his magnanimous soul

On a cold bleak morning of the 9th of November Admiral Jones, with a
disappointed and saddened spirit, stepped from the deck of his
flag-ship, the Wolodimir, into an open boat which had been launched at
its side. A freezing blast tossed and crested the waters of the widely
expanded sea, while his own ships rolling heavily on the billows, and
the masts of the Turkish squadron could be seen rocking to and fro, far
away in the distance. In this open boat, exposed to the wintry gales,
encountering sleet and snow, and drenched with spray, the war-worn,
world-weary admiral spent three days and three nights, before he reached
Cherson. His sufferings, from the combined influence of hostile elements
and an agitated mind, were very great.

The day after his arrival, an impassable barrier of ice extended as far
as the eye could reach. Completely worn out, he sank upon his bed, and
it was long doubtful whether he would ever leave it till he was borne to
his burial. Slowly he recovered. Nearly a month passed away, of winter’s
most dismal storms in that dreary region, ere he was able to set out on
his long journey of more than two thousand miles, across the whole
breadth of Russia.

He left Cherson on the morning of the 6th of December, 1788. The mercury
was then at twenty-six degrees below zero. That very morning, as he soon
afterwards learned, the Russians took Oczakow by storm. Eleven thousand
soldiers composed the Turkish garrison. In the intensity of the cold,
just before the dawn of day, the Russians, in six strong columns, with
loud yells, a storm of bullets, and gleaming sabres, rushed upon the
Turks, taking them completely by surprise. It was an awful scene of
demoniac clamor, blood, and woe. In a few hours the dreadful deed was
done. Not one in the garrison, not a Turk in the city, was spared.
Nineteen thousand gory corpses, frozen in the wintry blast, strewed the
streets of the city. Had the Turks been victorious, the Russians would
have been put to the sword with equal ferocity. Such is man in his
treatment of his brother. Such, in the main, has been the history of our
race since the Fall.

In the swiftly drawn sledges of Russia, Admiral Jones was whirled along
over the drear and treeless plains, at the rate of over one hundred
miles a day. At Skloff, he made a short tarry, where he was received by
General Soritsch, with the most distinguished attention. He reached St.
Petersburg on the 28th of the month, after a journey of twenty-two days.
The empress invited him to the honor of a private audience on the 31st.
He presented the letter from Prince Potemkin. The empress received him
kindly. He was informed that a little time must elapse, before it could
be decided what new command should be intrusted to him. He was however
assured that it should be one certainly of not less importance than that
of a squadron in the Black Sea.

The mind of the admiral was always in intense activity. The one thought
which seemed ever to engross him ever the promotion of the prosperity of
the United States. During the few weeks of repose which were thus forced
upon him, he drew up a very carefully prepared plan, of an alliance,
political and commercial, between Russia and the United States. The
object of this plan was to promote reciprocal advantages, and especially
to encourage commerce with the growing Russian settlements on the Black
Sea. This document he presented to the Russian vice-chancellor, Count
d’Osterman. The count, after carefully examining it, invited the admiral
to his cabinet, and said to him:

“The plan is a good one, but I do not think it expedient to adopt it at
this time. A commercial alliance between Russia and the United States
would still further irritate the British government against Russia. We
must postpone the further consideration of this question until we have
made peace with the Turks.”

England, in her desire to engross the commerce of the world, wished to
cripple that of all other nations, especially that of the United States.
The admiral, in his journal, speaks as follows of the efforts of the
English to crush him:

“I have been more deeply hurt by those secret machinations against me as
regards the empress. My enemies have had the wickedness to make her
believe that I was a cruel and brutal man, and that I had, during the
American war, even killed my own nephew. It is well known that, from
motives of revenge, the English have invented and propagated a thousand
fictions and atrocities, to endeavor to blacken the character of the
celebrated men who effected the American Revolution. A Washington and a
Franklin, two of the most illustrious and virtuous men that have ever
adorned humanity, have not been spared by these calumniators. Are they
now the less respected by their fellow-citizens? On the contrary they
are universally revered, even in Europe, as the fathers of their
country, and as examples of all that is great and noble in human

“In civil war, it is not wonderful that opposite factions should
mutually endeavor to make it believed that each is in the right. And it
is obvious, that the party most in the wrong will always be the most
calumnious. If there had really been anything against my character, the
English would not have failed to furnish convincing proofs of it; for
with very slender means, I had been able to give more alarm to their
three kingdoms, during the war, than any other individual had done. As
an officer, I loved good discipline, which I consider indispensable to
the success of operations, particularly at sea, where men are so much
crowded, and brought into such close contact. In the English navy, it is
known that captains of ships are often tyrants who order the lash for
the poor seamen very frequently, and sometimes for nothing. In the
American navy we have almost the same regulations. But I looked on my
crew as my children, and I have always found means to manage them
without flogging. I never had a nephew, nor any other relation under my
command. I have one dear nephew, who is still too young for service, but
who now pursues his studies.[H] Since I came to Russia, I have intended
him for the imperial marine. Instead of imbruing my hands in his blood,
he will be cherished as my son.


Footnote H:

Mr. William Taylor, merchant, of New York, son of the admiral’s eldest
sister, Mrs. Taylor of Dumfries, Scotland.


“In short, my conduct has obtained for me the returns most grateful to
my heart. I have had the happiness to give universal satisfaction to two
great and enlightened nations which I have served. Of this I have
received singular proofs. I am the only man in the world that possesses
a sword given by the King of France. It is to me a glorious distinction
to wear it. I have indelible proofs of the high consideration of the
United States. But what completes my happiness is the esteem and
friendship of the most virtuous men, whose fame will be immortal; and
that a Washington, a D’Estaing, a Lafayette, think the bust of Paul
Jones worthy of being placed side by side with their own.”

Malignantly as the admiral was pursued, being far away in a strange
land, and removed from the protection of his personal friends, it seemed
absolutely necessary that he should speak in his own defence. Even his
great namesake, the illustrious Apostle Paul, found himself so situated
as to deem it needful commend himself. At this time the most infamous
conspiracy was got up, as the admiral and Count Segur both affirm, by
the English officers in the navy and the English merchants in St.
Petersburg. It was intended utterly to ruin the man whom they had so
unscrupulously assailed. Biographical fidelity renders it necessary that
this story should be told, notwithstanding the nature of its details.
The admiral promptly wrote to his friend, Prince Potemkin, informing him
of the cruel slander. His letter sounds like a wail of grief. It was
dated St. Petersburg, April 13, 1789.

“MY LORD—Having had the advantage to serve under your orders, and in
your sight, I remember with particular satisfaction the kind promises
and testimonies of your friendship, with which you have honored me. As
I have served all my life for honor, I had no other motive for
accepting the flattering invitation of her imperial majesty than a
laudable ambition to distinguish myself in the service of a sovereign
so magnanimous and illustrious; for I never yet have bent the knee to
self-interest, nor drawn my sword for hire.

“A few days ago I thought myself one of the happiest men in the
empire. Your highness had renewed to me your promise of friendship,
and the empress had assigned me a command of a nature to occupy the
most active and enterprising genius.

“A bad woman has accused me of violating her daughter. If she had told
the truth, I should have candor enough to own it, and would trust my
honor, which is a thousand times dearer to me than my life, to the
mercy of the empress. I declare, with the assurance becoming a
military character, that I am innocent. Till that unhappy moment, I
have enjoyed the public esteem and the affection of all who knew me.
Shall it be said that, in Russia, a wretched woman who _eloped_ from
her _husband_ and _family_ in the country, _stole away her daughter_,
lives here in a house of ill-fame, and leads a debauched and
adulterous life, has found credit enough on a simple complaint,
unsupported _by any_ proof, to affect the honor of a general officer
of reputation, who has merited and received the decorations of
America, of France, and of this empire?

“If I had been favored with the least intimation of a complaint of
that nature having found its way to the sovereign, I know too well
what belongs to delicacy, to have presented myself in the presence of
the empress before my justification.

“I thought that in every country, a man accused had a right to employ
advocates, and to avail himself of his friends for his justification.
Judge, my prince, of my astonishment and distress of mind, when I
yesterday was informed that the day before, the governor of the city
had sent for my advocate, and forbidden _him_, at his peril, or _any
other person_, to meddle with _my cause_.

“I am innocent before God! and my conscience knows no reproach. The
complaint brought against me is an infamous lie, and there is no
circumstance that gives it even an air of probability.

“I address myself to you with confidence, my prince, and am assured
that the friendship you have to kindly promised me, will be
immediately exerted in my favor; and that you will not suffer the
illustrious sovereign of this great empire to be misled by the false
insinuations and secret cabals of my hidden enemies. Your mind will
find more true pleasure in pleading the cause of an innocent man whom
you honor with your friendship, than can result from other victories
equally glorious with that of Oczakow, which will always rank among
the most brilliant of military achievements. If your highness will
condescend to question Monsieur Crimpin,[I] (for he dare not now _even
speak to me_), he can tell you many circumstances which will elucidate
my innocence. I am, with profound respect, my lord, your highness’s
devoted and most obedient servant,” etc., etc.


Footnote I:

Monsieur Crimpin was the advocate whom he had first engaged.


The proof of the admiral’s innocence of this atrocious charge was soon
made out beyond all possibility of question. Count de Segur, the
long-tried and disinterested friend, wrote an account of the affair.
This document, which was perfectly conclusive, was published in all the
leading papers of Europe, for the abominable slander had been spread far
and wide. Justice to the memory of the admiral demands that this
document should be given with but slight abridgment.

“The American rear-admiral was favorably welcomed at court; often
invited to dinner by the empress, and received with distinction into the
best society in the city. On a sudden, Catherine commanded him to appear
no more in her presence. He was informed that he was accused of an
infamous crime; of assaulting a young girl of fourteen, and of grossly
violating her. It was said that probably he would be tried by the Courts
of Admiralty, in which there were many English officers who were
strongly prejudiced against him.

“As soon as this order was known, every one abandoned the unhappy
American. No one spoke to him. People avoided saluting him, and every
door was shut against him. All those by whom but yesterday he had been
eagerly welcomed, now fled from him as if he had been inflicted by a
plague. No advocate would take charge of his cause, and at last even his
servants would not continue in his service. And Paul Jones, whose
exploits every one had so recently been so ready to proclaim, and whose
friendship had been sought after, found himself alone, in the midst of
an immense population. Petersburg, a great capital, became to him a
desert. He was moved even to tears at my visit.

“‘I was unwilling,’ he said to me, shaking me by the hand, ‘to knock at
your door, and to expose myself to a fresh affront, which would have
been more cutting than all the rest. I have braved death a thousand
times, now I wish for it.’

“His appearance, his arms being laid upon the table, made me suspect
some desperate intention. I said to him:

“‘Resume your composure and your courage. Do you not know that human
life, like the sea, has its storms, and that fortune is even more
capricious than the winds? If, as I hope, you are innocent, brave this
sudden tempest. If unhappily you are guilty, confess it to me with
unreserved frankness, and I will do everything I can to snatch you by a
sudden flight from the danger which threatens you.’

“He replied, ‘I am ready to take my most solemn oath, and upon my honor,
that I am innocent, and a victim of the most infamous calumny. This is
the truth. Some days ago a young girl came to me in the morning to ask
me if I could give her some linen or lace to mend. She then indulged in
some rather earnest and indecent allurements. Astonished at so much
boldness in one of such few years, I felt compassion for her. I advised
her not to enter upon so vile a career, gave her some money, and
dismissed her. But she was determined to remain. Impatient at this
resistance, I took her by the hand and led her to the door. But at the
instant when the door was opened, the little profligate tore her sleeves
and neckerchief, raised great cries, complained that I had assaulted
her, and threw herself into the arms of an old woman whom she called her
mother, and who certainly was not brought there by chance.’

“‘Very well,’ said I, ‘but cannot you learn the names of these

“‘The porter knows them,’ he replied. ‘Here are their names written
down, but I do not know where they live. I was desirous of immediately
presenting a memorial about this ridiculous affair, first to the
minister and then to the empress. But I have been interdicted from
access to both of them.’

“‘Give me the paper,’ I said. ‘Resume your accustomed firmness. Be
comforted. In a short time we shall meet again.’”

The count returned home, and by the aid of some efficient agents soon
unravelled the whole affair. It was proved, by evidence which no one
could question, that the woman, Sophie Koltzwarthen, was one of the most
infamous creatures, who had been long employed in carrying on a traffic
in young girls, whom she passed off as her daughters. The count, having
obtained all the necessary documents and attestations, hastened to show
it to Paul Jones. Exultingly he said to him, “You have nothing to fear.
The wretches are unmasked. All that you need now do, is to send these
proofs to the empress. She has directed, under very heavy penalties,
that no one shall detain on the way any letters which may be addressed
to her personally, and which may be sent to her by post.”

The admiral immediately wrote a letter to her majesty, under date of St.
Petersburg, May 17, 1789. After briefly recapitulating the circumstances
under which he had been induced to enter into the service of the
empress, the incidents in his campaign to the Black Sea, and his recall
to the Baltic, he added:

“Such was my situation, when, upon the mere accusation of a crime, the
very idea of which wounds my delicacy, I have found myself driven from
court, deprived of the good opinion of your majesty, and forced to
employ the time which I wished to devote to the defence of your empire,
in cleansing from myself the stains with which calumny had covered me.
Condescend to believe, madame, that if I had received the slightest hint
that a complaint of such a nature had been made against me, and still
more that it had come to your majesty’s knowledge, I know too well what
is owing to delicacy to have ventured to have appeared before you till I
was completely exculpated.

“Understanding neither the laws, the language, nor the forms of justice
of this country, I needed an advocate and obtained one. But whether from
terror or intimidation he stopped short all at once, and durst not
undertake my defence, though convinced of the justice of my cause. But
truth may always venture to show itself alone and unsupported at the
throne of your majesty. I have not hesitated to labor unaided for my own
vindication. I have collected proofs. And if such details might appear
under the eye of your majesty I would present them. But if your majesty
will deign to order some person to examine them, it will be seen, by the
report which will be made, that my crime is a fiction, invented by the
cupidity of a wretched woman, whose malice has been countenanced,
perhaps incited, by the malice of my numerous enemies. Her husband has
himself certified and attested to her infamous conduct. His signature is
in my hands, and the pastor Braun, of the district, has assured me that
if the College of Justice will give him an order to this effect, he will
obtain an attestation from the country people that the mother of the
girl referred to is known among them as a wretch utterly unworthy of

“Take a soldier’s word, madame. Believe an officer whom two great
nations esteem, and who has been honored with flattering marks of their
approbation of which your majesty will soon receive a direct proof from
the United States.[J] I am innocent, and if I were guilty I would not
hesitate to mke a candid avowal of my fault, and to commit my honor,
which is a thousand times dearer to me than life, to the hands of your


Footnote J:

He refers to the gold medal ordered to be struck by Congress.


The admiral closed this letter with expressions of devotion to the
service of the empress. He assured her of his readiness to serve her in
any way in his power, but added “that if for any reason he could not be
employed again during the campaign, he might be permitted to return to
France or America.”

The empress received this letter, examined the documents, and became
fully convinced of his innocence. She inveighed bitterly against the
authors of the calumny, recalled Paul Jones to court, and received him
with even more than her usual kindness. But the admiral, having received
blow after blow and finding no employment immediately before him, became
weary of the country where he had endured so many humiliations. He
consequently requested permission to retire. His request was granted.
The empress admitted him to an audience of leave, wished him a pleasant
voyage, and he left Russia forever. He bore with him letters of high
commendation from the most distinguished men in the capital of Russia.
He directed his steps first to Warsaw. Here he was received with the
highest consideration by the titular king and his court. He spent two
months in Warsaw, hospitably entertained by the nobility, and intensely
occupied in preparing for the Empress of Russia a journal of his
services, from the time he entered the navy of the United States to the
campaign of the Black Sea. In a letter to the empress, which accompanied
this document, he wrote, under date of Warsaw, Sept. 25, O. S. 1789.

“I owe it to my reputation and to truth to accompany this journal with
an abridgment of the campaign of the Liman.[K] If you will deign,
madame, to read it with some attention, you will observe how little I
have deserved the mortifications which I have endured, and which the
justice and goodness of your majesty can alone make me forget. As I
never offended, in word or speech or thought, against the laws or usages
of the strictest delicacy, it would assuredly be most desirable for me
to have the happiness of regaining, in spite of the malice of my
enemies, the precious esteem of your majesty.”


Footnote K:

It was near the mouth of the river Liman that all these naval battles
were fought.


At Warsaw, the admiral made the acquaintance of, and became the intimate
friend of Kosciusko. On the second of November he left Warsaw for
Vienna. Here again he was kindly received by those in the highest ranks
of society. But in consequence of the sickness of the emperor, he was
not favored with an audience. From Warsaw he proceeded to Amsterdam.
Kosciusko was at that time deeply engaged in the disastrous conspiracy
to liberate Poland from the thraldom of Russia. Sweden was also at war
with Russia. There can be no doubt that great efforts were made to
enlist the wonderful energies of the admiral, in favor of the two
belligerents, against the empress. These efforts were necessarily
secret. It is but a glimpse we can get of them. We simply know that the
admiral declined all such proffers. From Amsterdam he wrote, under date
of December, 1789, to his firm friend President Washington. In that
letter he writes:

“Count Segur and myself have frequently conversed on subjects that
regard America. And the most pleasing reflection of all has been the
happy establishment of the new constitution, and that you are so
deservedly placed at the head of the government, by the unanimous voice
of America. Your name alone, sir, has established in Europe a confidence
that was for some time before entirely wanting in American concerns; and
I am assured that the happy efforts of your administration are still
more sensibly felt throughout the United States. This is more glorious
for you than all the laurels that your sword so nobly won in support of
the rights of human nature. In war your fame is immortal, as the hero of
liberty. In peace you are her patron, and the firmest supporter of her
rights. Your greatest admirers and even your best friends have now but
one wish left them—that you may long enjoy health and your present

From Amsterdam he went to Hamburg by way of Copenhagen. Toward the close
of April, 1790, he crossed the channel to London. “Upon landing,” he
writes, “I escaped being murdered.” After a short visit there he went to
Paris. His health was feeble. Still he kept up an active correspondence
with his numerous distinguished friends all over the continent. His mode
of expressing himself, as the reader will have perceived, was peculiar.
He was a man of singular frankness and transparency of character. He
gave free utterance to his thoughts as they arose. In Paris he again
enjoyed the friendship of Lafayette. Nothing special occurred during his
residence in Paris.

Early in June, his health began more rapidly to fail. He lost his
appetite, and a dropsical affection swelled his legs and expanded his
chest. His physician at length warned him that his symptoms were
alarming, and advised him to settle his worldly affairs. He sat in his
chair as he dictated to the notary his will. After his friends had
retired he rose from his chair, went into his bedroom, and probably
feeling a little faint threw himself with his face upon his bed, and his
feet resting upon the floor. Soon after, the queen’s physician arrived
to visit the illustrious patient. He was conducted into the bedroom,
where the admiral was found dead. His disorder had terminated in dropsy
of the breast.

It was the evening of the 20th of July, 1789. The admiral had reached
the age of but forty-five years. His funeral attracted a large concourse
of the most distinguished of the residents in Paris. The National
Assembly, then in session, passed the following resolve:

“The National Assembly, desirous of honoring the memory of Paul Jones,
Admiral of the United States of America, and to preserve by a memorable
example, the equality of religious rights, decrees that twelve of its
members shall assist at the funeral solemnities of a man who has so well
served the cause of liberty.”

A funeral sermon was preached by M. Marson, a French Protestant
clergyman. In this oration he said:

“We have just returned to the earth the remains of an illustrious
stranger; one of the first champions of the liberty of America, of that
liberty which so gloriously ushered in our own. And what more flattering
homage can we offer the memory of Paul Jones than to swear on his tomb
to live or to die free. Let neither tyrants nor their satellites ever
pollute this sacred earth. May the ashes of the great man, too soon lost
to humanity, enjoy here an undisturbed repose. May his example teach
posterity the efforts which noble souls are capable of making when
stimulated by hatred to oppression. Identify yourself with the glory of
Paul Jones, in imitating his contempt of danger, his devotion to his
country, and the noble heroism which, after having astonished the
present age, will continue to call forth the veneration of ages yet to

Such was the career of this remarkable man. Such is a faithful record of
what he said and wrote and did. And this record surely exhibits the
character of a worthy and a noble man. He rose to distinction by his own
energies. His achievements gave him world-wide renown. His character
secured for him not only a cordial welcome in the palaces of kings and
in the castles of nobles, but, that which is far higher praise, won for
him the esteem and affection of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Morris,
Lafayette, Count Segur, Count d’Estaing, and a host of others of the
worthiest spirits in America and France.

The following is a brief recapitulation of the services which, during
his short life, he rendered his country. During the Revolution he fought
twenty-three battles at sea, and was never vanquished. He made seven
victorious descents upon Great Britain and her colonies. He captured two
ships of equal size with his own, and two of far superior force; besides
taking many store-ships and other smaller craft. He spread alarm
throughout the whole island of Great Britain, compelling the government
to fortify all her ports. He also forced the British to desist from
their atrocious system of pillaging and burning in America, and to
exchange, as prisoners of war, the Americans whom they had captured and
plunged into prison dungeons as “traitors, pirates, and felons.”

The distinguished Matthew Carey of Philadelphia, after examining the
voluminous correspondence of Paul Jones, contained in the valuable
biography compiled by Colonel John Henry Sherburne, wrote to the author:

“I have read, with intense interest, your Life of John Paul Jones. And
it must be regarded as a valuable national object, placing, as it does,
in strong relief, the shining qualities of this hero, not only as a
naval commander but as a profound politician. The latter quality appears
clearly and distinctly in various parts of the correspondence, wherein
are developed views of the proper policy of this country which are
worthy of the first statesmen that sat in the Congress of 1774 and
1775—men never exceeded in the annals of the world for sagacity,
patriotism, and public spirit.

“No man has been the subject of more gross and shocking abuse, and none
of those who have distinguished themselves in the Revolution were so
little known as he has been to the nation to whose service he devoted
all the energies of his magnanimous soul. I confess that for one I
always regarded Paul Jones as very few degrees above a _freebooter_ who,
in the prospect of plunder was reckless of his life. I am now thoroughly
undeceived, and consider him as deserving a conspicuous rank among the
most illustrious of those heroes and statesmen who not only formed a
wreath around the brow of this country, but secured her a prouder
destiny than ever fell to the lot of any other portion of mankind.”

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