a vessel of two hundred and fifty tons, to be
thoroughly armed and equipped, with forty-five officers and men, to be
selected in France. She was to sail, on the first day of October, for
Cape Horn, and thence to the Sandwich Islands. There she was to take in
new stores of provisions, and continue her route to the northwest coast
of North America. She was to remain from April to October, running up
and down the coast, purchasing furs of the Indians.

Having filled the vessel, they were to make sail across the Pacific, for
China or Japan. The rich furs would there bring a great price. They were
to be sold for gold or other commodities. With this gold and merchandise
the ship was to return to France, by way of the Cape of Good Hope. It
was thought that the whole voyage would occupy about eighteen months.
After a very close calculation it was estimated that the profits of the
enterprise would amount to a little over one hundred and eighty thousand

Such was the plan in general, subject to various modifications, such as
whether one vessel should go alone, or whether two should go in company.
It was by a somewhat similar commercial enterprise that John Jacob Astor
subsequently laid the foundation of his colossal fortune.

There was much to recommend this plan to enthusiastic and enterprising
men. Its novelty lent a great charm. It was considered that the risks
were small, decidedly less than those which usually attended voyages to
the East or West Indies. The expense of the armament, and the cargo of
trinkets, small ware, and cutlery, for traffic with the Indians, was
very inconsiderable. It was well known that the northwest coast of
America abounded in the richest furs, above all other regions in the
world. These furs could be purchased for a mere trifle from the Indians.
In China and Japan they would command extravagant prices.

Jefferson was deeply interested in this plan. In his mind, as in that of
Paul Jones, it assumed a dignity far above that of a mere money-making
enterprise. It would extend our knowledge of those vast regions, with
their wild inhabitants, which both of these sagacious men foresaw would
eventually be included within the limits of the American Union. Paul
Jones was to have the supreme command, and by his powerful influence was
to obtain the vessel and the outfit. Ledyard was to be supercargo.

As they pondered the plan, aided by the cool judgment of Mr. Jefferson,
it assumed ever-increasing proportions. A trading post was to be
established, strongly stockaded and well garrisoned. The Indians were to
be treated with the greatest justice and humanity, so as to secure their
good-will. There were to be two vessels employed, one of which should
always be on the coast. Silks and teas were to be purchased, upon which
there would be an additional profit in Europe.

The plan was manifestly so feasible and so full of promise, that it was
necessary to keep it as secret as possible, lest many others should
embark in the same enterprise, and the rivalry should become great.
Indeed, there were rumors, which reached Mr. Jones’s ears, that there
were other parties contemplating a similar movement. He wrote to Dr.
Bancroft upon the subject. He replied, under date of September 9th,

“I endeavored, as early as possible, to gain information respecting the
object of your inquiry. But it was a difficult matter, none of my
acquaintance knowing anything more of it than what had appeared in the
public papers. Yesterday, however, I was informed, by a gentleman who I
believe has some more knowledge of the fact, that the two vessels, King
George and Queen Charlotte, have actually sailed on the expedition which
was thought of by Mr. Ledyard, for furs, which I should suppose must
interfere with, and very much lessen the profits of any simular
undertaking by others.”

Mr. Jones wrote to Madrid, and was informed that the court of Spain
would not allow any commercial speculation in the neighborhood of
California, by the subjects of any other nation than her own. It is
supposed that this fact mainly led to the abandonment of the scheme.
There may have been, and probably were, other considerations. But we
hear of the enterprise no more.

The reader will remember that there were three prizes sent by Landais to
Norway, and that the Danish government restored them to the British
ambassador upon the ground that the vessels had been captured by a
people not recognized by them as an independent government. This was
sustaining the British claim, that Jones was not a legitimate naval
officer, but a mere pirate, whom they would be justified in hanging
could they catch him. Every officer in the colonial army and navy, in
the view of the British government, stood upon the same platform.

The prizes thus lost to us at Copenhagen were valued at two hundred and
fifty thousand dollars. This was five-fold the amount recovered from the
prizes sent into France. Upon the threatened surrender of these prizes,
Dr. Franklin immediately sent a memorial to Count Bernstorf, the Danish
prime minister. This admirable state paper contained the following very
characteristic sentences. After recapitulating the circumstances of the
case, he adds:

“Permit me, sir, to observe on this occasion, that the United States of
America have no war but with the English. They have never done any
injury to other nations, particularly none to the Danish nation. On the
contrary, they are in some degree its benefactors, as they have opened a
trade of which the English made a monopoly, and of which the Danes may
now have their share; and by dividing the British empire have made it
less dangerous to its neighbors. They conceived that every nation whom
they had not offended was, by the rights of humanity, their friend. They
confided in the hospitality of Denmark, and thought themselves and their
property safe when under the roof of his Danish majesty.

“But they find themselves stripped of that property, and the same given
up to their enemies, on the principle only that no acknowledgment had
yet been formally made, by Denmark, of the independence of the United
States; which is to say that there is no obligation of justice toward
any nation, with whom a treaty, promising the same, has not been made.
This was indeed the doctrine of ancient barbarians; a doctrine long
since exploded, and which it would not be for the honor of the present
age to revive. And it is hoped that Denmark will not, by supporting and
persisting in this decision, obtained of his majesty apparently by
surprise, be the first modern nation that shall attempt to revive it.

“The United States, oppressed by, and in war with one of the most
powerful nations of Europe, may well be supposed incapable, in their
present infant state, of exacting justice from other nations not
disposed to grant it. But it is in human nature, that injuries as well
as benefits, received in times of weakness and distress, national as
well as personal, make deep and lasting impressions. And those ministers
are wise who look into futurity, and quench the first sparks of
misunderstanding between two nations, which neglected, may in time grow
into a flame, all the consequences whereof no human prudence can
foresee, which may produce much mischief to both, and cannot possibly
produce any good to either.

“I beg, through your excellency, to submit these considerations to the
wisdom and justice of his Danish majesty, whom I infinitely respect, and
who, I hope, will consider and repeal the order above recited; and, if
the prizes which I hereby reclaim, in behalf of the United States of
America, are not actually gone to England, that they may be stopped and
redelivered to M. de Chezaulx, the consul of France, at Bergen, in whose
care they were before, with liberty to depart for America, when the
season shall permit. But if they shall be already gone to England, I
must then reclaim from his majesty’s equity the value of the said three
prizes, which is estimated at fifty thousand pounds sterling, but which
may be regulated by the best information that can, by any means, be

The three prizes thus surrendered, were the Betsey, the Union, and the
Charming Polly. Mr. Jones had been so successful in his negociations
with France, that it was deemed expedient to send him to Copenhagen to
seek redress from the Danish court. He obtained the works of Grotius,
and all other eminent writers upon the Law of Nations, and, aided by
Thomas Jefferson, made himself familiar with all the principles involved
in the questions at issue. Thus thoroughly equipped, he entered upon
this new and difficult enterprise. In every movement of importance, at
this time, Paul Jones conferred with his highly valued friends, Thomas
Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and acted with their concurrence. A
little before this, the Danish government had so far recognized the
injustice of its acts, and the validity of our claim, as to offer to pay
an indemnity of forty thousand dollars. Dr. Franklin declined this offer
upon the ground that the fair value of the prizes should be first
ascertained. It was thought best that Commodore Jones should repair, at
once, to Copenhagen.

He left Paris, with this purpose, in the spring of 1787. At Brussels he
failed to receive an expected remittance from the sale of some bank
stock he had ordered in America. Thus he found himself out of funds.
This induced him to turn back, and take passage to the United States, to
inquire into the condition of his pecuniary affairs. He speedily
attended to his private concerns and prepared to return to Europe. Fully
aware of the difficulty of his mission, he was anxious to fortify
himself with all those moral forces which could add to his influence. He
wrote to Honorable John Jay, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, soliciting
from him such testimonials as would commend him to the Danish court. His
letter was dated New York, July 18th, 1787. It was easy for his enemies
to represent this as an act of mere vanity. Perhaps it was. But it was
certainly an act of wisdom, thus to endeavor to secure the confidence
and good-will of the court, to which he was commissioned for the
performance of duties so arduous. In the conclusion of his letter to Mr.
Jay, he wrote:

“Since the year 1775, when I displayed the American flag, for the first
time, with my own hands, I have been constantly devoted to the interests
of America. Foreigners have perhaps given me too much credit. This may
have raised my ideas of my services above their real value. But my zeal
can never be overrated.

“I should act inconsistently, if I omitted to mention the dreadful
situation of our citizens in Algiers. Their almost hopeless fate is a
deep reflection on our national character in Europe. I beg leave to
influence the humanity of Congress in their behalf, and to propose that
some expedient may be adopted for their redemption. A fund might be
raised, for that purpose, by a duty of a shilling per month from
seamen’s wages, throughout the continent, and I am persuaded that no
difficulty would be made to that requisition.”

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                       _The Mission to Denmark._

Letter to Mr. Jefferson.—The Marquise de Marsan.—Unfounded Charges and
    Vindication.—Flattering Application from Catherine II.—His
    Reception at the Polish Court.—Jones receives the Title of
    Rear-Admiral.—English Insolence.—Letter of Catherine II.

Just before Mr. Jones left Europe, he transmitted a letter to Congress,
informing them that the piratic regency of Algiers had armed eight war
vessels, carrying from eighteen to thirty-four guns each, which were to
cruise between Cape St. Vincent and the Azores, to capture American
ships. The French minister, M. Soulanges, at Toulon, had ascertained
this fact, and very kindly, immediately communicated it to Mr. Jones. In
writing to Mr. Jefferson upon the subject, the commodore said:

“This event may, I believe, surprise some of our fellow-citizens. But,
for my part, I am rather surprised that it did not take place sooner. It
will produce a good effect, if it unites the people of America in
measures consistent with their national honor and interest, and rouses
them from that ill-judged security, which the intoxication of success
has produced since the revolution.”

One of his most valued lady friends in France, a daughter of Louis XV.,
wrote to him, in deepest affliction. Though a daughter of the king, and
as such enjoying high rank, she was not regarded as a member of the
royal family. The king bestowed a large fortune upon the mother, on the
daughter’s account. The father died when the daughter, who was a great
favorite of his, was very young. The mother then greatly neglected this
child of a royal sire, treating her neither with natural affection nor
justice. This young lady was adopted by the Marquise de Marsan, who
became to her as a mother, and introduced her to the highest society of
the court.

She was very happily married to M. Tellison, a very worthy gentleman,
but without fortune. In this virtuous family, Commodore Jones had found,
in his lonely hours in Paris, a congenial and happy home. The aged
marquise regarded the young hero as her own son. Monsieur and Madame
Tellison treated him with truly fraternal affection. Their little boy
was a great favorite of the commodore, as he fondled him upon his knee,
and lavished caresses upon him.

Man is born to mourn. The day of sorrow came to this united and happy
family. On the 23d of June, 1787, Madame Tellison wrote to Paul Jones,
in New York, informing him of the sudden death of her friend and
protectress, the Marquise de Marsan, and of consequently a great reverse
in their pecuniary condition. Jones, writing to Dr. Bancroft in London,
alluding to this event, said:

“This is also a great grief and loss to me, as I had in that lady a
valuable friend.”

The letter Madame Tellison had written to Mr. Jones, was forwarded to
him by Thomas Jefferson. He immediately wrote to Mr. Jefferson as

“The letter you sent me, left the feeling author all in tears. Her
friend, her protectress, her introductress to the king, was suddenly
dead. She was in despair. She lost more than a mother. A loss indeed
that nothing can repair; for fortune and favor are never to be compared
to tried friendship. I hope, however, she has gone to visit the king in
July, agreeably to his appointment given to her in the month of March. I
am persuaded that he would receive her with additional kindness, and
that her loss would, in his mind, be a new claim to protection;
especially as he well knows and has acknowledged her superior merit and
just pretensions.

“As I feel the greatest concern for the situation of this worthy lady,
you will render me a great favor by writing a note requesting her to
call on you, as you have something to communicate from me. When she
comes, be so good as to deliver her the within letter, and show her
this; that she may see both my confidence in you and my advice to her.”

The enclosed letter, full of gushing sympathies, was as follows. It was
dated New York, September 4th, 1787.

“No language can convey to the fair mourner the tender sorrow I feel on
her account. The loss of our worthy friend is, indeed, a fatal stroke!
It is an irreparable misfortune, which can only be alleviated by this
one reflection, that it is the will of God, whose providence has, I
hope, other blessings in store for us. She was a tried friend and more
than a mother to you. She would have been a mother to me also, had she
lived. We have lost her. Let us cherish her memory and send up grateful
thanks to the Almighty that we once had such a friend.

“I cannot but flatter myself that you have yourself gone to the king, in
July, as he had appointed. I am sure your loss will be a new inducement
for him to protect you and render you justice. He will hear you, I am
sure. You may safely unbosom yourself to him and ask his advice, which
cannot but be flattering for him to give you. Tell him you must look on
him as your father and protector. If it were necessary I think too that
the Count d’Artois,[E] his brother, would, on your personal application,
render you good offices by speaking in your favor. I should like it
better, however, if you can do without him.


Footnote E:

  Subsequently Charles X.


“I am almost without money, and much puzzled to obtain a supply. I
mention this with infinite regret, and for no other reason than because
it is impossible for me to transmit you a supply, under my present
circumstances. This is my fifth letter to you since I left Paris. The
two last were from France. But you say nothing of having received any
letters from me. Summon, my dear friend, all your resolution. Exert
yourself and plead your own cause. You cannot fail of success. Your
cause would move a heart of flint. Present my best respects to your
sister. You did not mention her in your letter. But I persuade myself
she will continue her tender care of her sweet godson, and that you will
cover him all over with kisses from me. They come warm to you both, from
the heart.”

While in New York he heard very ungenerous complaints that his charge
for services in recovering the prize-money was exorbitant. Earnestly
seeking the good-will of his fellow-citizens, these reproaches pained
him. He wrote upon the subject as follows:

“The settlement I made, with the court of France, had first Dr.
Franklin’s, and afterwards Mr. Jefferson’s approbation, in every stage
and article of the business. And I presume it will be found, so far as
depended on me, to merit that of the United States. In France I was
received and treated by the king and his ministers, as a general
officer, and a special minister from Congress. The credit with which I
was honored as an officer, in the opinion of Europe, and the personal
intimacy I have with many great characters at Paris, with my exclusive
knowledge of all circumstances relative to the business, insured me a
success which no other man could have obtained. My situation subjected
me to considerable expense. I went to court much oftener, and mixed with
the great much more frequently than our minister plenipotentiary. Yet
the gentlemen in that situation consider their salary of two thousand
pounds sterling a year as scarcely adequate to their expenses.”

His busy mind was ever fertile in expedients for the public welfare. In
urging upon Congress immediate and effectual measures for the rescue of
the unhappy American captives in piratic and barbaric Algiers, he had
urged the establishment of a fund for that object. He also urged that,
from this fund, a great national hospital should be established, for the
benefit of invalid seamen, on the plan of the renowned Greenwich
Hospital in England, and the still more far-famed Hotel des Invalides in

On the 11th of November, Mr. Jones sailed from New York on his mission
to Denmark. Unfavorable weather caused the ship to put into Dover early
in December, 1787. He repaired to London and spent a few days with our
minister at the court of St. James, Honorable John Adams. He proceeded
to Paris, where he arrived on the 11th of the month. For some
unexplained reason he did not wish to have the fact of his arrival
noised abroad. The day after he reached Paris, he had a private
interview with Mr. Jefferson. In this interview he received the
startling and flattering announcement, that the Empress of Russia was
anxious to engage his services as an officer, in the war she was then
carrying on against the Turks. M. Simolin, the Russian ambassador at
Versailles, had been instructed to apply to Mr. Jones, through Mr.
Jefferson, to see if the services of the chevalier could be engaged as
an officer in her navy. While this plan was under consideration, he
called upon several of the French ministers, from whom he met a very
cordial reception.

On the 4th of March, 1788, after a long and fatiguing winter journey,
Mr. Jones reached Copenhagen. He was then but forty years of age. His
health, however, was much impaired by the cares, toil, and exposure of
his stormy life. Soon after his arrival he breakfasted with the
chamberlain of the king of Poland, for the purpose of meeting Mr.
Simolin, the Russian ambassador. He informed Mr. Jones, that in
consequence of the knowledge which the empress had obtained of his
character, she wished him to take command of her fleet in the Black Sea,
and that she would soon make to him advantageous proposals. After the
Russian ambassador had retired, the chamberlain, whose guest the
commodore was, informed him that Mr. Simolin had written to the empress:

“If your Imperial Majesty will confide to Commodore Jones the chief
command on the Black Sea, with _carte blanche_, I will answer for it,
that, in less than a year he will make Constantinople tremble.”

Soon after this he was presented to the royal family, to all of the
corps diplomatique, and to many other distinguished personages _of the
court_. In speaking of his reception by the king, the queen dowager, and
the young prince and princess royal, he wrote:

“The queen dowager conversed with me for some time, and said the most
civil things. Her majesty has a dignity of person and deportment which
become her well, and which she has the secret to reconcile with great
affability and ease. The princess royal is a charming person; and the
graces are so much her own, that it is impossible to see and converse
with her without paying her the homage which artless beauty and
good-nature will ever command. All the royal family spoke to me except
the king, who speaks to no person when presented. His majesty saluted me
with great complaisance at first, and as often afterwards as we met in
the course of the evening. The prince royal is greatly beloved, and
extremely affable. He asked me a number of pertinent questions
respecting America. I had the honor to be invited to sup with his
majesty and the royal family. The company at table, consisting of
seventy ladies and gentlemen, including the royal family, the ministers
of state, and foreign ambassadors, was very brilliant.”

Very earnestly Commodore Jones engaged in the object of his mission. He
had a double motive to impel him to make all possible haste. In addition
to the natural desire to close up the business, which had been thus
lingering for years, he was now daily expecting offers of employment
from the Empress of Russia, which it might be greatly for his interest
to accept. The Algerines, those merciless pirates of all seas, were
united with the Turks of Constantinople, in their warfare against
Russia. An opportunity might thus be afforded him to strike a blow for
the liberation of the American captives. This was an object very near
his heart.

There is power in an illustrious name. The achievements of Commodore
Jones were well known at Copenhagen. He had received a golden medal, for
his services, from the Congress of the United States. The king of France
had honored him with a gold-headed sword, and had conferred upon him the
distinguished honor of constituting him a Knight of the Order of
Military Merit. It was also known that he had won the esteem of the most
distinguished men in Paris, and was an honored guest in the highest
circles of the court. These considerations were all elements of power,
of which Mr. Jones very wisely availed himself. In urging the Danish
minister, Count de Bernstorf, to a prompt decision, Mr. Jones wrote
under date of March 24th:

“The promise you have given me of a prompt and explicit decision, from
this court, inspires me with full confidence. I have been very
particular in communicating to the United States all the polite
attentions with which I have been honored at this court. And they will
learn, with great pleasure, the kind reception I have had from you. I
felicitated myself on being the instrument to settle the delicate
national business in question, with a minister who conciliates the views
of the wise statesman with the noblest sentiments and cultivated mind of
the true philosopher and man of letters.”

If any one regards this as excessive in its complimentary tone, as it
certainly appears to be, let him read the next letter to Count
Bernstorf, after a delay of six days, which indicates that he could deal
with other coin besides that of laudation. This letter was dated March

“Your silence on the subject of my mission from the United States to
this court, leaves me in the most painful suspense; the more so as I
have made your excellency acquainted with the promise I am under, to
proceed, as soon as possible, to St. Petersburg. This being the ninth
year since the three prizes reclaimed by the United States, were seized
upon in the port of Bergen, in Norway, it is to be presumed that this
court has long since taken an ultimate resolution respecting the
compensation demand made by Congress.

“Though I am extremely sensible of the favorable reception with which I
have been distinguished at this court, and am particularly flattered by
the polite attentions with which you have honored me, at every
conference, yet I have remarked with great concern, that you have never
led the conversation to the object of my mission here.

“A man of your liberal sentiments will not therefore be surprised, or
offended at my plain dealing, when I repeat that I impatiently expect a
prompt and categorical answer, in writing, from this court to the Act of
Congress of the 25th of October last. Both my duty, and the
circumstances of my situation, constrain me to make this demand in the
name of my sovereign the United States of America.

“But I beseech you to believe that though I am extremely tenacious of
the honor of the American flag, yet my personal interests in the
decision I now ask, would never have induced me to present myself at
this court. You are too just, sir, to delay my business here, which
would put me under the necessity to break the promise I have made to her
imperial majesty, conformable to your advice.”

To this very decisive communication the minister returned an answer full
of compliments and full of evasions. The king had no money to spare. Yet
he was very desirous of securing the friendship of the United States,
that he might enter into a commercial treaty, which would be of great
benefit to Denmark. Amidst a vast mass of verbiage the commodore was
informed that the king thought it best to defer a final settlement until
the Constitution of the United States was fully established; that a
settlement could only be made with an ambassador invested with
plenipotentiary powers; and that, as the negotiations were commenced
with the United States ministers in Paris, it was not expedient to
transfer the seat of the suspended negociation from Paris to Copenhagen.
In conclusion, he begged Commodore Jones to assure the government of the
United States of the cordial esteem of the king of Denmark, of the
earnest desire of his majesty to form connexions solid, useful and
essential with this country, and to assure the government that when the
proper time came, nothing should be allowed to retard the conclusion of
an amicable settlement of a question, already so far advanced toward a
solution. Under these circumstances, the only thing to be done was to
transfer the business to Mr. Jefferson. This enabled him immediately to
enter upon the service of the Empress of Russia. In his letter, on this
occasion, to Mr. Jefferson, he wrote:

“If I have not finally concluded the object of my mission it is neither
your fault nor mine. The honor is now reserved for you to display your
great abilities and integrity by the completion and improvement of what
Dr. Franklin had wisely begun. I rest perfectly satisfied that the
interests of the brave men I commanded will experience in you, parental
affection, and that the American flag can lose none of its lustre, but
the contrary, while its honor is confided to you.

“While I express, in the warm effusions of a grateful heart, the deep
sense I feel of my eternal obligations to you, as the author of the
honorable prospect that is now before me, I must rely on your friendship
to justify to the United States the important step I now take
conformable to your advice.

“I have not forsaken a country that has had many and disinterested
proofs of my affection. And I can never renounce the glorious title of a
citizen of the United States. It is true that I have not the express
permission of the sovereignty to accept the offer of her imperial
majesty. Yet America is independent, is in perfect peace, and has no
public employment for my military talents.

“The prince royal sent me a messenger requesting me to come to his
apartment. His royal highness said a great many civil things to me; told
me that the king thanked me for my attention and civil behavior to the
Danish flag, while I commanded in the European seas; and that his
majesty wished to testify to me his personal esteem.”

It is said that Jones was offered a pension from the Danish government
of fifteen hundred crowns a year. Jones, however, never mentioned this
circumstance to any of his most familiar correspondents. There is no
evidence that he ever received one dollar of this money, but, on the
contrary, much evidence that he never received any.

The commodore repaired to St. Petersburg. He was received by the empress
with more flattering attentions than the court had ever before conferred
upon any stranger. The empress immediately conferred upon him the rank
of rear-admiral. He was detained in the capital, contrary to his wishes,
a fortnight, where he was introduced to the first circles of society,
feasted and caressed. Jones, speaking of this reception, writes to

“You would be charmed with Prince Potemkin. He is a most amiable man,
and none can be more noble-minded. For the empress, fame has never done
her justice. I am sure that no stranger who has not known that
illustrious character, ever conceived how much her majesty is made to
reign over a great empire, and to attach grateful and susceptible

The attentions which Paul Jones received from the Russian court greatly
annoyed the English in and about St. Petersburg. They still insolently
persisted in stigmatizing a commissioned officer in the American navy as
a _renegade_ and a _pirate_, because, having been born in Scotland, he
had espoused the cause of American liberty.

Tooke, in his life of Catherine II., gives vent to all his bitter
British prejudices. Calling Admiral Jones an “English pirate and
renegado,” he adds, “Jones, not meeting with the consideration he
expected in America, made a tender of his services to the court of St.
Petersburg; and the British officers, applicants for employment, went in
a body to the amount of near thirty to lay down their commissions,
declaring it was impossibly to serve under him, or to act with him in
any measure or capacity.”

We read in an Edinburgh paper of that date the following notice of that
event, probably written by a _Russian_ officer. “Paul Jones arrived here
a few days ago. He is to set out soon, to take command of a squadron in
the Black Sea. I had the satisfaction to see this honest man, while he
was examining one of our dock-yards. He is a well-made man of middle
size; he wears the French uniform with the Cross of St. Louis, and a
Danish order which he received at Copenhagen, where he had the honor to
dine with the king. He has also received, since he came here, one of the
first Orders of Merit in this country, so that it is to be feared that
they will spoil him by making too much of him. The English officers in
the service have presented a memorial to Admiral Greig, refusing to
serve with Jones, and threatening to throw up their commissions. Whether
they will stand to their text, it is difficult to say.”

The empress paid no attention whatever to this petulance. Admiral Jones
treated it with profound contempt. In writing to Lafayette, in reference
to his treatment by the Russian court, he says:

“This was a cruel grief to the English, and I own that their vexation,
which was generally in and about St. Petersburg, gave me no pain.”

The empress with her own hands wrote to the admiral. In her letter she
probably refers, though slightly, to this unmanly opposition of the
English. We give her letter.

  “SIR—A courier from Paris has just brought from my envoy in France, M.
  Simolin, the enclosed letter to Count Besborodko.[F] As I believe that
  this letter may help to confirm to you what I have already told you
  verbally, I have sent it, and beg you to return it, as I have not even
  made a copy be taken, so anxious am I that you should see it. I hope
  that it will efface all doubts from your mind, and prove to you that
  you are to be connected only with those who are most favorably
  disposed toward you. I have no doubt but that on your side you will
  fully justify the opinion which we have formed of you, and apply
  yourself with zeal to support the reputation and the name you have
  acquired for valor and skill on the element in which you are to serve.

  “Adieu. I wish you happiness and health.



Footnote F:

  Russian Minister for the Home Department.


                              CHAPTER XIV.
                        _The Russian Campaign._

Admiral Jones repairs to the Black Sea.—Designs of Catherine
    II.—Imposing Cavalcade.—Turkey Declares War against Russia.—Daring
    Conduct of Admiral Jones.—A Greek Officer Alexiano.—The Prince of
    Nassau Siegen.—Annoyances of Admiral Jones from Russian
    Officers.—Battle in the Black Sea.—Jones yields the Honor to the
    Prince of Nassau.

At the same time when Chevalier Jones received his flattering letter
from the empress, her prime minister sent to him a despatch, requesting
him to repair to the naval headquarters on the Black Sea, that he might
take part in the opening of the campaign. The minister also assured him,
in the name of the empress, that everything possible should be done to
make his situation agreeable, and to furnish him with opportunities for
the exercise of his valor and skill. It is not surprising that the
admiral, receiving such marks of attention from her imperial highness,
should have formed a high estimate of the excellence of her character.
He wrote to Count Segur at this time, saying:

“I shall write to the empress, who hath sent me a letter full of
goodness. But I shall never be able to express how much greater I find
her than fame reports. With the character of a very great man, she will
be always adored as the most amiable and captivating of the fair sex.”

War had been impending for several years between Russia and Turkey. The
Turks, in the wanton spirit of barbarian conquest, without the shadow of
excuse for the invasion, had crossed the Hellespont with an overwhelming
army, had seized Constantinople, and rushing onward in the tide of
victory, had unfurled their triumphant banners within sight of the
battlements of Vienna. All Europe had trembled beneath the tread of the
terrible Moslem armies. Catherine was anxious to drive these usurping
Turks back from Europe, across the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, into
their Asiatic wilds. She would make the imperial city of Constantine her
maritime capital and her great naval depot, from which most admirable
point she could command the commerce of the world. This was the real and
ever-constant cause for the war, which for nearly a century had been
waged between Russia and the Porte. But innumerable and frivolous
pretexts had been brought forward, as excuses for an appeal to arms.

About ten years before this, the empress had established a naval depot
on the right bank of the Dnieper, not very far from the entrance of the
river into the Euxine, or Black Sea. Imperial influence soon brought a
population of forty thousand to this port, which became an important
dock-yard, where the largest ships-of-war were launched. The region
around was wild, savage, filled with wandering, half-civilized Tartar
tribes. Russian gold and Russian arms gradually gained the ascendency
and the tribes, with their territory, were gradually annexed to the
majestic Russian Empire.

Catherine then contrived, by a treaty with the Porte, to obtain the
sovereignty over the immense province of the Crimea; also a sort of
dominion over the Black Sea, and the right to pass with her ships
through the Dardanelles. In anticipation of the conquest of
Constantinople, she caused her young son to be called Constantine. The
King of Poland, the Emperor of Austria, and most of the other powers of
northern Europe, were in sympathy with the ambitious designs of Russia.
They all wished to see the Turks driven back into Asia. In that case,
most of them would receive portions of the immense territory which the
Turks had overrun in Europe. But England was intensely opposed to the
designs of Russia. The Turkish Empire, England regarded as an important
and necessary barrier between the rapidly growing power of Russia and
her own possessions in the East Indies.

In the year 1786, Catherine projected a magnificent progress to her new
possessions on the Euxine. The enterprise was organized with all the
imposing brilliance which oriental grandeur could create. The immense
cavalcade, numbering thousands of the plumed and gayly dressed chivalry
of Europe, followed down the magnificent valley of the Dnieper. All the
most prominent members of the Russian court accompanied the empress. The
ambassadors of France, Austria, and of England were in her train. The
latter were probably instructed, carefully to observe all the movements.

At the city of Kief, some six or seven hundred miles from the mouth of
the river, Prince Potemkin joined the imperial party with a brilliant
cavalcade of the princes, dukes, and counts of the minor powers of
Europe. The King of Poland, with a large retinue of his nobles,
commenced the journey with the empress. The Emperor of Austria, with a
still more imposing escort, joined her on the way.

The Turkish government was quite troubled, in view of this remarkable
visitation. Four of the largest ships of the line were sent to cast
anchor at the mouth of the Dnieper; though they were instructed not to
make any hostile demonstrations.

The empress returned to St. Petersburgh. Soon after this, Turkey
declared war against Russia, with England for her adviser. An army of
eighty thousand men was ordered to march instantly along the western
shore of the Euxine, to the mouth of the Dnieper. Sixteen ships of the
line, eight frigates, and a large number of gun-boats, passed through
the Bosphorus into the Euxine. The Turks had drawn the sword, and thrown
away the scabbard.

The news of this declaration of war by Turkey was received with great
joy at St. Petersburg. It was just what the empress desired. At Cherson,
Odessa, and other points at the mouth of the Dnieper, she had created
quite a formidable fleet. At very short notice, she could launch on the
waters of the Euxine, eight ships of the line, twelve frigates, and
nearly two hundred gun-boats. Joseph II. of Austria had entered into
alliance with the empress. Eighty thousand Austrian troops were sent to
coöperate with the Russian arms, in Wallachia. Two Russian squadrons,
under Admirals Kruse and Greig, were ready to coöperate in the
Mediterranean. Such was the state of affairs between Russia and Turkey,
at the time Commodore Jones accepted the invitation of the empress. He
subsequently wrote a very carefully prepared journal of the difficulties
he encountered, and of the results of this all-important enterprise.

This journal, very handsomely executed, was engrossed in the French
language, and was accompanied by ninety-three _Piéces Justificatives_,
or documentary proofs, of the accuracy of all his important statements.
The truthfulness of this narrative has never been called in question. It
was not published until after his death. Justice to Admiral Jones
demands that I should quote freely from this very important document.
The reader will thus obtain a more correct idea of the true character of
the man, and of the adventures upon which he entered, than could be
gained in any other way. After describing the circumstances under which
he was led to enter into the service of the empress, he writes:

“In Denmark I put in train a treaty between that power and the United
States, but it was interrupted by a courier from St. Petersburg,
despatched express by the empress, inviting me to repair to her court.

“Though I foresaw many difficulties in the way of my entering the
Russian service, I believed I could not avoid going to St. Petersburg,
to thank the empress for the favorable opinion she had conceived of me.
I transferred the treaty, going forward at Copenhagen, to Paris, to be
concluded there, and set out for St. Petersburg, by Sweden. At Stockholm
I staid but one night, to see Count Rasoumorsky. Want of time prevented
me from appearing at court.

“At Gresholm, I was stopped by the ice, which prevented me from crossing
the Gulf of Bothnia, and even from approaching the first of the isles in
the passage. After having made several unsuccessful efforts to get to
Finland by the isles, I imagined that it might be practicable to effect
my object by doubling the ice to the southward, and entering the Baltic

“This enterprise was very daring, and had never before been attempted.
But by the north, the roads were impracticable; and knowing that the
empress expected me from day to day, I could not think of going back by

“I left Gresholm early one morning, in an undecked passage-boat about
thirty feet in length. I made another boat follow of about half that
size. This last was for dragging over the cakes of ice, and for passing
from one to another to gain the coast of Finland. I durst not make my
project known to the boatmen, which would have been the sure means of
deterring them from it. After endeavoring, as before, to gain the first
isle, I made them steer for for the south, and we kept along the coast
of Sweden all the day, finding with difficulty room enough to pass
between the ice and the shore. Toward night, being almost opposite
Stockholm, pistol in hand I forced the boatmen to enter the Baltic Sea,
and steer to the east.”

Here it is obvious to remark, that this was outrageously unjust. These
poor boatmen, with parents, wives, and children perhaps, dependent upon
them, had never promised at whatever hazard, to take him across that
stormy sea. Indeed he had studiously concealed from them the peril of
the enterprise upon which he had embarked. If the admiral were willing,
in view of the fame and fortune which were enticing him beyond those
tempest-tossed ice-fields, to incur the dreadful risks, he had no right
to compel these poor men to peril their lives in a cause in which they
had nothing to gain. If we understand the facts, as given by the
commodore himself, the course which he pursued on this occasion is
entirely unjustifiable. Admiral Jones continues:

“We ran toward the coast of Finland. All night the wind was fair, and we
hoped to land next day. This we found impossible. The ice did not permit
us to approach the shore, which we only saw from a distance. It was
impossible to regain the Swedish side, the wind being strong and
directly contrary. I had no other course but to make for the Gulf of
Finland. There was a small compass in the boat, and I fixed the lamp of
my travelling carriage so as to throw a light on it.

“On the second night we lost the small boat, which was sunk. But the men
saved themselves in the large one, which with difficulty escaped the
same fate. At the end of four days, we landed at Revel in Livonia, which
was regarded as a kind of miracle. Having satisfied the boatmen for
their services and their loss, I gave them a good pilot, with the
provisions necessary for their homeward voyage when the weather should
become more favorable.”

The admiral arrived at St. Petersburg on the evening of 23d of April, O.
S. On the 25th, he had his first audience with the empress. On the 7th
of May, he set out for the seat of war. The long and dreary journey
across the whole breadth of Russia to the banks of the Euxine, occupied
twelve days. He reached the mouth of the Dnieper on the 19th. The Prince
Marshal Potemkin was there, and received him very kindly. He requested
the admiral immediately to assume command of the naval force stationed
near the mouth of the river. He remained at Cherson but one evening and
night, but that short time showed him that he would have very serious
obstacles to encounter.

The Russian rear-admiral, Mordwinoff, did not affect to disguise his
displeasure at his arrival. He gave the new admiral a very sullen
reception, delayed communicating to him the details of the force under
his command, and manifested no disposition to place him in possession of
the silk flag, which belonged to his rank as rear-admiral. The River Bog
empties into the Dnieper near the point where that majestic stream pours
its flood into the Black Sea. Here the waters expand into a bay,
affording good anchorage ground, called the Roads of Shiroque. The
Russian fleet of ships and gun-boats was assembled at this place. Early
in the morning after the admiral’s arrival at Cherson, he accompanied
General Mordwinoff down the river to the naval rendezvous. They reached
the flag-ship Wolodimir about mid-day.

One of the most prominent officers in the squadron was a Greek by the
name of Alexiano. He was a fearless, coarse, unmannerly fellow, who had
been, it was said, a pirate in the Archipelago, and by his piracies,
plundering the commerce of all nations, had greatly enriched himself.
This man had assembled all the commanders of the ships, and had
endeavored to unite them in a cabal against the new admiral. In this he
had not been fully successful. Still he had created antagonisms to the
authority of Admiral Jones which caused him great embarrassment.
Alexiano had obtained the grade of captain, with the title of brigadier.

The Turkish fleet and flotilla were a few miles below the roads of
Shiroque, nearly opposite Oczakow, which was held by a strong garrison
of the Turks, and was besieged on the land side by the Russians, the
Turkish fleet holding the harbor. Admiral Jones, very wisely avoiding
all angry contention with his opponents, proposed to one of the Russian
officers who was friendly to him, that they should descend the bay
together, and carefully reconnoitre the strength and position oi the
Turkish forces. While he was absent, Prince Potemkin, who was second in
authority to the empress only, exerted all his influence to restore
harmony. In this he was partially successful. The admiral, upon his
return, found all the officers apparently contented; and on the 26th of
May, 1788, he hoisted his flag on the Wolodimir.

The Prince of Nassau Siegen, one of the German principalities, was a
very singular man. He was rattle-brained, excessively vain, and quite
destitute of either ability in counsel or skill in execution. Admiral
Jones had been slightly acquainted with him in Paris, and was very sorry
to meet him as an associate on a military expedition. This man had a
most exalted idea of his own importance, and joined the expedition of
the Russian empress, with the impression that the success of the
campaign depended mainly upon him. One of his first instructive remarks
to Admiral Jones was:

“If we gain any advantage over the Turks, it is essential to exaggerate
it to the utmost.”

To this statement, which was made with a very patronizing air, the
admiral simply replied:

“I have never adopted that method of making myself of consequence.”

The rank of the prince, his possessions, and his boastful braggadocio
spirit had strangely deceived the empress. The fleet consisted of two
pretty distinct portions; a squadron of powerful war vessels and a large
flotilla of gun-boats. The necessity of coõperative action in military
expeditions is such, that Napoleon I. once remarked:

“It is better to intrust the command of an army to one poor general than
to two good ones.”

Admiral Jones found that while he was intrusted with the command of the
war-ships, the flotilla of gun-boats was placed under the independent
orders of the Prince of Nassau. Nothing efficient could be accomplished
against the powerful and well-manned navy of the Turks without the
coöperation of the whole Russian fleet of ships and boats under the
direction of a single mind. And yet there probably were not in all
Europe two men less calculated to act together than Admiral Jones and
the Prince of Nassau.

These two immense fleets and armies were facing each other. The
headquarters of the Russians was at Cherson, while the Turks had their
central rendezvous about fifty miles farther southeast, at Oczakow. The
spacious waters between Cherson and Oczakow, where the Dnieper and the
Bog pour their widening floods into the Euxine, were filled with the
ships of the line, the frigates, and the gunboats of the contending

For four months there was almost a continuous series of manœuvres and
skirmishes, rising occasionally into hotly contested battles. The region
was full of shoals and sand-bars, where the heavily-armed ships, and
even the gun-boats, were continually running aground. Prince Potemkin
was in the supreme command of the whole force, naval and military. He
stood in the place of the empress, and was said in reality to have more
power than Catherine herself. Admiral Jones found that he could
originate no movement. He could only obey orders, and must wait
patiently until he received them. When orders were given, the ships
alone were subject to his command. The Prince of Nassau was jealous of
his renown, and seemed often disposed rather to thwart than to aid the
efforts of the admiral. He was a man of considerable skill in cunning
and intrigue, and had led even Potemkin to apprehend that great results
were to be accomplished by the action of his gun-boats.

The latter part of May, 1788, the Turkish admiral came to the succor of
Oczakow, with an additional fleet of one hundred and twenty armed
vessels, and other armed craft. Thus the Turkish naval force, in those
waters, far surpassed that of the Russian. Admiral Jones was requested
with his ships to harass the Turks, in all the ways in his power without
exposing himself to loss. The Turks, conscious of their superiority,
were not disposed to run any risks. Admiral Jones was also disappointed
in finding that several of his ships were merely large pleasure barges,
with which the empress and her court, had floated down the Dnieper.
These were inefficiently armed, and were but poorly prepared for a
conflict with the oak-ribbed ships of the Turks.

Admiral Jones was sorely tried. He saw but little opportunity, under
such circumstances, for anything to be accomplished to the honor of the
Russian flag. He however invited all the leading officers, both of the
squadron and of the flotilla, to his cabin, and thus addressed them:

  “GENTLEMEN—Having been suddenly called to serve her imperial majesty,
  I have need of double indulgence, being as yet ignorant of the
  language and customs of the country. I confess I mistrust my capacity
  properly to discharge all the duties of the high trust with which her
  majesty has honored me. But I rely on my zeal, and your favor,
  coöperation, and candid advice, for the good of the service. You are
  met, gentlemen, on serious business. We are to discuss points which
  touch nearly the honor of the Russian flag and the interests of her

  “We have to deal with a formidable enemy, but if we are united, and of
  one mind in all our efforts; if our operations are well concerted and
  vigorously executed, the known courage of the Russians, the cause of
  the empress and of the country, the remembrance of so many past
  victories, afford us the most flattering hope of success, and cannot
  fail to inspire invincible resolution. We must resolve to conquer. Let
  us join our hands and our hearts. Let us show that our feelings are
  noble, and cast far from us all personal considerations. Honor enough
  may be gained by every individual; but the true glory of the citizen
  is to be useful to his country.”

This conciliatory speech of the admiral seemed to have produced a good
impression. They all agreed to combine their energies in an attack, the
next day, upon an exposed portion of the Turkish fleet, in accordance
with a plan presented by Admiral Jones.

In consequence of the shallowness of the water, most of the manœuvres
were to be conducted by the gun-boats. The heavy ships could sweep over
only a limited range, being of necessity confined to the channels of
deep water. Admiral Jones, consequently, took his station on board the
gun-boats, passing from one to another, as the incidents of the conflict
required. A very fierce battle was fought.

Admiral Jones seems to have been born insensible to fear. Amidst the
most terrific scenes of death and destruction, he moved with as
unperturbed a spirit as if he were merely contending with an ordinary
storm at sea. Much of the time, he was in the same gun-boat with the
Prince of Nassau. The prince had the good sense to be guided by the
advice of the officer who was, in every respect, so vastly his superior.
The victory was decisive for the Russians. Two of the Turkish ships were
burned. The Turkish flotilla of fifty-seven vessels was driven from the
ground it had occupied, to seek protection under the heavy guns of the
squadron. As the battle was mainly conducted by the gun-boats, the
admiral left all the honor with the Prince of Nassau. Still, Admiral
Jones formed the plan, and guided in all the tactics of the strife. And
he could not prevent it from being whispered, that the honor of the
victory really belonged to himself. This annoyed the Prince of Nassau.

Alluding to this fact, Admiral Jones wrote, on the 11th of June, in a
letter to Mr. Littlepage, chamberlain of the King of Poland:

“Prince Potemkin wrote me a letter of thanks for the affair of the 7th.
If the honor had been ten times greater, I should have renounced it
altogether, in favor of the Prince of Nassau. But I am sorry to say he
is too jealous to be content with my self-denial. Perhaps he is
ill-advised without knowing it. There is nothing consistent with my
honor that I would not do, to make him easy. I am the more in pain, as I
understand he spoke favorably of me to Prince Potemkin before I arrived.
If he now becomes my enemy, I shall not imitate his example. It was my
intention to pay him a compliment, when I said in my letter to the
prince, ‘that he had taken my counsel in good part, in the affair of the
7th.’ I showed the Prince of Nassau that letter, and he seemed pleased
with it. In the affair, he embraced me, and said we “should always make
but one.“ But now I find a false construction has been put upon my
letter, and his jealousy supersedes every noble sentiment.”

Ten days after this, Admiral Jones again wrote to Mr. Littlepage, in
which letter he says:

“I have put up with more from the Prince of Nassau than, under other
circumstances, I could have done from any man who was not crazy. I can
no more reckon upon his humor than on the wind. One hour he embraces me,
and the next he is ready to cut my throat.”

As we have mentioned, the naval force of the Turks far exceeded that of
the Russians. The Turkish admiral, whose title seems to have been
“Capitaine Pasha,” was a man of decided ability. Admiral Jones had been
led to form a very high opinion of his character both as an officer and
a gentleman. He had formed the plan to make a sudden and unexpected
attack, with his whole force of ships and gun-boats, upon the Russian
flotilla and squadron; by running down the gun-boats and throwing a
shower of fire-balls upon the squadron, he hoped to destroy the whole

                              CHAPTER XV.
                     _Adventures in the Black Sea._

The First Battle.—Folly of the Prince of Nassau.—Inefficiency of the
    Gun-boats.—Burning of the Greek Captives.—Humanity of
    Jones.—Alienation between the Admiral and the Prince of Nassau.—The
    Second Conflict.—-Annoyances of the Admiral.—Hostility of the
    English.—Necessary Employment of Foreign Seamen.—Disgrace of
    Nassau.—Transference of the Admiral to the Baltic.

It was the plan of Admiral Jones, to anticipate the contemplated attack
of the Capitaine Pasha, and so to weaken him as at least to embarrass
his movements. The plan he proposed was so necessary and apparently so
feasible, that it was accepted by all the officers. During the night, as
the wind did not favor, he warped the ships of his squadron, by means of
their anchors, to the positions he wished them to occupy. The next
morning, which was the 17th of June, 1788, the wind was fresh and fair.
At the earliest dawn the admiral signalled for all his war ships to bear
down upon the Turkish fleet, which was before him in the broad shallow
bay, at the distance of but a few miles. The gun-boats, under the
command of the Prince of Nassau, followed tardily behind the squadron.
Their progress was so slow, though there was no occasion whatever for
the delay, that the admiral had to halt twice, in order to allow the
gun-boats to come up with him.


It was a brilliant spectacle which was presented in the rays of this
June morning’s sun. The majestic bay, into which were poured the waters
of the Dnieper, the Bog, the Liman, and several other minor streams,
spread out in all directions. The whole Russian fleet of ships and
gun-boats, in beautiful battle array, was bearing down under full sail
with a fair wind, upon the unsuspecting and unprepared Turks. The moment
the Capitaine Pasha caught sight of the wondrous spectacle, he was
terror-stricken. The force rushing upon him appeared far more powerful
than it really was. The wind being fresh and fair, the Turkish admiral
saw at once that the whole Russian armament might strike any portion of
his line before other portions could come to its aid. His only resource
was in flight. The same wind which was bringing down the Russian fleet
upon him, would bear him onward in his escape, to take shelter under the
massive guns of the batteries and ramparts of Oczakow.

The signal was given for the flight. As in the twinkling of an eye, a
wonderful scene of tumult and confusion was presented along the whole
Turkish line. The ships, the frigates, the gun-boats were raising their
anchors, cutting their cables, spreading their sails, and pulling their
oars, in the frantic endeavor to escape the impending peril. Admiral
Jones opened fire upon the bewildered foe, from his bow chasers,
wherever a gun could be brought to bear.

The second officer in command of the Turkish fleet seemed to act like
one bereft of reason, in the panic which had apparently seized all
alike. He had charge of one of the finest of the Turkish line-of-battle
ships; a mammoth fabric, with its tiers of death-dealing guns, which
would have been a match for any ship in the British navy. But assailed
by a dozen Russian ships and gun-boats, it would in a few moments have
been sunk beneath the waves, or blown into the air. As the vast sails of
this ship were flung to the breeze, it slowly wheeled around, got under
rapid headway and ran plump upon a sand-bank, beyond all possible hope
of extrication. As she struck, she careened over at an angle of
forty-five degrees. The muzzles of her guns, on the lower side, were
dipped into the water; upon the upper side, they pointed to the clouds.
Thus the ship could neither fight nor run. The crew, as many as could,
crowded into the boats, escaped from the ship, and took refuge in other
vessels of the fleet.

Admiral Jones knew that the ship was his. It was a magnificent prize. It
needed no further attention. He therefore gave chase to the ship of the
Capitaine Pasha. The Prince of Nassau, to the great chagrin of Admiral
Jones, came up with his gun-boats, threw fire-balls into the splendid
prize, and burned it to the water’s edge.

The flag-ship of the Turkish admiral was also an unwieldy mass to
navigate the intricate channels of this shallow bay. It soon struck a
sand-bank, and was helpless. The crew fled. There were now nine of these
large Turkish ships-of-war aground. They were manned by Turkish sailors,
and also by a large number of Greeks, who had been subjugated by the
Turks, and being nominal Christians, were in entire sympathy with their
Christian brethren the Russians. These men were compelled to serve the
Turkish guns, as England often compelled impressed American seamen.

The Prince of Nassau seemed to have lost all control of his gun-boats.
They ran about here and there, independent of all command, and did what
they would. Like Indian warriors, each boat fought, plundered, or
destroyed, on its own account. A cannon-ball had struck the flag-staff
of the deserted admiral’s ship, and broke it off so that the flag hung
down draggling it in the water. The Prince of Nassau, eager of the honor
of capturing the flag of the Turkish admiral, hurried up with one of his
gunboats, seized the defenceless banner, and then insanely threw his
fire-balls into the ship till it was wrapped in flame and disappeared.

The other boats of the flotilla, imitating this example, rushed about
pell-mell without order or plan, offering no coöperation to follow up
the victory, and wantonly amusing themselves in burning the grounded
ships. All of these Turkish vessels had more or less of the Greeks on
board. In vain these poor creatures cried for mercy. They threw
themselves upon their knees; they made the sign of the cross, to
indicate that they too were Christians. The barbarous and fanatic
Russian sailors, ignorant and cruel, threw their fire-balls on board the
ships, and consigned vessels and crew alike to the flames. Above three
thousand of these unhappy men were burned with their ships. Only two of
the stranded vessels were saved from the flames. One was a sloop, very
indifferently armed, and the other a small brig.

Though this was a great victory, it probably gave Admiral Jones more
pain than pleasure. He was appalled by the frightful, needless carnage,
of burning the poor Greeks crying for mercy. Such a mode of carrying on
war was abhorrent to his humane feelings. No results had been
accomplished commensurate with what might have been secured, had there
been order in the fleet. These nine grounded vessels, with their
powerful armaments, would have been of immense advantage, transferred
from the line of the Turks to that of the Russians. It is not strange
that by this time Admiral Jones lost all patience with his very
undesirable coadjutor. Under date of June 20th, he wrote to his Polish
friend, Chamberlain Littlepage, as follows:

“Without explaining to me any of his reasons, the Prince of Nassau
wished to go to the sand-bank which was under the guns at Oczakow, with
all his flotilla. I opposed it, for all the Turkish flotilla was under
the cannon of the place, within cannon-shot of our right wing. He
permitted himself to say many uncivil things. Among others he said that
_he_ was always wanted to protect _my_ squadron with his flotilla.

“As he had often said such things, I told him that it was improper for
him to say this to me, or for me to hear him say it. He boasted that he
had taken the two ships. I told him “I saw nothing wonderful in that;
for they were both aground and captured before he came up.“ He said “he
knew better than I did how to take ships.“ I told him that without
impugning his skill, he was not ignorant that I had proved my ability to
take ships which were not Turks’. He lost all control of himself, and
threatened to write against me to the empress and Prince Potemkin.

“As for that, I told him if he were base enough to do it, I defied his
malice. Before this ridiculous dispute, our combination was unnecessary.
Otherwise I would have put up with still more for the good of the
service. I feel no rancor against him; and though he said, in a bitter
tone, that I would be rejoiced to see him beaten, he little understood
my heart.”

The prince claimed all the honor of this victory. He so boastfully
proclaimed his achievements, that Prince Potemkin was disposed to accept
his account of the adventure, especially as Admiral Jones had too much
self-respect to dispute his statements in a disgraceful squabble for the

Potemkin, elated by this discomfiture of the Turks, brought up his whole
land force to the walls of Oczakow, intending to attempt to carry the
works by storm. The Turkish gun-boats were riding at anchor, under the
protection of the guns of the fortress. The Prince of Nassau was ordered
to attack the flotilla with his whole force of gun-boats. The admiral
was to assist, as he could, in towing the Russian flotilla to the
position it was to take in the contest. The whole plan of the battle was
arranged by Potemkin, so that Admiral Jones had but little to do but to
obey the orders, which were sent to him, though in some respects he was
left to his own discretion.

At one hour after midnight, the flotilla commenced its advance toward
the Turkish boats; but hesitatingly, with no indication that they were
under the impulse of a guiding and inspiring mind. Some of the most
important of the boats were swept by the current to positions where they
could accomplish nothing. In the vicinity of the fortress there was deep
water. The admiral coöperated with great efficiency in bringing the
boats into position. At six o’clock in the morning, he saw five Turkish
galleys, protected by the guns of Fort Hassan. He plunged upon them,
boarded the first one he came to, seized it as a prize, and with his
boats towed it away. He then attacked the next galley, which was a very
large one, bearing the flag of the Capitaine Pasha. Before the admiral
could arrange his boats, to haul out the prize, a young officer,
inexperienced and agitated, cut the cable by which she rode at anchor,
and a fresh breeze drove her rapidly toward the fort.

The Turks were now pouring a destructive fire upon their own vessel. The
admiral despatched a boat to the Wolodimir to fetch another anchor and
cable. Leaving the galley to be manned with his own sailors, till the
boat should return, he pressed forward to other conquests. He writes in
his journal:

“Before the return of Lieutenant Fox, I had the mortification to see
fire break out in the galley of the Capitaine Pasha. I at first believed
that the slaves chained on board had found means to escape. But
afterwards I had positive proof that Brigadier Alexiano, being in a boat
at the time with the Prince of Nassau, on the outside of the flotilla,
and being aware of the intention of the rear-admiral, swore that it
should not succeed, and sent a Greek canoe to set fire to the galley.
The three other Turkish galleys were at once run down and burned by
fire-balls. There were also a two-masted ship, and a large bomb-vessel
burnt near Fort Hassan. This includes all that was taken or destroyed by
water, save fifty-two prisoners taken by the rear-admiral, in the two
galleys. The wretched beings who were chained in the galley of the
Capitaine Pasha, perished there in the flames.

“The prince marshal having made an important diversion on the land side,
it is to be regretted that advantage was not taken of this movement to
seize the remainder of the enemy’s flotilla; but our flotilla never came
up within reach of grape-shot.”

Admiral Jones took the precaution to have the accuracy of this statement
confirmed, by five of the leading captains of the Russian ships. The
Turkish fleet, being thus again humbled, retreated that very night, both
squadron and flotilla, to a strong position at the mouths of the Danube.
The admiral remained at his station, to watch the enemy and to be
prepared for any emergence. He gives the following account of the
proceedings of his two singular coadjutors, the German prince, and the
Greek brigadier.

“The moment the ships began to withdraw from Oczakow, the Prince of
Nassau and Brigadier Alexiano hurried straight to the headquarters of
Prince Potemkin to relate the things which both pretended they had
performed. In a few moments after the flotilla began to retire, the rain
fell in torrents, of which Nassau and Alexiano received their own share
before reaching headquarters.

“Two days afterwards, Alexiano returned on board the Wolodimir, having
caught a malignant fever, of which he died on the 8th of July. The
Prince of Nassau, who had made use of him in cabaling against me—God
knows wherefore—neither visited him in his sickness nor assisted at his
funeral. At first it was given out, that the service must sustain the
loss of every Greek in it, on account of his death; but I soon
experienced the reverse. Not one asked to be dismissed; they remained
under my command with the Russians, and were more contented than before.
On the day preceding the death of Alexiano he had received intelligence
of having been promoted two grades; and that her majesty had bestowed on
him a fine estate and peasants, in White Russia.

“At the same time, the Prince of Nassau had received a very valuable
estate, with three or four thousand peasants, also in White Russia, and
the military Order of St. George, of the second class. Her majesty
likewise gave him liberty to hoist the flag of vice-admiral at the
taking of Oczakow, to which event it was apparently believed he would
greatly contribute.

“I received the Order of St. Anne, an honor with which I am highly
flattered, and with which I could have been perfectly satisfied, had
others been recompensed only in the same proportion, and according to
the merit of their services.[G] All the officers of the flotilla
received a step of promotion, and the gratuity of a year’s pay. The
greater part of them also obtained the Order of St. George of the last
class. Only two of these officers had been bred to the sea; none of the
others had been engaged in navigation. The officers of the squadron
under my command were almost wholly marine officers. They had done their
duty well, when opposed to the enemy; but they obtained no promotion, no
mark of distinction, no pecuniary gratification. My mortification was
excessive; but my officers at this time gave me a very gratifying proof
of their attachment. On promising that I would demand justice for them
from the Prince Potemkin, at the close of the campaign, they stifled
their vexation, and made no complaint.”


Footnote G:

  Upon the reception of the Order of St. Anne by the empress, Count
  Segur wrote from St. Petersburg a very complimentary letter to the
  admiral, under date of the 14th of July, 1788. In this letter he says:

  “The empress being absent I forwarded a copy of the greatest part of
  your letter to General Mouronoff, who had it read to that princess.
  She is highly satisfied with it, and in two lines from her hand, has
  been pleased to charge me with assurances to you, of the great respect
  in which she holds your services. General Mouronoff begs me to say
  that he will endeavor to merit the obliging things you say of him.”


Three days after this important naval battle, Prince Potemkin came from
the headquarters of the army, to visit Admiral Jones on board the
flag-ship Wolodimir. The prince was accompanied by quite a brilliant
retinue of the highest dignitaries of his military court. They all
remained to dine with the admiral in his spacious cabin. The prince was
very anxious to promote harmonious action between the admiral and the
Prince of Nassau. By his powerful influence he succeeded in inducing the
Prince of Nassau to make an apology to the admiral, in the presence of
all around the table. The apology was cordially accepted; and the
admiral, knowing the versatile and frivolous character of the prince,
hoped that it was sincere.

As Potemkin took his leave, he requested Admiral Jones to do all in his
power toward raising the cannon, anchors, and other effects, belonging
to the Turkish ships which had been burned. The next day, Admiral Jones,
in a spirit of conciliation, made a visit to the Prince of Nassau. He
had previously detailed one of the transport ships, which was empty and
unemployed, to the work of raising some of the sunken guns. As soon as
he stepped on board the gun-boat of the prince, he was disrespectfully
assailed, when he expected to have been received with open arms.

“That transport,” exclaimed the Prince of Nassau, angrily, “which you
have ventured to employ on your own services, belonged to my flotilla,
and you had no right to take it under your command.”

The admiral mildly replied, “Prince Potemkin charged me to engage at
once in that important business, as a servant of the empress. As all the
vessels of war, and all the transports alike belong to her imperial
majesty, and as the transport in question was empty and unemployed, I
cannot see that you have any reasonable cause of complaint against me.”

But Nassau fumed and raged. The admiral, ashamed of such puerile
quarrelling, sadly took leave of him, begging him to reflect that he had
no cause for displeasure. Thus affairs went on, day after day. There
were heart-burnings and bickerings, and the admiral found such
influences operating against him, that his hands were effectually tied.

At the close of the American war, there were many British officers
thrown out of employment, who eagerly entered into the service of the
Empress of Russia.

This vast northern empire, with then no access to the ocean but through
the Baltic Sea, was not a maritime power. The empress had very few naval
officers of any experience. By seizing Constantinople, undoubtedly the
finest port in the world, the empress expected that the sails of her
ships would whiten all the seas. Eagerly, therefore, she accepted the
services of able military men from whatever nation. There were no better
naval officers than England could afford. These men with one accord, as
we have mentioned, combined, with the most astonishing and persistent
malignity, to crush Admiral Jones. The Englishman, W. Tooke, to whom we
have before referred, with his bitter British prejudices expresses the
sentiments of them one and all. In his Life of Catherine II. he writes:

“This known scarcity of commanders could not fail to attract the
attention of foreign adventurers, who had acquired any experience and
reputation in maritime affairs. Of this number was the English pirate
and renegado, Paul Jones, who had rendered himself so notorious in the
American war by the mischiefs he did to the trade of his country, and
whose desperate courage, which only served to render his atrociousness
conspicuous, would in a good cause have entitled him to honor.

“This man could not but experience the common fate incident to his
character; and finding he did not meet the consideration which he
expected in America, he made a tender of his services to the court of
St. Petersburg, where he was gladly received, and immediately appointed
to a high command in the grand fleet which was under equipment at

“The British officers, full of those national and professional ideas of
honor which they had imbibed in their own country and service,
considered this appointment as the highest affront that could be offered
to them, and a submission to it, an act of such degradation that no time
or circumstance could wipe away the dishonor. They accordingly went in a
body, to the amount of near thirty, without a single dissentient lagging
behind, or hesitating on account of inconvenience or personal distress,
to lay down their commissions; declaring at the same time that it was
impossible for them to serve under, or to act in any manner or capacity
whatever, with a pirate or renegado.”

In the same spirit as the above, the English historians have, from that
day to this, written of this noble man.

On the 18th of September, the admiral received a secret order to attack
the advance guard of the squadron which was anchored near Beresane. The
attack was to be made with five frigates, mounted as batteries,
supported by a few other vessels of the squadron, as reserves. The
arrangements which were made for arming the frigates for the enterprise
were not such as he could approve. For instance, twenty-four pound-shot
were to be used in guns of thirty-six pounds calibre. To make these
balls fill the bore, they were dipped in pitch to enlarge their
circumference. This was exceedingly dangerous. If the smallest particle
of combustible matter adhered to the gun, it would set fire to the next
cartridge. A single such accident would paralyze the energies of the
bravest man.

The admiral presented to Potemkin a plan of attack. The Prince Potemkin
approved the plan. The Prince of Nassau objected to it. There were
delays, and fault-findings; the admiral being ready to move, either upon
his own plan or upon any other whenever the command should be given him.

On the 13th of October, the admiral received an order which wounded him
very deeply. It was as follows:

  “As it is seen that the Turkish admiral has a greater number of
  vessels than yourself, and he may resolve to attempt something before
  quitting his grand fleet, I must request your excellency to hold
  yourself in readiness to receive him courageously, and drive him back.
  I require this to be done without loss of time; if not, you will be
  made answerable for every neglect. I have already ordered the flotilla
  to approach.

                                                  ”PRINCE POTEMKIN.”

To these unkind words the admiral replied in his journal:

“It will be hard to believe that Prince Potemkin addressed such words to
Paul Jones.”

To the prince he wrote;

“I leave to your highness, as you have a noble heart and a magnanimous
soul to judge how an officer who fears nothing, and had nothing
wherewith to reproach himself, must have been affected by your order, of
the 13th. I was directed “to keep myself in readiness to receive the
enemy _courageously, and that without loss of time, for if not, etc._“

“I was in despair having been all heart and soul for the good of the
service; and having done all that a man of honor could to inspire a
confidence which I believed I had deserved at your hands, allow me, my
prince, to ask you how it happens that I have been so unhappy as to have
lost your regard. My enemies themselves cannot refuse me their respect.
General Count de Mamonow assured me of your confidence in me, giving me
the most flattering hope of your friendship, and her imperial majesty
told me the most obliging things to the same effect. At all events, your
highness has so good a heart that you will excuse the hastiness of
expression which escaped me in my letter on the 14th.

“I am anxious to continue in the service. It is unnecessary to recite
either the promises or the offers which have been made to me. I am
disposed to do all that can be asked of a man of honor, in my situation.
And if you find in me an acquisition to the imperial marine, it belongs
to yourself to fix me in Russia. But as I come neither as an adventurer,
nor a charlatan to repair a broken fortune, I hope in future to
experience no humiliation, and soon to find myself in a situation which
was promised to me when I was invited to enter into the marine of the
empress. Perhaps I love honors too much. But as to fortune, though my
own is not very great, I never bent the knee to that idol. I well know
that riches do not insure happiness. I am sure of one thing, if I had
the happiness of once enjoying your confidence, it would be for life,
for I am not of a character that can change.”

Prince Potemkin had gradually come to the conclusion that it was best to
remove both Admiral Jones from the command of the squadron and the
Prince of Nassua, and to place both squadron and flotilla under the
command of the Russian admiral, Mordwinoff. On the 9th of October, the
Prince of Nassau was deprived of his command, and left the shores of the
Euxine for Warsaw in Poland. Nine days after, on the 18th of October,
Admiral Jones received the following order from Prince Potemkin.

“According to the special desire of her imperial majesty, your service
is fixed in the northern seas. And as this squadron and the flotilla are
placed by me under the orders of Admiral Count Mordwinoff your
excellency may in consequence proceed on the voyage directed.”

This was unquestionably a severe blow to Admiral Jones. He had hoped to
accomplish great results in the campaign of the Euxine. And now he was
ordered to the shores of the Baltic, more than a thousand miles distant,
to serve her majesty in some manner as yet undefined. Russia was at that
time at war with Sweden. But in those high latitudes and ice-bound
waters, there was but little opportunity in midwinter for naval warfare.

On the 20th, the admiral replied to the unexpected order he had
received, in the following note to Potemkin:

“I am much flattered that her majesty yet deigns to interest herself
about me. But what I shall forever regret is the loss of your regard. I
will not say that it is difficult to find more skilful sea officers than
myself. I know well that it is a very possible thing. But I feel
emboldened to say that you will never find a man more susceptible of a
faithful attachment, or more zealous in the discharge of his duty. I
forgive my enemies who are near you, for the painful blow aimed at me.
But if there is a just God, it will be difficult for him to do as much.”

This intimation that Potemkin had been led to this action by the
persuasions of others, annoyed the imperial prince, who considered
himself rather the master than the servant even of her majesty. When, a
few days after, the admiral called at headquarters, to take leave of the
prince, Potemkin said to him, with much vehemence, at the same time
rising from his chair and stamping with his foot:

“Do not believe that any one leads me, not even the empress.” The
prince, however, presented the following letter to the admiral, to be
presented to the empress in testimonial of his services.

  “MADAM—In sending to the high throne of your imperial majesty
  Rear-Admiral M. Paul Jones, I take with submission the liberty of
  certifying the eagerness and zeal which he has ever shown for the
  service of your imperial majesty, and to render himself worthy of the
  high favor of your imperial majesty.

  “From the most faithful subject of your imperial majesty,

                                                  “PRINCE POTEMKIN.”

  “Oct. 31, 1788.”

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                        _Retirement and Death._

The Return to Cherson.—Sickness and Sadness.—Oczakow Stormed.—The Wintry
    Journey to St. Petersburg.—Mental Activity.—Calumniated by the
    English.—The Admiral’s Defence.—Slanderous Accusation.—His Entire
    Acquittal.—Testimony of Count Segur.—Letter to the Empress.—Obtains
    Leave of Absence.—Returns to France.—Life in Paris.—Sickness and

On a cold bleak morning of the 9th of November Admiral Jones, with a
disappointed and saddened spirit, stepped from the deck of his
flag-ship, the Wolodimir, into an open boat which had been launched at
its side. A freezing blast tossed and crested the waters of the widely
expanded sea, while his own ships rolling heavily on the billows, and
the masts of the Turkish squadron could be seen rocking to and fro, far
away in the distance. In this open boat, exposed to the wintry gales,
encountering sleet and snow, and drenched with spray, the war-worn,
world-weary admiral spent three days and three nights, before he reached
Cherson. His sufferings, from the combined influence of hostile elements
and an agitated mind, were very great.

The day after his arrival, an impassable barrier of ice extended as far
as the eye could reach. Completely worn out, he sank upon his bed, and
it was long doubtful whether he would ever leave it till he was borne to
his burial. Slowly he recovered. Nearly a month passed away, of winter’s
most dismal storms in that dreary region, ere he was able to set out on
his long journey of more than two thousand miles, across the whole
breadth of Russia.

He left Cherson on the morning of the 6th of December, 1788. The mercury
was then at twenty-six degrees below zero. That very morning, as he soon
afterwards learned, the Russians took Oczakow by storm. Eleven thousand
soldiers composed the Turkish garrison. In the intensity of the cold,
just before the dawn of day, the Russians, in six strong columns, with
loud yells, a storm of bullets, and gleaming sabres, rushed upon the
Turks, taking them completely by surprise. It was an awful scene of
demoniac clamor, blood, and woe. In a few hours the dreadful deed was
done. Not one in the garrison, not a Turk in the city, was spared.
Nineteen thousand gory corpses, frozen in the wintry blast, strewed the
streets of the city. Had the Turks been victorious, the Russians would
have been put to the sword with equal ferocity. Such is man in his
treatment of his brother. Such, in the main, has been the history of our
race since the Fall.

In the swiftly drawn sledges of Russia, Admiral Jones was whirled along
over the drear and treeless plains, at the rate of over one hundred
miles a day. At Skloff, he made a short tarry, where he was received by
General Soritsch, with the most distinguished attention. He reached St.
Petersburg on the 28th of the month, after a journey of twenty-two days.
The empress invited him to the honor of a private audience on the 31st.
He presented the letter from Prince Potemkin. The empress received him
kindly. He was informed that a little time must elapse, before it could
be decided what new command should be intrusted to him. He was however
assured that it should be one certainly of not less importance than that
of a squadron in the Black Sea.

The mind of the admiral was always in intense activity. The one thought
which seemed ever to engross him ever the promotion of the prosperity of
the United States. During the few weeks of repose which were thus forced
upon him, he drew up a very carefully prepared plan, of an alliance,
political and commercial, between Russia and the United States. The
object of this plan was to promote reciprocal advantages, and especially
to encourage commerce with the growing Russian settlements on the Black
Sea. This document he presented to the Russian vice-chancellor, Count
d’Osterman. The count, after carefully examining it, invited the admiral
to his cabinet, and said to him:

“The plan is a good one, but I do not think it expedient to adopt it at
this time. A commercial alliance between Russia and the United States
would still further irritate the British government against Russia. We
must postpone the further consideration of this question until we have
made peace with the Turks.”

England, in her desire to engross the commerce of the world, wished to
cripple that of all other nations, especially that of the United States.
The admiral, in his journal, speaks as follows of the efforts of the
English to crush him:

“I have been more deeply hurt by those secret machinations against me as
regards the empress. My enemies have had the wickedness to make her
believe that I was a cruel and brutal man, and that I had, during the
American war, even killed my own nephew. It is well known that, from
motives of revenge, the English have invented and propagated a thousand
fictions and atrocities, to endeavor to blacken the character of the
celebrated men who effected the American Revolution. A Washington and a
Franklin, two of the most illustrious and virtuous men that have ever
adorned humanity, have not been spared by these calumniators. Are they
now the less respected by their fellow-citizens? On the contrary they
are universally revered, even in Europe, as the fathers of their
country, and as examples of all that is great and noble in human

“In civil war, it is not wonderful that opposite factions should
mutually endeavor to make it believed that each is in the right. And it
is obvious, that the party most in the wrong will always be the most
calumnious. If there had really been anything against my character, the
English would not have failed to furnish convincing proofs of it; for
with very slender means, I had been able to give more alarm to their
three kingdoms, during the war, than any other individual had done. As
an officer, I loved good discipline, which I consider indispensable to
the success of operations, particularly at sea, where men are so much
crowded, and brought into such close contact. In the English navy, it is
known that captains of ships are often tyrants who order the lash for
the poor seamen very frequently, and sometimes for nothing. In the
American navy we have almost the same regulations. But I looked on my
crew as my children, and I have always found means to manage them
without flogging. I never had a nephew, nor any other relation under my
command. I have one dear nephew, who is still too young for service, but
who now pursues his studies.[H] Since I came to Russia, I have intended
him for the imperial marine. Instead of imbruing my hands in his blood,
he will be cherished as my son.


Footnote H:

  Mr. William Taylor, merchant, of New York, son of the admiral’s eldest
  sister, Mrs. Taylor of Dumfries, Scotland.


“In short, my conduct has obtained for me the returns most grateful to
my heart. I have had the happiness to give universal satisfaction to two
great and enlightened nations which I have served. Of this I have
received singular proofs. I am the only man in the world that possesses
a sword given by the King of France. It is to me a glorious distinction
to wear it. I have indelible proofs of the high consideration of the
United States. But what completes my happiness is the esteem and
friendship of the most virtuous men, whose fame will be immortal; and
that a Washington, a D’Estaing, a Lafayette, think the bust of Paul
Jones worthy of being placed side by side with their own.”

Malignantly as the admiral was pursued, being far away in a strange
land, and removed from the protection of his personal friends, it seemed
absolutely necessary that he should speak in his own defence. Even his
great namesake, the illustrious Apostle Paul, found himself so situated
as to deem it needful commend himself. At this time the most infamous
conspiracy was got up, as the admiral and Count Segur both affirm, by
the English officers in the navy and the English merchants in St.
Petersburg. It was intended utterly to ruin the man whom they had so
unscrupulously assailed. Biographical fidelity renders it necessary that
this story should be told, notwithstanding the nature of its details.
The admiral promptly wrote to his friend, Prince Potemkin, informing him
of the cruel slander. His letter sounds like a wail of grief. It was
dated St. Petersburg, April 13, 1789.

  “MY LORD—Having had the advantage to serve under your orders, and in
  your sight, I remember with particular satisfaction the kind promises
  and testimonies of your friendship, with which you have honored me. As
  I have served all my life for honor, I had no other motive for
  accepting the flattering invitation of her imperial majesty than a
  laudable ambition to distinguish myself in the service of a sovereign
  so magnanimous and illustrious; for I never yet have bent the knee to
  self-interest, nor drawn my sword for hire.

  “A few days ago I thought myself one of the happiest men in the
  empire. Your highness had renewed to me your promise of friendship,
  and the empress had assigned me a command of a nature to occupy the
  most active and enterprising genius.

  “A bad woman has accused me of violating her daughter. If she had told
  the truth, I should have candor enough to own it, and would trust my
  honor, which is a thousand times dearer to me than my life, to the
  mercy of the empress. I declare, with the assurance becoming a
  military character, that I am innocent. Till that unhappy moment, I
  have enjoyed the public esteem and the affection of all who knew me.
  Shall it be said that, in Russia, a wretched woman who _eloped_ from
  her _husband_ and _family_ in the country, _stole away her daughter_,
  lives here in a house of ill-fame, and leads a debauched and
  adulterous life, has found credit enough on a simple complaint,
  unsupported _by any_ proof, to affect the honor of a general officer
  of reputation, who has merited and received the decorations of
  America, of France, and of this empire?

  “If I had been favored with the least intimation of a complaint of
  that nature having found its way to the sovereign, I know too well
  what belongs to delicacy, to have presented myself in the presence of
  the empress before my justification.

  “I thought that in every country, a man accused had a right to employ
  advocates, and to avail himself of his friends for his justification.
  Judge, my prince, of my astonishment and distress of mind, when I
  yesterday was informed that the day before, the governor of the city
  had sent for my advocate, and forbidden _him_, at his peril, or _any
  other person_, to meddle with _my cause_.

  “I am innocent before God! and my conscience knows no reproach. The
  complaint brought against me is an infamous lie, and there is no
  circumstance that gives it even an air of probability.

  “I address myself to you with confidence, my prince, and am assured
  that the friendship you have to kindly promised me, will be
  immediately exerted in my favor; and that you will not suffer the
  illustrious sovereign of this great empire to be misled by the false
  insinuations and secret cabals of my hidden enemies. Your mind will
  find more true pleasure in pleading the cause of an innocent man whom
  you honor with your friendship, than can result from other victories
  equally glorious with that of Oczakow, which will always rank among
  the most brilliant of military achievements. If your highness will
  condescend to question Monsieur Crimpin,[I] (for he dare not now _even
  speak to me_), he can tell you many circumstances which will elucidate
  my innocence. I am, with profound respect, my lord, your highness’s
  devoted and most obedient servant,” etc., etc.


Footnote I:

  Monsieur Crimpin was the advocate whom he had first engaged.


The proof of the admiral’s innocence of this atrocious charge was soon
made out beyond all possibility of question. Count de Segur, the
long-tried and disinterested friend, wrote an account of the affair.
This document, which was perfectly conclusive, was published in all the
leading papers of Europe, for the abominable slander had been spread far
and wide. Justice to the memory of the admiral demands that this
document should be given with but slight abridgment.

“The American rear-admiral was favorably welcomed at court; often
invited to dinner by the empress, and received with distinction into the
best society in the city. On a sudden, Catherine commanded him to appear
no more in her presence. He was informed that he was accused of an
infamous crime; of assaulting a young girl of fourteen, and of grossly
violating her. It was said that probably he would be tried by the Courts
of Admiralty, in which there were many English officers who were
strongly prejudiced against him.

“As soon as this order was known, every one abandoned the unhappy
American. No one spoke to him. People avoided saluting him, and every
door was shut against him. All those by whom but yesterday he had been
eagerly welcomed, now fled from him as if he had been inflicted by a
plague. No advocate would take charge of his cause, and at last even his
servants would not continue in his service. And Paul Jones, whose
exploits every one had so recently been so ready to proclaim, and whose
friendship had been sought after, found himself alone, in the midst of
an immense population. Petersburg, a great capital, became to him a
desert. He was moved even to tears at my visit.

“‘I was unwilling,’ he said to me, shaking me by the hand, ‘to knock at
your door, and to expose myself to a fresh affront, which would have
been more cutting than all the rest. I have braved death a thousand
times, now I wish for it.’

“His appearance, his arms being laid upon the table, made me suspect
some desperate intention. I said to him:

“‘Resume your composure and your courage. Do you not know that human
life, like the sea, has its storms, and that fortune is even more
capricious than the winds? If, as I hope, you are innocent, brave this
sudden tempest. If unhappily you are guilty, confess it to me with
unreserved frankness, and I will do everything I can to snatch you by a
sudden flight from the danger which threatens you.’

“He replied, ‘I am ready to take my most solemn oath, and upon my honor,
that I am innocent, and a victim of the most infamous calumny. This is
the truth. Some days ago a young girl came to me in the morning to ask
me if I could give her some linen or lace to mend. She then indulged in
some rather earnest and indecent allurements. Astonished at so much
boldness in one of such few years, I felt compassion for her. I advised
her not to enter upon so vile a career, gave her some money, and
dismissed her. But she was determined to remain. Impatient at this
resistance, I took her by the hand and led her to the door. But at the
instant when the door was opened, the little profligate tore her sleeves
and neckerchief, raised great cries, complained that I had assaulted
her, and threw herself into the arms of an old woman whom she called her
mother, and who certainly was not brought there by chance.’

“‘Very well,’ said I, ‘but cannot you learn the names of these

“‘The porter knows them,’ he replied. ‘Here are their names written
down, but I do not know where they live. I was desirous of immediately
presenting a memorial about this ridiculous affair, first to the
minister and then to the empress. But I have been interdicted from
access to both of them.’

“‘Give me the paper,’ I said. ‘Resume your accustomed firmness. Be
comforted. In a short time we shall meet again.’”

The count returned home, and by the aid of some efficient agents soon
unravelled the whole affair. It was proved, by evidence which no one
could question, that the woman, Sophie Koltzwarthen, was one of the most
infamous creatures, who had been long employed in carrying on a traffic
in young girls, whom she passed off as her daughters. The count, having
obtained all the necessary documents and attestations, hastened to show
it to Paul Jones. Exultingly he said to him, “You have nothing to fear.
The wretches are unmasked. All that you need now do, is to send these
proofs to the empress. She has directed, under very heavy penalties,
that no one shall detain on the way any letters which may be addressed
to her personally, and which may be sent to her by post.”

The admiral immediately wrote a letter to her majesty, under date of St.
Petersburg, May 17, 1789. After briefly recapitulating the circumstances
under which he had been induced to enter into the service of the
empress, the incidents in his campaign to the Black Sea, and his recall
to the Baltic, he added:

“Such was my situation, when, upon the mere accusation of a crime, the
very idea of which wounds my delicacy, I have found myself driven from
court, deprived of the good opinion of your majesty, and forced to
employ the time which I wished to devote to the defence of your empire,
in cleansing from myself the stains with which calumny had covered me.
Condescend to believe, madame, that if I had received the slightest hint
that a complaint of such a nature had been made against me, and still
more that it had come to your majesty’s knowledge, I know too well what
is owing to delicacy to have ventured to have appeared before you till I
was completely exculpated.

“Understanding neither the laws, the language, nor the forms of justice
of this country, I needed an advocate and obtained one. But whether from
terror or intimidation he stopped short all at once, and durst not
undertake my defence, though convinced of the justice of my cause. But
truth may always venture to show itself alone and unsupported at the
throne of your majesty. I have not hesitated to labor unaided for my own
vindication. I have collected proofs. And if such details might appear
under the eye of your majesty I would present them. But if your majesty
will deign to order some person to examine them, it will be seen, by the
report which will be made, that my crime is a fiction, invented by the
cupidity of a wretched woman, whose malice has been countenanced,
perhaps incited, by the malice of my numerous enemies. Her husband has
himself certified and attested to her infamous conduct. His signature is
in my hands, and the pastor Braun, of the district, has assured me that
if the College of Justice will give him an order to this effect, he will
obtain an attestation from the country people that the mother of the
girl referred to is known among them as a wretch utterly unworthy of

“Take a soldier’s word, madame. Believe an officer whom two great
nations esteem, and who has been honored with flattering marks of their
approbation of which your majesty will soon receive a direct proof from
the United States.[J] I am innocent, and if I were guilty I would not
hesitate to mke a candid avowal of my fault, and to commit my honor,
which is a thousand times dearer to me than life, to the hands of your


Footnote J:

  He refers to the gold medal ordered to be struck by Congress.


The admiral closed this letter with expressions of devotion to the
service of the empress. He assured her of his readiness to serve her in
any way in his power, but added “that if for any reason he could not be
employed again during the campaign, he might be permitted to return to
France or America.”

The empress received this letter, examined the documents, and became
fully convinced of his innocence. She inveighed bitterly against the
authors of the calumny, recalled Paul Jones to court, and received him
with even more than her usual kindness. But the admiral, having received
blow after blow and finding no employment immediately before him, became
weary of the country where he had endured so many humiliations. He
consequently requested permission to retire. His request was granted.
The empress admitted him to an audience of leave, wished him a pleasant
voyage, and he left Russia forever. He bore with him letters of high
commendation from the most distinguished men in the capital of Russia.
He directed his steps first to Warsaw. Here he was received with the
highest consideration by the titular king and his court. He spent two
months in Warsaw, hospitably entertained by the nobility, and intensely
occupied in preparing for the Empress of Russia a journal of his
services, from the time he entered the navy of the United States to the
campaign of the Black Sea. In a letter to the empress, which accompanied
this document, he wrote, under date of Warsaw, Sept. 25, O. S. 1789.

“I owe it to my reputation and to truth to accompany this journal with
an abridgment of the campaign of the Liman.[K] If you will deign,
madame, to read it with some attention, you will observe how little I
have deserved the mortifications which I have endured, and which the
justice and goodness of your majesty can alone make me forget. As I
never offended, in word or speech or thought, against the laws or usages
of the strictest delicacy, it would assuredly be most desirable for me
to have the happiness of regaining, in spite of the malice of my
enemies, the precious esteem of your majesty.”


Footnote K:

  It was near the mouth of the river Liman that all these naval battles
  were fought.


At Warsaw, the admiral made the acquaintance of, and became the intimate
friend of Kosciusko. On the second of November he left Warsaw for
Vienna. Here again he was kindly received by those in the highest ranks
of society. But in consequence of the sickness of the emperor, he was
not favored with an audience. From Warsaw he proceeded to Amsterdam.
Kosciusko was at that time deeply engaged in the disastrous conspiracy
to liberate Poland from the thraldom of Russia. Sweden was also at war
with Russia. There can be no doubt that great efforts were made to
enlist the wonderful energies of the admiral, in favor of the two
belligerents, against the empress. These efforts were necessarily
secret. It is but a glimpse we can get of them. We simply know that the
admiral declined all such proffers. From Amsterdam he wrote, under date
of December, 1789, to his firm friend President Washington. In that
letter he writes:

“Count Segur and myself have frequently conversed on subjects that
regard America. And the most pleasing reflection of all has been the
happy establishment of the new constitution, and that you are so
deservedly placed at the head of the government, by the unanimous voice
of America. Your name alone, sir, has established in Europe a confidence
that was for some time before entirely wanting in American concerns; and
I am assured that the happy efforts of your administration are still
more sensibly felt throughout the United States. This is more glorious
for you than all the laurels that your sword so nobly won in support of
the rights of human nature. In war your fame is immortal, as the hero of
liberty. In peace you are her patron, and the firmest supporter of her
rights. Your greatest admirers and even your best friends have now but
one wish left them—that you may long enjoy health and your present

From Amsterdam he went to Hamburg by way of Copenhagen. Toward the close
of April, 1790, he crossed the channel to London. “Upon landing,” he
writes, “I escaped being murdered.” After a short visit there he went to
Paris. His health was feeble. Still he kept up an active correspondence
with his numerous distinguished friends all over the continent. His mode
of expressing himself, as the reader will have perceived, was peculiar.
He was a man of singular frankness and transparency of character. He
gave free utterance to his thoughts as they arose. In Paris he again
enjoyed the friendship of Lafayette. Nothing special occurred during his
residence in Paris.

Early in June, his health began more rapidly to fail. He lost his
appetite, and a dropsical affection swelled his legs and expanded his
chest. His physician at length warned him that his symptoms were
alarming, and advised him to settle his worldly affairs. He sat in his
chair as he dictated to the notary his will. After his friends had
retired he rose from his chair, went into his bedroom, and probably
feeling a little faint threw himself with his face upon his bed, and his
feet resting upon the floor. Soon after, the queen’s physician arrived
to visit the illustrious patient. He was conducted into the bedroom,
where the admiral was found dead. His disorder had terminated in dropsy
of the breast.

It was the evening of the 20th of July, 1789. The admiral had reached
the age of but forty-five years. His funeral attracted a large concourse
of the most distinguished of the residents in Paris. The National
Assembly, then in session, passed the following resolve:

“The National Assembly, desirous of honoring the memory of Paul Jones,
Admiral of the United States of America, and to preserve by a memorable
example, the equality of religious rights, decrees that twelve of its
members shall assist at the funeral solemnities of a man who has so well
served the cause of liberty.”

A funeral sermon was preached by M. Marson, a French Protestant
clergyman. In this oration he said:

“We have just returned to the earth the remains of an illustrious
stranger; one of the first champions of the liberty of America, of that
liberty which so gloriously ushered in our own. And what more flattering
homage can we offer the memory of Paul Jones than to swear on his tomb
to live or to die free. Let neither tyrants nor their satellites ever
pollute this sacred earth. May the ashes of the great man, too soon lost
to humanity, enjoy here an undisturbed repose. May his example teach
posterity the efforts which noble souls are capable of making when
stimulated by hatred to oppression. Identify yourself with the glory of
Paul Jones, in imitating his contempt of danger, his devotion to his
country, and the noble heroism which, after having astonished the
present age, will continue to call forth the veneration of ages yet to

Such was the career of this remarkable man. Such is a faithful record of
what he said and wrote and did. And this record surely exhibits the
character of a worthy and a noble man. He rose to distinction by his own
energies. His achievements gave him world-wide renown. His character
secured for him not only a cordial welcome in the palaces of kings and
in the castles of nobles, but, that which is far higher praise, won for
him the esteem and affection of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Morris,
Lafayette, Count Segur, Count d’Estaing, and a host of others of the
worthiest spirits in America and France.

The following is a brief recapitulation of the services which, during
his short life, he rendered his country. During the Revolution he fought
twenty-three battles at sea, and was never vanquished. He made seven
victorious descents upon Great Britain and her colonies. He captured two
ships of equal size with his own, and two of far superior force; besides
taking many store-ships and other smaller craft. He spread alarm
throughout the whole island of Great Britain, compelling the government
to fortify all her ports. He also forced the British to desist from
their atrocious system of pillaging and burning in America, and to
exchange, as prisoners of war, the Americans whom they had captured and
plunged into prison dungeons as “traitors, pirates, and felons.”

The distinguished Matthew Carey of Philadelphia, after examining the
voluminous correspondence of Paul Jones, contained in the valuable
biography compiled by Colonel John Henry Sherburne, wrote to the author:

“I have read, with intense interest, your Life of John Paul Jones. And
it must be regarded as a valuable national object, placing, as it does,
in strong relief, the shining qualities of this hero, not only as a
naval commander but as a profound politician. The latter quality appears
clearly and distinctly in various parts of the correspondence, wherein
are developed views of the proper policy of this country which are
worthy of the first statesmen that sat in the Congress of 1774 and
1775—men never exceeded in the annals of the world for sagacity,
patriotism, and public spirit.

“No man has been the subject of more gross and shocking abuse, and none
of those who have distinguished themselves in the Revolution were so
little known as he has been to the nation to whose service he devoted
all the energies of his magnanimous soul. I confess that for one I
always regarded Paul Jones as very few degrees above a _freebooter_ who,
in the prospect of plunder was reckless of his life. I am now thoroughly
undeceived, and consider him as deserving a conspicuous rank among the
most illustrious of those heroes and statesmen who not only formed a
wreath around the brow of this country, but secured her a prouder
destiny than ever fell to the lot of any other portion of mankind.”

                                THE END.





                           Transcriber’s Note

The name of a Greek officer, Alexiano, is misspelled in both the table
of content’s description of Chapter XIV, and the summary at the head of
the chapter itself. Both were corrected.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. Except in the most obvious cases, spelling in quoted
text is not corrected, but is noted. The references are to the page and
line in the original.

  xi.1     A Greek Officer Alexian[a/o]                   Replaced.

  25.20    The Alfred mounted 30 guns, the Columbus 28    Added.

  45.26    he carried toplights until the morning[.]      Added.

  52.17    An immense amou[n]t of shipping                Inserted.

  53.27    extract from his first despatch from Nantes[:] Added.

  54.22    On the 10th of Feb[ur/ru]ary, 1778,            Transposed.

  60.11    in salute of our national banner, gun for      Replaced.

  75.21    demonstration of the uncertain[i]ty of human   Removed.

  93.1     desired to as[s]ist him                        Inserted.

  110.25   Scarc[e]ly a breath of wind                    Inserted.

  125.10   the following extraordinary prayer[.]          Added.

  143.12   after repeating my words t[w]o or three times  Inserted.

  144.18   Just before ten o[’]clock                      Inserted.

  151.12   declared that Land[ia/ai]s said to             Transposed.

  158.6    and swarthy complexion.[”]                     Added.

  185.21   excite their indignation and deris[i]on.       Inserted.

  185.24   thirty-six years [a/o]f age                    Replaced.

  190.2    the laws and [sovereignity] of the United      _sic_

  209.26   the virtuous Senate of America [h/b]e misled   Replaced.

  210.27   Almost in[n]umerable obstacles arose           Inserted.

  213.24   and rights of human nature.[’/”]               Replaced.

  214.12   Such a quan[t]ity of powder                    Inserted.

  233.21   “Robert Morris[”]                              Added.

  249.1    an extensive tract of excell[a/e]nt land       Replaced.

  253.3    to the beautiful little Morav[ai/ia]n village  Transposed.

  256.17   which regulate the intercourse of              Replaced.

  258.16   which regulate the intercourse of his          Added.

  258.22   th[r]ough> the labors of two years             Inserted.

  270.2    render him more extensively useful.[”]         Removed.

  274.6    lessen the profits of any [simular]            _sic_

  288.14   to sup with his majesty and the royal          Replaced.

  288.17   was very brilliant.[”]                         Added.

  291.7    co[u/n]strain> me to make this demand          Inverted.

  295.12   in any measure or capacity.[”]                 Added.

  298.5    A Greek Officer Alexian[a/o]                   Replaced.

  312.25   This concil[i]atory speech                     Inserted.

  314.23   I showed the Prince of Nass[ua/au] that letter Transposed.

  328.9    in a spirit of concil[i]ation                  Inserted.

  328.16   the Prince of Na[u/s]sau                       Replaced.

  334.11   Prince of Nass[ua/au]                          Transposed.

  337.11   his flag-ship, the Wolo[d]imir                 Inserted.

  340.9    would still fu[r]ther irritate                 Inserted.

  350.11   I know to[o] well                              Added.

  359.4    among the most illustr[i]ous of those heroes   Inserted.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Life and Adventures of Rear-Admiral John Paul Jones - Commonly Called Paul Jones" ***

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