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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0004-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-02-24

24th.

Paris in the morning. Mr. Williams and Mr. Franklin went with us. They breakfasted at M: de St. Olympe's.1 I went to Gogué et Née de la Rochelle, booksellers Quai des Augustins. Bought Rollin's histoire Romaine, and Mr. Necker's book.2 Mr. Jefferson was not at home: nor any body at his House. Mr. Franklin3 has taken lessons of animal magnetism, he laugh'd at it much; yet said it was a very useful discovery.
1. A French West Indian with business interests in Martinique and North America (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 1:50–51; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 3:168; 4:110, 116).
2. Charles Rollin, L' Histoire romaine, depuis la fondation de Rome jusqu'à la bataille d'Actium . . ., 7 vols., Paris, 1738–1741. JQA 's set mentioned here may be one of two different sixteen-volume editions at MQA, both of which bear his bookplate, and one of which also carries his autograph. Of the several works of Jacques Necker, French financier and statesman, in the Adams libraries, the only contemporary publication bearing JQA 's bookplate is De l'administration des finances de la France, 3 vols., [Paris], 1784.
3. William Temple Franklin, the natural son of Benjamin Franklin's natural son William, had served as his grandfather's secretary since 1776. Temple was a member of the Paris Société de L'Harmonie, a group founded by the followers of Frederick Anthony Mesmer. Mesmer, a Vienna-trained physician, claimed to have discovered the property of animal magnetism, a fluid conducted by a kind of occult force in himself which contained curative powers. Owing in large part to Mesmer's great success in Paris, Louis XVI appointed Benjamin Franklin in March 1784 a member of a royal commission to examine the subject of animal magnetism, which was denounced in their report that summer. Franklin doubted its existence, and the cures claimed for it strengthened his belief in mankind's credulity (Franklin, Papers , 1:lxii; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:356; 3:102–103, 169; Claude-Anne Lopez and Eugenia W. Herbert, The Private Franklin, N.Y., 1975, p. 255–258).