網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Another fiction, by Allan Cunningham, It is painful and humiliating to read also has Paul Jones for its hero, and how insipidly foppish he became at canny Allan is said to have taken Paris-he, the formidable sea-king, wild license with historical facts. whose name had struck terror along Cooper has moreover written a history the coasts of the greatest maritime of the life of Paul Jones; a second nation in the world; he who in biography was produced by Mr.

many an awful sea-fight had shown Sherburne, Register of the United himself the very beau ideal of nautical States nayy; and a third (probably skill, prowess, and indomitable valthe best of all) was anonymously pub- our! Of his conduct in devoting his lished at Edinburgh, aud is founded sword to the United States there will on Paul Jones's own private letters, be opposite opinions on either side journals, documents, &c., in the pos- the Atlantic ; but the malignant, session of his surviving relatives in renegado-like, relentless hatred he Scotland. Thus there is in the continually expressed against his aggregate sufficient evidence to enable native land, and his partially successan impartial and unprejudiced writer ful attempts to ravage English ports to arrive at a fair estimate of the and burn their shipping admit of no character of the man who, for more palliation. All the waters of the than half a century, was generally Mississippi cannot wash out this damnstigmatized as an “atrocious traitor," ing stain from his memory. No and“ a blood-thirsty pirate” in Great words are too strong to express our Britain, and eulogized as a distin- abhorrence of such facts. A malison guished hero” in America, the country from the heart of all true patriots of his adoption, who commenced life will ever uprise at the idea that Paul as a cabin-boy, and died an American Jones deliberately planned, and parCommodore, and a Russian Rear-Ad- tially executed, a scheme to destroy miral !

the English port (Whitehaven) whence What then is our own mature he had sailed as a sea-apprentice in deliberate opinion of Paul Jones ? his youth ! To us there is something We will give it in a few sentences. inexpressibly diabolical and revolting He had many admirable qualities, in the thought that this man, albeit and many grave faults. He was

in many respects noble, heroic, and gifted with transcendant abilities as worthy of admiration, yet was a naval commander (though he per- fiendish in his hatred to his native haps would not have been a first-rate land, that he actually availed himself admiral), his brilliant courage verged of the local knowledge he had acquired on desperation ; his skill as a seaman in his youth (when honestly and was admirable; his energy was sleep- honorably learning his profession of a less ; his judgment in all things con- seaman in the merchant service) to nected with his profession was of the attack the port and fire the shipping highest order; and, to crown all, he at Whitehaven! Again we say, a was a self-taught, self-made man. He malison on such devilish acts! We was keen in prosecuting his rights in yield to none—not even to his warmmoney matters, although by no means est American admirer-in keen appreavaricious, but to the reverse gener- ciation of his stupendous abilities as ous and liberal to a notable degree. a seaman, and his unsurpassed daring In some respects he was a worldly and valour as a warrior; but all our prosaic man, but in others he was admiration, and all our sympathy, romantic, sentimental and chivalrous. cannot blind us to the damning fact He always was prone to excessive that Paul Jones was a villain of the personal vanity, and during the latter

worst stamp as regards his inalienable years of his chequered life he rendered allegiance to his native land. Let himself pitiably ridiculous by setting

that great

American author-let up for a fine gentleman and courtier. Fenimore Cooper gloss over Paul

[ocr errors]

pilot-hero of his splendid chef-d'æuvre, but as the personage he really was. Cooper's opinion, ihas expressed (especially bearing in mind that he himself was an American) is worthy of careful consideration, ` Although decidedly objecting to the bold assertion that Jones's acts were " deserving of all praise," we yet cordially, unreservedly, and emphatically cndorse the con-cluding sentence.

upon it!

a

States navy,

Jones's atrocious treason to Great battle fought by Jones, and the one Britain, but we will ever testify that which reflected the highest lustre on it was black guilt! Our malison the flag of the United States during

the war of Independence, was the Such, then, is our estimate of the terrible encounter between Jones's man who may be regarded as the ship “Le Bon Homme Richard," and virtual founder of the United States the British ship “Serapis" of fortynavy (for from the outset he was inde- four guns, resulting in the capture of fatigable in equipping its war ships, the latter. We must admit that and suggesting means to render this Paul Jones's ship was an old worn-out infant navy efficient and formidable hulk (she sank a few hours after the for defence and offence); who was conflict) and that she was very much the first sea captain who compelled inferior in weight of metal and in the British flag to strike to that of number of men to her antagonist. the Stars and Stripes ; and who Moreover, at least three-fourths of her indubitably was the only commander crew were killed or wounded, and the in the American navy during the survivors wished to surrender, but war of Independence, who caused their indomitable captain would not that navy to be respected and feared, hear of such a thing. The glory of and who made its flag honored, and a this most bloody and desperate sea glory to the States of which it was the fight is entirely due to the marvellous symbol.

resolution and skill of Paul Jones, It is not our intention to sketch and it is impossible to withhold our the origin and history of the United admiration from his behaviour from for however interesting

first to last. The British captain it may be to our American cousins, it (Pearson) although vanquished, was would possess comparatively little rewarded with knighthood, and the attraction to the majority of our lieutenant-governorship of Greenwich readers.

hospital, for his gallant defence of the We must, however, briefly refer to Serapis—but what reward would not some events of general interest, in Paul Jones have deserved had he reference to the naval part of the war won his murderous victory, fighting of Independence. The first British against a foreign enemy, instead of man-of-war engaged with the vessels his own countrymen ! Well, be it as of Hopkins and Jones, was the it may, the British flag was struck on "Glasgow" frigate, which fought them this occasion to that of the United bravely, and finally got away, owing States, but let it be borne in mind to the incompetency of the American that not only was Paul Jones a Briton commodore. Subsequently to this, born, but his crew were also generally Paul Jones himself had repeated aliens (to the United States) consistengagements with British men-of-war, ing of French, Maltese, Portuguese, and acquitted himself as a brave and &c., and comparatively only a small skilful commander. He also captured number were native Americans. A several English privateers and armed significant fact ! vessels. On February 13th, 1778, he During the war with the United induced the admiral of a French fleet States in 1812, three successive single at Quiberon bay to return his salute, ship actions were fought between the first salute paid to the American British and American frigates, and in flag by any power; and although a each case the latter proved victorious. treaty had been concluded about a The immediate result was that the week previously between the United Americans indulged in unbounded States and France, this fact was un- jubilation, and the British were known at the time by both the admi- humiliated, astounded, ay, and almost ral and Paul Jones. In that year the incredulous ; for of course the statelatter made his attack on Whitehaven, ment went forth that three British fri&c., and shortly afterwards, in his gates were in turn beaten by American ship, the “Ranger," he engaged the frigates," whereas the truth was, "Drake," a British sloop-of-war of the latter were line-of-battle ships in twenty guns, and in little more than disguise. It will be worth while to an hour the latter ship was compelled give here a brief analysis of the to strike, after sustaining a heavy respective sizes and complements of loss. But by far the most notable the American and English ships in

6.

question. On the 19th of August, 1812, the American forty-four gun frigate "Constitution," Captain Hull, captured the British 38 gun frigate "Guerriere," Captain Dacres. The former mounted 28 guns on a broadside, carrying 768 pounds of metal; her crew consisted of 460 men, and 8 boys; her tonnage was 1533, and her Scantling was literally equal to a British 74. The Guerrière had 24 broadside guns, carrying 517 pounds; her crew numbered 244 men and 19 boys; her tonnage was 1092. Moreover, the vessel was in a miserable condition, almost unseaworthy, and as she could not be kept afloat after the action, her capturers blew her up. Her loss was 15 killed and 63 wounded; the Constitution had seven killed and about a dozen wounded. On the 29th December, in the same year, the Constitution, (Commodore Bainbridge) also fought and captured the British 38-gun frigate "Java," Captain Lambert, manned by a very poor crew of seamen, landsmen, and a great number of boys and supernumeraries, in all 397. During the protracted contest she lost 22 killed and 102 wounded; the Constitution had 10 killed and about 40 wounded. In the interval between the above two actions, viz., on October 25th, the American 44-gun frigate "United States," Commodore Decatur, fought and captured the British 38 gun frigate "Macedonian," Captain Carden. The former

was of the same tonnage as her sister,
frigate the Constitution, and had a
broadside weight of metal of 864 lbs.
and a crew of 474 men. The Mace-
donian's broadside carried only 523
pounds, and her crew consisted of
254 men (eight of whom were foreign-
ers and refused to fight) and 35 boys.
Her loss was 36 killed and 68 wound-
ed; that of the United States was
only 5 killed and 7 wounded.* In
the above statistics, we have, after
careful comparison with other narra-
tives, adopted the figures given by the
great naval historian Mr. James, whose
painstaking accuracy was unquestiona-
ble. We may add that the Macedo-
nian was nearly new, and she yet (or, at
any rate she did a few years ago) sails
under the Stars and Stripes. During
the terrible famine in Ireland she was
dispatched with a cargo of meal, &c.,
as a present to the starving people
from the generous citizens of the
United States. The crews of both
the American frigates above named
were remarkably fine picked men,†
many of them being British subjects—
for at that time (as well as at the
present) the American navy was only
partially manned by natives of the
United States.

From the time the above celebrated actions were fought down to the present day, the Americans have never ceased to boast how thoroughly and repeatedly they humbled the British flag. Well if they really delude

Commodore Decatur, the captain of the United States, on account of his success on this and other occasions, won much fame in the estimation of his fellow citizens, who regarded him as the foremost of their naval heroes. He was presented with the freedom of the city of New York, and the next day he is said to have overheard the following conversation between two of his crew:-"Jack,' said one, 'what is the meaning of this freedom of the city,' which they've been giving to the old man?" Why, don't you know? It's the right to rollick about the streets as much as he pleases; kick up a row; knock down the men, and kiss the women!' 'Oh, oh!' cried the other, that's something worth fighting for.'

319

Mr. James, speaking of the formidable organization of an American 44-gun ship's crew, says:-"Estimating the crew of an American 44-gun frigate at 475 men and boys, we may venture to give the following as its organization: officers and petty officers, 80; able seamen, 180; ordinary seamen, 145; mariners, 65; boys, 5. But in reality, the distinction between the able and ordinary seamen was merely nominal, the fastidiousness of the American government requiing the latter to be nearly equal in qualifications to the former. Nor was it enough to be a practised seaman: the volunteer must also, in age, stature, and bodily vigour, be able to stand the test of the strictest scrutiny. While, therefore, the officers, or the greater part of them, were native Americans, the petty officers consisted, almost wholly, of the first order of British seamen, of whom, also, the bulk of the crew was composed. Owing to the absence of any restraint similar to that imposed by the game laws of England, the American peasant is a sportsman from his infancy. Hence, the marines consisted of native Americans; not only as being the best marksmen, especially with the rifle, but because the British marine corps, to its credit, afforded very few deserters. It may now be understood what is meant when it is tated that an American ship-of-war is manned by a picked crew."

[ocr errors]

crous error.

a

themselves into the belief that they Chesapeake had 47 killed and 99 won unfading laurels on the above wounded-14 mortally, including her occasions, they are quite welcome, for gallant captain. This was the official we can afford to smile at their ludi

account given by the American officers, We only know of one but the real loss is supposed to have American writer, the gifted and been much heavier. No less than always manly and outspoken Herman thirty-two British seamen were proved Melville, who has had the moral to have formed part of the crew of the courage as well as the downright Chesapeake, and one or more of them honesty to declare that the “very actually leaped overboard when the great disparity" of force between the ship was captured-poor conscienceUnited States and the Macedonian, stricken, desperate traitors ! “ united to the other circumstances of Let us hasten to state that in this this action, deprives the victory of all action, and, in fact, nearly every claims to glory beyond those that might other that occurred during the war in be set up by a river horse getting the question, the American ships were better of a seal.Nobly said, Mel- fought with considerable skill and ville !

great bravery. And we may be perBut although the British people mitted to add that we have referred were sorely amazed and indignant at to these celebrated frigate-actions the time (not then knowing the true only as historical facts. state of the case) to learn that three A capital picture of the organizaof their frigates were taken by Ameri- tion of a modern American man-ofcan vessels nominally of the same war is given in a work by Herman class, yet they were very speedily Melville, published in 1850 under the comforted, their minds relieved, and quaint title of “White Jacket, or the their wounded pride healed, by the World in Man-of-War." The result of the deliberate ship-duel author tells us that he spent more between the “Shannon” and the than a year before the mast in a “Chesapeake”-for a regular sea-duel frigate which he calls the “Neverit was, Captain Broke of the Shannon sink,” but which, in fact, was the having written a chivalrous letter of “ United States"—the frigate that challenge to Captain Lawrence of the captured the "Macedonian," as above Chesapeake, then lying in Boston described. Melville says that “ of all harbour ; and the latter finally men-of-war the American ships are accepted it, and the duel came off at the most excessively neat, and have no great distance from the shore.

the greatest reputation for it. And The combatants were tolerably well of all men-of-war the general discimatched, although the American pline of the American is perhaps the frigate was superior in size, weight of most severe, In the English navy, metal, and number of crew. The

the men

mess liberally on tables, Shannon's tonnage was 1066 ; her which, between meals, are triced up guns on a broadside 25 ; their weight out of the way.

The American of metal, 538 lbs. ; the

crew, 300 men sailors mess on the deck, and pick up and boys (a large proportion of the their broken biscuits, or midshipmen's latter), and 30 supernumeraries, con- nuts, like fowls in a farm-yard. And sisting of seamen, boys, and passen- Melville tells many doleful stories, gers from re-captured vessels. The not only of the manner in which Chesapeake was 1135 tons ; mounted American men-of-war's-men feed off 25 guns on a broadside, discharging the mess-cloth (a small square of 590 lbs. of metal ; and had a fine painted canvas laid on the deck bepicked crew of 381 men and 5 boys. tween the guns) but of the downright The particulars of the celebrated cruelty of the American service, in action that ensued must be familiar sacrificing the comfort and the health to every reader. Suffice it, that in of the men to keep the ship preternaexactly fifteen minutes from the time turally clean and clear of obstructions, the first gun was fired, the American &c. He bears ample testimony to the flag was hauled down, and the British fact(which we have heard many times hoisted in its stead ! Brief as was from nautical men) that an immense the fight, the loss on both sides was proportion of the crews of American terribly severe. The victor had 24 men-of-war are aliens. The commiskilled and 59 wounded ; and the sioned officers are nearly all-or, say

four-fifths-native-born Americans; but of the petty officers of the Neversink one-third were Europeans, and two-thirds of the fifty marines on board were Irishmen. Well! what is the very natural result of this unparalleled infusion of foreigners in the United States navy? Why, very naturally, the bulk of the crew of any one ship are utterly indifferent to the honor of the flag under which they serve, and in their hearts would rejoice at its humiliation in action with that of their own country.

This is not mere theory, but the actual fact. Let us give one or two proofs. Some years ago, when there was a rumour of an impending war between the United States and Great Britain (about the Oregon Territory, if we recollect rightly) a large American frigate-all their "frigates" are immense vessels-was up the Mediterranean, and the crew heard of the rumour in question. It created great excitement, and the men discussed it eagerly in their messes. few hours a resolution was come to. More than one-half-we think nearly two-thirds of the crew, went aft to the quarter-deck, and respectfully but firmly informed the captain that in case of a war between the United States and Great Britain, he must not depend upon them, for they would not lift an arm against their native country; but, they added, that they would do their duty in a war with any other country. Again, what does our brave-hearted outspoken friend Herman Melville tell us of the esprit de corps of the crew of the Neversink? He says that when the frigate lay at Rio de Janeiro, a rumour of a war with England reached them. How was it received? He declares that the crew, "almost to a man, abhorred the idea of going into action," yet the officers, to the reverse, were animated and delighted. why," asks he, "this contrast between the forecastle and the quarterdeck, between the man-of-war's man and his officer? Because, though war would equally jeopardize the lives of both, yet, while it held out to the sailor no hope of promotion, and what is called glory, these things fired the breast of the officers."

In a

"But

Yes; but the above reason why the men hated the idea of fighting would apply equally to the crew of a

British (or any other) man-of-war, and therefore it is evident that we must seek for some other and yet more cogent cause for their conduct. Nor is it far to seek. We find it elsewhere in Melville's own pages. Hear him! (6 One of the effects of the free introduction of foreigners into any navy cannot be sufficiently deplored. During the period I lived in the Neversink, I was repeatedly struck with the lack of patriotism in many of my shipmates. True, they were mostly foreigners, who unblushingly avowed that, were it not for the difference of pay, they would as lief man the guns of an English ship as those of an American or Frenchman. Nevertheless, it was evident that, as for any high-toned patriotic feeling, there was comparatively very littlehardly any of it evinced by our sailors as a body." Why should there be? It was morally impossible, and that Herman Melville must have known.

Melville thinks that in the Republic of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, where any landsman may aspire to the Presidential chair, it would be only right that any American seaman should be permitted to hope that he may in time become a Commodore. "Nevertheless" says he, "in a country like ours, boasting of the political equality of all social conditions, it is a great reproach that such a thing as a common seaman rising to the rank of a commissioned officer in our navy is nowadays almost unheard of." Thus we find that "the Service" is quite as exclusive and aristocratic in the United States as in Great Britain. And as we have already said, the discipline of the crew is even more severe in the United States navy than in our own, and Melville emphatically declares that our officers are much better liked by their men than those of the United States by the mixed crews whom they command. He asserts that the American man-of-war's-man is as much a slave as the Russian serf. "As a sailor he shares none of our civil immunities; the law of the soil in no respect accompanies the national floating timbers grown thereon, and to which he clings as his home. For him our Revolution was in vain ; to him our Declaration of Independ ence is a lie." Again, Melville very

« 上一頁繼續 »