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John Paul Jones Com m e moration


I hope this cruel contest will soon be closed; but should it continue, I wage no War with the Fair. I acknowledge their Power, and bend before it with profound Submission ; let not therefore the Aimable Countess of Selkirk regard me as an Enemy; I am ambitious of her Esteem and Friendship, and would do anything consistent with my duty to merit it.

The honor of a Line from your hand in answer to this will lay me under a very singular Obligation; and if I can render you any acceptable service in France, or elsewhere, I hope you see into my character so far as to command me without the least grain of reserve.

I wish to know exactly the behaviour of my People, as I determine to punish them if they have exceeded their Liberty.

I have the Honor to be with much esteem and with profound Respect, Madam. Your most obedient and most humble servant.



(From the original at St. Mary's Isle.)

Monsieur J. P. JONES,
Capitaine du Vaisseau Americain, Le Ranger, à Brest.

DUMFRIES, June 9th, 1778. SIR. The letter you wrote to Lady Selkirk of the 8th of May from Brest, and enclosed to Lord Le Despencer, he was so good as to forward, and it came to hand t’other day, as also it's duplicate by common post. It was matter of surprise both to my Wife and to me, as no apology was expected for your landing from your Privateer at St. Mary's Isle on the 23rd of April, but as the letter is polite, and you seem very anxious for an answer, I shall therefore transmit this unsealed to Lord Le Despencer, who, as I have the honour to be well acquainted with him, will I hope excuse my giving him this trouble, and his Lordship, as Post Master General will judge whether or not it is proper to be forwarded to you, as a letter by common post would certainly be stopped at the London Office. Your lamenting the necessity of these things in the Profession of Arms, and of being obliged to gratify your Officers by permitting them to go to my house, and carry off some plate, and your expressing the great sensibility of your feelings at what your heart cannot approve, are things which we, who have no knowledge of you, nor your character but by report, can form no proper judgement of, but must leave to your own Conscience, and to the Almighty Judge of the real motives of all actions. You certainly are in the right, Sir, in saying that it was fortunate for Lady Selkirk, that I was from home, as you intended to carry me off and detain me prisoner, for had that happened, I dread what might have been its effect on my Wife, then well advanced in her pregnancy.. I own I do not understand how a man of Sensibility to fine feelings could reconcile this to what his heart approved, especially as the carrying me off could have no possible effect for the purpose you mention, which you say was, “knowing my interest with the King, your intention was to detain me, until through my means, a general and fair exchange of prisoners, as well in Europe as in America had been effected,” Now Sir nothing can be more erroneous than these ideas, for I have no interest whatever with the King, and am scarce kuown to him, being very seldom in London, scarce six months in whole, during these last one and twenty years. With regard to the King's Ministers, I neither have nor can have any interest with them, as I have generally

a This letter was inclosed to Lord Despencer and by him returned to Lord Selkirk.-COMPILER.

disapproved of most of their measures, and in particular of almost their whole conduct in the unhappy and illjudged American War. And as to a general exchange of Prisoners being effected through my means, I am altogether at a loss how any man of sense could entertain such an Idea. I am neither a Military nor a Ministerial man. I neither have nor ever had a Ministerial Office, Imployment, or Pension, nor any connection with Administration, nor am I in Parliament, and except having the disadvantage of a useless Scotch Title, I am in all respects as much a Private Country Gentleman, as any one can be, living a retired life in the country, and engaging in no factions whatever. How then would it have been possible for such a man to effect a general exchange of Prisoners? when so many men of great Power and Influence in both Houses of Parliament have not been able to bring it about. You must therefore be sensible on reflection Sir, that you proceeded on a very improper and mistaken notion, and that had your attempt succeeded, it's only effect would have been to distress a family that never injured any person, and whose wishes have certainly been very friendly to the Constitutions and Just Liberties of America. You exclaiin on the barbarities committed in America, and say they will be retaliated in Britain if not discontinued, I have always been extremely sorry at the accouuts of these things, no man can be a greater enemy to all ungenerous inhumanities in War than I am. God knows best which side began those things, and which has most to account for, but it is certainly the general opinion in Britain, that the Americans began the unusual and cruel practice complained of, and first against their own country men who adhered to the British Government. In your letter you profess yourself a Citizen of the World, and that you have drawn your Sword in support of the Rights of Man, yet you say you are not in arms as an American, nor in pursuit of Riches. If you are not in arms as an American, I do not understand in what character you act, and unless you have an American Commission, I doubt the Laws of War and of Nations would not be very favourable to you as a citizen of the World, which however ought to be a very honourable character, and you will do well to endeavour to act up to the humanity and honour of it. Consider then Sir, the impropriety and danger to the common Interests, and happiness of Society, in your departing from the established and usual practice of Modern War. Nothing does more honour to Mankind, than the generous humanity and mildness introduced in War of late ages, through all the best civilized parts of Europe, and it's violation is always disapproved of and generally resented by the Ministers of every State. I am therefore pursuaded that neither the French Government nor the Congress would have countenanced your carrying me off, nor would have permitted me to be detained. Their own coasts are as much exposed to such enterprises as our's, and they will not wish to introduce such things into the practice of War, as can have no effect

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John Paul Jones Commemoration


upon the great and general operations of it, but would only add to its calamities. It was certainly fortunate both for Lady Selkirk and me, that I was from home, and it was also fortunate for you Sir, that your Officers and Men behaved well, for had any of my family suffered outrage, murder or violence, no quarter of the Globe should have secured you nor even some of those under whose commission you act, from my vengeance.

But Sir, I am happy that their welfare enables me to inform you, that the Orders you mention in your letter were punctually obeyed by your two Officers and Men, who in every respect behaved as well as could be expected on such an occasion. All the men remained on the outside of the house, were civil, and did no injury, the two officers alone came within, and behaved with civility, and we were all sorry to hear afterwards that the younger officer in green uniform was killed in your engagement with the Drake, for he in particular showed so much civility, and so apparent a dislike at the bussiness he was then on, that it is surprising how he should have been one of the proposers of it. What you mention is certainly so, that some of the Plate was left, but that was contrary to Lady Selkirk intention and to her orders, but happened partly by accident, confusion and hurry, and partly by the improper inclinations of some servants, for which they were severely reprimanded afterwards. So much was it countrary to Lady Selkirk's intentions, that she, having met a servant carrying some Plate out of the way, ordered it instantly to be taken back and given up, and indeed her giving the inventory along with it, tho' not asked for, proves that she meant it all to go, as the inventory would only serve to show, what she would not have inclined to be known, had she intended or believed any was left, and indeed had your Officers taken time to examine it, they would have got all, by means of the inventory, but the only thing they observed wanting was a tea pot and coffee pot, and on mentioning it, the servant immediately brought them. This circumstance however, proves also what I have pleasure in acknowledging, that your Officers obeyed your orders in making no search, for which Sir you are entitled to our thanks and I most willingly give them. Tho' you say nothing improper about what was left, nor can Lady Selkirk be thought at all accountable for it, yet she chuses these things to be mentioned, as she said to your Officers she believed it was all delivered, and she would be sorry if any person whatever should believe her capable of deceit. The little Plate that was left, will seem greater by the inventory than it was in reality, for the six candle sticks left, two are of a very small old fashioned kind, that belonged to Lady Selkirk's Grandmother, and are not one third of the weight of those now in fashion, the other two are little flat trifles, made exceeding small, for the purpose of standing in a cabinet for the purpose of sealing letters, the tea spoons and also some spoons of an inferior make, used at the housekeeper's table, by not


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