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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-12

Thursday May 12th. 1785.

At about 9 o'clock the Cabriolet arrived, and the postillion brought me a Letter from the Countess d'Oradour,1 by which she informs me that the Count cannot go with me, as it is impossible to fix two large trunks upon the Carriage; so that I shall finally be obliged to go down to L'Orient alone, after having been led to expect the Company of three different persons. I suspect that Mr. W.2 has used his influence, to perswade the Count to wait for the next Packet: though I know not what reason he has to wish the Count would go with him. One thing is certain, which is, that it would be far more advantageous for the Count to go in the May Packet.
Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Carnes came out and gave me Letters for America. Mr. Jefferson sent out his Letters with two bottles of oil, in two cases, which are to serve as samples for oil to be imported from America. The Marquis de la Fayette's servant arrived with his Letters3 only a quarter of an hour before my departure. I took leave of my Parents and my Sister, and got into my Carriage, at ½ after 12, with such feelings, as no one that has not been seperated from Persons so dear, can conceive. My Postillions drove me very well, so that at ½ past 8 in the evening I was at Dreux, which is 9 ½ posts or 57 Miles from Paris. The roads are very good on this route. On leaving Versailles, you enter into the Province of Normandy, which extends more than half the way to L'Orient. This Province produces no Wine, but a great deal of Cyder, and the best in France; it furnishes also very considerable Quantities of grain; the fields of grass look now as dry and as yellow as in the month of January, for want of Rain: those of grain are in a better condition but look very thin. Between Paris and this place you pass through Versailles, the royal residence: not far from thence is the famous abbaye de Saint Cyr, founded by Madame de Maintenon, in order to educate a number of young Ladies of noble family and small fortune. Verneuil is the most considerable town on the road.
{ 267 }
1. Not found. The Count sailed on a later packet and was in Virginia during the fall and winter. Virginians noted his disappointment with the lands, which were more expensive than he had imagined, and with Americans, whom he had assumed all spoke French. Nevertheless, he made “a considerable tramontane purchase,” before returning to France (Jefferson, Papers , 8:147; 9:3, 93, 251; 10:616).
2. Charles Williamos; see entry for 4 May (above).
3. See note for entry of 9 May (above), and Lafayette: A Guide to the Letters, Documents, and Manuscripts in the United States, ed. Louis Gottschalk and others, Ithaca, N.Y., 1975, p. 84.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-13

May 13th.

At four in the morning I left Dreux, and rode, till 9 in the evening without stopping at all: But was then so much fatigued as my Carriage goes very hard, and the roads being very dusty I determined to go no further than Préz en Pail, which is 16 posts from Dreux, the country is mountaneous, and the roads are not so good as might be wish'd. This place is in the Province of Maine which forms part of Normandy. The produce of this province, is for the most part in grain. The fields of grass look miserably. In the morning, I met an whole village, men, women and children, with the curate at their head, going out in procession to implore rain of the virgin Mary. I have got into a very indifferent house: they tell me, they can give me nothing to eat because it is Friday; and no good Catholic ever eats meat on fridays.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-14

14th.

At 5 in the morning I was in my Cabriolet, and never stopp'd anywhere untill I arrived at Rennes, which was at 11. at night. By coming through a cross road I shortened the Journey 3 posts; so that I came only 13 ½ or 81. miles. The roads were so bad that I could not ride more speedily. I trembled whenever I saw a town before me: for they are all paved in such a manner, that it seems done on purpose to break every Carriage that passes through them: mine with the heat of the Sun, and these dreadful roads is split in several places. At 7 posts from Rennes I entered into the Province of Britanny: I expected to be visited very strictly; but was agreeably disappointed: a Custom house officer, came, and ask'd if I had anything in my baggage, contrary to the king's ordinances: on my answering no; he told my postilion to drive on, without any further searching: and what surprised me most was that he did not beg a half crown piece. At Rennes { 268 } my postilion first drove me, to the sign of the sheep, (au mouton) which by all accounts is a very good house: but there was not one empty room in the house: he then brought me, to such a tavern, as has not I really believe its equal in France. When I went into the house a dirty, ill looking woman, led me up a rotten pair of stairs, into a room, where there were a few remnants of paper hangings, which had formerly decorated it, a table, which was as good as tables in France commonly are, a chair, in which I dare not sit at ease, lest it should fall to pieces, a bed stead, that is of a piece with the rest, and numberless cobwebs

Where half starv'd spiders, feed on half starv'd flies

compose the furniture of this apartment. I enquired whether there was any provisions in the house, and was answered, that I might have some bread and butter. I was glad to get any thing and ask'd for any thing they could find, but when they had made me wait an hour, they discovered that they had no butter in the house: I determined to go to bed but when I endeavoured to lock the door of my Chamber, I found it impracticable. I heartily wish'd myself out of the house, and went to bed, endeavouring to keep awake, as much as possible, notwithstanding, I was so much fatigued.