The Tory Lover -- Contents
 

.The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett

Chapter XV
THE COAST OF FRANCE

"They goe very neer to ungratefulnesse."
 

     Next day, in the Channel, every heart was rejoiced by the easy taking of two prizes, rich fruit-laden vessels from Madeira and Malaga. With these in either hand the Ranger came in sight of land, after a quick passage and little in debt to time, when the rough seas and the many difficulties of handling a new ship were fairly considered.

     The coast lay like a low and heavy cloud to the east and north; there were plenty of small craft to be seen, and the Ranger ran within short distance of a three-decker frigate that looked like an Englishman. She was standing by to go about, and looked majestic, and a worthy defender of the British Isles. Every man on board was in a fury to fight and sink this enemy; but she was far too powerful, and much nobler in size than the Ranger. They crowded to the rail. There was plenty of grumbling alow and aloft lest Captain Paul Jones should not dare to try his chances. A moment later he was himself in a passion because the great Invincible had passed easily out of reach, as if with insolent unconsciousness of having been in any danger.

     Dickson, who stood on deck, maintained his usual expression of aggravating amiability, and only ventured to smile a little more openly as the captain railed in greater desperation. Dickson had a new grievance to store away in his rich remembrance, because he had been overlooked in the choice of prize masters to bring the two merchantmen into port.

     "Do not let us stand in your way, sir," he said affably. "Some illustrious sea fights have been won before this by the smaller craft against the greater."

     "There was the Revenge, and the great San Philip with her Spanish fleet behind her, in the well-known fight at Flores," answered Paul Jones, on the instant. "That story will go down to the end of time; but you know the little Revenge sank to the bottom of the sea, with all her men who were left alive. Their glory could not sink, but I did not know you ever shipped for glory's sake, Mr. Dickson." And Dickson turned a leaden color under his sallow skin, but said nothing.

     "At least, our first duty now is to be prudent," continued the captain. "I must only fight to win; my first duty is to make my way to port, before we venture upon too much bravery. There'll be fighting soon enough, and I hope glory enough for all of us this day four weeks. I own it grieves me to see that frigate leave us. She's almost hull down already!" he exclaimed regretfully, with a seaward glance, as he went to his cabin.

     Presently he appeared again, as if he thought no more of the three-decker, with a favorite worn copy of Thomson's poems in hand, and began to walk the deck to and fro as he read. On this fair winter morning the ship drove busily along; the wind was out of the west; they were running along the Breton coast, and there was more and more pleasure and relief at finding the hard voyage so near its end. The men were all on deck or clustered thick in the rigging; they made a good strong-looking ship's company. The captain on his quarter-deck was pacing off his exercise with great spirit, and repeating some lines of poetry aloud: -
 

"With such mad seas the daring Gama fought,
For many a day and many a dreadful night;
Incessant lab'ring round the stormy Cape
By bold ambition led" --

"The wide enlivening air is full of fate."

     Then he paused a moment, still waving the book at arm's length, as if he were following the metre silently in his own mind.

"On Sarum's plain I met a wandering fair,
The look of Sorrow, lovely still she bore" --

     "He's gettin' ready to meet the ladies!" said Cooper, who was within listening distance, polishing a piece of brass on one of the guns. "I can't say as we've had much po'try at sea this v'y'ge, sir," he continued to Lieutenant Wallingford, who crossed the deck toward him, as the captain disappeared above on his forward stretch. Cooper and Wallingford were old friends ashore, with many memories in common.

     The lieutenant was pale and severe; the ready smile that made him seem more boyish than his years was strangely absent; he had suddenly taken on the looks of a much-displeased man.

     "Ain't you feelin' well, sir?" asked Cooper, with solicitude. "Things is all doin' well, though there's those aboard that won't have us think so, if they can help it. When I was on watch, I see you writin' very late these nights past. You will excuse my boldness, but we all want the little sleep we get; 't is a strain on a man unused to life at sea."

     "I shall write no more this voyage," said Wallingford, touched by the kindness of old Cooper's feeling, but impatient at the boyish relation with an older man, and dreading a word about home affairs. He was an officer now, and must resent such things. Then the color rushed to his face; he was afraid that tears would shame him. With a sudden impulse he drew from his pocket a package of letters, tied together ready for sending home, and flung them overboard with an angry toss. It was as if his heart went after them. It was a poor return for Cooper's innocent kindness; the good man had known him since he had been in the world. Old Susan, his elder sister, was chief among the household at home. This was a most distressing moment, and the lieutenant turned aside, and leaned his elbow on the gun, bending a little as if to see under the sail whether the three-decker were still in sight.

     The little package of letters was on its slow way down through the pale green water; the fishes were dodging as it sank to the dim depths where it must lie and drown, and tiny shells would fasten upon the slow-wasting substance of its folds. The words that he had written would but darken a little salt water with their useless ink; he had written them as he could never write again, in those long lonely hours at sea, under the dim lamp in his close cabin, - those hours made warm and shining with the thought and promise of love that also hoped and waited. All a young man's dream was there; there were tiny sketches of the Ranger's decks and the men in the rigging done into the close text. Alas, there was his mother's letter, too; he had written them both the letters they would be looking and longing for, and sent them to the bottom of the sea. If he had them back, Mary Hamilton's should go to her, to show her what she had done. And in this unexpected moment he felt her wondering eyes upon him, and covered his face with his hands. It was all he could do to keep from sobbing over the gun. He had seen the ring!

     "'T is a shore headache coming on with this sun-blink over the water," said Cooper, still watching him. "I'd go and lie in the dark a bit." It was not like Mr. Wallingford, but there had been plenty of drinking the night before, and gaming too, - the boy might have got into trouble.
 

"The Lusitanian prince, who Heaven-inspired
To love of useful Glory roused mankind."
 

     They both heard the captain at his loud orations; but he stopped for a moment and looked down at the lieutenant as if about to speak, and then turned on his heel and paced away again.
 

     The shore seemed to move a long step nearer with every hour. The old seafarers among the crew gave knowing glances at the coast, and were full of wisest information in regard to the harbor of Nantes, toward which they were making all possible speed. Dickson, who was in command, came now to reprimand Cooper for his idleness, and set him to his duty sharply, being a great lover of authority.

     Wallingford left his place by the trunnion, and disappeared below.

     "On the sick list?" inquired Dickson of the captain, who reappeared, and again glanced down; but the captain shrugged his shoulders and made no reply. He was sincerely sorry to have somehow put a bar between himself and his young officer just at this moment. Wallingford was a noble-looking fellow, and as good a gentleman as the Duke of Chartres himself. The sight of such a second would lend credit to their enterprise among the Frenchmen. Simpson was bringing in one of the prizes; and as for Dickson, he was a common, trading sort of sneak.

     The dispatches from Congress to announce the surrender of Burgoyne lay ready to the captain's hand: for the bringing of such welcome news to the American commissioners, and to France herself, he should certainly have a place among good French seamen and officers. He stamped his foot impatiently; the moment he was on shore he must post to Paris to lay the dispatches in Mr. Franklin's hand. They were directed to Glory herself in sympathetic ink, on the part of the captain of the Ranger; but this could not be read by common eyes, above the titles of the Philadelphia envoy at his lodgings in Passy.

     After reflecting upon these things, Paul Jones, again in a tender mood, took a paper out of his pocketbook, and reread a song of Allan Ramsay's, --

"At setting day and rising moon,"

which a young Virginia girl had copied for him in a neat, painful little hand.

     "Poor maid!" he said, with gentle affectionateness, as he folded the paper again carefully. "Poor maid! I shall not forget to do her some great kindness, if my hopes come true and my life continues. Now I must send for Wallingford and speak with him."


Notes

"They goe very neer to ungratefulnesse.": From Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86), "A Defence of Poesie": "And first truly to all them that professing learning enuey against Poetrie, may iustly be obiected, that they go very neare to vngratefulnesse, to seeke to deface that which in the noblest nations and languages that are knowne, hath bene the first light giuer to ignorance, and first nurse whose milke litle & litle enabled them to feed afterwards of tougher knowledges. And will you play the Hedge-hogge, that being receiued into the den, draue out his host? Or rather the Vipers, that with their birth kill their parents?"     (Research: Gabe Heller)
     [ Back ]

Invincible: During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748), the French lost L'Invincible (built in 1744) to the British. The first deliberately designed 74-gun warship, she was at the time the largest war ship in a European fleet. She was captured at the Battle of Cape Finisterre, Spain (1747) by Admiral George Anson (1697-1762). The British turned her into a British warship, the Invincible. This ship struck a sand bank, foundered and sank off Spithead, near Portsmouth, England in 1758. The site of this loss was located in 1979, and is being excavated. The British Royal Navy web site indicates that a second Invincible was built in 1765 and commissioned in 1776. Though Jewett seems to be speaking figuratively to compare the Ranger to a much larger warship, she may be speaking literally. Jones could have identified the British ship that ignores them as the second Invincible.
     [ Back ]

Revenge ... San Philip ... Flores: This refers to a major sea battle in which a small ship stood well against larger ones. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) published "The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet" in 1878. The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says, "Sir Richard Grenville, b. c.1542, d. Sept. 12, 1591, was an English naval hero in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. He was a cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh, and in 1585 he led the expedition that founded Raleigh's "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, N.C. In 1591, Grenville joined an English fleet intending to intercept Spanish treasure ships off the Azores. His ship, the Revenge, was separated from the rest and forced to engage a Spanish war fleet by itself. Grenville fought a heroic 15-hour battle, but he was mortally wounded and his ship was captured." The San Philip was one of the large war ships in the Spanish fleet.
     Tennyson's poem begins:

          I
AT Flores, in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,
And a pinnace, like a flutter'd bird, came flying from far away;
"Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted fifty-three!"
Then sware Lord Thomas Howard: "'Fore God I am no coward;
But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear,
And the half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow quick.
We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?"

          II
Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: "I know you are no coward;
You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.
But I've ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore.
I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard,
To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain."
     [ Back ]

hull down: The hull of the ship cannot be seen because only the sail in the distance projects above the horizon.
     [ Back ]

Thomson's poems: James Thomson (1700-48); see below.
     [ Back ]

With such mad seas the daring Gama fought ...The wide enlivening air is full of fate: from James Thomson (1700-48), "Summer" about line 1000 (in The Seasons).
     [ Back ]

On Sarum's plain I met a wandering fair,
The look of Sorrow, lovely still she bore:
Though Jones quotes these lines in the midst of reading from Thomson's "Summer," they are not from "Summer."  Rather, they are from William Shenstone (1714-1763), Elegies, 16, Stanza 7.

On Sarum's plain I met a wandering fair;
The look of sorrow, lovely still, she bore;
Loose flow'd the soft redundance of her hair,
And on her brow a flowery wreath she wore.

Source:  http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/etexts/E000365.htm

     [ Back ]

sun-blink: According to the 1913 Webster's dictionary, a sunblink is "A glimpse or flash of the sun." The dictionary gives the phrase a Scots origin and uses Sir Walter Scott as an example.
     [ Back ]

The Lusitanian prince, who Heaven-inspired: From Thomson's "Summer" about line 1005:
        For then from ancient gloom emerged
     The rising world of trade: the Genius, then,
     Of navigation, that, in hopeless sloth,
     Had slumbered on the vast Atlantic deep,
     For idle ages, starting, heard at last
     The Lusitanian prince; who, heaven-inspired,
     To love of useful glory roused mankind,
     And in unbounded commerce mixed the world.

The Lusitanian prince is Don Henry, third son of John I "the Great," King of Portugal.  (Research: Gabe Heller)
     [ Back ]

trunnion: the mounting upon which cannon swivels.
     [ Back ]

Allan Ramsay ... setting day and rising moon: This line appears to be a misquotation. Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) was the author of "Song":

     At setting day and rising morn,
          Wi' soul that still shall love thee,
     I'll ask o' Heaven thy safe return,
          Wi' a' that can improve thee.
     I'll visit aft the birken bush
          Where first thou kindly tauld me
     Sweet tales o' love, and hid my blush,
          Whilst round thou didst infault me.

     To a' our haunts I will repair,
          By greenwood, shaw, or fountain,
     Or where the summer day I'd share
          Wi' thee upon yon mountain:
     There will I tell the trees an' flooers,
          From thoughts unfeigned an' tender;
     By vows you're mine, by love is yours
          A heart that cannot wander.

(Source: Home Book of Verse (1926, 1949), edited by Benton Egbert Stevenson, p. 940.

          Jones is believed to have courted Dorothea Dandridge of Virginia in 1775. Morison reports that while they were attracted to each other, it is unlikely that her family would have allowed the marriage at that time, when Jones was unemployed and in some difficulty. Dandridge eventually married Governor Patrick Henry (28-30). However, at the time Jewett wrote The Tory Lover, virtually nothing was known of Jones's activities in 1775; Jewett would have had to base her beliefs about Jones's courting women in Virginia on speculation in various 19th-century magazine pieces and on Augustus Buell's romantic fabrications. Buell says of this period, when Jones was supposedly a Virginia plantation owner: "He was a bachelor, only twenty-eight years old, and, though he kept up the full state of the hospitable old Jones mansion, there were no women in the house except colored servants, and his table had no hostess. The good Colonial dames of the neighborhood rallied to his rescue. By turns they presided at his dinners and chaperoned the young people at his boating parties in his big sloop. Naturally, they exercised their ingenuity to make a match for him. But, acute as the Colonial dames may have been, and charming as their daughters unquestionably were, there is no record that the heart of the sailor-planter was ever touched by one or by the other. There is a tradition that for some time he showed partiality for the society of Miss Betty Parke, a relative of the lady known to fame as Martha Washington; but Miss Parke became Mrs. Tyler in 1775, while Paul Jones remained single and free" (17-18).
     [ Back ]

 
The Tory Lover -- Contents