John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
The Evils of Peace

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, 'Twas sad as sad could be; And we did speak only to break The silence of the sea.


I

IT would be interesting to know upon what ideal John Paul Jones, during his formative years, had fixed his gaze. That it was a lofty one is certain, for at such moments as this he rose to it with a true eighteenth century grandeur. He surrendered his cherished America to the French with a generous bow, and whatever bitterness he felt was withheld from his letter of renunciation to Robert Morris, who replied:

I have read your letter of the 22nd of last month. The sentiments contained in it will always reflect the highest honor upon your character. They have made so strong an impression on my mind that I immediately transmitted an extract of your letter to Congress."

With these thanks in his pocket but little else there, Jones left the little colonial town and once more found himself in Philadelphia among the unemployed. It is tragic to have to record that his gesture of abnegation bestowed no benefit on anyone. The French could not get the America ready in time, and sailed to the West Indies without her. She did not fire a shot against the enemy during the war. She did not reach France until peace had been declared, and the only consolation Jones could have drawn from the episode was to learn that the French, in

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