A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3

Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0260

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-05-15

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Portia

I inclose for your Amusement, a Publication, made here within a few days.1
Somebody has inserted in the Amsterdam Gazette, that this Gentleman lodges with me. This is done with a political design, but whether { 347 } it was intended to do honour to me, or him or both, I dont know.—It is not true.—However there is a good Understanding between him and me, and therefore I did not trouble myself to enquire whether it was done to serve or hurt him or me, or both.2
I went Yesterday, Pentecost, to Versailles, and saw the Nights of the order of St. Esprit. There was magnificence enough.3 The Queen shone, like a Star—and the K[ing] had a new Throne. This striking Character discover[ed] by his Countenance, that he had not a very profound Admiration of the Pomposities about him. He manifestly smiled Contempt, upon some of the Ceremonies. But He made a most profound, and reverential Bow to the Altar, when he came up and when he went away. This was done with an Air of real serioussness and Gravity.
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure not found; see note 1.
1. Evidently a French publication about the American naval hero John Paul Jones; see the following note.
2. “[T]his Gentleman” was John Paul Jones, as appears from an item of Paris news in the Gazette d'Amsterdam, 5 May 1780: “Le Commodore Paul Jones, qui est actuellement ici logé avec Mr. Adams, a reçu Mardi dernier á 1'Opéra de grands Applaudissemens du public, qui a paru voir avec un vif Sentiment de plaisir et d'Admiration, cet intrépide Marin” (cited from a collection of extracts from European newspapers concerning American affairs, 5 April–4 July 1780, copied by JA and John Thaxter, in Adams Papers). Between cruises, Jones was spending six weeks of April and May enjoying his celebrity and the other diversions offered him by the chief capital of Europe; see Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, Boston and Toronto, 1959, p. 275 ff.
3. This was not the first time that JA had witnessed the ceremonial investiture of the Knights of the Holy Ghost. See his brief diary entry of 7 June 1778 and the colorful elaboration thereof in his Autobiography ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:316; 4:130–132).

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0261

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Pechigny, M.
Date: 1780-05-16

John Adams to Pechigny

[salute] Sir

I have recieved your two favors of the 9th. and 10th. of this Month with the Accounts of my Sons and Mr. Cooper [i.e. Samuel Cooper Johonnot] for the first Quarter.1
They did, I must confess, appear to me very high—and I have shewn the Account of Mr. Cooper, to some Gentlemen, who know the prices of things here, and they are of Opinion with me, that they are very high. They pointed out to me the Articles, especially those of Cloathing, which they thought were charged too high —on the whole they thought there ought to be an Abatement of at least three Louis D'Ors, on Mr. Cooper's Account. I find the Accounts of my Sons, are nearly as high, so that I fancy there ought to be an Abatement of the same { 348 } Sum of three Louis at least upon each of them. If You consent to this Abatement, I will pay You the Money for all three, as soon as You please.2
As to an Agreement to give 1200 Livres a Year to commence from the 10th, I will readily come into it, provided You mean that it shall be in that proportion for any longer or shorter Time, and that I shall be at Liberty to take them away, whenever I shall think proper.
I am uncertain how long I may stay here. I may be ordered to some other place. I may think it necessary to send my Children to Geneva or Holland, or I may take an House here, and see to the Education of my Sons myself, under proper Masters. In any of these Cases I must be at Liberty to take them from your Pension, paying in the proportion of 1200 Livres for a Year, for the Time they shall actually stay with You. If You agree to these proposals, please to inform me, as soon as possible by Letter—if You do not, I would desire You not to provide any of the three young Gentlemen with any more Cloaths of any kind, nor furnish them with any more Money or Books. I will take this upon myself, and further I would not have them put any longer to the Master of Fencing or Dancing—let them attend the Drawing and Writing Masters, and bend all the rest of their Time and attention, to Latin, Greek, and French, which will be more useful and necessary for them in their own Country, where they are to spend their Lives.
If I should take them from your Pension, it will not be from any disgust or dislike, for I am well satisfied with the Care that is taken of them, and with the progress they make. I am however very far from being determined to take them away at all. The sooner You favor me with your Answer, and the sooner I pay You, what is justly your due, for the first Quarter, the more agreable to me.

[salute] I am with much Respect and Esteem, Sir, your most obedient and humble Servant.

LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers). At foot of text: “Monsieur Pechiny.”
1. Neither the letters of M. Pechigny nor the accounts he rendered have been found.
2. In JA 's record of personal expenditures the following entry appears under 17 May 1780: “Paid Mr. Pechini's Account for my Sons John and Charles 980 [livres] 10: 0” ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:439). This suggests that the schoolmaster had come to terms with JA very promptly indeed.