Nicking the Silver
Posted by Marie-Bernadette on June 17, 1998 at 10:16:24:
In response to Underestimation, written by Ken on June 17, 1998 at 07:37:19
This may be wandering a bit off topic, too, but although not about JA's Life, it does fit into her Times. In 1778 Jone Paul Jones set about kidnapping the 4th Earl of Selkirk, to exchange him for some American prisoners held in England, and also because of a personal vendetta. John Paul intended to do this deed himself but changed his mind at the last minute and sent a couple of lieutenants instead. They arrived at the Selkirk mansion to find the Earl inconveniently not at home. Lady Selkirk came to see what the commotion was and told the officers that even if the Earl were at home he would not stoop to be captured by uncouth colonials. When one of the officers said they would take her infant son instead she told them they would have to kill her first then she asked if any of the household objects appealed to them. The men decided on the silver service. Lady Selkirk offered them a glass of wine while they waited for the butler to pack the silver. They did not notice the butler wrapping lumps of coal in paper and putting only a few pieces of the fine silver on top. Upon being handed the sacks of what they assumed to be silver the officers parted without further ado. Needless to say, when they got back to the boat, John Paul had a conniption. Instead of the Earl he had a nice bag of coal only a few bits of silver service. To try to save face he later tried to return the silver to Selkirk and lowered himself to write a flowery letter of apology to Lady S.
(This account is summarised from Caesars of the Wilderness by Peter C. Newman, Penguin Books, 1988, ISBN 0-14-008630-7. It is an excellent book on the fur trade).
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