May 5. 1778
addressed to Messieurs Franklin,Lee and Adams, Deputies of the United States of America at Passi, and endorsed De Vergennes. I opened it and found it in French, a litteral translation of which is as follows.
Versailles May 4. 1778
I have taken the orders of the King, Gentlemen, on the Subject of the presentation of Mr. Adams, your new Colleague, and his Majesty will see him on fryday next, the eighth of this month. I hope you will be so good as to do me the honour, to dine with me, on that day; I shall be ravished to have that occasion, of passing some hours with you, and of renewing to you the assurances of the most perfect consideration, with which I have the honour to be Gentlemen your most obedienthumble and most obedient Servant
Mrs. [Messieurs] Franklin,Lee and Adams.
I passed the whole of this day at home. Mr. Lee came in the Afternoon to my Apartment and We sat down together, to a serious Examination of the public Papers, that is of all that We could find, and a close Attention to the public Business. In the Evening Mr. Chaumont came in and informed me of the destination of a Frigate of thirty two Guns from Marsailles to Boston and that I might write by her, if I pleased.
May 6. Wednesday. 1778.
Franklin told Us one of his Characteristic Stories. A Spanish Writer of certain Vissions of Hell, relates that a certain evil Spirit he met with who was civil and well bred,shewed him all the Apartments in the place. Among others that of deceased Kings. The Spaniard was much amused at so illustrious a Sight, and after viewing them for sometime, said he should be glad to see the rest of them. The rest? said the Daemon. Here are all the Kings who ever reigned upon earth from the creation of it to this day, what the Devil would the Man have?
This Anecdote was in the Spirit of those times for the Philosophers of the last Age had raised a king killing Spirit in the World. I wrote the Story down in the Evening with a Note upon it not less Characteristick of myself. It was this. This Fable is not so charitable as Dr. Watts, who in his view of Heaven says "here and there I see a King," which seems to imply that Kings are as good as other men, since it is but here and there that We see a King upon Earth.
The Truth is that neither then nor at any former time, since I had attained any maturity in Age, Reading and reflection had I imbibed any general Prejudice against Kings, or in favour of them. It appeared to me then as it has done ever since, that there is a State of Society in which a Republican Government is the best, and in America the only one which ought to be adopted or thought of, because the morals of the People and Circumstances of the Country not only can bear it, but require it. But in several of the great nations of Europe, Kings appeared to me to be as necessary as any Government at all. Nor had I ever seen any reason to believe that Kings were in general worse than other Men.
After Dinner We went to the field, where the King reviewed his Guards, French and Swiss, about eight thousands of them. The Show was pompous indeed as all other Shows are in this Country. The Carriages of the Royal Family were very magnificent. Returned and drank Coffee with Mr. Lee at his House in Challiot [Chaillot], about a mile from ours at Passi, walked home and drank Tea with Mr. Chaumonts Family, and spent the rest of the Evening in reading Cardinal Richelieu.
May 8. Fryday, 1778.
Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee went with me to Versailles to attend my Presentation to the King. We visited the Count de Vergennes at his Office, and at the hour of eleven, the Count conducted Us, into the Kings Bed Chamber, where his Majesty was dressing. One Officer putting on his Coat, another his Sword &c. The Count went up to the King and informed him that Mr. Adams
was present to be presented to his Majesty, the King turned round and looked upon me and smiled. "Is that Mr. Adams," said his Majesty? Being answered in the affirmative by the Count, he began to talk to me, and with such
rapidity that I could not distinguish one Syllable nor understand one Word. But it was observed by others as well as by me that he discovered a great inclination to have a dialogue with me, whether from mere curiosity, or a desire to impress upon his Courtiers, an unusual number of whom were collected upon that occasion, an idea of his Attention and Attachment to the American cause. It was agreed on all hands that the King was the best friend We had in France. The Count de Vergennes observing his Majestys Zeal went up to him and very respectfully, said,Mr. Adams will not
answer your Majesty, for he neither speaks nor understands our Language as yet.... "Pas un mot" said the King.... In what he had said to me before, I thought he said among other things Y a-t-il long tems que vous avez ete dans ce pays ci? or Il n'y a pas long tems que vous avez t dans ce pays ci. But that was all that I even suspected that I understood .... The Count de Vergennes then conducted me to the Door of another Room, and desired me to stand there, which I did untill
the King passed. After the usual Compliments of the King to the Ambassadors, his Majesty was preparing to retire when the Count de Vergennes again repeated to the King that I did not take upon me to speak french and the King repeated his question does he not speak it att
all? and passing by all the others in the Row made a full Stop before me, and evidently intended to observe and remember my Countenance and Person as I certainly meant to remark those of his Majesty. I was deeply impressed with a Character of Mildness, Goodness and Innocence in his face. It seemed to me impossible that an ill design could be harboured in that breast.... This Monarch was then in the twenty fourth year of his Age, having been born the 23d of August 1754. He had the Appearance of a strong constitution capable of enduring to a great Age. His Reign had already been distinguished by two great Events. The first was the restoration of Harmony in his dominions, by the extinction of those Parties which had rent the Nation under his Predecessor, and the other was the Treaty with the United States of America an Epocha in the History of France which would have reflected Glory upon that Country in all future Ages, if she had known how to improve it. But for Want of Wisdom, it has proved fatal to the Monarch and many of his Family, torn France in Pieces by factions, and swelled her to an enormous and unnatural Power, dangerous to herself, destructive to Europe, and precarious in its duration.
The Ceremonies at this Court were very simple. On a certain day of every Week was called Ambassadors day, when all the public Ministers whether Ambassadors, Ministers Plenipotentiary, Envoys or Residents, who all passed under the General Title of Ambassadors, went to Versailles, were presented to the King, Queen, Monsieur the Kings oldest Brother, the Count D'Artois the Kings youngest Brother, to Madam Elizabeth the Kings Sister and to the Kings
two Aunts, who had Apartments in the Castle, though they lived at Bellvue. Neither the King or any of the Royal Family, commonly spoke to any of the Corps Diplomatique, except the first order, the Ambassadors. To them they said but a few Words. The Count de Mercy Ambassador from the Emperor said He had made his Court weekly in that Character to Monsieur for thirty Years, and had always been asked the same question "Have you come from Paris this morning?" Seven or Eight Years afterwards in England I found the Custom very different. The King and Queen must speak to every body. This has made the King the greatest Talker in Christendom, but it is a Slavery to which no human Being ought to be subjected. It is but justice, to say that it was agreable
and instructive to hear him, for let the insolent Peter Pindar
say what he will, His Majesty said as many things which deserved to be remembered as any Sage I ever heard.
We afterwards made Visits to Count Maurepas, Mr. De Sartine, to the Chancellor Miromenil, and to Mr. Bertin &c. The Chancellor had the Countenance of a Man, worn with severe Studies. When I was presented to him, he turned to Dr. Franklin and said, Monsieur Adams est un Personne celebre en Amerique et en Europe. We went afterwards to dinner, with the Count de Vergennes. There was a very long and a very full Table: No Ladies but the Countess. The Count's Brother who had lately signed the Treaty with Switzerland as Ambassador of France, and a Crowd of others, Dukes, Bishops and Counts.Mr. Garnier, the late Secretary to the Embassy in England was also there. Mr. Garnier and a Mr. asked me, with some Appearance of concern, whether there was any foundation for the Reports which the Ministry had spread in England of a dispute between Congress and General Washington? A Letter they said had been printed, from an Officer in Philadelphia to that purpose. My Answer was that no such dispute existed when I left Congress in November, that I heard of no such Thing after I left it, before my Embarkation in February, that I had no information of it, since my Arrival in France, and that so far from giving any Credit to the report, I believed it to be impossible. Mr. Garnier was the first French Gentleman, who began a serious political conversation with me, of any great length. I found him a sensible, well informed Man.
May 9. Saturday. 1778.
This morning Mr. Joy, Mr. Johonnot, and Mr. Green Son of Mr. Rufus Green came to visit me. The American Ministers dined with Madam Bertin, at Passi.