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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0258

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-05-12

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Portia

The inclosed Dialogue in the Shades was written by Mr. Edmund Jennings now residing at Brussells, a Native of Maryland. I will send you the Rest when I can get it.2
How I lament the Loss of my Packets by Austin! There were I suppose Letters from Congress of great Importance to me. I know not what I shall do without them. I suppose there was Authority to draw &c. Mr. T[haxter]'s Letter from his father, hints that Mr. L.3 is coming here. This will be excellent.
Since my Arrival this time I have driven about Paris, more than I { 342 } did before. The rural Scenes around this Town are charming. The public Walks, Gardens, &c. are extreamly beautifull. The Gardens of the Palais Royal, the Gardens of the Tuilleries, are very fine. The Place de Louis 15, the Place Vendome or Place de Louis 14, the Place victoire, the Place royal, are fine Squares, ornamented with very magnificent statues. I wish I had time to describe these objects to you in a manner, that I should have done, 25 Years ago, but my Head is too full of Schemes and my Heart of Anxiety to use Expressions borrowed from you know whom.
To take a Walk in the Gardens of the Palace of the Tuilleries, and describe the Statues there, all in marble, in which the ancient Divinities and Heroes are represented with exquisite Art, would be a very pleasant Amusement, and instructive Entertainment, improving in History, Mythology, Poetry, as well as in Statuary. Another Walk in the Gardens of Versailles, would be usefull and agreable.—But to observe these Objects with Taste and describe them so as to be understood, would require more time and thought than I can possibly Spare. It is not indeed the fine Arts, which our Country requires. The Usefull, the mechanic Arts, are those which We have occasion for in a young Country, as yet simple and not far advanced in Luxury, altho perhaps much too far for her Age and Character.
I could fill Volumes with Descriptions of Temples and Palaces, Paintings, Sculptures, Tapestry, Porcelaine, &c. &c. &c.—if I could have time. But I could not do this without neglecting my duty.—The Science of Government it is my Duty to study, more than all other Sciences: the Art of Legislation and Administration and Negotiation, ought to take Place, indeed to exclude in a manner all other Arts.—I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.4

[salute] Adieu.

RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosed newspaper piece by Edmund Jenings, which has not been found, see note 2.
1. It is difficult to date this letter with precision but not at all difficult to date it within a day or two of its composition. It must have been written after JA's letter to AA of 12 May, above, which reported the capture of Jonathan Loring Austin and the loss of the letters he was bringing JA from America—a loss plaintively mentioned again in the present letter. It was very probably written before JA's letter to AA of 15 May, below, because it mentions incidents that occurred { 343 } earlier in May, for example JA's receipt of Jenings' “Dialogue” (see the following note) and Thaxter's receipt of letters from Hingham, which Thaxter's letter to AA of 12 May, preceding, states he received on the 10th.
2. The editors have not seen this political piece. The “first part” was sent by its author, Edmund Jenings (1731–1819), to JA on 2 May (letter in Adams Papers, enclosure missing) as printed in a recent but unidentified London newspaper; it was warmly acknowledged in JA's reply of 6 May (LbC, Adams Papers). In a dispatch dated 27 May, JA told President Huntington: “Among the English Papers, which I enclose to Congress, will be found a Dialogue in the Shades between the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Chatham and Mr. Charles York—it was written by Edmund Jennings Esqr. of Maryland, now residing at Brussells, a Gentleman of Merit” (PCC, No. 84, II, without the newspaper in question; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:735).
As for Jenings, a Marylander long resident in London who played an obscure but interesting and controversial part in the international intrigues of the day, see a biographical note in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:355–356, and numerous mentions of him in that work.
3. Henry Laurens?
4. For an attempt to put the foregoing celebrated passage in the context of JA's general view of the fine arts, see the Foreword to Oliver, Portraits of JA and AA, p. xii–xvi. See also the Introduction to the present volume.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0259-0001

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-05-14

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

The inclosed Papers will show you how the Business of Mr. A's Accounts has been conducted—with indecent Delay. I presume the Treasury will draw a Bill of Exchange for the Balance.—You had all the News respecting Mr. Adams which has yet come to us. We hear some agreable Things from Mr. Carmichael at Madrid where he was preparing for Mr. Jay's Reception who remained at Cadiz.1
It is not necessary for you to send any Extracts to Mr. A——of what is here conveyed respecting his Accounts as I have already done it in Cyphers of which I shall make duplicates.2
I can only add to what I before said about Exchange, that you will certainly do well to get all the continental you can just at this Time. It cannot fail to be a Benefit.

[salute] Yrs. with Esteem,

[signed] JL
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure, printed herewith: copies in Lovell's hand of several reports and the final vote of Congress, 1779–1780, on the settlement of JA's accounts as joint United States commissioner in Paris, 1778–1779.
1. William Carmichael was secretary of legation to John Jay's mission to Spain. For a sketch of Carmichael see above, vol. 2:199.
2. See Lovell to JA, 4 May (Adams Papers), which summarized Congress' action on JA's accounts.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0259-0002

Author: Govett, William
Author: Lovell, James
Author: Mercier, John D.
Recipient: Continental Congress
Recipient: Forbes, James
Recipient: Mathews, John
Recipient: Houston, William Churchill
Date: 1779-10-25
Date: 1779-10-27
Date: 1780-05-14

Enclosure: Reports on John Adams' Accounts

Mr. Adams' Letter of Aug. 3d. was referred to the Board of Treasury on the 20th. to take Order.1
The Commissioners report
That agreable to an Order of the honble. Board of Treasury of the 12th Instant, they have examined the Accounts of the honble. John { 344 } | view Adams Esqr. one of the Commissioners of the United States at the Court of Versailles for his Expences to, at and from thence, and find that He has received from the following Persons, the Sum of forty eight thousand nine hundred and fifty five Livres four Sols Vizt.
Of the honble. Navy Board, Boston   2400   0   0  
The honble. Benjn. Franklin Esqr.   10610   16   0  
Wm. T. Franklin   480   0   0  
John Bonfield   2292   12   0  
Mr. Grand sundry Drafts and payments   32159   16   0  
Mr. Puchelberg   1012   0   0  
    48955   4   0  
And that there is an Error in his Account of Expences at and from Bordeaux to Paris for which he is to be charged   53   11   0  
The whole Amounting to forty nine thousand and eight Livres fifteen Sols   49008   15   0  
That he charges for Expenditures for which there are many Vouchers wanting, and which, from Circumstances, they think could not easily be obtained, the following Sums vizt.
Joint Expences with the Honble. Benjamin Franklin   15261   4   6  
Expences paid for B. Franklin as per Account A   1981   3   0  
His Secretary and Servants Wages, travelling and other Expences   7742   3   6  
Cash paid for Cloathing for himself   5248   15   6  
Do. Books for Do.   1955   9   0  
Do. Schooling his Son   1861   1   0  
Money borrowed and repaid   45   12   0  
Money lost which was sewed in the lining of a Coat which was stolen3   192   0   0  
Expences at Boston on public Business, and Postage since his Return   48   0   0  
    34335   8   6  
And he also charges for his Allowance for Twenty Months at 11428 Livres per Ann:   19046   0   0  
The whole amounting to fifty three Thousand three hundred and eighty one Livres eight Sols and six Deniers   53381   8   6  
{ 345 } | view
From which accounts there appears a balance of four thousand three hundred and seventy two Livres thirteen Sols and six Deniers in favor of the honble. John Adams Esqr. But, as they have no Rule to go by in allowing his Expenditures or Pay, they have stated the Account as above, and beg Leave to submit the whole to the Honble. Congress.
They beg Leave to remark that the Examination of the Copy of an Account marked A which they received with Mr. Adams's other Accounts and is for joint Expences of himself, Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Deane, cannot be gone into at Present, the Monies credited therein having been received, and the Vouchers to said Account remain with him. But from a View of the Charges therein they find
That their joint Expences amount to           13307   13   0  
The particular Account of Benja. Franklin           2979   14   0  
Ditto Silas Deane           1323   18   0  
Cloathing for Mr. J. Adams   54   0   0   }   1014   0   0  
Cash received by him and which he credits for in his Account reported on   960   0   0          
Amounting to eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-five Livres five Sols           18625   5   0  
[signed] signed Wm: Govett
[signed] John D: Mercier
Committed and a Report made Decr. 154 which Report was resumed April 15. 1780.
The Committee to whom was referred the Report of the Commissioners of Accounts of the 25th. of Octr. last on the Accounts of the honble. John Adams Esqr. late one of the Commissioners of the United States at the Court of Versailles report5
That they do not find any Vote or Proceeding of Congress nor are they informed of any general or received Custom on which the Charge of Monies for the Education of the Accomptants Son can be admitted; and, though the same is inconsiderable they are of Opinion it ought to be rejected that a Precedent be not established.
That they are of Opinion the charge for Books ought to be admitted on the Ground of a practise which has obtained in different Nations respecting their public Ministers and which is mentioned by Mr. Adams in the Explanations attending his Vouchers.
That they find the several charges in the said Accounts conformable { 346 } to the strictest principles of Oconomy and that as far as Mr. Adams has been intrusted with public Money the same has been carefully and frugally expended.
Resolved That Congress agree to the said Report.
The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document.
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure, printed herewith: copies in Lovell's hand of several reports and the final vote of Congress, 1779–1780, on the settlement of JA's accounts as joint United States commissioner in Paris, 1778–1779.
1. In his letter to President Jay of 3 Aug. 1779 reporting his return home, JA had asked “whether Congress will choose to receive my Accounts alone, or to wait untill the other Commissioners shall exhibit theirs, so as to have the whole together under one View, in order to do equal Justice to all” (PCC, No. 84, I; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:277). The letter was read on 20 Aug. and referred to the Board of Treasury to decide this question (JCC, 14:981). What followed has been set forth in detail in a note by the editors on Lovell's letter to AA of 9 Aug. 1779, p. 220–222, above, and need not be repeated here. See, however, JA's record of Personal Receipts and Expenditures, Feb. 1778–Aug. 1779 (Diary and Autobiography, 2:325–344), and his letter to the Board of Treasury, transmitting and explaining his accounts, together with such vouchers as he possessed, 19 Sept. 1779 (LbC, Adams Papers; Works, 7:111–114).
2. The original of this document has not been found in PCC and may now exist only in the present copy made by Lovell and sent to AA.
3. This was actually “a pair of coarse homespun Breeches” belonging to JQA, into the waistband of which eight or more guineas had been sewn (JA to William McCreery, 15 April 1778, above). This humble article, lost either in Bordeaux or on the road between Bordeaux and Paris, became “a Garment” in JA's rough accounts (Diary and Autobiography, 2:326) and has here completed its evolution into respectability by becoming a lined coat.
4. The accountants' report had been referred on 27 Oct. to a committee of three members—James Forbes, John Mathews, and William Churchill Houston. They presented their report on 15 Dec., but no action was then taken on it. See JCC, 15:1212, 1383.
5. The original, in W. C. Houston's hand, is in PCC, No. 19, I. Deducting 1,861 livres 1s. for “Schooling his Son,” Congress agreed to the audit, without further change after what Lovell called “indecent Delay,” on 15 April 1780 (JCC, 16:368–369). The balance in JA's favor (not indicated in the Journal) then stood at 2,511 livres 12s. 6d., the sum finally paid over to him. See further, Lovell to JA, 4 May (Adams Papers); AA to JA, 5 July; Lovell to AA, 3 Sept.; and AA to Lovell, 17 Sept.; all below.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.