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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0008-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-16

16. Thursday.

This Morning the Governor of the Province of Gallice, and the Governor of the Town of Corunna came to my Lodgings at the Hotel { 410 } du grand Amiral, to return the Visit I made them last Evening. His Excellency invited me to dine with him tomorrow with all my family. He insisted upon seeing my Sons. Said I run a great Risque in taking with me, my Children. Said he had passed not far from my Country, in an Expedition vs. the Portugees. Said that he and every Thing in his Power was at my Service, &c. That he did not speak English, &c— I told him I was studying Spanish, and hoped that the next Time I should have the Honour to see his Excellency I should be able to speak to him in Spanish. He smiled and bowed. He made some Enquiries about American Affairs and took Leave.
Mr. Dana and I walked about the Town, saw the Fortifications, the Shipping, the Markett, Barracks &c. and returned.
After dinner Mr. Trash and his Mate, of a Schooner belonging to the Traceys of Newbury Port, who have been obliged by bad Weather and contrary Winds to put in here from Bilboa, came to visit me. I gave them Letters to Congress and to my family.1
The french Consul came in, and Mr. Dana and I walked with him to the Tour de Fer. This is a very ancient Monument. It is of Stone an hundred foot high. It was intended for a Lighthouse, perhaps as it commands a very wide Prospect of the Sea. It sees all the Vessells coming from the East and from the West. There was formerly a magnificent Stair Case Escalier, winding round it in a Spiral from the Ground to the Top, and it is said that some General once rode to the Top of it, in a Coach, or on horse back. But the Stairs are all taken away and the Stones employed to pave the Streets of Corunna. The Mortar, with which the Stones are cemented is as hard as the Stones themselves, and appears to have a large Mixture of powdered Stone in it.
There are in this Town Three Convents of Monks and two of Nuns. One of the Nunneries, is of Capuchins, very austere. The Girls eat no meat, wear no linnen, sleep on the floor never on a bed, their faces are always covered up with a Veil and they never speak to any Body.
1. A letter from JA to AA , 16 Dec., is in Adams Papers, and one to Pres. Huntington written the same day in PCC, No. 84, I (copied from LbC , Adams Papers, into JA 's Autobiography under this date).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0008-0010

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-17

1779 December 17. Fryday.

The Consul conducted me to the Souvereign Court of Justice. There are three Halls—one of civil Jurisdiction, another of Criminal, and a third of both. The three youngest Judges are the criminal Judges.
{ 411 }
The Consul introduced me to the President, and the other Judges and to the Attorney General in their Robes. The Robes, Wigs and bands both of the Judges and Lawyers are nearly like ours at Boston. The President and other Judges and the Procureur du Roi treated me with great Ceremony, conducted me into the Place in the Prison, where the Prisoners are brought out who have any Thing to say to the Judges. Waited on me, into each of the three Halls. Shewed me the Three folio Volumes of the Laws of the Country, which are the Laws of the Goths, Visigoths, Ripuarians &c., incorporated on the Corpus Juris. There are no Seats for any Body in the Halls but for the Judges. Every Body stands. The President told me, that on Monday next there would be an interesting Cause, invited me to come, said he would receive me in Character, and place me by the side of himself on the Bench. Or if I chose to avoid this Parade, he would order an Officer to shew me, a convenient Place to see and hear.
Soon after a Part of an Irish Battalion of Troops was drawn up before the Court House, and made a fine Appearance.
Dined with the Governor, of the Province of Gallicia. Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Allen and myself. By the help of two Irish Officers, I had much Conversation with the Governor, who speaks only Spanish.
We sent for our Book of Maps and shewed him, the Position of N.Y. and R. Is., and the Possessions of the English there &c.
Went with the Consul into a Convent of Franciscans. Walked into the Church, and all about the Yards, and Cells.—Here are the Cells of Jealousy, Hatred, Envy, Revenge, Malice, Intrigue &c. said the Consul. There is more Intrigue in a Chapter of Monks for the Choice of a Prior than was employed to bring about the entire Revolution in America. A Monk has no Connections, nor Affections to soften him, but is delivered up to his Ambition, &C.1—The Inscriptions over the Cells in Latin Verse were ingenious and good Morals.
Drank Tea with the Consul. The Attorney General was there, and Mr. Logoanere,2 and the Captain of the french Frigate the [Belle Poule.] 3
Inscribed over the Cell of a Monk, at Corunna.

Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa, quid inde?

Si Species Auri, atque Argenti massa, quid inde?

Si tibi sponsa decens, si sit generosa; quid inde?

Si tibi sint nati; si prasdia magna, quid inde?

Si fueris pulcher, fortis, divesve, quid inde?

longus Servorum, si serviat Ordo; quid inde?

{ 412 }

Si doceas alios in qualibet Arte; quid inde?

Si rideat mundus; si prospera cuncta; quid inde?

Si prior, aut Abbas, si Rex, si Papa; quid inde?

Si Rota fortunae te tollat ad astra; quid inde?

Annis si faelix regnes mille; quid inde?

tam cito praetereunt haec omnia, quae nihil inde?

Sola manet Virtus, qua glorificabimur inde:

Ergo Deo servi; quia sat tibi provenit inde,4

quod fecisse volens in tempore quo morieris

Hoc facias Juvenis, dum corpore sanus haberis.

quod nobis concedas Deus noster. Amen.

1. In JA 's Autobiography under this date the three foregoing sentences are enclosed in quotation marks.
2. Michel Lagoanere, “a Gentleman who has acted for some time as an American Agent at Corunna” ( JA to Huntington, 16 Jan. 1780, LbC , Adams Papers). He gave indispensable aid to the Adams party by arranging for their trip across northern Spain. In addition to long letters of advice on routes and means of travel (17, 26 Dec., Adams Papers), Lagoanere sent JA as a gift a copy of Joseph Mathias Escrivano's Itinerario espanol, o guia de caminos, para ir desde Madrid a todas las ciudades ..., 3d edn., Madrid, 1767, which survives among JA 's books in the Boston Public Library and has been useful in verifying contemporary spellings of Spanish place names.
3. Blank in MS ; the name has been supplied from JA 's Autobiography.
4. The sense calls for a full stop here: “Therefore serve God, because it is (will be) to your advantage hereafter. / What you will wish at the time of your death you had done, / Do now while young,” &c.