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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


{ 282 }

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0008-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-06-30

30th.

The weather is very good, but the winds begin to be very variable as we approach to the term of the trade winds: by our observation we are now about an hundred leagues from the Bermudas. We have had calm weather all day, extremely warm, so that no body could bear a coat. These seas are subject to very frequent squalls, and thunder storms, which are sometimes dangerous: we must expect to meet with three or four: but the mariners have been so often taught by cruel experience to be prudent that they now always begin to lessen their Sail before the Storm gets to them, and they are in general prepared for it when it comes.
Mr. Huron Du Rocher1 is a merchant from Nantes, about 34 years old. He has form'd a commercial house in Philadelphia since the war, but has suffered as so many other persons have. He is now going over to America, in order to settle his affairs there. He proposes to remain there, about an year. He has received a liberal education, and has a great deal of wit, with a character a little inclined to Satyrical observations. His reflections, under the mask of gaiety are biting and severe; and have the more effect because it is impossible to take them ill. He does not however make a bad use of the Talent he is endow'd with: which when kept within proper bounds is useful and agreeable: but which becomes: very hurtful and dangerous if the person who has it cannot restrain it on many occasions. Mr. Huron does not intend to remain any time at New-York; but to set out for Philadelphia, the day we shall go on shore.
1. This may be Lawrence Huron (see following entry), listed as a Philadelphia merchant in 1785. In addition to interests in Philadelphia, Lawrence was involved with his brother, Jean Baptiste, in landholdings in several Kentucky counties (Macpherson's Directory for the City and Suburbs of Philadelphia..., Philadelphia, 1785; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:358; Jefferson, Papers , 9:49–50).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0009-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-07-01

Friday July 1st. 1785.

Calm weather all day. In the evening it began to lighten, and our thunder spire was fix'd; this is a small chain, fastened at the mast head; the other end of which hangs in the water, but as it is made, I believe in case of a thunder storm, it must be rather hurtful than of service. For the chain is so small, that I cannot think it would conduct much lightening; besides which it touches to a great number of ropes, and to the hull of the ship { 283 } itself; which I believe, must infallibly take fire in case, the lightening should fall on this spire. The evening was extremely warm and the passengers, all except Mr. Huron and myself, went early to their chambers. We remained on deck till 3 o'clock in the morning. At about one, the air was very heavy, the weather was as calm as possible. The darkness of the night, was heightened, by a number of black threatening Clouds, that surrounded us, and by the flashes of lightening, which were very frequent, and sharp. I was observing to Mr. Huron what a profound calm reign'd in the atmosphere, when a gust of wind sufficient to blow a hat from ones head, came as if on purpose to give me the lye. Immediately Mr. Halley who had the watch ordered all the sails except the four largest, to be lowered: the wind from North west changed in an instant to West, and for half an hour were not five minutes at the same point. The squall pass'd at a small distance from us and we felt but little of it. At 2 o'clock, the weather was as calm as it had been all the evening. These squalls and thunderstorms, which are very frequent in these Seas; are what mariners dread very much. Such a leap in the wind when the vessel has all sail out, and a storm of this kind falls suddenly upon it may often dismast it: so that a great deal of precaution is necessary, in order to be prepared for the reception of these gusts. Very few Vessels pass near the Bermudas, without meeting with more or less of this kind of weather.