Twelve Naval Captains - Molly E. Seawell

Paul Jones



American history presents no more picturesque figure than Paul Jones, and the mere recital of his life and its incidents is a thrilling romance. A gardener's boy, he shipped before the mast at twelve years of age, and afterward rose to be the ranking officer in the American navy. His exploits by land and sea in various parts of the world; his intimacy with some of the greatest men of the age, and his friendships with reigning sovereigns of Europe; his character, of deep sentiment, united with extraordinary genius and extreme daring,—place him among those historical personages who are always of enchanting interest to succeeding ages. Paul Jones himself foresaw and gloried in this posthumous fame, for, with all his great qualities, he had the natural vanity which so often accompanies the self-made man. He lacked the perfect self-poise of Washington, who, having done immortal things, blushed to have them spoken of, and did not deign to appeal to posterity. Paul Jones was continually appealing to posterity. But his vanity was that of an honest man, and he was often stung to assertiveness by the malignities of his enemies. That these malignities were false, and that he was a man of lofty ideals and admirable character, is shown by the friends he made and kept. Dr. Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Morris, and Lafayette lived upon terms of the greatest intimacy with him; Washington esteemed him,—and the good-will of such men places any man in the category of the upright.

Nothing in the family and circumstances of Paul Jones indicated the distinction of his later life. His father, John Paul, was a gardener, at Arbigland, in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, where Paul Jones was born in 1747. He was named John Paul, for his father; but upon his taking up his residence in Virginia, in his twenty-seventh year, he added Jones to his name,—for some reason which is not now and never has been understood,—and as Paul Jones he is known to history. The Pauls were very humble people, and Paul Jones's childhood was like the childhood of other poor men's sons. Boats were his favorite and only playthings, and he showed from the beginning that he had the spirit of command. He organized his playfellows into companies of make-believe sailors, which he drilled sternly. The tide rushes into the Solway Firth from the German ocean so tremendously that it often seems like a tidal wave, and the boy Paul Jones had sometimes to run for his life when he was wading out commanding his miniature ships and crews. Close by his father's cottage is the sheltered bay of the Carsethorn, where, in the old days, ships for Dumfries loaded and unloaded. Deep water is so close to the shore that as the ships worked in and out their yardarms seemed to be actually passing among the trees that cling stubbornly to the rocky shore. It was the delight of the boy Paul Jones to perch himself on the highest point of the promontory, and to screech out his orders to the incoming and outgoing vessels; and the ship-masters soon found that this bold boy was as good as a pilot any day, and if they followed his directions they would always have water enough ruder the keel.

The only school which Paul Jones ever attended was the parish school at Kirkbean, and that only until he was twelve years old. But it was characteristic of him, as man and boy, to learn with the greatest eagerness; and the result is shown in his letters and language, which are far superior to the average in those days. The habit of application never left him, and he was a hard student all his life.

There were many mouths to feed in the little cottage at Arbigland, and in Paul Jones's thirteenth year he was bound apprentice to a ship-master. His first voyage was to Fredericksburg in Virginia, where he had a brother, William Paul, living,—a respected citizen. His time ashore was spent with this brother, and so well did he conduct himself that when William Paul died some years later he left his estate to this favorite younger brother. There were, however, many years of toil before Paul Jones, and hardships and buffetings, and even injustices that sank deep into his sensitive soul. It is said that he was at one time on a slave-ship, the slave-trade being then legalized throughout the world; but, hating the life, he quitted his ship, and the traffic too. When he was about twenty years old, he found himself without employment in Jamaica. He embarked as a passenger on the John,—a fine brigantine, owned by a shipping firm in his native shire. On the voyage home both the captain and the first mate died of yellow fever. The young passenger—John Paul, as he was then called—took command of the brigantine, and brought her safely to her port. The owners rewarded him by making him captain and supercargo of the John. This shows that Paul Jones was not only a capable seaman, worthy of command at twenty years of age, but of integrity and steady habits as well.

In his twenty-fourth year occurred an event which gave him great anguish, and was probably the reason of his leaving his native land. While in command of a vessel in Tobago, he had his carpenter, Maxwell, flogged for some offence. This was the common mode of punishment in those days. Maxwell complained to the Vice-Admiralty Court, and the affair was investigated. The Court examined Maxwell, and dismissed his charges against Paul Jones, as frivolous. It is noted, though, that Paul Jones expressed sorrow for having had the man flogged. Maxwell shipped on another vessel, but died a week or two afterward. This put a much more serious aspect on the matter. There was some talk of a prosecution for murder; but it was shown that Maxwell's death had nothing to do with the flogging, and it was dropped. Nevertheless, the effect upon a nature, at once arrogant and sensitive, like Paul Jones's, was exquisitely painful. It is likely that this case was the origin of the one weak point in Paul Jones's tremendous naval genius: he was never a good disciplinarian, and he seems always to have hesitated too long before administering punishments, and of course severer punishments were needed thereby.

Upon his return to Scotland, he was coldly received by his friends and neighbors. To Paul Jones's mind this coolness assumed the form of a persecution. He left his native country with resentment in his heart against it, although he kept up affectionate relations with his family. Many years after, when he was one of the celebrities of his age, he speaks in a letter of his grief at learning of his mother's death, especially as he had found that several sums of money which he had sent her had never reached her.

He came to Virginia in 1773, and took possession of the property left him by his brother, which with his own savings gave him a competence. Little is known of the particulars of his life from 1773 to 1775; but late researches show that his friendship with Thomas Jefferson, and with other persons of prominence in Virginia and North Carolina, then began. Although his origin was humble, his manners, tastes, and feelings led him naturally into the most distinguished society, and at a very early period in his career he is found associated with persons of note.

On the first outbreak of hostilities with the mother country Paul Jones offered his services to the Continental Congress, and his name headed the list of thirteen first lieutenants in the navy appointed in December, 1775. Perhaps no man had stronger natural and personal inclinations toward the revolutionary cause than Paul Jones. In his native country he was poor, obscure, and perpetually barred out by his low estate from those high places to which his vast ambition aspired. In America, under a republican form of government, he was as good as any man, provided only he were worthy; and the fixed rank of a naval officer would give him standing in Europe among those very persons who would otherwise have regarded him with contempt. His commission was obtained through Mr. Joseph Hewes, a member of Congress from North Carolina, and the celebrated Robert Morris, who was then at the head of the Marine Committee of Congress. The influence of Thomas Jefferson was also in his favor.

At this time his true career may be said to have begun. He was then twenty-eight years old, of "a dashing and officer-like appearance," his complexion dark and weather-beaten, and his black eyes stern and melancholy in expression. He had a slight hesitation in his speech which disappeared under the influence of excitement. His manner with sailors was said to be peculiarly winning, and he was, no doubt, highly successful in dealing with those characters which can be gained by kindness and indulgence; but with that part of mankind to whom severity is a necessity, he does not seem to have been so well adapted, and the evidences of a firm and consistent discipline are wanting. When he came to command a ship of his own,—which he did very shortly,—he was extremely polite to the midshipmen, frequently asking them to dine with him in the cabin, but likely to blaze away at them if they were not carefully and properly dressed for the occasion. One of his officers, presuming upon Paul Jones's indulgence, ventured to be insolent, and got himself kicked down the hatchway for it. It is said that when a midshipman on the topgallant yard was inattentive to his duty as a lookout, Paul Jones himself would gently let go the halyards, and the unlucky midshipman would come down the yard on the run.

Paul Jones was extremely temperate in his habits, and was naturally fond of order and decorum. He had fixed religious principles, and, like Washington, he considered a chaplain a useful and even a necessary officer. A letter of his is extant in which he says he would like a chaplain on board who should be accommodated in the cabin, and always have a seat at the cabin table, "the government thereof should be entirely under his direction." He was a tireless student by night, his days at sea being occupied, when cruising, by exercising his officers and men in their duty.

His first orders, as an American naval officer, were as flag lieutenant on the Alfred, of twenty-four guns, Commodore Hopkins's flagship. On this ship Paul Jones claims to have hoisted with his own hands the original flag of the Revolution—the pine-tree and rattlesnake flag—the first time it was ever displayed. This may well be true, as such an act is thoroughly in keeping with the romantic sentiment of Paul Jones's character; and he says, "I think I feel the more for its honour "on account of that circumstance.

Congress had assembled in the Delaware River a fleet of five small vessels, and it was with ardent hopes that Paul Jones joined this little squadron. In a very short while, though, he discovered that Commodore Hopkins was very much disinclined to "go in harm's way," to use one of Paul Jones's favorite expressions, and his wrath and disgust flamed out without any concealment. The object of the cruise was to capture a lot of stores, left unprotected by the British at the island of New Providence. By Commodore Hopkins's blundering the governor of the island had time to save most of the stores. The Commodore finding himself among the keys and islands of the Bahamas, seems to have been afraid to go away and afraid to stay where he was. Paul Jones, however, taking a pilot up to the foretop-mast head with him, piloted the Alfred to a safe anchorage. To crown all, the five vessels ran across a little British frigate, the Glasgow, off Newport, and after a smart cannonade the Glasgow succeeded in slipping through Commodore Hopkins's fingers and getting back to Newport.

Paul Jones's rage at this was furious, and it became impossible for him to serve in the same ship with Commodore Hopkins, who was shortly afterward censured by Congress, and within the year dismissed from the navy. In the summer of 1776 Paul Jones was given the command of a little sloop, the Providence, mounting only twelve four-pounders, but a fairly smart and Weatherly vessel. He improved her sailing qualities so that she could log it faster than a great many better ships. With this little sloop he was employed in conveying military stores from New England to Washington's army on Long Island; and as the coast and the sounds swarmed with the cruisers of Lord Howe's fleet, this was a difficult and daring undertaking. But in difficulty and daring Paul Jones always shone, and he succeeded so as to win the admiration and personal regard of Washington, as well as the approval of Congress. In the autumn he made a more extended cruise, during which he captured several valuable prizes, and showed his courage and seamanship by maneuvering boldly before the Solebay frigate and then running away from her. The Solebay thought she had bagged the Providence, when the little sloop, suddenly weathering her, ran directly under her broadside, where the guns could not be brought to bear, and went off before the wind while the heavy frigate was coming about. On another occasion he was chased by the Milford frigate. Finding the Providence was fast enough to play with the Milford, Paul Jones kept just out of reach of the heavy cannonade of the Milford; and every time the frigate roared out her heavy guns, a marine, whom Paul Jones had stationed aft on the Providence, banged away with his musket in reply. This amused and delighted the men, and when Paul Jones was ready he ran away from the frigate, leaving her still thundering away in his wake. These little events had a good effect on his officers and menu showing them that they had a man of dash and spirit for their captain. When his cruise was up, he received full recognition of his services by being appointed to command a splendid frigate then building in Holland for the American government. Meanwhile he was ordered to take command of the Ranger, a sloop-of-war, mounting eighteen light guns, then fitting for sea at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On the very day he was appointed to her, June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the national ensign, and Paul Jones always claimed that he was the first man to hoist the new flag over a ship of war when he raised it on the Ranger  in Portsmouth harbor.

The Ranger  was weakly armed and poorly fitted. Her cabin furnishings were meagre enough, but there were two bookcases full of books provided by the captain. The Ranger  sailed from Portsmouth in November, 1777, and after an uneventful voyage, arrived safely at Nantes in France in December. Leaving his ship in charge of the first lieutenant, Simpson, Paul Jones started for Paris to confer with the three American Commissioners, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. He bore a letter to them from the Marine Committee describing him as "an active and brave commander in our service." On reaching Paris, a sharp disappointment awaited him concerning the Holland frigate. Great Britain, which was not then at war with either France or Holland, although on the verge of it, had made complaints about the frigate, and it had been passed over to the French government to prevent its confiscation. Paul Jones had a partial compensation, however, in winning the affectionate regard of Benjamin Franklin, and the friendship that ever afterward subsisted between the impetuous and sentimental Paul Jones and the calm and philosophic Franklin was extremely beautiful.

Despairing of getting any better ship than the Ranger, Paul Jones set himself to work to improve her sailing qualities; it is a striking fact that he improved every ship he commanded, before he was through with her.

Being ready to take the sea, he determined to secure a salute to his flag from the splendid French fleet commanded by M. de La Motte Piquet. He took the Ranger  to Quiberon Bay, and at once sent a letter to the French admiral, announcing his arrival, and another to the American agent at L'Orient. Paul Jones's dealings with this agent are laughable, as many of his transactions were. He began, as usual, with the most formal politeness; but as soon as there was any hesitation shown in complying with his requests, which it cannot be denied were perfectly sensible, he would blaze out, and carry his point by the bayonet, as it were. The agent did not understand the importance of the salute, and although he dined on board the admiral's ship the day the request was made, he failed to mention it to the admiral. This infuriated Paul Jones, who wrote him a letter in which he said, "I can show a commission as respectable as any the French admiral can produce," and finally declared that unless the salute were allowed, he would leave without entering the upper bay at all.

His determined attitude had its effect. The French admiral agreed to salute the Ranger, and to make sure that it was done in broad daylight, so there could be no misunderstanding about it, Paul Jones kept his ship in the lower bay until the next day. The French admiral paid the American commander the compliment of having the guns Manned when the Ranger  sailed through the double line of the French fleet, and when the French guns roared out in honor of the American flag, it meant that France was from that day openly, as she had been for some time secretly, committed to an alliance with the struggling colonies. Seeing that nothing was to be hoped for in the way of a better ship, Paul Jones, like all truly great men, determined to do the best he could with the means at hand. So, on an April evening in 1777, he picked up his anchor and steered the little Ranger  straight for the narrow seas of Great Britain, the Mistress of the Seas, and the greatest naval power on earth. The boldness of this can scarcely be overestimated. The French admirals, with fifty-five ships of the line, hung on to their anchors, not caring to risk an encounter with the fleets of England, manned by her mighty captains and heroic crews; but Paul Jones, alone, in a weak vessel, lightly armed, took all the chances of destruction, and bearded the lion in his den. He counted on the slowness of communication in those days, and all of those other circumstances in which fortune favors the brave,—and the result justified him.

He cruised about for several days, burning and destroying many merchant ships. He landed at St. Mary's Isle, in order to capture the Earl of Selkirk, but the bird had flown. His men became mutinous, because, contrary to the custom of the time, they were not allowed to loot the place. Paul Jones was forced to allow them to carry off some silver plate, which he afterward redeemed out of his own pocket, and returned to Lady Selkirk. He also landed at Whitehaven, and fired the shipping in the port, although he did not succeed in burning the vessels. But the desire of his heart was to find a ship of war, not too strong for him, with which he might fight it out, yardarm to yard-arm. This he found in the Drake, a sloop-of-war, carrying twenty guns, and lying off Carrickfergus. Like the Ranger, she was a weak ship; but she carried brave men and a fighting captain, and when, on the afternoon of the 24th of April, the Ranger  appeared off Carrickfergus, the Drake promptly came out to meet her. The tide was adverse, and the Drake worked out slowly, but her adversary gallantly waited for her in mid-channel, with the American ensign at her mizzen peak, and a jack at the fore. The Drake's hail, "What ship is that?" was answered by the master, under Paul Jones's direction: "This is the American Continental ship Ranger. We wait for you and beg you will come on. The sun is but little more than an hour high, and it is time to begin."

The Drake promptly accepted this cool invitation, and the action began with the greatest spirit. In an hour and four minutes the Drake struck, after a brave defence. She had lost her captain and first lieutenant, and thirty-eight men killed and wounded, and had made, as Paul Jones said, "a good and gallant defence." The Ranger  lost two men killed and six wounded. On the 8th of May he arrived off Brest in the Ranger, with the American ensign hoisted above the union jack on the Drake. The French pilots vied with each other as to which should have the honor of piloting the two vessels through the narrow channel known as Le Goulet, and there was no question of a salute then,—every French ship in sight saluted the plucky little American.

This daring expedition gave Paul Jones a great reputation in France. The French government, by this time openly at war with England, asked that Paul Jones remain in Europe to command a naval force to be furnished by France; and he was justified in expecting a splendid command. But the maladministration of affairs in Paris left him a whole year, idle and fretting and wretched, as such bold spirits are, under hope deferred, and at last he was forced to put up with an old India-man, the Due de Duras, larger, but not stronger than the Ranger. He changed the name of this old ship to the Bon Homme Richard, out of compliment to Dr. Franklin, whose "Poor Richard's Almanac" had just then appeared. She was the flagship of a motley squadron of two frigates besides the Bon Homme Richard; the Alliance, an American frigate commanded by a French captain, Landais, who was suspected to be crazy, and acted like a madman; the Pallas, commanded by another French captain, Cottineau, a brave and skilful seaman; and a cutter and a brig, neither of which was of consequence in the cruise.


A number of American prisoners having been exchanged and sent to France, Paul Jones was enabled before he sailed to get about thirty Americans for the Bon Homme Richard. Every officer on the quarterdeck was a native American except Paul Jones himself and one midshipman; and the first lieutenant was Richard Dale, one of the most gallant seamen the American navy ever produced. He had lately escaped from Mill Prison in England. Paul Jones justly appreciated his young lieutenant, then only twenty-three years old, and the utmost confidence and attachment subsisted between them.

The crew was made up of men of all nationalities, including a number of Malays, and many of the fok'sle people did not understand the word of command. With this singular squadron and unpromising ship and crew Paul Jones set sail on the 15th of August, under orders to report at the Texel early in October. Great things were expected of him, but agonizing disappointment seemed to be in store for him. Landais, the captain of the Alliance, was mutinous, and the whole squadron seemed incapable of either acting together or acting separately. Twice Paul Jones sailed up the Firth of Forth as far as Leith, the port of Edinburgh, and the Edinburghers made preparations to withstand this bold invader. Among the children who lay awake at night waiting for the booming of Paul Jones's guns, was a lad of ten years of age,—Walter Scott, who, when he was the great Sir Walter, often spoke of it. But both times the wind blew Paul Jones out to sea again, so that nothing was done in the way of a descent on Edinburgh. Many merchant ships were taken, and the coasts of the three kingdoms were alarmed, but so far no enemy in the shape of a warship had appeared. The time for the cruise to be up was fast approaching, and it seemed likely to end in a manner crushing to the hopes of Paul Jones, when, at noon on the 23nd of September, 1779, the Bon Homme Richard  being off Flamborough Head, a single ship was seen rounding the headland. It was the first of forty ships comprising the Baltic fleet of merchantmen, which Paul Jones had expected and longed to intercept. A large black frigate and a smaller vessel were convoying them; and as soon as the two warships had placed themselves between the fleet and the Bon Homme Richard, all the fighting ships backed their topsails and prepared for action.

At the instant of seeing the two British ships, Paul Jones showed in his air and words the delight his warrior's soul felt at the approaching conflict. His officers and crew displayed the utmost willingness to engage, while on board the Serapis  her company asked nothing but to be laid alongside the saucy American.

The Serapis  was a splendid new frigate,—"the finest ship of her class I ever saw," Paul Jones afterward wrote Dr. Franklin,—and carried fifty guns. It is estimated that her force, as compared to the poor old Bon Homme Richard, was as two to one. She was commanded by Captain Pearson, a brave and capable officer At one o'clock the drummers beat to quarters on both ships, but it was really seven o'clock before they got near enough to begin the real business of fighting. Much of this time the British and Americans were cheering and jeering at each other. The Serapis  people pretended they thought the Bon Homme Richard  was a merchant ship, which indeed she had been before she came into Paul Jones's hands, and derisively asked the Americans what she was laden with; to which the Americans promptly shouted back, "Round, grape, and double-headed shot!"

At last, about seven o'clock in the evening, the cannonade began. At the second broadside two of the battery of eighteen-pounders on the "Bon Homme" burst, the rest cracked and could not be fired. These had been the main dependence for fighting the ship. Most of the small guns were dismounted, and in a little while Paul Jones had only three nine-pounders to play against the heavy broadside of the Serapis. In addition to this, the shot from the Serapis  had made several enormous holes in the crazy old hull of the Bon Homme Richard, and she was leaking like a sieve, while she was afire in a dozen places at once. The crews of the exploded guns had no guns to fight, but they had to combat both fire and water, either of which seemed at any moment likely to destroy the leaking and burning ship. They worked like heroes, led by the gallant Dale and encouraged by their intrepid commander, whose only comment on the desperate state of the ship was, "Never mind, my lads, we shall have a better ship to go home in."

Below, more than a hundred prisoners were ready to spring up, and were only subdued by Dale's determined attitude, who forced them to work at the pumps for their lives. The Serapis  pounded her adversary mercilessly, and literally tore the Bon Homme Richard  to pieces between decks. Most captains in this awful situation would have hauled down the flag. Not so Paul Jones. Knowing that his only chance lay in grappling with his enemy and having it out at close quarters, he managed to get alongside the Serapis, and with his own hands made fast his bowsprit to the Serapis'  mizzen-mast, calling out cheerfully to his men, "Now, my brave lads, we have her!" Stacy, his sailing-master, while helping him, bungled with the hawser, and an oath burst from him. "Don't swear, Mr. Stacy," quietly said Paul Jones, "in another moment we may be in eternity; but let us do our duty."

The Alliance lay off out of gunshot and quite inactive most of the time, but at this point she approached and sailed around the two fighting ships, firing broadsides into her consort, which did dreadful damage. After this, her captain, the crack-brained and treacherous Landais, made off to windward and was seen no more. The combat deepened, and apparently the Bon Homme Richard  was destined to go down fighting. At one moment the two ships got into a position in which neither could fire an effective shot. As they lay, head and stern, fast locked in a deadly embrace, and enveloped in smoke and darkness as they repeatedly caught fire from each other, a terrible stillness fell awhile, until from the bloody decks of the Serapis  a voice called out,—

"Have you struck?"

To this Paul Jones gave back the immortal answer, which will ever mark him among the bravest of the brave,

"We have not yet begun to fight!"

Soon the conflict was renewed. The Serapis'  heavy guns poured into and through the Bon Homme Richard's  hull, but the topmen on the American ship kept up such a hurricane of destruction on the Serapis'  spar deck, that Captain Pearson ordered every man below, while himself bravely remaining. A topmen on the Bon Homme Richard, taking a bucket of hand grenades, lay out on the main yard, which was directly over the main hatch of the Serapis, and, coolly fastening his bucket to the sheet block, began to throw his grenades down the hatchway. Almost the first one rolled down the hatch to the gun-deck, where it ignited a row of cartridges left exposed by the carelessness of the powder boys. In an instant came an explosion which seemed to shake the heavens and the ocean.

This was the turning-point. The men in the Bon Homme Richard's  tops climbed into those of the Serapis, the yards of the two ships being interlocked, and swept her decks with fire and shot. Dazed by the explosion, and helpless against the American sharpshooters, the courageous men on the Serapis  saw themselves conquered, and Captain Pearson himself lowered the flag which had been nailed to the mast. Lieutenant Dale, swinging himself on board the Serapis'  deck, received the captain's surrender; and thus ended one of the greatest single ship fights on record. The slaughter on both ships was fearful, and the Serapis'  mainmast went by the board just as she was given up. But the poor Bon Homme Richard  was past help, and next morning she was abandoned. At ten o'clock she was seen to be sinking. She gave a lurch forward and went down, the last seen of her being an American flag left flying by Paul Jones's orders at her mizzen peak, as she settled into her ocean grave.

The Pallas, under Captain Cottineau, had captured the Countess of Scarborough, which made a brave defence, and, in company with the Serapis, sailed for the port of the Texel, which they reached in safety. England scarcely felt the loss of one frigate and a sloop from her tremendous fleets, but the wound to the pride of a great and noble nation was severe. She caused the Dutch government to insist that Paul Jones should immediately leave the Texel. This he refused to do, as it was a neutral port, and he had a right to remain a reasonable time. The Dutch government then threatened to drive him out, and had thirteen double-decked frigates to enforce this threat, while twelve English ships cruised outside waiting for him. But Paul Jones kept his flag flying in the face of these twenty-five hostile ships, and firmly refused to leave until he was ready. Through some complication with the French government, he had the alternative forced upon him of hoisting a French flag on the Serapis, or taking the inferior Alliance under the American flag. Bitter as it was to give up the splendid Serapis, he nobly preferred the weaker ship, under the American flag, and in the Alliance, in the midst of a roaring gale on a black December night, he escaped from the Texel, "with my best American ensign flying," as he wrote Dr. Franklin.

The British government offered ten thousand guineas for him, dead or alive, and forty-two British ships of the line and frigates scoured the seas for him. Yet he escaped from them all, passed within sight of the fleets at Spithead, ran through the English Channel, and reached France in safety. He went to Paris, where he was praised, admired, petted by the court, and especially honored by royalty. The King, Louis XVI., gave him a magnificent sword, while the Queen, the lovely and unfortunate Marie Antoinette, invited him in her box at the opera, and treated him with charming affability. The first time he went to the theatre in Paris, he found a laurel wreath suspended over his seat. He rose quietly and moved away,—an act of modesty which was much applauded by all.

Captain Pearson, on his return to England, received honors that caused many persons to smile, although he had undoubtedly defended his ship very determinedly. He was made a knight. When Paul Jones heard of this, he remarked: "Well, he has deserved it; and if I have the good fortune to fall in with him again, I will make him a lord."

Compliments were plenty for Paul Jones, too; but no ship was forthcoming for him worthy of his fame, and at last, in 1780, he was forced to return to America in the Ariel, a lightly armed vessel, carrying stores for Washington's army.

His services were fully appreciated in the United States. General Washington wrote him a letter of congratulation; Congress passed a resolution of thanks in his honor, and gave him a gold medal; and the French king made him a Knight of the Order of Military Merit. The poverty of his country prevented him from getting a ship immediately, and the virtual end of the war in 1781 gave him no further opportunity of naval distinction.

He was employed in serving the naval interests of the country on this side of the ocean until 1787, when he went to Europe on a mission for the government. While there, he had brilliant offers made him to enter the service of the Empress Catherine of Russia, and to take charge of naval operations against the Turks. The nature of Paul Jones was such that any enterprise of adventurous daring was irresistibly attractive to him. At that time his firm friend Thomas Jefferson was minister to France, and he advised Paul Jones to accept the offer. This he did, relying, as he said, on Mr. Jefferson to justify him in so doing, and retaining his American citizenship. He had an adventurous journey to Russia, stopping for a while on public business at Copenhagen, where he was much caressed by the King, Queen, and Court. He resumed his route by sea, and at one time in a small boat in the Baltic Sea he forced the sailors to proceed at the point of his pistol, when their hearts failed them and they wished to turn back.

His connection with the Russian navy proved deeply unfortunate. He had to deal with persons of small sense of honor, who cared little for the principles of generous and civilized warfare. He was maligned and abused, and although he succeeded in clearing himself, he left Russia with disappointment and disgust. His health had begun to fail, and the last two years of his life, from 1790 to 1792, were spent in Paris, where he was often ill, and more often in great distress of mind over the terrible scenes then occurring in France. He did not forget that the King and Queen had been his friends, and showed them attentions when it was extremely dangerous to do so. Lafayette, who had long been his devoted friend, soothed his last days and Gouverneur Morris, then minister to France, paid him many kind attentions. He made his will, naming Robert Morris as his executor, and then faced death with the same cool courage as upon the bloody and burning deck of the Bon Homme Richard.

In the evening of the 18th of July, 1792, after calmly making his preparation, the end came. The National Assembly of France paid honor to his remains, and in the United States the news of his death was received with profound sorrow. Some years after, the Congress sent the St. Lawrence frigate to Europe, to bring back the body of Paul Jones to the United States; but it was found that, according to the French custom, it had been destroyed by quicklime long before.

Few men have been more warmly attacked and defended than Paul Jones; but in the light of history and of research it is altogether certain that he was a man of extraordinary genius and courage, of noble aspirations, and sincerely devoted to his adopted country; and at all times and places he made good his proud declaration: "I have ever looked out for the honor of the American flag."

The eulogy passed upon him by Benjamin Franklin was brief, but it embodied many volumes of praise. It was this: "For Captain Paul Jones ever loved close fighting."