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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-15


Left the Hotel d'Artois, at about 5 in the morning, and was determined not to stop again before I arrived at L'Orient; for I had no Inclination to lodge in another house like those at Rennes and at Préz-en-Pail. At Josselin a small village, about half way between Rennes and L'Orient I saw a mountabank, curiously dress'd riding about in the Streets on horseback beating a drum, with a number of Peasants following him. He made a stop, in a square, and began to harangue the assembly. I was in my Carriage at the Post office, and while they were changing horses I was near enough to hear the speech of the Quack. He had the honour to inform the gentlemen and Ladies that he was the greatest man in the world at slight hand, that he had exhibited before, the kings of France, Spain and Holland, to their astonishment and admiration. He continued a considerable time in the same style, and concluded by saying, that he should this evening give the first representation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and as it was merely out of regard for them, and from no motive of inter• { 269 } | view est that he meant to exhibit,1 his first places should be only 2 sous each. I could not help laughing heartily to see the fellow go on in that manner while all the peasants round him stood in admiration of his talents

Grands yeux ouverts, bouche béante.

At about 6 o'clock I arrived at Lo[c]miné; which is 6 ½ posts from L'Orient. They gave me a Postillion who was so drunk that he could hardly keep on his horse. Before he got out of the town he run one of the wheels, against the corner of an house, with so much violence, that I expected the wheel was broke: but luckily it was not. I was in continual fear of being overset and having my Carriage, if not my bones broke. I got however safe to the End of my Post: owing more to my good fortune than any thing else: for the roads were very bad. I rode all night and at 4 o'clock Monday morning arrived at L'Orient. I went to the Epée Royale, and to the Hotel d'Artois, but there was no Chamber vacant in either. The Postillion then brought me to the Hotel de la Marine, which is not a good house, but is a Palace in comparison with those I stopp'd at on the way. The roads between Rennes and this Place, are very hilly and rough, but are not I think, so bad as those, between Alençon and Rennes. The Country looks very poor; and the fields seem to produce nothing: but the Country people look neater and gayer than in any other part of France, and I saw less beggars than I have commonly met with. What it is owing to I cannot say; but this Province boasts of enjoying peculiar privileges, and of having a greater portion of liberty than any other. The Bretons say that their Parliament is the firmest and most respectable in the kingdom: how far this is true I know not, but it is certain, that the Parliament of Rennes have distinguished themselves, upon several occasions, when the others did not show the same courage.
The Expenses of a single person from Paris to L'Orient, in a Cabriolet, the carriage that is commonly made use of in France, for travelling, are as follows.
Hire of a Cabriolet     120.  
60 posts. 2 horses at 30 sols per post, each     180.  
the 3d. horse, about 12 posts     18.  
Postillions 1 livre per Post     60  
Lodging on the road, and the 2 posts Royal     32  
  Total.   410.  
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If two persons travel together they take only three horses, and the expences being thus divided, will not amount to more than 300 livres each. The first thing a traveller should purchase, when he arrives in France, is a Post Book. They are published every six months and contain every information relative to travelling Post, necessary. They are to be found at every bookseller's shop.
1. Punctuation supplied.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-16


I went to bed immediately on my arrival; rose at about 10 in the morning, sent a man to find out Mr. Barclay. He return'd and told me he was vis-à-vis la maison de Ville. I went and found him very unwell: he had meant to leave L'Orient four or five days ago; but has been very ill with an humour in his head; but he is now much better, and thinks to set off next Thursday. I found Mr. Champion1 there, who went with me to Mr. Rucker's lodgings. I found him, and Mr. Grub2 a Gentleman from Carolina. They accompanied me to the man who sold my Cabriolet, to Mr. Randall; he was much more reasonable, than I expected he would be, for notwithstanding all the damage, which the heat of the Sun, and the badness of the roads have done to the Carriage, he gave me 25 louis d'ors for it: and took it just as it was. His name is Soret. I think I can recommend him to any person who might want to hire or to buy a carriage at L'Orient. Dined with Mr. Barclay. After dinner, I went with Mr. Champion, to Mr. Mazois the director of the Packets, and paid him 500 livres for a passage, on board the Courier de l'Amerique, Captain Fournier. I was much astonished to hear that the Packet will sail tomorrow if the wind remains as it is. It is very extraordinary that Mr. le Couteulx himself, the director of the Packets at Paris, should not know when the Packets sail: he tells every passenger who goes to him, that they are obliged to wait for the Post that arrives from Paris Wednesday morning.3 A Gentleman who will pass with us, depending upon this, arrived 6 hours too late for the last Packet, and has been obliged to wait an whole month at L'Orient. I saw the Captain who gave me a respite; he will not go till to morrow evening, but I depend only upon a change of wind, for all the Letters which I expect by the next Post. It is very disagreeable to be thus disappointed by the unpardonable negligence, of those very persons, on whom, we depend the most.
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I bought My bedding, viz: a matrass, a pair of sheets: so large that one will be sufficient at a time, a pillar, and two pillar Cases. I brought with me from Paris a Coverlid, and half a dozen napkins, all these articles a person must necessarily have: on board the Packet you are furnished with every thing else, as I am told.
Spent the evening and Supp'd at Mr. Barclay's; with Mrs. Moylan, Miss Fermier her Sister, and Mr. Nesbitt.4 Return'd to my Hotel at about 12. at night.†.5
1. Probably Henry Champion, a merchant at Lorient (Jefferson, Papers , 8:448; 10:87; 11:112, 173, 582–583).
2. James Grubb, a Virginia merchant at Lorient. Thirty years later JQA employed Grubb as his private secretary in London. “He was then [in the 1780s] flourishing in Youth and Prosperity,” JQA wrote to his mother, “but has since been unfortunate, and now with a wife and six children, even the employment that I give him is a relief to him” ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:450; 3:97; JQA to AA , 24 Aug. 1815, Adams Papers).
3. 18 May, two days hence.
4. Jonathan Nesbitt, a merchant banker at Lorient since 1775, and brother of John Maxwell Nesbitt, the Philadelphia Revolutionary leader and merchant (The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784, ed. E. James Ferguson and John Catanzariti, Pittsburgh, 1973– , 3:298, 520; Blanche Taggart Hartman, A Genealogy of the Nesbit, Ross, Porter, Taggart Families of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 1929, p. 7, 8).
5. JQA 's cross mark probably refers, as others have, to letters he wrote which were gleaned from his Diary entries. In this case it is undoubtedly his letter to AA2 , 11 12 –17 May [1785] , Adams Papers, in which he describes his journey from Dreux to Lorient.