John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV
Changed Paris

And the bay was white with silent light Till, rising from the same, Full many shapes, that shadows were, In crimson colors came.


I

THE inconsistencies found beneath the encircling epidermis of a man are, as has frequently been observed, endless and sometimes absurd. In America John Paul Jones took pride in assisting a rising, commerciallyminded, middle class to free itself from a restrictive government. But in France he chose to remain an eighteenth century gentleman with the viewpoint of a retired member of the ancien régime and at first glance regarded the struggles of a similar class there with indignation.

On returning to his old Parisian haunts in 1790, he indeed found enough to disturb him. That lovely court at Versailles, where as a King's chevalier he had always been received with the pageantry delightful to the heart of an instinctive lover of the dramatic, had been ruthlessly broken up, and his benefactor Louis XVI and that "sweet girl," Marie Antoinette, had been brought to Paris under guard. His adored Lafayette was flirting with abhorrent, if moderate, ideas of a democracy. The Duchess of Chartres had been separated from the Duke and was living with her father, while her husband was following in the wake of Madame de Genlis in England. Such heroes of his own profession as d'Orvilliers, de Grasse, and la Motte Picquet were dead. Admirals Kersaint and d'Estaing were un

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