|Return to The Tory Lover -- Contents|
Texts related to
The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett
From THE LIFE OF PAUL JONES.
by James Otis
New York: A. L. Burt, 1900.
JOHN PAUL, afterwards known as the celebrated Chevalier John Paul Jones, was born on the 6th of July, 1747, at Arbigland, in the parish of Kirkbean, and stewartry of Kirkcudbright, in Scotland. The family was originally from the shire of Fife; but it appears that the grandfather of the subject of this memoir kept a garden, the produce of which he sold to the public in Leith. His son, on finishing his apprenticeship, entered as a gardener into the employment of Mr. Craik, of Arbigland, in which he remained until his death in 1767. It is abundantly proved that he was a man of uniformly respectable character and intelligence. In his profession he exhibited much skill and taste. The English memoir contains the following account of his family, which was furnished by his descendants.
"Shortly after entering into the employment of Mr. Craik, John Paul married Jean Macduff, the daughter of a small farmer in the neighborhood parish of New-Abbey. The Macduffs were a respectable rural race in their own district; and some of them had been small landed proprietors in the parish of Kirkbean, for an immemorial period. Of this marriage there were seven children, of whom John, afterwards known as John Paul Jones, was the fifth; he may indeed be called the youngest, as two children born after him died in infancy. The first-born of the family, William Paul, went abroad early in life, and finally settled and married in Fredericksburg, in Virginia. He appears to have been a man of enterprise and judgment. Beyond his early education and virtuous habits he could have derived no advantage from his family; and, in 1772 or 1773, when he died, still a young man, he left a considerable fortune. Of the daughters, the eldest, Elizabeth, died unmarried; Janet, the second, married Mr. Taylor, a watchmaker in Dumfries; and the third, Mary Ann, was twice married, first to a Mr. Young, and afterwards to Mr. Loudon."
When John Paul, the fifth of this family, afterwards became the terror of the seas, the hero of a hundred fearful legends, and the subject of admiration and jealousy in the most brilliant courts, it was natural enough that so modest a paternity should neither satisfy the romance of the imaginative, nor the antipathy of the envious and intimidated; and many stories were current, some assigning to him Mr. Craik, and others an earl of Selkirk, as his father. These weak inventions have long since been exploded, though preserved in the pages of fanciful novelists. In answer to an inquiry of Baron Vander Capellan, in 1779, Jones says, "I never had any obligation to Lord Selkirk, except for his good opinion; nor does he know me or mine, except by character." This is verified by the whole tenor of the correspondence which we shall have occasion to introduce.
If ever localities might be inferred to have determined the intellectual bias of an individual, the birthplace of John Paul, and the scenery and associations of its vicinity, may be cited as admirably calculated to lay the groundwork for the restless spirit of adventure, an inclination for poetry, and an occasional imaginary longing for solitude, study, and rural retirement, all of which, without any real inconsistency, were subsequently developed in his character.
His father lived near the shores of the Solway, in one of the most picturesque and beautiful points of the Frith. The favorite pastime of his early years was to launch his "fairy frigate" on the waters, and issue commands to his supposed officers and crew. At this time, the town of Dumfries carried on a considerable trade in tobacco with America, the cargoes of which were unshipped at the Carsethorn, near the mouth of the river Nith, which was not then navigable by foreign vessels. His daily intercourse with seamen here tended of course to strengthen and confirm his nascent passion. It is also observed that his regard for America, and his willingness to descend with fire and sword, in her cause, upon the shores of his native land, which were thought unnatural, may have had their origin in the conversations of mariners from the discontented colonies.
Certain it is that his disposition to begin his career upon the ocean was so strong, that his friends deemed it proper to yield to it. At the age of twelve, he was bound apprentice to Mr. Younger, a respectable merchant in the American trade, residing at Whitehaven, on the opposite side of Solway Frith. Vulgar invention, in its distorted picture of his life and actions, assumed that he ran away to sea against the will of his relations, a rumor which they always declared to be totally without foundation. Neither then, nor at any subsequent period, was he wanting in affection for them, and solicitude for their welfare. His anxiety for the comforts and respectability of his sisters and their families was warmly and substantially expressed in his prosperity, and at his death he bequeathed to them all his property.
His education at the parish school of Kirkbean must of course have been limited, but there is no doubt he improved it to the best advantage. The general correctness of his style and orthography indicate that he had been well instructed in the rudiments of grammar. Notwithstanding his strong relish for active and dangerous adventure, he devoted its intervals to close application to study. While in port, whether abroad or at Whitehaven, during the period of his apprenticeship, he applied himself to learning the theory of navigation, and to other subjects of practical use. Many years after, we find him in one of his letters, while modestly admitting that much more accomplished seamen might be found than himself, referring to hours of systematic "midnight" study. In the letters written in French, which are in his own hand, the spelling is infinitely more accurate than that of many of his illustrious and titled correspondents. These circumstances show that his mental culture was methodically and well begun; and these habits of mind are not such as belong to a reckless adventurer in quest of mere private emolument or personal fame.
He made his first voyage before he was thirteen, in the Friendship, of Whitehaven, Captain Benson, bound for the Rappahannock. His home, while in port, was the house of an elder brother, William, who had married and settled in Virginia. His prepossessions in favor of America, and sympathy with colonial feelings, were here naturally fostered under circumstances calculated to make them keen and enduring; indissolubly connected as they were with his first professional impressions.
The correctness of his conduct, and his extraordinary intelligence and aptitude for acquiring knowledge in naval matters, caused him to be most favorably regarded by his masters. Mr. Younger, however, soon found his affairs embarrassed; and was induced, in consequence, to give up Paul's indentures. This license to act for himself would have been, to a boy whose purposes in living were not in some measure fixed, and whose will was undecided as to the future, a passport to obscurity, if not to disgrace. He availed himself of it wisely, having confidence in himself. He obtained the appointment of third mate of the King George, of Whitehaven, a vessel engaged in the slave trade. In 1766 he shipped, as chief mate, on board the brigantine Two Friends, of Kingston, Jamaica, which was engaged in the same traffic. It is said by the friends of Paul that he became disgusted with the business of stealing human beings, and left the ship on its arrival in the West Indies. Independently of their evidence, which is in every respect entitled to credit, the supposition will be found to be confirmed by the uniform tenor of his correspondence, whenever he speaks of the principles of action which he asserts to have governed his services and enterprises. And it is fair to infer that the exhibition of these horrors, at which his feelings revolted, strengthened his love for that liberty in whose cause he afterwards fought; and for that land which knew how to vindicate the cause of liberty.
It is stated, at any rate, by those from whom alone any information can be derived, as to Paul's adventures at this period, that he returned to Scotland from this second slaving-voyage, as a passenger, in the brigantine John, of Kirkcudbright, Captain Macadam commander. On this voyage the captain and mate both died of fever; and there being no one on board equally capable of navigating the ship, Paul assumed the command, and brought her safe into port. For this service he was appointed by the owners, Currie, Beck & Co., master and supercargo.
It appears that Paul sailed for two voyages, as master, in the employment of this firm, and, sometime in the course of the year 1770 , found it necessary, in order to preserve his authority and enforce discipline, to punish a man named Mungo Maxwell, borne on the books as carpenter of the vessel. Mungo, being whipped, stated to the authorities at Tobago that his back was sore, and that his feelings were hurt; both of which representations they seem to have believed in, without feeling themselves called upon to heal the one, or to soothe the other. But it appears that he subsequently instituted a prosecution against Paul in England, which gave the latter some trouble, as will be seen by a letter from him to his mother and sisters, which we shall presently introduce.
There would scarcely be any necessity of mentioning this circumstance at all, were it not that calumny founded upon it one of its grossest charges against him who was afterwards the Chevalier Paul Jones; that he was accused by vulgar rumor of torturing Mungo, by the process of flagellation, in a manner which caused his death; and that his enemies did not disdain to rake up this legend, when he had the glory and the misfortune of exciting the jealousy of the Russian courtiers. All the authentic particulars of the transaction which we can obtain now are, that being invested with a legitimate authority, which it was more peculiarly necessary for the preservation of the vessel and cargo, on that account, to sustain, Paul punished a sailor for rebellion and sullen impudence; and that the subject of discipline was displeased, as was naturally to be expected. The following are the official documents which Paul thought proper, or found it expedient, to procure in relation to this transaction
"Before the Honorable Lieutenant-Governor William Young, Esq., of the island aforesaid, personally appeared James Simpson, Esq., who, being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith, That some time about the beginning of May, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy, a person in the habit of a sailor came to this deponent (who was at that time Judge Surrogate of the Court of Vice-Admiralty for the island aforesaid) with a complaint against John Paul (commander of a brigantine then lying in Rockley Bay, of the said island), for having beat the then complainant (who belonged to the said John Paul's vessel), at the same time showing this deponent his shoulders, which had thereon the marks of several stripes, but none that were either mortal or dangerous, to the best of this deponent's opinion and belief. And this deponent further saith, that he did summon the said John Paul before him, who, in his vindication, alleged that the said complainant had on all occasions proved very ill qualified for, as well as very negligent in, his duty; and, also, that he was very lazy and inactive in the execution of his, the said John Paul's, lawful commands, at the same time declaring his sorrow for having corrected the complainant. And this deponent further saith that, having dismissed the complaint as frivolous, the complainant, as this deponent believes, returned to his duty. And this deponent saith that he has since understood that the said complainant died afterwards on board of a different vessel, on her passage of the Leeward Islands, and that the said John Paul (as this deponent is informed) had been accused in Great Britain as the immediate author of the said complainant's death, by means of the said stripes hereinbefore mentioned, which accusation this deponent, for the sake of humanity and justice, in the most solemn manner declares, and believes to be, in his judgment, without any just foundation, so far as relates to the stripes before mentioned, which this deponent very particularly examined. And further this deponent saith not.
"Sworn before me, this 30th day of June, 1772, William Young."
"James Eastment, mariner, and late master of the Barcelona packet, maketh oath, and saith, That Mungo Maxwell, carpenter on board the John, Captain John Paul, master, came in good health on board his, this deponent's, vessel, then lying in Great Rockley Bay, in the island of Tobago, about the middle of the month of June, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy, in the capacity of a carpenter, aforesaid; that he acted as such in every respect in perfect health for some days after he came on board this deponent's said vessel, the Barcelona packet; after which he was taken ill of a fever and lowness of spirits, which continued for four or five days, when he died on board the said vessel, during her passage from Tobago to Antigua. And this deponent further saith, that he never heard the said Mungo Maxwell complain of having received any ill usage from the said Captain John Paul; but that he, this deponent, verily believes the said Mungo Maxwell's death was occasioned by a fever and lowness of spirits, as aforesaid, and not by or through any other cause or causes whatsoever.
"Sworn at the Mansion House, London,
this 30th day of January, 1773, before me,
James Townsend, Mayor."
"These do certify to whom it may concern, that the bearer, Captain John Paul, was two voyages master of a vessel called the John, in our employ in the West India trade, during which time he approved himself every way qualified both as a navigator and supercargo; but as our present firm is dissolved, the vessel is sold, and of course he is out of our employ, all accounts between him and the owners being amicably adjusted. Certified at Kirkcudbright this 1st of April, 1771.
"CURRIE, BECK & CO."
The following is the letter to his mother and sisters, written more than two years after the affair in question, during which time he must have made other voyages:
"LONDON, 24th September, 1772.
"MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTERS, --
"I only arrived here last night from the Grenadas. I have had but poor health during the voyage; and my success in it, not having equaled 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 by far my greatest happiness, be serviceable to my poor but much-valued friends. I am able to give you no account of my proceedings in the future, as they depend upon circumstances which are not fully determined.
"I have enclosed 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 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 prejudices 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 meantime, if you please, you may 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 precise nature of the ungracious conduct of Craik, referred to in the foregoing letter, cannot now be explained with precision, but may easily be conjectured. Paul looked up to this gentleman as the former patron of his father, and existing protector of his mother and sisters, with gratitude and deference, and probably with a warmth of respectful regard, which was chilled by the mortifying coldness of a cautious reception, such as it is reasonable to infer he may have met with from Mr. Craik, to whom his conduct had been misrepresented. He had, no doubt, taken it for granted that his own simple statements would be sufficient to satisfy what he calls the "nice feelings" of that gentleman; in which expectation it would seem that he was disappointed. It is known that Mr. Craik subsequently exculpated him from all blame in the affair of Mungo. The following letter appears to have been the last which Paul ever addressed to him.
"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 the case, you know the disadvantages I must of course labor under.
"These, however, would not have been so great 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 always had a full ship out and home, etc., etc., etc.
* * * * *
"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,
Shortly after this period, Paul commanded the Betsey of London, a vessel engaged in the West India trade. He has been accused of being concerned in the smuggling business, which was at that time carried on to a great extent by those who lived along the shores of the Solway; a charge which he always solemnly denied, and which there is not a particle of evidence to support. On the contrary, the very first entry of licensed goods from England, made in the Isle of Man after it was annexed to the crown, stands in his name in the Custom House books at Douglas, being of the first rum regularly imported there. His commercial speculations in the West Indies were various and extensive. In 1771 he saw his relations in Scotland for the last time. In 1773 he went to Virginia, to arrange the affairs of his brother William, who had died childless and intestate. He left funds at Tobago and elsewhere, which the faithlessness of his agents prevented him from realizing as he had expected. He was soon to be called upon to act in the great struggle for liberty, whose coming events were to swallow up in their importance the calculations of private interest.
There can be no doubt that at this time he thought he had determined to devote the rest of his life to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, study, and domestic life; or as he phrases it, in one of his favorite quotations, to "calm contemplation and poetic ease." In his letter to the Countess of Selkirk, in which he affirms that such was his fixed purpose, he also speaks of having been led to "sacrifice not only his favorite schemes of life, but the softer affections of his heart, and his hopes of domestic happiness." We have no data from which to infer that these schemes, affections, and hopes revolved around any ascertained and existing orb and center of attraction; or that Paul felt any more distinct longing than that inspired by the general besoin d'aimer, proper to his age and imaginative temperament. Paul's letters show throughout that he had a sense of moral and religious obligation, tinged with a true chivalric feeling, such as does not belong to robbers and cut-throats. His early education was in Scotland. We find, too, that Thomson was his favorite poet.
It is not unlikely that at this time the details and associations of West India trading voyages seemed disgusting to him. It would appear, indeed, from the following passage in a letter already referred to, addressed to the Hon. Robert Morris three years after this period, that his commercial affairs had become temporarily entangled. He says, "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." It is evident from his relations to the distinguished person he was writing to, from the frankness of his language, and his subsequent arrangement of all his obligations, that this "great misfortune" must have been a disappointment in business, on which no shadow of censure could, without iniquity, be cast. This disappointment, or one which was connected with it, is probably referred to in the letter inserted below, addressed to a valued friend, Mr. Stuart Mawey of Tobago, just before Jones sailed from Boston, fully commissioned as an officer of the United States:
"BOSTON, 4th May, 1777.
"DEAR SIR, --
"After an unprofitable suspense of twenty months (having subsisted on fifty pounds only during that time), when my hopes of relief were entirely cut off, and there remained no possibility of my receiving wherewithal to subsist upon from my effects in your island, or in England, I at last had recourse to strangers for that aid and comfort which was denied me by those friends whom I had entrusted with my all. The good offices which are rendered to persons in their extreme need ought to make deep impressions on grateful minds; in my case I feel the truth of that sentiment, and am bound by gratitude, as well as honor, to follow the fortunes of my late benefactors.
"I have lately seen Mr. Sicaton (late manager on the estates of Arch. Stuart, Esq.), who informed me that Mr. Ferguson had quitted Grange Valley, on being charged with the unjust application of the property of his employers. I have been, and am, extremely concerned at this account; I wish to disbelieve it, although it seems too much of a piece with the unfair advantage which, to all appearances, he took of me, when he left me in exile for twenty months, a prey to melancholy and want, and withheld my property, without writing a word in excuse for his conduct. Thus circumstanced, I have taken the liberty of sending you a letter of attorney by Captain Cleaveland, who undertakes to deliver it himself, as he goes for Tobago via Martinico. You have enclosed a copy of a list of debts contracted with me, together with Ferguson's receipt. And there remained a considerable property unsold, besides some best Madeira wine which he had shipped for London. By the state of accounts which I sent to England on my arrival on this continent, there was a balance due to me from the ship Betsy of nine hundred and nine pounds, fifteen shillings, three pence sterling; and in my account with Robert Young, Esq., 29th January, 1773, there appeared a balance in my favor of two hundred and eighty-one pounds, one shilling, eight pence sterling. These sums exceed my drafts and just debts together; so that, if I am fairly dealt with, I ought to receive a considerable remittance from that quarter. You will please to observe that there were nine pieces of coarse camlets shipped at Cork, over and above the quantity expressed in the bill of lading. It seems the shippers, finding their mistake, applied for the goods; and, as I have been informed from Grenada, Mr. Ferguson laid hold of this opportunity to propagate a report that all the goods which I put into his hands were the property of that house in Cork. If this base suggestion hath gained belief, it accounts for all the neglect which I have experienced. But however my connections are changed, my principles as an honest man of candor and integrity are the same; therefore, should there not be a sufficiency of my property in England to answer my just debts, I declare that it is my first wish to make up such deficiency from my property in Tobago; and were even that also to fall short, I am ready and willing to make full and ample remittances from hence upon hearing from you the true state of affairs. As I hope my dear mother is still alive, I must inform you that I wish my property in Tobago, or in England, after paying my just debts, to be applied for her support. Your own feelings, my dear sir, make it unnecessary for me to use arguments to prevail with you on this tender point. Any remittances which you may be enabled to make, through the hands of my good friend, Captain John Plaince, of Cork, will be faithfully put into her hands; she hath several orphan grandchildren to provide for. I have made no apology for giving you this trouble: my situation will, I trust, obtain your free pardon.
"I am always, with perfect esteem, dear sir, your very obliged, very obedient, and most humble servant,
"J. PAUL JONES.
"STUART MAWEY, ESQUIRE, TOBAGO."
His taking possession of his brother's estate encouraged for the time being his imaginary predilection for still life; and he looked for sufficient remittances from. those to whom he had confided the management of his affairs to enable him to realize his vision of tranquil seclusion from the bustle of the world. In the latter hope, as has been mentioned, he was disappointed; and from this reason, if from no other, retirement must have become insufferable to a young man of his temper, at the stirring epoch,
When transatlantic Liberty arose,
Not in the sunshine, and the smile of heaven,
But wrapped in whirlwinds, and begirt with woes.
In every point of view he was thus fitted to act the part it fell to his lot to perform in the ensuing drama. Nature had made him a hero; circumstances had prepared him to command men and give an emphatic direction to the development of their energies; and these qualifications, united with the integrity of his heart and mind, rendered him worthy of co-working with the band of brave spirits who came forth with free and uncorrupted souls, and in the power and majesty of truth, to vindicate the rights which they knew how to exercise, as well as to assert.
Though his education as a seaman had been principally in the merchant service, he had sailed frequently in armed vessels; and how sound his opinions were, acquired by observation or study, on the subject of naval discipline, will appear from his letters to the continental authorities; while his great practical skill in all his maneuvers and engagements is perhaps more admirable than his daring and desperate courage. One of his English biographers observes: "It is singular that during the first years of the American navy, with the exception of Paul Jones, no man of any talent is to be found directing its operations. Had it not been for the exertions of this individual, who was unsupported by fortune or connections, it is very probable that the American naval power would have gradually disappeared."
In the beginning of the year 1775, as will appear from one of his letters, his immediate pecuniary resources, from the causes he mentions, had almost entirely failed him, and for the two years following, he lived, as he expresses it, "upon fifty pounds." Mere necessity, however, could not have determined his election of an occupation, when he accepted a commission from the Continental Congress. A man who had begun life with nothing but "health and good spirits" for his patrimony, who, while a mere boy, had known how to obtain profitable employments of much responsibility, and who was now in the incipient prime of mental and bodily vigor, could have been at no loss in investing the capital of his abilities, his credit, and his "fifty pounds," in many speculations, which must, to ordinary minds at this epoch, have seemed far more promising than the cause of the colonists.
An English compiler of his memoirs, with very good intentions, speaks in an equivocal manner, in his analysis of Paul's motives. He also enters into an unnecessary apology for his consenting to bear arms against the mother country. The following remarks, made by him, are, however, worthy of being quoted here:
"Though in the heat of a struggle, which, from its very nature, was, like the feuds of the nearest relatives, singularly rancorous and bitter, Jones was branded as a traitor and a felon, and after his most brilliant action, his capture of the Serapis, formally denounced by the British ambassador of the Hague as a rebel and a pirate according to the laws of war, it must be remembered that he bore this stigma in common with the best and greatest of his contemporaries -- with Franklin, and Washington; which last had actually borne arms in the service of the king of England. The memory of Paul Jones now needs little vindication for this important step. After the peace he enjoyed the esteem and private friendship of Englishmen who might have forgiven the most imbittered political hostility, but never could have overlooked a taint on personal honor. Of this number was the Earl of Wemyss, who after the peace endeavored to promote the views of Jones on various occasions. He himself, however, discovers a lurking consciousness of having incurred, if not of meriting, suspicion on this delicate ground. This is chiefly displayed by his eloquent though rather frequent assertions of purity of motive, superiority to objects of sordid interest, and disinterested zeal for the cause, now of America, now of human nature, as was best adapted to the supposed inclinations of his correspondents. In ordinary circumstances, much of this might have appeared uncalled for; but the situation of Jones was in many respects peculiar both as a native-born Briton, and as a man of obscure origin, jealous -- and pardonably so -- of his independence and dignity of character. Somewhat of his heroic vaunting which marks other parts of his correspondence appears incident to the enthusiastic temperament of many great naval commanders. How would Nelson's tone of confident prediction, and boasts of prowess, have sounded from the lips of an inferior man? In any other than himself, the customary language of Drake would have been reckoned that of an insolent braggart."
Writing to Baron Vander Capellan, some years after the conflict began, Jones says, in a spirit of bitterness, provoked by his being stigmatized as a pirate, rebel, etc., in the British prints:
"I was 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 inward 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."
At the time when Paul settled (or more properly, supposed he meant to settle) in Virginia, it would seem that he assumed the additional surname of Jones. Previous to this date, his letters are signed John Paul. We are left to conjecture the reason of this arbitrary change. His relations were never able to assign one; there is no allusion to the circumstance in the manuscripts which he left, and tradition is silent on the subject. It was, however, a caprice by no means singular in a seafaring man.
THE AMERICAN NAVY.
IT is not within the province of this narrative to sketch the early history of the American navy, or its operations during the Revolutionary war, except where Jones was connected with them. Of these he is his own historian.
With the view of cutting off the supplies sent in store ships to Boston, then in possession of the British, and in a state of blockade, -- of obtaining powder and the munitions of war, which were not to be had in the colonies, -- and of retaliating for depredations committed by British emissaries along the coast, the General Court of Massachusetts on the 13th of November, 1775, passed an act authorizing letters of marque and reprisal to be issued against ships infesting the seacoast of America, and elected courts to try and condemn such as should be captured.
General Washington, as Commander-in-chief, gave commissions to a number of vessels, to intercept the supplies intended for Boston. Privateers swarmed in the bay of Boston, and off the neighboring seacoast.
Instances of gallant and ingenious enterprises were numerous, and the names of those by whom they were conducted will be entitled to a place in our national history. On the 13th of December, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted a report of the Committee appointed to devise ways and means for fitting out a naval armament; in which it was recommended that thirteen frigates should be got ready for sea; five to be of thirty-two guns, five of twenty-eight, and three of twenty-four. They also commissioned a small fleet collected in the Delaware to cruise against the enemy, and passed the following resolution
"In Congress, 22d December, 1775.
"Resolved, that the following naval officers be appointed:
"Ezek. Hopkins, Esq., Commander-in-Chief of the fleet.
Dudley Saltonstall, Captain of the Alfred.
Abraham Whipple, Captain of the Columbus
Nicholas Biddle, Captain of the Andrew Doria
John B. Hopkins, Captain of the Cabot
"First Lieutenants, John Paul Jones, Rhodes Arnold, Stansbury, Hersted Hacker, Jonathan Pitcher.
"Second Lieutenants, Benjamin Seabury, Joseph Olney, Elisha Warner, Thomas Weaver, ___ McDougall.
"Third Lieutenants, John Fanning, Ezekiel Borroughs, Daniel Vaughan.
"Resolved, that the pay of the Commander-in-Chief of the fleet be one hundred and twenty-five dollars per month."
To this small fleet were added the sloop Providence, the command of which Jones declined for the reasons stated in his narrative, which we shall presently follow.
The force consisted of:
Alfred, Commodore Hopkins, 30 guns and 300 men.
Columbus, Whipple, 28 guns and 300 men.
Andrew Doria, Biddle, 16 guns and 200 men.
Sebastian Cabot, Hopkins, Jr., 14 guns and 200 men.
Providence, Hazard, 12 guns and 150 men.
The flag of America was hoisted by Jones, as he records, being the first time it was displayed, on board of the Alfred, of which he was first lieutenant. He does not mention the date of this transaction, which it would be extremely interesting to ascertain. His commission to act as lieutenant bore date on the 7th December.
The squadron was originally destined to act against Lord Dunmore, who was committing acts of outrage and depredation along the coast of Virginia. The navigation of the Delaware was, however, interrupted by the ice, and the fleet did not leave Cape Henlopen until the 17th of February, 1776.
The most succinct and clear account of this period of his service is given by Jones in the commencement of a Journal, drawn up at the request of the king of France, and read by that unfortunate monarch when he was a prisoner. It is as follows:
"When Congress thought fit to equip a naval force towards the conclusion of the year 1775, 'for the defense of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof,' it was a very difficult matter to find men fitly qualified for officers, and willing to embark in the ships and vessels that were then put into commission. The American navy at first was no more than the ships Alfred and Columbus, the brigantines Andrew Doria, and Cabot, and the sloop Providence. A commander-in-chief of the fleet was appointed; and the Captains Saltonstall, Whipple, Biddle, and Hopkins were named for the ships and brigantines. A captain's commission for the Providence, bought, or to be bought, about the time, from Captain Whipple, which Mr. Joseph Hewes of the Marine Committee offered to his friend Mr. John Paul Jones, was not accepted, because Mr. Jones had never sailed in a sloop, and had then no idea of the declaration of independence that took place the next year. It was his early wish to do his best for the cause of America, which he considered as the cause of human nature. He could have no object of self-interest; and having then no prospect that the American navy would soon become an established service, that rank was the most acceptable to him by which he could be the most useful in that moment of public calamity.
"There were three classes of lieutenants appointed, and Mr. Jones was appointed the first of the first lieutenants, which placed him next in command to the four captains already mentioned. This commission under the united colonies is dated the 7th day of December, 1775, as first lieutenant of the Alfred. On board of that ship, before Philadelphia, Mr. Jones hoisted the flag of America with his own hands, the first time it was ever displayed, as the commander-in-chief embarked on board the Alfred. All the commissions for the Alfred were dated before the commissions for the Columbus, etc. All the time this little squadron was fitting and manning, Mr. Jones superintended the affairs of the Alfred; and as Captain Saltonstall did not appear at Philadelphia, the commander-in-chief told Mr. Jones he should command that ship. A day or two before the squadron sailed from Philadelphia, manned and fit for sea, Captain Saltonstall appeared, and took command of the Alfred.
"The object of the first expedition was against Lord Dunmore in Virginia. But instead of proceeding immediately on that service, the squadron was hauled to the wharfs at Reedy Island, and lay there for six weeks frozen up. Here Mr. Jones and the other lieutenants stood the deck, watch and watch, night and day, to prevent desertion; and they lost no man from the Alfred.
"On the 17th of February, 1776, the squadron sailed from the bay of Delaware, having been joined the day before by a small sloop and a very small schooner from.Baltimore.
"On the 1st of March the squadron anchored at Abaco, one of the Bahama Islands, and carried in there two sloops belonging to New Providence. Some persons on board the sloops informed that a quantity of powder and warlike stores might be taken in the forts of New Providence. An expedition was determined on against that island. It was resolved to embark the marines on board the two sloops. They were to remain below deck until the sloops had anchored in the harbor close to the forts, and they were then to land and take possession.
"There was not a single soldier in the island to oppose them; therefore the plan would have succeeded, and not only the public stores might have been secured, but a considerable contribution might have been obtained as a ransom for the town and island, had not the whole squadron appeared off the harbor in the morning, instead of remaining out of sight till after the sloops had entered and the marines secured the forts.
"On the appearance of the squadron the signal of alarm was fired, so that it was impossible to think of crossing the bar. The commander-in-chief proposed to go round the west end of the island, and endeavor to march the marines up and get behind the town; but this could never have been effected. The islanders would have had time to collect; there was no fit anchorage for the squadron, nor road from that part of the island to the town.
"Mr. Jones finding by the Providence pilots that the squadron might anchor under a key three leagues to windward of the harbor, gave this account to the commander-in-chief, who, objecting to the dependence on the pilots, Mr. Jones undertook to carry the Alfred safe in. He took the pilot with him to the fore-top mast-head, whence they could see every danger, and the squadron anchored safe.
"The marines, with two vessels to cover their landing, were immediately sent in by the east passage. The commander-in-chief promised to touch no private property. The inhabitants abandoned the forts, and the governor, finding he must surrender the island, embarked all the powder in two vessels, and sent them away in the night. This was foreseen, and might have been prevented, by sending the two brigantines to lie off the bar.
"The squadron entered the harbor of New Providence, and sailed thence the 17th of March, having embarked the cannon, etc., that was found in the fort.
"In the night of the 9th of April, on the return of the squadron from the Providence expedition, the American arms by sea were first tried in an action with the Glasgow, a British frigate of 24 guns, off Block Island. Both the Alfred and Columbus mounted two batteries. The Alfred mounted 30, the Columbus 28, guns. The first battery was so near the water as to be fit far nothing except in a harbor or a very smooth sea. The sea was at times perfectly smooth.
"Mr. Jones was stationed between decks to command the Alfred's first battery, which was well served whenever the guns could be brought to bear on the enemy, as appears by the official letter of the commander-in-chief giving an account of that action. Mr. Jones therefore did his duty; and as he had no direction whatever, either of the general disposition of the squadron, or the sails and helm of the Alfred, he can stand charged with no part of the disgrace of that night.
The squadron steered directly for New London, and entered that port two days after the action. Here General Washington lent the squadron 200 men, as was thought, for some enterprise. The squadron, however, stole quietly round to Rhode Island, and up the river to Providence. Here a court-martial was held for the trial of Captain Whipple, for not assisting in the action with the Glasgow.
"Another court-martial was held for the trial of Captain Hazard, who had been appointed captain of the sloop Providence at Philadelphia, some time after Mr. Jones had refused that command. Captain Hazard was broke, and rendered incapable of serving in the navy.
"The next day, the 10th of May, 1776, Mr. Jones was ordered by the commander-in-chief to take command `as captain of the Providence.' This proves that Mr. Jones did his duty on the Providence expedition. As the commander-in-chief had in his hands no blank commission, this appointment was written and signed on the back of the commission that Mr. Jones had received at Philadelphia the 7th of December, 1775.
"Captain Jones had orders to receive on board the Providence the soldiers that had been borrowed from General Washington, and to carry them to Now York, there enlist as many seamen as he could, and then return to New London, to take in from the hospital all the seamen that had been left there by the squadron, and were recovered, and carry them to Providence.
"Captain Jones soon performed these services; and having hove down the sloop and partly fitted her for war at Providence, he received orders from the commander-in-chief, dated Rhode Island, June 10th, 1776, to come immediately down to take a sloop then in sight, armed for war, belonging to the enemy's navy. Captain Jones obeyed orders with alacrity; but the enemy had disappeared before he reached Newport.
"On the 13th of June, 1776, Captain Jones received orders, dated that day at Newport, Rhode Island, from the commander-in-chief, to proceed to Newburyport to take under convoy some vessels bound for Philadelphia; but first to convoy Lieutenant Hacket in the Fly, with a cargo of cannon, into the sound for New York, and to convoy some vessels back from Stonington to the entrance of Newport.
"In performing these last services, Captain Jones found great difficulty from the enemy's frigates, then cruising round Block Island, with which he had several rencontres; in one of which he saved a brigantine that was a stranger, from Hispaniola, closely pursued by the Cerberus, and laden with public military stores. That brigantine was afterwards purchased by the Continent, and called the Hampden.
"Captain Jones received orders from the commander-in-chief to proceed for Boston instead of Newburyport. At Boston he was detained a considerable time by the backwardness of the agent. He arrived with his convoy from Boston, safe in the Delaware, the 1st of August, 1776. This service was performed while the enemy were arriving daily at Sandy Hook from Halifax and England, under the escort and protection of Lord Howe, and Captain Jones saw several of their ships of war which he had the address to avoid.
"Captain Jones received a captain's commission under the United States of America, from the president of Congress the 8th of August."
CAPTAIN JONES' SERVICE.
CONTINUING his journal written for the perusal of the king of France, Jones writes:
"It was proposed to Captain Jones by the Marine Committee of Congress to go to Connecticut, to command the brigantine Hampden; but he, choosing rather to remain in the sloop Providence, had orders to go out on a cruise against the enemy for six weeks, or two or three months.'
"He was not limited to any particular station or service. He left the Delaware the 21st of August. and arrived at Rhode Island on the 7th of October, 1776. Captain Jones had only seventy men when he sailed from the Delaware, and the Providence mounted only 12 four-pounders.
"Near the latitude of Bermudas he had a very narrow escape from the enemy's frigate, the Solebay, after a chase and an engagement for six hours within cannon-shot, and considerable part of that time within pistol-shot.
"Afterwards, near the isle of Sable, Captain Jones had a running fight with the enemy's frigate the Milford; and the firing between them lasted from ten in the morning till after sunset.
"The day after this rencontre, Captain Jones entered the harbor of Canso, where he recruited several men, took the Tories' flags, destroyed all the fishery, burned the shipping, and sailed again the next morning on an expedition against the Island of Madame.
"He made two descents at the principal ports of that island at the same time; surprised, burned, and destroyed all their shipping, and the fishery, though the place abounded with men, and they had arms.
"All this, from the Delaware to Rhode Island, was performed in six weeks and five days; in which time Captain Jones made sixteen prizes, besides a great number of small vessels and fishery which he destroyed.
"The commander-in-chief of the navy was at Rhode Island, who, in consequence of the information given him by Captain Jones, adopted an expedition against the coal fleet of Cape Breton and the fishery, as well as to relieve a number of Americans from the coal mines, where they were compelled to labor by the enemy.
"The Alfred had remained idle ever since the Providence expedition, and was without men. It was proposed to employ that ship, the brigantine Hampden, and sloop Providence, on this expedition, under the command of Captain Jones, who had orders given him for that purpose on the 22d of October, 1776, and then removed from the sloop Providence to command the ship Alfred.
"Finding he could not enlist a sufficient number of men for the three to sail before the season would be lost, Captain Jones determined to leave the sloop Providence behind; but Captain Hacker ran the Hampden upon a ledge of rocks on the 27th, and knocked off her keel, which obliged Captain Jones to remove him into the sloop Providence.
"The Alfred and Providence sailed together on this expedition the 2d of November, 1776, Captain Jones having only 140 men on his muster-roll for the Alfred, though that ship had 235 men when she left the Delaware. Captain Jones passed between the enemies' frigates at Block Island and the shore, and anchored for the night at Tarpawling Cove, near Nantucket, because daylight was necessary to pass through the shoals.
"Finding there a privateer schooner belonging to Rhode Island inward-bound, he sent his boat to search for deserters from the navy. His officers found four deserters carefully concealed on board. They were taken on board the Alfred, with a few other seamen, agreeably to orders from the commander-in-chief. Those concerned in the privateer brought an action against Captain Jones for 10,000 pounds damages, and the commander-in-chief had the politeness not to support him.
"Captain Jones proceeded on his expedition. Off Louisbourg he took a brig with a rich cargo of dry goods, a scow with a cargo of fish, and a large ship called the Mellish, bound for Canada, armed for war, and laden with soldiers' clothing. The day after taking these prizes (18th November) the snow fell, and the wind blew fresh off Cape Breton.
"To prevent separation, and not from the violence of the weather, Captain Jones made the signal to lay to, which was obeyed; but as soon as night began, Captain Hacker bore away. He made shift to arrive at Rhode Island a day or two before the place was taken by the enemy.
"Captain Jones ordered his prizes, the brigantine and the scow, to steer for American ports; but determined not to lose sight of the Mellish, unless in case of necessity. After a little gale and some contrary winds, he fell in with Canso, and sent his boats in to destroy a fine transport that lay aground in the entrance, laden with Irish provision. The party burnt also the oil-warehouse, and destroyed the materials for the whale and cod fishery.
"Off Louisbourg, on the 24th of November, he took three fine ships out of the coal-fleet, then bound for New York, under the convoy of the frigate Flora, that would have been in sight had the fog been dispersed. Two days after this, Captain Jones took a strong letter-of-marque ship with a rich cargo, from Liverpool.
"He had now a hundred and fifty prisoners on board the Alfred, and a great part of his water and provisions was consumed. He found by his prisoners that the harbor at the coal-mines was frozen up, and necessity obliged him to seek a hospitable port with the five prize-ships under his convoy.
"No separation took place till the 7th of December, on the edge of St. George's Bank, where Captain Jones again fell in with the Milford frigate. Captain Jones drew the whole attention of the enemy toward the Alfred, and by running the greatest risk himself, saved all his prizes except the letter-of-marque from Liverpool, and she would not have been taken had not the prize-master, who was three leagues to windward, foolishly run down under the Milford's face.
The Mellish arrived safe with the clothing at Dartmouth, and Captain Jones, after meeting with much tempestuous weather, arrived at Boston the 15th of December, 1776, having only two days' water and provisions left. The news of the supply of clothing reached General Washington's army just before he re-crossed the Delaware, and took the enemy's garrison at Trenton.
"By a letter from the commander-in-chief of the Navy, dated on board the Warren, at Providence, January 14th, 1777, Captain Jones was superseded in the command of the Alfred, in favor of Captain Hinman.
"Captain Jones paid off the crews of the Alfred and Providence, for which he was not reimbursed until the end of the war, and then without any interest.
"On the 18th of February he received an appointment by order of Congress from the Hon. Robert Morris, Esq., Vice-President of the Marine Committee, dated Philadelphia, February the 5th, 1777, to command private expeditions against Pensacola and other places, with the Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Hampden, and sloop Providence. Many important schemes were pointed out; but Captain Jones was left at free liberty to adopt whatever he thought best.
"This appointment fell to nothing; for the commander-in-chief would not assist, but affected to disbelieve in the appointment. Captain Jones made a journey by land from Boston to Philadelphia, in order to explain matters to Congress in person."
There are two other documents written by Jones, recapitulating in a much more summary manner the events of the cruises in which he was engaged during the time passed over in the foregoing extract. One of these is a letter or memorial, addressed to the President of Congress, written from the Texel, December 7th, 1779, which he elsewhere styles "a refreshing memorial;" the other, a letter addressed to Mr. Morris, Minister of the Marine, etc., dated Philadelphia, October 13th, 1783.
The narrative drawn up for the king of France is by far the most precise; on which account it has been introduced. It will be necessary, however, to revert to some of its details, for the purposes of illustrating the circumstances it records, and explaining the subsequent passages in the history of Jones.
The affair with the Glasgow is briefly alluded to. Jones felt that no glory was gained by it, and such was the, perhaps, unreasonable opinion of the American public at the time. Commodore Hopkins alleged in his justification that, if he had pursued the escaping frigate, it might have brought him into an engagement with the whole of Wallace's fleet, then committing great depredation on the coast of Rhode Island.
As Jones observes, it was the business of the commander and captains to answer for the escape of the frigate; yet a sensibility, not unallied, perhaps, to a premature and morbid apprehension that censure would light upon himself, caused him always to speak of this affair as if his personal conduct stood in need of exculpation.
In the letter to the President of Congress, last referred to, Jones says: "I continued in that ship (the Alfred), and had my share of the dishonor which attended the first essay of American arms by sea with the Glasgow. Permit me, however, to observe that, as I was stationed to command the lower battery of the Alfred, I had no share in the government of the sails or helm; and as the artillery under my direction was well served, whenever it could be brought to bear, I hope Congress will not find that the disgrace of that night was owing to me."
Writing to Mr. Hewes, shortly after the transaction, he says: "My station confined me to the Alfred's lower gun-deck, where I commanded during the action; yet, though the commander's letter, which has been published, says, 'all the officers in the Alfred behaved well,' still the public blames me among others for not taking the enemy. But a little consideration will place the matter in a true light; but no officer, under a superior, who does not stand charged, by that superior, for cowardice or misconduct, can be blamed on any occasion whatever."
It is to be observed that, while thus disavowing any responsibility, as a subaltern, Jones by no means imputes blame to Commodore Hopkins. He says, in his letter to Mr. Hewes: "I have the pleasure of assuring you that the commander-in-chief is respected throughout the fleet; and I verily believe that the officers and men, in general, would go to any length to execute his orders." In the same letter he refers to the minutes of the action with the Glasgow, as entered by himself on the Alfred's log-book:
"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, 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, and 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 shot under water, which made the ship very leaky; we had, besides, the mainmast shot through, and the upper works and the rigging very considerably damaged; yet it is surprising that we only lost the second lieutenant of Marines and four men, one of whom (Martin Gillingwater) was a midshipman, prisoner, who was in the cockpit, and had been taken in the bomb brig Bolton yesterday; we had no more than three men dangerously and four slightly wounded."
In the 87th number of the "Constitutional Gazette," published in New York, May 29th, 1776, is a statement of Captain David Hawley, who had arrived at Hartford, from Halifax, whence he had escaped, having been a prisoner on board the Glasgow during the skirmish in question. He says that, on the _th of April, the Glasgow sailed from Newport; came up and hailed the brig, who answered that they were from Plymouth; then the brig hailed the Glasgow, and was told who they were. Upon signals being made and not answered, as it was still dark, the Glasgow received a heavy broadside from the brig, killed one man, and slightly wounded another. Then the Alfred came up, and closely engaged her for near three glasses, while the black brig attacked the Glasgow on her lee bow. It was observed by the motion of the Alfred, that she had received some unlucky shot. The sloop of twelve guns fired upon her stern without any great effect. The most of her shot went about six feet above the deck; whereas, if they had been properly leveled, they must soon have cleared it of men. The Glasgow got at a distance, when she fired smartly; and the engagement lasted about six glasses, when they both seemed willing to quit. The Glasgow was considerably damaged in her hull; had ten shot through her mainsail, and eighty-eight through her foresail; had her spars carried away, and her rigging cut to pieces. On the 6th they got into Rhode Island; early in the morning of the 7th, were fired upon from the shore, cut her cables, and run up to Hope Island, where the hospital ship followed them. The wind shifting to the northward, they went out and joined Commodore Wallace, and after two days sailed for Halifax, where Captain Hawley tarried a fortnight, and on the 7th of April, made his escape with eight others, in a small boat, and came to Old York."
The seventy-fifth number of the same newspaper, of April 17th, 1776, contains the following account under date of Newport, April 8th, which throws light upon the result of the affair with the Glasgow, and from its quaintness may not be uninteresting.
"Last Friday the ministerial fleet went a little without the mouth of our harbor, and in the evening they all returned and anchored between Gould Island and Coddington's Point, except the Glasgow, of twenty-four guns, and a small tender, which kept out all night. As soon as it was light, the next morning, a party of the troops stationed on the island got down two of their eighteen-pounders upon the point, and played so well upon these worse than Algerine rovers, that they hulled the Rose two or three times, the Nautilus once or twice, and sent a shot through and through one of the armed tenders, upon which Captain Wallace, of the Rose, sent off a boat to cut away the buoy of his anchor, then slipped his cable, and made off as fast as possible; and the rest of his fleet followed in the utmost hurry and confusion, having fired about fifteen cannon upon our people without the least effect, though they stood in considerable numbers, as open as they could well be, without the least breastwork or other shelter.
"For several hours before, and during, the above engagement, a vast number of cannon were heard from the southeast and about sunrise eight or ten sail of ships, brigs, etc., were seen a little to the eastward of Block Island, and 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. The other vessels seen off stood up the western sound, and by very authentic intelligence on Saturday evening, we are fully convinced they were twelve sail of the Continental navy, very deeply laden with cannon, mortars, cannon-shot, bombs, and other warlike stores from the West Indies, so that it is probable their precious cargoes were the sole cause of Mrs. Glasgow's making her escape. Her tender was taken, as also the bomb brig, and a schooner which had been out near a week in search of prey.
"As soon as the Glasgow got in, the Rose, Captain Wallace, the Nautilus, Captain Collins, the Swan, Captain Ascough, with several tenders and pirated prizes, stood out to sea, leaving the Glasgow, a large scow, and two small sloops at anchor, about three-quarters of a mile from [fron] Brenton's point. The ensuing night, a party of troops carried one eighteen-pounder, one nine, one six, and two four-pounders, on said point, and early yesterday morning saluted the Glasgow with such warmth that she slipped her cable and pushed up the river without firing a gun, under all the sail she could make, and the others followed with great precipitation. By the terrible cracking on board the Glasgow, the noise and confusion among her men, it is thought the cannon did good execution. The wind shifting to the northward about noon, those vessels ran down the back of Conanicut and stood out to sea, supposed to have gone in quest of Captain Wallace, to make a woful complaint of the incivility of the Yankees."
The adventure with the Glasgow cannot, from the evidence now left, be considered as discreditable to the infant navy of America. The promotion of Jones by the commander-in-chief of the navy, to be acting commandant of the Providence, proves, as he states himself, that the officer under whose immediate command he had served, approved of his conduct.
While conveying military stores and troops between Newport and New York, he appears from his journal to have had several rencontres with the Cerberus frigate and with others.
In his "refreshing memorial" to the President of Congress, written from the Texel, he says, when speaking of this period of his service:
"The first task I performed in the Providence was to transport a number of soldiers from Providence to New York, which General Washington had lent us at New London to inspire us with courage to venture round to Rhode Island.
"The Commodore employed me afterwards for some time to escort vessels from Rhode Island into the Sound, etc., while the Cerberus and other vessels cruised round Block Island. At last I received orders to proceed to Boston, to take under convoy some vessels laden with coal for Philadelphia. I performed that service about the time when Lord Howe arrived at Sandy Hook. It was proposed to send me from Philadelphia by land to take command of the Hampden in Connecticut, but I preferred to continue in the Providence, the Hampden being a far inferior vessel to the description that had been given of her to Congress."
He was commissioned to sail from the Delaware on a cruise "with unlimited orders," as he expressed it in his memorial; and this was certainly the sort of trust which he best loved to execute. Some extracts from his letters to the marine committee of Congress, relative to his adventurers in this cruise of "six weeks and five days," so briefly mentioned in his journal, will probably be acceptable to the reader.
"PROVIDENCE, at sea, in N. Lat. 37° 40'.
S. W. Longitude, 54°, Sept. 4th,, 1776.
"I had the honor of writing to you August 27th, per the brigantine Britannia, which I sent under the care of Lieutenant Wm. Grinnell. Since that, I have been to the southward, near the parallel of Bermuda, and brought to four sail of French, Spanish, and Danish ships, homeward bound, but without gaining any useful information. On the first current I fell in with a fleet of five sail, one of them being very large, it was the general opinion here, that she was either an Old Indiaman, outward bound, with stores, or a Jamaica three-decker, bound homewards. We found her to be an English frigate, mounting twenty guns upon one deck. She sailed fast, and pursued us by the wind, till, after four hours' chase, the sea running very cross, she got within musket shot of our lee-quarter. As they had continued firing at us from the first, without showing colors, I now ordered ours to be hoisted, and began to fire at them. Upon this, they also hoisted American colors, and fired guns to leeward. But the bait would not take, for, having everything prepared, I bore away before the wind, and set all our light sail at once; so that before her sails could be trimmed, and steering sails set, I was almost out of reach of grape, and soon after out of reach of cannon shot. Our 'hair-breadth escape,' and the saucy manner of making it, must have mortified him not a little. Had he foreseen this motion, and been prepared to counteract it, he might have fired several broadsides of double-headed and grape shot, which would have done us very material damage. But he was a bad marksman; and, though within pistol shot, did not touch the Providence with one of the many shots he fired. I met with no other adventure till last night, when I took the Bermuda-built brigantine Sea Nymph, etc."
He concludes this letter by observing that he did not expect much success in his cruise, as it was too late for the season; a remark which he repeats in his next letter, dated three days after, when sending in the brigantine Favorite laden with sugar, from Antigua, for Liverpool, which he had captured on the evening of September 6th, being his third prize.
The following characteristic letter, giving an account of the manner in which he "ridicules" the Milford frigate and took or destroyed the shipping in Canso harbor, seems worthy of being inserted entire:
"PROVIDENCE, off the Isle of Sable,
September 30th, 1776.
"From that time of despatching the Favorite, I cruised without seeing any vessel. I then spoke the Columbus' prize, the ship Royal Exchange, bound for Boston. By this time, my water and wood began to run short, which induced me to run to the northward, for some port of Nova Scotia or Cape Breton. I had, besides, a prospect of destroying the English shipping in these parts. The 16th and 17th, I had a very heavy gale from the N. W. which obliged me to dismount all my guns, and stick everything I could into the hold. The 19th, I made the Isle of Sable, and on the 20th, being between it and the main, I met with an English frigate, with a merchant ship under her convoy. I had hove to, to give my people an opportunity of taking fish, when the frigate came in sight directly to windward, and was so good-natured as to save me the trouble of chasing him, by bearing down the instant he discovered us. When he came within cannon-shot, I made sail to try his speed. Quartering and finding that I had the advantage, I shortened sail to give him a wild-goose chase, and tempt him to throw away powder and shot. Accordingly, a curious mock engagement was maintained between us for eight hours; until night, with her sable curtains, put an end to this famous exploit of English knight-errantry.
"He excited my contempt so much by his continued firing, at more than twice the proper distance, that when he rounded to to give his broadside, I ordered my marine officer to return the salute with only a single musket. We saw him, next morning, standing to the westward; and it is not unlikely that he hath told his friends at Halifax what a trimming he gave to a 'rebel privateer' which he found infesting the coast.
"That night I was off Canso harbor, and sent my boat in to gain information. On the morning of the 22d, I anchored in the harbor, and, before night, got off a sufficiency of wood and water. Here I recruited several men, and finding three English schooners in the harbor, we that night burned one, sunk another, and, in the morning, carried off the third, which we had loaded with what fish was found in the other two.
"At Canso, I received information of nine sail of ships, brigs, and schooners, in the harbor of Narrow Shock and Peter de Great, at a small distance from each other, in the Island of Madame, on the east side of the bay of Canso. These I determined to take or destroy; and, to do it effectually, having brought a shallop for the purpose from Canso, I despatched herewith twenty-five armed men to Narrow Shock, while my boat went, well manned and armed, to Peter de Great; and I kept off and on with the sloop, to keep them in awe at both places. The expedition succeeded to my wish. So effectual was this surprise, and so general the panic, that numbers yielded to a handful, without opposition, and never was a bloodless victory more complete. As the shipping that were unloaded were all unrigged, I had recourse to an expedient for despatch. I promised to leave the late proprietors vessels sufficient to carry them home to the Island of Jersey, on condition that they immediately fitted out and rigged such of the rest as might be required. This condition was readily complied with; and they assisted my people with unremitting application, till the business was completed. But the evening of the 25th brought with it a violent gale of wind, with rain, which obliged me to anchor in the entrance of Narrow Shock, where I rode it out, with both anchors and whole cables ahead. Two of our prizes, the ship Alexander and Sea Flower, had come out before the gale began. The ship anchored under a point, and rode it out; but the schooner, after anchoring, drove, and ran ashore. She was a valuable prize; but, as I could not get her off, I next day ordered her to be set on fire. The schooner Ebenezer, taken at Canso, was driven on a reef of sunken rocks, and there totally lost; the people having with difficulty saved themselves on a raft. Towards noon on the 26th, the gale began to abate. The ship Adventure being unrigged, and almost empty, I ordered her to be burnt. I put to sea in the afternoon with the brigantine Kingston Packet, and being joined by the Alexander, went off Peter de Great. I had sent an officer round in a shallop to order the vessels in that harbor to meet me in the offing, and he now joined me in the brigantine Success, and informed me that Mr. Gallagher (the officer who had commanded the party in that harbor) had left it at the beginning of the gale in the brigantine Defense, and taken with him my boat and all the people. I am unwilling to believe that this was done with an evil intention. I rather think he concluded the boat and people necessary to assist the vessel getting out, the navigation being difficult, and the wind at that time unfavorable; and when the gale began, I knew it was impossible for them to return.
"Thus weakened, I could attempt nothing more. With one of our brigs and the sloop, I could have scoured the coast and secured the destruction of a large boat fleet that was loading near Louisbourg, with the savage only to protect them.
"The fishery at Canso and Madame is effectually destroyed. Out of twelve sail which I took there, I only left two small schooners and one small brig, to convey a number of unfortunate men, not short of three hundred, across the Western Ocean. Had I gone further, I should have stood chargeable with inhumanity.
"In my ticklish situation it would have been madness to lose a moment. I therefore hastened to the southward, to convey my prizes out of harm's way, the Damono brig having been within fifteen leagues of the scene of action during the whole time.
"On the 27th, I saw two sail, which we took for Quebec transports. Unable to resist the temptation, having appointed a three days' rendezvous on the S. W. part of the Isle of Sable, I gave chase, but could not come up before they had got into Louisbourg, a place where I had reason to expect a far superior force; and therefore returned, and this day I joined my prizes at the rendezvous.
"If my poor endeavors should meet with your approbation, I shall be greatly rewarded in the pleasing reflection of having endeavored to do my duty. I have had so much of stormy weather, and been obliged on divers occasions, to carry so much sail, that the sloop is in no condition to continue long out of port. I am, besides, very weak handed; and the men I have are scarce able to stand on deck, for want of clothing, the weather here being very cold. These reasons induce me to bend my thoughts towards the continent. I do not expect to meet with much, if any success, on my return. But if fortune should insist on sending a transport or so in my way, weak as I am, I will endeavor to pilot him safe. It is but justice to add, that my officers and men behaved incomparably well on the occasion.
"I have the honor to be, etc. etc., JOHN P. JONES.
"THE HONORABLE THE MARINE COMMITTEE, PHILADELPHIA."
The following is the list of prizes, taken, burnt, and sunk by Jones during this cruise; Brigantine Britannia, Whaler; Brigantine Sea Nymph, West Indies; Brigantine Favorite, West Indies; Ship Alexander, Newfoundland; Brigantine Success, Newfoundland; Brigantine Kingston Packet, Jamaica; Brigantine Defiance, Jersey; Sloop Portland, Whaler. The above named were manned and sent in. Ship Adventure, Jersey; Brigantine Friendship, Jersey; Schooner John, London; Schooner Betsy, Jersey; Schooner Betsy, Halifax; Schooner Sea Flower, Canso; Schooner Ebenezer, Canso; Schooner Hope, Jersey.
ONE of the objects of the expedition to Cape Breton, that of rescuing the hundred American prisoners confined in the coal pits, was not effected; and other projects were abandoned, from the lateness of the season, and the difficulty of procuring men. Jones indeed met with more success than he had anticipated, as will be seen from the following extract of his letter written to Mr. Morris, and dated October 17th.
"I have been successfully employed in refitting and getting the Providence in readiness, and am under the greatest apprehension that the expedition will fall to nothing, as the Alfred is greatly short of men. I found her with only about thirty men, and we have with much ado enlisted thirty more; but it seems the privateers entice them away as fast as they receive their month's pay.
"Governor Hopkins tells me that he apprehends that I am appointed to the Andrew Doria; she is a good cruiser, and would, in my judgment, answer much better, were she mounted with 12 six-pounders, than as she is at present, with 14 fours. An expedition of importance may be effected this winter, on the coast of Africa, with part of the original fleet. Either the Alfred or Columbus, with the Andrew Doria and Providence, would, I am persuaded, carry all before them; and give a blow to the English African trade which would not soon be recovered, by not leaving them a mast standing on that coast. This expedition would be attended with no great expense; besides, the ship and vessels mentioned are unfit for service on a winter coast, which is not the case with the new frigates. The small squadron for this service ought to sail early, that the prizes may reach our ports in March or April. If I do not succeed in manning the Alfred, so as to proceed to the eastward, in the course of this week, the season will be lost; the coal fleet will be gone to Halifax, the fishermen to Europe."
This cruise, however, of Jones, from Rhode Island, was attended with many useful and some brilliant results. The capture, in particular, of the clothing in the Mellish, while it furnished a seasonable supply to the American army, was a serious privation to that of the enemy. In his letter to the Marine Committee dated November 12th, Jones says:
"This prize is, I believe, the most valuable that has been taken by the American arms. She made some defense, 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 all that has preceded it is already taken. The situation of Burgoyne's army must soon become insupportable. I shall not lose sight of a prize of such importance, but will sink her, rather than suffer her to fall again into their hands."
His account of his second meeting with the Milford, given in the memorial from the Texel, is as follows:
"On the edge of St. George's Bank, I again met with the Milford. The wind was at N. W., the enemy to windward, and we on our starboard tack. He could not come up before night; and, in the meantime, I placed the Alfred and the letter-of-marque from Liverpool between the other prizes and the enemy. I ordered them to crowd sail on the same tack all night, without paying regard to my light or signals. At midnight, the Alfred and the letter-of-marque tacked, and I afterwards carried a top light till morning.
"This led the Milford entirely out of the way of the prizes, and particularly the clothing ship Mellish; for they were all out of sight in the morning. I had now to get out of the difficulty the best way I could. In the morning we again tacked; and as the Milford did not make much appearance, I was unwilling to quit her, without a certainty of her superior force. She was out of shot, on the lee quarter; and as I could only see her bow, I ordered the letter-of-marque, Lieutenant Saunders, that held a much better wind than the Alfred, to drop slowly astern, until he could discover by a view of the enemy's side, whether she was of superior or inferior force, and to make a signal accordingly.
"On seeing Mr. Saunders drop astern, the Milford wore suddenly, and crowded sail towards the N. E. This raised in me such doubts as determined me to wear also, and give chase. Mr. Saunders steered by the wind, while the Milford went lasking, and the Alfred followed her with a pressed sail, so that Mr. Saunders was soon almost hull down to windward. At last the Milford tacked again; but I did not tack the Alfred till I had the enemy's side fairly open, and could plainly see her force. I then tacked, about ten o'clock.
"The Alfred being too light to be steered by the wind, I bore away two points, while the Milford steered close by the wind, to gain the Alfred's wake; and by that means he dropped astern, notwithstanding his superior sailing. The weather too, which became exceedingly squally, enabled me to outdo the Milford, by carrying more sail. I began to be under no apprehension from the enemy's superiority, for there was every appearance of a severe gale, which really took place in the night. To my great surprise, however, Mr. Saunders, towards four o'clock, bore down on the Milford, made the signal of her inferior force, ran under her lee, and was taken!"
The delay experienced by Captain Jones at Boston, where he arrived with his prize, in getting rid of his prisoners and being delivered, as he phrases it, from the "honorable office of a jail-keeper," -- the inaction in which he was obliged to remain for want of a command, -- the neglect of Commodore Hopkins, from unwillingness or inability, to tender him any assistance, -- and his being superseded in the command of the Alfred by the orders of that officer, were circumstances of an irritating character, which drew from him many letters of indignant remonstrance.
Writing to the commodore on the 28th of February, he says: "It is only necessary for me to inform you, as I have already done, that I am appointed by a letter from the Honorable the Vice-President of the Marine Board, dated the 5th current, to take command of the Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Hampden, and sloop Providence, and to call on you for every possible assistance within your power, to enable me to proceed forthwith on a private enterprise, of the greatest importance to America. The letter has the sanction and full authority of Congress. It is written in their name. Therefore, sir, I repeat my application, and demand your hearty and immediate concurrence with me in the outfit. It is in vain for you to affect to disbelieve my appointment.
"I should have appeared personally at Providence, had you justified my conduct in obeying your express orders, instead of leaving me, as you have done, in the lurch.* I could then have convinced you of its being your indispensable duty to give me every possible assistance. When I placed a confidence in you, I did not think you capable of prevarication. I then, when you needed friends, gave you the most convincing proof of my sincerity. This you must remember. I have asked Captain Saltonstall how he could in the beginning suspect me, as you have told me, of being unfriendly to America. He seemed astonished at the question; and told me it was yourself who prompted it. However, waiving everything of a private nature, the best way is to co-operate cheerfully together, that the public service may be forwarded, and that scorn may yet forbear to point her finger at a fleet under your command. I am earnest in desiring to do everything with good nature. Therefore to remove your doubts, if you have any, I send this by express, to inform you that I will meet you at Pawtucket, or at any other place, on as early a day as you please to appoint, and will there produce credentials to your satisfaction. In the meantime, it is your duty to prevent the departure of the Cabot, or any other vessel of the squadron. I am astonished to hear that you have ordered the Hampden out, without desiring an explanation, after you received my last letters. My appointment was unsolicited and unexpected, and it must be owing to the hurry of business that you have received no similar orders. I am, honored sir, your very obliged, most humble servant,
"J. P. JONES.
"P. S. I have sent by the bearer the coat which you desired, likewise one for Mr. Brown. If I can render you any service here, in procuring other articles, acquaint me with the particulars, and my best endeavors shall not be wanting."
The mixture of conciliatory overtures with the peremptory language of this epistle, shows that personal pique was tempered with a predominating desire to serve the cause of the country at all sacrifices. It may be remarked, in passing, that Commodore Hopkins had been ordered to be censured by the sentence of a Court Martial; and that when the rank and station of the commanders of the navy was determined by Congress, his name was omitted.
In relation to the manner in which Jones was superseded, as he conceived himself to have been, by junior officers, he has given a full account in his letter addressed to Mr. Morris from Philadelphia in 1783, the whole of which document is given in the appendix numbered I. It was an arrangement of which he never ceased to complain, and as the facts stated by him are uncontradicted, it seems that he had good reasons for so doing.
Three grades of lieutenants were established by the act of Congress of December 22d, 1775. Jones was at the head of the first. At this time it is true that Congress had not granted general letters of reprisal, nor had the allegiance of the colonies to the British crown been renounced. After the Declaration of Independence, the organization of the navy could only properly take place, and the rank of its officers be settled, as Congress in its wisdom should determine. Still a regard was due to meritorious services, and to former precedence, where the imperfect right was supported by them.
The appointment of Jones to command the Providence as Captain, by the commander-in-chief of the fleet, Commodore Hopkins, though it cannot be considered as establishing his rank, was entitled to respect. On the 8th of August, 1776, he received an appointment as Captain, under the United States, from President Hancock.
Congress had passed a resolution on the 17th of April preceding, that "the nomination or appointment of captains or commanders should not establish rank, which should be settled before commissions were granted;" and it was not until the 10th of October following, that by another resolution they settled the delicate and embarrassing question. But Jones conceived, as it was natural he should, that the date of his appointment ought not to have been wholly overlooked, and fairly entitled him to priority over those who were commissioned as captains, for the first time, on the 10th of October. In what terms that appointment was couched cannot be ascertained, as it appears it was mislaid by President Hancock, who had requested Jones to leave it with him for a day or two. In the eloquent argument made for himself by the latter, in the remonstrance in the appendix to which we refer, he evidently confounds occasionally the terms appointment and commission.
On this subject he thus wrote to the Marine Board at Philadelphia:
"I am now to inform you, that by a letter from Commodore Hopkins, dated on board the Warren, January 14th, 1777, which came to my hands a day or two ago, I am superseded in the command of the Alfred, in favor of Captain Hinman, and ordered back to the sloop in Providence River. Whether this order doth or doth not supersede also your orders to me of the 10th ult., you can best determine; however, as I undertook the late expedition at his (Commodore Hopkins') request, from a principle of humanity, I mean not now to make a difficulty about trifles, especially when the good of the service is to be consulted. As I am unconscious of any neglect of duty, or misconduct, since my appointment at the first as eldest lieutenant of the navy, I cannot suppose that you can have intended to set me aside, in favor of any man who did not at, that time bear a captain's commission, unless indeed that man, by exerting his superior abilities, hath rendered or can render more important services to America. Those who stepped forth at the first, in ships altogether unfit for war, were generally considered as frantic rather than as wise men; for it must be remembered that almost everything then made against them. And, although the success in the affair with the Glasgow was not equal to what it might have been, yet the blame ought not to be general. The principal or principals in command alone are culpable; and the other officers, while they stand unimpeached, have their full merit. There were, it is true, divers persons, from misrepresentation, put into commission at the beginning, without fit qualification, and perhaps the number may have been increased by later appointments; but it follows not that the gentleman or man of merit should be neglected or overlooked on their account. None other than a gentleman, as well as a seaman both in theory and practise, is qualified to support the character of a commissioned officer in the navy; nor is any man fit to command a ship of war who is not also capable of communicating ideas on paper in language that becomes his rank. If this be admitted, the foregoing operations will be sufficiently clear; but if further proof is required, it can easily be produced.
"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 defense 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 up only to persons of superior abilities and superior merit; and under such persons it would be my highest ambition to learn. As this is the first time of my having expressed the least anxiety on my own account, I must entreat your patience until I account to you for the reason which hath given me this freedom of sentiment It seems that Captain Hinman's commission is No. I, and that, in consequence, he who was at first my junior officer by eight hath expressed himself as my senior officer in a manner which doth himself no honor, and which doth me signal injury. There are also in the navy persons who have not shown me fair play after the service I have rendered them. I have even been blamed for the civilities which I have shown to my prisoners; at the request of one of whom I herein enclose an appeal, which I must beg leave to lay before Congress. Could you see the appellant's accomplished lady, and the innocents, their children, arguments in their behalf would be unnecessary. As the base-minded only are capable of inconsistencies, you will not blame my free soul, which can never stoop where I cannot also esteem. Could I, which I never can, bear to be superseded, I should indeed deserve your contempt and total neglect. I am therefore to entreat you to employ me in the most enterprising and active service, -- accountable to your Honorable Board only, for my conduct, and connected as much as possible with gentlemen and men of good sense."
"My conduct hitherto," he says, in the memorial addressed to Congress from the Texel [Texal], "was so much approved of by Congress, that on the 5th of February, 1777, I was appointed, with unlimited orders, to command a little squadron of the Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Hampden, and sloop Providence. Various important services were pointed out, but I was left at free liberty to make my election. This service, however, did not take place; for the Commodore, who had three of the squadron blocked in at Providence, affected to disbelieve my appointment, and would not at last give me the necessary assistance. Finding that he trifled with my applications as well as the orders of Congress, I undertook a journey from Boston to Philadelphia, in order to explain matters to Congress in person. I took this step also because Captain Hinman had succeeded me in the command of the Alfred, and, of course, the service could not suffer through my absence. I arrived at Philadelphia in the beginning of April. But what was my surprise to find that, by a new line of navy rank, which had taken place on the 10th day of October, 1776, all the officers that had stepped forth at the beginning were superseded! I was myself superseded by thirteen men not one of whom did (and perhaps some of them durst not) take the sea against the British flag at the first; for several of them who were then applied to refused to venture, -- and none of them have since been very happy in proving their superior abilities. Among these thirteen there are individuals who can neither pretend to parts nor education, and with whom as a private gentleman, I would disdain to associate.
"I leave your Excellency and the Congress to judge how this must affect a man of honor and sensibility.
"I was told by President Hancock, that what gave me so much pain had been the effect only of a multiplicity of business. He acknowledged the injustice of that regulation, said it should make but a nominal, and temporary, difference, and that in the meantime I might assure myself that no navy officer stood in the opinion of Congress higher than myself."
Jones repaired from Boston to Philadelphia, in the beginning of April, 1777. His suggestions as to the proper government of the navy, and his projects, of annoying the enemy, were listened to with respectful attention. Whatever cause he conceived himself to have for complaining of the nominal rank assigned to him, the command which it was first resolved to give him, and that with which he was in the issue entrusted, were calculated to satisfy his sense of what was due to his deserts, and he expressed himself as being highly gratified.
In his Journal, written for the king of France, he says: "The President assured Captain Jones that this matter of rank should be arranged at a future day to his satisfaction, and in the meantime he should have a separate command, etc. Three ships were ordered to be fitted out in the eastern states, and Captain Jones was, by a resolve of Congress, directed to take his choice of them, 'until better provision could be made for him.' Captain Jones spared no pains to execute this last scheme; but before it was well begun, he received an appointment from the marine and secret committee to proceed to France in the French ship Amphitrite from New Hampshire, with a letter to the American Commissioners at Paris, containing orders to invest him immediately with the command of 'a fine ship' (the Indian, built for America at Amsterdam,) 'as a reward for his zeal, and the important services he had performed, in vessels of little force.' His departure in the Amphitrite did not succeed, because the terms offered the French commander were not accepted."
Speaking of this resolution of Congress, he says elsewhere: "This was generous indeed; and I shall feel the whole force of the obligation to the last moment of my life."
"PHILADELPHIA, May 9th, 1777.
"HONORABLE GENTLEMEN -
"This letter is intended to be delivered to you by John Paul Jones, Esq., an active and brave commander in our navy, who has already performed signal services in vessels of little force; and in reward for his zeal we have directed him to go on board the Amphitrite, a French ship of twenty guns, that brought in a valuable cargo of stores from Mons. Hostalez & Co., and with her to repair to France. He takes with him his commission, some officers and men, so that we hope he will, under that sanction, make some good prizes with the Amphitrite; but our design of sending him is (with the approbation of Congress) that you may purchase one of those fine frigates that Mr. Deane writes us you can get, and invest him with the command thereof as soon as possible. We hope 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. Direct Captain Jones where he must repair to, and he will take with him his officers and men towards manning her. You will assign him some good house or agent to supply him with everything necessary to get the ship speedily and well equipped and manned -- some body that will bestir themselves vigorously in the business, and never quit it until it is accomplished.
"If you have any plan or service to be performed in Europe by such ship, that you think will be more for the interest and honor of the States than sending her out directly, Captain Jones is instructed to obey your orders; and, to save repetition, let him lay before you the instructions we have given him, and furnish you with a copy thereof. You can then judge what will be necessary for you to direct him in, and whatever you do will be approved, as it will undoubtedly tend to promote the public service of this country.
"You see by this step how much dependence Congress places in your advices; and you must make it a point not to disappoint Captain Jones' wishes and expectations on this occasion.
"We are, etc.
"RICHARD HENRY LEE,
THE HONORABLE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, SILAS DEANE, and ARTHUR LEE, ESQUIRES, Commissioners," etc.
IN MARINE COMMITTEE.
"PHILADELPHIA, May 9th, 1777.
"JOHN PAUL JONES, Esq.
"SIR, -- Congress has thought proper to authorize the Secret Committee to employ you on a voyage in the Amphitrite, from Portsmouth to Carolina and France, where it is expected you will be provided with a fine frigate; and as your present commission is for the command of a particular ship, we now send you a new one, whereby you are appointed a captain in our navy, and of course may command any ship in the service to which you are particularly ordered. You are to obey the orders of the Secret Committee, and we are, sir, etc.
IN MARINE COMMITTEE.
"PHILADELPHIA, September 6th, 1777.
"SIR, -- As soon as these instructions get to hand, you are to make immediate application to the proper persons to get your vessel victualed and fitted for sea with all expedition. When this is done, you are to proceed on a voyage to some convenient port in France; on your arrival there, apply to the agent, if any in or near said port, for such supplies as you may stand in need of. You are at the same time to give immediate notice, by letter, to the Honorable Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, Esquires, or any of them at Paris, of your arrival, requesting their instructions as to your further destination, which instructions you are to obey as far as it shall be in your power.
"You are to take particular notice, that whilst on the coast of France, or in a French port, you are, as much as you conveniently can, to keep your guns covered and concealed, and to make as little warlike appearance as possible. Wishing you," etc., etc.
Jones had recommended, in a letter to a member of Congress, that the Mellish be converted into a ship of war; and the secret committee had passed a resolution to that effect; but the intention was abandoned in consequence of letters from him. On the 14th of June, Congress resolved, "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." By another resolution, passed the same day, Jones was appointed to command the ship Ranger; on board of which he hoisted the national flag for the first time it was displayed on board of a man-of-war, as he had formerly hoisted the colonial one, in the Delaware. (See Appendix No. II.) He began to fit out this vessel in July; but was not ready for sea before the 15th of November following. She was scarcely half rigged when he took charge of her, and much difficulty was experienced in arming and equipping her. He wrote as follows to the Marine Committee on the 29th of October: -- "With all my industry I could not get the single suit of sails completed until the 20th current. Since that time the winds and weather have laid me under the necessity of continuing in port. At this time it blows a very heavy gale from the N. E. The ship with difficulty rides it out, with yards and top-mast struck, and whole cables ahead. When it clears up, I expect the wind from the N. W., and shall not fail to embrace it, although I have not now a spare sail, nor materials to make one. Some of those I have are made of Hessings (a coarse, thin stuff). I never before had so disagreeable a service to perform as that which I have now accomplished, and of which another will claim the credit as well as the profit. However, in doing my utmost, I am sensible that I have done no more than my duty. I have now to acknowledge the honor of having received your orders of the 6th ultimo; and that I have before me the pleasing prospect of being the welcome messenger at Paris of the joyful and important news of Burgoyne's surrender. I have received despatches from the Council of Massachusetts, for the commissioner, by express. I shall, therefore, not go out of my course, unless I see a fair opportunity of distressing the enemy, and of rendering services to America."
Twenty-six guns were provided for the Ranger; but Jones wrote that he purposed to carry no more than eighteen six-pounders, as he thought the ship incapable of carrying a greater number so as to be serviceable. He complained that they were all three diameters of the bore too short. He found no difficulty in procuring men, but he was badly provided with stores, having only thirty gallons of rum for his whole crew. With this indifferent armament he sailed from Portsmouth on the first of November, and arrived at Nantes on the 2d of December following. He found the Ranger very crank, owing to the improper quality of her ballast; which induced him on his arrival to shorten her lower masts, and ballast with lead.
The following particulars of his cruise are given in his letter from Nantes to the Marine Committee:
"After passing the Western Islands, I fell in with and brought to a number of ships, but met with no English property, till within eighty leagues of Ushant. I then fell in with a fleet of ten sail with a strong convoy, bound up the channel; but notwithstanding my endeavors, I was unable to detach any of them from the convoy. I took two brigantines from Malaga with fruit for London. One of the prizes has arrived here. The other, I am now told, is in Quiberon Bay. I arrived here on the 2d current, without having met with any misfortune on the passage, though I met with some very severe weather. Besides the fleet already mentioned, I fell in with several ships in the night; so that I have had agreeable proofs of the active spirit of my officers and men. Though they have not formerly been conversant in the management of ships of war, yet I am persuaded they will behave well, should I have an opportunity of bringing them to action, etc."
He does not mention in this letter the particulars of his meeting with the Invincible, a ship of seventy-four guns, which was giving convoy to a few ships from Gibraltar.
He speaks of the affair in his narrative for the king of France, as a "near rencontre"; and in his letter from Texel, he says, "I could not help chasing the Invincible, by the way."
Determined to attend to the necessary alterations and equipment of the Ranger in person, his first act on arriving at Nantes was to write on the 5th of December to the commissioners of Congress at Paris, -- Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. The following is an extract from the letter:
"I yesterday enclosed you copies of two letters which I wrote you previous to my departure from Portsmouth, together with a plan which I drew up in Philadelphia, on the regulation and equipment of our infant navy. It is my first and favorite wish to be employed in active and enterprising services, when there is a prospect of rendering acceptable services to America. The singular honor which Congress has done me by their generous acknowledgment of my past services, hath inspired me with sentiments of gratitude which I shall carry with me to my 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.
"I am ready to lay before you any orders, which I have received from Congress. At present I take the liberty of enclosing for your inspection a very honorable and unexpected appointment, etc. I have always, since we have had ships of war, been persuaded that small squadrons could be employed to far better advantage on private expeditions, and would distress the enemy infinitely more than the same force could do, by cruising either jointly or separately. Were strict secrecy observed on our part, the enemy have many important places in such a defenseless situation, that they might be effectually surprised and attacked, with no very considerable force. We cannot yet fight their navy; as their numbers and force are so far superior to ours. Therefore it seems to be our most natural province to surprise their defenseless places; and thereby divert their attention, and draw it off from the coasts. But you see that my honorable correspondent is, and I know that many others are, of the same opinion."
The course here recommended by Jones was the only one which eventually was found feasible. He was soon summoned to Paris by the Commissioners, to consult with them upon the measures to be adopted for annoying the enemy. France was not yet in open hostility with England, nor had the commissioners been recognized as plenipotentiaries. Jones was directed to keep his guns as much concealed as possible while on the French coasts.
He was destined to meet with a serious disappointment, in being obliged to assent to the transfer of the Indian, the "fine ship" of which he had expected to receive the command, and which was building at Amsterdam, to the French Government. Considering the irritability of his character, we do not find that he bore this miscarriage very ungraciously. Congress certainly had intended that he should take command of this vessel, or of one of equal force; and he made their resolution a ground for claiming the rank which such a command would have given him. But he submitted to parting with the Indian with tolerable good humor, as the extracts from his letters will show. This is mentioned, because he has been charged with writing to Congress "in no very modest terms."
In his first despatch from Nantes to the Marine Committee, he says:
"I understand, though I have yet received no letter, that the commissioners had provided for me one of the finest frigates that ever was built; calculated for thirty guns on one deck; and capable of carrying thirty six-pounders [thirty-six pounders]; but were under the necessity of giving her up, on account of some difficulties which they met with at court. Perhaps the news of our late successes may now put that court in a better humor. But my unfeigned thanks are equally due for the intention as for the act."
Writing again to the same committee, on the 22d of December, the day after he had received a request from the commissioners to attend them at Paris, he declared his intention to proceed to sea with the Ranger, without loss of time, should there be any delay in obtaining additional force.
In his narrative for the king of France, corrected by himself, in speaking of the "assignment of the property of that famous frigate, the Indian," he has interlined, "with the consent of Captain Jones."
Writing to the Marine Committee subsequently, on the subject, he said:
"Deeply sensible of the honor which Congress has conferred upon me communicated in the orders of the Secret Committee to the commissioners, I can bear the disappointment with philosophy. Yet I confess I was rather hurt, when at Paris, I understood that the new frigate at Amsterdam had never been intended for me, before my appearance, but for the constructor."
After conferring with the commissioners on the various schemes he had to suggest, he returned to Nantes to complete the Ranger's equipments, and on the 16th of January, 1778 , he received from them their instructions as to his conduct on the cruise he proposed making. They were as follows, giving him almost unlimited discretion; which he was perfectly willing to assume, though it seems from one of his despatches that he did not understand the commissioners as "promising even to justify him, should he fail in any bold attempt:
"PARIS, January 16th,, 1778 .
"SIR, -- 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 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 commissions."... "If you make an attempt on the coast of Great Britain we advise you not to return immediately into the ports of France, unless forced by stress of weather, or the pursuit of the enemy; and in such case you can make the proper representation to the officers of the port, and acquaint us with your situation. We rely on your ability, as well as your zeal, to serve the United States, and therefore do not give you particular instructions as to your operations. We must caution you against giving any cause of complaint to the subjects of France or Spain, or of other neutral powers; and recommend it to you to show them every proper mark of respect, and real civility, which may be in your power."
Mr. Arthur Lee did not approve of a part of these instructions, directing the sale of the prizes to be entrusted to other hands than those of the commercial agents. He expressed his want of confidence in Mr. Gourlade, one of the persons mentioned, at l'Orient, and did not sign the letter. Messrs. Franklin and Deane knew of nothing done by Gourlade, to impair their confidence in him.
Agreeably to the suggestion of Jones, they addressed an intimation to the crew of the Ranger, promising "in case of their good and gallant behavior, to recommend them to Congress for a generous gratification, proportioned to their merits."
On the 10th of February, Jones says in his Journal to the king of France, "on receiving agreeable news of affairs in America, and the position of Lord Howe's fleet, he wrote a letter to Mr. Deane, one of the commissioners of Congress at Paris, containing the plan that was adopted for Count d'Estaing's expedition; which would have ended the war, had it been immediately pursued."
He has been censured for assuming to himself the original merit of devising this important measure. It is certain, that he repeatedly makes the assertion that he furnished the outline of the project. (See Appendix No. III.) In a letter to M. De Sartine, the French minister of marine, written subsequently, he says:
"Had Count d'Estaing arrived in the Delaware a few days sooner, he might have made a most glorious and easy conquest. Many successful projects may be adopted from the hints which I had the honor to draw up; and if I can still furnish more, or execute any of these already furnished, so as to distress and humble the common enemy, it will afford me the truest pleasure." It may naturally be inferred that the operations of Count d'Estaing's fleet was a subject discussed in the consultations held by Jones with the commissioners, on his first brief visit to Paris, though he does not intimate that any such conversation took place. It cannot be doubted that he was peculiarly qualified to give important advice, from his accurate acquaintance with the localities of the Delaware, and the navigation of the waters in the vicinity of the scene selected for the intended operation. It will also [not] be doubted that his advice would naturally be of a daring character, recommending bold measures as best calculated to lead to great results.
There can be no reason for impeaching his veracity, when he affirms that he forwarded his plan to Mr. Deane at the time mentioned; nor does it appear that he exclusively arrogated the praise due to the wisdom with which the scheme was conceived. He put in a claim for his fair share of honor; and there is no evidence against his title to it. As secrecy was essential in effecting the proposed object, no mention is of course made of it in his general correspondence at the time. It failed, as is well known, from the delay which occurred, and which enabled Lord Howe to place his fleet and transports in safety.
Author's note for Chapter IV.
*This refers to the action commenced against Jones for damages, by the men taken from the Rhode Island privateer. Commodore Hopkins left him to defend the suit himself, saying that his orders had not been given in writing.
FROM Nantes Jones proceeded in the Ranger for Quiberon Bay, whither he convoyed some American vessels, that desired to sail out under the protection of the French squadron in that road, commanded by Monsieur La Motte Picquet. From that brave officer Captain Jones claimed and obtained the first salute the flag of America ever received.
Some days afterwards he claimed and obtained the same honor from Count d'Orvilliers, commander-in-chief of the fleet at Brest. Both these salutes preceded the publication of the treaty of alliance.
This first salute was not obtained, however, without some diplomacy and negotiation, in which Jones showed both firmness and address. The following letters were written by him on the occasion:
"February 14, 1778.
"DEAR SIR, --
"I am extremely sorry to give you fresh trouble, but I think the Admiral's answer of yesterday requires an explanation.
The haughty English return gun for gun to foreign officers of equal rank, and two less only to captains by flag-officers. It is true, my command at present is not important, yet, as the senior American officer at present in Europe, it is my duty to claim an equal return of respect to the flag of the United States that would be shown to any other flag whatever.
"I therefore take the liberty of enclosing an appointment, perhaps as respectable as any which the French Admiral can produce; besides which, I have others in my possession.
"If, however, he persists in refusing to return an equal salute, I will accept of two guns less, as I have not the rank of Admiral.
"It is my opinion that he would return four less to a privateer or a merchant ship; therefore, as I have been honored oftener than once with a chief command of ships-of-war, I cannot, in honor, accept of the same terms of respect.
"You will singularly oblige me by waiting upon the Admiral; and I ardently hope you will succeed in the application, else I shall be under the necessity of departing without coming into the bay. I have the honor to be, etc., etc.
"TO WILLIAM CARMICHÆL, ESQ.
"N. B. -- Though thirteen guns is your greatest salute in America, yet if the French Admiral should prefer a greater number, he has his choice, on conditions."
Writing to Mr. Jonathan Williams on the following day, he says, "I propose to salute the Admiral in open day; that no evasion may afterwards be made." He wrote as follows to the Marine Committee, on the 22d of February:
"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, 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 of 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 Picquet 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 should sail through his fleet in the brig, and would salute him in open day. He was exceedingly pleased, and returned the compliment also with nine guns.
"I have in contemplation several enterprises of some importance.... When an enemy thinks a design against him improbable, he can always be surprised and attacked with advantage. It is true, I must run great risk; but no gallant action was ever performed without danger. Therefore, though I cannot ensure success, I will endeavor to deserve it."
Writing on the same date to the secret committee, thanking them for the flattering terms in which he had been recommended to the commissioners, and his services been spoken of, he enclosed an ode of a patriotic nature, which had been written in France, begging that it might be laid before Congress, and intimating a hope that the author would be considered worthy of the attention of that body.
He says that at this time "Count d'Orvilliers, through whom he communicated his idea for an expedition to America to M. De Sartine, offered, on account of the smallness of his frigate, to procure for him a commission of Captain in the Royal Navy of France, which he refused."
He sailed from Brest on the 10th of April, on his first memorable cruise. The commissioners had no exact idea of his intentions. He "at first had thoughts of striking a blow on the south side of England; but, being detained for some time by contrary and stormy winds at Brest, he abandoned that scheme." The most ample and interesting account of this cruise is given in his letter to the American Commissioners, written on the 27th of May, from Brest. It is said to be confirmed, in all its details, by log-books in the possession of individuals in Scotland. It has been very frequently published, but its insertion entire is essential here.
"I have now to fulfil the promise made in my last, by giving you an account of my late expedition.
"I sailed from Brest the 10th of April; my plan was extensive, I therefore did not at the beginning wish to encumber myself with prisoners. On the 14th I took a brigantine between Scilly and Cape Clear, bound for Ostend, with a cargo of flaxseed for Ireland, sunk her, and proceeded into St. George's Channel.
"On the 17th I took the ship Lord Chatham, bound from London to Dublin, with a cargo consisting of porter and a variety of merchandise, and almost within sight of her port; this ship I manned and ordered for Brest.
"Towards the evening of the day following, the weather had a promising appearance, and, the wind being favorable, I stood over from the Isle of Man with an intention to make a descent at Whitehaven; at ten I was off the harbor with a party of volunteers, and had everything in readiness to land; but before eleven the wind greatly increased and shifted, so as to blow directly upon the shore; the sea increased of course, and it became impossible to effect a landing. This obliged me to carry all possible sail so as to clear the land and to await a more favorable opportunity.
"On the 18th, in Glentinebay, on the south coast of Scotland, I met with a revenue wherry; it being the common practise of these vessels to board merchant ships, the Ranger then having no external appearance of war, it was expected that this rover would have come alongside; I was, however, mistaken; for though the men were at their quarters, yet this vessel outsailed the Ranger, and got clear in spite of a severe cannonade.
"The next morning, off the Mull of Galloway, I found myself so near a Scotch coasting schooner, loaded with barley, that I could not avoid sinking her. Understanding that there were ten or twelve sail of merchant ships, besides a Tender brigantine, with a number of impressed men on board, at anchor in Lochryan, in Scotland, I thought this an enterprise worthy my attention; but the wind, which at the first would have served equally well to have sailed in or out of the Loch, shifted in a hard squall, so as to blow almost directly in, with an appearance of bad weather. I was therefore obliged to abandon my project.
"Seeing a cutter off the lee-bow steering for the Clyde, I gave chase, in hopes of cutting her off; but finding my endeavors ineffectual, I pursued no farther than the Rock of Ailsa. In the evening I fell in with a sloop from Dublin, which I sunk, to prevent intelligence.
"The next day, the 21st, being near Carrickfergus a fishing-boat came off, which I detained. I saw a ship at anchor in the road, which I was informed by the fishermen was the British ship-of-war Drake, of twenty guns. I determined to attack her in the night; 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, etc.; at the same time, it was my 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 had given no alarm; this determined me to cut immediately, which might appear as if the cable had parted, and at the same time enable me, after making a tack out of the Loch, to return with the same prospect of advantage which I had at the first. I was, however, prevented from returning, as I with difficulty weathered the lighthouse on the lee-side of the Loch, 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 22d introduced fair weather, though the three kingdoms were, as far as the eye could reach, covered with snow. I now resolved once more to attempt Whitehaven; but the wind became very light, so that the ship would not in proper time approach so near as I had intended.
"At midnight I left the ship with two boats and thirty-one volunteers; when we reached the outer pier, the day began to dawn; I would not, however, abandon my enterprise, but despatched one boat under the direction of Mr. Hill and Lieutenant Wallingsford, with the necessary combustibles to set fire to the shipping on the north side of the harbor, while I went with the other party to attempt the south side.
"I was successful in scaling the walls and spiking up all the cannon on the first fort; finding the sentinels shut up in the guard-house, they were secured without being hurt. Having fixed sentinels, I now took with me one man only (Mr. Green), and spiked up all the cannon on the southern fort, distant from the other a quarter of a mile.
"On my return from this business, I naturally expected to see the fire of the ships on the north side, as well as to find my own party with everything in readiness to set fire to the shipping on the south; instead of this, I found the boat under the direction of Mr. Hill and Mr. Wallingsford returned, and the party in some confusion, their light having burnt out at the instant it became necessary.
"By the strangest fatality, my own party were in the same situation, the candles being all burnt out. The day too came on apace, yet I would by no means retreat while any hopes of success remained. Having again placed sentinels, a light was obtained at a house disjoined from the town, and a fire kindled in the steerage of a large ship, which was surrounded by at least a hundred and fifty others, chiefly from two to four hundred tons burthen, and lying side by side, aground, unsurrounded by the water.
"There were, besides, from seventy to a hundred large ships in the north arm of the harbor, aground, clear of the water, and divided from the rest only by a stone pier of a ship's height. I should have kindled fires in other places if the time had permitted; as it did not, our care was to prevent the one kindled from being easily extinguished. After some search, a barrel of tar was found, and poured into the flames, which now ascended from all the hatchways. The inhabitants began to appear in thousands, and individuals ran hastily towards 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 flames had already caught the rigging, and begun to ascend the mainmast; 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 re-embarked 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 inhabitants.
"When we had rowed to a considerable distance from the shore, the English began to run in vast numbers to their forts; their disappointment may easily be imagined when they found, I suppose, at least thirty heavy cannon (the instrument of their vengeance) rendered useless.
"At length, however, they began to fire, having, as I apprehend, either brought down ships' guns, or used one or two cannon which lay on the beach at the foot of the walls, dismounted, and which had not been spiked. They fired with no direction, and the shot, falling short of the boats, instead of doing us any damage, afforded some diversion, which my people could not help showing, by discharging their pistols, etc., in return of the salute.
"Had it been possible to have landed a few hours sooner, my success would have been complete. Not a single ship out of more than two hundred could possibly have escaped, and all the world would not have been able to save the town. What was done, however, is sufficient to show that not all their boasted navy can protect their own coasts; that the scenes of distress, which they have occasioned in America, may be soon brought home to their own door. One of my people was missing; and must, I fear, have fallen into the enemies' hands after our departure.
"I was pleased that in this business we neither killed nor wounded any person. I brought off three prisoners as a sample.
"We now stood over for the Scotch shore; and I landed at noon at St. Mary's Isle, with one boat only, and a very small party. The motives which induced me to land there are explained in the within copy of a letter which I have addressed to the Countess of Selkirk, dated the 8th instant,
"On the morning of the 24th, I was again off Carrickfergus, and would have gone in, had I not seen the Drake preparing to come out. It was very moderate, and the Drake's boat was sent out to reconnoiter the Ranger. As the boat advanced, I kept the ship's stern directly toward her; and though they had a spy-glass in the boat, they came on within hail, and alongside.
"When the officer came on the quarter-deck, he was greatly surprised to find himself a prisoner; although an express had arrived from Whitehaven the night before. I now understood, what I had before imagined, that the Drake came out in consequence of this information, with volunteers, against the Ranger. The officer told me, also, that they had taken up the Ranger's anchor. The Drake was attended by five small vessels full of people, who were led by curiosity to see an engagement. But, when they saw the Drake's boat at the Ranger's stern, they wisely put back.
"Alarm smokes now appeared in great abundance, extending along on both sides of the channel. The tide was unfavorable, so that the Drake worked out but slowly. This obliged me to run down several times, and to lay with courses up, and main-topsail to the mast. At length the Drake weathered the point, and having led her out to about mid-channel, I suffered her to come within hail.
"The Drake hoisted English colors, and at the same instant the American stars were displayed on board the Ranger. I expected that preface had been now at the end, but the enemy soon after hailed, demanding what ship it was? I directed the master to answer, 'The American Continental ship Ranger; that we waited for them, and desired that they would come on; the sun was now little more than an hour from setting, it was therefore time to begin.' The Drake being astern of the Ranger, I ordered the helm up, and gave her the first broadside. The action was warm, close, and obstinate. It lasted an hour and four minutes, when the enemy called for quarters; her fore and main-topsail yards being both cut away, and down on the cap; the top-gallant yard and mizzen-gaff both hanging up and down along the mast; the second ensign which they had hoisted shot away, and hanging on the quarter gallery in the water; the jib shot away, and hanging in the water; her sails and rigging entirely cut to pieces; her masts and yards all wounded, and her hull also very much galled.
"I lost only Lieutenant Wallingsford and one seaman, John Dougall, killed, and six wounded; among whom are the gunner, Mr. Falls, and Mr. Powers, a midshipman, who lost his arm. One of the wounded, -- Nathaniel Wills, is since dead; the rest will recover. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was far greater. All the prisoners allow that they came out with a number not less than a hundred and sixty men; and many of them affirm that they amounted to a hundred and ninety. The medium may, perhaps, be the most exact account; and by that it will appear that they lost in killed and wounded forty-two men. The captain and lieutenant were among the wounded; the former, having received a musket-ball in the head the minute before they called for quarters, lived, and was sensible some time after the people boarded the prize. The lieutenant survived two days. They were buried with the honors due to their rank, and with the respect due to their memory.
"The night and almost the whole day after the action being moderate greatly facilitated the refitting of both ships. A large brigantine was so near the Drake in the afternoon that I was obliged to bring her to. She belonged to Whitehaven, and was bound for Norway.
"I had thought of returning by the south channel; but the wind shifting, I determined to pass by the north, and round the west coast of Ireland. This brought me once more off Belfast Lough, on the evening after the engagement. 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 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 traveling 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 rapture; and expressed their joy in three huzzas as they passed the Ranger's quarter.
"I again met with contrary winds in the mouth of the North Channel, but nothing remarkable happened, till, on the morning of the 5th, Ushant then bearing S. E. by S., distance fifteen leagues, when seeing a sail to leeward steering for the Channel, the wind being favorable for Brest, and the distance trifling, I resolved to give chase, having the Drake in tow. I informed them of my intentions, and ordered them to cast off. They cut the hawser. The Ranger in the chase went lasking between N. N. E., and N. N. W. It lasted an hour and ten minutes, when the chase was hailed and proved a Swede. I immediately hauled by the wind to the southward.
"After cutting the hawser, the Drake went from the wind for some time, then hauled close by the wind, steering from S. S. E. to S. S. W. as the wind permitted, so that when the Ranger spoke the chase, the Drake was scarcely perceptible. In the course of the day many large ships appeared, steering into the Channel, but the extraordinary evolutions of the Drake made it impossible for me to avail myself of these favorable circumstances.
"Towards noon it became very squally, the wind backed from the S. W. to the W. The Ranger had come up with the Drake, and was nearly abreast of her, though considerably to the leeward, when the wind shifted. The Drake, however, was kept by the wind, though, as I afterward understood, they knew the Ranger and saw the signal which she had hoisted. After various evolutions and signals in the night, I gave chase to a sail which appeared bearing S. S. W. the next morning at a great distance. The chase discovered no intention to speak with the Ranger; she was, however, at length brought to, and proved to be the Drake. I immediately put Lieutenant Simpson under suspension and arrest for disobedience of my orders, dated the 26th ult., a copy of which is here enclosed. On the 8th both ships anchored safe in the Road, the Ranger having been absent only twenty-eight days."
THE surprise produced in Great Britain by this daring and successful attempt upon her coasts must have been as great as the latter was unexpected.
One of Paul Jones' first acts on returning to Brest was to address the Countess on the subject of the plate taken from her residence, in the well-known letter, which we shall insert here. To be assured of its reaching the lady, he forwarded triplicates, one of which was enclosed open to Dr. Franklin, for his perusal. In the letter enclosing it, he says; "I cannot but feel myself hurt, by the dirty insinuation of the enemy, that my enterprise at Whitehaven was in consequence of a capital sum; paid me in hand by the court of France. They have more visits of the same kind to expect, if I am not deprived of the means of making them; and that, too, without my having either a certainty, or a hope of gain."
"RANGER, BREST, May 8th, 1778.
"TO THE COUNTESS OF SELKIRK,
"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 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. By the way, however, some officers, who were with me, could not forbear expressing their discontent; observing 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, therefore, was 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 the 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, besides near forty of the inferior officers and crew killed and wounded; a melancholy demonstration of the uncertainty of human prospects, and of the sad reverse 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 men, 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 ensure 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 practise 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 a 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 have exceeded their liberty. I have the honor to be, with much esteem and with profound respect, madam, etc., etc.,
"JOHN PAUL JONES."
The subsequent history of this plate is briefly as follows: Lord Selkirk wrote a letter in reply to that addressed by Jones to his Countess, intimating that he would accept of its return, if made by order of Congress, but not if redeemed by individual generosity. The letter was detained several months at London, in the General Post Office [Postoffice], and returned to the Earl, who requested a gentleman to communicate the cause of its miscarriage and its tenor, orally, to Doctor Franklin.
The Doctor immediately informed Jones of the substance of this communication. It was not until the beginning of 1780 that the latter was enabled to get the property he was determined to restore into his possession. It had fallen into the hands of the prize agents, from whom it was obtained with considerable difficulty; and not till after several valuations, and until it cost him who redeemed it more, as he intimates, than it was intrinsically worth; though he carefully avoids mentioning that circumstance in his second letter to the Countess.
When he had succeeded in effecting this object, he wrote again to the Countess of Selkirk; but his voyage to America, and other circumstances, retarded its delivery until 1784. It was eventually returned in the same condition in which it had been removed, and a letter from Lord Selkirk acknowledged in terms satisfactory, though formal, the unwearied pains which Captain Jones had taken to procure its restoration.
The copy of the order given to Lieutenant Simpson when the latter was put in charge of the Drake for disobeying which he was put under arrest, as is mentioned in the letter to the Plenipotentiaries, is said in the copy of that letter, certified from the office of the secretary of Congress, to be missing. It is intimated, upon what authority does not appear, that Simpson had been insubordinate from the beginning; that he excited the men to discontent; and that frequent disagreements had taken place between him and his commander.
It is also plausibly suggested that, when the Ranger left Portsmouth, he expected to be in command of her on her arriving at France, where a large ship had been promised to Jones. There is every reason to believe that Simpson was little inclined to submit to that discipline, for which Jones was so stern and rigid an advocate. He is probably referred to as the wise officer, who objected to "burning poor people's houses." On the night when Jones made his second attempt to take the Drake while at anchor, he relates in his Journal for the king of France that "the Lieutenant having held up to the crew that, being Americans, fighting for liberty the voice of the people should be taken before the Captain's orders were obeyed, they rose in mutiny; and Captain Jones was in the utmost danger of being killed or thrown overboard." He adds that this danger was averted, by an accidental circumstance,-- the capture of the Drake's boat; upon which trifling success, the "voice of the people" was no longer against fighting.
The news of the result of Jones' expedition was at such a moment gratifying and inspiring to the French court. He had praises and promises in profusion. But he found himself immediately under the pressure of painful embarrassments, which these could not remove. In the conclusion of his letter to the commissioners, on the 27th of May, he says:
"Could I suppose that my letters of the 9th and 16th current (the first advising you of my arrival, and giving reference to the events to my expedition; the last advising you of my draft in favor of Monsieur Bersolle, for 24,000 livres, and assigning reasons for that demand), had not made due appearance, I would hereafter, as I do now, enclose copies. Three posts have already arrived here from Paris, since Count d'Orvilliers showed me the answer which he received from the minister, to the letter which enclosed mine to you. Yet you remain silent. M. Bersolle has this moment informed me of the fate of my bills; the more extraordinary, as I have not yet made use of your letter of credit of the 10th of January last, whereby I then seemed entitled to be thought extravagant, when, on the 16th current, I doubled that demand.
"Could this indignity be kept secret I should disregard it; and, though it is already public in Brest, and in the fleet, as it affects only my private credit I will not complain. I cannot, however, be silent when I find the public credit involved in the same disgrace. I conceive this might have been prevented. To make me completely wretched, Monsieur Bersolle has told me that he now stops his hand, not only of the necessary articles to refit the ship, but also of the daily provisions. I know not where to find to-morrow's dinner for the great number of mouths that depend on me for food. Are then the continental ships of war to depend on the sale of their prizes for a daily dinner for their men? 'Publish it not in Gath!'
"My officers, as well as men, want clothes, and the prizes are precluded from being sold before farther orders arrive from the minister. I will ask you, gentlemen, if I have deserved all this. Whoever calls himself an American ought to be protected here. I am unwilling to think that you have intentionally involved me in this sad dilemma, at a time when I ought to expect some enjoyment. Therefore I have, as formerly, the honor to be, with due esteem and respect, gentlemen, yours, etc."
It is to be observed that before Jones left America, as he mentions in a subsequent letter, he was more than 1,500 pounds in advance for the public service, exclusive of his own investment in fitting out the Ranger, and had never received any compensation.
He was, however, left, such was the inability of the commissioners to afford him relief, for more than a month with "two hundred prisoners of war, a number of sick and wounded, and a ship, after a severe engagement, in want of stores and provisions," to depend upon his own resources.
"Yet," he says in his Journal for the king, "during that time, by his personal credit with Count d'Orvilliers, the Duc de Chartres, and the Intendant of Brest, he fed his people and prisoners, cured his wounded, and refitted both the Ranger and Drake for sea." During the same period he had also to contend with the formal delays or personal cupidity of the prize agents, and to suppress the discontents among the crew, who were naturally impatient under privation and misery when they had looked for their wages and prize money.
These discontents were further aggravated by Lieutenant Simpson, who, "while under arrest on board the Drake, had constant intercourse with the crew, who thereby became insolent so as to refuse duty, and go all hands below, repeatedly, before the Captain's face. It was impossible to trifle at that time, as Count d'Orvilliers had assured Captain Jones that, unless he could get the Drake ready to transport the prisoners to America before orders arrived from court, they would in all probability be given up without an exchange, to avoid immediate war with England. It therefore became impossible to suffer the lieutenant to remain any longer among them. Captain Jones had him removed to the ship called the Admiral, where the French confine even the first officers in the service. He had there a good chamber to himself, and liberty to walk the deck. The lieutenant endeavored to desert out of the Admiral, and behaved so extravagantly, that Count d'Orvilliers, without the knowledge of Captain Jones, ordered him to the prison of the port, where he also had a good chamber; and Captain Jones paid his expenses out of his own pocket."
What rendered the dishonor of his draft peculiarly vexatious, independent of the distress to which it exposed him, and the fact that in January preceding he had been furnished with a bill of credit on Jonathan Williams for five hundred louis d'ors, signed by the three commissioners, was the circumstance that he had, under the sanction of the Marine Committee, before leaving Portsmouth, made himself accountable to his crew for the regular payment of their wages.
In the midst of all these trials of temper, as well as of fortitude and patriotism, Jones was longing to be again employed in active service and in acquiring renown; and was projecting high schemes for annoying the enemy. The situation of the American Commissioners at this time (Messrs. Franklin[,] A. Lee, and Adams, Mr. Deane having been recalled) is well known. Their authority was limited, and the funds subject to their control were still more so. On the 25th of May, they wrote to Mr. Jonathan Williams, at Nantes, whom they had appointed commercial agent, as follows: "The necessities of our country demand the utmost frugality, which can never be obtained without the utmost simplicity in the management of her affairs; and as Congress has authorized Mr. W. Lee to superintend the commercial affairs in general, and he has appointed Mr. Schweighauser, and as your authority is under the commissioners at Paris only, we think it prudent and necessary to revoke, etc., all the powers and authorities heretofore granted to you, etc., to the end that hereafter the management of the affairs, commercial and maritime, of America, may be under one sole direction, that of Mr. Schweighauser, within his district." "We shall this day acquaint Captain Jones how far it is in our power to comply with his desires, and in what manner."
Such was the position in which Jones found himself after his return to Brest. In citing such extracts from his correspondence as explain the multifarious difficulties and projects of this period, there seems to be but one mode of avoiding confusion, which is to preserve chronological order.
His first object was to make provision for the seamen. In mentioning to the commissioners, in his letter of May 16th, that he had drawn for the 24,000 livres, he said:
"I mean to distribute it among the officers and crew, to whom I owe my late success. It is but reasonable that they should be furnished with the means of procuring little necessaries and comforts of life for themselves; and the interests of the service, as well as the claims of humanity and justice, plead in behalf of their wives and helpless families, who are now unprovided in America, and will naturally expect a supply of clothing, etc., by the Drake."
On the 27th of May, Franklin wrote to Jones as follows:
"DEAR SIR, -- I received yours of the 18th, enclosing one for the Countess of Selkirk, which I forwarded this day, via Holland. It is a gallant letter, and must give her ladyship a high and just opinion of your gallantry and nobleness of mind. The dirty insinuation you mention is of a piece with many others from the same quarter, the natural produce of base minds; who, feeling no other motive can exist in others, and therefore it is to that alone, they ascribe the most praiseworthy actions.
"The Jersey privateers do us a great deal of mischief by intercepting our supplies. It has been mentioned to me that your small vessel, commanded by so brave an officer, might render great service by following them where greater ships dare not venture their bottoms; or, being accompanied and supported by some frigates from Brest, at a proper distance, might draw them out and then take them. I wish you to consider of this, as it comes from high authority, and that you would immediately think of it, and let me know when your ship will be ready. I have written to England about the exchange of your prisoners. I congratulate you most cordially on your late success, and wish for a continuance and increase of the honor you have acquired."
While the matter and manner of the beginning of this letter were well calculated to give Jones pleasure, his own phraseology being nearly echoed, it afforded no prospect of immediate relief. No mention is made of the draft; and the service proposed was not of such a character as was particularly calculated to gratify the appetite of any ambitious commander, just flushed with success; much less that of Jones, who would thus have been made subservient to the objects of others, who would reap the glory while he was playing the humbler part of hunting out game for them. In his reply, however, he declares his readiness to comply, while he intimates very plainly his longing for more dignified employment. This is not unskilfully introduced. The letter, dated June 1st, is as follows
"HIS EXCELLENCY BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,
"HONORED AND DEAR SIR, -- Accept my grateful thanks for your much esteemed favor of the 27th ult. Such a mark of your good opinion and approbation really affords me the most heartfelt satisfaction. It shall always be my ambition to do my duty, as far as my judgment and small abilities enable me; -- but you will see by the within papers, that my roses are not without thorns; and, perhaps, it will seem romance that I have succeeded, which I am sure I should not have done, had I not been my own counselor.
"Nothing would give me more pleasure than to render essential services to America, in any measure which you may find expedient. Should I be able to lead my present crew, it can be done only by the seldom failing bait for sordid minds, great views of interest.
"If in bringing about the plans you propose, I may take the liberty to assure them of the protection of the French flag, in the channel, against enemies of superior force, with the free liberty to attack, and take under that sanction, such of the enemy's ships of war, or merchantmen, as may be met with, of equal or inferior force, perhaps I may succeed and gain them over by that means, nor will it be necessary to tell them our real object.
"If I am not at liberty to give them such assurances, and their home-sickness should continue, I could wish that such officers as may appear dangerously ill might have liberty to lay down their commissions and warrants, and that others may be given to men of stronger nerves, who would be too proud to think themselves servants by the year. I believe many such may be found among American subjects in France.
"If it should be consistent to order the Boston frigate here from Bordeaux, perhaps such exchanges might be made as would be for the interest and harmony of the service; and we might perhaps be able to assemble a sufficient number of officers to form a court.
"The Duc de Chartres has shown me sundry attentions, and expressed his inclination to facilitate my obtaining the ship built at Amsterdam. I believe I could easily obtain letters to the same effect, from the principal people here, but shall take no step without your approbation. If the prisoners should be exchanged in Europe, I believe it would be possible to man that ship with Americans. I could have manned two such with French volunteers since I arrived.
"The Ranger is crank, sails slow, and is of a trifling force. Most of the enemy's cruisers are more than a match, yet I mean not to complain. I demand nothing; and although I know that it was the intention of Congress to give me that ship, I am now ready to go wherever the service calls me.
"If two or three fast sailing ships could be collected, there is a great choice of private enterprises, some of which might succeed, and add more to the interest and honor of America than cruising with twice the force. It appears to me to be the province of our infant navy to surprise, and spread alarms with fast sailing ships. When we grow stronger, we can meet their fleets, and dispute with them the sovereignty of the ocean. These are my private sentiments, and are therefore submitted with the utmost diffidence to your superior understanding.
"Both the Ranger and the Drake were so much disabled that they needed to be entirely new rigged. We, however, made shift from the wreck of both ships to rig the Drake, which is now completed. The Ranger's late rigging was twice laid and much too thick and heavy. The refitting her shall be continued with unremitting application."
He thus complains of the detention of the captors, part of one of the Ranger's prizes by Mr. Delap, a nominal sub-prize agent, and of the sacrifice of another prize at Nantes. Half the proceeds of the latter was all the prize money yet received. In a postscript he says: "The written papers I send you in confidence; leaving it to you to show them or not to such persons as you may think proper."
The letter addressed by the commissioners to Jones, on the 25th of May, referred to in their letter, to Mr. Jonathan Williams, of the same date, is not among any of the published documents or manuscripts before the compiler. In it, according to their letter to Mr. Williams, they "acquainted Captain Jones how far it was in their power to comply with his desires, and in what manner." hethus wrote in reply on the 3d of June:
"Your letter of the 25th ult. I received by yesterday's post. I frankly ask your pardon for the undue liberty I took on the 16th ult. when I ventured to sign a draft upon you for the purpose of supplying the people under my command with necessary clothing, etc.; and I promise you never to be guilty of the like offense again. I hope you do not, however, mean to impute to me a desire to receive `presents of the public money,' or even to touch a dollar of it, for any private purpose of my own. On the contrary, I need not now assert that I stepped forth at the beginning from nobler motives. My accounts, before I left America, testify that I am more than fifteen hundred pounds in advance for the public service, exclusive of any concern with the Ranger; and as for wages, I never received any. Had I not previously determined to keep the prisoners here, they would have been sent away in the Drake, long before now. My embarrassed situation will, in the eyes of candor, apologize for my not sending you a more early information of the particulars of my cruise, and of the prizes which I have made. On my passage from America I took two brigantines, both from Malaga for England. The one arrived safe at Nantes; and being sold by Messrs. Morris and Williams, the captors' part was paid to them. The other arrived at Bordeaux, and was, I understand, sold by Mr. J. H. Delap, who, though he had my orders to remit the captors' part immediately into the hands of Mr. Williams of Nantes, yet still retains it in his own hands. On my late expedition, three prizes were sunk. The ship Lord Chatham was sent here (to Brest) to remain under the care of the Intendant. She now remains in the port, locked and nailed up under a guard. The ship-of-war Drake, with her stores on board, and the brigantine Patience in ballast, are with the Ranger at anchor in the Road. M. de Sartine can inform you that the sales of the prizes are precluded, until he sends further orders here. Had it been otherwise, I cannot see how you could suppose that I had created agents to dispose of the public property. And yet if I had done this, perhaps my public wants would justify me.
"The rules whereby Congress has been pleased to command me to regulate the conduct in the navy, authorizes me to issue my warrant to the agent, etc., and I humbly conceive that it is his province to furnish me with an estimate of the amount of expenses. If you wish for an estimate from me, unacquainted as I am with prizes, besides the delay, [it] may be very far from exact.
"When you determined to change the continental agent, I could wish you had sent that information in a letter to meet me here on my arrival -- as I had advised you of my intention to return to Brest. All disagreeable altercation might then have been avoided. My situation is not now mended by your last, the gentleman being at Nantes, and no person appearing in his behalf at Brest.
"A space of sixteen months is now elapsed since Congress thought of me, and placed under my command seven times my present force, leaving me at liberty how and where to apply it. And if I am not now capable of supporting the internal government of a single sloop-of-war, I wish that some person more deserving had my place, and I in America to answer for my misconduct. I have 'well considered' and yet shall persist in justifying the steps which I have taken, and to which you allude.
"I am happy in having it in my power to furnish you with the enclosed resolution of Congress, respecting the capture of the enemy's ships-of-war, agreeably to your desire; and, if you are in possession of any resolution of Congress which will authorize me to... send to America, I should be obliged to you for a copy of it."
|Return to The Tory Lover -- Contents|