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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778
sheet 2 of 37, 13 - 19 February 1778

Travels &c. 1778
After dinner I bid Adieu to my Friend and Unkle Quincy, and sent my Baggage, and walked myself with Captain Tucker,Mr. Griffin a Midshipman, and my eldest Son, John Quincy Adams between ten and eleven years of Age, down to the Moon Head where lay the Bostons Barge.

Additions to Sheet 2 of Travels. Page 1 Line 5
In our Way We made an halt of a few minutes at the House of Mr. Seth Spear on Hoffs neck, where some Sailors belonging to our barge had been waiting for Us. The good Lady, who was an Adams, came out very civilly to invite Us in. We had no time to spare and excused ourselves. She was an amiable Woman, with very delicate health, much afflicted with hysterical complaints, often a little disarranged in her imagination. At this time she was somewhat flighty and accosted me in an alarming manner. "Mr. Adams you are going to embark under very threatening Signs. The Heavens frown, the Clouds roll, the hollow Winds howl, The Waves of the Sea roar upon the Beech," and on she went insuch a Strain that I seemed to be reading Ossian. I thought this prophecy of the Sybill, was not very cheering to one whose Acquaintance with the Sea, had been confined to a few Trips to Half Moon a guning and one to Cohasset rocks a fishing when he was a Boy and a few Parties to Rainsfords Island and the Light House in Company with the Select Men of Boston after he was grown up: but I was not enough of a Roman to believe it an ill Omen. It was only a prelude to a Commedy, which I feared all my Voyages and Negotiations would prove to be. It amused me enough to be remembered and that was all.
The Wind was high and the Sea, very rough, but my bymeans of a quantity of Hay in the bottom of the boat, and good Watch Coats with which We were covered, We arrived on board the Boston, about five O Clock, tolerably warm and dry. I found in the Frigate Mr. Vernon a Son of Mr. Vernon of the Navy board, who had that year graduated at Colledge; a little Son of Mr. Deane of Weathersfield between Eleven and twelve years of Age; and a Mr. Nicholas Noel, a french Gentleman, Surgeon of the Ship, who seemed to be a well bred man. He shewed me a Book which I was very glad to see as the French Language was then one of my first Objects. The Title is "The Elements of the English Tongue, develloped in a new, easy and concise manner, in which the pronunciation is taught by an Assemblage of Letters, which form similar Sounds in french, by V. J. Peyton. I mention this because Peytons Grammar is little known, and I think will be very Usefull to any American who wishes to acquire that Language.
A fine morning, the Wind at North West. At day break orders were given for the Ship to unmoor. My Lodging had been a Cott with a double Mattross, a good Bolster, my own Sheets and Blanketts enough. My little Son with me, We lay comfortably and slept well though there was a violent gale of Wind in the night.
On the morning of Sunday the fifteenth of February, the last Anchor was weighed and We came under Sail before breakfast, with fine Wind, a pleasant Sun but a sharp cold Air. Thus I supposed I had bid farewell to my native Shore perhaps forever: but I was disappointed. The Captain, either to take leave of his friends, or in hopes of obtaining more Sailors, steered a course that was unexpected and We arrived and Anchored in the harbour of Marblehead about noon. Major Reed, Captain Gatchell, Father in Law of Captain Tucker, came on board and a Captain Stevens, who came to make me a present of a single Pistoll. He made many Apologies for giving but one. He had no more. He had lately presented Mr. Hancock with a

beautiful pair and this was all he had left. I understood they had been taken from the English in one of the Prize Ships. The friends of our Officers, and others came on board in great numbers, and gave us formidable Histories of the Cruelties of the English Men of War and Privateers to the Prisoners they had taken from Us, in firing grape Shots into our defenceless American Merchant Ships after they had struck their Colours &c. Though I regretted these Things I was not sorry to hear them, because the more I heard of the dangers I had to encounter I thought, the better my mind would be prepared to meet the worst that could happen.
We had for our mortification another Storm from the North East, and so thick a Snow that the Captain thought he could not go to Sea. Our Excursion to this place, was unfortunate, because it was almost impossible to keep the Men on board. Mothers, Wives, Sisters came and begged leave for their Sons, husbands and Brothers, to go on Shore for one hour &c. so that it was very hard for the Commander to resist their importunity. I was anxious because I thought We should not have another Wind so good as that We had lost. Congress and the Navy Board would be surprized at these delays, and yet there was no fault that I knew of. The Commander of the Ship was active and vigilant, and did all in his Power, but he wanted Men. He had very few Seamen: all was as yet chaos on board. His Men were not disciplined: even the Marines were not. The Men were not exercised to the Guns. They hardly knew the ropes. My Son was treated very complaisantly by Dr. Noel, and by a Captain and Lt. of Artillery who were with Us, all French Gentlemen. They were very assiduous in teaching him French. Noel was a genteel Man and had received somewhere a good Education. He had Scars on his forhead and on his hands which he said were wounds received last War, in the light horse Service. The Name of the Captain of Artillery, was Parison, and that of the Lieutenant was Begard. Since my Embarkation, Master Jesse Deane delivered me a letter from his Unkle Barnabas Deane, dated the tenth of February recommending to my particular care and Attention, the Bearer the only Child of his Brother Silas Deane Esqr. then in France, making no doubt, as the letter adds, that I shall take the same care of a Child in his Situation, which I would wish to have done to a Child of my own, in the like circumstances, it is needless to mention his Youth and Helplessness, also how much he will be exposed to bad company, and to contract bad habits, without some friendly Monitor to caution, and keep him from associating with

the common hands on board. About the same time another Letter was delivered to me from William Vernon Esqr., of the Continental Navy Board at Boston dated February the ninth in these Words "I presume it is unnecessary to say one Word, in order to impress your mind with the Anxiety off a a Parent is under, in the Education of a Son, more especially when not under his immediate inspection, and at three thousand miles distance. Your parental Affection fixes this principle. Therefore I have only to beg the favour of you, Sir, to place my Son, in such a Situation, and with such a Gentleman, as you would choose for one of yours, whom you would wish to accomplish for a Merchant. If such a house could be found, either at Bourdeaux or Nantes, of Protestant Principles, of general and extensive Business, I rather think one of these Cities the best; yet if it should be your Opinion, that some other place might be more Advantageous to place him at, or that he can be employed by any of the States Agents, with a good prospect of improving himself in such manner, that he may hereafter be usefull to Society, and in particular to these American States, my views are fully answered. I have only one Observation more to make, vizt. in respect to the conomy of this matter, which I am persuaded will engage your Attention, as the small fortune that remains with me, I would wish to appropriate for the Education of my Son, which I know must be husbanded, yet I cannot think of being rigidly parcimonious, nor must I be very lavish, lest my money should not hold out. I imagine a gratuity of one hundred pounds Sterling may be given to a Merchant of Eminence to take him for two or three Years, and perhaps his yearly board paid for. I shall be entirely satisfied in whatever may seem best for you to do and shall ever have a grateful remembrance of your unmerited favours, and sincerely hope in future to have it in my Power to make Compensation. I wish you health and the Utmosthappiness and am with the greatest regards" &c.
Thus I found myself invested with the unexpected Trust of a kind of Guardianship of two promising young Gentlemen, besides my own Son, a benevolent Office which would have been peculiarly agreable to me, if I had not a prospect before me of too much Occupation in my own to be at leisure to discharge the duties of it, with that Attention which it might acquire [require]. I was soon relieved from the principal care of it, however, for Mr. Vernon chose to remain at Bourdeaux, and Mr. Deane, by the Advice of Dr. Franklin, was put to Le C ur's Pension at Passy with his

with my Son J.Q.A.and his Grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, since that time famous enough as the Editor and Proprietor of the Aurora.
I set a Lesson to my Son in Chambauds French Grammar and asked the favour of Dr. Noel to shew him the precise critical pronunciation of all the french Words, Syllables and Letters, which the Dr. very politely undertook to do, and Mr. John proceeded to get his Lessons accordingly very much pleased.
The Weather was now fair and the Wind right, and We were again weighing Anchor in order to put to Sea, when Captain Diamond and Captain Inlaker came on board and breakfasted, two Prisoners, taken with Captain Manly in the Hancock Frigate, and lately escaped from Hallifax. Our Captain was an able Seaman, and I believed a brave, active and vigilant Officer, but he had no great Erudition. His Library consisted of Dyche's english Dictionary; Charlevoix's Paraguay, which since the British Conquest of Buenos Aires, I regret that I did not read at that time with more attention; the Rights of the Christian Church asserted against the Romish and other Priests who claim an independent power over it; the second Volume of Chubbs posthumous Works, 1. Volume of the History of Charles Horton Esqr. and the first and second Volumes of the delicate Embarrassments a Novell. More Science than this is required in a Naval Officer.... About Sunsett we sailed out of Marblehead harbour.
We had a fine Wind for twenty four hours; but the constant rolling and rocking of the Ship, made Us all Sick. Half the Sailors were so. My young Gentlemen Jesse and John were taken about twelve O Clock the last night and had been very Sick all day. I was seized with it in the afternoon. My Servant Joseph Stevens and the Captain's Will, were both very bad.
Arose at four O Clock. The Wind and Weather still fair. The Ship rolled less than the day before, and I neither felt nor heard any thing of Sea Sickness last night nor this morning. Monsieur Parison, one of General Du Coudrai's Captains of Artillery, dined with Us Yesterday, and behaved like [a] civil and sensible Man. We learned from him, that the roads from Nantes to Paris are very good; no mountains, no rocks, no Hills, all as smooth as the Ships deck, and a very fine Country: But that the roads from Bourdeaux to Paris are bad and mountainous.
The Mal de mer, seems to be the Effect of Agitation. The vapours and exhalations from the Sea; the Smoke of Seacoal, the Smell of stagnant, putrid Water, the Odour of the Ship where the Sailors sleep, or any other offensive Odour will increase the Qualminess, but of themselves, without the violent Agitation they will not produce it.

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778, sheet 2 of 37 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.
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.
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