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John Paul Jones
Chapter XVIII - 1779


A PLACID harvest moon shone unheeding on the havoc of war, its untempered, ghastly white light enhancing the awful scene of carnage; on decks drenched with valiant blood, on the threescore of peaceful dead, lying unshriven, their brief span ended. More than twice their number lay as they had fallen, writhing and groaning, or numb with the agony of mortal wounds, and the cockpit was a horrible pandemonium of suffering, to which the "good old surgeon, Lawrence Brook," unassisted as he was, could give but scant attention. Wreckage of every description cumbered the decks, confusion reigned supreme. Those who rushed to and fro at the orders of their captain stumbled over the bodies of their dead comrades, over the spent shot, over the weapons fallen from inert, lifeless hands, and the fragments of burst guns, slipping as they ran on gruesome fragments of what had been living men. It was a scene of "carnage, wreck and ruin, unimaginable unless seen."

Only a hundred or so of her unwounded crew remained to man the Bonhomme Richard, the other forty or thereabouts were with Mayrant aboard the prize. The poor Richard was indeed a wreck, she had sunk so that the shot-holes "'twixt wind and water" could not be plugged. The starboard side of the ship was driven in. Every gun on the starboard side was disabled. But for a few frames, futtocks and stanchions that still remained intact, the whole gun-deck would have fallen through."

"Such was the condition of the Richard, when sinking and on fire she was still the conqueror, and could by signal command the ship that had destroyed her! Nothing like this has ever been known in the annals of naval warfare."

The terrific battle had lasted nearly three hours without pause in its unremitting fury. So dense was the smoke hanging over the ship, that for some minutes after the Scraps had struck, both sides continued firing, and it was not till Mayrant on the Serapis called to Dick Dale, that the news spread over the ship. Then came a sudden calm, the rattle of combat stilled as if by magic, the ships drifted together on the moonlit water, and there was no sound save the groans of the wounded, or the hoarse commands of the officers. The mingled emotions in the hearts of commanders and crews can only be imagined in their complexity.

The Richard's rudder had been shot away early in the action, and had not Jones, with much foresight, had a second one rigged by the carpenters before leaving l'Orient, the ship would have lain like a log at the mercy of wind and tide when the lashings holding her to the Serapis were severed. Through the confusion of victory and defeat, the Captain led a party to make a complete survey of the Richard, which took until five o'clock the next day (September 24th), when the Richard was condemned as utterly unseaworthy, and her wounded and prisoners ordered to be transferred to the Serapis and other ships of the squadron without a moment's delay, for, in the event of wind and sea rising, there was no hope of keeping the Richard afloat.

Staggering with exhaustion, hardly seeing from their dazed, sleepless eyes, the tattered, powder- stained sailors and marines slaved at the call of humanity, for, should the sea become disturbed, the catastrophe would be too frightful to picture, and the brave old Richard was sinking fast. A crew from the Pallas manned the pumps, but the water gained steadily in the hold. There were only three boats left to move the "poor fellows, who had to be handled tenderly," and two died in the boats. The means of transport was painfully crude, the unprecedented situation one of extreme peril, which every moment increased. The crew of the Serapis behaved splendidly, tirelessly helping the enemy of the night before as the wounded and prisoners quite outnumbered the able-bodied crew of the Richard. At last the transfer was complete; and dusk fell, but still they worked. A shiver of rising wind made those who waited with the untiring Commodore urge him to leave his task of hastily gathering up the ship's papers. All the stores had to be abandoned, and scarcely any of the ammunition was saved. Jones's loss amounted to 50,000 livres, as he managed to save "only a few souvenirs from feminine friends in Paris, his journal, and a bag of linen." "Most of the officers lost everything." Thanks to his journal, Jones leaves us a word-picture of the last minutes of the ship he had fought so daringly.

"No one was now left aboard the Richard but our dead. To them I gave the good old ship for their coffin, and in her they found a sublime sepulchre. She rolled heavily in the long swell, her gun-deck awash to the port sills, settled slowly by the head, and sank peacefully in about forty fathoms. The flag which the maidens of Portsmouth had given the Commodore fluttered bravely in the rising breeze, and the last vestige mortal eyes ever saw of the Bonhomme Richard was the defiant waving of her unconquered and unstricken flag as she went down."

That luck Paul Jones considered so great a factor in the success of a sailor held his friend, for the dead calm which allowed him to move his wounded from the Richard, had kept the Edgar, seventy-four guns, —one of the frigates sent to capture him—inert at the mouth of the Humber all the day of the 24th, when every minute was vital.

When the Serapis, badly shattered, with mainmast shot away, spread what canvas she could rig on damaged masts and spars, and got slowly under way with her seven hundred souls aboard, it was a matter for conjecture if she ever could make port. The great number of prisoners and wounded, the terrible crowding, the insufficient medical aid, after so hot a fight, turned the ship into a charnel-house. The situation above decks was extremely awkward, and Jones suggested that Dr. Bannatyne should use his influence to get Captain Pearson to accept Captain Cottineau's cabin on the Pal/as, which had been offered at the Commodore's wish.

"You can understand as I do," he said, "that such an arrangement would relieve both Captain Pearson and me of much embarrassment." And he told the surgeon that Captain Pearson had declined to be his guest, saying, "he would rather mess with his subordinate officers, whom I have quartered in the gunroom of this ship, which does not seem to me proper."

Captain Pearson accepted the hospitality of the Pallas's captain, "requesting Dr. Bannatyne to pay his most feeling compliments to Commodore Jones, with the assurance that his delicate sense in the matter was fully appreciated." Dr. Bannatyne continues, "As all of our wounded remained on board the Serapis, it was of course necessary that I and my assistant, Dr. Edgerley, should stay with them, and we, being non-combatants, shared with Dr. Brook, of the late Bonhomme Richard, the mess of Commodore Jones, there being no ward-room mess. Only one commissioned officers' mess was kept up after the battle till we gained port."

Nathaniel Fanning describes the voyage : "The course was for Dunkirk, but on the 27th a gale came up, blowing him over toward the coast of Denmark, as it was impossible to handle the ship with the inadequate sails. This gale continued until the evening of the 29th. During this time the scenes on board beggared description. There were but few cots and not even enough hammocks for the wounded, so that many of them had to lie on the hard decks, where they died in numbers night and day. The British officers, with watches of their men, took almost the whole charge of the wounded, and left us free to work the ship. . . . In the common danger enmity was forgotten, and every one who could walk worked with a will to save the ship and their own lives. Finally, on the fifth day, the wind abated and hauled to the north-west, when we ran down to the coast of Holland, and made the entrance of the Helder, through which we made our way into the Texel, where we anchored about 3 p.m., October3rd, finding there the Alliance and Vengeance, which came in the day before. During these few days, including those not wounded who died from sheer exhaustion, we buried not less than forty of the two crews. Neither the Commodore nor the brave British officers ever slept more than two or three hours at a time, and were sometimes up for two days at a time. As the Pallas, being not much hurt, and her prize (the Countess of Scarborough), could work to windward, the Commodore had often signalled them to bear up for port and leave him to take care of himself; to which the good Captain Cottineau always replied that he preferred to stand by."

Politically speaking, Paul Jones's visit to the Helder was of inestimable service to the American cause, as it forced the Dutch from their attitude of neutrality, compelled them to cease temporising, and stand forth defiantly in the face of their old enemy, England, all within the year. Undoubtedly this end was hoped for by Franklin, who had ordered the squadron under Commodore Jones to rendezvous there the previous summer, with the unavowed intention of involving their "High Mightinesses" in the conflict they were so craftily trying to escape. By compelling England to declare war, and the Dutch to declare openly for the United States, an end was virtually put to a contest, in which Britain was left to contend single-handed with her refractory colonies, then backed by France, Spain and Holland."

The Alliance was already in the Texel when the Serapis and Pallas warped slowly into port. Though the "Commodore and the brave British officers had not slept more than two or three hours at a time, and were sometimes up for two days at a time," there was little rest to be found at the Texel. The wounded and prisoners must he cared for, and arrangements made for court-martialling Landais. Instantly on arriving, Jones sent special messengers to Franklin with the news of the great victory, and a report of Landais's scandalous behaviour. He then became involved in a "diplomatic duel" with Sir Joseph Yorke, the British Minister, who puzzled their "High Mightinesses dreadfully by formally demanding in the name of King George the prizes, and that Paul Jones and his crew should begiven up to him as rebels and pirates." Despite his official attitude, he recommends their "High Mightinesses shall permit the wounded to be brought on shore that proper attention may he paid to them." This their High Mightinesses did, and the wounded and prisoners from both ships were lodged in an old fort.

That Sir Joseph's official and personal views of the situation differed, may be gathered from Jones's letter to Bancroft, under the date of December 17, 1779, in which he says—

"The Dutch people are for us and for war. Nothing now keeps Holland neutral except the influence of the shipowners, who are doing almost the entire commerce of Europe at enormous rates, and the bankers of Amsterdam, who are handling all the continental exchanges that before the war went to London. And our cause has been helped by the arrogance of Sir Joseph Yorke's demands and the style of dictator which he assumes for his master the King.

"Privately, however, I am told that Sir Joseph is a clever old fellow and as good a vis-à-vis at dinner as one could wish. Most unexpectedly I encountered him for a few moments at the house of M. Van Berckel, the Grand Pensionary, when arrangements were being made for the comfort of the wounded prisoners who had been landed. I had expected to deal with his secretary, but Sir Joseph came himself. He was most civil, and requested me, if not too inconvenient, to supply him with a list of names of the wounded, and something as to the conditions and prospects of each, saying he wished to have it because so many letters of inquiry came to him about them from relatives in England. This I did as soon as I returned to the Texel. . . . I could not help noting, though, that he eyed me curiously.

"The only personal allusion he made was to say that he presumed I had seen or heard reports in print or gossip that he offered reward for the surreptitious seizure of my person, and if so he hoped I would view them with suitable contempt. T said that I had heard such rumours, but that my knowledge of his character was a sufficient answer to them: for which he thanked me. He offered to send medicine, blankets and food, and, if necessary, to employ a Dutch physician to take the place of Dr. Bannatyne, late surgeon of the Serapis. who had broken down. I accepted all his good offices in behalf of the prisoners on shore.

"Sir Joseph said he would send the supplies up by a small vessel from Amsterdam to the Texel in a day or to, consigned to me. But I, not wishing to he responsible in any way for them. for fear that malicious enemies might accuse me of appropriating them— which I frankly said to Sir Joseph—requested him to consign such supplies as he might send to Dr. Edgerley, late surgeon of the Scarborough, who, since the illness of the late chief surgeon on the Serapis, had been placed by me in full charge of his wounded countrymen landed at the Texel. Sir Joseph at once most politely expressed his approval of this suggestion, and said he would consign the supplies to Dr. Edgerley, who, being a non-combatant, was, of course, not held under any restraint whatever by me."

The supplies arrived a few days later, and a private letter to Dr. Edgerley "requesting him to inform me that if, as he suspected, the wounded Americans might also be in need of such supplies as he had sent, they should have an impartial share: because," he said, "we all know that old England can never tell the difference between friends and foes among brave men wounded in battle, even if some of them may, peradventure, he rebels!

"I confess that when Dr. Edgerley showed to me this sentiment of Sir Joseph's T was at a loss for comment, and said only that nothing else could he expected from an English gentleman ! But I must also confess that my opinion of Sir Joseph as a man from that moment took a very wide divergence from my estimate of him as an ambassador."

So assiduous were the dames of Holland, that Jones was able to "dispense with Sir Joseph's charity to the wounded of our own crew." Was it thanks to the personality of the "rebel and pirate" commander that the "lovely Holland dames and daughters of the Helder every day thronged the decks of the Serapis and the Pallas with all the delicacies that only the good hearts of women can contrive for the comfort and succour of brave men who have been wounded in battle?"

Though this is anticipating, it is better to conclude the wrangle with their High Mightinesses. Sir Joseph would not let the matter rest, urging persistently that Jones should be given over to British authority. The States of Holland in cases of this kind were always governed by a set of "maxims." These "maxims" dictated that they should decline deciding on the validity of captures in the open seas of vessels not belonging to their own subjects. They afforded at all times shelter in their harbours to all ships whatsoever, if driven in by stress of weather; but compelled armed ships with their prizes to put to sea again as soon as possible, without permitting them to dispose of their cargoes; and this conduct they were to follow in the case of Jones."

The High Mightinesses were in a pretty pickle, "and declined to pass judgment on the person and prizes of Paul Jones." If they protected him as an American, it showed open defiance to England, which at the moment they were not anxious to do, "and the French commission under which it was alleged he acted could never be forthcoming."

How it must have wrung the souls of the thrifty Dutch merchants who were publicly forbidden to sell naval or military stores to the squadron, except barest necessities to carry them to the first foreign port, "that all suspicion of their being furnished here may drop!"

Sir Joseph tirelessly kept the matter before their High Mightinesses, who worried the French ambassador, the Due de la Vauguyon, who was in his turn pestered by de Chaumont, and those of his party wishing to get these rich prizes into their hands. Though actuated by different motives, all united in one great wish—to get Paul Jones out of the way. This daring man had never been in a more critical situation. A light squadron of English ships was kept cruising about to "prevent his gaining any French or Spanish port," if he succeeded in escaping the ships at the entrance of the Texel. "So deep and galling was the wound this individual had inflicted on the national pride, that the capture of 'one Paul Jones' would have at this time been more welcome to England than if she had conquered a rich argosy," is the opinion expressed by one anonymous biographer.

Jones, if it had been left to his judgment, would have taken his prizes to Dunkirk, which was a French port, and one where he would have been free from these diplomatic complications. Franklin ordered him to the Texel primarily with the bribe of the Indien, really, as it turned out, to bring matters to a crisis between Holland and England. But Jones was destined not to have the Indien, for "the same officious commissary, whose talkative propensities and suspicious disposition had so frequently baffled the projects of Jones, had again been at work, and, although the Dutch Government might have winked at the sailing of the fleet under his convoy, the measure would have been rendered abortive by premature disclosure." Jones declared that he suspected Le Ray de Chaumont to be at the bottom of all this caballing, "as he wished to control the sale of the Serapis as a prize, under the provisions of the Concordat, she being worth more than all the others taken after the three sent to Bergen had been given up." These ships were sent to Bergen in express defiance of Jones's orders, as the King of Denmark was wholly at the disposition of King George, to whom, at the first demand, he turned over the hard-won prizes, losing both prizes and prize-money to Jones and his crew. This incident formed the subject of endless negotiations for several years, as there were so many questions of international marine law to he adjusted.

"The Duc de la Vauguyon, Mr. Dumas and Dr. Franklin now apprehended that de Reynst would take it upon himself to use force at any time he might select to compel me to quit the roadstead with my squadron," Jones writes, adding, that de Reynst had lately been ordered to command the Dutch fleet in the Texel, as Commodore Riemersma was "of the American party, and he had already been extremely polite to me personally; so much so, that Sir Joseph Yorke felt called upon to mention it among his grievances. On the other hand, de Reynst was a tool in the hands of his Serene Highness the Prince Stadtholder (Prince of Orange), who in turn was a tool in the hands of Sir Joseph. . . . The diplomats were sure that I would fall into the hands of these (English ships) as soon as I might get in the offing."

"A provisional commission" as capitaine de vaisseau in the French navy, was twice offered to and finally refused by Jones on December i3th. It was thought that the French flag would be respected by the Dutch. "In vain I expostulated with them that by accepting the shelter of the French flag I should do exactly of all things that which Sir Joseph Yorke wished me to do; namely, withdraw all pretensions of the United States as a party to the situation, and thereby confess that the United States claimed no status as a sovereign power in a neutral port. They all knew what I had written to the States-General on November 4th, in rejoinder to Sir Joseph's demand that I be treated as a 'pirate,' and they had approved it. I now contended that to seek shelter under the French flag or behind a French commission would stultify the position I then took; but none of them would so view it. On the contrary, they all, but more particularly the Duke, endeavoured to mystify me with a mass of abstrusities in diplomatic usage and international law which had no hearing on the case that I could see."

He offered to turn the prisoners over to the French ambassador, with the agreement that an exchange should be made for American prisoners in England, and "leave Captain Cottineau to hoist the French flag on the Pallas, the Vengeance, and Cottineau's prize the Countess of Scarborough, and then make the best of my way to sea with the Serapis and Alliance under the American flags."

Tired as he was of this wrangle, Jones could not help seeing the humour of these worthy gentlemen's objection that the new mainmast he had put in the Serapis was too short, "and she could not sail with it well enough to stand a chance of escaping the ships of the enemy on blockade. I modestly suggested," he comments, "that I being somewhat of a seaman ought to be left to judge of that; but they, none of whom could tell a main-brace from a marlin-spike, knew better, and it was decided I should take out only the Alliance."

When he flatly refused to fall in with all their suggestions, he was presented with an order from Dr. Franklin, who, for a friend, seems to have caused some of the ambitious Scotchman's bitterest moments, "that he should turn over all the prisoners and the ships, except the Alliance, to Captain Cottincau," and then do what I pleased, or what I could with the Alliance. I afterwards found out that this order had been procured at the same time as my French commission, but held up only to serve on me as a last resource if I proved contumacious."

Destined to be the sport of political juggling, Paul could not learn that others had not the one-purposed spirit which animated him, and he confesses, "The deprivation of the Serapis was the sorest of all my wounds. I had long ago given UI) hope of commanding the Indien. The Serapis had been taken by an American ship under the American flag, and commanded by virtue of an American commission. I could not conceive by what shadow of right M. de Sartine could claim her as a French prize, and he made no attempt to set up any."

Under the heading, "On the I3onlzomrne's prize, the ship of war Setapis," at the Texel, November 4, 1779, he wrote to the French ambassador explaining that he had spoken with the commandant of the Road on board his ship, the latter "questioning me very closely whether I had a French commission, and, if I had, he almost insisted on seeing it. In conformity with your advice, 'Cel avis donne, an commencement n'éloit plus de saison depuis l'admission de l'escadre sons pavilion Americain,' I told him that my French commission not having been found among my papers since the loss of the Bonhomme Richard, I feared it had gone to the bottom in that ship; but if it was really lost it would be an easy matter to procure a duplicate of it from France. The commandant appeared to be very uneasy and anxious for my departure. I have told him that as there are eight of the enemy's ships lying in wait for me at the south entrance, and four more at the north entrance of the port, I was unable to fight more than three times my force, but that he might rest assured of my intention to depart with the utmost expedition whenever I found a possibility to go clear.

"I should have departed long ago, if I had met with common assistance; but for a fortnight past I have every day expected the necessary supply of water from Amsterdam in cisterns, and I am last night informed that it cannot be had without I send up water-casks. The provision, too, that I ordered the day I returned from Amsterdam from the Hague, is not yet sent down; and the spars that have been sent from Amsterdam are spoiled in the making. None of the ironwork that is ordered for the Serapis is yet completed, so that I am, even at this hour, in want of hinges to hang the lower gun-ports. My officers and men lost their clothes and beds in the Bonhomme Richard, and they have yet got no supply. The bread that has been twice a week sent down from Amsterdam to feed my people, has been, literally speaking, rot/en, and the consequence is that they are falling sick.

It is natural also that they should be discontented, while I am not able to tell them that they will be paid the value of their property in the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, if either or both of them should be lost or taken after sailing from here.

"I have but few men and they are discontented. If you can authorise me to promise them, at all hazards, that their property in the prizes shall be made good, and that they shall receive the necessary clothing and bedding, etc., or the money to buy them, I believe I shall soon be able to bring them again into a good humour. . .

There seemed no way out of this labyrinth, when the French unexpectedly cut the Gordian knot, declaring the cruise at an end, and, with the amiable cooperation of Franklin, placed the vessels under the French flag, ordering Jones to command the Alliance, and Landais to Paris to explain his behaviour to the plenipotentiaries.

"Jones received the information with disgust and chagrin; but such were the orders of de Sartine, such," is this writer's opinion, "the course sound policy dictated." It would seem in this, as in so many similar instances, that Franklin in his later years grew rather indifferent to the interests of his mission, and sacrificed his friend to save controversy and worry, perhaps to keep in favour with the French people, whose adulation so pleased his vanity.

After an altercation with the French ambassador at the Hague, lasting, Jones says, thirteen hours, he reluctantly bade farewell to the Serapis, "whose deck seemed the theatre of his glory." The squadron sailed shortly after under Dutch convoy, and he was left alone on his new ship, which he found like all vessels commanded by Landais, filthy, in sad repair, with a crew on the verge of mutiny.

Paul was now offered a French commission, the command of a letter-of-marque! Whatever his personal difficulties, he was at this time in "the blaze of his fame," talked of, says Franklin, "at Paris and Versailles," celebrated throughout Europe and America. His temper and blood were at no time very cool on sudden excitement, and the excess of his indignation may be imagined when he received the insulting offer of a letter-of-marque. He had thrown up his chances of advancement in the American navy to stay in France. He had put up with insult, annoyance and suspicion—for this. He wrote to the French ambassador to the Hague a letter considered "one of the best productions of his pen."

'Alliance,' Texel, December 13, 1779.

"MY LORD,
Perhaps there are many men in the world who would esteem as an honour the commission that I have this day refused.

"My rank from the beginning knew no superior in the Marine of America, how then must I be humbled were I to accept a lctter-of -marque! I should, my lord, esteem myself inexcusable, were I to accept even a commission of equal or superior denomination to that I bear, unless I were previously authorised by Congress. . . . Comte d'Orvillers offered to procure for me from a Court a commission of 'capitaine de vaisseau,' which I did not then accept for the same reason, although the war between France and England was not then begun, and of course the commission of France would have protected me from an enemy of superior force.

It is a matter of the highest astonishment to me that, after so many compliments and fair professions, the Court should offer the present insult to my understanding, and suppose me capable of disgracing my present commission. I confess that I never merited all the praise bestowed on my past conduct, but I also feel that I have far less merited such a reward. Where profession and practice are so opposite, I am no longer weak enough to form a wrong conclusion. They may think as they please of me; for where I cannot continue my esteem, praise or censure from any man is to me a matter of indifference.

When I remained eight months seemingly forgot by the Court at Brest, many commissions such as that in question were offered to me; and I believe (when I am in pursuit of plunder) I can still obtain such an one without application to Court. . .

Jones told Franklin in the letter enclosing this "They have played upon my good humour too long already, but the spell is at last dissolved. They would play me off with the assurance of the personal and particular esteem of the King, to induce me to do what would render me contemptible even in the eyes of my own servants Accustomed to speak untruth themselves, they would also have me to give under my hand that I am a liar and a scoundrel. They are mistaken, and I would tell them what you did to your naughty servant, 'We have too contemptible an opinion of one another's understanding to live together.' I could tell them, too, that if Monsieur de Chaumont had not taken such safe precautions to keep me honest by means of his famous Concordat, and to support me by so many able colleagues, these great men would not have been reduced to such mean shifts. . .

In reply to his letter, Jones soon received one of apology from the ambassador, which to some extent pacified him, without materially altering his views on the situation.

The first letter from Franklin contained a measure of balm for his wounded feelings. "For some days," he wrote, "after the arrival of your express, scarce anything was talked of at Paris and Versailles but your cool conduct and persevering bravery during that terrible conflict. You may believe that the impression on my mind was not the less strong than that on others, but I do not choose to say in a letter to yourself all I think on such an occasion.

"The Ministry are much dissatisfied with Captain Landais, and M. de Sartine has signified to me in writing that it is expected that I should send for him to Paris and call him to account for his conduct. . ." Franklin intimates that he will follow this suggestion, allowing Landais the chance of an explanation, a court-martial being inconvenient at the moment.

Immediately the fleet anchored in the Texel, Jones took action to restore proper discipline to ships and crews. With this end in view he removed Landais from the Alliance, replacing him with his first lieutenant, Arthur Degge. As Landais treated this order with supercilious contempt, his commander sent Captain Cottineau with a curt intimation to the effect that, if he was not instantly obeyed, "he would be under the painful necessity of boarding the Alliance and carrying the order into force personally at the end of twenty-four hours."

Without replying to this, Landais sent Captain Cottineau a challenge, after the latter had left the Alliance, on the pretext that an affront was offered in bringing him the message. However, he waited for no new developments, disappearing bag and baggage early next morning. A few hours later Jones mustered the crew, informing them officially that Captain Landais had been relieved of his command, and installing Lieutenant Degge in his place. Such of the crew as had been strong partisans of Landais were sent on other ships, and Degge ordered, in case of the late captain's reappearance, to signal to the flag-ship for instructions.

But Landais did not return. His challenge having been accepted by Cottineau, they fought on the Island of the Texel with rapiers, his opponent running Cottineau through the side and receiving a slight scratch on the neck, after which the duel was stopped by the seconds. Bent on mischief, Landais went to Amsterdam and ordered immense quantities of stores for the Alliance from Neufville & Co., agents of the United States. His baffled spite on discovering that Dr. Franklin had forbidden them to furnish supplies, except on personal voucher of Commodore Jones, may be pictured. . . . Checkmated in this direction, he commenced writing abusive letters to Jones, who ignored them, enraging Landais to such a pitch of fury that he sent Jones a challenge through 1/ic post— an insult in itself, and an infraction of the rigid laws of duelling. For this reason and for the fact that Landais was still under the charge of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, Jones could have declined the challenge. But this was the one communication he yearned to receive from his enemy, and joyously ignoring all irregularities, despatched Lieutenants Harry Lunt and John Mayrant to wait upon Landais. Having, as the challenged party, the choice of weapons, Jones chose pistols at ten paces, and Landais, who was an expert with the rapier, and had planned to kill Jones or injure him for life, found himself outwitted at his own game. He protested angrily to Mayrant and Lunt that it was barbarous and that the pistol was not recognised under the French code.

"To this Lunt responded that the code prevailing in America did recognise the pistol, and that Commodore Jones, being an American, was entitled to proceed according to the code of his own country."

Pierre Landais had not the slightest ambition to confront his outraged commander at the foolishly inadequate distance of ten paces, and departed under cover of night in a post-chaise for Paris.

He was loathed by the crew of the Richard, who laid the death of many of their bravest comrades to his cowardly broadsides from the Alliance. Lieutenant Dick Dale had publicly insulted him in a coffee house at the Fielder, where Dale, who was only wounded a few days before and still limping badly, with his usual impetuosity tried to force a public quarrel on Landais, denouncing his behaviour in the Alliance; and in order that there might be no mistake in Landais's mind about his meaning, he expressed himself in Landais's own tongue, saying to him, among other things-

Only the interference of the bystanders prevented a fight on the spot, both men being armed, and Landais, poltroon though he was, would hardly have refused to fight if attacked. Dale impatiently awaited the challenge, which, according to all precedent, must be sent; but it never came, as Landais got out of it by standing on the difference in their rank. He was considered prudent in not pressing the quarrel, be- cause Dick was a dead shot with a pistol, and equally adept with Land ais in the use of the rapier, "and all who knew him knew well that the first crossing of blades would make his lame leg—for the time being, at least—as well as it ever was." If Dick had fouht it was with the intention of killing Landais. This intention, of which Dale made no secret, being the reason Jones chose other seconds to wait on Landais. Not willing to fight in the open, this mischief-maker went to the Hague, trying to enlist the French ambassador's sympathies, but de Vauguyon refused an interview. Landais then tried to get the Chevalier de Livoncourt, France's Naval Agent in Holland, to give a written statement to the Due, but this de Vauguyon refused to receive, instructing de Livoncourt to tell Landais that M. de Sartine had communicated to him the fact that Dr. Franklin "had notified Landais of the charges against him" and had ordered him to report in person to Dr. Franklin at once, bringing with him "such witnesses as he might judge needful for his defence." Being politely frozen out of Holland, Landais betook himself to Passy, as ordered.

On Christmas Day such a gale blew off the Texel that most of the patrolling English frigates were driven off the coast, which was what Commodore Jones had long waited for, and seized the opportunity to slip out on to the high seas. Though the gale still swept the coast and menaced shipping, it abated a little the afternoon of the 26th, and late that night, or, rather, early on the morning of the 27th, Jones stood out to sea in the Alliance, boldly shaping his course for the Straits of Dover. Daring as ever, Jones sailed down the Channel, passing within pistol-shot of the Channel Fleet anchored off Spithead, but good fortune and his cool fearlessness carried him through this fleet where every soul was on the qui vive for his capture. Safely out of a very dangerous neighbourhood, the Alliance sailed for Corunna, where, Spain and England being at war, the Commodore was enthusiastically welcomed and made much of.

The junior officers of the Alliance, not being hampered by fears of the hereafter, amused themselves making the acquaintance—goodness knows whereof some very pretty young nuns, supposedly safe in the shelter of their cloister. The usual golden means of opening locks was evidently employed, for these giddy young women met Mayrant and Midshipman Potter "at the house of a cordwainer, near the convent. They were surprised there by the Spanish police, and the officers were placed in the calahazo," the adventurous nuns being "hustled back to their convent."

Thanks to the kind offices of that "little cherub who sits up aloft and looks out for the life of poor Jack," Commodore Jones was dining with the Governor of Corunna when the incident was reported. The dinner had been long and heavy, the wines excellent; the Governor easily agreed to the wish of the deferential but exceedingly quick-witted Commodore that he should be allowed to take the offenders aboard the Alliance and "visit upon them the most condign punishment." The Alliance was to sail the next day but one, and Jones, knowing the prejudice against heretics, which in this instance would be intensified, as they had trespassed on the sacred precincts of the Church, deemed it safer to have his "boys" under his eye, than take any chances of their being embroiled with the authorities. "His Excellency was polite enough to agree with this and the two culprits were taken from the calabazo and sent aboard considerably past midnight. Next day a summary court- martial was convened, which "sentenced" Mayrant and Potter to deprivation of their rank and other penalties.

"This finding the Commodore translated into Spanish, engrossed a copy of it with his own hand, and forwarded the same to his Excellency the Governor, under the escort of a lieutenant and two officers, as behooved the solemn occasion. The Governor received the deputation with much gravity, "and expressed complete satisfaction at the promptness and thoroughness of the Commodore's action, saving it was much better that the affair should have taken this course than to have detained the offenders for punishment by the Spanish authorities, which might have caused complications.

"But once at sea the Commodore reviewed the case and peremptorily set the proceedings aside on the ground. This restored their former rank to the gay Lotharios, who were the butt of much sly wit and allusion—for getting caught!

Rather a striking little incident is the following, as illustrating the temper of this crew. The second day out from Corunna the Jack-o'-the-dust handed Jones a petition, which ran as follows:-

"We respectfully request you, sir, to lay us along- side any single-decked English ship to be found in these seas, or any double-decked ship under a fifty." This was not a "round Robin, but a straight petition, headed by old John Robinson, and signed in order of rating by every member of the crew, including cooks and cabin-boys."

"When this paper was handed to me," said the Commodore, "I could hardly control my feelings. I at once mustered the crew and told them that it was necessary to return to l'Orient . . . we were not prepared for a long cruise. . . . Being midwinter we would not have much chance of encountering English cruisers of force similar to our own in the Bay of Biscay. But I promised them that I would keep a good look-out and, if occasion presented, would conform exactly to the terms of their petition."

Without doubt there was extra grog served out that day, and alert eyes kept a sharp look-out for the hoped-for sail, hut, to their great disappointment, they reached l'Orient without adventure.

There was a perpetual demand for American officers to command French privateers, and Mayrant and Fanning were offered most advantageous commands, if Jones would allow them to accept. On these privateers the French made a practice of putting on board an "agent comp/able," who, under the guise of purser, could—according to the French law governing privateers, and the Concordat the Americans had to sign—command the ship, the captain being reduced to a mere sailing-master and "colleague" on his own ship. Jones refused to allow Mayrant and Fanning to go unless the papers were made out so that they were both captain and agent compiable. After much heated argument he won his point, for, as he told Mercereau, who was recruiting for the privateer, "I had my fill to the full of French chicanery, and that unless he could take my boys on my terms he could leave them as they were, with me." Thanks to their Commander's firmness and their complete independence, Mayrant and Fanning, in their twenty-months cruise, with two privateers, made something like £200,000, much to the satisfaction of all concerned, and earned for themselves a reputation for daring that was not soon forgotten.

The Alliance needed a refit, which on his arrival at l'Orient, despite Franklin's howls of economy, Jones proceeded to give her. His professional spirit of liberality far outran the frugal genius of Franklin, and the almost pathetic remonstrances addressed to him by the Republican sage are as amusing as they are characteristic." . . . "The whole expense will fall on me! " cries Franklin, as the Court of France had demurred to incurring further expenses for this refractory hero and his American ship, and I am ill-provided to hear it, having so many unexpected calls upon me from all quarters. I therefore beg you would have mercy on me, put me to as little charge as possible, and take nothing you can possibly do without. As to sheathing with copper, it is totally out of the question."

But, sympathising with Jones for the many crosses and vexations he had to bear, it is pleasing to know that once in his career he was able to pronounce the ship he commanded one of the most "complete frigates in France." When she was ready for sea, Franklin worked tooth and nail to get his tempestuous friend afloat, even going to the terrible lengths of advancing—unauthorised--a small percentage of their prize-money to the penniless sailors, the former crew of the Richard, "to allay discontent, and send the men home in good humour. But neither the Commodore nor his crew were yet in trim for sea. "Despairing of a settlement of his prize claims, and those of his crew, Paul went to Paris to taste some of the sweets of hard-won fame, for he was popular with the Court and the nation," even to the extent of being cheered at the opera, "and Paris was at this moment in the very height and fervour of the American mania."


 


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