The First Salute

A great imperative imparts a wonderful impulse to the spirit.

Called the Golden Rock for the flood of commerce that flowed through its free port, stuffing its warehouses with goods for trade and the coffers of its merchants with the proceeds, it “was different from all others,” said Edmund Burke in a speech of 1781 when Eustatius in sudden fame leapt into public notice. “It had no produce. no fortifications for its defense, nor martial spirit nor military regulations.… Its utility was its defense. The universality of its use, the neutrality of its nature was its security and its safeguard. Its proprietors had, in the spirit of commerce, made it an emporium for all the world … Its wealth was prodigious, arising from its industry and the nature of its commerce.” Two

Civilians who volunteer generally wish to escape, not to share, privatizations worse than their own.

Clearly prize money received more serious attention than scurvy or signals.

Command, deprived of personal judgment, can win no battles.

Cornwallis was a man who could have thrust his hand in a flame if necessary, but not a man to organize the logistics and arrangements of a large campaign with a likely risk of failure. The smooth face in the Gainsborough portrait with no lines of thought or of frowns or of laughter—with no lines at all—tells as much. It is a face composed by a life of comfort and satisfaction without any need of desperate attempts. As

Extravagant sartorial display had a purpose. It created the impression of wealth and power on the opponent and pride in the wearer which has been lost sight of in our nervously egalitarian times.

forces on taking sugar islands in the West Indies or besieging Gibraltar or collecting an assault force for the invasion of Britain, because the place to defeat the English was in America. Pleas from the Continental Congress to the same purpose were having effect. From George Washington himself came a letter to La Luzerne, French Minister to the United States, stressing the need of naval superiority and asking for a French fleet to come to America. As forerunner, seven ships of the line under Admiral de Ternay, d’Estaing’s successor, came into Newport in July, 1780, bringing a man and a small land army

He said that whatever the outcome in America, he would always regard it as a glory and honor to have upheld the cause which he regarded as that of all humankind.

Individual admirals and captains made their fortunes from their share of prize money, which was divided according to prize law of an extreme complexity that testified to its importance in the system. Ships’ captains of a victorious squadron divided 3/8 of the total value of captured ships and cargoes, depending on whether the squadron was under the orders of an admiral, with 1/8 reserved for a captain who was a flag officer if one was on board. Lieutenants, captains of marines, warrant officers, chaplains and lesser officers divided 1/8. Another 1/8 went to midshipmen and sailmakers, and the remaining 2/8, or 25 percent, to seamen, cooks and stewards. Prize law allowed an intricate adjustment based on size and armament to equalize the share of larger and smaller ships, on the theory that the stronger ships did most of the shooting and had more numerous crews. The adjusted rate was worked out by applying to each ship a factor calculated by multiplying the number of the crew by the sum of the caliber of the ship’s cannon. Clearly, prize money received more serious attention than scurvy or signals. As

In the Hundred Years’ War that dragged France and England through the 14th century, both sides would have liked to quit but could not, for fear of losing power and status; hate and mistrust fed by the war prevented them from talking. In the ghastly toll and futility of 1914–18, no end could be negotiated short of victory for one side or the other, because each felt it must bring home to its people some compensating gain in the form of territory or a seaport or industrial resource to justify the terrible cost. To come home empty-handed might mean a revolt against the rulers at home—or at least the loss of their position and place in society, as the Kaiser and the Hohenzollerns were thrown out in 1918.

Irritability was an occupational disease. Intolerant and intolerable belong in the same category.

It was one of the peculiar malfunctions of technology that shore batteries on the islands were generally of inadequate caliber and range to knock out a ship approaching with hostile intent. One is moved to wonder why, if a 10-pounder gun could be mounted on the rolling deck of a sailing vessel, the same or larger could not be mounted on land?

Pessimism is a primary source of passivity,

Pessimism is a primary source of passivity. As

Preconceived, fixed notions can be more damaging than cannon.

Revolutions produce other men, not new men. Halfway between truth and endless error, the mold of the species is permanent. That is Earth's burden.

The early removal from school of future officers of Britain's seapower, leaving them unacquainted with the subject matter and ideas of the distant and recent past, may account for the incapacity of no military thinking in a world that devoted itself to military action. With little thought of strategy, no study of the theory of war or of planned objective, war's glorious art may have been glorious, but with individual exceptions, it was more or less mindless.

The greatness of the object enabled my mind to support what my strengths of body was scarce equal to.

the Regents’ dislike of the social “leveling” they sensed in the Revolution was stronger.

These cumbersome vehicles were as convenient as if dinosaurs had survived to be used by cowboys for driving cattle

The war, like all wars, was proving more expensive for the Bourbons than planned. Since the alliance, France had advanced to the Americans over 100 million livres, about $25 million, in loans, supplies and gifts, and before it was over the cost of the American war for France would amount, by some estimates, to 1.5 billion livres, a historic sum that was virtually to bankrupt the French national budget and require the summoning of the Estates General in 1789 that led to the arrest of the King and the sequence of eruptions that became the French Revolution.

To plunge into passionate dispute over the trivialities of so-called honor is a queerer but not uncommon gambit of men who have just come from putting their lives at stake in serious combat,

What the Ambassador was witnessing—in idea, if not yet in fact—was the transfer of power from its arbitrary exercise by nobles and monarchs to power stationed in a constitution and in representation of the people. The period of the transfer, coinciding with his own career, from 1767 to 1797,

With his ship faced with the danger of sinking, the Richard’s chief gunner screamed to the Serapis, “Quarter! quarter! for God’s sake!” Jones hurled a pistol at the man, felling him. But the cry had been heard by Pearson, the Serapis’ commander, who called, “Do you ask for quarter?” Through the clash of battle, gunshot and crackle of fire the famous reply came faintly back to him: “I have not yet begun to fight!” Making good his boast, Jones sprang to a 9-pounder whose gun crew were killed or wounded, loaded and fired it himself, aiming at the Serapis’ mainmast, then loaded and fired again. As the mast toppled, Pearson, surrounded by dead, with rigging on fire, hauled down his red ensign in token of surrender. Escorted to Richard’s quarterdeck, he handed over his sword to Jones just as the Serapis’ mainmast crashed over the side and its sail, nevermore to carry the wind, collapsed in a dying billow into the sea.