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Life of Paul Jones
This extraordinary character, who kept the coasts of the United Kingdom in a constant state of alarm for a considerable time, was born on the estate of Lord Selkirk, near Kirkcudbright, in Scotland, about the year 1728. His father's name was Paul, a steady methodical Scotchman, who was head gardener to Lord Selkirk, to whom young Paul acted as assistant in the same establishment, as will appear from the following story recorded of the father and the son:--
In the gardens there were two summer-houses alike. One day Lord Selkirk, in his walks, observed a man locked up in one of the summer-houses, and looking out of the window. In the other young Paul appeared, looking out of the corresponding window, which induced his lordship to enquire of the gardener why those lads were confined; to which the gardener replied, "My lord, I caught the rascal stealing your lordship's fruit. "But," says his lordship, "there are two of them; what has your son done: is he also guilty?" Old Paul cooly replied, " Oh no, please your lordship, I just put him in for the sake of symmetry." In this service he continued for some years, but at length being detected in certain knavish tricks, which would have entitled him to a situation in the summer-house, or some closer place of confinement, on other grounds than those of symmetry, he
was dismissed from the employ of Lord Selkirk. And now being at liberty to follow the bent of his inclination, being of a wild and ardent disposition, he betook himself to a sea-faring-life, for which his habits, and the experience he had gained by a long residence near to a sea-port, had well prepared him. He commenced his naval career as a common sailor, in which subordinate situation he did not remain long, for his talents still rendered him conspicuous, and he was appointed mate; and having made several voyages to the West Indies as common sailor and mate he was at last appointed master of a vessel.
Shortly after the rupture between Great Britain and America, he happened to be at Piscataway, in New England, and being prompted partly by a spirit of revenge, and partly by the prospect of plunder in predatory warfare offered by the approaching war, he was induced to desert his national standard, and enlist under that of the revolutionists; and on this account he changed his name from John Paul to that of Paul Jones. For this new and busy scene of action, his enterprising disposition and talents were admirably adapted; and these, in addition to his complete knowledge of the northern coasts of Great Britain in particular, which, were the least defended, soon brought him into notice, and pointed him out as a proper leader in the marauding schemes then in agitation. Accordingly, in the latter part of the year 1777, he was actively employed, as commander, in fitting out the Ranger privateer, mounting 18 guns, and several swivels, and manned with a desperately daring crew of 150 men. In the course of the winter he put to sea, and made two captures on the European side of the Atlantic; both of which prizes he sent into a French port.
In the month of April, 1778, he made his appearance
in his new and desperate character, for the first time, in the neighbourhood of his native place, and immediately proceeded to put in execution a well-digested plan for burning and destroying the town and shipping of Whitehaven. Having made the land, in order to avoid observation, he cautiously kept the offing; but, at the close of evening, having made the necessary preparations, he stood in towards the shore; and at midnight, having approached sufficiently near, he despatched his boats, with thirty daring fellows, well armed, who pushed off in deep silence from the vessel. The bay and entrance of the harbour was commanded by a small battery, and it was necessary to secure this before they could venture to proceed farther. Having made good their landing, the party rushed upon the small garrison before any alarm could be given, and made them prisoners. They immediately spiked all the guns of the battery, and everything promised complete success to the daring enterprise of the assailants. It was low water, and the vessels in harbour were laying close together, and there seemed no chance of escape from total destruction, should they be once fired, and the flames get a-head. Having no expectation of such an unwelcome visit, no watches were set on board the ships, and the inhabitants of the town were quietly reposing in their beds, in supposed security. In the fullest confidence, therefore, the armed party dispersed themselves, and deposited matches ready primed, amidst combustibles, on the decks and in the riggings of the several vessels, in the harbour. Nothing more was now required to complete their destruction, than the signal for setting fire to the trains. At this critical conjuncture the inhabitants of the main street were alarmed by a loud knocking at their doors, and an alarm was spread in every direction. The assailants
now perceived that they were discovered, and nothing remained for them but to begin in haste their work of destruction; for the alarm having been general, crowds were observed running towards the piers, attracted by the lights which the marauders, on their retiring, were hastily throwing on board the vessels, and fortunately without effect, only one being seriously scorched, as the crews, aided by the townsmen, succeeded in extinguishing the flames before they reached the rigging.--Foiled in their desperate attempt, the privateer's men reached their boats, and putting off in sullen chagrin, got on board their ship in safety.
On mustering the crew, one of the party was missing, and it was to that man the people of Whitehaven were indebted for the preservation of their lives and property; for, influenced either by conscientious or self-interested motives, he had quitted his companions when they were busy in the harbour, and proceeded hastily up the main street, knocking loudly at every door, by which he had roused the inhabitants from their beds, and called upon them to save their lives and property. Jones having completely failed in this enterprise, made the best of his way across the Solway Frith towards the coast of Scotland, and entered the river Dee, forming the harbour of Kirkcudbright, with the dawn of the morning. A little above its junction with the sea, the river Dee expands into a kind of estuary. Here, where the river is about a mile and a half in width on a promontory, or rather island, stands the castle of Lord Selkirk, St Mary's Jole, within a very little distance of a spot endeared to Jones by the strongest ties, and the earliest associations; and here a little after sun-rise, Jones dropped his anchor. Early in the morning the privateer had been observed making her way up the river--her guns and warlike appearance, attracting
attention, and exciting much curiosity, as vessels of that description were very seldom seen working up the intricate passage of the Dee. None entertained a suspicion of the true character of the privateer; but the male part of the population looked upon her as a guest equally to be dreaded, for they supposed her to be a ship of war coming up, in order to impress seamen, or others for the navy. On this account, at an early hour, Lady Selkirk (his lordship being fortunately in London at the time) was informed of the arrival of the supposed king's ship; and the men-servants presented their request to her ladyship, for leave to absent themselves, for the purpose of concealment. The privateer, immediately on casting anchor, sent an armed boat ashore, and the crew landing, strolled about, without appearing to have any particular object in view, and after some time took again to their boat, and returned to the privateer. Before, however, the people had recovered from their first alarm, they again observed the boat pushing off for the shore, and in a little time a body of armed men landed on the beach, uninterrupted by the unsuspecting people. They did not now stroll about as before, but in regular order marched directly to the castle, which they immediately surrounded, and then, for the first time, a suspicion of the real character of their visitors was excited. Lady Selkirk and her children were then the only members of the family resident in the castle; her ladyship had just finished breakfast, when she received a summons to appear before the officer commanding the party. She obeyed the summons, with apprehensions of danger, which were not abated on approaching the party, whose ferocious appearance and ragged dress too plainly betokened their hostile purpose; and as it now appeared that plunder was their chief object, the worst might be expected,
should any resistance be offered. The diversity of arms with which the party were equipped, farther confirmed the ill opinion entertained of the marauders; these consisted of muskets, pistols, swords, &c., and one fellow bore an American tomahawk over his shoulder. Two officers commanded the party--the one rude in his manner--the other courteous and respectful, and apologized to her ladyship for the unpleasant duty in which it was unfortunately his lot to appear as the principal.
Their first enquiry was for the appearance of Lord Selkirk; and on being assured that he was not in that part of the country, they expressed considerable disappointment. After a short pause, the officer who had treated her ladyship with the most respect, said, he must request the production of all the plate in her possession. She answered, that the plate which was in the castle was but small in quantity, but, such as it was, they should have it. Accordingly, the whole was laid before them, even the silver tea-pot which was used at breakfast, and which had not since been washed out. The officer, on receiving it, ordered his men to pack it all up, and apologising to the lady for his conduct, he retired with his party, and returned to the ship, leaving the family not a little pleased at their escape from a worse fate, which they apprehended. Still, however, as the ship did not immediately get under weigh, her ladyship entertained fears of a second visit, which, however, were fortunately unfounded, as in a few hours the privateer proceeded to sea. Lady Selkirk was still more gratified, in a few days, by the receipt of a letter from Jones, written in a romantic style, in which he entreated her ladyship's pardon for the late affront--assuring her, that so far from having been suggested or sanctioned by him, he had exerted his influence in order to prevent it; but his officers and crew had
insisted on the enterprise, in the hope of getting possession of the person of Lord Selkirk, for whose ransom they anticipated a considerable sum might be realized. This Jones declared was the object of their first visit; in which having failed, they began to murmur on their return on board, and insisted on landing again, and plundering the castle, he was reluctantly obliged to give his assent. As a proof of his innocence, he added, that he would endeavour to purchase of them the plunder they had so disgracefully brought away, and transmit the whole, or such as he could obtain, to her ladyship.
Several years elapsed without hearing from Jones, and all hope of the realizement of his promise had vanished; but, in the spring of the year 1783, to the great and agreeable surprise of her ladyship, the whole of the plate was returned, carriage paid, precisely in the same condition in which it had been taken away, the tea-leaves remaining in the tea-pot as they were left after the breakfast, on the morning of their visit to the castle.
The report of the landing of Jones's party had spread rapidly through the country, and it reached London with every species of exaggeration. Lord Selkirk received the report, with all the additions it had accumulated in its progress to London, that his castle had been burnt to the ground, and his family made prisoners; he immediately left the capital, and hastened northward; and it was not until he had reached about half-way, that his anxiety was relieved by correct information of the real state of the affair.
Jones, on clearing the land, now stood to the northward, and towards evening making the Irish coast, he entered Belfast Loch, and as he proceeded, either owning or capturing several fishing-boats. He was soon descried by Captain Burdon,
of the Drake sloop of war, of 14 guns, and 100 men, who conceiving the privateer to be a merchantman, ordered a boat to be manned, and despatched her for the purpose of impressing some of the crew of the privateer. On coming alongside, the boat's crew immediately boarded the supposed merchantman, but they soon found they had caught a tartar, for they were immediately secured.
Captain Burdon perceiving that his boat did not make any shew of returning, and observing the supposed trader crowding sail, now suspected that something was wrong, and lost no time in giving chase, and preparing for action. On coming up with the privateer the Drake opened a sharp fire, but owing to the darkness of the night it could not be continued with effect, and the ships separated; but when daylight appeared, the engagement was renewed with vigour, and gallantly maintained for more than an hour, when Capt. Burdon and the first lieutenant of the Drake being killed, twenty of the crew disabled, a topmast shot away, and the ship very seriously damaged, she was under the necessity of surrendering to the privateer.
The coasts on both sides of the Channel being now in a state of alarm, Jones deemed it imprudent and unsafe to remain longer in that quarter; he therefore made all sail with his prize towards Brest the port of which he reached without interruption, when he communicated the success he had met with, and the other results of his cruise, to the American representative then resident at Paris, the celebrated Dr Franklin, who strongly censured the piratical attack upon St Mary's Isle.
After Jones had attained the rank of commander, he paid a visit to the coast of Northumberland, which was the occasion of the fitting out of two armed vessels in the river Tyne, viz: the Antigallican, and the Heart-of-Oak privateesr--the former
of which sailed on the 6th, and the other the 24th March, 1779, amidst the acclamations all on both shores of the Tyne; but they were no so fortunate as to fall in with the enemy, for he reappeared off Tynemouth in the month of May following, and again in the middle of August the same year, when he lay off Newbiggin for nearly a whole day, and was seen by great numbers of spectators.
The following winter, Jones commanded the Bon Homme Richard, of 40 guns, with a complement of 370 men, in which he acted as commodore; having under his command also the Alliance frigate, of 36 guns, and 300 men; the Vengeance brig, of 14 guns and 70 men: and a cutter of 18 guns, all in the service of the American Congress. The Pallas, a French frigate, was also added to his squadron. He sailed with this small, yet formidable squadron, from Port l'Orient in July, 1779 and made his appearance off the coast of Kerry, where he sent his boat's crew ashore, in order to bring off some sheep; but the people having assembled to defend their property, they secured the assailing party, and sent the prisoners to Tralee gaol. From thence he sailed northward, ran down the eastern coast of Scotland, making captures in his progress of a store-ship from Quebec, and many other valuable prizes, all of which he ordered to sail to France. On the 14th of September he was off Dunlear, and seen to capture two prizes close in shore. No adequate force being at that period in the north, a circumstance of which he appears to have been well apprised, he dispatched his ships in various directions, and at last resolved on the bold and hazardous attempt of burning the shipping in the harbour of Leith, and collecting tribute from the undefended towns on the coast of Fife, boldly entered the Frith of Forth, and dashing up, came
in sight of Leith and Edinburgh on the 16th September. The tide running down, and the wind bowing strong from the westward, he came to an anchor under the island of Inch Keith, nearly opposite to Kirkcaldy, in Fifeshire. On the following morning he weighed anchor, and endeavoured to beat up for Leith harbour; but the breeze increasing to a violent gale, he sprung one of his topmasts, which compelled him to bear up, and proceed down the Frith with such rapidity, that he was very soon beyond the reach of sight.
While laying off the town of Kirkaldy, it is reported that he sent a summons to the inhabitants for contribution, threatening, in the event of a denial, to fire into the town. Many of the inhabitants had collected upon the beach, among whom appeared a venerable and reverend minister of the town, (Mr Shireff) who exhorted the people to courage and confidence in the Supreme Being, who would not allow the enemy to do them any injury--and offered up a prayer to the Almighty, that he would avert the impending danger. Shortly afterwards the wind blew so strong that the Bon Homme Richard could not remain in the Frith, but was compelled to go before the wind. On hearing this, Jones is said to have attributed the change of weather to this good man's prayer, "Deus flammabantur." Foiled in this attempt at destroying the shipping in Leith harbour and roads, Jones rejoined his squadron, and proceeded to cruise off the coast of England, where, on the 23d, day of September, he fell in with a British convoy from the Baltic, under escort of his Majesty's ship, the Serapis, of 44 guns, commanded by Capt. Pearson, and the Countess of Scarborough armed ship, of twenty guns, commanded by Capt. Thos. Piercy: the result was one of the most memorable naval actions on record in the annals of the navy.
The conduct of Captain Pearson in this affair exceeded all praise, and he was nobly supported by his companion, Captain Piercy. The following account of the battle was sent to the Lords of that Admiralty by the bravo Captain Pearson:--
"Pallas frigate, in Congress service,
Texel, October 6, 1779.
"On the 23d ult. being close in with Scarborough about twelve o'clock, a boat came on board with a letter from the bailiffs of that corporation, giving information of a flying squadron of the enemy's ships being on the coast, and of a part of the said squadron having been seen from thence the day before standing to the southward. As soon as I received this intelligence, I made the signal for the convoy to bear down under my lee, and repeated it with two guns; notwithstanding which the van of the convoy kept their wind, with all sail stretching out to the southward from under Flamborough-head, till between twelve and one, when the headmost of them got sight of the enemy's ships, which were then in chase of them. They then tacked, and made the best of their way under the shore for Scarborough, letting fly their topgallant sheets, and firing guns; upon which I made all the sail I could to windward, to get between the enemy's ships and the convoy, which I soon effected. At one o'clock we got sight of the enemy's ships from the mast-head, and about four we made them plain from the deck to be three large ships and a brig; upon which I made the Countess of Scarborough's signal to join me, she being in shore with the convoy; at the same time I made the signal for the convoy to make the best of their way, and repeated the signal with two guns. I then brought to, to let the Countess of Scarborough come up, and cleared ship for action.
"At half past five the Countess of Scarborough joined me, the enemy's ships bearing down upon us with a light breeze at S. S. W.; at six tacked and laid our head in shore, in order to keep our ground the better between the enemy's ships and the convoy; soon after which we perceived the ships bearing down upon us to be a two-deck'd ship and two frigates, but from their keeping end upon us in bearing down, we could not discern what colours they were under. At 20 minutes past 7, the largest ship of the three brought to on our lee-bow, within musket-shot. I hailed him, and asked what ship it was? They answered in English the Princess Royal. I then asked where they belonged to? They answered, evasively--on which I told them, if they did not answer directly, I would fire into them. They then answered with a shot, which was instantly returned with a broadside; and after exchanging two or three broadsides, he backed his topsails and dropped upon our quarter, within pistol-shot; then filled again, put his helm a-weather, and ran us on board upon our weather quarter, and attempted to board us, but being repulsed, he sheered off: upon which I backed our topsails, in order to get square with him again: which, as soon as he observed, he then filled, put his helm a-weather, and laid us athwart hawse; his mizen shrouds took our jib-boom, which hung him for some time, till it at last gave way, and we dropt alongside of each other head and stern, when the fluke of our spare anchor hooking his quarter, we became so close fore and aft, that the muzzles of our guns touched each others' sides.
"In this position we engaged from half-past 8 till half-past 10; during which time, from the great quantity and variety of combustible matter which they threw upon our decks, chains, and, in short, into every part of the ship, we were on fire
not less than ten or twelve times in different parts of the ship, and it was with great difficulty and exertion at times that we were able to get it extinguished. At the same time the largest of the two frigates kept sailing round us during the whole action, and raking us fore and aft, by which means, they killed or wounded almost every man on the quarter and main decks. At half-past 9, either from a hand-grenade being thrown in at one of our lower-deck ports, or other accident, a cartridge of powder was set on fire, and the flames running from cartridge to cartridge all the way aft, blew up the whole of the people and officers that were quartered abaft the mainmast; from which unfortunate circumstance all those guns were rendered useless for the remainder of the action, and I fear the greatest part of the people will lose their lives.
"At ten o'clock they called for quarter from the ship alongside, and said they had struck. Hearing this I called upon the captain to say if they had struck, or if he asked for quarter; but receiving no answer, after repeating my words two or three times, I called for the boarders, and ordered them to board, which they did; but the moment they were on board her, they discovered a superior number lying under cover, with pikes in their hands, ready to receive them; on which our people retreated instantly into our own ship, and returned to their guns again till half-past ten, when the frigate coming across our stern, and pouring her broadside into us again, without our being able to bring a gun to bear on her, I found it in vain, and in short impracticable, from the situation we were in, to stand out any longer with the least prospect of success; I therefore struck. Our mainmast, at the same time, went by the board.
"The first lieutenant and myself were immediately escorted into the ship alongside, when we
found her to be an American ship of war, called the Bon Homme Richard, of 40 guns and 375 men, commanded by Captain Paul Jones; the other frigate which engaged us to be the Alliance, of 40 guns, and 300 men; and the third frigate, which engaged and took the Countess of Scarborough, after two hours action, to be the Pallas, a French frigate, of 30 guns and 275 men; the Vengeance, an armed brig, of 12 guns, and 70 men; all in congress service, under the command of Paul Jones. They fitted out and sailed from Port l'Orient the latter end of July, and came north about. They have on board 300 English prisoners, which they have taken in different vessels in their way round since they left France, and have ransomed some others. On my going on board the Bon Homme Richard, I found her in the greatest distress, her quarters and counter on the lower deck entirely drove in, and the whole of her lower deck guns dismounted; she was also on fire in two places, and six or seven feet of water in her hold, which kept increasing upon them all night and the next day, till they were obliged to quit her, and she sunk with a great number of her wounded people on board her.--She had 300 men killed and wounded in the action. Our loss in the Serapis was also very great.
"My officers, and people in general, behaved well; and I should be very remiss in my attention to their merits, were I to omit recommending them to their Lordships' favour.
"I must at the same time beg leave to inform their Lordships, that Captain Piercy, in the Countess of Scarborough, was not the least remiss in his duty, he having given me every assistance in his power; and as much as could be expected from such a ship, in engaging the attention of the Pallas, a frigate of 32 guns, during, the whole action,
"I am extremely sorry for the accident that has happened, that of losing his Majesty's ship which I had the honour to command; but at the same time I flatter myself with the hope that their Lordships will be convinced that she has not been given away; but, on the contrary, that every exertion has been used to defend her, and that two essential pieces of service to our country have arisen from it; the one, in wholly oversetting the cruise and intentions of this flying squadron; the other, in rescuing the whole of a valuable convoy from falling into the hands of the enemy, which must have been the case had I acted any otherwise than I did. We have been driving about the North Sea ever since the action, and endeavouring to make to any port we possibly could; but have not been able to get into any place till to-day we arrived in the Texel.--Herewith I enclose you the most correct list of the killed and wounded I have as yet been able to procure, from my people being dispersed among the different ships, and having been refused permission to muster them.
"P. S.--I am refused permission to wait on Sir Joseph Yorke, and even to go on shore.
"The killed were:--1 boatswain, 1 master's mate; 2 midshipmen, 1 quarter-master, 20 sailors, 15 marines.----40.
"Wounded:--Second Lieutenant Michael Stanhope, Lieutenant Whiteman, marines, 3 Surgeon's mates, six petty officers, 46 sailors, 12 marines.--Total, 69.
"Captain Piercy confirms this account, and adds, that at the beginning of the action he made sail to assist the Serapis; but finding her and the ships she was engaged with so close together, and covered with smoke, so that he could not, distinguish
one from the other; he shortened sail, and engaged the Pallas for near two hours; when, being so unfortunate as to have all his braces, great part of the running rigging, main and mizen topsail-sheets shot away, seven guns dismounted, four men killed, and twenty wounded, and another frigate coming up, he saw it was in vain any longer to continue the contest, and he was obliged to strike to such superior force."
The King was so highly pleased with the behaviour of the two captains, and their officers and men, that he conferred the honour of knighthood on Captain Pearson; and soon afterwards his Majesty made Captain Piercy post-captain, and promoted the other officers.
The service they had performed deserved indeed every reward; and so sensible were the Directors of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company of their obligations to the officers, for protecting the rich fleets under their care, that they voted their thanks to both; and, as a further testimony of their approbation, requested Captain Pearson's acceptance of a piece of plate, value one hundred guineas; and Captain Piercy of another, value fifty guineas.
Although Captain Pearson was not allowed to go on shore in order to make his case known to Sir Joseph Yorke, this ambassador, by his representations to their High Mightinesses the States General, prevailed upon them to cause the wounded seamen of the Serapis, and the armed ship, to be landed; and likewise urged them strenuously to detain, and ordered to be delivered up both the ships and their crews, "which," he said, "the pirate, Paul Jones of Scotland, who is a rebel subject, and a criminal of the state, had taken." [### illegible ###] refused to comply with this request;
and the only effect this remonstrance had was, their no permitting the prizes to be sold there; and gave command, that they should depart from the ports of the States General in the same state in which they came. Notwithstanding this order, which by the sequel appeared to be a mere pretence, they suffered the ships to remain; and our ambassador had to use the greatest exertion to procure the release of the prisoners, every obstacle being thrown in his way, the captors sometimes calling themselves Frenchmen, at other times Americans. At last he obtained the release of the prisoners; and the squadron, though strictly blockaded, effected their escape on a dark night, and made their way to Dunkirk.
The appearance of the pirate Jones in such a formidable ship in the Frith of Forth, had excited the greatest alarm; and the Lords of the Admiralty, aware of the unprotected state of the northern part of the kingdom, gave orders that a squadron, consisting of the Prudent, of 64 guns, and several frigates, under the command of Captain Burnet, should sail immediately from Spithead, in order to protect the metropolis of Scotland. Captain Burnet was so anxious to make the best of his way, that he kept his ships close together: had the squadron been more divided in their passage to the north, there was a probability of intercepting Jones, when beating about in the North Sea in a disabled state, before he could make the Texel.
Having lost his ship, the Bon Homme Richard, Jones now shifted his flag into the Alliance. This squadron ceased not to act in concert; each ship being left to shift for itself; and in January or February, 1780, Jones, eluding the vigilance of British cruisers, escaped to Dunkirk, having on board with him the celebrated Captain Gustavus Cunningham, who, like Jones, in the disturbances
with America, had taken an early and active part against his country, and rendered himself obnoxious to the British government, until he was taken in an armed cutter, and carried into New York. The Americans perceiving the danger to which he was then exposed, tried every means in their power to obtain his release; and, as a last resort, sent a very strong remonstrance to Sir George Collier, commander of the Raisonable, off New York, threatening severe retaliation: and for this purpose Henry Hamilton, Esq. Lieut.-Governor of Dehors; Philip Degean, a justice of peace; and William Lambe, captain of volunteers, were singled out by the Governor of Virginia. A young gentleman also was put in irons, and confined in a dungeon at Boston, all of whom should be dealt with in the same manner as Cunningham should be dealt with in England. To this remonstrance Sir George Collier returned a firm and spirited answer, denying that any of his prisoners were treated with inhumanity; to which he added, "that as it was the practice of civilized nations to punish those guilty of offences against their king and country, after having a fair trial in a court of justice, Gustavus Cunningham being so considered, was therefore about to be sent off to England, to receive the punishment due to his crimes."--Cunningham was sent to Falmouth in July, 1799, and lodged in the castle; but in a short time he effected his escape by digging out under the foundation of the castle, and got over to France, where he met with Jones, with whom he sailed for Corunna.
From this period until the year 1783, we know but little of the proceedings of Jones; but, in December that year, he arrived in London from Paris, with despatches from the American Congress to John Adams the American resident.
After delivering his papers, he left London the following morning for Paris, on his way to America.
Peace being concluded, his mind seemed to languish for want of active employment, and we find him in March, 1788, at Copenhagen, when he tendered his services to the Empress of Russia, which were accepted; but we have no account how he was employed or where; but we may presume he either had not the opportunity of signalizing himself, or was unsuccessful--and he was under the necessity of retiring to Paris, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Soon after this the revolution broke out, but Jones not finding employment in the French navy, it being in such a deranged and ineffective state, his spirits fast failed him, and he was at last reduced to such abject poverty, that Capt. Blackden was under the necessity of raising a sum, by way of subscription, to get him decently interred. He died in the year 1792. Jones, being a native of North Britain, was considered a Calvinist, and as the laws regarding the interment of such were not then abrogated, it was necessary to apply to the National Assembly, who not only revoked these laws, but passed a vote, that a deputation of its members should attend his funeral.
Black Hole of Calcutta.
The Indian army, in the first occupation of Fort-William, did not commit any outrage; but when the nabob entered, accompanied by his general, Meer Jaffier, he sent for Mr Holwell, and burst into violent reproaches at his having attempted to
defend the place against the ruler of Bengal. He expressed also the most extreme dissatisfaction at finding in the treasury only the small sum of 50,000 rupees. Yet, after three interviews, he dismissed him with assurances, on the word of a soldier, that no harm should be done to him. Mr Holwell returned to his companions, and found them surrounded by a strong guard, who led them into a veranda or arched gallery, constructed to shelter the soldiers from the sun and rain, but which excluded the chambers behind it from light and air. Some quarters of the fort being on fire, they were involved in so thick a smoke as inspired them with apprehension that a design was formed to suffocate them: but the guard was merely looking out for a proper place of confinement. They pitched upon a chamber employed as the common dungeon of the garrison, called the black hole; it consisted of a space of eighteen feet square, with only two small windows barred with iron, opening into the close veranda, and scarcely admitting a breath of air. Into this narrow receptacle, the whole of the officers and troops, 146 in number, were compelled to enter; and, on their venturing to remonstrate, the commander ordered every one who should hesitate, to be instantly cut down. Thus were they forcibly thrust into his fearful dungeon, into which the whole number could with difficulty be squeezed; the door was then fast barred from without. Their first impression, on finding themselves thus immured, was the utter impossibility of surviving one night, and the necessity of extricating themselves at whatever cost. The jemautdars, or Indian guards, were walking before the window, and Mr Holwell seeing one who bore on his face a more than usual expression of humanity adjured him to procure for them room in which they could breath, assuring him next morning of a reward of 1000
rupees. The man went away--but returned, saying it was impossible. The prisoners, thinking the offer had been too low, tendered 2000 rupees. The man again went--and returned, saying that the nabob was asleep, and no one durst awake him. The lives of 146 men were nothing in comparison to disturbing for a moment the slumbers of a tyrant. Mr Holwell has described in detail the horrors of that fatal night, which are scarcely paralleled in the annals of human misery. Every moment added to their distress. All attempts to obtain relief by a change of posture, from the painful pressure to which it gave rise, only aggravated their sufferings. The air soon became pestilential, producing, at every respiration, a feeling of suffocation; the perspiration flowed in streams, and they wore tormented with the most burning thirst. Unfortunately, the stations at or near the windows being decidedly the best, the most dreadful struggles were made to reach them. Many of the prisoners being common and foreign soldiers, exempt by this dreadful calamity from all subordination, made an intolerable pressure, and the sufferers, as they grew weaker, began to be squeezed or trampled to death. Loud cries being raised of "water!" the humane jemautdar pushed through the bars several skins filled with that liquid; but this produced only an increase of calamity, through the violent efforts made in order to obtain it. The soldiers without found a savage sport in witnessing these contests, and even brought lights to the windows in order to view them to greater advantage. About eleven, the prisoners began to die fast; six of Mr Holwell's intimate friends expired at his feet, and were trampled upon by the survivors. Of those still alive, a great proportion were raving or delirious; some uttered incoherent prayers, others the most frightful blasphemies. They endeavoured,
by furious invectives, to induce the guards to fire into the prison and end their miseries, but without effect. When day dawned, the few who had not expired were most of them either raving or insensible. In this last state was Mr Holwell himself, when, about six o'clock, the nabob awoke and inquired for him. On learning the events of the night, he merely sent to ascertain if the English chief yet lived; and being informed that there were appearances as if he might recover, he gave orders to open the fatal door. At that time, of the 146 who had been enclosed, there breathed only twenty-three. Mr Holwell, being revived by the fresh air, was immediately supported into the presence of the nabob, who, on his beginning the dismal tale, ordered for him a seat and a draught of water, but showed no other mark of sympathy. He immediately commenced a strict interrogatory about the supposed treasure, discrediting extremely the assertion of its non-existence. Being able, however, to learn nothing on this subject, he sent Mr Holwell, with three other gentlemen, prisoners to Muxadavad. In this voyage they suffered severely, their bodies being covered with boils, that had broken out in consequence of their confinement; to which, however, these eruptions, were supposed to afford relief. The other survivors were liberated; while the dead bodies were, without any ceremony, thrown into a ditch.