Talk:Forward (Lamb)

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Information about this edition
Edition: Extracted from Adventure magazine, Oct 10, 1924, pp. 1-33.
Contributor(s): ragpicker
Level of progress:
Notes: Accompanying illustrations omitted. The author's note is taken from the Campfire section of the magazine, pp. 177-178.
Proofreaders: ragcleaner

Author's Note[edit]

SOMETHING from Harold Lamb in connection with his novelete in this issue:


I have followed the military and naval ranking as it was in Russia, 1788. The naval branch of the service was new, comparatively, and under the despotism of Catherine the Great queer grades were bestowed. The shipwrights on the Black Sea—the leaders, at least—were given commissions in some regiment of hussars. And wore the uniform of hussars!

John Paul Jones was originally offered the rating of captain-commandant, which meant very little. He stipulated that he should have the rank of rear-admiral and got it.

He ranked every Russian and foreign officer in the Black Sea except the Field Marshal, in command of all operations, and possibly Admiral Mordvinoff, who had the Crimea fleet. But, secretly, equal authority was given Nassau Siegen; and the Prussian ultimately claimed credit for everything that Jones did.

EVERY principal character in the story is historical. The conspiracy is a fact. Nassau’s plot is fact. It ultimately did much to discredit Jones with Catherine. Actually, this took place after Jones’ return from the Black Sea, and at his quarters in Petersburg. I have used it to show the kind of opposition Jones faced.

I have colored up the actual conspiracy against him, and the events of his journey from Petersburg to Kherson are imaginary. Nassau never came to drawn swords with Jones, but his cowardly and bitter enemity is quite in keeping with the incident in the story.

Jones’ daring reconnaissance of the Turkish fleet is fact. Nassau figured in a second trip. I have put them together in the first venture. Ivak’s account of the strange and unheard of method of scouting used by Jones, follows the story pretty closely. It is given in the Bibliotekia dlia Tchtenia, and written by a Captain K. A translation can be found in De Koven’s Life and Letters of John Paul.

Captain K. relates that he came across an old Cossack living near the Danube who related this story, and showed him the dagger, the gift of Paul Jones. The story struck my fancy and “Forward” is the result.

As a matter of fact the actual events—even to the tarantass and Paul Jones’ position toward it—and the personalities of the people are followed very closely.

Ivak’s habit of alluding to Jones as John Paul may strike you as curious, but the Russians habitually called people by their first names, and usually affixed some Cossack term of liking or disliking. Instead of General Suvarof, Ivak would have said “Little father Michael.”

Jones incidentally, never shirked a duel.—Harold Lamb.