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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-11-24

[November 24 1779.]

November 24 1779. We were on the Grand Bank of Newfound Land, and about this time, We spoke with an American Privateer, The General Lincoln Captain Barnes. He came on board and our Captain supplied him with some Wood and other Articles he wanted. We all wrote Letters by him to our Families.
Since I came on board I found that even the French Officers had heard more News, or at least more Title Tattle than I had. This was the first time that I heard that Envy and Calumny had been busy with the Character of my Friend General Warren and his Family. That his Son had made a great Fortune, by Privateering, by Trade, by purchasing Sailors Shares and by Gambling: That he had won of C, whom Nobody pittied, a great Sum of Money. That he had made great Profits by buying, in great quantities what he knew was wanted for the Navy and then selling it to the Board. That the Agent too had made a great fortune, that his Wife was a Tory and many Anecdotes of her Conversation &c. These Reports which were mentioned as undoubted and notorious Truths gave me great Uneasiness, because, though I gave very little Credit to them, It was not in my Power to contradict them. There are no Appearances remaining I believe of the Great fortunes, and probably the Accusations were greatly exaggerated, if not merely invidious Suspicions. Indeed I had found that the Passions of Envy, Jealousy, hatred and Revenge engendered by Democratical Licentiousness, had encreased in a great degree by the political Competi• { 193 } tions in many other Instances, and was not a little allarmed at the Prospect they opened of still greater Evils.1
1. See Diary entry of 24 Nov. 1779 and note 3 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-11-25

[November 25. 1779.]

November 25. 1779. The Wind was fair and the Weather pleasant. We had passed the Grand Bank, and found ourselves on the Easter-most Edge of it. On sounding We found Bottom in thirty fathoms of Water.
The Captain and all his Officers and Passengers were so much alarmed at the increasing danger of the Leak and at the fatiguing Labour of all hands in keeping the Pumps in play, that it was concluded to make for one of the Western Islands as the first Friendly Land We could possibly reach: but We missed them and some day in the beginning of December 1779 We found ourselves, as was supposed within one hundred Leagues of Ferrol or at least of Corunna, to one or the other of which places We determined to direct our Course with all the Sail, the Ship could prudently bare. The Leak which kept two Pumps constantly going, having determined the Captain to put into Spain. This Resolution was a great Embarrassment to me. Whether I should travel by Land to Paris a Journey of twelve or thirteen hundred miles, or Wait for the Frigate to be examined and repaired, which might require a long time? Whether I could get Carriages, Horses, Mules or any other Animals to convey Us? What Accommodations We could get upon the Road? How I could convey the Children, and what the Expences would be? were all questions which I could not answer: nor could I find any Person on board, who was able to give me any satisfactory Information. It was said however by some that the Passage of the Pyranees was very difficult: that there was no regular Stage or Post: that We must purchase Carriages and Horses &c…. I could not help reflecting how much greater these inconveniences had been rendered, and how much more our perplexity if the rest of my Family had been with me. With Ladies and young Children and Additional Servants Male and Female We should have been in more distress on Land than at Sea.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-07

[December 7. 1779. Tuesday.]

December 7. 1779. Tuesday. About Eleven O Clock We discovered Land. Two large Mountains, one sharp and steep, the other large and broad, made their Appearance. We passed three Capes, Finisterre, Tortanes and Veillane. The Chevalier de La Molion gave me some Accajou Nutts. In handling the outside Shell, which has a corrosive Oil in it, in order to come at the meat, I got a little of this juice on my fingers and afterwards inadvertently rubbing my Eyes, I soon found the Lids swelled and inflamed up to my Brows.
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