John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
In France

The Sun now rose upon the right: Out of the sea came he, Still hid in mist, and on the left Went down into the sea.


I

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, who was a canny judge of men, must have looked curiously at this self-assured young sea-rover who had come to him with no introduction save that of a letter from the Marine Committee describing him as "an active and brave commander of our navy," but he was apparently impressed with him, for he introduced John Paul Jones to his good friend, the Countess d'Houdetot, with a letter which said: "When face to face with him, neither man, nor, so far as I can learn, woman, can resist the strange magnetism of his presence, the indescribable charm of his manner."

As for Jones, he regarded Franklin from the first with veneration. In letter after letter he addressed the sage in terms of filial piety, signing himself with grateful and real affection and respect," and finally as your most devoted and obedient foster son." It was to Franklin that Jones wrote the first full account of his killing of the sailor at Tobago, for which the sage excused him on the ground of self-defence; and it was to Franklin that he resorted for occasional counsel and for balm to his frequently wounded pride. Jones had an openly expressed scorn for certain men in high places, but a word from Franklin could bring him humbly to heel.

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