John Paul Jones

“Cease firing!” Jones yelled. He ordered Lieutenant Dale to take a boarding crew across to secure the enemy ship. Grabbing a stray line hanging from a yardarm, the lieutenant swung himself across to the quarterdeck of the Serapis. Midshipman John Mayrant followed with a party of men and was immediately run through the thigh with a pike; some of the British sailors had not gotten the word. Pearson’s first officer, Lieutenant John Wright, was also caught by surprise. Dale was just informing Pearson, “I have orders to send you on board the ship along side,” when Wright, breathless from running up the ladder, appeared and asked his captain whether the Americans had struck. Dale interjected, “No sir, the contrary, he has struck to us.” Wright was taken aback. He turned to Pearson. “Have you struck, sir?” Pearson quietly replied that he had. Wright could not hide his shame. “I have nothing more to say, sir,” the first lieutenant stammered. Collecting himself, he asked Pearson’s permission to go below and silence the remaining guns. With a grinding, wrenching crash, the mainmast of the Serapis toppled over the side, ripping with it the mizzen topmast. After Pearson had crossed over, Jones ordered his men to cut away the grappling hooks and tangled rigging and let the Serapis float free. If the Bonhomme Richard was going to sink or burn, Jones wished at least to save his prize. Aboard the Serapis, Dale backed the remaining sails and was puzzled when the British ship did not respond. He did not realize that the Serapis was anchored. Deciding to investigate, Dale jumped off the binnacle, where he had been sitting in a state of semi-shock, and promptly fell to the deck as his leg collapsed under him. His calf had been badly cut by an iron splinter. In the heat of the battle, he had not realized that he had been wounded. Captain Jones may have been lightly wounded, grazed by a piece of shrapnel, perhaps; in later years, Jones would refer vaguely to the blood he shed, but no record exists of any kind of serious injury. It is doubtful that he felt any sensation besides pure exultation as he stood, begrimed and haggard but erect, to greet Captain Pearson on the quarterdeck of the Bonhomme Richard. Against the Drake, he had been cheated out of the surrender ceremony by his opponent’s demise: mortally wounded in the battle, Captain Burden had been unable to hand over his sword in the ancient ritual of submission. Now Jones moment of triumph, of sweet vindication, had arrived. Pearson, the symbol of Britannic rule, his soot-stained face struggling to remain impassive, stood before Jones, holding out his sword. Jones took it. “Sir,” Jones said to Pearson, “you have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt that your sovereign will reward you in a most ample manner for it.” Fanning and gunner’s mate John Kilby both recalled hearing Pearson ask Jones the nationality of his crew. Mostly Americans, replied Jones.*[He was telling Pearson what he wanted to hear. In fact, Americans accounted for perhaps a third of the Bonhomme Richard‘s crew, though seventeen of twenty officers were Yankees.] “Then it was diamond cut diamond,” Pearson responded. The British captain did not want to hear that he had succumbed to Frenchmen or Spaniards; Americans were at least cousins, endowed with English virtues. Fanning reported that Pearson also said that it “pained” him to hand his sword to a man who “has a halter around his neck,” i.e., a pirate who would hang if caught. This blatant snub seems unlikely, though Pearson would be surly and haughty to Jones as a prisoner in port. Jones, for his part, tried to play the gentleman. according to Fanning, he asked Pearson to join him in his cabin for a glass of wine.”

Excerpted from “John Paul Jones”, author, Evan Thomas. Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER, Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. 10020.

Islander. To Be Continued:

John Paul Jones

“The death struggle had become two battles, a race to extinction on two fronts, one abovedeck, one below. Jones’s sharpshooters had cleared the British tops and now they were sweeping the decks of Serapis with musketry and shot from the blunderbusses and swivel guns. Captain Pearson, though stoic, was finally forced to move out of this dangerous hailstorm and take refuge beneath the quarterdeck. He still controlled the battle belowdecks, however. The Serapis’s 12- and 18- pounders continued to blast away. The cannonballs went in one side of the Bonnhomme Richard and out the other, creating ever larger holes at and below the waterline. The gun deck of the American ship was a wasteland, strewn with bodies and shattered cannon. One by one, the last of Jones’s 12-pounders were silenced. By 9 P.M. or so, the American captain was left with only three 9-pounders on the quarterdeck. When one of them was smashed, its gun captain badly wounded, Jones himself helped haul a 9-pounder across the deck from the other side and aim at the Serapis. Jones’s target was the three-foot-wide mainmast of the Serapis, painted yellow and easy to pick out in the swirling smoke. The smoke was getting thicker. Both ships were on fire. The stabs of flames from the cannons had ignited scraps of wood and canvas hanging down from the cut-up rigging and mast of the Serapis. Burning cartridge wads from the British guns were smoldering in the shattered timbers of the Bonhomme Richard. On a wooden ship laced with highly flammable tar and resin, fire was dreaded more than enemy cannonballs. Flames were creeping up the sails and the rigging; down below, hot coals were erupting in little blazes that threatened to create a conflagration that would reach the powder magazine. For a brief time the shooting and cannonading died down; as if by mutual agreement, the men left their guns to fight the fire, cutting away burning cordage and dousing flames with buckets of water hauled from the sea. Jones had a moment to catch a breather. He sat on a hen coop on the quarterdeck and looked out into the darkness, wondering what had happened to his disloyal squadron. He was glad to see that not all of his captains were timid. He could pick out the Pallas about a mile off in the night. She was bashing the outgunned Countess of Scarborough. Captain Cottineau was too cautious for Jones’s taste, but at least he had not shied from taking on the smaller British sloop. The Countess of Scarborough was beaten and would soon strike. Somewhere out there, Jones guessed, the Vengeance was biding its time, waiting to see if the British escorts would be defeated by braver men, thus leaving the merchantmen easy pray for scavengers. But where was the Alliance and its erratic Captain Landeau? Jones found out soon enough. At about 9:15 P.M., a broadside of grapeshot ripped through the bow of the Serapis and the stern of the Bonhomme Richard, wounding and killing men on both ships. It was the Alliance, apparently firing wildly into the inferno. Aboard the Bonhomme Richard, men cried out, yelling, “For God’s sake! Wrong ship! Stop firing!” But the Alliance, sailing along serenely only a musket shot away, rounded the Bonhomme Richard‘s bow and loosed another broadside of grapeshot. Among the mortally wounded on the Bonhomme Richard‘s forecastle was a young midshipman, Jonas Coram. “Alliance has wounded me,” he said with his dying breathe. Then, just as he had suddenly appeared, Landais vanished again into the blackness. Jones was “astonished.” He ordered his men to hang lanterns fifteen feet hight in the shrouds of each mast and the commodore’s private signal, two lanterns at the peak of the mizzenmast, so there would be no mistake if the Alliance deigned to rejoin the fray.”

Excerpted from “John Paul Jones”, author, Evan Thomas. Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER, Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. 10020.

Islander.

John Paul Jones

“Pearson wanted to finish off the American. As the Serapis slid out from under the Bonhomme Richard’s lee, Pearson ordered the helmsman to head up, to cross the American’s bow and rake her again. But at that moment, Pearson’s luck ran out. The light wind died altogether; the Serapis hung without steerage way, just off the Bonhomme Richard’s starboard bow. Now Jones saw his chance. Feeling a gentle puff from the dying southerly, he ordered the sailing master, Samuel Stacy [A true-blooded Yankee,” according to Fanning], to “lay the enemy’s ship on board.” In the next breathe, he ordered the officers to muster the boarding party. Seamen and marines were handed cutlasses, pikes, and pistols and assembled in the ship’s waist and on the forecastle. The helmsman was barely able to steer the sluggish ship in the feeble breeze, but the Bonhomme Richard drifted toward the stern of the Serapis. The bowsprit of the American ship gently nudged into the rigging of the British ship’s mizzenmast. “Well done my lads, we’ve got her now!” cried Jones., full of the savage joy that seized him at moments of maximum peril. The sailors hurled grappling hooks across to the Serapis, catching them in the rigging and hooking on to the bulwarks. British seamen and redcoats, armed with axes, just as quickly began cutting them away while Royal Marines peppered musket fire at the small knot of Americans trying to climb out onto the bowsprit. It was no use. A bowsprit is a precarious bridge; the boarding party was on a virtual suicide mission. Jones called it off, and the men drew back; the lines to the grappling hooks were hacked off. The Bonhomme Richard backed its sails and the two ships drew apart. Pearson wanted to resume hammering his foe, so he ordered his topsails backed to check the Serapis and bring the two ships parallel again. The heavy guns of the Serapis flashed out and another several hundredweight of iron ripped through the Bonhomme Richard’s aging planks. At some badly mauled gun stations, the decks were wet with blood. Jones was truly up against it now. The Bonhomme Richard was barely sailing. Jones needed to make a last attempt to gain the upper hand.”

Excerpted from “John Paul Jones”, author, Evan Thomas. Publisher SIMON & SCHUSTER, Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. 10020.

Islander.

On Jacuzzis

Next time you have access to a jacuzzi, be sure you bend your head close and smell the water. Be sure to wear a brimmed hat that will contain, condense, cloister the immediate atmosphere. Cloister, I think, is the key word. Personally, I wear an old Columbian fishing hat with an extended brim and drop-down ear to ear flap. Islander.

Over the Cliff

My wife and I were watching an event on the telly that occurred a few days ago on the White House lawn. The crowd, and it was crowded, consisted of sycophants and enablers, even to a black child ensconced in the front row. Was he there for color, ha,ha, would he in someway dilute, or ameliorate the commanding white presence? But back to the Plaguemeister and his “merry band of pranksters”. They were made up of the powerful, the wannabee powerful and —is there anyone else, ha,ha! What can you say when you see that display? My wife commented, and I’m paraphrasing her, “how can these people commit themselves to such a dangerous situation?, and the child , surely he had no say.” I grokked on that, then said, “yeah, they’re like fucking lemmings”.

Islander.

Steinbeck

“From start to finish I found no strangers. If I had, I

might be able to report them more objectively. But

these are my people and this is my country. If I found

matters to criticize and to deplore, they were tenden-

cies equally present in myself. If I were to prepare one

immaculately inspected generality it would be this: For

all of our enormous geographic range, for all of our

sectionalism, for all of our interwoven breeds drawn

from every part of the ethnic world, we are a nation, a

new breed. Americans are much more American than

they are Northerners, Southerners, Westerners, or

Easterners. And descendants of English, Irish, Italian,

Jewish, German, Polish are essentially American. This

is not patriotic whoop-de-do; it is carefully observed

fact. California Chinese, Boston Irish, Wisconsin Ger-

man, yes, and Alabama Negroes, have more in com-

mon than they have apart.And this is the more re-

markable because it has happened so quickly. It is a

fact that Americans from all sections and of all racial

extractions are more alike than the Welsh are like the

English, the Lancashireman like the Cockney, or for

that matter the Lowland Scot like the Highlander. It is

astonishing that this has happened in less than two

hundred years and most of it in the last fifty. The

American identity is an exact and provable thing.”

Excerpted from “Travels With Charley”, author, John Steinbeck.

Publisher: Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd. Street,

New York, New York 10010, U.S.A.

Islander.

ON Aneurysms

Taber’s Medical Dictionary. [G. aneurysma, a widening] arterial dilation

due to pressure of blood on weakened tissues, forming a sac containing

blood that is sometimes clotted.

A while back I was diagnosed as having an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Went to see a vascular surgeon in Miami who after studying my case

declined to engage admitting that to deal with such a rather large

aneurysm was beyond his ken, it being 5.7 centimeters in diameter.

However he informed me that there was a surgeon up in Boca Raton

who was breaking new ground on the subject and gave us this doctor’s

name. We made an appointment and with forlorn hope went up to Boca

Raton.

The doctor immediately informed us of the risks of such a venture including

death, possible paralysis from the hips down for life or amputation of

limbs due to complications. I already was aware of inaction on my part.

If the aneurysm burst the result would be either a swift extremely painful

death or a slower inevitable death cushioned by morphine to ease the

pain. Considering the “Damocles Sword” I was living under I declared

that I was game. He immediately sent me to Boca Raton Regional

Hospital, nearby, where I had bloodwork done and a CT scan. Upon our

return to him he said he would perform the surgery, however there was

a caveat. There was a 20 page Agreement between myself and him and

the manufacturer of the stent before the undertaking could begin.

He outlined it briefly then we were to take it home study it thoroughly

formulate any questions we might have and return and sign it in front of

his liason after she had gone over it in detail. We did as instructed came

back and met with her and after a thorough revue of the Agreement I

signed it. Evidently I was entering a five year study of the stent beginning

with it’s implantation and it’s efficacy from that point on.

The stent itself was a piece of work, unique, no other manufacture like it.

Made of polyester fabric with hairlike strands of nitinol[made mostly of

nickel and titanium] woven into it and strands of stainless steel for strength.

There were four stublike appendages jutting out of the lower half

designed to interface with arteries leading from the aorta to the vital

organs. By the way, I was allowed to end the agreement at any time after

the operation without penalty.

The doctor chose to separate the operation into two phases in order to

avoid the prolonged duration under anesthesia required for implantation

of the device in one go, as anesthesia itself has it’s own dangers.

One other thing the device has not been given FDA approval yet but they

are allowing it’s implementation by certain qualified doctors in certain

qualified hospitals in the US.

The first phase was accomplished on June 6th and the second more

complicated phase, the lower half of the stent, which included a spinal

tap[necessarily dangerous in itself] was performed on July 3rd.

AS you can imagine, many thoughts have passed under the bridge since,

but a rather dark one keeps eddying.

Were we conceived on this Earth, like the good Doctor and his associates,

indeed everyone in that hospital, to benefit mankind or are we born

to destroy it. That I ask that question in our time, our vaunted time, is—-

what?—–can you tell me?—-pray tell.

Islander.




Sticks and Stones

I’m interested, how about you?, in hearing what appellation our

puissant Pussy-grabber will bestow upon the contender from South Bend.

It can’t be “Crazy”, another contender has that acclamation.

It can’t be Pocahontas, another contender owns that one.

He can’t use “A person of low intelligence”, we all know who that title

was bestowed upon, and another woman by the way.

He can’t say “Fat and ugly”, a comediene and imitator of him sports

that one.

How about “Bartender”?, a put- down in his mind; but not in her’s.

I like her, how could you not?

Would he dare say something homophobic?All I can say is”how do you address someone who clearly is all that

you are not”?

Islander.

Another Letter to the Editors

This may be my next-to-last letter to the editors as I have become

increasingly frustrated as of late over the fact that the format of my

website is constantly altered by the powers that be, which can only

be either WebHostingHub or WordPress. I strongly suspect WordPress,

as from the Git-go they have constantly offered me so-called upgrades

and when I have ignored these offers they are foisted upon me anyway.

Originally, when I first fired up, things were rather simple. One would

dial up “thewalrussaid.net” and you would have instant access to the

search box and it’s icon which immediately led to my most recent post,

however now one must scroll from here to hell and back to get the

same result and I for one find it seriously confusing.

I’ve said this before, that I think it must be some artificial intelligence

gizmo that WordPress is employing, and much to my detriment.

However, for all I know,  WordPress itself may be artificial intelligence,

ha,ha!, so I plan to consult with WebHostingHub as they seem to be

some sort of go-between. Much as I like WHH., the young people there

are so very bright, I doubt I will get anywhere. I find that people, for the

most part cannot reverse course, for they are not at the helm of their

technology; indeed their technology steers them.

If I have to move on, I will, but I shall post a note before I leave.

Islander.

 

Poe

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–

Only this and nothing more.”

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–

Nameless here  for evermore.

 

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door–

This it is and nothing more.”

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I,” or madam truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–

Darkness there and nothing more.

 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”–

Merely this and nothing more.

 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–

“Tis the wind and nothing more!”

 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore–

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the raven “Never more.”

 

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door.

With such name as “Nevermore.”

 

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before–

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

 

Startled by the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never–nevermore’.”

 

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door,

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil!–

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–

On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–

Is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us–by that God we both adore–

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul has spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

And the Raven never flitting, still is sitting, still  is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor,

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor,

Shall be lifted–nevermore!                              Edgar Allan Poe.

The above is for those who are perhaps unacquainted with Poe,

and for those of us who “once upon a midnight dreary , while we

pondered weak and weary” over the Internet, ha,ha!

Islander.