John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
Farewell to France

With sloping masts and dipping prow, As who pursued with yell and blow Still treads the shadow of his foe, And forward bends his head, The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast, And southward aye we fled.


I

THE Alliance was scarcely out of sight before Jones made another attempt to obtain the Serapis, but perceiving no results, he next tried to induce the French to give him the great frigate Terpsichore. He wrote letter after letter to officials, sought interviews, and buttonholed persons of influence at Versailles. But the French ministers were either cold or dilatory; he could not obtain even a hint regarding prize money from the unbusinesslike de Chaumont. His correspondence at this time mirrors his fretful bewilderment. His complete absorption in his craving for a new and more glorious expedition to the English coast, where he hoped to complete the destruction of the British Baltic fleet, which had escaped him off Flamborough Head, made him blind to the apparent fact that the French court in presenting him with a sword, a decoration, and a knighthood, considered it had done enough for him. France was preoccupied with its own part in the war against England, and had scarcely enough ships for its own waiting captains. Moreover, de Sartine himself, the Minister of Marine, had belonged to the party headed by Turgot, Minister of Finance, which had from the first opposed

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