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of the body 4 and 5 were discovered (see page 942). The dimensions of the cemetery walls are approximately lao by 130 f«et

be that the digger of the upper grave, find-
ing that his pick had struck a hard sub-
stance, had applied his shovel, and in re-
moving the decayed remains of the wooden
coffin found a plate and carried it oil as a
relic, or, if of silver, for its intrinsic value.
Or, as the death of Paul Jones occurred
when the violence of the French Revolu-
tion was at its height and the streets were
filled with idlers and excited crowds, it is

likely that no engravers could be found at
work to prepare a fitting inscription in the
two days intervening between the death
and burial. The latter theory seems rather
more plausible. It was decided to open
this coffin, but as the odors were so dis-
agreeable in the unventilated gallery the
examination was postponed until a con-
nection could be made with another gallery,
so as to admit a current of air.

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On April 7 the coffin was opened in
presence of Colonel Blanchard, M. Weiss,
M. G^ninet, superintendent of the work,
the foreman, several workmen, and myself.
The lid was so firmly soldered that it was
removed with some difficulty. There was
a strong alcoholic odor, but the alcohol in
which the body had evidently been pre-
served had nearly all evaporated, doubt-
less through the hole made in the hd by
the pick and a crack in the edge of the
coffin near the foot caused by the pressure
of the earth after the wooden coffin had
rotted away. However, the earth which
covered these holes was hard and black,
having evidently become indiu-ated by the
action of the escaping alcohol, so that
the process of evaporation had doubt-
less been exceedingly slow. The body was
covered with a winding-sheet and firmly
packed with hay and straw. A rough
measurement indicated the height of Paul
Jones. Those engaged upon the work had
been furnished some time before with
copies of the admiral's Congressional
medal showing his bust in profile. Half a
dozen candles were placed near the head
of the cofllin, and the winding-sheet was
removed from the head and chest, expos-
ing the face. To our intense surprise the
body was marvelously well preserved, all
the flesh remaining intact, but slightly
shnmken and of a grayish brown or tan
color. The surface of the body and the
linen were moist. The face presented quite
a natural appearance, except that the car-

tilaginous portion of the nose had been
bent over toward the right side, pressed
down, and completely disfigured by its
too close proximity to the lid of the
coffin. Upon placing the medal near the
face, comparing the other features and rec-
ognizing the peculiar characteristics— the
broad forehead, high cheek-bones, promi-
nendy arched eye orbits, and other points
of resemblance, we immediately ex-
claimed, " Paul Jones " ; and all those who
had gathered about the coffin removed
their hats, feeling that there was every
probability that they were standing in the
presence of the illustrious dead— the ob-
ject of the long search.

For the purpose of submitting the body
to a thorough scientific examination by
competent experts for the purpose of com-
plete identification, it was taken quietly at
night, on April 8, to the Paris School of
Medicine (ficole de M^decine) and placed
in the hands of the well-known professors
of anthropology, Dr. Capitan and Dr.
Papilleault and their associates, who had
been highly recommended as the most
accomplished scientists and most experi-
enced experts who could be selected for a
service of this kind. I, of course, knew
these professors by reputation, but I had
never met them.

While the professional examinations for
identifying the body were taking place,
directions were given to let the workmen
continue the excavations in order to ex-
plore some portions of the cemetery that


Shaft A y- ,— - ^-^





The short dark line at the left indicates the position of the coffin of Paul Jones

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had not yet been reached. On April 11a
fourth leaden coffin was found with a plate
bearing the inscription: "Cygit Georges
Maidison, Gentilhomme Anglais et Secre-
taire de TAmbassade de Sa Majesty bri-
tannique aupr^s de Sa Majesty tr^s Chr6-
tienne— deced^ a Paris le 27 AoCit 1783—
ag^ de 36 ans,"

On April 18 the fifth and last leaden
coffin was discovered. It was without an
inscription plate and of unusual length.
Upon opening it there was found the skele-
ton of a man considerably over six feet in

In excavating the cemetery, the explora-
tion had corroborated the facts inferred
from the hereinbefore-mentioned report
indicating that the main body of the four
squares divided by the cross-walks had
been reserved for burying the ordinary
dead in common trenches, and that per-
sonages important enough to be placed in
leaden coffins were buried in separate
graves near one of the walls. The admi-
ral's coffin was found in one of such spots.

All the coffins except the one containing
the remains of the admiral were left undis-
turbed in the places wh^re they had been
discovered, and the shafts and galleries
were refilled and the property restored.
There had been excavated 80 feet in length
of shafts, 800 feet of galleries, and about
600 feet of soundings. The excavated
earth had to be carted to a distance of two
miles to find a dumping-ground and after-
ward hauled back. In refilling the galleries
it was necessary in places to use stones and
blocks of indurated clay to give proper

There were discovered in all five leaden
coffins in the cemetery. Four having been
easily identified, reasoning upon the prin-
ciple of elimination led to the conclusion
that the other must be the coffin sought.
However, the scientists were identifying
the body by more positive means.

When the remains arrived at the School
of Medicine, the lid of the coffin, which had
been replaced and the edges of which had
been sealed with a coating of plaster, was
again removed, and the hay and straw sur-
rounding the body were taken out. They
were so firmly packed, evidently to prevent
injury to the body from shocks caused by
the rolling of the ship upon the contem-
plated transfer by sea, that in removing
them pincers had to be used. It was noticed

that there had been a hole three quarters
of an inch in diameter in the lid of the
coffin just over the face, and that it had
been closed by a screw and soldered over.
It is supposed that the alcohol used to
preserve the remains had been poiu'ed in
through this aperture. Tlys immersion in
alcohol was doubtless another reason vrhy
no uniform or object of value was placed
in the coffin.

In order not to disturb the body or
change in any way its position in removing
it from the coffin, a vertical cut was made
in the lead at each end which enabled the
sides to be pressed apart. The body was
then carefully placed upon a large dissect-
ing-table. Its state of preservation was
such that it bore its own weight in handling
it. The remains looked like the anatomical
specimens preserved in jars of alcohol,
such as one sees in medical museums. It
was learned that a century ago this method
of preserving the dead was frequently em-
ployed—that the bodies of Necker and his
wife, buried at Coppet, in Switzerland, for
instance, were so treated, and are still per-
fectly preserved.

The joints were somewhat flexible. In
taking the right hand in mine I found that
the knuckle-joints could be easily bent.

There now took place one of the most
scientific, painstaking, and conscientious
examinations conceivable for the purpose
of verifying beyond all doubt the identi-
fication of the body submitted for this

. The official and professional responsi-
bility of those engaged in the task, their
disinterestedness, and the fact that their es-
tablished reputations were at stake, gave
abundant guarantee that the labor would
be faithfully and impartially performed.
Twelve American or French persons offi-
cially took part in or witnessed the work
of identification, and their aflftrmative ver-
dict, after six days passed in the application
of every possible test, was positive and
unanimous, and was formally certified to
under the official seals of their respective
departments, as will be seen from their
reports printed in the appendix.

The following is a list of the prindpal
persons who participated in the verifica-

The American Ambassador ; Henry Vig-
naud, First Secretary of the American
Embassy, Commander of the Legion of

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ciety oi ivmnropoi-
ogy of Pans, Urticer


PROPERTY tion, etc.

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This photograph, taken after the examinatiun of Paul Tones'^ body for identification, is interesting principally as
showing the well-preserved condition of the flesh. The cartilaginous portion of the nose had been bent over to
the right, pressed down, and entirely distorted. This disfigurement was clearly due to the fact that when the
body was put in the coffin an excess of the hay-and-straw packing had been placed under the head and the mass
of long hair had been gathered into the linen cap at the back. 'Vhh raised the face so high that the nose was
pressed upon by the coffin lid. This pressure had been so great that the head itself was found turned a little to
the right. At the angle at which the photograph was taken the disfigured nose is made to look as if it were Ro-
man in shape, the end being bent over and depressed and, in consequence, ^ving the bridge an unnatural prom-
inence. The bony part of the nose is pronounced by the scientists as entirely compatible with the undulating
form of nose seen on the authentic busts. The other features conform strictly to those of the busts, as proved
by the anthropometric measurements. The seneral expression of the face is not nearly so good as if it had been
taken immediately after opening the coffin. The skin had shrunk and the lips had contracted by exposure to the
air, showing the edges of the teeth, which were not visible at first. The hair, which was found neatly dressed,
is in disorder and could not be rearranged, as an attempt to comb it revealed a danger of uuUing it out. The ob-
lique lines on the face were made by creases in the winding-sheet, and the right shoulder Dears marks caused by
the force used in packing the body firmly with hay and straw. — H. P.

Dr. G. Papillault, Assistant Director of
the Laboratory of Anthropology in the
School for Advanced Studies, Professor in
the School of Anthropology, etc. A scien-
tist of rare experience in the examination
and identification of human bodies.

Dr. Oeorge Herve, Professor in the
School of Anthropology.

Dr. A. Javal, Physician to the Ministry
of Public Instruction, Laureate of the
School of Medicine.

M. J. Pray, Chief Architect of the Pre-

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1 roiu a i>hotojiraph of the copy in plaster in the Trocad^ro, Paris




In the comparison, attention should be paid especially to the contour of the brow; the arch of the eyebrows;
the width between the eyes; the high cheek-bones; the muscles of the face: and the distances between the
hair and the n>ot of the nose, between the sub-nasal point and the lips, and between the lips and the point of the
chin The peculiar shape of the lobe of the ear in the bust was observed in the body, but is lost in shadow in the
photograph on the opposite page, where the deformity of the nose is explained and accounted for.

lecture of Police, Officer of Public In-

M. Paul Weiss, Engineer of the Quar-
ries of the Seine, Doctor of Laws.

In addition to the above, the services
were secured of Dr. V. Cornil, the emi-
nent microscopist, Professor of Pathologic
Anatomy of the Paris Faculty of Medicine.

The above scientists were not employed
experts; they cheerfully gave their ser-
vices gratuitously, purely in the interest of

science, and as an act of comity between
two friendly nations in solving an impor-
tant historical i)roblem.

The remains had been wrapped in a
winding-sheet of linen, the ends of which
had been torn off, probably to make it fit
the length of the body. On this was ob-
served a small figure 2 worked in thread.
Upon the removal of the sheet there was
found upon the body but one garment, a
linen shirt of fine workmanshio with plaits

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hruiii a. photograph




and ruffles. This bore no initial or mark.
The long hair, measuring about thirty
inches in length, had been carefully dressed
and gathered into a linen cap at the back
of the head. On this was found a small
initial worked in thread. When the cap
was right side up the letter was a "J/'
with the loop well rounded ; when reversed,
it formed a** P." A careful search disclosed

no other article in the coffin. On the hands,
feet, and legs were found portions of tin-
foil, as if they had been wrapped in it.

Two circumstances combined to render
the identification of the remains compara-
tively easy : the remarkable state of pres-
ervation of the body and the abundance
of accurate information in existence de-
scriptive of the dead.

l-ruin a photograph


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To furnish the anthropologists with the
required data, there was obtained upon
personal application permission to make
all the desired measurements of the Hou-
don bust of Paul Jones, a little more than
three-quarter size, owned by the Marquisde
Biron, a very artistic work representing the
admiral in court dress with the hair curled
in rolls upon the temples. These rolls were
identical with those found on the body.

There was procured through the cour-
tesy of the director of the Trocadero
Museum a copy of the other well-known
bust of Paul Jones by Houdon, one of the
most accurate works of the famous sculptor,
who was also an admirer of his subject. It
represents Paul Jones in the uniform of an
admiral, and was found more useful for the
purpose of making the comparative mea-
surements on account of its being life-size.
James Madison, in a letter dated April 28,
1825, says : " His bust by Houdon is an ex-
act likeness, portraying well the character-
istic features." Besides this there were sub-
mitted a copy of the medal given by Con-
gress, showing a profile of the face, and a
mass of authentic information regarding
the admiral's chief characteristics, appear-
ance, size, color of hair, age, etc.

Dr. Papillault, with his delicate instru-
ments, made all the necessary anthropo-
metric measurements of the head, features,
length of body, etc., and found them so
remarkably exact as to be convinced that
the busts were made from the subject be-
fore him, and that the length of the body,
five feet seven inches, was the same as the
height of the admiral. All of the compara-
tive measurements are set forth in detail
in his report; the greatest difference be-
tween any of them being only two milli-
meters, about seven hundredths of an inch.

As said before, the cartilaginous portion
of the nose had been bent over to the right
side, pressed down, and entirely distorted.
This disfigtu-ement was clearly due to the
fact that when the body was put in the
coflftn an excess of the hay and straw
packing had been placed under the head
and across the face, and the mass of hair,
about thirty inches in length, had been
gathered into the linen cap at the back.
This raised the face so high that the nose
was pressed upon by the coffin lid. This
pressure had been so great that the head
itself was found turned a little to the right.

Professor Papillault says on this sub-

ject: "The bridge of the nose is rather
thin ; the root somewhat narrow. Seen in
profile, the nose is of an undulating form on
the bust; now this form depends a great
deal on the cartilage. The bony part of
the nose is quite compatible with it." The
professional anthropologists pay little at-
tention to the cartilages, as these are liable
to change, and confine their measurements
to the solid or bony structures.

Professor Capitan, after the examina-
tions, had a photograph made of the head,
but at the angle at which it was taken the
disfigured nose is made to look as if it
were Roman in shape, the end being bent
overand depressed, and in consequence giv-
ing the bridge an unnatural prominence.

The expression of the face is not nearly
so good as if the photograph had been
taken immediately after opening the coffin.
The skin had shrunk and the lips had
contracted by exposure to the air, and
show the edges of the teeth, which were
not visible at first. This gives the face a
rather ghastly appearance. The hair, which
was found neatly dressed, is in disorder
and could not be rearranged, as an attempt
to comb it revealed a danger of pulling it
out. The photograph is reproduced in this
article, and is interesting for the reason
that it shows the well-preserved condition
of the flesh. The nose presented the only
positive disfigurement. When the bust was
placed beside the body, the resemblance of
the other features was remarkably striking.
Professor Herv6 called attention to a pe-
culiar shape of the lobe of the ear, which
he said was, according to his experience,
something very rarely seen. Its exact copy
was observed upon the bust.

Dr. Papillault, in his report setting forth
the details of his investigations, remarks:

The dimensions of the bust, life-size, by
Houdon are exactly those of the body; the
comparison is therefore easier than if the bust
had been of a reduced size. Thus all the mea-
surements offer an approximation truly ex-
traordinary. Two experienced anthropologists
measuring the same subject would often make
as great differences. Thus I could not hope
to find between a bust and its model a similar
identity. I recollect having measured some
years ago a cast of the head of Blanqui and
the statue which Dalon made from that same
cast. Dalon was a very precise and conscien-
tious artist, using and even abusing, as his col-
leagues said, the caliper-compass. I found
differences greater than in this case.

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He concludes his report in the follow-
ing words :

Without forgetting that doubt is the first
quality of all investigators and that the most
extreme circumspection should be observed in
such matters, I am obliged to conclude that
all the observations which I have been able to
make plead in favor of the following opinion :
The body examined is that of Admiral John
Paul Jones.

Then came one of the most interesting
features of the verification— the autopsy,
doubtless the only one in history ever made
upon a body that had been buried for a
hundred and thirteen years. In order not
to alter in any way the appearance of the
corpse, Dr. Capitan and his assistants laid
the body upon its face and made the open-
ing in the back to explore the thorax and
the viscera contained therein. A quantity
of alcohol ran out It had not evaporated,
evidently by reason of its having been
incased in the internal organs, which were
thoroughly saturated with it and protected
by the thorax. This accounted for their ex-
cellent state of preservation. The left lung
showed a spot which was clearly the result
of an attack of pneumonia or broncho-
pneumonia. It had healed, but remained
surrounded by fibrous tissue. Augustus
C. Buell in his " Paul Jones," Volume II,
page 235, says: "During this inspection
[of the Russian fleet], which consumed
about fifteen days, the admiral contracted
a heavy cold, which almost the very day
of his return to St. Petersburg developed
into pneumonia. . . . Both the eminent
physicians who attended him pronounced
his lungs permanently affected and told
him he could never hope to endure again
the rigors of a Russian winter." This was
in June, 1789. In May, 1790, two years
before the admiral's death, he returned to
Paris. The same author says of him,
Volume II, page 267, "The doctors de-
clared that his left lung was more or less
permanently affected."

Dr. Capitan and Professor Comil found
nothing particularly characteristic in the
heart, which was still quite flexible. It was
contracted, and the cardiac walls exhibited
muscular fibers striated lengthwise and
crosswise. An abundance of small crystals
and bacteria were noticed. The liverwas of
a yellowish -brown color, somewhat con-
tracted, and its tissues were rather dense
and compact. There were found in the

hepatic cells numerous varieties of crjrstals
and microbes. The masses of tyrosin, ap-
pearing to the naked eye like white opaque
granules, were less numerous than in the
lungs. The cells of this organ were badly
preserved, and according to Dr. Capitan,
a positive opinion could not be given as to
symptoms caused by its condition. The
gall-bladder was healthy and contained a
pale yellowish-brown bile of a pasty con-
sistency. The stomach was contracted and
very small. The spleen appeared compara-
tively larger than it ought to have been, con-
sidering the marked contraction of all the
viscera. Its tissues appeared rather firm ; it
showed no anatomic lesions. The kidneys
were well preserved in form and presented
very clearly under the microscope the evi-
dences of interstitial nephritis. Dr. Capitan,
in speaking of these organs, in his report,

The vessels at several points had their walls
thickened and invaded by -sclerosis. A num-
ber of glomerules were completely transformed
into fibrous tissue and appeared in the form
of small spheres, strongly colored by the mi-
croscopic reactions. This verification was of
the highest importance. It gave the key to the
various pathological symptoms presented by
Paul Jones at the close of his life— emaciation,
consumptive condition, and especially so much
swelling, which from the feet gained completely
the nether limbs, then the abdomen, where it
even produced ascites (exsudat intra abdomi-
nal). All these affections are often observed
at the close of chronic interstitial nephritis. It
can therefore be said that we possess micro-
scopic proof that Paul Jones died of a chronic
renal affection, of which he had shown symp-
toms toward the close of his life. In a word,
like my colleague, Papillault, and by different
means, relying solely upon the appearance of
the subject, on the comparison of his head
with the Houdon bust, and besides consider-
ing that the observations made upon his viscera
agree absolutely with his clinical history, I
reach this very clear and well-grounded con-
clusion, namely, that the corpse of which we
have made a study is that of Paul Jones.

1 will even add, always with Papillault, that
being given this convergence of exceedingly
numerous, very diversified, and always agree-
ing facts, it would be necessary to have a con-
currence of circumstances absolutely excep-
tional and improbable in order that the corpse
here concerned be not that of Paul Jones.

Professor Comil concludes the report of
his microscopic examinations as follows:
" We believe that the case in point is in-

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terstitial nephritis with fibrous degeneracy
of the glomerules of Malpighi, which quite
agrees with the symptoms observed during

To show how perfectly the revelations
of the autopsy agree with the symptoms
of the malady which terminated the life of
Paul Jones, in addition to the affection of
the left lung described by his historians
and hereinbefore mentioned, I give the
following citations from authentic docu-
ments: Buell in his "Paul Jones,'* Vol-
ume II, page 308, after mentioning that

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 117 of 120)