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LIFE AND BATTLES
JOHN PAUL JONES,
GREATEST NAVAL HERO
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF,
AND EDITED BY MISS JANETTE TAYLOR, FROM ORIGINAL LETTERS
PUBLISHED BY N. B. PARSONS.
PAUL JONES was an extraordinary man, and was engaged suddenly, after having been in a comparatively humble employment, in a career connected with events which occupied the attention of the civilized world. Setting aside the services rendered by him to the cause of American freedom, there would be no need of preface or explanation in presenting an account of his life, and selections from the most interesting portions of his correspondence to the public at large; were it not that several works, professing to do so, have already made their appearance.
The first which the Editor of the present work remembers to have seen, was a shilling pamphlet, exhibited in the windows of the New York retail bookstores, in which was a frontispiece, representing Paul Jones as largo as the frigate he bestrode, shooting a Lieutenant Grubb with a horse-pistol, more grand in its dimensions than any piece of artillery introduced into the picture. This juvenile reminiscence would be hardly worth recalling, were it not that, but the other day, in one of the Southern papers, the writer actually met with a detailed account, purporting to be a biographical sketch of somebody recently dead, who had served under Paul Jones in the Serapis, describing the latter as shooting this Lieutenant Grubb, with the same horse-pistol, aggrandized in the manner above specified. As no Lieu
tenant Grubb ever sailed under the orders of Captain John Paul Jones, and as no such person could, in consequence, have been shot by him, it is evident that an unvarnished and full account of the rear admiral's life ought to be circulated, in regions where such fabulous and monstrous legends obtain, in this age of light, admission into public prints.
Ten years ago, a large quantity of original papers belonging to the legatees of Paul Jones, were sent to this country with a view to their being properly connected and published. They were submitted to the Historical Society of New York. The committee who examined them, found that they were valuable and interesting; but circumstances prevented their publication at the time. Mr. Sherburne, register of the United States navy, opened a correspondence with the owners of these documents, as the Editor of the present work is informed, with the view of preparing a life of Jones; but, the negotiation failed.
Shortly after, some of the Chevalier's manuscripts, belonging to his legatees, if they had known how and where to reclaim them, were accidentally found by a gentleman of New York, in a house in the city. They had been left in the custody of its former proprietor. From these, with copies of letters and documents on file in the department of state, Mr. Sherburne prepared a volume which was published in 1825.
Some singularly capricious demon, wonderfully ingenious in producing puzzling and painful disorder, seems to have presided over the arrangement of the materials. The appearance of order in some parts of the compilation only makes the general and particular entangle ments
more perplexing; and in some places, the
person who connected the documents, having apparently lost himself, goes backwards or leaps forwards, in a style of extraordinary embarrassment, occasioning inextricable confusion.
From this chaos, a clever writer in Great Britain contrived to select materials for an interesting duodecimo, which was published by Murray in the same year. It contains some errors, and but an inconsiderable portion of the Remains, as the modern phrase is, of the Chevalier Paul Jones. Being not exclusively English in its tenor, it appears to have incurred the censure of some of the British presses. This work has been spoken of in the text as the production of an Englishman. The compiler was not well informed at the time. It was the production of an American.
Within a year past a third life of the Chevalier appeared, which was published in Edinburgh in two duodecimo volumes, and is the best which had been compiled; as it contains selections from many original letters, and, what is of more consequence, a translation of the rear admiral's own narrative of the campaign of the Liman. The Editor of that book, which is the basis, so far as the order of arrangement is generally concerned, of the present, gives in his preface the following account of his materials.
By his will, dated at Paris on the day of his death, Paul Jones left his property and effects of all kinds to his sisters in Scotland and their children. Immediately on his decease a regular, or rather an official inventory was made of his voluminous papers, which were sealed up with his other effects, till brought to Scotland by his eldest sister, Mrs. Taylor, a few months after his death. They have ever since remained in the custody of his family; and are now, by inheritance, become the property of his niece, Miss Taylor, of Dumfries. They consist of several band folio volumes of letters and documents, which are offi