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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0009-0001

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1783-09-14 - 1783-10-06

Paris Septr. 14[–6 October] 1783.1

Septr. 14. Mr. Thaxter took his Leave of me to return to America, with the definitive Treaty of Peace and the original Treaty with the States General.—I had been some days unwell, but soon fell down in a Fever. Sir James Jay, who was my Physician, gave me a vomit, &c. &c.
On the 22d of September, I removed from the grand Hotel du Roi, to Mr. Barclays at Auteuil, where I have continued to this Sixth day of October 1783.2
Mr. Thaxter sailed in the Packet, from L'Orient, or rather from the Island of Groa [Groix], on the 26 of Septr. with a good Wind.3
At first I rode twice a day in my Carriage, in the Bois de Boulogne: but afterwards I borrowed Mr. Jays Horse, and have generally ridden twice a day, untill I have made my self Master of this curious Forest.
The Pavillon of Bagatelle, built by Mgsr. Comte D'Artois. The Castle of Madrid. The Outlet of the Forest near Pont Neuilly, the Porte which opens into the Grand Chemin, the Castle of Muet [La Muette] at Passy. The Porte which opens to the great Road to Versailles. The other Porte which opens into a large Village, nearly opposite to St. Cleod [Cloud], are the most remarkable Objects in this Forest.4
1. First entry in D/JA/42, a booklet identical in format with those preceding.
2. See Howard C. Rice Jr., The Adams Family in Auteuil, 1784–1785 ..., Boston, 1956. Since the publication of this admirably illustrated brochure on the Hotel de Rouault and its spacious garden pleasantly dotted with antique statuary, the garden has been filled with a complex of towering metal-and-glass office buildings, the headquarters of La Compagnie Française Pétrole.
3. He reached Philadelphia, where Pres. Mifflin then was, on 22 Nov. 1783 (Thaxter to JA , 19 Jan. 1784, Adams Papers).
4. In one of the last of his autobiographical communications to the Boston Patriot JA had more to say about his illness in Paris, his move to Auteuil, and his life there than appears in his Diary:
“Mr. Thaxter was gone, and I soon fell down in a fever, not much less violent than that I had suffered two years before at Amsterdam. Sir James Jay who had been sometime in Paris, and had often visited at my house, became { 144 } my physician, and I desired no better. The grand hotel du Roi, place du Carrousel, where I had apartments, was situated at the confluence of so many streets, that it was a kind of thoroughfare. A constant stream of carriages was rolling by it over the pavements for one and twenty hours out of the twenty-four. From two o'clock to five in the morning there was something like stillness and silence, but all the other one and twenty hours was a constant roar, like incessant rolls of thunder. When I was in my best health I sometimes thought it would kill me. But now reduced to extreme weakness and burning with a violent fever, sleep was impossible. In this forlorn condition, Mr. Thaxter, who had been to me a nurse, a physician and a comforter at Amsterdam, was now separated from me forever. . . . With none but French servants about me, of whom however I cannot complain, for their kindness, attention and tenderness surprised me, I was in a deplorable condition, hopeless of life, in that situation.
In this critical and desperate moment, my friends all despairing of my recovery in that thoroughfare, Mr. Barclay offered me apartments in his hotel at Auteul, and sir James Jay thought I might be removed and advised it. With much difficulty it was accomplished.
On the 22d of September I was removed, and the silence of Auteul exchanged for the roar of the carousal, the pure air of a country garden in place of the tainted atmosphere of Paris, procured me some sleep and with the skill of my physician gradually dissipated the fever, though it left me extremely emaciated and weak. . . .
Lost health is not easily recovered.— Neither medicine nor diet nor any thing would ever succeed with me, without exercise in open air: and although riding in a carriage, has been found of some use, and on horseback still more; yet none of these have been found effectual with me in the last resort, but walking.— Walking four or five miles a day, sometimes for years together, with a patience, resolution and perseverance, at the price of which, many persons would think, and I have been sometimes inclined to think, life itself was scarcely worth purchasing. Not all the skill and kind assiduity of my physician, nor all the scrupulous care of my regimen, nor all my exercise in carriage and on the saddle was found effectual for the restoration of my health. Still remaining feeble, emaciated, languid to a great degree, my physican and all my friends advised me to go to England, and to Bath, to drink the waters and to bath[e] in them. The English gentlemen politely invited me with apparent kindness to undertake the journey.
But before I set out I ought not to forget my Phisician. Gratitude demands that I should remember his benevolence. His attendance had been voluntarily assiduous, punctual, and uniformly kind and obliging; and his success had been equal to his skill in breaking the force of the distemper and giving me a chance of a complete recovery in time. I endeavored to put twenty guineas into his hand, but he positively refused to accept them. He said the pleasure of assisting a friend and countryman in distress in a foreign country, was reward enough for him, and he would have no other. I employed all the arguments and persuasions with him in my power at least to receive the purchase of his medicines. He said he had used no medicines but such as he had found in my house among my little stores, and peremptorily and finally refused to receive a farthing for any thing” (Boston Patriot, 29 April, 2 May 1812).