Letter to M.J. Luzac :: Nimitz Library :: USNA

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Letter to M.J. Luzac, editor of the Gazette de Leyde


Page one of the letter to M. J. Luzac from John Paul Jones

Pages two and three of the letter from John Paul Jones to M. J. Luzac

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On board the Bon homme Richard's
Prize the late British Ship of War
Serapis Texel November 11th: 1779.


It gives me great Pain to see that the translation which has appeared in your Gazette of the extract of my Journal is proceeded by an Observation which leaves room to suppose that it has been my intention to augment the merits of my Own Services by diminishing those of others.—Whereas it never was my intention or wish to publish any Complaint whatsoever against any Officer or other Person who have Served under my Command—Captain Landais not excepted.—

In a Journal a man writes his Ideas of the time Present as formed either from his own observations or from the reports of others or from appearances—And he is subject to mistakes which it afterwards becomes necessary for him to Correct—If it had been my intention to publish my Journal it is Certain that I should not have done it without that precaution even in the language in which it was written—far less should I have given it to the Public after its having undergone a translation from the Rough Original.————

I am fully persuaded the Publication has been made without the remotest intention on your Part or on the Part of your Correspondent to injure the Reputation of any Person whatsoever—But as it may yet leave an unfavourable impression on the mind of the Public with respect to the Conduct of Captain Ricot I am bound in Honor to declare that he has since the Engagement accounted to my entire Satisfaction for his Conduct on that Occasion—It now appears that the Lieutenant who was in the Pilot Boat disobeyed the express Orders of Captain Ricot by not coming to my Assistance—I must also declare that I have not had the remotest intention to reflect on the Conduct of Colonel Chamillard or any other Officer on board the Bon homme Richard in the Engagement except only the Gunner the Carpenter and the Master at Arms. The Crew was very ill composed but the rest of the Officers tho' young men behaved in the midst of the most eminent Dangers with a Steady and Composed Courage which does them the highest honor and Justly claims my most hearty thanks————

I cannot Sir conclude this letter without availing myself of the Occasion to Present my best thanks to Captn: Cottineau of the Pallas with his Officers and Men as well respecting the Action with the Countess of Scarborough as for the anxiety which they manifested on Account of the Situation of the Bon Homme Richard + And my thanks are particularly due to the Officers and Men of the Alliance for the Generous inclinations which I understood they shew'd to approach close to the Enemy according to my direction and to give me their best Assistance; for I am fully persuaded that had they been left to their own inclinations or had Captain Landais followed the advice of his Officers I should have found from them such early Assistance as would have put an end to the Battle before the Ships had been Considerably damaged, and that many lives would thereby have been saved, together with the Ship Bon homme Richard.

I have the honor to be, with great respect and with a high Sense of the Obligation which I owe to your good Opinion,

+Captain Ricot has my best thanks
for his constant Attention to the motions
of the Bon Homme Richard and to his
first Lieutenant and the party of Men
who came to my Assistance the morning
after the Battle, and did their utmost to
Save the Bon Homme Richard.——

[To “M.J. Luzac, Avocat à Leide.”] 

your very obliged
and very humble Servant

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