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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-03-05

March 5. Thursday.

This Morning We have the pleasantest Prospect [we] have yet seen —a fine easy Breeze, from the Southward, w[hich] gives us an Opportunity of keeping our true Course—a so[ft], clear, warm Air—a fair Sun—no Sea. We have a g[reat] Number of Sails spread and We go at the Rate of 9 Kno[ts.] Yet the Ship has no perceptible Motion, and makes no N[oise.] My little Son is very proud of his Knowledge of all the Sails, and last Night the Captn. put him [to learn the Mariners Compass.]1
Oh that We might make Prize to day of an English Vessell, lately from London, with all the Newspapers, and Magazines on board, that We might obtain the latest Intelligence, and discover the Plan of Operations for the ensuing Campaign.
Whenever I arrive at any Port in Europe, whether in Spain or France, my first Enquiry should be concerning the Designs of the Enemy.—What Force they mean to send to America? Where they are to obtain Men? What is the State of the British Nation? What the State of Parties? What the State of Finances, and of Stocks?
Then the State of Europe, particularly France and Spain? What the real Designs of those Courts? What the Condition of their Finances? What the State of their Armies, but especially of their Fleets. What No. of Ships they have fitted for the Sea—what their Names, Number of Men and Guns, weight of Metal &c—where they lie? &c.
The Probability or Improbability of a War, and the Causes and Reasons for and against each supposition.
The Supplies of Cloathing, Arms, &c. gone to America, during the past Winter. The State of American Credit in France. What Remittances have been made from America, in Tobacco, Rice, Indigo, or any other Articles?
We are now supposed to be nearly in the Lat. of Cape Finisterre, so that We have only to sail an Easterly Course.
Finistere, Finis Terrae; c'est le Cap, le plus occid. non seulement de la Galice et de L'Esp., mais encore de l'Europe; ce qui fait que les Anc. qui ne connoissoient rien au-dela, lui ont donné son nom, qui signifie l'Extrêmitéde la Terre, ou le bout du monde. Il y a une Ville de mesme nom.
This Day, We have enjoyed the clearest Horison, the softest Weather, the best Wind, and the smoothest Sea, that We have seen since We [came] on board. All Sails are spread and We have gone [ten Knots upon an Avarage the whole day.]
{ 283 }
1. Here and below, the missing fragments of text have been supplied from parallel passages in JA's Autobiography.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-03-06

1778. March 6. Fryday.

The Wind continued in the same Point, about S[outh] all Night, and the Ship has gone 9 Knotts upon an Average. This is great Favour.
I am now reading the Amphitrion of Moliere, which is his 6. Volume.1 revaije? do I dream?—have I dreamed?—I have I been in a dream?2J'ai revé. I have been in a dream. It is in the Preterit.
We shall pass to the Northward of the Western Islands, and are now supposed to be as near them as We shall be. They all belong to Portugal.
Açores, lies sit. entre l'Afr. et l'Amer. environ a 200 li. O. de Lisbonne; Gonzalo Vello les decouvrit vers le milieu du 15 Siecle, et les nomma Açores, mot qui signifie des Eperviers, parce qu'on y rem. beaucoup de ces Oiseaux. II y en a neuf. Angra, dans l'ile de Tercere, est la Capital de Toutes. Ortelius assure que ceux partent de l'Europe, pour aller en Amer., sont delivres de toute Sorte de Vermine, aussitot qu'ils ont passe les Acores, ce qu'on doit attribuer a la qualite de l'Air, qui y e[s]t tres salubre. Le ble, les Vignes, les Arbres fruitiers, et le betail, y sont en abond. Elles appart. aux Port.—long. 346–354. Lat. 39.
1. In a bilingual edition which JA had purchased “Many Years before” and made his first use of on this voyage (Autobiography under this date).
2. Thus in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-03-07

March 7. Saturday.

The same prosperous Wind, and the same beautifull Weather continue. We proceed in our Course at the Rate of about 200 Miles in 24 Hours. We have passed all the Dangers of the American Coast. Those of the Bay of Biscay, remain. God grant Us, an happy Passage through them all.
Yesterday, the Ship was all in an Uproar, with Laughter. The Boatswains Mate asked one of his superiour Officers, if they might have a Frolick.—The Answer was, Yes.—Jere. accordingly, with the old Sailors, proposed to build a Galley, and all the raw Hands to the Number of 20 or 30 were taken in, and suffered themselves to be tyed together, by their Legs. When all of a sudden, Jere. and his knowing ones, were found handing Bucketts of Water over the Sides and pouring them upon the poor Dupes, untill they were wet to the Skin.—The Behaviour of the Gullies,1 their Passions and Speeches and Actions, were { 284 } diverting enough.—So much for Jere's Fun. This Frolick, I suppose, according to the Sailors Reasoning, is to conjure up a Prize.
This Morning the Captain ordered all Hands upon Deck and took an account of the Number of Souls on board which amounted to 172. Then he ordered the Articles of War to be read to them—after which he ordered all Hands upon the Forecastle and then all Hands upon the Quarter deck, in order to try Experiments, for determining whether any difference was made in the Ships sailing, by the Weight of the Men being forward or abaft. Then all Hands were ordered to their Quarters to exercise them at the Guns. Mr. Barron2 gave the Words of Command and they spent an Hour perhaps in the Exercise, at which they seemed tolerably expert. Then the Captain ordered a Dance, upon the Main Deck, and all Hands, Negroes, Boys and Men were obliged to dance. After this the old Sailors set on Foot another Frolic, called the Miller, or the Mill. I will not spend Time to describe this odd Scaene: but it ended in a very high frolic, in which almost all the Men were powdered over, with Flour, and wet again to the Skin.—Whether these whimsical Diversions are indulged, in order to make the Men wash themselves, and shift their Cloaths, and to wash away Vermin I dont know. But there is not in them the least Ray of Elegance, very little Wit, and a humour of the coarsest Kind. It is not superiour to Negro and Indian Dances.
1. Thus in MS. The meaning is clear, but there is no lexicographical authority for this word.
2. William Barron, of a Virginia family that furnished a number of American naval officers, was first lieutenant of the Boston (Sheppard, Tucker, p. 280; VMHB, 1:66 [July 1893]). For his tragic fate, see entries of 14 and 27 March 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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/