A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
Next Page
Previous Page

John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778
sheet 18 of 37, 1 - 2 May 1778

which was very large, and into all the Rooms and first Suite of Chambers in the house. The Rooms were very elegant and the furniture very rich. The Library was begun by the Ambassador and augmented by Cardinal Noailles in the Time of Lewis the fourteenth and Madame De Maintenon, who was his great friend. He is represented by Mr. Malesherbes in two Volumes which he wrote upon Toleration in the latter part of his Life to have contributed much to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Cardinals Picture We also saw.
The Duchess D'Ayen had five or six Children contrary to the Custom of the Country, I saw no Amie there and this family appeared to be the most regular and exemplary of any that I had seen.
When I began to attempt a little conversation in french I was very inquisitive concerning this great Family of Noailles and I was told by some of the most intelligent Men in France, ecclesiasticks as well as others, that there were no less than six Marshalls of France of this Family, that they held so many Offices under the King that they received Eighteen millions of Livres annually from the Crown. That the Family had been remarkable for Ages, for their harmony with one another and for doing nothing of any consequence without a previous Council and concert. That, when the American Revolution commenced, a family Council had been called to deliberate upon that great Event and determine what part they should take in it, or what Conduct they should hold towards it. After they had sufficiently considered, they all agreed in Opinion that it was a Crisis of the highest importance, in the Affairs of Europe and the World. That it must affect France in so essential a manner, that the King could not and ought not to avoid taking a capital Interest and part of it. That it would therefore be the best policy of the Family, to give their Countenance to it as early as possible. And that it was expedient for the family to send one of their Sons over to America to serve in her Army under General Washington. The Prince de Poix as the Heir apparent, of the Duke de Mouchy, they thought of too much importance to their Views and expectations to be risked in so hazardous a Voyage and so extraordinary a Service, and therefore it was concluded, to offer the Enterprize to the Viscount de Noailles, and if he should decline it, to the Marquis de la Fayette. The Viscount after due consideration, thought it most prudent to remain at

home for the present. The Marquis, who was represented as a youth of the finest Accomplishments and most amiable disposition, panting for Glory, ardent to distinguish himself in military Service, and impatient to wipe out a slight imputation which had been thrown, whether by Truth or Calumny upon the Memory of his father who though he had been slain in Battle was suspected to have lost his Life by too much caution to preserve it, most joyfully consented to embark in the Enterprize. All France pronounced it to be the first page in the History of a great Man.
This Family was in short become more powerfull than the House of Bourbon. At least they had more influence in the Army, and when they afterwards united with the Duke of Orleans, the Le Rochefoucaults, the Le Moignons [Lamoignons] and a few others, the World knows too much of the Consequences. If they advised the calling of the Assembly of Notables The Wisdom of their Family Councils, had certainly departed.
Dined at Mr. Izzards, with Mr. Lloyd and his Lady, Mr. Francois [Franc s] a French Gentleman who had served in England as Charge D'Affairs for so many Years, that the Language was become very familiar to him, which enabled him to be often usefull to the Americans in Paris. There was much other Company and after dinner We went to the French Comedy, where We saw the Brutus, a Tragedy of Voltaire, and after it the Cocher Suppos e. As I was coming out of the Box, after the representation, a Gentleman seized me by the hand. I looked at him. -- Governor Wentworth, Sir, said the Gentleman. -- At first I was somewhat embarrassed, and knew not how to behave towards him. As my Classmate and Friend at Colledge and ever since, I could have pressed him to my Bosom, with most cordial Affection. But We now belonged to two different Nations at War with each other and consequently We were Enemies. Both the Governor and the Minister were probably watched by the Spies of the Police, and our Interview would be known the next morning at Versailles. The Governor however relieved me from my reverie by asking me questions concerning his Father and Friends in America, which I answered according to my

Knowledge. He then enquired after the health of Dr. Franklin, and said he must come out to Passi and pay his Compliments to him. He should not dare to see the Marquis of Rockingham after his return, without making a Visit to Dr. Franklin. Accordingly in a day or two, he came and made Us a Morning Visit. Dr. Franklin and I received him together. But there was no conversation but upon Trifles. The Governors Motives for this Trip to Paris and visit to Passy I never knew. If they bore any resemblance to those of Mr. Hartley, his deportment and language were very different. Not an indelicate expression to Us or our Country or our Ally escaped him. His whole behaviour was that of an accomplished Gentleman.Mr. Hartley on the contrary was at least [to ]me very offensive. In his conversation he seemed to consider our Treaty with France as a Nullity, that We might disregard at our pleasure and treat with England seperately, or come again under her Government at our Pleasure. This appeared to me offensive to our honor and an insult to our good faith, and although I always endeavoured to treat him with civility, I doubt not I sometimes received it somewhat "ungraciously."
It is now high time to introduce some Facts, which occurred within the first Week or ten days of my residence at Passi. I have omitted them till this time because I was unable to ascertain the precise days, when they happened. I have before observed that Dr. Franklin, from my first Arrival had taken all opportunities to prejudice me against the Lees, Mr. Izzard &c., that Mr. Lee had been very silent and reserved upon the Subject of Parties &c. But within a few days after I had got settled in my Lodgings Mr. Izzard came out to Passi, and requested some private conversation with me. I accordingly attended him alone. Mr. Izzard began upon the Subject of the disagreable Situation of our Affairs in France and the miserable Conduct of them by Mr. Deane and Dr. Franklin, and their subordinate Agents, Adherents and Friends, upon the pillage that was committed upon Us, to gratify petty french Agents and Emissaries from and Instruments, of whom nobody knew. Enlarged upon the Characters of Holker,Monthieu, Baumarchais and Chaumont. Represented the enormous Waste of Money by Mr. Deane, whom Dr. Franklin

supported in all Things. Talked about the Money that was offered by Beaumarchais to Mr. Lee in London as a free Gift from the King, and for the Use of the United States in presence of Mr. Wilks and others: complained of foul play by intercepting dispatches, and of frauds in the qualities and Prices of Articles which had been purchased and shipped to America &c. &c. &c. He then introduced Dr. Bancroft, said he had known him in England and had there entertained an high Opinion of his Talents and had thought him an honest Man. But here, he found him a mere Tool and Dupe of Mr. Deane, Dr. Franklin and their French Satellites, and as unprincipled as any of them. Then he represented the whole Group of them as in a Conspiracy to persecute him and the two Lees and all their friends, and related to me an amazing number of Calumnies they had propagated concerning them at Court, in Paris, Passi and the Country. That they had not confined their Lies and Slanders to Americans in France, but had extended them to Mr. Richard Henry Lee in America and to Dr. Berkenhout in London &c.
As he enlarged upon the defamations and Persecutions against himself and his Friends he grew Warm. Mr. Izzard, with great honor and integrity, had irritable Nerves and very strong Passions. He either had or at least was reputed to have great pride. There was however more of the Appearance of this Vice in his external behaviour, than in his heart. A hesitancy in his Speech and an appearance of impatience that was often occasioned by it, contributed very much to the Suspicion and imputation of hautiness. In enumerating the detractions against himself and his friends, his passions transported him beyond all bounds. He declared and with asseverations which I will not repeat but which all who knew Mr. Izard may easily imagine, that Dr. Franklin was one of the most unprincipled Men upon Earth: that he was a Man of no Veracity, no honor, no Integrity, as great a Villain as ever breathed: as much worse than Mr. Deane as he had more experience, Art, cunning and Hypocricy.Mr. Izzard dilated on many of these particulars and his harrangue was extended to a great length.
I was thunderstruck and shuddered at the Situation I was in. By Dr. Franklins continual insinuations to me, I was convinced that the rancour in his heart was not less, though his Language had not been so explicit.

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778, sheet 18 of 37 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778. Part 2 is comprised of 37 sheets and 7 insertions; 164 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 4 Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961.
Next Page
Previous Page