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John Paul Jones
Chapter XXIII - 1788 - 1789


THERE has been so much written lately on eighteenth-century Russia, and no less about the extraordinary personality of its Empress, that even the most "gentle reader" cannot fail to be aware of the conditions prevailing in the years 1788-9.

As France under the Louis had been the prey of favourites, so Russia was despoiled and dominated by the string of men whom the Empress deigned to notice, and the sums it pleased this amorous old lady to squander away upon her pleasures ran into an appalling total in the many years during which she amused herself. Potemkin, though no longer official first favourite, ruled his mistress with a rod of iron, making himself indispensable by pandering to her whims, and insolently domineered over her by sheer force of his personality whenever occasion offered. It pleased him to be gracious to Paul Jones on his arrival in Russia, and so good an impression did he make, that the latter sang his praises—for a time. A letter from Baron de Simolin to Count Besborodko alluded to the subject of the Chevalier Jones, "whom," de Simolin says, Potemkin "requested me to induce to repair to his headquarters as quickly as possible, that he might employ his talents at the opening of the campaign; and to assure him that in entering the service he would do all that depended on him to make his situation pleasant and advantageous, and certainly procure for him occasions in which he might display his skill and valour." This letter was found in Jones's papers, with the significant comment—"Has he kept his word "

Potemkin, the product of an amazing age, could not have had his being at another epoch. A country where, less than a hundred years before, the heir to the throne had been knouted to death by his kingly father, alone might be responsible for the astonishing character history and memoir present to us. Potemkin's contemporaries, the Prince de Ligne and the Comte de Ségur, have both left their impressions of a personality which ruled Russia from the day of his ascendency to the death of the Empress, who, it is said, married him secretly shortly before her death. Had he been a man of continuous purpose, he could have changed the map of Europe, but, as de Ségur so eloquently says, "Like the rapid passage of those shining meteors which astonish us by their lustre, but are as empty as air, Potemkin began everything, completed nothing, disordered the finances, disorganised the army, depopulated his country and enriched it with other deserts. The fame of the Empress was increased by his conquests. The admiration they excited was for her; and the hatred they raised was for her minister. Posterity, more equitable, will perhaps divide between them both the glory of the successes and the severity of the reproaches. It will not bestow on Potemkin the title of great man; but it will mention him as an extraordinary person; and, to draw his picture with accuracy, he might be represented as a real emblem, as the living image of the Russian Empire.

"For, in fact, he was colossal like Russia. In his mind, as in that country, were cultivated districts and desert plains. It also partook of the Asiatic, of the European, of the Tartarian and the Cossack; the rudeness of the eleventh century and the corruption of the eighteenth; the polish of the arts and the ignorance of the cloisters; an outside of civilisation and many traces of barbarism. In a word, if we might hazard so bold a metaphor, even his two eyes, the one open and the other closed, reminded us of the Euxine, always open, and the northern ocean, so long shut up by ice."

He was accompanied on his travels by a select company which his associates tersely style a "harem," the husbands of the ladies so honoured by the Pasha being ignored as completely as if non-existent. Prince de Ligne leaves an edifying picture of Potemkin, "waving one hand to the female that pleases him, and with the other making the sign of the Cross; embracing the feet of a statue of the Virgin, or the alabaster neck of his mistress . . . sober, though seemingly a glutton; gnawing his fingers, or apples or turnips; engaged in wantonness or prayer . . . bearing himself better than any man, while he seems to think of nothing but the most voluptuous baths; not caring for cold, though he appears unable to exist without furs; always in his shirt without drawers, or in rich regimentals embroidered on all the seams, barefoot or in slippers embroidered with spangles; wearing neither hat nor cap; it is thus I saw him once in the midst of a musket fire." The French ambassador, de Ségur, who had unlimited opportunities to see Potemkin in all the parts he loved to play, sums him up—

"Prince Gregory Alexandrovitch Potemkin, one of the most extraordinary men of his times; but in order to have played so conspicuous a part, he must have been in Russia, and have lived in the reign of Catherine II. In any other country, in any other times, with any other sovereign, he would have been misplaced, and it was a singular stroke of chance that created this man for the period that tallied with him and brought together and combined all the circumstances with which he could tally."

To the whim of this personage Jones really owed his Russian experiences. Satiated with honours heaped on him by the Empress and those decorations from foreign Courts with which he shone resplendent, Potemkin cherished the ungratified desire of being decorated with the Order of St. George, the Grand Ribbon of which was given, only after a victory, to the successful commander. Why the Empress had not bestowed it on this spoiled child of fortune is one of the unexplained oddities of her character and the relationship of this edifying pair. Catherine had long nursed the chimerical hope of overthrowing or dismembering the Turkish Empire and seizing the throne of Constantinople, on which she would have placed her grandson, named Constantine in view of such a contingency. Potemkin, whose soul loved turmoil which might lead to his betterment, lost no opportunity of insulting or annoying the Turks, forcing them at last to take the initiative, and declare war. It was imperative that the Rusian fleet should be commanded by an able officer, and, sweeping aside with his customary disdain the discontent of those who considered themselves superseded, Potemkin set in motion the negotiations which resulted in Paul Jones entering the Russian service. Knowing the corruption of the Court, and the jealousy Potemkin had stirred up and ignored, as he was too powerful to be harmed, it can be understood into what a hot-bed of conflicting passions Jones stepped, and one which time and circumstance did not lull. Jealousy and favouritism he had experienced in the United States and France, but "as sunlight unto moonlight" to what the Russian vista opened up. For a man of his straightforward, impetuous nature to have been able to fathom and checkmate the deceit of those by whom he was surrounded, and understand their methods, would have necessitated the training of a lifetime. Paul soon relinquished any idea of learning the language, as Russian was neither used socially or officially, French being employed everywhere, even for official documents and archives.

In Tooke's Life of Catherine the Great, published in London 1789, the author asserts that there were a number of "British naval officers" in St. Petersburg, soliciting the Empress for employment in her navy. Some of these "naval officers," jealous of the distinction shown Paul Jones, went in a body to Rear- Admiral Greig protesting that they would not serve under Jones, offering, such as had commissions, to resign them, and those who had nothing wished to withdraw their application for employment. Sir Samuel Greig, a Scotchman who had been in the Russian navy since 1770, and held the rank of Rear- Admiral of the Baltic Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Kreuss, listened unsympathetically to their grievances, and, according to Naraschkin, told them not to behave like school-boys, as the Empress, if she heard of this, would dismiss them instantly from her service, and expel them from Russia as conspirators against her sovereign authority." But some of them, sure in their own conceit, "disdained Greig's advice, and went, full of their complaints, to Count Besborodko, who let the matter come to the ears of the Empress, who was furious at the presumption."

"What!" she exclaimed, "do these men who are beggars of my bounty presume to question my treatment of a man who is my invited guest?"

With the utmost difficulty she was persuaded from summarily dismissing all those "naval officers" who were in her employ, and peremptorily refused to consider further applications from the others. One of those she retained, Lieutenant Edwards, spoke and wrote Russian fluently, and was attached to Jones as aide-de-camp during the campaign, and spoken highly of for his efficiency. In the journal we find the observation that "Lieutenant Edwards was led to join in the futile cabal against me, not by his own inclination, but by the clamour of the other Englishmen about him." Tooke, the author quoted above, was an attache of the British Embassy at St. Petersburg; for some unknown reason he hated Paul Jones, and this undoubtedly biased all he wrote, and makes his opinions unreliable.

Compensating for other annoyances, and for the first time since his entrance into public life, Paul found himself amply furnished with money by his employers, having received the "emoluments of his rank" dating from the first overtures of Baron de Simolin. When he left St. Petersburg for Cherson, on May 7th, he had a purse of two thousand Austrian ducats—about a thousand pounds—for his expenses extraordinary. He was to travel the distance of eleven hundred miles in one of the Empress's tarantasses, such as were used by the officers of state, and fitted with all portable luxuries. But, except at night, the Rear-Admiral preferred to travel on horseback, accomplishing the journey in twelve days, which was not a had record for hard travelling, averaging, as he did, some ninety miles a day. He allowed only four stops of more than an hour's duration; one to dine with the Governor of Moscow and go to the Kremlin; then at Tula, visiting the armouries and buying some weapons; the third for repairs to the carriage; and the last at Ekaterinoslav—in all less than eighteen hours. The condition of the roads forbade any sleep in the tarantass, and his only compensation for all this discomfort was the unlimited supply of post horses, which his mission allowed him to command in the name of the Empress, and so rush on with the fatiguing journey.

Unquestionably diplomatic though he was, Jones found himself in a position where all his powers of constraint and self-control were tested to the utmost. One of the first confidences he received from the Prince de Nassau was, "that if we gain any advantage over the Turks, it was necessary to exaggerate it to the utmost; and that was the counsel the Chevalier de Ribas had given him, "which bit of information opened a line of novel thought."

The Russian fleet, manned by Greeks, Genoese and some Crimean fishermen, was as yet an unknown quantity. The men were not sailors, and not more than a couple of hundred had ever seen the sea. Whether the pangs of mal-de-mer would have changed the fate of war one cannot but surmise. The foreign officers, English, Dutch, and French men, alone understood the science of navigation; the Russians being literally "at sea" when out of sight of landmarks. Excepting de Winter, Greve' and Fanshaw, the commanding officers were Russians. The Rear-Admiral spent but one evening at Cherson, "but even this short period was enough to show me that I had entered on a delicate and disagreeable service. Rear-Admiral Mordwinoff, chief of the Admiralty, did not affect to disguise his displeasure at my arrival; and though he had orders from the Prince-Marshal to communicate to me all the details concerning the force in the Liman and to put me in possession of the flag belonging to my rank as Rear-Admiral, he spared himself the trouble of compliance.

"We set out early next morning for Glouboca, the armament of the Liman being at anchor very near that place, in the roads of Schiroque, between the bar of the Dneiper and the embouchure of the river Bog. We went on board the U/olodimir before midday, where we found that Brigadier Alexiano had assembled all the commanders, to draw them into a cabal against my authority. . . . This man was a Greek, as ignorant of seamanship as of military affairs, who, under an exterior and manners the most gross, concealed infinite cunning. Though a subject of Turkey, it was alleged that he made war with the Mussulmans by attacking their commerce in the Archipelago on his own authority, and that he had followed this means of enriching himself up to the period that Count D'Orloff arrived with the Russian fleet. . . . Alexiano was a good deal offended in the first instance, and afterwards made great merit with the Prince-Marshal of the sacrifice which he affected to make in serving under me. He said that if he withdrew, all the other officers would follow his example. The Prince- Marshal sent presents to his wife, and wrote him kindly, persuading him to remain in the service. All the difficulty he made was nothing more than a piece of maneuvring to increase his importance; for, from what followed I know that, had he left the service, it would have been alone, and that no one would have regretted his absence."

On May 26, 1788, Rear-Admiral Jones hoisted his flag on the Wolodirnir. He then inspected the fleet of which he was in command, which, it must be admitted, presented astounding surprises on closer acquaintance. It consisted, in part, of vessels built to convey the Empress's carriages when she made her spectacular progress to the Crimea. These, he was told by those who wished to be discouraging, were so light that they would sink if guns were put on board! Nothing daunted, he ordered what repairs could be made with the materials at hand. Painting, fumigating and provisioning were instantly commenced, Paul borrowing three thousand soldiers from Suwarrow's army, as the vessels were insufficiently manned. Unacquainted with the ins and outs of the higher grades of the Russian service, Jones was astounded to learn that the sixty gunboats, called the "flotilla," commanded by Nassau-Siegen, though technically part of his fleet, were in no way under his orders. The impossibilities of such a situation-- a fleet being under two commanders who were as temperamentally different as fire and water—became hourly more apparent. Nassau displayed an unremitting love for the safety of his well-fed person; Paul scorned danger of any sort, and appealed to Potemkin. As it pleased the favourite to be friendly, he tried to temporise, ordering Nassau to hold himself at Jones's disposal when the Rear-Admiral required his services. This sounded very well, but if there was the slightest excuse to inconvenience Jones, his old acquaintance never allowed it to escape. Nassau-Seigen had no wish to expose his precious self, and cc durst not advance five versts without being escorted by three frigates."
To quote further from the journal which Rear- Admiral Jones prepared for the Empress: "On the 29th the squadron drew up opposite the first village, to the left of the Bog, in an obtuse angle, and thus commanded, by a cross fire, the only passage of the Liman. This lies between two sandbanks, through which the Turks must advance with their heavy vessels. By this position the Rear-Admiral covered Cherson and the country on both banks of the Liman, made good the free passage of the Bog to the army of the Prince-Marshal, and held the Turks in check in any attempt they might make against Kimbourn.

"The Prince of Nassau at this time talked a great deal of projects of descents, surprises and attacks, but without any rational plan." There are gleams of unintentional humour in the descriptions of this war, where "a battery having been raised upon the Point of Stanislaus, the Prince of Nassau expressed himself delighted with it, as in case of necessity he might there find shelter." And "the Rear-Admiral could not have retreated, as several of his vessels were already within a few inches of getting aground."

General Suwarrow, commander of Kimbourn, made the Rear-Admiral responsible for the safety of that place, while Brigadier Alexiano and the Prince of Nassau did all that was possible to make him distrustful of the means which he possessed for attack or defence.

There was no one in that fleet so well able to judge the seaworthiness of these ships as the one to whom they delighted in supplying these irritating bits of information. Paul says, "The squadron made a formidable appearance, but had little real strength. The Wolodimir and the Alexander were but half armed; and both vessels already within a few inches of touching the bottom, so shallow is the Liman for vessels of war ......he Rear-Admiral determined to assemble a council of war, in conformity to the ordinance of Peter the Great. This council he opened by a speech, the main theme being the necessity of perfect understanding between the squadron and flotilla, and that, uniting heart and hand, and forgetting all personal considerations, they should determine to conquer, as the true duty of a patriot was to be useful to his country." What sublimely unconscious satire! A Scotchman urging patriotism on an assembly composed of Poles, Germans, English, French and Dutch, the few Russians present being united with the others by ties of that universal self- interest for which they all strove. Jones then explained the signals of Pavilion, which had been translated into Russian by his aide, Lieutenant Edwards, and essayed, with the aid of a blackboard, to give them an idea of his tactics and plan of battle. The lesson availed little, as the cabals of his enemies blocked what benefit might have been derived from the council.

"On the 6th June (old style), at two in the morning, the Prince of Nassau advanced, as had been previously agreed on, with the greater part of the flotilla; but in place of cutting off the retreat of the vessels forming the enemy's advanced guard, he retired at daybreak before a very inferior force, and without offering the smallest resistance! The Turks chased him, keeping up a cannonade, into the midst of the squadron, which, as had been arranged, advanced to take up a position to support him."

"The Turks were so encouraged by this cowardly behaviour, that on the night of the 6th June, they advanced their flotilla within cannon shot of our reserve, which had been posted on the previous night on the right wing." What grins of contemptuous amusement would have adorned the face of the Richard's old crew, had they witnessed the following scene—

"At sunrise the Turks made sail; and Brigadier Alexiano ran upon the deck of the Wolodimir half naked, exclaiming like a frantic man in French and Russian that the Turks were going to attack and board us, and that we would be blown to pieces for having been so foolish as to leave our former position. He had, notwithstanding, in the council of war given his voice in favour of the position we now actually held. Brigadier Ribas, the captain and all the crew were witnesses of his extravagant and unjustifiable behaviour."

This engagement, albeit something of a fiasco, figured as a brilliant victory for the Russians, and eventually brought Jones the decoration of Saint Anne as it was thanks to his cool-headedness that the Turks did not gain the day. The most accomplished historian has been unable to make interesting reading out of this guerrilla-like warfare, which consisted of indefinite skirmishes and attacks, without important results on either side. Given a couple of good fighting ships and some of his old crews, Paul could have made more history in a week than the entire Russian fleet, including the "flotilla "—which was more of a hindrance than a help—was capable of doing all through the war. On the 7th there was a skirmish in which the Russian ships were at one time in danger of being cut off, owing to the tardiness with which the reserves advanced. The wind failing at the critical moment, Jones had his vessels towed by ships' boats, "and by an oblique movement formed in a line of battle, with the intention of cutting off the retreat of the enemy, and galling him by a cross fire." The Captain Pasha advanced in a kirlangitch to bring up the second division of his flotilla.

"At this time our reserve was very critically situated. A double chaloupe quitted the station, and four of our galleys were in danger of being captured. The Prince of Nassau, who did not relish going himself, sent Brigadier Corascoff, who made these retreat."

The Prince calmly left the reserve, which was much disorganised without a leader, and "stationed himself before the Rear-Admiral, where he could be of no use whatever. The Rear-Admiral went in the same boat with the Prince of Nassau, and again issued his orders along the line. Being now within cannon shot of the enemy, he opened fire, advancing always in an oblique line to cut off the enemy's retreat. At the same time he despatched Brigadier Alexiano to endeavour to rally the vessels of the reserve, which the Prince of Nassau had deserted; but Alexiano contented himself with waving his hat in the air and shouting behind the lines, 'Fire, my lads, on the kirlangitch of the Captain Pasha!

The Russians eventually routed the Turks, burning two of their fifty-seven vessels. "The Rear-Admiral, who had directed the whole affair, gave the credit of it to the Prince of Nassau."

On the 16th of June the Turk attacked again, having brought from the grand fleet without IKimbourn two thousand men to add to the force under the walls of Oczakow; only the fact of his running aground frustrated his intention of bearing down on the Russian flotilla under full sail and sinking the smaller vessels. Captain Pasha then intended to burn the Russian flotilla "by throwing in fire balls (grap pins), and setting fire to certain trading vessels which he had prepared as fire ships." But "the best-laid schemes of mice and men" cannot be relied upon, and the lack of a few feet of water frustrated all Captain Pasha's plans; another instance of that "chance" to which Paul Jones always declared the sailor owed so much.

At midnight the rear-admiral attacked the Turkish force, which was thrown into such confusion that they hoisted anchors and cut cables in wild alarm. "Our squadron advanced in line of battle with a striking and formidable appearance, so that the Turks knew not how weak it really was. As our flotilla had been very slow in weighing anchor, the Rear-Admiral was obliged to make the squadron halt twice to await it. At length, the flotilla being always last, the squadron opened fire on the enemy, of whom the person second in command, who had flown about like a fool, quickly ran his ship on a sandbank on the south of the Liman. There was no longer hope for him; from the moment he grounded he was ours."

Taking advantage of the confusion the Turks were in, Jones ordered the Wolodirnir to steer within pistol shot of the Turkish flagship, which had again run aground. Brigadier Alexiano who had no wish to endanger himself, under pretence that there was only fifteen feet of water, gave orders in Russian, and unknown to the Rear-Admiral, "to let go the Wolodimir's anchor." The Captain Pasha harassed the Russians by throwing bombs and balls of great size, and "struck down" the Little Alexander with a bomb. There was no discipline on the Russian ships, and, instead of pursuing the flying Turks, the flotilla swarmed round the Turkish ships which were aground like a hive of bees. Assembling some of the Russian vessels, Jones, with de Corascoff, chased the Turks under the walls of Oczakow. Nassau hurried to claim the admiral's flag, which had been on Captain Pasha's ship. "The Zaporavians drew the flag from the water, and the Prince of Nassau, a long while afterwards, had the glory (which he turned to good account) of snatching it from their hands. The Rear-Admiral might have claimed at least half of this flag, as he had his hands on it; but he regarded it as a thing of very little consequence."

With wanton recklessness the Russians destroyed the ships they had captured, amusing themselves by firing into them with brandcougles, a kind of bombshell, perforated with holes, filled inside with combustibles and fired from pieces called licorncs. "How imbecile does the human mind become under the influence of sudden panic! The Rear-Admiral, an hour after the affair, advanced in his boat and took soundings all along the Turkish line, opposite the walls of Oczakow, and within reach of case-shot, and not a single gun was fired upon him."

On the night of the 17th June Captain Pasha attempted to get his remaining force out of the Liman, but was prevented by the raking fire of the block fort, erected some time before by the Rear-Admiral's advice. When General Suwarrow sent orders for Jones to seize the Turkish ships lying there aground, Brigadier Alexiano dissuaded him from sending frigates, saying he would lose them, "as the current there was like that of a mill dam, and the bottom was so bad that anchors would not hold." It was accordingly resolved to proceed with the flotilla; and Alexiano, who had his private reasons, set out with the Prince of Nassau. The flotilla went pell-mell, and without any sort of order or plan, upon the nine ships aground, and fired brandcougles into them without mercy. It was in vain the wretched Turks made the sign of the Cross, and begged for quarter on their knees! Above three thousand of them were burnt with their ships. " Neither the Prince of Nassau nor Alexiano were to be seen at this time. They were together and at some distance during the frightful carnage, and it was afterwards asked of them if they had not during this time been at Kimbourn?"

Used to the clean warfare of civilised nations, Paul was daily infuriated at "the monstrous and wanton cruelties to which the Turks were subjected by the more barbarous and brutal Russians," though, had the advantage been on the side of the "unspeakable Turk," there is small reason to suppose the exchange of civilities would have been less bitter. Finally, on the 27th, Potemkin's army having come up, Nassau received orders to capture and destroy the Turkish flotilla under the walls of Oczakow, Jones being instructed to render him every assistance. "The Rear- Admiral had sent all the chaloupes and barcasses belonging to the squadron to haul out the vessels of the flotilla. The Prince-Marshal had taken the trouble to arrange the plan of attack himself, but this plan was not followed."

At six the next morning Jones sallied forth to seize five of the enemy's galleys within shot of Fort Hassan. These lay between the cross-fire of the Russian ships, Fort Hassan, the Turkish fleet and Oczakow, making it a dangerous enterprise, and to protect themselves further the Turks had prepared a small frigate as a fire-ship, which they set alight and anchored to the north-east of Fort Hassan.

Jones boarded the galley of the Captain Pasha, which lay considerably nearer the fort. But from unskilfulness and excess of zeal, a young officer cut the cable of this galley without waiting the orders of the Rear-Admiral; and before the boats could be got in order to haul it out, the wind drifted the galley towards the shore and still nearer the fort. Instantly Jones ordered the galley to be lightened by throwing everything possible overboard, and ropes brought to secure it to the burnt frigate, but none could be found long enough. "The Rear-Admiral was unwilling to yield to the obstinate opposition of the Turks, who fired upon him from all their bastions and from their flotilla, and he despatched Lieutenant Fox to the Wolodimir to fetch an anchor and cable. This was a certain means of securing his object; and in waiting the return of the lieutenant he left the galley with his people, and assisted in the flotilla's advance. Before the return of Lieutenant Fox he was astounded to see fire break out in the galley of the Captain Pasha, at first believing that the slaves chained on board had found means to escape, and had set fire to the vessel; afterwards he had positive proof that Brigadier Alexiano, being in a boat at the time with the Prince of Nassau, on the outside of the flotilla, and aware of the intention of the Rear-Admiral, swore that it should not succeed, and sent a Greek canoe to set fire to the galley. The three other Turkish galleys were at once run down and burnt by brandcougles. There were also a two-masted ship and a large bomb vessel burnt near Fort Hassan. This includes all that was taken or destroyed by water, save fifty-two prisoners taken by the Rear-Admiral in the two galleys. The wretched beings who were chained in the galley of the Captain Pasha perished there in the flames." It is generally supposed that a large number were captive Christians, forced to serve their conquerors. The truth of the burning of the Captain Pasha's galley was sworn to, and arrested by, a number of Russian and foreign officers in the fleet.

Again it will be seen at what a great disadvantage Jones's unfamiliarity with Russian procedure placed him, for, the instant the action was over, Nassau and Alexiano stampeded to the Prince-Marshal's headquarters to chant an ode in praise of deeds performed by themselves. A few minutes after the flotilla began to retire, the rain fell in torrents, "of which Nassau and Alexiano received their share before returning to headquarters." The latter died on July 8th of a malignant fever caught from this chill. "The Prince of Nassau, who had made use of him in caballing against me, God knows for what, neither visited him in his sickness, nor assisted at his funeral." Nor did the Greek compatriots leave the Russian service, as Alexiano had boastfully asserted they would do, but served peacefully under Jones until the end of the war.

For his important services in this war Alexiano received notice the day before his death of his promotion two grades, and that the Empress had given him a fine estate and serfs in White Russia. Nassau received a valuable property with three or four thousand serfs, and the military Order of St. George of the second class. "Her Majesty likewise gave him liberty to hoist the flag of Vice-Admiral on the taking of Oczakow, to which event it was apparently believed he had greatly contributed. I received the Order of St. Anne, an honour with which I am highly flattered, and with which I could have been perfectly satisfied had others been recompensed only in the same proportion, and according to the merits of their services. All the officers of the flotilla received a step of promotion and gratuity of a year's pay. The greater part of them also obtained the Order of St. George of the last class. Only two of these officers had been bred to the sea; all the others were ignorant of naval affairs. The officers of the squadron under my command were almost wholly marine officers. They had done their duty well when opposed to the enemy; but they obtained no promotion, no mark of distinction, no pecuniary reward. My mortification was excessive.

"My officers at this time gave me a very gratifying proof of their attachment. On promising that I would demand justice for them from the Prince-Marshal at the close of the campaign, they stifled their vexation and made no complaint"

If Rear-Admiral Jones could have metamorphosed himself into an assiduous toady where Potemkin was concerned, there is no doubt his Russian experiences would have been less trying, but he was "not skilled in playing such a part," consequently his path was a rugged one. Between Nassau and himself there was a bitter hatred, born of years, and yet in the Russian campaign Nassau was the one man essential to his interests. The Chevalier Littlepage urged him to keep on friendly terms with the princeling who, through some remote German connection, claimed cousinship with the Empress, who was one of the Anhalt-Zerbst family. Littlepage wrote, " I know that your honour can sacrifice nothing; hut, for heaven's sake, my dear friend, be prudent, as much for yourself as for your friends. Prince Potemkin has conceived a high esteem for you, but he loves Nassau. If ever mutual interest dictated union between two persons, it is between you and the Prince of Nassau at the present moment. The reverse will be the prejudice of both. . . . Remember the eyes of all Europe are fixed upon you. Fear no competition, and be indulgent to those who have not the same reason to feel above rivalry."

Paul assured the writer that he had, for the good of the service, and the esteem and attachment he bore Prince Potemkin, endured more from Nassau than he could have done "from any other than a madman." All this very good advice ran glibly off Littlepage's pen, but subsequent events proved it more "honoured in the breach than in the observance," for, being appointed to a command in the squadron, Littlepage came face to face with some of the problems with which his friend had been obliged to grapple. What did the Chevalier Littlepage do Promptly threw up his command and returned to Warsaw!

On the occasion when Potemkin, with the General Comte de Brandisky of Poland, the Prince de Repuin, the Prince de Ligne, General Samoilov and a string of glittering dignitaries, came aboard the Wolodimir, remaining to dine with the Rear-Admiral, Potemkin, knowing the strained relations between Jones and Nassau, requested the Chevalier Littlepage, who was chamberlain to the King of Poland, and Prince de Ligne to patch up the quarrel. Nassau apologised, and Jones "accepted with sincere pleasure. We embraced in the presence of this honourable company, and I believed him as sincere as myself." But this was a mere cessation of hostilities. The campaign was not sufficiently exciting to occupy any one to the exclusion of personal grievances, and is one long recital of misunderstandings, belittling to the actors in the farce, and kept alive by the spoiled favourite, who was peevish for more decorations. Trying as most of his experiences had been, Paul was never driven so near the point of exasperation as at this moment. Potemkin, at first friendly, became, under the influence of Nassau, less amenable to reason; Nassau was jealous of Jones, and lost no opportunity of annoying him, or placing petty obstacles in his way.

One afternoon Jones called on Potemkin to make a report, and the favourite showed him, through the glass he carried, "a large piece of artillery on the fore part of the vessel of the Turkish flotilla that stood farthest out, and which had run aground. I imagined at the time that there was no other vessel run aground save the one in the road, at the distance of a verst from the fortress of Hassan Pasha; so I said the thing was quite easy; for although the Turks should come up in force to defend the vessel, there would always be time to spike the piece of cannon.

It was night when I undertook this little enterprise. As I did not imagine the Prince-Marshal attached so much importance to it as to wish that I should conduct it in person, I confided it to Lieutenant Edwards, a brave and an intelligent man, whom I wished to requite for past services.

"Mr. Edwards returned before daybreak without having succeeded. He said there were a great many men in the ship, who fired on him, and that he durst not board her, he was so ill supported. I was vexed that he had failed, and in my report to the Prince- Marshal I said that I would conduct the enterprise myself next night, if that would satisfy him.

"The Prince-Marshal held me at my word; but it was eleven at night when Mr. Edwards returned with the order. The wind, which was high, was quite against me, as well as a strong tide; and I would have deferred the attempt if I had not conceived my honour pledged. I was led to hope, that after midnight the wind might fall and the strength of the tide lessen, if it did not change. The night was very dark, and the rain fell in torrents. I waited till two o'clock, when the moon rose. I had with me five armed boats, and I calculated on being followed by four baeaux saporoses, and by one of the armed vessels I had taken from the Turks; but it was impossible to haul them against the wind, and I was compelled to go on as best I could with only my five boats. I had noticed that our flotilla had run down a small Turkish vessel in the shallows of the fortress of Hassan Pasha, but I did not perceive till the moment after I had despatched Mr. Edwards to headquarters, because the vessel lay so near the fortress, where the water is of little depth, that it had only sunk a foot or fifteen inches, and consequently appeared as if still afloat. As the Prince-Marshal had only spoken to me of the farthest out of the Turkish flotilla, I now believed he meant the one nearest the fortress, in which idea I was confirmed by Mr. Edwards on his return from headquarters. . . . I rowed for the vessel nearest the fortress, which carried a large cannon in her bow; but after having fatigued my rowers, I was vexed to see daylight appear, whilst I had still more than a verst to go before I could reach the vessel. I returned on board my own ship, to prevent a useless alarm, intending to renew my attempt next night.

"Without waiting to receive my report, the Prince- Marshal sent me orders to abandon the enterprise, for he had intrusted it to other ships . ."; but the "other ships" did nothing; and the Turks availed themselves of an open way to bring out all their flotilla. "Some days afterwards a colonel of Cossacks boarded the vessel . . and set fire to it, for which he received public thanks."

On July 13th Potemkin ordered Jones to establish a "permanent blockade." The wording of the letter gave great offence to the Rear-Admiral, who was told to "hold yourself in readiness to receive him (Captain Pasha) courageously, and drive him back. I desire that this be done without loss of time; if not, you will be made answerable for every neglect." The missive was signed by Prince Potemkin.

With even the slightest knowledge of Jones's temper it can readily be understood that he answered "with perhaps rather too much freedom and warmth," for when his blood was up he had as little care for the all-powerful Prince-Marshal as he had shown in his earlier days for insubordinate sailors or "political skippers." Their heated correspondence ended in Jones being replaced in his command by Admiral Mordwinoff. Nassau, having displeased his dictatorial friend and crony, was already on the way to Warsaw.

"The Rear-Admiral at the same time received orders from her Imperial Majesty to go to St. Petersburg with the understanding that he would be employed in the North Sea." Sweden having declared war against Russia at the commencement of the campaign, and Admiral Greig, who had commanded the Russian fleet, being dead, "I was assured her Majesty had very important views in recalling me. Yet I could not but feel grieved to be deprived of my command when the campaign, so far as regarded maritime operations, was so nearly concluded."

Potemkin, despite his protestations, had little love for Nassau, and craftily waited until the Prince had gone to Warsaw before distributing the gold swords which the Empress had sent as rewards. In the distribution of these, Jones and all his officers were studiously overlooked, and he afterwards "heard several of the officers who got them express their astonishment, not being able to guess for what they had been so highly rewarded."

On November the 9th Jones embarked in a small open galley for Cherson. He suffered excessively from the intense cold, and the day after his arrival was taken dangerously ill. Three days and nights in an open boat in that terrible climate had their effect on one whose life had been passed chiefly in temperate or tropical latitudes. His journey from Copenhagen, with its subsequent illness, made the first serious breach in the iron constitution of this intrepid man; and, though his recuperative powers were good, Jones lacked the calm mind which plays so large a share in the recovery of an invalid. He did not leave Cherson until the 6th of December, for, even had the river not been frozen, he was too weak to travel; and finally arrived at St. Petersburg on December 26, 1789.


 


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